Tagged review

This Month’s Coop de Book ~ Local Custom by Lee & Miller

So for June’s Coop de Book I have chosen one of my favorite space operas, Local Custom by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller.

This a sweet star crossed lovers (literally) romance full of fraught cultural conflict and deep emotional trauma. Of course, I adore it.

If you are the type of reader who likes tucking into a vast world, you are in for a treat. The Liaden Universe is massive with well over 20 books, some stand alone, some series. Most of the paperbacks are OP but the authors are putting them all out in ebook (forgive the cover art… or lack thereof). Don’t worry there are forums and wikis to help you along. And you don’t need to have read anything else in this universe to enjoy this book. Be warned though, this is by far the sweetest of any Liaden books, so don’t look for any of the others to be quite this romantic.

A quick word on Radiance by Grace Draven. I do hope you all enjoyed it. I don’t have time for a full review at the moment but I did love this book. I heard from a reliable source that the second book, Eidolon is also very good AND nicely ties up the series, in other words it exists as a duology. So I picked it up to try while I am traveling next week.

{Gail’s monthly read along for June is Local Custom by Lee & Miller.}

PROJECT ROUND UP

  • Poison or Protect Audiobook.
    StatusOut now!
    Can one gentle Highland soldier woo Victorian London’s most scandalous lady assassin, or will they both be destroyed in the attempt?

COMING SOON

The Sumage Solution: San Andreas Shifters #1 by G. L. Carriger
Contemporary m/m paranormal romance featuring a snarky mage and a gruff werewolf. Hella raunchy. Super dirty. Very very fun. Spin off of Marine Biology.

Can a gentle werewolf heal the heart of a smart-mouthed mage?

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Allen & Ginter (American, Richmond, Virginia) Eyes Right, from the Parasol Drills series (N18) for Allen & Ginter Cigarettes Brands, 1888
American, Commercial color lithograph

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Steampunk Clock Art

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

Put the Science in your Science Fiction

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

10 Writing Career Mistakes I Made So You Don’t Have To

Book News:

Quote of the Day:

“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.”

~ Oscar Wilde

Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!
Share & Enjoy!


Coop de Book Review ~ Brother’s Ruin

I know this is a book review, Gentle Reader, but I hope you will forgive me if I do it with my author hat on.

Which is a very floofy hat, mind you.

One of the things I like most about Brother’s Ruin is the way Em layers in her tension points. As we open the book we see two characters standing still in a sea of humanity. Then we learn the first tension point: our heroine,Charlotte, is an artist trying to make it in a man’s world. Then we get the second: the magi stealing children. Then we learn her beloved brother is ill. And then after we return to the comparative safety of home, the punch of a father’s mounting debt.

Now we know Charlotte is weighed down by many burdens: disenfranchisement, secrecy, fear, grief, and financial hardship. These are all identifiable things to most readers, we have all suffered fear and sickness, financial insecurity and societal dismissal as a result of age, sex, gender, personal preferences, or race. (Well, most SF/F readers have.) This makes Charlotte very sympathetic as a character and us, as readers, very invested in seeing her climb her way out of this depressive cess-pit in which she finds herself.

All that in the first 20% of the novella!

As the final straw we see Charlotte’s attempt at her own salvation, an inappropriate but fiscally logical marriage. The modern eye sees this as a flawed choice from the get go, because we (as readers) are trained to prefer our heroine to solve her own problems through strength of ability, not marriage. So we hope this match fails.

At this juncture when the magi appear, Charlotte is then driven into her adventure (heeds the call, if you would).

I’m not going to review further because to do so would give things away, and this is, not really much of a review. Ah well, more me admiring a most excellent set up and highly skilled author. It happens, sometimes I’m more author than reader. I do hope that you, as readers, also enjoyed this book.

Want more?

Well, Em promises more in this series, which I do hope materializes in the meantime…

If you enjoyed this book and are interested in something similar in style, if not exactly the same, I suggest giving Jordan Hawk’s Hex series a try. You can begin with her $0.99 short story to see if you like the world, The 13th Hex. There are two books and another short that follow.

This Month’s Book Pick

Radiance by Grace Draven

~THE PRINCE OF NO VALUE~

Brishen Khaskem, prince of the Kai, has lived content as the nonessential spare heir to a throne secured many times over. A trade and political alliance between the human kingdom of Gaur and the Kai kingdom of Bast-Haradis requires that he marry a Gauri woman to seal the treaty. Always a dutiful son, Brishen agrees to the marriage and discovers his bride is as ugly as he expected and more beautiful than he could have imagined.

~THE NOBLEWOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE~

Ildiko, niece of the Gauri king, has always known her only worth to the royal family lay in a strategic marriage. Resigned to her fate, she is horrified to learn that her intended groom isn’t just a foreign aristocrat but the younger prince of a people neither familiar nor human. Bound to her new husband, Ildiko will leave behind all she’s known to embrace a man shrouded in darkness but with a soul forged by light.

Two people brought together by the trappings of duty and politics will discover they are destined for each other, even as the powers of a hostile kingdom scheme to tear them apart.

{Gail’s monthly read along for May is Radiance by Grace Draven.}

PROJECT ROUND UP

  • Secret Project SAS ~ Novel by G. L. Carriger
    Status: Formatting
    Contemporary m/m paranormal romance featuring a snarky mage and a gruff werewolf. Hella raunchy. Super dirty. Very very fun. Spin off of Marine Biology.

OUT NOW

Romancing the Inventor in Audiobook. A maid bent on seducing a brilliant cross-dressing scientist who’s too brokenhearted to notice. Or is she?

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

1900 via shewhoworshipscarlin tumblr Walking dress, 1900, Europe

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Octopus Shelf In Office

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

Why the Octopus Lost Its Shell

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

10 Things You Don’t Know About Authors on Book Tour

Book News:

Running now!

Quote of the Day:

“Writers have no real area of expertise. They are merely generalists with a highly inflamed sense of punctuation.”

~ Lorrie Moore

Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!
Share & Enjoy!


Coop de Book Review: Black Dog Blues by Rhys Ford

Posted by Gail Carriger

Let’s be clear about one thing, Gentle Reader: if you like Black Dog Blues, it’s because you like the main character, Kai. Me, I love Kai. Kai is my favorite type of character – the tough, scrappy, outcast, snark-monger extraordinaire. He is swimming in snark, splashing about happily and not caring if he drowns everyone else with his vicious wit.

What do you give a man like that for love, balance, and story conflict? What could match all that snark? Aristocratic arrogance, of course. Which is why I also love Ryder. Oh he’s a prat, but an adorably clueless one. And he really likes Kai. Which, let’s be clear, I sympathize with. So I can’t really get too mad at him. Although Kai sure does, pretty much right off the bat.

“I wanted to crawl into his mouth, down his body, and possibly under his skin. If I hadn’t already decided I hated him on sight, it would have made me start.”

Black Dog Blues is much more fighting and more violent than I usually read. But I kind of guessed that going in, from the cover and blurb, so I was too perturbed. It has other elements that I enjoy. For example I like it when immortals act like immortals, which is to say slightly confused by and utterly un-connected to the pettiness and emotional resonance of mortality. I appreciate a Pinocchio character (Data was always my favorite on ST:TNG).

“My reflection in the bathroom mirror surprised me, as it always did. I forgot I wasn’t human.”

I loved the world building of this series. It’s based on a clear and simple concept, as much of the best world building is. That the fae realm and ours collided, destroying much of each and leaving behind the weird-post apocalyptic California with vast empty areas filled with vicious wild dragons, and lost cities, and new elf ones merged on top of or inside our own. This leaves behind humans who are only just surviving, and elves who are slowly fading away. Of course, this world is a metaphor for Kai himself ~ a merged creation, annihilated and mutilated in the act of birth, but possibly greater than the sum of his parts.

The second book in this series is Mad Lizard Mambo which I have also read and enjoyed. Rhys is working on the third*, Dim Sum Asylum (best title EVER). I’m sure I will crow about it once it lands, because, I’m gonna read it.

*Update: See comments, this isn’t the third in this series.

I’m switching things up for next month’s read, we are going YA fantasy adventure and court intrigue with Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith.

PROJECT ROUND UP  

OUT NOW

Romancing the Inventor

Romancing the Inventor: A Supernatural Society Novella

A steampunk lesbian romance featuring a maid bent on seducing a brilliant cross-dressing scientist who’s too brokenhearted to notice. Or is she?

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

Why Flight Attendants Ask You To Raise Your Window Shade During Take-Off and Landing

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

“I think myself I ought to be shot for writing such nonsense… But it’s unquestionably good escapist literature, and I think I should rather like it if I were sitting in an air-raid shelter or recovering from flu.”

~ Georgette Heyer

Book News:

Soulless made this list of 4 Fantasy Must-Reads for Austen Fans:

“My favourite thing about Gail Carriger is her sense of humor. If you love Austen’s dry wit, you will definitely enjoy the Parasol Protectorate series, starting with Soulless.”

(Funnily enough my AP English Essay was on Austen’s use of humor for social commentary.)

Quote of the Day:

“We are the zanies of sorrow. We are clowns whose hearts are broken.”

~ Oscar Wilde

Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!
Share & Enjoy!


Coop de Book Review: Brother’s Price & Waffling on the Heartbreak of Feminist Genre Authors

Posted by Gail Carriger

´I’m not quite sure how to put this, Gentle Reader, so I’ll just dive in.

Cupcakes

There are books you read because you want to, silly fluffy books. Perhaps these are not taken very seriously or considered great works. I like to think of these as cupcake books, only without the caloric guilt. This is what I mostly read. It’s what I like to read. I want to be entertained and happy. I forgive them for being not well written and turn giddy with delight when they are.

A book that transports me, and entertains, has beautiful prose, and leaves me happy at the end? I have been known to bounce.

Stew

There are books you read because you should and yet you still manage to enjoy them. These are the nutritious books, perhaps a bit chewy, perhaps a bit hard to work through, perhaps not exactly satisfying a whim or desire but enjoyable enough. They are likely good for you – these stew books. I put Austen, Gaskell, and Dickens into this category. I don’t read them for true pleasure or desire, I rarely reread, but I’ve also never thrown one across the room in disgust, either.

Sprouts

And there are books you read because you must, for research or for school, books that break librarians’ hearts because they turn kids off reading. These may be beautifully written but they are too much work, or too soul destroying, or simply not fun. (I’m looking at you, Grapes of Wrath, Magic Mountain, Heart of Darkness.) These are the Brussels sprouts of books. Or the cherry cough syrup. Or whatever that thing is that you were forced to eat as a kid and never got over.

And yes, I totally understand, some people love Brussels sprouts. I am not one of those people.

I took a course in European Bildungsroman as an undergrad. I remember reading a note that my excellent teacher jotted down at the top of one of my more vitriolic essays.

“I am troubled by your anger at these books.”

They do make me angry. I can understand why people find them worthy. I can even get if you enjoy reading them. But they frustrate me with prose that may be amazing, but I don’t like it, with disjointed plots or lost pacing, and the characters hurt me with their stupid. That, for me, is book failure.

And because reading is my favorite thing in the whole world, it feels like betrayal.

I throw these books across the room. I curse at them because out there are amazing cupcake works of art that no one knows about because they are too much fun, or too fluffy, or not thought of as healthy or worthy by the powers at be.

And perhaps I’ve learned since then that this is all wrapped up with a history of dominance by male authors, and a preponderance of male critics, and ivory tower standards on what is good enough to be literary, and glass ceilings inside pages. And yeah I learned about the Gothics, and the origin of genre, and the reason why SF/F/Romance so badly mistreated.

But I can’t forgive these famous literary works for being bad. Bad at entertaining me. Bad at making me happy.

All this brings me around to the fact that…

 

I had a sinking suspicion that Wen Spencer’s A Brother’s Price was going to be a sprout. Unexpectedly, it turned into a highly enjoyable stew. One of those lamb ones, full of veg and thick gravy and a nice rosemary roll on the side.

Formative Feminist Genre Authors

You see, I hate to admit this, but Andre Norton and Ursula K. LeGuin were sprouts for me. I tried, I really did. But I’ve never been able to make more than one or two paragraphs into any Norton book. (I just feel like she’d be one of those people at a party. You know those people? So much cleverer than you and think that’s enough to excuse them the basic human decency of actual manners.) Her writing feels like it’s talking down to me. With LeGuin, I managed Left Hand of Darkness, and a few of her shorter pieces, but only just. She’s utterly exhausting, and really no fun at all. I wouldn’t recommend her, that’s for certain.

Perhaps they were victims of their times. But I’m tempted to think they were trying to compete on a not-so-level playing field with the male authors of their day, for a mostly male audience, and to be taken seriously by male critics. Intentionally? Probably not. Presumably, it worked out in the end, I mean sometimes people are actually told to read their books in school! Female genre authors! Lands sake, what is this world coming to?

But, I digress. Where was I?

On the less well known at a cocktail party in New York front, there are authors like Sheri S. Tepper. Gate To Women’s Country broke my heart and changed my whole life, but I don’t reach for it in times of comfort. I rarely reread it. I recommend it. I think it’s important. It’s very healthy stew. But chewy, a lot of work to read. Good work and necessary. It leaves your brain sore and satisfied, but still work.

And usually, right about then, at the bar at a convention, a woman I respect will bring up Wen Spencer’s A Brother’s Price.

Which is why I chose to read it.

Oh, Did You Come Here for a Book Review?

I really enjoyed this book. Yes, still a stew and not a cupcake, but I liked it. Spencer had a much more breezy voice than I expected. It was easier jump into and read than I thought it would be. Yes she suffers a little from info-dump-itice, but I’m a skim reader so it doesn’t bother me as much as it might others.

The story was fun. I liked the action scenes. The world-building was spot on. Perhaps the setting wasn’t hugely original (kind of alternate Old West) but I was absolutely riveted by the shifted social structure.

Would this have been a good book if the genders were reversed? No. It would have been one step removed from an early regency romance, only with less romance. But that’s not the point.

After waffling on about how much I dislike books that are nothing but allegory and a pointed prose, I don’t quite understand why I forgave Brother’s Price so much. But I enjoyed reading it. I was fascinated by how Spencer approached concepts. I loved her cheeky jabs on our own social structures and morays.

Did I think the love interests were well developed? Not at all. But this could be a factor of the main character’s youth. Or perhaps the casual way he falls in love is itself a comment on having to marry so many. Is Spencer  shifting the very concept of romance given a sister-wife situation?

One of my favorite lines was this:

“The very nature of intercourse—an act to produce a pregnancy—and the risks to the woman’s health as such, I think will always make the choice of yes or no the woman’s.”

Spoken by an older woman to a younger man in a condescending, yet loving manner. It’s so perfectly pin pointed to eviscerate social darwinism, and eugenics, and claims of biological determinism that have been used throughout history to argue that biological differences mandate the social superiority of males.

These parts of the book made me happy. Not in a cupcake way. But in a “heh-heh, I see what you’re doing there, we are in on a mutual joke at the expense of the dominant paradigm” kind of way.

I think some would argue that Spencer is a little heavy handed with this kind of commentary. That she hits you over the head with it. But as the world is showing us (daily) how oblivious people continue to be, I forgive her this. We clearly need to be hit over the head.

Conclusions?

Was this a good book? Yes it was.

Did I enjoy reading it? Yes I did.

Will I reach for it in times of need for comfort? Probably not.

Should you read it? Yes.

More importantly, this is the kind of book that should be taught in schools. Because it manages to make its point with ease and still be fun to read. Because it would spark very interesting discussions. Because it is not work but it is still rewarding. Because it is holding up a mirror and showing us all our own ugliness, but isn’t cruel about it, just makes the point that we might want to keep struggling to improve. That we might want to consider our own nature as people in a collected group, our definitions of what it means to be wife or husband, sister or brother in our own society, and how that balances against our understanding of human decency.

Okay, I’ve waffled enough.

More on Wen Spencer’s A Brother’s Price.

{Gail’s monthly read along for Feb is Black Dog Blues by Rhys Ford.}

PROJECT ROUND UP  

OUT NOW

Romancing the Inventor

Romancing the Inventor: A Supernatural Society Novella

A steampunk lesbian romance featuring a maid bent on seducing a brilliant cross-dressing scientist who’s too brokenhearted to notice. Or is she?

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

1882 The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

War, Revolution… and Dances

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

Why the Most Productive People Do These Six Things Every Day

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

19 of the best podcasts for authors and writers

Book News:

Fan Art Characters by _cosmashivah

Quote of the Day:

“You are the stewards of sacred spaces. Rise to the occasion.”

~ Roxane Gay

Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!
Share & Enjoy!


Book Group Poll Results for 2016

Posted by Gail Carriger

So, Gentle Reader, last month I ran a poll for the book group to find out which were your favorites of 2016’s picks. Here are the results. I allowed you to pick up to 5 books. Since I can’t actually check to see if you honestly read all of them (and I didn’t require it) I’m not sure how fair the poll is, but here you go:

The question always is, with books (apart from basic statical issues) whether it was content or voice or something else you responded too as readers.

I’m not too surprised to find Sorcery & Cecilia won. It’s one of the books out there that I consider closest, in style, to my own work. Or I’d like to hope that it is. So I’m not surprised those who like my books like it. And I’m please because I feel I can continue to tell those who ask me, exactly that.

Tamora Pierce is a major voice in YA for a reason, so again, no shocker that you’d like her because few don’t. Although…

Hex Hall (which I didn’t like all that much) was higher up than I expected and the two romances (Warprize & Finders Keepers) were lower down. This makes me suspect that participants in the book group are more into YA than romance as a general rule. This might be the nature of a book group, or just a fall out of draw on Goodreads, or something else connected to my Finishing School series. Or perhaps the romances I chose (one very much Fantasy and the other very much ScFi) are not to your taste. Perhaps New Adult would work better?

So, I guess I’m saying I’m not sure what to do going forward, except pick and choose as whimsy takes me. I’m going well out of your comfort zone for the Feb pick, and diving back in (I think) for March but we shall see at the end of next year how you feel about my picks! My first book of the year A Brother’s Price by Wen Spencer (review coming soon), was in part due to the fact that it keeps coming up in conversation on panels at cons. Like Gate to Women’s Country it is considered a lesser known but formative feminist work in the field. This month’s choice, Black Dog Blues by Rhys Ford, is a recent urban fantasy indie read that I didn’t expect to enjoy but loved. (I can’t wait to see what you think.)

Anyway, thanks for coming along this journey with me and I hope you continue to read along.

{Gail’s monthly read along for Feb is Black Dog Blues by Rhys Ford.}

PROJECT ROUND UP  

OUT NOW

Romancing the Inventor

Romancing the Inventor: A Supernatural Society Novella

A steampunk lesbian romance featuring a maid bent on seducing a brilliant cross-dressing scientist who’s too brokenhearted to notice. Or is she?

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

1880s Joseph Caraud (French artist, 1821-1905) The Red Parasol

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Bookscapes

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

Roundtable on diversity in SciFi that features diverse voices, includes recommendations.

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living

Book News:

Fan Art Alexia by Rebecca Nandi

Quote of the Day:

“The world is divided into two classes, those who believe the incredible, and those who do the improbable.”

~ Oscar Wilde

Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!
Share & Enjoy!


Coop de Book Review: Slightly Squiffy Ramblings & Hex Hall Book Review

Posted by Gail Carriger

So I was pretty sick for the latter half of December, Gentle Reader. One of those dumb head colds that doesn’t do much but sap all your strength and leave you weak and floppy on the couch leaking mucus and complaining about death. Yeah yeah. I know, gross.

I was too dizzy to concentrate on anything. What I managed to write, is likely not very useful, but I did keep my word count up. I don’t have a choice. If I don’t finish RTW this month I’m doomed. DOOMED!

I read a bit, but tended to get frustrated easily. I even resorted to TV, which irritates me even when I’m not sick. Eventually, I tackled Hex Hall, because I wasn’t sure I’d be better by the end of the month.

Accordingly, I’m not entirely sure Hex Hall had a fair shot. Keeping in mind that I have very high standards for YA, and was hyped up on cold meds, crabby, stir crazy, coughing, and dizzy. Instead of your standard review here’s a sort of stream of consciousness tackling of that book…

Beginning

Why did I pick this, again? Good cover. Well, OK. Here we go. Main chick seems nice and snarky. Not very unique but maybe I’ll get surprised.

Chapter 5

This book now reminds me of Harry Potter meets this old Live Journal fic blog I used to read, a decade or more ago now. What was it called? Monsters U, or something. (This was well before the Disney-animates-hair thing.) Anyway, dawn of the internet and all that. But I guess what I’m saying is, I’m not being wowed by originality. However, I like the casual breezy tone of the writing. At least it’s not too much work to read.

Chapter 8

OK, now not sure if I’m supposed to be amused or in suspense. I guess there is humor? But is it enough to detract from a predictable plot? All the characters seemed to be a bit eponymous high-school for me — the mean girls, the bad-boy crush, the teachers. It’s like an 80s-style teen movie but doesn’t push far enough into camp to be super-fab. I mean, I’ll take Sixteen Candles, or 10 Things I Hate About You, or even Mean Girls but if this edges into Teen Witch territory, I’m not sure I can keep reading.

Chapter 14

Oh dear. Now we are in a “main character is the chosen one” situation. Special. Prophecy. Dark father. Come on book, surprise me! Please?

Chapter 28

I have decided who the bad guy is. (The infiltrating eye or what have you.) Am having flash-backs to Chamber of Secrets, and I never even read it.

End

Bah. Probably because I kept associating it with aforementioned LJ Fic I knew what main character really was and so wasn’t ever surprised.

Conclusion

Not letting Twitter help pick the book group book again, unless it’s by an author I know I already enjoy.

Grumpy Gail is grumpy.

So endth this blog post.

 

…. And that rounds out the book group picks for the year. I’ll put the vote up soon for you to tell me which ones were your favorite. Until then, let me know if you have any thoughts on choices for next year. Hugs!

Gail

FIX WORD COUNT

{Gail’s monthly read along for January is A Brother’s Price by Wen Spencer.}

PROJECT ROUND UP  

  • Romancing the Werewolf ~ A Supernatural Society Novella
    Status: Rough Draft.
    LBGTQ reunion romance featuring your favorite reluctant werewolf dandy, the return of a certain quietly efficient Beta, and a very unexpected gift.
  • Secret Project SAS ~ Novel
    Status: Second draft read through.
    Contemporary m/m paranormal romance between a snarky mage and a gruff werewolf. Hella raunchy. Super dirty. Very very fun. Spin off of Marine Biology.

OUT NOW

Romancing the Inventor

Romancing the Inventor: A Supernatural Society Novella

A steampunk lesbian romance featuring a maid bent on seducing a brilliant cross-dressing scientist who’s too brokenhearted to notice. Or is she?

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

1879 fashions carriage walking dresses via historicaltidbits blog

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

A cartoon showing a boy in a crinoline, 1858

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

Victorian Poverty Maps

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

Into the Writing Vortex with Jo March and Louisa May Alcott, 1869

Book News:

ace-artemis-fanartist- Portrait of Alexia Maccon.

Quote of the Day:

“The world is a stage, but the play is badly cast.”
~ Oscar Wilde

Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!
Share & Enjoy!


Queer Romantic Comedy Movies That Gail Carriger Loves

Posted by Gail Carriger

I’m thinking, Gentle Reader, we all need a bit of love and laughter in our lives right now. I recently had two very long plane rides (to and from Singapore) and couldn’t find a single rom-com to watch. Quite disappointing. I read a bunch of smut instead.

But, I’ll have you know, that I do, occasionally, watch movies. I’m not a big consumer of the silver screen but it has been known to tempt me on occasion.

Queer Rom-Coms

Reading some pull quotes for reviews of Romancing the Inventor (not the whole review, because that might kill me) made me realize something… What I write, at it’s heart, is romantic comedy.

I know. You’re shocked. I’m shocked. Shush, don’t tell anyone. It’ll be our little secret.

Are There Lesbians? says for example:

“I have needed a lesbian romantic comedy for ages and I finally got one so cute and romantic I’m pretty sure it has given me diabetes…. Romancing the Inventor has set the tone for a whole series with its sometimes light and fluffy, sometimes rather serious, and always tongue-in-cheek, storytelling. It has also really raised my expectations for Queer romantic comedy and having been given a taste I would like plenty more please.”

See? Romantic comedy.

Now now, please don’t get tetchy.

There is nothing wrong with romantic comedy unless its done wrong. By that I mean, painfully bad dialogue and/or plot. If you’re wincing right now, perhaps a little thought as to why those two words turn you off so much? Nothing wrong with romance. Nothing wrong with comedy. Trust me. I know. Is it because romantic comedies are generally marketed to/by/for women? Trust me, the dialogue and plot in your dude-targeted space action flick is just as bad, likely worse.

Now where was I? Right. LISTS!

Here are some LBGTQ romantic comedies (some more gentle on the comedy than others) that I really love and feel are under-appreciated.

Shelter

Shelter ~ Adorble surfur dudes, familial responsibility, honor, duty, painful coming out. Bonus points from one of my favorite romance tropes: finding love with the brother of the best friend.

Gray Matters

Gray Matters ~ Perhaps a bit mainstream, and very light hearted, but I kinda adore this movie. Bonus for ballroom dancing, killer undergarments, and L-Word guest appearance.

Later Days

Latter Days ~ One of my favorite all times movies. Repressed morman, dramatic indy songs, unfair mistreatment by the ignorant, reformed bad boy, bonus Tara from Buffy. The scene when he drops the tray. I mean, come ON. So good.

Imagine Me & You

Imagine Me & You ~ Very lipstick lesbian, but super cute. And I like that it genuinely deals with the torture of breaking up as a bad choice. This rom com starts with her marrying… a man. And goes from there. Bonus DDR, cute boys as well as girls, super cheesy ending.

Boy Meets Girl

Boy Meets Girl ~ THIS MOVIE IS EVERYTHING. Bonus fashion! Why are you not watching it? Everyone should be watching it. It so romantic, and glorious, and wonderful, and good, and flipping important. Go. Watch it. Now. Make everyone else watch it. Go. I’ll wait.

Big Eden

Big Eden ~ This feels the most real of the romances in this list. Yes there are characters, but they’re so much more honest than hollywood usually allows in complexity, appearence, vocabulary, everything. Plus bonus cooking = love!

I Can't Think Streight

I Can’t Think Straight ~ I have no idea why no one seems to know about this movie. I adore it. It’s sweet, it’s got culture conflict, dramatic weddings, amazing cake, and it’s hot. Bonus one of them is a writer and the other a fashion designer. Yes! How do you not want this in your life?

Okay…

So I agree that some of the above have problematic moments, either with awkward acting, or tropes gone awry, fashion flaws, or even modern day LBGTQ rights concerns. You’ll have to give some of them credit for the time they were made. And some of them credit for exisiting at all, in such a vacuum of good rom-coms (let alone LBGTQ rom-coms). However, I’m listing them for one reason, and one reason only:

I smiled all the way through, from start to finish.

Except of course for the times I was bitting my hand or sniffling quietly.

Honorable mention to Maurice. Because it’s a gay romance set in period history with A HAPPY ENDING. Beautiful costumes, beautiful men, amazing settings, all the repressed stiff upper-lipping you could want. It’s not strictly comedy, more drama, but I do LOVE this movie. Bonus all the floppy hair your could want and cricket!

Maurice

I could get all film studies cerebral and analytical if I wanted to call in the big guns, (waves at AB), but frankly I’m recommending these movies because I love them. End of story.

Want more on this subject?

I’ve a LBGTQ History board in my Pinterest account.

And a Recommended TV & Movies board.

{Gail’s monthly read along for December is Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins.}

PROJECT ROUND UP  

  • Romancing the Werewolf ~ A Supernatural Society Novella
    Status: Rough Draft.
    LBGTQ reunion romance featuring your favorite reluctant werewolf dandy, the return of a certain quietly efficient Beta, and a very unexpected gift.
  • Secret Project SAS ~ Novel
    Status: First draft done. Resting before second draft.
    Contemporary m/m paranormal romance between a snarky mage and a gruff werewolf. Hella raunchy. Super dirty. Very very fun. Spin off of Marine Biology.

OUT NOW

Romancing the Inventor

Romancing the Inventor: A Supernatural Society Novella

A steampunk lesbian romance featuring a maid bent on seducing a brilliant cross-dressing scientist who’s too brokenhearted to notice. Or is she?

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Fashion plate, 1875 shewhoworshipscarlin tumblr

Fashion plate, 1875 shewhoworshipscarlin tumblr

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Lioness at Singapore Zoo

Lioness at Singapore Zoo

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

queen-victorian-and-subseviance-copy

queen-victorian-and-subseviance-info-copy

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

5 (More) Ways to Support Your Favorite Author

Book News:

Reality’s A Bore says of Imprudence:

“I love how original the book is, the world Carriger has created, the history and lore to it, the characters and so on. It’s incredibly immersive and once you started reading you fall into the world, everything is so vivid and the author paints a picture with her words.”

Quote of the Day:

“Deceiving others. That is what the world calls a romance.”
~ Oscar Wilde

Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!
Share & Enjoy


Recommended Books to Escape Reality

Posted by Gail Carriger

Gentle Reader, here’s a list of the best books for escaping reality. 2016 has been a rough year so I figure right now we all probably need it, for some reason or another.

Want your….

50 Shades of Escape?

For Real Alexis Hall

For Real by Alexis Hall
Get your kink with a side of heart warming and some of the most well written prose in commercial genre fiction.

Mr Darcy in a wet shirt only funny?

Ridiculous by D.L. Carter

Ridiculous by D.L. Carter
Hilarious cross-dressing regency romance. Fall in love with Mr North, I did.

John Snow getting seduced by Aragon?

Bitterwood by Rowan Speedwall

Bitterwood by Rowan Speedwell
Winter IS coming. (Oh yes, I went there.)

Princess picking the dragon over the prince?

Dealing with Dragons by Patricia Wrede

Dealing with Dragons by Patricia Wrede
And she learns to cook cherries jubilee. Twist that fairy tale, twist and shout!

Star crossed lovers, trade secrets, and clashing cultures?

Local Custom by Lee & Miller

Local Custom by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller
Star sweeping romance of space operatic proportions in one nice stand-alone story.

Political drama where the good girl wins?

Daughter of the Empire by Fiest & Wurts

Daughter of the Empire by Raymond E. Feist & Janny Wurts
First of three books about a brilliant lady playing the political game to win. When she can’t win? She makes up her own rules. This sweeping epic set in an alternate Japanese culture is full of honor, nobility, and fraught love affairs. But yes, the good girl wins it all in the end. (Unfortunately, not available in digital format but it is so worth picking up the mass market.)

{Gail’s monthly read along for December is Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins.}

PROJECT ROUND UP  

  • Romancing the Werewolf ~ A Supernatural Society Novella
    Status: Rough Draft.
    LBGTQ reunion romance featuring your favorite reluctant werewolf dandy, the return of a certain quietly efficient Beta, and a very unexpected gift.
  • Secret Project SAS ~ Novel
    Status: First draft done. Resting before second draft.
    Contemporary m/m paranormal romance between a snarky mage and a gruff werewolf. Hella raunchy. Super dirty. Very very fun. Spin off of Marine Biology.

OUT NOW

Romancing the Inventor

Romancing the Inventor: A Supernatural Society Novella

A steampunk lesbian romance featuring a maid bent on seducing a brilliant cross-dressing scientist who’s too brokenhearted to notice. Or is she?

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

c.1923 United States Philadelphia Museum of Art

c.1923 United States Philadelphia Museum of Art

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Octopus Pot Corinthian British Museum

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

“A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal.”
~ Oscar Wilde

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

“Writing is the flip side of sex – it’s good only when it’s over.”
~ Hunter S. Thompson

Book News:

The Nocturnal Library says of Imprudence:

“Traveling to Egypt on The Spotted Custard would be fun under any circumstances, but with Rue’s companions and some very dear characters from The Parasol Protectorate, it’s a true delight.”

Quote of the Day:

“Bread and water can so easily be toast and tea.”
~ Author Unknown

Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!
Share & Enjoy!


Behind Romancing the Inventor: Blame Mercedes Lackey

Posted by Gail Carriger

Back when I was first transitioning into reading adult books, Gentle Reader, it was pretty natural to cross from children’s fantasy (there was no YA as a category back then) into adult fantasy via Mercedes Lackey. (I still hold that Arrows is, in fact, YA. It simply has never been packaged that way. Silly marketing.)

For me that transition went pretty smoothly because, well… girls and soul bonded horses. I know, but in case you never guessed, I’ve always been a super girly girl (aside from being totally not squeamish about bugs and food and dirt and climbing anything that will stand still long enough for me to get up it and… where was I?) Oh yes, so child Gail began reading adult books because white horses with purple eyes on cover. Duh.

I don’t know that I have a pithy place I am going with this post. I guess I’m writing it because I get asked a lot:

Why do you include gay characters in your books?

I find the question confusing. Like, Gail, why do you include food in your books? Or descriptions of dresses? Or fragment sentences? It’s part of my DNA as a writer. My world view. My world.

But that also seems to trivialize the whole darn thing.

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I think a better question is, why on earth would I not?

Mercedes Lackey always inhabits her work with gay and lesbian characters. They are not always central characters, as they are the Last Herald Mage series, but they are always there. (Keep reading Lackey and you end up with poly relationships. Gail, age 14 thought Knight of Ghosts and Shadows had the most romantic ending of any book EVER, and kinda still does.) All these relationships are presented in a supportive light. Which made perfect sense to child Gail with all her Berkeley and San Francisco poet, artist, dancer, musician aunties and uncles (and uncles who were also aunties).

screen-shot-2016-09-25-at-4-21-59-pm

Since then, I’m lucky enough to have socialized with Mercedes on a few occasions as a grown up professional author (and she is just as warm and wonderful as you might hope). I’m afraid when I first met her, my friend Lauren and I rather fan-girled all over her. Almost entirely because we wanted to impress upon her the fact that her books were so very important because they gave us a model of fantasy that included alternate sexuality. As she went to pains to point out, there were other genre authors doing this before her. But those authors were generally less accessible to young women. Her books were/are important because in them queer wasn’t a big deal. It just was. And so when Lauren and I began to write it just was for us, too.

And that, my darlings, is a powerful instrument of change.

So there it is. As we move to a place where I, as an author, am finally writing a LBGTQ main character the answer to your question of why is essentially… blame Mercedes Lackey.

{Gail’s monthly read along for October is The Black Swan by Mercedes Lackey.}

PROJECT ROUND UP  

  • Romancing the Werewolf ~ A Supernatural Society Novella
    Status: Outline.
    LBGTQ reunion romance featuring your favorite reluctant werewolf dandy, the return of a certain quietly efficient Beta, and a very unexpected gift.
  • Secret Project SAS ~ Novella? Novel? Who knows.
    Status: Rough draft.
    Something new and different for Gail, contemporary m/m paranormal romance between a snarky mage and a gruff werewolf. Hella raunchy. Super dirty. Very very fun. Spin off of Marine Biology.

NEXT UP

Romancing the Inventor

Romancing the Inventor: A Supernatural Society Novella

A steampunk lesbian romance featuring a maid bent on seducing a brilliant cross-dressing scientist who’s too brokenhearted to notice. Or is she?

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

1872 Fashion plate via shewhoworshipscarlin tumblr

1872 Fashion plate via shewhoworshipscarlin tumblr

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

10 Times Umbrellas Became Works of Art

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

5 Travel Pillows in Order of Ridiculousness

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

How to Create an Anthology

Book News:

Fan Art Lefoux by Cara Powers

Fan Art Lefoux by Cara Powers

Quote of the Day:

“There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”
~ Oscar Wilde

Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!


Coop de Book Review: Finders Keepers

Posted by Gail Carriger

So, Gentle Reader, I chose this book blind (without having vetted it) and this is the second time I have done that and regretted it.

Ominous start.

That said, I enjoyed the book. It kept me glued to the couch while convalescing from my own stupidity, which is all I ask for from books as a rule. However, I think the other Linnea Sinclair that I read, Games of Command, was more to my taste. (Prevailing opinion amongst those in my readership who also regularly read Sinclair, is that An Accidental Goddess is her best. For some reason the blurb for that book has never sucked me in.)

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-7-28-36-am

First of all, I chose Finders Keepers because it was the only other of Sinclair’s blurbs that appealed. I was interested in this author for the Book Group (A) because I enjoyed Games, and (B) because she is basically the acknowledged queen of SF romance.

So far as I understand, there isn’t a great deal of super popular SF romance. It’s a burgeoning field but a sticky one to navigate. There’s already not a huge number of crossover genre readers between Mystery, SF/F, and Romance, and (as a rule) SF readers get tetchy about how their SF element is handled.

I’m not big on hard sci-fi myself (I prefer character over concept) but I do love my space opera, and I think that Sinclair does a solid job with her SF elements: the aliens, the spaceships, the ship-board culture, the societies, the technology, and languages, etc… In fact, I think with this book that the science fiction parts were the best parts, the plot was tightly paced, and technobabble was handled well. For me it was the romance that felt a little lackluster. (Funnily enough, Games of Command was the opposite. I found the romance compelling but the plot waffled a great deal in the middle. Just a data point.)

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-7-33-16-am

An interesting thing about SF romance, and I noticed this with Bach’s book and a few others, is that it isn’t always the heroine who is the Special Snowflake but the hero. In other words, Sinclair seems to write tough yet pretty ladies who happen to fall in with very special alpha warriors who are built by their governments to be deadly … yet tumble deeply into love with the rough-and-tumble chick. Usually, particularly in YA, the main female character is the Special Snowflake, but I’m wondering if in SF romance it’s an accepted trope to have it be the hero? Or maybe its a pull from military romance?

Not that I mind a Special Snowflake trope, it’s just that occasionally it edges (particularly in YA) too far into Mary Sue and then I get turned off.

“Tastes like rice that was ashamed of its identity.”

~ Finders Keepers

Where was I?

Right, Finders Keepers.

So it was the romance that disappointed me. Most of the initial approach was driven by proximity alert. A SF parlance term I believe was popularized in Star Trek but which the cast of Farscape used to describe the fact that any action aboard ship inevitably resulted in the heroine and hero being physically thrown together. (If you watch Farscape, you’ll see they use this with Aeryn and John a lot). Trilby stumbles and falls into or on top of Mr. Genetic-Engineered-and-Mustached at least four times in the first third of the book. This is also associated with the trope of the clumsy heroine, one which I dislike, not intensely, but which can cause me to raise an eyebrow.

“Instinctively he clasped her tightly against him and rolled away, placing his body protectively over hers.”

~ Finders Keepers

However, my reservations over the meat of the romance have almost entirely to do with the middle of the book after Trilby has rejected Rhis. He goes through the middle third stalking her in a pretty sleazy fashion. There were a couple of scenes that really made me uncomfortable. This may be a personal trigger so I won’t ding the book for it too hard, but I wonder if others got squeamish? (I have to admit to not loving a mustache either, except for comedic value.*)

My only final thought is that I wish Sinclair would write in the same universe. Each one of her books seems to be set in an entirely different star system with totally new characters. I’d be more tempted to continue reading her stuff if there were more crossover. I don’t demand a series, in fact I’d rather not, but I like the romance genre’s inclination to write shared-world books. (That’s why I’m doing it with my novellas.) I’d like the option of seeing how politics shake out in one of her universes, but instead it felt like the SF element in both these books was rather sacrificed on the alter of HEA.

This might say more about me as an SF/F reader who came late to romance than it does about her as a writer. And part of what writing this review has taught me is what a very difficult genre SF Romance must be to write in. What a challenge! Maybe someday I’ll pick up that gauntlet… or not.

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-7-40-43-am

So?

If you like the trope of a super strong bad-ass female-driven sci-fi with a special snowflake alpha warrior hero then I’d suggest the Paradox series is your best bet. It’s not strictly romance but the romance is good, the plot and pace are killer, and its a tidy three books you can sink into without getting lost forever Liaden style.

lolmoustaches

* A note on the mustache quibble. Things that are a matter of erotic preference I try not to use to judge a romance book. I mean, we all know what we like and what we would rather not read about. I remember one reviewer of Soulless (early on before I stopped reading such things) didn’t like the fact that there is sexy biting in my books. I kinda feel that werewolves are gonna go there, but she/he was totally entitled to be turned off by nibbles. This falls under my shrug-it-off category. As a romance reader I tend to fall into the GGG camp, as in: I may not like it personally but I am willing to give it a read/write to see why someone else might, and if it upsets me I’ll just skip it next time. Mustaches, however, when all is said and done, not my thing.

{Gail’s monthly read along for October is The Black Swan by Mercedes Lackey. This is a reread for me, and old favorite but it has  been years.}

PROJECT ROUND UP  

  • Romancing the Inventor ~ A Supernatural Society Novella
    Status: Working proof. Releases Nov. 1 2016.
    LBGT romance featuring a parlourmaid bent on seducing a certain cross-dressing inventor who is too brokenhearted to notice. Or is she?
  • Romancing the Werewolf ~ A Supernatural Society Novella
    Status: Outline.
    LBGTQ reunion romance featuring your favorite reluctant werewolf dandy, the return of a certain quietly efficient Beta, and a very unexpected gift.
  • Secret Project SAS ~ Novella? Novel? Who knows.
    Status: Rough draft.
    Something new and different for Gail, contemporary m/m paranormal romance between a snarky mage and a gruff werewolf. Hella raunchy. Super dirty. Very very fun. Spin off of Marine Biology.

SPECIAL RE-RELEASE

MySistersSong_ebook

My Sister’s Song

The warrior Mithra must repel a Roman legion alone and armed only with one very tasty weapon.

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Le Follet Thursday, October 1, 1863 v. 43, plate 76

Le Follet Thursday, October 1, 1863 v. 43, plate 76

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

lilliput-expectation

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

Beyond the Temporal ~ Spirits and Faith in Victorian England

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

The ellipsis in medieval manuscripts

screen-shot-2016-09-18-at-2-36-24-pm

Self I my Ellipses Are Forever shirt.

Book News:

Quote of the Day:

“He had the sort of flowing accent you rarely heard these days, an old BBC accent, the type where you knew the speaker had been brought up to hate rudeness above all other sins.”
~ Snow on the Roof by J. Leigh Bailey, Mari Donne, Amy Rae Durreson, Tray Ellis, Kim Fielding, Laylah Hunter, John Inman, Linda James, Rhidian Brenig Jones, Anne Regan

Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!

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