Tagged reviews

Reading Books About Women Who Dress As Men

Posted by Gail Carriger

Hello gentle reader, this is a reboot of an article that I wrote for Tor.com.

I’ve chatted many times over the years about the fact that one of my favorite tropes of all time is when a girl disguises herself as a boy for the purposes of infiltration. It’s hard to articulate why I love this concept so very much, but I do. It’s possible Shakespeare is to blame, Twelfth Night has always been my favorite of his plays.

For me, a woman fooling the patriarchy has a feeling of justified espionage. I have always loved the idea of spying but been a little turned off by its associated questionable morality. Yet these girls are disguised out of necessity, because they cannot achieve their goals any other way. A girl-disguised-as-a-boy is the ultimate outsider, trying desperately to join a group that by her very nature is ultimately impossible. She can give me voyeuristic insight into the guarded interactions of the male of the species ­– those mysterious creatures.

Mme Lefoux & Lord Akeldama Take Tea Fan Art

From a storytelling perspective, our female protagonist’s initial desperate act of subterfuge gives rise to the constant tension of possible discovery. How will friends, colleagues, and superiors react to being duped when she is found out? For the reader knows that she will, eventually, be found out. That constant stress on the character translates, at its best, to an intrinsically thrilling read.

Here I review five great books where a girl dresses as a boy or, if you prefer, a woman dresses as a man. And then I’ve added a list with more at the end.

Alanna: the First Adventure by Tamora Pierce

alanna-tamora-pierce

The first in the Lioness quartet; a classic epic fantasy series for young adults. Alanna wants nothing more in life than to be a knight, so she disguises herself as a boy and travels to her nation’s capital to become a palace page. Alanna is witty, stubborn, brave, and talented, but also flawed in such a way that it is all too easy to see why she conceived of this madcap plan and why she might fail.

Sword Masters by Selina Rosen

sword-masters

The story of a woman with a very particular set of skills, and some seriously dangerous secrets, who infiltrates not only a school for swordsmen but a foreign culture, in an effort to build alliances and defeat a common enemy. Disguised as a man she is forced, eventually, to marry a woman, and must face the consequences of her own lies on a personal, as well as a professional, level.

The Price of the Stars by Debra Doyle & James D. MacDonald

price-of-stars

The first book in a sprawling space opera trilogy. Beka fakes her own death and becomes Tarnekep, a thoroughly unpleasant space pirate, in order to unravel the twisting political coils that are tightening the noose of responsibility around her reluctant neck. Beka loves being her male alter ego, and there is a definite aspect of transgender to Beka’s personality, which is neither empathized nor criticized. When Beka is Tarnekep she is described in 3rd POV as a he, a narrative trick that forces the reader see him for what Beka also is, male. Tarnekep allows Beka access to freedom, places, people, and information she could never have as her other self. He also finds it much easier to kill. Thus we are never certain if Beka loves being Tarnekep for what he can give her, for what he is innately, or if she/he simply exists comfortably as two distinct personalities.

To Play the Lady by Naomi Lane

play-the-lady

The first book in an as yet unfinished series. It features many of the things I love about a girl playing a boy, although in this story our low class tomboy from another culture must play at being both a noble lady and a stable lad. Politics force Jenna to assume this double act, hiding her magical abilities and her manly skills. If discovered, Jenna will bring shame and destruction down upon her family, her nationality, and her entire social caste. For Jenna, the stakes are very very high indeed.

Newt’s Emerald by Garth Nix

newts-emerald

A charming take on gaslight fantasy, Nix uses the girl-disguised-as-boy trope in its more light-hearted guise. In regency times, Newt must track down a missing emerald. As it is much easier to get around alone as a mustache-wearing man, Newt dons the mustache with gusto. Hijinks and a very confused romance result.

Want more?*

And one where a boy disguises himself as a girl:

The Great and Terrible Quest by Margaret Lovett (no ebook available)

Conall Feels Pretty Fan Art

* This is an ever expanding list that I refer to constantly so if you have more to suggest, please do leave a comment. Main characters only please. I haven’t read them all but I plan to!

{Gail’s monthly read along for April is Brother’s Ruin by Emma Newman.}

PROJECT ROUND UP

  • Secret Project SAS ~ Novel by G. L. Carriger
    Status: With Copy Editor
    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 . . .

1895 The Metropolitan Museum of Art _ OMG that dress!

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

‘Dancing’ Octopus Photo Wins Underwater Photographer of the Year

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

Everything You Know About Corsets Is False

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

27 Hard-Won Lessons about Writing from New York Times Bestselling Authors

Book News:

Quote of the Day:

“She slid into the vampire’s main hallway. The gas was turned down, making sinister shadows out of dancing cherub statuary. Preshea became one with their devilish waltz.”

~ Poison or Protect

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

screen-shot-2016-09-25-at-4-21-06-pm

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: Not Really a Book Review of Alanna by Tamora Pierce

Posted by Gail Carriger

OK, up front confession, the The Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce pretty much changed my life, Gentle Reader. I was eight when I first read Alanna and it altered my world view on fantasy and books in general ~ the very I idea that a young girl could be the central character and really kick some proverbial ass did not jive with anything I had read before! I haunted the bookstore for the new one to come out (usually didn’t buy many books – I read too many too quickly would have beggared my family, but I had a very understanding library). This is one of the only series for which I have hard back first editions (which I keep in my office for safety) and pocket paperbacks (initially to travel around to various academic institutions with me, now reside at my mother’s place) and ebooks (for travel now). As a general rule I’m not a collector, I don’t care about the edition. But I have a signed first edition of Alanna and it is a prized possession.

Tamora Pierce was the reason I went to my first WorldCon. She was my first author kaffeeklatsch. In consequence, it is really hard for me to review Alanna in any kind of objective fashion. So instead I am going to tell you the story of how this book changed my life.

Picture a small town girl, 13 people in her eighth grade class, tried everything she could not to go to gangland public high. Luckily, she managed to slide into a private prep school (and while there was a scholarship, we aren’t going to talk about what the parentals had to do to afford it, not to mention make the drive every morning). So, there I was in Freshman English class and this adorable sweet-tempered other-worldly young lady and I start gravitating towards each other. However, it wasn’t until after class, at lunch, that Tamora Pierce came up in conversation.

Turns out we were both rabid fans. No, really. And then, as you do with books, we started sharing the other ones we really loved, and she told me ones I should read, and I told her ones she should read. And by the end of that lunch, we were rabid friends. And that, as they say, was that.

Going on almost 30 years now, Phran and I have played writer’s hopscotch with each other. She got her first short story published in MZB’s Sword & Sorceress when we were 15. Took me 3 years to catch up. She dragged me to my first science fiction convention (BayCon ’95). Significant others have come and gone, but it’s Phran and I who go to book parties together, who made the first trek to WorldCon together, and who still, more often than not, are each others plus one. She’s gone on to work for Locus and I’ve gone on to write books. I was her plus one at the Hugo party only a few days ago.

So how do you thank a book for bringing you your best friend? I guess what I am saying is Alanna is wrapped up in so much of my life I can’t really review it, it’s less a book than a beacon, and less an annual re-read than a visit through my own memories. It’s the ultimate comfort.

Gail Tamora & Beyond the Trope Podcasters

Gail, Tamora & Beyond the Trope Podcasters

So. Yeah. Anyway…

My pick for next month is Finders Keepers by Linnea Sinclair. Why? Well I read her Games of Command and quite enjoyed it so I thought this one might be fun too. I usual vet the books before I choose them so I am out on a limb with this one, but I hope you all enjoy it. It’s a sci-fi romance, which seems to me just another way to say space opera only with more sex and a happy ending.

Looking for more to read?

{Gail’s monthly read along for September is Finders Keepers by Linnea Sinclair.}

PROJECT ROUND UP  

  • Romancing the Inventor ~ A Supernatural Society Novella
    Status: Working proof. Releases Nov. 1 2016.
    LBGT romance featuring a parlormaid 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

MarineBiology_promo

Marine Biology

A short tale of seduction, selkies, and sushi.

Alex is a werewolf with problems – he’s unexpectedly alive, he’s quite definitely gay, and he’s been ordered into a partnership with one very flirty merman.

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

1930 Cecil Beaton’s fantastic portrait of the Queen Mother when she was young. via fawnvelveteen tumblr

1930 Cecil Beaton’s fantastic portrait of the Queen Mother when she was young. via fawnvelveteen tumblr

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

 

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

10 Dangerous Beauty Trends From The Victorian Era

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

“Busting” Some Popular Copyright Myths

Book News:

All Things Urban Fantasy says of Imprudence: “IMPRUDENCE is very entertaining and even sweet in some moments. It’s a wonderful continuation of the series and I am looking forward to seeing Prudence go on yet another adventure.”

Quote of the Day:

“And then he smiled his smallest smile, the secret one, the one with all his pain in it.”

~ For Real by Alexis Hall

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

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10 of the Best SF/F Romances That Romance Readers Don’t Know About

I’ve been hanging out a lot recently with my local chapter of RWA, and two very special ladies there-in. Once of them, Lea Kirk, has written the lovely Prophecy. This is very much a romance with sci-fi elements. As I started to prattle on about all the sci-fi romances I loved with them, my recommendations were met with blank stairs.

For so long, the various commercial genres have been kept artificially separate (with the possible exception of SF/F, but even there people argue about the worthiness of soft fantasy compared to hard sci-fi and such rot). Look, it’s a marketing thing, we all know that. People like categories. And labels. But it occurs to me that much as labeling people or authors causes heartache so labeling books can cause problems. Such as readers who might adore a book not even knowing it exists!

There are a number of wonderful SF/F books with HEAs and glorious romance threads that romance readers don’t know about because they were given cover art and shelf space in the wrong part of the bookstore.

I aim to rectify this!

Some romance readers have already bravely crossed from paranormal romance into urban fantasy. Well, ladies and gentlemen, there is a whole new world after that, and I am giving you a glimpse into the possibilities…

So here is my wholly biased and preferential list of wonderful, satisfying, romances that just happen to be set in a SF or F world. There may be is a bit more world-building and fewer sex scenes than you are accustomed to, but I think they will totally satisfy the romance reader. And frankly, you can always read them and tell me how wrong I was.

Sci-Fi

1. The Paradox Series by Rachel Bach ~ Devi, a badass mercenary with a core set of moral values, meets Rupert, the starship cook (or is he an alien, or is he an assassin, or both?) with no moral values what-so-ever. You’ll need to read all three to get your HEA. But you can watch this amazing author build a universe destroying problem in which everyone is trying to do the right thing for the wrong reasons and every bad guy may actually be a good guy in the end. Bach is the story-crafting mistress of us all!

2. Local Custom by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller ~ This deeply romantic, fraught tale of a galactic trader bound by duty and the academic who loves him yet understands him all too well. Epic culture clashing, deep soul bonding, and a matriarch who would keep them apart. Spine tingling stuff. Read my full review on Goodreads.

3. Restoree by Anne McCaffrey ~ Perhaps this book is a gimme. The original cover certainly makes it look romance, if old fashioned romance, but I always found it filed in SF/F. Our heroine wakes up on an alien world with an alien face as the nurse to a man with no name. When she begins to remember she takes steps to free them both, sparking worldwide political intrigue and falling in love with the man she was supposed to destroy. Read my review on Goodreads.

4. Cordelia’s Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold ~ You don’t have to jump into the never ending Vorkosigan saga, you can just read this book (an omnibus of the two Cordelia books: Shards of Honor and Barrayar). Watch bold as brass and intensely honorable Cordelia fall in love with a most inappropriate alien with universe-wide consequences. Yes you even get an HEA, although it is very hard won. Full review on Goodreads.

Fantasy

5. Warprize  by Elizabeth Vaughan ~ This is book one of a trilogy, but I prefer to read it as a stand alone with an HEA. Our heroine is a healer from a medieval style culture taken captive by invading barbarians. But who really is the captive, and who really is the barbarian?

6. By The Sword by Mercedes Lackey ~ Mercenary and ultimate tough chick, Kero, accidentally rescues a herald and accidentally falls in love in the process. Yes the romance takes a back seat, but it’s still an emotional roller-coaster as the two jockey for power across countries in the midst of war. Read it for the amazing battle sequences and killer side characters, but yes, that oh so impactful HEA.

7. Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia C. Wrede, Caroline Stevermer ~ Two romances for the price of one! Regency London with magic and fun, always keeping a light touch, this epistolary book is the story of two girls unraveling a magic mystery, and falling in love along the way. Read my full review on Goodreads.

8. Lord of the Two Lands by Judith Tarr ~ Like your romance steeped in history? This is the story of an ambassador priestess of ancient Egypt and her complex relationship with Alexander the Great. It is also the story of the contentious love she shares with the man assigned to be her guard. Tarr has a unique writing style that I love. Oh and there is a sacred cat. Full review on Goodreads.

9. Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith ~ Do you like your fantasy set in a high court, full of politics and princesses and game playing? Is Pride and Prejudice your favorite Austen? Then this omnibus is for you. Mel is raised in the countryside to be a warrior countess, set out to defeat the evil king, and ends up getting a great deal more than she bargained for in the form of one reserved nobleman. Review on Goodreads.

10. The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley ~ A YA fantasy (that really isn’t YA) in which a girl is kidnapped by a desert king to train to be his kingdom’s last female warrior and only hope. Strong personalities and serious conflict drive their relationship (don’t worry – no Stockholm syndrome) and ancient evils will be defeated. Magic swords, hunting cats, and delightful horses abound.

Hard to find but worth hunting down…

Blade Dancer by S.L.Viehl ~ If you like your lovers star-crossed (literally) and soul bound, with both parties trying to defy the connection then this is for you. Tough warrior Jory pulls together seven rejected half-alien children in order to fight for justice, but she doesn’t know what to do when one of them is the love of her life. Read my review on Goodreads.

Soulstring by Midori Snyder ~ Playing with various fairy tale tropes and Greek myths this story follows the courageous journey of a powerful female protagonist with sweet hidden love story and an utterly charming conclusion. Review on Goodreads.

Fire Sword by Adrienne Martine-Barnes ~ Darn near impossible to get hold of, this wonderful book is the start of a larger series, but each one is designed to stand alone. The books tackle fate, mythology, time travel, and the meddling of iron age Celtic gods. One of whom becomes one of the most sympathetic alpha heroes I’ve ever read. This HEA involves resurrections, prophecies, and world snakes. Read my full review on Goodreads.

Taming the Forest King by Claudia J. Edwards ~ Military leader and soldier Tevra is sent in to pacify a branch of the empire mire in secrets and magic. There she is forced to choose between two men without realizing it. One of my favorite tropes, the man who has pined for years but never dared speak up. This is both a killer love triangle, utterly believable, and the HEA to end all HEAs. Read my review on Goodreads.

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip ~ If you like your fantasy very high indeed, steeped in riddles and legends and ancient exotic animals than this book is for you. The story of the most powerful sorceress on earth and the seventh son of a seventh son, so steeped in his family’s petty wars that he drags her into them. Or is she using him to her own ends? You’ll get your HEA, it’s bittersweet but there. Everything about this book is magic, including the prose itself. This is my desert island book. Read my full review on Goodreads. 

{Gail’s monthly read along for May is Powers That Be by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough.}

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

1940 Ziegfeld Girl  (Source- doctormacro.com)

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Read Some Victorian Gossip: 1871 Newspapers to Read Online

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

PROJECT ROUND UP 

  • Imprudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the Second. In production. Releases July 19, 2016 in print & eBook to US.
  • Poison or Protect ~ A Delightfully Deadly Novella.
    Status: With CE. Release date to come.
    Romance featuring a several-times widowed Preshea and the gentle Scottish captain who could change everything. (Gail’s first foray into hybrid land.)
  • Romancing the Inventor ~ A Supernatural Society Novella.
    Status: First pass edit.
    LBGT romance featuring a parlormaid bent on seducing a certain cross-dressing inventor whose too brokenhearted to notice. Or is she?

Gail Carriger’s Scribbles! 

 The Custard Protocol Series (1890s ~ ongoing)
 1 Prudence, 2 Imprudence (July 19, 2016)


 $0.99 short stories (ebook only)
My Sister’s Song; Marine Biology; Fairy Debt;
The Curious Case (featuring Alessandro Tarabotti)

Book News:
Hodderscape named the Parasol Protectorate series one of “Friday Favourites: Books Set in London.”

Quote of the Day:
“It’s all I’ve ever wanted, really. Someone to make tea for. To know how they like to drink it, and share some pieces of time with them at the end of long days, and short ones, good days and bad, and everything in between.”
~ Waiting for the Flood by Alexis Hall

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Gail on Facebook & Twitter & Goodreads & Tumblr.
Gail’s fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!

Terrier: Coop de Book Review and More on Tamora Pierce

Posted by Gail Carriger

 

Tamora Pierce’s Beka Cooper series, Book One: Terrier

I’m beginning to, finally, recognize patterns in Tamora Pierce’s heroines. When I was a kid I identified with her books so strongly I couldn’t possibly step back as a writer to see her tricks. Now, with the benefit of age and distance, I read this book with new eyes. Her main characters always have some kind of fatal flaw – in Beka’s case it’s fear of public speaking and chronic shyness, for Alanna it was cold and spiders, for Kel it was heights, and so forth. At some point, in each series, the heroine will be made to face her fear.

On the other hand, she also has an equally strong good trait or two – for Alanna this was stubbornness and whit, for Kel a stoically strong leadership, for Beka it’s dogged determination.

“I could’ve swore you said the Bold Brass gang got took down by an eight-year-old.”
My lord nodded and says, “She took against one of them. He was living with her mama. When he found out her mama had lung rot, he beat her up and took all she had of value. The girl Dogged him.”

For all of them it’s also surrounding themselves with supportive friends. You know I LOVE that. There is always one major issue or problem in each book for each girl that only she sees (and proverbially, must be responsible for the solution). In Beka’s first case it’s a problem of people disappearing, and since these people are her people (the poor and destitute) she undertakes their protection.

The Lower City is mine. Its people are mine—its children are mine. If I find them that’s doing all this kidnapping and murdering, they’d best pray for mercy.

I like Pierce best when she’s writing YA with a warrior girl main character. The Wild Mage series are my least favorite Tortall books and I gave up on her non-Tortall Circle series early.

But with Beka we’re back to my favorite kind of read. I will say I am not a huge fan of first person POV, and this epistolary style can be a little awkward.

Terrier

In this first Beka Cooper book, Pierce successfully weaves almost Noir police procedural with gritty crime-and-punishment in a fantasy setting. It reminded me, ever so slightly, of Vimes and the Night Watch of Ankh Morpork. Pierce is also using Beka to explore, for what feels like the first time, the commoners of Tortall – the neglected layfolk and the street people.

So often fantasy novels are about nobles and quests, it was delightful to see what the underlings thought of the nobles. The use of Lower City slang and lingo pervades the book, but not so much I was uncomfortable with it. So too there are also little touches of superstition which bring this world to life.

kissed the half moon at the base of my thumbnail for luck


And never forgetting the descriptions of food. 

thought I might drool when the smells met my nose: spiced pork pie with anise, herbs in beef broth, a raston, and a Tyran custard

Like peopling her books with excess characters, Pierce has such a light touch you hardly notice the overload. (And her editors let her get away with it, they might not with a less seasoned YA author.) Her wide cast of characters includes animals and the return of one of my favorites of all time, the Wanderer, the Cat, AKA (spoiler alert for Alanna) Faithful! I remember crying so hard in the last Alanna book when he returned to the Goddess. So to have him back in all his cheeky glory is truly wonderful. I would have bought this book on that fact alone if I had known.

“Did you know mages have named certain constellations ‘wanderers,’ because they appear and disappear for decades at a time? One of those is the Cat. At present, the Cat is missing from the night sky.”

So what are my final thoughts?

If you have a pre-teen girl in your life you owe it to the world to put Tamora Pierce in front of her. Beka is an excellent way to start, although Alanna will always be my favorite. Pierce is a master of strong tough young women. Women who know what they want, stand up for what they believe, hold a moral compass made of personal integrity, and still can love and be kind and surround themselves with friends. With the gruesome specter of reality TV looming over us, someone has to fight the good fight. We should all be so lucky as to have a little Tamora Pierce in our lives, and in ourselves.

A note on the follow up books:

Bloodhound

The second book in the series takes Beka away from Chorus and her friends and puts her on a case in a strange city giving her a new love interest. This book didn’t hold me as much as the first (or third) but it’s still worth the slog to know what happens to her there. I suggest it also because of the presence of one of the first instances I know, in YA fantasy, of a transgender woman. There is a beautiful little scene where Okha Soyan explains what this means to a confused but sympathetic Beka.

Mastiff

The final Beka book is probably my favorite. Oddly it begins with Beka mourning the loss of her Dog lover. And goes on to become a true classic quest. There is Beka (shall we call her the ranger?), a mage, a paladin, and a rogue. I didn’t realize this until this most recent reread. Pierce has fun with the tropes and delves once more into the horrors of the common folk in medieval times (basically). It’s nice to see a fantasy that doesn’t glorify nobility to the expense of all reality. For those of you who, like me, yearn for a happy ever after, don’t you worry. Beka gets that too. But then if you’ve read the Alanna books you know that, for we have all met her marvelous long after progeny.

(And yes, before you ask, George Cooper is my ideal man. So there.)

One Final Note (Tamora Pierce makes me loquacious)

Pierce is generally good about mixing up gender and approaching feminism head on. For example she gives us, at the very beginning of Terrier, a domestic abuser who is the mother, and in this book we meet the cult of the Gentle Goddess which oppresses women, but is also enforced by women. I like it, Pierce is gloriously multifaceted, and never afraid to approach big issues, like slavery.

“Cats must always be cats, even when they are gods, or constellations.”
~ Terrier: The Legend of Beka Cooper #1 by Tamora Pierce

P.S. I’d like to state for the record that I wrote my character, Tunstell, before I read these books. 

{Gail’s monthly read along for March is Sorcery & Cecelia: Or, The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer.}

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

via @DailyArtApp 
Painted in the open air on the beach at Trouville,
this painting has sand on its surface. from @YaleArtGallery

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
“He has purple eyes,” one of the new coves said. He looked a bit spooked. “Purple eyes. Is he magic?”
“Aren’t all cats?” Ersken asked.
~ Terrier: The Legend of Beka Cooper #1 by Tamora Pierce

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
10 Character Cliches to Watch Out For

PROJECT ROUND UP 

  • Imprudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the Second. Proofs pass. Releases July 19, 2016 in print & eBook to US.
  • Poison or Protect ~ A Delightfully Deadly Novella. Reworking & trimming. Release date to come. Gail’s first foray into hybrid land, featuring a several-times widowed Preshea and the gentle Scottish captain who could change everything.



Gail Carriger’s Scribbles! 

 The Custard Protocol Series (1890s ~ ongoing)
 1 Prudence, 2 Imprudence (July 19, 2016)


 $0.99 short stories (ebook only)
Marine Biology; My Sister’s Song; Fairy Debt;
The Curious Case (featuring Alessandro Tarabotti)

Book News:
Cassandra Giovanni gives Manners & Mutiny nothing but 5 stars across the board:
“The final novel in the Finishing School series is a topping one for sure. Not only are we served with a beautiful cover and intriguing description, but the entire novel is as fun as the rest.”

Quote of the Day:
“You look as scary as a buttered muffin,” I grumbled.
~ Bloodhound: The Legend of Beka Cooper #2  by Tamora Pierce

Want Gail in you inbox once a month? Get the Chirrup!
Gail on Facebook & Twitter & Goodreads & Tumblr.
Gail’s fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!

Book Group Poll Results ~ Gail’s Thoughts on 2015’s Read Alongs

Posted by Gail Carriger

 

I just ended my 2015 poll, designed to gather readers’ favorite books out of those I chose for last year. 2015 was the first full year of the book group. This kind of poll is good for me, because it provides a great deal of insight. The books that result in the most discussion (which are the ones I pay attention to at the time) are not necessarily the ones that people liked the best. Also the books that I think will cause the most excitement, because they are similar to my own work, aren’t always the most popular either.

So, the poll…

205 readers participated in the poll (which was pretty awesome as I didn’t know that many people were reading along with the group!)

I’m guessing there are more out there too, likely some didn’t vote because the poll isn’t mobile friendly, and it’s outside of common use platforms (like Feedly, or Goodreads, or FB). Some may not have voted because the didn’t read all 12 books. And some just don’t like polls.

RESULTS

With 23% of the vote (49 people) The Eyre Affair was the most popular read. I would guess this is also the general populace’s favorite of the books we read in 2015.

Uprooted came in a close second with 47 votes (22%). This startled me as I see very little cross over with my own work and Uprooted. Still, nice to know a fairy story with a darker edge is welcome, particularly one where the ebook is overpriced. Uprooted also had a clear lead at the beginning of the poll, which tells me that the most devoted readers of my social media (and those with quickest ability to respond – likely younger) favor this book.

(I must say I don’t think much of Uprooted‘s cover.)

In order of decreasing popularity the other books were:

  1. Court of Fives 16 (7%) ~ YA epic fantasy, historical bent, modern style*
  2. Valor’s Choice 16 (7%) ~ military space opera
  3. My Man Jeeves 16 (7%) ~ vintage comedy
  4. Karen Memory 16 (7%) ~ dystopian feminist steampunk
  5. Newt’s Emerald 15 (7%) ~ gaslight fantasy regency romance
  6. Kat, Incorrigible 15 (7%) ~ mid-grade regency comedy
  7. Ridiculous 7 (4%) ~ regency romance, modern style
  8. The Outlaws of Sherwood 5 (2%) ~ vintage alt-history retelling
  9. Jinn & Juice 3 (1%) ~ urban fantasy, modern style
  10. Passion Blue 0 (0%) ~ YA historical

In cases were the books were ranked the same, I put them in order of my favorite first.
* By modern style I mean written with the pace, plot tropes and character archetypes, and graphic sex we see more common in books written since the age of indy publishing. Yes, it is different.

Some thoughts: 

  • I’m not certain how many people who voted actually read all 12 books. In the future, I might add a check box asking that question at the top.
  • I’m looking into a better platform for the poll in the future. Last I checked, nothing integrated well with blogger, so it may have to be an external survey generator. Could use a Google form the way I do with the Chirrup. Not sure yet.
  • Despite their 3rd place ranking, I don’t see myself choosing anymore Wodehouse or anything as gritty as Karen Memory again. 
  • I’m also unlikely to go for mid-grade or straight up historical. The first I now believe is too childish, the second too dry, for this particular Book Group.
  • The two books I thought most like my own were Newt’s Emerald and Ridiculous. Either the people in my book group have more varied taste than my fans (who always ask for something to read that’s exactly like my books) or my own estimate of what’s similar to my books is wrong. Or I’ve no idea what people like about my books. Or all three. 

STILL want something to read?
While You Are Waiting ~ Books To Read While Gail Types

{Gail’s monthly read along for January is The Raven Ring by Patricia Wrede. You do not have to have read any other Lyra books.}

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

via shewhoworshipscarlin.tumblr.com Summer dress fashion plate ,1808

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Ephemeral Elegance @drapedinhistory  Such an enchanting image of a couple ice skating, c.1880s

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Regency History: When Was London Season?

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
We Need To Talk About Territories

PROJECT ROUND UP 

  • Imprudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the Second. Edit pass. Releases July 19, 2016 in print & eBook to US.
  • Secret Project Novella 1 ~ Gail’s first foray into hybrid land. Rough draft done, wait to start first pass.



Gail Carriger’s Books! 

 The Finishing School Series (1850s ~ completed)
1 Etiquette & Espionage, 2 Curtsies & Conspiracies,
3 Waistcoats & Weaponry, 4 Manners & Mutiny

The Parasol Protectorate Series (1870s ~ completed)
1 Soulless, 2 Changeless, 3 Blameless, 4 Heartless, 5 Timeless

 The Custard Protocol Series (1890s ~ ongoing)
 1 Prudence, 2 Imprudence (July 19, 2016)

Parasol Protectorate Series manga graphic novels (1870s)
 $0.99 short stories (ebook only)
Marine Biology; My Sister’s Song; Fairy Debt;

Book News:
Gail appears on SF Signal Podcast: The Obligatory Best of 2015 Episode

Quote of the Day:
“My dear fellow, the truth isn’t quite the sort of thing one tells to a nice, sweet, refined girl.”
 ~ Oscar Wilde

Gail’s fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
The best place to talk all things Parasol Protectorate is on its
Facebook Group.

Coop de Book Review Newt’s Emerald & Ridiculous

Posted by Gail Carriger

 

Newt’s Emerald was just as much fun on the reread as it was the first time I read it, Gentle Reader. There is something so light and easy about this book. This is a bit of a shock from Mr. Nix. Not that his necromancer YA is labored, just that it is, by necessity given the subject matter, weighty. (Still, I recommend it if you like that kind of dark well-done fantasy. Just don’t go in expecting anything like Newt’s Emerald.)

While I like the cover well enough, as covers go, I do think it does this particular book a disservice. It’s not going to find an eager New Adult or YA market. Nor will it draw in any romance readers with this style of art and price point. In fact, I’m hard pressed to think what market the publisher thinks this cover targets. Perhaps they were after Night Circus readers, but why? The books aren’t at all alike. Regardless, it’s a pity, as I think Newt’s Emerald could do very well with YA, New Adult, and Romance readers. I can only hope with the paperback they change up the cover and that love for this novel spreads. I’d suggest something like the cover of Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal. Not that anyone is asking at me, but they might try a different title too ~ one with better keyword action.

Now, let us put aside the things over which the author (self or the admirable Mr. Nix) has very little control (at least in this instance) and move on to story and writing. It’s brilliant, my dears, just brilliant.

“By the time Truthful had carefully put away her ensorcelled moustache, soaked in her lemon verbena-scented bath, slept for an hour, and dressed in a charming walking dress of green crape with puffed sleeves embellished with silver knot-ribbons, she felt much better.”

I should just like to say that Ensorcelled Moustache is the name of my dub-step meets opera cover band.

“Out of my way, spider-shanks! Fellow with calves like that shouldn’t be seen in knee breeches.”

So right, this is me, all the quotes I pick are going to revolve around clothing. Can’t be helped. Spider-Shanks indeed. Might be my second favorite insult after Poodle-Faker. (All the best insults have hyphens. Incidentally, that’s the name of Ensorcelled Moustache’s first hit single.)

All in all, I felt the story, the characters, and the romance all rubbed along together in a topping manner. It reminded me of my youth spent smuggling illicit regency romances to read on the beach, meets Sorcery & Cecelia. And anything that reminds me of my youth plus a favorite book must be praised.

The character of Lady Badgery greatly intrigued me. I should dearly love to read her story some day.

“As to the impressive score of deaths that may be laid at my door, they all occurred in the six years I lived as a man, in the Army, as a lieutenant to my beloved Badgery. All were in battle, you understand. Oh, there was one duel, but that was an accident.”

“Hasn’t Parkins been with you since you were married?” she asked.
Lady Badgery smiled again. “Sergeant Harkins she was in those days,” she said. “She had the most remarkable beard. I wonder if she still has it?”

I want that book Mr Nix. Pretty please?

Meanwhile, if you are at all inclined, please give this little gem a review? Newt’s Emerald could very much use the boost. And if you want to read something similar go get Sorcery & Cecilia, last I checked the ebook was listed for sale in the US at only $1.99. (Although if you have been having around me for any length of time, you likely already have it. I am constantly pimping it.)

I found Ridiculous by D L Carter a frivolous but very fun regency romance. It has more sexy-times than normal in such books, and a whole lot of pining girl disguised as a boy a favorite trope of mine. Also it is really quite funny. I laughed out loud at least a dozen times.

Again, it has a pretty sorry cover. But with over 1000 reviews on Amazon, a great star rating, and a $0.99 price point I think it’s doing fine for this author. Although, I did see some of the negative reviews specifically complained that there was too much sex. (Despite the author’s clear attempt to manage expectations with: ***Mature Audience Advisory*** Identity theft regency style. Funny. Sexy. Cross Dressing. Not your mother’s Regency Romance.) If the cover were a little sexier and more modern style, modeled and less traditionally regency sketch (not to mention weirdly awkward) this might manage expectations. (Where are their feet? Why is the perspective & of the background and that of the figures so mismatched? Why is he sucking on his cane? Why does the blond look like Macaulay Culkin? It is all very concerning. I have to stop looking at it now, or I’ll keep worrying.)

Here’s the blurb:
After the death of her miserly cousin Antony North, Millicent Boarder is determined her family should never be poor or vulnerable again. To protect them she conceals her cousin’s death and assumes his identity. Now she must face the Ton and the world as Mr. North and accept the price she must pay for her family’s safety — she will never be loved. Which means, of course, at this point she will meet the perfect man.

Here we see Millicent herself put the plan into words:

“There are many types of men in society. If I set out to be deliberately silly, inconsequential, and foolish, then if I should do something odd, people will say, ‘Oh, that is just that odd Mr. North. Think nothing of it.’”

And so she creates a kind of foolish Wilde character, only with far less fashion sense. In order to disguise her body shape she must affect very ill-fitting suits. Again, I tend to gravitate towards and enjoy the quotes that deals with clothing and apparel. Here’s a fun one:

“We met at the assembly,” replied Mildred. “The widow of Sir Richard Whenthistle with the purple turban and astonishingly black hair for her age.”
“And six flounces at the hem,” added Maude with a shudder.

But my favorite things by far in this book are when Mr. North (AKA Millicent) is at his most witty. 

“Ah, I realize we have not been properly introduced,” said Millicent to the dark haired creature who sat shivering on her lap. “But I fear you have hopelessly compromised me. We shall have to be wed.”

“Your horses are all well. Merely shaken a bit with one or two scratches. However, I fear it will be necessary to shoot your carriage to put it out of its misery.”

Mr. North as a fribble is released from many societal requirements because of his absurdity. Like the class clown getting away with misbehavior because he makes the teacher laugh.

“Elizabeth Rose Edwina Genevieve Helene, actually,” said Lady Beth. “Good heavens. You should be six feet tall to bear the burden of so many names.”

Mr. North can be either kind or cutting, depending on the circumstances. And Millicent, who is sympathetic to the plight of young lady wallflowers, often uses the foolishness of her alter ego to be kind.

“You have had a London season?” asked Millicent in her softest voice. The answer was the barest nod. “And it did not go well?” An even smaller shake was her answer.
“Whatever is wrong with London?” demanded Millicent.

“Yes, he is a duke,” said Millicent softly. “But what are we to feed him?” demanded Mrs. Prichart. “Food, I imagine,” said Millicent, “since it is only a rumor that they live on moonbeams and starlight.”

I liked how the ending was treated, and I did think it was inevitable, given this is a romance novel. Nevertheless, I was sad to see Mr. North go, and to know Millicent could never be him again and enjoy the freedom of the opposite sex.

“Tea was drunk and stories told of the odd little fellow who had won the hearts of the ton, then died, tragically, before he became unfashionable.”

Mr. North was more powerful than she could ever be, even as a duchess. I have to imagine that after all her liberty she would chaff against the bounds of being a woman once more in the early 1800s. Would marriage and great sex be enough to compensate, do you think? I don’t know.

“When Mr. North’s coffin was carried from the church with Shoffer, Duke of Trolenfield leading on the right side, Mr. North’s brother-in-law to be, a simple secretary, in the middle, and a farmer come hot foot all the way from Wales to fulfill this honor following, the other side staffed by officers in full regimentals, one wag was moved to comment that all that was required was an Indian chief to make the funeral complete.”

Silly stocking stuffers from the Mum


I do hope you are enjoying your holidays. I’ve lots of fun blog posts planned for the next few weeks and this month’s Chirrup contains some Very Good News. 

Talk to you again in 2016!

{Gail’s monthly read along for January is The Raven’s Ring by Patricia Wrede. You do not have to have read any other Lyra books.}

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Le Moniteur de la Mode Date-  Tuesday, July 1, 1845

Your Infusion of Cute . . .
Scientist Tries to Photograph Octopus, Octopus Photographs Scientist Instead

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
How Did Prison Change Oscar Wilde?

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
He Never Wasted A Single Failure

PROJECT ROUND UP 

  • Manners & Mutiny ~ The Finishing School Book the Last. Out now!
  • Imprudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the Second. Handed in. Available for pre-order, releases July 19, 2016 in the US.



Gail Carriger’s Books! 

 The Finishing School Series (1850s ~ completed)
1 Etiquette & Espionage, 2 Curtsies & Conspiracies,
3 Waistcoats & Weaponry, 4 Manners & Mutiny

The Parasol Protectorate Series (1870s ~ completed)
1 Soulless, 2 Changeless, 3 Blameless, 4 Heartless, 5 Timeless

 The Custard Protocol Series (1890s ~ ongoing)
 1 Prudence, 2 Imprudence (July 19, 2016)

Parasol Protectorate Series manga graphic novels (1870s)
 $0.99 short stories (ebook only)
Marine Biology; My Sister’s Song; Fairy Debt;

Book News:
21 Amazing Young Adult Series That Ended in 2015

Quote of the Day:
“They are not so very much older than me, are they? I would not want them to laugh at my presumption.” Millicent paused before answering. “Far be it from me to estimate any lady’s age, whether young or old. Let me only say you are taller.”
~ Ridiculous by D L Carter

Gail’s fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
The best place to talk all things Parasol Protectorate is on its
Facebook Group.

Books Picks for December’s Read Along

Posted by Gail Carriger

 

A conflagration of necessary posts puts this one a little late this month, Gentle Reader. I’m hoping that vacation and travel means a few of you have more reading time in December for I have chose two fun books for you.

What are they? Regency-set pieces where girls disguise themselves as boys.

Newt’s Emerald by Garth Nix. I think the powers-that-be have this one listed as YA or New Adult gaslight fantasy, which is fine with me. I read it thinking it was adult. Either way, I enjoyed this fun lighthearted story, so I picked it for my December reread. Hopefully this is a new book for many of you and you will like it as much as I did.

Blurb:
Inspired by the works of Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen, Garth Nix’s Newt’s Emerald is a Regency romance with a fantasy twist.
After Lady Truthful’s magical Newington Emerald is stolen from her she devises a simple plan: go to London to recover the missing jewel. She quickly learns, however, that a woman cannot wander the city streets alone without damaging her reputation, and she disguises herself as a mustache-wearing man. During Truthful’s dangerous journey she discovers a crook, an unsuspecting ally, and an evil sorceress—but will she find the Emerald?

I’ve also added in Ridiculous by D.L. Carter to this month’s read-along. Imagine, if you would, an Alexia-like young lady who has to cross-dress and pretend to be Lord Akeldama. Then falls in love with a duke. This novel is way more romance than it is any other genre, but I enjoyed that it had a great deal of humor. I also like an intense nookie scene on occasion. This is not YA, unless you want your teen getting An Education. Why did I pick this as well? I think the two books complement each other. Also, this one has a lower price point, and I know many are stretched over the holidays so I wanted to give you the option of something less spendy.

Forgive this cover, sigh.

Blurb:
Identity theft regency style. After the death of her miserly cousin Antony North, Millicent Boarder is determined her family should never be poor or vulnerable again. To protect them she conceals her cousin’s death and assumes his identity. Now she must face the Ton and the world as Mr. North and accept the price she must pay for her family’s safety — she will never be loved.

“Oh, him. He dare not express an opinion,” said Millicent. “If he states his favorite color is polka dot and his favorite music is bagpipes played by a drunk, then we should have a whole tribe of inebriated, polka dotted, bagpipe-playing débutantes staggering down Bond Street the next day.”
~ Ridiculous by D.L. Carter

{Gail’s monthly read along for December is Newt’s Emerald by Garth Nix, skinflint alternative is Ridiculous by D.L. Carter.}

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

damesalamode-Incroyables et Merveilleuses de 1814     
Epic shade-throwing from the guy in the tophat

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Character Cookie Lord Akeldama

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Top 10 Alleged Real Life Werewolves and Wolf-men

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
Business Musings: Prince Wars and Victims

PROJECT ROUND UP 

  • Manners & Mutiny ~ The Finishing School Book the Last. Out now!
  • Imprudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the Second. Working third draft. Available for pre-order in the US.



Gail Carriger’s Books! 

 The Finishing School Series (1850s ~ completed)
1 Etiquette & Espionage, 2 Curtsies & Conspiracies,
3 Waistcoats & Weaponry, 4 Manners & Mutiny

The Parasol Protectorate Series (1870s ~ completed)
1 Soulless, 2 Changeless, 3 Blameless, 4 Heartless, 5 Timeless

 The Custard Protocol Series (1890s ~ ongoing)
 1 Prudence, 2 Imprudence

Parasol Protectorate Series manga graphic novels (1870s)
 $0.99 short stories (ebook only)
Marine Biology; My Sister’s Song; Fairy Debt;

Book News:

Quote of the Day:
And my only daughter, for whom I had dreamed such a wonderful future, is engaged to be married to an inebriated newt fancier.
~ Right Ho, Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse

Gail’s fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
The best place to talk all things Parasol Protectorate is on its
Facebook Group.

The Occasional FAQ: Blurb & Review Requests

Posted by Gail Carriger

 

May I tell you a little story, Gentle Reader?

Once upon a time (OK several years ago now) there was an author who also liked to read, but she was picky. Very picky. She liked specific things in her books, very specific things. However, quite apart from matters of taste, one consequence of editing is an eye for mistakes. (Not necessarily her own, and certainly not spelling, but other kinds of mistakes.) She has her little areas of expertise (food, fashion, Victorian London) and she has an ex-academic’s horror when she spots them. (Yes, I know of the bad copy edit in Prudence. I promise: not my fault. Ask me about it in person over drinks someday…)

She has an active social media base, some uber fans, and several loyal readers. She feels like she owes them a great deal for their support of her work. She doesn’t want to suggest that they read a book she doesn’t herself adore. That would be a betrayal of trust. She doesn’t want to “just find one nice thing to say” about a book she wouldn’t ordinarily recommend ~ because that would cheapen her honor and feel disingenuous.

She has author friends.

Most of these friends do not write the kind of books she likes to read. Most of them understand this. Most of them don’t really like her books all that much either. Reading is a matter of taste. Most authors get this. It’s how we coexist. It’s how we survive bad reviews.

One day one of these dear author friends hands over their latest book.

She hates it. Not just a little, but a lot. It not only isn’t to her taste, it’s insulting in its lack of research, and it’s pat in plot and character.

She struggles. She comes up with a few modest compliments but she declines to blurb on the basis of being unable to finish. (Assumption, she doesn’t have the time… actuality, she screamed and threw the manuscript across the room.) She doesn’t say anything negative.

The other author does not take this well. There were lashings out, recriminations, snarky remarks. There was even a bit of trolling. The friendship was no more. Tears were shed.

The End

You want to know why I don’t blurb books as a rule? That’s why. It burned me very very badly.

Insert the snarky comments:

“Oh, boohoo, poor little Gail.”
A comment like this makes me think you actually haven’t read my books. However, if you have read my books, I hope you know two things about me: loyalty and integrity are super important. Being asked to choose between the two: integrity to my readers or loyalty to my friends, puts me in the WORST possible position. Frankly, I don’t want to be put there ever again. And guess what? I get to make the decision to protect myself.

“I’m going to ask you anyway.”
That is your prerogative, of course, and I might read your book. But the most likely response you’ll get is: sorry, I didn’t have time. Sometimes, I don’t have time. (Like right now ~ ARGH.) Sometimes this is code for “I don’t want to hurt your feelings.” Often, when I do have time, I want to read something I WANT to read. I know, call me crazy. I don’t have much reading time, I’m going to spend it on books I love. Be a professional, accept “I don’t have time.”

“Well, so nice for you that your fellow authors didn’t feel like that at the beginning of your career.”
Yeah, it is. And I am so very grateful to people like Angie Fox who blurbed Soulless. I have struggled for a way to give back while keeping my integrity intact and my friendships safe.

Here’s what I will do:

 

  • Review the books that I love and those that I have discovered on my own. (I follow a few review blogs as taste curators and mostly choose what I read from them.) I try to pick debut novels. I try to pick lesser known authors. I try to find old favorites being given new life in the digital age. I post my reviews on Goodreads, occasionally here on the blog too and in other venues.
  • If they are easy to contact, I will reach out to the author to let them know I have reviewed them. They may choose to use a quote if they like.
  • I will offer an author interview here on the blog. Because I’m an author too, I ask them silly questions they don’t normally get. It’s fun for all.
  • I run a book group. Partly to support my fellow authors, but also so that I have an ongoing answer to the perennial questions: “What is Gail reading?” and “What do you suggest I read while you are busy writing?” and “What are some of your favorite books?” 

Here’s what I won’t do:

 

  • Interface with publicists. They make me sign nasty agreements that display a complete lack of social media savvy. They don’t know anything about me except my sales figures. They send me canned queries. I deal with enough of that in my career already, thank you very much.
  • Say I like something when I don’t. Ever, for any reason.
  • Publicly slag a book I didn’t like. Yes, I like being warned off bad books myself, but I don’t feel that’s my role to fill. 

Here’s Chuck: Why I Don’t Like To Negatively Review Other Authors’ Books

How Scalzi addressed this concern: On Book Reviews at Whatever

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Petit Courrier des Dames Date-  Tuesday, September 1, 1840 Item ID-  v. 23, plate 20

Your Infusion of Cute . . .
The City Of Dreams Pavilion On Governors Island In New York

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Speculative Fiction that Passes the Bechdel Test

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
A.M. Dellamonica asks who was your literary heroine?

PROJECT ROUND UP 

  • Manners & Mutiny ~ The Finishing School Book the Last. Releases Nov. 3, 2015. Available for pre-order! In production.
  • Imprudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the Second. Working rough draft, about 1/2 way.



The Books! 

 The Finishing School Series: 1 Etiquette & Espionage, 2 Curtsies & Conspiracies, 3
 The Custard Protocol Series: 1 Prudence (Coming March 17, 2015)
The Parasol Protectorate Series: 1 Soulless, 2 Changeless, 3 Blameless, 4 Heartless, 5 Timeless
Parasol Protectorate Series manga graphic novels

Book News:
Dez of Rock N Rococo says of Etiquette & Espionage: “It’s a fantastic YA Steampunk novel that I highly recommend. As always, Gail Carriger’s writing style is clever and charming, as are her characters. I hope you’ll take the time to read it if you get the chance!”

Quote of the Day:
“Locking myself in my childhood room, I pile my chestnut hair and pull them into a tight ponytail.”
Hair is an it, not a them.
“I’d barely gotten through many practices, only to let my shattered tears out in the shower right after.”
Shattered tears? Really? REALLY?
~ Author name redacted to protect the guilty.

… Bookbub has a lot to answer for.

Follow Gail on Facebook & Twitter. Or you can join her mailing list
She also has a fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
The best place to talk all things Parasol Protectorate is on its
Facebook Group.

3 Genre TV Shows That Didn’t Stick The Landing & 3 That Did

Posted by Gail Carriger

 

I make no bones about the fact that when I read, all I really want is a good ending. That ending doesn’t have to be happy, although usually I prefer it, but it does have to be right. It has to fit with the expectations set up by the author and with the tone of the novel. I feel exactly the same way about TV.

Out with a Whimper

Now let’s be clear: sometimes it isn’t the show’s fault. Sometimes the series got cancelled or jumped the shark already, so there’s no surprise when it goes pear-shaped. Nevertheless, here is my top list of evil culprits. Shows that I went in loving and left hating simply because someone failed to knock it out in the eleventh hour.

Battlestar Galactica (the new)
I LOVED this show. I listened to the companion fan podcast. I hosted a weekly viewing at my house and we would discuss the nuances after each episode with tipsy enthusiasm. The second episode, 33, still stands as one of the best pieces of Sci-Fi TV ever put on the screen. The final episode was CRUSHING. There were three writers in the audience that night. After a long silence, during which everyone there was internally groaning disgust, the three of us instantly started rewriting it. It was a cop out in every way: threads were left unresolved, prophecies were given easy outs, characters were not at all true to their natures. I have never re-watched Battlestar Galactica because of that ending. I couldn’t stand to go through the profound disappointment a second time.

The X-Files
I wasn’t a dyed in the wool X-Files girl *waves at Miss K* but I watched many of the episodes and I always tuned in if it was on. I did make an effort to see the final episode and if felt pedantically obtuse. It felt as if the writers were playing with me: Oh did you want answers? Well too bad. Here, have more questions instead! Wha ha ha! There are indie flicks like this, often starring the horrendous manic pixie dream girl trope, and I find them as predictable in their way as a Disney cartoon. And just as unimaginative. They are trying to be all obscure and realistic when really they are just plain annoying. The X-Files ending was like that: needling, self-satisfied. The movie then came along and killed the whole thing for me and I’ve never re-watched a single X-Files episode.

Alias
Sigh. It felt rushed, not that I was a huge fan of this series to start with (so far as spy dramas go I think LFN kicks it out of the water, Chuck is funnier, and Covert Affairs is more user friendly). I like the idea of combining spy with supernatural elements, although Alias was often laughably absurd in this arena. Regardless, the ending left me nothing but cold.

I know people universally vilify Lost and Heroes, but I’ve never watched either because of that reputation. I refuse to set myself up for disappointment.

With a Bang


La Femme Nikita
The USA series staring Peta Wilson has the best ending of any series I have ever watched. I adored this show because of the style and because it was, most of the time, the single most unpredictable thing on TV. The show got its cancellation notice but manged to squeeze in one last short season that wrapped things up beautifully while managing to stay true to the unexpected nature of the series game. Yes, the acting is at times abysmal, but the clothing is always beautiful and that ending… unexpected, touching, heart wrenching, and perfect. It makes everything else about the series that much better because of it.

Leverage
It’s not a big splashy ending, but it felt perfectly right. I’ve made no secret of my love for this show. Unlike other series I love, I can and do re-watch this on a regular basis. It’s the characters that get me every time and they never stopped being themselves. I like a show with a bit of formula and this one provided that in spades with no attempt to be anything more sophisticated. Why should it? It was perfect as it was.

Star Trek: The Next Generation
I grew up with ST:TNG so I suspect there’s a bit of nostalgia with this one. Yes, some of the later seasons jumped the shark and there is no getting around the fact that the best season cliff-to-close was between 3 and 4 (the two part Borg episodes and then Family). But All Good Things at least matched to some of the other decent time travel episodes and didn’t disappoint. Perhaps I wasn’t the jaded writer I am now, but I still look back fondly on that series and that finale. I wore black the day it aired. (I’m immortalized and a big black netted hat with a veil in my senior year summa cum laude photo. I asked for a moment of silence at school assembly and got it, out of shock, I think. I have always been that weird breed of in-your-face nerd.)

Kind of Okay but still felt like cop outs: both Buffy (which I mostly liked) and Angel (which I mostly disliked). I’ve seen arguments for and against both series’ endings. I didn’t include TV shows that got movies that satisfied in their way (Firefly & Farscape). 

{Gail’s monthly read along for August is My Man Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse}

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Le Follet Date-  Wednesday, May 1, 1844 Item ID-  v. 28, plate 63

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
5 Things You Might Not Know About Octopuses

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

PROJECT ROUND UP 

  • Manners & Mutiny ~ The Finishing School Book the Last. Releases Nov. 3, 2015. Available for pre-order! In production.
  • Imprudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the Second. Working rough draft, about 1/2 way.



The Books! 

 The Custard Protocol Series
 1 Prudence, 2 Imprudence
The Parasol Protectorate Series
1 Soulless, 2 Changeless, 3 Blameless, 4 Heartless, 5 Timeless
Parasol Protectorate Series manga graphic novels
 $0.99 short stories (ebook only)
Marine Biology; My Sister’s Song; Fairy Debt;

Book News:
InkBonesBooks does a review of Prudence on YouTube and says: “…Gail Carriger writes with wit, humor, precision, and intelligence. I think that she is such a funny woman. I think that she has the perfect way to turn a phrase. She just knows knows exactly the right kinds of words to use that make you laugh.”

Quote of the Day:
“He never learned tact, Lady Keladry,” one of the new boys explained. “His papa—my uncle—he’s every bit as bad.”
“Then I will stay away from Jesslaw,” Neal said firmly. “It must be a madhouse.”
“You’ve no idea,” said the other first-year with feeling.
~ Tamora Pierce, Page: Book 2 of the Protector of the Small Quartet (Neal & Owen: my two favorite characters in the series)

Gail’s fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
The best place to talk all things Parasol Protectorate is on its
Facebook Group. 


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