The Book That Changed My Life from Gail Carriger

Twenty-five years ago (or thereabouts) I wandered into a bookstore, picked up newly released hard back with a redhead, a horse, and a sword on the cover and managed to persuade my rather poor parents to see to the exorbitant expense by simply refusing to let that book out of my grasp.

Alanna: The First Adventure

I was eight when I brought Alanna home with me and it could have been yesterday.

Until that moment, immured in a world full of Tolkien, Tom’s Midnight Garden, The Water Babies, and Wind in the Willows (AKA men writing about men for boys) I did not know a woman in fantasy could be strong, smart, stubborn, witty, and courageous. Alanna: The First Adventure is responsible for changing who I was as a reader, but also who I was as a female.

In the Hand of the Goddess

Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness series defined my young adulthood, the final book in the quartet released as I entered junior high. They became the four books that I could recite from memory, read over and over again and never find boring. These books gave me the courage to start writing, because suddenly I knew that I could write about something familiar and something interesting to me: being a girl with guts.

The Woman Who Rides Like a Man

They literally (and I do mean literally – pun intended) changed my life. In high school, a mutual love of Alanna cemented my relationship with the girl who would become the woman who is still (20 years later) one of my best friends in the entire world. That same friend still beta reads my novels for me, and still keeps me honest to the tenants of Tamora Pierce as we see them: women with the courage to be themselves. She is also the friend who took me to my first science fiction convention. She was there with me when we got to meet Tamora Pierce in person at my very first WorldCon.

Lioness Rampant (Song of the Lioness)

Ask me to name my favorite series of all time and I still don’t have to think about it. If I could read nothing else for the rest of my life it would be the Song of the Lioness quartet.

The reason I write, is to be that author for someone else.


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

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Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
Unfortunately, I feel the Alanna books have been done NO favors by their increasingly awful cover art.

Book News:
I do have a bunch of book reviews and other things to talk about and post, but sorry, things are getting pretty crazy around here, so they may have to wait until the end of the year.

Quote of the Day:

“Threats are the last resort of a man with no vocabulary.”

― Tamora Pierce, Lady Knight


Etiquette & Espionage: Finishing School Book 1

Etiquette & Espionage free PDF


It’s one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It’s quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to Finishing School.

Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners–and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

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Posted by Gail Carriger

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  1. Julie said:

    I lovvvvvve this series, although I came to it much later in life than you did. Tamora Pierce is AMAZING. She not only writes strong women but she also writes worlds full of people of all colors and backgrounds, in a writing world where there's still controversy over having non-white characters on a cover (still unbelievable to me). I will be reading along and she will drop a description of a character, and I will realize that up til that moment, I was very restricted in my own perception of what that character would look like – like a castle guard being female, for example. She makes me realize that I need to broaden my own worldview.

    And yes, most of the cover art is terrible. My favorite is the Marilee Heyer set because she paid such close attention to details about clothes, etc…. the most recent trade paperback set is ATROCIOUS, and makes it so clear that the cover artist either has not read the books, or was asked to skew it in a certain direction for sales reasons. Aaaaaaaaack.

  2. Lana said:

    17 years ago, that book changed my life, too. I still work at being more courageous and just TRYING harder for what I want – not what people tell me I should have. I've pre-ordered Tamora Pierce's latest and can't wait for it to arrive on my doorstep!

  3. June said:

    I read the Song of the Lioness series as a grown-up only a few years ago and liked it. My friend who loaned me the books loves the series. As books, they have aged well.

    I think we got nicer covers here too.

  4. Shaina Higgins said:

    I feel the exact same. I discovered the series when I started middle school and spent mornings hiding in the YA Fantasy aisle of the school library because I had no friends. I devoured everything she had written as fast as possible (and continue to pick up every new publication), but Alanna keeps a special place in my heart. Alanna facilitated my first awkward stabs at writing, which basicaly amounted to poorly disguised Tamora Pierce rip-offs, and I also built a friendship that lasts to this day on a shared love of Tamora Pierce's universe (though that girl is more of a Daine fan if truth be told). Now in my mid-twenties I still re-read those books and feel like I'm coming home. I don't think my I would be the same without having discovered Alanna and her adventures.

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