Tagged Coop de Book

Coop De Book Pick & Review ~ TJ Klune’s The Lightning-Struck Heart (Miss Carriger Recommends)

Posted by Gail Carriger

Alright, my darling Gentle Reader, I decided to end our reading year on an upswing. For my final book of 2017 I chose The Lightning-Struck Heart by TJ Klune.

Why did you choose this book, Gail?

For those who know my taste you will know this has many things I like. Adorable snarky gay boy main character. Lots of awesome magic. Really fun fantasy setting. But honestly…

It’s hilarious.

No seriously, I was reading it last night and actually crying with laughter.

Well that might have been because is was two in the morning and I was trying not to wake up the AB.

I haven’t laughed this hard since Ridiculous!. Possibly not even then.

The Lightning-Struck Heart is really that funny.

I think we all need to read something this wonderfully irreverent right now.

Need more persuading?

So I resisted reading any more of Klune (despite a killer reputation) because I read Wolfsong.

Let me very clear. Wolfsong is a strangely haunting, brilliant, and poignant gay shifter not-quite romance. But also full of weird character inconsistencies (particularly the motivations behind the love interest) and (to my mind) desperately needed a heavier hand on the developmental edit pass. (For which I get to blame a trad publisher in this instance. Honestly, sometimes I wonder about Dreamspinner.)

Wolfsong was also too long… for me.

(Incidentally, The Sumage Solution narrator Kirt Graves also narrates Wolfsong. Check him out this month’s episode of the Top 2 Botm Podcast. They chat about Kirt narrating The Sumage Solution, audio narration, and he geeks out about drag queens.)

Back to Klune…

Reading The Lightning-Struck Heart, I realize that Klune may simply write epic length stuff. This one is kicking it on the order of 400 pages, which explains the $18 price tag for trade paperback. 

There is nothing objectively wrong with long, it’s just not to my taste. Instead of gobbling the book up in one weekend (my normal habit – we all have vices) a Klune book will take me several days.

So treat yourself, it’s so worth it. Try the sample, see if you don’t snort with laughter at least once.

Betcha can’t stop…

Yours,

Miss Gail

Do you want more book recs and sale deals? Extra picks go to my Chirrup members, because I love them bestest. Sign up here.

P.S. Chirrup members are getting a chance to win one of three very limited Soulless hard covers from Subterranean Press this month. If you join before the next one goes out on Sunday, you too can enter.

Coop de Book: Gail’s monthly read along for December is The Lightning-Struck Heart (Tales From Verania Book 1) by TJ Klune.

OUT NOW!

Amazon | Kobo | B&N | iBooks | Direct

Romancing the Werewolf ~ A Supernatural Society Novella by Gail Carriger is now available (audio will follow).

Gay reunion romance featuring your favorite reluctant werewolf dandy, the return of a certain quietly efficient Beta, and some unexpected holiday gifts.

Love Bytes Reviews says of Romancing the Werewolf:

“It was funny and sweet, with just a dash of the odd that makes Carriger’s books so worth reading.”

 

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Allen & Ginter (American, Richmond, Virginia)
Halt, from the Parasol Drills series (N18) for Allen & Ginter Cigarettes Brands, 1888

This reminds me of Irene’s carriage dress in Forsyte Saga.

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

20 Minute Delay latest episode is all about packing!

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

Five Ways to Touch Your Favorite Author’s Heart

Book News:

Beyond the Trope Interview’s Yours Truly:
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iTunes
Stitcher

Quote of the Day:

“I need to send you squash in kimono!”

~ Secilia on Twitter (Don’t get it, read Romancing the Werewolf)

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


Coop de Book ~ Forgotten Beasts of Eld, Gail’s Desert Island Read (Miss Carriger Recommends)

Posted by Gail Carriger

A little while I go I was immeasurably honored to be asked to write the foreword for the recent re-release of Patricia McKillip’s remarkable Forgotten Beasts of Eld.

This is one of my favorite books of all time. The re-release is now available, and because it is also finally in ebook form (also in audio), I’ve chosen it for our book group read along.

The edition I had as a child.

I thought instead of the usual “I chose this why” post for this book pick, I’d present the forward for you.

I can’t say it better than I already said it.

As it were.

Foreword

Gail Carriger

When I was much younger, my friends and I would challenge ourselves with the hardest question ever asked of any avid reader:

Which book would you want with you if you were stranded on a desert island?

There were a lot of books I loved back then, and a lot of new books have been added to that list-of-adored over the years. But after the first time I read The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, it became the answer to this question, always and forever. Thirty years later, it’s still the answer.
So now I am left with a very difficult task. How do I explain my love for this perfect desert-island book?

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld is like no fantasy novel you have ever read before, and yet it is a touchstone for all of them. It’s not just that the story is magic — it’s that the prose itself is magical and heart-wrenching. Not only will you become immersed in plot and character but also sentence structure. McKillip forms a stunning union of what is told and what is portrayed, and how a writer can transcribe both. It’s like fractal mathematics: beautiful, impossible for an ordinary human to quite understand, and yet hypnotic. Just the opening paragraph is chilling, and thrilling, and all sort of other trilling llls in a row. I can’t describe this book, because it is better than that. It’s better than my capacity for description. It’s not funny, or cute, or silly — it is a work of pure lyrical genius.

This book is the Arthurian legend for an alternate human timeline. It is a riddle teasing you to understand power—in sorcery, in arms, in passion, in knowledge. It is a philosophical treatise on the petty wars of man and how they spin and weave their own magic over intellect and desire. It is about the price of forgiveness, the cost of revenge, and gentle, tentative, nurturing love in all its varied forms.

McKillip explores what it means to be a woman with power beyond the world of men, and then within it. In doing so, she illuminates how we turn ourselves into weapons — not so much how the act of being a weapon is flawed but how in choosing to become one, we risk losing our true selves.

And she does all this while still entertaining.

If you are about to read The Forgotten Beasts of Eld for the first time, I envy you. If this is a reread for you, as it is for me, I know without a shadow of a doubt you will find something new in its pages. I always do.

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld is not just a book about magic — it is magic.

{Coop de Book: Gail’s monthly read along for September is The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia McKillip.}

SCRIBBLES ROUND UP

  • Meat Cute ~ A Parasolverse Short
    Status: Rough draft complete. Layaway.
    Possible anchor short story for Secret Project A or SS collected/omnibus in 2018 or 2019.
  • TOC ~ San Andreas Shifters #2
    Status: Writing Rough draft.
    The werewolves are back. There’s a bartender with a mysterious ability and a big scruffy man mountain with a powerful crush. The pack’s started a business called Heavy Lifting. Gail is contemplating shifter food trucks ~ Do it raw! Sometimes we wiggle, sometimes the food does.

NOW IN DIGITAL, PRINT & AUDIO!

The Sumage Solution: San Andreas Shifters #1 by G. L. Carriger, now in all editions.
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 . . .

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

How to Make Hard Boiled Eggs That Will Peel, Damn It

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

How to Add Google Analytics to WordPress in 5 Minutes or Less

Book News:

BJ’s Reviews says of Poison or Protect audiobook:

“Suzanne Lavington narrated Poison or Protect. This was my first experience with Ms. Lavington and I generally enjoyed her pleasing voice. She also did a good job with varying her pitch to provide differentiation among the characters, including by producing deep enough sounding voices to convincingly sound male, a trait which can be a difficult feat for some female narrators. Ms. Lavington also did a good job with creating accents as both British and Scottish sounding accents are necessary for this story.”

Quote of the Day:

Bingo uttered a stricken woofle like a bull-dog that has been refused cake.”

~ P.G. Wodehouse

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

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Romancing the Inventor by Gail Carriger

Romancing the Inventor

by Gail Carriger

Giveaway ends September 24, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway


Coop de Book Review ~ The Blue Sword (Miss Carriger Recommends)

Posted by Gail Carriger

 

When people talk about The Blue Sword, Gentle Reader, they often feel compelled to mention The Hero and the Crown. These two books are intimately connected, although each stands alone (the one is a legend in the other).

There are many out there who think The Hero and the Crown the better book. I genuinely like them both, but I read The Blue Sword first and Hari is my one true love.

Alanna was my first girl with a sword and magic, Hari was the first one I felt was like me.

That’s part of it.

I also always liked the romance line better in The Blue Sword. There’s something remarkable in that, because for most of this book the two leads are separated. Yet I believe in their love unquestionably.

Also I find the story is closer, more character driven, and more intimate in Blue. Hero always felt a bit more like a legend being told around a fireplace ~ a little distanced, as if I were watching the characters from far above.

{Coop de Book: Gail’s monthly read along for September is The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia McKillip.}

NOW IN DIGITAL, PRINT & AUDIO!

The Sumage Solution: San Andreas Shifters #1 by G. L. Carriger, now also in audio.
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 . . .

(c) Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

Behind the Scenes at The Costume Institute Conservation Laboratory: House of Worth Ball Gown

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

Freelance Achievement Stickers

Book News:

Cover art pose similarity, the hip cock elbow

Stephanie of Cover2Cover Blog says of Curtsies & Conspiracies:

“I really love how the girls always get into a mess and have to work their way out of it – strong females are wonderful. I also loved the humor, there is always the comic relief of a mechanical wiener dog if nothing else. Bumbersnoot makes me giggle and I love it.”

Quote of the Day:

“Editing to do list today includes “organize & pain” as opposed to “organize & plan.” Same difference, I suppose.”

~ Self

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


9 Books That You Will Love If You Enjoyed The Sumage Solution (Miss Carriger Recommends)

Posted by Gail Carriger

Hello hello. I’m hoping by now you’ve had a chance to read my latest book, The Sumage Solution. If you have, as always, I’d adore a review. It’s really more helpful that you realize. I’m hoping to write the next San Andreas Shifter book soon (Competence CE permitting). Thank you to everyone who’s asked about it.

In the interim, I’m put together this list of authors I absolutely love who write m/m fantasy, urban fantasy, and paranormal romance. Ones that I think you might like if you enjoyed The Sumage Solution.

Ready?

Loved The Sumage Solution? Try…

R. Cooper’s Being(s) in Love series.

Please please please just ignore the horrible cover art. (Someone has got to do better over at Dreamspinner Press. They should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.) Anyway, these books are so sweet and poignant, with prevailing themes of loneliness and cultural (usually human-to-fae) misunderstandings. Gentle HEAs, understated but lovely sex scenes. You do not have to read this series in order at all, just pick and choose whichever blurb interests you. You’ll probably end up reading them all anyway. That’s what happened to me. I started with (and loved) Treasure for Treasure, and I am so NOT a dragon shifter person. If it’s the mage/werewolf dynamic you’re after, than try A Beginner’s Guide to Wooing Your Mate.

Charlie Cochet’s Thirds series.

On a completely different vein, the Thirds series features genetically altered shifter humans (mostly cats) and their various romances and partners in an elite military task force in a quasi post-plague world. If you like Max, you’ll love Dex, who brings ridiculous snark to a whole new level. You should read these in order, so start with Hell & High Water. These books can get pretty rough and violent, and also very erotic, so trigger warnings all ’round.

The Lodestar of Ys by Amy Rae Durreson.

If your preference runs into the epic fantasy range rather than shifters, than this book is for you. It is particularly stunning and beautiful with its worldbuilding. The sex scenes are well done but can get explicit. The beginning is absorbing, featuring a country under siege from a Roman Empire-like menace. But it is the second half, when the main characters fly to the airborne islands of Ys that Durreson’s imagination soars. I hope some day we get another book of Ys, if only to read more about this beautiful world. You can read my Goodreads review as well, if you like.

[IMAGE REDACTED TO SAVE YOUR EYEBALLS]

The Sacrifice and Other Stories by Kim Fielding.

(Another one with a craptastic cover, sigh. Why must this be? It’s so bad I refuse to even show it in this blog.) This is a collection of Fielding’s fantasy m/m shorts, which I like and think are her strongest works. Fielding writes classic stunning visionary fantasy extremely well. I could see her on the honor roll of the greats of the field, except she also includes gay sex. (And for this she must be ignored and punished, because the world is dumb.) Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, these can also get pretty rough. Her characters are almost always resilient but broken. That’s why I advise starting with this collection, get an idea of her writing style and themes and see if you want more. She’s got a good range. Also, some of her solo ebook offerings are already included here, so if you start with this collection, you won’t double up.

Jex Lane’s Beautiful Monsters series, starting with Captive.

Like your vampire with a dose of incubus? This one is for you. That said, I hesitated to recommend this series because it’s not yet finished. It really is a series and I don’t know if Lane can stick the landing. So far as I can tell, Lane is a new author. I don’t mind shouting out something like Rhys Ford’s Kai Gracen stuff, because Rhys has a track record of great HEAs. But Lane, I’m not sure what we are in for in the end. That said, I sure did find the Beautiful Monsters books riveting. Everything is pretty darn graphic though, from the violence to the sex, so all kinds of trigger warnings on these puppies. Like Kai, the main characters (and most of the side characters) are pansexual so… yeah… ALL THE THINGS in all the places.

Love The Sumage Solution & The Parasolverse?

Well Romancing the Werewolf is coming November 5th, 2017. (Please to remember the 5th of November…) That’s going to be my first major m/m love story set in the Parasolverse.

But I do have a few to suggest while you wait.

I really admire KJ Charles. Both the Society of Gentlemen series and her other regency romance stuff. All m/m, filled with manners and clothing, hiding and danger, and the risk inherent in all four. Some of the sex scenes are quite erotic, but not as many triggers, if my memory serves. A Gentleman’s Position is my favorite for the class conflict and pinning (I love a good pine) but A Seditious Affair is killer if BDSM is your jam… so to speak. I don’t think you have to read these in order, although it might be slightly more enjoyable if you do. Each one stands alone from the romance perspective.

Rowan Speedwell writes historically set m/m like Kindred Hearts but also fantasy like Bitterwood (read my review on Goodreads). I’d recommend most of her stuff, pick and choose to your taste.

Jordan L. Hawk’s Hexworld series, starting with Hexbreaker (or the short The 13th Hex). These are wonderful stories in a well conceived and unique magical system involving magicians and their shifter familiars, a victorian setting, fabulous characters with a range of personalities. Lots of cross character pollination, but (so far) no strong carry-over storyline. No cliff hangers.

Want to sample many of these recommendations in short story first?

The Charmed and Dangerous anthology, is actually where I first found a large number of these authors. Not every single story was to my taste, but it’s a well edited anthology of ten stories, and some of them are truly wonderful.

Have fun, and happy reading!

{Coop de Book: Gail’s monthly read along for July is The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley.}

SCRIBBLES ROUND UP

  • Meat Cute ~ A Parasolverse Short
    Status: Rough draft complete. Layaway.
    Possible anchor short story for Secret Project A or SS collected/omnibus in 2018 0r 2019.

NOW IN DIGITAL, PRINT & AUDIO!

The Sumage Solution: San Andreas Shifters #1 by G. L. Carriger, now also in audio.
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 . . .

1900 vi antique-royals tumblr

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Me and some of my friends & Alpha readers at the SAS launch party

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

How Do Airlines Come Up With These Ridiculous Fares?

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

4 Reasons to Love Coffee Shops

Book News:

The Key Book Publishing Paths: 2017

Quote of the Day:

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


This Month’s Coop de Book ~ Local Custom by Lee & Miller (Miss Carriger Recommends)

Posted by Gail Carriger

 

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 (Miss Carriger Recommends)

Posted by Gail Carriger

 

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!


What Does Gail Carriger Read? In which I prove that as a reader I’m an unreliable narrator (Miss Carriger Recommends)

Posted by Gail Carriger

Over on Goodreads, Gentle Reader, Theron asked me the following question, and I had such a long answer I decided I should turn it into a blog post.

He asked:

Other than your own works, what are some of your favorite steampunk novels?

Here is my answer, plus bonus burbling.

Well, they are both gaslight fantasy rather than steampunk but I love Sorcery & Cecelia and Brother’s Ruin.

I actually don’t read as much within steampunk as I could, because I’m frightened of having my voice colored by someone else’s prose, or of being accused of becoming derivative.

Want more stuff like mine, here’s my post on While You Are Waiting ~ Books To Read While Gail Types.

What other genres do you prefer reading?

I’m a voracious reader and tend to read a wide range of commercial genres (mostly sci-fi, fantasy, & romance). I have a propensity to binge for months on one sub-genre and then move on to something else. I am also one of those readers who finds an author she likes and then will read anything by that author, even if it’s not something I’d normally go for.

I have a book group via my fan group on Goodreads where I pick one book a month and we all read and talk about it together. Also I tend to recommend books that I’ve loved when they go on sale via my newsletter, The Chirrup.

Some of my broad quirks…

I prefer light-hearted and comedic over dark. Partly because humor is harder to write, and I think resorting to angst is all too often the author being lazy or immature. Of course, I stumble upon exceptions, but usually my weird set of codified no-goes (see below) leaves me with a healthy stack of to reads and not enough time to read them. So I’m inclined to narrow my taste, not broaden it.

I’m a non-completest. Which is to say, if the book doesn’t grab me within the first couple of chapters then I’ll drop it without further thought. This is one of the reasons I rarely judge contests. I don’t feel capable of committing to reading something from start to finish. If I don’t like it, I stop. Life’s too short to read a book that doesn’t entertain me.

Specifically?

Recently, I’ve been reading a lot of m/m urban fantasy (UF), paranormal romance (PNR), or fantasy (not just gay but LBTQ too, although that’s harder to find). I love gay romantic sci-fi, but it’s practically non-existent. (I may have to write my own some day.) I love a good culture conflict misunderstanding.

I also adore space opera, alt-history non-european based fantasy, military sci-fi, even some atmospheric fantasy. But only if it has a female, gay, or non-binary main character. I prefer character-driven over concept-driven, shorter over longer, and I’m not wild about multiple POVs or first person present tense. Which rules out a lot of hard sci-fi, epic fantasy, and post-apocalyptic.

I read a lot of YA. I like the pacing, although I’m not really into YA urban fantasy/PNR or dystopian. I’ll read darn near anything if it’s a woman disguising herself as a man to subvert the patriarchy, but if it’s too much hero’s journey or too predictable (often the same thing) I scream and throw the book across the room. I demand a happy ending, or at least that the author sticks the landing.

Now, let me stress that this is my taste. It’s like my mad love of marmite, or my disgust with brussels sprouts. It doesn’t reflect on your own taste as a reader, and shouldn’t affect what you write as an author.

Please note that many of the most commercially successful books of the past decade would go straight into Gail’s DO NOT READ bin.

I guess that in reading I’m an utterly unreliable narrator. I’m full of illogical will and unsubstantiated opinion.

{Gail’s monthly read along for April 2017 is Brother’s Ruin by Emma Newman.}

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 Beautiful Late Victorian_Edwardian dress, hat and umbrella (Source- bnspyrd.deviantart.com)

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

Historical Recipes

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

What Fiction Trends Say About Us

Book News:

Between Dreams and Reality says of Prudence:

“We are easily taken by the story and I let myself be carried by the chapters. It was a nice discovery full of originality and how not to be happy to see the heroes I loved! Yes, I had a great time and I’m curious about the result and to find Rue and her friends again!”

Quote of the Day:

“The tea, once it arrived, had its customary effect—engendering comfort and loosening the tongue… no wonder tea was considered a vital weapon of espionage.”

~ Waistcoats & Weaponry

Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!
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5 Books That Will Shock Your Pants: Miss Carriger Recommends Reading 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.

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.

You can probably blame Madame Lefoux on my adoration for this trope…

{Gail’s monthly read along for April 2017 is Brother’s Ruin by Emma Newman.}

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!
Share & Enjoy!


Coop de Book Review: Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith (Miss Carriger Recommends)

Posted by Gail Carriger

 

Hello Gentle Reader! Notice I have NAMED the book group? Henceforth we shall be known as “Coop de Book” kind of a play on Carriger Pigeons.

Anycoo…

(See what I did there, huh huh?

So this last month I chose Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith which is actually an omnibus of two shorter works. I, however, always read it is one book (albeit in two parts) so that’s how I’ll approach it.

I picked it up back in 2014 from a Goodreads Recommendation List “Books to Read if You Like Tamora Pierce” or something similar. It was a great recommendation. I really enjoyed this book and have reread it a half dozen times since then.

I hope you will forgive me if I review it by comparing it to a lot of other books I love. Because, well, that’s just kinda how it works in my head. The first part really does remind me of Tamora Pierce’s Alanna or Robin McKinley’s Blue Sword, perhaps with a little Ever After movie thrown in.

“Welcome among us. What is your name?” I said.
“Jerrol, as it pleases you, my lady.” And again the bow.
“Well, it’s your name if it pleases me or not.”

The second part, however, is more reminiscent of later political YA like The Selection or To Play the Lady. In which our brash bold outrageous hero, must learn the subtle art of court manipulations.

“She couldn’t read or write, wouldn’t even sit still indoors. All summer she would disappear for a week at a time, roaming in the hills. I think she knows more about the ways of the Hill Folk than she does about what actually happens at Court.”

In a way, this is the journey my YA reading took. From these simpler takes on the hero’s journey that were common in the 80s and 90s to the politically driven stuff that owes a lot, I think, to feedback loops between YA fantasy and adult epic fantasy and space opera.

I really like this journey told in one book, it’s not often one you see with the same character. All too often they style of a YA fantasy novel is either one or the other. It’s fun to watch a character archetype of the first kind, transition to the second.

You can even see it in the cover art, where the first image above shows an old-fashioned Pierce-like cover while the second shows a more current style icon cover (made popular by Twilight and then the Hunger Games books).

One of my favorite things about this book is the romance thread. I love the secret letter writing confessional (very Ella Enchanted) and I am a huge fan of the enemies to lovers romantic trope (AKA the Pride & Prejudice model).

Shevraeth said, “I’m very much afraid it’s my fault. We met under the worst of circumstances, and we seem to have misunderstood one another to a lethal degree.”

I like how Mel’s willful misunderstanding of Shevraeth is part of her generally stubborn and blundering country-girl personality. She is wild and willfully ignorant (huh, yet again with the Lizzy Bennett comparison) and that is why she can’t and won’t understand his careful political maneuverings, and also his own reserved interest. They are good match in the end, because they are so different.

Again like Lizzy and Darcy.

And like them she refuses to do anything but call him by his last name.

In the end a fun book and a  chronic re-read for me. A good offering to YA fans of wide tastes in the fantasy genre, both old fashioned and modern. I hope you all felt the same.

Join the discussion on Goodreads.

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

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 . . .

Emile Bernard (French artist, 1858-1941) Breton Girls with Parasols 1892

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

The Gendered Mind (podcast)

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

5 Cases of a Missing Hyphen

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Gail Interviews Emma Newman (Brother’s Ruin)

Posted by Gail Carriger

 

Today, Gentle Reader please give a hearty welcome to the fantastic Emma Newman!

Emma is many things: a delightful author, a fantastic narrator (I should know, she narrates my book Romancing the Inventor), a stylish dresser, a killer podcast hostess, and a fellow tea lover. I have been interviewed on her fantastic podcast, Tea & Jeopardy (which is how I learned of her gorgeous voice and fell in love with singing chickens).

So please join me in welcoming her to tea with me, on this rainy day. We’ll be talking about her and her new gaslight fantasy novella, Brother’s Ruin (which I have chosen for next month’s book group read along.)

About you, the Author!

Tea or coffee and how do you take it?

First thing in the morning, in order to be able to form a coherent sentence, I require coffee with milk and two sugars (or sweeteners are fine). Once I have become functional (I am not a morning person) it’s tea (my first love) for the rest of the day, and I take that with milk.

Describe your personal style for author appearances.

I design and make the clothes I wear to conventions and signings, purely because it helps me to manage massive anxiety in the lead up to the event (i.e. I can channel the terror of being in public into “ack, will I finish sewing this outfit in time, oh heavens, it’s midnight the day before!” instead). My style leans towards formal, highly structured tailoring at the top with long flowing lower halves, often drawing heavily upon a variety of historical periods ranging from early Georgian to late Victorian. The only period I can wear from the 20th century with any confidence (and comfort!) is the 1950s as I have a hourglass figure. I once joked to my husband that if one is supposed to dress for the job one wants, I seem to be aiming for low-key historical fantasy queen. The only thing I don’t have is a crown. Which is probably just as well, otherwise it would be a bit silly.

[Gail could not approve of this more if she tried. SO rare to find a fellow author who also loves to dress. I should say, I don’t have the anxiety thing. But I do stress out packing before a trip and my stress dreams are always travel related.]

If I were to observe the writer beast in its native environment, what surprising thing might I see? What does the environment look like?

Oh, it is a terrible mess. I try to keep my desk tidy but it ends up looking like Indiana Jones’s desk in The Last Crusade. Whenever I finish a big project I like to have a huge clear out, and just before I start a huge project I clean everything again. Over the course of writing a novel the mess slowly accumulates, as all of my brain is going into the book. So I suppose you could deduce exactly where I am in the first draft by the state of my desk. I suppose the knitted chicken tea cosy that sits on my desk sometimes (when he is not needed for his primary job) may raise an eyebrow (gift from a wonderful Tea and Jeopardy fan). The knitted alien facehugger may also cause a squeak of surprise, knitted by the same wonderful lady and given to me as a birthday present.

If you drive, what do you drive?

I drive a horribly practical and boring black Ford Focus. This is because I had to grow up and sell my extraordinarily fast and fun Fiat Coupe when I became pregnant. When I no longer need a sensible family car, I am going to get something sporty again. I love driving and fast acceleration. I’ve always wanted to try rally driving or track racing.

No deviating: vanilla or chocolate ice cream on a plain or a sugar cone? (Gail will use this to determine your level of sanity.)

I fear I am at a disadvantage, being British, as I am not entirely sure what a sugar cone is. Here in the UK, we tend to get one sort of plain cone (but we get a bajillion types of tea readily available everywhere, so I guess that is compensation). I like very fancy vanilla ice cream, the top of the range stuff where you can actually taste the vanilla. I would probably go for the sugar cone if I had the opportunity, because I love sweet things.

[Gail’s judgement: vanilla in a sugar cone means quirky, but probably not actually dangerous.]

What’s most likely to make you laugh?

I laugh often and heartily. Something absurdist usually does the trick for a hearty laugh, like Monty Python, or a particularly well placed film quote. I am allergic to any but the most subtle puns, sadly.

[Gail highly recommends the Tea & Jeopardy blooper reel. If you want to hear Emma’s gorgeous laugh.]

Since writers inevitably end up in the bar, what’s your poison?

I am far from a connoisseur of alcoholic beverages, but I do love a good cocktail, one that is creamy and dangerous and contains Kahlua or Baileys, something like that. If there are no cocktails available, a sweet white wine will do.

Emma’s Bio

Emma Newman writes novels in multiple speculative fiction genres. She won the British Fantasy Society Best Short Story Award 2015 and Between Two Thorns, the first book in Emma’s Split Worlds urban fantasy series, was shortlisted for the BFS Best Novel and Best Newcomer 2014 awards. Her science-fiction novels, Planetfall and After Atlas, are published by Roc. Emma is an audiobook narrator and also co-writes and hosts the Hugo-nominated, Alfie Award winning podcast Tea and Jeopardy which involves tea, cake, mild peril, and singing chickens. Her hobbies include dressmaking and playing RPGs. She blogs at www.enewman.co.uk and can be found as @emapocalyptic on Twitter.

About your book!

What should readers eat while consuming your novel?

For Brother’s Ruin, I would recommend a cream tea. The scones should be fresh, with a spreading of jam (preferably strawberry) and then a generous dollop of clotted cream. Being Cornish, I would recommend Rodda’s clotted cream. If anyone tells you that the cream should go on before the jam, I can assure you that they are wrong (there are very few subjects that I will declare such a forceful opinion on publicly, but this is one of them). The correct ordering of jam and cream on a scone is very serious business, especially for someone who is Cornish.

[Gail entirely agrees, although her training comes from Devon, so: salted butter, then jam, then clotted cream. Because, you only live once…so far as we know.]

What form does evil take within its pages?

The same form that it takes in the present day; men filled with greed who are willing to put their own profits above the health and wellbeing of anyone else, especially the poor.

Which one of your characters would you most want to kiss and why?

Magus Hopkins, without a shadow of a doubt. Why? Well, he is very handsome but he has hidden depths that only I know about. I confess, I developed a little bit of a crush on him whilst writing Brother’s Ruin, and its sequel. I have given myself a stern talking to about it.

What’s your favorite period in history and does it influence your worldbuilding?

That is such a tricky question! I find so many periods fascinating and draw from them in all of my work. I do think the 1850s (Brother’s Ruin is set in an alternative 1850s London in which magic, instead of science, has driven the industrial revolution) were utterly fascinating. There had already been so much social upheaval due to the industrial revolution, which in turn had an impact on the law and social attitudes and the effective invention of our modern cities. There were massive forward strides in engineering and science alongside the brutality and horrors perpetrated by the British Empire. So many contradictions and interesting juxtapositions across all levels of society!

I am also fascinated by the tensions between the industrialists and the nobility in that period too, and that is definitely something that has directly influenced my worldbuilding for the Industrial Magic series. At that time in the real world, many of the most successful industrialists were far wealthier than the landed gentry and the political, social and legal jostling that took place at the time reflected so many aspirations and frustrations on the parts of the industrialists and the fears of the nobility.

In the Industrial Magic series, no one from the nobility has manifested magical ability, so the industrialists are the ones who hold magical power, and it is that which has driven their industrial success. I established this so that I could explore the tensions between the two groups of people writ large, so to speak. I plan to explore that more later in the series, should more novellas be commissioned. (I really hope so, as I have so many more stories to tell!)

Which one of your characters would you most like to slap and why?

Hrmmm, that’s tricky, as I would dearly love to give Magus Ledbetter a solid punch to the jaw, rather than a slap. But if I was only allowed to slap him, I’d make sure it was a really good one.

Without spoilers, what’s the funnest (or funniest) part of the book?

I think the part when the magi arrive to interview the heroine’s family and they all snip at each other is fun. I really enjoyed writing that part, especially the way that Magus Ainsworth refers to the others and warns the heroine about Magus Hopkins. She is a character I would like to write more about in the future too.

If your story smelled of something, what would that be?

I would like to say a musky, warm, vanilla laced scent, but I would be lying. It would smell of city dirt and coal dust, perhaps with a hint of freshly baked bread on the breeze; gritty, yet with an element of something homely and comforting too.

 Brother’s Ruin

The year is 1850 and Great Britain is flourishing, thanks to the Royal Society of the Esoteric Arts. When a new mage is discovered, Royal Society elites descend like buzzards to snatch up a new apprentice.

Talented mages are bought from their families at a tremendous price, while weak mages are snapped up for a pittance. For a lower middle class family like the Gunns, the loss of a son can be disastrous, so when seemingly magical incidents begin cropping up at home, they fear for their Ben’s life and their own livelihoods.

But Benjamin Gunn isn’t a talented mage. His sister Charlotte is, and to prevent her brother from being imprisoned for false reporting she combines her powers with his to make him seem a better prospect. When she discovers a nefarious plot by the sinister Doctor Ledbetter, Charlotte must use all her cunning and guile to protect her family, her secret and her city. Brother’s Ruin is the first in a new gaslamp fantasy series by Emma Newman.

Gail’s Thoughts

As I said, I also chose this book for next month’s book group read along. I was lucky enough to get an early review copy and I really enjoyed it. I love Emma’s worldbuilding and the way the Magus system is used to explore class disparity in Victorian London, but without being in-your-face about it. A quick and enjoyable read and well worth the $3.99 price point.

{Gail’s monthly read along for March is Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith.}

PROJECT ROUND UP

  • Secret Project SAS ~ Novel by G. L. Carriger
    Status: Beta read (fifth 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 in Audiobook. 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 . . .

VictorianTrends.com @FreeVintagePics Two young #Victorian women in #summer dresses from July 23, 1886

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

1895 map of South Africa

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

Book News:

Quote of the Day:

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


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