5.04.2016

Book Review To Play the Lady by Naomi Lane


Last month's book pick was To Play the Lady (Sevalian Chronicles Book 1) by Naomi Lane. This was my second time reading this book. Below I've collected some rather stream of consciousness thoughts. For which I beg your forgiveness, Gentle Reader.


There is something about this book that I really love and it's incredibly hard to articulate. It has an innocence about it, not only in the story but in the prose style. Perhaps nostalgia is a better word? It pulls at exactly the same strings in my psyche as Pierce's Alanna books. It has similar flaws, too. (At this point in my writing career, I can recognize that a series I'm incredibly passionate about - like Song of the Lioness - has flaws from an author perspective.) For example, Lane uses a lot of modifiers, both in language tags and in description. (Honestly, I'm not sure if I find modifier use annoying because I have been taught to do so, or if they are actually annoying.) I know, I use them myself, but never doubt me, Gentle Reader, I always know that I'm doing it. And wonder at myself. And now here I am, entirely hypocritically, wondering at someone else.

This is why I believe most authors make pretty abysmal book critics.

Anyway...

I had a harder time reading this book a second time and forgiving it for small sins. However, I still really enjoyed the story. I like all of the tropes that are being used, from a tomboy trying to become a lady, to a young girl disguising herself as a boy, to high court and magic, to themes of young love, friendship, and isolation that always go hand-in-hand with boarding schools (whether that be a castle, or a Herald Collegium or a school for bards...).

I like Lane's magical system, although when I first read the book I thought it was going to be more on the warrior end of the Sword and Sorceress spectrum. I do wish the main character were a little less sparkly special. That said, I believe that she is prevented from becoming a Mary Sue, because she is intrinsically quite flawed. She can't keep her mouth shut, plus she is too bold and too aggressive for the nobility and for politics. This makes the romantic connections she forms with the princes in the book ultimately untenable by nature of her own personality. I do wonder where the writer is going with her romantic arcs as a result.



I also picked up and read the second one, To Serve the King, which didn't answer any of the above questions, but did take the story in a new and interesting direction.

This review might sound a little hesitant, and I assure you that it's not. I'm enthusiastic about this series and despite minor flaws the editor eye identified, I was still up late addicted to finishing them (the AB was most annoyed "didn't you just do a readathon?"). Lane clearly gets me as a reader in some intrinsic way. I eagerly await the next one, with a full understanding that I might have to wait another four years. In which case, I will happily reread these first two again. And frankly I have dropped many a series for less. I'm hoping Lane will wrap up the Sevalian Chronicles in three books, although the way these are headed it does have the feel of Pierce (in terms of being at least four long). Since we go into the desert next I'm expected The Woman Who Rides Like a Man. Which means there is still Lioness Rampant to go. If you see what I mean?


Next up, I have chosen another reread for me.  Although this is one that I haven't read in well over a decade: Powers That Be by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough. This is a complete switch from Lane: adult sci-fi meets fantasy (yes, it is really both) co-authored by two very experienced genre writers. I look forward to the reread and I hope you will join me. Also you can go in knowing, safely, that the rest of the series is complete. So it you like it, read on! Althouhg if memory serves, the first stands alone quite well.


In other news, The Harper Hall series is finally available in e-book form. If you like To Play the Lady you will probably like these books. The first book, Dragonsong, is one of my favorite books of all time. Or at least it was when I was 14 years old. (I understand from the reviews that the formatting isn't great, but I'm still delighted to see any of my favorite blacklist make it onto my ereader.)


Read on my dears!


{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 . . .
Fashion plate, 1877, France. shwwhosorshipscarlin tumblr

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Lesbian Historic Motif Project: Lesbians and the Fantastic in History

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: Working copy edits, proof pass, formatting. 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. Chasing cover art photo.
    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)
Marine Biology; My Sister's Song; Fairy Debt;
The Curious Case (featuring Alessandro Tarabotti)

Book News:
My not-so-secret-love for Gail Carriger’s Books

Quote of the Day:
“To the old saying that man built the house but woman made of it a "home" might be added the modern supplement that woman accepted cooking as a chore but man has made of it a recreation.”
~ Emily Post

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!

5.02.2016

Ketchup AMA ~ Research, Favorite Covers, & Invertebrate


I did a spontaneous "I need blog posts AMA thing recently." Thanks to all who participated and here are some of your answers! I'm hoping since someone wanted to know, others will too.

What are some of your favorite novel covers? 

I did a blog post about that!
 
Covenant's End


What is the hardest part about writing steampunk/reimagining the past? 

The research. And figuring out the right balance between the reality of what was and the absurdity of what might have been and the (sometimes mundane) needs of plot and story.

How much research do you typically do to get the history right? 

Way more than I use. For every hour I write I've done at least an hour of research.

How do you do your research? What kinds of materials?

Online, secondary, and primary sources. Baedeker is my God! My 26 tips on research here. 

My Baedeker's Travel Guides

Where do you find inspiration? 

My arse, if I sit on it long enough. Honestly? I pay very close attention to my friends when they’re drunk, but usually inspiration comes to me when I’m contemplating the absurdity of the universe and at the most inconvenient time – like in the shower or the middle of the night.

What is the hardest part of the writing process for you and how do you get through it? 

The rough draft, by far. Just sitting down and squeezing the words out, sometimes I feel like a desiccated lemon.

Has your research of the past changed how you live today?

If anything it's made me more appreciative of modern conveniences. I've tried some pretty experimental cooking. And I interpret actions and behaviors differently, I think, because of my own academic background as well as my more recent research. But I don't think it's changed how I actually live all that much.


"People who prefer squids, what's up with that?" And "How much time do you spend rolling your eyes at silly fans?"

Paul, Paul, Paul. I'm rolling my eyes at you right now. And I do prefer squid... in my mouth! Nom nom nom.

How many pieces of octopus decor have you acquired for your home? (And do you ever want to get an octopus for a pet?)

At least 100 by now and yes. But they are very shy. Most of the octopus related decorative items live at my office, actually. They just work better there. Here's a sample of gifts I received...

Broaches

 Statuary

 Ornaments 

 Rings

If you could turn a favorite something (book, comic, historical event, historical person, whatever) into a musical what would it be, and what would the show stopping number be about (bonus points if you give the song a name)? 

Rat Queens? Something from Betty about flirting with girls.




{Gail's monthly read along for April is To Play the Lady by Naomi Lane.}

GAIL'S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .
Magasin des Demoiselles Wednesday, June 1, 1859 Item ID-  v. 40, plate 78

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Leaping Ladies on the Loose

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
Who is my Audience? Age Categories for Children’s Books


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 beta reader. Release date to come.
    Gail's first foray into hybrid land, romance featuring a several-times widowed Preshea and the gentle Scottish captain who could change everything.
  • Romancing the Inventor ~ A Supernatural Society Novella.
    Status: Awaiting first pass edit. Chasing cover art photo.
    Gail's second foray into hybrid land, 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)
Marine Biology; My Sister's Song; Fairy Debt;
The Curious Case (featuring Alessandro Tarabotti)

Book News:
ace-artemis-fanartist-      I’m glad that Alexia shipped them too

Quote of the Day:
“Among other things, he insists he will perish if he cannot take me to Venice and watch me fall into a canal.”
~ Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer, Sorcery & Cecelia

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!

4.29.2016

Gail Carriger Merchandise Now Available on Zazzle


Those of you who get the Monthly Chirrup got an exciting sneak peek in the April newsletter. For everyone else, here is the Official Announcement...

I’ve started puttering about with merchandise!

I know, isn’t that exciting?

Gail Related Apparel

After a great deal of research I chose Zazzle to host my shop and produce the items for me. Frankly the royalty isn't much, but the range and quality of the items seems superior to other options. Also, the interface is easier to learn (you know me). Please be patient with me, these are only initial forays. I’m still figuring it all out.

Fun Tea Related Items

Now, before I get tetchy emails...
  1. It is not possible for me to offer items showcasing my novel covers or manga art. 
  2. You can switch the product, so if you want it on a different color or style... YOU CAN CHANGE IT YOURSELF! (I know right? So cool.)
  3. Zazzle’s interface, prices, and goods are not totally flexible. I can add more fancy stuff or more cheap stuff from what Zazzle has on offer, but the baseline cost of a mug, for example, can’t be altered. 
  4. Thus I can’t offer something like a chatelaine, parasol, or teacup ~ not on Zazzle anyway. 

Finishing School Stuff

I was going to roll out merch along with the new website, but the website is taking longer than anticipated and I can't wait, I'm too excited.

So, because this is me, I'm starting off talking about apparel!

Witty grammar related statements, and fan pins. (Ellipses Are Forever shirt)

T-Shirts for Ladies, Gentlemen, & Infant Inconveniences

So the thing to know about Zazzle is you can take any of the designs you like and put them on 146 other styles ~ men's, babies, hoodies, tanks, polo, jersey, etc. Although I tend to have destined for the shirt displayed.


Finishing School Shirts
Vintage fan and name of book and author on front pocket, quote on back:
All the Best Geniuses Are Evil & Who Doesn't Want a Wicker Chicken?


WARNING

The American Apparel line (while the highest quality & thickest cotton) runs SMALL. 
Gail Tested: I'm a size 6, normally wearing between and small and medium. I ordered this in M and it was at least a size too small. The LARGE was still a bit tight in the arms. I'd suggest ordering a men's SMALL instead.

I talk more on fit and style in this Retro Rack post.

Zazzle Shirts On The Rack! How Do They Fit? Gail Carriger Merch!



{Gail's monthly read along for April is To Play the Lady by Naomi Lane.}

GAIL'S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .
“The New Look”  Christian Dior, 1947  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
These Self-parking Office Chairs Return to Their Desks

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
So You Want to Become An Author Assistant?


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: Release date to come.
    Gail's first foray into hybrid land, romance featuring a several-times widowed Preshea and the gentle Scottish captain who could change everything.
  • Romancing the Inventor ~ A Supernatural Society Novella.
    Status: Awaiting first pass edit. Chasing cover art photo.
    Gail's second foray into hybrid land, 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)
Marine Biology; My Sister's Song; Fairy Debt;
The Curious Case (featuring Alessandro Tarabotti)

Book News:
Anomaly: Star Trek TNG: Remember Me (with Gail Carriger)

Quote of the Day:
“I’m off to the punch bowl, dear hearts—collect me when it’s time to leave in disgrace.”
 The man’s wasted as a medic, Beka thought, smiling after him. He should have gone on the stage.
~ Debra Doyle & James D. Macdonald, The Price of the Stars

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!