7.31.2015

Book Review ~ Passion Blue


Right, so Passion Blue by Victoria Strauss really reminded me of some of the more historically dense YAs that were optional additional reads in grade school. You know, like The Tamarack Tree. Since I was a total nerd, I always enjoyed these books (and read ALL of them, blowing the curve), but there is an element of old fashioned-ness to them. And by that I mean not just in the content but in the style of writing. In this, Strauss reminds me of Lois Lowry and other Newberry-winning types. There's a literary component to her work that I struggled with a little. Perhaps I carry baggage after suffering the slings and arrows of writing genre in an anti-genre world (particularly that with a romance or commercial bent). But this kind of book feels like, well, work to me.

I'm not slagging it off, I swear. I still carry great affection for something like Gathering Blue. But that doesn't mean it's a particularly fun read. Rewarding yes. Educational, certainly. But sometimes a bit exhausting. This was not a book I picked up and gobbled. It's a book I had to nibble at, a little each night.

I learned a whole lot about this place and time. I'm not particularly familiar with 15th-century Italian Renaissance, apart from some affection for movies like Dangerous Beauty. I found the details on painting and pigments interesting from a materials archaeology perspective, and convent stuff utterly fascinating.

"Nor had she known that nuns were allowed to drink wine. But then, she thought, almost everything in this house is something I thought nuns weren’t allowed. From the talk she had heard in the novice dormitory, she knew that choir nuns lived more comfortably than conversae—much more comfortably, in many cases—but she had never imagined such opulence."

I was particularly taken with the idea of the power of autonomy that becoming a nun granted aristocratic women of this time period.

"I am Christ’s bride, and no human man may command me!” For an instant, her bright face was fierce. “Nor do I need to fear dying in childbed, as my mother did. I am not one of those who sees Santa Marta as a prison.” She bit into one of the little cakes. “For me, it is the greatest freedom a woman can possess.”

This reminded me of Arcangela Tarabotti, the nun upon whom I drew much inspiration for Alexia's heritage, and from whom her last name is taken.

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

GAIL'S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .
William Logsdail (British artist, 1859 – 1944)

Your Infusion of Cute . . .
Octopus ‘Adorabilis’?

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
The Peerage & The Stage

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
Lady’s writing desk, 1780 – 90, France via shewhoworshipscarlin tumblr


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:
Book Chick City says of Etiquette & Espionage: “Once again, Carriger drew me in from the beginning with her talk of dirigibles and tea, not to mention the vast array of fashions we are treated to during the course of the book.“

Quote of the Day:
“When they finished laughing they were on their way to being not just friends, but the dearest of friends, the sort of friends whose lives are shaped by the friendship.”
~ Robin McKinley, Spindle's End

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

7.29.2015

Cover Art Twinzies


Inspired by a recent article on twin cover art, Gentle Reader, I decided to hunt down some that are similar to my own. This is done without criticism or rancor. For one thing, I didn't design my covers, my publishing houses did. For another, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right? I simply find it interesting.


 I really adore the cover for All the Paths of Shadow. I think it's quite stunning. I guess I am picking up on the body pose and position more than anything else.




I really wonder if that is the same model and the same photo shoot... even the same dress. So similar to my hard cover Sci Fi Book Club Omnibus editions of the Parasol Protectorate (Vol. 1 & Vol. 2).


{Gail's monthly read along for July is: Passion Blue by Victoria Strauss}

GAIL'S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .
via arsenicinshell tumblr

Your Infusion of Cute . . .
Paper Mache Octopus Hat Tutorial

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
“Increasingly as time went on Alice James and Katherine Loring lived in a Boston marriage, a recognized form of companionship in America in the nineteenth century, whereby two women settled down together in a long-term emotional and financial partnership which, before Freud sexualized all aspects of life, was considered beneficial to unmarried women. What Boston marriages implied sexually probably varied from couple to couple.”
~ The Victorian House by Judith Flanders

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
Dear Guy Who is Mad Because I Wrote A Gay Character in a Book


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:
Mylene Ancel says of Jupons & Poisons, “Les pages se tournent toutes seules, tout comme Sophronia on se pose des questions, on essaye de comprendre avec les élèments dont on dispose ce qui se passe et on participe à un voyage qui au départ ne devait être qu'un simple mariage mais qui très vite dégénère....”

Quote of the Day:
"An ingenious mechanic of San Francisco, according to the Chronicle of that city, has just invented a baby carriage which seems well calculated to delight the hearts for mothers. It is said to be so much of an improvement upon the clumsy vehicle now in use that it is capable of being folded into a piece of baggage no larger than an ordinary-sized portfolio. The object of the inventor was to produce an article that might be packed almost instantaneously by a nurse, and placed upon the front platform of a street car. Go a-head, and introduce it in this city as soon as possible. It will be a blessing to mothers."
~ Godey's Lady's Book and Magazine November 1872

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

7.27.2015

While I was Recuperating ~ The Buffy/Angel Watch


While I as recuperating, Gentle Reader, I watched a lot of Buffy (and then Angel). I had seen bits of both shows before but I wanted to actually watch it all in order ~ as a kind of insight into popular vampire screen action. Why didn't I watch Buffy at the time? In 1996 I was in the middle of college and I simply missed that it was on. Also, none of my college friends were particularly into genre TV and we kinda did everything as a pack. By 1999 I was jetting off to the UK to pursue a masters of science in archaeological analysis. Quite apart from the fact that is wasn't airing concurrently in the UK, I also worked as a bartender and had very little time for TV.

What do I think of it now?


I think it wasn't designed for binge watching: so it fails sort of in the one-after-another arena. I took breaks at various points to compensate. No blame, TV was a different animal in 1996.

One of the things that I found most interesting about Buffy is the way the writers use conversation and dialect. All of the young people in the series talk very staccato and ungrammatically, which makes them sound immature but also gives them their own private language. From the terse Oz to the loquacious Xander, they all use this strange "nouns turned into adjectives" kind of speaking.

One of the results is that when we (the viewing audience) encounter an adult, like Giles or Joyce, the completely normal use of English is restful to the ear. Since the Giles character is usually the writers' means to info-dump, we viewers pay much closer attention to his explanations than we might normally. It's a very effective technique and I wonder if it was intentional.

And the Characters?


I like Oz a lot. And Tara. And even Kennedy.

Never really got into any of Buffy's love interests. Spent half my time with Angel wincing and saying "oh, please don't make him act." Riley was a yawn-fest (I've never been one for the Paladin archetype). And the thing with Spike was just confusing (although occasionally quite hot). Besides, chew the furniture much?

I guess it's no surprise I identified with Willow's love interests instead. I've always been a girl who likes the gentle, mild-mannered, souls. So romantic. Also, I did love the dialogue given to Anya. You know me, I like a female character who says exactly what she thinks.

Never learned to like Dawn or Faith—ended up fast-forwarding through most of their scenes.

I wasn't as into Angel. I don't think David B can shoulder a show as a lead (I didn't like Bones either). I'm not wild about any of his side characters (except Lorne). Yes Cordelia is a fun arc, but meh. There were some major missteps around the whole Connor (Flat Critters!) storyline that left me cold on the whole series. That said, I think many of the Angel episodes were better plotted than Buffy. Possibly because the 'paranormal private investigator in LA' concept gives broader authorial scope than 'slayer in Sunnydale.'

This is all just my opinion, Gentle Reader, and you have to realize I am coming at this as a 30-something binge watcher, so I never experienced the romance (or tension) of having seen it at the time. (I won't hear a word against Firefly, for example. Not one word!)

Lastly, I really did enjoy seeing how many of the actors show up time and time again in Joss's work/worlds. I spotted people I knew like Christina Hendricks as a barmaid in the background of an Angel flashback, to other actors I thought I knew, and off I would go to wiki and IMDB. Their a lot of cross to Mad Men as well. (Is that all Marti Noxon, I wonder?)

{Gail's monthly read along for July is: Passion Blue by Victoria Strauss}


GAIL'S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .
Petit Courrier des Dames Date-  Monday, June 1, 1840 Item ID-  v. 22, plate 101

Your Infusion of Cute . . .
Take a Selfie-lopod During Cephalopod Week

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Octopuses Given Rubik’s Cube to find out if they have favorite tentacle

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
Five Fascinating Facts about Rupert Brooke


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:
Wishful Endings says of Curtsies & Conspiracies, “If you enjoy reading YA, steampunk, stories with quirky, while also endearing and intelligent characters, fabulous writing, and superb plotting, then I would definitely recommend this series!”

Quote of the Day:
"Well, we listened to aggressively cheerful music sung by people chosen for their ability to dance."
~ Giles, Buffy season 5

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