Posts Tagged ‘blameless’

So, has everyone recovered from holiday madness?  I hope whatever you desired was under the Christmas tree.  The new year is approaching and there’s a lot of great things to look forward to. 

The end of 2010 calls for a review of my favorite Steampunk books of 2010.  However, this list only draws from the books I’ve personally read that came out in 2010.  Books I read in 2010 that were released earlier were not included in this list as were books not specifically “Steampunk.”    There’s some great Steampunk books released this year that I haven’t read yet.   Also, this is just my own personal opinion. 


Lolita Suzanne’s Best Steampunk Books of 2010


Best YA Steampunk of 2010

The Dark Deeps: 
The Hunchback Assignments 2

by Arthur Slade

Summary:   Modo is a fourteen-year-old shape-shifting British secret agent.  Once again Modo and the unflappable Octavia Milkweed embark on a mission for Mr. Socrates in this tale of sea monsters, gadgets, French spies, and secrets.    

Why I loved it:  This year I discovered this series and I’m really enjoying it.   Modo and Octavia are terrific characters.  These books are very fun and adventurous and I love how Slade draws from all the classics.  I hope to see more titles in 2011. 

Best Steampunk Anthology of 2010

Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded

Edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer

Summary:  A followup of their 2008 anthology, the VanderMeers bring together an anthology of Steampunk fiction short stories and non-fiction articles suitable for both those new to the genre and avid Steampunkers. 

Why I loved it: I love the eclectic nature of the collection and how the VanderMeers blended original stories, reprints, and non fiction. Everything is artful–even the cover.   Gail Carriger’s essay is my personal favorite. 

Best Steampunk Book of 2010


by Gail Carriger

Summary: Alexia is back and part of a scandal, having left her husband’s house and being in the family way.   She’s dismissed from the Shadow Council, Lord Akeldama leaves town before he can help her make sense of everything, and attacked by mechanical ladybugs.   In order to sold the mystery, Alexia embarks to Italy to consult the Templars.

Why I loved it:  I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but the cover model is simply extraordinary.  ~grin~  I adore these books and am a major Gail Carriger fan-girl.  Like the other books in the series, these books are fast-paced, cleaver, and make me laugh.  What’s not to love about homicidal lady bugs, Ivy running a hat shop,  and Alexia saving the world one cup of tea at a time? 

So, these are my personal picks for 2010.  What are  yours?

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Does anyone watch Castle? Tonight is their encounter with a secret Steampunk society. I know I’m tuning in.

If anyone had trouble signing up for the Steampunk Writing Class everything should be fixed now.

Also, is anyone planning on writing Steampunk for National Novel Writing Month in November. No, seriously. Because if there’s enough of you, we’ll run something nifty here at Steamed. With prizes.

Now, on to today’s book review.

Blameless, book three of the Parasol Protectorate Series
by Gail Carriger

Parasols, dirigibles, and men in white nightdresses, oh my! The latest installment in Carriger’s charmingly witty Parasol Protectorate series. Alexia’s life is in a wee bit of upheaval after the last book’s events. Not one to waste an opportunity, when things get unbearable in London, Alexia heads off to Italy in the company of Madame Lefoux and Floot in order to find some answers and tangle with the Templars while Lord Maccon comes to his senses.

Like the rest of the series, these books are enjoyable, witty, and filled with tea, parasols, adventure, and bad hats. The Steampunkyness of Carriger’s world isn’t “in your face” but woven subtly into the very fabric of the world. As usually, memorable characters abound. It was fun to see more of Floot the Butler with little hits of what Alexia’s esteemed father may have been like. Lord Maccon was absent for much of the story, but Professor Lyall was prominent in a very entertaining Vampire subplot (with quite the plot twist) that kept bringing us back to what was happening in London while Alexia was in Italy. I wonder if the Werewolves will become more fashionable now. I did miss the ever-charming and fascinating Lord Akeldama’s presence as well, but it was fun to see Ivy starting to find her element.

In short, I ♥ it. I shall be waiting for the next book, Heartless with baited breath. (But must I wait until July?)

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Today we welcome back one of our favorite Visiting Lolitas, author Gail Carriger.

Her newest in the deliciously Steampunk paranormal Parasol Protectorate series, Blameless, was released September 1, 2010. Other books in the series include Soulless and Changeless. She also has a story appearing in the Steampunk Reloaded anthology which will be released November 15, 2010.

Blameless is also a featured book for the month of Steptember over at the Barnes and Noble Paranormal and Urban Fantasy Book Club.

Getting Cozy with Gail Carriger

There’s this concept of cozy which may be the most iconic thing I can think of to represent British culture. Yes there’s the Queen, and Ascot, and Oxford and so forth, but I’m going purely philosophical here and delving into the nature of culture itself. Small town or city, north or south, there is one thing that they do better in Britain than anywhere else in the world (apart from tea): Get Cozy.

You can picture it in your head: the small thatched cottage on the edge of the moor, puffing smoke out its little chimney, a tilted sign at the garden path that reads “Duck’s Bottom.” You know that at the door there will be a little brush shaped like a hedgehog upon which to wipe your rubber boots and just inside a pot for your umbrella. Once the door has closed, you notice that the place smells like baking bread. You can hear the lilting hum of conversation, a querulous rise and fall, so musical when compared to our loud American flatness. And soon enough someone comes toward you with a welcoming smile, flour on their apron, and says, “Oh, it’s you. Come in, come in. Cuppa?”

Cozy is the way everything is smaller over in the UK: cars, bath tubs, doorways. Except tissues, they’re huge. Cozy is the fact that odds are, if you enter a used bookstore some cat will sidle over to collect a pet taxation, or, if it’s sunny, coil in the window amongst dusty book jackets in an obliging sunbeam. Cozy is the patchwork quilts on the beds or the fact that you can order your gingerbread with a dollop of warm custard spilled over it. Cozy in inherent in the names of things: Winny the Pooh (a children’s book character), loo (the bathroom), babblers (a kind of bird). Even the food is cozy, designed for well padded comfort, nothing to stress about, nothing too hot or too spicy or too good for you: spotted dick, clotted cream, Christmas pud, digestive biscuits, Cornish pasties, crumpets, bubble and squeak, rumbledethumps.

Being truly British, however, means one has to suffer for this concept in order to appreciate it. In the South of England, where I spent much of my youth, I would often see parades of macintoshed wanderers striding the green landscape enduring a near-constraint drizzle. “Mighty fine day, isn’t it?” Some had a scruffy dog or two, others sported binoculars and a keen interest in birds (Birdos are called Twitchers over there – how awesome is that?), but most are just out for a stroll. I don’t know about you, but here in California no one would EVER go for a walk in the rain. The very idea! But I believe this is tied to the fact that these damp adventurers know that upon returning home there will be a cheery little fire, a fat cat on the knee, and perhaps a hot toddy.

I think one the best literary depictions of this side of Britishness is the Hobbit villages in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. As Tolkien implies, we would all be better of if we could have more cozy in our lives, that slow lazy pace, that genuine appreciation for comfort. There is simple functional pleasure to be derived from a tea cozy or fuzzy slippers. There is such joy to be had in curling up in a big soft sweater with a great book and a cup of tea. Cozy is not just a concept, it is a state of mind.

New York Times Bestselling author Gail Carriger began writing in order to cope with being raised in obscurity by an expatriate Brit and an incurable curmudgeon. She escaped small town life and inadvertently acquired several degrees in Higher Learning. Ms. Carriger then traveled the historic cities of Europe, subsisting entirely on biscuits secreted in her handbag. She now resides in the Colonies, surrounded by fantastic shoes, where she insists on tea imported directly from London. She is fond of teeny tiny hats and tropical fruit. The Parasol Protectorate books are: Soulless (Oct. 2009), Changeless (March 2010), Blameless (Sept. 2010), Heartless (July 2011), and Timeless (2012).

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It’s Monday.  I have some winners to announce

The first is the copy of Chenda and the Airship Brofman.

…drum roll please…


Congrats!  Email me at suzannelazear (@) hotmail to claim your prize.

Now we have the amazing Girl Genius stuff.

…drum roll please…

*~*~*CARA KING*~*~*

YAY, Cara.  Please email me at suzannelazear (@)hotmail to claim your prize.

Thank you, again, for everyone who helped to make Steampunkapalooza a huge success. We got almost 10,000 hits in April. Just because Steampunkapalooza is over doesn’t mean the party ends. We’re looking for guests for our new “guest Thursdays.” If you have a suggestion (or want to be one) please email me at suzannelazear (@) hotmail with “guest suggestion” or “guest inquiry” in the header.

I’m still recovering, and don’t have anything profound to share with you, so I’m going to share a couple of things that I find interesting. Enjoy.

Did you ever wonder how a book cover was made?  This video from  Orbit  shows us how they made the cover for; Gail Carriger’s upcoming book Blameless.

Is the world ready for Steampunk Mickey?

About a month ago Disney announced the release of its new pin set The Mechanical Kingdom ; featuring Steampunk versions of all our favorite Disney Characters.

This has caused reactions on all realms of the spectrum from excitement to disappointment.  Personally, I think the pins are cute and I see it as positive, not a negative.  Just because someone knows what an idea is, doesn’t necessarily make it “mainstream.”  And, well, Disney has Steampunk roots, too — 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and Treasure Planet anyone?  I’d love to see Disney remake one of their early black and white cartoons, Steampunk style.

The Steampunk Scholar has a very eloquent post on Disney’s contribution to Steampunk.  The folks over at Voyages Extraordinaires have a great post on what Disney is doing aesthetically with Steampunk.  (It makes me want to plan a trip to Japan.)

I had a friend bring me back a Minnie Mouse one from her recent trip and I think they’re cute.  (And it moves, lol).

So, what do you think?

Have a great week everyone.

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Steampunkapalooza is here! Join us all month long for special guests, prizes, and mayhem in celebration of Steamed!’s 1st Birthday.

Today we’d like to welcome Gail Carriger, author of Soulless and Changeless to the Steamed! Blog.  She’s graciously agreed to help us kick off our month long Steampunkapalooza in honor of our 1st birthday!  Gail will also be giving away a signed copy of Changeless to one lucky commenter.

Lolita Suzanne: Thank you so much for joining us today and kicking off our Steampunkapalooza birthday bash– on behalf of all the Lolitas, welcome to Steamed!  Usually we refer to our guests as “visiting Lolitas” but you come across as far too poised and polished to be a Lolita.

Gail Carriger: My dear, you may call me whatever you wish.

LS:  I adored Soulless and am looking forward to reading Changeless, which released March 30, 2010. Soulless was so funny that I laughed hysterically through the whole book.  I just love the cross section of the propriety of Victorian society and the supernatural world and how Alexia intersects both with dignity, grace, and witty quips.  Can you tell us a little about Changless?

GC: Changeless is a kind of spoof of gothic mystery stories (just as Soulless was essentially a spoof of early gothic romances). It involves werewolves in kilts with (gasp!) bare knees.

LS: Oh, not the bare knees!  Though, I do have a fondness for men in kilts.  Was Changless easier or harder to write than Soulless?

GC: Changeless was easier to write than Soulless, actually. It’s a nice clean story and it went very smoothly. Blameless, on the other hand, was an absolute nightmare. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

LS:  What inspired you to not only “go Steampunk” but to go paranormal Steampunk, effectively crossing Steampunk with Urban Fantasy?

GC: Given the tenor of my world the two genres just seemed to mesh really well for me. I love urban fantasy but I’m not wild about the modern setting and generally dark overtones, plus I’ve always wondered: if immortals were mucking about, why didn’t they have any effect on history? I also love steampunk. So having the vampires and werewolves causing an alt-Victorian steampunk past was an organic result of my own preferences.

LS:  Well, I have to say, I adore the results.  So, given the Steampunkyness of your books, does that mean that you do your signings in costume?

GC: At steampunk conventions, yes. I have had the cover dress of the second book made for me, so I may wear that, but most of the time, no I don’t. I dress up, but not really steampunk. That said, I do wear a lot of steampunk details in my daily life.

LS:  Oh, the dress on the cover is spectacular. Now, most Urban fantasies that I’ve read lastly have been in 1st person.  Why did you choose to use third?

GC: Honestly? I absolutely loathe writing first person. I’ve managed a few short stories in 1POV but most of the time I just don’t like it. I prefer being the goddess of my universe, all powerful and omnipresent. I also come out of a YA fantasy background, so that has had some effect on my voice.

LS: I know everybody has probably asked you about how you came up with your very unique world and the idea of supernaturals not being soulless but instead having an abundance of soul. But what came first, Alexia or her world?

GC:  The idea of weighing the soul came first (21 grams according to a scientist of the day). I loved the fact that they thought of the soul as a measurable entity. After I read about these experiments, and certain other aspects of Victorian scientific theory/practice I knew soullessness was the twist I wanted for my character. All the other concepts flowed from there. Alexia’s voice came after.

LS:  Speaking of Alexia, there is so much to love about your heroine.  Alexia is a real “can do” gal and no matter the situation always comes off as the most capable person in the room, all the while still maintaining her persona as a proper lady.  It really doesn’t seem like she has much further to grow as a character, though some of the other characters seem to have yet to realize exactly how capable she is.  Was that your intention all along? Will there be a few surprises/lessons for Alexia to learn along the way?

GC:  I like my main characters stroppy, dead-pan, and very practically-minded, luckily Alexia’s soullessness lends itself to this kind of personality. It’s fun to contrast her with a hero who, by his nature, leans towards and excess of emotion. Whether she likes it or not, Alexia has a lot to learn from Conall. That said, in the end, the world has a lot more to learn from Alexia. One of the things that she is always after is more scientific explanation as to her own nature. I think it frustrates her, as a bluestocking, that so little is known about preternaturals. But she has some challenges coming at her, it’s going to be interesting to see if being capable is enough to carry her through.

LS:  So far the action/intrigue is set in the United Kingdom–will the series move to other lands (France? Germany? America?)   Can you give us a hint as to what other adventures you have in store for Alexia?

GC:  Yup. You can see from the cover of Blameless that she is headed to the Continent in Book III. I have no plans to ever send her to the Americas, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going there at some point within this world.

LS:  Ivy, Alexia’s best friend is a hoot. Will her role expand in the future? And–what’s up with her challenged fashion sense and her horrible taste in hats? Do you have a friend, or family member, that you’ve based her on?

GC:  Ivy has hidden depths, and she’d not going anywhere. She has a key role in the second book, and a brief but vital appearance in the third. In the interest of my own protection, I must say that she bares absolutely no resemblance to any person living or dead (cough cough, Miss K, cough cough).

LS:  Alexia loses her parasol in Soulless.  Will she get another?

GC:  Oh my yes. She will get The Parasol!

LS:  Most Urban Fantasy series are about single women.  Is it difficult to keep up the excitement and adventure with a married woman?  Are there any specific challenges in writing a married character?

GC:  Yes there are certainly challenges. Much of the romantic tension vanishes, but there are so many other kinds of tension to play with. I’m lucky in that I’m such a crossover muddle of genres I can solve this problem by leaning further into steampunk, or comedy, rather than urban fantasy. Also, as I’m drawing heavily on Victorian tropes, I can switch around from gothic romance, to mystery, to high adventure. Also married women have far more autonomy in the Victorian world. That said, I’m a opposed to the idea that all nookie ends with a marriage. Rest assured, things stay hot.

LS:  Speaking of hot, although Alexia is inexperienced, especially in comparison to the much older Lord Maccon, it quickly becomes apparent that she can match him “tit for tat” or in this case “bite for bite.” Is it because of her preternatural ability to “tame” him with a touch or is it just her nature?

GC:  It’s a bit of both.

LS:  Sometimes it seems that in matters of passion she almost seems to have him at a disadvantage.  She is a refreshingly “lusty” woman which really balances well with her very proper persona.  Did you plan for Alexia to be sexual or did she surprise you?

GC:  She definitely surprised me. It was one of those cases when the character’s personality naturally steered her in that direction. Her pragmatic nature and lack of religious influence allowed her to be refreshingly un-Victorian about sex. Also there’s her disreputable father to think on. His journals broadened his young daughter’s mind quite extensively, not to mention her friendship with Lord Akeldama.

LS: When Alexia touches a supernatural and makes him human, if she were to get pregnant, would her child be human? supernatural? preturnatural?  Something different all together?

GC: I take the fifth.

LS:  But of course, lol.  Characters really do take on a life of their own when writing.  Did any other characters surprise you?

GC:  Constantly. Lyall is always a surprise, Lord Akeldama, never. Ivy has a sudden moment of utter revelation in the third book, and I had no idea Felicity would turn out to be so horrible in the second book.

LS:  What do you do when a character “refuses” to do what you want them to?

GC:  I haven’t really had that happen yet with this series. Mostly, they do what I want. Sometimes one of them will run away with a scene, then I have to be quite strict and reign them in. That said, often they have a better idea of where things are going than I, so I let them run. I can always go back and edit later, and often they drop a cookie or start a thread that I didn’t realize I would need.

LS:  Characters can be so smart sometimes. Do you have a favorite character?  A least favorite one?

GC:  I vacillate. I love Lyall because he is such a sweetheart and he has hidden depths. Lord Akeldama is easy to write. Tunstell, Ivy, and Lord Akeldama’s boys are all scene stealers. Madame Lefoux is a challenge. Alexia always has something snarky to say so she can voice the things others don’t dare to. Lord Maccon can be so endearingly buffoonish. I suppose, I like each one best when they are being the most extreme version of themselves, so it’s situationally dependent. I dislike each one when they are behaving out of character and I can’t figure out why.

LS:  There’s just so much to love about your world and characters.  How many books do you have planned for the series?

GC:  Again, I must take the fifth.

LS:  Again?  I suppose.  Can you tell use when will the third installment come out? Is there anything you can share with us about it?

GC:  September, eep! It’s a bit more of a high flying adventure than the other two. You’re going to learn a lot more about what it means to be a preternatural, and there are Italians in nightgowns, and a man with a gun that shoots sea cucumbers.

LS:  What’s not to love about that!  Another thing I love is the “paper doll” game on the Orbit website.   Will we get any additional characters to dress?  Perhaps Ivy and her hats?  Is there any chance they’ll make it an iPhone app?  I’d never get anything done if they did.

GC:  I love it too. I want them to do Lord Akeldama. Ivy would be awesome also. I would love it as an iPhone app, but I don’t know if they’ll do it. Would be pretty darn cool.

LS: Do you have any other projects in the works?

GC:  I’ve a short non-fiction piece on steampunk fashion out in the VanderMeer’s new anthology, Steampunk Reloaded, this October. A short story in the Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance II. Apart from that, nothing I can talk about . . . yet.

LS:  Thank you so much for coming on today!  It’s been a pleasure having you on and I can’t thank you enough for kicking off our Steampunkapalooza.

Now, on to the important stuff.  One lucky poster will win a copy of Gail Carriger’s Changeless. You get one entry for for posting a comment.  You also can get an additional entry for Blogging/facebooking/tweeting/posting about Gail’s visit/steampunkapalooza will also earn you an additional entry (but, please, don’t spam. When in doubt, leave it out) Let us know where you posted.

You can also earn an additional entry for joining the   Steamed facebook group or the Parasol Protectorate facebook group (or both for two entries).  If you’re already a fan let us know as well so you can get your extra entries as well.

Winner will be chosen by random.  The contest closes Sunday, April 4th at midnight PST and I’ll post the winner on or around Monday, April 5th. **UPDATED*** I’ll post the winner on Tuesday, April 6th at the beginning of our day’s post–featuring the art of <a href=http://www.strangling.com> Jasmine Becket-Griffith and a chance to win a signed print.

Stay tuned all month long for special guests, prizes, and mayhem. Don’t forget to join us tomorrow, Friday, April 2nd, when Dracula Clothing comes to visit. Saturday, April 3rdfor YA Author Shelley Adina as she blogs about her adventures in making a bustled petticoat. On Sunday, April 4 th we’re announcing a contest where you can win $150 GC to super fab Steampunk clothier Clockwork Couture. Donna from Clockwork Couture will be blogging on Steampunk fashion on Monday, April 5 th.

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