Posts Tagged ‘book release’

This weekend was the annual ball at the Riverside Dickens’ Festival.  As usual the hubby and I dressed up and had an amazing time. When I finally manage to get the pictures off the camera I will blog about it. 

However, right now I’m just too tried.

I’m to tired to come up with anything coherent.

So, when all else fails, fill the silence with cupcakes.

Many of you know I’ve been on a quest for Absinthe cupcakes, because when Innocent Darkness *finally* comes out, I want to have a big party, and what better to serve at a steampunk book release party than Absinthe cupcakes? 

But no one — not one person — has sent me recipes for Absinthe cupcakes.

So, I decided to Google it. 

As it turns out, there are recipes.  Now I just have to a) make them to see if I like them or b) find someone to make them for me.

Some of the recipes I found:

The Boozing Baker has cupcakes that not only have Absinth in them, but has two different types of Absinthe frosting.  However, the frosting is very, very green…

from "the Boozing Baker"

The Cupcake Project’s version also has Absinthe in it and an Absinthe glaze.   But it contains cornmeal…not sure what I think about that…

Coconut and Lime has a recipe with Absinthe in the batter and frosting (notice a theme here?) and garnishes them with sugar cubes, which is very cute, methinks. 

from coconut and lime

Sara’s Vegan Kitchen of Wonder and Discovery did a Vegan version.  Some of the best cupcakes I’ve ever had have been Vegan.  I also liked how she blogged about her trials and tribulations.  I always find that helpful.

So…who’s going to make these and tell be what’s best? ~grin~

Maybe it can be a challenge on Cupcake Wars?  Can they have little fondant (or marzipan) gears on them? Please?

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Today we welcome back Scott Westerfeld, author of the Steampunk YA adventure books Leviathan and Behemoth. He’s written a variety of other YA books, including the Uglies series. Behemoth, book two in the Leviathan series, was released October 5, 2010.

Steampunk has been expanding steadily. Not just in the sense of visibility and sales, but in terms of settings, backdrops, and milieus. In other words, our sub-generic headquarters may still be found in London, but, like the Victorians themselves, we have outposts all over the globe. Cherie Priest’s Hugo-nominated Boneshaker is set in Seattle. Ten years ago Jan Lars Jensen’s Shiva 3000 featured steam-powered Hindu gods. Countless manga titles bring steampunk to Japan, and if you want see a great live-action Japanese steampunk film, check out K-20: Fiend of Twenty Faces. Readers of this blog can probably supply many more examples of steampunk’s promiscuous diversification in the comments.

But what has this to do with me? My Leviathan series is set in an alternate World War I, and all of book one transpired in Europe—namely London, Austria, and Switzerland. When the first book came to a close, however, our heroes were headed for Istanbul.

Turkey may be part of the European Union now, but in 1914 it was a different world. The Ottoman sultan was the Caliph, the secular ruler of Islam, and his empire stretched from Persia to (nominally) Egypt. The Ottomans had been at odds, culturally and militarily, with Christian Europe for centuries. By late 1914, though, both sides of the Great War had an interest in wooing the Ottomans over to their side. So I thought an airship trip to a steampunk Istanbul would be a great way to expand the world of the series.

For those of you who haven’t read Leviathan, the Great War is between the Clankers (Germanic machine users) and Darwinists (Charles discovered DNA in the 1860s, and created a sort of Victorian biotech). So we have steampunk mechanical walkers versus living machines like the eponymous airship, made from the life-threads of a whale. Leviathan is also illustrated, like any self-respecting novel would have been in 1914. The artist, Keith Thompson, created a style for each of the warring powers. The Clanker style is boxy and mechanical, the Darwinist style organic and sinuous. To show this distinction, I always use this Clanker walker compared with the captain’s desk aboard the Leviathan:

So when my characters traveled to Istanbul, Keith and I figured that the Ottomans needed their own style. Since they ultimately joined the Germans, we figured they had to be Clankers at heart. But they were on the fence for a few months in 1914, so I decided that Ottomans would make their machines in the form of animals, just to give the Darwinists a fighting chance. Thus the sultan’s power is based on an army of mechanical elephants:

This two-page image shows how rich Keith’s Clanker Istanbul is. We can see a minaret and mosque alongside the western-influenced residential architecture of the city, and in the background a pair of Iron Golems guarding a Jewish neighborhood. Istanbul in 1914 was a true multicultural city, so each religion has its own Clanker style. My favorite is possibly the Kurdish battle walker, based on the goddess Şahmeran, shown here in a Steamed World Exclusive!

One of the great things about illustrated books is how the themes in the text are reinforced by the art. In these last two images you can see the conflict that the Ottomans face: Are they steely, functional Clankers or sensuously styled Darwinists? They have bits of both, of course, so choosing sides in the great war won’t be easy.

Without being too spoiler-y, I’ll reveal that in the third book of the series, Goliath, His Majesty’s Airship Leviathan continues on its travels around the globe. There should be many more styles to discover along the way.

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Today I have another Steampunk book review for you. But first we have a few book releases this week.

The Young Adult Steampunk adventure The Boneshaker by Kate Milford (who visited during Steampunkapalooza) is released tomorrow. I can’t wait to pick it up.

Breath of Heaven, Cindy Holby’s (aka Lolita Cindy) new historical romantic fantasy also comes out tomorrow. The cover is beautiful, isn’t it?

Ancient Whispers by our very own Lolita Marie-Claude, aka Marie-Claude Bourque, also comes out tomorrow. It’s paranormal romance and looks to be an amazing read.

Also, this isn’t precisely Steampunk, but who doesn’t love Ghostbusters?

Now on to today’s book review.

Clockwork Heart by Dru Pagliassotti

Imagine a world quite unlike our own–a great, industrial city where there are sky trolleys, winged messengers, and the city itself is run by a supercomputer and council of untouchables. In this city the caste system is alive and well. Those of the highest caste hide behind masks and robes. Even entering from one part of the city to another could be problematic depending on caste. Only the Icarii are free to move about from section to section and mingle among the castes.

Taya is a young Icarus, couriering messages across the city with the help of giant metal wings. A daring mid-air rescue causes her paths to cross with the Forlore brothers–charming Alister is a member of the highest caste and part of the council, but the brooding, surly Christof has forsaken his birthright and lives among the cities poorest as a clockmaker. Taya is plunged into a web of murder, mystery, intrigue, civil-unrest, and top-secret computer program. She’ll have to decide who to trust and who’s side she’s on, her life–and the fate of the city–depends on it.

Pagliassotti’s world is rich and alive, full of detail and nuance but not in an overwhelming way. You can almost feel the grit of the mines and hear the rustle of the fine robes and the hum of the Great Engine that is the heart of the city. This world is truly a fine example of genre blending–and genre bending–combining elements of fantasy, scifi, romance, steampunk, and clockpunk and not quite like anything else out there. Gadgets abound, from sky trolleys and metal wings to the Great Engine itself.

Clockwork Heart is a fun and exciting read, hooking me from the very first page. It felt a little heavy on the romantic elements in the beginning, but not enough for me to put the book down. The pace quickly picks up and we’re launched into a wild, intriguing story with plenty of twists, turns, and gadgets. Taya, Alister, and Christof are all compelling characters and the ending felt satisfying. The world building is unique and vibrant. The only thing I’d like to see is a sketch of the “Icarus Dress” that Taya wears to the party thrown in her honor. This would be a great escapist read to take on vacation or any time you want something a bit different.

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