Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Review: Prosperity by Alexis Hall

Cover art for Prosperity, featuring a young black man grinning at the full house in his hand. Two more playing cards are tucked up his sleeve. In the background, a masculine figure of indistinct ethnicity leans against a post, their features shadowed by a hat and enveloping coat. Further behind them, a figure of indeterminate gender garbed in pseudo-18th century clothing stares directly at the reader. The cover is primarily purple in tone.
Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley.

Streetwise Picadilly needs a change, so he stows away on an airship bound for Prosperity, a lawless town strung high above the earth. There, he quickly draws the ire of Milord, a posh thug intent on mining a sky claim for valuable phlogiston--provided he and his associates can dodge the pirates and leviathans that threaten to tear them out of the sky.

Dil isn't too keen to linger in Milord's presence, but he has little choice after he incurs a large debt to Byron Kae, captain of the mining enterprise's aethership. At least serving aboard the ship gives him a chance to get close to Ruben, the gorgeous clergyman who dogs Milord's every step. And even though Ruben proves less seducible than Dil might wish, the aethership itself soon exerts a strong pull over the streetwise young drifter.

Until the leviathans threaten Prosperity itself, and Dil is forced to choose between happiness and heroism.

I first heard about PROSPERITY months and months ago when the editor took to Tumblr to gush about it. Within minutes, it was on my great big list of Books I've Gotta Read. And the moment it hit NetGalley, I hit "request" and crossed my fingers.

It lived up to all my expectations. PROSPERITY is a gem, though it's not necessarily a quick or easy read.

You see, my dears, PROSPERITY is strongly reminiscent of a nineteenth century novel; a fine thing, given that it purports to be just that, but a potential barrier for those of us who occasionally struggle with pre-20th century syntax. While there's action aplenty, it's often eclipsed by a wealth of detail and a strong focus on voice. It's easy to imagine PROSPERITY serialized within the pages of a a late Victorian periodical.

Or it would be if Victorian periodicals had published profanity-laden stories involving airships, cities suspended in the sky, aerial leviathans, and overtly queer folks.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Murchie Plus Books: October 19th to 25th

The premise: I love my dog. I love books. I combine the two by photographing my dog with every book I read, barring the stuff I get through Marvel Unlimited. Last week, that was the tail end of Daniel Way's DEADPOOL, the 2003 INHUMANS series, the 2005 YOUNG AVENGERS series, and the very beginning of Civil War. I hadn't planned to get involved with the latter quite this early, but apparently it's the next step in the Young Avengers timeline and I must see more of Kate Bishop.

The photos: go live on Instagram as I take them and appear here in digest form every Sunday.

A fuzzy grey poodle, Murchie, sits on a sheep-shaped pillow with his front legs tucked under him. He wears a black tank top. His attention is directed towards something to the right side of the frame. Slightly in front of him sits a white iPod with the cover of Ptolemy's Gate on its screen. It depicts a grinning, humanoid lion in a green hat. Behind Murchie sits a trade paperback copy of the book with the same cover art partly obscured by Murchie's head.

I didn't read anything new and photographable in the wee hours of last week's Readathon, but I did start listening to PTOLEMY'S GATE by Jonathan Stroud while I cooked some sausages.

Sausages are one of Murchie's favourite things, so I expended a great deal of energy ensuring he didn't steal more than his fair share of them and I forgot to take a picture of him with the book.

I forgot until, um, yesterday.

But here he is now, all cute and fuzzy and alert! Hurray!

I got off to something of a slow start with the book, but I'm hard into it now and would love to finish it either today or tomorrow. (Actually, I have to finish it either today or tomorrow because my license expires late on Monday and another library patron has requested it.) After that, it's straight into THE RING OF SOLOMON, which was my favourite the first time through.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Recipe: Pad Thai Popcorn

Popcorn enrobed in golden caramel coating.

Popcorn is my absolute favourite snack. It's quick to prepare, it absorbs a variety of flavours with ease, and it's healthy.

Provided you don't smother it in caramel, that is.

I eat my fair share of plain popcorn, or popcorn sprinkled with seasonings, but every once in a while I like to prepare something a bit more complicated. POPCORN!, Carol Beckerman's cookbook centred on all things popcorn (I know; you're shocked), has given me plenty of delectable recipes to try. My favourite of these is Pad Thai popcorn, a sweet, spicy, stick-to-your-teeth snack that's more than worth the time it takes to prepare.

Y'all know of my great love for Pad Thai. I eat it whenever the opportunity presents itself--which isn't as often as I'd like, now I live thousands of miles away from my Pad Thai dealer of choice, but a girl's gotta take what she can get. This fabulous popcorn helps kill the craving in between noodle bowls.

As an added bonus, it's easy to render vegan. Hurray!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Conversation: The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

A month or two back, several of us took to Twitter to squee and speculate about Maggie Stiefvater's Raven Cycle (THE RAVEN BOYS, THE DREAM THIEVES, and the soon-to-be-released BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE). We had such a good time that we decided to take our conversation elsewhere so's we could delve a little deeper into the subject and avoid spoiling any onlookers.

Which is to say, I'm over at Lady Business today, discussing the series with Aarti, Ana, Jenny, and Teresa. We cover material from the first two books, with plenty of speculation as to what we'd like to see in BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE and the as-yet untitled final book. Spoilers abound, as do FEELS.

If you've enjoyed the Raven Cycle, please join us.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Murchie Plus Books: October 12th to 18th

The premise: I love my dog. I love books. I combine the two by photographing my dog with everything I read, barring the comics I get through Marvel Unlimited. Last week, that was lots of stuff about the Inhumans. I love the Inhumans.

The photos: go live on Instagram as I take them and appear here in digest form every Sunday.

A fuzzy grey poodle, Murchie, appears in profile before a white e-reader with the cover art for Storms of Lazarus displayed on its screen. The cover depicts a pale-skinned man with short, dark hair and a raven perched on his shoulder. He wears a long, dark coat. An airship is visible in the air behind him. The e-reader is laid flat, so the image appears at an angle.

I finished LORD OF CHAOS at lunchtime on Friday and read nothing but comics until Tuesday, which is when I purchased and began STORMS OF LAZARUS by Karen Kincy.

The very moment the book showed up in my Kindle app, I loaded its cover and propped the device behind my sleepy wee Murchie. No sooner had I snapped the first picture than Murchie shifted in his sleep, sending my Kobo tumbling down to bonk him on the head.

I felt terrible, but Murchie just shrugged it off. This is the dog who takes grave offense when his soft, tiny chew toy accidentally brushes his nose during games of fetch, so I guess he was still too groggy to recognize he should be put out. It surely helped that he wasn't injured (whew!).

Still, I figured it would be safest to lay the e-reader on its side for all subsequent shots.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Readathon Hour 20: Picture It! Mini Challenge

Hello, Readathon participants, and congratulations on making it to Hour 20! You're almost there!

Unless you've chosen to focus on scriptless comics, you've spent the day immersed in words, words, words. This hour, I'd like you to step away from words long enough to find a picture that somehow relates to your current read.

Choose an image that makes you think of the main character, an important plot twist, the book's theme, the setting, or any other story-related element that triggers your imagination. I ask that you don't use cover or interior art or a still from a film adaptation--that's just too easy, yeah?--but anything else is fair game.

Please make sure your selection is free and legal to use, and be sure to credit the artist or photographer. Flickr's creative commons archive is a great place to search for images in the public domain, as is the WANA Commons.

Once you have an image, tell us how it relates to your book via a blog post, tweet, or Instagram post. If you don't use social media (or if it's just too late in the 'thon to worry about crap like that), you can post your explanation and a link to your picture in the comments here.

An example: earlier today, I read THE LAST GOOD KNIGHT, a serial by Tiffany Reisz. The serial made me think of knights, for obvious reasons, so I hunted through Flickr's creative commons and found a trio of fearsome Lego knights photographed by Andrew Becraft:

Three Lego knights brandishing a silver sword, a war hammer, and a black sword. The knight on the left wears silver armor; the others are attired in black.
Now it's your turn! Make sure you comment below with a link to your blog post, tweet, or Instagram account. One randomly selected participant will win a set of eight vintage postcards featuring gardens from around the world, plus 50 cancelled stamps with plants on them.

An assortment of vintage postcards and stamps.

The challenge will run until the end of the Readathon. I'll contact the winner whenever I wake up. :)

Readathon: Mid Event Survey

Mid Event Survey time! (Not Mind Event Survey, fingers. Shame on you.)

1. What are you reading right now? I'm working my way through SUBVERSION, a collection of SFF stories about challenging the norm.

2. How many books have you read so far? Three, though I was already most of the way through one.

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? Comics, baby! I'm gonna dive into my Marvel Unlimited library.

4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? My day has been interruption-free. Wee Murchie hasn't made a peep.

5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? This is my thirteenth 'thon, so I've officially become unflappable. NOTHING SURPRISES ME. NOTHING.

Well, except maybe my total lack of a door prize. I won one last time, so my brain is like, "Okay! Gonna win a door prize!"

And I haven't. Yet.