Tuesday, August 04, 2015
GUYS I LOVE DEANNA RAYBOURN!
Not only is she one of the best authors to follow on social media and blog, she is a prime example of how to connect and engage with one's readership.
Oh! And she writes the sexiest most intelligent books in the stratosphere.
( read my Q and A with Deanna here )
I fell head over heels over her Lady Julia books and then, most recently, with her triad of adorable adventure romances that recalled Out of Africa, The Scarlet Pimpernel and, well, everything good thing (my book gush of City of Jasmine is here ) And now we have a new series to tempt readers of Julia and Brisbane who want something that stretches over books and allows us to settle in to a flint and tinder romance. Beginning with A Curious Beginning (releasing September)
Raybourn writes with a knowing wink and a smile and, here, she is back in Victorian London featuring the darling and bright Veronica Speedwell, a Victorian lady reminiscent of Amelia Peabody who loves to chase butterfly specimens across the exotic corners of several continents and can stay off any untoward advances with her hat pin. She keeps a small mouse named Chester tucked tightly to her as a mascot and she is brave and wonderful with an athletic form, a manner too bold for a spinster, and a life stretched with possibility when her guardian "aunt" passes away.
But there is intrigue! Mystery! Murder! Stolen identities! and even a Royal tinge of excitement and Veronica, alongside the growly and perfect Emerson-like Stoker (there's a lot of Elizabeth Peters in this series) into a whirlwind of corruption, danger and near death.
No one writes quite like Deanna Raybourn: pairing a whip-smart sense of humour, paragraphs and conversations replete with verisimilitude with sensuality and intelligence. Obviously, the sparks between our unlikely pair: Stoker the taxidermist with a high falutin' past and Veronica with the unintentional web of intrigue entrapping her corsets, bloomers and fashionable clothes, is palpable. But Raybourn leads them through several verbal waltzes, heated breaths and close quarters, without ever quite throwing them in each other's arms. This is what kept me reading at a harried pace through hilarious scenes with a travelling circus ( seems like Stoker is also an expert knife thrower, amongst other things) to the alleys of London and the docks and filmy murk of the Thames.
The connection between the two is something that will clutch at your heart and catch in your throat, but Raybourn knows how to play her cards and keep you wanting just a little more. This is chemistry and sexual tension at its finest: a marriage of minds, joining equals who keep the banter flying.
Hilarious and romantic and breathtaking at the same time.
An unconventional symphony that twists and sizzles in flying colours. I cannot WAIT for the next Veronica Speedwell.
My thanks to the publisher for an e-galley.
Thursday, July 30, 2015
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
It's been awhile!
It is becoming increasingly difficult for me to review every single book I read ( what with working on my second novel and all ) but I try to do a good job of keeping my Goodreads up to date! Often with little comments or squeals of glee. I encourage you to check out my reading log there.
And while you are there, feel free to add my first Herringford and Watts novella "A Singular and Whimsical Problem" to your shelf.
AND! you can also add the second full-length H and W novel "A Lesson in Love and Murder" to your shelf because my publisher was nice enough to put this on there ( even though I haven't quite written it all yet ;) )
(and seriously: I am working on Lesson in Love and Murder right now and you will all love Benfield Citrone --- my MOUNTIE! yes, I have a mountie.Also, a cameo by Emma Goldman. Also, a cameo by Teddy Roosevelt. Part of it is set in Chicago where my trouser-wearing lady detectives pit against anarchists ---with explosives! La! )
In other places:
On Novel Crossing, I wrote about reporters in CBA fiction ( something dear to my heart as I have one in my own special Ray)
I also interviewed Kate Breslin whose Not By Sight was fantabulous
For Breakpoint, I was able to write about the fab new film Testament of Youth as well as review Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
Readers, I cannot tell you how thrilled I was to gulp down The Watchmaker of Filigree Street over the course of Saturday. That's right, I read all day. This is a keeper book. It is funny and fresh and wonderful. I laughed aloud and often when I wasn't sinking into its gorgeous language.
I was thrilled, too, when Natasha Pulley agreed to do a Q and A here! Her voice is so special and she is an author that came out of nowhere for me and one that I will follow forever. I loved her characters immediately!
[[A few snippets of imagery made me trip over how gorgeous they were:
"....the dark corridor to a door the far end under which firelight bled."
"Under the gas lamps mist pawed at the windows of the closed shops"
"The gold caught the ember-light and shone the colour of a human voice."
"Today the silence had a silver hem."
"...water mumbled in the pipes and there were steps and sudden bright thumps..."
"A prickling terseness started about halfway down his spine as if somebody had rested their fingertips gunshaped between the vertebrae there."
"...still dense over the river where it made skeleton ghosts of ships' masts and trapped the stale smell of the water"
"your science can save a man's life, but imagination makes it worth living."
(I could go on forever! But, I won't) ]]
R: I lost my taste for every other book after reading Watchmaker. Your voice was something I had never encountered before. Do you just sit and write? Or are you a plotter?
I just sit and write. The book didn’t really have a plot at first, but then my editor sort of nudged me and said it might be a good idea if something actually happened.
R:There’s a lot going on in the story---some of it quite dark--- what with nationalism, racism and even terrorism! At times, it seemed to parallel our own world—even though set well over a century ago. How do you think the Victorian age and the “Steampunk” genre best help us confront some of the limitations and darkness of our contemporary time?
Historical fiction is a lot like a telescope. We learn history as a series of facts, unemotionally, and so we tend to think of it in a fairly detached, distant way. Fiction brings everything near again. But if you turn it round the other way and look through it backward, you can make very near things look distant. Very few modern problems are new — they just look new, because they’re closer than we usually see things. Putting them into historical fiction, and making them distant, can sometimes make it clearer what they actually are.
R: My head hurt just thinking of how brilliantly mapped out the entire plot was…not to mention the research from botany to science to watchmaking! The different timelines, the dates, the happenstances, and the events perfectly constructed by Keita Mori. How did you keep track and juggle all of this?
I should probably have kept a big chart, but I’m not that efficient; when I wrote, I tended to have bullet points at the start of new sections to remind me what had to go in and what it had to match up to later, but that’s quite an easy thing to do. A book looks like a linear document when you read it, but writing one, you can skip about from chapter three to chapter twenty without all the intervening stuff to make you forget.
R:I must tell you—I cannot remember highlighting a book so enthusiastically as I did The Watchmaker of Filigree Street. It was at times heartbreaking and tense, yes, but also extremely funny. Do you have a personal favourite moment?
Yes. The moment Thaniel forget the music from the Foreign Office Ball, and the moment Mori forgets how to play it, is probably one of the oldest and most redrafted in the whole thing. I think I spent more time trying to get that right than I did on all the parts set in Japan.
R: absolutely adored the relationships between your characters. Sure, the development of Grace and Matsumoto and Mori and Thaniel could set us in mind of Philip Pullman and Doyle ( as two examples). Yet, they were all so unique and so organic. Were there concrete inspirations for your characters? Or, did they just develop naturally on their own?
Definitely there were concrete foundations for everything, only some of which I can remember. I watched a Japanese sci fi movie called Moon Child (it’s about vampires) in which one of the actors looks very like Mori, so I started blurring the two in my mind after that. I was also reading lots of Sherlock Holmes when I started writing it, and it always struck me as strange that although Watson is yanked always between his wife and Holmes at any given time, nobody ever really seems to get properly upset by any of it. I also read everything by Robin Hobb, who has a marvellous character called the Fool who knows the future. He’s a prophet in a far grander sense than Mori is, and he’s much stranger, but a lot of her stories hinge on how what he can do affects his relationships. That said, concrete foundations only go so far and I think the point at which a story really becomes yours is when you start building your own structure rather than looking at other people’s architecture; after point, the characters did develop by themselves.
R:Another note on character: I loved how there was no distinct line between good and bad and each character had moments where the reader questioned or even misunderstood. Here, I think of Grace. While I found it difficult reading about her reactive response to Mori, I empathized with my belief that she was doing what she thought was right. How did you set to achieve this balance?
Nineteenth century novels are full of total candlewasters who wouldn’t react to a slap in the face; I hate The Portrait of a Lady, because the heroine of it goes back to an awful man at the end for a lifetime of rubbish rather than murder him like you want her to. It’s righteous but annoying. With Grace and Mori, I didn’t want either of them to be a coward, and I didn’t want either of them to be a saint. It felt much more human for them to be afraid of each other and to fight and to come away less than shiny.
R:Finally, what has been your favourite part of your journey to publication thus far?
The book cover, definitely the book cover. I owe the Bloomsbury design team a very big round of drinks.
Natasha Pulley studied English Literature at Oxford University and earned a creative writing MA at the University of East Anglia. Pulley lives near Ely in Cambridgeshire, England. This is her first novel.
Find Natasha Pulley on the web
Follow her on Twitter
Add Watchmaker to Goodreads
Friday, July 17, 2015
Just letting you know that you can pre-order the first full-length Herringford and Watts adventure (a novella entitled A Singular and Whimsical Problem will introduce you to the characters in December!) is now available for pre-order
Go to Amazon!
Also, Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder is on Goodreads --- so please feel free to go and add it to your TBR account because I think you will want to read it!
Also, I have been working on the second novel in the series A Lesson in Love and Murder and you can check out my pinterest page
My reading world lately has been this:
Friday, July 03, 2015
Tuesday, June 30, 2015
I spent six days wandering the city as well as taking advantage of the amazing and quick commuter rail to head out to Concord to visit Orchard House (Louisa May Alcott's often homebase and the inspiration for Little Women) and to visit Walden Pond, Thoreau's homestead and Ralph Waldo Emerson's house.
I love Boston.
Some of the reasons I love it:
Boston proper is a relatively small city (especially compared to Toronto) so it is so easy to walk around in.
The Common: Reading in the Common with an iced coffee while watching those Swan boats? Love
The cobblestoned Freedom Trail.
Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall
The accents! To Canadian Rachel, most Americans have accents: but the Boston dialect is so distinctive and regionally specific----
THE NORTH END! Oh my goodness, I love the North End: site of Paul Revere's house and the Old North Church but also Boston's Little Italy---home to amazon cannoli and all manner of delicious Italian food at restaurants people line up for hours to get in.
Back Bay and Beacon Hill: the rows of red-bricked ornate architecture, the public alleys and Boulevards
THE PEOPLE: the people in Boston are so friendly. When I was there last autumn, stepping out of the airport, a woman used her Charlie Card to get me on the subway and rode past her stop to make sure I found the Back Bay station
The Green Dragon Tavern: I love the ambience and the ghosts of the rebel Sons of Liberty plotting their revolution
The Harbour: gorgeous! I mean, one moment you are remembering a ton of darjeeling was tipped over the side, the next you are gazing over at New England lighthouses
The people ( I think I mentioned this )
The Old State House and the Old South Meeting House: just walking Boston gives you a sense that you have peeled back a few hundred years
And SO MANY MORE THINGS
pictures! ( ever so craftily stolen from instagram)
I read great books in Boston
Finally finished Mad Miss Mimic by Sarah Henstra
American Eve: Evelyn Nesbit, Stanford White, the Birth of the 'It' Girl and the Crime of the Century by Paula Uruburu ( note: this non-fiction is UNPUTFRIGGINDOWNABLE )
Popular by Maya van Wagenen
The Daring Exploits of a Runaway Heiress which was adorable and snarky
I was at opening night of Newsies on its Boston tour stop and it was my first time seeing the highly anticipated Broadway show ( I have been stoked about it ). Ironically, I am seeing it opening night here in Toronto. Lots of Newsies for me!
Friday, June 19, 2015
|You two shouldn't be together. The cat deserves more happiness|
Wednesday, June 17, 2015
"She did want that, there was no denying it. For years, all she'd ever dreamed of was growing up and becoming a wife and mother, but that was before women had any choices. Now they were earning degrees. They were asking for the vote. They were even securing jobs in professions never before accessible to them."
"Managing comes naturally to a woman. She has been managing homes since the beginning of time. But the quality we, of the stronger sex, assume she lacks is business ability. Yet this writer had an opportunity to sit with the head of the only shop of woman glasscutters in the world. She and the dozen young women who work under her direction made--without any assistance from men---the award-winning windows of the Tiffany's chapel.
"Their eggs are all in one basket, and when you've only one basket, it stands to reason that it had better be a good one."
Monday, June 15, 2015
Monday, June 08, 2015
When you want to believe that the world is a lovely place full of lovely people with lots of integrity who wear their hearts on their sleeves---- then that is also what SSD is for.
It is full of the most delightful quirky characters: all relics of a time past who are trying to fit into a changing world. They are endearing and loveable for their obvious eccentricities.
The POstables have returned. Shane and Oliver ( he is, as you know, my ideal man ) and Rita and Norman.
This time their dead letter office mystery involves divorce papers that never arrived for a marriage on the brink of a terrible mistake. As is the usual, the dead letter mystery parallels a major life event for one of the POstables: this time Oliver and is horribly annoying wife Holly who left him at the Post Museum ( how could she. I will never forgive her. You suck, Holly. DID YOU SEE WHAT AN AMAZING GUY YOU HAD!!! stupid Holly).
Anyways, Holly is back and Shane is pining. Rita is swept away as Miss Special Delivery and Norman thinks he has competition to his owl-loving gal.
It's all so sweet I wanna wrap it up and put a bow on it.
SSD believes in love. And in marriage. And in tradition.
|c/o Hallmark Movies and Mysteries|
It is just delectable. A delectable ode to the written word. Here, we have a new motif constructed in Holly's new penchant for poetry. Her poems and Oliver's reaction to them are one of the highlights of a well-crafted hour and a half.
Previously, Signed, Sealed, Delivered was a series with hour-long episodes featuring a small post office mystery. Hallmark, since, has opted to explore a different format with several little self-contained films a year.
This works for me. Anything works for me! ....As long as I get to hang out with my lovely POstables.
|Marry me, Oliver. Marry me now!|
For those of you who enjoy Shane and Oliver, you will get some darling moments. For those of you who also enjoy Rita and Norman, your heart will end up in your throat. OH MY GOODNESS!
With thanks to our friends at Grace Hill Media for allowing this Canadian to watch a media screener of the new film.
Thursday, June 04, 2015
|It's going to hades, Mr. Andrews, but you get a darned good song outta it|
Also, everyone, the first 16 minutes of the show is brilliant storytelling. THIS is how you introduce character, theme and circumstance. It is how you establish action. Luckily, for musical theatre lovers, it is done in a brilliant and scrumptious way.
Sunday, May 17, 2015
note: this book be le steamy. if that is not your type of romance, then you have been duly warned
Snortle! What a whizbang of a fun read. Taut with excellent prose and a flourish of humour, Dearest Rogue features one of the most beguiling heroines I have encountered in an age.
Lady Phoebe is blind but her lack of sight doesn't diminish from her whip-smart manner or banter with her body guard, the tortured James Trevillion. With her in his charge, James is able to look beyond a past that has forced him moody and imagine a fresh bright future with a woman who is more than his match.
Quick witted, funny and oh-so-romantic, Hoyt has established a compelling literary world that takes us from London to Cornwall with two fragile,vulnerable and complicated people. While Trevillion still bears the scars and limps of a tragedy years earlier, Phoebe has just adjusted to the last shade of light having left her waning sight. Together, they become each other's safest companion, most doting sparring partner and, well, something else, too ( I tell you, there is more than snark in this novel and a careful, prudish reader might want to tread with care).
This was my first Hoyt novel, provided by Netgalley, and I gobbled it up in pretty much one sitting. I felt that it presented us with a fabulous look at the regency world through the outlook of two unique characters.
Phoebe's blindness is not a limitation rather a catalyst for her working senses and a lesser pen may not have allowed us to "see" through Phoebe's world in such a deft and expert way. Hoyt, however, is indubitably a master and I cannot wait to check out her backlist.
A few fun quotes:
"Blindness had neutered her in the eyes of the world."
"Being kidnapped, after the first few minutes of absolute terror, was really rather boring."
"Really, sometimes it would be much easier if one were allowed to simply hit gentlemen over the head."
Trevillion: "He smiles every time he sees you, "he murmured quietly. Was he jealous?
Phoebe: "I smile every time I smell cherry pie."
Oh and then there is Phoebe deciding on the regency equivalent of a last minute road trip that she wants to try ALL THE BEER:
"If, after several tastings, I find I cannot stomach the beer, then I shall give it up. Often something tasted for the first time seems foreign to us--strange and off-putting. It's only after repeated tries that one realizes that this new thing, this once-strange thing, is quite familiar now. Familiar and beloved."
"His heart had performed a coup d'etat over his mind and there was nothing more to be done about it"
La! the best! Go forth and read!
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
|photo: L Polonenko|
Monday, May 11, 2015
The Reading Life with Rachel at Edgy Inspirational Romance
Another Rachel's Raves at Novel Crossing
Interview with Stephanie Landsem at Novel Crossing
Writing Personality at The Writer's Alley
Wednesday, May 06, 2015
- - Character dynamics
- - Toronto’s social and cultural world
- - The tone of the books
- - Its personality
- I had an immediate affinity with the hero (he's the sweetest thing since Merlin)
- With minimal dialogue I was able to establish what the character dynamic was, who had rapport and who didn’t
- I was given a 360 degree view of the world of the fictional Central City it was set in
- I was given an immediate introduction to the tone of the show and its fun, zanily manic atmosphere