Friday Face-Off: Puffy Dresses

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It’s time again for the Friday Face-Off meme, created by Books by Proxy, with weekly topics hosted by Lynn’s Book Blog.  The idea is to put up different covers for one book, and select a favorite.

This week’s theme is: Meringue – the puffy dress? – Lots of covers with ‘big’ dresses

What a fun theme!  I thought of several books with impressively puffy dresses, but they only had one cover each.  And then I considered that my Jane Austen Book Club is currently reading Pride and Prejudice – and that’s a book with many covers.  I’m not sure “puffy” is exactly right for Regency fashion, but sure enough, puffy dresses abound.

I suppose this is Elizabeth and Jane?  Movie versions tend to make Jane blonde, but the book doesn’t actually say – though there is a reference to Elizabeth’s “dark eyes,” so she probably is a brunette.

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Writing Wednesday: Riffing Off of Awesome People

I took a pause in my revision work this week to take a turn on my other ongoing project – I’ve mentioned before that I’m writing a collaborative novel with three other authors, Pesto, Pirouettes and Potions.  We’re writing it round-robin style, each writing a chapter then passing it on to the next person, and my turn came around again this week.

I had a lot of fun reading through the five chapters we had so far, and then writing up Chapter Six.  I got into a nice flow of conversation between the characters, getting to know their dynamics a little more.  I had the chance to play with Charlie and Lola, our two heroines, and their friends Nathan, who dances in the ballet with Charlie, and Mario, Lola’s roommate.  Mario is a flirt who thinks Charlie is cute, Nathan likes to tease straight guys who assume he’s gay (he isn’t), Charlie is totally freaking out over her crush on Lola, and Lola is trying to convince herself not to crush on Charlie–so it’s awkward all around and so much fun to write.

This was the first chapter I wrote picking up after other people wrote theirs – I wrote Chapter Two previously, but since it was introducing Charlie (while Chapter One introduced Lola) it was pretty independent.  I really enjoyed being able to riff from things other people had written–like continuing Charlie’s tic of saying “oh goddess,” or building from a previous-chapter moment when Charlie introduced her dog.  I probably wouldn’t have thought of either thing, so I loved springing off of the ideas to continue building.  Here’s an excerpt that shows both those ideas continuing to grow!

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Was this whole business, stalking the Pilates classes, showing up at brunch, going too far?  Was Charlie building way too much on one charged exercise class, and one not-quite-a-date?

But it had been such a good sort of date.  It had been a long time since she’d felt a connection like that.  And Sammy had liked Lola—who had understood his name.  Charlie only introduced him as Samwise when she wanted to see if someone would catch the reference, pick up the semi-secret code she was sending out.  And Lola hadn’t just asked about Lord of the Rings, she had asked Sammy if he was a Hobbit.  So adorable.

Oh goddess, she had it bad.

Book Review: The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

I love to read, but I also really love getting enough sleep, and I’m generally pretty good at not staying up too late because of reading (for other reasons, sometimes!)  The last time I can distinctly remember staying up later than I intended because I wanted to continue a book was Jane Eyre, 5+ years ago.  Until last week, when I couldn’t bring myself to stop reading The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton.  I can’t say that it will join my list of absolute top favorites, as Jane Eyre did, but it’s a probable winner for this year’s “hardest book to put down”!

Trying to explain the plot is…challenging.  It’s sort of Groundhog Day meets Every Day meets The Mouse-trap, with some scenes directed by Alfred Hitchcock, Psycho-era.  And despite that, it’s all stunningly original!  Our protagonist, who we learn some way in is named Adrian, is living the same day over and over, but inhabiting a different body each time.  He’s trapped at Blackheath, a crumbling manor house filled up by the devious guests of a grim house party, repeating the same day until he can solve the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle, who dies at 11 pm.  He will live through the day eight times, in eight different bodies; if he doesn’t have an answer by the end of the eighth day, his memory is wiped and it all begins again.

On one level, Adrian lives eight days – but on another level, it’s all one day, and he frequently encounters himself in another body, that other self living a different day.  Not sure that made any sense, but…it’s fascinating!  And surprisingly easier to follow than you might think.  This is an incredibly complex book, with so many, many threads, and yet I felt like I followed it all very clearly.  It must have been extremely carefully crafted, because somehow it all worked.  Mysteries on Day Three are explained on Day Five, and the actions taken on Day Six impact Day Two, and we get a different perspective on an event on Day Seven that completely overturns how we thought something happened on Day One, without changing it, just explaining it differently.  And so on, and so on.  I never caught Turton in a contradiction or inconsistency, which is pretty amazing, considering.

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Friday Face-Off: A Kissing Book

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It’s time again for the Friday Face-Off meme, created by Books by Proxy, with weekly topics hosted by Lynn’s Book Blog.  The idea is to put up different covers for one book, and select a favorite.

This week’s theme is: Romantic – “thus with a kiss I die”

I thought a bit about different romances I’ve enjoyed, and then hit on the classic “kissing book,” The Princess Bride by William Goldman, beautifully brought to life in the movie of the same name.  One of the greats, and a book I’ve been meaning to reread.  And happily, there are MANY covers.

I kind of enjoy the swashbucklingness of this one, even if it’s put Buttercup in the classic clinging-heroine pose.  But…that’s not altogether inaccurate.

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Writing Wednesday: Carrying On

A short update today, because there isn’t too much to report on the writing front.  I’m continuing my main focus on revising Guardian III, with a goal to finish this pass by the end of the month.  So far I’m on track, despite being out of town last week.

It’s nice to polish up the story, and I’m also looking forward to finishing and doing some new writing in March.  Newish writing, at least – my plan is to complete two short stories for an upcoming anthology I’m contributing to.  After a couple months of revision, I’m finding myself with an itch to create something new – writing and revising are really two different things, especially revising this late in the process.  I miss inventing…which may be why watching the BBC Pride and Prejudice

over the weekend sent my brain spiraling off on a sequel idea focused on Charlotte Collins (née Lucas) and possibly involving Mary Bennet and Anne de Bourgh.

Interesting?  Crazy?  I don’t know!  Definite symptom of lots of time spent revising, and maybe a project for a future date.  But for now I’m trying to stay focused on the revision–I have a trilogy to finish, after all. 🙂

Book Review: Incarnate

You may have noticed the blog was quieter than usual last week – my marketing job had me in Las Vegas for a conference, which rather overwhelmed everything else for a few days!  I did very little reading while I was traveling–and then spent the weekend after doing little else, recharging my introvert batteries after being surrounded by hundreds of people.  I spent a good bulk of the past few days tearing through Incarnate by Jodi Meadows.  It was a great way to recharge.

Incarnate is a fascinating fantasy novel that hit a lot of my favorite things.  Set in a world with sylphs and dragons (you don’t want to cross either), the most interesting part is still the humans: there are a million of them, and for five thousand years they have all reincarnated again and again, and remember all their lifetimes.  But then Ana is born–a “newsoul,” replacing another soul, and no one knows why.  Eighteen year old Ana is seeking answers for why she exists, and what it means to be human when you’re the only one without 5,000 years of identity behind you, or the promise of countless lives ahead.

I find reincarnation stories fascinating, but I’ve never seen one like this.  Normally the person remembering their succession of lives is the oddity.  I loved seeing a society where that’s the norm, and the culture, the societal structure, even the government, are based around that idea.  There were so many fascinating details – like the journals everyone keeps to help them remember their many lives, or the notion of maintaining a graveyard of all your past bodies (a little creepy, I know, but well-handled in the book), or the possibility of being mothered by someone younger than you, after your mother died in childbirth and came back again.

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Spirit Sunday: One of the central meanings of grace…