Meat Cute AKA The Hedgehog Incident—Definitely Cute, but Not for Newbies

Meat Cute by Gail Carriger book cover
Meat Cute by Gail Carriger

Meat Cute, a short story by Gail Carriger, is the story of how Miss Alexia Tarabotti and Lord Maccon meet. If those names mean nothing to you, that’s ok, this story is really for the fans of the Parasolverse.

Note: I read this story as part of a limited-edition and out-of-print omnibus collection, Fan Service, which is, as of this writing, the only version of Meat Cute in print, but it’s available in ebook and audio book.

1—Couples

Basically, Sophronia and Soap set up Alexia and Connal to meet. Takes place just before Soulless. There’s other Easter eggs in the story, if you’ve read ALL the Parasolverse stories, but even if you’ve only read the novels, or just the Finishing School series or just the Parasol Protectorate, you should like this short story. If you have not read either of those, maybe wait until you have to read Meat Cute. But yeah, I adored this little gem.

Romancing the Inventor—Unexpected Chances

Romancing the Inventor by Gail Carriger book cover
Romancing the Inventor by Gail Carriger

Romancing the Inventor, a novella by Gail Carriger, follows Imogene, a maid at a vampire hive, as she falls in love with a heartbroken lady inventor.

Heat level, open door on the sex scenes but not terribly graphic.

Note: I read this story as part of a limited-edition and out-of-print omnibus collection, Fan Service, but Romancing the Inventor is available as a stand-alone.

1—Loneliness

Everyone thinks Imogene arrogant because she won’t take a husband, but the truth is that no man appeals to her. She secretly pines for women, a thing illegal in Victorian England. So Imogene takes a job as a maid with the local vampire hive, hoping the countess might take an interest in her—supernaturals are exceptions to the law—but the countess, indeed all the vampires, ignore her. Continue reading “Romancing the Inventor—Unexpected Chances”

Romancing the Werewolf—Sweet, Fluffy, and Mildly Angsty

Romancing the Werewolf by Gail Carriger book cover
Romancing the Werewolf by Gail Carriger

Romancing the Werewolf, a novella in the Parasolverse by Gail Carriger, follows the reunion of Biffy—newly minted Alpha of his werewolf pack—and Lyall—who’s been pack Beta for hundreds of years. This is a full-on romance, with a tiny bit of a mystery—who’s leaving infants on the doorstep pack’s new home and why? But mostly it’s Biffy and Lyall navigating their ways to their new relationship.

Note: no explicit sex scenes in this one, that stuff is under the author’s G. L. Carriger name.

Also note: I read this story as part of a limited-edition and out-of-print omnibus collection, Fan Service, but Romancing the Werewolf is available as a stand-alone.

1—A Love Both Old and New

When Lyall returns from twenty years’s service to another pack, so much has changed that now neither he nor Biffy is certain the other still wants him, and neither wants to take advantage of the other. They were lovers once, but under very different circumstances. On BIffy’s part, he’s not certain his new position as leader wouldn’t constitute a breach of ethics. On Lyall’s part, he doesn’t want to complicate Biffy’s life since Biffy is still learning to be a leader. It’s totally in character for both of them, and each’s worries and not wanting to impose on the other feels natural, rather than something contrived keeping them apart at the beginning. And since this is a novella, it’s not too long before they get together. Continue reading “Romancing the Werewolf—Sweet, Fluffy, and Mildly Angsty”

The Princess Beard—Pirates, Parrots, and Otters

The Princess Beard by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne book cover
The Princess Beard by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne

The Princess Beard, by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne, is the third and final book in the Tales of Pell trilogy, though it works fine as a stand-alone. The Lady Harkovrita wakes from a magical slumber in a tower to find herself with a beard and a decision—go back to her life to be married off to some jerk, or leave and find an adventure. She chooses the latter, and a new name, Morgan. On her way to becoming a pirate, she’ll become part of the weirdest crew to ever sail the seas, and save a lot of otters from a dastardly conspiracy.

1—The Crew

There’s a whole cast of characters in this book, but I’m just going to introduce the main ones. The pirate captain, a talking parrot named Filthy Lucre who also goes by the moniker the Clean Pirate Luc. Tempest, a dryad who wants to become a lawyer before she turns into a carnivorous tree (and my favorite character in this book). Vic, a centaur misogynistic swole boy who can conjure tea and pastry and who, by the end of the book, I actually didn’t hate anymore (personal growth and all that). And  Alobartalus, an un-elfly elf who just wants to get away from the other elves and meet his hero, the Sn’archivist. All of these people, with the possible exception of Captain Luc, are trying to avoid their destinies and all of them must face said destinies head-on. Continue reading “The Princess Beard—Pirates, Parrots, and Otters”

The Affair of the Mysterious Letter—Mysterious and Weird, As it Should Be

The Affair of the Mysterious Letter by Alexis Hall book cover
The Affair of the Mysterious Letter by Alexis Hall

The Affair of the Mysterious Letter, by Alexis Hall, is a mashup and mixup of Sherlock Holmes fiction and Weird fiction. The reserved expatriate ex-solider John Wyndham takes rooms with the profligate sorceress Shaharazad Haas. Shortly thereafter, one of Ms. Haas’s former lovers comes to her demanding Shaharazad find out who’s blackmailing her.

1—The Mystery

Told in the first person as the reminiscences of John Wyndham, this is the tale of his and Shaharazad’s first adventures together. Miss Eirene Viola comes to Shaharazad believing it to be she who’s sending Eirene notes threatening to expose her past to her fiancé, Miss Cora Beck, thus ending their engagement. When convinced Shharazad has nothing to do with it, Eirene plies her former lover to help. Mostly out of boredom, Shaharazad agrees. Thus does John find himself dragged all over the city of Khelathra-Ven and beyond. Continue reading “The Affair of the Mysterious Letter—Mysterious and Weird, As it Should Be”

Reticence—Percy In Love

Reticence by Gail Carriger book cover
Reticence by Gail Carriger

Reticence is the last in the Custard Protocol series by Gail Carriger. A supernatural Steampunk romantic romp about the world, told with all the wit and humor characteristic of Ms. Carriger’s works. The Spotted Custard has hired a lady doctor, in light of all the scuffles the crew gets into, and in light of its lady captain’s delicate condition. Said doctor, a young woman named Arsenic, immediately catches the attention of Percy, the airship’s navigator and resident curmudgeon. Of course, before Percy can figure out how to flirt, the ship is immediately off on another adventure.

1—Adventure!

Percy hates adventure and yet, as a member of the crew of the Spotted Custard, finds himself frequently a party to them. First there’s captain and friend Rue’s wedding to inventor and engineer—and Percy’s intellectual rival—Quesnel. Then off to Egypt to visit Rue’s mother and paw (her other father, Lord Akeldama, walked her down the aisle but due to various complicated reason, Rue’s two other parents couldn’t be there in person), where Rue’s mother has an assignment for them—find out what’s up with the fox-shifters in Japan. So off to the floating Paper City of Edo it is. Continue reading “Reticence—Percy In Love”

The Adventure Zone: Murder on the Rockport Limited!—The Adventures Continue

The Adventure Zone-Murder on the Rockport Limited! by Clint McElroy, Griffen McElroy, Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy, and Carey Pietsch book cover
The Adventure Zone-Murder on the Rockport Limited! by Clint McElroy, Griffen McElroy, Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy, and Carey Pietsch

The Adventure Zone: Murder on the Rockport Limited! is a graphic novel by Clint McElroy, Griffen McElroy, Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy, and artist Carey Pietsch, based on the Dungeons and Dragons podcast The Adventure Zone by the McElroy boys. It continues the adventures of Magnus, Merle, and Taako from the first graphic novel adaptation, Here There Be Gerblins.

1—The Continuing Plot

In this outing, we find out the mission of the Bureau of Balance. But before the boys can settle into their new life, they’re called on for a new mission, to the city of Rockport where a BoB agent had found an artifact but was killed before he could return it to the Bureau. So Magnus, Merle, and Taako are tasked with getting to the train the dead BoB agent had hidden the artifact on and getting it before anyone else discovers its existence. Of course, things don’t go as planned, and the boys end up on the train, with a small cast of suspects and (later) some monsters to deal with. Continue reading “The Adventure Zone: Murder on the Rockport Limited!—The Adventures Continue”

The 5th Gender—Love and Death Among the Stars

The 5th Gender by G. L. Carriger book cover
The 5th Gender by G. L. Carriger

The 5th Gender, by G. L. Carriger (the pen name Gail Carriger writes under when she does spicy stuff), is a wonderful romance-cozy-mystery-scifi story. The lavender Galoi alien Tristol Zyga and the human security officer Detective Drey Hastion are just starting their courtship when a Galoi spaceship contacts the space station with an odd request—the Galoi, who have no word for murder, have a non-accidental death on board and need of a detective. It’s up to Detective Hastion and Tris—who, as an exile, no longer exists to his people—to find out what happened.

Also, for those of delicate sensibilities, there’s a lot of sex in this book, fully described, male on male.

1—Wonderful Worldbuilding

We get alternating points of view from Tris and Drey, and each’s observations on the other and and how they interact with the people and space station around them forms the basis of some excellent worldbuilding. I love Tris’s take on human customs and idioms. And Drey is always willing to answer Tris’s questions and explain things, as well as ask questions of his own. Between the two of them, we learn a lot about Galoi and humans both. In particular, the Galoi’s five genders and anatomy were interesting to learn about. Continue reading “The 5th Gender—Love and Death Among the Stars”

No Country for Old Gnomes—Unexpected Friends

No Country for Old Gnomes by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne book cover
No Country for Old Gnomes by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne

No Country for Old Gnomes, by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne, is continuing the Tales of Pell from the first book, Kill the Farmboy. In this book, we follow another group of not-exactly adventurers, this time on a quest to save the Skyr and the gnomes that are being blown up.

1—A New Set of Heroes

It takes a while to gather our heroes and set up the story, but between the puns, the umlauts, and the firebombs, it’s never dull. We begin with Onni and Offi, twin gnome brothers who couldn’t be more different, as their home comes under attack by smelly halflings. We shortly thereafter meet Kirsi, a young gnome woman who’s spent her life hiding the fact that she’s a bristle witch who can only curse people—not very gnomeric. They start out just wanting to get to a refugee shelter alive. Continue reading “No Country for Old Gnomes—Unexpected Friends”

Warlock Holmes: A Study in Brimstone—The Beginning of the End of the World

Warlock Holmes: A Study in Brimstone by G. S. Denning book cover
Warlock Holmes: A Study in Brimstone by G. S. Denning

Warlock Homes: A Study in Brimstone, by G. S. Denning, is a fantastic, comedic take on Sherlock Homes, and is just as ludicrously fun as it sounds. Being the journal of one Dr. John Watson, it chronicles his first cases with the bumbling but powerful Warlock Holmes, and starts with John’s apology for ending the world.

1—The Characters

I loved the characters in this book. There is, of course, Dr. Watson, who narrates. Watson is observant and sarcastic—not to most of the people he speaks with, but to his reader, and, once comfortable with him, to Warlock. Next there’s Warlock Holmes himself, who is less than observant, and yet endearingly so. There’s Vladislav Lestrade, a nihilistic vampire and Scotland Yard detective, as is Torg Grogsson, an honorable ogre with a love of ballet dancers. There’s also a host of characters that don’t repeat from story to story, each with their own individual quirks. Continue reading “Warlock Holmes: A Study in Brimstone—The Beginning of the End of the World”