The Heroine’s Journey: For Writers, Readers, and Fans of Pop Culture—Informative and Fun, and Everyone Should Read This

The Heroine’s Journey by Gail Carriger is about the ancient mythic Heroine’s Journey, what it is, how it differs from the more studied Hero’s Journey, and why it’s important for both writers and readers/pop culture consumers to know about, all told in a witty and snarky manner.

Gail Carriger is one of my very favorite fiction authors and in The Heroine’s Journey she goes into what makes her books, and many other stories, so popular and beloved. Topics include The Heroine’s Journey itself, of course, some of it’s foundational myths, it’s messages and themes; why the Heroine’s Journey is important; specific points in how and where it differs from the Hero’s Journey; how the Gothics got involved and what effect they had; how to play with archetypes and tropes (neither of which make a story bad—they’re just patterns); and a practical guide to How To Write Like A Heroine.

The Heroine’s Journey is written not just for writers, but also for readers/watchers/listeners, so people can recognize better what they like and crave out of a story. It’s an easy, fast, informative, and fun read. I’m going to re-read The Heroine’s Journey several times, after my sister gets done reading it. I also bought a copy for my best friend. Go read it and enrich your life.

Grave Importance—A Fraying Reality

Grave Importance by Vivian Shaw book cover
Grave Importance by Vivian Shaw

Grave Importance, by Vivian Shaw, is the third and final book in the Dr. Greta Helsing series. Greta has been called in by a friend to temporarily run Oasis Natrun, an exclusive health clinic for mummies. Something is causing the patients to black out and it’s up to Greta to find out what. There’s also the matter of her best friend being cursed and needing to be taken to Hell, Sir Frances Varney proposing, and reality itself coming under attack.

1—The Whole Gang

All my favorite characters show up. Greta, of course. The vampire Ruthven and the vampyre Varney. But also the vampires Grisaille (who’s now Ruthven’s sweetie) and Emily from the second book. And from the first book there’s Cranswell—Ruthven’s friend who works at a London museum—and Nadezhda, Hippolyta, and Anna, Greta’s team at her London clinic. Not everyone gets a starring role, of course, but they’re all there. And there are new people to meet too—mummies, and angels, and Dr. Faust himself.

Continue reading “Grave Importance—A Fraying Reality”

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 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 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”

Dreadful Company: A Dr. Greta Helsing Novel—Vampires Underground in Paris

 

Dreadful Company by Vivian Shaw book cover
Dreadful Company by Vivian Shaw

Dreadful Company, the second of the Dr. Greta Helsing novels , by Vivian Shaw. It continues the adventures of Greta and her friends, the vampire Ruthven and vampyre (there’s a difference) Varney, as they go to Paris for a medical conference. Unfortunately, there’s another vampire in Paris that hates Ruthven and kidnaps Greta to get at him.

1—Glittering Vampires

The vampires who kidnap Greta, led by the murderous twit Corvin, are a bit too into the “creature of the night” thing. They wear body glitter, for fuck’s sake. Corvin even steals bones from Paris’s catacombs to decorate his underground lair—which will become plot relevant down the line. There’s Lilith, Corvin’s consort, who keeps summoning and then abandoning little hairmonsters and wellmonsters. There’s Grisaille, Corvin’s second in command, who’d rather do anything but command. And there’s the newest vampire, Sofiria (nee Emily), who hasn’t really been taught anything she needs to know, not even that the glittering isn’t natural. She has to come see the captive Greta to get even remedial lessons in what it means to be a vampire.  Continue reading “Dreadful Company: A Dr. Greta Helsing Novel—Vampires Underground in Paris”

Julie & Julia—Two Stories, Only One of Which I Liked

Julie & Julia movie poster
Julie & Julia

Julie & Julia is the simultaneous stories of Julia Child learning to cook and publishing her landmark book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and Julie Powell in 2002, who decides to spend a year making all the recipes in the book and blog about it.

1—Julia’s Story

Julia Child moves to Paris with her husband Paul, who works for the American government and was stationed there. Julia falls in love with the people and food and decides to attend Le Cordon Bleu. While at a party, she meets Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, who are writing a cookbook—a cookbook which needs to be rewritten. They ask Julia for help. After many trials, the book finally finds a home with Alfred A. Knopf and is published. Along the way, her sister gets married, her husband is interrogated by the government he serves (this was the McCarthy era), and she meets a pen pal. Continue reading “Julie & Julia—Two Stories, Only One of Which I Liked”

The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins—A Great Translation

The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins by Clint McElroy, Griffin McElroy, Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy, and Carey Pietsch graphic novel book cover
The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins by Clint McElroy, Griffin McElroy, Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy, and Carey Pietsch

The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins is a graphic novel by Clint McElroy, Griffin McElroy, Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy, and Carey Pietsch, based on the Dungeons & Dragons podcast The Adventure Zone by the McElroy boys (which I also recommend) and drawn by Carey Pietsch. It follows Magnus, Merle, and Taako on what seems to be a standard boy guarding gig but turns into a disaster of epic proportions.

1—Meet the Boys

Magnus Burnsides is a human fighter with proficiencies in, well, almost everything. Taako is an elf wizard who used to have his own cooking show. Merle Highchurch is a dwarf cleric spreading the good word of Pan with an Extreme Teen Bible. And of course Griffin, their D. M. (Dungeon Master) who pops in to make comments and chat with his players. It’s kind of meta but you soon get used to the conceit and just go with it. It’s all in fun. Continue reading “The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins—A Great Translation”

Supernatural—After Ten Seasons, I’ve Had Enough

Supernatural
Supernatural

Supernatural is a paranormal horror tv series that follows brothers Sam and Dean Winchester as they travel around America hunting monsters and demons. The bloody, beating heart of the show is the close but tortured relationship between the brothers.

1—In the Beginning

Supernatural begins with two deaths—that of Sam and Dean’s mom many years ago, and with Sam’s girlfriend in the present. Both end up pinned to a ceiling and catching fire. This should give you a good indication of if you can handle this show’s level of gore and violence. From there, the boys head off to find their father, who recently disappeared, and discover a demonic conspiracy. Continue reading “Supernatural—After Ten Seasons, I’ve Had Enough”

The Spawn of Lilith—Being a Stuntwoman in Hollywood is Hell

The Spawn of Lilith by Dana Fredsti book cover
The Spawn of Lilith by Dana Fredsti

The Spawn of Lilith, by Dana Fredsti, is an urban fantasy mostly told from the first person perspective of Lee Striga, stuntwoman extraordinaire. The only fully human member of the Katz Stunt Crew, Lee, after taking a near-lethal fall and gaining a fear of high-falls—the Katz crew’s speciality—is looking for some independent work.

1—Fighting for a Living

Most of the book is spent with Lee as she works her day job. Despite being surrounded by supernatural people, most of Lee’s days are down to earth—taking her turn on beer runs for the Crew, getting up early to beat traffic to her new job, going out with friends for a few drinks. But that day job is also fascinating—fight scenes galore (Lee’s speciality), behind-the-scenes gossip and insight, and did I mention the fight scenes? Ms. Fredsti describes well all that goes into making an on-screen fight happen. And the real fight at the end of the book isn’t bad either. Continue reading “The Spawn of Lilith—Being a Stuntwoman in Hollywood is Hell”