Monday, September 24, 2012

Review--Lady Susan


Lady SusanLady Susan by Jane Austen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed it very much right up until the end, where it looks like Miss Austen lost steam and ran out of ink.  Far be it from me to criticize Jane Austen, but I can see why Lady Susan is not one of her more popular or oft-read offerings.

Also, the titular protagonist is so very unlike other Austen women who feature in their own books: Lady Susan is an adulteress, manipulative, a terrible mother and snarky and sneaky. On the other hand, her letters (the novel is told in an epistolary fashion) to her BFF Amelia are funny and reveal a woman quite capable of leaving great upheaval wherever she goes.

I believe this book will best be enjoyed by Regency and Austen fans who want to get a contemporary look at what was involved with matchmaking and daily life amongst the gentry.


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Sunday, September 09, 2012

Pirates in the Classroom

            “This is what we will work on now, Mattie.  I want you to practice with your slate, and be sure to write your numbers with a clear hand.”
            “That’s right, sprat,” said Turnbull.  “If you’re dividing up the booty and your shipmates think you’re cheating or holding back you could find yourself on the wrong end of a blade.”
            Mattie’s eyes widened at the hidden dangers of multiplication, and Lydia hoped the twinge behind her own eye would not develop into a full blown headache.  When she’d contemplated being a governess she’d never considered pirates and their economic systems as part of her teaching methodology.   
            Turnbull and Nash were looking at her expectantly.
            “Gentlemen?”
            Nash snickered at that, but Turnbull said, “Do you have extra slates we could use, Miss Burke?  We could try our hands at the problems.”
            Lydia was about to beg off but she saw how Mattie’s face glowed at the idea of the pirates joining in her lessons.
            “To be honest,” she started, then paused to think. “Mr. Nash, Mr. Turnbull--you must understand that I do not teach unless I am compensated for my labors.”
            Nash looked at Turnbull, who said, “She wants her share.”
            “Well, that’s only right,” Nash nodded.  “So what do teachers get?  Jewels? Gold?  I’ve got a good Spanish dagger I’d be willing to trade for lessons.”
            “And I’ve got a mummified head from the Sandwich Islands.  You could have that, Miss Burke,” Turnbull said.
            “Take the head!  I’ve seen it and it’s disgusting!”  Mattie enthused.
            “It sounds disgusting, but thank you, no.  What I want, gentlemen, is for you to join us at a tea party to be held at a future date.”
            Nash looked at Turnbull, who said, “I reckon we’d have to drink tea.”
            “Thought so,” Nash said gloomily.  “But if that’s what it takes, I’ll do it.”
            He spat into his hand, then held it out to Lydia.
            “Shake on it, and it’s a bargain, Miss Burke.”

--[working title] The Hot Pirate's Secret Baby, a work in progress

Need to work a little piratical excitement into your lesson plans? International Talk Like A Pirate Day  has a teacher's guide for the event. You bring pirates to your math lessons and numbers will never look boring again. Shrunken head for the teacher is optional, but it'll beat an apple for sheer impact.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Review--Kitty Steals the Show


Kitty Steals the ShowKitty Steals the Show by Carrie Vaughn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Fans of the Kitty the Werewolf series will want to read this latest installment as Vaughn moves the story overseas to London, and continues exploring the growth of Kitty as a leader, not just among wolves, but in the entire paranormal community. I'm looking forward to the next installment as the arc appears to be moving toward a rousing conclusion.


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Monday, September 03, 2012

What I Did On My Summer Vacation--Chicon7

The World Science Fiction Convention (Chicon 7, Chicago, IL) is winding down for another year. I've been tapped for a couple of jobs next year at LoneStarCon 3, and I'm really looking forward to attending since I missed the last San Antonio Worldcon.

I had a good time at Chicon7, seeing old friends, making some new ones, and attending panels and program items. My own panel, "Beyond the First Two Pages" gave me some new ideas on how to stay on-task for my next novel, and how to make it better.  The other panelists were great about sharing their expertise and helping folks realize that finishing your book is far more vital than making sure you've got the best first two pages in publishing.

The Hugo Awards ceremony was standing-room only, and Toastmaster John Scalzi was an excellent choice. Entertaining, witty, capable--I suspect Mr. Scalzi will be asked to serve as Toastmaster again at future Worldcons.

We didn't see much of Chicago, though my husband did make it to a Cubs game. When we go to London for LonCon3, we'll be sure to take time to sightsee either before or after the convention, then if all goes well we'll be in Helsinki for Worldcon 2015.  When we say World Science Fiction Convention, we mean it.