Posts tagged Megara Noelle

Soulless

Book Review: Soulless by Gail Carriger

Soulless by Gail Carriger

Review by: Megara Noelle

Looking for more Steampunk in your fantasy Sci-Fi books? Tired of the same old settings of modern times or the future? Well, I have a book that can give you that change. I present to you a book with Werewolves, Vampires, and Victorian scandal. In Gail Carriger’s first book of the Parasol Protectorate series, Soulless, we follow Alexia Tarabotti as she fearlessly makes her way through the world of the supernatural. Of course it helps that she has no soul, one of the rare ‘Preternatural’, something that she inherited from dead Italian father, quite scandalous. We find out right away that her preternatural abilities help her face down the supernatural, they can turn Vampires and Werewolves human for as long as they touch her.

Following Alexia through this supernatural murder mystery we watch as she interacts with some of the most powerful and well known Hive and Pack members of society. And she does all of this in secret as she keeps her own status a secret from her family. Alexia Tarabotti is one of the most unique characters that I have encountered, and I taught myself to read when I was four and haven’t stopped, so I’ve read through my fair share of books. She has elements of almost every female main character. She can kick-ass when in a tough situation, but will still ask for help and use her womanly wiles, and still manages to have some time to focus on what she thought was a non-existent love life. My favorite character has to be Lord Akeldama though, a very eccentric vampire who loves color, art, and many other exciting and loud things, and people. Although, I won’t lie and say that I wouldn’t love to meet the loud, brash and very handsome werewolf Alpha, Lord Maccon.

Alexia Tarabotti is headstrong, and stubborn, (much like my family) and despite almost everyone she knows telling her not too, she investigates the appearances of vampires and disappearances of werewolves on her own. It gets her into trouble more often than not, but where’s the fun in life without a little excitement? Am I right? Being labeled a spinster helps her not draw attention though, as it is quite scandalous for a woman in the late 1800’s to be talking to scientists, and reading more than her fair share of books. Sounds like my kind of girl. All she really wanted was some treacle tart.

Overall, I was very happy at the end of the book. It can be read as a standalone, the story wrapping up without having to impatiently wait for the next in the series. But, you’ll want to continue reading the series because Miss Tarabotti is the kind of character that you want to know what happens to her, what kind of trouble that she causes, and if she’ll get out of it. I’ve added Gail Carriger to the list of authors I regularly look for when I visit a book store thanks to this book. If you want a little bit of steampunk and science in your Victorian novel, I highly recommend Soulless and the two following books in the Parasol Protectorate series, Changeless and Blameless.

The Affinity Bridge

Book Review: The Affinity Bridge

The Affinity Bridge by George Mann

Review by: Megara Noelle

I find most of my books, which turn out to be my favorites, by the book cover. This particular book I found mere weeks away from the World Steam Expo. I say this because on the cover of The Affinity Bridge is a large dirigible. Take my money, please. “A Newbury & Hobbes Investigation” the cover reads, “Steampunk is making a comeback, and with this novel Mann is leading the charge….” The Guardian dropped in, and some of the best reviews I’ve seen on the back. “An enormous pile of awesome.” Author Chris Roberson boasts, while the SF Signal says “Captures the Sherlock Holmes feel. Never a boring Passage. A Hugely entertaining book.” Steampunk and Sherlock Holmes in writing? Okay, now I’m just throwing my money at the cashier.

I wasn’t disappointed. It’s the early 1900’s, 1901 to be exact, and shipments and people coming back form India seem to have brought back a plague of some kind. Fog covers the streets, thickest in the morning and at night, and there’s a general warning out that no one is to travel the streets after sunset for fear of the plague ridden. One bite or scratch from these people will pass the plague, and those infected have merely three days before all hope is lost. Of course, those of us in the 21st century have a name for this, zombies. That’s right, I said zombies. Let’s tally this up so far. Sherlock Holmes, Steampunk, and now Zombies.

The enigmatic Sir Maurice Newbury is assigned a new assistant, Miss Veronica Hobbes, by the Queen herself. As soon as Miss Hobbes arrives they are thrown right into a new case, an airship crash where the automaton pilot has gone missing. They have to find the pilot, and find out why it malfunctioned when its creator claims that it can’t possibly malfunction, and investigate a string of murders committed by a glowing constable. The two cases can’t possibly be connected, so what to do what to do. The Queen is very interested in the airship crash and they’re starting to feel the pressure.

George Mann has created a world where things happen with plausible explanations, not where we’re asked to believe everything just on faith. It’s a blend of History Fiction and Sci-Fi/Fantasy that pulls you in. I usually only read Fantasy and High Fantasy novels, but with this book I find myself looking for Mann in the fiction section online and in real life for any new books. The way that Newbury and Hobbes work together gives a Holmes and Watson feel, but they have their own personalities and quirks. Headstrong Hobbes gives no real fuss when it comes to investigating or chasing down suspects, but enjoys a formal gala event and picking out the colors that she’ll wear. Newbury gives a feeling of cool calm and collected while craving and absorbing knowledge quicker than a sponge in the ocean. George Mann has a style of writing that I can only strive for as a budding author, and I personally can’t wait for the next Newbury and Hobbes installment, and if you want a mix of Steampunk, mystery, a touch of supernatural, and zombies, I think I found a book that you should give a chance.

sparkticus

A Steampunk Nerd Assembly of Awesome

I shall endeavor to extend my deepest greetings to all of you. Sure has been a while huh? Well, let me tell you what I’ve been up to.

This past Memorial Day weekend, here in the U.S., I was with a very large assembly of amazing people. Amazing people who all love Steampunk. I personally don’t know how we legally got away with letting such a large group of nerds/geeks/enthusiasts from all over the World congregate in one place for four days, but I love it. I attended the 2011 World Steam Expo! This is the second year for the fledgeling exposition, and they did not disappoint. I also attended the first year and I like the progress they’re making. After getting the program and moving to wait in line for the Opening Ceremonies (you have to get in line early for these things, you know) my friend and I started to plan out our weekend. It should be noted that the Expo runs for four days, but I was only allowed to attend three.

The schedule was packed with many things to do and see. Panels galore with amazing presenters, an amazing Dealer’s room, bands to listen to and get autographs from, and the first traveling steampunk museum exhibit. The Charles River Museum of Industry & Innovation was set up in it’s very own room displaying the country’s first steampunk exhibit, Steampunk, Form & Function. Computers, projectors, even Flash Drives had a steampunk flair and function. I also can’t forget to mention Sparkticus. You rub his horn for good luck. I did. I think that’s how I was able to meet Steampunk Boba Fett and get a thumbs up, and he even called me sassy! I think that means he won’t kill me, at least right away.

My weekend was packed, but there were many things that I missed out on. But let’s not focus on that, let’s focus a little more on the presenters and panels that I saw. I encountered the International Anti-Piracy Squadron, or the IAPS, the most, there were very busy presenting panels, arresting poor unlawful souls, and drinking while telling salty tales. Salty tales of the sky, that is. Apart from the various fashion, etiquette, and grooming panels, my favorite had to be the Multiculturalism in Steampunk panel, co-presented by the wonderous G.D Falksen. Miss Kagashi of the Multiculturalism for Steampunk blog came dressed in her own Native American Steampunk outfit, and displaying her Turkish Steampunk outfit. I highly recommend looking up the entire Squadron, they are a hoot and a half, and full of really good information, if you can catch them at a good time when they’re not grappling with airship pirates.

I can’t leave out G.D. Falksen who is one of  the most recognized faces of Steampunk. When he isn’t writing novels or serial stories, he’s helping to create of the first Steampunk MMO’s, AIR. I wrote up a review of the exclusive preview of the game and you can check it out over at the TCPS (To Continue Press Start) blog, here. The Vagabonds taught us about Steampunk in the media, and Gears, gadgets and doodads. The Royal Ladies’ & Gentlemens’ Experimental Madness Society talked to us about turning out wardrobe into everyday steampunk, and not just costumes, and talked to us about the sounds of steampunk, along with The Clockwork Dolls. I have so many bands and artists to check out now, and hopefully to add to my steampunk music collection. Ring of Steel showed us the art of the whip. (Note: If you had thought about wanting to meet me in real life, please dismiss that notion now, for after this panel/demonstration, I am now going to buy a whip, like Indiana Jones. Fear me.) Girl Genius, the webcomic and now novel, created by Prof.’s Phil and Kaja Foglio, know of it? Well they were there too! Here I’ll prove it with this picture. (Kaja said she liked my Obi belt.) Well, not only were they there but they did a couple of panels, and the Girl Genius Radio Plays! I remembered them from last year and endeavored to get to this this year, although I did sadly miss the auditions to become the narrator.

I seemed to have mentioned music and performers, and oh they had concerts and performers there. There was even comedy, from the likes of English comedians Andrew O’Neill and Marc Burrows, both from the band The Men Who Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing. Hi.Lari. Ous. The wonderful bagpipe and drum band, Tartanic! I’ve seen/known them for almost three years now, I might have to have them play at my wedding now, they’re a bunch of wonderful hams. The gypsy band Frency and The Punk, formerly known as the Gypsy nomads. A very hilarious, very dirty and raunchy Irish band called The Bawdy Boys. They have several different shows, but they’re obvious specialty is the Dirty Show/Bawdy Boozer. They get drunk with you, and then sometimes they’ll sing for you, too. A couple of them went through two 6 packs of Guinness beer. They were easily vying for the top spot of favourite event of the expo, and they’re really fun to talk to, I got a picture and a button. And, of course, no steampunk event would be complete without Abney Park. I was almost at the end of the line waiting for them, but some how ended up near the very front of the mosh pit, getting some decent pictures. They put on a great show, and had a sesnse of humour, joking about an “act of God” clause in their contract in response to the tornado that happened 40 miles away. Speaking of mosh pits, steampunk mosh pits are some of the most polite pits you’ll find. We’ll knock you down, but we’ll help you right back up before knocking you down again. Quite good fun. There were more bands and performers there, I just wasn’t able to see them all.

There are two performances that I’ve left out, one of them Very important. Some of the bands performed at The Midnight Carnival, and Pop Hayden was there! A man not born in this century, but he came here with his magic and his medicinal wares, and generously shared this with everyone. And then, my personal favourite of the weekend, Miss Hayley Jane of Tick Tock Tease, an amazing, young, burlesque performer. She gave a panel about burlesque and then performed with the Bawdy Boys, and on her own, complete with wardrobe malfunction! For someone so young, she is really accomplished and talented.

That was just a little taste of what’s at the World Steam Expo, and even I had a hard time making up my mind about which panels and performances to go see. I was having nerdgasms at the amount of awesome was there this year, and the fact that I got to show off some more of my costumes, this year a slightly Japanese inspired steampunk bounty hunter named Sakura “Saki” Kade. (I got some Really nice service at the registration desk because my named had alcohol in it. 😀 ) I can’t recommend and encourage everyone to attend this expo more. i had more fun here than I had at Gen Con last year, and I think that’s saying something, this expo pulls in a couple thousand because of a smaller venue, The Hyatt. It really is amazing, and I’m already planning a costume theme for next year; Steampunk-ed Video Game Characters. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go make some waistcoats and design some skirts and pants, I’m moving into a steampunk lifestyle.

 

All 175 pictures that I took at the expo can be seen at my Flickr account, here. I took some video too, those will be posted soon on my youtube account, here.

Tangled

"Tangled" up in Disney

**Warning: This Post Contains Spoilers**

It’s no secret to those that know me that I am a gigantic Disney Nerd. I have several Disney playlists on my iTunes, and most movies I can cialis pills quite with the help of my best friend, (who works at Disney World.) So I had been excited about the new DIsney movie Tangled for a while. It might have helped a little that I’m a fan of Mandy Moore, I saw her when she opened for the Backstreet Boys back in 1999, when she was a young blonde little thing, (like I can talk, I was 11 at the time.) Also, any fan of Chuck will recognize Zachary levi’s voice as Flynn Rider. Like the crazy person that I am, I passed up on Harry Potter to see “Tangled”, and I’m actually pretty satisfied with that decision.

‘Pretty Satisfied’ is an understatement.

This was Disney’s 50th animated movie, and right proper Disney Princess movie, reminiscent of the classics. Alan Menken was once again at the helm of the songs, and score for the movie. One can hear the influence of his earlier classics, such as The Little Mermaid, and Aladdin, and there were no misses this time around, (like there really are any misses for this man.)

“This is the story of how I died?” –Flynn Rider (Anyone else having Doctor Who flashbacks?)

Backstory time! As is with most Disney fairytale movies. Our, er, hero, Flynn Rider narrates. A single drop of sun fell from the sky, and bloomed into a flower, and held great power. The person who found it, of course, used it selfishly to make herself young again, and would continue to do so for hundreds of years, only by singing a song to it, (“Healing Incantaiton”.) Well the pregnant Queen is sick, and needs this miracle flower. Our selfish hag, Mother Gothel, makes a mistake and the flower is found! The queen is alright, and bouncing baby girl, with long blonde hair, is born. They let off a floating lantern to celebrate. This is important. Mother Gothel breaks into the castle and realizes that the baby’s hair is magical and can make her young again, but if you cut the hair it turns brown and loses it’s power. So what can she do now? Kidnap the baby!

This is how Rapunzel comes to live in her tower, with 70 feet of hair. Hair that she can wield as a weapon, or a swing, or a hook to pull Mother Gothel up the tower, or as an Indiana Jones-esque bull whip. But she has a dream, (“When Will My Life Begin”) she wants to leave the tower to see the floating lights that appear once a year on her birthday. The lights that the Kingdom releases every year hoping that it will help bring back the lost Princess.

Enter, Flynn Rider. A thief. He’s stolen a tiara from the castle, with the help of two other thieves, and is now on the run from what could be the entire Royal Army, and their horses. Maximus is part horse, part bloodhound, and all serious about getting Flynn. This chase is what brings Flynn to Rapunzels tower, that he climbs with the help of two arrows. Flynn is Rapunzel’s ticket to getting out of the tower to go see the lights, that her mother has forbidden her from doing, in the form of an entertaining song (“Mother Knows Best”) with a stern warning. (Mother Gothel is the mother you wish you never have.) How does she get Flynn to agree to this? By hiding the tiara he so urgently seeks and says that if he takes her to see the lights and brings her back then he gets it back.

It doesn’t take long for Mother Gothel to realize that something’s up, finds the tiara, and she starts to follow the two after she finds them at the Snuggly Duckling. The Snuggly Duckling full of murderous, sadistic, and fluffy pub thugs. They all have dreams, (“I’ve Got a Dream”) and have been inspired by the young, 18 year old, sheltered girl. As the Royal Guards come, still searching for Flynn, arrive the pub thungs help them escape. And it almost works, until Maximus shows up and discovers the hidden tunnel.

Cut to a dam with an impossible escape. Rapunzel gets to higher ground with her hair, Flynn fights off a sword wielding horse with a frying pan, and the Royal Guard and Flynn’s very upset partners are all there to get Flynn, dead or alive, depending on who you ask. The dam breaks and we find our heroes in a very precarious situation, where we learn that Flynn Rider is not his real name, (Eugene Fitzherbert,… really?), little orphan Eugene got his name from Flynnagan Rider, and that Rapunzel has magical glowing hair that can also heals wounds.

Mother Gothel appears to make Rapunzel think that she’s delusional, why would this thief like her when all he wants is his stolen tiara? She challenges Rapunzel to test Eugene, er Flynn, by giving him the tiara and to see if he’ll actually still take her to the floating lights. Rapunzel hides the tiara instead.

And just when you thought that they had lost Maximus, he’s back! But Rapunzel discovers his soft side and he helps them get the to castle town, without getting Flynn arrested. As comes with any Disney movie, this is where the montage of cute things happens between our two love interests that pull them closer. As night falls Flynn takes Rapunzel out on to the water to have one of the best views of the lanterns as they take to the sky. Here I discover that Zachary Levi has a decent voice, and my new favorite song, “I See The Light”.

Enter, Mother Gothel’s master plan. With Rapunzel so close to finding out that she is the missing princess, she must get her back to the tower, and get rid of Flynn Fitz-, Rider. A plot breaks out! Flynn is set up and set sailing back to the guards to get captured, and Mother Gothel lures Rapunzel in with fake worry, and they travel back ‘home’.

In prison, as he’s being led to his execution, everything comes together for Flynn. He realizes that Rapunzel is the Princess, that Mother Gothel was behind everything for the magical hair, and that he must go help the woman he has fallen in love with! But how will he escape? Maximus and the Pub Thugs to the rescue!

Back at the tower Rapunzel  thinks on everything that she’s seen at the castle town, and what’s she’s learned, and all her paintings, and pieces together that she’s the missing princess, (without any help from any other character!) Mother Gothel transformation: Into evil, selfish hag!

Flynn climbs the tower again to save Rapunzel to find out that he’s stumbled onto a trap. She’s been chained to a wall by Mother Gothel, as the same evil woman then stabs Flynn, letting him slowly die. At this point I thought I was going to have to start writing an angry letter to Disney for not providing a happy ending. I would have done it, too. Rapunzel gives her word to Mother Gothel that she will go with her, into hiding, and never run away if she just lets her save Eugene, (Rapunzel has called him Eugene since finding out it was his real name, luckily never saying Fitzherbert again.) Eugene won’t let this happen though. He cuts off her hair!

This breaks the spell that Mother Gothel has been using and she falls out of the tower, turning into dusts as she starts to age. But it’s too late to save our dear Eugene, and the older woman in front of me*, and I started to cry, (no lies.) Disney saves it though, her tears heal her love as she once again sings the healing song, in vain she thinks. Eugene takes her back to her parents, who have waited 18 years to find their daughter. Eugene takes over narrating and confirming, in a very Flynn Rider way, that everyone was happy again and that he and Rapunzel did in fact, get married.

I would actually pay to go see the movie again, but I’ll bring a friend with me this time, and I recommend this movie to anyone who likes Disney, especially the classic Princess movies. They managed to focus both on the princess Rapunzel, and the, almost, unlikely hero Flynn- Eugene Fitzherbert! It was the second biggest opening movie that weekend, no surprise right behind Harry Potter, with $45.1 million. It’s also Disney’s second biggest Thanksgiving opening movie, right behind Toy Story 2 with $54 million.

*I should state that I went to the movie alone, as did the woman in front of me who was at least ten years older than me. I heard her sniff in that way that one does after crying, and I was slightly relieved to know that I was not alone in crying at (another) Disney movie…. Yes, I cry at Disney movies, it happens.

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