Tuesday, May 31, 2011

All Aboard! Recap of Steampunk World's Fair 2011.

A few months ago, my husband asked me what Steampunk was.  "It's like steam powered innovations in the Victorian Era."  I explained.  He gave me a blank look.  "Think Jules Verne."  I told him, "Or The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen or Wild, Wild West." Finally, we looked it up.  According to Wikipedia, Steampunk is:
"...a sub-genre of science fiction, alternate history and speculative fiction...Works of steampunk often feature anachronistic technology or futuristic innovations as Victorian may have envisioned them; in other words, based on a Victorian perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style, art, etc."  
That's quite a lot to work with!  I've been hearing whisperings that the genre of Steampunk in the literary field hit it's peak already and is now on it's way out of fashion. Maybe the publishing world is looking for the next big thing, but judging from the Steampunk World's Fair that took place this past May, the movement is alive and kicking. The creativity of people who are fans of Steampunk is off the charts and the coolest thing I found is that everyone is extremely willing to talk to you about their costumes and gadgets.  They want to share their knowledge and discuss the creativity and hard work that went into them.

From the very elaborate to the very simple, everyone's ideas and creativity are embraced in the Steampunk culture.  The gentleman to the left told me that his costume took a year all together to complete.  The gentleman below shows his sense of humor along with a very simple, yet effective idea.


(l-r) P.J. Schnyder, Stella Price, C.J. Henderson, O.M. Grey, Susan Griffith
The first literary panel I went to was Mixing Genres in Steampunk Literature. Clay Griffith, author of Vampire Empire moderated and a very interesting discussion ensued. Most of the authors on the panel set out to write an alternate history and thier books happened to fit into the Steampunk genre, but they didn't intend to specifically write Steampunk. When asked if they thought Steampunk was Sci-Fi or Fantasy, differing answers were given.  I found Stella Price's answer very astute when she stated that she felt it was Fantasy and went on to explain that "...it is an alternate timeline, it could have happened and that's a Fantasy aspect."  O.M. Grey pointed out that even Science Fiction is becoming speculative, genres are being blended and it's difficult to pick just one.
Clay Griffith

(l-r) O.M. Grey, Susan Griffith
Susan Griffith agreed that there is a large blurring of lines.  As for plotting their stories, the answers were as varied as the authors.  C.J. Henderson said he makes it up as he goes along and that writing is like real life, when you get stuck in a corner you have to make a turn.  Clay and Susan feel that a good plot is a guide whether it takes a straight line or a 90 degree turn. 


Stephen Segal, Quirk Books.
Next up, Stephen Segal, the Editor from Quirk Books, gave a sneak peek of Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children. Stephen explained that the book grew out of eerie photographs from the World War II era, that author, Ransom Riggs, collected over time. The photographs looked, to Mr. Riggs, like they could have been circus or sideshow performers, or perhaps the images are simply photography experiments. Either way, the haunting images soon gave birth to a story with an equally mesmerizing premise.


(l-r) Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris
Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris had a Tea Party to celebrate the launch of their new book Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrances Novel. Pip served cookies that she baked herself and poured tea while Tee read the first chapter in which the main characters Eliza and Wellington meet amidst deadly circumstances. They also discussed what it was like writing together and the personalities of the characters.  This is their first book together and their second book will be a continuation of the adventures of Eliza and Wellington, titled Of Cogs and Corsets.


(l-r) Co-editor S.J. Chambers & "Magpie" Killjoy: contributor 
The Steampunk Bible launch was made up of a large panel of contributors to the book as well as artisans, authors and other key participants in the Steampunk  movement.  Steampunk is more than a literary genre to some people.  It can be about art, cos-play, gaming, live role playing games and even politics and social issues.  Therefore, this was a very fast and intense discussion.  I apologize for not being able to give credit where credit is due, but here are some quotes I wrote down that I feel are a great tribute to Steampunk and an interesting way to sum up the many facets of the weekend.          
Steampunk panel
"Everyone uses Steampunk in their own personal way."
"It's...fun, tongue in cheek, but it makes a good point."
"People trying to get past labels."
"A stage upon which the imagination can play."
"One of the challenges is trying to find the line that all the ideas cross."
"Steampunk opens a door."
"A shared aesthetic that's technofantastic."
"Started in literature and morphed."
"Revisit something happening in time and see what could have changed."
"A fun sandbox that lets you ask questions."

Here are a few more pictures from the SPWF:
It's all about the details!

His "glove" opened and closed.

Emperor Norton's Stationary Marching Band had people dancing till the wee hours of the morning. 

Get Your Steampunk On! 

I have 5 books to give away to 5 winners (meaning 5 people will win 1 book):
~3 of Vampire Empire.  (Please note that only 2 are signed.  The first two people that choose Vampire Empire will receive a signed copy.  The third person who chooses Vampire Empire will receive the unsigned copy.)
~2 of Phoenix Rising. (Both signed by authors.)

No need to follow, tweet, link or like.  Simply, fill out the contest form HERE.

  • This contest is open internationally! 
  • See my contest policy HERE.
  • Giveaway ends Wednesday June 8, 2011 at midnight (EST).
  • Winners will be chosen by Random.org.
  • You may only enter once.  Making a false entry will disqualify you!
  • Winners will receive their first choice if available.  If not available, they will receive the other book.  
  • If you do not put your name and shipping address on the form and I cannot contact you within 72 hours, another winner will be chosen.
  • If you have any questions, please ask on the comment form or e-mail me at midnytereader@gmail.com.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Stranger with my Face.

Title/Author: Stranger with my Face by Lois Duncan.

Read by: Alyssa Bresnahan

Genre: Supernatural/YA

Publisher: Recorded Books.

Source: Library.

Favorite character: Meg.

Favorite quote: n/a

All in All: Cute.

Synopsis: Have you ever been haunted by the feeling that someone is spying on you, lurking around your house and yard, even entering your bedroom? Are your friends plotting against you when they say they've seen you do things you know you haven't done? What's going on -- and does Laurie really want to find out?~Product Description.

My Thoughts: Lois Duncan is a huge name in the literary world, who has written many, (many, many) books and received many (manymanymany) awards.  I Know What You Did Last Summer may be her most recognizable.  However, I can't remember reading any of her books growing up, but I recognized her name when I picked up this audio book in the library.  My other reasons for checking this out were 1) We don't have a huge selection in our library and 2) It was earmarked as Supernatural.  I'm not sure I would really recommend it, but it did win a ton of awards. 

The story was published in 1981 and yes, the book is a bit dated. Not just because the father who is a writer uses a typewriter, but it just didn’t have a contemporary feel. However, the story holds up and the plot is fun. Although it is a bit predictable, I didn’t know everything that was going to happen and I do like how it was all resolved.

I didn’t really connect to any of the characters, I felt they were kind of stereotyped. The boyfriend who is Mr. Perfect and a tad arrogant, the bad boy who is sullen and most of Laurie's friends who happened to be in the popular crowd. Laurie is nice and perhaps a typical teenager.  Her reaction to her parent's secret is understandable but her continuing anger had me a little annoyed.

It took me a while to get into the tone of voice of the narrator. At first I felt as if she was reading a bit too deliberately and it just sounded funny. But I did get used to it.

Some of the writing sounded odd to me. I’m sure it is correct and I’m not a Grammer expert, but she kept using sentences, like “We, both of us saw you.” “We, none of us…” or “We, all of us…” It just stuck out. I also thought it kind of odd that the main character Lori, who is 17, calls her younger siblings who are 8 and 11 “the children.” I don’t know, maybe it’s because that’s what her parents call them. Also, the issue of adoption is pretty dated. It kind of had me laughing.

I think this book would appeal more to middle grade students than young adults.

Other Editions:

Thursday, May 26, 2011

BEA 2011, Thursday, May 26, 2011.

When: Thursday, May 26, 2011, 
Where: Javits Center, NYC. 
What: BEA.

Melissa Marr: Enthralled, Darkest Mercy.

Ellen Hopkins: Perfect

Anna Carey: Eve.

Joshua Corbin: Before Cain Strikes

(l-r) Kelly and Kallie.  Two very friendly ladies from Twilight Series Theories and Bookshelf Banter

Marianna Baer: Frost. 
Maryrose Wood: The Poison Diaries.

Kady Keplinger: Shut Out.

(l-r) Charlotte Bennardo & Natalie Zaman: Sirenz. 

Our decimated desserts 32 seconds after they hit the table.  Lemon sorbet and butterscotch caramel parfait. 

When: Wednesday, May 25, 2011, 
Where: Books of Wonder, NYC. 
What: The Class of 2K11!

The Class of 2K11 panel. 

(l-r) Alyssa Grosso: Popular, Angie Smibert: Memento Nora, Geoff Herback: Stupid Fast, Gae Polisner: The Pull of Gravity, Christina Mandelski: The Sweetest Thing. 

(l-r) Carole Etsby Dagg: The Year We Were Famous, Sheila O'Connor: Sparrow Road, Trinity Faegen: The Mephisto Covenant

(l-r) Trinity Faegan, Bettina Restrepo, Amy Holder.

(l-r) Angie Smibert, Geoff Herbach, Gae Polisner, Christina Mandelski. 

Me with Amy Felder Dominy.

Casey from The Bookish Type

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