The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray
On Amazon: The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray
Author website: Chris Wooding

My Review:

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The Demon's Lexicon, by Sarah Rees Brennan
Sarah Rees Brenann is one of the slightly incestuous circle - including Holly Black and Cassandra Clare - of Harry Potter Big Name Fans who made it big in the YA urban fantasy world.  She's also, as far as I can tell, one of the nicest and most talented - I've been following her work for years, and she comes across ad genuinely sweet, thoughtful, funny, and prolific.  And she's made the transition to profic brilliantly - The Demon's Lexicon is one of the better books I've read this year.

On Amazon: The Demon's Lexicon
Author Blog: Into that world inverted
Length: 322 Pages

My Review:

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Here is how it goes: I have these two friends, and we all share a brain together. We are all writerly-types - though some of us a artistly-types as well, because we are a gifted bunch - with similiar tastes in consumable media. My friends and I tell each other stories. Usually this involves sitting around and just randomly ad-libbing bits of dialogue at one another in funny accents, or coming up with wacky scenarios. Sometimes it involves costumes, props and a video camera. You musn't judge us.

This particular one did involve costumes, actually. There's a whole steampunk subculture we were starting to get into about a year ago, and we came up with characters - three women running a sort of ad-hoc detective agency in an alternative Victorian England. We were the characters, to a certain extent, or at least we each took the role of one of the character primarily during our little story-telling sessions. I don't think it ever occured to any of us to put male characters in - the female costumes were so much cooler, and the characters more interesting. (I find that female characters in a culture that is extremely patriarchal are more interesting, because they have more of a struggle and conflict, but that's just me - the male point of view still tends to dominate so much of our culture)

ANYway. So we spun this story-situation of these women having wacky adventures and building things and wearing excellent clothes and drinking tea between blowing things up, but never developed it beyond a kind of abstract idea we might like to do for Halloweeen. And then we abandoned it when the next shiny thing caught our imaginations - I think it was a radio play set on the most boring spaceship imaginable, with Welsh accents. Which requires far less props than steampunk, and also allowed us to shout "Cardiff or bust!" in a completely non-ironic manner. This was around January-ish, I guess.

All of the writing itself was mine - we never wrote anything down in these storytelling sessions, or at least I didn't, though we would occasionally pull out a microphone and record ourselves (don't judge us), so though I had the ideas and the characters solid in my head, I had to write the narrative from scratch, including most of the dialogue, speech patterns, and the weird humour that seems to creep into most of my work.

A collaborative tool I use a lot, even when I'm not working on the twisted three-way brainchild of me and my besties, is an online word-processer which allows several different people to remotely access a given document. I use googledocs, emailed the link to my braintwins, and watched as they added giant purple text to the document in the form of comments like "HOLY SHIT I FORGOT ABOUT THIS HAHAHAHA" and "needs more explosions" and "shouldn't we have a butler? I want a butler. We can call him Sneeds."

Our current project is a comic about the three of us living in an apartment building full of geeks.  LIke most of our collaborations, it is only funny to us.

How to Eat a Mango
In celebration of my purchase of the summer's first mango.

You will need:

1 mango
1 plate
1 small, sharp knife
1 damp cloth for cleanup

Step 1
Using the kife, slit the skin of the mango from top to bottom, all the way around, then again at right-angles.  This should leave the skin in quarters.

Step 2
Peel the skin off in quarters.  You will now be holding a whole, naked mango in your hands.

Step 3
Holding mango in both hands, bring it up to your face. Open mouth wide, and devour mango.

Step 4

After sucking the last of the flesh off the stone, daintily clean hands and face with damp cloth. Dispose of mango remnant in environmentally-friendly manner.

True story: Until i was fourteen I honestly thought this was how everyone ate mangoes.  I couldn't figure out how they got those neat little cubes.

Graceling, Kristin Cashore
On Amazon: Graceling
Author Blog: This is My Secret
Length: 340 pages - pretty hefty
My Review:
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