5 Interesting Links for 02-08-2019

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Vacation (Life)

This article explores the value of vacations, identifying the most effective length and practice to maintain self care and avoid burnout.

Recycling (Art)

An artist uses recycled scraps to create a variety of interesting pieces depicted here. His website also explains where the materials he uses come from. (Via Steampunk Explorer)

Collisions (Space)

I’m including this article both for the curious theory on how Earth gained the right mixture to allow for life and because of the glimpse into scientific thought, which sounds a lot like kids messing around to see what happens. It’s nice to observe that level of curiosity in the adult population.

Management (Publishing)

This is a good overview of the planning process for a publication. It begins a series of articles that go into each step more deeply, but even so, there are important lessons here about dependencies and the need to be flexible.

Subscription Library (Interesting Places)

Learn about the history of subscription libraries and see into the workings of one in particular.

Shafter (Seeds Among the Stars, Book 1)

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Magic For Nothing by Seanan McGuire

Magic For Nothing by Seanan McGuireOkay, I’ll admit it. Antimony’s “poor me” act grated in the beginning of the book. She believes everything happens specifically to inconvenience her, deliberate acts against her when others were just doing their jobs. This wasn’t helped by the repetition of concepts, sometimes almost word for word, that was so prevalent in the beginning even Antimony reacts to it.

Well, all I can say without spoilers is she matures big time in this book. She is twenty-two. A little old to get over “the world revolves around me” phase, but then she’s been sheltered as the baby of the family. Sheltered, that is, and trained to kill in many deadly ways…but she is a Price after all. Oh, and there’s the little detail of the potentially dangerous pyro talent she’s developed. She hides her uncontrolled flame hands from her family even when it makes an already suicidal mission even more dangerous. I wonder whether reader acceptance of Antimony depends on what role they held in their families, which is another way of saying she’s drawn realistically, I suppose. But she does grow up.

On the repetition, either it cleared up, too, or once I gave into the story, I stopped noticing it. I realized something else, though. The voice–cadence, word choice, etc.–is very much the author’s voice. It stays consistent regardless of the narrator. This is not necessarily a bad thing because it helps with the transition between main characters. Though the cadence doesn’t change, the characters’ thought processes are consistent with their personalities and perspectives, so it’s like an actor performing multiple roles. If you like the actor, you’re inclined to like the movie, but if the actor becomes someone new, it’s stellar.

Back to the book, I didn’t walk into the read with preconceptions beyond who the narrator was. If I read the blurb, it was long enough ago that I don’t remember. Everything unfolded as a surprise, something I think made the book stronger as I didn’t walk in waiting for her mission to begin.

I couldn’t help comparing Antimony to Verity (since Antimony did). I saw similarities where Antimony saw examples of how she was better than her sister. For example, Verity does ballroom dance competitions on TV heavily disguised. Antimony skates for a roller derby team as herself or close to it. Both are in the public eye, even if the derby audience is smaller, but then Antimony doesn’t disguise herself either.

Yes, I’m talking about severe sibling rivalry. It forms an underlying thread throughout the novel, but remember what I said about growing up? I’ll say no more for fear of spoilers, but I enjoyed this arc when I thought it would be the most annoying part of the book.

In keeping with the rest of the series, personhood is an important theme as well, but it takes some interesting twists in this one thanks to the Covenant involvement. Oh, and the glimpse under the Big Top and into the carnie life was wonderful. I say this as someone who has read a lot of carnival/circus books because part of me always wanted to run away and join the circus.

There’s even a complicated love story in the mix with Sam, who may have become my favorite character, though Mindy (an Aeslin mouse) might have that title. I went from finding Antimony annoying to enjoying the book enough to read Antimony’s next book (in paper even as that’s what we have).

The book offers many wonderful characters to love, hate, and even get red herringed by, but maybe the last is just the ever-hopeful me. The story puts Antimony through her paces not only physically but by challenging her to decide her own truths rather than blindly following what she’s been taught. It’s also fun and has feats of marksmanship, trampoline, and trapeze…not as separate as you might presume…so provides well-rounded entertainment on many levels.

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Things That Make Me Smile No.157: Tap and Funk

I don’t know whether it’s because I recognize a bunch of the clips or I’m just amazed at the talent and research necessary to match motion to music, but this certainly made me smile and even laugh. I never noticed the movement similarities between Funk and tap dancing before, but here you have it: old movie stars dancing to Funk. Enjoy.

Posted in Art, Music, Crafts, etc., Culture, Smiles | 1 Comment

5 Interesting Links for 02-01-2019

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Diversity (Science)

This article examines the various obstacles, cultural, social, etc. that discourage female students from pursuing a career in the sciences and hinder the career of those women who persist. The same or similar barriers restrict other diversities including racial and so some of the proposed approaches could also improve non-white male and female students’ chances.

Computers (Art)

Using textile arts, an artist has created an embroidered fabric that acts as a computer. (Via Erin M. Hartshorn)

Name Generator (Generator)

Discover your steampunk name with a few quick clicks. Mine came out as Captain Stella Beecraft-Strangewayes. I think I’ll keep it :).

Slang (Language)

A dictionary of English slang terms from primarily 1500 A.D. to present day. Jonathon Green originally published his work in print but now makes it available online where new slang terms are still being added.

Technique (Marketing)

Three ways to approach raising awareness of your upcoming work that engage potential readers through authentic enthusiasm instead of being pushy.

Safe Haven: A Steampunk Romance (The Steamship Chronicles, Prequel)

Posted in Art, Music, Crafts, etc., Culture, Education, Employment, History, Interesting Links, Just for Fun, Language, Marketing, Science, Steampunk | Leave a comment

Maid for Love by Marie Force

Maid for Love by Marie ForceThe story begins like a typical resort town contemporary romance. This isn’t a bad thing, because I like contemporary romance and the book is well written. The son of a wealthy family crashes (literally) into a maid at his parents’ hotel. The book could easily have turned out to be poor maid makes it good by snagging a rich guy.

It’s not.

Sure, he has more money than she does, which allows him to replace the bike he destroyed and treat her to an elegant dinner, but money is barely an element of the story. Instead, this is a tale of the long-term effects of rumors when people believe them despite the evidence before their eyes. It’s about getting a mature perspective on the place where you grew up, seeing both the cracks and what made it a home. It’s about single parenthood and irresponsible partners, classism, pride, bullying, and distrust.

She’s a Cinderella only if the fairy tale was about a girl making her own way through life who is dragged kicking and screaming to the ball.

Maddie is an independent, lovely person who will do whatever necessary to support her family, even her mother who has disappointed her. Money troubles cost her the dream of a college education and she has a hard life, in good part because of false rumors, but she doesn’t let that make her bitter. Thomas, her son, captures hearts, but cries when his mother leaves and is affected by the ups and downs in Maddie’s relationship with Mac just like a real baby would be.

Mac, on the other hand, grew up with all the advantages. He’s well off, college educated, part owner of a successful firm, and has a family that loves him. He’s also a bit arrogant and oblivious when it comes to the lives people without his background live. What makes him such a good match for Maddie, though, is how he doesn’t deny what’s in front of him but rather revises his understanding of the situation and grows. Which is not to say he doesn’t stumble. He wants to be Maddie’s knight in shining armor, but good intentions don’t always have the intended result.

I want to say more, but I don’t want to spoil a lovely story. I’ll say just this: I enjoy reading contemporary romance because of how it demonstrates coping and reconciliation tools necessary to keep a relationship strong even during the rough times. They face more than their fair share of trials both personal and of a broader scope, and yet earn their way to a solid happily ever after.

One last curious note: Sometimes it felt like the author had to backtrack the story to fix something she believed her readers would find hard to accept. Rather than removing the difficult moment, though, she adds another layer to it in a later scene that smooths the jarring edges. It’s an interesting approach and ultimately one I liked because it kept me revising my impressions of people, sometimes to the better and sometimes not. It’s true to the reality that we don’t always see the full picture during an encounter, and if we hold the initial judgment as fact, we might never find the truth.

I’m happy I gave Gansett Island a try and already picked up the next two books because I’m intrigued by the hints at what’s to come and not yet ready to leave this crowd.

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