Let’s Talk About Steampunk!

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I’m currently reading Soulless by Gail Carriger. It’s a fun, witty, fluffy read, and, apparently, it’s steampunk. So, instead of doing a Currently Reading post, I decided to talk about steampunk and what the word actually means.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines steampunk as:

science fiction dealing with 19th-century societies dominated by historical or imagined steam-powered technology

This is the most general definition, and the one that is often used to describe steampunk. However, this genre is much more than that, and it is much more difficult to describe. For example, the top definition from Urban Dictionary says:

Steampunk is a subgenre of speculative fiction, usually set in an anachronistic Victorian or quasi-Victorian alternate history setting. It could be described by the slogan “What the past would look like if the future had happened sooner.” It includes fiction with science fiction, fantasy or horror themes.

The author of the definition goes on to explain certain sub-genres of Steampunk: medieval steampunk, Victorian steampunk, western steampunk etc. For example, the film Wild Wild West is generally labeled as steampunk, but it is set in the Wild West, which makes it western steampunk. (I actually can’t think of a medieval steampunk example, so I’d apprecite suggestions.) This definiton is actually in opposition to the common perception that steampunk is a sub-genre of neo-Victorianism – apparenty it doesn’t have to take place in a world inspired by Victorian England.

This leads to another definition – steampunk is a blend of science fiction and fantasy. It can be set in any historical period, but it has to involve some kind of “old” technology in a new, interesting way. (Use of non-existent science and technology is why Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case od Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde also considered steampunk by some.)

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Source: Pixabay.com

Steampunk often features dirigibles and zeppelins, and some other long-forgotten inventions. Steampunk did, however, get its name after the steam power, so steam-powered engines and machinery should be unvolved. Steampunk also shows a lot of love to cogs and clockwork.

Now, on to the books I’ve read that are labeled as steampunk. First of them is the aforementioned Soulless. Soulless is set in Victorian England, with the addition of vampires, werewolves, and ghosts. It also features dirigibles, and a lot of talk about the natural science of supernatural creatures. The approach to science is very Victorian, so I think this book represents steampunk quite well.

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Tales of The Ketty Jay series is also labeled as Steampunk, and it definitely falls into that category. This series is all about airships. The world can be seen as Victorian, but it is not a literal representation. It certainly does feel like it’s happening in the past, but it also might not be. The airships do use steam power, but they seem more advanced than digiribles, which is also very characteristic of steampunk. Science in this book is closely related to so-called daemonism, which is an interesting concept since science was often demonised in the past. This is definitely a series I would recommend, because it’s fun, and the characters are amazing.

There are also some classics that fall into the steampunk category, though they were written before the term was even invented. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne features Nautilus, a submarine that is very advanced for its time. However, in Jules Verne’s time, this book would probably be considered SF, since to its first readers it wasn’t a book set in the past. Another steampunk classic is The Time Machine by H.G. Wells.

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Of course, steampunk doesn’t exist only in literature. It is a subulture – it exists in fashion and is also a music genre. When it comes to fashion, steampunks are often described as “goths who discovered brown.” You probably all know how this fashion looks like, so I’ll move on to music. Steampunk music is something had to define. Generally, it should be music that uses only old instruments (no electronics) and it can be closely related to dark cabaret. Therefore bands such as Rasputina, and even The Dresden Dolls are often labeled as stempunk.  Aurelio Voltaire and Emilie Autumn are also artists who are sometimes labeled steampunk, though their artistic expression is far more diverse that that. (Emilie Autumn is my favourite! Had to say it. XD) However, some bands go further than that – they are dressed in Steampunk fashion and their lyrics are like from a steampunk novel.

One of those bands is Abney Park. They started as a goth-industrial band, but they are now steampunk to the core. The band even created a fictional backstory: the band’s plane collided with a time-travelling dirigible called the Ophelia in a great storm. The band commandeered the vessel, deciding to become airship pirates. This backstory is used for many of their lyrics.

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Source: Wikipedia

Other similar bands are The Cog is Dead, Ghostfire, Vernian Process, Steam Powered Giraffe, Unextraordinary Gentleman and many others. Ghostfire has a particularly interesting description on Last.fm:

The music of Ghostfire resonates to the debauched decadence and absinthe-fuelled anarchy of life in the eighties…

The 1880’s.

Stalking the cobbled streets; lurking in the shadows of the darkest alleyways… Dare you glance beyond the safety of the guttering gaslights, to where the gin-soaked doxy plies her trade, the dipper watches his mark and the drunken sailor staggers blindly?

It’s this shadowy world of villains, rogues and rascals that Ghostfire calls home.
In the darkest corners of the flash taverns, we raise glasses with vagabonds, footpads, pirates and thieves, all seeking sanctuary in the anonymity only notorious London Town can afford…

Now, I’m definitely not an expert on steampunk, so there’s still a lot for me to learn. I’d definitely like to hear from you. How do you define steampunk? Do you have any book recommendations? If you do, please share! 🙂


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In First Person: Update

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In First Person is a monthly meme here on Books and Hot Tea. Every first of the month I talk about a certain lifestyle topic I’m passionate about. Feel free to leave comments and chat with me!


Yes, I know the first day of June was yesterday, but I’m not too late. XD Anyway, I wanted to write this In First Person post as a little update on the last few weeks of my life. As you may have noticed, I wasn’t very active lately, so first I’ll explain why.

The Teacher’s Exam

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That’s how I decided to call it anyway, since I don’t think there is a correct translation – the literal one would be “professional exam” but it sounds silly. Let me explain, or skip if you don’t care. Here, in Croatia, we are actually being prepared for working in schools in college, if we choose to. After graduating college, we’re supposed to have an apprenticeship in school. And after that we have this horrible, stressful exam. Not easy to become a teacher, ha?

Anyway I passed the exam! Yaaay! I cannot even explain how stressful it was. It’s a three-part exam: the written essay, one lesson in front of a class you’ve never seen before, and an oral exam. I spent two months studying for it, and now it is all done! After I finally passed the exam, I felt happy but quite drained. And that’s why I took a little break from this blog. Hopefully, I’ll be back now. 🙂

What I’ve Been Reading

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Yes, this is me. XD

This is a book blog, after all, so let’s talk about books! Of course, I didn’t have a lot of time to read, but I managed to squeeze some reading into my schedule. The most important news is that I’ve finally read The Handmaid’s Tale, and I even wrote a little post about it. It’s such an amazing book, and I’m definitely going to watch the series.

After that, I read Verland: The Transformation by B.E. Scully, and, sadly, I was very disappointed… I had really high expectations for this vampire novel, but it was not atmospheric at all, and I expect vampire novels to have a nice, gothic atmosphere. Also, there was this cringeworthy romance that I just couldn’t stand… Earlier this year I’ve read Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin, and if you want to read a vampire novel, I’d go with that one. This was my first book by Martin (no, I haven’t read ASOIAF, sorry) and I loved his writing. A different vampire novel, but not in a way that it goes too far away from the source (though what the source really is could be discussed).

And then, I read The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. I liked this book, but for some reason I expected more… The ending was really, really good, though. And I loved this quote:

Chiron had said once that nations were the most foolish of mortal inventions. ‘No man is worth more than another, wherever he is from.’

And now I’m continuing with The Memoirs of Lady Trent by Marie Brennan. I’ve mentioned many times before that I love A Natural History of Dragons, so it was high time for me to finish the series. I’m so happy to return to this world! And all the dragons! 🙂

Future Plans

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First of all, I want to write more posts on this blog. I plan to write more about the books I’m reading, which I didn’t really do so often before. I don’t usually write reviews, I prefer to concentrate on one point I found interesting, but maybe I should try to write some reviews, too. Mostly, I think I’ll stick to the Quote for Thought posts.

I also want to get back to writing fiction. I’ve neglected it a bit lately… And I want to keep my Instagram (or should I say bookstagram) account alive, and to make more use of Goodreads. I’ve been using Goodreads mostly as a list of books read and to-be-read, but now I decided to connect with some people and even write reviews from time to time. It’s also a great place to write down interesting quotes as I read. And last, but definitely not least, I hope I’ll find a job soon. XD

And that’s all from me for now, hope you’re having a great Friday! Read you soon! 🙂

Top 5 Wednesday: Books I Want to Finally Read in 2017 #t5w

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Another Wednesday is here! This time, I’ll talk about some books I’ve been meaning to read for a long time, but for some reason still haven’t read. This list could actually go on and on, but here are the ones I plan to read next year. Hopefully…

1. Mort by Terry Pratchett

I’ve read six Pratchett’s books so far, and it’s definitely not enough for me… I’m actually a bit ashamed I haven’t read anything by him for quite a while now. I would like to start with the Death series next, and Mort is the first one.

2. Fudoki by Kij Johnson

This book sounds amazing! Every review I’ve read basically lists everything I like in a book. Now, this book is a bit expensive so I postponed buying it for a long, long time… But I will get it. Soon. 😉

3. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo 

Yes, I admit, I’m intimidated by the length of this book… But I really want to read it. Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre-Dame is one of my favourite books, so it’s time I read this one as well.

4. Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

I actually own the e-book of this novel, but somehow I always end up reading something else… I don’t now why. Fey, magic, fairy tales, Transylvanian woods… What’s not to like?

5. Anything by Robin Hobb

I should probably start from thee beginning, though. XD I’ve heard so many praises for her fantasy novels, I just have to read them! I’m really looking forward to these books. I don’t know why I haven’t started yet, but as all book lovers say: so many books, so little time…

So, let’s get back to reading, then. 😉

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Top 5 Wednesday: Favourite Villains #t5w

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My second Top 5 Wednesday post and I’m already in love with them. Such simple and fun posts! This week, we were supposed to choose 5 favourite villains. It was recommended not to mention any Harry Potter characters, since everyone would use those, and I agree with this recommendation. It’s better to find out about some new characters and books. My choices for this Top 5 are a bit unconventional, since I realized most of the books I like don’t really have a villain. XD

Here are my top 5:

1. Rachel (My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier)

Rachel is such an intriguing character, and throughout the entire book you keep wondering what her actual plans and feelings are. And the most amazing part is that after the ending you’re not even sure if Rachel was a villain or not. I don’t want to reveal too much (though maybe I already have) but the ending is amazing! 🙂

2. Lord Ruler (The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson)

It’s interesting to see how Brandon Sanderson makes a character interesting without actually letting the character appear too much in the book. Even the identity of Lord Ruler is uncertain for quite a long time. And yet, he affects quite a few characters in the book, who start to question their own motives and decisions in comparison to what he did. They even start to ask themselves if Lord Ruler did the right thing after all.

3. Patrick Bateman (American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis)

I like it when the main character is a villain! There are some books in which you don’t realize this until the end of the book, and it comes as a surprise, and your mind is blown, and it’s amazing! XD (I won’t name the books because that would spoil them completely.) Anyway, American Psycho is not that kind of a book. Patrick is obviously insane. And though some parts can be hard to read, I think that the novel is magnificently written. Patrick’s attention to detail and his perception of the world were very interesting, despite the fact that his mind is not a nice place to dwell in.

4. Carmilla (Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu)

I like Carmilla more than Dracula. Sorry, not sorry. This classic vampire tale always reminds me why I love vampires so much. Carmilla is so mysterious and intriguing, you actually want to believe she’s not evil.

5. Victor Frankenstein (Frankenstein by Mary Shelley)

Who is the villain – the monster or its maker? As someone said:

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Hope you enjoyed this post! 🙂

P.S. I don’t actually do these posts in any particular order, it would probably make me crazy… XD So, these villains are all equally great to me, each in his/her own way.

 

Marry, Kiss, Cliff Tag

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This is going to be silly and fun! Thank you Misty for tagging me to do the Marry Kiss Cliff tag! ❤ You can all check out her post here. You should check out her blog in any case!

Now, let’s get started!

The rules are simple:

  1. Put names of characters (whatever sex you’re attracted to) written in pieces of separate papers in an empty jar or a pen holder.
  2. Shake the jar.
  3. Pull out 3 pieces of paper in each round and tell us which character you would Kiss, Marry, or Cliff!

I tried to mix some nice and some horrible characters, so we’ll see how this ends. There will be five rounds in my case, that’s how many little papers I cut from the piece of paper I had. XD Here it goes!

Round 1: Lestat (The Vampire Chronicles), Victor (Vicious) and Spider-man

As much as I love Lestat, I’m not sure I’d like to marry him. But I want him to make me a vampire. 😛 And that means I don’t want to cliff him and makke him angry. (Cliffing him wouldn’t kill him, of course.) So I guess I’ll kiss him, and we can be friends later. I would cliff Victor because I would definitely marry Peter Parker. Always marry Peter Parker! Hopefully, a villain won’t kill me.

Round 2: Ron Weasley (Harry Potter series), Elend Venture (Mistborn series) and Frey (Tales of Ketty Jay)

Well, first of all, I would kiss Frey. Again, not the guy I would like to marry, but I really like him so no cliffing. And now we have a problem… Elend always seemed very attractive to me, but I don’t want to kill Ron. Nooo! Then again, Elend kind of lost his attractiveness later on, when he became a king and stopped being buried in books all the time. So I’ll chose Ron, and cliff Elend. Sorry!

Round 3: Eli (Vicious), Rochester (Jane Eyre), Kell (Shades of Magic series)

Out of these three, I would definitely marry Kell. As much as I don’t like Rochester, I hate Eli’s fanaticism more, so I’d kiss Rochester and cliff Eli.

Round 4: Victor Frankenstein (Frankenstein), Koscei (the one from Deathless, not from folklore), Draco Malfoy (Harry Potter series)

Oh, come on! I can’t marry anyone! I’m in trouble whoever I marry! Frankenstein is egocentric and heartless, Koscei is basically the villain of Russian folklore, and Draco wanted to get Buckbeak killed! (Yes, that’s the thing I can’t forgive him.) And I can’t really cliff Koscei, he can’t die. Let’s just pretend this never happened, shall we? 😉

Round 5: Voldemort (Harry Potter series), Heatcliff (Wuthering Heights), Tyrion Lannister (ASOIAF)

Well, let’s pretend I can actually cliff Voldemort…  Why did I even write his name down? I’m crazy… Anyway, I’d cliff him after all the horcruxes are destroyed because I don’t want to just make him angry. If he falls, he has to stay down. XD I’d kiss Heatcliff because I definitely wouldn’t want to marry him, but I feel sorry for him and I don’t want to cliff him. So, that means I would marry Tyrion. XD

Hope this was fun for you! 😉

Now, I’ll tag a few people. If you want to do the tag, I’d be happy to read your posts, but of course, you don’t need to do it: NicoleBeatrizJenZezeeAnna.

Top 5 Wednesday: Books I Want to Re-Read

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I’ve found out about the Top 5 Wednesday group on Goodreads quite some time ago, and I always wanted to participate but never did… Now it’s the time to start doing it! Maybe not every Wednesday, but as often as I can. They have some very interesting ideas, just like this one.

So, here are the five books I’d like to re-read:

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1. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.

I loved this book! I’ve already read it two times, but I feel the need to re-read it. And soon!

2. The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo

I’ve read this book in college and it immediately became my favourite. And favourites have to be re-read. 😉 I don’t own a copy, though, but I’ll get it soon.

3. The Cemetery of Forgotten Books series by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

These books are so lovely, dark and cosy at the same time. I would definitely like to re-read them.

4. Just Kids by Patti Smith

An amazing book like this one has to be read many times!

5. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

My all-time favourite, I’ll probaby read it many, many times more. 🙂 As you can see in the picture, the book is already very battered.

I hope I’ll have the time to actually read them all again in the near future. 😉

Anonymous Bookaholics Tag #amreading

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Hi, bloggers! Once again, I haven’t posted in a while… I’ve beeen quite busy. But, now, the lovely Nicole from Sorry, I’m Booked tagged me to do this fun tag, and I had to do it. Thanks, Nicole, so much 🙂 Let’s start!

My name is Irena and I’m a bookaholic. Here are my answers:

What Do You Like About New Books?

Everything! XD I like the excitement you get from getting a new book, especially if it’s a book you’ve been wanting to read for a while. And the smell! New books smell amazing. 😉

How Often Do You Buy New Books?

It depends. Now, when I have a job, I buy more than before, becuse I can. XD I’m actually not an impulse buyer, so I don’t often get carried away.

Bookstore Or Online Shopping — Which Do You Prefer?

I love browsing thrugh the books in a bookstore, but bookstores here suck. 😥 So, unfortunately, online shopping is the only way for me to get the books I want. Especially if I want to read them in English, not in translation. I don’t like reading translated books if I can read them in their original language.

Do You Have A Favorite Bookshop?

Well, as you can see in the previous answer, not really… There is only one bookstore that I like, but it’s not that great… When it comes to online shopping, I order books from Book Depository.

Do You Pre-Order Books?

Very rarely. Most of the books were already published when I read them. XD I guess people mostly pre-order books from series, because they can’t wait to see what happens next, but I don’t read many series, so this doesn’t really apply to me.

Do You Have A Monthly Book-Buying Limit?

Not really. XD

Book-Buying Bans, Are They Something For You?

As I said, I don’t really have a problem with over-buying. (Is that even a word?) I don’t like to pile up too many books, and having a huge TBR pile. So there’s no need for me to be on a book-buying ban.

How Big Is Your Wish List?

I have about 200 books on my Goodreads TBR, but I’m sure there’s even more on my mind. XD

Which Three Books From Your Wish List Do You Wish You Owned Right Now?

Just three? This is hard… XD
Let’s say: Fudoki by Kij Johnson, Nothing Like the Sun by Anthony Burgess, and The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell (though it’s the first in a series, so I’d have to get the others, too. ;)).

In the end, I have to tag a few people. So, if you want to do it, I’d be happy to hear your answers: JeanyjanezMistyThat Weird Brown Girl , Genie Reads

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