Monthly Archives: May 2014

Giveaway Results

The results are in!  I had three participants in the New Haven According to Nameless contest — thank you all for indulging me — and loved hearing your answers!

And the winner is… Rachel!  Congratulations!

Here are the contest ANSWERS:

1) He saw a flicker; the instinct of two decades of driving in New Haven rose under his skin and he jammed on the brakes.

ACCURATE.  Every time you get behind the wheel in New Haven, you are taking your life into your own hands.  The outcome is not guaranteed.  My boss described it as being in a video game, which is quite apt.  Your objective: drive four blocks and avoid all obstacles.  Unlike other places where people just drive recklessly fast, in New Haven you never know what the threat will be.  It could be someone speeding through a red light (while the cop on the other corner doesn’t care at all).  It could be someone randomly stopping in the middle of a lane.  Or it could be a pedestrian who just strides into the street from somewhere hidden.  Who knows?  It’s best to be comfortable with the brake pedal, just in case someone grabs your shoulder and hisses, “There’s that tenement!”

New Haven DrivingA fine example of New Haven driving.  This was aggravated by the snow, but what you see here is a truck pushing a U-Haul while a SUV tries to pass.  Only one and a quarter lanes had been cleared of the heavily trafficked four lane road.

2) The snow lasted two months, shrouding New Haven in white…But the snowplows and the drags ran night and day. 

INACCURATE.  As Britta and Rachel mentioned, two months is modest for the New Haven winter, but Jeff got to the heart of the matter.  Never ever do the snowplows run night and day.  Our worst snowpocalypse  involved steady snowfall for about 24 hours.  The snowplows called it a day after about 8 hours, right when the heavy snow really kicked in.  The picture above was taken about 36 hours after the snow had stopped.

New Haven Snow

Walking to work about 32 hours after the snow had stopped.  Heigh-ho.

3) “What the hell was that guy, anyway?”
    In New Haven, you could ask that question, but you probably wouldn’t get much of an
    answer.

ACCURATE.  New Haven is quite possibly the best people watching city I’ve ever encountered.  There are strange little vignettes happening everywhere in the city.  Creators of absurdist theatre would be disappointed to see their thunder stolen by real life.  Something about New Haven draws in the craziest of the crazies.

New Haven Cowhead

Props to Britta for mentioning this guy with the bicycle seat cowhead.

4) Walking home in New Haven was risky.

ACCURATE.  We happened to live on the border of not-that-bad and sketchy, so the buddy system was relied on heavily.  Of course, there were odd ducks everywhere, but some streets were more brightly lit than others.  (Britta answered inaccurate on this one, but since I am well aware of the scary that she’s referring to, I awarded her the point.)

Thanks again to Britta, Rachel, and Jeff for participating!

Giveaway! New Haven According to Nameless

Yale Library

I just posted about Lili St. Crow’s Nameless: A Tale of Beauty and Madness and my shock to discover that it was set in New Haven.  Throughout the book, I kept a close eye on characteristics of New Haven described in the book to see if they matched my experience and decided to make it into a game I call ACCURATE OR INACCURATE!  

RULES:
I will list 4 quotes from the book Nameless.
Decide whether the statement is Accurate or Inaccurate and list your answers in the comments.

DISCLAIMER:
I am aware that this contest is, by definition, subjective.  However, I trust the answers will come easily enough if you think sarcastically.  Explanations that make me laugh out loud will also be accepted.

WINNER:
Whoever has the most correct answers, wins.  In the likely event of a tie, the Prize Winner will be chosen via random generator.

Our Prize Winner will receive their choice of
A) the book in question, Nameless
OR
B) $10 in Amazon credits

DATES:
Contest is open immediately and closes May 10, 2014

QUOTES:

1) He saw a flicker; the instinct of two decades of driving in New Haven rose under his skin and he jammed on the brakes.

2) The snow lasted two months, shrouding New Haven in white…But the snowplows and the drags ran night and day.

3) “What the hell was that guy, anyway?”
    In New Haven, you could ask that question, but you probably wouldn’t get much of an answer.

4) Walking home in New Haven was risky.

Good luck!

14) Nameless: A Tale of Beauty and Madness

Book One of Tales of Beauty and Madness

By: Lili St. Crow

Date Finished: 04.28.14

by Lili St. Crow

She was found in the snow, battered and unable to speak, and adopted by one of the most powerful men in the city.  He named her after his dead wife, Camille, and raised her alongside his own son, Nico.  She finds safety with her adoptive family, but though her past is forgotten, it still terrorizes her.  Whatever had abused Cami as a child hovers in the shadows of her memory, calling out for her blood, until she is driven to find out the truth.

This book jumped out to me at the store.  Gorgeous cover.  Magnificent title.  I had to pick it up.  I read enough of the cover to see that it was a Snow White adaptation and I was completely hooked.  You may have noticed that I adore a good fairy tale adaptation, yet I’ve never read a full-length Snow White tale.  It took me a while to get my hands on a copy, so I was quite excited the night I settled in and started reading.  Then, the first line opens with, “Of all the cars in New Haven –” Sorry, what?  New Haven?  A fairy tale in New Haven?  And that’s when I realized that I had never actually read the description, rather I picked it up for the title and cover alone.

You see, I lived in New Haven, CT for nine months and it is definitely a city with character.  I understand why it would make a good backdrop for a book, I just didn’t expect it to be a “magic-ridden” place.  As I got further in the book, I began to suspect that she just liked the name and wasn’t alluding to the actual Connecticut city.  Even so, it remained a personal distraction throughout.

So ignoring my own connotations of New Haven, we’re left with a present-day, post-apocalyptic-esque, magic-is-everywhere-but-unstable, fairy tale featuring the mafia who are essentially vampires, but not exactly, other less defined creatures who are almost recognizable as traditional paranormal beings, and a child-sacrificing cannibalistic cult.  Yes, it is a tad confusing.  Also, a bit dark.

The vampires, known only as the Family, make up the Seven who more or less run the city.  Cami was adopted by the head of one of these Seven, so she basically has the full force of the mafia on her side.  She also has her best friends, Ellie (Cinderella) and Ruby (Red Riding Hood).  I knew there was a sequel for the Cinderella story, but I didn’t expect her to be so featured in this one.  I didn’t mind having her around, except that the Cinderella fairy tale was set up better than the Snow White one.  It’s all good and well to take liberties with a fairy tale adaptation, but elements of Cami’s story simply didn’t make sense while Ellie’s secondary story was painfully obvious.  Still, there were some fascinating dynamics at play among the characters.  And Cami has a stutter!  A fairy tale princess who isn’t perfect!  How cool is that?

It’s funny, I couldn’t put this book down, but even as I was reading I suspected it’s not that great writing.  I appreciated her attempts to build a new structure for her world and supernaturals, but not enough context clues were in place.  There was simply too much unrecognizable slang that wasn’t integrated into the plot.  She also included a lot of unnecessary words that made the book feel muddy.  Even so, I was captivated and couldn’t put it down until I knew where it was all heading.  Unfortunately, the last couple of chapters were kind of a let down.  It was set up pretty well, but we didn’t get the payoff.

So this book is either not terrible despite its strangeness or its strangeness masks the fact that its terrible — whatever the case, I’m glad I fulfilled my curiosity by reading it.

At the end of the day: Erm…a one time read, probably

13) Curtsies & Conspiracies

Book Two of Finishing School

By: Gail Carriger

Date Finished: 04.25.14

by Gail Carriger

 Sidheag could be quite crass, the result of having been raised by men, or Scots, or soldiers, or werewolves, or all four.

The continuing adventures of Sophronia Angelina Temminnick and her other absurdly named friends! (I only now realized that I left out a letter in Sophie’s name in my review of the first book (posted here).  Silly me, not noticing that Temminnick has two Ms AND two Ns.)  Book Two picks up some time after the dramatic events that conclude the first story.  How much later?  A month?  Several months?  I don’t know.  The book gives no indication of the passage of time or even hints at the aftermath of all that chaos.  It just picks up at a nondescript place and takes off on its own direction.

I chose this book specifically because I was heading into a very busy two weeks and needed my reading material to be light and fluffy.  This did not let me down.  I thought I’d remembered how ridiculous this world is until I came across the word “flywaymen” and laughed out loud.  I suppose I had suppressed some things after all.  Still, this second book had more shape to it, more personal danger to the characters you care about, and a bit more of an end goal.  Now I have a pretty good idea of what everyone was fighting over and how, but I’m still not entirely clear on why.  Ah well, all will be revealed in time… maybe.

Honestly, I don’t quite know how I feel about these books.  Mostly, I think I’m grateful.  It’s a relief to have a series that I don’t have to take too seriously, but is still fun.  I do like most of the characters, even if the names and endless supply of supernatural creatures keep my eyes rolling constantly.  I do want to know how Sophie’s schemes will unfold and cheer for her successes.  I just don’t know what the bigger picture is within the craziness.

At the end of the day: What the heck?  For me.