Miss Alexandrina

The thinking-space of a not-quite novelist


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Photo of the Week: Hamilton

 

Today’s photo of the week is of a street sign a few roads down from where I live now. Although I managed to get this one a couple of days spontaneously after I’d planned to, I’ve been having some trouble with my sim-card memory and was unable to take the photograph when I most wanted it – in the sun. So: the idea and the ‘dream’ was there, but none of the placing that I’d have hoped for.

Quite subconsciously, I realised afterwards that I’d chosen Hamilton Road: in that Mr. Hamilton is the character mentioned in steampunk band, The Cog is Dead, in their The Death of the Cog, in homage to the creator of the electric/digital watch. I’m wearing cog earrings today.AlexB_Hamilton


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Beautiful People Linkup – Villains Edition: Christine

I totally didn’t forget about Beautiful People this month. Nope, that was not me xD. So, here’s a slightly later linkup than usual, on a Saturday because I realise next Wednesday is no September of this world! (It’s hard to believe it’s already soon October!) Meme by Notebook Sisters and Further Up and Further In.

I was very tempted to consider the antagonist of Horology, but I’ve put that book aside for a few months whilst I edit and hone my other books. For a completely different reason that I know a lot about him already than I want to (The Continental world is full of secrets I’m not willing to myself find), I’m staying away from WTCB’s antagonist, the infamous Rion Costello.

Instead, I’ve chosen to talk about someone who’s not been mentioned on the blog all that much. Granted, she’s not a central character in Triangle, my woman’s fiction/contemporary romance, but she is certainly one of the most malicious characters in the first two thirds of the book.

“You need to find yourself a woman who is as equally temperate and dull. Andrea and I were searching for excitement. You need a girl who likes simple things: reading, popular music, trekking.”

Christine Taunton

1. What is their motive?

Christine would say that her ‘motive’ is enlightening Andrea to how dull Keith is as a lover. She doesn’t mean to be sharp, but she doesn’t really have a filter between mind and brain.

2. What do they want, and what are they prepared to do to get it?

What Christine wants is to be sufficient – she has a weakness for glitter and good living. To get this, she’s not afraid to hook up with someone she doesn’t love – as long as he keeps buying her things, and entertains her. She hates being bored.

3. How do they deal with conflict?

By spiteful comments, certainly. When her ex turns up at her mother’s health appointment, for instance, Christine’s not afraid to give him a piece of her mind.

4. Describe their current place of residence.

Christine’s current home is a comfortable, mid-range white-walled bungalow just outside town, which she bought after her mother began forgetting housework and struggled on her own.

5. If they were writing this story, how would it end?

Probably the same way as it is. Although she is, as I say, malicious, Christine gets what she’d call her happy ending (until an inevitable divorce, I suspect).

6. What habits, speech patterns, etc. are unique to them?

Christine has a habit of tossing her hair over her shoulders, even when she isn’t wanting anything. She also has slender fingers, from playing the violin in her youth, which she occasionally rubs together.

7. How do they show love? What do they like to do with/for people they love?

She shows love by lavishing gifts on her friends and family. Though she can also show love through affectionate touch – if she cares for someone, she’ll touch their arm or comfort them. She also makes a mean cherry clafoutis.

8. Do they have any pets?

Nope. Christine looks after her mother and that’s a handful enough.

9. Where would they go to relax/think?

To relax, she watches movies, ‘chick flicks’ mostly, like Love, Actually and Pretty Woman, though she has a weakness for Miss Marple and cosies (but the popcorn doesn’t taste as sweet then). She likes sitting in those precise Japanese gardens.

10. What is their weapon of choice? (FYI: words, eyes/looks, and fists count as weapons too.)

Stilettos? ;) Her words are her most hurtful of weapons, but I wouldn’t vote against her removing her shoes and digging them into an attacker/rapist.

So that’s Christine for you, one of my lesser ‘villains’, but a woman with a temperament as hot as fire and twice as sharp. She’s contemporarily mean, but, like all the best ‘villains’, she’s not afraid of redemption.


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7 Quick Takes about Swing, Costuming, and a Hectic Week

It’s Friday again! I’ve been doing a lot, so join me and the other Catholic bloggers at ConversionDiary as we detail our weeks in 7 quick points.

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes about my first radio show, punk rock dads, and a desperate plea for birthday party ideas

~1~

I’m back at university! It’s great to see the people I lived and worked with last year and the people I will come to live and work with this year as I move into a new corridor. My ‘quarter’ or ‘segment’ or whatever is of four and me, three of which I’ve known well, if not lived with last year. The rest of upper B are people I lived with or socialised with, and a few spares. It’s a good lot, and I’ve been lucky to some respect.

~2~

I played A for Author yesterday: I made myself a giant pencil out of card and gave myself a bit of ‘geek chic’, as I believe it’s called. That was entertaining.

I apologise for feeding to the stereotype.

I apologise for feeding to the stereotype.

~3~

I got more of my costume for steampunk life, including a ‘jumperskirt’ dress I ordered a good couple of months ago – but it had to be sewn to fit my measurements, so I expected the wait. Luckily, although the zip is a stiff one, the dress is pretty much perfect. I’d worried it would be too short for day-wear because of the style, but it’s only just above kneelength and goes well with a new blouse of mine. *air punch*

~4~

The other main activity I’ve been doing this year has been promoting the Swing dancing I do at the university, which involved dressing up (yay!) and standing behind a stall for five-ish hours (boo!). Whilst we are trying to get more people into the activity (classified as a sport, apparently), I’m not used to being on my feet so much again, and it will take me the usual time to adapt.

Swing1

~5~

I also did some walking (partly under duress and necessity) these last couple of days, and I intend to help out with the Quidditch demo that’s going on at the weekend. So, yeah: I’m finally getting back to being, well, healthy. Possibly photos to follow.

~6~

As such, though, my reading this week has been on the low. I brought a bunch of fiction to uni, but I’ve not had so much a quiet minute to read when I’ve not given it to blogging or research. I have a couple of CP crits still to write – I’m getting through them, slowly.

~7~

Writing has been alright. I got around to the first kiss scene in UTC, even though I still need to sort out the plan and the order. I don’t know how this works in terms of the entire plot, but it adds a new level of tension between Laurie and Jess when they have to stay away from each other. I also found out that, when angry/annoyed/stressed, Jess has quite a mouth on her. Sorry.

Before even the slight bob of dizziness reached her, Laurie stiffened, and withdrew. Jess quivered.

“It’s okay.”

“No, its not. This is a mistake. I’m sorry.”

He’d simultaneously turned pink and ghost pale. Jess resisted throwing a hand up to his glorious stubble, to the way his cheeks curved into the dark lines of his hair. She just wanted to play with it, if she were allowed that second opportunity.

But Laurie pulled away, frowned, and Jess’ heart sunk, volcano stone. All those moments she’d fantasised about her lips locking onto his with such strong, passionate attraction, she’d not thought of those moments post-snog, where he might simply reject her in oblivion, pure and hellish.

Laurie had managed to osmosis-drip to the other side of the room. With his big eyes, he bade her a goodbye more sad than it really ought to have been, and pushed through into the corridor.

F***. Not that reaction. Anything but that. She wasn’t that bad a kisser.

 


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Jazzy Thursday

For your Thursday, instead of my normal re-blog, here’s a Jazz song I heard whilst I was manning the Reading Swing Dance stall at the Fresher’s faire the whole of today (and my feet now kill): It’s All Right With Me, this version performed by the great Ella Fitzgerald. Her voice is lovely, and those lyrics are wonderful.

Have you got a favourite song recently, jazz or not? 


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Book Blogger Tag

I did a very similar one of these recently, so if you read that, you’ll probably notice repeats, sorry. Nevillegirl tagged me in the Book Blogger tag, so I’m going to answer these questions. :) Thanks!

Which book did you recently not finish?

I don’t tend to not finish books – I’m much more hesitant when starting them instead.

Which book is your guilty pleasure?

All the books [are guilty pleasures]! Actually, my guilty pleasure changes depending on the books of which I’m in the midst, but at the moment it is Moro’s Price by MC Hana. Sci fi, politics and LGBT+ characters.

Which book do you love to hate?

I’m guessing I have to have read the book before I’m allowed to pass proper judgement on it? I’m not a fan of a lot of the popular YA dystopians/sci-fi at the moment, but I’ve not read much of those books themselves.

Actually, I’m gonna cause a lot of frowns here, but I actually find JK Rowling’s style of writing in The Philosopher’s Stone childish, simple and dull. And, yes, I do love to say that to anyone who’ll listen.

Which book would you throw into the sea?

To warrant a book being thrown into the sea, it would have to be so poorly written that I’d deny someone else the chance to read it. Whilst there are many bad books in the world, I don’t think I’d throw any in the sea, hyperbole or not.

PDA00160-JWILSON-loveWhich book have you read the most?

I’ve read Love Lessons by Jacqueline Wilson a fair number of times, so probably that.

Which book would you hate to receive as a present?

Something I’ve already read, perhaps? I think a copy of a book I already have on my shelf would be unfortunate more than a pain because I’d have to meaningless give away a book. Realistically, other books I would not like to receive as a present are those outside of my ‘age’ range. I still have many Middle Grade books on my shelves from when…well, when I was a pre-teen, but I’d hate to receive most MG books now – because of their more simplistic use of language and syntax.

Which book could you not live without?

Hmm, something by Lewis Carroll. I think my life would be a lot drearier if Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass had never existed.

Which book made you the angriest?

Again, I don’t think any book make me angry. Sure, some characters annoy me – both intentionally and not so much – but I’ve not actually been angry at a plot or a book in itself entirety. Some plots are vile, but this writing is deliberate and, regardless, a good book is a good book.

Book Cover: The Year the Gypsies CameWhich book made you cry the most?

Books rarely make me sob. None of the ones I’ve read recently have elicited that certain reaction. The Year The Gypsies Came (Linzi Glass) was pretty depressing towards the end.

Which book cover do you hate the most?

Out of all of the bookcovers I have read? *Wipes brow* Okay, I’d feel mean to name a single one, but I dislike a lot of self-published covers or romance covers because they are so typical. Some make a point of being a scene from the book – with the couple against a specific or coloured background – but most seem to just be bodies against bodies, which tells me nothing about whether I’m going to enjoy it. Really.

 

Now for the tags. I’d like to tag:

Lillian M Woodall

Yawatta Hosby

HL Wampler

Tiffanie Lynn

Jo Wu


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The Great Mortdecai Moustache Mystery by Kyril Bonfiglioli

“She was a fellow and tutor of Scone College and the world must learn that Fellows and Tutors of Scone College shall not be done to death with impunity.”

That’s from the blurb. But it gives you a sense of the voice and language of The Great Mortdecai Moustache Mystery. And it was both the upside and downside of the book at times. If you like facetious books with upper-class flavours, however, it’s worth giving this mystery a read. Although it is technically the fourth book in the Charlie Mortdecai mysteries series, each are episodic in and of themselves, and I didn’t feel like I was missing too much history by reading this one first. Plus, the addition of the moustache meant that I was experiencing the new along with the other readers. ;)

Summary

When a female Fellow and Tutor of ‘Scone’ college, the Hon. Charlie Mortdecai’s old Oxford college, crashes her car into a bus under suspicious circumstances, many people suspect murder. Charlie leaves his Jersey home for the blackly humorous spires of jolly old Oxford, and – under the disguise of his new moustache – hunts after two pairs of thug-like spies who were inquiring after *cough* stalking *cough* the Fellow.

What I liked

The voice, the tone, the black humour. It was cruel and unnecessary at times, but that is black humour for you – even in murder, Charlie isn’t against making a snide observation of the situation and getting distracted by his personal issues when he should be focusing on the case.

I also liked the references to real places in and around Oxford, such as the street names and the other colleges Charlie visits, even when Scone is, obviously, a made-up place to stick one’s tongue out at the idea of an upper-class Oxford. The Chief Constable (who we meet once) is a Duke! But then that’s part of the fun/facetiousness – these random characters appear to reinforce the stereotype, and somehow Bonfiglioli (himself an Oxford man) and Craig Brown (who completed the book when it was left unfinished after Bonfiglioli’s death) make these comments and characters acceptable. The voice just makes it…right. It fits, and I can’t think of a better way of saying that.

I wasn’t totally sure what decade it was set in, but it was post-war, so likely the 60s or 70s. Sociology was mocked for being an academic subject, and even Psychology was rather shunned. Despite there not being many ‘external’ (ie. not relevant to the case) references, I never really minded not knowing the temporal setting. It kept the mystery rather localised.

What I disliked

On the other hand, I’m used to reading mysteries straight and at times it felt like Charlie did more drinking, chatting, and thinking about his moustache than actual investigating. Sure, he meets a lot of police-type people and snoops around in official capacity, but every day detailed is full of hours of not-investigating.

Also, whilst I was satisfied by the ending, there were certain threads in the book, which I wasn’t satisfied had been fully covered. For instance, I think there was an excursion to Russia, but Charlie returns to the UK within a chapter of that. And another murder that, whilst implicitly solved, was pretty much brushed over. That’s not the way I like my mysteries.

So, overall? 4/5 stars. I’d read again.

Fun fact! Mortdecai, the trilogy of the first three books, is being adapted into a 2015 film with Johnny Depp in the titular role and Ewan McGregor and Gwyneth Paltrow also starring. *miniature flail* Looks like I’ll be reading the first books next! :P

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