Steampunk Alphabet

Author: Written & Illustrated by Nathanael Iwafa
Series:-

Age/Audience: Children 4+

Genre/Style: Alphabet and rhyme book, art book

Read If You Like: Art books, easy rhymes, nonfiction children’s books, abecedary books

 

Summary:

This chunky, thick-paged, brightly illustrated alphabet book has a little something for everyone. For early readers the playful rhymes describe a mix of reality and make-believe. Four line poems about A for Apple, F for Fish, P for Purse, and Z for Zipper match a bright original illustration for the steampunk adaptation of that item. For example, the Apple here is not a fruit, but a modified music box used as a listening device. Each poem is paired with a small prose description of the item in more detail. For adults the art is surely inspirational, and offer a great discussion and imagination starter with youngsters.

 

Bottom Line: Cute, bright, and highly imaginative Steampunk Alphabet offers a new spin on early rhyme readers and is approachable but far from boring.

 

Links:

Peak Inside: http://www.amazon.com/Steampunk-Alphabet-Nat-Iwata/dp/1937359409

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A Lady’s Experiences in the Wild West in 1883

Author: Rose Render (forward by A B Guthrie, Jr)
Series: –

Age/Audience: Teens with an interest in the wild west, adults

Genre/Style: Travel narrative

Read If You Like: Authentic, sassy, Victorian travel narratives, stories about the American West

Summary:

Mrs. Rose Render’s hyperbolic narrative of her travels through the 19th century is unlike a traditional nonfiction: the line is much more blurry. Though technically a nonfiction book this reads like a narrative thanks to the reflective nature of the writing and the added structural elements. Carrying with her a large collection of luggage, her husband, and her aristocratic English attitude Mrs. Render offers a unique perspective on the West. Her story describes all the details you would hope to find in historic nonfiction – descriptions of the New York style of train luggage porting, interactions between the social classes, and a colorful explanation of the cattle ranching process circa 1883. This little (130 pages) book offers a lot to different readers. You get to enjoy the insight of authentic Victorian travel stories, but you also get Mrs. Render’s hyperbolic, extravagant point of view.

 

Bottom Line:

Nonfiction for those that don’t like reading nonfiction. This is the kind of book to shake someone out of a reading rut: a mix of styles, a unique voice, and quick enough to read in a day or two.

Read More:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2363446.A_Lady_s_Experience_in_the_Wild_West_in_1883?from_search=true

Find It:

http://www.worldcat.org/title/ladys-experiences-in-the-wild-west-in-1883/oclc/3966017

Costume in Detail: 1730 to 1930

Author: Nancy Bradfield
Series: –

Age/Audience: Those in the “fashion know” or with a Google window open

Genre/Style: Nonfiction fashion history, illustrations/diagrams

Read If You Like: History of fashion, change in fashion over time

 

Summary:

This non-fiction, period illustrated, detail oriented book is not aimed at a mass-market. Instead Bradfield is speaking to people who already have an assumed base understanding in fashion/textiles, most notably the specific vocabulary used in the time periods covered. The book is filled with illustrations, though, to support understanding – but anyone who is unsure what a hooped petticoat or a crinoline might be is advised to have Google open on the side.

For steampunk enthusiasts this book offers itself up to many uses. For costume design, the detailed diagrams and illustrations offer inspiration and creation considerations, giving creators options to pick and choose pieces from the whole Victorian era to match their need. For researchers and writers Bradfield has created a one-stop-shop for vocabulary and description of period-correct dress for women (with a few nods to men’s fashion, too). Also particularly important for writers, Bradfield keeps styles separated by year. While many people view Victorian costume as all one style, there were a wide variety of fashions by year, just as we have today. One of the most notable fluctuations is in the size and detail of the bustle, which comes through both in the illustrations and Bradfield’s commentary.

 

Bottom Line:

A fantastic and detailed resource for writers and researchers who want to use correct fashions and vocabulary.

Read More:

http://www.amazon.com/Costume-Detail-1730-1930-Nancy-Bradfield/dp/0896762173

Find It: http://www.worldcat.org/title/costume-in-detail-womens-dress-1730-1930-written-and-illustrated-by-nancy-bradfield/oclc/635681065

Steampunk Your Wardrobe: Easy Projects to Add Victorian Flair to Everyday Fashions

Author: Calisa Taylor
Series: –

Age/Audience: 13+ (with supervision, most projects require a sewing machine and/or hot glue)

Genre/Style: DIY/Fashion

Read If You Like: Making your own costume items, low-key steampunk fashion you can wear every day, DIY crafting

 

Summary:

This particular DIY book is one of my favorites. Taylor focuses on a lot of pieces in Steampunk fashion; from the subtle Victorian-esque shrug you can wear every day to the more obvious costume pieces for dedicated cosplayers. Taylor also gives from-the-beginning instructions, explaining the purpose/use of sewing machine feet and the importance of correct measurements. She also includes more craft-like pieces such as a mini-top hat, a flask, and a purse that can be used to add personal touches to purchased costumes. Her book is filled with large, detailed photographs to help guide you through construction and several pieces start with pre-purchased coats or sweaters allowing users to up-cycle their wardrobe. From this one volume you could make a full steam character (pantaloons, shirt, waist cinches, vest, hat, and jacket) or pick and choose for your own style. For readers who are, ahem, bustier, like me, the pattern to make your own lacey shirt is particularly handy.

 

Bottom Line:

I great book for inspiration and guidance aimed at novice costumers. The mini-top hat pattern and tutorial is exceptionally good.

Look Inside: http://www.amazon.com/Steampunk-Your-Wardrobe-Victorian-Originals/dp/1574214179

 

The Art of Steampunk

by Art Donovan AND 1,000 Steampunk Creations by Dr. Grymm (Barbie St John)

Age/Audience: All Ages

Genre/Style: Art books

Read If You Like: A short steampunk history lesson, Full color inspiration, coffee table books, steampunk art/costume/crafts

 

Summary:

I chose to list these books together because they serve the same audience: readers who want to see Steampunk items in a variety of mediums. Both books are filled with large, full color (fully cited) images of all things steam: inventions, costumes, hats, and home decore. Neither book includes any instructions for construction, but The Art of Steampunk does include a small synopsis of the item’s components. Additionally, Donovan’s book includes a short essay called “Steampunk 101” by G. D. Falksen, which offers a concise, authoritative description for steampunk that releases students from having to cite Wikipedia.

 

Bottom Line:

Pictures of Steampunk items can serve as inspiration for any number of projects, and the variety shown in these two volumes make for quick work. The Falksen essay is also helpful as a starting point for helping fans articulate their ideas of what steampunk actually is.

 

Find It:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9708869-the-art-of-steampunk

 

Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in the 1800s

Author: Marc McCutcheon
Series: –

Age/Audience: Adults, teens interested in historic writing

Genre/Style: Guide/Reference

Read If You Like: Quick guides for 19th century vocabulary and concepts

 

Summary:

Less guide and more encyclopedia, this book is a desk staple. A strong feature is the way topics are covered via period quotes. For example, the entry on dental health discusses the general practice across the 1800s, but also includes quotes from 1784, 1798, 1838, and 1859 to show changes in perceptions. It also includes a chart on general medical fees from the period. The resource include quick definitions for slang terms and titles, but some entries are more robust, receiving almost a whole page (for example, bicycling). Terms are listed alphabetically within their theme-based chapter. The book wraps up with what may be the most helpful for some writers: chronologies. There is a chronology of well known books, magazines, innovations, and songs. This is particularly helpful for anyone worried about anachronistic technologies or quotes popping up in their writing.

 

Bottom Line:

Five-stars: an exceptionally useful desk reference. Not the best for long reading sessions but invaluable for editing sessions.

 

Read More:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55581.Everyday_Life_in_the_1800s

Find It:

http://www.worldcat.org/title/everyday-life-in-the-1800s-a-guide-for-writers-students-historians/oclc/45500097?referer=di&ht=edition

What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew

Author: Daniel Pool
Series: –

Age/Audience: 14+, mostly adults or teens with a noted interest

Genre/Style: Nonfiction essay style writing, quick progression through chapters covers various years, chapters based on theme

Read If You Like: Nonfiction designed for short-spurt reading sessions

 

Summary:

The world of 19th century England was both radically different from our own, and similar in ways we may not have considered before. Written for fellow writers and the everyday reader with a curiosity about the day to day of Dicken’s socializing, Pool’s book is part novel part encyclopedia. Aimed at a widespread audience, Pool aims his informative book at those with a vague notion of Victorianism looking to find what’s changed and what hasn’t since the 19th century. The book isn’t a narrative, but it suits short bursts of reading and functions like a series of essays on a topic all grouped together into this one volume. Particularly helpful to researchers and writers is Pool’s lengthy (though now a little outdated) bibliography at the end of the book. Additionally, the glossary makes Pool’s book a helpful side-table companion for readers and writers.

 

Bottom Line:

An interesting read full of fun tidbits, good for general interest readers who want more narrative-style writing or researchers looking for square one.

Read More: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1987.What_Jane_Austen_Ate_and_Charles_Dickens_Knew

Find It:

http://www.worldcat.org/title/what-jane-austen-ate-and-charles-dickens-knew-from-fox-hunting-to-whist-the-facts-of-daily-life-in-nineteenth-century-england/oclc/717178438

Raising the Dead: The Men Who Created Frankenstein

Author: Andy Dougan
Series: –

Age/Audience: Adult, or advanced/patient teens with a general interest in historical science

Genre/Style: History of Medicine

Read If You Like: Context driven nonfiction, novel-styled nonfiction, Frankenstein

 

Summary:

This detailed discussion of turn of the century anatomical science has a lot going for it and a lot against it. While the information included is presented in an approachable, readable format it tends to stray quite easily. While I agree it’s tactful to understand Matthew Clydesdale as a person before we read several pages about his execution and dissection, a whole chapter devoted to his arrest, trial, and time in jail is completely unnecessary. The book seems to be written for people who have a general curiosity but aren’t looking for a research tool or anything too technical.

For steam punk readers and writers the number of diagrams and quotes from period newspapers could prove useful. The time period is earlier than most steam punk stories, but it does give a good understanding of the world older characters would have grown up in, and gives an appreciation for how far medicine came in just a few decades.

 

Bottom Line: Interesting facts, approachable style, but too unfocused to really enjoy. Also not nearly enough connection back to Mary Shelley to justify the title.

 

Find It: https://www.worldcat.org/title/raising-the-dead-the-men-who-created-frankenstein/oclc/190967792&referer=brief_results