Grand and Cozy #NailArt #HowTo #MondayRecommends #BookReview

This week, I read a book that’s grand. Not grand in the sense of large, epic, or sweeping, but grand in the sense of profound and deeply impressive. It’s Susanna Clarke’s PIRANESI, published in 2010. Susanna Clarke wrote JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR NORRELL, which IS a large book, set in a Victorian England where magic is real. PIRANESI is totally unlike that.

Here’s the back cover blurb:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, an intoxicating, hypnotic new novel set in a dreamlike alternative reality.

Piranesi’s house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house.

There is one other person in the house―a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known.

I can’t tell you any more for fear of spoilers, but I CAN tell you that I can’t recommend this book highly enough. I borrowed Sara’s copy, but I just may have to buy my own so I can reread it, or bits of it, any time I want to.

I told Damyanti Biswas I’d give her a tutorial on nail stamping, so here goes:

First, clean your nails and push back your cuticles, then put on a base coat, then put on a base color. I painted the color on a piece of paper, just for demonstration purposes.

Choose the pattern you want to stamp. Sara and I have many plates, and each plate has several patterns. This plate happens to be all plaids.

Paint your chosen pattern with the color you want your pattern to be.

Scrape across the polish with a plastic scraper. A credit card would do, in a pinch.

Pick up the pattern with a silicone stamper.

Stamp the pattern onto your nail.

Wait until the pattern is dry, then cover it with a top coat. In the example below, I painted some nails with a glossy top coat and some with a matte top coat.

The base color is Maniology’s Fireside, the stamping polish is Maniology’s Straight Up Black, and the plate is Maniology M267.

Remember, if you buy from Maniology, be sure to use my code, MomGoth10, for a 10% discount on most items.

A WRITING PROMPT FROM ME TO YOU: Write about something plaid.



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “Grand and Cozy #NailArt #HowTo #MondayRecommends #BookReview

  1. Dan Antion

    March 7, 2022 at 7:24am

    Thanks so much for the explanation! I love knowing how things are done.

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      March 7, 2022 at 9:07am

      I do, too! That’s why I enjoy your technical/carpentry posts so much. Charlie did a lot of carpentry, but nothing like your fancy bookshelves. And the only thing I could ever do to help him was sit heavily on things to keep them steady. I’m really, really good at sitting heavily on things.

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      • Dan Antion

        March 7, 2022 at 9:08am

        Haha – I’ve learned never to ask the Editor to do that 😉

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        • Author

          Marian Allen

          March 7, 2022 at 9:11am

          I was always glad to help. Then I would hitch up my pants and say, “If there’s anything else you need help with. little feller, just call me.”

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      March 9, 2022 at 9:25am

      It’s so relaxing and enjoyable. It’s like doing little pieces of art. Some people actually hand paint scenes on their nails, but Sara and I aren’t THAT into it!

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  2. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

    March 8, 2022 at 2:51pm

    Piranesi – 2010? I thought it was last year. The publisher establishment rarely looks at books more than a year old.

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    • Author
      • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

        March 9, 2022 at 5:29pm

        I had that feeling because she came out and said she had ME like I do, but she was published traditionally BEFORE, so had connections and friends and opportunities I would love to have.

        I keep feeling my slowness makes me miss opportunities – so I’m not first to something but way after other people suck them up.

        Drives me nuts if I spend any time thinking about it.

        OTOH, I got Chapter 36 back from my beta reader – she is so good for my soul. You’ll get the whole thing very soon now (soon in my kind of centuries, but definitely this year). Can’t wait for your feedback, too.

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        • Author

          Marian Allen

          March 10, 2022 at 9:02am

          “I had that feeling because she came out and said she had ME like I do”. I don’t follow this.

          I’m SO EXCITED that volume 2 is coming! Andrew is my imaginary Irish movie star boyfriend. 😀

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          • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

            March 10, 2022 at 11:10am

            She has ME. Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. Otherwise known as CFS – chronic fatigue syndrome, a horrible useless name.

            I should feel more kinship. I just meant that I’d heard about her and the book because she’s news – but the world has such a small capacity for sympathy for ‘ill writers’ that she may be it. Leaving little to no sympathy for other ill or disabled or long-covid or ME writers. Tokenism, we call it.

            I’ve resisted marketing myself as part of the books – I much prefer the concept of merit, assuming it applies – but I’m probably fooling myself that it won’t come up.

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            • Author

              Marian Allen

              March 11, 2022 at 8:44am

              Ohhhhh. I didn’t understand that ME was an acronym. LOL She had me like I do, emphasis on the me, didn’t make any sense. 😀 Clarke didn’t begin to suffer from CFS until after the publication of a bunch of fantasy short stories set in the Jonathan Strange world, then JONATHAN STRANGE, which was a best-seller, then the collected short stories. Then ME, then PIRANESI. She was extremely lucky to have begun writing when she had the energy to work in editing and to go to a fantasy workshop where she met a champion of her work. Your book (soon to be books!!!) is every bit as unique and masterful as hers, if not more so. I wish I knew the secret to being lucky as well as brilliant; I’d give it to you, because if anybody deserves to be “discovered”, it’s you.

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              • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

                March 11, 2022 at 9:52pm

                Thank you, my dear. It’s friends like you who keep me writing – and I’ll get there. The stupid ME has just made me so very slow.

                But it also gives substance and core to Pride’s Children – and I love that.

                I’m hoping to hook some of the long-covid people (IF they have any energy to read!) or their families and friends.

                Disabled people are just as human as the ableist variety, and maybe even wiser.

                BTW, that’s why I HATE the ME acronym, but the CFS one trivializes the unbelievable exhaustion into ‘fatigue,’ a symptom of EVERY disease: ask someone who’s sick! Including people who’ve gone through what you just did.

                Gentle hugs.

                It’s called ‘going viral,’ I think. If I were not so darned slow – but finishing the books is primary, otherwise there’s nothing for readers to go on to, and no one can finish them for me.

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  3. acflory

    March 15, 2022 at 7:55pm

    Piranesi sounds wonderful. Will check it out on Amazon forthwith!

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