Just had a nice surprise: Kate at Enchanted Conversation reposted my fairy tale flash fiction piece “Beast” for Throwback Thursday, with a very kind & encouraging preamble. You’ll probably remember the story from last March, but in case you don’t, go over here to read it (again).
Life, the Universe, and Throwback Thursday! Go check it out.
A. M. Offenwanger has written a magical fantasy that is a delight to read. I know when a book is really good and that is when I can remember with clarity the characters and the story weeks later. This tells me that the characters were memorable, likable, and the story interesting. Offenwanger’s writing is memorable, delightful and magical. The story involves a former Librarian, Cat, who is not happy with her life and decides to do some traveling with the money she has saved. She has been “dumped” by her boyfriend and life seems to be going nowhere for her. A lover of museums, Cat visits a museum of antiquities and admires several beautiful and strange appearing turquoise bowls, that apparently have a magical quality about them. Little did Cat know that these bowls would change her life beyond anything she could imagine.The world building is simple, but effective. I…
I just discovered one of my favourite fairy tales told by one of my favourite film makers, the amazing and talented Lotte Reiniger, who pioneered stop-motion silhouette animation in the early 20th century. Here it is: “Puss in Boots”, by Lotte Reiniger, 1954.
Drumroll please! E.L.Bates’ new “Whitney & Davies” books is out, and it’s excellent! (I’m not at all biased; I only got to beta-read it. Not biased at all.) Go get your very own copy of *Magic & Mayhem*!
Here it is, friends! Free on Kindle for this weekend only, here is Magic & Mayhem, four short stories set in the magical England of this Whitney & Davies series!
4 exciting new short stories set in the magical England of the Whitney & Davies series!
The Third Thief: Maia Whitney has returned home for her sister’s wedding determined to stay aloof from family dramas. Alas, the disappearance of a valuable and possibly cursed bracelet alters her plans. Can this magician’s apprentice solve the crime and save her sister’s wedding from doom and disaster?
Many Magical Returns: On Susannah’s seventeenth birthday, she learns why her mother has always insisted she never use magic in front of Uncle Ernie. Escaping her uncle’s greed and learning magic on the run are tall orders, but one thing is certain: this is a birthday Susannah will never forget.
Here is Steve, mugging for the camera. Well, he’s guarding my new favourite Christmas mug, which I got for all of 35¢ at the thrift shop the other day.
I already had a collection of Christmas mugs (most of them hand-me-downs), so I really didn’t need another one. As a rule I avoid buying knick-knacky things – they’re fun to get as presents, but I’m not going to spend money on them; I’m trying to have less “stuff” in my house, not more. But there was something that struck my fancy about this mug.
I picked it up, cupped it in my hand, turned it around a few times, put it back on the shelf (between the other two Christmas mugs identical to one I have at home), walked a couple of steps away, turned around, and went back to pick it up again. Repeat process a few times… There was no price tag on it, but finally I decided to just do it. As it turned out, it cost even less than I had expected, so, bonus.
I’m not quite sure what it is about this mug that makes me like it so much. It’s the cheerful, bright yet not-kitschy colours that got my attention at first, I think. The design isn’t exactly high art or great taste, but the Frosty is kind of cute in a folksy sort of way.
But the real selling feature was the shape and size, and the feel of the handle. I like mugs that I can fully wrap both my hands around, and the size of the handle loop makes a big difference. I don’t have huge hands, but I like getting three of my fingers crooked through the handle at once, for full support of the hot cup, and a lot of mugs have handles too small for that. The other thing that matters is the thickness and shape of the handle – not too thick (again, crooking my fingers around it) or too thin (in which case it feels too flimsy to hold that full heavy mug of hot tea), and it needs to be nicely rounded so it doesn’t cut into your fingers.
On the last count, my own homemade pottery mugs (e.g. the one in the front of the picture) actually fall down. I pulled the handles (which is a vaguely indecent-looking process in which you hook your index finger around a stubby sausage of clay, gently squeeze down on top with your thumb, and pull it out into a longer, flatter shape), and me being not the most expert of potters, they have high ridges that are a tiny bit uncomfortable on the hand. Another thing I don’t like as much about my own mugs is the thickness, or rather lack thereof – I’d like them to have a bit more heft. I’m going to have to see if I can remedy those issues next time I make it back to my long-neglected pottery shop.
The other thing that matters is the shape of the mug itself. I like mugs to be fairly straight-sided, or at least not too narrow at the bottom – they have to be sturdy, so as not to tip over and inundate my computer, lap, or plate of sandwiches with a flood of hot tea. And then there’s the rim. The feel of the lip of the cup against my, well, lip is really important. I know a lot of people like a thin cup lip curving outward, but my preference is for a fairly thick, round edge. What I really don’t like is mugs that curve in at the top – how can you sip hot liquid from something like that? As for the material, ceramic or thick glass are the only options for good mugs. Not metal – definitely not metal! And plastic is only tolerable in travel mugs (which are in a category all by themselves).
The funny thing is that some of my favourite mugs are my most ordinary ones. Not the one-of-a-kind artisanal hand-thrown pottery from my own shop, or fancy gold-rimmed designer porcelain. No, the simple set of cobalt blue mugs with white speckles, which I got as hand-me-downs quite a long time ago and then found more of in a thrift shop a few months ago.
They’re plain, straight-sided, and fairly heavy. The lip is thick, round and smooth, the better to sip you with, my dear (tea). The handle is round, and rounded (not attached in that half-heart shape that even my handmade mugs have because it’s the easiest way to attach handles), which makes it perfect for sticking three of my fingers through (with the pinky wrapped underneath) and then cupping my other hand around the belly of the mug, absorbing its warmth as I stare out the window at the cold grey winter’s day, musing on the vagaries of life.
Tea is, of course, the elixir of life, but the right mug to drink it out of makes a difference, don’t you think?
Life, the Universe, and Favourite Mugs. What’s your preference?
Hello, everyone! Today, I’m pleased to present the cover and book description for The Courtesan’s Avenger (Desertera #2).
A courtesan on a mission. A brothel ravished by greed. A murder to avenge.
Dellwyn Rutt loves her life as a courtesan. For years, she has enjoyed the simple pleasures and lavish gifts of her trade. Now she wants more: the title of madam.
But Madam Huxley, the brothel’s current proprietor, refuses to name a successor—a problem that is amplified by the legalization of adultery. As the new law sends lusty clients flocking to the brothel, Madam Huxley’s greed grows unchecked at the workers’ expense. Only one outsider seems to care: a self-proclaimed prophet who won’t rest until the unholy institution is abolished.
After weeks of abuse, Dellwyn desperately seeks a way to subdue Madam Huxley’s tyranny. But when another courtesan is murdered, Dellwyn must set her struggles aside and solve the…
Thus far, Checkmate is my favorite novel in the Septimus series. It takes place several years after Cat and Mouse, and shows Guy and Cat’s growing family fully settled in the Ruph community. The main action revolves around the return of Bina’s…
My awesome friend E. L. Bates just included SEVENTH SON on a list that also has books by Susan Cooper and Lloyd Alexander on it. Pardon me if I’m strutting around with a bit of a swelled head right now. Great book recommendations here – check it out! (Incidentally, if I was writing a list like this, E. L. Bates’ books would definitely be on it. Take a look.)
I saw this theme floating around today, and I was intrigued. The stated limit is “books with under 2,000 ratings on Goodreads,” and I cheated a little by including one with 2,039 ratings. I was pleased to see how many of my favorite books were not as underrated as I always suspected–Emily of Deep Valley, for example, had too many ratings to make it onto the list, as did several of Lloyd Alexander’s books. I still managed to find ten, though, and probably could have kept going did not supper interrupt!
Seaward, Susan Cooper. I love The Dark is Rising series, but this book of hers is little known, and deserves better. It is haunting and mysterious, hope-filled with a hint of terror behind it, and it’s the sort of book that stays with you for days afterward. Lovely, lovely writing. More people should read it.
Yay! I’ve been a bit busy these past few weeks working on the final edit and formatting for Hills and Valleys, the third book in my Ambeth series. And now I can happily say…. drum roll… it’s published!
‘Sometimes things call to us until we can no longer ignore them. And Ambeth is calling you, Alma.’
After the events of the Harvest Fair, Alma is finished with Ambeth – they can find the missing Cup and Crown without her. But Ambeth is not finished with her. First the mystery of her dead father comes back to haunt her, then the Dark reach out, hoping to trap her once more.
And then there’s the strange power she seems to have…