cumuluscastle: (Default)
Od Magic by Patricia McKillip

Mistral by cirruscastle on DeviantArt

Depicted above is my idea of the character Mistral. I really love this character and have used this name in all sorts of RPGs, MMOs, etc.

Patricia McKillip is a long time favourite author of mine. I will say right up front that her style of writing is not for everyone. It is dreamy and long on figurative language. I can imagine it being divisive.

Let's give you a little taste:
"In the Twilight Quarter, the magician's beautiful daughter threaded her needle with a filament the colour of blood. She knotted it, picked up a length of silk so light it fluttered at a breath, and began to turn a hem in a dangling edge. Illumined by fire and enchantment when Tyramin amused the crowds with his tricks, her bones were long and delicate, her body without a graceless movement. Her hair, a cloud of rippling black, glittered with the star fire of jewels and its own sheen; her eyes hinted of vision, wonders trapped within the warm amber. Such beauty tranforned easily into doves, colored fires, into air tiself and never changed, not even in the curve of her smile, when she became herself again. (McKillip 75).

Synopsis
The main character of this tale is not a woman. Brendan Vetch is a gardener, and has lived a quiet life, up until a plague sweeps through his village, carrying off both of his parents. In the aftermath, Brendan's brother moves away and Brendan becomes involved with a local girl.

When she wants to leave him due to his reticence and unusual behaviour, he suddenly feels a surge of power that momentarily roots her to the spot. When she leaves, she leaves running.

It is then that Od visits Brendan. She is a huge elderly woman who travel with a veritable menagerie and she invites him to be the gardener at her school in Numis. When Brendan chooses to travel there he gets more than he bargained for, including a concept of his own growing magical power.

I'm afraid I can't tell much of this story without spoiling it. Spoilers about the female character are behind the cut Read more... )

What I love about this story is the variety of female characters who are involved with magic. All of them insist on their ability to use their magic as they desire and refuse to be shaped by the king's desires of how magic should be.
cumuluscastle: (stubborn)

Laura Chant by cirruscastle on DeviantArt

The Changeover by Margaret Mahy

Synopsis
Laura Chant has a premonition one morning that something horrible is going to happen to her. She attempts to get her mother to let her skip a day of high school, but no one ever believes her about these premonitions. After school, Laura walks home with her little brother, Jacko and they stumble upon a tiny little shop full of curiosities. There's something very wrong about the proprietor of the store and when he stamps Jacko's hand with a disgusting stamp of his own wrinkled face, Laura knows the premonition has now come true.

She will save her little brother, but she will need help. She decides to visit Sorensen Carlisle, since she knows that he is a witch.

Behind the cut, there will be spoilersRead more... )

It's the best of young adult fiction, in my opinion. There are lots of nice references to fairy tales throughout. It's also set in New Zealand.

Unfortunately, I think it's still out of print. I bought a used copy online a few years ago for cheap. I'm, a little shocked it hasn't been re-printed as I think it holds up extremely well.
cumuluscastle: (slithytove)
This was interesting. It hurt my pride a little maybe. I think I am a very fast reader, but check out that world speed reading champion! I got 565 words a minute.

ereader test
Source: Staples eReader Department

cumuluscastle: (Default)
I am foolishly happy to see this. Kate Winter, owner of the Girls Underground website which I so enjoy, read a childhood favourite of mine, Margaret Mahy's The Changeover and wrote about it. You should read Kate Winter's comments on this book and then you should read The Changeover. Not that it's an easy thing to do as it is somehow out-of-print at the moment. A thing I have great difficulty understanding with the renaissance of YA fantasy that is happening right now.
cumuluscastle: (slithytove)
More Diana Wynne Jones recommendations!

Chrestomanci is a powerful wizard with nine lives who is in charge of the magic of multiple universes that overlap one another. In other words, it's a title for a position that you can only be born into and the Chrestomanci also always has to be on the lookout for his successor so he can be trained up properly to the position. This is because it's not a condition that is passed on through one family. The current Chrestomanci is named Christopher Chant and he is definitely a bit arrogant, a bit vague and has a penchant for wearing colourful dressing gowns at all hours of the day.

Here are some stories set in this universe that I would like to recommend:

La Familia by by sesame_seed: In this story, Christopher's wife, Millie becomes very ill and no one's magic seems to be able to cure it. But something must be done and quickly, because the castle is falling apart without her.

Snowfall by Minutia_R: Millie has longed to go to boarding school for a very long time, because she's read some amazing stories about the experience. Maybe the stories don't quite live up to the reality, though.
cumuluscastle: (slithytove)
Check out this short prequel to The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her own Making at TOR.com: The Girl Who Ruled Fairyland -- For a Little While

I really enjoy Valente's whimsical writing in these tales. Here she takes her whimsy and love of words to their outer limits and creates a rollicking tale that has a lot in common with Alice in Wonderland.

Mallow is a practical young lady and she doesn't take any guff:

Mallow knew better than to get into a strange carriage with a strange man who might or might not love thievery better than his own mother, but no other seemed forthcoming, and attendance was, after all, mandatory. She felt that if she had to, she could thump this skinny fellow solidly, get out, and walk the rest of the way if the whole business became entirely too winning.

Valente catalogues all of the wonders of Fairyland in a jumbling list of odd and interesting things, like when she describes Pandemonium, the capital of Fairyland:

But the sky shone glassy and gleaming on the day Mabry Muscat and Mallow rode into the capital, quite late, having started so far away. Only two days remained till Applemas and the Tithe. The Carriageless Horse clopped over a charming ivory bridge spanning the spinning Barleybroom River which surrounds the city, pointing and marveling and grinning wide-eyed at the great number of creatures flying, swimming, riding, striding, and leaping across to Pandemonium. Overhead, a huge, motley-colored, silk-ballooned zeppelin drifted majestically over the river. From a hanging basket beneath it, an Ifrit girl with burning hair played a fiery and furious mandolin. Music came from all corners, barghests squeezing accordions, satyrs blowing pipes, and drums everywhere, pounded, tapped, rat-a-tatted, and booming out across the plain where Pandemonium had come to rest, chained to the earth with long bronze links.

Go, check it out. It's a nice little story and you won't regret it.

Dear Theo

Aug. 7th, 2012 06:47 pm
cumuluscastle: (cicada)
I've been reading, Dear Theo, the edited letters of Vincent Van Gogh to his brother Theo. It's edited by Irving Stone.

Such a sad thing to read, since I know how the story ends.

Here are some quotes that have caught my eye:

"If you ask me how it is that you never hear me say, 'I wish I were like this or like that,' it is because I think that those who cry loudest, 'I wish I were like this or like that' try least of all to reform themselves. Those who talk so much about it generally do not do it" (268).

". . . in reality I shall never think of my own work as finished" (292).

Free Stuff

Jul. 23rd, 2008 02:15 am
cumuluscastle: (bad sheep)
Tor has free ebooks and wallpaper from book cover art on their website here through Sunday of this week. I am always cool with free stuff.
cumuluscastle: (cicadas are tricky)
This map, again from Strange Maps is very cool. It's a floor plan of 221B Baker Street as drawn by Ryan Stutler. If you're a huge fan of Sherlock, like I am, you'll want to see this.

You'll also want to read an Enola Holmes mystery. I just finished The Case of the Missing Marquess, by Nancy Springer. Enola Holmes is the sister of Sherlock and Mycroft and the novel begins at the family home, where their mother also resides. Enola is a wonderful character who has inherited Sherlock's capacity for deduction, although he is too haughty to recognize it in his brief encounters with her. The only complaints I have with the novel are minimal. One, that it was too short. I mean only that I would have liked to have read another right away and would enjoy seeing this in an anthology format the way the original Holmes stories are often collected. The other complaint I have is that Sherlock and Mycroft are painted with too black a brush for my tastes. I added Mycroft in the interest of trying too look objective. The fact is that I love Sherlock and I don't see him being quite as aloof as the author paints him. I agree with her that he wouldn't know what to do with a clever younger sister if he had one, but I don't see him being quite as frosty as he is here. Then again, as I mentioned I am certainly biased. I look forward to reading more of these stories when I can get my hands on them.

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