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).

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

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.

Her Story

Dec. 24th, 2015 08:19 am
cumuluscastle: (cicada)
I highly recommend Her Story if you love mysteries. It's an extremely cool game that starts you with an old school, computer desktop and a program to search through video clips from several days of police questioning to help you contruct a story for yourself. It's twisted and strange. It all fits together in the end marvellously. The acting, all by Viva Seifert, is superb.
cumuluscastle: (slithytove)
Interesting twist on Robin Hood: "In the Greenwood" by Mari Ness. Who is the hero of this tale and who is the villain? The answer may not be what you have come to expect.
cumuluscastle: (castle in the air)
My artwork was featured in this blog on Studiovox.

It has some other nice artwork and has led to me following some new artists on DeviantART. So if you like fairy tale art you should give it a look-see.


Dec. 4th, 2013 09:41 pm
cumuluscastle: (Default)
Amused by this animated short by Robert Loebel. How do people adapt to live in a world where it is constantly windy?
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: (Default)
I love Diana Wynne Jones' books so much. She was such an original thinker. Right now I am reading The Ogre Downstairs to my husband. Howl's Moving Castle is one of my favourite books as well. I've been reading some stories and I'd like to recommend some fanfiction to you:

Playing with Fire by Spicydiamond:
It's a story about Calcifer, everyone's favourite grumpy fire demon. In this one he is grudgingly babysitting, of all things, but he doesn't like it one bit (or does he?).

Natural by Minutia_R: The title says it all here. Howl and Sophie have a long discussion about his natural hair colour.

Dealing with Dragons by Flamebyrd: Howl gets in hot water with a dragon and Sophie goes to his rescue.
cumuluscastle: (sparkly)
I just read a lovely fanfic called Around the World by author Reapingfolk

This story is told from Son Rui's perspective, which I thought was a refreshing change and added depth to the simple tale. I liked the way the author captured Rui's personality and also, especially, the way she wrote Chiaki. She managed to portray his inability to completely hide his feelings for Nodame behind his tough exterior.
cumuluscastle: (slithytove)
From this list of the Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Here are some more stories I really enjoyed:

The Contrary Gardener by Christopher Rowe: Kay Lynne keeps a small garden in this futuristic tale. She is very meek and quiet and intimidated by her father. She just wants to be left alone in her own little house to tend her garden.

Immersion by Aliette de Bodard: This story takes place in a future where people use technology to filter the world around them and give them social cues so that they can perfectly fit in at every sort of social event, only this fluency comes with a cost.

The Education of a Witch by Ellen Klages: What if a little girl feels neglected by her parents? What if she sympathizes with the witch and not the princess?

Swift, Brutal Retaliation by Meghan McCarron: This story ponders a more realistic treatment of an angry ghost. How do you appease this kind of spirit, especially when it has a penchant for twisted practical jokes?
cumuluscastle: (Default)
In the story, About Fairies by Pat Murphy, fairies are a little bit sinister and a little bit strange. They're urban fairies, living on the fringes, scraping an existence from mice and frogs.


Nov. 14th, 2012 06:56 pm
cumuluscastle: (stubborn)
This story actually disappointed me a little. When I saw the word triffid, I opened the link right away. I love the absurdity of the triffid. Hungry man-eating plants that take advantage of a meteor shower to gnaw on humanity? Yes, please. However, the story is actually mostly about a different subject entirely. Still, it was an interesting story.

How to Make a Triffid by Kelly Lagor
cumuluscastle: (cicada)
Read The Dauntless Girl by Petra McQueen at Cabinet des Fees. This is an excellent short story about Tully Meadows, who's afeared of nothing alive nor dead! This fairy tale reminds me of all of those tales about clever girls who beat all the odds. It's a great little tale.
cumuluscastle: (slithytove)
Check out this short prequel to The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her own Making at 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.
cumuluscastle: (flying sheep)
Another blog I really love to read is called The Faery Folklorist. The Folklorist travels all over the United Kingdom to the places where stories have been told about sightings of faeries and other tricky figures of folklore. Then she tells the wonderful stories with beautiful pictures of those places. She must be an excellent photographer, because every one of the places she travels to really looks magical.

Just recently she told the story of an eerie loch haunted by a kelpie.
cumuluscastle: (Default)
One of my favourite recipes these days is this Dried Fruit and Nut Loaf from Joy of Baking. By the way, I love Joy of Baking, because almost every recipe goes into great detail on every step.

This is a great bread because it will keep in an airtight container for two weeks. Plus, it's got a huge advantage on banana bread for me, because banana bread loses its pleasant crispness and chewiness by the next day. Because this bread is mostly nuts and dried fruit it retains a lot more chewiness and stays tasty for the entire two weeks.

Here's how I do it though. It's only a little different from the Joy of Baking recipe:Read more... )
cumuluscastle: (stubborn)
I hear lots of people hate Hemingway. I'm not sure he seems like someone I'd have wanted to go out for drinks with or spent much time with in person. However, I happen to really enjoy reading him. I aspire to the spareness of his writing. It's the type of writing I want to be doing, really.

Also, I love The Old Man and the Sea, because it is exactly the type of simple slice of life writing that I have come to enjoy as a palate cleanser from the usual fantasy and sci-fi I read. Eventually, part of me says, enough of your heroes and heroines and monsters and battles. Then I just want to read about someone's life. It has to be a very different life from mine though.

"He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish."

This animated piece by Marcel Schindler is brilliant. He illustrates the book in this video sometimes by creating multiple drawings on the same page, other times reserving a whole page for a single drawing. At all times his drawings are dynamic, which is essential for this story. It's a beautiful rendering all done in bold black strokes.

cumuluscastle: (stubborn)
Let me share with you one of my fave cooking blogs, Culinary in the Desert. I follow lots of cooking blogs. This one is my favourite, because I always feel that the recipes are at my level.

If I had describe myself as a cook I would say that I like ambitious home cooking. That is, I'm not interested in spending hours slaving away at it, and I'm not extremely interested in making everything into a visual masterpiece, but I do like a challenge.

Culinary in the Desert Country strikes the perfect balance for me, because there are ambitious new recipes, but most of them are realistic if you're going to make them on a weeknight after coming home from work and I like that. Lots of blogs can be really heavy on the labour intensive gourmet recipes and while I am perfectly willing to give them a try on the weekends, that simply won't be happening once I get home from work.

The highlights, for me:
Holiday Baking Highlights: Every year there is a new list of holiday treats to choose from
Whole Wheat Pizza Dough: It's an awesomely approachable recipe for homemade pizza. I linked the dough itself, but there are a wide variety of toppings and variations to try in other posts.

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