Monthly Archives: January 2013

Author Spotlight: Patricia C. Wrede

(Administrative note: Travel blogging is coming, I promise! Look for the first post — with pictures — in a few days…)


The Author Spotlight is a series of posts designed to showcase writers you may not have heard of. In this Author Spotlight, I’m showcasing the works of YA fantasy author Patricia C. Wrede. She was a favourite of mine growing up, for her humour and quirky takes on fantasy tropes. So come on in and let’s talk…

The Enchanted Forest Chronicles

I discovered this series at just the right age. It features a spunky princess, Cimorene, who upon learning that she is betrothed to be married decides to run away from home. She ends up cooking for a dragon and living next to a forest full of magic. Its inhabitants include everything from a witch to a prince who, as it happens, is much more sensible than Cimorene’s betrothed, and handsome besides. Adventures ensue…

There are four books in the series — Dealing with Dragons, Searching for Dragons, Calling on Dragons, and Talking to Dragons. Three are from Cimorene’s perspective and one from the perspective of her son. Wikipedia tells me that the fourth book was actually written first, and was later rewritten to line up better with its prequels, but I’ve only read the original version.

Magic and Malice

As much as I loved the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, I loved the duology of Mairelon the Magician and Magician’s Ward even more. Set in an alternate Regency England where wizards exist, it follows the adventures of a street urchin, Kim. I mean, Regency and magic? Yes, please!

Kim is tasked with stealing an item from the wagon of a performing magician, someone who does no more than sleight-of-hand. What she doesn’t know is that his magic is real, and he’s a gentleman wizard in disguise, trying to solve a theft for which he was framed. Together, Kim and Mairelon — and Mairelon’s mournful henchman — travel across England, tangling with gentry while trying to clear Mairelon’s name.

More Recently…

Wrede is still writing today. I haven’t had the chance to read her more recent work, but here’s what’s on my list to check out…

  • Cecilia and Kate. Co-written with Caroline Stevermer, this is now a trilogy of novels in the form of letters written between two young ladies, also set in a Regency with magic.
  • Frontier Magic. The Wild West with magic? ‘Nuff said!

Your turn. Are you a fan of Wrede’s work? Which is your favourite?


Book Review: The Hair Wreath and Other Stories by Halli Villegas

This is a review of The Hair Wreath and Other Stories by Halli Villegas.

There’s a subgenre all about dissatisfied suburban couples, families breaking apart or struggling to hold together, the emptiness in people’s lives. Think Margaret Atwood, or in film, American Beauty.

Now imagine this subgenre with a touch of the fantastical. Sometimes it might feel more like horror, sometimes magic realism, sometimes pure fantasy, once in a while science fiction, other times straight-up realism.

That’s what it’s like reading this collection.

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Leaving on a Jet Plane

I’ve had the song “Leaving on a Jet Plane” running through my head for the past couple of days. T minus 12 hours!

See you all on the flip side of the world….


Movie Nostalgia: Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

Star Trek III: The Search for SpockIn this installment of our Nostalgia series, we’re looking at Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Klingons, the return of the Genesis Project, some poignant moments for the Enterprise, and Spock, oh my…

When I first saw this film, in my early teens and at the height of my Trek-mania, I thought it was the best thing ever. After all, it all revolved around Spock! I read the novel adaptation, too, which fleshed out character relationships and motivations more than the film version allowed. But I never went back and watched it again until just recently…and now I remember why.

(Spoilers follow, of course.)

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Embarking on a Grand Tour through Asia

Now that I’ve wrapped up my series of 2012 retrospectives, it’s time to look ahead. I’ve got something very special planned for the first few months of this year. It’s also going to mean some temporary changes for the blog, though not a hiatus — see end of post for details.

The Trip

Next week, I embark on a three-month trip through Asia — Malaysia, Thailand, India, and Nepal. My travelling partner and I are beyond excited, and a little overwhelmed. I haven’t done a trip like this in many years, and never outside of Europe, while he’s been to India only once, as a child.

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Writing Recap: 2012

Here’s what I accomplished on the writing front last year…

As I mentioned on Wednesday, I knew the year was going to be full of good but intense Life stuff (like buying my first house), so I let myself off the hook for writing in 2012. That said, I’m pretty pleased with what I did manage.

I started the year by signing up for a class on blogging for writers by Kristen Lamb. I’d been wanting to up my game and learn how to present myself as a professional writer, especially since the founding of Turtleduck Press. The class did that, all right. It also connected me with an awesome community of writers. And I’ve now been blogging for almost a year.

That means I:

  • set myself a goal and deadlines, and met them consistently all year long
  • successfully avoided beating myself up (equally important!) on the few occasions when I missed my self-imposed goals
  • learned how to blog – to turn out good (I hope) material in my own voice and with an appropriate length, structure, and tone for the form
  • wrote 1000–2000 words on the blog just about every week this year
  • continued building a platform and networking

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Friday Link: Jellyfish Lamps

Happy Friday!

This is the neatest thing I’ve seen on the Internet all week. It’s a lamp…that’s a jellyfish.

jellyfish lamp

More jellyfish pendant lamps (at Offbeat Home).

That’s all for this week. See you back here on Monday!

Ten Lessons Learned in 2012

2012 was a year of change for me. My life circumstances morphed in several ways — all for the better, but I found myself tested pretty severely at times. I came through stronger, though. Here’s what I learned…


  • I hate making choices, especially important ones with lasting repercussions, so making a lot of them in a short period of time isn’t good for my mental health.
  • Despite that, I can still be a decision-making guru when I need to be and not fall into a million wibbling little pieces…mostly.
  • Even though decisions are hard, most decisions aren’t life-altering.
  • With the ones that are, I’ll just know the right path, even if I’m scared. Or the path will turn out to be right, one or the other.

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