Posted in Female Author, Novel

{Book} Minor Mage

Minor Mage

Minor Mage by T. Kingfisher

Oliver was a very minor mage. His familiar reminded him of this several times a day.

He only knew three spells, and one of them was to control his allergy to armadillo dander. His attempts to summon elementals resulted in nosebleeds, and there is nothing more embarrassing than having your elemental leave the circle to get you a tissue, pat you comfortingly, and then disappear in a puff of magic. The armadillo had about wet himself laughing.

He was a very minor mage.

Unfortunately, he was all they had. (via Goodreads)

Why Did I Choose This Book?
T. Kingfisher (aka. Ursula Vernon) writes the type of light, funny fantasy that I enjoy, and that I’d like to write.

Programming Note
I’ve noticed that, especially in prose fiction but also in non-fiction and TV/movies, there are three basic things that keep me interested: plot, characters, and setting. A story doesn’t need all of these, but it can’t utterly fail in one of them either. I’ve decided I want to think about these three aspects in my “reviews.”

Minor Mage has a pretty simple plot. Oliver is a twelve year-old mage’s apprentice, whose master has died before teaching him much. Unfortunately, his village needs him to journey to find the Cloudherders and bring back rain to break a drought. That’s it. The story is his journey through a haunted forest filled with bandits. And who are the Cloudherders anyway? How will he manage when he only knows three spells and has a young armadillo as a familiar? It’s the limitations that make the plot good.

As I noted back in my Sunday Salon post, I started the year reading Kingfisher’s The Twisted Ones. I put it down at the 20% mark because the plot was moving very slowly and, honestly, the creepy happenings weren’t enough to really hook me into the plot. There is probably a lot more going on plot-wise in The Twisted Ones, but it was taking sooo looong to get going.

T. Kingfisher’s strength is her characters. Oliver is admirable. He’s loyal to his community, but unsure of his own abilities and their motives for sending him off on his own. (He was going to go anyway!) He wants to be a more major mage, but his youth causes him to reach before becoming an expert at what he already knows. His familiar is an armadillo; only slightly wiser than Oliver and much more snarky. Their additional companion is a very peculiar minstrel who is always in trouble.

The setting isn’t too much different from generic medieval Europe. There’s a small village. There’s a haunted forest. Kingfisher does spice it up with quite a few plant details. There story does have some gore and some other creepy things which, if this were a movie, would probably put it in the PG-13 range despite the young main character.

Just the sort of fun, slightly absurd fantasy I was wanting. Great first full read of the year!

Original Publishing info: Red Wombat Studio, 2019
My Copy: OverDrive Read, Greater Phoenix Digital Library
Genre: fantasy

Posted in Readathons-Challenges-Memes

📚Bout of Books 27

Click through on the image for all the details!


I finished Minor Mage and took an X-Men detour. Total pages read? 569! That’s about normal for Bout of Books. I missed the chats… Next time! But a fun week of reading nonetheless.

Updates & Challenges

Sunday, Jan. 12th 2020
Duchess of Bloomsbury Street by Helene Hanff, pgs. 110-137 – Finished!
X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga by Chris Claremont, pgs. 128-200 – Finished!
Trail of Lightning by by Rebecca Roanhorse, pgs. 55-68

Saturday, Jan. 11th 2020
Duchess of Bloomsbury Street by Helene Hanff, pgs. 100-109
“Light And Space” by Ned Beauman
X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga by Chris Claremont, pgs. 1-127

Friday, Jan. 10th 2020
Duchess of Bloomsbury Street by Helene Hanff, pgs. 90-99
Trail of Lightning by by Rebecca Roanhorse, pgs. 29-54
The Ghost Tower of Inverness by Allen Hammack

The One With the Books in It

Thursday, Jan. 9th 2020
Duchess of Bloomsbury Street by Helene Hanff, pgs. 80-89
Dive Deeper by George Cotkin, pgs. 174-179
Moby-Dick by Herman Melville, pgs. 452-455
Mesmerists, Monsters, and Machines by Martin Willis. pgs. 58-73
Trail of Lightning by by Rebecca Roanhorse, pgs. 21-28

Wednesday, Jan. 8th 2020
Duchess of Bloomsbury Street by Helene Hanff, pgs. 72-79
Trail of Lightning by by Rebecca Roanhorse, pgs. 2-20
Dive Deeper by George Cotkin, pgs. 171-173
Moby-Dick by Herman Melville, pgs. 449-451

Bookish Matchmaking

Tuesday, Jan. 7th 2020
Minor Mage by T. Kingfisher, pgs. 93-179 – Finished!
Take Off Your Pants by Libbie Hawker, pgs. 49-64
“The Oblong Box” by Edgar Allan Poe, pgs. 962-971

Share Your 2020 Reading Goals

Monday, Jan. 6th 2020
Duchess of Bloomsbury Street by Helene Hanff, pgs 61-71
Moby-Dick by Herman Melville, pgs 440-448
Minor Mage by T. Kingfisher, pgs 52-92

Introduce yourself #insixwords

Preliminary TBR

Minor Mage Mesmerists, Monsters, and Machines: Science Fiction and the Cultures of Science in the Nineteenth Century Trail of Lightning (The Sixth World, #1)

Plus other books and stories!

Posted in Readathons-Challenges-Memes

Sunday Salon, 1/5/20

Sunday Salon


I finished 2019 with 84, Charing Cross Road and some Edgar Allan Poe. According to Goodreads, if I reread 84, Charing Cross Road, it’s in December. It’s another thing (like jazz music) that I associate with winter and with relaxing (in the midst of finals (when in college) or general holiday nuttiness).

My Poe story of the week was “Thou Art the Man,” one of his many stories that I wasn’t familiar with. Ninety-five percent of the story is a rather good mystery with a pretty bone-rattling climax. But I’ve noticed in a few cases, Poe isn’t very good at ending stories. In this case, there was a pretty exposition-heavy explanation of what had occurred.

I started 2020 with The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher, but I put it aside at about the 20% mark. Nothing much was really going on.

I’ll be participating in Bout of Books this week! Bout of Books is a relaxed week-long readathon. There are activities* and a couple of Twitter chats, but mostly it’s just about communal reading. I’m counting this as my post-holiday holiday.

* I’d say challenges, but in the land of readathons, “challenge” has come to mean reading to fulfill prompts. Bout of Books is old-school in its celebration of “read anything, just read.”

You know that tidy TBR I had a couple weeks ago? Totally blown up by library holds coming available. (Is that always the way?) My BoB TBR:

Minor Mage Mesmerists, Monsters, and Machines: Science Fiction and the Cultures of Science in the Nineteenth Century Trail of Lightning (The Sixth World, #1)


I watched three movies this past week:

Ghost Stories (2017), directed by Andy Nyman, Jeremy Dyson – There were some nice tense moments, but Ghost Stories ended up being schlockier than I expected.

Force Majeure (2014), directed by Ruben Östlund – A Swedish film. On the too-over-dramatic side for me, but I really enjoyed the long, static takes. Actually the reserved and removed style of film-making made it bearable.

Creed (2015), directed by Ryan Coogler – On the good side of unexpected, I really enjoyed Creed. To recuse myself, I grew up watching the Rocky films. I do have a certain amount of nostalgia for them. But there are so many ways this could have been a bad film. The seventh Rocky film? About Apollo Creed’s son? Being trained by Rocky? But it works. Even the maudlin subplot works.

Other Stuff

A couple of things I’d like to get done this coming week:

  • Take down the Christmas decorations. I’ve hit the point of, “Please, no more Christmas…”
  • Finish Take Off Your Pants outline for Wicked Witch Retired. I’m continually looking for better ways to plan my books. And by plan, I mean finish.
  • Eric has news article epigraphs in his books and occasionally I provide some different phrasings; so provide an alternate version of one of those.

The Sunday Salon is a linkup hosted by Deb @ Readerbuzz

Posted in Male Author, Short Story, Uncategorized

Deal Me In, Week 1 ~ “What Tune the Enchantress Plays”


Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis
What’s Deal Me In?

“What Tune the Enchantress Plays” by Peter S. Beagle

Card picked: 5
Found in: Sleight of Hand, Tachyon Publications, 2011

Ah, there you are. I was beginning to wonder.

No, no. Come in, do—it’s your lair, after all. Tidy, too, for a demon. I’d do something about those bones, myself, and whatever that is, over in the corner, that smelly wet thing. But each to his taste, I say; you probably wouldn’t think too much of my notions of décor, either. God knows, my mother doesn’t.

The Story
In the introduction to this story Peter S. Beagle admits that it is the voice of a character that comes easiest to him. As you can see from the beginning few sentences above, this story has a great deal of voice.

Our speaker is Breya, an enchantress of some power. She is from Kalagria where many of the women are witches, sorcerers, or enchantresses. Never the men, though. The men of Kalagria are carriers of magic. Furthermore, if a majkes of Kalagria marries an outsider, their daughters will not have any knack with magic. So, the story that Breya tells this demon before she sings him into oblivion at moonset is an unfortunate one: Breya’s true love was an outsider.

I didn’t remember this story from the first time I read back in 2011-ish. A different author five years later might have used this set up to tell a tale of gender reversal or maybe at least gender role reversal, but that’s not quite Beagle. Lathro, Breya’s love, goes off to become the man he thinks he needs to be. Breya goes after him under the advisement of her mother, who is bent on making Breya into the woman she needs to be.

The Author
Peter S. Beagle is best known as the author of The Last Unicorn, but he has a fairly large body of work. “What Tune the Enchantress Plays” is set in the same magical world as his novel The Innkeeper’s Song.

Pick a Card, Any Card

Music plays a role in this story and many of Beagle’s works. Vivaldi Playing Cards evoke some of that beauty and grace.

Vivaldi Kickstarter
And at Kardify

Posted in Readathons-Challenges-Memes

Down the TBR Hole 25


(An occasional series… 😬)

This is a meme started by Lia at Lost in a Story. The “rules” are:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course, if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books.
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

I’m modifying this a little since my to-read shelf is a mess of books that are mostly in storage. Instead, I’m going to look at my wishlist—all those books I add on a whim during my travels around the book blogging community—and weed out the ones that don’t quite sound as good now. The “keepers” I’m going to look for at online libraries or add to my Amazon wishlist.

Call for the Dead cover Call for the Dead by John le Carré

I keep meaning to read some of the George Smiley books, but I am rarely in the mood for spy/thrillers. But KEEP, because occasionally I AM in the mood for a spy/thriller. If only Goodreads would let me filter by genre tags…

Chef Maurice #2 cover Chef Maurice and the Wrath of Grapes by J.A. Lang

The next two books on my list are books #2 & #3 of the Chef Maurice series. I’m KEEPing both. I really enjoyed the first and I’ll get to more.

Giving Up the Ghosts cover Giving Up the Ghosts: Short-Lived Occult Detective Series by Six Renowned Authors by Tim Prasil (editor)

Occult detectives are a jam I don’t indulge in often enough. KEEP.

Meditation on Murder cover A Meditation on Murder by Robert Thorogood

I started watching the Death in Paradise series and I didn’t care for it. There are other series that I haven’t been reading (see above), so… GO.

Modern Supernatural and the Beginnings of Cinema The Modern Supernatural and the Beginnings of Cinema by Murray Leeder

I love that special effects are really as old as photography and cinematography and I want to learn more about them. KEEP.

Anyone have any experience with any of these? Any arguments for KEEP or GO?