The Paper Magician – Charlie N. Holmberg

c9712ed4a0052a75973396c6b67434f414f4141Ceony has finished her work at the Tagis Praff School for Magic Workings in record time – a year – and though she had wanted to be a Smelter, because of some arcane rules of balance, she’s apprenticed instead to work with a Folder – a paper magician. And once you are bonded to a particular material, it will be your material for your lifetime.

Mg. Thane is a kind man, and not at all what she had expected for a Folder. She’s started to settle into her studies when one night they are invaded. A woman comes to Mg. Thane’s home. She clearly knows Thane – he says her name – and she is clearly an Excisioner, a practicer of blood magic. She rips Mg. Thane’s heart from his chest and leaves is a cloud of blood magic.

In a panic, Ceony makes a paper heart for Mg. Thane, and knowing she has only two days for it to last, follows the woman.  What follows is not what I was expecting from a book about paper magicians – Ceony must travel through Mg. Thane’s heart, and learn the secrets within to save him.

This is a sweet story, and an interesting set up – there are at least two more books in this series. I’m definitely interested to see what happens next.


Goldenhand – Garth Nix

54f9537bada0fcb596b447a6d51434f414f4141I had no idea there was a new Old Kingdom book coming out. I had a very pleasant surprise when it came out as a Kindle daily deal (bought that, and then promptly bought the hardcover as well – this is one of the few series I’ll buy in hardcover.)

This book picks up with what’s happening in the Old Kingdom, during the events of “Nicholas Sayre and the Creature in the Case” (which happens in Ancelstierre). Lirael is settling into life in Belisaere as part of the royal family (since her sister Sabriel is the queen). She’s growing into her role as Abhorsen-in-Waiting, and it’s nice to see the events the lead up to her rescuing Nicholas at the Wall.

As Nick crosses the wall into the Old Kingdom, it’s clear that his possession by Orannis is still impacting him. Lirael quickly realizes that the best place to bring him will be the Clayr’s Glacier where she can consult the Great Library, and find out what’s happening to Nick. She hasn’t been back to the Glacier since she found out she was an Abhorsen. It’s not a trip she’s looking forward to.

At the same time, a young woman is coming from the north, with a message for Lirael from her long dead mother. Ferin is from the nomadic tribes of the north, where all the tribes must sacrifice a girl to the Witch with No Face. Ferin is the offering for her tribe. Something has changed about the witch, and Ferin has fled to the south in great danger to warn Lirael and the rest of the Old Kingdom.

Lirael and her family quickly realize that the Witch with No Face is Chlorr, who was turned into one of the greater Dead by Orannis. Something has been keeping her anchored to life, and Sabriel and Lirael realize that Ferin’s information will help them end Chlorr once and for all.

It was nice to see Lirael and everyone else again, and to get some nice endings to a number of hanging threads left at the end of Abhorsen. There’s no clear story left that needs to be told, but there are openings if the author decides to explore them.

Knitting Notes

Whelp, the Blank Canvas Sweater is frogged.    I got up to the neckline, pre-shaping, and I could tell I wouldn’t have enough yarn to do the full shaping.    So I tried it on, to see if making it into a scoop neck would work.    And the torso was a smidge too short – enough to be a problem.    And I could have used at least another inch on the sleeves.

So there was no way I had enough yarn for that.    So I unwound that yesterday.     And spent a while adding things to my Webs cart so I can make at least one thing I know I can actually complete this year.     This bad streak is getting a little ridiculous.

Garden Notes


My seedlings have been doing great, enough that I moved the Swiss chard, zinnias, calendula, kale, and the lone nasturtium, to bigger pots this weekend.

The husk cherries only finally sprouted last week, and the blood sorrel is still pretty small, so I’m waiting a bit on those.

Descanso Gardens – La Canada Flintridge, CA

The other garden we visited was Descanso, which is more of a local garden.   Not as large as Huntington, but certainly beloved – the line to get in was crazy!    I was able to use my Coastal Maine Botanical Garden reciprocal membership here – first use of that for the year, even ahead of my garden.

My sister had been here before to see the lilacs, and it turns out they have North America’s largest collection of camellias.     They also had a great Spring show of tulips.    But I think my favorite part was the back of  the garden, where they had a native California plant collection.    I’ll always go for the wildflowers, when I can.

Huntington Botanical Gardens – San Marino, CA

I’ve been to the Huntington once before, the first time I ever visited my sister, back in the misty depths of time before I owned a digital camera (hard to believe there was a time when that was the case).    It’s one of those places you can visit many, many times because it’s so huge (and I’m not even counting the art collection – the museum is whole other side of the place).    That first visit was the first time I’d ever seen blooming aloe – it was before I’d ever visited Phoenix, and their desert garden was the first large scale experience I had with those kinds of plants.

This trip, we mainly tooled through the Chinese Garden, and the Herb Garden.    I’ll admit the herb garden was my favorite – it was mostly the kind of thing that I can grow, and completely in my garden style wheelhouse.


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I got back on Tuesday from a whirlwind trip to California.   I had originally been scheduled to fly out the Tuesday before, but Mother Nature chose to grace us with sixteen inches of snow that day.    Fortunately, I’d seen the writing on the wall that weekend, and moved my flight out to Thursday.

The main purpose of the visit was to meet my niece M, current holder of the World’s Most Adorable Baby title, so this trip was lighter on daily activities than most.    We did still manage a few garden visits, because what good is visiting Southern California in March if you don’t take advantage of the weather?

There was also some good Mexican food, pizza, and ice cream, and I managed three books over the trip.    All and all, a good taste of summer at the tail end of winter.

Impossible Things – Connie Willis

c0809e025b55007597767325367434f414f4141This book of short stories is a fun sampling of Willis’ work.

Some of my favorites are: “Even the Queen”, a great send up to women’s lib. Who knew talking about your period could be so funny? “Jack” was a great story about how WWII in London let some people rise above anything they might have accomplished if there had been no war, with an interesting twist. And “Winter’s Tale” was a purely historical fiction tale,with a very interesting take on a very old mystery.

This is only my second foray into Willis’ work – I definitely need to read more.

Warbreaker – Brandon Sanderson

ae6ca869e0b8468596b6b796967434f414f4141Siri has always been the superfluous princess – her eldest sister, Vivenna has been betrothed to the God King of Hallandren since birth, her middle sister Fafnan, had become a monk, and her brother, Ridger, was the heir. Hallandren had long been her country’s enemy, and Vivenna had trained her whole life to be married to their king. But when the time came to send her, their father sent Siri instead.

In Idris, her home, Siri had been the rebel among a people that believed that flaunting themselves was against their god’s will. Hallandran is totally different –a realm filled with color, where certain people return to life with extra of the Breath that gives everyone life and power in this world. These Returned are considered gods, and Siri is completely out of her depth dealing with them.

At the same time, Vivenna is now bereft of a purpose to her life. Always the poised, controlled sister, she impulsively travels to the city of T’Telir to rescue her sister. The third important focus of this story is Lightsong, one of the Returned. He does not believe in his own godhood, and struggles to figure out his place among the gods.

What follows turns out to be an incredibly complex story, full of history – the two countries are enemies because of a terrible war in the past, which is still having repercussions today. Siri and Vivenna travel much different paths in their new lives, and Lightsong’s journey to find himself is equally as fascinating. It’s really hard to explain everything that’s going on without giving things away, but I will say that Sanderson continues to impress me, and I enjoyed this book immensely. He is definitely one of my favorite authors.

Dead Man’s Ransom – Ellis Peters

b00luznvsw-01-_sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_The civil war between King Stephen and his cousin, the Empress Maud, continues, and now the Welsh are wading in. Gilbert Prescote, the sheriff in Shrewsbury, has gone north with his men to stand against Welsh raiders who are trying to help some rebel barons, and has the misfortune of being caught by the Welsh in the action. At the same time, young Elis ap Cynan, a kinsman of Prince Owain of Gwynedd, is captured in the fuss. It seems the perfect exchange- Elis for the sheriff. While arrangements are being made, Elis is given the run of the town, and meets Gilbert’s daughter, Melicent, and falls head over heels in love.

Prescote is returned to Shrewsbury, but injured, and during his first night back, in the Abbey’s infirmary, he’s murdered. Melicent assumes it’s Elis, trying to stay with her (her father has always hated the Welsh). Brother Cadfael of course knows that’s not true, and is on the case.

This was an interesting story – I think I most enjoyed the contrast between the Welsh and English senses of honor. I really didn’t see the murderer coming – it was a very interesting twist for me. All in all, another great outing in this series.