Monday, November 29, 2021

Bibliophile's Corner

Snow in the Garden
A First Book of Christmas
by Shirley Hughes

Flap Copy Description:
This classic collection of festive stories, poems and things to make and do is a joyful introduction to the wonder of Christmas.
From heart-warming tales of kindness to seasonal illustrations and easy to follow recipes and craft activities, there are so many ways to marvel in the magic of this special time of year.

My Thoughts:
Snow in the Garden crossed my path quite by accident; the lovely cover artwork caught my eye on a social media site, and I just had to have a copy. (Even though at the time it was only available in the U.K. Thank you, Book Depository, for your prompt delivery!) Little did I know that Shirley Hughes is a legendary author/illustrator in Great Britain. In the words of Philip Pullman, "Shirley Hughes is a national treasure." After reading the book, I totally agree. Her delightful illustrations and poetic text remind the reader - young or old - of the wonders of childhood. I highly recommend Snow in the Garden for children of all ages. Be sure to pick up a copy soon, as the whimsical stories, poems, and recipes will add to the joy of your child's holiday season!

Click here to learn about the award-winning author Shirley Hughes.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Storyteller’s Journey

Thanksgiving Thoughts

On this Thanksgiving Weekend here in the U.S., I’m reflecting on how it’s even more important to be thankful for blessings in our lives when there are challenges in our lives.

In recent weeks I’ve mentioned many times of the challenges this autumn season has presented to me.Today, I want to illuminate some of the positive aspects and people in my life that I’m so grateful for.

First, is my family. While that may seem like something to just include in a list of blessings, for me, I’ve never been more thankful for my loved ones than I am right now. Why? Because I am struggling and nearly every one of them has reached out in some way to comfort or help me. My husband, Michael, has been a wonder! While he is a full time businessman and a gallery-represented artist, he has also become the main cook and housekeeper while I’ve been on the mend. I am so grateful to him - and my family - for their sacrificial love.

Second, is my friends! While I’ve been unable to maintain in-person visits with my pals, they have kept me in the loop with messages of hope and humor. You know who you are; thanks ever so much! 

Third, is our new home. Being nestled in  a remote forest here in the Pacific Northwest has been like a healing balm to my soul. Looking out upon the tall timbers, is like receiving a hug from nature.

Fourth, is my ability to read and write. With my limited mobility right now, allowing my imagination to take me to another place and time has kept my spirits up. Whether reading a new book, or working on a new story, I’m so thankful for my curiosity and my passion to create.

While there are many more blessings I could mention, I’ll conclude with social media. What? Really? Yes! It’s at times when you’re unable to see people face to face that you realize just how lucky you are that you can still connect by way of social media. Thanks to all of you for your likes, comments, & messages! They are so appreciated. 😀 

Wishing each of you a lovely weekend with family and friends!

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Whimsical Word of the Week

Blithesome - (adj.)
Having or showing a good mood or disposition.
Example: The blithesome siblings were even happier on Thanksgiving.

Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2021

Bibliophile’s Corner

Midnight in Everwood
By M. A.Kuzniar

Flap Copy Description:
It was a rainy day that the magic came, and once magic has entered your life, you stay in its glittery clutch forever. 

Nottingham 1906

Marietta Stelle longs to be a ballerina but, as Christmas draws nearer, her dancing days are numbered - she must marry and take up her place in society in the New Year. But, when a mysterious toy maker, Dr. Drosselmeier, purchases a neighbouring townhouse, it heralds the arrival of magic and wonder in Marietta’s life.

After Drosselmeier constructs an elaborate theatrical set for her final ballet performance on Christmas Eve, Marietta discovers it carries magic all of its own - a magic darker than anyone could imagine. As the clock chimes midnight, Marietta finds herself transported from her family’s ballroom to a frozen sugar palace, silent with secrets, in a forest of snow-topped fir trees. She must find a way to return home before she’s trapped in Everwood’s enchanting grip forever.

My Thoughts:
I discovered Midnight in Everwood on the Twitter page of a literary agent based in London. Everything I read about the book intrigued me, so I ordered my hardback copy through Book Depository in the U.K. (since only paperback & eBook are available in the States right now.) I’m so glad I did; I will re-read this extraordinary novel every winter. I kept thinking of Ms. Kuzniar’s book as a cross between The Snow Queen and the The Nutcracker. Which only makes sense since it’s a reimagining of The Nutcracker, obviously amidst snow, magic, and wonder at Christmastime. I highly recommend adults read Midnight in Everwood this holiday season. Brava, M.A. Kuzniar!

Click here to learn about the author, M. A. Kuzniar.

Friday, November 19, 2021

Storyteller’s Journey

The Joy of Reading

One of the activities I most enjoy each fall and winter is finding a cozy corner and losing myself in a good book - with some hot beverage, of course! Right now, while I’m awaiting my knee surgery date, reading has been even more important to me. Since I still can’t operate a car due to my injury, reading provides the mechanism by which my mind can be transported to an intriguing location, if not my body.

I’m just beginning to read The Memory of Babel by Christelle Dabos; it’s the third book in The Mirror Visitor Series. These books by Ms. Dabos have won awards on both sides of the pond. I’ll be reviewing this third book in her series after the New Year.

Happy reading this holiday season!

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Whimsical Word of the Week

Ailyak - (n.)
The subtle act of doing everything calmly and without rushing, whilst enjoying the experience and life in general. Example: The author’s plan to rid her life of stress was to employ ailyak into her daily routine.

Monday, November 15, 2021

Bibliophile’s Corner

The Beatryce Prophecy

By Kate DiCamillo

Flap Copy Description:
There is one creature that the monks of the Chronicles of Sorrowing fear above all others: Answelica the goat. The monks fear her sharp teeth and her hard head and her wily ways. And so imagine Brother Edik’s terror when he goes to feed Answelica one morning and finds a child in the pen with the demon goat.

The child does not know where she came from. She does not know who her people are. She remembers one thing only: her name.


The king’s men, however, know who the child is, and they are searching for her.

My Thoughts:
Kate DiCamillo has done it again: she’s spun a story that is destined to be a classic. It’s not just the endearing protagonist, Beatryce, or her sidekick goat, Answelica. It’s the way that the  two-time Newbery  Medalist takes the reader on a journey to a place and time where magic and truth and kindness always win the day. I highly recommend The Beatryce Prophecy to readers of all ages.. 

Click here to learn about the author, Kate DiCamillo.

Friday, November 12, 2021

Storyteller’s Journey

This Writer’s Ups & Downs 

Last week I took a quick trip to Arizona with my husband. The main purpose of our time away was primarily to check up on my mother. She’d been dealing with an infection that had severely weakened her. Thankfully, she’d already been improving by the time we arrived there. That being said, it’s always nice to get away from the rainy weather of the Pacific Northwest for a bit, and warm up in a hotter climate.

It was an incredible relief to see my mom doing so well, and to see some of my other family members, too. However, little did I know what a high personal price I’d pay for that trip to Arizona. When we returned to Portland, OR, my knee gave out while we were exiting the shuttle bus at PDX; I tumbled out, severely injuring my right knee. I am now on crutches and scheduled for an MRI later this week. 

You never know what obstacle might next present itself!

These crutches have been unwrapped and are now my only mode of mobility around the house. While recently I lamented the need for weekly visits to the library due to no internet service at our home, I am now relying on the 5G hotspot on my iPhone and connecting with my iPad. I used this photo because our home is so messy that I couldn’t bear to post a current photo online. (It feels like we’re living in the chaos of a college dorm!)

Wish me luck with these new obstacles along my storyteller’s journey!

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Whimsical Word of the Week

Callithump (n.)
a noisy boisterous band or parade.
Example: The citizens of the Super Bowl-winning city had quite a calllithump after their team's victory.


Monday, November 8, 2021

Bibliophile's Corner

by Katherine Applegate

Flap Copy Description:
Willodeen adores creatures of all kinds, but her favorites are the most unlovable beasts in the land: strange beasts known as "screechers." The villagers of Perchance call them pests, even monsters, but Willodeen believes the animals serve a vital role in the complicated web of nature.
Lately, though, nature has seemed angry indeed. Perchance has been cursed with fires and mudslides, droughts and fevers, and even the  annual migration of hummingbears, a source of local pride and income, has dwindled. For as long as anyone can remember, the tiny animals have overwintered in shimmering bubble nests perched atop blue willow trees, drawing tourists from far and wide. This year, however, not a single hummingbear has returned to Perchance, and no one knows why.
When a handmade birthday gift brings unexpected magic to Willodeen and her new friend, Connor, she's determined to speak up for the animals she loves, and perhaps even uncover the answer to the mystery of the missing hummingbears.

My Thoughts:
There are a few books that I always make a point to read if I can: those written by authors who have received the Newbery Medal. I've found that even if a certain story isn't my cup of tea, the writing, the voice, and the structure of their books always provide something I can learn from. Katherine Applegate is one such gifted author. In Willodeen, she again reveals her love of nature and animals - as well as a concern for the planet. The fact that she's included these themes in an entertaining middle grade fantasy is all the more impressive. As usual, her cast of characters come straight from the heart. I highly recommend Willodeen to readers aged eight to twelve!

Click here to learn more about the author, Katherine Applegate.

Friday, November 5, 2021

Storyteller's Journey

The Long Road Home

In so many ways my soul feels as though it's coming home. It's not just coming home to the physical place I've always dreamed of, but coming home emotionally, intellectually, socially, and professionally. Maybe it's because I'm getting to the age that you really just don't care what people think anymore. There's so much freedom in arriving at that glorious destination. You also learn a lot about truth.

The truth about who your friends are.

The truth about your family.

The truth about yourself as a writer.

Because in the end, authenticity is one of the traits I most treasure in my friends, my family, and myself. If you can't be authentic with them, then you're a  prisoner to the whims of society. Batted about with every wind that blows your way. As a writer, authenticity may be even more essential. The one sure thing that can make our stories unique is the honesty we place on the page derived from our life experiences. We just need the courage to do that.

It feels incredible to be coming home.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Whimsical Word of the Week

Tacenda (n.)
things better left unsaid; matters to be passed over in silence.
Example: While many things are true, they are also unsavory. Most tawdry little tidbits should be left as tacenda.

Monday, November 1, 2021

Bibliophile's Corner

Little Witch Hazel
A Year in the Forest
by Phoebe Wahl

Flap Copy Description:
Little Witch Hazel is a tiny witch who lives in the forest, helping creatures big and small. She's an intrepid explorer, a hard worker and a kind friend.
In this four-story volume, Little Witch Hazel rescues an orphaned egg, goes sailing on a raft, solves the mystery of a haunted stump and makes house calls to fellow forest dwellers. But when Little Witch Hazel needs help herself, will she get it in time?

My Thoughts:
Somehow I only recently discovered the whimsical work of Washington State author,  Phoebe Wahl - but I'm so glad I did! Her delightful illustrations, and wild and imaginative text, bring to mind fairy tales of a bygone era. It's no wonder that Ms. Wahl won the Ezra Jack Keats Book Award for New Illustrator for her first book, Sonya's Chickens. I highly recommend Little Witch Hazel to children of all ages!

Click here to learn more about the author/illustrator, Phoebe Wahl.