Mary and the Witch’s Flower is an animated children’s fantasy film directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi and produced by Studio Ponoc. It follows Mary Smith as she finds the rare fly-by-night flower, also known as the witch’s flower, which gives her temporary magical powers.
1—The Start of an Adventure
We start off with a building engulfed in flames and a young woman running, and then flying on a broomstick, away. She crashes and the magic seeds she’s carrying go flying off into the woods. Fast forward some years later, and we come to Mary, a bored little girl who’s moved in with her great aunt. She’s waiting for for her parents to move out there as well and for school to start so other kids will be in the village for her to play with. A pair of cats lead her to a mysterious flower, which she picks and brings home. Later, one of the cats leads her to a broom stuck in the undergrowth. That same cat then gives her a bud from the flower and Mary accidentally squashes it, getting sticky stuff all over her hands and the broom handle. Strange marks appear on Mary’s palms, and the broomstick takes off with Mary and the cat, taking them through the clouds to Endor College for Witches, where the first rule is “trespassers will be transformed.” Continue reading “Mary and the Witch’s Flower—Flights of Fancy”→
Black Cat Crossing, by Kay Finch, is a cozy mystery that is told from the first-person perspective of would-be author Sabrina Tate as she tries to clear her aunt’s name of murder, as well as save a so-called “bad luck cat” from her aunt’s handyman.
1—Death on the River
When Bobby Joe Flowers comes back to town claiming to be Aunt Rowe’s half sister—and entitled to half of everything she inherited, including her rental cottage business—he shortly thereafter gets himself killed. Aunt Rowe is the prime suspect and Sabrina isn’t about to let her aunt go to jail, so she starts investigating on her own. There’s no shortage of suspects but a dearth of clues. Was it one of the many women Bobby Joe scammed, pretending to love them when he only wanted their money? Or was it the local Game Warden, who’s mother was Bobby Joe’s latest broken-hearted victim? And is there a connection between Bobby Joe’s death and the cold case of a young woman killed on the very same river behind Sabrina’s cottage? Continue reading “Black Cat Crossing—Bad Luck For A Killer”→
The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins is a graphic novel by Clint McElroy, Griffin McElroy, Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy, and Carey Pietsch, based on the Dungeons & Dragons podcast The Adventure Zone by the McElroy boys (which I also recommend) and drawn by Carey Pietsch. It follows Magnus, Merle, and Taako on what seems to be a standard boy guarding gig but turns into a disaster of epic proportions.
1—Meet the Boys
Magnus Burnsides is a human fighter with proficiencies in, well, almost everything. Taako is an elf wizard who used to have his own cooking show. Merle Highchurch is a dwarf cleric spreading the good word of Pan with an Extreme Teen Bible. And of course Griffin, their D. M. (Dungeon Master) who pops in to make comments and chat with his players. It’s kind of meta but you soon get used to the conceit and just go with it. It’s all in fun. Continue reading “The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins—A Great Translation”→
Kill the Farm Boy, by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne, is the tale of a Chosen One who runs away from home and promptly gets crushed to death by Fia, a seven foot vegetarian warrior who feels really sorry about it. This accidental death kicks off a quest by Fia and a ragtag crew of others for, well they don’t really agree on what they want. But they all want something and the best way to get it is to cross the lands of Pell in an epic-ish journey.
1—Meet the Adventurers
There’s Fia, of course, who just wants to settle down and grow a rose garden. There’s also Gustave the enchanted talking goat who ran away with said Chosen One farm boy to avoid being made into curry and now hangs out with Fia hoping to maintain same. And Agrabella, the only Wakeful person in a castle cursed to sleep, a bard who decides it’s time to leave said castle and follow Fia to find out what the heck happened. There’s the Crepuscular Lord Toby, who really wants some artisanal crackers and cheese, and to become a full blown Dark Lord. And lastly, there’s Lord Toby’s huntswoman Poltro, who got dropped on her head once too many times as a child but does her best as a rogue despite a crippling fear of chickens. Together they all venture forth to visit Grinda the Sand Witch. Continue reading “Kill the Farm Boy—Not Your Average Epic Fantasy”→
Competence, by Gail Carriger, is the third in The Custard Protocol series. This time out, we follow Primrose and her brother Percival, rather than Prudence, as the main characters. We start out with Prim being inadvertently abandoned in Singapore when the Spotted Custard, her airship, springs a helium leak.
1—Prim’s and Percy’s Adventures
After being separated from the Spotted Custard, Prim—along with Tasherit, a were-lioness—Prim must secure helium for her ship by stealing a mushroom. Then, after Prim and Rue receive a coded missive from Rue’s mother, Percy must plot a dangerous and little-used course to South America to rescue an endangered species of vampire, the pishtacos. After Rue’s first attempt to meet with said pishtacos goes awry, it’s up to Prim and Percy, using nothing but good manners and logic, to convince the vampires of their good intentions. And none of that even takes into account Percy’s attempt to use a book club to save a soulless man. Continue reading “Competence—Prim and Percy Come Into Their Own”→