I Shall Wear Midnight Read Along Part III

PratchettIShallWearMidnightTis the end. Am I the only one sad to say goodbye to Tiffany (at least until I reread the books again in a few years)? Lisa from Over the Effing Rainbow is our host this week, so make sure to visit her site for entertaining chitchat. Let me just give her an applause for cohosting with me. This has been a wonderful read along and I thank everyone for participating and making this so fun!

This week, we covered Chapters 11-End, so spoilers run amok, kilted and all natural underneath.

1) Well, now. It seems Letitia is much more than just a snivelly ‘princess in the tower’… What do you think of the way she handles the ghosts at Keepsake Hall?

I was impressed, just as Tiffany was too. She seemed very compassionate, providing a fake head (pumpkin) and teddy bear to some of the ghosties. It was interesting to see this other side of her, as she didn’t really show Tiffany compassion by carving an effigy of her, albeit a poor one, and burying head first in a bucket of sand and wishing Tiffany a shitty life. Still, she likes books, and studying, and doesn’t freak over ghosts. So, now that she has made amends for slighting Tiffany, I think I could civilly have tea with her.

2) “We do right, we don’t do nice…” Miss Smith turns up again – in another unusual way – and she’s got some eye-opening words for Tiffany here… Do you agree that Tiffany’s got to grow up a little more still, or should she just ask for help with the Cunning Man?

I wonder why Terry Pratchett wrote the story line this way – I mean making it impossible for Tiffany to ask for help. I would think that the lesson would be: When great things ride on whether or not you ask for help, ask for help! But Pratchett seems to have gone the other way. I think Tiffany grasped that Weatherwax and the other witches would do right, even if that wasn’t nice – such as killing Tiffany if she was possessed by the Cunning Man. So, yes, Tiff did grow up a bit with this latest challenge.

3) Preston earns even more trust from Tiffany, and she makes an interesting point about whether or not the Cunning Man will be dangerous to him… Do you think the two of them can take him on?

The storyline seemed to be setting Tiffany up to do a one-on-one with the Cunning Man, so I didn’t expect Preston to be in on the final show down. And when the Cunning Man took on a body, and a big, muscled one at that, I was concerned that Preston would get punched or kicked around a bit. I didn’t want his brains scrambled because Tiffany seems quite taken with them and if his brains no longer worked, who would Tiffany have to banter with?

4) Speaking of taking on the Cunning Man, he’s getting closer – and in a very alarming way. This is certainly different, and it’s keeping Mrs. Proust involved. Do you think she might be the exception to the “kindly assistance” rule among witches?

Mrs. Proust did provide a warning to Tiffany, which was very considerate. I loved that she also brought company – a witch who is allergic to tides, and an incontinent blind older witch. Quite the flying party the 3 of are! But no, I never expected Mrs. Proust to be of assistance to Tiff in the final showdown.

Ha! And when Tiff introduced her to Mistress Weatherwax, and then nothing snippy, or violent, or explosive happened, I thought that was quite amusing. And Tiffany’s second thoughts were kind enough to point out that these 2 older witches are still cleverer than herself.

5) O-ho, so the Duchess has a secret of her own… Are you surprised?

Haha! Her dancing hall days certainly explains why she was so high-handed, loud, and generally obnoxious – she was playing a role, a role she felt she had to in order to ensure her daughter caught the eye of a noble young man. I am glad that Mrs. Proust called her on it, and that Tiffany, the local witch, knows about it. This means that whenever the Duchess gets too high handed, someone can remind her or her own lowly roots.

6) Tiffany defeats the Cunning Man! What did you make of this scene?

I liked the fire, the running hare, the impromptu wedding ceremony. However, I thought the actual defeating of the Cunning Man was a bit simplistic. I mean, he was intrusive, and stinky, without a body, so why does burning the body of the ‘escaped’ killer send the Cunning Man away for years or centuries? I wasn’t sure. Anyhoo, I am willing to look the other way as, over all, I love the Tiffany Aching series. Not all the books have to be perfect.

Other Tidbits:

I thought it was great of Tiffany to ask Letitia to tell Roland the whole story. The silence that followed was very telling.

While Pratchett lets us know that the ‘escaped’ killer is a very bad man, we also get to see that the Cunning Man killed his canary. That was great – we know the prisoner is a wretched man who deserves death, and yet the death of his canary, a pet he cared for, is moving.

Oh I felt Tiffany’s embarrassment when that bit about marrying Roland slipped out. Ouch!

Ah, the Feegles. They warm my heart and make me laugh so! They listened in on Tiff’s little marital chat with Letitia, and then they had questions. Haha! And later, they helped out with a bit of kilt flapping to fan some flames. Too hilarious!

I Shall Wear Midnight Read Along Part II

PratchettIShallWearMidnightWelcome back everyone! Here we are at the second week of reading I Shall Wear Midnight. This week, we covered chapters 7-10. Tiff seems to be in even more trouble than were we left her last week!

Spoilers lurk below, ready to jump out and embed themselves in your deepest psyche!

1) This section featured some characters from the Night Watch, who are featured in other books. Did you enjoy the cameos? If you haven’t read the Night Watch books, did their appearance pique your interest?

I have been very hit & miss in reading the Discworld series over the years. So I was only vaguely aware that there was some sort of city watch, and isn’t there a book actually titled Nightwatch? I enjoyed these interesting characters and I think a book or a few focused on these guys would be highly amusing.  Wee Mad Arthur who was raised by gnomes would be fascinating ot get to know after only knowing the ‘wild’ kind of Feegle.

2) Roland sure is harsh in this section! What do you think is the source of these drastic changes in him? What, or who, would you delete in his life to makes things better?

I want to say that Roland is somehow being strongly affected by the Cunning Man. The awkwardness we saw at the beginning could just be him being an idiot, but now with the grief of his Father’s passing, the impending wedding, and him taking on the mantle of Baron, I could see the Cunning Man taking advantage of all that stress.

Let’s see, who would I delete? *evil grin* We could ‘remove’ the Duchess. I am even tempted to send Letitia off to art school, to give both her & Roland time to become real adults. Let’s see….Miss Spruce seems to have disappeared on her own, but if she turns up again, I would pack her off to a convent that believes hard labor is the greatest form of prayer.

3) As Mrs. Proust predicted, Miss….Smith of the Unreal Estate found Tiffany. How do you think Ms. Smith’s info on the Cunning Man will be used by Tiffany? What would you fear stumbling over in the Unreal Estate (I originally had University here – my bad), a place where magical bits are constantly bumping into each other?

Well, she on purposely told Tiffany that the Cunning Man had been defeated before, and then just as purposely told Tiff that she has to figure out her own way to knock him flat. Seemed like a bit of a tease to me. I expect that Tiffany will hold on strongly to the idea that the Cunning Man can be defeated (whether Miss Smith was telling the truth on that or not we may never know), and that believe will be key to her reigning triumphant at the end of the book.

Living things that magically turn into inanimate objects I find disturbing. For instance, if I lived with salt-shaker sized sparkly flying pegasus for 2 weeks and then all at once they all turned into space heaters that magically spray glitter along with heated air, I would never, ever be able to use those space heaters. What if they turned back? How would I explain the over use? And worse, what if they only have turned back – can you hear the wee little whinys? Perhaps there would be small pegasus apples (terds) left behind the heaters. Disturbing.

4) Tiffany & the Feegles return to the Chalk to find Roland’s men about to dig up the Mound. Luckily, Tiffany is able to make them see sense and they put away their shovels. If they hadn’t, what do you picture would have happened?

I am so use to seeing Rob Anybody comical, and never truly angry as he was in this scene. If Tiffany had not been able to diffuse the situation, I believe the Feegles would have killed the men. They might not have stopped there, but might have taken the fight to the Baron himself. Even if the Feegles only killed or badly maimed the men digging up the Mound, the Baron would have to react. Of course, how would the Baron find the Feegles when they don’t want to be found? Well, he wouldn’t be able to, but he would be able to find Tiffany. So she is the one he would punish. Sucks to the be the Witch of the Chalk.

5) The Duchess seems ready to cause everyone a bit of pain, especially Tiffany. While Tiff seems to have checkmated her for now, what do you think the Duchess’s next moves will be?  Did you find it hard to hold your tongue during that standoff too?

The Duchess is a Control Freak. So I expect that she will move the wedding along as quickly as possible. Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if she encourages Roland to order Tiffany’s immediate family off the land – The Duchess may even go so far as to order the castle guards to do it ‘in the name of the Baron’. If that happens, I expect the guards and the town and the farms will mutiny. Should be entertaining for us readers ;).

Haha! That stand off was great. It was soooooo hard for Tiff to hold her tongue, but luckily I was saying all the things she couldn’t. In fact, i read that scene off to My Main Man, who found it quite amusing and he had some comments of his own. Poor Tiff. Holding in such things is a kind of self-imposed torture, isn’t it?

6) We’ve met a very interesting guard, Preston, the newest of the bunch. He’s a bit of a bookish nerd. Do you see him being of further assistance to Tiffany? How do you think this will affect his long-term employment at the castle?

I think we met Preston in Part I of the read along, but just briefly. Then we see him at the Duchess-Tiffany standoff wondering where to put the goats that are housed in the dungeon, and finally we are really starting to get to know him. My little inner cupid whispers that maybe Roland isn’t the only interesting and available male on the Chalk. Preston doesn’t seem to be put off in the slightest that she is a witch. Hooray! I expect he will continue to assist Tiffany as he can. Though he may no longer be employed at the castle by the end of this book. We shall have to see.

7) Finally, we learn something very interesting about Letitia. It appears she is a witch. Will Letitia and Tiffany join forces to defeat evil? What do you think Letitia did, if anything, to bring the Cunning Man?

Letitia’s unending tears up to this point had been a bit annoying. But I am glad that Tiffany is finally getting some very meaningful conversation out of her. Obviously, Letitia thinks she did something to bring Tiff her current difficulties and Letitia has guilt over that. So she can’t be all bad. I expect they will join forces so that Tiffany can see what she can do and so that Letitia can assuage some of her guilt.

I’m still not sure Letitia did anything magical against Tiffany. We know she wished her ill, and she went through some motions or a ritual to bring Tiffany bad luck, and that was not nice of her, but did it really do anything? Perhaps. If Letitia can pick up any bramble branch and make light saber light trails with it, perhaps a silly ritual is all she needs to set the drunken cook on her, of the Duchess.

Now, bringing the Cunning Man is something else entirely. If Letitia is inherently that powerful enough to cause Tiff some headaches in the form of abusive idiots, then perhaps she is the witch the Cunning Man is really seeking. But he bumped into Tiff first and has been following her around being a pest thinking she is The One. We’ll see.

Other Tidbits:

I love the way the Night Watch is ever so polite in ‘locking’ Tiffany up, letting her have Mrs. Proust for company, a spot of dinner with wine, and a very comfy cell.

Miss Smith is a time traveler. Very interesting. And she seemed to know a lot about the origin of the Cunning Man, so I have to wonder if she happen to be there and that I why she tells the origin tale so well.

I love that they offer to take the goats out of the dungeon to make Tiff more comfortable. She chooses to hang with them, which I can understand. Unless there was a billy. Billys not only ejaculate on themselves, but also urinate on themselves – so that they are properly perfumed to attract the ladies. Yeah. But if there are no billys in the herd, then goats are usually pretty clean.

I Shall Wear Midnight Read Along Part I

PratchettIShallWearMidnightWelcome Everyone! This week, we are lead by the fearless Lisa from Over the Effing Rainbow. Make sure you swing by her place for genteel conversation.

We covered Chapters 1-6 of I Shall Wear Midnight, the fourth Tiffany Aching book. You know how you wouldn’t take a peek inside a Feegle spog just before lunch for fear of spoiling your appetite? Right, so there be spoilers below for the the book!

1) So Roland is engaged! … And being a bit of a ‘Baron’ towards Tiffany. Oh dear. What do you think of this awkward turn in their ‘friendship’ in this book?

Well, obviously their friendship has already suffered. Last book, we saw that they had a somewhat easy relationship, at least with the penpaling. Now there is this awkwardness what neither seems able to talk about, with each other or others. While I read this book some years back, I honestly remember very little of it and I can’t recall what happens with Tiffany and Roland. I want to say that by the end they are friends again, but not engaged, but that may just be my wishful thinking, hoping Pratchett will give us just one more Tiffany Aching book.

2) “Rough music…” Even more so than with Wintersmith, it seems this book is tackling darker/more adult issues. What did you think of the way Tiffany handled Mr Petty, and is this darker side a welcome development?

I was surprised by the much darker tone. On the other hand, Pratchett balances it well with Feegle humor following on the Petty mess. Honestly, I am conflicted about how Tiffany handled Mr. Petty. I feel like he didn’t pay for his bad acts and therefore can’t really understand the pain he has caused others. Additionally, Mrs. Petty is an upsetting thing, not able to take a stand and declare when enough is enough and make the tough choices. As volunteer fire & EMS, I see spousal abuse on occasion, and have gotten a feel for the local repeat offenders. Having a group of concerned neighbors, ambulance, and police respond to their house is not enough to have them change their ways.

With that in mind, I would say that Tiffany simply gave a sorry man something to feel sorry about (himself and his bruises, etc.) and didn’t help the local populace. If Mr. Petty was dead, by his hand or otherwise, folks could close an ugly chapter in their lives, possibly forgive him, and move on, becoming useful folks themselves. But this is fiction, and teen/young adult fiction at that, so we probably can’t have the heroine standby and watch a man hang. And since he did it sloppily, not breaking his neck right away, it could take up to an hour or so for him to die. So, yes, Tiff had to cut him down.

3) The Feegles are back, and this time we see more of Jeannie, their Kelda. She takes in the Pettys’ daughter, Amber, after Tiffany deals with Mr Petty. Is this a good idea, or do you think it’ll just bring trouble? And what do you make of Jeannie’s prediction that more trouble is coming Tiffany’s way?

Yeah for Feegle kindness! I think it is good for Amber to be with the Feegles. However, nearly everyone else thinks Amber should be with her family. Even Tiffany is a bit on the fence about this one. Tis disturbing. The Feegles won’t beat her at all, let alone to the point where her body nearly gives up and goes into spontaneous abortion.

Alas, I think things are pointy towards troubled waters for Tiffany, and ‘stealing’ Amber away to be given to the ‘faeries’ could be one more thing on the list that may get her burned or stoned or drowned as a witch.

4) Speaking of Amber, there’s something interesting going on with her … Do you think we might see Amber become a witch? And what do you make of her ability to ‘understand’ animals?

She obviously has a gift to understand nearly everything she has come into contact with since her nasty beating. So, yes, I will say that she has the makings of a witch, even if she only ever has this one skill.

As for the chickens following her in a line, that is terribly cute and I love it when mine do the same for me. Of course, they all recognize my face, and are motivated by food, so it’s not like I chat with them in the local country chicken dialect. But, still, very cute.

5) Tiffany vs. Miss Spruce … It seems Tiffany is having to deal much more with people’s negative views of witchcraft, and her use of it. Do you think we’ll see Miss Spruce become more of a problem for Tiffany later?

Yes, Ms. Spruce seems dead set on causing trouble for Tiffany, which is a shame as Tiff has plenty to do otherwise. It would be nice if Roland stepped in and fired Ms. Spruce, making sure to ship her off somewhere distant. Alas, that would be too easy wouldn’t it?

I especially liked Tiffany’s comment about spending so much time on one’s knees in prayer, why not take a mop bucket and scrubbie down with you? Totally agree. You can pray, or commune, or think deep thoughts while getting a bit of manual labor done at the same time.

6) On the other hand, there is the Baron, may he rest in peace … What did you think of his first and last real conversation with Tiffany?

I think he waited too long to treat Tiffany like a real person. However, he did just learn the day before about her rescuing Roland back in Book 1. That was probably the trigger for him to treat her as an equal. I liked that Tiffany shared her fire trick with him, and in turn he shared a deeply pleasing memory of his own with her. I wonder what will happen to that childhood drawing of his?

Other Tidbits:

I liked how Tiffany had a little bit of internal nasty concerning Letitia’s name, but then also cut it off when she started to get a little too mean, even tho it was only in her head.

She buried the little baby corpse in a field of flowers, flowers that grew from seeds she makes sure to sew over the grave and burned cottage of the old ‘witch’ woman who was shunned to death. Tiff rocks!

Daft Wullie needs a pet duck, so that he always has one to shove his head up when he shouldn’t be saying anything. Tho I might feel sorry for the duck as Daft Wullie probably doesn’t bath too often.

The Feegles all held their kilts up to help slow the broom as it crashed into the moving stage coach! I hope, deeply hope, that she did NOT take a look behind her!

WIntersmith Read Along Part II

My daft, toothless cat, Waffles.
My daft, toothless cat, Waffles.

Everyone, please be welcome to the second installment of the Wintersmith Read Along. This week, Lisa from Over the Effing Rainbow is our host. Make sure to swing by her place for insightful and intelligent conversation and to catch links to everyone else’s posts.

Chapters 5-7 are covered this week. If you haven’t read the book, please be warned that spoilers are more numerous, and some even better hidden, then the wee free men that populate this series.

1. “I’m not here…” At Miss Treason’s funeral, we see Tiffany get the better of the Feegles, sneaky though they are! What do you think of the way Tiffany’s ‘witching’ is getting better here?

Well, she did indeed surprise them. That gave me a chuckle. Of course, the Foldin’ o’ the Arms, Pursin’ o’ the Lips, and Tappin’ o’ the Feets made me laugh out loud. Tiffany is getting much better at managing the Feegles, but I am sure they still have a few things to teach her. Like what is worn under the kilt……*worried look*.

2. It’s decided that Annagramma gets the cottage, at the meeting of witches – but we learn that Mistress Weatherwax put Tiffany forward for it. Do you think Tiffany should have gotten the cottage?

Tiffany was very patient with Annagramma, especially when she was being a bit of snot about it all at the funeral feast. And Tiff cleaned up the cottage right nice and wrote down lots of useful info about the folks. In some ways, yes, Tiffany would have done the folks a better turn, but I also believe she is a Chalk witch and wouldn’t have stayed over a year anyway because the bones of hills would have called her home. Besides, the only way Annagramma is going to learn something is by actually having to do it.

3. Nanny Ogg appears at last, to take Tiffany in while the Wintersmith’s about. Next to Mistress Weatherwax, she’s my favorite of the witches! What do you think of her so far?

I’ve always enjoyed Nanny Ogg. She is just so earthy. She’s practical and easy going and a delight to be around. She makes a very good counterpoint to Mistress Weatherwax. While I might find her extra elastic-y drawers a bit odd, and personally I can’t recommend storing food in them even for a short flight home, she’s still a hoot to read about.

4. We learn a little more about “the dance” that Tiffany interrupted, now – and I love the summer-winter mythology that’s explained to her here. What’s your take on the effect it’s having on Tiffany (and her feet)? And do you think we’ll be seeing more of the Summer Lady as well as the Wintersmith?

For a good half of this book, we have the older witches repeatedly telling Tiffany that she shouldn’t have joined in the Dance, that she was a fool to do so, and she should have realized that empty spot wasn’t for her. Pratchett writes this silly attitude so well into the plot, and it is so very true to human nature. How many of us have experienced this type of thing – where everyone else, especially elderly know-it-alls, knows what it is that you missed and everyone feels the need to point out your ignorance. Poor Tiffany.

So, it is nice to finally have more info and to have at least some of Tiffany’s questions answered. She can’t very well fix the problem if she doesn’t understand how she created it in the first place. Yes, I expect we will see more of the Summer Lady as she will be key in creating balance with the Wintersmith.

Yeah! Fresh veggies in the winter. Can’t beat that!

5. Poor Annagramma … I’m starting to have a little more sympathy for her now, as she turns up desperately seeking skulls! Do you think she’s got what it takes to be a good witch, when it counts? Or is her case as hopeless as it seems?

Annagramma is lacking in all practical skills except one – pulling off Boffo. Mrs. Earwig is all Boffo and taught a lot of it to Annagramma. Now if Annagramma can just keep everyone happy with her Boffo while she learns some real skills – lancing of boils, delivering babies, politely dealing with folks who are in pain or just lost a loved one, she might turn into an acceptable witch, barely. Unfortunately, it might very well be more painful to Tiffany than to Annagramma.

6. Oh, dear. Rob Anybody has a Plan … With all of the seriousness surrounding what Tiffany’s gotten herself into, do you think the Feegles can help her this time? Or are even they in over their heads?

The PLAN involves a book on Romancin’, interpreted Feegle style. Of course the plan will work. Hunting for nuts. Yes, well, we call it searching out hot springs here in my little valley.

Other Tidbits:

I love Pratchett’s little footnotes: for witches an old friend & an old enemy may be the same person; Assistant Postmaster Groat’s socks and an interested lady commenting on his sense of hygiene.

Does ‘scuggers’ really mean leg warmers? I have to ask. I mean, if I want to be complimenting folks at work on their leg warmers and sound all Scottish cool and use the term ‘scuggers’ I better well check before I make a mistake.

It was very kind of Miss Treason to give Tiffany an Unexpurgated Dictionary and Chaffinch’s Mythology. She also called Nanny Ogg a strumpet! Ha!

Avoid the rumbustiousness by avoiding the beans. Wise, wise wisdom from our dear Miss Treason.

Frost fern Tiffanys on top of the snowflake Tiffanys. It really is sweet in a cold stalker kind of way.

Jam with ham folks. That’s what you got to deal with in the afterlife.

Poor Tiffany had to give up her necklace. Yes, nearly all of it is Boffo…but a few things are more than that.

It’s good that Daft Wullie now has a keeper, even if that keeper is Horace the blue Lancre cheese.

Library oxen via Feegle delivery. Awesome!

Wintersmith Read Along Part I

My daft, toothless cat, Waffles.
My daft, toothless cat, Waffles.

Dab of Darkness has teamed up with Over the Effing Rainbow to bring you Terry Pratchett goodness, with Lancre Blue cheese. Sounds awesome, right? This week, I am hosting, so make sure to leave your links in the comments so we can all hop around and visit.

This week covers Chapters 1-4. Spoilers lurk below, not even bothering to hide in cupboards or drain pipes.

1) Did anyone else read the Feegle Glossary in the Introduction? What Feegle words have you incorporated into your daily speech?

Bunty. I desperately want to call someone a bunty. Think I can get away with it at work? hehe… perhaps just the once. I’ve already used the phrase ‘cack yer kecks’ this week. My man was in a hurry, hurrying me along. Sigh, just so we can sit in the car and not be too early. ‘Don’t cack yer kecks! I’m coming. Chill.’ That was kind of how it went. By the time we got home from being social, I was pished (this is also a word I want to use at work and see what my workers think). Though, there are plenty of scunners and even a few scuggans there so such language and joking around could lead to job termination.

2) Chapter 1 starts the story with a flashback. In it, Tiffany says, ‘This I choose to do. If there is a price, I choose to pay it.’ Pretty ominous, huh? How did you feel about the serious nature of this first chapter?

While this is probably my 3rd time reading this book, this opening chapter always throws me. I remember the first time I read this book and the tone was so serious for Pratchett, especially for an opening chapter. I checked the spine – this is Terry Pratchett, right? But by the end of the chapter I see what he is doing and felt that he was clever about it.

I could see right away that Tiffany was going to be dealing with some big stuff in this book. She has before in The Wee Free Men and A Hat Full of Sky, but from Chapter 1 it sounds like her decisions and actions may affect not just her, not just her family, not just her friends & neighbors, not just her village, but perhaps the whole Chalk. That’s a lot for the shoulders of a 12 year old.

3) Ms. Treason is 113 years old, and odd. What aspect of her oddness was most endearing to you? Which the most disturbing?

She’s a weaver, and this simple hobby gives her a little warm place in my heart. Being a weaver myself (check out Woven Hearth if you want to see pics), I like that Pratchett adds in these basic and practical hobbies to the story.

I figure most people will have a little shudder at this, but I have to say it is the borrowing of the eyes. I know it is practical, and that much of the time, er….sometimes, she even asks permission before she does borrow them, but it is just creepy. Still, if I get to be a 113 year old blind witch living in Discworld, I will probably do the same.

4) Miss Tick finds herself once again persecuted for being a witch, and is being held per the instructions of Witch Hunting for Dumb People (which she secretly wrote). What instructions or tidbits would you include in such a book, or in one entitled Feegle Hunting for Really Dumb People?

For Witch Hunting for Dumb People, I think I would also include instructions about providing the witch with light entertainment such as music or perhaps just an exciting adventure novel to keep her quiet and docile in her confines. As for Feegle Hunting for Really Dumb People – I could start with, ‘Don’t!’ if I care about the humans involved. But for the vast majority, I think I would make it fun for the feegles. I would suggest that the hunters use the biggest mallets they can lay hands on, set snares with razor wire, perhaps even bring in an excellent knife thrower for a rousing chase through the woods. The feegles would love this! Of course, there might be a sizeable human body count when all is said and done, so such a book would have to be kept in the restricted section under lock and key.

5) After Tiffany wakes up after the Morris Dance, she stomps off into the snow to cool off & yells for the Wintersmith. What amused you about that scene?

Poor dear was embarrassed, so I can totally understand that she needed to step away to cool her blushes and gather her wits. It is both brave and foolish to think that she could simply confront the Wintersmith, an elemental, and have everything sorted out. I do think it is pretty cool that she has a permanent mark of the Chalk Horse on her hand now.

6) Boffo and little assumptions-fed ticking clocks. What do you think of Ms. Treason’s little tricks?

The boffo and rumors are cheap, easy ways for her to maintain some authority and mystique. At her age, she needs this kind of convenience. I loved watching Tiffany discover these things and her slight shock. Listening to the villagers explain the clock was great!

7) We have been reintroduced to Roland, but this time we learn a little more about his family: his ill father and his controlling aunts. What do you think Roland will do about this problem?

Seems Roland’s aunts are after someone’s inheritance. Tsk, tsk (wags finger at them). Roland is off to a decent start with his barricaded door, his books, and his super secret exit so he can still send messages, run errands, pick up a ham sandwich to go, etc. I think he would have an easier time of solving this conundrum if he told Tiffany about it, but I respect him for wanting to handle it on his own.

Other Tidbits:

Rob Anybody – reading Tiffany’s mail and diary. Awkward. I mean, he’s an adult male, yes a Feegle, but still an adult male. Tiffany needs a place where she can draw hearts and unicorns and also write pretend hate mail to express herself.

Horace, the Lancre Blue cheese. I always, always forget Horace. Every single time I read this book, Horace sneaks out of his cupboard and smacks me upside the head. Every kid needs a pet of some sort. Poor Tiffany gets Feegles and Horace.

Roland has a key book too, on how to survive sieges. Naughty aunties! Clever Roland!

The chat between the Feegles and Miss Treason was great. So practical and funny.

Granny Weatherwax now has a white kitten. Too cute. It was very thoughtful of Tiffany, especially the way she mentioned Mrs. Earwig’s black cats.

What Others Think:

Over the Effing Rainbow

Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers

Lynn’s Book Blog

Tethyan Books

Tiffany Aching Read Along – Books 3&4

My daft, toothless cat, Waffles.
My daft, toothless cat, Waffles.

Hello everyone! I am very excited to tell you that a group of us will be continuing on with the Tiffany Aching Saga by Terry Pratchett. Earlier this year, we group read the first two books (The Wee Free Men and A Hat Full of Sky). Now, several of us return to finish the saga with Wintersmith (Book 3) and I Shall Wear Midnight (Book 4). Lisa from Over the Effing Rainbow has enthusiastically jumped in to cohost with me. Hooray!

I have read each of these books multiple times and love them dearly. In my humble (yet sometimes snotty) opinion, these four books are Terry Pratchett’s best works. Tiffany is one of my all time heroines because she wears hand-me-down boots, can make cheese, and knows the worth of a cast iron frying pan as a weapon.

Smudge finds being a bookstand disagreeable.
Smudge finds being a bookstand disagreeable.

If you think you would like to join us, these are quick easy books chalked full of amusement. You could probably even read the first two books if you haven’t already before the read along posts start. If you want to be on the weekly email list to receive discussion questions ahead of time, just leave me a comment with your email address.\

Wintersmith (little mass paperback, 446 pages)
Week 1 9/16 Chapters 1-4, 152 pages (DabOfDarkness.com)
Week 2 9/23 Chapters 5-7, 144 pages (OverTheEffingRainbow.blogspot.com)
Week 3 9/30 Chapters 8-END, 151 pages (DoD)

I Shall Wear Midnight (mine is an odd-sized paperback, 347 pages)
Week 1 10/7 Chapters 1-6, 121 pages (OtER)
Week 2 10/14 Chapters 7-10, 118 pages (DoD)
Week 3 10/21 Chapters 11-END, 107 pages (OtER)

I am very much looking forward to sharing these books with everyone!

A Hat Full Of Sky by Terry Pratchett

Yes, Stout really is that sweet.
Yes, Stout really is that sweet.

Why I Read It: Tis a favorite, and there was this read along

Where I Got It: Own It.

Who I Recommend This To: Anyone who enjoys humor, sheep, creative swearing (PG rated), or cheese.

Publisher: HarperCollins (2005)

Length: 407 pages

Series: Tiffany Aching Saga Book 2

In this installment of the Tiffany Aching saga, Terry Pratchett has her battling an ancient malevolent enemy, meeting other young witches her age, learning to ride a broomstick, and bonding with adult witches. It’s her first real trip off the chalk as Tiffany sets off to go be the assistant to Miss Level in the mountains. Now Miss Level is interesting in and of herself, having once been part of a circus. She also has milk goats and is daily down at the local village seeing to their needs. Tiffany takes on learning how to make a proper shamble, dealing with another bullying girl, and facing some of her deepest, but perhaps not best, desires.

I truly believe that these books, the Tiffany Aching saga, are Terry Pratchett’s best Discworld books. In fact, you don’t really need to know anything about Discworld in order to enjoy these books. The Feegles, or Wee Free Men, that we met in Book 1 are back in Book 2, causing mayhem, misdirection, and the occasional questionable humor. I believe the humorous and serious notes of this book are even better balanced than Book 1, The Wee Free Men. Tiffany is 11 in this book, and her grandmother has been dead and buried for some years, yet she still has a strong presence in Tiffany’s mind. Mistress Weatherwax, who showed up at the end of Book 1, has a much greater role in Book 2, and there is even bonding over pickles and voles. Indeed, Tiffany has a lot to learn and this adventure takes her up against the wall to find out how strong she is.

What I Liked: The cover; the humor; the serious parts; this book made me feel, and feel all sorts of things, and that is why it has a permanent place on my book shelf.

What I Disliked: There was one chapter that ended abruptly and then the next starts in a completely different place – it fools me every time and I keep thinking the editors must have taken something important out.

OnceUponATime7There’s this cool on-going reading event focused on fantasy over at Stainless Steel Droppings, called Once Upon A Time. Check it out and join the fun.

If you would like a more in depth discussion of this book, check out the read along posts:

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

A Hat Full Of Sky Read Along Part IV

Yes, Stout really is that sweet.
Yes, Stout really is that sweet.

Oh waily, waily, waily! Here we are at the end of A Hat Full Of Sky, Book 2 in the Tiffany Aching saga. Well, don’t fash yerself too much; there are 2 more books featuring Tiffany Aching (Wintersmith, and I Shall Wear Midnight). Myself and a few other awesome bloggers (ye ken who ye are, ye scunners!) will be returning to this series in the autumn, sometime in October or November. Don’t worry, there will be an announcement. So, if you are sorry you missed dissecting Books 1 & 2 with us, catch up and join us for the questionable, yet always raucous, fun for Books 3 & 4.

Next, I want to thank all of you who have joined me for The Wee Free Men and A Hat Full of Sky: Lynn, Sue, OCDFaerie, Tethyan, and Andrea. These are some of my favorite books and it sure did my heart good to share them with such a crowd. Thank you all.

Don’t forget to leave your link in the comments so that I and others can pop on by for some pickle sandwiches and chit chat.

1) Mistress Weatherwax has a philosophy of her job is to make sure everyone today can get to tomorrow – such as letting people believe in water sprites and goblins if it lets them lead a better life. Do you see yourself somewhere in this philosophy?

Totally. I am definitely all for the ‘if it helps you be a better person, why not believe in (fill if the blank)’. And I am not above fibbing to someone if I feel they are being stubborn and don’t care to learn the science behind things. I once worked with this youngish man whore who was going on about blue balls. Of course, pink balls came up and I told him it was a medical condition. He was very, very concerned. Of course, the medical condition that would be pink balls (for Caucasians anyway) would be ‘normal & healthy’. But I didn’t let on to this as I figured it best that he get checked for STDs anyway. Dork.

2) Do you think Mr. Weavall will be successful with the Widow Tussy? Do you think Tiffany got off light concerning Mr. Weavall’s stash?

I most certainly hope the two get hitched…..and get to live several years together before either kicks the bucket. Anyway, the first time I read this, I felt that Tiffany got off light. But then I realized that she will punish herself far more harshly for what she did under the Hiver’s influence than anyone else could punish her. In a way, Mr. Weavall is very lucky that Tiffany has such great friends.

3) What was your favorite part of Mistress Weatherwax’s and Tiffany’s bonding time in the mountains with the little picnic and the owls and such?

The pickles. Yep. And the implied wind created by said pickles.

And there was that whole, ‘Call me Granny Weatherwax’, part that was most excellent.

But mostly the pickles.

4) Petulia Gristle heard Tiffany was going to face something nasty and went out to see if she could use some help. Have you ever had an awkward situation like that?

Uh yeah. I have been on both sides. It is awkward all around. You show up to help and it quickly becomes apparent that either you aren’t needed or aren’t wanted or both. Suck. But, I have also been the stunned bunny trying to think of something polite to say when someone completely unexpected, perhaps even less that desired, shows up with the offer of assistance. Suck. Each and every time, I handle the situation with complete social awkwardness and lame silences. Yep, that’s me, so very suave in stressful, odd social situations.

I think Tiffany handled it pretty well.

5) Tiffany has her first and last conversation with the Hiver/Arthur. Did you see Tiffany’s answer to the Hiver dilemma coming or were you taken by surprise?

The first time I read this book, I was not expecting the Hiver, Arthur, to end as he did. Of course, the one thing Arthur had never been able to have before was an ending, so it made a lot of sense that he wanted to finally hang his hat up. Also, it was awesome that 1) Tiffany walked into the land of the dead knowing full well she might not get out again; 2) that DEATH himself showed up (my 2nd favorite Discworld books are those that feature DEATH); and 3) Weatherwax literally shoves her foot in the door to break the rules and yank Tiffany back into the living world. Yeah, it was a kick ass scene.

6) The Witch Trials are almost like a county fair, a happy outing for the entire family, or so Granny Weatherwax was grumbling about. What about the affair caught your attention?

I liked how the trials for Tiffany and Weatherwax were more about ignoring the sillies who wanted them to show up the other or take the other down a notch and refusing to actually perform for the witch trials. If either would have done any witchery, even something simple, then they would have been performing for the wrong reasons. So hats off to both of them for not giving in to peer pressure.

7) In the final chapter, we learn the meaning of the title of the book. Did you feel this was a good wrap up to the novel?

Yes! Yet again, Granny Aching shows Tiffany the way to live her own life – including having the sky for your hat. Witch hats featured heavily throughout this book, many of the witches feeling you weren’t a right proper witch without a witchy hat. Yet, Granny Aching sometimes went with an old burlap bag to help keep the weather off while hunting for lost sheep in a dreary night. But mostly, she used the sky as her hat.

Other Tidbits:

I love that Weatherwax never could get the hang of the shamble either. I think this made Tiffany feel better, and in a way, helped her be successful when the shamble was necessary – and not exploding Rob Anybody into tiny bits.

Mistress Weatherwax now has a nice cape in deed. I think she will get used to looking dashing in a light breeze.

What Others Think:

Over the Effing Rainbow

Lynn’s Book Blog

Tethyan Books

Coffee, Cookies, & Chilli Peppers

The Little Red Reviewer

A Hat Full Of Sky Read Along Part III

Tofu on the headboard. Yes, he does sleep there...and occasionally falls off.
Tofu on the headboard. Yes, he does sleep there…and occasionally falls off.

Welcome back Pratchettites! We’re already 3/4 of the way through A Hat Full Of Sky. It has gone by so damn quickly! This week, The Little Red Reviewer is hosting, so make sure to stop by her place and read her whimsical, entertaining, and insightful comments. This week covers chapters 6-9 and next week we’ll be covering chapters 10-END.

1) I got a chuckle out of Tiffany’s visit to ZakZak’s shop, especially the bit about the different styles of witch hats. What kind of witchy goodies would YOU buy there?

I was really into crystals when I was younger. Now, it is rocks, and crystals the showy kind of rocks. So, I would want to walk into ZakZak’s, stroll over the crystals display, and start doing some rudimentary field guesses as to what types of crystals they are. Such field tests involve tapping them with a geologists hammer, lightly, to get a feel for how hard they hard; attempting to scratch their surface; licking them; and singing in variously (but always annoying) high notes to see if and when they resonate. I would probably get strong armed out by the bouncer, that frog who has a large pink balloon tied to his wrist.

2) Inside Tiffany’s head might be the strangest place the Feegle have ever been. What did you think of Pratchett’s imagery of her mind, and of her safe place?

Even the first time I read this book, I totally got it that Granny Aching’s place we her safe place. I love that old, dead, ghosty woman. Given the over growth and mess the Hiver is making of her mind, I sure am glad the Feelge bathed first. Tho perhaps unclean Feegle might have shocked the real Tiffany out of her safe place to do something about it. Hmmm…..Perhaps that was plan B (PLN B?).

3) Poor Miss Level. Do you think she’ll ever recover from what happened to her? How is this going to change her relationship with Tiffany?

Since I have read this book more than once, I already know. But I distinctly remember being shocked dumb that Pratchett actually killed someone, and such a central character to this book, and not in a Death story. (By the way, the Discworld books that feature Death are my second favorites to the Tiffany Aching quadrology). And I remember thinking that first time around that Tiffany was going to have a very hard time forgiving herself……and I actually didn’t think too much on how Miss Level was going to treat Tiffany from then on. Shallow of me? Perhaps.

4) In the discussion Tiffany has with Mistress Weatherwax at the end of chapter 9, Weatherwax gives Tiffany some very important information about how to be a witch. Who would you rather study with to become a witch? Weatherwax or Level?

Perhaps I could start off with Weatherwax, get all the my bad habits beaten out of me, and then move on to someone easier, like Miss Level or even Miss Tick?

‘You hold that anger,’ Mistress Weatherwax said, as if reading all of her mind. ‘Cup it in your heart, remember where it came from, remember the shape of it, save it until you need it.’

I love how these few sentences take what most would call a negative emotion and shape into a tool to be used for good. Pratchett, and perhaps Mistress Weatherwax, get me, and they haven’t even met me. For that, they rock.

5) Any thoughts on how the story might end? Do you think the Hiver is gone for good?

Now I remember thinking that Pratchett’s editor must have cut out some pretty interesting stuff. I mean, we are left with Rob Anybody swinging like mad, Weatherwax showing up after consorting with bees, and then the next day dawns bright and clear, and oh, by the way Tiffany, here’s the milk bucket – go harass the goats! I figured Pratchett must be spinning in anger at his editor for having cut out how we got from Point A to Point B. But then I decided work be damned, and stayed up way too late reading to see how things ended. I won’t spoil anything, but I found the ending extremely satisfying.

Other Tidbits:

Who else felt a bit righteous at what the Hiver did to Annagramma, giving her such a scare?

Tiffany’s Hiver harsh description of Petulia nearly matches me. I will leave you too guess which point isn’t me: none too clever, fat, still has a teddy bear, believes in fairies.

Mrs. Ah-wij (Earwig) would drive me nuts! Full of vapors, she is.

A trick ladder, the clown Floppo, and custard. Well, there’s a story of Miss Level’s past.

Daft Wullie has the brains of a beetle. Perhaps.

Some favorite lines from this sections:

‘Wash oot yer mouth wi’ hedgehog pee, Big Yan!’

‘All we need tae do is frannit a wheelstone on it and it’ll tak’ us right where she is.’

‘Aye, it’s no’ that good for the ship, havin’ tae drink oout o’ that pond after we’ve been bathing. It’s terrible, hearing a ship tryin’ to spit.’

A Hat Full of Sky Read Along Part II

Yes, Stout really is that sweet.
Yes, Stout really is that sweet.

Welcome everyone! I hope you find today’s post amusing – I am writing it on cold medication, sleep deprived, and with an ice pack on my ankle, so it might not be as sparkly sharp-witted as you are use too. Feel free to provide the wit in the comments.

Today’s post covers Chapters 4-6 of the book and I am hosting. Please leave a link to your post in the comments so that I may stalk you and leave funny, yet uninsightful comments on your posts. Next week, we will be back at The Little Red Reviewer as host (tho don’t forget to check out her post on this section). If you want the schedule for the rest of the read along, HERE it is.

1) Awf’ly Wee Billy, the gonnagle, comes up with a plan, the PLN. First, do you like the basic idea? Second, what was your favorite part of the execution of the PLN?

This section contains one of those scenes that have repeatedly had me laughing to the point of tears. Yes, it is that scene where the little devils are dressed like an odd scarecrow, in the stage coach and Daft Wullie decides to go walk about….popping out of the crotch and saying Hi to the other passengers. I can picture this scene so clearly in my head that it is both obscene and absurdly funny. See, I know they are Feegles posing as one man. But the other passengers think they are dealing with one man who has a talking penis.

Does anyone else know that song, Detachable Penis by King Missile? If not, here you are. You can thank me later once the mental image has worn off.

2) Miss Level has a philosophy of ‘storing it in other people’. How do you like this philosophy and do you know any witchy people in life who might be secretly following it?

I think it is a hard philosophy to carry out. I mean, you essentially have to trust that all those favors that you do for folks will eventually come back around to you – maybe not directly, but through some karmatic pay it forward, eventually turn into a circle kind of thing. I am not sure I could do that day after day. I generally don’t mind assisting my fellow being (furred or not) from time to time, but to have that be part of my daily routine? I’m suspicious of foks by nature, and I am more likely to assist someone if I can control the situation – because I have control issues.

No, that doesn’t mean you need to put on a leather collar and muffs to catch a ride back to the office form some meeting. Unless you really want to, in which case you can ride in the back and explain yourself to security, should be detained.

And no, I don’t know anyone as good as Miss Level or Tiffany. The folks I know who go around doing favors, taking care of other folks, either do it for the money or for the gossip.

3) We finally get to meet some other witchlings, such as Petulia and Annagramma. What do you make of Tiffany’s first meeting with them?

Annagramma has a ridiculous name, but I would not make fun of her in front of her sister witches. I would take her aside and tell her politely over tea. Terry Pratchett captured the spirit of bullying quite well in the form of Annagramma and the witch she serves – Mrs. Earwig. Adults can be bullies too. Most of them have learned to tone it down, be snide and sneaky about it, unless they are employed in sports or as upper management. I also like how Tiffany recognizes that she herself falls into the same trap as the other witchlings, becoming meek and apologizing around Annagramma.

4) The Hiver has finally found Tiffany and Miss Level has finally met the Feegle. How do you think Tiffany will fair against the Hiver and how much damage do you think will be done (either by the Hiver or the Feegle)?

Oooooo! Evil Hiver! I think this insidious bad guy is one of the most dangerous in the world of fantasy literature. Think about it – no one knows you have been taken over, you can’t escape (not even in your own head), and you end up doing and saying things that would make the whole you weep. And you can’t stop it. Well, maybe Tiffany can. I would be turned into a pile of questionable goo within a fortnight.

Hahaha! Miss Level now has to contend with the Feegle. Let’s face it – if they are trying to remain unseen, they are somewhat polite, they hold back from stealing or breaking all the important stuff. But now that their presence is known, there is no reason for them to hold back at Miss Level’s place.

Other Tidbits:

Lucky the Feegle have all sorts of coin to get them from point A to point B. I am surprised they haven’t found a way to eat it or trade it for spirits.

Henry finally got to run the race he had always dreamed of. And there were lady equines to see him do it. That scene cracked me up.

The passengers, squeezing even closer together, watched the trousers with terrible fascination. There was some movement, some swearing under the breath in a place where nothing should be breathing, and then a couple of buttons popped and a very small red-headed blue man stuck his head out, blinking in the light.

What Other People Thought:

The Little Red Reviewer

Over the Effing Rainbow

Tethyan Books

Lynn’s Book Blog

Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers