Tea Review

Golden Kenya, Black Tea GFBOP

Upton TK25. 2.2 grams steeped for 5 minutes at 212℉. Impression: BOP-size bits, see photo. Dry tea smells of citrus. Brewed tea scent is yeasty, spicy, brothy. Taste: Clear and bright, no brackishness, hints of peaches, mushrooms and toast. Mildly astringent.

I had never had an African tea before, but Kenya was recommended to me. This is a very pleasant tea, with some unique flavors I haven’t come across before in black tea. A nice switch from my usual round of Ceylons and Assams.

Award Eligibility Post for 2018

It’s that time of the year.

Half-Witch is my only publication this year, but one I’m very happy with. I believe it is eligible for the Nebula, Hugo, Andre Norton, World Fantasy, British Fantasy, Mythopoeic, and Shirley Jackson awards, at least. My Campbell eligibility has long since expired. Half-Witch is being marketed as Middle Grade, but seems to have been read widely by adults, and might qualify in either YA or Adult novel categories

Kirkus starred review: “Readers who appreciate powerful female friendships and sui generis whimsy will cherish it.”

Amal El-Mohtar, The Best New Fantasy Novels, in the New York Times: “Half-Witch is a marvel of storytelling, balancing humor, terror and grace. Lizbet… and Strix are a perfect double act, and the shape and texture of the friendship they build is a joy to discover.”

NPR’s Best Books of 2018: “A marvelous blend of whimsy, terror and deep feeling.”

Colleen Mondor in Locus: “There is something deeply satisfying about a traditional fantasy with plucky protagonists, nefarious villains, hungry goblins, tricky witches, and a dangerous and difficult quest… Everything you expect to find is present, plus a lot of unlikely twists and turns that make this adventure a classic read.”

A Junior Library Guild Selection.

Half-Witch is available from its publisher Small Beer Press, from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your local bookseller.

Tea Review

Pettiagalla OP1, Thé noir de Ceylon

Mariage Freres T302. 2.5 grams steeped for 5 minutes at 212℉. Impression: OP-size bits, see photo. Dry tea smells like roses and apricots. Brewed tea scent yeasty, malty. Taste: woody, brackish, briary, hints of tobacco. Not much finish. Strongly astringent.

A solid Ceylon, without any unpleasant notes. Similar to blends often called ‘Scottish breakfast tea,’ though this is a varietal, not a blend.

Tea Review

Delmar Estate FBOP, Ceylon Premium Tea

 Upton TC31. 2.2 grams steeped for 3 minutes at 212℉. Impression: Broken orange pekoe-size bits, see photo. Dry tea smells floral. Brewed tea scent is yeasty, malty. Taste: floral, stone fruit, old paper, tobacco, oregano, weeds, pond muck. Moderately astringent.

Ceylon black teas are quite variable in taste. Some are lovely; some have tastes that are jut not right for me. This is one of the latter.

Tea Review

Twinnings English Breakfast Tea

2.1 grams steeped for 3 minutes at 212℉. Impression: bag tea, see photo. Brewed tea scent is faintly spicy and yeasty. Taste: flat, thin, brackish. Slight maltiness, mainly in the finish. Moderately astringent.

I wanted tea to take to Readercon, without the bother of bagging my own bulk tea, so I bought a Twinnings Black Tea Variety Pack. It contains English Breakfast, Earl Grey, Lady Grey, and Irish Breakfast. The English Breakfast was disappointing. Twinnings is loved by many, but not, apparently, me. I suspect I’ve been spoiled by the bulk teas of good by-mail suppliers, like Upton and Yunnan. The package says this tea is a blend of Kenyan and Assam. I’ve never had Kenyan, though it was recommended to me recently. I will try a different source for Kenyan at some time.

Great review of HALF-WITCH in New York Times

Glowing review of Half-Witch in the Times, by Amal El-Mohtar, herself a fine SFF writer.

“Half-Witch” is a marvel of storytelling, balancing humor, terror and grace. Lizbet is so earnestly good, in a way that I think has fallen out of fashion but that I loved reading. She and Strix are a perfect double act, and the shape and texture of the friendship they build is a joy to discover.

Amazing review. I couldn’t hope for better. Read the full review all here.

By the way, at the top of the review is C.L. Polk’s Witchmark, which has received lots of praise this year. Chelsea is an old acquaintance from the OWW writing workshop, and I’m delighted to see her debut novel having fantastic success.

Great review of HALF-WITCH in August Locus

The August issue of Locus, just out, has a very positive review of HALF-WITCH, by Colleen Mondor. It’s behind a paywall (unless you subscribe to the on-line version of Locus), but here’s a sample:

“There is something deeply satisfying about a traditional fantasy with plucky protagonists, nefarious villains, hungry goblins, tricky witches, and a dangerous and difficult quest. In John Schoffstall’s Half-Witch, everything you expect to find is present, plus a lot of unlikely twists and turns that make this adventure a classic read… Lisbet and Strix become the very definition of plucky, and it is hard not cheer them on.”

Amazon link

 

AN AUTHOR’S PRAYER

Bless my sainted parents in Heaven.

Lead the human race to world peace, an end to hunger, and brotherhood between all faiths and nations.

Please let the Westboro Baptist Church picket my book-signing today.

Amen.

HALF-WITCH is published today!

My debut novel, Half-Witch, is published today by Big Mouth House, an imprint of Small Beer Press.

Lizbet Lenz, fifteen years old, lives in a Europe that lost its way on the road to modernity. The sun still goes around the earth. Goblins lurk in cellars and witches conspire in the forests. The war between God and Satan is going badly for the home team. Lizbet has spent a lonely and friendless childhood fleeing from one town to another with her father Gerhard, a charming swindler never more than a step ahead of the law. When Gerhard is jailed for his crimes, only Lizbet can free him.

In the company of Strix, a clever, worldly, and sarcastic witch girl who is Lizbet’s opposite in every way, Lizbet undertakes a perilous journey over mountains that encircle the world. And that’s just the start of her troubles!

Half-Witch is being marketed as middle-grade, but it should be accessible to readers of all ages.

Ebooks compatible with Kindle and other e-readers are available at the link above. Half-Witch is also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or at your local bookstore.

I hope you enjoy Half-Witch!