Second Reflections – the witches (Roald Dahl)

Ahoy there me mateys!  While drawin’ up me lists of 2016 for me log, I realized a curious thing – out of 134 books read, not a single one was a re-read.  In me enthusiasm of discovery and taking suggestions from me crew, I did not revisit a single old port for plunder!  And part of what I love about readin’ is re-visitin’ old friends.  So I decided to remedy that and thus created me new category where I take a second look at a previously enjoyed novel and give me crew me second reflections, as it were, upon visitin’ it again . . .

the witches – Roald Dahl

So I am not a huge audio book person.  In fact the only story I previously listened to was the dispatcher which I “read” and reviewed with me first mate.  Now I know that I said I preferred readin’ books rather than listening to them (still true) but some circumstances led me to listening to the witches via audiobook.  So basically I have been having long days where I am doing monotonous things like inventorying the hold, reviewing the accounts, and supervising the swabbin’ of the deck.  None of these tasks involves a ton of brain power.  So frankly I get a bit bored.  Usually I listen to and sing sea shanties.  But even that had lost its luster.  So I thought why not listen to an audio book.  I had time constraints and knew that I couldn’t listen to something new that might distract me.  So I decided to listen to an old favourite children’s book due to the length and because I would already be familiar with the story.  Thus the witches because I had a copy readily available.

I loved Dahl’s books as a young lass and consider many of them favourites.  Like me commandeered little princess tale, me copy of the witches was filched at some point and so I hadn’t read this one since that incident.  I absolutely loved revisiting this tale.

This is the story of a small boy whose encounter with witches forever changes his life.  Now ye may think of witches as scary women with warts and green skin and long pointy black hats.  The truth is that in disguise, they look like perfectly nice ordinary young women, and they have a plot to get rid of all children in England for good.  Unless one small boy with the help of his Norwegian grandmother can save the day!

I certainly missed Quentin Blake’s illustrations but thought overall that  narrator Miranda Richardson did a fairly good job with the characters.  The only issue that I had was her portrayal of the head witch.  The head witch rolls the letter r and turns the letter w into a v.  Many of these lines were unintelligible at times.  But overall I thought that the story was just as wonderful as I remembered.  I may try this audio book thing again.

Side note: the first mate told me there was a movie of the witches with Anjelica Huston as the head witch.  I watched the 1990 trailer and my goodness does it depart from the book.  I think I shall skip it.

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

This is not a fairy-tale. This is about real witches. Real witches don’t ride around on broomsticks. They don’t even wear black cloaks and hats. They are vile, cunning, detestable creatures who disguise themselves as nice, ordinary ladies. So how can you tell when you’re face to face with one? Well, if you don’t know yet you’d better find out quickly-because there’s nothing a witch loathes quite as much as children and she’ll wield all kinds of terrifying powers to get rid of them.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Roald Dahl – Author

To buy the novel visit:

the witches – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

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Second Reflections – the song of the quarkbeast (Jasper Fforde)

Ahoy there me mateys!  Yesterday I shared me second reflections of the last dragonslayer and discovered there was a book three in the series that I haven’t read!  So I decided to remedy that.  But of course that meant taking a second look at book two first and giving me crew me second reflections, as it were, upon visitin’ it again . . .

the song of the quarkbeast – Jasper Fforde

This be a fun second foray into the Ununited Kingdoms.  Magic is on the rise but there be a fight to see who will control it.  And what better way to come up with a winner then a duel!  In this case it is Jennifer and the Kazam agency versus their competition, the iMagic agency.  There is a bridge that needs to be repaired and each has a half of it to fix.  Whoever finishes their part of the bridge first wins?  Easy right?

Well maybe not when yer magicians keep disappearing, a quarkbeast is on the run, and silly politics are getting in the way.  This was filled with more delightful shenanigans, quirky characters, and absolutely silly situations.  I loved to see Jennifer back in action.

While I do think book one is the stronger book, this is still fun if not quite as good.  It is just fluffy fun with no bigger purpose.  But I enjoyed it and want more.  Onto book three!  Arrr!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Long ago, magic began to fade, and the underemployed magicians of Kazam Mystical Arts Management have been forced to take any work their sixteen-year-old acting manager, Jennifer Strange, can scare up. But things are about to change. Magical power is finally on the rise, and King Snodd IV, of the Ununited Kingdoms knows that he who controls magic controls everything. Only one person stands between Snodd and his plans for a magic-grab–and that’s Jennifer.

Yet even smart and sensible Jennifer would have trouble against these powers-that-be. The king and his cronies will do anything to succeed–including ordering a just-might-be-rigged contest between Kazam and iMagic, Kazam’s only competitor in the magic business. With underhanded shenanigans afoot, how can Kazam possibly win?

Whatever happens, one this is certain: Jennifer Strange will not relinquish the noble powers of magic without a fight.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Jasper Fforde – Author

To buy the novel visit:

the song of the quarkbeast – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Second Reflections – the last dragonslayer (Jasper Fforde)

Ahoy there me mateys!  While drawin’ up me lists of 2016 for me log, I realized a curious thing – out of 134 books read, not a single one was a re-read.  In me enthusiasm of discovery and taking suggestions from me crew, I did not revisit a single old port for plunder!  And part of what I love about readin’ is re-visitin’ old friends.  So I decided to remedy that and thus created me new category where I take a second look at a previously enjoyed novel and give me crew me second reflections, as it were, upon visitin’ it again . . .

the last dragonslayer – Jasper Fforde

I wanted a light read of something I knew I loved so I could just savor part of me weekend.  This was absolutely perfect.  I don’t know when I first discovered this novel as it was certainly way before this current log but I am glad to have revisited this old friend.

This is definitely one to recommend to me crew.  The story involves a young plucky intelligent orphan who helps run Kazam which is an agency of magicians.  Of course she is not supposed to be in charge but her boss disappeared!  She is trying to hold down the fort but of course everything is going wrong.

Now ye think of magic and it sounds awesome.  Well magic has been fading from the land and people hire magicians to do unexciting things like deliver pizza via magic carpet.  The magicians are poor and struggling.  This aspect of the world-building is absolutely awesome.  I love how the magic works (or doesn’t) and how it is used.  In fact the overall world-building is an absolute delight.

The story itself is whimsical and funny and clever and absurd.  Jennifer is an excellent main character who of course is intelligent, honorable, snarky, practical, and awesome.  The other characters are almost as wonderful.  I want a Quarkbeast . . . I think.

It sort of has a similar feel of the Enchanted Forest Chronicles so if ye liked those then pick this up.  Actually if ye haven’t read those books then do yerself a favor and get that series and this one.  Ye won’t regret it.

Side note: Apparently book three has been out since 2015 and I never knew.  I now know what me next two reads are going to be!  Arrr!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

In the good old days, magic was indispensable—it could both save a kingdom and clear a clogged drain. But now magic is fading: drain cleaner is cheaper than a spell, and magic carpets are used for pizza delivery. Fifteen-year-old foundling Jennifer Strange runs Kazam, an employment agency for magicians—but it’s hard to stay in business when magic is drying up. And then the visions start, predicting the death of the world’s last dragon at the hands of an unnamed Dragonslayer. If the visions are true, everything will change for Kazam—and for Jennifer. Because something is coming. Something known as . . . Big Magic.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Jasper Fforde – Author

To buy the novel visit:

the last dragonslayer – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Second Reflections of a Banned Book – the witch of blackbird pond (Elizabeth George Spears)

Ahoy there me mateys!  While drawin’ up me lists of 2016 for me log, I realized a curious thing – out of 134 books read, not a single one was a re-read.  In me enthusiasm of discovery and taking suggestions from me crew, I did not revisit a single old port for plunder!  And part of what I love about readin’ is re-visitin’ old friends.  So I decided to remedy that in this here year and thus created this category where I take a second look at a previously enjoyed novel and give me crew me second reflections, as it were, upon visitin’ it again . . .

the witch of blackbird pond – Elizabeth George Spears

This being Banned Books Week and having just finished a historical fiction about witchcraft in England, I thought it be high time to read the beloved favorite. I reread this in one delightful sitting.

This book is a young adult historical fiction about a girl named Katherine, i.e. Kit, who is forced to leave her home in Barbados and move to Connecticut to live with her Aunt and Uncle.  She goes from a care-free rich island lifestyle to a hard-working Puritan one in America.  It is a tale about growing up, change, and family.  And it has witchcraft.  Or better yet it doesn’t.

The two people accused of witchcraft in the book are not witches.  However this book has been banned because of promoting witchcraft and violence.  Huh?  What is shown instead are the consequences of gossiping, fear, and ignorance.  The book dispels the notions of witchcraft using proper proof.  Instead the book promotes hard work, good relationships, and education.  I find the idea of banning this book to be ludicrous.

The book certainly stood up to the passage of time and I found meself happily rediscovering old details that had been clouded over.  Kit is strong, intelligent, and above all changes for the better.  The other characters are equally well drawn and compelling.  I love that Kit is challenged over her ideas of politics, religion, slavery, and class.  It is still fast paced and engrossing.  The love and friendships and bonds formed by Kit and her family and neighbors made me happy.  I also think credit goes to this novel for teaching me to call kittens “tiny balls of fluff.”  I believe that it completely deserved winning the Newbery Medal of Honor.

If ye haven’t read this one then hoist those sails and get moving!

The back of me very old copy of the novel has this to say:

Kit Tyler knew, as she gazed for the first time at the cold, bleak shores of Connecticut Colony, that her new home would never be like the shimmering Caribbean islands she left behind.  She was like a tropical bird that has flown to the wrong part of the world.  And in the stern Puritan community of her relatives, she soon felt caged as well, and lonely.  In the meadows, the only place where she could feel completely free, she meets another lone and mysterious figure, the old woman known as the Witch of Blackbird Pond.  But when their friendship is discovered, Kit is faced with suspicion, fear, and anger.  She herself is accused of witchcraft!

To visit the author’s Goodreads page go to:

Elizabeth George Spears – Author

To buy the novel visit:

the witch of blackbird pond – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Second Reflections – a little princess (Frances Hodgson Burnett)

Ahoy there me mateys!  While drawin’ up me lists of 2016 for me log, I realized a curious thing – out of 134 books read, not a single one was a re-read.  In me enthusiasm of discovery and taking suggestions from me crew, I did not revisit a single old port for plunder!  And part of what I love about readin’ is re-visitin’ old friends.  So I decided to remedy that in this here new(ish) year and thus created me new category where I take a second look at a previously enjoyed novel and give me crew me second reflections, as it were, upon visitin’ it again . . .

a little princess – Frances Hodgson Burnett

This was an old favorite from back when I was a wee youngster.  I am not completely sure which edition I first read but I do remember that it had the illustrations by Tasha Tudor from the 1960s (as did the secret garden).  The copy I eventually purchased had her illustrations as well:

 

I made the mistake of lending me copy many many long years back to a young lass so she could experience the magic.  And then never got it back!  I could only hope she couldn’t part with it because she loved it so.  Then earlier this year at a Friends of the Library sale, I found an excellent pristine copy and swooped it up with glee.

Then came the day to revisit this old companion.  Ye see I had not read this book since me copy was commandeered and I was looking forward to seeing if I loved it as much as me memory suggested.  The answer is an astoundingly yes!  Arrr!!

I still adore this book.  The reading had the wonderful nostalgia of rediscovering details of the story as well as the perspective of seeing Sara’s journey through me eyes of an older jaded salty dog.  I found Sara to be just as I remembered – compassionate, intelligent, and imaginative.  I still loved the secondary characters of Becky and Ermengarde.  I adored the lady who sold hot buns.  The riches to rags story still appeals heartily.  I loved Sara’s treatment of everyone in spite of her circumstances.  She is polite, hardworking, and caring.

The part I found odd was the portrayal of the role of the adults in Sara’s life.  So many people see Sara as a starving ragamuffin and yet don’t help her.  Underclass poor children are depicted as savages as though it’s their own faults that they have no money or education.  So many people outside of Ms. Minchin’s school see and comment on poor Sara’s state and yet she is not helped throughout most of the book except by a small compassionate child.  Now granted there would be no story if the adults helped her.  But it is odd that these children were left to rot.  Of course the author had her own riches to rags story growing up so I can only assume that it influences this work.

But despite the larger thoughts of child poverty, I still felt the magic of Sara’s story and gobbled up this book.  I only hope that I don’t wait so long for a re-read the next time.

Side note: I have fond memories of the 1996 movie though I haven’t seen it in forever.  And the Broadway musical sucks.

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Sara Crewe’s young but doting father sends her to a London boarding school when she is seven. On her eleventh birthday her life of luxury comes to an abrupt end when she receives news that her father has died, shortly after losing his entire fortune. The school-mistress turns Sara into a servant to pay off her debts, and though Sara uses the entire force of her imagination and her good heart to remember who she is and keep starvation from the door, her life is desperate. Until the past returns in a very unexpected manner…

To visit the author’s Goodreads page go to:

Frances Hodgson Burnett – Author

To buy the novel visit:

a little princess – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Abandon Ship – like a boss (Adam Rakunas)

It’s time to abandon ship me mateys!  And oh I be highly disappointed.  I just re-read the first book of the series, windswept and gave it me second reflections.  While I still loved that novel, I should have skipped this one completely.  I made it to page 51 of 375.  Two things made me grumpy:  1) the mention of Jackson Pollack (pg. 41) and 2) the bad guy (pg. 50).

Now I have no real hatred of Jackson Pollack, but the mention of him was just so incongruous that I was taken aback and thrown out of the story.  And to be fair the story was fine up until that moment.  Then the premise of Padma’s new problem to solve was introduced on page 51 and it made me furious.  It seemed both unrealistic and a lazy choice.  I had no interest in this storyline at all.  Had I read the blurb for the second book, I would have known and not purchased it.  But I normally don’t read book two synopses because I like being surprised.

Mistake on this one.  Wish it had stayed a standalone.

Normally I post the synopsis of a novel here but as it has spoilers and I hate it, I am not including it . . . read book one but skip this one!

To visit the author’s website go to:

Adam Rakunas – Author

To buy the novel visit:

like a boss – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Second Reflections – windswept (Adam Rakunas)

Ahoy there me mateys!  While drawin’ up me lists of 2016 for me log, I realized a curious thing – out of 134 books read, not a single one was a re-read.  In me enthusiasm of discovery and taking suggestions from me crew, I did not revisit a single old port for plunder!  And part of what I love about readin’ is re-visitin’ old friends.  So I decided to remedy that in this here new(ish) year and thus created me new category where I take a second look at a previously enjoyed novel and give me crew me second reflections, as it were, upon visitin’ it again . . .

windswept – Adam Rakunas

This be a lovely sci-fi novel that I read back in 2015 after randomly finding a copy in a local library.  It is one of the books that helped bring me attention to the Angry Robot publishing house wherein I joined the Robot Army.  Their books tend to be quirky and to my taste.  In any case, at the time this book was a stand-alone and it can be read as such.  But when I found out there was another book in the series, I was excited to have the chance to re-visit an old port.

And Santee is a great place to spend time if ye like sarcastic bad-ass women, crazy times, and, of course, rum.  The story involves me favorite wench, Padma, who is a union recruiter who deserted the corporate culture of the Big Three to make a better life for herself on a little “mudball” planet.  If she recruits just 33 more people to the union then she can buy her dream business (a rum distillery – Arrrrr!).  When word comes of a breach of 40 people that would help her reach her union quota and her dream, she takes a chance.  Of course nothing goes to plan and all hell breaks loose . . .

The characters are what made the story for me.  Padma be me favorite but there are plenty of strong women in this book – from police officers, pub owners, and tuk-tuk drivers.  While there is very brief mention of sex in this novel, it does NOT have romance as a major element.  There are however strong male and female friendships.  I loved Jilly and Banks.  I loved to dislike Bloomberg.  Several of the bad guys and girls were not as fleshed out but it didn’t really effect me enjoyment.  There are screwball characters and fantastic character interactions that I loved re-reading.

The world building and politics are not extremely complicated but Santee feels solid and believable.  The story was even-paced at the start but ratchets up into a fun mad dash towards the end.  Basically this book is just plain fun.  A quick read, I am glad I chose to revisit this port and look forward to finding out what the gang has been up to in the next installment.

Check out this review by Skjam!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Labor organizer Padma Mehta is on the edge of space and the edge of burnout. All she wants is to buy out a little rum distillery and retire, but she’s supposed to recruit 500 people to the Union before she can. She’s only thirty-three short. So when a small-time con artist tells her about forty people ready to tumble down the space elevator to break free from her old bosses, she checks it out — against her better judgment. It turns out, of course, it was all lies . . .

To visit the author’s website go to:

Adam Rakunas – Author

To buy the novel visit:

windswept – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List