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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The Captain’s Log – silver in the blood (Jessica Day George)

Ahoy there me mateys!  This author came to me attention with her book the princess of the midnight ball which is a twelve dancing princesses retelling.  No, I haven’t read it yet.  I was looking for something light to read as me last several books have been rather heavy.  The dancing princesses book wasn’t available but this one was.  It had also been on me list as it had a cool cover:

So I scooped it up and had a gander.  The book ended up being a silly okayish read that did give me some enjoyment.

The story involves two girls from New York that are sent on a trip to meet their mothers’ family back in Romania.  These cousins get more than they bargained for.  Secrets are being kept and the family is being evasive.  What is the family hiding and what does that have to do with them?

So some cool things in this book:

  • It takes place in the 1890s.  I love historical fantasy fiction.
  • The format is letters, diary entries, and perspectives from the girls themselves.
  • It has shape-shifters.  Which I figured from the cover.
  • The two cousins have an awesome relationship.  I love how supportive they are of each other.
  • The girls both have very different personalities but due to circumstances in the book their roles are reversed at one point and that was excellent fun.
  • The majority of the book takes place in Romania.  I don’t know many books that are.  (One other.  That’s all I could come up with.)
  • Lou has an awesome power.  I loved how it was used.
  • It was a quick read.

The not as fun:

  • The plot is kinda plodding in a lot of places.  It took forever for the girls to find out about the family.  I would have liked that reveal to be way earlier in the book.  And of course when yer reader guessed fairly early on what was going on, it makes the two girl’s lack of intelligence in that regard tedious and annoying.
  • The girls’ powers could have been used WAY more in terms of plot.
  • while the book is set in Romania, I would have liked the country to feel more integral to the plot.  Yes there are myths and history facts that are used in good ways in the story but not enough.
  • The villain was extremely two dimensional and irked me in his rational.  Which basically came down to “because he wanted it.”
  • The love interests were too numerous and too boringly shallow.
  • I wanted more action and adventure and girls kicking butt.  I wanted the girls to show more initiative.

While this book didn’t thrill me, it was a good way to spend some of the evening.  Me crew still highly recommends her dragon books and I still want to read the fairytale so I will certainly give this author another shot.

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Society girls from New York City circa 1890, Dacia and Lou never desired to know more about their lineage, instead preferring to gossip about the mysterious Romanian family that they barely knew. But upon turning seventeen, the girls must return to their homeland to meet their relatives, find proper husbands, and—most terrifyingly—learn the deep family secrets of The Claw, The Wing, and The Smoke. The Florescus, after all, are shape-shifters, and it is time for Dacia and Lou to fulfill the prophecy that demands their acceptance of this fate… or fight against this cruel inheritance with all their might.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Jessica Day George – Author

To buy the book go to:

silver in the blood – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

On the Horizon – the hazel wood (Melissa Albert)

Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this young adult fantasy eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings . . .

the hazel wood (Melissa Albert)

Title: the hazel wood

Author: Melissa Albert

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Publication Date: TODAY!!! (hardback/e-book)

ISBN: 978-1250147905

Source: NetGalley

This book was a slow-burning, dark, and atmospheric read.  It felt like a Grimm’s fairy-tale mixed with some Alice in Wonderland but was mostly set in our modern world.  For all of the book’s slow pacing, I somehow found meself mesmerized by the mystery of it all.

Alice and her mom are always beset by bad luck and have led a fairly nomadic life.  Alice’s life has been heavily influenced by the tantalizing facts about her grandmother, Althea, even though they have never met.  Ye see a young Althea wrote a famous children’s book of fairy-tales and became a sensation.  Yet the book is hard to get a hold of.  It is a rare collector’s item and is out of print.  Alice has never been allowed to read it.  The one time she tried she only got as far as the table of contents before her mom confiscated the volume.  It was never seen again.  Why are Alice and her mom always on the run?  And what is so special about those stories?

If ye read this novel ye can find out.  Alice is a kinda quirky, if tad unlikable, character and her journey certainly is an interesting one.  Most of the story takes place in a seemingly contemporary tale where the fantasy can be glimpsed in the seams and cracks outside of periphery vision.  Those glimpses are enticing.  Of course the fantasy elements increase as the story progresses and that was super fun.

The only small quibble was the ending felt unsettled.  But it fit the Grimm-like mood and so I was satisfied.  Then, of course, I found out it is part of a series!  I do think it can feel like a standalone though.  I do wonder what adventures Alice will get into next.

So lastly . . .

Thank you Flatiron Books!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

To visit the author’s twitter go to:

Melissa Albert – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

the hazel wood – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

The Captain’s Log – thunderhead (Neal Shusterman)

Ahoy there me mateys!  If ye haven’t read the first book in this series, scythe, then ye might want to skip this post and go read the first book. Worth the read. If ye keep reading this log then ye have been forewarned and continue at yer own peril .

First let’s take a look at another beautiful cover:

 

I am absolutely glad I read this novel.  I loved it!  This book is set one year after the events of book one.  Citra is a junior scythe and is trying to settle into that new role.  At the same time, her approach to death is unusual and is causing political waves.  Rowan has chosen to become an vengeful angel of death known as “Lucifer” and attempts to fight the corruption of scythes from the outside.  Much to the chagrin of the organization.  The clash between the new wave scythes and the older guard continues to cause havoc.

I thought this book be way better than the first novel in terms of plot and pacing.  The Thunderhead viewpoints were fun and I adored the addition of Greyson.  In fact he became me favourite character in the book.  And I loved the ending all around.  I won’t give any other details because no spoilers.  But I am eagerly awaiting book three and think that all of me crew should give this series a chance.  Arrrr!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Rowan and Citra take opposite stances on the morality of the Scythedom, putting them at odds, in the second novel of the chilling New York Times bestselling series from Neal Shusterman, author of the Unwind dystology.

Rowan has gone rogue, and has taken it upon himself to put the Scythedom through a trial by fire. Literally. In the year since Winter Conclave, he has gone off-grid, and has been striking out against corrupt scythes—not only in MidMerica, but across the entire continent. He is a dark folk hero now—“Scythe Lucifer”—a vigilante taking down corrupt scythes in flames.

Citra, now a junior scythe under Scythe Curie, sees the corruption and wants to help change it from the inside out, but is thwarted at every turn, and threatened by the “new order” scythes. Realizing she cannot do this alone—or even with the help of Scythe Curie and Faraday, she does the unthinkable, and risks being “deadish” so she can communicate with the Thunderhead—the only being on earth wise enough to solve the dire problems of a perfect world. But will it help solve those problems, or simply watch as perfection goes into decline?

To visit the author’s website go to:

Neal Shusterman – Author

To buy the book go to:

thunderhead – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous Log Entries for this Author

scythe – book 1 (Captain’s Log – Young Adult Sci-Fi)

The Captain’s Log – the eye of zoltar (Jasper Fforde)

Ahoy there me mateys!  In the past two days I shared me second reflections of the last dragonslayer and the song of the quarkbeast.  So here are me musings about readin’ book three for the first time . . .

the eye of zoltar – Jasper Fforde

Well I can say this novel certainly upped the ante!  In this one Jennifer is sent on a quest in the neighboring Cambrian Empire to look for an artifact that everyone else believes is a legend.  If she doesn’t find it the dragons are doomed.  The Cambrian Empire prides itself on being dangerous and sells adventure packages for adrenaline seekers.  Ye buy packages based on the Fatality Index – the likely number of people in yer party who are going to die.  Arrr!

Scary things in the Cambrian Empire include Tralfamosaur, slugs, a war between railroad companies, and market economics.  But luckily Addie Powell is their awesome tour guide.  Seriously I love her and think she is one of the best parts about the novel.  No major spoilers but this book was a pure whimsical delight.  I want book four!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

The Mighty Shandar, the most powerful wizard the world has ever seen, returns to the Ununited Kingdoms. Clearly, he didn’t solve the Dragon Problem, and must hand over his fee: eighteen dray-weights of gold.

But the Mighty Shandar doesn’t do refunds, and vows to eliminate the dragons once and for all – unless sixteen-year-old Jennifer Strange and her sidekicks from the Kazam house of enchantment can bring him the legendary jewel, The Eye of Zoltar.

The only thing that stands in their way is a perilous journey with a 50% Fatality Index – through the Cambrian Empire to the Leviathan Graveyard, at the top of the deadly Cadir Idris mountain. It’s a quest like never before, and Jennifer soon finds herself fighting not just for her life, but for everything she knows and loves . . .

To visit the author’s website go to:

Jasper Fforde – Author

To buy the novel visit:

the eye of zoltar – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

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