Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Eat, Brains, Love



Jake and Amanda go to the same high school. Jake awoke this morning feeling sick. Maybe it was the book report that he had to turn in or maybe it was because he has turned into a zombie and just devoured half of his friends and classmates. Jake awakes to find Amanda by his side. Amanda has also turned into a zombie. Now they are on the run form the government.

One of the references this book is compared to is Warm Bodies by Issac Marion. I read Warm Bodies and loved that book. So I can rightfully say that this book is no Warm Bodies. Not even close. The relationship between Jake and Amanda was strictly friends if you could call it that. It was really like close acquaintances. Not that I think I would have believed any romantic intentions between Jake and Amanda. I really liked the story as Jake and Amanda felt real still to me then just undead zombies.

Cass while a good psychic I did expect more from her. I thought she was suppose to be this big strong threat to Jake and Amanda. Instead she was just a puppet. I wanted Cass to give Jake and Amanda something to fear. I found after a while that I wanted to just read Jake and Amanda's parts. When I got to the end, I was somewhat like "This is it?"

Monday, December 30, 2013

Relic

I chose this book to read as it sounded very promising and intriguing. However looks can be deceiving. While I did like the idea of the story, I found the characters dull and the story boring (lacking in any action). The story was all over the place without really any good explanation. For example, Eva is racing along in the cold wilderness as part of the testing and when she reaches the rest point one of her biggest competitors and suppose love interest, Jasper has already arrived. Eva wonders how he arrived before her as she never saw him once while she was racing hundreds of miles in the snow. Yet she drops it without a second thought. Really?! Then a mysterious man comes to Eva's aid but his identity is not revealed until later. Oh and there is the world that Eva is living in. It is suppose to be the new modern age in Finland but there is no concrete explanation as to why or how the people got there. The artifacts are to be a great discovery but Eva finds a picture of a ballerina and her body. Proving that the ballerina never made it to her destination and her love. Finally throw in the mix of the Bible and baby Jesus. This book is nothing like Game of Thrones or Hunger Games and should not be compared to either book. Ugh.

Trapped Under the Sea: One Engineering Marvel, Five Men, and a Disaster Ten Miles Into the Darkness



Book Summary

The harrowing story of five men who were sent into a dark, airless tunnel hundreds of feet under Massachusetts Bay to do a nearly impossible job-with deadly results

In the 1990s, Boston built a sophisticated waste treatment plant on Deer Island that was poised to show the country how to deal with environmental catastrophe. The city had been dumping barely treated sewage into its harbor, coating the seafloor with a layer of "black mayonnaise." Fisheries collapsed, wildlife fled, and locals referred to floating tampon applicators as "beach whistles." But before the plant could start operating, a team of divers had to make a perilous journey to the end of a 10-mile tunnel-devoid of light and air-to complete the construction. Five went in; two never came out. Drawing on hundreds of interviews and thousands of documents, award-winning reporter Neil Swidey re-creates the tragedy and its aftermath in an action-packed narrative. The climax comes when the hard-partying DJ Gillis and his friend Billy Juse trade jobs at a pivotal moment in the mission, sentencing one diver to death and the other to a trauma-induced heroin addiction that eventually lands him in prison. Trapped Under the Sea reminds us that behind every bridge, highway, dam, and tunnel-behind the infrastructure that makes modern life possible-lies unsung bravery and extraordinary sacrifice




My Review

I have not heard about the huge Boston harbor clean up project. Of course this might have something to do with the fact that I do not live in Boston or have never visited. Yet when I saw this book as one that I had a chance to review I jumped on it. I do enjoy reading about true stories. If the stories are told right then my as the reader will grow attached to the people in the stories. Which is what happened in this book. Getting to know DJ, Riggs, Hoss, Billy, and Tim, I felt like I had known these guys for a long time.

While at times I did feel like I wanted to know more about the project and not about the guys and their lives, I did realize that knowing their stories is part of the whole story. Also, this book is thick but it reads fast. I am sad that good people had to lose their lives due to poor choices by big corporations. If you are a fan of nonfiction then you should check this book out.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Poor Little Dead Girls

Sadie has gotten a dream come true. She has received a full paid scholarship to Keating. Keating has had some of the most important students attend the school including the President's children. When Sadie arrives, she realizes that she is an outsider. Luckily she has one friend at Keating. Her friend, Jessica. Sadie learns that Keating has a deep, dark secret. A secret society. Sadie has been recruited.

This book made me think of the movie "The Skulls" starring Paul Walker, R.I.P. Only this book was not as dark as the movie. This book is more of the PG to PG-13 version for the young adults. This targeted reader group will enjoy this book. I don't know if the author planned it this way but if she did then she did a good job. She make me not like any of the members of the secret society. I found them off putting and only caring about themselves. There really was no "sister or brotherhood" Unless you count that you become a drone and do not ask questions, then you are the perfect member to join in the secret society.

Sadie she was alright. I did not hate her but I did not love her either. I thought she was too wishy washy for me. She easily forgot her true friend, Jessica when her "new" friends showed interest in Sadie. Yet when Sadie was with her "new" friends, all she could think about was how she did not belong, yet she did not put up much of a fight to leave. Although, as much as I might not have liked the characters in this book, it was a quick read. I am interested in what the author does have in store for her next book.

The Last Winter of Dani Lancing

Book Summary

Twenty years ago, college student Dani Lancing was kidnapped and brutally murdered. The killer was never found, and the case has long gone cold. Her parents, Patty and Jim, were utterly devastated, their marriage destroyed. While Jim fell apart, Patty was consumed by the unsolved case. She abandoned her journalism career and her marriage to spend every waking hour searching and plotting. She keeps contact with Tom, Dani's childhood sweetheart, who has become a detective intent on solving murders like Dani's. When he finds a lead that seems ironclad, he brings Patty in on it. After years of dead ends, her obsession is rekindled, and she will do anything for revenge, even become a killer herself-dragging her whole family into the nightmare once again, as lies and secrets are uncovered.


My review

I picked up a copy of this book because the book cover caught my eye. Then I read the back cover and was like ok I am ready to read this book. It sounds like something right up my alley that I enjoy. Well I have to tell you that I not only enjoyed it but the first word that came to my mind after reading it was "brillant". I don't usually rave about a book unless it is really, extra special. Mr. Viner really knows how to tell a good story. As much as I felt that Dani's mother was cold in the beginning, I still could understand why she did the things she did in the name of grief and love. In fact, as I got to become more familiar with her, I felt sorry for her. Dani's father on the other hand was just a hot mess. He could not keep himself together. However I found it intriguing that Dani's father was communicating with Dani. Finally there is Tom. He was one of the good guys. He showed how much he loved Dani with his actions. I took this book with me on the road. To my destination it was 3 1/2 hours to four and I finished this book with about an hour and 15 minutes until I got to my location. This book is a one seat read that will have you disappointed when it ends!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Flight of the Griffin Blog Tour









About the Author:

Born in England, C.M. Gray spent most of his youth growing up in the Essex countryside. A beautiful part of England, close to the Suffolk border, but he was born with the need to expand his horizons, so as soon as he could get a passport at the age of just seventeen he packed a backpack and went exploring!



A slightly risky decision, and one his parents were not too taken with, yet a number of years later he is still traveling…. but with a slightly larger bag. Over the years, C.M. Gray has been lucky enough to live and travel in many many parts of the world, met some incredible people and experienced some amazing places. In fact, he has now lived for more years outside of England than he ever spent living there – It is, after all, a very big and exciting world!

During his journey he worked and trained as a carpenter and a house restorer… picked more types of fruit over the years than he knew existed - from grapes in France to avocados in Israel. After living in Israel for a year, he was lucky enough to be invited to travel with the Bedouin in the Sanai desert for several months and then moved on travelled around India and then called a Buddhist monastery in the Himalayan Mountains home. A short while later he had changed tact, bought a suit and did a stint as a stock broker in the clamor of central Hong Kong.



To celebrate the millennium he traveled back to Europe, then found and restored an old farmhouse in deep rural Burgundy, France… but then looked to the open road and spent an number of years in Amsterdam… but the winters were cold so he went south again in search of the sun.

Always vowing to return and sink some roots back in English soil... he hasn’t quite got there yet, but maybe someday, it seems there are just too many interesting places out there to see first! He does, however, live a little closer to England now, just outside of Barcelona in Northern Spain, in the middle of the forest with his dogs and two wonderful children, he claims the Pyrenean mountains and forests of northern Spain are a great place to write and let his mind do the traveling.

As you will have noticed, his writing is mostly fantasy and he says that many of his experiences in Asia, India, Africa and the Middle East come to life in his writing. He has seen and done some pretty strange things on his travels, and bumped into some amazing characters, so writing fantasy is almost like writing fact for him… you just wouldn’t believe it if he presented it as fact – there are people and things out there in this world of ours that would simply amaze you!

His latest book is the mystery/thriller  http://www.amazon.com/Flight-Griffin-C-M-Gray-ebook/dp/B007TKUD7Y/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=1-1&qid=1385057270 The Flight of the Griffin .

To explore his life and writing more, please visit his webpage and blog

Connect & Socialize!

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About the Book:




The Kingdom is dying… 


The Darkness is coming… the balance between Order and Chaos is rapidly shifting and the world is falling towards evil and horror, and all misery that Chaos will bring. 


But there is hope… 


Pardigan’s had enough, he’s only 12, but he’s breaking into the home of one of Freya's richest merchants... and he’s doing it tonight… 


A burglary that will change their lives forever sets four friends upon a quest, a race against time, to locate three magical objects and complete an ancient and desperate spell. 


Sailing their boat The Griffin, the crew are quickly pursued by The Hawk, an evil bounty hunter and master of dark sorcery, and Belial, King of Demons and champion of Chaos who seeks to rule the world of man… yet first he must capture the crew of The Griffin and end their quest… 

Purchase your copy at HYPERLINK "http://www.amazon.com/Flight-Griffin-C-M-Gray-ebook/dp/B007TKUD7Y/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=1-1&qid=1385057270" AMAZON US or HYPERLINK "http://www.amazon.co.uk/Flight-Griffin-C-M-Gray/dp/1471750353/ref=la_B00765XUMC_1_2/276-6291489-3033150?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1385057444&sr=1-2" AMAZON UK

Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking HYPERLINK "https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1576053-the-flight-of-the-griffin-by-c-m-gray" HERE .

 

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Title: The Flight of the Griffin
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Author: C.M. Gray
Publisher: C.M. Gray
Pages: 219
Language: English
ISBN: 9781471750359

Purchase

The Kingdom is dying… 


The Darkness is coming… the balance between Order and Chaos is rapidly shifting and the world is falling towards evil and horror, and all misery that Chaos will bring. 


But there is hope… 


Pardigan’s had enough, he’s only 12, but he’s breaking into the home of one of Freya's richest merchants... and he’s doing it tonight… 


A burglary that will change their lives forever sets four friends upon a quest, a race against time, to locate three magical objects and complete an ancient and desperate spell. 


Sailing their boat The Griffin, the crew are quickly pursued by The Hawk, an evil bounty hunter and master of dark sorcery, and Belial, King of Demons and champion of Chaos who seeks to rule the world of man… yet first he must capture the crew of The Griffin and end their quest… 

First Chapter:

The floorboard creaked under the sole of his felt boot - a calculated risk whenever entering a sleeping man's room uninvited.

A breeze fluttered the loose linen curtain, and the sleeper stirred at the welcome respite from the hot sticky night. The prowler slowly exhaled the breath that was starting to burn in his lungs, every sense tingling, receptive to any change in the room or a sound from the street below.

The sleeper, thankfully, continued to sleep.

The street under the second-storey window was silent, the night given up to the occasional rounds of the city watch and those set on a darker business, the never-ending cat and mouse game that went mostly unappreciated by the law-abiding citizens of the sleeping city.

The summer had been one of the hottest people could ever remember, taxing the energy of the city’s inhabitants to the limit. Several of the more elderly citizens down at the port could be heard explaining that, ‘in their day’, the summers were often this hot, and indeed often hotter. Of course, these were the same group who would entertain the regulars at the portside taverns with tales of goblin hordes, ferocious sea serpents or the time the winters were so cold that the seas had frozen solid.

‘A man could have walked from here to Minster Island without ever seeing a boat or even getting his feet wet,’ was a much-repeated reminiscence. Whatever history really concealed, it was a hot summer, and this, a particularly humid night.

Pardigan watched the now softly snoring form and, moving his foot from the traitorous board, crept towards the cabinet that he knew held his prize. It was an elegant cabinet - its construction given over to more than mere function. Gracefully curved legs supported drawers and shelves that were fronted by a scrollwork of intricate designs. He inserted the blade of his knife between the edges of the middle left-hand drawer and felt for the hidden catch. If the information Quint had given him was correct, the false front should spring open. A prickle of sweat tickled his brow and he wiped it absently away. Glancing over to the still-sleeping form, he applied a little more pressure on what he hoped was the catch.

Nothing.

The merchant stirred, smacked his chops, exhaled wetly and then returned to snoring. Pardigan tried again.

Most people hated the fat merchant, known for his cheating ways and vile temper, so he and Quint had set about the business of planning to rob him with great enthusiasm. The break had come quite by chance when Quint had met the apprentice of a cabinetmaker who’d been happy to talk about the merchant, and the cabinet he’d helped his master build for him.

‘The shame of it is that the true beauty of the cabinet will never be appreciated,’ the apprentice had moaned. ‘Such a cunning mechanism my master contrived to conceal the hidden safe-box, nothing of the like have I seen before, nor I fear will I ever see again.’ He had been all too happy to describe and even sketch the piece for Quint who, of course, had shown great interest, marvelling at the skill of the cabinetmaker and, naturally, his gifted apprentice. Several glasses of elder ale had kept his new friend’s throat well lubricated, an investment in tonight’s escapade that they had both placed huge hopes in.




Up until this point, the information seemed to be good; the cabinet did indeed look like the sketch that he and Quint had spent so much time studying. Pardigan’s hopes had soared when he’d first set eyes on it as he was slipping over the windowsill. Right up until now that is, as his frustration grew. Because the Source damned catch simply wouldn’t shift - if catch it was. Pardigan was beginning to wonder if the real catch hadn’t been poor old Quint, whom the apprentice had conned into buying several glasses of elder ale on another blisteringly hot day.

Without warning, the warm still of the night was disturbed as the door to the bedroom opened with a creak, causing the hairs on Pardigan’s neck to stand up. He slowly turned, half-expecting to be staring at the tip of a crossbow bolt. Instead, a large grey cat slunk around the door, ran across and rubbed against his legs, purring as it sought attention. He ruffled its ears, before gently pushing the animal away. Without a backward glance the cat walked over and leapt up onto the bed. Settling comfortably against the sleeping merchant, it lay watching as Pardigan renewed his efforts.

He applied his knife once again. Nothing was happening with the left-hand side so he moved his attention to the right. An audible click echoed around the room, rewarding his efforts as the false door opened, wobbling the washbasin that sat precariously upon the cabinet’s top. The merchant turned over, groaning loudly and ejected the cat from the bed. It meowed, padded over to the open window and leapt to the sill. Ignoring Pardigan, it sat regarding the street below with a critical eye.

The merchant continued to sleep. He was back to breathing heavily, his fat sweaty chins bobbing with the effort of sucking in the warm moist air.

Pardigan returned his attention to the cabinet. Behind the false front was a small opening. Several moneybags had been carelessly tossed on top of some papers, a few old books and some rolled documents that had been stacked neatly above on two shelves.

Pardigan hadn’t had any real idea what he might find, but when he and Quint had been working out the finer details of the plan, they’d had plenty of time for speculation. Jewels, money and magical items had been on the hoped-for and expected list, but Pardigan now noted, with a certain touch of dismay, that there was a distinct lack of necklaces, rings and brooches in the safe. He turned over a few of the papers to see what they hid and wondered at the markings on them. He could read after a fashion, but only the local low-speak, enough to tell the difference between a bag of beans and a bag of rice. High-speak was for merchants and nobles.

He slipped several of the more promising-looking papers into his coat along with the moneybags, and then a small knife without a scabbard caught his eye. He picked it up. It had a blade about a hand’s span long and a plain blue jewel set in the pommel. He put it into his pocket and cast a last glance over the remainder of the contents. With a sigh, he gently reset the false front, watching the merchant’s face to make sure he wasn’t disturbed as the catch clicked softly back into place. Satisfied that he hadn’t been heard, he straightened and tested the new weight in his pockets. With a smile, he crossed to the window. The cat watched him approach then meowed in irritation as he brushed it from the sill. Taking care to mind the loot in his pockets, he straddled the windowsill and, with one eye to the street for the city watch and the other on the still sleeping merchant, made his way carefully to the ground.

Dropping the last few spans, he landed safely and offered up a silent prayer of thanks to the Source. Then, after casting up and down the street, he drew in his first real breath for what seemed an eternity and moved off towards the sanctuary of the poor quarter. Keeping to the shadows, he kept an eye open for both the watch and for any opportunist thieves that may be lying in wait for a rich victim like himself.

****

The grey cat continued to watch as he scuttled away, noting his haste now he was in the open. The way he looked back and forth for danger, seeing everything, but understanding so little.

She’d been waiting for something like this to happen for several weeks and now she felt both excitement and regret that the game was to move on. Maybe I was beginning to enjoy the lazy life of a house cat too much, she wondered. The easy life did have certain merits, especially for a cat. Licking a paw she cleaned herself one last time, enjoying a few final moments in this form, and then leapt from the window, shimmering before spreading wide, snowy white wings and gliding silently in search of the departing figure.

****

Pardigan hurried down the darkened alleyways, the houses crowding closer together the further he got into the poor quarter. At several points, the buildings actually touched above him and the alley became a pitch-black tunnel, blocking out even the faint ambient light that had lit his progress so far. Earlier in the evening, the oil-lamps would have been lit, but it was late now and the oil had long burned away. He came to The Stag, an inn on Barrow Street that was favoured by traders from the market square. The murmur of a few late drinkers came from behind the heavy closed door, then the sound of a glass smashing and a woman’s shrill and angry cry prompted Pardigan to move on before the drinker was tossed onto the street, illuminating him in the light from within.

At the end of Barrow Street he slowed to a cautious walk. Market Square was in front of him, a regular hangout for drunks and beggars who tended to group together. Even at this time of night there would probably be a few milling around. These people didn’t seem to keep normal hours. You could be walking around at midday and most would be sleeping like it was midnight, and then times like now, they would be up and about sucking on a bottle and probably wondering idly where the sun had gone to.

Keeping to the shadows as best he could, he moved into the square being careful to skirt the darker parts at the edge. Picking up his pace he had to clamp his hand over his nose and hold his breath as he sidestepped several piles of rotting vegetables; the warmth of the night rich in their pungent odours.

Several of the square’s occupants were dotted about but none seemed interested in him. Three drinkers grouped around a spluttering fire were singing and laughing as they passed a small barrel. Pardigan slowed and watched for a moment, fascinated as they took turns, upending it and laughing at each other’s efforts as more of the liquid splashed down their chests than into their mouths. Pardigan shuddered, and wondered at the mystery that was adulthood and at what age you lost your mind and did crazy things like that.

At 12 years old, Pardigan dreaded the thought of waking up one morning as an adult. To have had all the fun sucked out of his life, replaced by the need to scowl at people and tell everyone off for not seeing the world his way. Growing old was inevitable, growing up was not. He and the others had made several vows that they would never grow up and would sail the coast in their boat The Griffin, for a lifetime of fun, adventure and good times. Whatever happens, I’ll not be sitting in this square drunk, dribbling and howling at the moon like some crazy dog, he vowed. Casting another look at the small group, he moved on.

The square was crossed without incident and he started down The Cannery, a street so named because of all the fish canning shops that lined its sides as it went down the hill towards the city's little port. During daylight hours, it was one of the busiest areas of town, with fishermen hauling their catch up from the port and the canneries bustling with wagons shipping out their product all over the realm. At this hour, all was deserted and Pardigan passed down the pungent street without incident, a few squabbling rats its only nocturnal residents.

Coming down into the port, there remained one final obstacle in his path - Blake’s. The largest of the inns around the harbour, it never closed. On a warm night like tonight, even at this late hour, there could be people sitting outside hoping for the comfort of a small breeze to come in across the sea.

The sound of music drifted up to him accompanied by the sound of voices laughing and talking – there was no way he could escape being noticed. He would have to cross right in front of the entrance to get to where The Griffin was moored. Drawing his coat about him, he walked on, a shiver running the length of his spine - his nerves once again on edge.

A lone figure sat on a barrel under the main window, bathed in a pool of light from a lantern that hung above the door. Keeping his eyes averted and with his heart beating in his ears, Pardigan tried not to stumble on the uneven cobbles in his haste to get past. Nearly there, only Blake’s to pass, almost there… Talking to himself often helped in times of stress, it was almost as if some of the burden of the moment was shared … Only a little way more … Nearly …

A sudden movement from behind and he spun round in time to see a dark figure loom up with arms outstretched. With a cry, Pardigan stepped back, tripped over something and then hit the ground hard, pain instantly screaming from his back and left ankle.

He lay writhing on the cobblestones gasping, fear and despair filling him as he realised he’d been caught so close to The Griffin. It was almost in sight, only a little further around the port, but this obviously wasn’t to be his night after all. That’s how my luck’s been running lately, thought Pardigan, offering a silent curse to the Source. Shadows gathered about him and he tried to struggle up but someone flipped him face down and sat on his back. Powerless to move or even breathe properly - flutterings of panic threatened to overcome him. Footfalls surrounded him and he waited for the touch of a knife.

‘You should have told us you were going to do it tonight.’ The speaker tapped Pardigan’s head with something hard. ‘We could have helped you know.’ He sounded cross.

‘Quint?’ Pardigan felt a wave of relief and then anger at being tricked like this. ‘Get off me, you lump.’ He felt the weight move and several pairs of hands rolled him over. A lantern was lit and he gazed up into the shadowy faces of his friends.

‘Well, how did it go?’ asked the tall scruffy boy holding the lamp. Tarent, for that was his name, reached down and pulled Pardigan to his feet. Waves of relief filled Pardigan and he smiled, his anger slipping away.

‘You rotten…’ he took a half-hearted swing at Tarent who moved aside easily. ‘Why did you jump me? I thought you were…’

‘Serves you right, now tell us…’ hissed Loras, the fourth and final member of The Griffin’s crew. Smaller than the others with a tangled mop of red hair, Loras was peering up at Pardigan with a frown etching shadows on his face. ‘We found your bunk empty, and then Quint told us about your plan.’

‘Which he wasn’t meant to carry out yet,’ added Quint.

‘So we came and waited for you here. You’ve been ages.’ Loras was moving from one foot to the other, clearly agitated. ‘Quint seemed to think you’d have plenty of coins and would be in a better position to settle our bill than we are,’ he glanced back into the inn, a worried look on his face. ‘Like I said, you’ve been ages and we were hungry.’

‘And thirsty,’ added Tarent. ‘So we appear to be a little in arrears with the good landlord here.’

Loras reached out and dusted Pardigan’s cloak. ‘Sorry about the surprise, but you should have included us, so…how did it go?’ All three waited patiently for some sort of response.

Pardigan finally shook his head in wonder at his friends, then checked up and down the path for observers. Reaching inside his coat, he pulled out a moneybag, recently the property of a certain local merchant, and fished out a silver coin that he tossed to Tarent. ‘Settle up here and let’s get back to the boat. I’ll tell you all just how well it went when we get there.’ Tarent disappeared inside the inn as the others moved off towards the gently bobbing boats of the port eager to hear more.

Now, back in the company of his three friends, Pardigan finally felt safe. They were a strange group, all with a different story of hard luck and the tough times they’d had before finding each other. They’d since formed the closest thing to a family that any of them had ever known - even the boat that they called home had a sorry tale. Quint had found it in a terrible state, rotting in a small river, off the main estuary to the city. Having nowhere better to go and all alone, he’d started to live on it. The boat had conveyed the feeling of abandonment and the only other inhabitants had been a few mice and lots of spiders. Quint had spent the first few weeks alone and in fear, expecting a gang of cutthroats to reclaim their vessel at any moment. Then, as the weeks had turned to months, he had realised The Griffin, for that was the name he had found under layers of grime, really was abandoned and he began to relax. The hull was sound, had no leaks and it had several cabins plus a good-sized cargo area. The problem with the boat had simply been neglect. Whoever had abandoned her hadn’t left any clue to their identity, but abandoned she most certainly was.

About ten spans long, The Griffin made a wonderful home, blending in wherever the boys moored her. They spent most of their time in the rivers hidden from the world, but made several trips into the port cities for supplies and a change of scene. Pardigan, of course, was the practised thief, bringing gold, food and supplies to the boat whenever they were needed. He felt no remorse from his exploits, saying it was a harsh world and if he didn’t take stuff then someone else would. Quint often found the rich targets for Pardigan and was the only one who had known how to sail, making him the logical choice as Captain. As the oldest, Quint was the unofficial leader of the group.

Loras had once been apprenticed to a magician, but the old boy had died before passing on much of his craft. When he had left, Loras took what he could of the books and spells; the boys had found him appearing dazed and confused, with soot all over his face, blowing up tree stumps in the forest.

‘That’s great!’ Quint had said, obviously impressed at Loras’s efforts, ‘How do you do it?’

‘I haven’t the foggiest idea,’ Loras had replied. ‘I was actually trying to make the stumps grow new leaves; they aren’t supposed to blow up like this.’ He’d looked questioningly at a tatty old book held together with string. ‘I think I must be doing something wrong - maybe there’s another page missing?’ He was waving his wand again, hopping about and trying to read, all at the same time. Quint had brought him back to the boat and Loras had settled in well.

The fourth crewmember was Tarent who was the laziest person that any of them had ever met, or so they often told him. Fortunately, he hid this flaw in his character by being one of the nicest people you could ever want to meet. He slept more than anyone had a need or right to, and could spend the most amazing amount of time merely gazing out to sea, or up at a star-filled night while the others were working. To many this would have grated and annoyed, but he would also talk and talk and talk, which was a good thing. He would tell about the night skies or monsters from the deep and he knew the reason why a compass always pointed north or how to make the ticker fish bite on a hot afternoon. After supper Tarent could always be relied upon for a good story to lead their minds around the world or bring enchanted sea creatures up from the deep. His body could be lazy, but his mind was as nimble as an acrobat. He was one of the crew, and shared many of the responsibilities of leadership with Quint.

The Griffin was waiting for them at the end of the quay, dwarfed in the shadow of a large black barge. The fragrant aromas of spices and herbs rich on the warm night air attesting to the cargo the barge was carrying. They clambered up the gangplank and Quint waited at the top until the last of them came aboard, then he pulled it in, sealing the boat from the land. He glanced over to the barge where a sailor was smoking a clay pipe, watching them. Giving a wave that was returned; he slipped down the hatchway pulling it closed behind him.

Down below, two lamps were already lit, the slight breeze from the open portholes enough to make the flames flicker, sending shadows dancing around the cabin. Everyone had settled; waiting for the news as Pardigan stood at the table and, without any ceremony, started to empty out his pockets.

He carefully placed the bags on the table, side by side, eight in all. The boys watched without saying a word as each bag made a soft chink, the cord drawstring falling softly to the side. Eight bags. Four were blue, one red, one yellow and two were of common canvas. The papers and books were passed across to Tarent, while the small knife was placed upon the table alongside the bags.

They hadn't believed Quint when he’d told them of the plan; hadn't actually thought that Pardigan would come back with anything except a tall tale of a daring escape and some would-have-beens and should-have-beens. They hadn't thought they’d really be seeing moneybags this evening. They all sat and stared.

Loras eventually broke the silence. ‘So what’s in ‘em?’

‘I haven’t had a chance to look,’ said an exhausted Pardigan. He waved them an invitation to the table.

Loras jumped up and tipped out the contents from one of the canvas bags. Copper coins fell out and rolled around. ‘About thirteen shillings in coppers,’ he muttered, pushing the coins with his fingers. He picked up a red bag, untied the cord, and upended it. More coins hit the table making an altogether different sound, the buttery colour of gold glinting in the lamplight. ‘Seven sovereigns and one royal crown,’ said Loras after a moment, his interest growing. The other bags were duly opened and all but the yellow bag held coins of gold, silver and copper. The yellow bag held a necklace that sparkled with precious stones as Loras held it up in awe for the boys to see.

‘It’s beautiful, Pardigan. Who, in the name of the Source did you rob? Was it the King?’ They all stared at Pardigan.

‘What sort of trouble are we in?’ asked Loras, as the peril of their situation suddenly dawned upon him. ‘What are we going to do?’

‘Come on, let’s not panic,’ said Quint. ‘Did anybody see you, stop you or question you at any point, Pardigan?’

‘No, nobody saw me and I’m sure I didn’t leave any clues,’ stated Pardigan confidently. ‘I’m very good at what I do.’

‘Course you are, but come morning the city will be in uproar about this - we have to play this with cunning and no mistake.’

Quint looked at each of them in turn; lastly he turned to Tarent. ‘What do you think?’

Tarent sighed. ‘If we up and sail on the first tide come daybreak, the watch will be after us like a shot. We can’t be appearing guilty.’ He pondered a moment. ‘...Even if we did want to give it all back, which I don’t think we do’? He glanced around the group seeing shaking heads, ‘Well we couldn’t, could we?’ Everyone shook their heads again. ‘We keep the coins, some on the boat and some we take up river and stash back at the moorings.’

Quint nodded.





‘The papers I’ll look over tonight to see what we have, then we either burn them or plan on their use. What we don’t do is leave them here to be found if we do get searched. Source willing, we can up and leave in a few days' time and be back on our usual moorings for further plans.’ He turned once more to Quint.

‘Agreed,’ said Quint. ‘Check the papers as quick as you can. The coppers we can add to our own cash box with a few of the silver as well, so we can get our normal provisions.’

‘And the knife?’ asked Pardigan.

They all stared at the knife, still lying next to the sacks. The blue jewel sparkled in the lamplight.

‘It’s a very unusual knife,’ said Tarent in a soft voice almost as if talking to himself. ‘The best thing would be to lose it over the side, or drop it in some back alley well away from here.’ He glanced across at Quint, but he was saying nothing, simply staring with the others at the knife on the table.

It seemed almost to be calling out to each one of them, and they all knew they wouldn’t be throwing it into the sea, or losing it anywhere else for that matter.

‘Stash it in the stove for now until we can think on it,’ said Quint. Sounds of ready agreement came from all around.

Pardigan placed the knife in the cold stove then piled old ash and wood over it. The cash was split between that which was staying, and that which was going, and then Tarent moved off to his cabin to check the papers. The boat settled down; Pardigan and Quint went on deck in search of fresh air before sleeping.

‘I can't believe it was really there, false front and all,’ whispered Quint as he lay back looking up at the stars.

‘Oh, it really was there, just as he said it was and twice as lovely as the picture.’

‘I wish I could have seen it. What were you thinking when you were creeping round the room?’ Quint sat up and stared at Pardigan. ‘Weren’t you scared to the very marrow of your bones?’

‘Being scared is what keeps a thief alive and not caught and hanged,’ replied Pardigan. He pulled the knife from his pocket, and rubbed the blue gem with his thumb.

‘I thought you put that into the stove,’ said Quint watching him.

Pardigan stared at the knife, a frown creasing his face. ‘I did, I’m sure I did but…’

‘Well you can’t have, can you?’ Quint nodded at the knife in Pardigan’s hand. ‘Don’t get caught with it, put it in the stove, eh?’

‘I will.’ Pardigan ran his finger across the long thin blade. It wasn’t sharp but it didn’t feel dull either, he could just make out signs or writing on the side in the dim light, but unfortunately it wasn’t bright enough to see properly. ‘I’m sure I put it in the stove, I remember covering it with ash,’ he murmured as he slipped it back in his cloak.

The boys chatted about the night’s events for a while longer. Pardigan telling of scaling the wall and creeping around the sleeping chamber as the fat merchant snored, puffed and farted, and Quint telling a lengthy story of how Tarent and Loras and he had managed to dine at Blake’s on the slim hope of him turning up with a few coins to pay for it all.

‘Blake would have skinned you all alive if he’d known you were eating and drinking all evening with no money in your pockets,’ laughed Pardigan.

‘Ahhh, but we had faith in you, my friend,’ countered Quint, punching Pardigan softly in the arm. ‘And besides, we were hungry and the iced lemon water at Blake's is the best in all of Freya; we needed it.’

‘I know,’ murmured Pardigan softly, ‘let’s hope this is a sign that our fortunes have changed.’

As the stars maintained their journey across the night sky, the city continued to sleep and the boys finally went below to their bunks, ready for a busy day.

****

The owl watched from the top of the boat’s mast as the two boys disappeared and with a beat of her wings flew off, back into the city. It had been an interesting evening and she felt pleased that events were finally moving along. She knew the boys would need a nudge or two to put them in the right direction, but she had a good feeling about them, a far better feeling than she had when the merchant had got his greedy, pudgy hands on the knife.

She soared over the shops and buildings of the city enjoying the freedom of flight, the air flowing over her feathers as she rode the warm currents rising from the buildings below. She watched as the moon rose above the water, its reflection rippling upon the calm ocean, its pale light making long dark shadows of the boats in the harbour, giving a new texture to the cityscape beneath her.

She flew until she saw the world start to awake and with it, dawn break on a brand new day. Turning back towards the harbour, she glided down to alight upon the deck of The Griffin and, returning to the form of the grey cat curled up on a badly stored sail and there she slept, waiting for the start of the day’s events to unfold.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Flight of the Griffin Tour Page:




 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Unraveling: Hanging Onto Faith Through the End of a Christian Marriage

Luckily I have a good, happy marriage. Been married for ten years. I would not say it has been smooth sailing the whole time but nothing that my husband and I have not been able to overcome together. However my sister just recently went through a nasty divorce. Her ex lives locally in the same town so everyone still has to deal with him as my sister and her ex had a son together.

This is a book that I am going to give her to read. Not that I did not read it as everyone is not perfect and we can all use help in our lives.

I thought that Elizabeth did a good job of sharing advice without being too critical. She does not get into details about her prior marriage but instead focuses on what she learned after her marriage ended. Which is good advice. I liked that at the end of each chapter, the author gave "a prayer" "a next good step" and "a way forward".

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Escaping Home

Escaping Home is the third book in this series. I would not recommend jumping into this series without having read the first two books, Going Home and Surviving Home. Not reading these books in chronological order will have you missing the character development and close relationship to Jess, Sarge, Morgan, his family, and the others. I feel like this his a very important part of this series... the characters. Otherwise this is just another series about people trying to survive but the author makes this series more realistic then some that I have read.

I had a good time following Morgan, Jess, Sarge, and the rest of the characters. It I ever was stranded I would want to be with someone like Morgan. He could survive for a long time if his was the last person on Earth. I thought that the swearing was down in this book. Not that I was offended with any of the language. The ending was good.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Desmond Pucket Makes Monster Magic

Desmond Pucket has one goal and that is to go to Crabshell Pier and ride the amusement park ride "Mountain Full of Monsters". First Desmond has to survive junior high. Desmond is the school prankster. The principal, Mr. Needles knows Desmond on a personal note. Desmond's latest prank has earned him a three strike chance. He has three chances left to try and show he can be a model student or Desmond can forget about the Mountain Full of Monsters.

Ha-ha, Desmond reminds me of a mixture of Dennis the Menace and Macaulay Culkin from Home Alone. I am sure all of the teachers, especially Mr. Needles are counting down the days until Desmond either flunks school for good or graduates to high school.

All of his pranks were genius. I can say this as I was not a victim of any of them. My favorite pranks were the one when Desmond was helping with the AV Club as Phantom of the Opera and scared the whole class with the video of staring at the dot on the middle of the screen and then a scary image pops onto the screen. I passed along one of these email/videos to a couple co-workers and well lets say the results were...One screamed loudly (did I mention that at the time I worked in a call center), the second co-worker fell off her chair backwards, and the third co-worker was watching the video at home with her pregnant daughter who about gave birth early. My other favorite prank was Desmond's best one during the Drama Club's production of Merry-Go-Musical: A Circus of Songs! I am almost afraid to give this book to my nephews for fear that they will get many ideas from Desmond.


Saturday, December 7, 2013

Recipes for a Sacred Life: True Stories and a Few Miracles

If this book had not been sent to me in the hopes of my reviewing it then I probably would never have read it. I don't want to say that this book is not in my standard wheel house of books as I have expanded my book collection on what I will read but still this is not the book I would have first chosen. However I found myself drawn to this book and thus am happy I did take a chance on it.

I know this book is probably meant to be read and savored in little bits with each lesson to be reflected on but I read this book as a memoir with reading all of the lessons. Now that I have, I can go back and re-read the lessons one by one. Rivvy shares some good lessons that everyone can use in their lives. The stories were good as well.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Geek's Guide to Dating

If you are a geek in any form of the work either by appearance or at heart then you will enjoy this book. Even if you are not looking for someone. I am a geek in the form of a computer gamer. I have played some video games but my heart really belongs with computer games like Duke Nukem, Wolfenstein, Civilization, and World of Warcraft.

 

So as I was reading this book I could relate to references that the author was making on the different persona, how to approach and interact with your date, and what each type of geek can bring to the table with their special abilities.

For example me being a gamer:

Our strengths are:

Dedicated and loyal but we are also seekers of novelty. Because a computer game can get old quickly without our patches or expansions. We are constantly questing and leveling up, a competitive instinct that suits the thrill of the chase in the dating world.

Our weaknesses are:

We have a tendency to conflate girls IRL with our virtual damsels in distress. We need to learn to look at women like NPCs, they are quest givers and not just rewards. Or best yet think of them as playing on the same team against the rest of the world.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Wobbit, a parody

Anyone who is anyone has seen the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit movie and read the books. I love a good parody. I mean it is so easy now to do a parody of a movie or song. The MTV Video Movie Awards has been doing it for years and so has the Harvard Lampoon. However I have to say that I have never heard of the Harvard Lampoon until I read this book or I should say tried to read this book.

I was really looking forward to the non-stop laughter but I seemed to be missing my funny bone. I hardly laughed at all, despite all the references to celebrities, directors, actors, and Peter Jackson. What I found is that I lacked any interest in Billy and most of the Little People. Thus I struggled to stay with this book. I did try really hard to wan to like this book and finish it. But lets be honest, we all know how the story ends. You can enjoy all the supporting actors all you want but if the main talent is not up to par then the outcome is only so, so.

The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly is a wonderous treasure of a read

Spourt is a lay hen. All she does is lay eggs. Her spot in the coop gives her a good view of the barnyard. She can see all the other animals. She is envious of the other chickens and their babies. Spourt dreams of having a baby of her own. However that is not possible as the farmer's wife takes all her eggs. So Spourt becomes uninterested in laying anymore eggs. Thus in the process, she becomes too weak. She is to be culled. By a miracle, Spourt survives with the help of a duck named Straggler.

Spourt gets shunned by the other farm animals. Spourt finds herself in the briar. There she finds a nest with an egg. The mother is no where to be found. Spourt lays on the egg and finds a sense of belonging.

I absolutely loved Spourt. She is one fierce hen. She won me over from the first moment I met her. She will always have a place in my heart and bookshelf. I could so get behind Spourt as I used to raise chickens. We also had ducks and turkeys. So I am familiar with farm life. The thought that all Spourt wanted was to lay an egg and raise a baby chicken was great. In addition, I have to give Spourt a big kudo for picking out her own name. The meaning behind Spourt's name is that "A spourt is the mother of flowers, it breathes, stands firm against the rain and wind, keeps the sunlight, and rears blindingly white flowers. If it weren't for spourts, there'd be no trees. A spourt is vital."

My other favorites of course were Straggler the duck and baby, Spourt's baby. Yes, Spourt had a baby! This is the type of book that you will want to read again and again. So you night want to pick up three copies. One to keep on your bookshelf, another to read over and over and the third to give to a friend. The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly is a wonderous treasure of a read!