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Archive for May, 2019

There are bad things in the woods. Grabbers. Lose one of your things? It might have been taken by a grabber. Once it has something of yours, you know it’s coming back. For you.

Kestrel is twelve. She hunts and kills grabbers, usually after they’ve taken their prey. She’s been trained well by her grandmother, someone from outside the woods. Her father is a wolf trapper. Hunting is in her blood.

She might be a hunter of grabbers, but that hasn’t endeared her to the villagers who dislike her as much as they fear her mother. They want to get rid of her as bad as Kestrel wants to leave the woods, especially now that a grabber is after her.

 

Monster story. Fantasy. Adventure. I was rooting through the whole book for Kestrel as she faces grabbers and other nightmarish creatures (face painters, the briny witch, bonebirds, and her own really creepy mother). I rooted for her as she fought to get out of the woods.

The monsters in the book are well fleshed out (figuratively) . Her mother is tied to the house with strands of twisted wool that’s knotted around furniture, the floor and even through holes in soup bowls. The Briny Witch is made of floating rags and small fish dart around and through his head. What a wonderful image.

There are twists and turns in the story and surprises. All make it a good read.

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Penny’s Playland

When my sister came to South Carolina, Penny, the cat, accompanied her. In Texas, she was an indoor/outdoor cat. Now she’s indoor. We were worried how she’d adjust as she’s an active kitty. I wasn’t quite prepared for it. It means dangling her favorite toy and me running around the house. It means having her chomp on cardboard boxes and drizzle bits of it around the carpet. It means have a squirt bottle handy to thwart the sharpening claws on carpets.

We are learning to adjust.

And Penny is adjusting too.

We got her to stop using the couch as a scratching post. She knows when we shake the squirt bottle, to stop whatever she’s doing. She’s okay, so far, with staying indoors. Being still a young kitty, we can’t expect her to stop playing so we’ve gotten used to dangling toys, throwing toys, and shining a red light on the floor.

One day, I was talking with some neighbors who live with a young beagle. What a handful he used to be, always barking. Now he walks along placidly. We discussing training pets, getting them to behave. I told them about Penny’s Playland, i.e. our house. They understood.

I’m hoping that playland will be eventually downsized, but so far it doesn’t look like it will. Penny’s now appropriated my favorite sitting spot.

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I finally managed to get back to Charleston, this time after my story was in its final stages and edits. I wanted to, needed to, walk where my characters did. I wanted to get a better feel for the time and place. Of course with the story set in the 1800’s, it’s not exactly what it was. The cars kind of ruined it. Still, I still got a good feel.

Besides the presence of modern conveniences, fires and wars and progress have decimated a number of buildings featured in the novel. Luckily there’s enough left of historic downtown to soak in the ambience and pretend, a little, it was the 1880’s.

I was amazed at some of the places still standing, such as the Old Jail. I was certain it was long gone and yet there it is, half boarded up. I mourned the loss of the old Charleston Hotel, demolished in the 1960’s or thereabouts. Whoever designed the bank building replacing it, did a marvelous job. While modern, it has elements of the hotel such as the columns.

I strolled through Marion Park and Washington Park where, after the earthquake struck, townspeople camped. The latter is so tiny. How did all those people fit in it?

The train station complex is difficult to envision. Yes, part remains as the visitor center and museums (A replica of ‘The Best of Charleston’, America’s first train is here, free to see), I was hard pressed to get a vibe of how it was back then. There’s surprising, so little information of this particular area.

Of course, the churches are the same and residences and commercial still stand, many with ‘earthquake bolts’ to keep them together. At some sites, such as the Agricultural Hall and the ruins of St. Finbar, I could only gaze and mentally replace what’s there with what was.

All in all, I got what I came for and left Charleston knowing I’ll have to visit again.

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Holly is dead. Her death weighs heavy on her sister, Emily, and her parents. With Holly’s death, Bluey is gone too, and so is the world Emily made up, the land of Smockeroon. Only writing memories about the teddy bear, Bluey, helps Emily cope.

Then, one night, Emily dreams of Bluey and it’s like he’s trying to send her a message. But that’s crazy, except weird things start to happen and soon she’s not the only one seeing soft toys come to life.

 

Talking teddies are right down my alley so I had to read this book and am glad I did. Not only did I like the talking toy aspects, but I enjoyed how Ms. Saunders treated the death of the older sister, Holley, who was disabled. One could really feel the love Emily had for her sister and the heartache of children losing siblings and parents losing children. It was gently done.

I felt a kinship in Ruth, an adult, who sometimes takes care of Emily after school. She has a love for old toys too. I am not ashamed to say that I have my teddy bear family prominently displayed and, of course, there is Pawnee Kitty and Angus who live smack dab in the living area.

At times the book was laugh aloud funny. Two Barbies are nuns. Sister Pretty has a bad word written on her forehead and Sister Troop became a nun to keep Pretty company. Another humorous moment is when Ruth first sees the toys comes alive and thinks she’s gone crazy.

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