Book Review: Mossflower


Tsarmina has finally done it. She rules over Mossflower woods now, and the woodlanders are going to fall into line or face the her wrath and the full might of her warriors. But the woodlanders have warriors of their own, and they won’t submit easily. They send Martin the Warrior, Gonff the Thief, and Kinny the mole to the mysterious realm of Salamandastron in search of the strong Boar the Fighter. With his help, they can defeat the evil Tsarmina and take back the homes and freedom that are rightfully theirs. Things don’t work out quite as planned, but the brave woodlanders never give up.

This is a wonderful tale of courageous and cunning animals who aren’t afraid to stand up to their oppressors. The characters are imaginative and still, to a great extent, believable. Jacques does an excellent job of weaving an interesting and thrilling tale. A great introduction to the characters and setting of the Redwall series.

5 Stars

Get your copy here. 

Book Review: The Rat Prince


The Rat Prince is a delightful version of Cinderella told, in great part, from the point of view of the rats that lived with her. The prince of the rats, Prince Char, had taken get interest in Cinderella ever since her stepmother and stepsisters moved in. He did everything he could to make life easier for her, and in exchange, she befriended them and tried to get rid of the rat poison the mean cook set out for them.

When news of the ball came to the rats, Prince Char and some of his rat warriors went to the castle to check out the prince. If Cinderella married him, not only would her life improve, but she could get rid of the wicked stepmother who tried to kill Prince Char’s subjects, and their rat lives would improve as well.

Things take a dreadful turn for the worse when Prince Char and his warriors sneak into the castle and discover horrible news. Then to make matters worse, Cinderella’s “fairy godmother” chooses Prince Char and two of his loyal subjects to be coachmen. Prince Char must deal with his new human body and find a way to save all of them from the tragedy that looms. They have until midnight before the spell ends. Will they have enough time?

Bridget Hodder takes an idea that seems quite unbelievable, albeit terribly amusing, and turns it into a story that feels not only logical but completely possible (in a fairy tale world). Definitely a fun read.

4 Stars

The Blobfish

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Okay, you’ve probably seen this little guy before, but I just couldn’t consider my “Bizarre” collection complete without adding him. This is the Blobfish. He was voted the ugliest animal in the world. Poor guy.

Blobfish look like they do because they live so deep in the ocean (2,000-4,000 feet deep) where the water pressure is up to 120 times greater than it is at sea level. That pressure would explode the bones of normal creatures.

Found near Australia and Tasmania, the Blobfish (or Psychrolutes Marcidus as it’s more formally called) have practically no muscles. Their bodies are like gelatinous masses. They don’t have swim bladders that help most fish stay afloat either, but luckily, their bodies are less dense than the water, so they’re good. They just float near the bottom of the ocean all day eating whatever is unlucky enough to float or swim by their mouths.

They’re very rare, and I wouldn’t recommend trying to swim down to the bone-crushing depths to try to see one. Just be content looking at pictures online.


The Sarcastic Fringehead


The Sarcastic Fringehead doesn’t let its small size deter it from aggressively lying in wait to attack anyone foolish enough to get too close to its home. Living in shells, crevices or the stray tin can or boot that finds its way down to the ocean floor, the Sarcastic Fringehead is very territorial and ferocious. If another fish, or even a human diver, comes within attacking distance, this vicious fish will spring, opening its mouth to its fullest size and baring its razor-sharp teeth. If this ever happens to you, it’s best to retreat quickly trying to outswim the angry little fish who will most likely chase after you.

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These fish are usually around 6 to 8 inches, but they can grow up to a foot long, and they live mostly off the Pacific coast of North America. They’re more scientifically known as Neoclinus Blanchardi, but perhaps the more common name suits them better.

Watch the video below to see two Sarcastic Fringeheads going at it. Notice how they attack each other with their mouths. This way, they can determine who is bigger, and as a result, who wins the fight.

Christmas Tree Worms

Ok, I know it’s not Christmas yet, but I thought these guys were just too cute to wait. The Spirobranchus giganteus, or the Christmas tree worm, lives on coral reefs in tropical oceans throughout the world. They anchor themselves down into crevices they’ve burrowed into the coral.  They are very shy and will retract into their burrows at the slightest perceived threat. Even a passing shadow can spook them, but they will usually pop back up slowly after a few minutes to test the waters.

33_01XmasTreeWormThey have tubular bodies and Christmas-tree-shaped crowns which serve as mouth appendages. They use them to catch plankton and other tiny edibles floating in the water. The food particles are then passed down a “food path” moved along by a water current created by tiny hair-like extensions.

Unlike real Christmas trees, they come in a variety of colors including white, blue, orange, and yellow. They are quite pretty and can live well in home aquariums.

The Elephant Shark

This shark with the funny nose is called an Elephant Shark or an Australian Ghost Shark. Found off the coast of Southern Australia and New Zealand, it uses its snout and trunk-shaped appendage to forage on the muddy ocean floor for food. The end of its snout is covered in pores that can sense movement and weak electrical fields which help it find tasty mollusks and shellfish to eat.

It has a serrated spine that some people think is poisonous, but there haven’t been any reports of serious injury from contact with it even though it’s popular on commercial fishing circuits.

Growing up to a maximum of forty nine inches long, the Elephant Shark has a fifteen year life span.

It might be cool to see if you can catch one the next time you go fishing in Australian.

The Sheep Pig


This is the Mangalitsa or the “sheep-pig.” It originated in Austria and Hungry. Technically a pig, its full, curly coat can cause some to mistake it for a sheep. This thick covering comes in three different colors: blond, brunette, and red. Unfortunately, it is now considered an endangered species. This is partly due to the fact that, according to people with experience in this area, it tastes really, really yummy.