Book Review – The Ever After

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May Bird is a bit of an outcast. She lives with her mom and her hairless cat, Somber Kitty. She doesn’t have any friends, and is constantly being taunted by her schoolmates. One way she deals with the teasing of the other kids who just don’t understand her is to disappear into the woods surrounding her old West Virginian home. There, she can become a warrior princess and leave all her troubles behind. One day, she falls into a lake in the woods behind her house, and spirals down into a whole new and incredibly strange world.

There, she is surrounded by ghosts and specters and must be careful not to fall into the hands of the evil Bo Cleevil.

Anderson had created a wonderful, colorful, and elaborate world full of imaginative creatures and items. We watch as May gains confidence and begins to take charge of her life. This is an excellent “coming of age” story.

It might be a little scary for small children.

4.5 Stars

Get your copy here.

Book Review – Serafina and the Black Cloak

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I loved this book. Even with all of Serafina’s idiosyncrasies, the way Robert Beatty described her made her actions seem perfectly normal, for her.

Serafina is a rather strange girl who lives in the basement of the Biltmore Mansion with her father who works as a mechanic in the mansion. She is supposed to stay hidden, for reasons that aren’t revealed until later in the book, but her curiosity leads her to pushing those rules. She is seen one night by the wrong person, and everything goes crazy from then on.

Beatty paints a wonderful and believable picture of a special young girl. Her courage is enough to get her through and help her defeat the bad guy without veering too far from what a normal girl her age would feel. She is both vulnerable and brave.

5 Stars

Get a copy of the book here.

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.

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Little Skulls

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Who could imagine that underneath the beautiful Snapdragon flower lurked such a macabre sight. These little skulls are the seedpods of the Snapdragon. They contain the flower seeds and are, apparently, rather difficult to break open, like real skulls would be I’d guess.

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Snapdragons are so named because they are said to look like dragon faces, and, after all, every face needs a skull.

The Sarcastic Fringehead

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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.

Foxfire Fungus

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 If you’re ever walking alone in the woods at night, and you see something that looks like fairy lights or will o’ the wisps, don’t get too excited. Unfortunately, you probably haven’t passed over into a fantasy world full of elves and adventure. Most likely, what you’re seeing is just regular ol’ foxfire fungus.

Even though it’s sometimes called fairy fire, it has nothing to do with tiny, beautiful, flying people. Foxfire fungus is the common name for many fungi that glow in the dark. It’s usually found on rotting wood and emits a blue-green glow using the same chemical reaction that occurs in lightning bugs (fireflies). Normally, it’s pretty dim, but if you’re really lucky, you might see some that’s bright enough to use as a natural reading light.

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There are from thirty to forty types of foxfire fungi in the world, and reference to them goes as far back as Aristotle in 382 B.C. They can also be seen in many books, movies, and TV shows from Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn to TV’s Psych.

Even though, seeing foxfire isn’t an indication that you’ve been transported to a mystical land, it can certainly make you feel like you have. Just don’t go too “Alice in Wonderland” and decide to eat some of it; it will make you very sick.

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The Bleeding Tooth Fungus

OK, let’s be honest. If you saw this in a forest, what would be your first thought? Would you think, “This looks yummy. I’ve got to eat this?” Well, apparently, someone did at one point because this “Bleeding Tooth Fungus” is listed as inedible. Luckily for the person who tried it, it isn’t poisonous; it’s […]

A Fuzzy Chicken

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Introducing the Polish Frizzle Chicken, a beautiful chicken that is mostly seen in show rings or exhibition halls. They have beautiful and unusual feathers that curl out unlike most other chickens whose feathers lie flat. This gives the frizzle chicken a cute, fluffy appearance. These gentle, quiet chickens come in many colors, but the ones you will see most often are black, white, brown, and blue.

Aren’t they cute? I could just eat one up.

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