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Another Awry Adventure

It all started with the American White Pelican. They’re huge and they’re only in my area in the winter and they don’t want me to get any good photographs of them. So, of course, I’m obsessed with taking photographs of them.

The problem is, all the places I know of where they hang out keep them well shielded from my camera lens, forcing me to shoot through thickets of mangroves and tangles of trees – that is until two weeks ago, when I happened to take a short cut to grab lunch when I had jury duty and discovered a flock of white pelicans in a pond surrounded by condos. I didn’t have my camera, or the time to stalk them, but I promised myself I’d return and get the pictures I so badly wanted.

This cell phone picture does not do it justice!

Fast forward a week, and I set out early with my camera on the way to do some grocery shopping at a store slightly out of my way – but on a direct course leading to a pond full of white pelicans. I’m almost to the pelican pond, what should I see but a Crested Caracara right at the side of the road trying to pull a flattened opossum to a better dining spot.

I know where a nesting pair of these fierce looking birds live, but I got my camera at about the same time that the area opened up to air boaters who decided that buzzing the shore was good entertainment and the birds no longer hang out on the trail like they once did, which makes them another bird I’ve been trying to get a good picture of, but there was a curb and nowhere to pull over and I refuse to do squirrely moves while driving, so I decided to go to the pelican pond real quick and then find a place to park and hike back to the Crested Caracara.

Only – I drive the half-mile to the pond and the pelicans aren’t there. Bummer. So I turn around, find a park, and hike to where the Crested Caracara was. And it was gone, too, although the opossum it was hoping to snack on was still there. This is the type of thing that happens to me quite often, a situation that my husband says is specific to Shannons because they rush into things without thinking them through which I would disagree with (in this case) since I’d been thinking about this excursion for over a week and how was I supposed to know there’d be a bonus bird dangled before my camera lens, PLUS I did stick with my original plan which makes his point moot (again, in this case), but at least he agrees it sucks when this kind of thing happens, so we’re on the same page there.

By this time it’s nine in the morning and since it’s late February in Florida I’m already rather sweaty so I decided to keep walking for a bit along the road, hoping to spot the caracara somewhere else or at least get some exercise but mainly refusing to leave until I’ve captured something interesting with my camera.

And then I see it. The (rather new) high school. And in the pond beside it – a pond which was dug to provide fill dirt for the school and the condo building next to it because the whole area used to be wetland but is now one of the top 10 planned communities in the US and because of this there are manmade ponds every quarter mile or so to keep the whole place from flooding – there, in that pond, I see several white pelicans!

They were on the high school side, and since I didn’t think campus security would appreciate me trespassing for the sake of pictures (and no way would I ever want to return to high school, anyway), I hiked down to the pond on the condo side and used my zoom lens.

And this is a typical Shannon type adventure, where the best laid plans go awry, but out of sheer stubbornness and refusal to give up and maybe a bit of the luck of the Irish (I’m not sure if I’m Irish but my name is so I claim it!), things work out in their own not perfect but better than nothing way. AND, I didn’t even have to confront any giant alligators this time (although, of course, I did see some smaller ones).

Book Review: The Silent Patient By Alex Michaelides

From Goodreads:

Promising to be the debut novel of the season The Silent Patient is a shocking psychological thriller of a woman’s act of violence against her husband—and of the therapist obsessed with uncovering her motive…

Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.

Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.

Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him….

My Review:

This is one of those books where there’s been so much hype that you know it’s going to fall short of expectations, but because of all the hype, you have to give it a shot to find out what all the fuss is about. However, even though I expected to be let down, I wasn’t! There were several nice twists, and while they weren’t all completely unexpected, some were definitely crafty! Considering that this was a debut book, color me impressed!

Book Review: She Lies In Wait By Gytha Lodge

From Goodreads:

Six friends. One killer. Who do you trust?

“A dark, deep, terrific thriller and a scorching portrait of friendship and its betrayal” Nicci French

On a hot July night in 1983, six school friends go camping in the forest. Bright and brilliant, they are destined for great things, and young Aurora Jackson is dazzled to be allowed to tag along.

Thirty years later, a body is discovered. DCI Sheens is called to the scene, but he already knows what’s waiting for him: Aurora Jackson, found at long last.

But that’s not all. The friends have all maintained their innocence, but the body is found in a hideaway only the six of them knew about.

It seems the killer has always lurked very close to home…

My Review:

I always find British (or any country other than the US, really) procedural books interesting because there’s a definite difference in the way cases (even fictional ones) are approached. This one had an interesting premise, with plenty of suspects. It was well written and held my attention, but I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as I had hoped, probably for the very reason that it was a procedural book set in another country, and while I always find them interesting, there’s also always a little bit of a disconnect because of the very differences I find so interesting. Also, while there were clues left for the reader, I would have enjoyed a stronger “aha!” moment. Overall, though, a good mystery and an enjoyable read.

Book Review: In Every Generation By Kendare Blake

From Goodreads:

A new Slayer for a new generation…

Frankie Rosenberg is passionate about the environment, a sophomore at New Sunnydale High School, and the daughter of the most powerful witch in Sunnydale history. Her mom, Willow, is slowly teaching her magic on the condition that she use it to better the world. But Frankie’s happily quiet life is upended when new girl Hailey shows up with news that the annual Slayer convention has been the target of an attack, and all the Slayers—including Buffy, Faith, and Hailey’s older sister Vi—might be dead. That means it’s time for this generation’s Slayer to be born.

But being the first ever Slayer-Witch means learning how to wield a stake while trying to control her budding powers. With the help of Hailey, a werewolf named Jake, and a hot but nerdy sage demon, Frankie must become the Slayer, prevent the Hellmouth from opening again, and find out what happened to her Aunt Buffy, before she’s next.

Get ready for a whole new story within the world of Buffy!

The first in an all-new series by New York Times best-selling author Kendare Blake continues the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer featuring the next generation of Scoobies and Slayers who must defeat a powerful new evil.

My Review:

I’ve been a HUGE Buffy fan since the show premiered when I was in high school, but I’ve always been a purist – I’ve never read any of the fan fiction, graphic mags, etc. – the show was always enough for me. However, when I saw that this was written by Kendare Blake, I knew I had to give it a try!

It’s obvious that Blake knows her Buffy – the details, the backstory, even the personalities of the characters – are all perfection. It did take me a while to get into because, for the most part, the book deals with a new, younger generation of characters, but the plot was just like something that would have been featured on the episode of a show. I think the author did a great job bringing a new cast of characters to life, and while the old cast and TV show will always be my favorite, there was very little to complain about here.

ARC Book Review: The Night Shift By Alex Finlay

From Goodreads:

It’s New Year’s Eve 1999. Y2K is expected to end in chaos: planes falling from the sky, elevators plunging to earth, world markets collapsing. A digital apocalypse. None of that happens. But at a Blockbuster Video in Linden, New Jersey, four teenage girls working the night shift are attacked. Only one survives. Police quickly identify a suspect who flees and is never seen again.

Fifteen years later, in the same town, four teenage employees working late at an ice cream store are attacked, and again only one makes it out alive.

Both surviving victims recall the killer speaking only a few final words… “Goodnight, pretty girl.”

In the aftermath, three lives intersect: the survivor of the Blockbuster massacre who’s forced to relive her tragedy; the brother of the original suspect, who’s convinced the police have it wrong; and the FBI agent, who’s determined to solve both cases. On a collision course toward the truth, all three lives will forever be changed, and not everyone will make it out alive.

Twisty, poignant, and redemptive, The Night Shift is a story about the legacy of trauma and how the broken can come out on the other side, and it solidifies Alex Finlay as one of the new leading voices in the world of thrillers

Review:

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I could NOT put this book down! The initial mystery grabbed me by the throat and kept me in a stranglehold until the very end! Then, as layer upon layer was added, deepening the intrigue, my finger started blistering from turning the pages so fast! This one will keep you guessing (and on the edge of your seat) until the very end! I liked ‘Every Last Fear’, but I LOVED ‘The Night Shift’. This is definitely an author to watch!!!

Is An Eye An Eye?

Recently, my husband and I were driving over the bridge when I saw what quite possibly may have been the biggest seagull in existence, which brought about the following conversation, and the question – is an eye an eye?

Me: “Holy . . .”

Husband: “What?”

Me: “That.” Pointing. “That’s the biggest seagull I’ve ever seen. I thought it was a pelican at first.”

Husband: “It’s not that . . . wait. Did you say seagull?”

Me: “Yes!”

Husband: “There’s no way that was a seagull.”

Me: “Don’t wreck the car over it.” Because now he’s looking in the rearview trying to get another glimpse. “But that was totally a seagull.”

Husband: “That was way too big to be a seagull.”

Me: “But it was. That’s the kind you have to protect your eyes from.”

Husband: “You don’t have to protect your eyes from a bird.”

Me: Looking at him in disbelief. “You’re kidding, right?”

Husband: “No.”

Me: “But you are.”

Husband: “But I’m not.”

Me: “Have you never seen the movie The Birds?”

Husband: “That’s a movie.”

Me: “Doesn’t mean it’s not based on fact.”

Husband: “But it’s not.”

Me: “How can you say that? Have I taught you nothing? Of course, you have to watch your eyes around birds.”

Husband: “Birds don’t eat eyes.”

Me: “What about vultures?”

Husband: “That’s different. Other birds don’t do that sort of thing.”

Me: “Seriously? What about crows?”

Husband: “Crows don’t eat meat.”

Me: “Crows eat meat. Crows totally eat meat. Unless the individual crow is a vegetarian. But crows are carrion feeders.”

Husband: Looks at me and decides not to argue because I know these things.

Me: Smirks because I know these things.

Husband: “But we’re not talking about crows. We’re talking about seagulls. And they don’t eat eyes.”

Me: “They eat fish eyes.”

Husband: “But that’s different.”

Me: “How?”

Husband: “Because it is.”

Me: “An eye is an eye.”

Husband: “An eye isn’t an eye.”

Me: “I’m pretty sure that it is. By its very definition, an eye is an eye.”

Husband: “There’s too much traffic, I have to concentrate.”

Me: “Fine. But if that thing’s around when we get out of the car, I’m protecting my eyes. One of us has to be able to see to drive home.”

Husband: “Hmph.”

This is a picture I took of a different seagull, but seriously – would you trust this bird? Look at that beak!

At that point, I almost hoped the world’s largest seagull would follow us to the parking lot so I could see if my husband would protect his eyes or not, but, unfortunately, it didn’t.

AND my husband still claims that worrying about birds going after your eyes is an irrational fear. I shall call his people Team Foolishly Trust The Birds.

My people shall be called Team Hitchcock (it has a better ring to it than Team DuMaurier and to be honest this is one of the instances where the movie was better than the story).

Which team are you?

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