Red and Mr. Wolf

(Courtesy of Pinterest.)

The Bunsen burner’s blue light heated the water, boiling it, turning it to white steam. The steam rose and rose and rose up the pipe. First one gear, then another spun. Slow, slow, slow, faster, faster faster. The spinning gears spun belts which spun more gears until a large gloved hand poured Grammie a cup of warm tea.

“Mmmmm.” Grammie snuggled back in the pillows, her hands wrapped around the floral tea cup. “It’s a hug in a cup.”

Red grinned. She tugged on her hoodie and slipped her wrench back in her basket. “Well Grammie. It looks like all it needed was a bit of tightening up, some oil for the gears, and some more gas in the burner.”

“You’re so smart. I don’t know what half of that means.”

Red shook her head and gave the Official Tea Automaton 1000 one last look over. “Remember to call me on your vid next time, instead of using your headset, okay?”

“Of course, dear. I just don’t like the vid because then I have to make sure my hair’s neat.”

“Grammie.” Red leaned in over the old woman. “I love you. Your hair doesn’t have to be perfect. You’ve been sick, you know?”

“That’s no excuse.” Grammie tucked a gray curl back in her bonnet.

Red’s vid chimed. She held her wrist up to eye-level and pressed the accept button. “Hey, Mommy.

“Are you almost done helping your Grammie?” Mommy looked away from the screen, disappeared, and reappeared with Red’s baby sister, Blue, squirming in her arms.

“Yep.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Mommy raised the dangerous eyebrow.

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Okay. I want you to head straight home. Don’t talk to strangers.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Red frowned. She knew better than to talk with strangers.

Kissing her Grannie good-bye, Red hurried out. Her basket of wrenches, nuts, and bolts banged against her knee. Crisp orange and yellow leaves blew across her path. Heavy dark clouds flew across the sky. Red tugged the ties of her hood to keep out the wind and skipped down the sidewalk. As she came around the corner of her street she saw Mr. Wolf in his top hat, stomping her way. His cane poked the ground with every other step. Poke. Poke. Poke. Red imagine the ground didn’t like to be stabbed by Mr. Wolf’s cane. Poor, poor ground.

Red stepped back behind the large old oak at the corner hopping Mr. Wolf hadn’t seen her.

“Out of my way,” Mr. Wolf snarled pointing his ugly old cane at Red, “or I might just have you for dinner.”

Red shook in her boots. She ran around to the back of the tree.

“Boo!” Mr. Wolf jumped at her.

Red screamed and ran all the way home never seeing the toothy grin on Mr. Wolf’s face, nor the angry look Joshua Woodsman gave him from behind his white picket fence.

Mommy had hot chocolate waiting when Red rushed in the back door. The warm chocolate with three white marshmallows floating in it drove scary Mr. Wolf right out of her mind. Safe in her warm home, Red forgot about the man with the cane, as little girls do.

Early the next morning, Red’s vid chirped. Wiping sleep from her eyes, she saw Grammie on the screen.

“Good morning, baby bear,” Grammie said.

Red moaned something, still trying to wake up.

“Exactly! It’s just beautiful today. I’ve made some cookies and my Tea’s not working again. Can you come fix it?” Red rolled out of bed, strapped her vid on without turning off the screen, and hurried down stairs to ask Mommy. Grammie squeezed her eyes closed, quite motion-sick. The mother and daughter and grand-daughter conferred, and with Mommy’s permission, Red was on her way.

“Don’t talk to strangers!” Mommy yelled as Red flew out the door.

A light sprinkle of rain showered down on Red. She tugged her hood up and splashed through the puddles as she raced down the street, basket of tools in hand. At the corner, by the oak, she stopped and took a deep breath. The air tasted wet and woody, with a hint of burning leaves. A thin trail of smoke rose from Joshua Woodsman’s back yard. Red peeked over his fence. The boy in camouflage, rake in hand, stood beside a pile of leaves. Small orange and yellow flames flickered here and there, accepting their offering of the tree’s once-green foliage.

“What are you doing?” Red called over to Joshua.

He glanced up at her. “Mom asked me to burn the leaves before I go hunting.”

“Is it fun?”

Joshua looked at the fire and smiled. “Of course. “

The smoke circled into the air. Red squinted. Had she caught the flash of a top hat through the smoke? Or the soft tap of a cane on the wind? Last night’s fright surfaced in her imagination with more teeth and claws than reality.

“Why, good morning dear children.” Mr. Wolf appeared from around the corner, unusually cheerful. “Where are you going, Red, on this wet morning?”

“Grammie’s Official Tea Automaton 1000 broke again.” Red shifted from one foot to the other. Why had he stopped to talk with them?

Mr. Wolf raised a sharp eyebrow. “Again?”

“Yesterday it kept making cold tea.” Red saw Joshua frown at Mr. Wolf out of the corner of her eye.

“Today?”

“It spit cold water in Grammie’s face.”

Mr. Wolf laughed. “She may need to invest in the Tea 1000.1.”

“Isn’t that the one you invented, sir?” The way Joshua said ‘sir’ made it sound impolite.

“I keep telling her that,” Red said quickly before Mr. Wolf could snarl at Joshua. “Gotta go.”

“You know my dear,” Mr. Wolf leaned down, now eye to eye with Red. “There are some beautiful yellow and orange flowers over in the park, just down the road. Why don’t you pick some for your lovely Grammie before you go fix her Tea 1000. Old ladies love flowers.”

Red hesitated.

Joshua frowned.

Mr. Wolf grinned, his teeth white and gleaming.

“Than-thank you, Mr. Wolf. I’m sure she’d like that.” Red dodged around him and ran up the road towards the park. Grammie would like some flowers, and, more than that, it got her away from Mr. Wolf. Red ran faster.

The damp park, dripping with the silver rain, boasted a plethora of fall wild flowers. Red forgot creepy Mr. Wolf again as she rushed here and there selecting the best offerings of the wide field. Soon her tools lay buried under handfuls of yellow, orange, and burgundy buds and a few spectacular leaves. Red paused and checked her vid.

“Oh!” She realized she was quite late. If she didn’t hurry Grammie would vid Mommy and Mommy would vid Red and Red would be in trouble for not going straight to Grammie’s house. For the second time that morning, Red ran. She ran back up the street, back to the corner with the oak, down the road, into the forest and the little path that led to Grammie’s house. There it was! No vid yet. Maybe Red wasn’t in trouble today.

Warm light gleamed from Grammie’s cottage windows. Steam billowed out the side chimney, white and welcoming and promising cookies.

“I’m here Grammie, and I brought you flowers,” Red proclaimed as she hurried in the front door without knocking.

“Oh, what a good little Granddaughter you are, Red,” Grammie, sounding hoarse, said from her room.

Confused, Red stepped into the dim bedroom. Grammie laid back on her pillows, hidden in shadows.

“Are you sick again, Grammie? You sounded fine this morning.”

“Come closer, little Red, so I can see you. My eyes are weak.”

Red moved to the side of the bed and started. “Grammie, why do you have whiskers on your chin?”

Grammie pulled back. “All old ladies have whiskers.”

“Grammie? Why are you wearing a top hat?” Red’s heart hammered in her chest. “You’re not my Grammie!”

Mr. Wolf sprang out of the bed, grabbing for Red.

Red stumbled back tripping over his cane, spilling her basket of tools and flowers. He lunged for her. Red hit him with her favorite wrench and bolted into the kitchen. Mr. Wolf caught her hood and yanked. Red smashed her fist down on the Tea 1000’s lever. The automaton spit cold water in Mr. Wolf’s face. He sputtered and Red broke free. She darted for the front door just as it opened.

Joshua Woodsman raised his rifle and shot Mr. Wolf dead.

A muffled thump sounded from Grammie’s bedroom.

Red and Joshua shared a glance and hurried to check the noise. They found Grammie stuffed in her own closet with her own sock stuck in her mouth. She gathered both children close and covered them with embarrassing kisses. Using Red’s vid, they called the police and both their mothers.

Soon the house was in a flurry. The Tea 1000 spit cold water on everyone. Flowers and tools littered the floor. Mommys hugged and hugged and admonished and hugged again. Red and Joshua were bundled up, they must be in shock, and given cup after cup of hot chocolate. After answering all the mustached policeman’s questions, they were sent home.

Poor Grammie had to endure another day of the Tea 1000’s bad manners until Joshua walked Red to her house the next day and Red, armed with a wrench, fixed him. Grammie wasn’t too upset. The Tea 1000 had spit in the evil Mr. Wolf’s face, after all.

The End

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Pacifists’ War and Nyssa Glass and the House of Mirrors

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Pacifists’ War (Shatterworld Trilogy, Book 3) by Lelia Rose Foreman

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01ES6CYUU/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B01ES6CYUU&linkCode=as2&tag=genandquispi-20&linkId=L3WYH7KVALLEMPFJ

A while back I reviewed Shatterworld (Shatterworld Trilogy, Book 1). It was a wonderful “Pilgrim” space story with excellent world-building, amazing aliens, and a smart heroine named Rejoice.

Pacifists’ War picks up years later. Rejoice is married, has children, still looks to the stars, and still loves the hexacrabs. But life is about to change when a new group of colonist arrive with opposing views on all of life. Let the conflict begin!

The thing I enjoyed most about this book was the realism mixed so firmly and beautifully in with the science fiction. Hexacrabs are just the beginning of all the strange and dangerous life surrounding the colonists. But it’s the real life marriage problems, health issues, damaged relationships, broken trust, sin, and very real humanity that sucks you into this story and keeps you reading, reading to find out if all that is broken can be redeemed. There were many times when I felt emotionally drained by the book because the relationship issues were so realistically portrayed. And, trying not to spoil, the ending was the refreshing hope you longed for through the whole book, even if great darkness had to be traversed to reach it. Foreman doesn’t use epic battles or huge mountains to create valleys of shadow, she uses interpersonal conflict on a faraway planet. Well done.

The other thing I loved about this series was the way it’s written. Rejoice was a child in Book 1, and Book 1 was written in that voice for that audience. As Rejoice grows, so does the depth and maturity of the story culminating in a very adult book in Pacifists’ War. This gives the reader a real sense of time and development of the characters. Parents may tell young children who loved Shatterworld that they have to wait to finish the trilogy, but if you’re a more mature reader, it can provide a safe setting to discuss many different topics ranging from marriage issues, parenting, rationalism, faith, Scripture’s authority, pacifism, death, homosexuality, and so much more. All of this is touched on in Pacifists’ War, providing excellent opportunities for some lively discussions if you feel your older kids are up for it. This also makes this the kind of story that can be read again as the reader grows themselves. You will see it with fresh eyes as you experience more of life.

This is a great book and a great trilogy!

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Nyssa Glass and the House of Mirrors (Nyssa Glass #1) by H.L. Burke

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01BZRI4Z4/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B01BZRI4Z4&linkCode=as2&tag=genandquispi-20&linkId=WN3HB7FARVMZYFCT

Take lots of adventure, mix in a robots, a haunted house, plenty of steampunk-ness, a snarky computer, and a reformed pickpocket and what do you get? Nyssa Glass and the House of Mirrors!

Following her normal pattern Burke again provides a fun, enjoyable, quick adventure that is perfect for a Friday night into the wee hours of Saturday morning. Grab a bowl of popcorn and some chocolate and snuggle in for a grand time.

I loved this book because the adventure had a nice mix of horror which wasn’t overwhelming, but gave just a bit of spine-tingling. Nyssa is a fun heroine with plenty of moxie but also heart. And the computer is by far my favorite character. The interaction between it and Nyssa are hilarious and heart-felt.

I highly recommend this story and any other Nyssa Glass stories that are sure to follow!


(Remember, if any of these books catch your eye, just click on the link to head over to Amazon. I receive a small kick back for this, so you can think of it as supporting me if you enjoy this blog. THANK YOU!)

What I’ve Been Reading: Montmorency: Thief, Liar, Gentleman?, Trigger, Bitter Seeds

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Montmorency: Thief, Liar, Gentleman? (Montmorency #1)
by Eleanor Updale

This is a fun, quick read about a thief who becomes a gentleman. It wasn’t anything mind bending or breathtaking, but I found it’s historical detail  interesting and the main character enjoyable. I felt like there were some unplumbed depth missed by the author especially with the protagonist developing split personality.
If you have a kid in love with all things steampunk and Victorian this is a great book to get them started on. I think both boys and girls will enjoy the story. One review I read about it complained that it was considered YA but there were no children in it. I, personally, don’t think a book has to have or be about children to be considered YA. When I was a kid, I never complained if a book told the story of an adult. For some reason that struck me as an odd grumble against the book. It’s nothing super well written, granted, but it was fun and had some great ‘historical’ moments.
Rated PG: mild references to the seedier parts of life with out any details or depth.

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http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1582349207/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1582349207&linkCode=as2&tag=genandquispi-20&linkId=6BTA7KZYHSQ7S3VQ

Trigger by Susan Vaught

A good friend recommended this author when I asked her about the genre Contemporary Fiction. I have to admit that while I appreciate this genre more it’s not my favorite. I’d much rather read a well-done historical fiction or a well-done adventure story. But! I did realize reading Trigger that I have read some other Contemporary Fiction in the past…I just didn’t know that’s what it was called.

This story sits on the middle to older end of YA fiction with its topic of suicide and some pretty vivid descriptions of the damage a bullet does to a human brain and the horror of finding your child in that manner.
In a very imaginative and creative way, Vaught lets us see what happens to those left behind when someone takes their own life by having the protagonist fail to kill himself. Instead, he returns home to his family and friends with brain damage. The book covers his search for the reason he shot himself in the first place and his attempt to fix everything he broke.
The story is well written, easy to read, and interesting. It is moralistic, which I appreciate, finding the motivation to not commit suicide in the damage it does to your parents and friends. It challenges teens to step back and get a more realistic view on what is depressing them and isn’t afraid to use the word selfish and self-focused.
On the other hand, because it is a moralistic tale, it can’t offer anything more than that. It can’t demand you protect life, even your own, based on God’s command. It can’t offer the reader or the protagonist any deeper healing or deeper hope then a “sorry”. Ultimately, this is a moralistic tale, not a Christian one.

The main issue I find with this is that when you are tempted as a teen to commit suicide you want to hurt your parents and those around you. You want to end the pain not push through it, or you want to injure those who you feel have injured you. Knowing they will be injured isn’t going to stop you. Knowing you are about to face a higher power, a higher authority or demands the sanctity of life might help you not go through with it. I also think that if you know a family struggling with a suicide or someone who has attempted it, you will be better armed to offer help and hope if you believe in the grace of the gospel, the shed blood of Christ and his work for us. This is true hope, not my ability to not hurt those around me.
Rated PG-13: suicide.

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http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0765361205/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0765361205&linkCode=as2&tag=genandquispi-20&linkId=LXCKATMI34JTNBCK

Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis

I’m gonna admit that this is one of those books that I loved as soon as I saw the cover.

Hee! This book just makes me want to laugh with joy. Such a fun, dark, interesting, unique book. When I tried to describe it to my sister it came out sounding like a reboot of X-Man: people with powers fighting on different sides of WWII.
What it really is is an alternate history of WWII where the Germans develop five children with super powers run off of batteries. These children almost win them the war until Britain starts to fight back with their warlocks and the help of demons. HEE-HEE! Very creative premise that is totally off the wall as you read it.
But that isn’t even the interesting part! The characters really make this story. Each is struggling, each is broken down my what they have to do for their countries. And you are semi-rooting for all of them.
The writing is beautiful! I kept being caught off guard by a simple yet amazing description. I loved the way the ravens carried the story from beginning to end including an interlude to remind you of their perspective: haunting and captivating.
It starts off just a bit hard to follow as all the different characters and settings are introduced, but push through. It’s worth it. I find myself at a loss when I try to describe this dark story because I felt like the characters were very surface, as if you learn about them more by watching what they do than internal dialogue explaining what they are thinking. In some ways you never feel in touch with them. Everything feels very surface and yet very deep at the same time. Even now, I think back on them all with great fondness even while wishing the book was deeper, longer…more!
If you enjoy WWII history or alternate histories, give this a try.

The only part I didn’t like about this story was that I read it on my Kindle. I didn’t realize I was almost done with it until I hit the next page button and it said that I had reached the end of the book. I was not emotionally ready for it to be the end of the book. No. There needs to be more! I instantly bought book 2. I’m a sucker like that for sure.

This might make it on my favorite books list…
Rated R: Dark subject matters. Surprisingly clean when it came to sex. It’s mentioned but never shown. Some language.