2012 Book 163: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs
Reason for Reading: I was originally going to give it to my dad for Christmas, but it wasn’t as amazing as I thought it would be
Jacob has grown up believing that his grandfather’s tales of adventure and magical children were a fantasy. However, when Jacob’s life is suddenly turned upside down, he must go on a quest to a tiny island off Wales to see the orphanage his grandfather grew up in. There, he discovers that there was some element of truth in his grandfather’s stories…and he finds out that his life is in danger. This book was a fantastic idea. Riggs used some unique vintage photographs that he’d borrowed from a few collectors and built a story around the weird images. The photos were fascinating…I really loved looking at them. And I was excited to see what sort of story was built around them. However, the story was a bit contrived. I suppose that it would have to be, given that it’s built around some randomly rescued photos…So Riggs deserves some credit for a good eye and a creative idea. His writing was a bit lack-luster…as I said, it was a bit contrived, and it leaned too heavily on formulaic fantasy. Shades of X-men, Groundhog Day, etc. abound. Nothing wrong with using old formulas, of course – no concept is every fully new – but overall the writing just didn’t hold its own. I might or might not pick up the next book in the series…we’ll see. 🙂 I’ll probably read it eventually because I imagine Riggs’ writing might improve on the second book, and it will seem less contrived if it’s based on plot development instead of photographs. 🙂
2012 Book 150: Assassin’s Code
written by Jonathan Maberry, narrated by Ray Porter
Reason for Reading: 4th book in the Joe Ledger series. Figured the brainless action would be entertaining for a long car ride. Also, it fits in nicely with the Halloween theme. 🙂
In this fourth installment of Joe Ledger’s story, Ledger kicks the @$$ of evil Iranians, a Romanian? weirdo cult, and a group of religious doomsday vampires…all while trying to figure out where the mysterious group of psychotic women fit in to this mess. This book is brainless military sci-fi/horror action at its best. I only gave the book three stars because I started to get bored of all the bad @$$ military action. And it waxed a little too political for me at times. This is also a book that you shouldn’t think too deeply about–for instance, why the heck did he bring his DOG for a mission in Iran (when clearly the dog wasn’t being used for the mission)? Certainly, the dog HAPPENED to come in handy at times, but it seems poor planning to bring a dog and then leave him pointlessly in the hotel during the mission, so that if things didn’t go as smoothly as planned, Ledger would have to go back and get his dog before getting out of harm’s way. I also felt some of the “intrigue” plot was rather overcooked. Really? Intrigue in the Catholic Church? Gasp! Never seen THAT in a book before! So, like I said, this book is great if you’re interested in some mindless action…just don’t think too much. 🙂
If you liked the rest of the Joe Ledger books, then this is more of the same. If you liked the first and felt “meh” about the rest, then this book is similar to the rest of the sequels. If you haven’t read any of the others, pick up Patient Zero (it’s good!) and then keep in mind that the rest of the books are less intelligent, but just as much pulpy action.
2012 Book 140: The Headless Cupid, by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
Reason for Reading: This is my first post for Book Journey’s Banned Books Week 2012 blog tour. By reading banned books, I feel that I’m expressing my freedom of speech, but I’m also interested in learning more about WHY people ban books. I don’t approve of banning most of the books on ALA’s top banned books lists, though for some of them I can empathize with the objections. For the most part, I think the people who are objecting to these books need to give their children more credit for non-gullibility. All parents should watch what their children are reading, watching on TV, playing on the computer, etc. I believe that the best way to raise children is through a lot of communication. Banning books isn’t going to save our children from the real world.
David, the eldest of the Stanley kids has had to take care of his three younger siblings ever since his mother died. When his father gets remarried, David has to adjust not only to the new mother, but to a new teen-aged sister. And what a strange sister she is! Amanda dresses in dark flowy clothing, has a triangle in the center of her forehead, and wears an upside-down smile. Amanda begins to teach the Stanley kids about the occult, but soon things get out of hand when they awaken a poltergeist! This book is appropriate for 3rd-5th grade range.
The Headless Cupid is 98th on on the ALA’s list of the top 100 books banned between 1990-2000. The complaints about the book were that kids might become interested in the occult (or even learn to practice the occult) from this book. Of course, this is preposterous. This is not a story about an evil little teen-aged witch–it’s a book about an angry girl who wants to get revenge on her mother for getting remarried. This is a book about the very real emotions children feel when their parents make life-changing decisions. It’s about coping with that anger. It’s about love and forgiveness. Any child reading the book will end on a note of acceptance and forgiveness (unless they don’t finish the book). I think people who fear a book about kids playing let’s-pretend probably ought to lock their doors and hide away…because the real world is a lot scarier than this book.
2012 Book 122: Riptide, by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (8/8/2012)
Reason for Reading: It was there
Malin Hatch has avoided Ragged Island, Maine ever since he had witnessed a disaster there as a child. But when a treasure hunter finally convinces him that it’s time to delve into the mysteries of the Ragged Island Treasure once again, he signs on as the team’s physician. The team must wend their way through a booby-trapped tunnel to find the treasure. This book was a quick, light read without much substance. It’s much like Douglas and Preston’s other adventure novels (and rather like Michael Crichton)–a mixed team of scientists gathers for the “big find” and ends up with more than they bargained for. I felt that the characters made poor decisions throughout the book, but I guess gold has that effect on some people. If you like Preston&Child, you’ll probably like this book.
2012 Book 81: The Green Man, by Michael Bedard (5/27/2012)
Reason for Reading: LibraryThing Early Review
My Review 4/5 stars
When her father temporarily moves to Italy, O is sent to live with her reclusive aunt Emily–so that O can take care of her aunt after a heart attack, and Emily can take care of O. In her eccentric way, Emily encourages O to get in touch with her inner poet, and O helps out by cleaning up her aunt’s dusty used book shop. However, there is a deeper evil that is creeping in to town…The Green Man was a very interesting specimen since it defies genres. In some ways, it’s a psychological mystery, in others a fantasy, and in others magical realism. Its deeper message is to encourage the poets in its readers–though you don’t have to appreciate poetry to enjoy the book. I think this book would be enjoyable to adults and budding young cerebrals of ages 10-13ish.
2012 Book 77: Iron Lake, by William Kent Krueger (5/14/2012)
Reason for Reading: I wanted to read a book set in Aurora, MN 🙂 I’ve been there many times in my childhood.
My Review 4/5 stars
Cork O’Connor, the former sheriff of Aurora, MN, investigates the disappearance of a young boy at the request of a friend. While looking for the boy, he stumbles upon a mystery (and possible conspiracy) within his tiny town. This first book in the Cork O’Connor series was intriguing. Although I sort of guessed who the big baddie was, it was a total mystery to me how Kreuger’d get there. The characterizations were fantastic, and Kreuger did a good job of mood setting (with his cold MN winter). I DID wonder why most of the characters seemed to have redish hair, though? Also, Kreuger might as well have picked a non-existent town for all the similarity his Aurora had to the real Aurora, but I suppose that’s just fiction for you. 🙂 I’m excited to move on to the second book and see how Kreuger manages to fit another mystery into the small town of Aurora.
2012 Book 62 The London Eye Mystery, by Siobhan Dowd (4/16/2012)
Reason for Reading: Autism Awareness Month
My Review 3/5 stars
When Ted and Kat’s cousin Salim mysteriously disappears while riding the London Eye they team up to find him. Ted and Kat never got along in the past because Ted has Asperger’s Syndrome and is difficult to relate to; however, they discover that a combination of his rational thinking skills and her intuitive action makes them an ideal team. It may be because I’ve OD’d myself on Autism books this April, but I wasn’t overly impressed by this story. I don’t regret reading it–it was a cute story, and handled the issue of Ted’s Asperger’s symptoms well enough. But I didn’t feel a strong attachment to the characters. I also felt that the mystery (and the way it was solved at the very, very end) lacked verisimilitude. I understand why the frantic parents didn’t listen to what the kids had to say…but I felt that the cops should have given the kids a much more rigorous questioning, considering that the kids were the key witnesses to a rather suspicious event. I felt that the kids endangered themselves unnecessarily when trying to solve the mystery. I prefer it when books develop a plot such that the kids MUST do what they do, rather than it just being reckless behavior. But maybe that’s because I didn’t have that sort of fearless independence when I was a kid. I would have MADE the adults listen to me, instead. 🙂 But like I said, I think I’m just OD’d on fantastic Autism books right now and so this one just wasn’t what I needed at the moment. Final recommendation: read it if it’s convenient, but don’t rush out to get it.