Posts Tagged With: war

Mini Review: “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs

My review of “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” is a part of a mini-review series to write about books that I read while on blogging hiatus last fall.  I had originally planned to write about it during the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril challenge.

Jacob’s grandfather has always told him wild and imaginative stories.  At 16, Jacob dismisses them as mere tales, but when his grandfather is murdered, he begins to wonder if there might not be a grain of truth in them after all.  Seeking to discover his grandfather’s secrets, Jacob travels to Wales to visit the orphanage where his grandfather was raised.  There, he discovers a world distanced from time and populated by peculiar people with psychic powers.

As I read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, I found myself continually pondering whether the children were real, or a figment of an overly active imagination.  It is the story of the magic and ideals of childhood being intruded upon by the harsh realities of the grown-up world.

This is the kind of book that you engage and interact with.  It is interspersed with vintage photographs, giving it an eerie and vaguely sinister quality.  I would recommend the physical book over the e-book because the visuals play such a key role in building the story’s atmosphere.  I read the Kindle version, and although there’s nothing wrong with it, the hardcover editions are gorgeous and would give the pictures even more prominence.

Highly recommended.

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Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Horror/Gothic, YA | Tags: , , , , , | 19 Comments

“Old Man’s War” by John Scalzi

“Old Man’s War” is a science fiction novel by John Scalzi, an author who happens to be internet-famous for taping bacon to his cat.  My boyfriend read “Old Man’s War” first and couldn’t put it down, and since we have similar taste in books, I decided to give it a go.  I’m so very glad that I did.

The story begins when John Perry’s wife dies and he decides to join the army on his 75th birthday.  Alien life has been discovered and Earth has begun colonies in outer space, but due to a strict quarantine, people aren’t allowed to come back to Earth once they’ve left.  This means that Perry knows nothing but rumors of the Colonial Defense Force (CDF) and the war that they’re fighting in outer space.  The CDF recruits old men from Earth who assume that the advanced technology and resources available to the army can make them young again.  That’s about all that I can say about the plot, because if I talked much about the rest of the book then I’d quickly devolve into major plot spoilers.

Scalzi’s writing is very approachable, even if you don’t read a lot of sci-fi.  He’s also got a great sense of humor (the scene where all the old people in their young bodies start having sex with each other because they can comes to mind… it would totally happen), and I was amused that he named a minor character after Neil Gaiman.

Perry finds a sense of camaraderie in the CDF, and quickly rises through the ranks.  I liked the way that Scalzi used Perry’s character to examine the emotional implications of war, especially when the odds seem unbalanced.  In once scene, Perry feels bad about stomping on teeny tiny aliens, only to be continually reassured by his superiors that what he’s doing is for the ultimate benefit of mankind.  We see the CDF being used in situations where politicians hadn’t exhausted other options, and the troops do struggle morally with what they’re told to do.  At the same time, they realize that they’re fighting for their former friends and families back on Earth and that nothing is quite as simple as it seems.

For those of you who have read the book, I’m a big fan of the ending, and the romance in the book was well-orchestrated.  This is one of those books where the love story enhances the story rather than detracts from it.

I enjoyed this book a lot, and I’m planning on reading the sequels at some point in the future.  I’d definitely recommend it.

Categories: Fiction, Sci Fi | Tags: , , , , , , | 8 Comments

“The Swing Girl” by Katherine Soniat

I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.

“The Swing Girl” is a collection of poems by Katherine Soniat.  As a whole, the poems have a Mediterranean feel and call to mind the frailty of life and the abrupt effect of war on daily life.  Not all of the poems are violent; many call to mind snippets of day-to-day life or recollect mythology.

One of the issues that I always have with collections of poems or short stories is that the individual pieces tend to be hit or miss.  This collection was no different.  Many of the poems didn’t strike me as being particularly memorable, but at the same time, others were spectacular.

I particularly liked Day Spool, which recollected the sound of wind chimes.  I was also a fan of The Cathedral of Chartres, which describes a wedding from a gargoyle’s perspective.  Brocade gave me new perspectives on tornadoes with its vivid imagery of items picked up along it’s path.  Garden Smiles, which describes sitting in a museum cafe, reminded me of afternoons spent at the Hermitage or the Russian Museum when I studied abroad.  The Forest describes the narrator selling her car (somewhat sarcastically).

As a whole, I enjoyed this collection.  I don’t read nearly enough poetry, but I’m hoping to make reviews of poetry collections a more regular part of my blog.

Categories: Poems/Ballads | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

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