Monday 7 September 2015

Short post on a long weekend...

On this hot, humid morning, as I sip my chai tea, I’m lamenting the passing of summer, yet am excited that fall, and by that I mean "cooler days", are ahead.  

Although I went back to work last week, I still managed to read two books.  The first is Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, the debut novel by Ransom Riggs that I’ve been meaning to read for some time.  I know we are not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but that is exactly what I did in this case - the unusual black and white cover, which features a young girl dressed in WWII-era garb who appears to be levitating, caught my eye from the first time I saw it, and the desire to read it has stuck in the back of my mind ever since.  This seemed like a good time to do so, since I have a copy of this book at both of my school libraries, and I just realized that this book is being made into a movie, which is expected to come out next year.  Jacob, a teenager living in Florida, is very close to his grandfather, but has difficulty relating to his parents.  During WWII, his grandfather was sent to live in an orphanage on an island in Wales, where children with peculiar gifts were said to live.  He regales Jacob with stories of these children and their special powers, sharing photos with him along with the tales.  He also tells of the monsters that he fought during wartime, and as Jacob grows older and learns of the horrors of WWII, he understands that his grandfather is probably talking about the Germans, not actual monsters.  When his grandfather wanders off into the woods behind his house one night, Jacob and his friend follow in an effort to bring him back, but they witness an attack that leaves his grandfather dying in Jacob’s arms.  His last words to Jacob make up a cryptic message about a bird and an island and the other side of the old man, words that haunt him endlessly until his parents send him off to a psychiatrist for grief counselling.  When an opportunity arises to visit this secluded Welsh island, Jacob jumps at the chance to search for this orphanage, hoping to finally overcome his feelings of loss.  What he discovers far exceeds his expectation as he enters a time loop and goes back to 1939, where he meets all of the peculiar children and their matron, Miss Peregrine.  He realizes that not all monsters at that time were Germans, and that sometimes nightmares are real.  He must ultimately choose his path and decide on his fate, a fate that could affect the safety of others, including the girl he loves.  It was an awesome read, and the real photos, which the author collected, appear throughout the book to lend authenticity to the narrative.  It was a bit of a time-travel  adventure, an unusual love story, and an exploration into one boy's move from innocence to experience.  As I was reading it, I realized that this novel had many of the same themes as some other YA books I’ve read recently.  Devil’s Pass by Sigmund Brouwer also featured a teenaged boy who undertakes a journey to an isolated spot in order to fulfill his deceased grandfather’s final wishes, and must search for clues to make this discovery.  It also reminded me of an audiobook I listened to in the spring, The Maze Runner by James Dashner.  In both books, the main characters end up in worlds where nothing is as it should be and they are unwittingly put in a position where the safety of others is dependent on their choices as they try to discover a passage to safety.  I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good adventure story, but I caution you to read the physical book.  I tried to listen to this as an audiobook earlier in the year but it just didn’t grab me - the photos really add to the story. Note: this is the first in a trilogy, followed by Hollow City and Library of Lost Souls. I may decide to read these in future, as the titles are intriguing, but I've got piles of other books waiting for my undivided attention.

And I read the book for my next book club meeting, Tell It To The Trees by Anita Rau Badami.  My meeting isn’t until next weekend, and I didn’t expect to be finished so quickly, but despite having read it a couple of times before, I forgot how unputdownable it was!  I won’t tell you anything about it this week, as I will want to write about our discussion next week anyway.  I’ll just say that it really is a great book.  Let’s see if my ladies agree with me.

Enjoy the rest of the long weekend, and keep reading!

Bye for now…

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