Category: Fantasy

Sep 17

Airplane Reading: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Coming of Age, Fantasy, Mystery, Young Adult Fiction 3

Hello bookworms! I’m back! I was on vacation, but you’re not supposed to say things like that on the internet, because 20/20 says that’s an invitation to burglars to, um, burgle your home. As we did not want to be burgled, I claimed to be an international super spy instead. Smoke in mirrors. (Mark it off the bucket list- I used three forms of “burgle” in two sentences.)

Jim and I went on our first “real” vacation. We went to Florida this past January, but it didn’t count because Jim had to work while we were there. THIS counted. 10 days at Walt Disney World! Don’t you dare go judging, we are simply young at heart.

I went to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party as the Cheshire Cat. The Queen of Hearts was suspicious…

The first of my three meetings with Alice. What can I say? I’m a fan!

This is one of Mary Poppins’ penguins! All time favorite movie. All time favorite animal. Mr. Penguin is preparing to give me beak kisses here.

I learned several important things on this trip. First- the concept of personal space is one that is not shared by all cultures. Second- no matter how much zumba SHOULD prepare you for walking all day, it does NOT. Bring Advil and blister bandages (I was actually prepared for this, but still. Ouch.) Third- I am still not quite ready to have my own children. The vast majority of kids were adorable, but there were enough jerky little punks to make my womb shut tight for a while still.

What does this have to do with reading? Other than my obvious obsession with Alice in Wonderland, nothing. So…Let’s talk about what I read on the plane!

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs was my choice for travel reading. I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting from this book, but whatever my expectations were, it certainly wasn’t what I got. Miss Peregrine combines aspects of A Wrinkle in Time, Harry Potter, and the TV show Heroes. Our protagonist Jacob is a teenage boy traumatized by witnessing the tragic death of his grandfather. He sets out to learn about his grandfather’s childhood in the orphanage he inhabited during WWII. What Jacob doesn’t realize is that his grandfather was more than just a Jewish refugee from Poland given asylum on a remote Welsh island. He was “peculiar.”

“Peculiar” people basically have super powers. Some are invisible, some can fly, some can light fires, some can resurrect the dead, and some can make things grow into elaborate tree sculptures (if teleportation is not an option for my personal super power, I wouldn’t mind having the ability to grow hedges into amusing shapes. Runner up super power acquired ). It is said that the peculiars often hid out in plain sight- as sideshow acts in circuses. That’s kind of brilliant, because as I mentioned in my post on The Night Circuseverybody expects crazy fakery in circuses.

Another trait amongst the peculiars? Some of them can see the invisible monsters that are trying to exterminate the peculiars by devouring them. Yes, the MONSTERS that want to EAT peculiar people. Are you still with me? Good.

In order to keep the peculiar  children safe, they live within time loops that allow them to hide from the monsters. A time loop is essentially the same day played over and over again- so the children never age and are hidden from the monsters. The time loops are overseen by… how do I describe this without it sounding stupid? There is no good way. The time loops and the peculiar children within them are overseen by shape shifting bird-woman nannies.

Jacob stumbles across the time loop and discovers that his grandfather was devoured by a monster, not a pack of wild dogs (a pack of wild dogs in Florida. Really? Gators are so much more glamorous.) Jacob and the peculiar children work at solving some mysteries, chaos ensues, the day is saved by a team effort of super powers. You know the drill.

It sounds a little ridiculous, but it’s actually a pretty good book. The only gripe I have is that it was left sooooo open ended. I’m a little concerned that this story won’t hold up as a series, but hey what do I know? I certainly liked it enough to check out book 2.

Also! I was apparently nominated for THREE blog awards while I was away! Thank you, thank you, thank you to Pocketful of Joules, Quirky Chrissy, and The Life of a Thinker for nominating me! The rules for accepting the award include some extra odds and ends, so it may be a while before I get around to all of it. But thank you from the bottom of my wormy little heart! 🙂

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Sep 04

I Want To Join The Night Circus

Fantasy 13

Good Morning, Bookworms! I hope you all had a fantastic holiday weekend! In case anyone reads this who is not in the USA, this weekend was Labor Day, where Americans celebrate ye olde working stiffs. Once a year we all pay tribute to the laws that keep children out of factories and give us weekends. Huzzah! Now, as much as we may honor those who work for a living, there isn’t a single one of us who hasn’t thought at some point, “dang it all, I want to run away and join the circus!” (Maybe it’s not the circus for everyone, but if people are willing to applaud looking cool in a tutu and doing poorly executed cartwheels, I’m a shoe-in for the acrobat job…)

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern takes you on a magical journey through an enchanted circus. This book falls into the magical realism category, but don’t be discouraged if fantasy isn’t your thing. This book has plenty to offer.

The Night Circus begins with two mysterious old magicians. They each choose a young pupil to begin training for an epic battle of magical wits to prove with of the two old men is the better magician. Why not just battle each other one on one? I don’t know, I supposed they have  a penchant for ruining young lives. Besides, when you’re ageless (which these two appear to be) you have to find ways to amuse yourselves, and hand-to-hand combat gets old after a couple hundred years.

It is determined that the “arena” for this magical battle will be a circus. What better way to disguise from the world that you’re having a magical war than to invite the public in to watch. Seriously. You expect to see the unbelievable at a circus, but if you’re just walking down the street, you’d be pretty suspicious of the elaborate display of bouncing clouds. This isn’t just any circus though. It’s a circus that arrives in towns without notice and is only open at night. It’s all spooky and mystical and delightful that way.

Anyhow, eventually the two magic pupils realize who they are competing against, which sucks for them,  because they’ve fallen in love. The only way the “battle” ends is for one of the magicians to die. As you can imagine, years or putting together spells and holding up elaborate illusions wears one  out, so the couple faces a real dilemma. They can’t keep up the competition indefinitely. I won’t spoil the ending for you, but it’s a bit of Romeo and Juliet with a dash of Tuck Everlasting and a pinch of Harry Potter.

What I liked best about this book was Morgenstern’s imagery. I could see the black and white striped tents appearing unannounced in a field. I could visualize the exquisite clock that was the circus’s centerpiece. I could smell the food, taste the caramels, appreciate the wonder that the circus provided its patrons. This book is great escapist literature- I recommend it if you want to take a hiatus from real life.

So Bookworms, if you were to run away from reality, where would you go? Anybody joining me in the mediocre circus?

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