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Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

October 31, 2014

Miss Peregrine

When Jacob’s grandfather dies in a horrible accident, Jacob thinks he sees a creature responsible for his death exit the woods.  Rather than chase it, he goes to try to help his grandfather who says to him:

Find the bird. In the loop. On the other side of the old man’s grave. September third, 1940.

Haunted and confused by his grandfather’s directive, Jacob is determined to seek out its meaning.  He travels to Wales to see the home his grandfather grew up in and discovers it in ruins.  Still, there’s something there and Jacob is determined to find out what it is.  He finds a whole other world that explains so much about his grandfather’s life and death.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs is a very unique book.  Interspersed throughout the book are actual old photographs that suit the story perfectly.  At times it adds a really fun element to the story and, at others, it feels a little contrived.

Jacob is confused by the death of his grandfather and what he’s sure he saw that day and can’t understand why no one believes him.  His parents have put him in therapy but he doesn’t really think it helps until he gets his therapist to convince his parents to allow him to travel to Wales to see where his grandfather grew up.  Surely seeing Miss Peregrine’s Home will help him figure out what his grandfather meant in his cryptic message.

Jacob does find the answers he was looking for and they are beyond his wildest dreams.  They help him put the pieces together but they also put him in danger.  This book is full of supernatural elements and spine tingling moments and I liked it but didn’t love it.  I don’t read much fantasy, though, so I’m not the target audience.  Those who enjoy fantasy and the supernatural should pick up a copy of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children!

kid konnection newI will link this up to Booking Mama’s Saturday feature, Kid Konnection. If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, leave a comment as well as a link on her site tomorrow.

Review copy provided by Quirk Books. I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

Review: Mr. Mercedes

October 30, 2014

Mr. Mercedes

Retired police detective Bill Hodges has settled into a dull routine when, out of the blue, he gets a message from someone who claims to be the person who drove a stolen car into a crowd of people, killing eight.  It’s a case Hodges never solved – he knows he should pass the information along to his old partner but he feels compelled to investigate.  Things quickly turn into a game of cat and mouse – but who’s the cat and who’s the mouse?

I was a little worried when my book club chose Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King.  I did enjoy 11/22/63 but it’s not horror and, based on the cover, I assumed Mr. Mercedes is.  It turns out I was very wrong – rather than horror, King’s newest novel is crime fiction and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  The book wasn’t perfect – there was a small romantic element that seemed out of place – but it sure was compelling.  Stephen King certainly knows how to tell a story!

The point of view switches between Hodges and the killer so readers know early on whodunit.  The story focuses on Hodges investigation and if and how the killer will be caught.  I thought King left things open for a sequel and have read that Mr. Mercedes is the first book in a proposed trilogy – I look forward to the next two entries in the series.

Everyone but one person in my book club enjoyed this book.  I have to admit, though, that we didn’t find much to discuss beyond the characters.

I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

Wondrous Words Wednesday

October 29, 2014

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where you can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love.  Feel free to get creative!   If you want to play along, grab the button, write a post and come back and add your link to Mr. Linky!

It was back to my Word-a-Day calendar for me this week.

1. battue – “‘During the battue, rabbits scampered out of the bushes where they had been hiding and toward the open field.”

Battue is a noun that means the beating of woods and bushes to flush game; also: a hunt in which this procedure is used.

_____________________________________________________

2. hypocorism – “As she looked through her mother’s old yearbook, Molly was started to learn that her mother was known by the hypocorism Sweet Pea as a teenager.”

A hypocorism is a pet name.

_____________________________________________________

3. emprise – “Once they realized the dangers that awaited them on the descent, the hikers conceded that trying to scale the mountain in the first place was a foolish emprise.”

An emprise is an adventurous, daring, or chivalric enterprise.

_____________________________________________________

What words do you want to celebrate today?

Review: Factory Man

October 28, 2014

Factory Man

John Bassett III is that rare breed of executive who cares about his community and the people who live in it.  His family’s once thriving furniture business was struggling because of illegal dumping (selling products cheaper than they’re produced) by Chinese manufacturers.  Faced with several options – close Bassett Furniture, outsource the manufacture of their goods to China, or fight – he chose the latter because he was concerned about the people who worked for the company.

Bassett formed an alliance with other manufacturers and took his battle to Washington.  Through his hard work and determination, he has managed to keep some furniture manufacturing jobs in this country.

Factory Man by Beth Macy is a meticulously researched book that covers the history of the Bassett family, some background on globalization (including NAFTA), and the story of JBIII’s fight against imports.  Even though I found some of the Bassett family’s history confusing (many of their names are similar), I found the book as a whole fascinating.  It was refreshing to read about one person fighting a giant and winning!

Since my husband works in manufacturing, I try to be conscious of where items I purchase are manufactured.  Macy reinforced my beliefs when she referred to a paper by David H. Autor,

We all get slightly cheaper goods as a result of imports, to the tune of between thirty-two and sixty-one dollars per capita, he noted in a groundbreaking 2011 paper.  But the benefits of trade are shallow and widespread, while the disadvantages are concentrated and long term for those displaced.

That’s what Bassett found too.  He just couldn’t look someone in the eye and tell them they were no longer needed after years of loyalty.  After all, there were no jobs to retrain them for.  JBIII was blunt and demanding but he fought for the people of his company and I admire him for that.  This is a must read for anyone interested in globalization, manufacturing, or trade.

The audio version of Factory Man is narrated by Kristin Kalbi and I thought she did a great job.  I do wonder if I would have followed the Bassett family tree a little better in print but that had nothing to do with her narration.  The audio lasts approximately 14 hours.

Review copy provided by Hachette Books. I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

Mailbox Monday

October 27, 2014

Mailbox Monday October 27

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued, and now hosted on its own blog.   I honestly don’t know where the week went.  It seems like I blinked and here it is Sunday again.  Not just any Sunday either, but the last Sunday in October.  How’d that happen?  I found these books in my mailbox last week:

Monday

Tuesday

Thursday

 

What did you find in your mailbox last week?

Review: Snoop Troop

October 25, 2014

Snoop Troop

When the merry-go-round at the amusement park and some of the playground equipment at the school disappear, fourth grader Logan Lang springs into action; she is a detective after all.  Classmate Gustavo Muchomacho wants to help and she reluctantly agrees.

Someone has trained moles to steal things kids love and now they’re demanding the kids’ lunch money as ransom.  As Logan and Gustavo race to solve the mystery, they discover they make a pretty good team.

Snoop Troop: It Came from Beneath the Playground by Kirk Scroggs is a fun graphic mystery that borders on silly at times.  There are clues scattered throughout the book and young readers are encouraged to try to solve the mystery.  The end of the book features some fun activity pages for kids.

Logan and Gustavo are endearing characters and the terrific illustrations throughout the book enhance the story.  The mystery is pretty basic but that’s what I’d expect at this level.  Early readers are sure to love this fun book – I know I would have when I was young.  I couldn’t find confirmation anywhere but I feel sure Snoop Troop is the first book in a great new series.

kid konnection newI will link this up to Booking Mama’s Saturday feature, Kid Konnection. If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, leave a comment as well as a link on her site tomorrow.

Review copy provided by Hachette Books. I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

Review: Spoiled Brats

October 24, 2014

Spoiled Brats

Simon Rich is back with another hilarious and thought provoking collection of short stories.  Spoiled Brats examines modern day life with wit and humor while showing the absurdity of some of our culture.  The collection is comprised of 13 stories and I didn’t think there was a stinker in the bunch, but, as you’d expect, I liked some more than others.

In Gifted, a mother makes excuses for her demon son’s behavior because of his “obvious star quality.” When he harms his tutor she praises him because he never mentioned that Han was of Asian descent.  She can’t do enough for him, even when he’s had enough.

Elf on the Shelf examines what it would be like to be an Elf on the Shelf in a home where there are no consequences for bad behavior.

Animals is the story of a family of hamsters struggling to stay alive in a school.  They’re at the mercy of the kindergarten students of homeroom 2K who often forget to give them food and water.  The father hamster tells what he does to try to care for his family.

Rich’s stories are unique in their point of view – for instance, Elf on the Shelf is told from the perspective of the Elf and Animals is told from the point of view of a hamster.

I loved this collection of short stories. Many of the stories made me laugh out loud and they all made me think.  You’ll want to pick up a copy of Spoiled Brats!

Review copy provided by Hachette Books. I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
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