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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

World Book Night: The First Batch

I’ve read through the first five of my thirty-three unread World Book Night titles. It’s an exciting year so far and I can’t wait to move further down the list. I haven’t read anything Earth shattering yet but there are some solid books to look forward to.

Ransom Riggs’ Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is exactly my kind of scary (as in not scary at all but with a high creep factor). Using a series of very strange and very cool vintage photographs Riggs tells the story of Jacob’s discovery of Miss Peregrine’s orphanage. Jacob’s great grandparents died in Poland as the Third Reich entered Eastern Europe, but before that happened they sent their son (Jacob’s grandfather) to a special home on an island off the coast of Wales. There Miss Peregrine took care of children orphaned by the war and hunted by monsters. As Jacob looks deeper into his grandfather’s past he discovers that Miss Peregrine’s was not a home for ordinary orphans and the monsters his grandfather fought were more than just Nazis. It all gets a little overthetop, but it is a lot of fun. Riggs built the novel around actual found photographs; this creates a few narrative difficulties, but makes for a unique reading experience.
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford is more sentimental than my usual fare, but I so enjoyed this novel. I got caught up in everything that I wanted for the characters and it was often difficult to stop reading. Ford stays away from soapboxing and moralizing in this tale of love in the time of Japanese internment and tells a somewhat deceptively simple story of first loves, family obligations, betrayal, and loyalty. A really enjoyable read and the book I will be handing out on April 23rd!

I am a long time fan of A Prairie Home Companion. I was so excited to read Pontoon because while I love Garrison Keillor’s radio show I had never read any of his Lake Wobegone novels. This book just didn’t do anything for me. I would venture to say it is the weirdest book I have ever read. A lot of descriptions of weird sex, sad people, and outlandish events. Sure some of it is funny but most of it is just absurd.

Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow is probably the book on the list that I will like the least, but I have gotten used to the one dark mystery novel on the list each year. I chose to do this one in audiobook and that was definitely one of my better decisions. It is narrated by Edward Herrman who is quite possibly one of the best audiobook narrators ever (Richard Gilmore forever!). So, Presumed Innocent is a piney romance novel with a murder at its core. I have dubbed it a Sex-Mystery; is this a genre? Interesting fact: conversations with other readers have shown me that this novel is the 1987 version of Gone Girl – a megabestselling dark mystery with an explosive twist. Everyone read it and everyone talked about it. Not for me but good going WBN book pickers; I think this one will be popular on the 23rd.

It feels strange to say but I had no real emotional response to Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, and I typically like this type of memoir for all the feels it provides. I enjoyed reading about her progress, following her as she hiked the Pacific Crest Trail in order to kick heroin and become the person she needed to be. I admired her strength as a person and talents as a writer, but on the whole Wild did not move me. I’m going to chalk that up to too much hype and expectation. I will definitely be reading more of Strayed’s work though.

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