This summer has been super duper cool, temperature wise, and therefore a great time for reading some non-academic tomes. I also finally got a library card to my new library — Patrick and I went to check it out one day. He had a little trouble with the quiet part, but shelves and shelves of books? He was sold. And the best part is I finally figured out how to get library books on my Kindle! 2004 here I come!
So I first checked out Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. The creepy cover got me interested, but having the author stand behind us in a line at the LA Times Book Festival got me even more intrigued. You mean he’s a real person?!?!? Yes, a real person with a fabulous kate spade typewriter satchel. The story was fantastic, and definitely one that did give me pause to read right before bedtime. The monsters in this one, and the heroes too for that matter, are skin-crawly creepy sometimes. There are pictures, real pictures, all throughout the book which fit with the story or reveal things about the plot or characters, or sometimes just creep you out. The macabre in me really enjoyed this book, and I’ll definitely check out the second one when it comes out.
I was way behind the curve on the next book, but I am so glad I read it. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead takes its inspiration from A Wrinkle in Time, and I still have vivid memories of the Children’s Theater adaptation from the early 90s. Now when I read young adult novels, I really get interested in the parent characters — go figure, right? Miranda’s mom and her soon-to-be step-dad were excellent, and the little glimpses we got of Annemarie’s dad made me want to know her family more. I guess it’s only natural that as I grow older, I’m more interested in the hesitance towards commitment in Miranda’s mom than I am in the difficulties the kids themselves are having at school.
The third in my trio was A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, and wow. Heavy, dark, and excellent. While dealing with his mother’s illness and impending death, the adolescent main character “accidentally” calls a monster to help him. The grieving the protagonist goes through is realistic — messy, confusing, heartbreaking. And the illustrations reminded me of the ones from Scary Stories to Read in the Dark…so, pretty creepy also. But this book made me cry in the end, and not because of anything sappy. Unexpected from the cover art.
All three books gave me little thrills and chills — shimmy shivers, as I call them. There were moments for each of them when I was a little afraid to get up in the night, and when for sure I didn’t want to brave the walk up to the marina bathrooms after dark. Shimmy shivers. But they all had strong main characters that I could really feel for, and get involved with, which is just the kind of release and literary relationship I’m looking for in a summer read. I recommend them all, if you’re in the market for a summer read that will help you work some emotions out and release some pent-up stress with good thought and deep feelings.
Since I haven’t written in a while, here are some of the other books I read this spring with abridged reviews. They each deserve their own feature-length extravaganza, but the books keep coming, and any specific thoughts I had about them are a little lost in the haze.
Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson — amazing supernatural/religious/sci-fi mash-up with great twists! Put it on your list!
Broken Harbor by Tana French — I loved French’s first two books, the third was too similar to the others, and this fourth one was void of surprise and overtly gruesome.
Anasi Boys by Neil Gaiman — LOVE! Can we get more stories from the American Gods world, please? Please?
Villette by Charlotte Bronte — This book changed my thinking. Whatever was going on with those Bronte sisters, man, they made it happen. I assume this one takes the back seat to Jane Eyre because the ending is…unexpected, but I think that maybe… … MAYBE… … I liked this one better than Jane Eyre. Read it. Do it now.
Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente — Fun, but I think it would have been much more meaningful to me if I knew more about Russian mythology or fairy tales. I was able to figure out who some characters were, but ultimately, I was an outsider on the inside jokes here.