Monthly Archives: October 2013

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children: Creepy Books for Halloween?

It may seem like The Bookymom fell off a cliff. But, I promise I haven’t. It’s just that I am working my way through a 900 pager and it’s October — Halloween time which means lots of kid fun, but limited reading time.

In the meantime, I have taken a break from the 900 pager to read something that I was hoping would put me in a spooky/creepy mood. I picked up Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Let me start by saying it did not meet my spooky expectations. But, before I start with what was lacking in the book, I’ll say what I did like.

Miss Peregrine is published by Quirk Books, a publishing company that is always printing clever and interesting concept books.  Think:  , and . My favorite of these was Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters.

Miss Peregrine follows the pattern of Quirk Books and is an interesting and clever idea.  Author Ransom Riggs collected old pictures and pieced them together into a story about children with strange talents/supernatural powers.  They are being hunted by evil creatures and hidden by special women who watch over and protect them.  I love the idea.  Very clever and the pictures add a lot to the story.

However as I read the book, I could tell that certain elements of the story were thrown in so Riggs could make use of a certain photo. Additionally, the story development leaves a little something to be desired and the plot is not as well as developed as I would like.

I also have an issue with the “love interest” aspect of the story.  It seems to happen a little quickly and (without giving too much away) I think the main character Jacob’s attitude toward his love interest is a little to simplistic and not written with enough emotion/conflict.

Based on my criticism you may wonder why I am looking forward to the next book, . As Miss Peregrine ends the kids are about to embark on an exciting time traveling adventure. I am interested to see where Riggs is going to take these special children.

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MaddAddam: A BookyMom Review

Disclaimer: I am going to be a spoiler and the content of this review is absolutely NOT for kids!!!

MaddAddam is the final book in a three book series by Margaret Atwood. Now, if you haven’t read the 1st two books, this review and this book is not for you.

In this novel we finally see what happens in the aftermath of a human created plague. There are genetically engineered “new human beings” and strange engineered animals and a few surviving people running around.

We pick up with Zeb and Toby and the engineered Cracker people. Painballers (ex-cons who have fought to the death in gladiator style shows meant to entertain the old world before most people where killed) are still on the loose and the Crakers have come to live with what’s left of the MaddAddamites and God’s Gardeners.

There are three main narrators, Toby, a third-party that priced Zeb’s point of view and a young Cracker.

It’s been so long between the release of the three books that I feel as if I need to go back and re-read Crake and Oryx (which is still the best of the three).

I do love the Crakers and their simple approach to the world around them. Toby is recruited by them to tell quasi-religious stories. The best is when “FUCK” is transformed into some-kind of invisible spiritual protector.

So reviewers find the relationship between Toby and Zeb bothersome, ESP Toby’s female jealousy. That didn’t really bother about her character. It’s a little immature, but I think it’s supposed to help her seem less one-dimensional.

We find out what happens to Adam One. And, we discover Zeb and Adam have different fathers. I didn’t like that and I am not really sure why it was added. It doesn’t do much to move the story forward in my opinion.

All and all– it’s any okay book. I am screaming from the hills to advise people to get the book. As I said before, the biggest thing to come out of reading this is my desire to re-read book one— because that is excellent!

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Star Wars meets William Shakespeare meets Bookymom!

Star Wars - Darth Vader

Star Wars – Darth Vader (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love, love, love the idea of Star Wars written as a Shakespearian play.

I originally checked the book out of the library. (When you through as many books as we do at The Booky Mom’s house you make a lot of trips to the library!). I started reading the hard copy version to Cinco (2nd grader) and he seemed interested by the idea. (We read a children’s version of mid-summer night’s dream for our mid-summer fairy festival! Fairy Day I, Fairy Day II, Fairy Day III. So he knows who Shakespeare is and he knows the language can sound rather funny). Immediately, Cinco told me he wanted to listen to a dramatized version of the play. We waited until it was available on and bought it.

By doing this we missed the drawings in the book, but had the added fun of multiple narrators acting out the parts. It’s a fun concept and it’s an enjoyable listen for a little bit. It’s fun to hear Darth and Han speak in Shakespearian language. The author also does a nice job of using iambic pentameter.

But after about 90 minutes, the novelty of the idea wore-off. The audio version took on a been-there-done-that feeling. Plus with audio, having the stage directions read aloud is distracting, particularly when characters enter and exit frequently!

Finally, the movie is only 2 hours, but the audio story is more than 3. Really? It takes that much more time to tell the same story?

All and all, it’s a silly fun concept and if you love Star Wars or Shakespeare and want to try it out– Go for it. But, I think the book would be better because you get the pictures and you can skim it.


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Orange is the New Black: A Bookymom Review

English: Concertina razor wire at a prison

English: Concertina razor wire at a prison (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

People who have known me a long a time know my fascination with prisons.  It started to creep up on me in my 20s in college.  I was taking some class–the name of which is now long forgotten– and we watched this wild documentary on the Stanford prison experiment.  If you are not familiar with this experiment from the early ’70s you should check out the documentary about it.  But, basically a group of young men are chosen to simulate a prison environment.  Some are the prisoners and some are the guards.  The “prisoners” in this case have not committed any real crimes and assignment into one of the two groups is completely random.  This gets crazy fast!  And, as I recall the experiment was cut short because it was becoming a little too realistic. This is what got me interested in prison dynamics.

As a result of my curiosity I have read a number of texts on the history of prisons and the rise of the American for-profit prison industry, toured both closed and operating prisons, and served on a citizens panel about prison funding in my state.

None of this prompted me to read Piper Kerman’s book.  Instead, it was the good old Netflix series.  I started watching and got hooked.

While I can say I have been interested in prisons, I cannot say I have been interested in prisoners. They are very much “the other”.  Aside from a friend or two picked up on a DWI (and that’s no laughing matter) I haven’t really known any prisoners.  But, a nice upper middle-class white girl who pretty much had it together and then ends up in jail on an old charge…now there is a person I can relate to.  So, after watching the whole season, I got a hold of the book.

It is different from the show.  Many of the stories in the book are dramatized in the show.  But, many of the characters from the book make it into the show.

One aspect that really struck me was the non-violent nature of Kerman’s experience.  Of course, she was in a low-security facility for non-violent offenders and it was a women’s prison not a men’s facility.  But, so many of my own ideas of prison include fights and physical abuse.  This was not really a major factory in Kerman’s experience.

This is also different from the Netflix series. Now I know, I shouldn’t compare the book and the show, but I am going to any way.  What disappoints me about the show after reading the book is that Kerman takes a lot of time to paint a very real experience of her time in prison.  And, because of her background has cross-over appeal to a lot of people who might not take the time to read about a woman’s prison experience.  The show seems to feed into all the stereotypes that the media has been showing us over the years.  Stereotypes the author wants the reader to move beyond.

As for the book and writing, it is a fine, easy read. It is certainly not earth shattering and the book is not going to be added to the list of the great American memoirs.  But, I do think it will appeal to middle and upper-middle class white women, because Kerman is so relatable.  I think book clubs across America will be zeroing in on this work.  And, they should. It is immeasurably better than other book club best-sellers such as Eat, Love, Pray and Julie Julia (both of which I hated!).  At least this is a look behind the curtain of America’s growing prison system.

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