Tag Archives: literature

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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The War That Killed Achilles: A Bookymom Review!

The War That Killed Achilles: The True Story of Homer's Iliad and the Trojan WarThe War That Killed Achilles: The True Story of Homer’s Iliad and the Trojan War by Caroline Alexander

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The War That Killed Achilles by Caroline Alexander was a three star read for me. I am not sure what I was expecting. But, I can tell you this was a very close reading of the Iliad. Alexander did A LOT of quoting from the Iliad and even went so far as to quote passages that she translated herself. I am impressed she was able to translate it. I don’t believe she included her own translations to be showy, I truly agree she probably could not have quoted entire books of another persons translation. However, it should give you an idea of how much she quoted. I felt as if I was simply reading an heavily annotated version of the Iliad. She did offer some guidance on Greek myth and provided a lot of background information on the characters in the epic.

As a reader, you can definitely tell that Ms. Alexander has a love affair with Homer’s Iliad. For me, that was one highlight of the book. She writes with a love, care and passion for the epic that certainly comes through in her work and makes the reader appreciate her book, her research effort, and her labor of love.

It is an okay recourse book on the Iliad, but I am not sure that it is awe inspiring in anyway. There is nothing in Alexander’s book that really stands out for me. There is nothing in the book that will resonate with me in the long term.

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Elizabeth Chadwick’s Shadows and Strongholds: A Bookymom Review

Shadows and StrongholdsShadows and Strongholds by Elizabeth Chadwick

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Shadows and Strongholds is another of Elizabeth Chadwick’s novels about life during and after The Anarchy. This time we follow a young boy, Brunin Fitzwarin as he grows to manhood.

As always, you can count on Chadwick to paint a vivid picture of the period. However, in this story I really feel as if she gave the characters a chance to shine. We are treated to story that is less tangled in history and more focused on the people. I have read Chadwick’s Marshal books (John, William and Mahelt) as well as her book about Empress Matilda. I liked them all, but they were less chapter driven. In this book, Chadwick takes more liberties with the characters and the lives and it really pays off.

Brunin and his family relationships are very well developed. We see how he interacts with his own family as well as the family of his foster father. I also loved the female characters– Sybilla, Hawise, Marion–. They really have a strong role to play in the book and move the plot. They play a role even though they are not Queens. Even Brunin’s grandmother is well developed.

If you like Chadwick, I think this is one of her better books.

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The Fault in Our Stars: Review

The Fault in Our StarsThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

How do you deal with death when you have barely begun to live? That is the question that John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars tackles as readers experience a small glimpse into the life a teenage cancer patient. The book is the story of a girl battling terminal cancer and her daily struggles and joys. Readers grow fond of Hazel Grace as she meets her true love (another teenage cancer patient) and attempts to come to terms with death and the lives of those left behind.

While some may narrowly view this work as a Young Adult “cancer kid” book, I believe it offers something for older readers as well. The themes of life (and a life well lived) as well as death (its impact on us as well as our loved ones) are issues that are not unique to “cancer kids”. They are the universal issue of being human. How do we make peace with the universe? How do we define ourselves in our space in the universe? Addressing these issues from the POV of a teenage girl with cancer makes the reader pay more attention and offers a more intense emotion connection (both b/c of the “unfairness” of a short life and the emotional vibrancy of the teenage years and first love). Still, as I read (or rather listened) to The Fault in Our Stars I found myself relating Hazel Grace and caring about where her journey would end.

Hazel Grace’s voice is masterfully written by Green. But he also crafts fully realistic character’s with their own emotional challenges to surround her: Her friend Isaac– who looses his sight but keeps his life: Her mother– who “think” is defined by the cancer and her role as caregiver; and of course, Augustus–the boyfriend who is dealing with his own cancer issues.

Green weaves these characters together around the center, Hazel, without making it all about Hazel. He also uses literature and symbolism and dialog that are very engaging.

I would recommend this to old and young alike.

PS. As a mom, I am not s big fan of teenage sex in books for teens. But, I get it in this case.

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Mom Camp Day 11: Pooh Part Two

We started out with a kinda cool cloud art project.  It is at the Techy Teacher if you want to give it a go on your own!

IMG_1990

You take equal parts shaving cream and glue, mix it up and start painting your clouds.

Cinco and The Princess LOVE IT!  When the pictures finally dried (and mind you, this takes a little while) they had a lovely texture–somewhere b/t silky and velvety.  I couldn’t stop feeling the pictures.

But, beware it gets messy fast especially with a four-year old and a seven-year old.  Cinco even got it on his nose! They got the cloud mix all over their hands and started making hand prints instead of clouds.  Cute and why not, right?  The mix washes off easily so its really no big deal.

I wanted them to add some food coloring to the mix to start making rain clouds or a sunset, but they were having too much fun.  Still, I think you could add some food coloring in yellow and red to made different shades and see if you could create a sunset picture!

Clouds by The Princess

Clouds by The Princess

Clouds by Cinco

Clouds by Cinco

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So next it was on to some weird science!  On the net, I found a number of blogs suggesting you nuke Ivory soap.  Really?  Nuke it? I was a bit worried that this was going to set my microwave on fire–and we just bought a bought a new one less than four months go–.  You can see why I was a tad nervous, right?  But, I am sucker for a Mom Camp project and it fit so nicely with the cloud theme and if it worked it promised to be really cool.  I got out a paper plate and we did it!

IMG_1997It was really cool.  All of a sudden the Ivory soap started growing and morphing into this thing that really truly looked like a cloud.  Even The Captain was impressed– AND THAT TAKES ALOT.  He even suggested the kids smoosh up the soap in a glob and try it a second time.  It did work the second time and even a third with the same bar of soap.  Although, the subsequent attempts were less impressive.

I assume it works with Ivory soap because of the same reason it floats– the soap has air in it!  In the microwave the air heats up and expands and then pushes the soap apart.  Clumping it back together doesn’t really do anything to make it happen again.  It is simply expanding any air left in the soap that was not freed during the first or second attempts to nuke the soap. Or at least, that’s what my middle school science knowledge is telling me.  I could be 100% wrong and I welcome ANYONE to correct me.

Next it was on to this cute Winnie-the-pooh activity pack from our friends at Disney Family!  The pack was actually a good combination of activities for Cinco and The Princess.  The Princess did the dot-to-dot beehive and color page.  Cinco worked on the word search and crossword puzzle.  Both worked together on the Pooh Mad Libs (with a little help from mom).

Then off for swimming lessons and some play time at the pool.

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Mom Camp Day 10: The Wonderful World of Winnie the Pooh

Keeping up with the Mom Camp blog, Cinco and The Princess, as well as the house work has been a challenge this summer! It turns out that I have over planed activities for some of the Mom Camp theme days, so we may have some spill over onto other days. Mom Camp Day 10 was dedicated to non-other than the adorable characters create by A.A. Milne in his Winnie the Pooh books. The Princess is a huge Winnie fan and listens to the stories all the time so she requested a Mom Camp Day for the little bear and his pals.

Hundred Acre Wood

Hundred Acre Wood (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I found a map of the Hundred Acre Woods online and printed out a copy. We pretended each room in the house was a different place on the map and did an activity in the room.

  • Pooh Bear’s House was the kitchen and we started by baking multigrain biscuits and smothering them with honey.
  • Kanga’s House was the family island where we keep the computer. We did some online coloring pages and mazes.
  • The Bee Tree became our kitchen table and we made our own bee trees out of paper towel rolls. We cut out a small oval in IMG_1984each ‘tree’ and covered the rolls in green paper leaves. We also added a few green sparkle leaves for a little flair.

IMG_1983A little more flair was added when we made lady bugs with google eyes and pasted them to the tree as well.

IMG_1981Of course, what would a bee tree be without a bee? We also created our own bees out of pipe cleaners and added google eyes to the bees. We mounted the bees on pipe cleans and hung them from the trees. The kids then made the kids buzz in and out of the tree’s whole. We added a cut out and colored Winnie-the-Pooh complete with a red balloon. Pooh was mounted on a pipe cleaner as well and they kids chased him with the bee.

  • Owl’s House was the library and we completed a Winnie-the-Pooh puzzle I purchased at the Dollar Store.
  • Where the Woozle Wasn’t  was a dance party around the family island.  We played Winnie-the-pooh music and went round and round in a dancing/marching circle to look for a Woozle.
  • Robin’s House  was my bedroom. We cuddled up and read some stories.
  • Rabbit’s House was back in the kitchen for a little lunch of carrots and peanut butter and honey sandwiches on whole wheat.
  • Piglet’s House 
    was back in the family room where we watched a movie.

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Review of And the Mountains Echoed


This is another in the series of books by Khaled Hosseini
(think Kite Runner)
about people from Afghanistan. This book spans about 60 yrs and takes us from Afghanistan to Europe and the United States.

First, the things I liked. Hosseini opens the book with a children’s story about a giant taking away a man’s child. I found the story at the beginning of the book to be an amazing introduction to the book. It set the tone and provided structure for the rest of the book. Most of the book consisted of vignettes about people who are linked together when a brother and sister are separated. Without the introduction, I think the individual stories would have been too disjointed.

I also loved the language and images the author uses to tell his story. For example, In chapter 4 he writes the line”a life lived from the backseat”. It is a very gripping image of a person who is somehow afraid to strike out in life and stays behind watching others live. Again, masterful writing is seen when Hosseini writes, “…it would be the dripping faucet at the back of her head”. These lines reflect Hossieni’s ability to use words to bring forth images in a dramatic way.

All this being said, I liked the book. But, I did not love it the way I did his previous works, The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns).

I am sure there will be many people are not happy with me for only giving 3 stars. But the others were better in my opinion.

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