Saturday, April 7, 2012

G: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, The Ghost Brigades, The Giant's House

This is becoming a (bad) habit. I dug through all my print books, then realized just before midnight that the reason I couldn’t find my print copy of Guernsey was that I don’t have one. But I do have an archived ebook. Grrr.

Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society byAnnie Barrows & Mary Ann Shaffer
Genre: historical, general/literary

This book combines elements I wouldn’t have thought could be combined in one book. I certainly would never have picked it up on my own, but my “literary” book club read it, and I’m glad we did.

General premise: In a series of witty letters, it tells the story of some Guernsey folk who formed a book club while under Nazi occupation. Guernsey is an island between England and France, and I believe was the only part of the United Kingdom actually occupied by the Germans during WWII. Much like the kids in the Narnia books (I'm assuming people are more likely to be familiar with those than with English history), the kids on the island were evacuated to live with strangers in England just before Guernsey was attacked.

The word I’ve heard used most often to describe this book is “charming”. And it is. It’s amazing that one could maintain such a lighthearted, humorous tone in a book about people trying to hold onto something approaching a normal life while starving alongside ill-supplied invading forces and watching their neighbors be carted off to concentration camps. I’m not describing it very well. Just give this amazing book a shot.
The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi
Genre: SF

General premise Jared Dirac is a member of a unique military unit nicknamed the Ghost Brigades, cloned from the DNA of dead recruits and then seriously genetically enhanced. Unlike the others, Jared was cloned from a living person, Charles Boutin, who has defected to the enemy with secrets the Colonial Defense Force is desperate to keep. At first Jared seems like a failed experiment as he has none of Boutin's memories, but slowly they start to filter into his brain, creating conflict between the viewpoint he inherited with his DNA and the soldier he has to be.

The Ghost Brigades comes after Old Man’s War and is one of my favorite SF books. I believe it’s the only SF that’s made me cry (and no, that’s not why I love it). When people who have never really read science fiction ask for recommendations, I suggest Ender’s Game (profiled earlier) and Old Man’s War.

The Giant’s House by Elizabeth McCracken
Genre: literary/general fiction

The general premise is daring – a twenty-five-year-old librarian named Peggy (who fits all the stereotypes of a librarian, except for her sly wit) falls in love with one of her students. James, like Peggy, is a lonely misfit. When she first meets him, he’s eleven years old, already 6’4”, and would never stop growing.
There are plenty of stories about men falling in love with inappropriately-young women. Very rarely do we see the reverse, and the author wrote a fascinating story without going anywhere gross with it, focusing more on the growth and tragedy both characters experience over the course of a decade as giantism takes its toll on James.


  1. What an excellent collection of books! I'm intrigued!

    1. Yeah, I loved them! The authors did brilliant jobs.

  2. Hello! I really like you theme idea for the challenge. I'm such a bookworm and love hearing about good book recommendations! I'll have to check these out. Thanks for sharing!

    Have a great weekend and happy A to Z!!

    1. Thanks, Laura. :)

      Your "First Lines" post just helped me pick a book for a future letter!

  3. I'm especially interested in the last one, although all sound good. I'm getting scared to go to blogs anymore because my TBR pile keeps growing and growing and growing!

    LOL. :D

    Thanks for the recs.

    1. I know! I logged on, visited one blog, and immediately bought a kindle book. ~sigh~