Surprised When War Comes Home

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They all cried. People can certainly carry on, he thought, holding her fat hand because she had asked him to, and feeling sure she was going to drop dead any minute. These were the people who let a war start, then they act surprised when their own son is killed. Mavole was a good enough kid. He certainly was a funny kid and with a sensational disposition but, what the hell, twenty thousand were dead out there so far on the American panel, plus the U.N. guys, and maybe sixty, eighty thousand more all shot up, and this fat broad seemed to think that Mavole was the only one who got it.

-The Manchurian Candidate by Richard Condon

Blind Roaches

“We blind them to make it harder for them to escape,” Don G. said. “I told you so, Dad,” Zert said. He knew he had seen a B on that blind roach’s chest.

“Sorry for doubting you,” his father said.

“If another Nuclear Mistake were to happen or if there was another world war, insects hold the key. No matter how polluted or troubled, we can always survive on roaches underground in caves…”

Surviving Minimized by Andrea White

Destruction vs Creation

In my dream, I was there when they took it. They burned houses and fields. They caught women and children and tied them up like cattle; they cut men down where they stood. They took apart the careful work of more than a hundred years in so little time.

Destruction is easy. Creation is so much harder.

Nowhere wasn’t much, but it was the first place I felt free. It was imperfect, but it was as if there was a piece of me waiting there, ready to join the whole, that I hadn’t even known about. I suppose that is why I dream it still.

The Book of Flora (The Road to Nowhere 3) by Meg Elison

Busy Dying

Plastic barriers , latex gloves , surgical masks ? The Doom scoffed at all and gleefully spread its poisons . In the second week of the New Year , the death toll topped ten million and showed no sign of abating . Though his illness went unreported , and his death was kept secret for nearly two days , the President of the United States succumbed . Those heads of state fell like dominoes . Despite extreme precautions , they proved just as susceptible as the homeless , the panicked , the churchgoer , the atheist , the priest , and the sinner . In its wave through D.C . in the third week of the Doom , more than sixty percent of Congress lay dead or dying , along with more than a billion others worldwide . With the government in chaos, new fears of terrorist attacks lit fires. But terrorists were as busy dying as the rest. Urban areas became war zones , with thinning police forces fighting against survivors who looked at the end of humanity as an opportunity for blood and brutality. Or profit .

Year One (Chronicles of The One) by Nora Roberts

Marketing War

Not answering him at all, Sarason demanded that, in order to bring and hold all elements in the country together by that useful Patriotism which always appears upon threat of an outside attack, the government immediately arrange to be insulted and menaced in a well-planned series of deplorable “incidents” on the Mexican border, and declare war on Mexico as soon as America showed that it was getting hot and patriotic enough.

Secretary of the Treasury Skittle and Attorney General Porkwood shook their heads, but Secretary of War Haik and Secretary of Education Macgoblin agreed with Sarason high-mindedly. Once, pointed out the learned Macgoblin, governments had merely let themselves slide into a war, thanking Providence for having provided a conflict as a febrifuge against internal discontent, but of course, in this age of deliberate, planned propaganda, a really modern government like theirs must figure out what brand of war they had to sell and plan the selling-campaign consciously. Now, as for him, he would be willing to leave the whole set-up to the advertising genius of Brother Sarason.

It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis

  • Biography from Nobel Lectures, Literature 1901-1967, Editor Horst Frenz, Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1969

Their Story Will Be Your Story

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The worst thing they have done to you, who are my mother’s people, was not to destroy your government, take your food and children, deny your traditions, or outlaw your greatest powers. The worst thing they have done is to replace your version of honor with theirs. They are making you, the Shaftali people, into Carolins. So when you read this book, read it not as a history of the enemy, but as a history of your own future: what will happen to Shaftal when the Carolins are extinct, but live on in you and your children. Rather than defeat the enemies, you must change them—or else, someday, their story will be your story.

Earth Logic (Elemental Logic) by Laurie J. Marks

September 21 is the International Day of Peace

Book Review: Letters from Santa and the Ice Bear

JRR Tolkien took Christmas pretty seriously. He took the time to write complete letters to his children in the name of Santa. He even created a strange, spindly and unfamiliar (to his family) form of handwriting, so the children wouldn’t know they came from dad.

There’s also a collection of fun personalities that live with Santa, including the Polar Bear, who is both hapless and mischievous:

“Still [Polar Bear] is all right now—I know because he has been at his tricks again: quarreling with the Snowman (my gardener) and pushing him through the roof of his snow house; and packing lumps of ice instead of presents in naughty children’s parcels. That might be a good idea, only he never told me and some of them (with ice) were put in warm storerooms and melted all over good children’s presents!”

And very pleasant neighbors:

“The Man in the Moon paid me a visit the other day—a fortnight ago exactly—he often does about this time, as he gets lonely in the Moon, and we make him a nice little Plum Pudding (he is so fond of things with plums in!).”

In several others, the North Pole is attacked by goblins who actually wage war on the Christmas castle, but find all of Santa’s helpers are far better versed in combat than one might assume – particularly the bear. The goblin wars are exciting, but they are an unusual (and vaguely violent) perspective on Father Christmas, which made them feel a bit odd at points. If you’ve read the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, than these stories will sound very familiar.

“I had to blow my golden trumpet (which I have not done for many years) to summon all my friends. There were several battles—every night they used to attack and set fire in the stores—before we got the upper hand, and I am afraid quite a lot of my dear elves got hurt…They have rescued all my reindeer. We are quite happy and settled again now, and feel much safer. It really will be centuries before we get another goblin-trouble. Thanks to Polar Bear and the gnomes, there can’t be very many left at all”

The dates on the letters range from 1920 to 1943, so Santa’s struggles with WWII are detailed in several.

“I am so glad you did not forget to write to me again this year. The number of children who keep up with me seems to be getting smaller: I expect it is because of this horrible war, and that when it is over things will improve again, and I shall be as busy as ever. But at present so terribly many people have lost their homes: or have left them; half the world seems in the wrong place.”

From both a historical and biographical perspective, this portion of the letters are fascinating – to an adult. I attempted to explain the historic significance of those dates to the children in my life and they just stared at me with blank confusion.

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My only complaint about the hardcover version  centers on the illustrations. Tolkien included several pictures, illustrating the North Pole and the antics of the Ice Bear. The hard cover edition provides glossy, full-color reproductions of the handwritten letters and all illustrations, but the size of the book is slightly large than a pocket novel (about the size of an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper folded in half), so these reproductions are hard to see.

What I wish they had done was a large format, full color, 3-D version similar to the Ologies books, such as Dragonology: The Complete Book of Dragons (Ologies) by Dr. Ernest Drake (Author), Dugald A. Steer (Editor).

This super-fancy format would provide ample room for showing off the letters and illustrations, including little envelopes with copies of the letters included. The Dragonalogy book’s secret pockets with letters in both English and in runes are fascinating to children and just-plain-fun for us stodgy-old-adults.

There are many more quotes from this book already posted to this blog, including those mentioned above.

Book reviewed: Letters From Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien

Haven of Peace

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There is a haven for those tired of this war. There is a haven, out of view, where dragons and people still keep peace. It will always be a haven, and we pray that those who need it will find it in time.

Voices of Dragons by Carrie Vaughn

 

Fashion Does Not Equal Power

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Tonglong was wearing the ceremonial white jade armor traditionally reserved for China’s rightful ruler, and holding a white jade sword of similar significance. He glowed like a beacon in the bright moonlight, and seemed to think that his outfit should make the Forbidden City forces bow at his feet. It did not.

The Five Ancestors Book 7: Dragon by Jeff Stone

Losing Home and Letting Go

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Other items were so precious that the children clung to them even as they rowed. Fiona kept a pot of wormy garden dirt pressed between her knees. Millard had striped his face with a handful of bomb-pulverized brick dust, an odd gesture that seemed part mourning ritual. If what they kept and clung to seemed strange, part of me sympathized: it was all they had left of their home. Just because they knew it was lost didn’t mean they knew how to let it go.

-Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs