The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pène du Bois 5 out of 5 stars Professor Sherman is sick of teaching mathematics to unruly children in San Francisco, so he decides to take a year-long balloon ride around the world and never touch land in all that time. However, within days his balloon crashes near the mysterious island of Krakatoa, and he discovers the secrets of the island where a most unusual society is flourishing and fabulous diamonds are available to anyone.
This is such a fun and entertaining story! The plot has all these hilarious details all about the reception for Professor Sherman when he returns to San Francisco, his arrangements for his balloon house and how he planned his balloon trip, and the strange society that lives on Krakatoa and how they organize their days. Most of the narrative is explaining things, so there isn’t a ton of action, but the descriptions are so wild and interesting that you never feel bored.
That Hideous Strength (The Space Trilogy, #3) by C.S. Lewis 4 out of 5 stars Jane and Mark are caught between the forces of good and evil. As the N.I.C.E. corporation offers Mark a job to lure him into their wicked schemes, Jane is approached by a very different group of people who have gathered around Ransom. They each have to decide what they believe in when it turns out that archangels and ancient legends are real.
This book has a very different format from the other books in the series, and Ransom is a side character in his own story. The trouble with Jane and Mark being the main characters, is that I don’t really like either of them. They are so wishy-washy and both their personalities are unattractive. However, they do both have extreme character development and really interesting internal journeys.
Poirot is traveling on the blue train when one of the passengers is murdered and a famous ruby called the Heart of Fire is stolen. There are several mysterious clues in the case that only the great Hercule Poirot can bring to light.
Poirot really is one of my favorite detectives! He definitely shines in this book, and I love the way that he is so protective of the innocent victims. He is wonderfully shrewd. His strong temperament pulls the story forward. Even if he is just having tea with some friends, every word takes on a special meaning when Poirot is part of the conversation!
I love the complex characters in this book! There is a lot of focus on unraveling their personalities and there are so many good scenes where they interact and react to one another. I just love the way each person has their own vivid and memorable personality.
The author tells the story of her own childhood growing up in London and then later in the country. She describes her grandparents, her aunts and uncles, and the little joys and sorrows of her childhood. There is a lot of interesting description about the 1910s, how people lived, how their homes were organized, how they cooked and cleaned and dressed.
In the second half of the book, she goes to a new school which she loves. She makes new friends and discovers the beauties of the countryside. This began a life-long love of nature for the author. There are many descriptions of favorite plants and animals and country fairs.
Perelandra (Space Trilogy, #2) by C.S. Lewis 4 out of 5 stars In this second book of the trilogy, Ransom travels to another alien planet at the request of Maleldil. This time he goes to Perelandra (Venus), and encounters a new race of aliens, who are struggling with the same temptations from the Evil One that Adam and Eve fell victim to in our own world. Ransom must battle against the Evil Presence in order to protect the innocent new society that is just beginning to form.
I love the imaginative world-building in this book! There are so many different settings and alien animals and weird plants. Perelandra is such a strange planet with a perpetually cloudy sky and rolling islands that float on the seas. And even when you are more than halfway through the book, and you think you’ve seen all the scenery and met all the animals that Perelandra could possibly have, then there are still more mysteries and wildlife and extreme mountains and rivers to be explored.