Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

A mysterious island. An abandoned Orphanage.

A strange collection of very curious photographs
It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow–impossible though it seems–they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

         This book was such a fun read. It’s kind of a peculiar book and it doesn’t really fit in one genre. In the beginning it sets off kind of like an adventure and more of a ways of closure, but then it takes an interesting turn and suddenly it stops being solely adventure and starts to turn into paranormal. I like both, so this is good.

         Jacob was such a good character to read. The book is in his perspective and throughout he mostly narrates instead of giving a sort of commentary that I see happening with a lot of first point of view young adult novels. But I always loved his commentary, which usually kind of came off as sarcastic or blunt. It was fun to read and it was interesting following him through exploring the orphanage. I also found the writing of his character to be incredibly honest. Personally, I feel that writing a grieving character is difficult even if you have gone through some terrible tragedies. It’s really easy to go completely melodramatic and unfortunately, that makes the writing really unbelievable and takes away from the integrity of this great idea. Ransom Riggs, did a good job at writing Jacob’s grief and pain from such a traumatic experience and he does well in bringing that to what happens in the second act of the book.

          The other characters in the book were also very interesting. I mean, aside from the fact that they are the peculiar children in this home, they all had their own personalities and quirks. This sounds so much like a “duh” statement, but I’ve read a few books where some of the side characters were simply two dimensional and very obviously there just to be filler. I didn’t find this problem in Miss Peregrine’s. Each character was interesting and each character was fleshed out, no matter how small their appearance in the novel, and none of them really fit a trope. It’s refreshing to find a book that puts as much effort into its side characters as it does its main characters.

          In the second and third act of this novel, the story takes a strange shift. Thinking back on it, there have been hints at this all along the novel and it’s not incredibly strange, but it takes a turn that I wasn’t quite expecting it to take. In this novel there is the whole idea of alternate planes of existence where time loops. This kind of seems out of left field when it’s taken out of context of the novel, but it explains quite a lot considering what Jacob finds in the beginning. In the time loop, none of the children age… Well really no one ages. Yet, Jacob finds himself in a “should I stay or should I go” situation and he compares it to Peter Pan and his Lost Boys. When I read that comparison I had a moment where my mind went, “uh oh”. I thought Jacob was going to stay in the time loop because he genuinely felt that he was better off in this place where nothing changes, no one ages, and all’s well. Of course this is pretty much a fantasy and really, someone like Jacob probably shouldn’t stay. In the turn of the novel’s plot I found it very interesting how it changed from ‘I want to stay because it’s better’ to ‘I need to stay’. I don’t really want to spoil it for anyone, but it was incredibly interesting how the story panned out. What starts off as a dangerous fantasy ends as a very necessary reality and I have to say i really enjoyed that.

          Re-reading the little blurb from  Goodreads, I realize that this novel really didn’t hit the spooky factor I originally bought it for. When I found Miss Peregrine’s at Barnes and Noble a few years ago, I was mesmerized by the use of these creepy pictures, and the pretty pages, and the cover. I really wanted to know what creepy tale was written in the pages. Come to find out, it wasn’t that much of a creepy tale. It was a very adventure filled, incredibly fun tale. Now this doesn’t mean it was all sunshines and daisies (there was a lot of that), but I personally didn’t find it that spooky or scary. Though, I still loved the story so it’s not really a complaint as it is an observation.

          Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The characters were all interesting and I found myself really immersed into the world and the adventure. This is just a note for all those interested in reading: it’s not a quick read. Personally, I didn’t find it to be a quick read, anyway. I found it to be one of the books where it needs to be read in a moderate pace and taken in. I think if I read it like I would read a super quick novel, I’d miss out on a lot of the great details and the adventure.

Final Thoughts: I’m glad I finally got to read this book. It was delightful, refreshing, and just a good story.

Rating: 4.5/5

Details: 
Title: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Author: Ransom Riggs
Published: June 7, 2011 by Quirk
Pages: 352
Goodreads
Buy It: Barnes and Noble | Thrift Books | Book Depository

Bout of Books To Be Read!

Hello, hello!

I mentioned earlier that I would be posting my TBR pile for Bout of Books 12 and I will now post them below. I’ve posted a set of smaller novels because I’ve been in kind of a reading slump for a while now so I’m not used to reading a whole lot of books in one week or even a month. -sigh-

Anyhow, I’ll be listing below what books I’ve chosen for the Bout of Books 12 Read-a-Thon!

Your mother hollers that you’re going to miss the bus. She can see it coming down the street. You don’t stop and hug her and tell her you love her. You don’t thank her for being a good, kind, patient mother. Of course not—you launch yourself down the stairs and make a run for the corner.

Only, if it’s the last time you’ll ever see your mother, you sort of start to wish you’d stopped and did those things. Maybe even missed the bus.

But the bus was barreling down our street, so I ran.

Fourteen kids. One superstore. A million things that go wrong.In Emmy Laybourne’s action-packed debut novel, six high school kids (some popular, some not), two eighth graders (one a tech genius), and six little kids trapped together in a chain superstore build a refuge for themselves inside. While outside, a series of escalating disasters, beginning with a monster hailstorm and ending with a chemical weapons spill, seems to be tearing the world—as they know it—apart.

I’m super excited about Monument 14. I’m really intrigued by the little blurb here that’s given. I want to know how this story starts and how it unfolds. I’ve heard some good things about it so I’m going in with a positive attitude!

Twelve-year-old Clara Dooley has spent her whole life in the Glendoveer mansion, where her mother is a servant to the kind and elderly matron of the house. Clara has never known another home. In fact, she’s confined to the grand estate due to a mysterious heart condition. But it’s a comfortable life, and if it weren’t for the creepy squawking birds in the aviary out back, a completely peaceful one too. 

But once old Mrs. Glendoveer passes away, Clara comes to learn many dark secrets about the family. The Glendoveers suffered a horrific tragedy: their children were kidnapped, then drowned. And their father George Glendoveer, a famous magician and illusionist, stood accused until his death. As Clara digs deeper and deeper into the terrifying events, the five birds in the aviary seem to be trying to tell her something. And Clara comes to wonder: what is their true identity? Clara sets out to solve a decades-old murder mystery—and in doing so, unlocks a secret in her own life, too. Kathleen O’Dell deftly weaves magic, secret identities, evil villians, unlikely heroes, and the wonder of friendship into a mystery adventure with all the charm of an old fashioned classic.

I found The Aviary while roaming around on Book Outlet during the Black Friday Sale to find some new reads. I was really pulled in with the cover design as well as the story. I’m wondering if this story has more of a slice of life feel or a darker feel to it. Either way, I’m very excited to dive into this book.

Fierce, seductive mermaid Syrenka falls in love with Ezra, a young naturalist. When she abandons her life underwater for a chance at happiness on land, she is unaware that this decision comes with horrific and deadly consequences.

Almost one hundred forty years later, seventeen-year-old Hester meets a mysterious stranger named Ezra and feels overwhelmingly, inexplicably drawn to him. For generations, love has resulted in death for the women in her family. Is it an undiagnosed genetic defect . . . or a curse? With Ezra’s help, Hester investigates her family’s strange, sad history. The answers she seeks are waiting in the graveyard, the crypt, and at the bottom of the ocean—but powerful forces will do anything to keep her from uncovering her connection to Syrenka and to the tragedy of so long ago. 

Though I’m not too much into these kinds of novels, the story for this one pulled my curiosity. I’m wondering how this well pan out and even though it’s kind of implied that there will be some kind of romance, I’m interested in seeing how it’s written.

All of these books will have their own formal reviews after they’ve been read, but for the most part I’m excited. I’ve been meaning to get into reading again and I can’t wait to kick it off this year with these three books.

Wrapping up and Goals for 2015

          Even though this blog is super, super new, I still want to outline some things I look forward to in 2015. I plan on really dedicating myself to reading more and indirectly working more toward this blog and then to the YouTube channel I plan on starting in January. So here we go!

Books, books, and more books!

         This past year I’ve been getting over my first taste of college education as well as throwing myself towards my major, and then on top of all of it, getting a job. However, I plan to balance the best I can with trying to read as many books as I can this year while also handling a job, being a theatre major, and also completing my cosplays.
          To help me with this I’m going to be combining two things I came across: a 2015 book challenge and a TBR jar challenge! I found the 2015 book challenge over here and the TBR Jar Challenge over at Kat’s YouTube video. What I’m going to do is take all of the challenges from the 2015 book challenge over at PopSugar and put them in a jar like Kat’s TBR Jar. Every other week I’ll pull out a strip from the jar and either find a book in my TBR pile and read that or go out and find a new book!
          Along with those books I’ll be participating in the Bouts-of-Books 12 read-a-thon as well as the 2015 Debut Author Challenge! I’ll be making a separate post for all of the challenges I seem to have stockpiled for this coming year ^ ^;.

BookTube!

          I’ve been wanting to do this for a couple of years now, but now that I kind of seem to have more control over my life after entering the “adult world”, I’m really going to push myself to pursue it! I’m planning on posting a small trailer video late this month and then a new video in early January, hopefully the first week. It’ll be a crazy week since I have family gatherings on New Year’s and I have a con that I’m staffing a couple of weeks after that, oh boy.

Cosplay!

         Since I spoke about cons, I’m going to speak about cosplay. I do cosplay and I find it great fun to be at cons in costume (and sometimes in character)! I’m planning on churning out new costumes for the con I will be going in early January as well as the big one (Anime Expo) in July! I also would like to attend Wondercon and Long Beach Comic Con as well (SDCC is a dream beyond the horizon at this point). Perhaps I’ll post my weekly cosplay updates along with just weekly updates.

Blogging!

        Finally, blogging. I really plan to dedicate myself towards this blog so I’ll be trying to participate in link-ups (such as Top 10 Tuesdays) as well as just finding something to post about every day. Before this, I’ve been on Tumblr mostly and even though it’s considered a microblogging platform, it’s a lot different to… well actual blogs. It’ll be an interesting experience, but I plan to go ahead and jump into the deep end. For now I have book reviews planned out (obviously) as well as weekly updates I’ll be posting either on Sundays or Fridays, which ever seems simpler.

All in all, I plan on doing a lot of things this next year! I hope you’ll come with me on my journey.

Bout of Books 12!


The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins on 12:01 Monday, January 5th and runs through Sunday, January 11th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 12 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog.”
-From the Bout of Books team

That’s the general information about what Bout of Books will be. I’m excited to start the new year (and this new blog) with a strong start by totally going all out into a reading frenzy!
…..while also finishing last minute cosplay for a con I will be attending that same week. Oh boy. 
I’m determined, though! At the end of the week I’ll be posting my TBR list and book haul at the same time. During the craziness that was Black Friday, I stayed at home in my comforter ordering books from the Book Outlet since they were having a huge 30% entire store sale. I bought four books and since then reviewed one (3:59). I’ll post the rest in the haul/TBR post I spoke about. 
Are you also participating in Bout of Books? If you are, I’d like to know what books you’re reading! 

Review: 3:59 by Gretchen McNeil

Josie Byrne’s life is spiraling out of control. Her parents are divorcing, her boyfriend Nick has grown distant, and her physics teacher has it in for her. When she’s betrayed by the two people she trusts most, Josie thinks things can’t get worse.

Until she starts having dreams about a girl named Jo. Every night at the same time—3:59 a.m.

Jo’s life is everything Josie wants: she’s popular, her parents are happily married, and Nick adores her. It all seems real, but they’re just dreams, right? Josie thinks so, until she wakes one night to a shadowy image of herself in the bedroom mirror – Jo.

Josie and Jo realize that they are doppelgängers living in parallel universes that overlap every twelve hours at exactly 3:59. Fascinated by Jo’s perfect world, Josie jumps at the chance to jump through the portal and switch places for a day.

But Jo’s world is far from perfect. Not only is Nick not Jo’s boyfriend, he hates her. Jo’s mom is missing, possibly insane. And at night, shadowy creatures feed on human flesh.

By the end of the day, Josie is desperate to return to her own life. But there’s a problem: Jo has sealed the portal, trapping Josie in this dangerous world. Can she figure out a way home before it’s too late?

From master of suspense Gretchen McNeil comes a riveting and deliciously eerie story about the lives we wish we had – and how they just might kill you.

          Hmm. Where do I begin? 

         Honestly, I’m a bit disappointed by the book. I really, really enjoyed the concept when I first heard it at an author fair. However, I’m not too enthralled by the execution. The pacing is inconsistent, there’s unnecessary romance or romantic moments, and overall I never really cared about… well any of the characters. 

          I know. That’s harsh, but perhaps it’s my current jaded attitude towards Young Adult novels or it’s that I might have had way too high expectations for this book ( I wouldn’t put it past me, to be honest). 

          In general, I felt that the backstory for Josie, our great heroine, was just both rushed and dragged out at the same time. It’s kind of an odd way to describe it, but I felt that McNeil tried too hard to get the audience to sympathize with Josie in such a short time span that it almost turned melodramatic. There’s a lot going wrong in Josie’s life, which isn’t the part I had a problem with–but, Josie’s overall attitude was probably what irritated me the most. You know, the whole “woe is me” attitude that seems to stem from teenagers going through their trials of teenage angst ‘n all that. I really tried hard to sympathize with Josie, but I honestly just couldn’t stand it. 

          Nick, the boyfriend, kind of is a jerk in Josie’s universe, but in Jo’s universe, Nick becomes the perfect boyfriend. You know how there’s the Manic Pixie Dream Girl? This is almost like the Manic Pixie Dream Boy. Nick is hurt, but he’s really kind and sincere, and he also really likes Josie for all the right reasons. He’s also this great guy who despite gaining some major injuries, is able to fully protect Josie. See where I’m going? It’s too good to be true. So good in fact, that I became very distant to the idea of Nick and ended up disliking a lot of Nick ver. 2 and Josie’s relationship.

          One of my biggest gripes, however, was how incredibly predictable almost everything in this novel was. I called almost all of the plot twists a mile away and it made the reading so much less enjoyable. It was really upsetting when I read something and just went “oh, well called that…”
It’s not all bad though. I enjoyed the sci-fi aspect that was brought into this novel. How much of the science is real science? Sorry, wouldn’t be able to tell you. I’m not really an expert in quantum mechanics. However, I did really like the inclusion of science and the world building for Jo’s universe.

          Overall, I felt that the novel could have been longer or fleshed out a bit more. It’s a pretty short and quick read, but I think I would’ve liked it more if it extended on a lot of the ideas that were simply touched upon during the story.

Final Thoughts: Great idea, not so great execution and it made the reading kind of a burden.

Details:

Title: 3:59
Author: Gretchen McNeil
Published: September 17, 2013 
Pages: 368

Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

          I’ve heard a lot of great things about this novel and, I’ll be honest, I’ve been looking at it from a distance wanting it forever. So, of course when I got it, I’ve been very excited to start reading it. I’m a sucker for old, well known stories being reinvented. 

          Something the novel does immediately is draw your attention. Within the first few pages, I’m pulled into the story. It doesn’t hesitate to begin working towards the end of the book, and even though this is a novel that’s near 400 pages, I don’t find any moment dull or out of place. Every scene in this novel seems to serve a purpose. I’m a reader that can get distracted very easily, but I love finding books like this that make me want to keep reading.

          I know in the review of Harbinger I said that I didn’t exactly enjoy the romance aspect of it. However, opening Cinder, I was coming in with the idea in mind that there would be romance since Cinderella does have a huge romantic aspect. I really enjoyed the way Meyer did the relationship between Prince Kaito (Kai) and Cinder. I wasn’t pounded with the constant idea that Cinder was interested or attracted to Kai and it was the same with Kai’s feelings toward Cinder. It was very much there, but it was underlying to the overall story rather than it being in the center. 

          At the risk of spoiling anyone, I won’t go into too much detail of why I love Cinder so much, but I thoroughly enjoyed what Meyer decided to do with this classic tale of Cinderella. Along  with placing the tale in a futuristic setting, Meyer decided to add a flare of political development within the world of New Beijing and Cinder’s world in general. With Cinderella being such a short story, it’s open to such creativity and I’m glad that Meyer did what she did, especially with the relationship between Cinder and her adoptive family and most importantly how she gets to the ball. 

         My only gripe, which isn’t really a gripe anymore, is that even though the story is set in New Beijing, it’s implied that Cinder is brought over from Europe. Being Korean, I struggle to find any American YA novels that consist of characters that aren’t… you know, white. So seeing that even though the story takes place in Asia and there are Asian characters, the protagonist is not. However, there’s a very important plot twist that’s kind of anticipated that has changed my mind of it slightly, but a little more representation would be nice. 

        Overall, this novel is paced very well, none of the characters seem two dimensional, even though the novel has a serious undertone, I’ve found myself laughing out loud, and the story concept is very interesting. I will definitely go and purchase Scarlet, the sequel to Cinder and keep up with this series. I may or may not review later books of this series. 

Final Thoughts: A great twist on a fairytale classic and I can’t wait to read more.

Details:
Title: Cinder
Author: Marissa Meyer
Published: January 3, 2012
Pages: 390

Review: Liv, Forever by Amy Talkington

When Liv Bloom lands an art scholarship at Wickham Hall, it’s her ticket out of the foster system. Liv isn’t sure what to make of the school’s weird traditions and rituals, but she couldn’t be happier. For the first time ever, she has her own studio, her own supply of paints. Everything she could want.

Then she meets Malcolm Astor, a legacy student, a fellow artist, and the one person who’s ever been able to melt her defenses. Liv’s only friend at Wickham, fellow scholarship kid Gabe Nichols, warns her not to get involved, but life is finally going Liv’s way, and all she wants to do is enjoy the ride.

But Liv’s bliss is doomed. Weeks after arriving, she is viciously murdered and, in death, she discovers that she’s the latest victim of a dark conspiracy that has claimed many lives. Cursed with the ability to see the many ghosts on Wickham’s campus, Gabe is now Liv’s only link to the world of the living. To Malcolm.

Together, Liv, Gabe, and Malcolm fight to expose the terrible truth that haunts the halls of Wickham. But Liv must fight alone to come to grips with the ultimate star-crossed love.

          I was drawn into this book because 1) ghosts 2) really cool cover. I also met the author at an event maybe a year ago. I was really excited to read this book since I was a huge fan of Bad Girls Don’t Die. Going into it, you already know what you’re going in for: romance, ghosts, and a sinister mystery in a super old and prestigious school. I have to say, I enjoyed this book. 

          I really liked Liv (and for all those wondering, the author has confirmed that the title is pun intended), she had her own faults and she had the oh so typical teen angst, however she was still very real. Later on in the book when she’s killed, she goes back and thinks about how she treated her adoptive parents and feels guilty about it. Liv realizes the mistakes she’s made while she was still alive and reflects on it instead of pointing fingers—well she doespoint fingers, but come on, the girl was murdered. 

          At the risk of being a bit spoiler-y, I’m going to quickly comment on another reason why I liked her character as…vaguely as possible. When she becomes a ghost, she comes in contact with the other ghosts lingering around her campus. Immediately, she wants to contact them. Ask them questions and tries to find out why she was killed. This goes against Gabe, who refuses to make any contact with the ghosts. This is cleared up later on, but I just loved that about Liv. 
Now going into the book, I know there’s going to be romance, and honestly, I found it very sweet. It was a bit rushed, but the book isn’t even 300 pages so I’m not too strung up over it, and plus, even though I felt it was rushed, so did Liv. So it’s nice to know that Talkington seems to have written that in instead of blindly throwing in a love interest. Malcolm is very sweet and charming (as expected of a privileged boy taught to run the crowd, right?), and even though he was kind of leaning toward that Augustus Waters level of manic pixie dream boy, I still felt like I couldn’t get angry at him. Malcolm was just very genuinely sweet. 

          One thing that I didn’t understand with the story is why all of the ghosts had to be girls. It’s interesting because I had asked Talkington about this. When she was describing her book, she included that all of the ghosts were girls and I had asked if that was intentional. Talkington said, yes, it was intentional and that it would be cleared up. However, at the end of the story, I still didn’t understand why it had to be girls. 
          Other than that, I was very entertained with this book and I’m glad I got to Talkington about this briefly. It had a very tender romance, interesting mystery, and great dynamic among Gabe, Malcolm, and Liv. They were a great trio to read.

Final Thoughts: A fun concept and an entertaining read and you knew what you were getting into.

Details:
Title: Liv, Forever
Author: Amy Talkington
Published: March 11, 2014
Pages: 280

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