Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

And now, it's finally time for my November book!

Title: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Ransom Riggs
Year Published: 2011

Synopsis: 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.

This book has been showing up everywhere for the past three months or something. Literally, everywhere. On every Amazon page, every book recommendation, every bookstore... I couldn't get away from it. So I finally gave in and bought it because it sounded like an interesting concept - creepy pictures mixed with a creepy story. I'm also kind of on a role with creepy books (RE: The Dream Catcher trilogy, The Gates...)

Expectations: I except to be very entertained by this book, although I expect it to be very strange at times. The pictures that are shown as previews are very peculiar, and I expect the story to be just as peculiar. I'm super excited for this book!

Judging a book by its cover: The girl on the cover really creeps me out. She's levitating, for Pete's sake. And she looks like an old girl in a little girl's body... but not like those kids that have that disease that I can't think of the name for right now. It's just a creepy picture. And yet it's unforgettable, and definitely makes me think that the book will be unforgettable. And creepy. And fantastic.


"Truly honorable death, the only honorable death, is one that enables life."

I finished reading Paul's October book! 

In case you missed them, here are the previous posts about The Girl of Fire and Thorns:

Ashley's Pre-Reading
Paul's Review
Paul's Pre-Reading

I really enjoyed this book once I got past all of the chaos at the beginning. I thought the beginning was very hectic and that a lot was going on. It seemed to start in medias res, and although I thought it eventually worked itself out, I felt like I couldn't get a grip on what was going on at first. Elisa was getting married but didn't want to be and she's fat and she wants her husband to be ugly but he's not and why are they even getting married so quickly anyway and... yeah. I felt like so many questions were thrown at me before the first chapter even ended.

That's not to say most of the questions went unanswered though! I really liked that Elisa was kept in the dark about the Godstone, and that she didn't really know anything about the prophecy. Because her people were Via Reforma, and took the sacred texts so literally, Elisa had no clue about what bearing the Godstone meant to the past, present, and future. I also liked that she believes herself to be unworthy of being the bearer and turns to food to quell her fears and doubts. Her eating habits are never made to be disgusting or looked down upon (except when the Prince calls her fat), and I feel like Carson is presenting a heroine who many teenage girls can relate to. She's overweight, timid, and nothing special (save for the Godstone in her belly), but she still rises up to the needs of her people and leads them to victory over the animagus and the advancing army.

By the end of the novel, Elisa is a completely different person. At first, she wanted to be loved. Then she was loved and loved in return, lost that love, and then just when she thought she might find love in Alejandro, she loses him too. Although I was NOT amused that Humberto was killed, I think it was a kind of necessary evil to help Elisa to  grow even more. I hate when the love interests are killed off, but that might just be because I'm kind of a sap when it comes to that. I was glad that Cosme and Elisa became friends, and that Elisa kept her promise to give the desert people their own kingdom with Cosme as their queen. 

I really enjoyed the plot, the character development, the descriptions of the people and the setting, and the fake religion that can be taken to be similar to many religions followed today. The "God" figure is not called something that looks like the author did a keyboard smash, and the priests and followers and the idea of one faction creating another denomination of sorts is very reminiscent of Catholicism/Christianity. I thought it was handled very well, and wasn't offensive in any way. 

I can't wait for the sequel to come out! Or sequels, I guess, since it's part of a trilogy. 

Definitely a 4.5/5 for this one! Only because the beginning was so crazy crazy though.


Monday, November 28, 2011

Paul's October Pick: The Girl of Fire and Thorns

Title: The Girl of Fire and Thorns
Author: Rae Carson
Year Published: 2011

Synopsis: Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.

Elisa is the chosen one.

But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can’t see how she ever will.

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do.

Why?: Paul saw this at B&N and bought it, so now I get to read it too.

Expectations: Paul really enjoyed this book, so I think I will too. It seems like a pretty epic novel with a not-so-strong heroine who probably steps up into the role of heroine. And faces death often. Since most of the chosen die. I've never read anything by this author, but I hope she writes well.

Judging a book by its cover: I think the gem is very important, and is central to the plot. Also, the girl. Since she probably has the gem.

These are significantly harder to do once I've read the book... I need to stop doing this.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

"It’s a good idea to avoid people who take themselves too seriously."

I finally finished my October pick! A week ago or so, but still. 

The Gates: Prereading

Once I finally got into this book, I really enjoyed it. I felt like the characters were pretty well developed, and I liked how Samuel Johnson was the protagonist of the book. I think it made the book more entertaining to have a child trying to stop the "Great Malevolence" from opening the Gates of Hell and coming to Earth than having an adult do it.

I did think that the novel started out very slowly. The long footnotes, although entertaining, were distracting from the story and every time I saw one that took up half a page, I became discouraged and would put the book down after a couple of minutes. The set up was a little much, and too many people thought Samuel was crazy at first. Although that's probably the most realistic situation, I don't think it needed to be half the book.

I liked Nurd, and I thought his character was well developed. I liked that he didn't want to be an evil demon, and that he and Samuel became friends. I also thought it was a nice bit of revenge for Nurd to stop the Great Malevolence from coming through, and for him to use Samuel's dad's car to do so. 

Honestly though, it took me too long to read this for me to remember much else. I'll give this one a 3/5 for being slow at the beginning, but for improving in the second half. There is a sequel (or two...) but I don't think I'll be reading them any time soon. Sorry, Samuel Johnson.


Monday, November 21, 2011

The People of Sparks....

Are finally off of my reading list. I don't want to review it, because I honestly don't remember most of it. It took me too long to read, and I didn't really enjoy it.

I think the problem was that it was written for an age group way below mine. I found all of the characters really annoying,  and I thought the plot dragged way too much.

I did like that the Emberites were the hidden "treasure", but I thought it was dropped way too easily. It was mentioned, briefly explained, and then it seemed like nobody cared anymore. Screw you, People of Ember, everybody hates you even though you were supposed to be humanity's savior in case we all died!

Overall, I'd rate this a 1.5/5 for someone who typically reads older books.

I am not looking forward to reading The Prophet of Yonwood or The Diamond of Darkhold, but I will. I've already committed too much time to this series to not finish it.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

"Occam’s Razor—the simplest explanation is usually the correct one"

I finally finished reading The Nine Lives of Chloe King! I meant to blog everytime I finished a book, but that obviously didn't happen. Sorry about that.

In case you missed it: Pre-Reading


First of all, this book pretty much met all of my expectations, and then some. I was prepared to have to deal with some of the stupid paranormal teen romance garbage that a lot of YA books have right now, but I was pleasantly surprised that the romance was not really the main focus of the book. It was a (fairly large) sub-plot, but Chloe didn't focus entirely on choosing between her two boyfriends (Brian and Alyec). I do disagree with her final choice, but to each ther own (I totally would have picked Alyec over Brian). 

The romance between Chloe and Brian seemed a little rushed though. At first, Brian was only supposed to get close enough to Chloe to dispose of her. Then, all of a sudden, he's in love with her? I feel like Chloe and Brian, like most teenagers, just throw the word around without fully understanding what it means. As I read through the books, I felt that Alyec was more mature than either of them and that Chloe could have learned quite a bit from him. Oh, and also, Alyec tried to protect her while Brian was trying to kill her. Most normal people would choose to be with the person who was always trying to save her, not with the guy who suddenly had a change of heart. Ok, I'm getting off my soapbox.

Although the books did cover quite a bit, I felt like they also left much to be discovered still. What happened to Chloe's adopted father? Who was Chloe's birth father? Does Chloe figure out how to be the leader of her Pride? What happens to her remaining six lives? Does she go to college? Although one plot line was resolved, I feel as though Braswell left so many loose ends that it's hard for the reader to really get any closure from the ending. Also, the books contained quite a bit of "fluff" that could have been left out to make the story a little bit shorter... and then she wouldn't have had to write 3 novels to tell one story. Especially since Chloe doesn't realize she's Mai until the end of the first book. Hello, isn't that what the series is supposed to be about? 

Turning Amy and Paul into a couple was also unnecessary, I think. I realize that things like that do happen and I'm pretty sure Braswell wanted to depict a normal teenage experience, but it just added an element to the story that did not need to be there. It just complicates things further and is one more thing that needs to be resolved. That space could have been used to resolve another more pressing issue!

I did think that Chloe's transformation over the course of the three novels was done very well though. She goes from being a self-centered teenager to being the selfless leader of her people. She sacrifices two of her lives to try and bring peace to the Mai and the humans, and eventually succeeds in doing so - at least for the time being. Unlike Sergei, Chloe cares little for power and more for ensuring her people can survive and lead semi-normal lives without having to be afraid of being hunted because of what they are. Although she is a leader by birth, Chloe grows into the role and will eventually be one of the greatest leaders her people have seen (or at least it's implied that she will.)

Over all, I thought the novel was pretty decent. An easy read with an interesting storyline and some well-developed characters. Although it had its flaws, I would probably rate this a 3/5. Pretty average for a YA novel dealing with the supernatural.

I still have yet to finish my October pick, and I haven't even started Paul's yet... Hopefully I get around to those and our November books before November ends...