Peculiarly Perfect – Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children Series by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children Series

by Ransom Riggs

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Published 2011-2015

Genres: Fiction/Fantasy/Young Adult

 A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of curious photographs.

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.

‘Peculiars – The hidden branch of any species, human or animal, that is blessed – and cursed – with supernatural traits. Respected in ancient times, feared and persecuted more recently, peculiars are outcasts who live in the shadows…’


Mel says…

It has been a long time, well since Harry Potter, that I have found a book series that captured my attention so quickly. Enter ‘Miss Peregrine’s’. I read the first book over 6 months ago, just before the birth of my first baby and I really enjoyed it, rating the first book 4 stars on Goodreads.

It was several months until I was able to get my hands on book two, Hollow City and I must admit, the plot just got better. The characters are so loveable and it is hard not to get attached to each and every one of the Peculiar Children as time goes on. The second book of the series picks up immediately where book one left off and it gets straight down to business. I loved the second book enough to give it a rare Five stars. It built perfectly on book one and just grew from strength to strength, with the introduction of further Peculiar’s and the great land that I now know as ‘Peculiardom’.

Sadly, all good things must come to an end and that is how I felt while reading ‘Library of Souls’. It is hard to complete a series that has such complexities as Miss Peregrine’s, with so many dimensions to characters and landscapes, but Riggs has done a perfect job in tying up loose ends. Although it took me a while to complete the third instalment, this was due to life and not a reflection on the story itself. Trust me, I was not impressed at being stalled from devouring this gem, at all!

Overall, the Miss Peregrine series is a must read for fans of YA and fantasy. I LOVED the concept of storytelling through the use of old photographs, which is not something I have yet come across, but found that as the series went on, fewer photographs were used to depict events and characters, but that isn’t to say that this was a bad thing.

Ransom Riggs has created a world full of peculairities (pun intended) and I for one am a HUGE fan. I look forward to seeing the movies however, I hope that they stay true to the books.

Overall SERIES rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

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Flat – A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Thorns and Roses

by Sarah J. Maas

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Published 2015

Genres: Fiction/Fantasy/Young Adult

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she knows about only from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal but Tamlin – one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As Feyre dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility to a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it…or doom Tamlin – and his world – forever.


Mel says…

When I first decided to read this book, I didn’t really know much about it except that images of the cover were all over Instagram and blog posts, so I knew it had a lot of fans. I’m not usually into too much fantasy, but was excited to give this a read nonetheless.

My first impressions were pretty good. I devoured the first quarter of this book fairly quickly, but then I started to get bored of it. Too much of the characteristics of the protagonist, Feyre (pronounced, Fay-ruh) reminded me of The Hunger Games protagonist, Katniss Everdeen. For one, her family was poor and living in starvation – same as Katniss. Two, she had to hunt to feed her family – same as Katniss. Three, she was described as being a tomboy, yet beautiful – same as Katniss. The similarities between ACoTR and The Hunger Games didn’t stop there, but you get the picture.

The main focus of this story centres around Feyre and Tamlin’s relationship. It is described as ‘burning passion’, so you know it is going to be juicy. I found the relationship between them to actually be pretty boring. It seemed like it went from pure hatred on day 1 to passion and sex on day 4. Maybe not in that exact timeline, but it was that quick of a shift, that you get the point. I found it confusing, but I also found that some of the plot and descriptive writing fell flat. I struggled to picture a fair few of the characters as the descriptions weren’t written well.

This is one of those books where I found the main character so irritating, that I struggled to keep reading at times. For whatever reason, Maas kept jamming down our throats that Feyre was a painter. With every description of scenery, Feyre would think ‘if only I could paint this’, or ‘I tried to store every line of his face in my memory, so I could paint him later’. This happened all. the. TIME! We get it, she likes to paint. Moving on…

I know I have slammed this book with my above comments, but in the end, I finished it with the intent of seeking out the second book in the series. I’m in no hurry to read the second book, but I will eventually, when I need a bit of a ‘nothing’ book to fill some time. Seeing as this book took me a month to read, when the text is actually quite large and I didn’t really engage with many of the characters, I can’t give it anymore than 2-stars. Sorry!

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

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Finality – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

by JK Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne

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Published 2016

Genres: Fiction/Young Adult

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and father of three school-aged children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth; sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

The eighth story.
Nineteen years later.

Mel says…

Bringing out another Harry Potter book, even as a screenplay, was always a risky move. Potterheads around the world are very passionate about the stories and speaking for myself, I was so nervous about this book. It was either going to be amazing, or ruin everything JK has created.

I am sure by now, you have realised that I am a huge Potterhead. My bio picture is of me with my nose in the first Harry Potter book, so you can assume that yes, I am obsessed!

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This was the first series of novels that I fell head over heels in love with. I still remember the Christmas I received the first four books from my parents, as well as the awesome day  of reading I spent with my sister (Janelle) when the final book was released. Many laughs and tears have been shed over these characters, so let me begin my honest review, with that in mind.

It was important to me to read this with an open mind and to remember that this is not meant to be read like a normal novel. For starters, it is the rehearsal edition script for The Cursed Child play, currently being held in London. This did not bother me. I found it quite easy to navigate the dialogue of each character and create the pictures in my head from the little scene setting paragraph at the beginning of each scene and act.

The original characters still play a large role within this story, but to be honest, that annoyed me. I don’t really understand why, either. I think it may be because rehashing the original main characters when they are middle aged, takes away from the magic we are so familiar with, when they were written as children in the book series.

Focusing the main story around Harry’s son Albus and Draco’s son Scorpius, was a likeable decision. I felt emotion towards Albus, as I could imagine how he would feel intimidated by having to grow up in his father’s shadow and Scorpius Malfoy was, shockingly, like another version of Ron Weasley; very likeable.

The story itself, (and I won’t go into too much detail as I don’t want to spoil too much of the plot for everyone), was in my opinion, disappointing. I was hoping for so much more and that could be due to the enormity of the Harry Potter franchise in prior years, but with JK Rowling’s as only a co-author, I felt that this impacted on the story and you could really sense the disconnection between this screenplay and the original series.

I was really wanting to rate this as amazing, purely for the Harry Potter title, but in my honest opinion, I give it 3 stars. Will I read it again? Maybe. Will I see the play if it ever hits Aussie shores? Definitely. Do I recommend other Potterheads give this a read? Let me put it this way, I am glad JK stated that this is the final adventure for Harry, Ron and Hermione. The decision to overwrite the previous ending given to the series is completely up to you! Do I still love Harry Potter? Always…

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

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Mysterious – Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children

by Ransom Riggs

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Published 2011

Genres: Fiction / Young Adult

 

“There’s no time,” he whispered. Then he raised his head off the ground, trembling with the effort, and breathed into my ear: “Find the bird. In the loop. On the other side of the old man’s grave. September third, 1940.” I nodded, but he could see that I didn’t understand. With his last bit of strength, he added, “Emerson – the letter. Tell them what happened, Yakob.”
With that he sank back, spent and fading. I told him I loved him. And then he seemed to disappear into himself, his gaze drifting past me to the sky, bristling with no stars.

A mysterious island.
An abandoned orphanage.
A strange collection of very peculiar photographs.

Mel says…

Right from the start, I was drawn into the world of Miss Peregrine. I had only heard little snippets of feedback about this book and it was all mysterious, which intrigued me even more.

The protagonist, Jacob, is enthralled in his Grandfather’s strange behaviour and stories about a world he knows nothing about. After a family tragedy, Jacob begins to question what his Grandfather’s life was really about and decides to make a trip back to where it all began. As answers unfold, I found the pages were turning more quickly, as I was becoming more and more excited to know where this story would lead.

The photographs throughout the book add an extra air of mystery and add some reality to the stories of individual characters in the book. This is something we rarely see in fiction, but I would love to see more of as it worked so well to add that little extra oomph to the story. If you decide to read Miss Peregrine’s, please ensure you read the book and don’t go for the audio version, which I almost made the mistake of doing. The photographs are worth your reading time alone!

This is the first book of the series and I can safely say I will be continuing the series to see where it leads. I was also excited to find out that Tim Burton is bringing this book to life in a movie, due to come out late 2016, so if you are wanting to read this book, do so before the movie is released! It is worth the hype!

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

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Read together: June 2015 – The Fever by Megan Abbott

June 2015 – Mel’s choice

The Fever

by Megan Abbott

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Published June 2014

Genres: Fiction / Thriller / Young Adult

‘You spend a long time waiting for life to start – her past year or two filled with all these firsts, everything new and terrifying and significant – and then it does start and you realize it isn’t what you’d expected, or asked for.’ – Deenie Nash.

The Fever follows the story of the three Nashes; Tom, Eli and Deenie. They live in the quiet town of Dryden, where Tom is a teacher at the Dryden High School and Eli and Deenie attend as students. It doesn’t take long for things in this quiet town to start falling apart when two of Deenie’s close friends are the first to fall victim to a mysterious illness, or The Fever. But what is this affliction, and why is it only affecting girls?

Mel says…

My initial feeling for this book began with an excitement. The synopsis on the back cover described a story full of mystery and enticement. The first few chapters started off describing the first victim of the mysterious “fever” and it felt like the readers were in for a very interesting ride. It wasn’t until I was roughly half way through the book that I began realising that the story was waffling back and forth between reasons of this mysterious illness, yet nothing exciting had yet occurred within the plot. The story was very slow to build, and even now that I have finished the book, I am not entirely sure if there was a build at all.

The plot ran back and forth between reasons for this mysterious “fever”, but not delving into much of a storyline for either reason. The character development also felt disjointed. I did not build much of a rapport with any of the main characters, as I felt their back stories were rushed. I did get a sense of the teenage angst that I feel Megan Abbott was trying to get across, through the characters of Deenie, Lise, Gabby and Skye. The moods that were described for the characters did portray this however, there was not enough context around these characters to get a full sense of their back stories, which would lead to these current feelings and events. Gabby, in particular, had a very tragic back story however, apart from having a brief description and then touching on her tragedy in various other parts of the book, this back story was rarely mentioned as her characters demise in the end.

This brings me to victims of the mysterious illness. The story eventually describes how the first victim, Lise, came to be so ill. When I say eventually, I actually mean this is described in the final 30-odd pages of the book. Not a lot of space to provide any interesting and exciting cliffhangers or resolutions. Sigh!

All in all, this book had a lot of potential. I think Megan Abbott needed an extra hundred or so pages to build on her characters and the ending. The briskness of description in this book has been the let down here.

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

Janelle says…

I was stoked when Mel picked this book for our first joint read, it was also right up there on my own list of books I wanted to choose!  Oooh, maybe it’s some kind of weird sister ESP thing or something…..

The Fever is about growing up, and trying to understand how you and your world are changing as you cross that blurry line between childhood and adulthood. That phase of life can be scary and awkward, just like this story. Puberty is a place filled with intense emotions and confusion, generally a place best forgotten once we’re past it. As I was reading, I could feel that familiar teenage state coming through in the characters as they tried to understand what was happening in their little part of the world – relationships are over-analysed, games are played, nothing else in the world is as important as what is happening to you and your friends right now. In The Fever, we’re shown how dangerous decisions can be when they’re made in times of extreme emotion and without proper judgement, as decisions made in puberty sometimes are. Beware of hormonal teenagers!

I found at most times the pace of this book was too slow for me. The chapters consist of lots of smaller sub-chapters representing different characters’ points of view. While being handy for those moments when you only have time to read a short snippet, it meant that the story was jumping around constantly between characters, sometimes twice or more over the course of a double-page spread. You might think that this would have the effect of speeding the pace up, and it probably would have, if the story didn’t get stuck on the never-ending speculation of what was happening to the girls, why it’s happening, and the same old theories being thrown around again, and again, and again. And oh look – again! It seemed to be at a stand-still a lot of the time, and it didn’t take long for me to feel frustrated by the lack of anything happening.

I think the way the chapters were formed could also be the reason for why I didn’t feel very connected to any of the characters. You’re with one character for a few paragraphs, and then suddenly their view stops and you’re back with someone else. But then again, most of the characters are teenagers and are very obviously still figuring themselves out, so in a way it didn’t feel completely unreasonable to not fully understand who they were.

There was a point about 2/3 of the way through where the story seemed to pick up intensity and suspense, and I felt like it was finally speeding towards something. But I have to say, I was underwhelmed by the ending. All in all, I had high hopes for this book because I’d read some good reviews but I was disappointed, and disappointed to be disappointed because I think it could have been something amazing!

Read this if you’re a teenager yourself, you will probably empathise with the personal struggles that the younger characters are dealing with. Don’t read this if you’re expecting a gripping, dark YA thriller like I was, it’s halfway there but doesn’t fully deliver.

If you do want to read a review of this book that delivers on the funnies though, check out this on Goodreads.

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

Linking up with The Ultimate Rabbit Hole at The Annoyed Thyroid

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