Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children, #1) – Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Source: Bought at Supernova
Title: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Author: Ransom Riggs
Published: June 7th 2011
Pages: 352
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Paranormal
First Line: “I had just come to accept that my life would be ordinary when extraordinary things began to happen.” 

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.

Eh, eh….eh. Have you ever felt that after reading the synopsis of a book and hearing so much great feedback, you develop your own image in your mind of what the book’s going to be like? And then when you read the book, it just…isn’t?
Yeah. I have.

The novel was okay. That’s all I can really say. In my eyes, it certainly didn’t live up to all the hype surrounding it, and there were so many aspects that I wish had taken a different direction. I really enjoyed the beginning – I felt that it was very captivating and kept you interested, as well as maintained a healthy level of mystery. But it was at around the 1/3 mark that I got frustrated.

I went into the read expecting something creepy, a bit of a thriller-mystery, if you will. And while the first quarter was as I was hoping, by the time I reached the 1/4th mark the answer to the mystery was revealed. I was so disappointed! The novel could’ve been so much better if it had focused more on Jacob’s discovery of the peculiar children, him gradually slotting the pieces of the puzzle together until it all became clear. But nope! Just lay it out in front of us just as we were getting interested. And was I the only one that, after hearing of this isolated mansion full of…talented kids, immediately thought of X-Men? Because I swear, almost every time I turned the page I was expecting Professor Xavier to come wheeling in with his bald head and some philosophical quote.

The characters were alright, nothing stand out. I quite like the protagonist, and it was refreshing to read a young-adult novel from a male perspective. HIS WHOLE GRANDFATHER SITUATION BROKE MY HEART THOUGH. I’d definitely say that his grandfather was my favourite character in the whole thing, even though he wasn’t around for much. Just…sadness. So much sadness.
I didn’t so much enjoy the romance though…it felt irrelevant, as though it had just been thrown in there for the sake of having a romance. Plus, the love interest (don’t worry, no spoilers – I got your back) felt wrong. Just wrong. It made me feel like I was drinking sour milk, to be honest – you have a sip and then it doesn’t taste right, so all you want to do is wrinkle your nose and spit it back out.

The writing was pleasant, the stand out of the book I’d say. Ransom Riggs created a very atmospheric, dark mood which I enjoyed immensely and suited the storyline. It wasn’t too verbose, but wasn’t too brief. However, I was disappointed with the inclusion of photography – I’ve never really been exposed to many books that have an emphasis on illustrations/photography, and I was hoping that they’d play a bigger role in the novel. At first it worked, but as the story progressed it just became more irrelevant.

Overall, meh. I’d definitely say that I preferred the start of the book over the rest of it, but it still wasn’t a highlight. It’s good in the way that it’s suitable for both genders I think, but don’t go in with high expectations. It was an okay read – which isn’t bad, but it isn’t great. I am sad to say that I am disappointed. However, it was a good introduction into some darker, eerier books for Halloween so I guess I’ve found that silver lining. Unlikely to continue on with the series.

Rating: 3/5

Advertisements

NEW VIDEO: ‘Would You Rather’ | Bookish Tag!

SUP PEEPS! I’ve just recently posted a new YouTube video (it’s a tag video, yay!) and it’s the ‘Would You Rather’ game – but about BOOKS. Yep. I did really enjoy the questions, so I hope you’ll enjoy my answers! Please check out the video and comment, rate and subscribe if you enjoyed it. I’m still new, so please excuse any faults while I get on my feet!

Also, I’d like to quickly send out an apology for my inactivity. I did explain it further into the video, however I think it’s important to also write one out. I’ve been so incredibly busy (and stressed…) recently as I had school camp for a week, then Brisbane Writers’ Festival, then 2 weeks of holidays which I spend in the USA (got no rest at all – talk about burn out!) and then back at school while moving houses, and now I have finals in less than two weeks. I’m trying to keep everything from falling apart so if I’m away for a bit, it’s because of that! I know I haven’t done many written reviews lately – I’ve been posting them mainly on my Goodreads (aryapower) but I’m still adjusting to the two review outlets. Hopefully a system will sort itself out soon.

Anyways, who else is excited for Halloween? I’ve just started Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs and am so far enjoying it, but I’m only about 40 pages in so it’s a bit too early to say. What are you currently reading?

– Arya xx

NEW VIDEO! Brisbane Writers Festival: Love YA! 2014 | Laini Taylor, Amie Kaufman +

I thought that I’d vlog my (pretty short) experience at the Brisbane Writers Festival 2014 for you all as I met Amie Kaufman (co-author of These Broken Stars) and Laini Taylor (author of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series)! The two authors held a very interesting session dedicated primarily to romance in young adult literature, but we also delved into writing advice, other fantastic novels within the genre, our fictional boyfriends, inspiration and some of their other works in progress! I also attended a few other sessions however could not film that experience unfortunately. Overall it was very enjoyable and the signed books (and complimentary goodie bag) was also a bonus! Let me know if you’d like a post that breaks down the event in more detail.
Please give it a watch if you have a spare 3 minutes and comment, rate & subscribe!

ALSO: So sorry for the lack of activity on this blog, I’m still trying to juggle it with youtube! I’ve been meaning to do an Alienated review for a few weeks now, but things have been getting very stressful with schoolwork, sickness, camp and life in general. Plus it’s only 9 days until I depart for my vacation at the US!
– Arya xx

NEW VIDEO: My First Book Haul! (Classics/Historical Fiction Based)

YES, THERE IS YET ANOTHER VIDEO OF MYSELF THAT HAS BEEN UPLOADED TO THE INTERWEB. IT IS MY FIRST BOOK HAUL VIDEO. CAN I GET A HURRAH?! HURRAH!
Please check it out below and comment, rate and subscribe if you liked it! Hopefully a review of Alienated by Melissa Landers will be up soon both written on this blog and as a video on my channel (I’ve been crazy busy with school work, so I apologise in advance!). 
Also, next week I will not be active as I will be on school camp so please excuse that as well. And then two weeks from then I’ll be in AMERICA! I’m planning on vlogging the experience so I can’t wait to share it with you all!
Thank you all for your support, it means the world to me! 
– Arya xx

NEW BOOKTUBE CHANNEL?!

Yep. You guessed it. I caved…AND JOINED BOOKTUBE.
I recently posted my first personal YouTube video ever (a simple introductory video with 25 random questions) and I couldn’t be more thrilled! I’ve been watching book-related YouTube videos for over a year now and have always wanted to do it myself, but hesitated due to nervousness and uncertainty. But I decided to nut up and take a leap of faith – here goes!

Thank you everyone who have supported me thus far, I know I’m only just starting out but your support means the world to me. I’ve loved reading and literature in general for as long as I can remember so the fact that I can now share my opinions and thoughts with the world even further is really such an amazing opportunity and I could not be more thankful. Please give my channel a quick peek if you’re interested, I cannot wait to continue this adventure with you all even further!

Embrace (The Violet Eden Chapters, #1) – Jessica Shirvington

Embrace

“I walked right into the tornado to meet my lion and I knew then that my virtue was never letting weakness rule me.”

Source: Bought and Signed Personally By Author
Title: Embrace
Author: Jessica Shirvington
Published: October 1st 2010
Pages: 382
Genre: YA, Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, Angelic Folklore
First Line: “Birthdays aren’t my thing.”

Synopsis: 

It starts with a whisper: “It’s time for you to know who you are…”

Violet Eden dreads her seventeenth birthday. After all, it’s hard to get too excited about the day that marks the anniversary of your mother’s death. As if that wasn’t enough, disturbing dreams haunt her sleep and leave her with very real injuries. There’s a dark tattoo weaving its way up her arms that wasn’t there before.

Violet is determined to get some answers, but nothing could have prepared her for the truth. The guy she thought she could fall in love with has been keeping his identity a secret: he’s only half-human—oh, and same goes for her.

A centuries-old battle between fallen angels and the protectors of humanity has chosen its new warrior. It’s a fight Violet doesn’t want, but she lives her life by two rules: don’t run and don’t quit. When angels seek vengeance and humans are the warriors, you could do a lot worse than betting on Violet Eden…

I originally bought this book at the start of the year, along with Disruption by the same author at my school’s literature festival. After sitting in at one of the author’s sessions and hearing her speak about writing, it’s safe to say that a healthy level of intrigue had been acquired. Shortly after, I had them signed and they were then shelved among the hundreds of other books piling in my bedroom. However, recently after binging on the classic genre I thought that it would be nice to return to the sweet comfort of the YA realm for a bit and thus, I picked up Embrace. 

Many of my friends absolutely love this book series, and as it was an angel novel how could I not? However, in this case it was one of those times where you turn the last page of the book, put it down and sigh disappointedly.

Now don’t get me wrong – the book wasn’t the worst book that I’ve ever read, nor was it among my blacklist of books. But considering all the praise I had heard of the book I was left feeling very underwhelmed. Nevertheless though, it had its strengths and it had its faults, which I shall discuss now. 

I had quite the bittersweet relationship with the characterisation featured within this novel – I loved some characters, I liked aspects to others and the remainder I felt just ‘meh’ about. The protagonist, Violet, was a perfect example of this love/hate relationships – sometimes I was like “Yeah, this girl is cool! She sure has her head screwed on the right way!” and other times I was more like “Okay, please stop speaking because you’re literally hurting my brain.” I really enjoyed how headstrong and determined she was, and she was by no means a weak character at all – but her thoughts and actions sometimes just had me shaking the book in frustration. She obviously had some flair for the dramatics, especially when approaching the topic of the love triangle – boy, did she add more drama to that situation than need be. Oh, he kept something from me to protect me! Oh, the betrayal! Oh, he didn’t tell me something big about himself because it was a touchy issue for himself and perhaps there’s more to the story! Oh, I shall never talk to him again (or bother to hear his side of the story)! I particularly felt annoyance within me grow in terms of her preoccupation with Lincoln, one of the love interests and don’t even get me started on how I felt when she constantly used Phoenix just for her own gain, without regard for his feelings.
This leads me into my next topic – Lincoln and Phoenix, the love interests. Usually I’d look at them separately, however in this case I think together is the way they need to be addressed. The development and building of their characters confused the heck out of me. I personally really loved Phoenix – he was hot, snarky (but not quite an A-grade asshole) and BOY, talk about the sexual tension. But he still had a sweet and protective side (well, the protective side was a bit more bad boy-esque) and I really enjoyed the way he interacted with the other characters, especially Violet. It was entertaining to watch him manipulate their emotions. Some had it coming, anyway. He was pretty much the main reason why I kept reading the book. Lincoln’s cool too, but I just didn’t really care for him – there wasn’t as much depth to his character as there was to Phoenix’s, in my opinion. But the main issue I had with the characterisation was the feeling that I got while reading that the author hadn’t categorised them properly as characters. Which of the two was the dangerous, more bad boy type? Which was the safer option? At first, I felt that Phoenix was definitely the bad boy and I really enjoyed that – it suited him much more – but then towards the middle portion it felt as though Lincoln and Phoenix had swapped characters – Phoenix was saying this that Lincoln would’ve usually and had become the ‘safe option’, and Lincoln acted as though he were some big ‘mystery’ (he wasn’t). Violet’s constant obsessing over Lincoln didn’t help either and when, at the end, they swapped back it just made everything melt even more into a pool of confusion. Sometimes it’s refreshing when authors twist book character stereotypes, but only when it’s executed right – and this didn’t quite hit the nail on the head. It didn’t feel solid and most of the time I found myself uncertain of who or what kind of characters Lincoln and Phoenix were – which really hindered the overall characterisation of the book. 

The plot was intriguing though, and I could tell that the author had certainly taken a lot of time in her research of angelic mythology – which I always appreciate. I found myself very much interested in what was going to happen, and the ending was successful in keeping me enthralled into what would come next. The plot twists lacked strength however, with many not being surprises at all (in fact, from the beginning of the novel I just assumed that that knowledge was part of the storyline already). 

The writing was where the main downfall was unfortunately. Like I always say, the writing style and characterisation are the most important elements of a novel for me, and this was just…well, mediocre at best. The language felt very elementary – “I felt angry. I fell like wind. He looked shocked.” It really was a pitfall to the book, having no ability to take your breath away at the wonder of a phrase or sentence. It was just like…well, like anyone on the street could have written it. Much of the information was served through information dumping, particularly through the dialogue from characters. In general, the dialogue was very clunky and unrealistic. It also felt as though the author was trying to illustrate Violet as being the best protagonist ever – characters were always complimenting her, blatantly pointing out her strengths as though to remind readers if they’d forgotten – “you’d never give in to weakness”, “you’d never hurt anyone unless you had to”. It occurred far too often and made the book feel tedious and repetitive. 

Overall, the book certainly had its faults but still maintained a level of entertainment. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this novel unless you were desperately at lost for something to read, or if you personally think that you would enjoy it. Nevertheless though, the storyline still captivated me and I am looking to continue on with the series as I am very much interested in finding out what will happen next. 

Rating: 3/5 

Sisters Red – Jackson Pearce

Sisters Red

“I am confident, I am capable, and I will not wait to be rescued by a woodsman or a hunter.”

Source: Given As A Gift
Title: Sisters Red
Author: Jackson Pearce
Published: June 7th 2010
Pages: 328
Genre: YA, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Dark, Fairytale Retellings
First Line: Strangers never walk down this road, the sisters thought in unison as the man trudged toward them.”

Synopsis:

Scarlett March lives to hunt the Fenris – the werewolves that took her eye when she was defending her sister Rosie from a brutal attack. Armed with a razor-sharp hatchet and a blood-red cloak, Scarlett is an expert at luring and slaying the wolves. She’s determined to protect other young girls from a grisly death, and her raging heart will not rest until every single wolf is dead.

Rosie March once felt her bond with her sister was unbreakable. Owing Scarlett her life, Rosie hunts ferociously alongside her. But even as more girls’ bodies pile up in the city and the Fenris seem to be gaining power, Rosie dreams of a life beyond the wolves. She finds herself drawn to Silas, a young woodsman who is deadly with an axe and is Scarlett’s only friend – but does loving him mean betraying her sister and all that they’ve worked for?

When I originally added this book to my ‘to-read’ list on Goodreads, it was one of those additions that was more of a spur-of-the-moment decision than a well thought-out one. I had first heard of this book on YouTube from TheArtsyGal12 and had seen it pop up numerous times afterwards, but never took the time to really put any research into the book. However, I heard that it was a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, and as that is my favourite fairytale, how could I not add it to the list? Nevertheless, when I opened the wrapping of this present on my birthday and the title of the book was revealed I was thrilled all the same.

I did decide to read this book for the Booktubeathon readathon (despite how much of a flop my participation in the event turned out to be) and after reading The Hobbit, it was everything that I had been searching for for my next read. Dark, suspenseful, thrilling and taunt, it was such a fast action-packed read that had me enthralled the entire journey.

Firstly, I’d like to start by advising against reading the blurb on the back of the book (or at least the edition I read, the one of the image pasted above). DON’T DO IT! JUST DON’T! It gave away major clues as to the key plot twist of the story, and for most of this read I was wondering when the-thing-in-the-blurb-which-I-will-not-have-the-audacity-to-name-but-was-present-none-the-less was going to happen and when it did, it was past the 3/4 mark! So while I give a thumbs up to this story, I give a frown and a stubbed toe to whoever wrote the blurb.

I’ll jump straight into my most highly-regarded part of any book – the characterisation! I LOVED Scarlett and Rosie. Their relationship dynamic was one of my favourite aspects to this novel, mostly due to both how realistic their characters individually were and how they closely they interacted with each other. Particularly within the young-adult, paranormal genre, you rarely get the opportunity to really explore the bond of siblings – either the protagonist is an only child, their sibling is a prat or they just aren’t altogether that close with them. It was invigorating to see such a tight-knit relationship between siblings as I think that family should certainly have a higher emphasis on more books within this genre. The way their relationship was described was so heart-breaking and it just touched your heart to see them go to all ends to fight for each other, two halves of one whole.
While it is extremely difficult for me to pick a favourite out of the two girls, I think Scarlett wins out just marginally. I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the layers to her character as she had so much hidden depth! She was so strong, fierce and protective of her sister – and you feel such an intense sympathy for her as she compares her scars to her sister’s beauty. It was saddening to have to hear her true thoughts on feeling like an outcast for being marred and ‘ugly’. That dichotomy of ugliness to beauty was interestingly addressed too – even though Scarlett was scarred all over, the beauty of her character was easily on par with Rosie’s. Not only that, but Scarlett is seriously one hell of a badass. I mean, come on. Just look at her wickedly sharp hatchet.
Rosie was a much softer, sweet character which I also appreciated for the contrast to Scarlett. I found her to be extremely relatable, and she represented the perspective that I think many young girls would take if put into her position. She knew of her duty to protect innocent, oblivious young girls from the monsters that lurked in the streets but at the same time, she can’t help but pine for a different life. Truth be told, in any other mishandled circumstance she probably would’ve been the kind of character I would have resented, however her character was written so well that I didn’t end up having a problem with her at all – I loved her!
As for Silas, I wasn’t so fond of him. I didn’t feel that he had anywhere as near as much depth as the sisters and seemed quite flat. He was nice sure enough and the passion between Rosie and he was undeniable, but I would’ve liked to see a few more sides to him than the one side that was shown.
This leads into the next topic – the romance. For a large portion of this book, I actually didn’t know whether I liked Rosie and Silas together or not! It was written in a very intoxicating, addictive style that really intensified the passion between them and I think that part was executed extremely well, as it had a good balance of darkness and realism that any romance in that kind of situation I would expect would have. However, I can’t help but think that their relationship progressed a little too quickly. I know they have been childhood friends for a very long time and that when they first saw each other again it was primarily physical attraction that drove them together, but I still think that it felt a bit too rushed. I didn’t like how the term ‘love’ was introduced so quickly in regard to them and it was said too prematurely in the relationship besides. This is a pet peeve of mine, admittedly – I do not like it when characters claim ‘love’ for each other too early on.
The wolves were one of my favourite aspects. They were absolutely TERRIFYING! They were such a fresh, new take on werewolves that were a perfect mix of eeriness and terror. Readers could easily see the parallels between these wolves and the predators that actually lurk our streets at night – that was the most frightening part of their role, I’d say. They always had such a foreboding and hair-raising presence on the page and watching them hunt just sent chills running down your spine.

In terms of plot, I think that it was very interesting, even if a little basic. The novel itself was like a vanilla cake – delicious, but it’s the frosting and decorations that really finish it off. The dark aspects, the characterisation and the interesting spin on the classic fairytale were these embellishments. The plot twist, though, wasn’t much of a plot twist as I suspected it from the start. Again, the blurb really gave too much away, but I would’ve suspected it anyway – it was definitely the kind of twist you could see coming from page one. I did enjoy the Dragonfly metaphor though (for those who have read the book) as well as their grandmother’s shadows/sunshine story. It was integrated very well into the storyline and the helped with the development of their situation. I also give Kudos for the ending. I loved the way the epilogue was written, it was all sad and happy and sweet and nostalgic all at once, written in an unfamiliar yet refreshing style.

Stylistically, the dual perspective really surprised me. Usually I’m not too fond of double-gender perspectives as they can sound very similar when alternating between characters, but Rosie and Scarlett’s voices were so distinctive that I didn’t get confused at all between the two. The story also had a great pace to it and even though some action sequences felt too common and repetitive, it mostly kept you on your toes. I really appreciated the language within the book – it was concise and straight to the point, but some phrases…man, could they take your breath away.

All in all, Sisters Red was a very dark, mysterious and suspenseful read. It gave me precisely the kind of read I was looking for at that time and it was extremely enjoyable despite its faults. Would recommend to lovers of dark fantasy, paranormal and action.

Rating: 3.5/5

BOOKTUBEATHON 2014 – Day 1 & Day 2

This has to be super quick because I’m really eager to get back to reading, but I’m currently finishing up on The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien which completes the ‘book with pictures’ and ‘book-to-movie adaptation’ challenges! I’ve also watched the movies (the first two instalments, anyway) and I think that I’ll be getting to Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce next. 
The Hobbit is going very well! It is a re-read, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t enjoy it any less. There were parts in which I really dropped out of the mood for fantasy and wanted to delve into paranormal, but after a while the events of the novel picked up and now we’re on a fast track to the conclusion! Again, it’s my first week back and school and last night I got barely any reading done, that’s how exhausted I was. If only the days consisted solely of good books, hot chocolate, soft sheets and snow…
anyway, I wish you luck with your reading if you’re participating in this readathon and if not, then nevertheless I hope you’re enjoying whatever it is that you’re reading!
sweet reads,
– arya xx