Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

“Sometimes it's better not to look back.”

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine #1)

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 everywhere. I'd seen the book trailer, countless reviews, and that gorgeous cover over and over again. I'd even seen some of the photographs from the story, and I was really excited to read the book and see how they fit in.

The photos were gorgeous. When I was reading the book, I was constantly flipping ahead a few pages, looking for when the next shot would appear. I loved them all; vintage shots that added emphasis to the story.

I loved all the peculiar children, but my favorite character was probably Millard, an invisible boy. I loved his habits, and I loved every scene he was in. Emma was a close second, even if she was slightly the stereotypical tomboy character.

This book was a letdown for me.

I guess I was expecting more of the book to be about the "peculiar children", you know, since they're in the title? But they were never the focus. The story was really about Jacob and his life, and he wasn't even an interesting character to me: he didn't get along with his parents, he didn't want to go into the family business, he didn't really have any friends. He was so blah to me that I didn't even like hearing about him. I wanted to know about the kids and their powers, but it never concentrated on them. Sometimes when Jacob spent time with the kids, the book skimmed over it, giving you a basic description of what they'd talked about instead of the actual conversation.

My other big problem with the story was that, from even reading the summary, you know that these peculiar children are going to exist. When you hear about them from Jacob, from old stories his grandpa used to tell him, you know they're going to be real. For a large portion of the book, he won't believe that they're real, and understandably so. It would be ridiculous if a character accepted myths right off the bat, with no proof. But I felt like Jacob kept going over it, and I just wanted to tell him, "Okay, we get it, it's crazy that people would able to do stuff like that. Please move on with the story." I mean, you know he's going to end up realizing the truth, so having him go over this time and time again was so boring to me.

I wanted to give this one a better rating: it seems like everyone loved it. but I just never really got into it. I loved the pictures and the children, but I don't think they got the face time they deserved. I don't recommend this one.

Read more reviews for Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children at:

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

"She had been innocent once, a little girl playing with feathers on the floor of a devil's lair."

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky. In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low. And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war. 

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages--not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out. 


I'd seen this book pop up on blogs and on the library shelf a lot, and I ordered it on a whim. Possibly just because of the epic feather mask. Yeah, mostly because of the mask.

You come across a book, every once in a while, where the writing can only be described as beautiful. Daughter of Smoke and Bone was one of those books. I had to stop every couple of sentences to re-read a particular line because I loved how the words came together. Language-wise, it trumps many of my favorite books.

Karou and her friends and her enemies were all so real. Each of the characters stood a purpose, and they all had personalities that made them as real as anyone I've ever met. When I was reading, I felt the relationships between the characters. I could feel how much Karou cared for the people she cared for, how she was genuinely concerned for her friends and loved ones. Karou is a great and complex character, and I loved reading about her throughout the book.

One thing I personally adored was the setting: Prague, capital of Czech Republic. With pretty much all the books I've read being set in America and my lack of a passport, it was something I'd never experienced. It's kind of like someone opened a door I hadn't ever seen before: it was something new; something unexpected. Karou visited a lot of other places throughout the book, and I really liked the peek into the different worlds.  

There isn't an aspect of this book that I don't want to rave about. I was frustrated and intrigued with Karou on all the mysteries of her life along with her: Where did she come from? Why wouldn't the people who knew, tell her? This book has a world that's masterfully created, with wishes you can spend, creatures unlike any other, and a plot that kept me reading the entire way through.

I could have done with a little more explaining.

I've come to the conclusion that I like facts; absolute truths. Whenever I read a paranormal book,  I want to know the facts about the mystical/fantastical/magical creatures and how they work. I want to know the laws of the society and the do's and don'ts. When someone in a story mentions a tribe of certain magical beings, I want to know how many tribes their are and how they differ. There were parts of the story where I wanted the characters to slow down and explain how things worked. There's a lot of a world to take in this book, so that's my little complaint.

This is a great book. The ending hit me completely by surprise, and I'll be waiting to see how it's continued in the sequel. Don't miss this one: it passes all the tests.

Read more reviews for Daughter of Smoke and Bone at:

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King

"Aren't we all bleeding, a little?"

Lucky Linderman didn't ask for his life. He didn't ask his grandfather not to come home from the Vietnam War. He didn't ask for a father who never got over it. He didn't ask for a mother who keeps pretending their family is fine. And he certainly didn't ask to be the recipient of Nadar McMillan's relentless bullying, which has finally gone too far.
Lucky has a secret—one that helps him wade through the daily dysfunction of his life. Grandad Harry, trapped in the jungles of Laos, has been visiting Lucky in his dreams—and the dreams just might be real: an alternate reality where he can be whoever he wants to be and his life might still be worth living. But how long can Lucky remain in hiding there before reality forces its way inside?

I don't think it's possible that there is a person on this earth that loves A.S. King's novel, Please Ignore Vera Dietz, more than me. I had been fangirl freaking out over this cover every time I saw it for months before it came out. Needless to say, I had big expectations for this book.

This book is real. It doesn't bother with fake pretensions: that bullies aren't real and aren't a serious problem or that parents canor will—always step in and save the day. That's not how the world works. A.S. King has a clear perspective on how things really are.

One thing I really liked was how Lucky's parents aren't like most. In a lot of YA books I've read, the parents are nearly perfect, and mostly just a backdrop to the real plot of the story. In reality, parents have just as many problems and faults as anyone else, and they have a much bigger impact than that. You expect certain things from your parents, and when they don't do what you expect, you have to step back and evaluate them. Sometimes they aren't the ones who will come to your rescue. Sometimes they can't help you with your problems because they've got problems of their own they have to deal with. And sometimes it's hard figuring out if they're really there for you, or if you're on your own.

So most of this might just be hype-related, seeing as how I was so excited for it, but I just didn't enjoy this book. I thought Lucky was a nice kid, but I never connected with him. The other characters were the same way—I may have understood them, but I didn't really like them.

A constant theme in the book is Lucky's dreams. He has dreams where he tries to help his grandpa escape captivity in Vietnam. Truth be told, I thought they were kind of boring, and I never felt they were really relevant to the story. I think there was supposed to be some kind of connection, but I never really got it.

This is a serious book; it covered a lot of important topics, and I liked that. But I never really got into Lucky's dreams, and I was never rushing to read what happened next. This book just wasn't for me.

I liked the focus on some serious topics such as bullying that need the face time, but this book was just a disappointment for me. I'll be more wary of Vera Dietz's books in the future.

Read more reviews for Everybody Sees the Ants at:

Friday, January 20, 2012

Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe by Shelley Coriell

 "It's not about the space but how you fill it."

Big-hearted Chloe Camden is the queen of her universe until her best friend shreds her reputation and her school counselor axes her junior independent study project. Chloe is forced to take on a meaningful project in order to pass, and so she joins her school’s struggling radio station, where the other students don’t find her too queenly. Ostracized by her former BFs and struggling with her beloved Grams’s mental deterioration, lonely Chloe ends up hosting a call-in show that gets the station much-needed publicity and, in the end, trouble. She also befriends radio techie and loner Duncan Moore, a quiet soul with a romantic heart. On and off the air, Chloe faces her loneliness and helps others find the fun and joy in everyday life. Readers will fall in love with Chloe as she falls in love with the radio station and the misfits who call it home.

I just want to give the cover artist for this book a vivacious round of applause. The colors, the clarity, the set-up, all make this cover pop. I can already tell this will be one of my favorite covers of the year.

Chloe has personality, that much is for sure. I respected her because even when it seemed like her life was seriously messed up sometimes, she kept on going. She didn't throw a pity party when her friends went AWOL on her or when troubled brewed at home or when her junior study project is axed; instead, she tried to act on what was happening to help fix a situation.

When you get down to it, what I liked most about Chloe was her heart. You can tell she truly cares about everyone: Even her grandma and her mother when they won't stop arguing. Even the radio's general manager who wants to keep her off-air. Even ex-friends that try to ruin her at every turn.

The radio aspect of the book was, personally, my favorite. Chloe hosts a talk-show, where she highlights different topics of her own choosing, from pet peeves to comfort foods. I loved getting to listen in to her broadcasts and only wish there had been more radio time in the book.

Oh, and if you have a flair for vintage shoes, look no farther than Chloe, girl fashionista, strutting her shoes throughout the pages.

Chloe narrates the book with a very 21st century feel: the abbriviated BF instead of best friends, the drawn-out "gawwd" and "stoo-pid" to clarify how the characters talk, and a couple texts in their steriotypical lingo. I think it was meant to accentuate Chloe's style, but I got the feeling I'd been dropped into the hipster clique in middle school, or that I was hanging around that one mom that thinks using the lingo will make her kid's friends think she's cool.

Some points in the book attemped to stray from the radio hi-jinks and high school woes to more serious topics. While I appreciated the author's to merge a deeper tone into Chloe's story, I felt that sometimes they didn't mesh right. Chloe was too caught up in her school life to be really immersed in deeper plot lines, so they were just kind of woven together.

If I could describe this book in a word, it would be playful. Chloe and her style were a mix-up from what I usually read, and they were a nice, fun, refresher. Chloe knows a thing or two about fun. If you're looking for something lighthearted and upbeat, try some Chloe.

Read more review for Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe at:
BookHounds and Mrs. Readerpants

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

"Secrets are more powerful when people know you've got them."

Frankie Landau-Banks at age 14: Debate Club. her father's "bunny rabbit." A mildly geeky girl attending a highly competitive boarding school. 
Frankie Landau-Banks at age 15: A knockout figure. A sharp tongue. A chip on her shoulder. And a gorgeous new senior boyfriend: the supremely goofy Matthew Livingston. Frankie Landau-Banks. No longer the kind of girl to take “no” for an answer. Especially when “no” means she’s excluded from her boyfriend’s all-male secret society. Not when her ex-boyfriend shows up in the strangest of places. Not when she knows she’s smarter than any of them. When she knows Matthew’s lying to her. And when there are so many, many pranks to be done.

Frankie Landau-Banks at age 16: Possibly a criminal mastermind.

I'd read E. Lockhart's Ruby Oliver series a while ago, and I'm always keeping an eye out for books by authors I like. Plus, for some reason, I adore boarding schools, so when I read the summary for this one, I checked it out.

Frankie, our main character, dates the (as the summary says) supremely goofy Matthew. He's one of the most popular boys at the school, and so Frankie spends a good amount of time tagging along with him and with his friends, especially at the lunch table, since she's been elevated in popularity enough to sit at the popular senior table. The conversations between Frankie's boyfriend and his friends are generally goofy and entertaining.

In a word: Frankie. I know, there should be some cardinal rule that says you can't dislike the main character. It's just that, she's very pompous. She thinks that she's better than everyone else and constantly is looking down on other people. She's so wrapped up in rah-rah sisterhood that she comes off as crazy, analyzing everything.

One for instance is when Matthew, her senior boyfriend, gives her a t-shirt of his. She has this like internal battle because, while she loves that he gave it to her, she's also suspicious that he might be trying to mark her as his property or control her and all this other ridiculous nonsense. Personally, I would think that Matthew didn't particularly care about the shirt and that he thought it would make his girlfriend smile to get it. And it did--before she starts her analyzing.

This was probably my biggest problem with the story: the entire book, the narrator foreshadows what a genius Frankie becomes. You can even see in the last line of the summary: Possibly a criminal mastermind. My problem was that I never saw anything Frankie did that was even slightly mastermind-like. She pulls a few "pranks", which, really, are lame. A lot of which, she even says, aren't her ideas, but "pranks" people from this club have pulled in the past. They're still lame pranks, by the way. (Drawing your club symbol on all the chalkboards in the school? Wow, Frankie, I cannot contain my awe at your brilliance.)

I could bring up countless events, such as the shirt event, where Frankie just doesn't make sense to me. (The worst was probably when she publicly screams at her ex-boyfriend over nothing.) She's supposed to be this girl that every girl can relate to, but I never felt that. After enjoying other books by the same author, this book was a serious let down.

If you're an E. Lockhart fan, it has a similar feel of her writing, so this might be for you. However, Frankie, and her crazy antics, were too much for me to get past. I don't recommend it.

Read more reviews for The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks at:

Let me know what you thought of it in the comments!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Divergent by Veronica Roth

“I have a theory that selflessness and bravery aren't all that different.” 

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

The buzz for this book was huge. Like, enormous. As in, the buzz for Divergent could be relatable to a gigantic mass of starved locusts that devour everything in sight. So, obviously, I had to see what it was about.

I am always insanely cautious about books that have so much buzz, because I'm always afraid it's an illusion; just a lot of pushing from publishers on a story that's not really worth it. And I am even more cautious when the publisher makes the dreaded mistake: comparing said book to The Hunger Games.

For the record, I adore The Hunger Games. What I don't adore is that every book that has been published since it became widely popular has been compared to it. (I could go on forever about books that try to ride on the same wave that another popular book has created, but I'll be good today.)
Divergent was completely deserving of the buzz. Tris, the main character, was exactly what she was made out to be. She didn't just play the part of the heroine; that's who she was. She was actually a very strong character, and you can see how her past life influenced her personality and her standards, and you also see how her experiences in the book change her. I fell in love with her and Four and Will and Christina.

Divergent is definitely one of those books you can't put down; I read it in one sitting because I couldn't bear having to spend a single minute not knowing what was happening in Tris' world. I had to keep reading. I had to know what happened.

I do see some of the comparisons to The Hunger Games, because it has the same dystopia/futuristic feeling, but I see more than that; I see the utopia-aimed society from Matched and the underground-type ambiance of Ann Aguirre's Enclave, but most of all, I see tons of similarities to Ender's Game. If you enjoyed Ender's Game, then I definitely suggest Divergent, and vise-versa. They're both books that have won spots on my favorites list.

I know some people complain about the length, but I never found any place where the story was dragging or that I was bored. Really, I have don't have any complaints about the book.

Divergent deserves the awards its won, and if you're looking for something that's action-packed, something that'll have you holding your breath, you should definitely check it out.

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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Cycles by Lois D. Brown

"Enjoy mortality. It's what makes life precious."

She remembers things that never happened,

She's a stranger in her own home.
She always knew she was different.
She just didn't know why.
Until now.

Renee Beaumont is about to die...again.

I was lucky enough to receive an e-book copy from the author. I loved the summary right away: it's short, interested me from the first line, and ended in a way that guaranteed I was going to read it.

This book totally blew my expectations out
of the water.

I have read a lot of YA books, and within those books, a good portion were paranormal. I have read every kind of plot line, from vampires to werewolves, from fairies to half-bloods. Also, I've become insanely good at guessing between which paranormal branch a story is written about. (Flighty thoughts? Fairy. Unexplained animal damage and missing memory? Werewolf.) I think after a certain number of books, it's easy to assume you're going to be able to predict what's going to happen.

Cycles was different; I had no idea what was going on. I didn't have a single prediction for what was going to be uncovered in the end. There was all these unexplained problems and none of my old plot lines helped because this book totally traveled off the beaten path.

This was the first book I'd read in a long, long time when I didn't automatically know whether a character was to be trusted or not. It was really cool to be along for the mystery, just like the characters, instead of being like an outsider, knowing what was going to happen and just waiting to get there.

Sam, Renee's friend, was quirky, and I liked how he wasn't immune to pretty girls. Some books have the main guy character totally and completely hung up over the main girl character, and it's not really realistic. There's little flashbacks throughout the book to pages from a journal belonging to a Helen. I really liked the entries; they added to the mystery and created one more piece to the puzzle to fit together.

I would've liked to have seen more detail to the writing: descriptions of places visited and of the character's appearances. That being said, I also understand that the target audience for Cycles is 12-15 year olds, so I think the more brief kind-of style probably fits it better than a novel that's always going into detail. That's just a personal preference of mine.

Another thing I would've like to see was a cameo from one of Sam's siblings; I've read very few books where a main character has a sibling, much less multiple. (Or seven, in Sam's case.) I think you can tell a lot about a character by the way they interact with their siblings. And since there's eight kids altogether, I would think a scene at Sam's house with all of them has the potential to be very interesting.

I definitely enjoyed this book: get it! I'll be looking out for the sequel. I can't wait to see what happens next in the series.

Read another review for Cycles at: