Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children By: Ransom Riggs

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. And 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 who once lived here – one of whom was his own grandfather – were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a desolate island for good reason. And somehow – impossible though it seems – they may still be alive

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is about Jacob Portman, grandson of Abe Portman. His grandpa has always told him stories of peculiar children and monsters but he never believed him and his stories. Until the day his grandpa is brutally murdered by a monster called a hallow. When grandpa Portman dies he tells Jacob to “find the bird, in the loop. On the other side of the old man’s grave. September third, 1940. Emerson-the letter, tell them what happened.” After nine months of everyone thinking he’s crazy because of this “monster” he claimed he saw, and his parents bringing him to a psychiatrist, he finally comes to the conclusion that what he saw wasn’t real. Until he finds a letter in an Emerson book. This takes him to a secluded island in Wales where he decodes his grandfather’s last words and finally meets the people of his grandfather’s crazy stories.

The book ends off in a cliff hanger where all of the peculiar children and Miss. Peregrine (in bird form) leave with Jacob to find where all the wights are. Wights are a certain type of monster that used to be a hallow but because it ate enough peculiar children it turned into a wight. Pretty much it upgraded to a monster that looks human except for its pupil less eyes. This book was written well and made good connections with the pictures-most of the time. There were times where the pictures were awkwardly paired with words and with the story. I can’t wait to read the second book! I can’t wait to see Jacob because throughout the book he really grew and it will be interesting to see him now that he’s with people like himself. Also, I want to see what new pictures will be in the book.

I decided to read this book because of the mysterious pictures. If you’ve seen the book then you understand. There’s so many peculiar pictures that it made me seriously curious. It took me a long time to get to it because when I bought it, I bought with many other books. Also, while I was reading it I got sick. When I get sick I have a habit of abandoning my books. This only happened while I’m sick and because I was sick for four days it took me forever to finish the book. As soon as I was well I kept reading in till I finished it. I have to say that the book did not disappoint.

The main character is Jacob Portman who’s one of those super smart misfits. He doesn’t really know who he is or where he stands in the world and sort of learns it in the course of this book. He has no friends except for Rickey who sort of abandons him in his time of need. His love interest is a girl named Emma who can wield fire and she’s one of the peculiar children. She also lives in 1940, in particular September third, 1940, which is pretty awesome. She lives in a loop along with Miss Peregrine and all the other peculiar children. A loop is pretty much a place was a day repeats itself. Miss Peregrine made it so that the children don’t die of the bomb raid that happened in September third, 1940 on their secluded island in Wales. The only people who know that time stopped and that their in a loop is the peculiar children and Miss Peregrine. Because their in a loop they don’t age. Because Emma can wield fire I thought she was awesome and just epic. It reminded me of Zuko from Avatar the Last Air bender which is just badass. I thought she was really strong for what’s happened in her life and she’s also very smart. Most of the other characters were really creative and unique but some characters were really similar that I couldn’t tell the difference and I had to double back and reread some bits. I feel as if that should never happen and in the second one that should be improved.

The book was mostly about Jacob finding himself and learning the truth about his grandfather. Jacob really went through an emotional roller coaster. First his grandfather dies right in front of him, then his parents put him through hell with a psychiatrist, then he gets a girlfriend, then he has to cope with him being a peculiar child and his grandfather never telling him. I found that crazy! I hope that in the next book it won’t be so down for him because I seriously feel bad.

I really disliked how all the children acted like children. These “children” have been children for seventy years and should be more mature. Their technically eighty-something’s, so they should act more mature, right? It’s like their immortal or vampires so the author, Ransom Riggs, should have made them more mature. That would have been more interesting. It would have been more epic to see these little eight to sixteen year olds talking very wisely. It didn’t make sense that they acted so childlike and immature. Another thing I disliked was how the author put a love interest. I feel like this story and this main character didn’t need a love interest and that it was very unnecessary. Not every story needs a love story, I was really hoping that this book wasn’t going to have that. Also, I found it creepy that she used to be with his grandfather. That is messed up! She canoodled (and probably more) with his grandfather and then with him! Talk about sloppy seconds!

Other than that, this book was awesomely dark and interesting! Oh, did I mention that this book is set in Wales! Welsh accents are awesome just like British accents! I really like how the author made this book the way it is despite some issues. I can’t wait to see how Jacob and Emma’s relationship is going to go since I don’t really support it. I can’t wait for more Polaroid photographs that help tell the tale.

Overalll, I give it four stars!

Happy Reading!

-Michelle Kumar

The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart By: Leanna Renee Hieber

     I’m coming for you.

The whispers haunt her dreams and fill her waking hours with dread. Something odd is happening. Something…unnatural.

Possession of the living. Resurrection of the dead. And Natalie Stewart is caught right in the middle. Jonathon, the one person she thought she could trust, has become a double agent for the dark side. But he plays the part so well, Natalie has to wonder just how much he’s really acting.

She can’t even see what it is she’s fighting. But the cost of losing her heart, her sanity…her soul.

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The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart starts from where Darker Still, the first book of the Magic Most Foul saga, left off. Natalie and Lord Denbury are on the run because they need to run away from people who might think that Lord Denbury is a murderer and also because the magic still lingers on them and they need some space from the magic that’s in Manhattan. On their run they learn of a society that’s held responsible for the demon that terrorized them and realise that banishing the demon wasn’t the end of the story.

When I first decided to read this book I thought it would be exactly the same as Darker Still but with other demons and no one’s soul captured in a beautiful, life like, painting. But as soon as I read the first thirty pages I realized that a lot more was different. The book wasn’t written in diary format like Bram Stokers Dracula this time, but it was written regularly with the exception of letters and telegrams. With a whole society out there it was seriously different because u weren’t looking at one demons plan to murder and conquer. Also, in this book you deal with more runes and exorcists.

The old characters were the same as they were in Darker Still. Natalie Stewart is still a kind, clever, brave character that loves to know everything that’s going on and loves to protect her loved ones. Jonathan Whitby, Lord Denbury, is still absurdly handsome, smart, and British. I still really love his London accent because people with London and British accents in general are just simply awesome. Mrs. Northe changed because throughout the book they mention how they don’t know her intentions and will forever be in debt to her, because of that I looked at her differently. In this book you also learn a bit more about her past before Natalie and the painting showed up in her life. Maggie in this book was plain crazy. I don’t want to spoil the book, but the shrine she made, and the way she acts with Lord Denbury is just creepy.

As for new characters, you have Nathaniel Veil (which is an awesome name) and Rachel Horowitz. Nathaniel Veil is Lord Denbury’s best mate, is an actor, and hails from London as well. I loved his description because he had blue eyes, black hair, a london accent, but looked rugged. He was a great character because he reminded me of William Henry Herondale from The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare. Also, he helped a lot on their adventure even thought he only showed up twice in the book. he looks like hes a very loyal friend to Lord Denbury, as well. Rachel was a very kind character that could feel ghost and hear them talking to her despite the fact that she can’t hear and shes mute. Because of her entering the story and plot you could learn more about Natalie when she was at the Asylum(the one for people with disabilities).

I loved the references in the book because they were so much fun. They referred to Jack the Ripper because the book is set a couple years before Jack the Ripper appeared in white chapel, so one of the society members stated how they could kill people by ripping them apart without anyone discovering who did it. I loved when I read that because I’m betting the author is suggesting that a demon did it. There were many references to Shakespeare, Edger Allen Poe and Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein  I liked that because the book is set in 1880 and is of course a Gothic, macabre, steampunk age.

When the author, Leanna Renee Hieber, made Nathaniel say that everyone is either born with darkness or darkness is thrust upon them and that you either die with it or you learn how to live with it, it showed me that gothic edge to the Victorian age. Also, there’s something about people understanding their in a macabre  gothic age that I really liked because it showed that people can acknowledge the age their in and accept it. When Mrs. Northe states that, it was quite interesting to see how she interpreted theater and how it’s refreshing to see people that do acknowledge pain and darkness.

Overall, I adored the sequel to Darker Still, The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart, and thought it was a great follow up. I hope that despite the way that it ended that their will be a third book in this wonderful saga.

-Michelle

Shut Out By: Kody Keplinger

Shut Out         Most high school sports teams have rivalries with other schools. At Hamilton High, it’s a civil war: the football team versus the soccer team. And for her part,Lissa is sick of it. Her quarterback boyfriend, Randy, is always ditching her to go pick a fight with the soccer team or to prank their locker room. And on three separate occasions Randy’s car has been egged while he and Lissa were inside, making out. She is done competing with a bunch of sweaty boys for her own boyfriend’s attention

     Then Lissa decides to end the rivalry once and for all: She and the other players’ girlfriends go on a hookup strike. The boys won’t get any action from them until the football and soccer teams make peace. What they don’t count on is a new sort of rivalry: an impossible girls-against-boys showdown that hinges on who will cave to their libidos first. But what Lissa never sees coming is her own sexual tension with the leader of the boys, Cash Sterling…

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The book Shut Out is about a high school’s soccer and football team’s rivalry against eachother. Being the girlfriend of the quarterback of the football team Lissa’s experienced her fair share of the rivalry. It seems like she’s lost her boyfriend Randy to the war. Lissa and the other boy’s girlfriends stand together and go on a sex strike. The boys don’t get any until they stop the rivalry. But the boys aren’t too happy with their plan, and makes plans of their own.

I’ve had this book on my to-read pile for a while now, and the whole “battle of the sexes” really intrigues me and I find that Keplinger really presented that in a really cute and funny way. It all started as a desire for the boys to stop their stupid fight, but suddenly became a war between genders.

This book had so many characters. I’ll take too much time and words to explain all of these awesome characters. But one of my favorite characters in this book was Cash Sterling. I mean, who would not love that boy? Cash is basically one of Lissa’s love interest. He was just awesome in so many ways. I mean, he’s good looking, plays soccer, smart and READS. Yes, he reads. There’s not much guys out there like him, who’s both sporty and still has the time to read books. Every time he talked about greek plays and literature was just such a turn-on. Every time Cash came in the picture, I found myself wondering why he didn’t exist in real life. Darn fictional characters for being so dang fictional! Another character I absolutely loved was Lissa’s best friend Chloe. She was awesome. She was just purely honest about everything. Wether it came to her hatred for other people, her sex life or just her personal feelings she  just said everything and anything she wanted to, and she wasn’t going to do you the favour of sugar coating her opinions either. Chloe didn’t care if you’d hate her, she’d tell you what she thinks anyways. That’s what I loved about her, the honesty that’s so rare these days. Lissa was great. She was neither amazing or horrible for me. I liked that she’s the type of person to  stand her ground on her opinions and has a strong character. She was a noteable lead, but I found that she made horrible descisions along the way.  Sure she grew from those mistakes, but I still think that her mistakes were so…. for a lack of a better word, stupid. She had good intentions, but I would have done some things very differently.

The best part of this book has got to be Cash. I mean, wow, that boy was awesome. Other than that, I really love the way that Keplinger wasn’t afraid to write so honestly and bluntly. She wasn’t afraid to address society’s sexist issues and double standards. Keplinger’s writing style was just so straight forward and blunt. She didn’t sugarcoat anything.

Overall, I thought the book was great. It wasn’t one of my favourites, maybe because I don’t usually favour contemporary books, but apart from that, the book was awesome. It was a cute and a very light read. I just ate this book up. I’ve heard good things about Keplinger’s books, especially her book DUFF. I can’t wait to read her other novels. If you guys recommend any of her books, tell me! Just comment below!

 – Caryl

Guardian of the Dead By: Karen Healey

     “You’re Ellie Spencer.”

I opened my mouth, just as he added, “And your eyes are opening.”Seventeen-year-old Ellie Spencer is just like any other teenager at her boarding school. She hangs out with her best friend Kevin, she obsesses over Mark, a cute and mysterious bad boy, and her biggest worry is her paper deadline. But then everything changes. The news headlines are all abuzz about a local string of serial killings that all share the same morbid trademark: the victims were discovered with their eyes missing. Then a beautiful yet eerie woman enters Ellie’s circle of friends and develops an unhealthy fascination with Kevin, and a crazed old man grabs Ellie in a public square and shoves a tattered Bible into her hands, exclaiming, “You need it. It will save your soul.” Soon, Ellie finds herself plunged into a haunting world of vengeful fairies, Maori mythology, romance, betrayal, and an epic battle for immortality.

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Guardian of the Dead is about Eleanor Spencer, Ellie, who is a normal seventeen year old who gets wrapped in the work of New Zealand’s fey that are on the hunt for immortality.

Ellie was a good character because she already knew how to fight and already knew the myths of the New Zealand’s type of fey. Hew description was terrible but I’m pretty sure that that’s only how she sees herself because she has a hot guy as her best friend, a guy who thought she was sexy and wanted to be with her, she has an ex-boyfriend, and the hottest guy in school who technically is her boyfriend near the end of the book. Kevin was a sad character because of how he’s under Reka’s spell. But he’s a loyal friend and can be a funny person at times. Mark Nolan, is the typical handsome, mysterious, rugged, love interest that happens to bring Ellie into the world of the New Zealand fey. Reka was just a character that happened to be both, bad and good, neutral in some ways. Iris is both a really good friend to Kevin and Kevin’s love interest.

Most of this book was predictable. When you read that her best friend is being bombarded because of Reka, you just know something’s up and that she’s going to have to save him. Also, that the guy she likes is at the heart of the problem and that he’s going to both help her and fall in love with her. What I didn’t expect was the different type of fey that they show. They’re not the typical English fey but instead a different type of fey that’s from New Zealand. They don’t even refer to them as fey. I also didn’t expect Reka’s and Mark’s relationship. I thought maybe they were rivals or they didn’t know each other at all.

Even the ending was a bit of a shocker because I didn’t that that could happen. I thought at least the guy would come back as a human but instead he came back as something not human at all. Although, there was a little bit of foreshadowing in the middle when they show his grandfather, I just didn’t think the author would do that. That’s what I like in a book, when you think that the author will do one thing but does the opposite only in a good way. Good thing about it is that he can turn human on occasion.

The cover was what initially intrigued me to the book. I wondered what the mask was all about and what kind of guardian of the dead was this. I learned that the mask on the cover is magical item that she bought at a random store that can make anyone love you and obey you. What I disliked was the fact that there was no background information on the mask and why it was on a shelf at a store if it’s so powerful. They also show that it’s powerful enough to consume you. That’s why I thought that the rest of the book would be on the mystery of the mask. I disliked how it lead you on about the mask and didn’t talk about it further and considering the fact that it’s a stand-alone there will never be a story on this still mysterious mask.

Overall, I thought this book was great, not the best, but great. I have other books on my to-read pile that is of this author, Karen Healey, and I hope that those books are just as great but a bit better.

-Michelle