Monthly Archives: February 2012

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.

I read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children under the duress of my thirteen year old sister. She’s the one that got me hooked on the Hunger Games Trilogy (so she has obviously inherited my good taste in books!) The cover was what initially drew me to it–a creepy black and white photo of an antique little girl hovering in mid-air.  That’s got to be interesting, right?

Right!

The story revolves around our teenage protagonist, Jacob. After witnessing the horrific death of his beloved Grandpa Portman, he sets off on an adventure unlike any other. His quest starts after he helps his father clean out his grandpa’s house–only to discover a box of  antique photographs of unusual children. These are the very same photos Grandpa Portman used to share with him as a child, regaling him with stories of these strange children and their magical abilities. He claimed to have grown up with them on an island-bound orphanage run by a bird who smoked a pipe. Of course, as Jacob grew older these tales became harder to believe, and all the pictures began to look photo-shopped. During the horrific encounter that lead to Grandpa Portman’s death, Jacob thought he glimpsed a monster hiding in the woods. This led him to consider the fact that maybe his grandpa’s tales weren’t so tall after all. After undergoing psychiatric counseling, it is determined that Jacob must go visit this alleged island and see for himself that these stories were fake. Thus begins his discovery of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children…

This story was a great teen novel, one of the best I’ve read recently. I have  loved urban fantasy (a fantasy that’s set in the modern, everyday world) since getting into Holly Black’s writing several years ago. It contains all of the qualities an UF story needs to make it great: another, more magical world, a cast of wacky characters, extraordinary powers, time travel, insurmountable monsters, and just a touch of confusing, teen-angsty romance. *sigh* Loved it.

Ransom Riggs came up with a really unique twist on time travel, as well. Rather than jumping in the Dolorian to go back to a time period (or some other over-played method) he created time “loops.” These loops are repeating circles of time that are created to keep the Peculiars safe. These loops repeat the same day over and over again, in this case, September 3rd, 1940–the day the Germans bombed Wales. Each night the bombs fall, but the loop resets before they hit, and in this way these peculiar children have stayed children for over 80 years. They have also remained safe in this hidden time loop from the Wights–creatures whom are looking to use them to gain immortality.

I really enjoyed the awkward feelings between Jacob and Emma, and the overall image of all these unique people living together in one big Victorian manor. Very cool. I also liked that these children’s talents were very unique, rather than X-men cliche. The way that Riggs used actual antique photographs to build his characters/plot around was a very interesting and enjoyable change from normal teen fiction. Pioneering in story-telling, I love it! There was a bit of lag in the story in the first 1/4 of the book, but not enough to dissuade me from wanting to find out what happened next. There’s a definite set up for a sequel, which I am very much looking forward to.

Good job, Mr. Riggs.

(See? Floridians are special!)

5 of 5 stars


Anxiety

 Image


I am the words that are stuck in your throat.
I am the thought you wish you spoke aloud and the opinion you should’ve kept to yourself.
I am the ache in your joints and the roaring in your ears.
I am the thudding of your heart and the cold sweat on your palms.
I am the unknowable terror that doesn’t exist.
I am the made-up monster beneath your bed.
I am the action that is never taken and I am the reaction that never stops.
I cannot be starved away, burnt away, cut away, or ignored into exile.
I turn every second into an hour and consume every small happiness.
I am the strange symptom you did not anticipate and I am the loved one who never called.
I trade healing slumber for restless wakefulness.
I am the worst prediction and the false reality.
I inject mundane moments with adrenaline and exciting moments with numbness.
I am the endearments you choke on and the curses you swallow.
I am the food left cold on your plate and the snacks you just can’t put down.
I am the shiver up your spine and the flush of heat on your cheeks.
I am the phone call you refuse to take and the phone number you can’t stop calling.
I turn normalcy into nightmares.
I am the twinge in your gut and the blue underneath your nails.
I am the suspicion in your heart and the seed of doubt in your mind.
I am the bricks of the wall around you.
I am the money you aren’t making and the person that won’t talk to you.
I am the strange noises and the nights alone.
I am the impossible assignment and the incredible boredom.
I am your creation and I am your perception.
I am that which cannot be seen and can only be felt.
I am what is holding you back.
The only way I can be eliminated is to drown me in love, respect, and understanding.
To smother me with kindness and compassion.
To suffocate me with unconditional happiness and authority.
It is a conscious choice to release me and realize your potential.
Your potential to lead.
Your potential to learn.
And your potential to love.


Quote of the Day: Thomas Hardy

“She philosophically noted dates as they came past in the revolution of the year;… her own birthday; and every other day individualized by incidents in which she had taken some share. She suddenly thought one afternoon, when looking in the glass at her fairness, that there was yet another date, of greater importance to her than those; that of her own death, when all these charms would have disappeared; a day which lay sly and unseen among all the other days of the year, giving no sign or sound when she annually passed over it; but not the less surely there. When was it?”

-Thomas Hardy, from Tess of the d’Urbervilles


Quote of the Day: Thomas Hardy

“They spoke very little of their mutual feelings: pretty phrases and warm attentions being probably unnecessary between such tried friends.”

-Thomas Hardy, from Far From the Maddening Crowd


P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern

I normally don’t read such sappy love stories, but in honor of Valentine’s Day, I’ll concede.  I originally saw the movie version of  P.S. I Love You (starring Gerard Butler and Hilary Swank) back in 2008  and in a fit of romantic inspiration, I went out and bought the book. It’s not your run-of-the-mill lovefest, however. Cecelia Ahern makes sure of that (as does Nicholas Sparks and pretty much every romantic novelist of all time…)

Holly and Gerry are a happily married couple. They’ve been together since high school and their lives are completely intertwined. They have coupled-up friends and do coupled-up activities. The only thing that Holly lives for (she never was a career person) is to be Gerry’s wife. Then–of course–the unthinkable happens. (You didn’t imagine they’d live happily ever after did you? Pshht). When Gerry begins to suffer from ever-persistent migraines, he goes to the doctor and gets the absolute worst case scenario diagnosis. Brain cancer. Tumors. Malignant. Inoperable. Terminal. Only a few months left to live.

Obviously, the couple is devastated by the news and Holly stays with Gerry through every second of his remaining months. After his death, Holly struggles to find meaning in her life–a reason to live, if you will. That is, until two months later when her mom informs her she has a package.

It’s from Gerry.

The package contains a letter for every month of the year–each containing a new instruction for Holly to help her move on with her life and survive being alone. We follow Holly along through this year of love, loss, sadness, and growth. And I have to say, I really enjoyed it.

P.S. I Love You turned out to be, if not a love story, than maybe a personal growth story. It detailed all the mad adventures of Holly and her wacky friends and family as they struggled to not only deal with the loss of their friend, but also be a support system for a new/young widow. I liked it, because in the end, although Gerry’s death was a terrible tragedy, it also freed Holly to become her own person for the first time in her life. It took her until she was single and 30 to find herself, but find herself she did.

Ahern presented coping with a family member’s death and the grief process in a very realistic way. Some days Holly was a mess, laying around the house hardly sleeping or eating–certainly not showering for a week at a stretch. Then having a few good days intermingled in with the bad. Going from laughing to crying and then back again. Sloooooooowly being able to accept what has happened to you and your loved one, and learning to allow yourself to be happy without them. Being able to remember the fun times rather than the death. It’s a very messy process, for sure.

I’ll admit, I did get misty-eyed at a few passages, but overall it’s not nearly the tear-jerker it’s advertised to be. I think the movie adaptation was much more sad than the novel. Holly’s friends/family really helped keep the tone light for the most part. Although, damn…a headache is a bit more worrisome now than before…

This is definitely a good “chick lit” novel. It’s a fast read and you’ll be anxious to find out what Gerry’s next letter says. Those of you ladies whom enjoy reading about a woman experiencing a personal loss, triumphing over it as best she can, and learning that life goes on after love (cue Cher here)–this one’s for you.

4 of 5 stars


Quote of the Day: James Salter

“Sometimes you are aware when your great moments are happening, and sometimes they rise from the past. Perhaps it’s the same with people.”

-James Salter, from Burning the Days


One Day by David Nicholls

Ayiyi… One Day by David Nicholls. Where to begin. I am angry about this story for multiple reasons, and I will tell you not to read on from here if you plan on trying the book for yourself because…

I am about to SPOIL IT. THAT MEANS SPOILERS PEOPLE.

No really, don’t keep reading if you don’t want the story ruined.

This is my last warning.

Ok, to the rest of you that weren’t scared off–I will say three words. City. Of. Angels. You know, that tear-jerker from the 90’s with a less goofy-looking Nicolas Cage (if that’s even possible) and a pre-plastic surgery nightmare Meg Ryan.

*shudder* Anyway, I hope you’ve recovered from that. We’re moving on… Ok, picture City of Angels minus the whole heavenly boyfriend thing.

Dexter Mayhew and Emma Morley meet at a post college graduation party. They make out all night and then climb a mountain hungover the next day. Thus begins a infuriating 20 year friendship/infatuation.

To make a long story short, I was tricked by the media into believing that this was a love story. No. This is a watch Emma waste her life, and watch Dexter F-up his life story. Each chapter is a “snap shot” of their relationship, as is, on July 15th every year. And let me tell you, I spent a good 18 to 20 years with these people before they were EVER EVEN IN A RELATIONSHIP. The whole book was Emma not knowing what to do with herself, besides feeling a smug sense of superiority over Dexter’s drug-addled, whore-mongering lifestyle as a TV presenter. Think Ryan Seacrest on coke. In the 80’s. Phew.

Plus, him GETTING SOMEONE ELSE PREGNANT AND MARRYING HER. What kind of love story is that? He’s a douche the whole time!

Then, finally after 20 YEARS of “friendship” they get together. After his nasty divorce from his cheating Meredith-from-Frasier type wife. They are happy. They are in love. They get married. She is the perfect step-mom.

And then, the unthinkable happens.

(Unthinkable, unless you are a Nicholas Sparks fan, however…)

SHE GETS HIT BY A CAR, WHILE RIDING A BICYCLE. AND DIES.

YES. AND DIES.

See the movie connection here? Just when things are getting good, after a lifetime of blah blah blah, she gets rubbed out. Just like that. Good thing the writing was dry enough that I didn’t feel sad about it. I’m only outraged because it seems so cliche. She dies in the end… Really? I’ve seen City of Angels and I’ve seen Moulin Rouge. And I’ve read Where the Red Fern Grows and watched The Land Before Time (which my mom felt SOOO guilty for buying, by the way…) Bambi. The Lion King. Nights in Rodanthe. A Walk to Remember.

You know where I’m going with this?

The whole false sense of security and love, only to have it ripped away from you in the end is incredibly overdone.

The harshness is well deserved. Does the world really need another story like this? The fact that it was a national bestseller just floors me.

Don’t bother with this book. And also, don’t dare ride a bicycle anywhere–especially if you’re a woman. Sheesh. Seems that motorists everywhere are just looking for love-struck women to mow down.

Boo.

1 of 5 stars