Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Title: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Author: Ransom Riggs
Publisher: Quirk Books
Publication Year: 2011
Genre: Fantasy | YA | Romance
Rating: 3

I used to dream about escaping my ordinary life, but my life was never ordinary. I had simply failed to notice how extraordinary it was.

I- Er- Well. Where to start?

First I’d like to point out that I knew this wasn’t a horror book. I had heard so many great reviews about this one and gosh it looked amazing with all of the old-fashioned photography and I really wanted to read it! But I was worried as well. Because some of those photos (okay most of them) were dark and I don’t do horror. Horror is a strict no for me. But, after questioning some bookstagrammers, I safely started this novel and the start was really good.

When I first started I was convinced that this would be a 5* novel. The first few chapters were just great. Well, Jacob was a little annoying and I rapidly got bored of the workplace but after the twist I was hooked. Or at least for a couple of chapters anyway. After that I started to realise just how much I disliked Jacob. Jacob isn’t nice. He isn’t a good main character and boy is he annoying. He’s constantly complaining about his life without truly realising just how good he has it and he definitely doesn’t appreciate the people that he has left in it, despite the family tragedy that he just went through!

Furthermore none of the other characters really spoke to me either. They were the biggest issue that I had with this book. None of the characters were really developed and, considering how old they were, the children still seemed essentially childish. There powers were cool and all but there wasn’t really as much of a focus on them as I really wanted. Also the photographs were ruined here. Everyone seemed to have one just tucked into their back pocket and they were constantly just pulling them out for no reason other than to showcase them? They were awesome photos but it was just like they were put in there for the sake of it. They didn’t really serve the plot at all.

The twist themselves were predictable and the writing wasn’t anything special. Having just read the Raven Boys, I was so prepared for some glorious ghosty writing but instead I got this. It just seemed so simple in comparison and it really fell short for me.

I don’t even want to mention the romance because, really, how does that class as a romance plot? I- Just- No. Cersei and Jaime were a better love story than this and the incest was a lot less- shudders. No. I was not a fan of this relationship, regardless of how much Riggs wanted us to be.

Altogether this book could have been great. It had a great premise but it really wasn’t executed well. I don’t know if I’ll be picking up the next one.

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On the Other Side

Title: On the Other Side
Author: Carrie Hope Fletcher
Publisher: Little Brown and Company
Publication Year: 2016
Genre: Fantasy | Contemporary | Romance
Rating: 1.5

(I wouldn’t) Undo anything. I believe that everything I’ve done and everything that’s happened in my life has happened for a reason, and if I changed anything, I wouldn’t be the same person I am now.

Just like many other Hopefuls, I wanted this book to be one that I could adore. Not only is it written by one of the nicest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting, but the plot itself reminded me of a Cecilia Ahern novel and I was looking forwards to reading the same heart-warming writing within these pages. Unfortunately I’m sad to say that my blissful imaginations were just that – imagination – and the real book fell south of what I had been expecting.

After her death, Evie Snow is entered into a world of magical realism as she finds herself trapped in purgatory, which looks strangely like her old apartment block? In order to ascend past the hallowed halls and onto her final resting place, Evie must do one simple task: get rid of the secrets that have been holding her back all of her life. Sounds easy? Well, not quite.

Firstly I have to say that you definitely need to take this book with a pinch of salt. So many moments in this book had me shaking my head at how sugary sweet they were. I wanted to love the magical aspects of the book, after all I’m a fantasy lover myself! But when they were intertwined with what was supposed to be her real world it just- it didn’t work for me. Supposedly Evie is the only one who has these powers and all those she meets and I think I would understand if they were supposed to be symbols for something else but even that doesn’t work. I wanted to enjoy it but it just seemed too far-fetched in a world where everything else was perfectly normal.

Once you get past the magic and the terrible surnames (and the multiple names starting with the letter E!) you are left with the actual story, which isn’t that bad. It’s incredibly adorable the way that the two lovers meet, and kudos to Fletcher for coming up with something so unique, and from the get go I was eager to see where their relationship went. Evie and Vincent reminded me so much of Carrie and Pete, which was a bit meh for me. I also felt like they were very two-dimensional. They looked like this and they did this and he was a musician, who was poor, and she was an artist, who wanted freedom, and James was in love with his best friend and that was about it. Or so it felt. I think a bit more work could have been put into their characters to make them truly relatable.

As I mentioned earlier, I thought this book had a very Cecilia Ahern-esque feel to it, so i was expecting something similar to that when I went into it. But the actual writing was a bit of a let down. Fletcher’s writing wasn’t the easiest to follow at times and despite my original labelling of chick lit, I would definitely rebrand this on the YA or younger spectrum. The writing was simple and there seemed to be no real time frame to the novel, as you would expect in adult fiction.

Having said all that there were bits I found good. There was a strong LGBT aspect to the novel with both a gay character and a bisexual character thrown into the mix. There was some good representation here, however I felt that at times they were just thrown in to get the representation marks (bisexual) and because a plot twist was needed (gay). There was no lead up to them, they were just there. Much like with many of the supernatural features.

Overall I think if this book had been planned a little better and some of these criticisms had been resolved then this would have scored a much higher rating. For a debut novel, it could have been a lot worse but I also feel like it could have been much better as well. I’m sorry to be so negative because I love Carrie but this novel just wasn’t for me.

Tiger Lily

Title: Tiger Lily
Author: Jodi Lynn Anderson
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Year: 2012
Genre: Fantasy | YA | Romance
Rating: 4.5

You think you know that someone sees you one way, and barely at all, and then you realise that they see you in another .That was the night I realised that Tiger Lily had seen – really seen – me all along.

Sometimes I read books slowly. I plod happily through them and I’m happy to enjoy them that way. But with Tiger Lily I couldn’t read it slowly. I couldn’t even attempt to read it slowly because I started this book and I got so caught up in it. I couldn’t put it down! It was addictive to me. It was mesmerising and exciting and heart-breaking and there are few books that I have enjoyed as much as this one.

One of the most brilliant things about Tiger Lily is that it’s told by a mute character. I thought that it would be annoying, reading the story of a character that couldn’t say a word. Originally I had soppy, YA melodrama writing on my mind, but this was nothing like that. Tinkerbell isn’t one of the most obvious narrators when I think about the original Peter Pan novel, but reading this I can’t see a more obvious choice. I thought that it was so different from any of the other things that I’ve read and it was so magical to see the relationship between Tiger Lily and Tinkerbell that I have never experienced before. Reading about Tinkerbell’s choices and everything that she does for Tiger Lily and then in turn reading about Tiger Lily’s choices and feeling my frustration. But I also got to see them reflected in the way Tinkerbell reacted and it was SO GOOD.

This book also showed a whole other side to Tiger Lily and a much deeper plot line for her that I’ve never heard about before. We found out about her friends and her family and about her childhood and her father figure. We learnt about her loneliness and the curse that has been haunting her until birth and she was nothing like I had expected either. In the film she’s made out to be innocent and gentle but this Tiger Lily was fast, strong and courageous! She was just as good as any of the Lost Boys and the relationship that she has with Peter because of this is dazzling. Together they were wild. Their relationship was beautiful and it was so touching reading about the two of them growing together. And don’t get me started on Peter!

This book was nothing like what I was expecting going into it. But it was such a good read. Wendy was so dramatically different from every other interpretation of her that I’ve seen before and I found it so interesting reading the way that all of the other characters developed to the ones that we know!

I would seriously recommend this one because it’s one that I want to read over and over again.

World of Ink and Shadow

Title: Worlds of Ink and Shadow
Author: Lena Coakley
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Year: 2016
Genre: Historical Fiction | Fantasy | YA
Rating: 2.5

We are so isolated here in Haworth, with no one of our own age to befriend, and the men and women of Verdopolis are real, in a way. It wouldn’t seem strange to me if… Someone… Might even fall in love with one of them.

The plot for this book! I wanted to love it so bad. For starters there were Brontës. Now I’ve read a lot of Brontë books and I really liked reading them. I’ve also learnt a lot about their family, about all five siblings because it was a part of my English Literature course in high school and I found that really interesting. So, as a result, I was more than ready to delve into this magical world and, after reading My Lady Jane, I was ready for another mix of history with fantasy because it had gone so well last time. Some bits really shone through for me as well, like the way that Coakley interwove parts of the history with the story that she created, such as their family portrait.

However, the first fault for me was that I couldn’t really enjoy the family. They just seemed too simple, and without character development, and so I couldn’t really connect with them. All Emily cared about was own interests and all Charlotte cared about were her romantic views and creating the perfect man and Anne just wanted to make everyone happy and that didn’t really work for me. At all. They were all so one-dimensional and unrelatable.  Whereas I like to think that I would have liked the original Brontës.

As this was one of the things that I was looking forwards to – the historical aspect that came with a book about the Brontë family – I was a little disappointed but I persisted anyway because I was interested in the actual plot. The idea that the oldest living Brontë siblings were able to literally transport themselves into their novels interested me beyond belief (although I was hoping for a Wuthering Heights setting rather than Verdopolis, I admit).These bits of the plot were actually interesting. But it became utterly bizarre and I wonder if the book would have been better received if it hadn’t focused on the Brontë siblings but had instead created an entirely new character list.

Verdopolis itself didn’t really interest me either. It was a great and powerful city and there there was the stereotypical bad guy and the handsome hero and the swooning love interest and it just fell a little flat. It was uninteresting and nothing different from anything I’d seen before, but then maybe that was the point.

This sounded like a good book at the start and I wanted to enjoy it but it just didn’t match up to what I was expecting. There was no ‘wow’ factor for me. It got a little better towards the end I thought, but not enough to save it.

Has anyone else read this?

What did you think?

My Lady Jane

Title: My Lady Jane
Author: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Year: 2016
Genre: YA | Historical Fiction | Romance | Fantasy | Comedy
Rating: 4

“I am sixteen years old,” she told the empty room. “And tomorrow I will die.”

I’m sat here now, staring at a blinking black cursor and wondering just how I’m supposed to describe exactly what reading My Lady Jane entails. Because this book is like nothing else I’ve read before. Sure I’ve read historical fictions – I’ve tackled plenty of those in my time – and humour novels don’t go amiss either. But if you’re expecting either one or the other (especially if it’s historical fiction) then I really wouldn’t recommend this.

This book makes a total mockery of the English history in a Monty-Python like fashion, so much so that it even apologises for it in the start of the book. This book is totally absurd and wacky and everything that was so brilliant about Monty Python but jammed into a historical YA about some of England’s ancestors. It worked so well, especially as each point of view was written by a different author, meaning that there was a strong sense of this voice is this person and this voice belongs to them. I found this great as it meant I wasn’t confused at all and it really made the multiple POVs work for me.

It’s definitely easy to say that you should not go into this book with the intent of reading a serious historical fiction. My Lady Jane diverges as far from the truth as it possibly can (or is it merely divulging the truth that we’ve all ignored for so long?) and puts a truly hilarious retelling on the reign of Lady Jane Grey. There is a strong game of who said what first (not Shakespeare) playing through the entire novel and the only thing I found slightly irritating was the amount of times that the authors jumped in with their own personal comments. But only because it disrupted the story that I wanted to keep reading!

There is a whole bunch of lovable characters as well including, but not limited to, the world’s most unluckiest bookworm, a misunderstood man, with a slight equestrian issue, and a sickly prince, who just wants to be free. Together these three misfits attempt to first rule a kingdom and second bring justice to those that have wronged them. Or maybe the other way around?

Either way, My Lady Jane is a book worth reading. And did I mention there’s a skunk? Yeah, you’re going to have to read it to find out about that one.

Cinder

Title: Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1)
Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Puffin
Publication Year: 2012
Genre: YA | Romance | Fairytale Retelling | Science Fiction
Rating: 4

Even in the Future the Story Begins with Once Upon a Time.

It took me four years to read this. For four years I have denied myself the impressive world of the Lunar Chronicles series. Well no longer! It was a dark and gloomy Thursday evening when I finally picked Cinder up off my enormous to be read pile and it was early the following afternoon when I turned the final page with a strong feeling of being underwhelmed. I powered through this book, waiting for the part where it was going to become this amazing book that so many people have sung praises about. But it just never hit that mark for me. Having said that, I did enjoy this book. It just didn’t hit that astounding button that everyone had promised it would.

Cinder in an incredibly popular retelling of the traditional Cinderella with a twist. The Cinderella that we all know and love isn’t quite as human as she was before. In fact she’s a cyborg. Or- part cyborg. For me, this was an incredible idea. What is not to love about a female lead who is disciplined in the mechanical side of technology? It’s so rare to read about women like that. But for all of the mechanic technical talk and cyborg limbs, she wasn’t actually that unhuman. Is that weird to say? Considering she has a cyborg brain, she is incredibly human. Surely scientists of that world should be incredibly interested in a cyborg (regardless of how part she is) with such a strong personality. I think that Meyers also missed out on many opportunities for Cinder to question her humanity. Does she count as human or cyborg? What about her personality and her feelings? Are they really hers or are they something that has simply been programmed by her cyborg brain? So many missed opportunities!

The plot though was good and stuck pretty well to the main fairy tale. Sometimes things happened that surprised me and when Lunars got involved I was beyond surprised. This whole world creation that Meyer went through was unexpected, or at least I hadn’t expected it! I was expecting a simple fairy tale retelling, not a complete whole world to explore. Then Meyer chucked Lunars at us and a Cyborg-human hierarchy (that I really didn’t understand to be honest) and it was great. I really enjoyed learning about Meyer’s world, especially with the introduction of the plague and the reveal of where it had come from. So interesting!

One of the other things I didn’t enjoy was the Asian culture. Or, rather, it was the complete lack of Asian culture. Considering this was set in New Bejing with an Asian protagonist, there were very little Asian elements in the plot. I’m aware it’s based of a very white-central fairy tale but surely a few changes could have been made in order to support this supposed Asian-heritage. Oh! I also wasn’t a fan of the way that it took Cinder way too long to figure out the truth. Seriously the first moment it was mentioned, barely hinted at at the start of the novel I was like oh- Darn. This is going to happen. It did as well but it took Cinder almost 350 pages to figure it out and she had to be told by someone! I was expecting it to take a while but that was seriously too long!

Despite that though I did enjoy the novel. I found it a fun read and I’m definitely considering picking up the other books in the series at some point because I’m curious to see where the plot is going to go from here. Especially when it comes to introducing our other fairy tale legends.

Enrule

Title: Enrule
Author: Holly Sparks
Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
Publication Year: 2015
Genre: Fantasy | Dystiopian | YA
Rating: 3

What little we have will soon be gone… and then what?

This sounds like just my sort of book! Anyone who knows me, knows that I adore zombie fiction. I seriously snatch them up and devour them all as if I was one of those human-munching monsters myself. So when I spotted a gorgeous picture of this one on Instagram, I just had to give it a go!

It didn’t let me down either. Firstly what a beautiful cover! I mean look at this gorgeous thing. Although I have no idea who the character is as this girl has white hair, while the main character is meant to have blonde. It’s still gorgeous though, but they definitely should have stuck the sword through a letter all Castle-esque. The blood-stained sword looks very majestic though and definitely alludes to all of the fighting that goes on in this. Because, let me tell you, this book is chock-a-block  full of action and all of the good stuff that you could possibly want in a zombie fic, feat many knives and the occasional saucepan!  There is an abundance of fight scenes though that sometimes feel a little bit repetitive, and does Ella have to kick everyone between the legs? But then that would make sense considering every guy, other than the few she decides to befriend, seem to be desperate to get into her pants. Like seriously, every guy?

In addition to that I also got a strong ‘the chosen one’ theme running through this. For starters she’s the only girl put into a room with all boys. Then she’s given private training by the second top fighter in the camp and she’s hand-picked by Kira out of everyone there. The romance is also a little meh for me. They meet eyes once and suddenly everyone is telling her how this guy has eyes for her? I’m just not a fan of the whole love at first sight thing – I prefer reading the chemistry and watching the relationship build naturally.

Following on from that, the relationships didn’t seem that believable to me. The characters too – they were a little 2D. I would have loved more of a backstory and more of a build of their friendship. Zoe, for instance, agrees to go with Ella despite the fact that she says there are people randomly walking around and killing people. Surely she would be a bit more sceptical of someone?

There were quite a few things that didn’t match up with me in this book, but it was an okay read. As it happens, I’m quite eager to see what happens next and see where the story leads after the cliffhanger we were gifted with at the end of the book. Good going Sparks! You’ve got me wanting to read more.