Review: “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs

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

 A review by Hannah.

Growing up, Grandpa Portman was the most fascinating person Jacob knew. He had lived in an orphanage, fought in wars, performed in circuses, knew everything about guns, surviving in the wild, and spoke at least 3 languages that weren’t English. Jacob was raised on stories of his grandfather growing up with an invisible boy, a floating girl, a giant hawk that smokes a pipe and more. One day he let his grandfather know that he liked the fairy tales, but he was beginning to feel like he was being lied to. After that the stories stopped. Some years later a horrific family tragedy sends Jacob to his grandfather’s orphanage on a remote island in Wales. What he finds on that island will change everything.

This is a combination book/photo album. Sprinkled throughout the book are black and white vintage photos. The author began collecting loose vintage photos and was intrigued by the ones depicting children. They were often the most mysterious photos and he wanted to know the stories behind them. Sadly the photos were anonymous, so he made the stories up. He does this masterfully. Each photo enhances the story and concretely shows the reader what some of the characters look like.

I really liked this book. The storytelling is authentic, the characters are original, and the word “peculiar” is used! Peculiar is one of my favorite words. It’s not a forceful word like weird and it’s a more distinct word than odd. “Peculiar” has a very British feel to it, which lends a very proper air to the book, but it’s not so proper that it detracts from the tale of a teenager trying to piece together the mysteries of his grandfather.

The only negative thing I can say about this book is that I was very impatient to meet the peculiar children. There are only non-peculiar children and adults for the first third of the book. I am greatly looking forward to the sequel, Hollow City, and the movie they are making from this book.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

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Review of “The Girl Who Chased the Moon” by Sarah Addison Allen

The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison AllenA review by Danielle.

After Emily Benedict’s mother dies, she is sent to North Carolina to live with a grandfather she never knew she had. As Emily settles into Mullaby, she begins to notice that everyone treats her differently. She starts to wonder if it has to do with her mother. Why did her mother never talk about her life growing up here? How could she not mention Emily’s grandfather? What happened to her mother that would make her leave and never look back? The mystery goes even deeper when Emily meets a boy named Win Coffey. As Emily and Win grow closer, everyone around them becomes intent on keeping them away from each other. When Win tells Emily a devastating secret about her mother, her world is changed forever. Now Emily must find out the truth behind her mother’s complicated past and do everything she can to make it right again.

Julia Winterson came back to Mullaby to settle her father’s estate. Realizing she’d need to pull his famous restaurant out of the red to sell it, she devises a two year grand plan: Bake her amazing cakes in the restaurant to drum up new business, then sell and move back to Baltimore. All she has to do is avoid Sawyer, the boy who broke her heart in high school, and she can make it out of Mullaby free and clear. With the arrival of Dulcie Shelby’s daughter Emily, and her dead set determination to uncover the truth about her mother, Julia’s plan may just have hit the skids. In order to help Emily, Julia has to open the door to her own painful past.

The Girl Who Chased the Moon is the kind of book that makes you dream fondly about the South. Warm summer nights where the air is thick with moisture often leading to the most spectacular end of days thunder and lightning summer storms. The people are polite but stern with social graces, coming to your aid at a moment’s notice but will shun you just as quickly if you dare step outside tradition. There are BBQ places on every corner instead of the usual Starbucks found in every northern city, with lightning bugs and festivals celebrating tradition going back as far as the Civil War. Yes, that is how I imagine the south, and that is exactly the experience you get when reading The Girl Who Chased the Moon.

After setting the tone for a traditional southern small town, the story takes an extremely interesting turn. This is a book that teeters between reality and magical fiction: A gentle giant walking among everyone around town, strange dancing lights in the Mulberry woods, mood wallpaper that changes on its own, and people who have a “sweet” sense, a.k.a. the ability to see the beautiful trail of scent left by a freshly baked cake.  The story revolves around different couples, tied together by the past, present, and future. The symmetry of this story is frankly breathtakingly beautiful. While at first it is difficult to deal with a completely normal story suddenly taking a detour into what seems like paranormal territory, you realize how important those little quirks are in aiding the magical mood this book sets as the story unfolds. This book is a must read for anyone that enjoys romance, traditional Southern culture, magic, and one steamy sex scene.

My rating: 4/5 stars

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