Friday, 31 October 2014

Review: Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children By Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children, #1)
Title: Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children
Author: Ransom Riggs
Publisher:
 Random House Canada
Publication date: June 7, 2011
 
Genre(s): Young Adult (Paranormal)
Source: Publisher
Format: Finished Copy
Pages: 352
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.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.
I've been eyeing Miss Peregrine's for a while now. Every time I'd see it at a bookstore, I'd want to grab it but wasn't sure how I'd like it. It's one of those books that's gotten quite the hype but at the same time there's a lot of people who didn't like it. I quickly skimmed through the synopsis but didn't pay too much attention to it and just dived into it right away. 
One of the things that I enjoyed about this book is that it didn't have a prolonged and boring beginning. It was easy to get into and didn't take long to finish. The story is told from Jacob's POV, a 16-year old who doesn't have many friends and is generally unhappy about his lifestyle. As the book progresses, we see him turn into someone who's stronger and can defend himself within a matter of weeks. The story itself is quite strange and I do applaud Ransom for it because I definitely didn't predict anything when I first started reading. 
My favourite part of the book would definitely have to be the photographs! At the end of the book, it mentions that all the photos are actual real vintage photos that were collected by these people who would scour flea markets and old shops looking for peculiar photos! How cool is that?  
This book was definitely something unique and I enjoyed every bit of it! The only issue I had, which I think is the reason why some people didn't enjoy the book, is that after finishing the book, I went back and read the synopsis again and to be honest, I feel that it is overly exaggerated. It's hard to explain why without giving away the plot, which can't be discussed without spoiling the story. In the synopsis, it mentions that the pictures are "haunting" and that the Peculiar Children are possibly dangerous and have been quarantined. After reading the book, I realize that these words are slightly true but I still wouldn't really consider this book to be a thriller. It falls somewhere in between the YA and Middle Grade genre, so honestly how scary do you think it would be? Not much, as assumed, so if you're going into the book looking for a haunting book, this is not it. This is a paranormal yet it's not life-scarring. So my suggestion would be to ignore the synopsis and ignore the hype and just get into it right away. Enjoy it for what it is because I truly did!
Oh and just to show how much I loved it, I ended up picking up Hollow City the moment I finished Miss Peregrine's.



Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Review: Atlantia by Ally Condie - underwater disappointment

AtlantiaTitle: Atlantia
Author: Ally Condie
Publisher: Penguin Canada
Publication date: October 28, 2014
Genre(s): Young Adult (Sci Fi)
Source: Publisher
Format: unsolicited ARC 
Pages: 368
Can you hear Atlantia breathing?

For as long as she can remember, Rio has dreamt of the sand and sky Above—of life beyond her underwater city of Atlantia. But in a single moment, all her plans for the future are thwarted when her twin sister, Bay, makes an unexpected decision, stranding Rio Below. Alone, ripped away from the last person who knew Rio’s true self—and the powerful siren voice she has long hidden—she has nothing left to lose.

Guided by a dangerous and unlikely mentor, Rio formulates a plan that leads to increasingly treacherous questions about her mother’s death, her own destiny, and the complex system constructed to govern the divide between land and sea. Her life and her city depend on Rio to listen to the voices of the past and to speak long-hidden truths.

Atlantia.. oh Atlantia.. I honestly didn't have high hopes because one of my book kryptonite is mermaids/sirens.. however I thought this would be different with the sci fi/dystopian setting. Unfortunetly Atlantia didn't have a captivating and strong plot.. half the time I was bored out of my mind. 
We have Rio, living in Atlantia, a constructed underworld city. At the age of 16, each person is allowed to choose between staying in Atlantia or going to the above. Rio always wanted to go to the above but when her mother passed away, she decided to stay with her twin. Lo and behold, after Rio, during the ceremony, chooses to stay below, her sister is asked the same question and she chooses the above. Rio feels betrayed, confused, hurt, and all alone.. because she has a big secret, and that is her being a Siren. Sirens are shunned and controlled. The whole book is spent on Rio trying to figure out why her sister went to the above, whether her mom was murdered, and trying to keep her secret hidden. Also, a big portion of that time is spent on her performing in a swimming pool with automated fish and upping the risk to get betters to bet more money so she can plan her escape to the above sooner. This all seems so intermediate.. the whole time I was looking for the big plot but it was nowhere to be found. 
The romance was nondescript. Typical YA friends one page, "i love yous" being thrown out in the second. I've turned immune towards these romances.. before I would really get annoyed but now I just ignore and move on. I really wasn't a fan of anyone or invested in anyone's wellbeing or outcomes. It is sad when you read a book but come out of it with a lack of love towards anything in it. I didn't hate the book, but I didn't like it either. I don't know if it is the plot or just the whole underwater concept that kept me from enjoying the book. I gave it a try because I was sent an unsolicited copy. I own Ally Condie's Matched and Crossed and I will give those a try because I had no problem with her writing. I would recommend Atlantia to fans of the underwater world and mermaid/siren books like Of Poseidon.   

Monday, 27 October 2014

Review: Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick - more romance than thrill

Black Ice
Title: Black Ice 
Author: Becca Fitzpatrick
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Canada
Publication date: October 7, 2014
Genre(s): Young Adult (Contemporary/Thriller)
Source: Publisher
Format: ARC 
Pages: 3928

Sometimes danger is hard to see... until it’s too late.

Britt Pfeiffer has trained to backpack the Teton Range, but she isn't prepared when her ex-boyfriend, who still haunts her every thought, wants to join her. Before Britt can explore her feelings for Calvin, an unexpected blizzard forces her to seek shelter in a remote cabin, accepting the hospitality of its two very handsome occupants—but these men are fugitives, and they take her hostage.

In exchange for her life, Britt agrees to guide the men off the mountain. As they set off, Britt knows she must stay alive long enough for Calvin to find her. The task is made even more complicated when Britt finds chilling evidence of a series of murders that have taken place there... and in uncovering this, she may become the killer’s next target.

But nothing is as it seems in the mountains, and everyone is keeping secrets, including Mason, one of her kidnappers. His kindness is confusing Britt. Is he an enemy? Or an ally? 
Black Ice had such a great premise. I'm a sucker for any type of thrillers.. whether psychological, murder, or mystery. Knowing Black Ice involves kidnapping and trying to escape the kidnappers, I had to get my hands on it. Thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada for providing an ARC! I really like Becca Fitzpatrick's Hush Hush saga, so I was expecting an amazing romance, thrilling fast paced plot, and likable characters. Unfortunately every single one of these points was lacking. This doesn't mean I didn't like the book, because I did. I just didn't like it as much as I hoped I would. 
 
The story takes a while to kick off.. almost 80 pages to finally continue on to the unknown, when the girls get kidnapped. I'm all for building the whole plot and storyline.. but this is a contemporary, you don't need any world building like in fantasy, paranormal, and dystopian books. Still, I was patient. I wasn't the biggest fan of Britt though. Right before the kidnapping, she had several weird vibes from the two future kidnappers but she chose to ignore every single hunch she's had. The whole time I was virtually banging my head on a wall. Also, Britt's supposed friend? ugh that is one toxic and unhealthy friendship. I honestly didn't understand Britt and why she bothered staying friends with Korbie when all the girl did was try to prove how much better she to Britt. Once the kidnapping actually happens, that's when the plot picks up. Another plot line that picks up is the romance and dear God I wasn't on board with that at all. I really tried liking Britt and the guy but I just couldn't. So I just tried ignoring the romance (again, something I've come to automatically do in a ton of YA books).  
The big mystery in Black Ice is who the killer is. The first chapter is set several months before (in April), where your read the POV of one of the girls that ended up being murdered by the mystery killer. He (no spoilers, you find out it's a male from that first chapter) has actually killed several girls around their area in the past year. I honestly guessed who the killer was very early on and I was correct so the shocking factor didn't work for me. However I do have to say I did like who Fitzpatrick chose to be the killer, their motive, and why they killed. It was quite brilliant. I personally was a tad bit disappointed in this book because I had pegged it as becoming a favorite thriller/mystery. I do think fans of romance and ones who never really delved into the mystery/thriller books would enjoy it and love the mystery. 

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Review: Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle

Famous in Love (Famous in Love, #1)

Title: Famous in Love
Author: Rebecca Serle
Publisher:
 HBG Canada
Publication date: October 21, 2014
 
Genre(s): Young Adult (Contemporary)
Source: Publisher
Format: ARC
Pages: 336
When Paige Townsen gets plucked from high school obscurity to star in the movie adaptation of a blockbuster book series, her life changes practically overnight. Within a month, Paige has traded the quiet streets of her hometown for a bustling film set on the shores of Maui, and she is spending quality time with her costar Rainer Devon, one of People's Sexiest Men Alive. But when troubled star Jordan Wilder lands the role of the other point in the movie's famous love triangle, Paige's crazy new life begins to resemble her character's.
In this exciting tale of romance and drama, both on-and offscreen, Paige must adjust to a crazy new life without the daily support of her friends and family, while figuring out who she is--and who she wants--as the whole world watches.
Famous in Love was a definite roller coaster. Overall I really enjoyed it but I was so frustrated with the ending. I NEED a sequel. Backtracking a bit, I initially picked up Famous in Love for its premise.. an average girl gets picked to be the next Jennifer Lawrence (The main lead in a huge book trilogy turned into movie chain). Paige was very down to earth and also very awestruck by the life she currently leads. Most of the book is set during her filming the first movie with Rainer and late comer, Jordan. Yes, there is a love triangle, but it is very different from what I usually expect of YA books.
I loved the setup in the book. Hawaii. Ah, I would love to travel there. The scenery is beautiful, the way it is described.. the beach, the ocean, the trees, and the mountains (volcanic?). Some scenes were so serene.. especially in the early hours of the morning when Paige would go swimming. However, Paige's life is so hectic, she's insecure in her acting, especially compared to Rainer (think the lovely Dylan O'Brien now). I loved Paige and Rainer's friendship initially and its slow progression to something more. However all the problems start with Jordan's arrival. Jordan is a typical bad boy and I really didn't like him. I felt that Paige fell into inta-lust with him, and not the good kind. The whole time I was like "RAINER! RAINEEEEER IS RIGHT HERE! WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?". 
While I wasn't a huge fan of the romance conflict, I still liked everything else about the book, including Paige and her struggles with the acting and just everything else that has drastically changed in her life. The ending though? it was a killer. I totally didn't expect it. Famous in Love is one of the few contemporary books that I read and can't seem to read fast enough to know what happens next. I truly was flipping the pages frantically wanting to know the end result and wow, Serle really pulled one on us. I need a sequel. Please Serle and Poppy, make it happen. Sincerely, a desperate fan. 

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Double Review: A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall & Adrenaline Crush by Laura Crompton

A Little Something DifferentTitle: A Little Something Different 
Author: Sandy Hall
Publisher: Raincoast 
Publication date: August 26, 2014
Genre(s): Young Adult (Contemporary/Romance)
Source: Publisher
Format: Finished Copy 
Pages: 272
The distinctive new crowdsourced publishing imprint Swoon Reads proudly presents its first published novel—an irresistibly sweet romance between two college students told from 14 different viewpoints.

The creative writing teacher, the delivery guy, the local Starbucks baristas, his best friend, her roommate, and the squirrel in the park all have one thing in common—they believe that Gabe and Lea should get together. Lea and Gabe are in the same creative writing class. They get the same pop culture references, order the same Chinese food, and hang out in the same places. Unfortunately, Lea is reserved, Gabe has issues, and despite their initial mutual crush, it looks like they are never going to work things out.

But somehow even when nothing is going on, something is happening between them, and everyone can see it. Their creative writing teacher pushes them together. The baristas at Starbucks watch their relationship like a TV show. Their bus driver tells his wife about them. The waitress at the diner automatically seats them together. Even the squirrel who lives on the college green believes in their relationship.

Surely Gabe and Lea will figure out that they are ment to be together....
This book was cute cute cute! I was having so much fun reading it and I loved all the different point of views. I especially loved the squirrel's (YES SQUIRREL!) POV. It was so cute that I ended up reading passages of it to my sister. I like this new imprint at Feiwel and Friends because if this is an indication on what is to come, I'm excited to pick up their books. 
This is a love story.. told from many people's (animals, objects) POVs except the two people implicated in the love story, Gabe and Lea. We have the brother of Gabe, his friend, Lea's friends, a Starbucks barista, their writing professor, a bench, the squirrel, a bus driver, and so on. It is a long list however it really worked for this book. You didn't need any character depth from each POV because this story isn't about them. You're just watching Gabe and Lea's story unfold and progress from different people's eyes. In terms of the romance.. it was excruciatingly slow. We are talking about a super super super shy couple.It took them months to finally utter a single word to each other. Everyone was pretty much pushing them towards each other but it still took months (imagine if no one was pushing them?). It frustrated me a bit, I have to admit. Also, the book is super short. 272 pages? I really wanted more complexity and not them getting the happily ever after once they finally get together. 

Adrenaline Crush

Title: Adrenaline Crush
Author: Laurie Boyle Crompton
Publisher: Raincoast 
Publication date: September 23, 2014
Genre(s): Young Adult (Contemporary/Romance)
Source: Publisher
Format: ARC 
Pages: 192
When a daredevil teen pushes herself too far, she must choose between two boys: the one who wants to keep her safe, and the one who dares her to return to her old self.

Seventeen-year-old Dyna comes from a family of risk takers and is an avid thrill-seeker herself, until the day she splinters her ankle in a terrible fall. Her whole life goes from mountain biking and rock climbing to sitting at home and attending group sessions at the bizarre alternative healing center that her hippie mother found. The boy who witnessed Dyna’s accident believes her injury is a wakeup call and he encourages her mild new lifestyle, but a young Afghanistan War veteran she meets at the healing center pushes her to start taking chances again. Forced to face the consequences of her daredevil impulses, Dyna finds herself in danger of risking the one thing she’s always treated with caution—her heart.
Adrenaline Crush was a very quick book. I had my doubts in regards to any character development with a book so short. When I started reading, I honestly wasn't a fan of the main protagonist, Dyna. Dyna seemed such a stereotypical adrenaline junkie. It's all about getting that rush rush rush. That is all that went in her head. Once she ended up splintering her ankle from a fall that she could have avoided if she didn't think she was indestructible, that is when the book became more interesting for me. Dyna starts going to a rehabilitation center and goes to group therapy. She meets a young war veteran with an amputated leg and they click. The only problem I had is that Dyna just recently got into a relationship with a guy. This wasn't even a love triangle, this was a cheating triangle. I do not condone cheating of any kind. How was I supposed to root for their relationship when Dyna is hurting her current boyfriend (even though he doesn't know at that time, he will). However, ignoring that, I did like the healing process for Dyna and all the other people she met during the group therapy. It was an interesting breezy quick book for me. I do think Dyna had some character development which was a pleasant surprise. I also really liked her parents and even though they were painted as stereotypical incompetent parents (tattoos, harleys, etc), they cared so much for Dyna and wanted the best for her. I do recommend this book for a quick fun contemporary read.