Monday, March 19, 2012

Arty - Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

What was that Persy was saying about belatedness? Yeah. Sorry 'bout that. Not that you really care, but still. I'M SORRY, WORLD!

(Yeah. It's late and I'm doing impressions of the crazy hot springs lady in Fruits Basket. It may be the chemicals in chemistry this afternoon.)


I think pretty books get good marketing. Why else would this novel be plastered everywhere? Because the cover and page design is absolutely gorgeous. Very readable. And the pictures inside! Gosh, I want to go to a flea market and find pictures like those, as the author said he did.

But the photos are the book's selling point, because the plot, honestly, is just average. Your typical sort-of-wiseacre, sort-of-miserable MC, Jacob (or Jake? I was never quite sure which he preferred to go by) has an awesome grandfather. This awesome grandfather enthralls Jacob with his 'fantastical' fairytales, then stops telling them when Jacob 'grows up.' And then he dies. Suspiciously. And his death sends Jacob on a great quest to figure out his fairytales and why, exactly, he and Jacob are so different from other people... peculiar, you might say.

It's all very average. The prose is eons more readable than most YA novels, of course. Jacob had a semblance of a voice. And the premise, while a bit hackneyed - children with peculiar gifts persecuted and forced into a life of hiding - is still enjoyable.

But it's just not as impressive as I expected. None of the characters are very well fleshed out, so I, like Jacob at the beginning, went about it with a vague sort of neutrality. I didn't care overmuch what happened to any of them. The grandfather (whose name I forget - again, bear with me) did seem like he would be a pretty cool old guy... but we didn't really get to know him. Jacob's parents are rich and distant - perfect for letting Jacob jaunt off to Wales in order to get over his grief. And, to be honest, I'm not even sure what Jacob's friend was about. I forgot his name, too. But it's not important, because he's only in the first chapter or so. Maybe to show that Jacob's not completely hopeless.

And don't get me started on Emma. The simultaneous weirdness and clichédness of Emma made me want to kill her on her very first page. I kid you not. As soon as the author made her stick a knife in Jacob's back, I thought, Love interest. Give the girl a cigar (I mean, if I smoked, which I don't). Though Emma was certainly the worst, the other characters, especially at the titular home, are known by their functions or 'peculiarities,' not by personalities. It's a cookie cutter setup that made it nigh impossible to get invested.

Aside from the characters, the whole evil 'hollow' thing reminded me of Bleach so much, it was hard for me not to picture Jacob as a much less awesome Ichigo. And that's another thing - the bad guys are, like Emma, incredibly cliché and incredibly weird. And, even though it was almost insanely easy to defeat the bad guys, we STILL have a cliffhanger ending, and, yes, a second Miss Peregrine book is coming. Whoohoo.

The photographs - which are supposedly real, which is really-really awesome! - are definitely worth a look, but unless you're simply a fanatic about 'peculiar children' novels, I wouldn't recommend this one. Which is sad, because I was hoping for something Gothic and creepy... and this book wasn't. Find it at your library and just look at the pretty pictures.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wednesday Scrolls - Belated February Review

Perhaps we should just call these monthly reviews "belated" and not stress about getting them on time. Because they're never on time. Then again, nothing we ever do is on time. You'll just have to get over it.

In case you didn't recognize the bleak writing style, this is Persy, here to tell you all about the month of looooooove.

Best February Book: Circle of Blood, story and art by David Mack. The whole thing, story and art, is absolutely beautiful. I mean, holy crap. It's beautiful.

Honorable Mention(s): ...I have a few. Ouran High School Host Club volumes 5 and 6 (I'm sorry, but they just stay awesome) by Bisco Hatori, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, Fruits Basket Vol. 6 by Natsuki Takaya, and Wonders Never Cease by Tim Downs.

Worst February Book: Jenny Green's Killer Junior Year by Amy Belasen and someone else I can't remember. I'd actually managed to forget this entire book until I went to look back at my unfinished books of February.

Dishonorable Mention: Deathstalker by Simon Green. It was particularly bad, just so long and monotonous that it wasn't worth finishing.

And all I can say for this month is... Beware the ides of March!


Konnichiwa, everyone! Arty here for your conflicting dose of cheer. Except that I had another blah month. So... now I'm sad and have no cheer for you. Excuse me while I go mope in my hamster home.

Best February Book: The Time of the Ghost by Diana Wynne Jones. Jones is a master - so read the review. Better yet, read the book.

Honorable Mention: Halt's Peril by John Flanagan. It's Ranger's Apprentice... about Halt. Can you get better? Also, Fruits Basket is getting even better with its 17th and 18th volumes. Action!

Worst February Book: The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. A book for history, I would have never, ever read this on my own. It's just a miserable book. Maybe it got some health standards passed back in the day, but that doesn't make it good literature.

Dishonorable Mention: The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan. Sorry, Mr. Riordan - while I adore Percy Jackson and the Olympians... the other stuff just hasn't done it for me. I think the disappointment did this book in more than anything.

So now one of my favorite authors made the Dishonorable Mention list. Excuse me, I need to go update my hamster home. Hope February was better for you than it was for me!


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Persy -- The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

I think this may actually be the very first book I've read that was published in 2012. Unless you count Fracture, which I actually read in 2011 before it'd been released yet (sorry, I succumbed to the urge to gloat about being an early reviewer). The Fault In Our Stars is certainly an interesting way to start off the year (even though it's...March).

Hazel Grace Lancaster has cancer, but is, miraculously, still alive. She's lived almost five years longer than they expected, but she knows she doesn't have a lot of time left. So she's decided to "Not Be A Grenade" by keeping away from other people so she doesn't hurt them when she kicks the bucket.

But then she meets a new kid at her support group, Augustus Waters, and she begins to live again. They exchange books and long talks and finally end up going overseas together on one last adventure before the end.

It really is amazing.

First of all, John Green can write. I mean, holy crap, man. And his characters! Not just Hazel and Gus, but all the characters in this book are amazing. Mr. Green is so spectacular that he made me like a contemperary cancer book, and I usually like neither contemporary nor cancerous novels.

But the thing about it is that I looooved it while reading it, but once I'd put it down, I didn't really want to pick it up again. Maybe it's because it's pretty depressing, or maybe it's just that genre (because it's kind of the same way with other books in that genre). But this doesn't mean I don't reccommend it. I would even give this book to a past version of myself, because I definitely think it's worth reading, I just don't think I'll ever read it again.

The are some very interesting things in this book. I don't want to get into details because of spoilers, but the characters discuss philosophy and stuff without making it sound all stuffy and boring.

Also it was pretty dang funny. I love characters who can be kind of miserable, but still hilarious and not miserable in an incredibly miserable way. If you know what I mean.

So maybe this isn't making much sense, and I apologize. I just have a lot of very complex and mixed thoughts about The Fault In Our Stars. Basically, I think everyone should at least give it a shot, because it will definitely get you thinking.


You might like this if you: like contemporary fiction; don't normally like cancer books but are looking for something you aren't normally into; love good characters; happen to be a Rene Magritte fan; or if you're just an awesome Nerdfighter (in which case, you've probably already read it).

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Arty -- The Time Of the Ghost by Diana Wynne Jones

Diana Wynne Freakin' Jones!

If you've been with us for a while - like, since the beginning of the Library - you'll remember that our first review ever was by yours truly, on the inimitable Howl's Moving Castle by the sadly late Mrs. Jones. My estimation of her work has only gotten better now that my biggest book collection is of her books, and my only complaint is that she isn't more widely read in the US. (Not sure about the UK.)

Now about The Time of the Ghost instead of mindless fangirling.
She doesn't know who she is, and doesn't know why she's invisibly floating through the buildings and grounds of a half-remembered boarding school. Then, to her horror, she encounters the ancient evil that four peculiar sisters have unwittingly woken - and learns she is their only hope against a deadly danger.

I gave you the summary from the back of the book because you really shouldn't go into Ghost knowing too much about it. The fun of Jones's books is learning alongside the main character, and that's especially true in this book. Ghosty (just calling her 'the ghost' is so cold, isn't it?) is completely clueless, and I can imagine that it wouldn't be half as intriguing if you aren't, too. Therefore, I won't go too much into plot or individual character, and therefore, this is going to be a very short review.

BUT! I'm not going to let you go with some more fangirling, so I am going to expound on the general plot and characters.

The plot is, as I said, a bit confusing at first, because you have no idea what's going on. No idea. It's confusing, it's bewildering, and you can feel exactly how Ghosty feels. And though you eventually get your sea legs, to mix my metaphors, there are still points where you scratch your head and think, 'But I thought it went THIS way...' And then you have to scrap your preconceived notions about the lot of it and start again.

Which, for me, is just fun.

The characters are typically amazing for Jones. None of them are quite what you think they are at first or second or even third glance. Ghosty, for the most part a mere observer in her quest for victory over the ancient evil, is a pretty interesting main character. The 'four sisters' mentioned in the summary are a wild, varied bunch of witches that would make Macbeth's hags run away in terror, but at the end of it all, I actually really liked all four of them. And the two villains, though extremely different, are both detestable, and you dearly want them both to go die in a hole by the time the book ends.

Oh, and that ending is wonderful. Just so you know.

There's very little I can say against The Time of the Ghost. Maybe that one character swears a bit more often than is typical for a Jones book? It's still not bad. In other words, go read this book. And all of her others. Because Diana Wynne Jones is amazing.

Persy -- We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Program...

...To give you this!
A long time ago, Alexandra Bracken wrote Brightly Woven, one of my favorite fantasy books ever. Sure, it's a little predictable and has its flaws, but I still love it. And now she's finally got a new book coming out! The Darkest Minds. Of course, it doesn't come out until December, but I suppose good things come to those who wait.
Also, it looks very different than Brightly Woven. It seems darker and it's not set in the same type of fantasy world. I'm certainly looking forward to it, but I'm also worried about how Miss Bracken will do in a different genre.
Also, she's currently doing a giveaway on her website, so check it out in the next couple days so you don't miss it. She's giving away a lot of awesome books!
And now, back to your regularly scheduled program (or as regular as we ever get).