Library of Souls

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Library of Souls

by Ransom Riggs

October 2017

I finally finished the Miss Peregrine series!! I’m so excited. While I started out loving the first book, the other two have been more of a drag. I wasn’t terribly interested in finishing, except that I was hooked on Jacob and Emma’s story (what can I say, I love a good love story). So, I picked up the third book and muscled through it. Very similar to the second book, it took a lot of effort to read, but was redeemed by the ending. I LOVED the ending. It made the forced aspect of the books worth it . . . thank goodness! Honestly, that’s my biggest complaint. The story line feels so forced with the pictures and the climatic parts where the bad guys keep getting ahead. It’s too much. That being said, I really loved Jacob and Emma’s story and I was very satisfied in the end. Spoilers: Jacob and Emma set off to find their captured friends. After meeting lots of strange people they find them. The ‘bad guy’ is Miss Peregrine’s brother, Caul, who has been trying to find the Library of souls (the souls of past ymbrynes) in order to harvest them and become all powerful. After fighting countless wights, partially by Jacob controlling dozens of hollowgasts, they succeed in shutting down Caul, destroying his work and wights (and hollowgasts), and returning peculiardom to peace. Sadly, Jacob decides to return to his parents, leaving his friends and Emma behind. Before long, Jacob’s parents commit him for being ‘crazy.’ But all is not lost. Miss Peregrine and the children figure out how to return themselves to their correct age and allow them to age normally and not need to be in a loop. Once they figure this out, they come to Jacob’s rescue and Jacob and Emma can be together, while Miss Peregrine promises to help Jacob’s parents come around and accept peculiardom! It’s a very sweet, very happy ending!

Summing it up: I really struggled with this one and it was hard to push through (I totally skimmed). The ending was satisfying, but I don’t know that I can really recommend it. Maybe if you’re like me, you’ll want to finish for the sake of finishing, but if you haven’t started the series, I’m not sure it’s worth it.

All the best, Abbey

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Mosquitoland

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Mosquitoland

by David Arnold

September 2017

Mosquitoland was one of those books I heard great things about and put on my TBR list for reading at some point. Sometimes I see a book like this on the shelf and decide that now is as good a time as any to read it and I go for it! That’s just what happened with Mosquitoland. Well, I started reading it and it was weird. The flow was a little odd and I did not really get the main character or the plot at first. That being said, it was odd in a good way. In a way that kept me intrigued and reading. As the story unfolded, I got more and more swept up in the story and by the end I was loving every second. This story was a late bloomer for me, but I’m so happy I read it.

Mim is the narrator of this story. She is going through a hard time: her parents have divorced, her dad remarried and moved her to a whole new state, and her mom has stopped writing/calling her. Mim is a little “not alright” about all of this and decides to run away from home and find her mom. She encounters many detours along the way that help her grow and change. Spoilers: Mim meets a kind old lady named Arlene on the bus she takes to get to her mom. Arlene is taking a mysterious box to her gay nephew. The bus gets into a horrible accident and Arlene dies. Mim finds the box and decides to try and find the nephew. But she has another detour when she meets a homeless boy with special needs named Walt. They bond and become friends who together set off to deliver the box. They do and then they encounter another detour when they bump into Beck, a college student who was on the bus and has his own mission to find his foster sister. They set out together and find her, but it is a disappointment. Their next stop is Mim’s old house. While she is taking it all in, SURPRISE, Mim’s stepmother, Kathy arrives, having tracked them down. Finally, the pieces start falling into place. Kathy takes Mim to her mother. It is crushing. Mim’s mother is very ill and is fading away. Mim realizes then that Kathy and her father are doing their best and really love her. Her mother has been the one distancing herself to protect Mim. Mim returns home while Beck sets out with Walt to find Walt’s mother. Mim and Beck have a strong connection and they part with a hope to reunite the next year with Walt. All through the book Mim has been writing Isabel, the name of her aunt who was mentally ill and killed herself when Mim was young (Mim actually was the one who found her hanging in the basement). But you find out that her dad and Kathy are pregnant with a little girl and have named her Isabel . . . Mim has been writing to her the whole time.

Summing it up: Give this book a chance in the beginning because I highly recommend it!

All the best, Abbey

P. S. One of the main themes of the book is mental health. Mim’s aunt had depression and anxiety, Mim’s mother has some form of it, and Mim likely does herself. Part of Mim’s journey is accepting that and figuring out the best way to get help (therapy/meds/etc). It is a powerful message and one that is very relevant today. This message was woven throughout in a strong, meaningful way.

 

Some memorable quotes:

“Writing sort of . . . rounds off the sharp edges of my brain . . . . Either way, you should write. It’s better than succumbing to the madness of the world.” -Aunt Iz

“I call it Mim’s Theorem of Monkey See Monkey Don’t, and what it boils down to is this: it is my belief that there are some people whose sole purpose of existence is to show the rest of us how not to act.” -Mim

“Beck is teaching me how to be a better person, and when you find someone who inspires you like that, you hold on for dear life.” -Mim

“DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE VALUE OF FRIENDS.” -Mim

Hollow City

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Hollow City

by Ransom Riggs

August 2017

I started Hollow City, the sequel to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, a while ago and it was hard to get into. I felt like Riggs was trying to hard. What I mean by that is: I felt like story revolved around the pictures. It was if he picked these pictures out and then had to stretch to make them into a story. In contrast, I felt the first book was so clever and original. So I was disappointed for most of the book and ended up putting it down for months. I was determined to finish it though because even though the “stretched” feeling was annoying, it wasn’t enough to make me give up. It wasn’t until the end of book that things picked up and I really got into it. There was a great twist and the pictures finally felt more natural and less forced. As a result, I enjoyed the ending so much and it redeemed the book. Enough so that I’ll give the third book a try (I’ll let you know how that goes).

Hollow City picks up where the first book left off: the group of peculiar children are determined to find a way turn Miss Peregrine back into herself. They need to travel to London, so they make their way there, meeting various peculiars along the way (such as the menagerie and the gypsies). Spoilers: when they eventually get to London, they find the loop that will lead them to perhaps the last ymbryne. Sure enough, Miss Wren is there and able to help turn Miss Peregrine back. But there is a twist: the peregrine is not Miss Peregrin, but her brother (who is evil). He swapped with her and has been gathering information and sending it to his wights the whole time. (The evil master plan is to removed the peculiars’ second souls to create a superior race over humans.) They all get captured and brought back to present day. On their way to the train station, one of the peculiars makes a run for it and it causes a ton of confusion, allowing for Jacob and Emma to escape (though they are the only ones). Jacob gets a call from his dad and is able to have a brief conversation before he has to run away. And that is the end (hence my wanting to read the third book).

Summing it up: this book was not my favorite, but if you’ve read the first one, it’s worth reading to continue the series.

All the best, Abbey

 

Percy Jackson and the Olympians

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Percy Jackson and the Olympians

by Rick Riordan

Spring 2017

I read the entire Percy Jackson series over several months and I really liked each of the five books. I loved the characters, the style and the story. I like that the books are not graphic or extremely romantic. They are perfect for middle graders and a great reprieve for older readers. There’s a nice blend of adventure and relationships that makes each book interesting and fun to read. I’ve always loved mythology, so to see it interpreted in a new way and made appealing to a new generation is awesome. I won’t go into each book’s plot because they are all very similar. In the first book Percy Jackson finds out that he is half-human, half-god and as a result is being hunted by monsters and needs training in order to stay alive. He goes to a camp just for half-bloods like himself. There he makes friends and they work together to battle monsters. Each book starts with a dire situation, like the world being taken over my monsters, then Percy and his friends have to accomplish some goal in order to prevent that from happening. Finally, they save the day. Each book incorporates new mythology and characters. The books are engaging, fun and have the perfect amount of suspense. I loved each one and look forward to reading them to my boys!

Summing it up: These books are fun, full of adventure and ones I highly recommend!

All the best, Abbey

All the Bright Places

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All the Bright Places

by Jennifer Niven

June 2017

All the Bright Places is a soberingly beautiful novel. It is told from two different perspectives and I enjoyed the back and forth commentary. I quickly got wrapped up in the love story and was completely shocked by the ending. I’m still processing it. That being said, I thought it was a phenomenal book. All the Bright Places deals with teenage suicide. I think it’s such an important topic to be aware of and to talk about. Especially when depression is something that can be hidden, even from closest friends and relatives.  I keep thinking about this book and I highly recommend it.

Fitch and Violet are two teenagers who meet at the top of their school’s bell tower when they are both contemplating suicide. Fitch has been an outcast throughout high school. He has a tough home life (his father left him, his sisters and his mom to be with a new family) and has struggled with depression and wanting to kill himself for years. When he sees Violet on the bell tower, he abandons his plans and helps her down instead. Violet is mourning the untimely death of her older sister. They had a successful online magazine and ever since her sister’s death, Violet hasn’t written and has struggled with wanting to keep going. When Fitch helps her down, their school mates interpret it as Violet saving Fitch and they don’t correct them. Violet and Fitch get paired together for a school project and before long fall in love. Spoilers: Fitch and Violet fall hard for each other and for a while everything is great. Fitch helps Violet come out of her depression and find herself again. She starts writing and forms a new online magazine. Nothing is able to keep Fitch from his dark place though and ultimately he kills himself. Violet is left to carry on without him and struggle with why she wasn’t enough to keep him alive. It is harsh, sobering and difficult. But it’s also a very important topic.

Summing it up: it was hard to read this book at points, but it was very good and very well written and I highly recommend it.

All the best, Abbey

Isla and the Happily Ever After

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Isla and the Happily Ever After

by Stephanie Perkins

December 2016

I finished the third and last installment of the Anna and the French Kiss series. It was wonderful. I loved Isla and the Happily Ever After. Perkins’ writing is vivid and her plot was moving and addicting. It was impossible to put this book down. As the end of a series, it was fitting and left the reader fulfilled and happy.

Isla attends the same school in Paris that Anna did, only a few years behind. Isla hangs out almost exclusively with her best friend, Kurt. He has high functioning autism and they get each other perfectly. For years, Isla has had a crush on Josh: a hot, moody senior who blows off school and loves to draw. One day they finally connect and get to know each other. Soon, they acknowledge the truth: they have both liked each other for years. Isla was too scared to talk to Josh (especially since he was part of St. Clair’s gang before they graduated and left him behind) and Josh thought Isla was dating Kurt. Such begins their rapid romance. Spoilers: they soon become inseparable, even though Josh respects Isla’s relationship with Kurt and their established routines for the most part. Isla and Josh are rapidly falling in love and decide to recklessly run away to Spain for the weekend. They enjoy the uninterrupted one on one time, but it is not to last. They get caught and Josh is expelled. His father is running for senator and can’t afford the scandal, so Josh is forced to return to N.Y. to be the proper son his parents need him to be. They take away his phone and he and Isla have to sneak around to talk, and those conversations are few and far between. They write letters, but the separation is a huge strain. Finally, over a holiday Isla returns to N.Y. and is invited to a fancy gala as Josh’s date. It is a strenuous night and Isla comes to the realization that she’d only hold Josh back from his potential if they stay together, and if so, that he would realize she’s not good enough and end things down the road. That would be too painful, so Isla decides to break up with him now, in order to hurt less. Josh is crushed, but Isla is stubborn. She returns to school and realizes that she is still helplessly in love with Josh. At first she dismisses it because she feels unworthy of love, but soon she tries to reach out, only to be met with silence. She even buys a comic book and gets it signed by the author for Josh, but then hides it. It’s a horrible time for both of them. While Isla is wrapped in her own misery, Josh is heartbroken, but determined to prove his love to Isla (who is obviously horribly insecure). For years, he’s been working on a memoir comic book of his high school years. He showed the rough version to Isla when they were together and she freaked out because there were only a few pages about her and a ton of pages about his ex (including a full nude spread). Josh took her limited constructive feedback and decides to rewrite it. If he can finish, then he hopes to win back Isla and convince his dad to let him go to college for art and comics. One day, he gets a package: it’s the comic book Isla bought him (her sister sneakily sent it as if from Isla). He takes it as a sign of hope and agrees to join his friends on their trip. Cricket’s sister is competing in the Olympics, so he, Lola, Anna, St. Clair, and Josh are going to watch her, stopping in Paris to meet Isla, “Josh’s friend.” They get together for dinner and it is horribly awkward. St. Clair and Anna are the first to leave and disappear to one of their favorite spots. They are followed by everyone so they can witness St. Clair’s proposal! Anna says yes, and everyone leaves them in peace. Finally, it’s only Josh and Isla left. He gives her the new manuscript and makes her promise to read it right away and call as soon as she finishes. Isla is so disappointed. She hoped he would want to stay with her, but she agrees. Soon she is lost in his masterpiece. It has a new, solid story and focus (and she is much more present). In the end, her character is reading the new manuscript and realizes that Josh truly loves her. She calls him to find he’s been waiting outside for her the whole. Isla wipes her tears and looks out the window to see Josh. She runs outside and they embrace. It’s such a beautiful ending. Side note: she makes things right with Kurt, becoming friends again, and it works out for the best because Kurt has made more friends in the meantime and is very happy. Additionally, the theme of life after college is woven throughout the book and Isla and Josh get into schools in the same town and are able to live together during college. It’s truly a happily ever after story and I loved it!

Summing it up: I loved this book. It had humor, heart, angst, and a happy ending. I definitely recommend it.

All the best, Abbey

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

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Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children

by Ransom Riggs

December 2016

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children was another family recommendation. This time from my sister. I didn’t hesitate at all, but quickly took it to read. Not surprisingly, I’m happy I did! I really liked this book, even though it was totally creepy. It was so interesting, and had such a steady pace, not rushing or drawing out too long. There’s no easy way to really describe it, so I’d say, just dive in and find your bearings.

Jacob is an ordinary boy in an ordinary town, who wishes for something more. He works at a store, which he hates, and has a grandfather whom he loves, but who is seeming to go crazy. He tells stories about his old friends who could do amazing things, like levitate, form fire out of thin air, and one who is invisible. He also has a collection of firearms and talks about monsters. Jacob enjoyed looking at the old photographs of his grandfather’s friends when he was young and believed in them, but now he is skeptical and worrying about his grandfather. One day, he goes to check on his grandfather, only to find him dead. The crazy thing is Jacob sees a creature with tentacles receding into the woods. His parents agree to send him to counseling after going through such a traumatic event which is causing Jacob horrible nightmares. Jacob’s therapist is a great help and eventually suggests that Jacob visit the island where his grandfather met all his old friends. Jacob’s parents reluctantly agree and he gets to go with his dad. Once on the island, Jacob quickly finds the home his grandfather stayed at, but is dismayed to find it in ruins. It’s not long after this, that he meets his grandfather’s friends, who are truly different and haven’t aged a day from their photographs. Spoilers: Jacob is soon swept into their world, where time stands still in order for them to be protected from “normal” humans, as well as from horrible tentacled creatures called HollowGhasts and human looking creatures called Wights, both of whom hunt peculiars for food (Wights doing the brunt of the work because they can blend into human society). Jacob is drawn to the peculiar’s world and enchanted with their life, feeling at home and safe with them and their headmistress, Miss Peregrine. He’s learning more about his grandfather (including the fact that he had dated, Emma, a peculiar who can form fire and who has taken a pointed interest in Jacob), and more about himself. He finds out that he is actually peculiar, like his grandfather. They both can see monsters, while everyone else cannot. Before long, this ability comes in handy as he spots both a HollowGhast and Wight on the island and therefore knows trouble it’s coming for Miss Peregrine and her peculiars. Everything comes to a head when the Wight breaks into Miss Peregrine’s world and captures her, while the HollowGhast tries to kill Jacob, Emma, and a few of their friends. He is ultimately unsuccessful (he dies), but the damage is done with Miss Peregrine. Jacob and his friends must rescue her and defeat the Wight, who has been disguising as Jacob’s therapist. After an epic battle, they kill the Wight and are able to rescue Miss Peregrine (who was forced to turn into a Peregrine – her peculiarity), but she is unable to turn back. They also learn that the HollowGhasts are working together to capture other leaders like Miss Peregrine (who alone are able to manipulate time) in order to gain more power and eventually master time itself. Jacob has to decide if he will return home to his ordinary life, or abandon it to live with the other peculiars. In the end, he decides to stay with his new friends and help defeat the monsters. He tries to explain things to his dad, who is incredulous and clueless, but knows he’ll never really understand, and then he leaves to start his new life.

Summing it up: This book was so creepy and so good. I definitely recommend it and can’t wait to read the other two books in the series!

All the best, Abbey