Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

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What a well known book, and I've only just got round to reading it! I can tell you, I'm so glad I picked it up! Miss Peregrine's was a story I knew I always wanted to read, and it had been there on my shelf for a while, along with it's sequel, Hollow City, but it always seemed to get overlooked when I was choosing what to read next… not this time!

Below is my review, plus a sneaky peak at the front cover and description and places to buy:

About The Book

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Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of 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 bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that Miss Peregrine's 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.

My Review

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is a Young Adult novel, but first and foremost follows the fantastical paranormal genre. Set partly in America, but mostly in Welsh territory, we follow Jacob on his journey as he discovers that the stories his grandfather, Abe, told him as a child, were true. Unbelievably so! In and out of another time, Jacob learns more about the children labelled 'peculiar' and also learns they are in great danger. As Jacob delves deeper into the world of peculiar, and into himself, he understands this is just the beginning for his relationship with the peculiar children that take shelter with Miss Peregrine.

The events throughout this book have been so carefully thought out, introducing the reader to a new realm of magical happenings. It is incredibly unpredictable, possibly because we are so unfamiliar with this new world Riggs has created, and finishes with a climactic ending to lead perfectly on to Hollow City. There is never a dull moment in this book; every part is as thrilling as the last, making it a fast paced, compelling story line. The addition of photographs throughout the book also drives the story and makes it a faster read. Despite being a newly formed world, everything is logical and, although threads are left untied at the end, we know there will be questions answered in the following books.

We are introduced to so many characters throughout the book, mainly the family of peculiar children. I loved Millard, I thought his character was so quirky, and him lacking any physical form made his actions even more hilarious at times. Emma and Jacob's relationship grew on me, and was such a delight to read when it was fully developed. It wasn't the kind of relationship that was all 'in your face' like some books, but very subtle among the other events, that just adds a bit of light-heartedness to the story. Despite the paranormal traits of the peculiar children, Riggs has done a great job of merging fantasy and realism, making it seem more realistic. The blend of present and past, and making the reader understand that the peculiars live in the past, makes it feel like it's real, rather that placing them in another world that is less realistic.

From the moment the monsters were mentioned, and when Abe speaks to Jacob in the beginning about them, I was constantly trying to guess what they were and why they were so frightening. There was plenty more to keep me on the edge of my seat as well, trying to figure out what would become of the peculiar children. My favourite part of the book was when Jacob travels through the loop for the first time, and meets the peculiar children. Emma and Millard are amazing at this point, already so well characterised for people we've just met. The end was also extremely thrilling and spiked my excitement for the next book! The action scenes were really well written, describing everything that was going on and striking fear through me as if I was there! The entire book contains extremely good writing, especially with the incorporation of photos to bring the writing to life even more. I found myself laughing at several parts of the book; there were some pretty humorous parts in the story, particularly, as I mentioned earlier, Millard and his invisibility!

There were times when I could not put this book down! I found it so captivating and unlike anything I've read before. I cannot wait to finish the trilogy and find out how it ends (here's hoping that I don't use any of these beloved peculiars on the way, because I fear for their lives now I know what they're facing!)

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fantasy or paranormal writing, or even just a fast paced book with eccentric, peculiar characters, because you will find all of that in Miss Peregrine's!

My Rating: 5 Muffins out of 5

Where To Buy

If you like the sound of the book, here is where you can buy the book (including, but not limited to):

Amazon

The Book Depository

  Cover photo and description taken from Goodreads (view book profile here)

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

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I’ve had this on my shelf for a while now, and wanted a short book to read and try to catch up on my Reading Challenge. This one only had little over 300 pages, so I was hoping to whizz through it, and it was a fairly enjoyable read in the end.

Below is my review, plus a sneaky peak at the front cover and description and places to buy:

About The Book

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

“Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.” So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos. A profoundly moving story of family, secrets, and longing, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.

My Review

Everything I Never Told You explores the YA genre, with a strange mystery vibe. It definitely contributes tropes of YA fiction through the characters age and issues the story tackles, but there is always the mystery of what happened hanging over the plot as well. The narrative is more of an exploratory one, rather than investigative as I initially thought.

Set in Ohio during the 1970s, we follow the Lee family on their journey to discover why their daughter Lydia was found at the bottom of a lake. The story jumps backwards and forwards in time, the changes of which were written extremely well written, and explores their family history, and what it was like for them to live as a multi-cultural family in those times. The story very much focuses on decoding the Lee family, finding out what goes on in each of the characters minds and how this affects their family life. The main focus is, of course, on Lydia, and life leading to her death in particular.

Everything that happened to each of the characters throughout the book was shown through their eyes, even if the story was written in (a sometimes confusing) third person. As we see things through many different points of view, not many things that happened were predictable, although James could sometimes be a guessable character. The most unpredictable turn of events was Lydia, which made sense seeing as she was the main focus of the story. There was nothing particularly climactic about the ending, but it was an overall interesting book with plenty happening at most points in the story. The plot was fairly fast paced because of this, and everything was logically set out to reveal important parts at just the right time. Nothing was included that necessarily seemed out of place, and by the end, everything was resolved.

With such a small cast of characters, each of them had a fully developed history and storyline which made them equally interesting. I found Lydia to be an extremely relatable character in terms of working hard to get what she wants and eventually breaking under the pressure put on her. She had a rebellious nature that became a seemingly large part of her the further into the book I got, and that seemed to be the case with many of the characters. Having characters like these, who are perfectly flawed, show us that no one in the world is perfect and everyone has their secrets. Due to this, the characters definitely felt real to me, because they were so relatable and didn’t seem polished in any way.

I was not necessarily kept guessing throughout the book, but I was constantly intrigued by the characters that continued to unfold and develop throughout the story. Eventually towards the end, you understand what happened to Lydia through her perspective, which was incredibly interesting. My favourite part of the book was when Nat was accepted into Harvard and the whole family make a fuss of him, when Lydia comes out and confesses she is failing Physics. This is quite a small section in the book, but I just felt it really demonstrated and embodied the feelings of each family member. Nat had finally achieved something his parents were proud of, and he was in the spotlight. His mother and father were pleased with his achievement, and Lydia finally shows that, as hard as she tries, she cannot be good at everything, no matter how much pressure is laid on her. The scenes that were written particularly well were those that really got into the depth of a character and understanding their history, and how that has affected their present. For example, understanding Marilyn and the relationship with her mother helped me to translate how Marilyn felt in the present day when mothering Lydia.

I possibly shed a few tears throughout this book, especially when Lydia was struggling with the pressure that has been put on her by her family, just because I found it very relatable, not because my family pressure me, but because I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well, and feel knocked down when I don’t reach my goals. I feel as though there are many points in this book which other readers will connect with in different ways, and will strike people emotionally, but this was just one moment that really go to me personally. I wasn’t necessarily gripped by the story itself, but the characters made me want to come back and find out more about them. It was an overall quick read, with a lot of depth packed into just over 300 pages.

There are very few books that I have read lately where I can say I really learnt something about myself, but this was an exception. This book taught me that pressure is not always a good thing, especially in high doses, and that we can’t always be good at everything. The best we can do is always strive to do the best we can do, and not be put down if what we get in return was not up to our high expectations.

I would definitely recommend this book, especially if you are lover of character driven novels, rather than plot driven ones. A solid YA book but with plenty to capture older readers as well.

My Rating: 4 Muffins out of 5

Where To Buy

If you like the sound of the book, here is where you can buy it (including, but not limited to):

Amazon

The Book Depository

  Cover photo and description taken from Goodreads (view book profile here)

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We Were Liars by E. Lockhart: Q&A Review

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This is a slightly different type of review for this week’s post, styled as a Q&A. My best friend and I had both read this book, and obviously, if you have read We Were Liars then you will understand, we had very mixed feelings about this novel! I thought it would be a good idea to have a more structured discussion, like a Q&A session, about the events in the book and how we felt about them, and see how far you all agree or disagree with what we thought

Please do not read any further if you have not read We Were Liars! This post will contains spoilers!

About The Book

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‘We Were Liars’ by E. Lockhart

We are the Liars.

We are beautiful, privileged and live a life of carefree luxury.

We are cracked and broken.

A story of love and romance.

A tale of tragedy.

Which are lies?

Which is truth?

You decide.

Q&A Discussion Review

How would you describe the genre of this book?

Silence. When you start to really think about it, this question is a toughie. When we first picked it up, we thought YA and mystery, but there is so much more too it than we initially thought. It could potentially be classed as a thriller novel, as it has the shorter chapters, but it’s more of a psychological read, because it doesn’t have the drive that comes with a thriller, like a whodunnit vibe. A young adult psychological mystery was our final verdict. New genre on Goodreads, perhaps?

Where is this book set, both physically and mentally?

What is meant by this question is of course where it is actually set physically, but also where we are in Cadence’s mindset, as we are reading from her point of view. How is she feeling at different points in the book? So we know it’s set on the island and in various houses on the island, as a main physical setting. It’s tough to tell the first time you read the book to tell where we are with Cadence mentally, but it’s important to think about this because of the nature of the storyline. In the beginning, it all feels very real, but after the accident, and as the storyline unravels, we start to question Cadence’s ability to tell the story, and the mental setting becomes questionable, not unlike the unreliable narrator technique. Also, we know Cadence’s character is under a lot of pressure with everything that has happened in her family with her dad leaving, and also her thinking about going to college, and we thought about whether this possibly hindered her ability to come to the final realisation faster.

What do you think of the series of events that happened throughout the book?

So at the start of the book, we see Cadence’s dad leave her and her mum, so why is this relevant? We think it’s symbolic of the beginning of so many bad things happening to her, and also showing that she has lost the strength of the support system she had with two parents. She has her accident, she has to stay away from the Liars for a few summers, and her relationships falter with a lot of people. Thinking about Cadence’s relationship with Gat, it’s tough to say why it was included in the storyline. It was an addition to carry the story, but would anything have been different if the relationship was taken away, and they were just friends? It never seemed to develop into anything.

Where the events predictable?

Did we know anything going into this book? No! It is so much better to go into this knowing as little as possible, which of course makes all events unpredictable. After she has her accident, you start to see some relevance to the story, but the ending was such a shock. Everything was condensed into such a small book, you need to read it again and pick it apart to find the clues hidden within that you may not have seen the first time round.

Did you find the ending climactic?

In most mystery and thriller novels, the beginning sets the scene, the middle holds the investigation and the ends tells us who the culprit is, along with an epilogue or final chapter which wraps everything up. With We Were Liars, everything seems to merge, and because there wasn’t really any defining investigation to follow the story- it all seems quite mundane in a way- there is even more of a shock when everything comes to light. After finding out everything that happened, their lives seem to go back to normal in the last few pages, which is really strange, because what Cadence has learnt and come to terms with is far from normal. There is also a very strong sense of forgiveness in the end, considering the events. When everyone on the island finds out that Cadence knows, they seem very quick to forgive, almost like they have had the time while she has been recovering to learn to forgive what her and Liars did.

Did you have any theories about what might have happened?

I had one theory, because I always like to try and guess. My theory was maybe someone was waiting for Cadence to try and drown her, because she was the eldest grandchild and heir to the estate. I always thought it had something to do with the water, and I never imagined that the major event in the book wouldn’t be linked. There was also suspicion when Mirren was ill, and questions and theories surrounding that, which brings us to our next question…

Hints towards the ending? Did you spot them or did they contribute towards your theories?

Mirren being ill is now an obvious hint towards the final verdict of the storyline, but nothing ever had a lot of emphasis on it to draw your attention, which was probably done on purpose, to detract from that fact that it may have been a clue. The same thing with the Liars not replying to Cadence’s emails, and Mirren saying she never received her gift. The rebuild of the house was a massive hint, I can’t believe I didn’t pick up on it!

What was your reaction to the plot twist?

It was the most dramatic part of the book. There wasn’t much of a build up which is what made it more effective and in-your-face woah!

Did you find the plot quite fast paced, or was it slow at times?

A mix of both. There were some parts that dragged on a lot, like Gat and Cadence spending time together. I was initially planning to read this in one day, but it took me almost a week! The chapters made it feel slightly faster paced because they were so short, but there were some parts that were quite repetitive and therefore slowed the pace a bit. This could have been done to make you pay attention to the important parts, by using repetition within scenes, even though they seemed mundane. It has been very cleverly written.

Did the author tie up all the loose ends that were introduced throughout the story?

Pretty much, we can’t think of anything within the plot that we’re still questioning.

Thoughts on the sentence and paragraph structure?

Why did the author split longer sentences into different lines? My idea was it could mirror the Liars on the different levels of the house at the end, by having different parts of the same sentence on a separate line. It could also hint towards the very broken family that you find out the Sinclairs are. Shorter sentences seemed to be fact, the piece of information that Cadence knows, whereas the longer sentences are more Cadence trying to figure out what has happened, which is why it seems more bulked out in the middle, and the broken sentences appear more at the beginning and end of the book.

Thoughts on the language and style of language used?

We’re thinking here about the very dramatic use of language for less dramatic circumstances. For example ‘He took out a hand gun and shot me in the chest. I was standing on the lawn and I fell.’ Language like this appears throughout the book and it is extremely metaphorical, because it isn’t actually happening. But we feel like nothing in this book is actually happening in a sense; therefore the language could mirror this in some way. Also, Cadence uses very specific and poignant language to describe the Liars in the beginning, such as describing Gat as ‘ambition and strong coffee’. We thought this could be written so specifically because the Liars do end up being characters in her head, and she therefore knows them as well as an author knows her characters, like she has built their personalities.

Who was your favourite character, and why?

All characters had a part to play, but none seemed significantly important at the same time. You can sympathise with Cadence because it is written from her point of view, but if I had to choose, I would choose Mirren, because she seemed the most chilled, and I know how important it is for a girl to have another girl to bond with. Gat didn’t seem real enough, and his relationship with Raquel was a strange addition, possibly to distract Cadence from him, and stop her falling for him too much. If she had fallen too hard, she may have figured things out sooner.

What did you think of the different characters in the story? (the Aunties? the Littles? Grandad?)

The aunties didn’t have a massive role to play until the end when they had the fight. Their characters developed into very selfish ones, and we found them quite distracting from the main plot, but again, this could have been another technique that Lockhart used to keep the reader from guessing the ending too quickly. There was one part regarding the Littles that stood out to me, which was when they had just finished a family dinner and Cadence asks the Littles to tell her about what happened, which is when she finds out they have been forbidden to say anything to her about the ‘accident’. I feel like people that young wouldn’t be able to understand, or even keep their mouths shut about what happened, so the aunties must have quite a strong influence over them. Grandad was a very mixed character, because at some points he could be the adorable, loving Grandad, and the next he could snap and be quite aggressive when people were only trying to help him.

Did the characters feel real to you?

The story was a lot more focused on the progression of events, rather than the character development. However, the situation the family was in was a very realistic situation.The Liars are more well developed, so they were the most real. The characters, while they did’t have a lot of development, they did have the background and family setup that made it feel more real. They didn’t have a perfect family.

What was your favourite part of the book, and why?

Probably finding out what happened, and Cadence actually having her accident. So kickstarting and rounding off the storyline were the favourite parts, because they were important parts in the plot. Her accident is a trigger for the reader to explore the story further.

What was your least favourite part of the book, and why?

THE DOGS DYING! They didn’t deserve it! Also the slower parts of the storyline that dragged on a bit.

Were certain types of scene written particularly well?

There was nothing that jumped out in particular, but at the same time, it was all, to some extent, written really well, for the author to be able to hide such a big surprise at the end through seemingly ordinary writing about realistic family disputes.

Did the book make you feel any particular emotions? Did you cry at any point?

The writing wasn’t necessarily emotional enough to cry (although tears may have been shed when the dogs die, just saying!) There was some anger when the aunties were arguing, or when Grandad lashed out when people were trying to help, but no particular rush of emotion.

Did the story grip you and keep you turning the pages?

Yes! But also, because of the way it was written, with no cliffhangers at the end of chapters, it seemed like a normal story. It wasn’t being told to create a climax at all because everything in the end is so sudden. This happened more towards the beginning transitioning to the middle.

Did you learn something? Morally or academically?

Don’t get four people to start a fire on different floors of a building!

Seriously though, we learnt that sometimes, it isn’t always about having material possessions, but building memories and moments with the people you love most in your life. This was most prominent when Cadence was getting rid of her things, and you can see her survive without them. You can have a minimalist lifestyle and still be happy.

The type of reader you’d recommend the book to?

We would recommend We Were Liars to readers around the 20 year old age range, similar to ourselves, and of course anyone older who appreciates this genre of literature, but not suitable for young readers. Anyone who enjoys a quick read.

 Are there any books or series you would compare it to?

There is nothing we can think to compare it too, it is such a unique story. It can loosely be compared to The Fault In Our Stars just for the plot twist and the shock of thinking one thing, and the opposite happening.

My Rating: 4 Muffins out of 5

Where To Buy

If you like the sound of the book, here is where you can buy it (including, but not limited to):

Amazon

The Book Depository

  Cover photo and description taken from Goodreads (view book profile here)

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Into The Water by Paula Hawkins

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I was very excited when I saw Paula Hawkins was releasing a new thriller, since I loved The Girl on the Train, and was ready to read more from the author of such a great book! Unfortunately, I was disappointed, possibly because I went in to it with such high hopes. Below is my review, plus a sneaky peak at the front cover and description and places to buy:

About The Book

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‘Into The Water’ by Paula Hawkins

A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.

Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother’s sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she’d never return.

With the same propulsive writing and acute understanding of human instincts that captivated millions of readers around the world in her explosive debut thriller, The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins delivers an urgent, twisting, deeply satisfying read that hinges on the deceptiveness of emotion and memory, as well as the devastating ways that the past can reach a long arm into the present.

Beware a calm surface—you never know what lies beneath.

My Review

Into The Water is Paula Hawkins’ second stand alone novel from the mystery thriller genre, and is set in a small British town, following several different characters and their actions and reactions to the death of a local woman, Nel, in a famous part of the river known as The Drowning Pool. The events that happen throughout the book are cleverly shown to the reader, allowing us to try and guess the outcome of the investigation. Nothing is given away, but I still found it slightly predictable because of the limited character selection, and the ending wasn’t as exciting as I expected, as it was with Hawkins’ first novel. The point of view that the chapters were written from changed with the characters. For example all of Jules’ chapters (Nel’s sister) were written in first person, but all of Mark’s chapters were written in third person. This change in perspective threw me off in the beginning, but I got used to it as the book went on. I did think that this was done for a reason, but unfortunately I could not find any valid literary reason for Hawkins to do this. However, having Jules’ speak in first person narrative created a sense of her talking to us as if we were Nel. This filled in Nel’s character, placing us in that position and therefore allowing us to sympathise more with what happened to the characters who were close to her. The plot was mostly fast paced because of the shorter chapters, and cliffhangers featured at the end of each character point of view. Everything, as with any thriller, was fairly logical, although there were some parts that didn’t make sense, and didn’t fit with the storyline. They had no reason to be there, for example, the history of the other women in The Drowing Pool. It created a false lead to a possible link between the women in the pool, which would have made it slightly more interesting and exciting. There were a lot of red herrings in the story line, making it too complex, and some were not really tied up at the end like a good thriller should be.

I wasn’t really overcome with a sense of favouritism for any of the characters, although I did feel sympathetic towards Jules and Lena, because of what I previously discussed about first person writing. Every character had a darker side to them, which made them slightly less likeable, but if I had to pick, Jules seemed the most kind, and genuinely worried about Lena losing her mother. The setting helped the characters feel more realistic, and they were written with a fair bit of development and character history, which made them more interesting to read. I did find Erin’s character to be a little on the flat side, and that Hawkins left it too late in the story to introduce her past misdeeds. If they were important to the storyline, they should have been introduced a lot sooner, but alas, they were not at all relevant, and could have been missed completely and allowed the character room for a bit more development within the story.

Of course, because it was a thriller, I wanted to try and guess what happened, but I did’t feel a strong urge to try and guess who did it, because I didn’t really find a lot of drive in the story line. The police investigation seemed to fall a bit flat, because they didn’t really find a lot of evidence, and relied a lot on what people said. I like to read a thriller with a string of evidence that I can unpick as I read it, and that makes me guess what happened, but evidence seemed to be a bit thin on the ground where this story is concerned.

However, I would like to applaud Hawkins writing style, and her very clever use of language throughout the book. She references the water, and vocabulary relating to the Drowning Pool, which could also be related to the characters being ‘drowned’ by their emotions. These vocabulary choices were one of my favourite things about this book.

The beginning was a lot more gripping than the middle to the end of the book, because it was setting the scene and I wanted to find out what had happened. As the story unravelled it started to become clear there wasn’t really a lot to uncover, and with the lack of evidence, there wasn’t the promise of a shocking ending to keep me turning the pages.

The characters were well written, but I didn’t think the storyline and the outcome of the crime was as exciting as some other thrillers I’ve read, and not as good as Hawkin’s first novel. If you enjoyed The Girl on the Train, then you might feel the need to read this book, but you may be disappointed.

My Rating: 3 Muffins out of 5

Where To Buy

If you want to have a read of the book, here is where you can buy the book (including, but not limited to):

Amazon

The Book Depository

  Cover photo and description taken from Goodreads (view book profile here)

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Review of ‘History Is All You Left Me’ by Adam Silvera

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I had heard so many good things about this book, which is why I didn’t hesitate when purchasing it. Apparently it was heart-breaking, funny and would make me cry, which is what I love in a YA novel. However, once I stared reading the book, my opinions of the story veered towards the unpopular, and here’s why.

Below is my review, plus a sneaky peak at the front cover and description and places to buy:

About The Book

HIAYLF

‘History Is All You Left Me’ by Adam Silvera

You’re still alive in alternate universes, Theo, but I live in the real world where this morning you’re having an open casket funeral. I know you’re out there, listening. And you should know I’m really pissed because you swore you would never die and yet here we are. It hurts even more because this isn’t the first promise you’ve broken.

OCD-afflicted seventeen-year-old, Griffin, has just lost his first love – his best friend, ex-boyfriend and the boy he believed to be his ultimate life partner – in a drowning accident. In a desperate attempt to hold onto every last piece of the past, a broken Griffin forges a friendship with Theo’s new college boyfriend, Jackson. And Griffin will stop at nothing to learn every detail of Theo’s new college life, and ultimate death. But as the grieving pair grows closer, readers will question Griffin’s own version of the truth – both in terms of what he’s willing to hide, and what true love ultimately means…

My Review

History Is All You Left Me is young adult contemporary fiction about boys and their relationships with one another. The only thing is, one of them is dead. Organised in alternating chapters between past and present events, the story is told by our narrator Griffin, who was Theo’s first love. When Theo moves away to California, he meets Jackson, and Griffin hangs on to a friendship with Wade. Whilst in Cali, Theo meets his end when he drowns in the sea, which destroys Griffin and Jackson, and their joint love for him. Set in chilly New York winter, and sunny California, Jackson and Griffin come together to support each other during this difficult time in their lives, and truths are uncovered about the day Theo died. We also learn about the history, when Griffin and Theo first fell in love, and the time leading up to him moving away.

Even though the story is set in two different times, it is all written as present tense, which is an interesting way to structure the narrative, but it works quite well. As a reader, we are able to fully put ourselves in both time zones, rather than living in one and imagining another. While the story was quite unique, having never read anything similar before, the storyline was semi-predictable. There were some parts that I didn’t see coming, but when they did, they weren’t necessarily shocking. The plot line as a whole just seemed a little flat to me, possibly because there were no dramatic plot twists that hadn’t already crossed my mind, and nothing really seemed to develop much. Due to this, the story was quite slow paced, however everything had clearly be planned out and Silvera was logical in his approach to the story.

Griffin was probably the character with the most life in him, because we saw things from his perspective. His character had some depth, allowing us to empathise with him, and learn more about the struggles with his OCD. Theo also had personality, which was impressive considering he was dead, but Jackson and Wade seemed to lack the depth which they had so much potential to have. All of the side characters I found extremely flat with no personalities whatsoever, and they were just there in case they were needed.

I wasn’t really left hanging doing the book, and didn’t spend every waking moment wondering how it would end. I had guessed from early on in the plot what might happen in the end, so, as I mentioned before, it wasn’t shocking enough for me. There wasn’t any major plot twists are big events that made this book really stand out.

If I had to choose a favourite part of the book, it would have to be when Theo and Griffin confessed their love for each other on the train in the early pages of the book. This lightened my spirits, and gave me hope for the rest of the book which unfortunately failed to live up to expectations. However, had I not been walking home when reading the last two chapters of the book, I probably would have shed a tear, because the last moments were quite touching, but everything in between those two points seemed to flop for me. There were a few giggles along the way, but nothing revolutionary that completely changed my feeling towards the plot. I wasn’t hooked on this story, I’m sorry to say, and it’s not very often it takes me over a week to read a book, let along one that is under 300 pages!

I wouldn’t recommend this book, especially if you are going in with the same expectations I did; hoping to laugh out loud and sob until you can’t breath. Unless you are a massive fan of Silvera’s writing and can’t bare the thought of missing this, I don’t suggest picking it up. But hey, we all have to read these stories to appreciate the good ones, and sometimes it’s okay to not enjoy an overhyped book, and have your own opinions, so if you are desperate to read this book, then who am I to stop you? I just hope you enjoy it more than I did.

My Rating: 3 Muffins out of 5

Where To Buy

If you wanna give this book a try, here is where you can buy it (including, but not limited to):

Amazon

The Book Depository

  Cover photo and description taken from Goodreads (view book profile here)

Review of ‘Lord of Shadows’ by Cassandra Clare

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At last, the wait is over, and Cassandra Clare’s second book in The Dark Artifices trilogy is out in the world! I have only been a fan of Clare’s books since the beginning of this year when I started The Mortal Instruments series, but it didn’t take me long to fall in love with the Shadow World. And here I am, caught up with the crowd and reviewing the latest book from the ‘queen of fantasy’! Just a quick word of warning: it’s a long one (the book, and this review!)!

Below is my review, plus a sneaky peak at the front cover and description and places to buy:

Please do not read any further if you have not read Lord of Shadows, or any of the other Shadowhunter Chronicle books! This review contains spoilers! Continue reading

Review of ‘Lady Midnight’ by Cassandra Clare

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As you may have seen in my post, My Shadowhunter Journey, I have been absorbed into this incredible new world that I have to share with you all! Lady Midnight is the first book in The Dark Artifices trilogy, which is Cassandra Clare’s 3rd Shadowhunter series.

Below is my review, plus a sneaky peak at the front cover and description and places to buy:

About The Book


Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

In a kingdom by the sea…

In a secret world where half-angel warriors are sworn to fight demons, parabatai is a sacred word.
A parabatai is your partner in battle. A parabatai is your best friend. Parabatai can be everything to each other—but they can never fall in love.
Emma Carstairs is a warrior, a Shadowhunter, and the best in her generation. She lives for battle. Shoulder to shoulder with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, she patrols the streets of Los Angeles, where vampires party on the Sunset Strip, and faeries—the most powerful of supernatural creatures—teeter on the edge of open war with Shadowhunters. When the bodies of humans and faeries turn up murdered in the same way Emma’s parents were when she was a child, an uneasy alliance is formed. This is Emma’s chance for revenge—and Julian’s chance to get back his brother Mark, who is being held prisoner by the faerie Courts. All Emma, Mark, and Julian have to do is solve the murders within two weeks…and before the murderer targets them.
Their search takes Emma from sea caves full of sorcery to a dark lottery where death is dispensed. And each clue she unravels uncovers more secrets. What has Julian been hiding from her all these years? Why does Shadowhunter Law forbid parabatai to fall in love? Who really killed her parents—and can she bear to know the truth?

My Review

From one of the most highly regarded young adult fiction writers, Cassandra Clare, Lady Midnight is Book 1 in The Dark Artifices trilogy. As well as continuing on in the Shadowhunter world, the story also bleeds into the genre of mystery, with the characters faced with a series of murders they have to solve.

Years after the Dark War, Emma Carstairs and Julian Blackthorn are bound as parabatai, and live in the Los Angeles Institute with the rest of the Blackthorn family. After losing her parents, Emma wants to know exactly how they died all those years ago. The Clave insists Sebastian Morgenstern was behind it, but Emma has other ideas. She is determined to figure out what really happened. With the help of her parabatai and his siblings, an investigation gets underway, after some testing cicumstances for the Blackthorns and the Institute. The romance weaving into a dramatic storyline builds the character development to higher heights than previous Shadowhunter books, and also allows the reader to engage more with how this fantastical world works.

Everything that happens in Lady Midnight has been carefully structured, showing the reader what is happening, and allowing them to try and work out what is happening before the characters reach their final conclusion, like any great crime novel would. With so many different relationships and events happening throughout the plot line, the story is by no means predictable! As the characters discover more about the investigation, and about themselves, the pace continues to speed up, resulting in the climactic ending that all readers desire.

As with the majority of stories, some slower moments were to be expected, particularly when Clare briefly recaps previous stories, or more ‘mundane’ activity at the Institute, but this definitely does not take away from the excitement in the res t of the book. Everything was clearly planned and logical, with the perfect amount of threads adding up at the end, and leaving enough questions, to have readers satisfied but wanting more. Thankfully, Book 2 is here!

I absolutely loved Emma and Julian, and how their characters had developed from the 12 yr-olds we saw in parts of City of Heavenly Fire (if you haven’t read The Mortal Instruments, then you should go and do that… right now!) The way everything carried over from the first to the third series, such as the parabatai bond, the friendship, and the romance, and seeing how it has grown in the depth and detail, has really made these character realistic in a fantasy world. I also loved how members of the New York Institute, featured in series 1, made an appearance, which allowed readers loyal to the Shadowhunter Chronicles to see how they have grown and changed as well.

Despite Clare writing in the fantasy genre, she does it in a way for the stories to also stay connected to the real world, such as setting the characters in real places. The reality does not change with the characters. Yes, they are Shadowhunters and Downworlders, but the environment that surrounds them makes them seem a lot more realistic. A particular scene comes to mind, when Julian is making pancakes, which is such a normal thing to be doing, and allows the reader to be reminded that while these characters are different, they can still be relatable.

I was definitely hooked by the storyline, and the way it was written revealed just enough to raise questions to keep the reader guessing as the story progressed. My favourite part of the book was Jem revealed to Emma the secrets behind the parabatai bond, and why it is forbidden to fall in love with each other. This scene was proof that Clare is ever expanding the Shadow World and allowing us to learn new things about the intricate world she has woven. Emma’s reaction was completely appropriate, in my opinion, and sets up more to come with her relationship with Julian, mark and Cristina. Also, questions were raised at the end with Kit, and how he will fit into Lord of Shadows, which is quite an exciting prospect. The scenes written particularly well were the ones that went into specific details about the Shadow World, just because it shows how much thought has gone into Clare’s creation, and also raises ‘what if’ questions that can be developed and discovered as more Shadowhunter books are written.

There were definitely comical moments in the book, particularly those that were more mundane and seeing the characters engage in matters that they are not necessarily used to dealing with (the scene with Mark and the children in the kitchen springs to mind). There were some emotional scenes as well, but these were more heart-breaking in terms of romantic feelings, as opposed to sad, ‘characters dying’ emotion.

Reading Lady Midnight opened my eyes to the Shadow World a lot further than I thought possible, and the fantasy fiction I am living in at the moment is coming very close to the detail we see in Harry Potter. I think it is so important that we learn about fictional worlds like these, because it allows an escape from reality, and the more believable it is, the more we, as readers, are allowed to escape.

 

I would definitely recommend reading Lady Midnight, but not until you have read the 9 books that come before. Despite it being a separate series, background knowledge is a must to fully understand and appreciate the writing. Fans of fantasy will be sucked in to this one! By far the most enjoyable Shadowhunter book I have read so far!

My Rating: 5 Muffins out of 5

Where To Buy

If you like the sound of the book, here is where you can buy the book (including, but not limited to):

Amazon

The Book Depository

  Cover photo and description taken from Goodreads (view book profile here)