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on June 25, 2016
4.5 out of 5 stars

I confess I got this book solely on account of its cover. The creepy, black and white photograph of a (very children-of-the-corn looking) girl, standing stock still, staring directly at the camera, as if contemplating how best to eat your soul stood out like a corpse at a holiday party. And the title? How could I resist? I plucked the book from the shelves and brought it home. Then (as you already know, if you read my post from a few days ago), I got distracted (things were shiny), and the book languished on my shelf. Then low and behold, the book will soon be a movie--directed by Tim Burton no less--and I didn't even want to look at the previews without reading the book first.

Miss Peregrine's is a young adult novel, but one that transcends the genre and is enjoyable even for those of us who have left high school far in the past. The best books in the genre (think Harry Potter) feature young adult leading characters and high school age problems, but also rise above the mundane to speak to the problems of a bigger adult world. The less enjoyable books in the genre (sparkly vampires *cough*) leave you wondering if you might have enjoyed the book when you were thirteen, but fairly confident you were never that insipid (though, obviously, all teenagers are insipid by nature).
Miss Peregrine's is one of the better books in the genre. Following the death of his grandfather, sixteen year old Jacob finds out that the fairy stories his grandfather told him as a child--about a magical island inhabited by children with paranormal abilities--may not have been just stories after all. Jacob sets off to learn the truth about the island with its mysterious house of peculiar children, all watched over by a bird who smokes a pipe.
The story is accompanied by photographs throughout the book, all black and white, with that particular creepy vintage vibe you get if you google search "scary Easter bunny". The pictures are all quite striking, and serve to add to the atmosphere of the book. When you learn that all these photos are actual vintage photographs (most unaltered), collected by the author, it adds to the creepy vibe (what were those people doing?) rather than detracts from it. The book is largely an adventure story suffused with all the creepy atmosphere an ancient, fog-shrouded island off the coast of Wales can deliver. There are a few scary/creepy/violent moments, but these are generally around the level of the dementors in the Harry Potter novels (as, after all, this is still a YA novel, creepy atmosphere not withstanding).

In all, this is a great read, and a fine example of a YA novel not only accessible for adults, but enjoyable as well. The characters are interesting and generally well done, and the backdrops, first of Florida, and then the Island are fully realized and contribute well to the tone of the book. I enjoyed my time with Miss Peregrine's and can't wait to read the second book in the series.

I do, however, reserve judgement on the movie version.

Check out more reviews by checking out my blog!

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TOP 500 REVIEWERon October 5, 2016
SPOILER FREE REVIEW - We are constantly encouraging our 11 year old to read more. Until recently she would only flip through magazines on occasion, or pick up a joke book with short one liners. It took a lot of prodding to get her interested in reading a novel. We would go to a bookstore and suggest dozens of books while trying to make each one sound as exciting as possible.

This book was one of the first books SHE mentioned wanting to read on her own. We jumped in the car and raced off to the book store to see if we could capitalize on her "read all of the books mood" once she flipped through the book she was hooked in... inside the store! We wanted to order it on amazon, so we negotiated the two day wait for shipping with her by offering to buy buying all three books in the series. She agreed.

Some people may have an issue with this book's language or somewhat sketchy subject matter being appropriate for children, but honestly... She is 11. It's nothing she hasn't heard by now. If I am completely honest- With as much effort as we have put into encouraging her to read over the years, if she asked us to buy her a copy of Helter Skelter I might seriously consider it. Mom might not, but I would.
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on July 22, 2017
(Kindle Version) >>> I love it. The B/W old photos make the book even more engaging, mysterious & peculiar. There is enough character development in Book One to care about the kids and "bird", plus enough action and suspense to keep the story moving & tense. There is also the dilemma every growing kid has to face, which carves his/her own future, shaping into adulthood. I also really appreciate males and females working together in this story to use their strengths, not evaluated by gender, but for the talents in & of themselves. Have not seen the movie yet, but as noted in the book with the author interview, one can see how this is ready-made for a movie. Definitely will be getting Book Two.
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on December 2, 2017
Like certain songs and smells can trigger memories, I feel like the books I read can help me remember certain instances from my childhood or similar reading experiences I may have had years ago. This book was one of those welcome triggers for me. It made me feel almost childlike again, captivated by an exciting world I had yet to discover.
As I began reading, I wasn’t sure what to expect other than what I had read from the synopsis years prior and the clips I had seen on the previews for the new movie. It looked interesting, and I had heard it compared to Harry Potter. Of course, I was instantly sold.

The beginning of the novel started slow for my taste, but eventually became more interesting. However, the more dull aspects of the beginning of the story are essential to understanding the plot as it develops. The book is narrated by Jacob, a sixteen year old boy, who has a somewhat unconventional and close relationship to his grandfather. When he finds his grandfather in a precarious position that ultimately results in his death, Jacob begins to question all of the stories he heard growing up from his dear grandfather. Surely they were not all fantasy. Was his grandfather crazy? Shortly after his grandfather’s demise, Jacob’s parents begin to worry about his mental state. Jacob suggests visiting an island in Wales that his grandfather had mentioned living on when he was an orphan, to uncover more details about his mysterious stories. Once Jacob arrives, he begins exploring, eventually finding a portal into the past. A past full of Peculiar Children and a peculiar world Jacob could never have imagined.
This novel is like an intriguing mixture of Harry Potter and Groundhog Day with Bill Murray. If you can’t figure out how to completely opposite stories combine into one, you must get to reading! I loved this story in the end, and gave it four Goodreads stars for the slow start. One of my favorite things from this novel was the pictures Ransom Riggs incorporated. He uses real, mostly unaltered vintage photographs collected from Flea Markets and various places to show the peculiarity of the fictional characters he describes. It was a unique and excellent way to bring a fantasy world to life for his readers. I also enjoyed the World War II aspect of the story, as that part of history fascinates me!
I was enthralled with Riggs’ debut novel, and cannot wait to dive into Hollow City to see how the story develops. I will be shocked if it doesn’t live up to my expectations, after hearing great things about it.
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I read this book after watching the film because I was certain there were large gaps in the story that needed to be filled. Of course I was right. Like football field sized holes.

I don't want to give away plot points, but this is by far much richer than any movie could do justice. And yet it is written for the eyes to see. Rich in visuals but never burdened with a heavy hand, the pages flew by.

And while I'm greatful to have been introduced to this book because of the film, I'm also saddened that so much of its character was lost in translation. Too bad someone like Miyazaki couldn't have gotten to it first.
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on August 30, 2017
While rather far from youth myself, I've read and enjoyed many YA fantasy books in recent years, including the Harry Potter, Hunger Games, and Inkworld books. I loved about two-thirds of this novel. The book centers on the first-person narrator Jacob and his grandfather, who has told him amazing stories of his childhood: the scary monsters he'd needed to escape, and his subsequent life in a home for children with extraordinary abilities. As Jacob grows older, he comes to believe his father's interpretation that the monsters were the Nazis, whose approach caused his parents to send him to Britain. But then something awful happens, and Jacob starts wondering again what was the real truth. Eventually, he goes with his father to look for the children's home in Wales.

If you've read any of the blurbs about the book or the movie, you can guess some of what Jacob finds in Wales. He seems a little dense at times for not catching on more quickly, but then he hasn't had the advantage of reading the blurbs. The story has a world-within-a-world aspect that's a bit derivative of the Harry Potter series, but has more than enough differences and quirks to be intriguing. Until, for me, the final key revelation, which I will not relate so as not to spoil it for other readers. Let me just say I found it disappointing, as I was hoping for something that would tie the monsters of the present-day story firmly back to the WWII era of Jacob's grandfather, which it does not. As a result, I expect the subsequent books to be centered more on the world-within-a-world than on understanding the mystery of Jacob's grandfather that initially drew me in. Perhaps because this first book only begins to reveal that world and didn't make me fully feel as if I was living there, I don't feel as compelled to continue reading as I have with the fantasy series I noted at the start of this review. Still, I enjoyed getting to know Jacob, his family, Miss Peregrine, and all the peculiar children.
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on March 25, 2016
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
With the upcoming release date of the movie, Miss Peregrine’s is once again in the spotlight. In all actuality, has it ever left? Spurring remakes, spinoffs and copy-cats galore, this novel is not the first of its kind but is certainly one of the more excellently executed that I’ve come across so far. I first read this novel a few years back, but decided to jump in for another dose before delving into the next edition to the series, and boy, am I glad I did! This was not only an explosive novel from a debut fiction author, but a sensational work in its own right as well! Yes, Quirk, the publisher did a wonderful job of packaging and selling it, but this one could also stand on its own once unwrapped, and that’s refreshing. It was creative and bold, particularly for YA, which I basically never pick up.
This is the tale of Jacob, a boy who, after years of hearing tales at his grandfather’s knee of peculiar children, feels that he has grown out of believing such nonsense. Until, that is a family tragedy brings him to the coast of Wales where he stumbles upon the ruins of Miss Peregrine’s “home.” As he explores those dark corridors and seemingly long-abandoned rooms, he comes face to face with these children and is forever changed. Tinged with adventure, oddities, danger in the woods and a touch of supernatural, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is an anomaly on the shelves well-deserving of the title.
We’ve all heard the old adage, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” but this cover is exactly what originally drew me in! After a cursory glance at the cover and venturing to take a peek inside, I was immediately rewarded with a slew of black and whites that quite literally chilled my soul and peaked my interests to the point of near obsession. Immediately, the book was bought, and that’s a pretty tall order for me; I don’t attract easily to the nicely packaged big read of the moment anymore. (In fact, oft times, that fact is a repellant.) What Ransom Riggs did here was not a first, but was most certainly innovative and, ultimately, visionary. This work took creativity of mind and spirit that all cannot boast; it took an idea and turned it into a journey with a cast of delightful characters that tickled and tricked both the reader and themselves in that enthralling way that children do. The orphans themselves were the star of this work, as I’m sure they were meant to be, and their numerous powers and personal oddities made them simultaneously creepy and intriguing, empathetic and entertaining because they still displayed all of the quirks that children do, the naughtiness and teasing, the reprimand and need to seek comfort and family in each other.
The novel started out in a way that made me curious, because it started with a story at Grandpa’s knee. Classic, but where would this take me? Yet, honestly, it was the brilliant and chilling display of photojournalism that made this one such a pleasure. A grand sommelier couldn’t have paired the photos better, I tell you, because there were moments when the combination was just unnerving enough to make me pause…for more than a few seconds. And Riggs’ use of vivid imagination was perfectly paired with those wild imaginings of a child or pre-teen’s, making the world that he crafted wholly believable and enchanting. Mind you, this isn’t the YA novel for Grandma’s generation. The backdrop of social strife in the real world that hovered outside of Peregrine’s island added another layer that made this read both suitable for adults and literarily elevated for young readers. Here you’ll find the appropriate level of adult swagger, as the kids today have, when they say things like:
“Were you just smoking and chewing tobacco at the same time?”
“What are you, my mom?”
“Do I look like I blow truckers for foodstamps?”
That made it all the more realistic, because our little sisters, brothers, nieces and nephews would certainly say that to one another today, making this one altogether enjoyable for all ages (well, above 11 or so, depending on the maturity level). The only qualm that I had with this one was the ending. In the interest of avoiding spoilers, I’ll leave that one there. Let’s just say I’m glad this one has a continuation and even more glad it’ll have its shot at the ole’ silver screen. Four stars. ****

See more reviews for new releases and others at The Navi Review (...) and follow the blog on Twitter @thenavireview
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on May 7, 2017
For all of us, lovers of the impossible, this is a very good reading. Very interesting! Not boring at all.
But don't even begin if you are hoping for something unique. Granted that it's very well written but there are a lot of moments where you can sense bits and pieces of other books of the same genre like: His Dark Materials, A Wrinkle in Time, Harry Potter and even Paradise Lost.
But if all you want is a good time then go for it! It's worth it!
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on February 29, 2016
Oh my goodness...This book. It's not often that I pick up a story that I literally cannot put down. Not only did I read this book in two sittings (bringing it with me whenever I got up to grab something or do anything else), I had a VERY hard time falling asleep on the night of the 7th and focusing at work on the 8th because all I could think about was the story and how badly I wanted to be reading rather than sleeping/working! I honestly can't remember the last time I felt that way about a book... though I have read plenty that I had a hard time putting down, I didn't lose sleep over them because they just didn't hook me as much as this one did. I loved everything about this book. The storyline was wonderful, the characters were all very interesting, and (the best part in my opinion) was that I was totally amazed by the way it was written. While reading, I felt like I was really there, like I was actually watching the events unfold. At the very end of the book, in an interview with the author, I discovered why this was the case. Ransom Riggs first went to college to study literature and got a degree in English. Then he went to study film school at the University of Southern California in LA. Bravo Mr. Riggs! I also really liked the use of the photos. Some were very creepy and I think it is incredibly interesting that the author collected these photographs from flea markets and such over time. I've read reviews where people said the photos ruined the "modern storyline" and I think they've missed the point-these photographs are all very old, from the time when the children were able to move about as they pleased. I loved this book so much that I went out and bought the second one so I can find out what happens next as soon as possible!
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on August 26, 2017
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a unique action fantasy about how “peculiar” kids can stand up to big threats by working together and pooling their supernatural talents. While the outside world viewed them as odd or unacceptable and often dangerous, the peculiar children in the story have found refuge by bonding together and accepting one another’s idiosyncratic traits. Author Ransom Riggs depicts Jacob, the main character, as an average boy who learns that he has a special gift after facing a horrific family tragedy. He goes on a healing journey encouraged by his psychiatrist but winds up in a WWII era time loop filled with orphaned children who all have some peculiarity ranging from fire throwing to invisibility. As Jacob discovers the amazing and frightening aspects of this unfamiliar world, he seeks to find meaning for why he is there and what his peculiarity might be.

The main theme in this book is the ageless topic of good vs. evil and the different ways to perceive evil. After a horrible experiment gone wrong, many “peculiars,” or children with odd attributes and abilities, were turned into tall monsters with sharp teeth and long tentacles. The monsters feed on the remaining “peculiars” because if they eat them, they will become more human. In the book, Jacob encounters many of these monsters and learns to fight them. However, the monsters believe they are morally right because they are only trying to become human again. The author does a great job of including old black and white pictures into the book because it helps readers see these peculiar children. The pictures make it seem like this fantasy could be based on reality and suspends the reader's disbelief of the incredible peculiarities of the children.

While the book is packed with new fantastical concepts that make for an exciting read, the book is quite violent compared to other fantasy novels I have read. For example, when Jacob’s grandfather died, the book described how much blood was on him, and how a wild animal ripped him apart. Also, I did feel like the plot developed too slowly in the beginning because the first half of the book was only trying to find out if the peculiars were real. However, nothing very exciting happened until towards the middle and at the end of the book.

I recommend this book for anyone who wants a fairly quick read, enjoys elements of fantasy and the supernatural, and is okay with graphic violence. I found the concept of time travel presented in the book to be a fresh twist on a common element that many authors explore. Riggs uses a unique approach by using “time loops” so the characters can go from present time and enter a time loop to relive one day in the past to stay hidden from danger. Overall, I would rate this book a 4 out of 5 stars. It was compelling, suspenseful, and engaging. I withheld one star because of slow plot development in the beginning of the book, but other than that, I found it a quick and enjoyable read. As far as age goes, I would recommend this book to pre-teens and teens ages 12 and up; the violence may be too harsh for anyone younger than 12.
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