Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

This week I’ll be talking about a more light-hearted novel intended for a younger audience. But don’t let that alone turn you away from this mysterious and oddly enrapturing tale. This week I’m discussing Randal Riggs’ Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Image result for miss. peregrine's home for peculiar children

Now, unless you haven’t ventured into a book store or movie theater in years, you’ve probably already heard of this story before. It received a lot of attention when first published, is part of a larger series now, and has a movie adapted from it (which sucks!). But perhaps you’re wondering what all the hub-bub is about for a book with a levitating girl on the cover, yes? Allow me to whet your appetite. 

Image result for miss. peregrine's home for peculiar children photos

Our protagonist is a 15–soon to be 16–year old boy who lives in Englewood, Florida. He’s grown up with parents, a best friend, aunts and uncles, but his favorite person of all is his grandfather. His grandfather tells stories about when he was younger, the odd boarding house he stayed in, and the war he fought in, all with pictures to back it up. But after Jacob’s grandfather dies, rather violently, Jacob is thrust into a past that is also his future but certainly not the present. He’s thrown into a not-so-typical YA adventure plot that takes him all over the world, and all through time. 

PLOT: The overarching plot of this story is almost painfully obvious. By the end of the 2nd chapter I was already calling what the end would be, what the next twist was, who the ultimate antagonist was, etc. The main parts of the story are so obviously foreshadowed, they’re telegraphed. It’s hard NOT to anticipate what will happen next. At least for the main story. But each character’s development, how they interacted, and where some of them ended up I couldn’t predict. Bottom line: this feels like one of the first times Randal Riggs wrote out a full novel and plotted it. The hallmarks, the pacing, the markers signalling the next phase of the plot; they’re all too new, as if Riggs doesn’t have much experience with them. But one of the coolest features of this book are the photos. Riggs searched high a low for all kinds of creepy photos to use for his book, and he did an excellent job. Even if you don’t read it, flip through the book sometime. The photos alone will intrigue you.

Image result for miss. peregrine's home for peculiar children

CHARACTERS: These characters were quite good. Each was encapsulated in their own personalities and traits. Their dialogue was, for the most part, very natural. Their interactions with each other felt authentic and not forced, again, for the most part. The antagonists were good, as well. They weren’t full blown evil, which is what I was hoping for, but they had believable motivations and strengths. I also enjoyed each character’s story. While there is the larger, general story of the novel that links all events together, each character seemed to have their own purpose/story to tell within the larger story. And they did so brilliantly. 

Image result for miss. peregrine's home for peculiar children photos

SETTING: I give the settings and their descriptions a thumbs up. Though at times I noticed another feature of a first time author: over description. One thing newer writers tend to do, and I’ve done this myself A LOT, is to over describe their settings. As the author, they have the mental image of what they want the reader to see in their mind. When they write, they try to describe that mental image as much as possible, clarifying as many things as they can. They want the reader’s mental image to reflect their mental image in perfection, so they explain every minute detail about a place, boring the reader and taking up 3 whole pages. The sign of an experienced, well-published author is that they can sum up a setting’s description, wholly and completely, in a few sentences, if not one sentence. It’s certainly not easy, but it makes your writing stand apart. 

Image result for miss. peregrine's home for peculiar children

MISCELLANEOUS: Before I drop my verdict I wanted to highlight two other aspects of this writing: Style and adaptation. The writing style of this novel was, and I can’t stress this enough, fantastic. Yes, the content and story had negatives, but there was something about Riggs’ style of writing that captured me. I read this book in less than a week, and not because I was invested in the story. When looking at this book you would not be wrong in assuming it’s for young adults. But the vocabulary, sentence structure, and inner monologues were definitely not for young adults. I was, and still am, very impressed with the writing style. Now, adaptation, which deals strictly with the movie. The movie for this novel is a horrible, no good, awful excuse at adaptation. Yes, Eva Green (Miss Peregrine’s actress) is an incredibly attractive actress (and I mean, incredibly attractive).

Image result for miss. peregrine's home for peculiar children

And yes, Samuel Jackson (the antagonist) is always a crowd favorite.

Image result for miss. peregrine's home for peculiar children

Heck, even Dame Judy Dench is in this movie! But even with those A-list actors the movie is a steaming pile of donkey dung. Please remember: avoid movie at all costs. AVOID

VERDICT: You read all of my criteria? You stuck around all the way to the end of the review? Good. Then you already know what I’m going to say. In my opinion, you should read this novel. It’s not going to take you long, the combination of exciting action and good writing will help you finish it in no time. You’re on your own if you wish to explore the rest of the series, though. But we should all be able to agree that this first novel, at least, is a fantastic read. 

Sharp Ends

Turn away now if you’re squeamish, read a different article if you have a weak stomach. For this In My Opinion review I’ll be talking about another gruesome, dark creation of Joe Abercrombie, Sharp Ends

Image result for Sharp Edges Joe Abercrombie

Joe Abercombie sprang onto the dark fantasy scene with his First Law Trilogy, which was so widely received that it turned into the First Law Series. That series, which capped at 6 books, was so voraciously accepted by fans that he’s now extending the series and has written this delightful anthology to accommodate his readers. In the beginning of this book he thanks fellow authors for pushing (and paying) him to create more tales within his universe.

Abercrombie uses these short stories to fill in the gaps his epic novels may have missed. They flesh out some aspects of the world that have not been visited before, and they answer some of the fan’s burning questions. Some stories follow beloved characters that readers have grown to know and love, others introduce new characters who are world-changers in their own respective corners, and still others are one time protagonists, here for one mere story and never spoken of again. A large portion of this book relied on nostalgia factor, so if you’ve not read any other part of this series before, I wouldn’t recommend it to you.

PLOT: For the most part each short story follows a different perspective in a different part of the world. The reader jumps around a lot. But there are a few characters who continually pop up and who actually tell a loose story. I was quite impressed by how Abercrombie was able to tell such pregnant, thoughtful stories in so few pages. In some stories he would stay in one character’s POV the entire time, others he’d be jumping around from solider to soldier to witness to victim. l was more impressed by the diversity than anything else. This anthology takes you to twice as many places as any of Abercrombie’s novels.

SETTING: One thing I noticed in a few of the stories was that Abercrombie relies on his nostalgia factor for setting descriptions more than anything else. Since he’s already taken readers on adventures to these places before, he doesn’t describe them as fully as he would in his novels, and I found myself having to refer back to memory rather than description in some places. Still, the new places that he introduces for the first time in this anthology he does a great job, as always, of summing them up in succinct, all-encompassing and often humorous descriptions for the reader. He shows us lots of new places in the north, the east, and at the edges of the world.

CHARACTERS: Solid. Strong. By that I don’t mean that every character was a strong character, but that Abercrombie’s telling of them was strong and captivating. He brings the reader fully into a new character’s mind in a matter of sentences, not paragraphs, and certainly not pages like many other authors. In a few, quick sentences he can encapsulate all a character is and offer that up to the reader, who is then drawn even deeper into the story. Yes, he did use some characters previously known to the readers like a trump card, showcasing his brand. Nostalgia factor again. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get excited when they showed up on the scene. And besides, after creating such unforgettable character I think he has the right to throw them around exactly as he did. 

Image result for Book character memes

VERDICT: This is a great read. Joe Abercrombie, as always, delivers fantastic stories with even more fantastic characters and doesn’t lack for much. This is just another example of his already impressive skills. Yes, his writing style took me a bit to get used to in the beginning, but now I accept it and and it’s quick prose and enjoy its uniqueness. However, in my opinion you shouldn’t read this if you’ve not read anything else from the First Law Series. You’ll still enjoy lots of the stories, the majority of them even, but you’ll miss out on so many significant aspects of themes and character inspiration. You like dark fantasy that’s witty, real and leaves you always, always wanting more? Than read the first book of the First Law Trilogy, then come back to this. In my opinion

The First Law Trilogy

It’s been a while since I posted any In My Opinion Reviews, and I blame that solely on this trilogy. I’ve been working my way through all three thick books of this series over the past few months, bit by bit, and now that it’s finally over (sort of) I can tell you how good it is. In My Opinion, that is.

And now I present to you Joe Abercrombie’s gory, dark fantasy, The First Law Trilogy.

Image result for The First Law trilogy Continue reading “The First Law Trilogy”

Life As A Writer

The other day I went to a local restaurant where the people know me as a regular. As I paid for my meal the cashier asked me, “Hey, so what do you do for a living anyway?” And instead of proudly proclaiming, “I, sir, am I writer! A wordsmith, a stringer of sentences, a paragon of paragraphs!” I sort of blanked. I chuckled to myself and eventually told the person, “I am actually a writer.” As if I couldn’t believe it myself.

You know you're a writer when... - Writers Write Creative Blog: Continue reading “Life As A Writer”

Harry Potter and The Cursed Child

Are you a Harry Potter fan? I am(Hufflepuff pride!), so when I first heard rumors of there being another HP story written by J.K. Rowling coming to a bookshelf near me, I got very excited. Another HP novel set nineteen years after the Battle of Hogwarts? Sounds awesome! But I’m here to tell you why it’s not awesome. I’m here to enlighten you as to why Harry Potter and The Cursed Child is a sham and you’d be better off just reading the cliff notes version. Sit back, relax, and prepare to be disappointed, this week’s In My Opinion Review is about Harry Potter and The Cursed Child by Jack Thorne.

Image result for Harry Potter and the cursed child

Continue reading “Harry Potter and The Cursed Child”

It. Is. Over.

I had an epiphany the other night about my writing efforts as of late. I’ve been pouring my time into my favorite short stories, editing them ruthlessly, while outlining others here and there and taking my time bringing them to life. This entire year I’ve almost exclusively focused on cranking out short stories, with only a few weeks of work put towards my novel. I’ve wanted to build up my portfolio and have more short stories to show agents and publishers, since when this year began I’d sold all of my work and had nothing to show potential editors.  Continue reading “It. Is. Over.”