Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children #1)

Genre: YA, Fantasy
Page #: 352
Publisher: Quirk
Published in: 2011

Official Synopsis

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of curious photographs.

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 abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the 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.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography,Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

My Review

I got this book for my birthday. Based on everything I’ve seen, I thought I would really enjoy this book. After all, it’s incredibly photogenic, artsy, and a little bit trippy. But ultimately, it kind of fell flat in my opinion.

Visually, this book is stunning. All of the photographs are incredible, and in some cases, even a little chilling. After all, the fact that all of the photos in the book are authentic, unaltered vintage photographs is pretty impressive. Plus, I really liked the way that the author integrated the photos into the story itself.

Honestly, this book was kind of boring. The story never really grabbed me. Reading it, I felt like I kept waiting for something to happen. Also, the romance in the book was a little creepy and kind of sad, in my opinion.

Rating: 2 / 5

 

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Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

Genre: Classics, Drama, Romance
Page #: 246
Publisher: Folger Shakespeare Library
Published in: 2004

Official Synopsis

The action is set in Sicily, where Don Pedro, Prince of Aragon, has recently defeated his half-brother, the bastard Don John, in a military engagement. Apparently reconciled, they return to the capital, Messina, as guests of the Governor, Leonato. There Count Claudio, a young nobleman serving in Don Pedro’s army, falls in love with Hero, Leonato’s daughter, whom Don Pedro woos on his behalf. The play’s central plot shows how Don John maliciously deceives Claudio into believing that Hero has taken a lover on the eve of her marriage, causing Claudio to repudiate her publicly, at the altar.

My Review

This is probably my favorite Shakespeare play ever. I’ve seen all the film adaptations and I love every single one of them for different reasons. In high school, I even got the chance to act in this play. So I was really excited when I found out we were reading it in my Shakespeare class. Basically, I think it’s hilarious and Benedick and Beatrice are one of my most favorite fictional couples ever.

Benedick and Beatrice. They are so funny and their chemistry is incredible. Plus, Shakespeare strongly hints at the back story of their relationship, which makes their banter all the more interesting.

Claudio’s treatment of Hero during the end of the play is pretty problematic though, and the ending always seems kind of abrupt to me.

Rating: 5 / 5

 

The Cold War: A New History by John Lewis Gaddis

 

Genre: Nonfiction
Page #: 352
Publisher: Penguin Books
Published in: 2006

Official Synopsis

The “dean of Cold War historians” (The New York Times) now presents the definitive account of the global confrontation that dominated the last half of the twentieth century. Drawing on newly opened archives and the reminiscences of the major players, John Lewis Gaddis explains not just what happened but why—from the months in 1945 when the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. went from alliance to antagonism to the barely averted holocaust of the Cuban Missile Crisis to the maneuvers of Nixon and Mao, Reagan and Gorbachev. Brilliant, accessible, almost Shakespearean in its drama, The Cold War stands as a triumphant summation of the era that, more than any other, shaped our own.

My Review

This book really does have it all. Going into it, I did not have a good understanding of the Cold War. After reading it, I can definitely say that I have learned a lot about this important part of world history. I think it definitely did a good job of explaining how everything was tied together and how the cycle of fear continued for so long.

Because he focuses so much of ideology, the book is not in chronological order. For me, that was a bit confusing at first since I did not have much of an understanding of the Cold War. However, it shouldn’t be a problem if you are familiar with the topic. Additionally, the prose was a little dry and hard to get through at times.

I would definitely recommend this book to history buffs or anyone who is interested in studying the Cold War or modern history.

Rating: 2 / 5

Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind (Sword of Truth #1)

Genre: Fantasy
Page #: 836
Publisher: Tor Books
Published in: 2003

Official Synopsis

In the aftermath of the brutal murder of his father, a mysterious woman, Kahlan Amnell, appears in Richard Cypher’s forest sanctuary seeking help . . . and more.

His world, his very beliefs, are shattered when ancient debts come due with thundering violence. In a dark age it takes courage to live, and more than mere courage to challenge those who hold dominion, Richard and Kahlan must take up that challenge or become the next victims. Beyond awaits a bewitching land where even the best of their hearts could betray them. Yet, Richard fears nothing so much as what secrets his sword might reveal about his own soul. Falling in love would destroy them–for reasons Richard can’t imagine and Kahlan dare not say.

In their darkest hour, hunted relentlessly, tormented by treachery and loss, Kahlan calls upon Richard to reach beyond his sword–to invoke within himself something more noble. Neither knows that the rules of battle have just changed . . . or that their time has run out.

This is the beginning. One book. One Rule. Witness the birth of a legend.

My Review

So, I’ll confess that I actually love the TV show based on this book, Legend of the Seeker. That’s how I found out about Terry Goodkind’s books. I first read Wizard’s First Rule back in high school–before I even had a blog–and I reread it recently because I’ve been thinking about picking up the series again.

Probably my favorite thing about this book is the relationship between Richard and Kahlan. They’re full of cuteness and angst and sexual tension. I’ve seen a lot of comments about how implausibly their relationship develops, which I can understand, but this hopeless romantic likes it nevertheless. I also really enjoyed the magic and world-building in this book. The different creatures and types of magical beings and powers were really unique and interesting, in my opinion.

One thing that has been hugely problematic for me both times I’ve read this book is the way the author deals with rape and sexual abuse. One of the minor characters is literally a pedophile, and the only point this serves in the book is to characterize him as a villain. Not only is this incredibly disgusting, it’s lazy writing. Second of all, [potential SPOILERS ahead] Richard becomes involved with one of the Mord Sith, a group of women who use pain and bondage to torture and enslave men. Some of this involves sexual encounters. While it’s pretty clear that the author is trying to portray a BDSM-type experience, Richard does not consent to these acts. Which makes it rape. Plain and simple. It also reinforces the stigma that BDSM is rape, when really BDSM is all about being safe, sane, and consensual.

I basically liked everything in this book, except for the several ways in which the author handled rape, which was disgusting and lazy. That’s why I can’t really decide what to rate it.

Rating: 2.5? / 5

The Giver by Lois Lowry (The Giver Quartet #1)

Genre: MG, Dystopian
Page #: 208
Publisher: Ember
Published in: 2006

Official Synopsis

This haunting story centers on Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he’s given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community.

My Review

Somehow I never got around to reading this book when I was younger. But a bunch of different people have recommended it to me over the years, and I knew right away it would be the kind of book I would like.

 

I found the world-building of this book to be the most compelling part of it. There wasn’t much of a plot, but the way the author described all the rules and history of the town made it feel like a real place. Additionally, the way that Jonas felt about the rules as he began to study with the Giver was really telling about just how messed up this dystopia really was.

 

Rating: 5 / 5

In Retrospect by Robert S. McNamara

Genre: Nonfiction
Page #: 540
Publisher: Vintage
Published in: 1996

Official Synopsis

The #1 national bestseller–an indispensable document for anyone interested in the Vietnam War. McNamara’s controversial book tells the inside and personal story of America’s descent into Vietnam from a unique point of view, and is one of the most enlightening books about government ever written. This new edition features a new Foreword by McNamara.

My Review

I had to read this book for my Post 1945 US History class. Believe me, I would not have picked this up on my own merit. I may have enjoyed it more if I didn’t have to read the whole thing over one weekend.

There were a few really interesting personal anecdotes about how the public reacted to the Vietnam War and how his family handled the situations. Those are the kinds of things you don’t normally learn in history books.

The book was incredibly long and not that interesting. Most of it was all about how everyone was confused about what to do.

Rating: [1/5]

 

Henry V by William Shakespeare (War of the Roses #4)

Genre: Classics, Drama
Page #: 352
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Published in: 2004

Official Synopsis

Henry V is Shakespeare’s most famous “war play”; it includes the storied English victory over the French at Agincourt. Some of it glorifies war, especially the choruses and Henry’s speeches urging his troops into battle. But we also hear bishops conniving for war to postpone a bill that would tax the church, and soldiers expecting to reap profits from the conflict. Even in the speeches of Henry and his nobles, there are many chilling references to the human cost of war.

My Review

I’ve read this play three times and I really just cannot stand it. Funny story: I was assigned this play in a semester-long, intensive research project and I begged the teacher to let me have a different play. I even promised cupcakes. Thank God she let me switch because I would have given myself a concussion from banging my head against the wall.

Katherine is basically the only redeeming part of this play for me. Her dirty French puns in the one scene plus Henry attempting to “woo” her at the end were really the only parts of the play that I enjoyed.

For me, this play was very difficult to follow. The historical context of the play needs to be known in order to understand the storyline. I frankly didn’t enjoy it very much at all.

Rating: 1 / 5

 

Henry IV Part 1 by William Shakespeare (War of the Roses #2)

Genre: Classics, Drama
Page #: 336
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Published in: 2005

Official Synopsis

from Wikipedia

Henry IV, Part 1 depicts a span of history that begins with Hotspur’s battle at Homildon in Northumberland against Douglas late in 1402, and ends with the defeat of the rebels at Shrewsbury in the middle of 1403.

My Review

It’s a part of the second historical tetralogy, which includes Richard II, Henry IV Part 1, Henry IV Part 2, and Henry V. Even though it’s the second of the two historical cycles, it comes first chronologically. Think Star Wars.

 

I really enjoyed all of the scenes with Henry V and Falstaff. They’re so funny and their friendship dynamic is so interesting to me. The ending with the two of them was especially likable. Of the history plays I’ve read so far, this one is pretty enjoyable.

It seemed like everyone had a hundred different names that they went by and it took me forever to figure out who they were talking about usually.

Rating: 3 / 5

 

The Emergence by A. O. Khalil (Missing Era #1)

Genre: Horror, Thriller
Publisher: Self-published
Published in: 2015

Official Synopsis

They were just sinkholes, harmless sinkholes that were spreading like wildfire across the country. Then the disappearances started. A few people here and there then the entire army, gone in one night. Jay and Jule quickly find themselves thrown in the middle of a dangerous situation that only gets worse when something else comes that takes everyone by bloody surprise.

As they make ready to leave to gather with the rest of the family, something comes out of the sinkholes and begins attacking and killing everyone in sight. Before they know it they are in the middle of a war with an unknown enemy and an unknown agenda.

Will Jay and Jule survive their encounter or will they find themselves twenty-six feet under at the bottom of a sinkhole?

My Review

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

 

For me, the concept of the book was really intriguing and the author kept a lot of the mystery secret throughout the book, only revealing tidbits here and there. For me, that was enough to keep me reading. Plus, the book was really excellently paced and full of action, so it never felt dull or dragged out. In my opinion, the concept, plot, and pacing were definitely the book’s strongest points.

There were a lot of grammatical and spelling errors throughout the book, which normally bothers me a lot. However, the book itself was compelling enough to keep me reading. If that’s something that bothers you as a reader, then you may have a difficult time with this book.

Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone who likes action, dystopian, or post-apocalyptic type stories.It was a quick, exciting read with one heck of a cliffhanger.

Rating: 3 / 5

Never Look Back by Sabine Bummel

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Romance
Page #: 253
Publisher: Self-published
Published in: 2013

Official Synopsis

Self help writer, Jen Butler, finds herself wavering between a fragile reality and a world of nightmares that she cannot escape. In a chance encounter, at her first book signing, Jen meets the handsome Will Lawrence. For a year, they are inseparable until one morning after a terrifying nightmare, she wakes to find every shred of his existence gone. Her reality suddenly becomes her nightmare.

My Review

I received a request from the author to review this book.

 

The book felt like I was reading a Michael Bay movie. Everything just seemed totally blown out of proportion and fantastical. It was full of expensive cars. exotic locales, fine foods, and a lot of sex. So, overall, I enjoyed the over-the-top Hollywood feel of the story.

There were a lot of misspelled words and grammatical errors. It was to the point that sometimes I could not tell what the author was even trying to say. The plot dragged at points and the characters all seemed exactly the same to me. But most of all, I feel the author asked the reader to take too much for granted and many times the situations were so implausible that it was too difficult to suspend my disbelief long enough to really get into the story.

Rating: 1 / 5