Book Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – The Graphic Novel

 

PeregrinesHomeLong ago I saw this book on the shelves. Something about the title struck me and it stayed in the back of my mind. Roll around to Christmas time and I notice that they have converted the original text into a graphic novel. A book I was interested in, now in picture form? Sign me up. Come Christmas morning (well not really, it was boxing day) I geek out as I find a handful of books in graphic novel form.

I will say this now, there are spoilers in the rambling below. I’ll avoid letting the ending away, but you have been warned. There is also lots of talk about the design/art side of this book. A bit of a unique addition since most of the books I have don’t lead themselves to that possibility.

style

I enjoyed the juxtaposition of the drawn artwork in contrast to the old black and white photos. It was nice to see the picture of the little girl that had grabbed me when I was walking around the bookstore was still present.

That day (boxing day) I read the first chapter of the book. One night this week I finished the other seven. Its odd, with pictures everyone can interpret them a little different so the ‘story’ will read differently. But seeing as how when you read, you definitely pick up different subtext based on your own experiences, it’s not so different.

Style wise it was almost nice that I had had the few week divide between the two reading sessions. The book starts when the protagonist (Jacob) is a kid. He’s listening to his grandfather tell stories of when he was a kid and lived at a group home. The styling shows that time in Jacob’s life all in color. The book then skips to Jacob’s “present day” when he is roughly a teenager. Now the world / book is in black and white.

I like about graphic novels is how the pictures exceed their frames. For instance in this one the monster's tongue leaves the first pane to drape over the second in one spot and free fall to the third in another. It gives the lingering feeling that the character is still feeling after seeing the monster. Hence he still has nightmares.

I like about graphic novels is how the pictures exceed their frames. For instance in this one the monster’s tongue leaves the first pane to drape over the second in one spot and free fall to the third in another. It gives the lingering feeling that the character is still feeling after seeing the monster. Hence he still has nightmares.

Jacob has grown to realize the stories his grandfather Abe told him as a kid were lies. He has grown somewhat apart from his grandfather in the interim years, but as we enter the story anew he is dropping in on his grandfather. Only he isn’t there, he has left the place in shambles and Jacob follows the path to find Abe dying. With his time winding down he leaves Jacob a peculiar riddle that he is unable to make sense of. Then he sees a monster and his world is turned upside down. He is forced to see a psychologist and through a series of events goes to the town where his grandfather was a kid.

Color_01While he is there he eventually hunts down the house where Abe lived before becoming a soldier in WWII. He is looking at the wreckage that is the house when all of a sudden, as readers, we see a hint of color again. This was all after chapter one so I had even forgotten that the beginning had any color at all. A small sign that perhaps the magic that Jacob believed in as a kid actually exists. Color_02The kids, realizing it’s Jacob and not Abe, run away. Jacob does his best to follow them but loses them. However, he continues to roam. After another series of events he finds them and finds himself in front of the house his grandfather had always described. The world is now, solidly, in color.

Contrast_02Jacob immerses himself in the world of his grandfather and (spoiler) realizes he is peculiar too. That’s why he could see the monster in the forest the day his grandfather died. As soon as he makes that connection he is shown blue like the other characters were when he first saw them. Fun little call back by the artist. It soon transpires that the peculiars are under attack, but if you want to know from what you’ll just have to read the book (or graphic novel) yourself.

Overlapping_01Juxtaposition_01Style-wise I enjoyed this spread. The artist took liberties, allowing the characters to interact even though in the story they are all ‘performing’ separately. In the flow of the left page, each girl being about the same perspective, works with the overlapping dynamic. Emma’s arms and fire lead you to the boulder Bronwyn is holding. Then Claire’s frame ‘overlaps’ the two to make sure you go left to see her before moving along to the next page. On the right page of the spread is a different composition. I will say it again: I love the juxtaposition in this book. With the contrast of size each character is treated in an equivalent manner even though they aren’t equal perspectives. If Hugh would have truly been back to back with Fiona his bees would have lost some of their impact. Likewise if Fiona would have been enlarged to the same size it wouldn’t have had the same effect. Then we have Jacob small at the bottom, perhaps speaking to how he is feeling when thrown into the world of the peculiar. This ‘show’ the peculiars are performing to show him what they can do happens before he puts the pieces together about himself.

Then we have this panel set. The dad goes from 0-10 on the anger scale in that matter of seconds:

Peregrins_01Peregrins_02Peregrins_03Peregrins_04

I think my favorite is the last panel. You can see that he is just so done. And then girl’s just chilling in the air all ‘hi’ and polite. Dad is not ready to handle your shenanigans kiddos.

That’s it. That’s my review. I liked the story and it was fun reading a picture book again. It’s been ages.

Until next time
~ Q

2015 Reading Challenge

  1. A book with more than 500 pages
  2. A classic romance
  3. A book that became a movie
  4. A book published this year
  5. A book with a number in the title
  6. A book written by someone under 30
  7. A book with nonhuman characters
  8. A funny book
  9. A book by a female author
  10. A mystery or a thriller
  11. A book with a one-word title
  12. A book of short stories
  13. A book set in a different country
  14. A nonfiction book
  15. A popular author’s first book
  16. A book from an author you love that you haven’t read yet
  17. A book a friend recommended
  18. A Pulitzer Prize-winning book
  19. A book based on a true story
  20. A book at the bottom of your to-read list
  21. A book your mom loves
  22. A book that scares you
  23. A book more than 100 years old
  24. A book based entirely on it’s cover
  25. A book you were supposed to read in school but didn’t
  26. A memoir
  27. A book you can finish in a day
  28. A book with antonyms in the title
  29. A book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit
  30. A book that came out the year you were born
  31. A book with bad reviews
  32. A trilogy
  33. A book from your chlidhood
  34. A book with a love triangle
  35. A book set in the future
  36. A book set in high school
  37. A book with a color in the title
  38. A book that made you cry
  39. A book with magic
  40. A graphic novel: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
  41. A book by an author you’ve never read before
  42. A book that you own but have never read
  43. A book that takes place in your hometown
  44. A book that was originally written in a different language
  45. A book set during Christmas
  46. A book written by an author with your same initials
  47. A play
  48. A banned book
  49. A book based on or turned into a TV show
  50. A book you started but never finished

[Audio]Book Review: John Dies at The End

John DiesIf you want an example of an anti-hero David Wong is a pretty good example. He spends most of one chapter, for example, wishing he had followed through with his plans to eat an entire pie in one sitting instead of helping his friend John sort out a crime scene. Class act. To be fair he is repeatedly served a large stack of crap crackers he definitely didn’t ask for and in a clutch he does step up. In the end he does what is needed to be done and starts to put others (well a couple other specific people) ahead of himself. I get ahead of myself though.

John Dies at the End is a book written by David Wong (also the main character) and narrated by Stephen R. Thorn. Thorn does an excellent job of enhancing the literary experience by capturing Wong’s implied attitude so thoroughly in his voice and inflections.

Although I don’t usually seek out curt (and occasionally vulgar) writing I enjoyed the abrupt writing style in this case. Is this the most eloquent book ever? No. Was it entertaining? Oh yeah. Was it an easy read (listen)? Yes. Did it keep me wondering what would happen next? Yes. I could go on with the questions, but what’s the point?

An EXTREMELY watered down synopsis would be that this book is about a guy who ‘survived’ some pretty terrible stuff and is in the process of trying to figure out how to live his life after the fact. It’s told in a series of flash backs as he shares his story with (spoiler) a reporter.

This book will definitely be added to the ‘listen while working’ list. Since it’s a series of anecdotes it’s easy to zone in and out and not miss to much. Although I’m sure the abrupt ending will bug me every time I reach it. ~ Q

[Audio]Book Review: Bossypants

BossypantsTina Fey, what can I say? I’ve always enjoyed the stuff she was in, but for whatever I didn’t put two and two together to realize she writes a lot of her material. If you are looking for a quick paced anecdotal walk through a comedians life this one is definitely worth the read. If you are looking for a book about a person who has climbed to the top of their field it’s worth the read. Or perhaps you’re looking for a book about how a woman juggles career and kids, this touches that as well.

I would recommend this book to any of my friends. If you happen to get the audiobook you get the added bonus of Tina Fey actually reading it. I usually enjoy when authors read their own work. Sometimes emphasis can get misinterpreted from the author’s intention to the narrators performance. When the author reads it themselves the intent is clear. Also Fey’s timing that makes her such a great performer/writer enhances the book experience.

Perhaps the reason I enjoyed this book so much was that it didn’t feel like a biography (or autobiography in this case). I was just being told a series of stories, an anthology if you will, that all happened to be about the very real Fey (as opposed to fae, the mythical fairy creatures). If all of my nonficition books I read this year are as enjoyable as this was I wont have any issues keeping my resolution to read three. Obviously I’m 1/3 of the way there with this little gold nugget.

Until next time
~ Q

Movie Double Feature (only not really) Scream 2 & The Nightmare Before Christmas

Continuing my movie marathon I had planned on watching Scream 2 and Nightmare Before Christmas. Since, as I’ve stated before, we have down town trick-or-treating that I’m co-in charge of I had to take sometime last night to fill luminaries with sand. I only was able to watch Scream 2 (luckily filling bags after the movie fulfilled my rule of having to do something to unwind after a scary movie)

The thing about scream 2 is that somethings feel very forced, like the Dewey-Gale love line. Is it necessary? Not really. Can’t he just be mad at her, do they have to have this reconnecting moment? Or can’t the reconnecting moment be that she really isn’t as terrible as she portrays 85% of the time? Sidney is fairly inconsistent, very hot and cold. However, surviving as many traumas as she has I can see how that would happen, but still. You shouldn’t rely on audiences giving her that break. All in all though I still jumped and cringed so they did there job, right?

Until tomorrow ~ Q

During Movie Thoughts:

  • Really, you’re commenting about how her wardrobe choice moves the plot of the story along. It’s a HORROR movie, there isn’t an earth shattering plot. Stupid comment dumb character who will be dead in 5 minutes.
  • And boyfriend of the year award goes to….you Mr. Jump out of the closet
  • Never listen to other bathroom stalls, lesson learned
  • time to change numbers again, that would not be cool
  • ‘a vague promise at best’…I’ll have to use that
  • Is Sidney destined to always hit Gale upon their first meeting?
  • Is having the girl who is the vampire slayer watching Nosferatu an example of directorial intent?
  • Memo to self, throw bike at attacker. Seriously bikes are awkward when you’re on one, how much harder to maneuver when one is thrown at you.
  • Yes, we’ve all been underage drinking, lets rush to where there are cops!
  • Why would you answer a phone at a random sorority? Bad call
  • Yes make your distraught girlfriend the center of attention by singing her a love song in the cafeteria. Nice gesture and all but a better one would be something private, no?
  • Didn’t Sidney crack a shot about ‘with her luck Tori Spelling would play her’ in Scream 1. Hey Luke Wilson!
  • Dewy and Randy are 5 – ‘if I’m a suspect so are you’
  • “The battle for the soul is fought in the forum of art” – I do like that
  • Here Sidney, let me protect you by moving you by an exit and leaving you
  • Greek Tragedy, nice symbolism
  • Can you look any more guilty Cotton
  • WHY THE FORCED LOVE STORY?!?
  • Nice theme music for Dewey
  • “Ask Cotton, he’s the real hero.” Gag me.
  • Sidney flip flops her opinions on people every two seconds…Gale (she saved our lives….smack!), Boyfriend (we should stay apart… i love you… leave me alone) Cotton – you see where this is going

[Audio]Book Review: The Ghosts of Ragged-Ass Gulch

I’m an audible subscriber and I realized I have a LOT of books in my library that I haven’t listened to. So this week I decided to compile them all onto my iPod and make a reading list. I’ve just finished the first book on the list: The Ghosts of Ragged-Ass Gulch by Bill Pronzini, narrated by Nick Sullivan. As I listened to it I was trying to figure out why I had bought it. Then I remembered it was a member bonus and was a bit relieved. It’s not that the story was bad, it just wasn’t very good. Or more accurately it didn’t really leave me with anything. It was kind of like lukewarm water. Not warm enough to make something you want and not cold enough to be refreshing. I wasn’t overly fond of the narrator though. If there is such a thing as ‘go to voices’ for characters he hit them all. I don’t feel like he had the widest range for voices, so he had to do that. Like the deep gruff voice for an older man even though that might not fit the character.

The story was about a detective who is hired to find out who killed a man. The victim was burnt in his house a short time after a series of buildings were burned down in Ragged-Ass Gulch. The victim was part of a development company that wanted to convert Gulch into a tourist trap of a ghost town. The citizens of Gulch didn’t take kindly to the idea. The detective’s approach was to re-access the burned down buildings. The sheriff had said it was incidental but the detective discovered it was arson. He deduced (as had the Monroe company and Monroe’s insurance company) that perhaps the Gulchers were trying to scare of the company from buying the land by first burning the buildings and then one of their own homes. Incidentally the man wasn’t suppose to be home at the time, so they weren’t outright murderers, I suppose.

The nice thing about this story is that it was only about an hour and a half long. Wasn’t a real commitment to listen to it. (Contrarily perhaps that’s why it wasn’t that good too. There wasn’t time to really develop much of story.) Just passed the time while I designed some projects. However it did make me a bit more paranoid. As I was listening I was at work with my ear phones in and I kept hearing voices (outside the phones) despite being the only one at work. Not good for someone who has an overactive imagination. I convinced myself it was just a sub track or something (kind of like the sound you could get if you recorded over a cassette tape too many times) and ignored it. When in doubt, ignore it.

This book had a dysfunctional romance, wordplay, suspense and mystery. If you have time to kill you could do worse than reading Ragged-Ass Gulch.

Ciao ~ Q

Movie Review: Rebecca

So I just finished the first Oscar movie of the 1940s, Rebecca (although in part I was writing this while watching so it’s really long – spoilers pretty much throughout the post – you’ve been warned). My first thought while the credits were rolling was that some of the scenery was reminiscent of Gone with the Wind. Then I discovered that it was produced by the same company, so that kind of made sense. The first, of many things, that surprised me about Rebecca was that it was directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Instantly my interest was piqued. Add to that Nigel Bruce, the guy who played Watson opposite Basil Rathbone’s Sherlock, was also in the movie. I buckled in for some surprises.

Rebecca starred Joan Fontaine as Mrs. De Winter (she has no other name besides that, ever, so I’ll refer to her as DW) and Laurence Olivier as Maxim de Winter. The movie began the same way the story begins with a voice over by DW saying “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley” she continues to talk about the ruined home and then enters into the story of her life at a younger point in time. They go into a memory of a vacation in Southern France where DW was a paid companion to Mrs. Van Hopper (played by Florence Bates). The first we actually see of DW is her yelling at a man to stop because she thinks he is going to jump off a cliff (I quite agree that that is how it looked). The man tells her to get lost and the next wee see of either character is when they are in the hotel with van Hopper. Hopper is an older lady and a bit of a busy body. She spots Maxim (cliff man) and beckons him to join them. More awkward interactions ensue between Maxim and  DW while Hopper blathers before Maxim makes his hasty exit. The next day DW is at brunch alone and is invited/forced to join Maxim. They have an easy conversation and he offers to drive her somewhere to sketch (after insisting she eats more food).

While they are sketching DW brings up that she once saw a postcard of a fine old house by the sea and that she didn’t realize that it was his home, Manderley. Maxim says that he will never return and becomes rather introspective. Trying to cover the awkward silence she tries to change the subject to the water (since they are indeed by the sea) and how it takes so long for the water to warm up in England and how the water in southern France is so warm she could stay in all day. That is if it weren’t for the dangerous undertow. She then remarks on how a man drowned there last yer. Again Maxim decides to make a hasty retreat and brings them back to the hotel. There Joan walks in on Hopper being a gossip to her nurse (for she has fallen ill with a cold/flu) talking about how she knew Mr. and Mrs. de Winter. Then she adds that the Former Mrs. De Winter drowned in a sailing accident. This sets the bar for dear DW. She can’t quite seem to have an interaction with Maxim that doesn’t end pretty poorly.

This might be why she is so surprised when the next day he stops her in the lobby:
Maxim: Off duty?
DW: Well, yes. Mrs. Van Hopper’s cold turned into flu, so she’s got a trained nurse.
M: I’m sorry for the nurse. You keen on tennis?
D: Well, not particularly.
M: That’s good. We’ll go for a drive. (Takes the racquet and hides it in a bush).

That starts many outing for the two while Hopper is sick. However the romance is threatened when Hopper’s daughter gets engaged and they must leave at once. DW goes to Maxim and tells him goodbye. He then asks her if she would rather go with Hopper to New York or Manderley with him, as his bride. She chooses that later and is accepted by all the servants save for Mrs. Danvers who is quite put-offish and cold.

There is something weird about Maxim and DWs relationship. Maxim treats her a bit like a child. Telling her what/how much to eat, what articles to read, or takes her hand to wave to someone else. In one scene it might rain so he sends a servant to grab a coat. When he returns Maxim goes to put it on her instead of carrying it (since it’s a rain coat and it hasn’t started raining yet). DW asks if she must put it on and he replies, “Yes, certainly, certainly, certainly. You can’t be too careful with children.” That sums it up in a nutshell. DW is, herself, a bit awkward and clumsy. This apparently is a never dyeing theme – quite prominent right now (hello Twilight / Fifty Shades of Grey).

Poor DW, as she tries to get settled to a new life style there are constant reminders of the former ‘Mrs. De Winter’. Some are subtle, like the napkins that are monogrammed as R de W, while others are more overt like Mrs. Danvers constantly making reference to how things were done under the former de Winter. She is often served back handed compliments. (Such as Beatrice (Winter’s sister) comments about how Maxim acts: “I doubt he’ll fly off in a rage with you, you’re such a placid little thing”. The comments are always said kindly, but if you listen to the words and not the tone they are quite rude.

DW always walks on egg shells, fearing she’ll set off Maxim. One day she finally goes to the west wing (a part of the house that hasn’t been entered since The Former de Winter passed away). Danvers catches her and starts to show her evil side. She does all she can to push DW over the edge. Sinking so low as to tricking DW into dressing like Former de Winters for a fancy dress party. The night of the party Danvers opens a window for DW to ‘calm down’ and get fresh air. Then she tries to convince DW to just jump and end it since she’ll never make Maxim happy.

That same night (it was a big night) there is a shipwreck and we get into the Hitchcockian twists. The diving team finds the wreckage of the Former de Winter’s boat. This puts Maxim into a tailspin. DW searches for him, knowing the effect it will have on her husband. She finds him to apologize for the costume mishap and discovers the truth about Maxim’s freak outs whenever the Former de Winter is mentioned. Oddly enough telling the truth makes it possible for them to actually grow as a couple. So as not to truly spoil the twist I won’t divulge what the truth is. After DW somewhat stood up for herself (or at least stopped being the child Maxim was use to) I started rooting for the couple and in a weird way they had a happy ending. All in all I’d watch this Oscar winner again. It truly wasn’t what I was expecting, but perhaps that’s because I thought this Rebecca was the same as Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. Definitely not.

Until next time ~ Q

Book Review: The Nine Lives of Chloe King-The Fallen

So long ago I had watched the show The Nine Lives of Chloe King. It was your typical angsty-teen drama whatever, but I was interested in the mythology behind it. The premise is there is this 16 year old girl who discovers she is something like a werewolf. Only in the sense that she has animal like powers, so nothing like a werewolf. In the show the race of humans with cat powers are called Mai. Since, in so many instances, the book is better than the show/movie I decided to give the book a go (since the mythology interested me so).

The series was written by Liz Braswell (under the pen name Celia Thomson) and originally consisted of three separate books: The Fallen, The Stolen, and The Chosen. In the version of the book I bought (and since they have been distributed as such) it was one giant book with three separate parts. So I’ll divide my review into three parts as well.

The Fallen

In this book we meet Chloe on the day before her birthday. To celebrate she decides to ditch school (taking her two friends with her) and they had up to Coit Tower. Her friend Paul gives her the gift of vodka and they spend the time at the top of the tower taking swigs. After sometime she gets bored/restless so Chloe leans up on a window edge and ends up falling over. She falls for 200 feet or so and blacks out (obviously). When she awakes there isn’t anything critically wrong with her but shockingly her friends insist she goes to the ER. Now here is where my first annoyance at the story flares up: consistency in writing. I don’t care if you aren’t 100% consistent, but if it’s something so glaringly wrong that it pulls me out of the story then I take issue. Case in point: Chloe fled the ER at 4. Then she goes home to take a nap. She wakes at 6 ‘after a 4 hour nap’. A few paragraphs later she calls Amy’s house and Amy’s mom wishes her a ‘happy birthday in six hours’. When she hangs up Chloe makes a comment about it being four hours to her birthday. I was severely annoyed, especially because this all happened within a few pages of each other. Clearly some editing went down and no one did a final read through (although I know that can’t be the case).

Enough of that though, continuing. Chloe goes out that night, gets into a club, drinks, makes out with a guy and then decides she should really get home. The next day her mom throws her a surprise party complete with champagne, catering and a cellist. Nothing like rewarding bad behavior. Whatever. Chloe begins to feel more confident and even plucks up the nerve to chat up Alyec, a popular kid in school. She also gets a budding romance with a customer at the store where she works, Brian. Chloe spends much of the book flirting with both of the boys while she tries to deal with her adolescent-induced estrangement with her mother. Also her estrangement with her best friends, Paul and Amy. The day of Chloe’s accident they ‘hooked up’ and have since started dating. In effect sidestepping Chloe entirely. This upsets Chloe and causes a giant cluster. However rather than fighting with Amy about it Chloe continues to live her life, and what a life it is. Ever since her birthday she has noticed changes, besides the boost in self-confidence. She can also run, not only run but leap and bound onto the rooftops. Her balance has approved, as have her reflexes and perhaps most bizarrely of all she has developed retractable claws. These physical changes mixed with the emotional turmoil of trying to figure out what to do with two very different boys. Add on top of that the appearance of an assassin who attacks Chloe when she least expects it. How is a girl to cope?

Now I’m all for artistic license and perhaps it’s my goody-two-shoes nature that’s really the issue. However, if a mother dislikes her daughter sneaking out and lying to her and wont let her date at all would she be likely to give that daughter a glass of wine with dinner? Let alone the next day complain that she should have given her red instead to war off the cold/flu that her daughter has developed? It’s just hard for me to align a mother so strict she wont let her daughter even talk about boys with one that’s mellow enough to freely give her daughter alcohol. Especially since she’s griping about her behavior. ‘Your being secretive like a typical teenager and I wont let you date but please, enjoy the champagne.; Once again, one of those things that if it takes me out of the story it bugs me. And the drug use in the book did that. I’m fully cognizant that some kids do drugs, whatever, but it seemed forced in this book and the forcing is what bugged me.

Back to the story, Chloe eventually calls Brian out on his lack of physical contact with her which causes a rift between them. One that grows when Brian sees her and Alyec together and tells her to stay away from him. That goes over well. Chloe finally drops Brian entirely and somewhat chooses Alyec, which is a good thing. When the Assassin meets up with her again and Brian shows up throwing the same stars as the assassin it’s clear that he’s not on the level. Luckily Alyec shows up to keep the fight even. The Assassin dies and Brian explains he was there to try and help Chloe (both she and Alyec – who turns out to be a special cat person too – don’t completely buy it). He then stops them from running into an ambush and they make it away. The store ends shortly there after with Alyec telling Chloe he’d like her to meet a few other people. We can only presume that he means special cat people.

As sarcastic as I’ve been with this review you’d think I’d call it quits after part one, but I’m still interested in the mythology and the first part didn’t get into at all! Grrr, so yes I will continue with the second part (The Stolen) so that should be good. After that it’s almost like you have to finish with the third. Especially since they are such fast reads. Maybe that is why I don’t mind. It’s an easy book to read before bed. It doesn’t really contain extremely serious content or anything that will keep me up pondering deep questions. So for easy reading it’s fine.