Update – Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

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

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Original review from September 2011: Five stars may be a bit generous, but I was completely absorbed in the story from the beginning and it didn’t lose my interest. Impossible to categorize – it isn’t exactly fantasy, nor a mystery, nor a horror story. It reminded me a bit of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy with elements of Harry Potter and Alice in Wonderland. Geeky 16-year-old boy is sent on a coming-of-age journey by his dying grandfather. I won’t say any more than that, because half the fun of this book is going along on the journey not knowing any more than the protagonist. I loved the blend of paranormal explanations for historical events. The horror and violence are relatively mild, but I wouldn’t recommend this book for younger children. The vintage photographs are certainly strange and thought-provoking. The perfect test for my Nook Color, and it came through with flying colors! (No pun intended.) Warning: There is a bit of a cliff-hanger ending, so hopefully that means there will be a sequel! 20th Century Fox has bought the rights, so a movie is in the works. And a note for you Welsh-o-philes: Cairnholm Island is fictional and not based on any real island off the Welsh coast.

Update: Reread (in audio format) in April 2014 prior to reading the sequel The Hollow City. I would give the audio version 4 stars. The horror elements seemed a bit more gruesome this time around. I did not care for the “Welsh” accent that the narrator gave to his Welsh characters. It was not even remotely close. Sorry! Nevertheless I still love the story and can’t wait for the movie which is “in development” for release in July 2015.

Description:
A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very 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 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.

 

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Gilt

GiltGilt by Katherine Longshore

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Setting: England, London, Greenwich Palace
Time: 1539-1542

Main characters: Henry VIII, Catherine Howard, Katherine (Kitty) Tylney, Jane Boleyn – Dowager Duchess of Norfolk.

First paragraph: “You’re not going to steal anything.” I left the question–Are you?–off the end of the sentence. But Cat heard it anyway.

Favorite lines: “We spent yet another rainy day endlessly sewing. I wondered at all the shirts we sewed. For the poor. For Cat’s husband. How many shirts did he need? Or was it like the fairy tales, and the things unsewed themselves every night? Was she forever sewing the same shirt, like Sisyphus pushing the rock up a mountain for all eternity?” p. 279

I was pleasantly surprised by this first book in the Gilt Novels series. Told from the point of view of a lady in waiting to Catherine Howard, the 5th wife of Henry VIII. Although Catherine is vain, selfish, spoiled, ambitious and reckless, Kitty is loyal to her friend. At first we see the fun-loving (but reckless) side of Catherine Howard. This can be forgiven while she is a “nobody” in the employ of the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk. But once she has caught the eye of Henry VIII and become the Queen of England, her recklessness puts the lives of those around her at risk. You won’t lose much sleep over the eventual fate of Cat, but will Kitty survive and learn to stand on her own two feet? Kitty is based on a real person, but not much is known about her. Ms. Turner has given her a bit of a love interest. The ending is bittersweet – we don’t know whether or not there will be a happily ever after for her. The historical setting of the book seems well researched, but the use of contemporary teenage attitudes and mannerisms makes it clear the series is aimed at contempory teens. That might be off-putting for adults used to more “authentic” historical fiction, but it wasn’t as off-putting as I had thought it might be from the description of this series as “Gossip Girl meets the Tudor Court.”

The books in this series are not chronological and stand alone. They can be read in any order.

Description: When Kitty Tylney’s best friend, Catherine Howard, worms her way into King Henry VIII’s heart and brings Kitty to court, she’s thrust into a world filled with fabulous gowns, sparkling jewels, and elegant parties. No longer stuck in Cat’s shadow, Kitty’s now caught between two men–the object of her affection and the object of her desire. But court is also full of secrets, lies, and sordid affairs, and as Kitty witnesses Cat’s meteoric rise and fall as queen, she must figure out how to keep being a good friend when the price of telling the truth could literally be her head.

About the author: Katherine Longshore grew up on the northern California coast. At university, she created her own major in Cross-Cultural Studies and Communications, planning to travel and write. Forever. Four years, six continents and countless pairs of shoes later, she went to England for two weeks, stayed five years and discovered history. She now lives in California with her husband, two children and a sun-worshiping dog.

The Queen of Attolia

The Queen of Attolia (The Queen's Thief, #2)The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nothing much to add that I didn’t say in my review of The Thief. Another enjoyable installment of the world created by Megan Whalen Turner – part fantasy, part adventure, part romance. Narrated by the wonderful Jeff Woodman.

Book Description: Picking up where the Newbery Honor Book “The Thief” left off, “The Queen of Attolia” finds Eugenides detained inside a dank torture chamber, where the Queen orders that his hand be cut off to punish him for his past trangressions. After his release, mischievous Gen retains his sense of adventure, but is haunted by his loss and a growing attraction to the ice-cold Queen of Attolia. But he remains fiercely loyal to his cousin, the Queen of Eddis. When war breaks out between Attolia and its two neighbors, Eddis and Sounis, Gen must use all of his smarts to devise a plan for getting the rulers together to end the conflict — and perhaps sweep the Queen of Attolia away for himself.

View all my reviews

The Hungry Little Bunny

Last Thursday was a gold banner day – a once in a lifetime day! And it is all thanks to social media and the Throwback Thursday theme. Two weeks ago I decided to post my first #tbt picture on Facebook. Last week I chose a picture of myself sharing a favorite book with my 6-month old sister.

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After I ran it through the scanner and had the picture enlarged on my computer, I gave a gasp. OMG! It was THAT book. The one I’d been looking for most of my adult life. My favorite book as a young child. I could describe it. I remembered the story about the rabbit that didn’t want his carrots and went around to see what the other animals ate. But I didn’t remember the name of the book or what the cover looked like. I had been looking for it FOREVER. At least it felt like it. I had searched libraries, described it to old children’s librarians, gone through the union catalog at library school hoping to find a likely title, searched the Golden Book archives, and tried multiple search strategies online.

Well, they say a picture is worth a thousand words, and I guess they are right! I got to work searching Google images for 1950s children’s books about rabbits. It didn’t take long to find a cover of a rabbit that had the same distinctive black ears that you can see in the photo above. The minute I saw it I got goosebumps. But I still wasn’t sure. Then I found this You Tube video of someone reading the book: The Hungry Little Bunny. The minute I saw the first page, I started crying. Yes, at work. I found my book!!!

Here it is on ebay, and this book is now MINE:

Hungry Little Bunny

Update: April 22

I was out of town visiting my folks for Easter this past weekend. Got home very late last night so didn’t check the mail box until on my way to work this morning. Yes, a package had arrived! I opened it as soon as I got to work. My co-workers have followed this story and felt that this moment required documentation, so with cell phone at the ready:

2014 04 22 001 Anticipation 2014 04 22 003 cropped

There I am, trying not cry yet again! It’s been quite the emotional journey! The book is in excellent condition and has that wonderful old book smell. Looking at it now, the illustrations are absolutely wonderful. I love how realistic the animals are, but at the same time they have the exaggerated big eyes that make baby animals so cute. Was this inspiration for the film animators of Bambi?

Hungry Bunny

And look at the wonderful flowers! I wouldn’t have noticed that at age 3, but the gardener me does now. Almost every page has a different flower illustrated, like the lady slipper and the bellflower shown here.

Still 5 stars after 55 years!

The Thief

The Thief (The Queen's Thief, #1)The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have been meaning to read this series for quite a long time now. And I love anything narrated by Jeff Woodman. The world created by Megan Whalen Turner here is a blend of medieval fantasy (kingdoms and castles, but no magic or dragons) and ancient Greek mythology (tales of gods and goddesses). I picture Gen as a young Matthew Broderick (Ladyhawke), with the same knack for getting himself in and out of trouble. Turner has created the background mythology of this world and woven the stories of the gods into the adventure. But are they just stories, or do the gods still have a hand in the fates of mankind? The plot twists will keep readers in suspense until the very end. I had to go back and listen to it a second time once I knew the ending. Recommended for age 12 and up, but I think younger children would also enjoy it.

Book Description: Gen, the young thief, spends his time pacing restlessly in the king’s prison. Chains on his arms and legs don’t permit him to move very far. If only he hadn’t bragged about stealing the monarch’s ring, he wouldn’t be here now! When the royal magus summons Gen to his office, he has a surprising proposal for the prisoner – steal a marvelous treasure for the kingdom and earn his freedom – but fail, and pay with his life. Escorted by four hostile guards, Gen sets off on a thrilling journey so filled with adventure and intrigue that the gods themselves must be involved.