Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

peregrine.jpgA 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.*

I went into this book not really knowing anything about it other than the fact that it has a cool cover and some of my friends enjoyed it, so the elements of historical fiction scattered throughout the novel were unexpected but really artfully employed. The parallel between the hollowgasts/wights and the Nazis was clear, and provided a convenient cover story for Grandpa Portman. Continue reading

Poisonfeather by Matthew FitzSimmons

poisonfeather.jpgWhen jailed billionaire Charles Merrick hints publicly that he has stashed a fortune in an offshore cache, a school of sharks converges upon his release from federal prison.

Among his swindled victims is Judge Hammond Birk, the man who saved Gibson Vaughn’s life when he was a troubled teenager. Now Gibson intends to repay that debt by recovering Merrick’s victims’ money.

But Gibson isn’t the only one on the trail of the hidden fortune.

The promise of billions has drawn a horde of ruthless treasure hunters, including an edgy ex-con, a female bartender with a mysterious history, a Chinese spy with a passion for fly-fishing, and a veritable army of hardened mercenaries. To stay ahead of the sharks and win justice for his mentor, Gibson will need all his formidable skills. But at the end of the road, he’ll still have to face “Poisonfeather”—a geopolitical secret that just might get Gibson killed…or worse.*

POISONFEATHER is book two in the Gibson Vaughn series (the first book being THE SHORT DROP) and I was lucky enough to have gotten my hands on a copy before its October 4 pub date! I was hooked on Matthew FitzSimmons’s writing all over again right from the first paragraph. He has a talent for putting the reader directly in the same place as the character–I began to feel a little claustrophobic and unclean, as though I were in the prison with Charles Merrick. Continue reading

“A Conversation About Privacy”: Discussing the Effects of a Digital Age

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From left to right: Sherry Turkle, Michael Friedman, James Graham, Daniel Radcliffe, and Jon Ronson.

The Public Theater in New York City is home to the Public Forum, which calls itself “the theater of ideas” and is host to various conversations and performances on a broad array of topics. On 1 August 2016, James Graham, Daniel Radcliffe, Jon Ronson, and Sherry Turkle took to the stage to form a panel–moderated by Michael Friedman–on the issue of privacy in today’s digital age.

As a graduate student of Library and Information Science, privacy is something that comes up frequently in my courses. It is imperative for future information professionals to have an understanding of the rights of our patrons, and throughout the one semester I have under my belt I’ve learned a lot about my own rights as a citizen of this country. For example, police are apparently required to have a court order before obtaining access to patron records. Continue reading

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

diary.jpgBestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.

Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author’s own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by Ellen Forney that reflect the character’s art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.*

I finished the second book in the GoT series earlier this week, which meant it was time for me to read a different book before diving into the third one. I chose THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN because it’s been on my TBR list for a while now, and I finally picked up a copy of it at a used bookstore up in Rochester a couple months ago. Continue reading

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

game of thrones.jpgLong ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. To the south, the king’s powers are failing—his most trusted adviser dead under mysterious circumstances and his enemies emerging from the shadows of the throne. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the frozen land they were born to. Now Lord Eddard Stark is reluctantly summoned to serve as the king’s new Hand, an appointment that threatens to sunder not only his family but the kingdom itself.

Sweeping from a harsh land of cold to a summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, A Game of Thrones tells a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens. Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; a child is lost in the twilight between life and death; and a determined woman undertakes a treacherous journey to protect all she holds dear. Amid plots and counter-plots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, allies and enemies, the fate of the Starks hangs perilously in the balance, as each side endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.*

…I can’t believe it’s been so long since I’ve posted anything here! I got into a bit of a reading rut and when I finally snapped out of it, I ended up choosing to read a book that took a little over two weeks to get through. It feels so good to be back to writing, even if it is just a review. I’m going to spend Thursday getting myself back into the routine of writing draft number three of my baby (the novel I started when I was 17) and just getting myself back to myself in general because I’ve been feeling really off kilter for the last week or so. It’s been a gradual process of reincorporating healthy eating, weight lifting and cardio, and yoga (nothing makes me feel as good as inversions and arm balances) into my daily routine; all that’s really left is reorganizing my room and making time for my art. I also have to give a lot of credit to my friends for snapping me out of the mental rut I was in without even knowing it. I couldn’t possibly ask to have better people in my life than the ones I’ve been blessed with. Continue reading

When We Collided by Emery Lord

when we collided.jpgSeventeen year-old Jonah Daniels has lived in Verona Cove, California, his whole life, and only one thing has ever changed: his father used to be alive, and now he is not. With a mother lost in a deep bout of depression, Jonah and his five siblings struggle to keep up their home and the restaurant their dad left behind. But at the start of summer, a second change rolls in: Vivi Alexander, the new girl in town.

Vivi is in love with life. Charming and unfiltered, she refuses to be held down by the medicine she’s told should make her feel better. After meeting Jonah, she slides into the Daniels’ household seamlessly, winning over each sibling with her imagination and gameness. But it’s not long before Vivi’s zest for life begins to falter. Soon her adventurousness becomes all-out danger-seeking.

Through each high and low, Vivi and Jonah’s love is put to the test . . . but what happens when love simply isn’t enough?* Continue reading

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

impossible knifeFor the past five years, Hayley Kincaid and her father, Andy, have been on the road, never staying long in one place as he struggles to escape the demons that have tortured him since his return from Iraq. Now they are back in the town where he grew up so Hayley can attend school. Perhaps, for the first time, Hayley can have a normal life, put aside her own painful memories, even have a relationship with Finn, the hot guy who obviously likes her but is hiding secrets of his own. Will being back home help Andy’s PTSD, or will his terrible memories drag him to the edge of hell, and drugs push him over?*

I don’t think I’ve ever had such a hard time starting a review for a book I liked so much! This is a really powerful story and to be honest I wasn’t sure how well a book about PTSD could be written for teens. Laurie makes the point in the Q&A at the back of my edition of the book that plenty of teens are forced to deal with difficult situations like those presented in this story every day; they can handle reading about it. She did an excellent job of portraying these issues candidly, unafraid to hold anything back. Continue reading