Movie Review: “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children”

Image: Coming Soon

Image: Coming Soon

Rating: 2 out of 5

Well, as much as I wanted this film adaptation to be a raving success, I came home last night angry and disappointed. To be fair, I’ve never been much of a Tim Burton fan, but I felt that his penchant for creepy cool tales would be fitting for the popular Ransom Riggs novel about a supernatural group of misfits.

Let’s start off with the few pros of the movie. I enjoyed the casting: Asa Butterfield as Jacob was a bit wooden and Eva Green was inappropriately young for the role of the elderly Miss Peregrine, but overall the actors worked well together. I even accepted the strange decision to cast Allison Janney as Dr. Golan, who then changes form into the villainous wight known as Barron, played by Samuel L. Jackson, as simply a change in creative direction to support diversity.

The special effects were also impressive, and it was fun to see all the children show off their peculiar powers. I also greatly appreciated how the hollowghasts came to life: they were the tentacled Slenderman-esque monsters that I imagined.

Unfortunately, that’s where my compliments end. All the world-building and character development that occurred in the first half of the film came crashing down as the plot veered off course.

Nothing about the last half of the movie adheres to the novel. This is because the studio is not likely to make any sequels. It dawned on me that when Jacob and friends actually rescue Miss Peregrine instead of watch in horror as Dr. Golan kidnaps her that there would be no cliffhanger ending. And when the logic of the time loop is altered so that Jacob’s grandfather lives, that’s when I literally threw my hands up in the air and gave up all hope for cinematic redemption.

This adaptation is a prime example of how insulting it is when Hollywood uses the original ideas of authors to make money, and yet spit in the faces of the fans who are so passionate about these stories.

It continues to boggle my mind why directors can’t just look at books as paint-by-numbers. All the hard work has been done; you just need to follow directions and fill in the colors. And yet, this task was clearly too difficult for Burton.

As soon as I learned in the trailer that Emma and Olive’s peculiarities had been swapped, I saw massive red flags but chose to remain optimistic. Now that I’ve seen the movie in its entirety, I can’t even recommend it to non-fans of Miss Peregrine. It’s a clumsy, nonsensical mess. All I can hope now is that my intuition is correct and Hollywood won’t be turning Riggs’ sequels into equally horrendous failures. Fingers crossed!

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Book Review: Tales of the Peculiar

Image: Goodreads

Image: Goodreads

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Today is the premiere of Tim Burton’s film adaptation of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, and as disappointed as I am in its creative direction in regards to changing Emma’s entire peculiarity, I will begrudgingly give this movie a shot.

To amp myself up, I read Ransom Riggs’ latest book, Tales of the Peculiar, which was published this month and given to me by my brother as a birthday gift.

Fans of the series may be let down that this isn’t a prequel or sequel, but rather a collection of short stories, annotated by Millard Nullings, the intellectual ward of Miss Peregrine who is completely invisible.

All of these stories read as fables from peculiar history, teaching moral lessons, ranging from “stay true to yourself” to “be nice to pigeons.” Many are tongue-in-cheek revisions of idioms, turning metaphorical sayings into supernatural origin stories.

For example, in the tale, “The Splendid Cannibals,” a village of peculiars who can regrow limbs literally sell their arms and legs to maneaters to afford ever more lavish homes just to keep up with the Joneses. I don’t want to give away the ending, but it’s certainly a morbid way to warn against materialism.

Even though no major characters of Riggs’ series make appearances, this book is a nice treat that’s short enough to read in a couple days. It has a gorgeous green cover with gold lettering, and the illustrations at the beginning of each story are wonderfully done. If you can’t get enough of the peculiar universe, then this is the book for you!

Book Review: Library of Souls

Image via Goodreads

Rating: 4 out of 5

And another series comes to an end with Library of Souls, the finale to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. I would have never jumped on this bandwagon without the recommendation of a good friend of mine, but I’m so glad I did!

Following the story of the last sequel, Hollow City, Jacob and Emma must put their lives at risk in order to save their fellow peculiar friends, Miss Peregrine, and the rest of the ymbrynes, who have been captured by the sadistic wights.

As the plot thickens, it becomes a battle between siblings as Miss Peregrine must confront the betrayals of her brothers, Bentham and Caul, who have been experimenting with the souls of peculiar children for their own gain.

Jacob also must find inner strength to harness his ability to control the menacing tentacled monsters known as hollowgast. When he learns of the addictive substance of ambrosia, will he succumb to the temptation to use it to fuel his own powers?

I can’t say too much without giving away this story, but it’s a wonderful tale of supernatural suspense. As always, Riggs sprinkles in his creepy, cool vintage photographs to amplify the spooky mood.

When I recommend this series, I explain that it’s like X-Men, but with young children, and this description still rings true. The war between mutants and humans in that comic book series is similar to the one between peculiars and normals in this tale. It’s entertaining to read about people who can manipulate fire or levitate, but it’s more intriguing to watch whether they use their abilities for good or for evil.

My only complaint with Library of Souls was its treatment of the hollowgast. Despite their dangerous nature, I sympathized with the creatures as Jacob honed his power over them. I wished that Riggs would have offered a more happy ending to Jacob’s first hollowgast, because the Holocaust-esque experiment that it was subjected to broke my heart.

Other than that, Library of Souls was the gripping conclusion to this series that I was hoping for, and I’m so looking forward to Tim Burton’s adaptation, starring Asa Butterfield as Jacob and Eva Green as Miss Peregrine. It is scheduled for release on Christmas of next year.

This ends my reading journey of 2015 with a total of 23 books completed! Be on the lookout for my review of Beautiful You by Chuck Palahniuk in the new year–I’m saving it until after my book club next week, because I have WAY too much to discuss!

Happy New Year, everybody!

XOXO Book Club Babe

My 2014 Reading Recap!

Happy New Year’s Eve!

2014 has finally come to an end, and I’ve read some great books in the process! To recap, I have completed 20 books, totaling over 6,877 pages! Eight of these were audiobooks, which goes to show how valuable my commute is in staying on track to meet my quota.

The video above discusses my top five books in detail, but below is the full list from best to worst. 2014 was all about comedic memoirs and chick-lit, with a few YA fantasies and works of literary fiction in the mix. I’m excited to see what’s in store for the new year!

Rating: 5 out of 5
1. Yes Please – Amy Poehler (2014)

Rating: 4.5 out of 5
2. Crazy Rich Asians – Kevin Kwan (2014)
3. Hollow City – Ransom Riggs (2014)

Rating: 4 out of 5
4. The Engagements – J. Courtney Sullivan (2013)
5. Wedding Night – Sophie Kinsella (2013)
6. Afterworlds – Scott Westerfeld (2014)
7. When We Were Orphans – Kazuo Ishiguro (2000)
8. A Well-Tempered Heart – Jan-Philipp Sendker (2014)
9. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened – Jenny Lawson (2012)
10. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before – Jenny Han (2014)
11. My Horizontal Life – Chelsea Handler (2004)
12. A Lot Like Love – Julie James (2011)
13. About That Night – Julie James (2012)
14. Love Irresistibly – Julie James (2013)

Rating: 3 out of 5
15. I Know I Am, But What Are You? – Samantha Bee (2011)
16. The Bedwetter – Sarah Silverman (2010)
17. Not That Kind of Girl – Lena Dunham (2014)
18. Deeply, Desperately – Heather Webber (2010)
19. Absolutely, Positively – Heather Webber (2011)

Rating: 2 out of 5
20. Reached – Ally Condie (2012)

So have you read any of these books, and if so, what did you think? And what were your top five books of 2014?

Book Review: Hollow City

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Thanks to a friend’s recommendation, I fell in love with Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, a young-adult story by Ransom Riggs that has soared in popularity since its debut in 2011.

It’s about teenager Jacob Portman who befriends a group of kids with special abilities after the mysterious murder of his grandfather.

These peculiars, as they’re called, are taken care of by Miss Peregrine, who belongs to a special race known as ymbrynes–women who can take the form of birds and manipulate time.

Jacob discovers Miss Peregrine and her peculiar children in a time loop set in 1940, which allows the troop to avoid aging and live forever.

However, all is not well, as evil tentacled creatures known as hollows are after the peculiars, as well as their masters called wights who are on a mission to steal their powers and control time.

In Riggs’ sequel Hollow City, Miss Peregrine has been kidnapped by wights and it’s up to her kids to rescue her. And because hollows cannot be seen by anyone other than Jacob, he must learn to strengthen his ability to sense the monsters and kill them.

Of course, the icing on this already delicious read is the vintage photographs. Supposedly all completely real and unaltered except for minor post-processing, they enhance the story’s creepy-cool vibe. They allow the reader to better imagine how the peculiars look and amplify the emotions of particular scenes.

Image via iTunes

Fans will enjoy this sequel for many reasons, including the developing romance between Jacob and Emma, and the deeper look into peculiar history. I felt like this universe has become more intricate, and Riggs does a great job of scrutinizing all of his characters for their actions, rather than rely on a two-dimensional dichotomy of good versus evil.

There’s not much else I can say about Hollow City, except that its sequel can’t come fast enough! Yes, the story continues, but we’ll have to wait about another year before the next installment! Bird willing!

Book Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Image via Goodreads

Rating: 4 out of 5

Well, today is a Book Club Babe first, because I just read my first guest recommendation! A good friend of mine from graduate school suggested that I read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (referred to as MPHPC from now on), which was written by Ransom Riggs last year. It was a book I would have never picked out for myself, but I’m glad I got the opportunity to broaden my horizons!

This book is just that, peculiar. It’s about a 16-year-old named Jacob who is rebelling against his family’s wealth from an extensive line of pharmacies. Because his parents aren’t the greatest and he has very few friends, he spends his time idolizing his grandfather, who growing up told him these crazy, spooky stories of monsters and kids with special abilities.

While you first think his grandpa’s just exaggerating his traumatic experiences from the Holocaust, he’s mysteriously murdered by one of the very monsters Jacob thought were fictional. After being accused of going insane and forced to see a shrink, he and his dad make their way to Wales where his grandpa had stayed with Miss Peregrine and her peculiar children.

What makes MPHPC special, however, are the creepy black-and-white photographs which are sprinkled throughout the pages. According to the author, these are real photos which he gained permission to use from private collectors (although whether they’ve been altered, I don’t know). Here’s an example:

Spooky, right? Jacob meets all kinds of new friends, like Emma who can produce fire, or Millard who’s invisible. I can’t give you many more details than that, but when the monsters return, it’s up to them to save themselves…and the world.

This was a very suspenseful, intriguing tale of unusual friendship. The end was abrupt to make way for a sequel, which I’ll be sure to read. This book was not terrifying enough to give me nightmares, so I would recommend it to other scaredy-cats like me.

And rumor has it that Tim Burton has signed on to direct the movie adaptation! I think it would be a perfect fit for him, and I can easily picture Helena Bonham Carter as Miss Peregrine, if they aged her a bit. Hmmm, but who would Johnny Depp be? Jacob’s dad?

All in all, I’m very pleased that I opened my mind by opening the pages of a book that, quite honestly, made me nervous. But the only thing to fear with MPHPC is the withdrawals you’ll experience at the end! I need that sequel!