Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children: Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

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Hollow City is the second installment of the wildly popular series Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, authored by Ransom Riggs. There are mild spoilers for the first book ahead- I would highly recommend reading the first book before reading this review! You can find a review for the first book here.

Hollow City picks up where Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (the first book) left off. Jacob and his friends are in a boat, heading for the mainland, desperate to escape the wights that had been chasing them and restore Miss Peregrine to her human self. Along the way, traveling in and out of time loops, constantly on the run, they discover new and exciting things- including a menagerie filled with peculiar animals, Gypsies with a peculiar son, and the firsthand experience of the impact of World War II on England. However, the wights chasing them are getting closer and closer- and ymbrynes around the world are fast disappearing, falling victim to the wights perverse experiments. The children head to London, hoping to find the last remaining ymbryne- and save the world as they know it.

I really enjoyed this book! While it is an action and adventure book, I liked the way it dealt with very real themes, such as the devastating impact of World War II on England and all of Europe. Even while dealing with heavy subjects, the book had some well-timed humor that really helped add to the depth. It was packed with twists and turns that I wasn’t expecting. Overall, I would highly recommend this book- in fact, this entire series! I’ll be starting the third book later today- I’ll keep you posted 🙂

-Vaidehi B.

Hollow City by Ransom Riggs is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyer

It was oddly surprising. I had read the entire Twilight series and even though I already knew the story, it was intriguing to read it from a different perspective. It gave a lot more depth to the story and allowed me to get a full picture. Honestly, it was a little creepy because you realize that you’re reading it from the view point of a blood lusting creature and not a teenage girl. I found it oddly thrilling and sickening at the same time.

It wasn’t a new story but the new perspective definitely made me change how I saw the relationship as a whole. It’s funny I use to be team Edward because I liked Edward. Then was team Jacob. Then became team Edward solely because I believed Jacob deserved someone 100% better than Bella. Now I think she shouldn’t have ended up with any of them. I believe that would have some how been a cooler ending now that I have perspective. However, still an interesting read, would for sure recommend.

-Coralie D.

Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Book Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin made me read 459 pages in 3 hours. Which *wow*, it hurt my brain. Honestly I wasn’t expecting much from this book. It seemed like your typical 2010s YA starter book, with a sulky teenage girl MC and a badboy love interest. It took me months to convince myself to read this.

The book is about a girl, Mara Dyer, who suddenly loses her memory after an accident involving the death of her best friends and crush. After moving away to a Florida private school, that in my opinion reminds me way to much of Gilmore Girls’ “Chilton.” Mara is hounded by her classmates for catching the attention of British classmate, Noah Shaw. Honestly the author went all out with making him your stereotypical perfect bad boy who’s way too rich for his own good. It’s a bit trashy and cliché- but it’s fine because I’m trash for loving this stuff.

As Mara attends school paranormal activity begins happening. Random deaths appear and it seems Mara is at the center of it all. I won’t spoil anything but the plot was a 3.5/5 for me. It wasn’t horrible, but I barely remember any of it. However it was super easy to read through and wasn’t confusing or unrealistic.

This book is not deep in any sense but it does have some great qualities. Example one- NO LOVE TRIANGLE, FINALLY AN EARLY 2010s YA BOOK WITH ONE LOVE INTEREST. Example two- Noah Shaw… I know some people hate him because he’s kind of cliché, but leave me alone… I like Brits who have the “I hate everyone but you” trope. Example three- the main character wasn’t annoying. Usually characters in books like this are driven by impulse decisions that lead to annoyance. But this character was actually not spineless and naïve.

The one thing I was extremely disappointed by was the one-sided transparent side characters. The Jewish Black Bi Best friend, who’s name I forgot, felt like a token character rolled into someone who was only developed for the plot. The stereotypical blonde mean girl, who’s name I also don’t remember, is obsessed with Noah Shaw and ruining Mara’s life. It’s a bit annoying and I actually face palmed a few times while reading this. I don’t understand why the author would obsess over characters like Noah but make such bland side characters.

Now for my most controversial character, Noah Shaw. This man was obviously written to keep readers enticed. He’s written eye candy. From the moment we read about his charming London accent to speaking numerous languages and suggestive words. This man was built not just to flirt with Mara but to make the reader blush. Not to mention he has the face structure and body of a Greek god. It’s just unfair and unrealistic at that point. That being said, and wow I’m disappointed in myself. But Michelle Hodkin’s tactics worked because I loved him. Does he have flaws? Definitely. Is he so unrealistic it hurts? Yes and maybe I just have low standards so it doesn’t matter.

Overall this book is a 3.5/5 for plot. 2/5 for side characters. 4/5 for main character. 4/5 for Noah because I may or may not be in love with him. I recommend reading this book for fun. But trust me- you will gain absolutely nothing educational out of this. But you will waste about 4 hours and have a raging headache for lying on the couch in the same position all morning.

So yes, read it.

-Ashley Y.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin is available for checkout at the Mission Viejo Library.

Burn For Burn Trilogy by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian

Burn for Burn – Alison Doherty

The Burn for Burn Trilogy is definitely interesting. The series is written by two well-known authors: Jenny Han, who has written To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, and Siobhan Vivian, who has written the list. Two amazing teen romance authors that write a good trilogy together. The three books in the series are Burn for Burn, Fire with Fire, and Ashes to Ashes.

The story takes place on Jar Island, a small tourist island where everyone knows everybody. Three girls: Kat, Lillia, and Mary are all brought together with a goal to get revenge. They all think that revenge is sweet, but it does have drastic results. Their friendship is a secret because in real life they could never be friends.

I think that I read Ashes to Ashes in a bookstore when it came out years ago, but I don’t think I read the whole thing, and I had forgotten I read it. When I started the series recently, I didn’t realize I had read some of the third book until around halfway of Fire with Fire. That already should be concerning to a reader, that the first and third books of the same series were so drastically different. I was hooked into the story at the beginning since I thought it was a normal teen romance book that would have been considered light. I was wrong. I didn’t expect to end the series with the third book being a paranormal romance book. I also don’t like how the writers make you jump back and forth rooting for two different guys the whole entire time. It was a bit much. I still think the series is worth a read, but I don’t like how drastically the writers’ path changed. I think that the first book was the most well written, but you will get hooked into the story that you have to read the second and third books, but they don’t live up to the expectation of Burn for Burn.

-Rebecca V. 11th Grade

The Burn For Burn series is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. They can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

Serafina and the Splintered Heart by Robert Beatty

Serafina and the Splintered Heart is the exciting third installment of the Serafina series, with Serafina and the Black Cloak and Serafina and the Twisted Staff being the first two. 

Serafina wakes up to a drastically different world from the one she remembers. An old enemy becomes a new ally, while other foes become more deadly.   If Serafina doesn’t expel the evil force that is seething with rage from past battles, all of Biltmore, (the enormous estate within the Blue Ridge Mountains) and its inhabitants, will be destroyed.  Serafina must band together with her friends, old and new, to put an end to the enemy who cannot be killed before he puts an end to everything they love.

I loved this book and I wish it wasn’t the last in this series. All the books are so unique compared to the typical books you see today. The way the author describes the setting of majestic Asheville, North Carolina, makes you feel like you’re really there. This is an amazing book topping off a great trilogy and I definitely recommend it!

-Kaitlyn S.

Serafina and the Splintered Heart by Robert Beatty is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Hunger by Michael Grant

Hunger, written by Michael Grant, is the well written sequel to Gone. In the first book, everyone above the age of fifteen disappears. The other kids, fourteen and under, need to survive. But, when the kids have their birthday and turn fifteen, they have a choice. They could either step out of the FAYZ (the area where all adults have disappeared) or they could stay. In Hunger, Sam and his friends decide to stay, and now the kids are running out of food, water, and are on the brink of death.

I really enjoyed this book; especially because of how suspenseful and gruesome it is compared to the first novel. Even in the first chapter, a innocent boy dies to a swarm of mutated worms that burrow into his body. This was a thrilling start to the book and kept me on edge throughout the novel!

Beside food shortages, Sam’s evil brother Caine is back and wants revenge. In between books, Caine has been visiting a dark creature. It has been living under ground in a mine shaft waiting for someone to find it. In order to survive, the Darkness needs  radioactive substances. Caine goes to the power plant, takes it over, and then takes the Darkness its food.

In the climax of the book, Sam and his friends try to stop Caine and the Darkness. Surprisingly, Caine ends up betraying the Darkness and burying it in the mine shaft! Sam and Caine part ways and the kids discover a way to produce food by fishing and farming. I really enjoyed this book, especially with all of its surprising twists, deaths, and an all around great story line.

-Daniel C

Hunger by Michael Grant is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Roseblood by A. G. Howard

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From this beloved author we were told how Lewis Carroll wrote the stories wrong: how Wonderland is actually not a child’s world, but one of twisted madness, Tim Burton like worlds, and hot guys who wear hats and vine like tattoos. Now, get to learn that we also have a beloved opera that has been written wrong.

Enter into a world based in France, where the school Rune Germain has transferred to has its own Phantom of the Opera. Rune’s life is complicated: she was almost killed by her grandma, nearly killed a boy by kissing him, and on top of all that, her voice was cursed, causing her to let out faint sounds every time she sings. Meanwhile, young Thorn lives with a man named Erik, who is the phantom of the opera and has mask covering the burnt portion of his face. Thorn must do what Erik says, even if it is wrong, for reasons kept secret. What happens when Rune and Thorn’s destined fates cross? A lot basically, and not all of it good.

I love A. G. Howard as an author, especially with her Splintered series. That was why, since I saw the book at the library, I immediately picked it up and started to read it. The cover and colored ink on the inside looked very similar. Although not the same madness like tone that the Splintered series was written in, the mystical feel suits a archaic opera like time. The plot twist is also very interesting.

However, the book disappointed me in various ways too. For example, A. G. Howard, like always, expects you to remember the mysterious boy that appears in the girl’s dreams, the one that only appeared for one sec in the beginning and was not memorable enough. Additionally, compared to the Splintered series, she tells the story really fast. This is also more of a preference, but I didn’t like the way she told the story. She told the story through both Rune and Thorn’s point of view, and while both are important to the story, I feel as though it muddles things up. However, that is more personal. All in all, it was still a very great story and I would recommend it to everyone who wants to read it cause of the author, supernatural elements, or the like.

-Megan V, 12th Grade

Roseblood by A. G. Howard is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

The Diviners by Libba Bray

There is a recently-added feature to the YA section called “Allen’s Pick”.  And, as I was walking through the library, I spotted this little tag and decided to give the recommended novel a try.  Little did I know it was the perfect kick-off to my summer, fulfilling my favorite three genres:  historical fiction, fantasy, and mystery.  Though the main character, Evie O’Neill (a Diviner, herself), and I got off on the wrong foot, I soon began to fall in love with her charming wit and Bray’s use of decadent literature.

The year is in the 1920’s where 17-year-old Evie O’Neill is performing her party act in front of her slightly drunk friends.  She asks for a person’s possession.  She touches it, falling into a deep trance before delivering the verdict.  In one case, she uncovers one boy’s secrets.  Without thinking, Evie spills, causing quite the uproar and later the punishment of moving to live with her mysterious uncle in upstate New York.  While Evie’s parents believed they were sending Evie to her mortal hell, the star-struck-wannabe-flapper was cooking up something entirely different.

I thoroughly enjoyed Bray’s novel, for its language, plot, and musical references.  She certainly did her research, finding what a teenage girl in New York in the 1920’s would be doing with her life.  I even had to google ‘Libba Bray age’ to make sure she was not 108 and therefore was not 17 years old in 1921.  Bray then went on to write a sequel to the Diviners, entitled, the Lair of Dreams.  Next time you visit the library, I would definitely recommend looking for the “Allen’s Pick” tag, and try a new read!

-Maya S.

The Diviners series by Libba Bray is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Mirage by Kristi Cook

Mirage by Kristi Cook is the sequel to Haven, a mystery romance novel. Violet McKenna is 17 years old and going to spend her senior year at Winterhaven with her friends and vampire boyfriend Aidan. She spends her summer break at home in Atlanta away from Aidan to catch up with her best friend, Whitney. Dr. Byrne helps Violet with her visions and a transfer student, Tyler, appears in Violet’s life as well as other new characters throughout the book. While Aidan is finding a cure for his vampirism, a vampire killer is on the loose killing innocent people leading him to find out who it is. Violet starts getting visions throughout the book about what the future holds. Do you think Aidan will find his cure? Will Violet and Aidan end up together? Well you have to read the book to find out.

I definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys books that involve vampires, school life, and friendship. If you enjoyed the first book, then this book is a must. This book was a good read in my opinion and it was interesting with the intense plot twist and secrets being revealed. I love the new characters involved and Violet and Aidan’s relationship. There is a sequel to this book called Eternal and it’s the last book in the series.

-Vanessa T.

Mirage by Kristi Cook, and the rest of the titles in the Haven series, is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Haven by Kristi Cook

The first book in the Winterhaven series, Kristi Cook’s Haven is a mystery romance about a 16 year old girl named Violet Mckenna  and her journey throughout her new life at Winterhaven. Back in Atlanta, at school Violet was known as a freak because she sees visions of her dad’s murder. But, later she goes to New York with her stepmother Patsy and goes to a new boarding school called Winterhaven. Winterhaven was not just an ordinary school, but a school filled with secrets and students having special psychic abilities or “gifts”. Violet meets a small group of friends and she finally finds a place where she seems normal. At school, she meets the most popular guy in school named Aidan Gray and they start developing feeling for each other. While Violet dated Aidan she noticed he’s keeping something away from her. Aidan has been keeping a secret that none of the students know about and later on revealed that he was a vampire. After that there’s a plot twist where there’s a spin on a tragic event that happens to Violet and Aidan relationship.

I would recommend this book if you like mystery, paranormal, romance, and friendship involved. I like the build up towards the middle till the end and it has an interesting plot twist involved. If you like the book Twilight, then this is a spin on that book with a different plot twist that involves vampires and a bit of werewolves. In this book, you can see the journey Violet has taken in her stay at her new school and getting to know her new friends. There is a sequel to this book called Mirage.

Vanessa T.

Haven, and the rest of the Winterhaven novels by Kristi Cook are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library