Wintery day book reviews

Mother Nature can be so cruel: she teased us with nearly 70 degree weather and sunshine last weekend, but has given us rain (and snow!) all week.

Not cool.

I don’t know about you, but cold days make me want to be under a blanket, curled up with a book. I’ve read three so far this year – so I thought I would share my [very] amateur review of them. I’d be really interested if anyone has read these – and if your thoughts are different or similar to mine!

[Note – these reviews are entirely my opinion – so please don’t take offense if you feel differently. Pretty please!]

1. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs – 2 out of 5 stars. I had such high hopes for this book. I have a slight obsession with circuses, carnivals and all the wonderfully odd people who inhabit them, so maybe my sky-high expectations unfairly set this book up for failure – but nevertheless, it failed me. The beginning was great: the story was intriguing and the pictures of the peculiar children really made the author’s words come alive. But it quickly went downhill from there. The middle of the book was tolerable at best, and by the end, I was skipping entire pages just to get through it. As it usually is, my main objection to the book was the characters and how they interacted. Dialogue was painfully forced and unrealistic, the climax of the book was drawn out and contrived and the writing left plenty to be desired. Something that really bothered me is that we were expected to empathize with characters we were just introduced to – and the fact that some of these characters were quite obnoxious didn’t help. This is a teen book, so maybe a younger audience would enjoy it. But my personal opinion: pass. But do take a few minutes when you’re in a book store next to check out the pictures – they are historical photos and super cool.

2. All the Pretty Horses, by Cormac McCarthy – 4 out of 5 stars. Another great book by my favorite author. This story about two young men who leave Texas on horse-back and cross the border into the wild land of Mexico is gripping and wonderfully written. McCarthy has an amazing talent of pulling readers in and developing relationships with the characters. This is a story of love, friendship and the things people will go through for their loved ones and friends. Parts of the book wove in Spanish dialogue (they are in Mexico, after all), however, it was done in such a way that I, someone who knows very little Spanish, was able to follow what was going on. That’s brilliant writing. One side note: whenever I recommend a McCarthy book, I warn people that he does not use quotation marks for dialogue. It doesn’t bother me at all, but it can sometimes be confusing. But other than that, this is a book I would definitely recommend.

3. Night Circus, by Erin Morgansteen – 3 out of 5 stars. As I mentioned above, I love reading about circuses. I loved Water for Elephants, so when I heard about Night Circus, I figured I would enjoy it as well. My verdict? Eh. I’m really so-so about this one. The writing was definitely better than Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, however, I still thought the author struggled with the same character development issues, particularly involving the story’s love interests. The descriptions of the circus and the letters included in the book were fantastic. The magic and illusions around which the book centered were exactly what I was looking for, but close to the end, the author lost me. Maybe I need to exercise my imagination a little, but for me, it was just too far out there.

I’m reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn right now. I certainly hope the book gets better, because as of right now, I’m not a fan. Has anyone else read this? Please tell me the characters actually become likable human beings…

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