Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Book 1) by Ransom Riggs

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All his life, Jacob has been told his grandfather’s unbelievable stories: invisible children, women who turn into birds, an entire world filled with magical possibilities. Jacob never believed the stories were true, but, when his grandfather is killed in a tragic accident, Jacob has no choice but to believe the unbelievable. The problem is, the rest of Jacob’s family thinks he’s gone crazy. Faced with family who believes he’s suffering from stress hallucinations, and grappling with an unfathomable truth, Jacob must get to the bottom of his grandfather’s fanciful stories. Will he find the world his grandfather described, or is he really lost his mind?

In the mood for a mystery/thriller with a spooky twist? Miss Peregrine’s is for you! Though it wasn’t the scariest book I’ve ever read, there were definitely some solidly scary parts, and the mystery is solid. Also amazing are the old pictures inserted throughout the text — these were really cool to look at, and they added a lot to the story. If you’re feeling in the spooky/scary spirit, but don’t want something too scary, give this one a try. Don’t forget that it’s a series, so keep reading if you love it!

Rating: 4/5

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.  

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The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

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When Cia finishes her basic schooling, all she wants to do is be chosen for The Testing, a series of trials designed to determine those students able enough to go to University. Cia’s father went to University and is now a leading agricultural scientist in the society. But, though Cia’s dreams are of University, she has little idea of what the Testing actually entails. When Cia gets her wish and is chosen for the Testing, she is elated. But warnings from her father make her question her joy. Though her father doesn’t remember much of the process, he is haunted by nightmares relating to the Testing, and wants nothing more than to shield his children from the process. His one piece of advice before Cia leaves forever: trust no one.

If you loved Hunger Games and/or Divergent, The Testing might be a good next pick for you. Though I would argue that this book is a bit too similar to the other series, it’s still enjoyable if you’re a dystopian fan. As usual, the romantic relationship between the two main characters annoyed me, but that’s because I felt Cia incredibly foolish to trust anyone during the Testing process. I also felt that Cia was a hard character to connect to, and it wasn’t as enjoyable a read as other dystopian picks. Don’t take my word for it, though. Just because it’s not my favorite book doesn’t mean it won’t be yours!

Rating: 3/5

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here. 

The Thickety by J.A. White

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When Kara is just a child, her mother is hung for the crime of witchcraft. Now Kara, her father, and her brother, Taff, are left branded as a family corrupted by magic in a town where magic is the most offensive crime. Kara is terrorized at school, her family’s farm is vandalized, and they remain on the brink of starvation. One day, Kara is led into the Thickety, a forbidden forest ruled by Sordyr and inhabited by dangerous creatures. In the Thickety, Kara is led to a grimoire, a book that allows her to cast spells. Now that Kara knows she possesses magic, she must decide how to wield her new power. Should the village find out about her, she knows she would meet the same fate as her mother. But the call of the grimoire is all but irresistible, and Kara could do so much a little magic.

So, the good parts of this book were really good. It’s got suspense, it’s got scary parts, and it’s got plot twists. But other parts were just meh. If you’re into books about witches or if you’re in the mood for a Halloween-y type read, give this one a shot. Like I said, there were some really good parts in it — especially involving Kara’s archenemy, Grace. Plus, the artwork is really amazing and creepy. If you love it, check out the next two books in the series!

*Lonestar, 2014

Rating: 3.5/5

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here. 

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

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Captured and held as a British spy in Nazi occupied France, Queenie, after weeks of torture, has finally broken. In order to avoid further interrogation and to have some hope of survival, Queenie must tell the Nazis everything — every piece of code she remembers, the location of every air base she can think of, every person she came into contact with — everything. In her desperate confession, Queenie tells the story of her unlikely friendship with Maddie, a female pilot. As details of the two girls’ experience in the war surface, it becomes more and more likely that their paths may be severed forever, and Queenie’s chances of survival grow smaller by the day.

Wow! I was truly impressed with this book. There are so many unexpected twists and revelations, and I certainly wasn’t ready for the story to be over. I listened to the audiobook for this one, and so I got even more of the emotion and suspense portrayed through the readers’ words. I highly recommend it. If you’re a fan of historical fiction at all, or if you love books with a lot of depth and suspense, give this one a try. If you love it, there’s a sequel!

* SLJ Best Book of the Year, 2012

* Edgar Award, 2013

*Printz Award Nominee, 2013

*YALSA Teen’s Top Ten, 2013

Rating: 4.5/5

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.

Splendor by Anna Godbersen

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The final book of The Luxe series finds Diana and Henry still scrambling to find each other amid the whispers of New York society. Elizabeth, though comfortably married to Mr. Cairns, discovers that her supportive husband may not be all he appears to be. However, untangling the truth of her new life may prove deadly. Carolina, having risen from a servant girl to the toast of society, seems to be getting everything she wants — including the prestigious hand of an established New York heir. And Penelope is still grappling with the shards of her ruined marriage. Godbersen’s finale to the series ties up all loose ends in a rather satisfying manner, with enough surprise to keep you guessing until the end.

Being done with this series feels…pretty good! Don’t get me wrong, I loved this ending and I thought the series was great, but, by then end, I was ready to be done. I honestly feel like this book should be the third and last book in the series. After everything that happened in his book (and there’s a ton of twists!), the third book felt unnecessary. Definitely finish the series out if you’ve started it — the plot developments and story endings in this book are worth it! But if you’re thinking about skipping the third book, you maybe can.

Rating: 4/5 

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.