Monthly Archives: September 2015

Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs

Library of Souls, the third book of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children, starts up where the second book, Hollow City, left off. Jacob has developed the unexpected skill of communicating with hollows. Jacob, Emma, and Addison make their way to Devil’s Acre, a loop for Peculiars you probably don’t want to meet in a dark alley. Caul has kidnapped their friends and locked them in a tower in Devil’s Acre, but getting inside to rescue them proves quite tricky and requires a Panloopticon and a hollow, two things that are hard to acquire.

The Miss Peregrine series is one that is impossible to describe, but incredibly fun to read. Library of Souls is well-written, exciting, and has the most perfect ending. I could barely put the book down and couldn’t wait to find out how it would all turn out. I highly recommend it (but you must read the first two books first or it won’t make any sense at all)!

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2015: 83
Pages Read in 2015: 23,614
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Filed under Fantasy

The Valley of Fear by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

In the first part of the book, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson arrive at a manor house to investigate the murder of the man of the house. Sherlock focuses on a single strange clue in the room – a single barbell missing its partner. He solves the mystery, but not why it happened. That backstory is told in the second part when the man of the house lived in America and got mixed up in a gang posing as a respectable men’s society.

The way the story was told in the two parts is very effective. The first part is engaging and interesting throughout. The second part is slow-moving for about half of it. The two parts are of equal length so sometimes I felt like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had just added needlessly to the second part to make is as long as the first. Nevertheless, it’s a good mystery and I only guessed the answers just a page or two before my guesses were revealed to be correct. I recommend reading The Valley of Fear.

4 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2015: 81
Pages Read in 2015: 22,924
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Filed under Classic, Mystery

Michael Vey 5: Storm of Lightning by Richard Paul Evans

The fifth book in the Michael Vey series opens right where the fourth one left off. The Electroclan succeeded in rescuing Jade Dragon, but the news that the ranch has been bombed and there are no survivors puts a damper on their happiness. They return to the ranch and find utter devastation with no one left but one barely alive Elgen guard. The kids return to the US and discover everything they think they know is wrong and eventually end up at a ranch in Utah. Meanwhile, Hatch and his glows and Elgen army finally arrive at Tuvalu and quickly take control of the island nation (serious comparisons to Hitler and his rise to power here). Hatch appoints Quentin king, but the loyal glows may not be as loyal as previously thought. Finally, former-chairman Schema reappears in Europe and is whisked off by the 16th electric kid to meet The Voice.

This book does a lot of necessary setting up for the last two of the series. The things that happened really have to when they do and merging it in with the other books likely would not have worked. Nothing happened that is as exciting as, say, blowing up the Ampere, but many smaller things happened that were nail-biters. It was a bit less stressful for me to read than the previous book and that helped me enjoy it more. In fact, I’d put it as a contender for my top two Michael Vey favorites (tied with the first one, Prisoner of Cell 25). Once again there was a cliffhanger that left me excited for the next book. I very highly recommend Michael Vey 5: Storm of Lightning by Richard Paul Evans.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2015: 80
Pages Read in 2015: 22,729
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Filed under Middle Grades

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Basil Hallward paints Dorian Gray’s portrait and is so impressed by how beautiful and youthful Dorian looks. Dorian is saddened by the thought that he will one day grow old and makes a wish that he would stay looking like the portrait forever. Encouraged by Lord Henry, Dorian begins to do things that are not kind or decent. Dorian discovers his portrait changes based on his behavior. As the years go by, Dorian stays young and innocent looking while his portrait begins to look evil and old. Eventually, Dorian’s conscience catches up with him and he decides to turn his life around and “kill” the portrait.

The Picture of Dorian Gray is well-written, though it does get wordy and tedious at times. The description of Dorian’s madness at leading a sort of double life is well done. The differences between Basil and Lord Henry, one encouraging Dorian to be a good person and the other encouraging him to enjoy himself no matter who he has to step on in the process, reminded me of the concept of an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. I recommend this book.

4 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2015: 79
Pages Read in 2015: 22,441
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Filed under Classic

The Man Without a Country by Edward Everett Hale

The Man Without a Country by Edward Everett Hale is a short story about Army Lieutenant Philip Nolan who says he wishes to never hear of the United States again during his trial for treason. His wish is granted and he becomes a man without a country. He lives on a ship and no one is allowed to talk with him about the United States or even mention his former country in his presence. By the end of his life he wants nothing more than to have news of the country he once despised, but realizes too late that he loves.

The story is okay. It’s very slow and a bit boring to read. The ending is decent and bittersweet. It reads very fast since it is so short (around 50 pages) so it is worth reading, but definitely not a must-read.

3 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2015: 78
Pages Read in 2015: 22,169
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Filed under Historical Fiction

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

Set at an opera house in Paris, Christine Daae is a young singer with a beautiful voice. She has been tutored by a man she calls The Angel of Music, later revealed to be Erik, the Opera Ghost. Raoul, a friend she has not seen in many years, falls in love with Christine, which makes Erik very jealous. Erik wants to keep Christine for his own and attempts to force her to stay with him.

The Erik/Christine relationship is abusive and controlling. Raoul is annoying and flat. However, the writing is excellent and the story is told in an amazing way. The book makes the musical make more sense at some parts. Even with how abusive Erik is toward Christine, I found myself feeling very sorry for him and what he had gone through in his life just for the crime of being “ugly.” I was left feeling a bit hollow when I finished The Phantom of the Opera, but I still recommend it, particularly for fans of the musical.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2015: 77
Pages Read in 2015: 22,119
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Filed under Realistic Fiction

Miracles & Mayhem in the ER by Dr. Brent Rock Russell

Spanning the time of his residency through the first few years as an ER doctor, Dr. Russell weaves the story of becoming a doctor, his best friend’s stress as he went through a malpractice court case (I was holding my breath reading the last couple pages leading up to the outcome!), and lots of memorable stories of people who crossed his path (and the paths of other doctors and a paramedic). Some of the stories were funny, some were scary, some were nothing short of amazing. All were told in an engaging, fun to read way. I highly recommend this book!

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2015: 76
Pages Read in 2015: 21,767
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Filed under Non-Fiction