Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar ChildrenI finished the first book on my new Kindle tonight: Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. I read it off and on in two days. I’m not really sure what I expected. The premise could have been horror or fantasy, and I was prepared for both. I had heard the book compared to Harry Potter and X-Men, and after reading it, I fully agree with that comparison. Miss Peregrine runs a home for children with abilities, children who have no place else to go. It’s a lot deeper than that, though, and I don’t want to spoil the book by giving away too many details. While the photos and some of the characters are creepy, the book is definitely not horror.

The overall premise is this: Following the death of his grandfather, 16-year-old Jacob Portman sets out to find answers about his grandfather’s death and the life he lived by visiting the place his grandfather grew up. There, Jacob finds his grandfather’s former headmistress, and the kids he grew up with all exactly how his grandfather left them; they haven’t aged a day. By learning more about the life his grandfather led, Jacob learns more about himself.

The book uses old, vintage photographs and hand-written notes to illustrate characters and scenes. I’ve never seen that done before, but it was interesting. Riggs stated that the photographs are real; he simply created stories for the people in them. Perhaps due to the photographs, the story is incredibly atmospheric. Reading it, I felt like I stepped back in time.

My one gripe, if I had to have one, would be that Jacob was hard for me to relate to at the beginning, because he was a rich kid who was having things (his job, his car, and a psychiatrist to name a few) handed to him. I think his family’s wealth was important to get Jacob to the island, however, and without it we might not have had a story. Jacob grew on me as the story went on, though, and I felt his struggles toward the end. In a way, I felt Jacob grew and matured as the story went on. This is a minor gripe, and one I admit is drawn from personal preference. I guess I prefer characters who have to struggle more. This did not take away from the story in any way.

The first thirty percent of the book set everything up, and the last seventy raced for me. I couldn’t put the book down. The ending left a lot open for a sequel. Luckily, it’s readily available.

Mommy Dearest

I’ve been thinking about my mom a lot lately, and it’s unsettling. I love her. I really do. I just can’t explain why, really.

I have memories, pretty bad ones, in which she let me down.

She kicked me out of the house when she found out I was gay.

She would get drunk every single night when I was in high school, and keep me up hours later than I should have been staying up, bitching about cleaning, her life, and everything else.

She stole money from my birthday cards.

During my senior year, I had to write an autobiography, and my mom found it, read it, was embarrassed about what she read (details about me being taken away by DSS when  I was four, going to live with my grandfather, and then being put in a children’s home), and went to my school to talk to my guidance counselor and the teacher I wrote the autobiography for, and told them I made it up.

She would let me get cats, and then get tired of them and put them outside. They all disappeared or died.

She got me Driver’s Education classes for my birthday one year, and I started taking them. The instructor let me drive with him for two days. The second day was when my mom was supposed to pay him when he dropped me off at home. She wasn’t there. We sat in the driveway for hours before the instructor apologized to me and told me he had to drop me. That was so embarrassing, and I felt so betrayed.

She habitually lies to me, saying she’ll do things for me, like send me money for Christmas or my Birthday, and if she does actually end up doing it, it’s late. She’ll be like, “Have you checked the mail today? It should be there,” knowing damn well she hasn’t sent it. What’s weird is she does come through some of the time. Just enough to give me hope that she loves me and is trying to be a good mother.

I still love her. I still keep her in my life even after all of the things that she has done, or not done. She’s family, and I only get one mother. I guess, deep down, I still have hope she’ll change. It’s kind of like watching a movie you’ve seen before. When the Titanic is about to hit the iceberg in Titanic, I’m on the edge of my seat wincing, thinking maybe this time the Titanic won’t hit the iceberg. Maybe Rose and Jack can have a happy ever after. The Titanic sinks. Jack dies.

I have four brothers from my mom. I have a few more siblings from my dad. Anyway, three of my brothers from my mom are triplets, and are 12 years old. My other brother, Kenny, is a year younger than me. Kenny bought the triplets a Wii U, and my little brothers have been so excited about it. They’ve been playing lots of different games, and have been calling me to talk about them, or beg me to play online with them. I just learned from one of them that a couple weeks ago my mom pawned their Wii U because she needed money. She told them not to tell me, because I’d be mad. Damn right, I’m mad. It’s more of the same shit she did to me, only now it’s to my little brothers. I’ve considered buying and sending them a new Wii U, but my mom is just going to eventually pawn that one, too.

Sorry for the rant. I needed to get this out of my system.

I got a new Kindle.

I got a new Kindle, a Kindle Paperwhite to replace my Kindle Touch. This will be my second upgrade since first getting a Kindle in 2009ish. I gave my first Kindle, the first model with the clunky keyboard, to my friend Raul when I got the Kindle Touch. The light on my case recently died, and instead of replacing my case, I decided to upgrade my Kindle. The Paperwhite is lighter, has a longer battery life, has smoother page turns and better touch controls, and has a back-lit screen. This means I don’t have to mess with lights. I loved my Kindle Touch, but lighting was always an issue. Normally I regret upgrading devices, because I figure if I already have a working device, there is no sense wasting money to just get a newer one, but I feel really good about this purchase decision. A former co-worker and friend recommended the upgrade to me, saying she is in love with her Paperwhite. My Paperwhite arrived in the mail today, and after using it for a couple of hours, I fell in love with it already, too. Now, I have three Kindles.

Kindles

I named my new Paperwhite Centurian after a Cylon model in Battlestar Galactica. I know it’s nerdy, but we’re talking about Kindles here, so there can’t be too much nerdom. Alpha 5 is my Kindle Fire HD. I use it to read comics and graphic novels mostly, although I’d like to start using it more as a general tablet since it is capable of more. I used my Touch, Toaster (and now my Paperwhite) to read actual books, because the e-ink screen is easier on my eyes. I can’t read on the Fire for extended periods of time without my eyes getting tired. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with Toaster now that I have Centurian. I don’t really want or need to sell the Kindle, and I’m not aware of any friends who would actually use it. I’m thinking I might just keep it charged as a back up, in case my Paperwhite is dead and I want to read. Maybe Lee can use it from time to time as well.

What are you guys’ thoughts on E-Readers? When the Kindle and Nook first came out, I was against getting one, thinking I would always prefer the feel of actual books. I got my first Kindle as a surprise Christmas present, though, and decided to use it a little, at least. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. Now, I don’t read physical books at all. It’s kind of sad, really. I like having my entire library on one device. I still own some physical books I bought years ago, but I haven’t bought a physical book in a really long time. Another feature of Kindle-reading I like is hearing about a book, reading reviews for it, and then being able to read the book within minutes. I don’t have to go anywhere to get it; I just purchase it (much cheaper than the physical copy) and download it.

I haven’t tried the Nook, mainly because my first Kindle was gifted to me, and after that, I had an entire library on Kindle, and it didn’t make sense to switch to a Nook. Barnes and Noble seems like they are kind of going under, too, and Amazon is as strong as ever.

I recently bought Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. People are comparing this book (the first in a series) to Harry Potter and X-Men. It contains vintage photographs the author cleverly integrated into the novel. I’m not very far — Chapter Two — but I like it so far. I’ll post a review when I’m done.