Hello, hello! Today I am going to be chatting about Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. This Young Adult book I found on my sister’s shelf when I went home for the weekend and the images inside was what intrigued me to have a read. I had heard of the film of the same name directed by Tim Burton, but we all know books are better!
The book is about Jacob who has grown up hearing his stories about his Grandad in World War Two and living in a children’s home on an island. Years later when Jacob is at High School and working at a pharmacy store from which his parents own the overall company and he presumes he will one day inherit. He paints himself as quiet a loner as he mentions he only has one friend. His Grandad is older and relies on him and Jacob gets disillusioned with his stories. One day Jacob gets a phone call from his Grandad, going to check on him he finds his Grandad dying. His Grandad says to Jacob “… find the bird in the loop on the other side of the old man’s grave on September 3, 1940, and tell them what happened.” what is further odd is the fact that Jacob spots a monster. Seeing this monster scares Jacob and he ends up in therapy due to this. The therapist suggests visiting the island where his Grandad’s children’s home was for closure.
Jacob arrives on the island where it is freezing and wet with not a lot to do, he goes off to find the home and that is where the adventures begin…
The book although takes a little while to get going is really good. The plot gets confusing when Jacob gets to Wales and you understand what the loops are and Jacob as a character can be quite unlikeable (I really hate the fact that he doesn’t care about his summer job, when so many teens would love a job and the fact that he will take over the company one day). I thought I wasn’t going to like it at first as it is aimed for children (although it is one of those books that you can easily get away reading as an adult on the train without people looking at you weird). The story makes the characters come to life by adding in the images (most times a character was described, there would be an photo of the character).
If you enjoy fantasy or Young Adult books or want something a bit different to read, it is worth giving this a go.
Author: Helen Russell
Publish Date: 2015
Genre: Non- fiction
Journalist Helen Russell just a year ago was living in London working in an extremely stressful job when her husband gets the opportunity to work at Lego for a year. Not being sure at first Helen does some research and finds that Denmark is one of the most happiest countries on the planet and she is intrigued why. Helen’s Danish journey is set out in 13 stages that follow the months of the year and an extra chapter called Christmas (the layout reminded me of Gretchen Rubins books). Throughout, the book is littered with quotes from specialists in Denmark ranging from culture to health and her journey of adjusting to a new culture and all the crazy traditions that come with it.
So what is so different about Denmark than the UK that makes them happier? What I found interesting was that Danes as a whole prefer paying high taxes because they know that one day they will need either the health service or education and have faith that their taxes will be spent wisely. Danes also value family time, in winter whole towns shut down as they prefer to stay in with lots of candles lit. Danes have a good work culture as well as it is mainly 8am- 4pm (Helen was shocked to find her husband back before five some days) and also father’s are given long paternity leave and that working very late is viewed as a negative as it is showing you cannot get your work done within the allotted time.
Danish people as a whole and this is what I think and what Helen thought underpinned their happiness was the level of trust Danes had for each other. The trust that Danes had in the state and their politicians was high (unlike the UK) and the level of trust for each other meant that people were happy to leave their children in prams outside the shops! What I also loved and picked up in the book about the Danish is that traditions are valued. I feel that in the UK sometimes we don’t value our traditions as we should or we have to be apologetic all the time for being British. Whereas the Danes just don’t care they will set fire to things and throw plates at houses to greet the new year in because they can.
So what did I think of the book? Overall I enjoyed the book, it really gave me an insight to Danish culture in a candid and fun way from someone who has experienced it first hand. At times, I was starting to find it boring and was ready for the book to finish. Nonetheless if you are interested in Scandinavian culture this book is worth buying.
Publish Date: 2015
Dear Stranger is a collection of letters written by a variety of people from celebrities (such as Arianna Huffington, Richard Branson and Caitlin Moran) to those who have mental health issues regarding the subject of happiness. The book which is in the aid of Mind a mental health charity with at least £3 from every book sold going towards the organisation.
As the variety of authors is so different, it means the letters are all completely different. Some letters were illustrations, others based on personal experience and others were critiquing happiness. At most the letters were two pages long which is enough to create a real impact and leave you thinking about what has been written. Letters I particularly liked were ones by Arianna Huffington, Nicholas Allan, Nick Harkaway, Rachel Joyce, Seaneen Molloy- Vaughan and Thomas Harding.
Author: Jane Elmor
Publish Date: 2009
The story starts with Luna, a thirty something free-spirited artist, who after going to her father’s funeral wants to understand why her mother, Angie, left him behind. In addition, Luna starts to question the decisions she has made regarding her lifestyle (living the dream as an artist but struggling to make ends meet and actively choosing not to have children) which is the defining theme in the book. As the story develops we see the reason why Angie left Dave, learn about her life on a welsh commune, Luna questioning herself as a woman and we are introduced to a young mother Nat. Nat is trying to build a good life for her children despite the fact she is a young mother who mixes with the wrong crowd. The story is told from three angles, Luna in the present, Angie in the 1970’s and Nat in the late 1990’s.
I really enjoyed the book, so much so I have reread it a few times. The hippy 1960’s/ 1970’s era really interests me and always has done. Therefore, I found Angie’s chapters detailing life on the commune to be the best and most appealing to me. Luna was just quite moany after a while and that started to grate with me. However this I felt was meant to be deliberate by the author. Nat didn’t need to be in the book, I much rather had more chapters about Angie’s life on the commune than Nat’s chapters. So I found myself flicking through those parts quite quickly. As there was no connection between Nat and Luna and Angie both (apart from the children and them being women) it felt fragmented and found myself skipping over those parts. Although it all came together in the end and the book ended well. It left me hoping there is an Angie spin off!
”Here is a truth that can’t be escaped: for Mia ‘Rabbit’ Hayes, life is coming to an end.
Rabbit Hayes loves her life, ordinary as it is, and the extraordinary people in it. She loves her spirited daughter, Juliet, her colourful, unruly family; the only man in her big heart, Johnny Faye.
But it turns out the world has other plans for Rabbit, and she’s OK with that. Because she has plans for the world too, and only a handful of days left to make them happen.
Here is a truth that won’t be forgotten: this is a story about laughing through life’s surprises and finding the joy in every moment. ”
Author: Anna McPartlin
Publish Date: 2014
Awww I loved this book, this story is about Rabbit, she is in a hospice dying of cancer and she is aware that she hasn’t got long to live. In Rabbit’s sleep, she goes back to her youth where she was in love with Johnny Faye who was in a band with her brother. The chapters alternate between the growing love story between her and Johnny to how her family is dealing with Rabbit dying. In particular the relationship between Rabbit’s mother, Molly and her brother Davey, over the guardianship of Juliet her daughter. The story itself was very well written, it felt to me that each chapter had its place and added to either the love story or the practicalities and emotions of having a close one pass away. On a side note, I loved the fact it was set in Ireland, as I have visited Ireland before and loved the place (and want to go back).