Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children Book Review

Let's get one thing straight: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is one pretty book. Everyone involved in this project obviously cared a great deal about the final product. I loved the presentation, from the intricate design of the chapter pages to the layout of the photographs. This book made me jealous. While my book is floating out there in e-land, this book has a nice solid home and a huge budget to fluff it up. 

Not like it needs any fluffing, really. Ransom Riggs (sounds like a cowboy) is a great writer. I haven't read many young adult titles (cue shocked expressions), but that may now change because of this book. I LOVED the use of vintage photographs with text. I'm surprised it hasn't been done before (not that I know of, anyway). 

Adult fiction used to be frequently illustrated and there was a reason for this. Words move you, pictures move you, the two combined can move mountains. I have some antique Poe books in my collection with amazingly creepy illustrations. Without a doubt, it adds to the reader's experience, makes the chills more profound. 

That being said, there were some scary moments in Miss Peregrine's. At one point, the main character, Jacob, is exploring an old abandoned children's home and has to go down into the basement. Riggs'  description of that experience made me think he's been urban exploring. I visited a couple of abandoned insane asylums over a year ago and reading this book in that moment gave me wonderful flashbacks.

The characters in Miss Peregrine's, more specifically, the Peculiars (as they are called), are endearing, trapped in a magical but repetitive world because of their unique abilities. They did remind me of the mutants in X-Men, but that similarity didn't bother me. Riggs went his own way with it. 

My only complaints about this book, and they are small, are that (1) sometimes it felt as if the author was trying too hard to work the story around the photos. A couple of the photo/text workings seemed like a stretch. For example, the picture of the woman and child in the tunnel. The tunnel clearly has water on the floor and no tracks, but it was, according to the story, a sometimes-used portion of the London Underground. Clearly, it's a storm drain of sorts. 

And (2) the ending, which I did enjoy overall, started out feeling a bit like an episode of The Little Rascals or enter any early-to-mid-1900s-era sitcom involving a zany group of children. "Okay, let's go get em!" "Shake the staircase and make him fall. Whoa!" "Great job, gang!"

Although it has horrific elements, it is not a horror book, but I thought the "creepy children" factor made it worthy of a DTW blog review. Last page turned, I loved this book and give it four out of five stars. 


Monday, May 28, 2012


Revamp gets its first editorial review from the San Francisco Book Review who said "[Revamp is] a giddy satire on all things American and yet, at the same time, a kind of homage to the traditional vampire book...the words flow delightfully in this story. In fact, I sucked up the words." 

Revamp is currently on sale in all e-formats on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Lulu, and Smashwords. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


So, I had a funny thing happen to me the other day. Not really funny ha-ha but more like funny what the freaking hell is going on I am going to kill someone right now yes right now. I decided to go and check the conversions of my book, since it had been out for almost a month and I found a sliver of spare time. The free 19-Chapter Preview of Revamp is up on Smashwords and I have a lot of traffic on the site, so I decided to start there. 

The first conversion I checked was the rtf (rich text format), and I found a 22-word discrepancy. It appeared that during the Smashwords conversion to the rtf, 22 words were taken out of my final edit. And there was no rhyme or reason to it, just technology going awry and random words being perilously plucked from pages perused by me a hundred times over. 

I took that version down and frantically checked the epub and the mobi and the pdf and found no more issues. It got me to thinking: how many writers know to check the conversions? And for those who aren't aware, are perhaps too trusting of technology, do their readers chalk it up to sloppy editing? Fun food for thought.  

Saturday, May 5, 2012


Joe Hill's second novel, Horns, is about a young man who wakes up one day to find two horns growing out of his head. When he begins to search for an explanation, he discovers that people, even complete strangers, are confessing their deepest, darkest desires to him and asking his permission to follow through with them.

This was Hill's second novel and, in my opinion, the better one. The plot is unique. The main character is likeable and, at times, relatable. A down-on-his-luck kind of guy. We've all had those days (ahem, weeks, years). The writing is clever, and the book was edited to perfection. I feel like it's so rare nowadays to read a book that if you had the opportunity to remove a word or sentence or paragraph from it you wouldn't.

I have to say, Horns wasn't one of those books I couldn't put down (maybe I should surrender to the call of The Hunger Games along with the rest of the planet) but one I was quite happy to pick up when my schedule allowed. Years ago, I remember reading the New York Times article announcing Joe Hill's "coming out" so to speak as Stephen King's son. I was thrilled. I'm a huge, HUGE fan of Stephen King and I was very keen to read his son's work, especially if a talent for the frightful written word had been passed down.

Heart-Shaped Box was a disappointment, but I've been tempted to go back and reread it. Maybe I was in the wrong frame of mind at the time? Maybe I was unfairly expecting another Shining

One thing Hill has inherited from his father is his tendency to mangle animals in his books. Don't expect any furry creatures to make it safely to the end of Hill's novels. They die, and Joe, like Stephen, shows no mercy. 

Nearing the end of the book, Hill writes, "With its towering smokestack, it looked like a factory built to produce nightmares in mass quantities." Sounds like a famous, bifocal-wearing horror writer we know (minus the smokestack, of course). Time will tell if his son will be pumping out the same stuff of nightmares. But with Horns, Joe Hill is certainly on his way.