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The Book Jumper – Mechthild Glaser – Review

61KefxHUj6L._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_  If you say you have never wanted to jump into a book you were reading, you are lying. A reader’s dream is to be able to jump into the pages of a story and live that story. I would love to be able to be apart of my favorite stories, even though many of the stories I love involve danger that I am sure would get me killed. The Book Jumper is a book that attempts to give the reader an idea of what that life would be like. It is an interesting take on the idea though I felt like it could have gone farther.

Amy and her mother need to get away from their lives. Amy’s mother just broke up with her boyfriend and needs somewhere to work on getting over him. Amy had some trouble in school and needs somewhere to get away from her so-called friends. In attempt to take a break from their problems they decide to visit Amy’s grandmother on a remote island.

While on the island Amy learns that she comes from a line of Book Jumpers. They are people who, until the age of 25 (though why 25 is not explained), can jump into books and interact with the stories. Amy begins to learn about her new power. She meets fellow book jumpers and learns that there is something going wrong in the book world.

A thief is stealing the main ideas of stories and destroying the book world. It is up to Amy and her new friend Will to find and stop the thief before all of literature is destroyed.

The premise of this story was fun and immersive. I loved the way it was described. Though I was fuzzy on the mechanics, I could picture Amy walking from story to story. To me it appeared like a quilt where all the stories were knit together and you could just wander from one to another. I loved the idea of all stories being apart of one world.

I also really liked how the characters were portrayed in the story. The characters from the stories could wander into these in-between places or even each others stories. They were portrayed as people acting out their story but between scenes they could go for a drink or just have a general conversation with someone from another story. I thought this gave them depth. The characters felt more real and alive, as if they were more than just the stories they were apart of.

The overall storyline was interesting. I can’t give too many details because it would involve too many spoilers. The plot moved quickly and at a steady pace. We found out pieces at a time. There was never a huge information dump or a ton of things thrown at you at once. You got one answer, a few more questions, that kept you reading. I kept moving through the book because I wanted to know what was happening. The pacing made the story flow well.

While I enjoyed the pacing and the concept of the story I had trouble with the characters. I love characters and unfortunately I felt no attachment to any character in this story.

I thought Amy would someone I could relate to but she felt very generic to me. She was your typical “reader, nerd.” She sees herself as plain and not pretty. She is portrayed as someone who cares about books only and not other relationships, at least at first.

I have an issue with this portrayal of readers. I hate how people, especially girls, who love to read are always seen as people who aren’t pretty or don’t think they are attractive. It is like because they enjoy reading they can’t appreciate themselves and that annoys me.

I would have loved to see Amy as more confident. She loves to read, she sees the world as bigger than it is. She could have been portrayed as someone who has pride in herself and that pride could have grown as she learned her new power. She could have been someone who walked around with confidence in not only her way of seeing the world but her appearance as well. Just because she is a reader does not mean she has to be seen as plain or unattractive.

I liked Amy’s relationship with Will at first. At the beginning it felt complicated but then it fell into the “insta-love” hole. They started as friends helping each other but as they built their relationship, it became about falling in love instead of helping one another anymore. I felt like that aspect wasn’t needed. They could have had a new relationship but it didn’t need that falling in love plot line.

My biggest issue though was with the adults in the story. The adults on the island are in charge of protecting literature. They spend their lives reading books and making sure things stay as they are meant to stay. You would assume that they would be the first to notice when the stories start falling apart, but you would have assumed wrong.

Amy tries to tell everyone what is happening but no one will listen to her. They pass it all off as a joke between the characters in the books. All they would have to do is open one book and see how much things are deteriorating. No one will listen to Amy. I could not believe that not a soul noticed what was going on or cared. That kept throwing me out of the story because I kept asking how it was possible for these people to be so naive.

In all I liked the plot of this book, it was a fast and fun read. I thought it explored the idea well. I just wish it had done a bit more to explore the concept and made the adults a bit more believable.

Our Dark Duet – Victoria Schwab – Review

32075662This Savage Song and Our Dark Duet ask the reader to rethink how you define the word monster. Is it a definition that applies to everyone or does it change based on the person and the circumstances they find themselves in? Our Dark Duet was a great end to a duology that makes you wonder about the grey areas in morality.

Our Dark Duet picks up 6 months after the conclusion of This Savage Song. Kate is in Prosperity hunting monsters and trying to start a new life. August is in Verity trying to salvage what is left of his life and city. Sloan has taken over for Callum and is letting the monsters rule and terrorize the North Side of the side.

Kate is drawn back to her past in Verity when she encounters a new threat, a shadow monster that is wreaking havoc. After an encounter with the new threat Kate knows she has to return to Verity and confront her past actions and choices.

August is trying to redefine himself. He is trying to become what the city needs, someone who can fight and can put his emotions aside. He believes that trying to become human is useless and futile now. He can only protect the people if he accepts who he is and uses his power to help instead of hurt.

When Kate returns home she finds a new August, a city falling apart, mistakes from her past in corporeal form and a threat she can’t name or see. She realizes that to save the innocent people and fix the mistakes her father made she has to accept her own mistakes. She also has to help August figure out that he has to find a balance between the two sides of himself to save the city.

What attracted me to this series initially was the idea of violence creating literal monsters. In this last book the definition of monster was explored, showing that a label does not always give you a full picture of the person you are dealing with. Labels are one way of classifying the people and world around us but it is a heavily flawed system.

This book took off from page one and didn’t slow down until the last page. We were on this constant chase to not only find the new monster but also to put a stop to it. Through the chase we learned who our characters were as full people and just what they were capable of.

Kate and August’s stories wrapped up in just the right way. Kate, who spent her life trying to prove her worth and strength, found an inner strength inside of herself. She realized she is flawed but that does not make her a bad person. She learned that you get to decide who you are. You will make mistakes, that is inevitable, but in the end it is about what you learn from those mistakes that matter. You can’t run from them and you can’t hide from them.

When danger and chaos is staring you in the face you fight and you fight without losing yourself. You can be strong without hurting the people around you. You define strength. You define who you are.

August spent much of the first book trying to fight who he was. He wanted to be human, didn’t want his power or to use that power. In the end he learned you can’t rum from who you are. Like Kate he learned it is about what you do more than what you are.

August learned he can find a balance between the park and light. He is a “monster,” which comes with power and responsibility but he is also human. He eats, sleeps, breathes and feels. He loves and that love, he learns, is not a weakness.

I loved that this book challenged the idea of labels and highlighted the detrimental power they can have. August was labeled a monster which made people fear him. They didn’t know him but that one word made them think that they did. Same thing happened with Kate. She was a “Harker,”which caused people to assume they knew what she valued and wanted.

Labels do nothing but gives us a simpler way to define things and people. Unfortunately we think that labels tell us all that we have to know. We think by hearing a few words were know a person or a group of people. In reality we know nothing but a preconceived notion. Labels won’t give you the inner person they will give you what people assume about a group or a person. In the end we have to learn that we need to approach people with an open mind and allow them to define themselves to us. Once we do we can learn that people are diverse and difficult to place into small little boxes.

The ending of this book was perfect. It was tragic but it was how this series should have ended. There were two paths one that was easy and predictable and another that hurt but was poetic and created hope. Victoria Schwab took the second path. We saw that the world is not doomed. Despite the dark that surrounds the city there is light and that light can be seen through the people you may have believed were capable of nothing but darkness. I like that the book ended on hope and showed that anyone can save everyone. You just have not allow yourself to be scared and to let your heart decide the way.

The Magicians Land – Lev Grossman – Review

51Z4SYyeUSL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgThe Magicians series did not end up being the series I was expecting when I started it. I thought it would be more of an epic tale, one where someone learns they can do magic and have to go on grand adventures exploring their new power and saving their new lives. It ended up being snippets of  Quinten growing up and finding out who is as a person. Each book could have stood alone. There was the loose thread of Fillory wound throughout but I felt like if I had read them out of order I wouldn’t have missed too much of the story. I liked this element though and I think the last book The Magicians Land was my favorite of the three books.

The Magicians Land picks up not too long after the last book ended. Quinten has been thrown out of Fillory and he is trying to find a new path in his life. After a short stint as a professor at Bakebills he gets caught up in a robbery plot.

Quinten and a number of others are hired to steal a cae. They don’t have any idea what they are stealing, just that they will get a big pay off when the job is done. Most of those involved need the cash to start a new path in life and are willing to take part even without much information.

The heist goes wrong and Quinten finds himself having to make some tough choices. Choices tied to his past and figuring out if he should save that past or let everything go. Quinten spent most of the series trying to find his path in life, trying to figure out if what has happened should influence what will happen later in his life.

Quinten was an interesting character. I never could quite determine how to read him throughout the series. He always seems lost and unsatisifed. I got a bit frustrated at times wondering when he was going to stop looking for something new. Every time he got what he wanted he felt empty. He became a magician but didn’t feel like he had a purpose as a magician. Then he became a king of Fillory and wanted epic quests. He didn’t want to just rule, he was always searching for something just beyond his reach.

At the end of the last book I felt like I finally understood him. Quinten was someone who grew up being told a number of things were impossible; magic and Fillory. Then he learns they are all real and he is part of them. He is in awe of this new way of life but reality quickly tramples over him.

Fantasy worlds and magic are complciated. It isn’t the utopia we all imagine it to be. We want to fall into our favorite stories, thinking things will be much better, easier. What Quinten learns is that these worlds and this way of life is just as complicated and difficult to process as the one he has walked away from. Nothing is simple. No land is perfect, no story has the perfect ending.

I loved this look into fantasy and fiction. Stories are our escapes but that is because we get to close the book. We don’t have to actually live those lives. The characters make the decisions and we get to watch safely from behind the pages. I love the Harry Potter series but living in that world would probably disenchant me with the whole series. Once you enter the world you see the flaws and the issues and if you live the story you have to live with the choices and consequences.

This series explained how it would be if we fell into those stories. Quinten learns quickly that there is no such thing a s perfect life and land. You, the one living the story, make the story itself. You make the turns and choices. Wanting that escape is natural and important but getting stuck in that idea will leave you feeling empty and lost. You have to find yourself outside of the story as well.

If you never find your place you will always feel lost. You need an identity that is real and solid. Life is complicated and stories can be difficult but once you find your place they have unmeasurable worth.

I enjoyed this series once I put aside my expectations. It was a fun story. It was a great look at life inside a story and see how finding a balance between fantasy and reality is essential.

Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare- Review

tumblr_ogwcviAKSN1r3oy4vo1_500The second book in a series can be difficult to pull off. The first book tends to handle setting everything up. We learn about the world and the characters, we get a hint at the who the greater foe will and we set the stage for other side story lines. The last book in a series is the ultimate climax, everything ends and all of our questions get answered. The second book is the awkward in-between point. It has to continue the plot, develop the characters and make sure everything is set for the finale. A lot of the times this second book gets bogged down by a treading water feel. A lot of the times as a reader I feel like the second book is slower and stagnant.

Unfortunately that is what happened to this second book in Cassandra Clare’s Dark Artifices series, Lord of Shadows. There was plenty of set up but not much actually happened. We get to know our characters better but that is hindered by the lack of communication by almost every character. While the pieces are placed on the board, everyone  spends the book just hiding secrets from each other.

Lord of Shadows picked up a few weeks after Lady Midnight left off. Emma is fake dating Mark because she can’t be with Julian. She won’t tell Julian about the curse for his own “protection.”

This is the part of the book that I had the most difficult with. I have written a full post about why this type of storyline drives me crazy, here. So I won’t go into a full rant. Emma keeps saying throughout the book that she can’t tell Julian about the parabati curse because he could get hurt. She never specifies how he could get hurt or why that would be. She just uses that as her justification for not telling him.

This makes little to no sense to me. Julian has two main priorities in his life; his family and Emma. He will do anything to protect them, but ultimately his family comes first. This was well established in the last book and throughout this book. Julian would NEVER do anything that would end up hurting his siblings. If he had to choose between them and Emma, he would choose them in a second.

So why can’t Emma tell him about the curse? He isn’t going to throw away his family and say, “Screw it, I don’t care what happens. I still want to be with you.” He isn’t going to throw away everything that matters to him. He may want to find a cure or way out, but that does not mean that he will end up hurt. Julian loves Emma but he is sensible. He is smart and he thinks through his decisions. He won’t let the curse hurt his family, period.

I feel like this secret thing was put int place in order to create angst throughout this book. We go on this continued back and forth, Does she/he love me?, for hundred of pages. It wasn’t needed. This same feeling could have been conveyed better and more naturally if they both knew about the curse.

Their communication is one of their strongest points. They talk through glances, they know each other better than anyone else. They even have a special way of tracing letters on their arms or backs, to spread messages. They would have been able to handle this secret, I wanted to see them fight it together. Having this secret kept felt like cheapening that connection between the two of them. Instead of building their bond, the bond was weakened throughout the story.

While Emma is busy keeping her secret they learn that Kieran is going to be put to death for killing Iralath. Julian, Emma, Mark and Christiana go to Faire to find and rescue Kieran. In the process they make a deal to find The Black Volume.

While this is happening in the background we have a whole storyline with The Centurians and Cohort. There is a set up for a scary way of treating Downworlders and those who aren’t Shadowhunters. This storyline hit close to reality and was a bit hard to read at times just because I can see so much of it happening in our world today. I think I know where this part of the storyline is going and it is going to aggravate me in the next book.

Tucked into all of this there is the storyline from the last book about raising Annabel and her backstory. This was the storyline I thought we would stick with from the last book but it kind of got lost in the pages of the number of other plot lines going on.

One of my favorite parts of this book was what we learned about Kit. Kit is an interesting character and a type we haven’t seen yet in this series. Kit knows the mundane world, the shadowhunter world and the downworlder world. He has a connection to them all and he was raised with one way of thinking. Throughout the story we see Kit begin to change how he thinks and how he sees the shadowhunter world.

I loved his connection to Ty. Kit understands Ty because he know the mundane world and mundane medicine. I like that he never felt disconnected from Ty, he actually connected best with Ty. I am interested to see how the connection builds after the events of the finale. I have a feeling that the two of them are either going to enter into a relationship together or become parabati or both if the curse is broken.

Kit was the character that grew throughout the book. He development felt natural. He is accepted into this family, though he at first doesn’t want to be. He begins to understand how they operate and he sees that he may have a place in this world if he wants it. I am eager to see what happened with him in the next book.

I didn’t hate this book at all. I was just expecting more from it. I think the secret keeping is what made this book difficult for me. It might just be me and my dislike of that particular storyline. I felt like it was used in order to force storylines instead of finding ways to do it naturally. Emma and Julian could have had strife in their relationship without the secret keeping. Christina could have gotten closer to Mark without Diego keeping secrets from her. I just wish this idea wasn’t the main point of this book.

I am interested to see how this story ends. Julian is going to be interesting in the next book. After the way the book ended i think we are going to see a very dark side of his character. I hope we see his dark side, I hope he loses it and has to be brought back. That will be interesting and will give us an interesting moral gray line to focus on. I have hope that this series will end in a satisfying way, but we will have to see.

At the Edge of the Universe – Shaun David Hutchinson – Review

edge of universeShaun David Hutchinson’s books are going to be stories that have one thing going on the surface and another thing in the deeper story. At the Edge of the Universe is about moving on in life, not letting one soul or one event become the center of your universe. You have to see the world is larger than just you. Take one step beyond your personal circle and the world opens up.

Ozzie and Tommy have been best friends since they were young. They have been dating since 8th grade. One day Ozzie wakes up and Tommy has disappeared. No one remembers he existed at all, no one but Ozzie.

Ozzie is set on finding  his lost boyfriend, desperate for him to not be truly forgotten. Though complications arise when he falls for his physics project partner, Calvin. Can he let Tommy go? What should he do about the universe that is literally shrinking around him? No one else notices Tommy’ disappearance or the shrinking universe. Does it matter in the end? Was Tommy even real at all?

The plot of the universe shrinking and Tommy not being remembered are secondary to the fact that Ozzie has had an issue seeing the world beyond himself. At first he seems selfish. HIs parents are divorcing and he keeps speaking about in terms of how it will effect him. His brother is leaving for the army and he again centers the issue on how it connects to him. Things at first surround him, the universe is about him.

As the universe begins to shrink, Ozzie begins to understand that he isn’t the only one in the world. Everyone has their own problems, some much serious than his own.

I really liked the way these two ideas were juxtaposed with each other. The universe is literally shrinking just as Ozzie is learning that the world is much bigger than he initially thought. Just as he is looking around, wanting to experience more he is losing it all. He learns quickly not to let life center on one thing and one thing only. Just as he is learning all of this he becomes the literal center of the universe and it is the last thing he wants.

Just as with we are the ants the side characters in this story are well developed. No one came off as flat. I would say that we are the ants does a bit better job of it but I did appreciate that we learn about everyone in this book and not just Ozzie, Tommy and Calvin. Also this book has a very diverse set of characters.

Lua, one of Ozzie’s best friends, is a genre fluid character. This is the first time I have ever read a book with this type of character and I loved the inclusion. I also like the explanation, it is simple and succinct. Lua tells her friends that the pronoun to use with them can be based off their clothing. If he is dressed in a more masculine type outfit than everyone can use “he,” pronouns. If she is dressed more traditionally feminine then everyone can use “she” pronouns. It was easy to follow, and understand.

I also loved how everyone reacted to them. I never felt like anyone was preaching about it to the reader. This was who Lua was. No one fought with them. There was a bit confusion from some of the more antagonist type characters but once we find out why, it all makes sense. I like the inclusion that felt natural. Lua wasn’t forced into the story to have representation, they were included because that is who this character was. I like this type of inclusion, when it just feels like the character is anyone else, nothing different or special but just a person.

Lua wasn’t the only character of diversity. One of Ozzie’s friends is described as asexual and Tommy is black. The story doesn’t focus on just one of these characters, but they are included to show the reader that the world around is much more diverse than you may think. I appreciate books like this because, especially now, we have to see how diverse and beautiful our world is.

By the end of the book I wasn’t sure if Tommy was real or if that really mattered. What mattered was if Ozzie could see that the universe is this larger thing and we have to find a way to balance ourselves in it. If you don’t find that balance you may end up losing yourself.

I enjoy Shaun David Hutchinson’s stories because they are not only diverse but deep. He uses surface level fantasy to delve into deeper issues and ways to see the world. He is able to explore difficult topics with making you feel bogged down or preached at. The reader is comfortable as they read, eager to see how things turn out. You feel connected to the characters no matter how different than you they may be.

The Magicians – Review (Minor Spoilers)

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I have been hearing about The Magicians series for a while. I saw it became a tv series on SyFy. It is just one of those books that I have seen recommended over and over again and I finally decided to give it a shot. When I bought the book, the cashier at Barnes and Noble told me, “Great choice, I love this series.” I went into this book with very high expectations and I was a bit let down, to be honest. There is potential in this book and I am going to continue with this series to see if that potential lives up to anything.

The Magicians book follows Quintin Coldwater as he attempts to find his purpose in the world. He is someone who is always on the outskirts and has never felt like he fits in. He adores a book series called the “Fillory,” series. They have a Tales of Narnia vibe to them.

One day after a college interview gone wrong he gets a mysterious note that leads him to Brakebills, a school of magic. After passing the entrance exam he enters a whole new world, one of magic and possibility. The first book follows his time through school and him finding out the land he has obsessed about his whole life, Fillory, is a real place

That is about all there is too this book. Quintin goes to school, studies and finds out Fillory is real and has a final battle at the end. Most of the book is just him going through school. Brakebills had a Harry Potter feel to it. A magic school, that is boarding school, that no one but those chosen can find. They are separated into school years and later into specialities (though Quintin never gets one).

The first two-thirds of the book nothing really happens. Each chapter is a vignette or a short story of some incident during his schooling. Everything happens and gets fixed inside of that chapter. Nothing last beyond the chapter, no conflict resonates throughout the entire book.

I enjoyed the chapters, but I found myself asking, “So what?”.  I wanted to know more, needed to know where the story was going. Was there some bigger danger they would learn to fight? Was Quintin going to lose the magic and have to fight to get it back? Where was the overall story heading? Did it have a destination or was it just a glimpse into this kid getting a new life? If that was the case how was that going to sustain 3 books?

It wasn’t until the last third that everything started happening. I won’t say what happened in order not to spoil it but the ending gave me a reason to keep reading. It was action packed, fast-paced and showed me that this story had potential. There was a purpose and it could go somewhere. If it wasn’t for that final part, I wouldn’t have picked up the next book in the series.

The other issue I had with this book was the magic system. I do not know how to explain the magic system. It has something to do with circumstances, which I am not sure what that means in the context of magic. It is complex, and it appears to be a difficult system to learn, which I liked but I wish I understood how it worked better. I felt like we had to trust the characters and just let magic, be magic. Which I guess is all right but makes it hard to follow sometimes.

Quintin is our main character and his is someone who cannot be happy no matter what. He is a type of person who drives me insane. He gets magic, but it isn’t enough. He finds out Fillory is real, but that isn’t enough either. I groaned every time he would take a step back and say something like, “I thought this is what I wanted but I feel like something is missing.” There was just always something missing, and I got super frustrated by his complaining by the end. I wanted him happy for five minutes.

I did not love this book, but the ending showed me that there is potential. I feel like a greater point is being made, and that it is just taking time to manifest. I am almost done with the second book at this point and I like it better. I am interested to see how everything plays out and if this long introduction was worth it or not.

Of Fire and Stars By Audrey Coulthurst – Review (Minor Spoilers)

ofas-coverI had not heard of Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst before it came in a subscription box. The theme of the box was Epic Journeys and I was curious how this story fit that theme. It turned out to be a fun romance. The characters were alive and exciting and it was a fun ride. The main plot did seem to get lost in the romance but in the end it was an enjoyable read.

Princess Dennaleia has been betrothed to the prince of Mynaria since she was a child. Her homeland needs the alliance and it is her duty to see that it happens. The princess is not a normal citizen though. She has a power or Affinity. Unfortunately for her, her power is something to be feared. She has to hide it from her new family and home.

Then a surprising assassination happens and her whole world is thrown into chaos. She not only has to continue to hide who she is but she has to find out what is happening to her new kingdom. She teams up with the prince’s sister Mare to find the killer. In their hunt for the truth they find themselves falling for one another, only complicating things further.

Primarily this was a romance story. I noticed right away that this society didn’t appear to frown upon same-sex relationships. It was a part of their world and they accepted that. They had issues with accepting magic and allowing women to have a major part in the government but the same-sex relationship was accepted.

I liked that Mare and Dennaleia’s romance didn’t center around them trying to make their relationship be “right.” They fell for each other and that was it. There was no discussion about it being morally wrong or anything like that. The wrench in their relationship came from the alliance and the implications associated with breaking that. It wasn’t about changing the minds of the people. I got the impression that Dennaleia could marry Mare without an issue.

I liked that idea. A lot of the times you get the story focusing around coming out and the tribulations with that. Which there is nothing wrong with that type of story but it was nice to just see two people fall for each other and find a way to make their different lives work. I liked that their story felt like any other romance I have read.

The main story started off pretty interesting. There were a lot of different pieces involved. I liked that the magic was part of it. I liked that there were multiple suspects and plans to find out who did it. But that part petered out as the romance got stronger. It felt like we couldn’t concentrate on both, and the main plot suffered.

I wanted the main story to have a lot of working pieces that come together into a strong resolution. I was expecting an epic ending with either a huge fight or big reveal. I didn’t get any of that. I actually knew who was behind it all at the very start. I hoped I was wrong but I wasn’t.

There was less tension throughout the story because I knew where it was going. I knew who did it and why. I felt like I didn’t need the answers and that was a bit disappointing. I was hoping for a bit more. I wish that the romance could have been integrated better into the larger story.

Ultimately this was a fun romance with a mystery/adventure tied into it. If you are looking for an easy going and fun story then you will enjoy this one.

Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom – Leigh Bardugo – Review (minor spoilers)

sixofcrowsThe Six of Crows duology is another series I decided to give a try because of the number of great reviews I kept seeing. I heard that it was about a group of antiheroes/misfits and that intrigued me. I am glad that I gave it a read because this will definitely be going on my list of favorite books of the year.

The Six of Crows duology follows a group of “misfits,” who are given an impossible heist job. They are thieves and crooks and they are seen as the best and the only ones who can accomplish the mission. They are all people who have gotten the short end of the stick in life. They take the job hoping to get a huge payoff that they can use to change their lives. Of course, things don’t go as planned and they end up fighting for their lives, and futures.

I adored this series because of the characters. Every single character was dynamic and driven. We got POV chapters from every character and I loved that. I loved getting to know everyone. In the second book I would have to say that the plot got a bit twisted and hard to follow at times. They had a tendency to come up with new plans really quickly and I got a bit lost but it was the characters that kept me reading.

I have stated in past posts that one of my favorite character types is the antihero. I love a character with a dark past, who has made their mistakes but in the end has a heart of gold and wants to fix their lives. I loved the hard exterior, soft interior type; such as Darryl from The Walking Dead, Seichan from Sigma Force Series, and Hook from Once Upon a Time. These are people we aren’t usually supposed to root for but I like being given a reason to be on their side.

Kaz is the leader of the group. At first he is someone who seems to only care about himself. He is someone who everyone says won’t do anything unless there is a benefit for him. His life is about taking down the man who hurt him and his brother and nothing will get in the way of that. He appears to be a bit ruthless and uncaring.

We learn quickly though that that is all a mask he wears. Kaz has been through a lot in his life and it has given him a very rough exterior. In order to survive he had to close himself off from everyone. He knew that caring would only get him hurt. He had to make himself distrust everyone around him. His life became focused on his revenge and his revenge only.

But Kaz has a heart, a very big heart. He is terrified to let anyone close to that heart. He has been hurt badly before and he tries to close himself off but he can’t do it completely. I loved watching him slowly evolve. I liked it because it was more about him pulling out what was already apart of him. He had to get reacquainted with the softer side of himself. He had hidden it away for so long that it appeared he forgot about love and caring about people. I liked watching him find that side of himself again and begin to accept it. It was a slow burn and it was still in progress at the end but it was realistic and interesting to watch take place.

Inej became tough because she had no other choice. She is more mentally strong than 22299763anything else. She was sold as a slave to a pleasure house and if she did not find a way to keep herself separate from her surroundings she would have broken. At first she seems to live doing what she has to, to make it to the next day. It appears that she has a one-track mind, something she learned because she had to.

Inej never let go of the aspects of herself that made her unique. She held onto her religion, she prays frequently to her saints and lives by proverbs she learned from her people. I liked that after everything she had been through Inej still clung strongly to who she was. She could take care of herself but she wasn’t closed off to the world like Kaz.

Unlike Kaz, Inej was someone who people could rely on. She made friends and helped when she could. She quickly became the heart of the group. She was the one they would do anything to protect and help. Everyone cared about her in some manner and relied on her when they needed to. I loved her friendship with Nina. It was nice to see her have someone to rely on and to talk to. She needed that shoulder and Nina needed one as well. They became a support system for each other outside of the group and that was a nice aspect to have.

Jesper was the comic relief of the group. He had some of the best lines throughout the series. I loved his snarky comebacks and sarcasm. His character is the type that I love to read and write.

Though he had a humorous exterior he also had his share of issues. He was a gambling addict. He escaped into the games whenever life got too hard for him. He used gambling as a crutch to lean on when he thought too hard about his failures. He didn’t want anyone to see how scared of his past and his past choices he was. He tried to keep everyone at arms-length with his humor and nonchalant attitude.

In Six of Crows we don’t get much from Jesper development wise. We learn about his gambling problem and we see his relationship with Wylan starting but not much else. It is really Crooked Kingdom where we learn about who Jesper is, his past and what kind of life he left behind. I loved that we got more about him. I like that he is trying to run from his past choices and that the group is done letting him do that. I think he was one of the characters the group supported the most. He needed them on his side and that allowed him to begin to change.

Wylan was an interesting character. I wasn’t sure what to make of him in the first book. He is the only member of the group we didn’t get a POV chapter from in the first book. He started as the outcast of the group. He was there more as leverage than anything else. I wondered if he was going to become more developed throughout the story and thankfully he did.

In Crooked Kingdom we did get Wylan’s POV. He is not the privileged child that we are led to believe at first. He is someone who was groomed to be one way but in the end could not be that person. He was not the son his father wanted or needed.

I liked watching Wylan find out who he was throughout the story. He had to find his own voice. He spent so much of his life trying to define himself by his father and his way of thinking that he never got to think for himself. It was nice to see him shed those outer layers and find the one that fit him best. He came into himself and found the person he was always meant to be.

Nina was a tough woman who took no crap from anyone, especially Kaz. She was another one who was kidnapped and was supposed to a prisoner. She is trying to make up for her past mistakes and for the first book that is what drives her. She knows she messed up and she will do anyitng to fix it.

I particularly liked the way she did not let Kaz push her around. She had her own thoughts and agenda and Kaz wasn’t going to change that. She made her voice her and she did what she thought was best for the group. She wasn’t afraid to defy Kaz and go against him when necessary.

She was very devoted to her people, the Grisha. I liked that she kept that in the front of her mind throughout the story. She was able to find a cause outside of herself. Nina was tough and did not let anyone push her around but she cared deeply about her people and where she came from. I liked that extra drive from her.

Matthias got most of his story told in Six of Crows. He was someone who raised to think one way and one way only. He was given a way to see The Grisha and until he met Nina and worked with the group he didn’t realize how wrong his thinking was. I liked that changing his thought process wasn’t abrupt and sudden. He didn’t go from fearing and hating them to loving and trusting them right away. It was very realistic to watch him change his way of thinking. I liked that he came to care about and like the group even though he despised them at first.

Each of these characters had a transformation that started in this series. Their transformations did not end at the end of the series. They are all at the start of becoming new people and beginning new lives. I liked that there is room left for each of them to get another story or appear in another book. I liked the open-ended aspect of their stories.

I loved this series. It was fast paced and action packed. While the plot in the second novel did get a bit hard to follow, at times I wasn’t sure where it was going; the characters made me want to keep reading. I loved every one of them and would love to read more about them in further books.

Hollow City – Review – (Minor Spoilers)

images-3(This being a review of a sequel there are some minor spoilers for the first book in the series).

I am not one of those people who can read the first book in a series then a month or two later read the next one. If I start a series, enjoy it and the rest of the books are available, than I will finish it. I loved the first Miss Peregrine’s book, which meant I had to go out and get the rest of the series. The second book, Hollow City, was a good sequel. It expanded on the series; grew the world as well as gave us a deeper look into the peculiar children.

Hollow City takes place right where the first book left off. The children have all left the island and are on a mission to rescue Miss Peregrine. They are in the middle of the ocean and realize very quickly that this mission is going to be a rough one. This is the first time many of them have left their loop since they made it their home. On their adventure they learn more about each other and also learn more about their peculiar world. We meet peculiar animals and find out how desperate the whole situation truly is.

I liked that this book gave us a better idea of the vast nature of the peculiar world. There are many different loops, all populated by a number of different type of peculiars. I loved the idea that there are peculiar animals. Addison became one of my new favorite characters. To me this book helped integrate this peculiar world into the rest of the world. Both live side by side, sometimes not even realizing how they work with one another.

What I loved most about this book was how the focus went from Jacob to the rest of the peculiar children. We still get the story from Jaco’s POV but the story focuses more on the other peculiar children; who they are and what they can do. I liked becoming more familiar with everyone, it helped flesh out the story.

The peculiar children are in an interesting position. They are in children’s bodies but they are all almost a hundred years old. They have this interesting mix of adult ideals and thought but also the innocence of children. They grew up very sheltered in the loop. Miss Peregrine made sure to do everything for them. She watched over them and provide for them. They did not have to do much for themselves. So once they decided to leave they were thrown into this whole new world. They can think like adults but they also tend to see the world as a child does.

There is an interesting scene about 2/3 of the way through the book. In their quest to find Miss Peregrine and keep their world from being taken over by wights and hollowghasts, they encounter two sisters. The sisters are hiding from the bombs that are falling on London. They learn that the older sisters is peculiar. They ask her to join them but she is weary of them.

In the aftermath of the bombing the group is debating whether to steal a ambulance in order to get out of the area faster. The older sister is horrified at the idea. The group shows a callousness for others, mostly because they know where they are is the past. They see it all has having been done and gone. Nothing will ultimately change anything significantly. What the older sister sees is people who care about no one but themselves.

At the end of the chapter Jacob has a few lines of thought that are interesting. “I don’t know why it was so important for her [Emma] to prove to a stranger that we were good-hearted, when we knew ourselves to be – but the suggestion that we were anything less than angels walking the earth, that our natures were made complexly shaded, seemed to bother her. ‘They don’t understand,’ she kept saying.
“Then again, I thought, maybe they did.”

Jacob grew up in the world that the reader knows.We know that the world is one of blurred lines. Nothing is ever as black and white as we want it to be. People are a mix of light and dark and that is what makes us human. Jacob understands the tough decisions they are facing.  He knows they aren’t mosnters, they don’t want to hurt anyone. He is not that bothered by the exchange. The two sisters are unfamiliar with what they are trying to do. They don’t understand how difficult their lives are at the moment. He knows some decisions are tough and the choices made are not always the best ones.

Emma on the other hand has grown up seeing herself and her people as somewhat like heroes. They are good at heart. They do not harm others (though she is unfamiliar with what the children used to do in the village when they got bored). She does not want to admit that they may not all be good people. She does not want to see the dark that exists in peculiardom as it does in the rest of the world. They are not separate, they are just like us. I think that idea scared her.

I like this sequel because I felt a better connection to the characters throughout the story. I like characters were moral grey lines. I also like to watch them learn who they are and how they belong in the world. I am eager to finish the last book and see how everything wraps up.

What Are You Reading Wednesday -Hollow City

51btkmubzbl-_sx320_bo1204203200_What are you reading Wednesday is a feature over at It’s a Reading Thing. It is pretty simple to take part, just answer the following questions about the book you are currently reading.

1.) What are you currently reading? – Hollow City – The second novel of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children Series by Ransom Riggs

2.) Go to page 34 in your book or 34% in your e-book and share a couple of sentences (I had to go to page 33 cause page 34 was actually a picture):

It occurred to me that it had very likely  saved us once already; without the fog those balloons would’ve spotted us hours ago, in our boats, when we’d had nowhere to run. And in that way, it was one last thing that the island had done to save its peculiar children. 

3.) Would you like to live in the world that exists in the book? Why or why not?

I like the idea of living in a world where you could find peculiar people but it seems to be getting quite dangerous. At this point I would say no, mostly because I don’t think I could do what they have had to do to survive.

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