Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Review: Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

Hollow City (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children, #2)

Goodreads Overview:

This second novel begins in 1940, immediately after the first book ended. Having escaped Miss Peregrine’s island by the skin of their teeth, Jacob and his new friends must journey to London, the peculiar capital of the world. Along the way, they encounter new allies, a menagerie of peculiar animals, and other unexpected surprises.


This is such a unique series that I hardly know where to begin.  The story is written around a number of vintage photographs the author has acquired from various sources.  For example, we are introduced to a number of new peculiars in this novel such as the one on the cover of this book.  How else could someone explain a photo of a girl with a hole in her torso that appears to be completely healthy?  She is most definitely "peculiar".  All of the peculiars have unusual abilities that did not meld well into society, so they have been living in "loops" where they live out one day over and over again and never age. 

There are evil creatures known as hollows and wights who have been raiding the loops and taking their caregivers known as ymbryne, such as Miss. Peregrine.  In order to save their peculiar world they must first rescue their ymbryne.  

The majority of this novel is spent traveling through WWII bombings in 1940 and escaping the constant chase of hollows and wights.  The children travel from their island off the coast of England to London and beyond in order to help Miss. Peregrine, who was injured during the raid at the end of book 1.  They meet not only peculiar people, but also animals along the way who assist them with their quest.  The cleverness of Ransom Riggs is remarkable as he weaves a tale with unusual abilities around photographs that would otherwise be inexplicable.

The constant chase was exhausting for the children and it felt like an end was never in sight the majority of the book.  Jacob is beginning to come to the realization that he may have already accomplished what he set out to do and should return to the safety of his home in present day America, when he is thrown an unbelievable twist.  (Of course there had to be a twist...we already know there are two more books in the series.)  Now I can hardly wait to read the next book, Library of Souls, to see what happens next.  I already picked up a copy when I was at BEA in 2016 and spent the better part of two days trying to catch up with Ransom to get it signed, which I was able to accomplish on the final day.

If you enjoy YA fantasy, I would recommend giving this series a try.  On a side note...I read a physical copy of the first book and an ebook copy of the second.  It is worth getting the hard copy because the pictures are larger and can be viewed in better detail.  I tried increasing the font size on my kindle to see a larger copy of some of the pictures, but it only increased the font size and not the size of the photos.  I will definitely read the physical copies of the remaining books in this series.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Review: Take the Key and Lock Her Up by Ally Carter

Take the Key and Lock Her Up (Embassy Row, #3)

Goodreads Overview:

Centuries ago, the royal family of Adria was killed…or so everyone thought.

Now Grace Blakely knows the truth: There was one survivor, and that survivor’s blood runs through her veins. This simple fact could cause a revolution—which is why some people will stop at nothing to keep it from coming to light.

There is only one way for Grace to save herself, save her family, and save the boy she loves. She must outmaneuver her foes, cut through the web of lies that has surrounded her for years, and go back to the source of all her troubles, despite the risk.

If she wins, she will inherit a throne.

And if she loses, she will inherit the fate of all the dead princesses who came before her.


This is the third and final book in the Embassy Row series.  While it isn't my favorite series by Ally Carter, it is still an entertaining read that kept me interested throughout.  

Adria is an island country that is centuries old and has been secretly controlled or manipulated by generations of women.  They refer to themselves as The Society.  They took it upon themselves to save the baby princess when the gates of the palace were stormed 200 years ago and the royal family was murdered.  They hid the princess and raised her as one of their own, but records were lost.  Over the years they lost track of who the princess was and where her descendants went.  

As children, Grace's mom and her two closest friends became obsessed with uncovering the mystery of the lost princess and putting her descendant in her rightful place on the throne.  They thought they had the perfect plan and set the wheels in motion, but they were wrong about one very important fact.  

The pace of this book was too slow for me and at times I wondered if this could have been consolidated into two books instead of three.  I really enjoyed when Noah, Megan, Rosie, Alexei, and Grace were all together because it combined their unique abilities and really increased the pace of events.  I also enjoyed the addition of the 15 year old Prince of Adria to their team towards the end of the book.  Those were by far the most enjoyable sections of this book and are what propelled the story forward.  The rest of the time, I felt like there was a lot of filler that could have been eliminated.

I was also annoyed by all of the older women from The Society operating as a dictatorship.  While they thought they were doing what was best for Adria, they certainly weren't taking into account the well being of those impacted by their scheme.  Their actions weren't even rational the majority of the time.  What could have been a very entertaining aspect of this series, with Grace working together with this ancient society her mother was once a part of, turned into a solo mission with these very powerful women constantly working against Grace and her friends.  

While it felt like it took a long time to reach a conclusion in this series, the ending was very abrupt.  Everything reached a boiling point and then in one chapter it was over.  This is how things will pan out for the characters....done.  Overall, I was happy with the conclusion, but it felt very rushed and incomplete compared to the lengths the characters went through to reach that point.  

I gave this book 3 stars on Goodreads, but it was probably closer to a 2.5.  

Friday, October 12, 2018

Review: Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

Pushing the Limits (Pushing the Limits, #1)

This is a book that I picked up at a book convention several years ago.  I was actually pretty excited because I had heard great things about it, so I'm not quite sure why it took me so long to read it.  It probably has something to do with the 400+ books that are constantly on my TBR list.  Deciding what to read next is always a challenge.

Pushing the Limits is told from both Echo and Noah's points of view.  Echo was involved in a traumatic event involving her bipolar mother, but she doesn't remember what happened.  The only evidence she has are the scars on her arms and the constant nightmares that have been plaguing her ever since.  Noah is equally as troubled.  His parents were killed in a house fire and he has bounced around the foster care system.  His younger brothers are living with another family and he wants nothing more than to be involved in their daily lives. 

Noah was once a star basketball player with excellent grades who was on track for a college scholarship.  Since the fire, he hasn't had the resources or the motivation to continue...until the new guidance counselor convinces him that improving his grades and getting into college may be his only shot at eventually being able to take care of his brothers the way he wants to.  The same guidance counselor is working with Echo to help her remember her past and hopefully get her past the nightmares.  Echo needs money, so the counselor suggests she tutor Noah, which is how the two of them connect.  

While they may appear to be complete opposites based upon their social circles, they actually had far more in common than you could imagine.  Their study sessions quickly turn into plotting sessions to get information about their cases from the counselor and their relationship slowly begins to develop.

This was a highly engaging story with great characters that you couldn't help but root for.  They have already lost so much in their young lives that you want them to finally come out on top.  They hit a few rough patches along the way, but I really enjoyed the story and how it ended.  I know Katie has several additional books in this series, so I sincerely hope we will get a glimpse into their future post graduation.  I know they aren't the main characters in the additional books, but a cameo would certainly be nice.  If you have read any of the companion novels...please leave a comment to let me know if I can expect to see Echo and Noah again :)