Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

imageThe story so far (for those who haven’t read book one in this series, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children)…

When 16 year old Jacob’s grandfather dies he takes a trip to Wales (from his home in Florida) to an orphanage his grandfather stayed at during the war. He arrives to find it exactly as it was when his grandfather left it, pretty much to the day. The orphanage, ran my Miss Peregrine, is stuck in time.

She and the children she looks after repeat the same day in 1940 again and again, living in what is called a loop.  Unlike the residents of the nearby village, they are completely aware of what is happening. They want it this way to keep them safe from the Hollows, invisible creatures whose one goal in life is to eat their souls.

The children are peculiar and their souls are special, as are they. They can create fire with their hands, float in the air, control bees, and carry out feats of superhuman strength. Jacob is amazed, even more so when he discovers he is peculiar too. His special trait, to see and fight Hollows. He is just what Miss Peregrine and her charges need because they are under attack.

Which is where Hollow City starts…

Continuing straight on from the first book, Jacob and the other children (including his potential love interest Emma) are on the run from Hollows and looking for help because in the attack on the orphanage Miss Peregrine has been turned into a bird and cannot turn back.  They are alone and scared. As well as help they need to find safety in another loop before the children, who have already lived for a 100 years in some cases, grow old in the “real” world.

Emma and Jacob almost instantly become their natural leaders, though they feel lost and unsure what to do. Thankfully, they have a map of sorts in the form of peculiar fairy tales, and come across enough other peculiars who can help them on their way. It is a way that leads them further into danger as opposed to away from it. It can’t be helped though as it becomes clear they aren’t the only ones the Hollows attacked and their whole world and way of life is at risk.

As with Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, this book is well written and has great pace. There are interesting photographs throughout which add to the descriptions of the children and those they meet on the way and make you feel that you are truly in a peculiar world.

The characters have further developed and become much more complex, as have their behaviours. To protect each other they make some hard and harsh decisions. This makes it a darker book than the first and more complicated. As this book is aimed at young adults it raises some interesting questions I think about how far an honourable person can go before they are no longer honourable.

The story feels like a natural progression from the first book and has plenty of action and twists and turns. It is a real page turner and I liked it a lot, if not more than at least as much as the first book. Highly recommended but read the first book first.

emma

Her Mother's Shadow by Diane Chamberlain

Thirteen18891093 years after Annie O’Neill was killed, shot by another woman’s abusive husband whilst working at a women’s shelter, her daughter Lacey is still dealing with the repercussions; not just because she was with her mother when she was shot but because of the secrets that were revealed after Annie died.

Secrets that included the fact her mom cheated on her dad repeatedly throughout their marriage…meaning Lacey’s dad wasn’t Annie’s husband and sending Lacey into a 10 year spiral. First, she tried to match her mom’s public persona – she was known locally as “St. Annie” because of all her good deeds – and then, as the truth emerged, Lacey took on her mom’s worst traits – sleeping with men but not building lasting relationships.

A lot of this has happened in the first two books in the trilogy and, in her Mother’s Shadow, Lacey has mainly come to terms with her past, though her taste in “bad boys” still scares her. Mainly, though, she is a good place. Then she finds out that the man who shot her mom is up for parole. And her best friend dies, leaving her 11 year old daughter in Lacey’s care. Neither are expected and send her into a bit of a tailspin.

Thankfully, newcomer to town Rick is there to help, listening to her and supporting her. If only she felt something for him and not Billy, Lacey’s father. And if only he was telling the truth about why he is visiting the outer banks…because the secrets and lies didn’t end with Annie O’Neills death. They go on and on and nobody seems capable of being honest.

Some lies are white lies, some told for the good of others – supposedly to protect them – but none work out for the best. Knowing how much hurt the lies caused in the first two books in this trilogy, I am amazed people don’t always tell the truth at the first opportunity but they don’t. Still, that’s life. It takes times in most cases for lessons to be learnt…and telling the truth is often the harder option because it can hurt people more than a lie.

One of the things I like about Diane Chamberlains books is how she shows how complicated life can be and how the best option isn’t always the easiest or the one we are likely to take. But she does it without judging. No one is right or wrong in her books – just human – and it makes me think…what would I have done if I was Lacey? Would I tell the truth?

The questions aren’t necessarily life changing but they are relatable….even if the people with the problems are all too pretty (my one complaint with the whole series is how gorgeous everyone it, not something I have come across in Chamberlain’s other books). The gorgeousness issue aside, the book is well written and does well closing the circle from the first in the series and helping Lacey find closure, which was much needed. I would recommended it to fans of Chamberlain or Jodi Piccoult…though you need to start at the beginning. Liked it a lot.

Emma

Tuesday Intro: Her Mother's Shadow

imageThis week, I’m linking up again with Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea who hosts a post every Tuesday for people to share the first chapter / paragraph of the book they are reading, or thinking of reading soon. I really enjoy these tasters when I read them on other blogs so wanted to join in.

This week, I’ve picked up the third book in the Keeper of the Light Trilogy by Diane Chamberlain, having read the first two in the trilogy over the course of the last year or so.  I’m keen to find out how it all ends for the family at the centre of these stories and looking forward to visiting the outer banks once last time.

Here’s what it’s about…

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Her killer is about to be released on parole. Only Lacey’s statement can keep him in jail. Lacey is facing the biggest decision of her life. Then her best friend dies in a car crash, leaving behind a grieving eleven-year-old daughter in need of a mother – a role Lacey’s not sure she’s ready for.

Two lives rest on Lacey’s choices. Two lives only she can save.

 

And here’s how it starts…

Christmas 1990

There was a cheer in the house in the heart of Manteo.  From the outside, the large two-story frame building that served as the battered women’s shelter was nondescript. There were no Christmas lights hanging from the eaves, not even a wreath on the door, as if the people who ran the house were afraid to draw attention to it, and Lacey supposed they were.  Cruel men had put the women and children here, the sort of men she had no experience with and found hard to imagine. But she could see the fear in the women’s faces and knew those men existed.  More than that, she did not really want to know.

What do you think? Would you keep on reading?

Emma

Kiss River by Diane Chamberlain 

Title: Kiss River
Author: Diane Chamberlain
Genre: General Fiction, Romance
Source: Library
Rating: Liked it (3 out of 5)

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Set 10 years after the events of Keeper of the Light, Kiss River is the second of a trilogy of books by Diane Chamberlain that follows lives, losses, and loves of the residents of Kiss River, a small town in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

The first novel focused on Alec, Paul, and Olivia and how they dealt with the sudden death of Alec’s wife Annie. This time round it is Annie and Alec’s children – Clay and Lacey – who are front and centre. Plus Gina, a beautiful amateur lighthouse historian, who appears on Clay and Lacey’s doorstep – and also appears to know very little, if anything, about lighthouses.

That’s because Gina’s interest in the lighthouse (or what is left of it – it was party destroyed in a hurricane at the end of Keeper of the Light) is much more personal. Fuelled by secrets revealed in the diary of the former lighthouse keeper, Gina is determined to raise the lighthouse’s lens – lost for a decade – no matter what. It is the reason she has come to Kiss River and the only reason she stays, at least until she starts to get to know Clay.

Clay and Lacey, meanwhile, have secrets of their own, demons they aren’t doing too well fighting. Clay is struggling to cope with the death of his wife, Lacey with secrets revealed about her mother ten years previously. She is it seems, doomed to repeat the past, until Gina arrives and provides her and Clay with a catalyst for change.

All of this leads to a book high on emotion, most of it built on secrets and lies that are bound to come out eventually, and – as with Keeper of the Light – I was drawn along. I wanted to know the truth and what happened next. This time though, I was a little disappointed when the truths were revealed, mainly Gina’s. It took the focus away from what I think Diane Chamberlain does really well – looking at human behaviour, the how and why we do things and also the fact that everyone has a chance to fix mistakes. It just felt too big and too complicated. I like simple and this wasn’t. As a result, it didn’t sit well with me and I was left liking the book not loving it.

Emma x