Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

I finally got to read the second book in this series (which, I don't know why, I did not realize was the first of a series when I read Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children last year - everything is a series these days, right?). The story begins where the first book ended, which was nice because the first one ended with a dramatic cliffhanger.

Jacob and his friends have survived their harrowing experience that occurs at the end of the first book, but now their beloved Miss Peregrine is trapped in her bird shape. They must find another Peculiar of her type in order to change her back - before she is stuck in the falcon shape forever. The book recounts their quest across the country during wartime. Jacob, our hero from the first book, is determined to help all he can, as much out of love for Emma as from his desire to keep them all safe.

It was fun to revisit these characters, many of whom I'd come to care a lot about during the course of the first book, and I was pleased to see that Riggs included additional evocative vintage photos, weaving their images seamlessly into the story line.

Admittedly I opened this book with very high expectations, and I did enjoy it as I read. However, I found myself a bit skeptical of a major plot twist toward the end that just didn't seem to make enough sense. It felt contrived, leaving me disappointed as I closed the book. While I didn't enjoy this one as much as the first book, it is an engaging, creative tale that definitely stands out among the YA books on my library's shelves.

Book sin the Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children series:
1. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
2. Hollow City

Hollow City (#2 in the Miss Peregrine's Peculiar children series) by Ransom Riggs (Quirk Books, 2014)

Monday, May 12, 2014

Skinwalker by Faith Hunter

As hesitant as I am to try a new urban fantasy kick-ass heroine series, I find myself constantly taking the plunge because when this kind of book is good, it is so much fun. This one was recommended to me by a few people, so I thought I'd give it a go.

This first book in the Jane Yellowrock series has an interesting premise and features a likable protagonist. Our heroine is Jane, a shapechanging native American vampire hunter. She's been hired by a very old and powerful vampire to come to New Orleans and hunt down a rogue vampire, and she is determined to keep her own secrets from the vampires while she tries to hunt down an unusual and deadly creature.

I liked the premise, and the mystery is interesting. The writing is a bit uneven, with some narrative wandering and a bit too much description, which tended to lessen the tension during key moments. The concept of Jane's beast and her dual nature was handled well and gave the book some interesting complexity. I found her detective skills to be a little baffling, though - she tended to just sort of react cluelessly to what was going on and then stumble across pertinent information. I like to be extra charitable to the first book in a series, and while this had some issues for me, there was enough good stuff that I plan to give the second book a shot and see how things go.

Books in the Jane Yellowrock series:
1. Skinwalker (2009)
2. Blood Cross (2009)
3. Mercy Blade (2011)
4. Raven Cursed (2012)
5. Death's Rival (2012)
6. Blood Trade (2013)
7. Black Arts (2014)
8. Broken Soul (2014)

Skinwalker (#1 in the Jane Yellowrock series) by Faith Hunter (Roc, 2009)