The Falconer by Elizabeth May – Review

Cover- The Falconer

Published: May 6, 2014

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Pages: 378 (Hardcover)

My Rating:  4.0/5.0

A COPY OF THIS BOOK WAS RECEIVED FROM THE PUBLISHER IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW.

Synopsis:

She’s a stunner.
Edinburgh, 1844. Eighteen-year-old Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, has everything a girl could dream of: brains, charm, wealth, a title—and drop-dead beauty.

She’s a liar.
But Aileana only looks the part of an aristocratic young lady. she’s leading a double life: She has a rare ability to sense the sìthíchean—the faery race obsessed with slaughtering humans—and, with the aid of a mysterious mentor, has spent the year since her mother died learning how to kill them.

She’s a murderer.
Now Aileana is dedicated to slaying the fae before they take innocent lives. With her knack for inventing ingenious tools and weapons—from flying machines to detonators to lightning pistols—ruthless Aileana has one goal: Destroy the faery who destroyed her mother.

She’s a Falconer.
The last in a line of female warriors born with a gift for hunting and killing the fae, Aileana is the sole hope of preventing a powerful faery population from massacring all of humanity. Suddenly, her quest is a lot more complicated. She still longs to avenge her mother’s murder—but she’ll have to save the world first.

The first volume of a trilogy from an exciting new voice in young adult fantasy, this electrifying thriller combines romance and action, steampunk technology and Scottish lore in a deliciously addictive read.


I love all things faerie, so had I realized that was what The Falconer was about, I probably would have picked it up much sooner. As it is, I guess I have pretty great timing because the final book in the trilogy will be out in June 2017. That means I don’t have to wait for a painfully long time to find out how everything ends! The Falconer is a great mash-up of Scottish culture, steampunk, and faeries so if that sounds like your thing, you should definitely check this one out.

Aileana Kameron has been hunting and killing faeries ever since her mother was brutally murdered by one a year ago. She goes out nightly to track, hone her skills, and satisfy her thirst for vengeance, but since her formal return to society, this has become somewhat more difficult. Her trainer and battle-partner Kiaran is a faerie, but for a reason unknown to Aileana, he has turned against his own kind. Aileana is also assisted by Derrick, a pixie addicted to honey and unable to keep himself from mending her torn dresses. Aileana’s determination to avenge her mother is admirable, though this also causes her to exhibit rash behavior that is threatening to herself and, on occasion, those close to her. She no longer feels she fits in with her peers and doesn’t hold the same goals she did a year ago, meaning no more dreams of a handsome husband, a nice home, and children. I admire her courage and the fact that she is aware and accepting of the problems she faces amongst society and even the turmoil this causes between herself and her father.

As with most fantasy, Aileana can’t simply just go out and satisfy her vengeance by killing the faeries that prey off humanity. She must have her vengeance on the very powerful faerie that murdered her mother. Throw in a standard save the world (or at least the country) plot line and you’ve got 75% of the fantasy books on the market today. While these tropes are common, it doesn’t change the fact they’re really fun to read about when done well. Elizabeth May managed to not make me roll my eyes at the plot, so for that The Falconer deserves a decent rating. Throw in some human-fey forbidden love, an unwanted engagement, and a tough chick that makes steampunk weaponry and I’m a sucker for it.

The Falconer had everything that I love reading about in a book. Admittedly, these are kind of guilty pleasures (I love the fey-crush thing) but it was a great story! I’ll definitely be checking out the next two books and will probably be picking them up in hardcover because the covers are lovely. I’m always on the lookout for more book similar to this (especially if there are dark, bad faeries) so send recommendations this way if you’ve got them!!

Skullsworn by Brian Staveley – Review

Cover- Skullsworn

Published: April 28, 2017

Publisher: Tor Books

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 304 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 3.0/5.0

A COPY OF THIS BOOK WAS RECEIVED FROM THE PUBLISHER IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW.

Synopsis:

Brian Staveley’s new standalone returns to the critically acclaimed Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne universe, following a priestess attempting to join the ranks of the God of Death.

Pyrre Lakatur doesn’t like the word skullsworn. It fails to capture the faith and grace, the peace and beauty of her devotion to the God of Death. She is not, to her mind, an assassin, not a murderer–she is a priestess. At least, she will be a priestess if she manages to pass her final trial.

The problem isn’t the killing. Pyrre has been killing and training to kill, studying with some of the most deadly men and women in the world, since she was eight. The problem, strangely, is love. To pass her Trial, Pyrre has ten days to kill the ten people enumerated in an ancient song, including “the one you love / who will not come again.”

Pyrre is not sure she’s ever been in love. If she were a member of a different religious order, a less devoted, disciplined order, she might cheat. The Priests of Ananshael, however, don’t look kindly on cheaters. If Pyrre fails to find someone to love, or fails to kill that someone, they will give her to the god.

Pyrre’s not afraid to die, but she hates to quit, hates to fail, and so, with a month before her trial begins, she returns to the city of her birth, the place where she long ago offered an abusive father to the god and abandoned a battered brother—in the hope of finding love…and ending it on the edge of her sword.


I was a big fan of Staveley’s trilogy The Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne, so I was delighted that he would be returning to that world for a standalone novel. When that standalone turned out to be about Pyrre Lakatur, priestess to Ananshael, I was marked my calendar. Pyrre was always a very intriguing character with a vague past, so a single novel dedicated to a slim segment of her life was something that I couldn’t say no to!

As it turned out, I liked the setting more than the actual story. Yes, the premise was awesome, but I just didn’t LOVE it the way I expected to. Dombang on the other hand was a sweltering cesspool of death and rot. Crocs, snakes, flesh-rending grasses, and spiders that lay eggs in dying flesh. God, it’s giving me hives just thinking about it. Also, did I mention the city is on the brink of rebellion again and that the old gods of the delta might still be around?

In comparison with this vibrant city, how could I really get into Pyrre’s seemingly unattainable quest for love? Typically, this whole concept would have me hooked in 10 pages, but it just didn’t jive with me. Ruc Lun Lac was bland in my opinion. Yes, he was a multifaceted warrior with jade green eyes and a mean right hook, but I was never convinced that he and Pyrre had any chemistry whatsoever. I suppose for two scarred killers their version of attraction was convincing. The secondary characters were also interesting in a superficial manner and contained only hints of depth. Granted, this was a shorter novel and the main focus was Pyrre, but still!

The way Pyrre’s trial turned out disappointed me in all honesty, though I won’t dare to spoil it. The final chapters were epic and fierce and they were the best part of the whole book. If not for all the Run Lun Lac chasing, deliberating, and elaborate semi-effective plotting, I would say this could have been told rather succinctly in 150 pages.

Overall, Skullsworn was not what I expected from Staveley, especially considering how much I enjoyed the main trilogy. A story of a certain famous Kettral wing probably would have suited my tastes more as a prequel novel. Skullsworn wasn’t a bad book, I just don’t think it was of the same caliber as the others and I still enjoyed it quite a bit and thought it had some really great quotes and philosophy-type segments.

Waiting on Wednesday: Arabella and the Battle of Venus by David D. Levine

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where bloggers feature a book that we just can’t wait to get our hands on!


Cover- Arabella

I was absolutely charmed by Arabella of Mars and I expect much the same from Arabella and the Battle of Venus, which is due out in July. More swashbuckling, steampunk, with the addition of trying to outwit some washed-up guy named Napoleon. It’s probably going to be fantastic!

Currently Reading: 4/17/17

cover-city-of-miracles

City of Miracles by Robert Jackson Bennett

At long last! Time to visit a new city, this time following Sigrud which I’m pretty excited about. He always seemed like such an intriguing character with lots of secrets, plus it’s gonna be a revenge story!!

 

 

Cover- Paper and Fire

Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine

I’m actually going to catch up with this series before book 3 is released! I’ve seen a few people saying it’s a strong sequel and even better than the first.

Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames – Review

Cover- Kings of the Wyld

Published: February 21, 2017

Publisher: Orbit

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 544 (Paperback)

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

Synopsis:

GLORY NEVER GETS OLD.

Clay Cooper and his band were once the best of the best — the meanest, dirtiest, most feared crew of mercenaries this side of the Heartwyld.

Their glory days long past, the mercs have grown apart and grown old, fat, drunk – or a combination of the three. Then an ex-bandmate turns up at Clay’s door with a plea for help. His daughter Rose is trapped in a city besieged by an enemy one hundred thousand strong and hungry for blood. Rescuing Rose is the kind of mission that only the very brave or the very stupid would sign up for.

It’s time to get the band back together for one last tour across the Wyld.


I could count on one hand the number of books that appeal to my humor as much as Kings of the Wyld does. I wasn’t expecting a book that would make me laugh so often and I find myself already trying to foist it on friends so perhaps they will find as much enjoyment as I did. Don’t get me wrong now, this story wasn’t all laughs and definitely had some moments that would have downright brutal if the humor wasn’t there to soften the blows. The real theme of Kings of the Wyld is very serious and is as solid as the best fantasy books.

Imagine if our 80’s rock bands were instead bands of men fighting the horrors of the wyld. They have the same memorable names, hordes of screaming fans, and sometimes even ridiculous themed costumes. A few decades ago, bands like Saga roamed the wyld killing threatening beasties of all shapes, sizes, and species but eventually the famous bands began to break up, members went their separate ways and began to settle down, go to prison, or catch incurable diseases. Twenty years later the bands of old have been replaced by new faces, who don’t want to or have to work as hard to garner the same adoration that bands once did. The wyld begins to grow strong, the city of Castia is under siege by a horde, and Saga is getting back together to save the daughter of Golden Gabe, once leader of this fabled band.

The story is told from the perspective of Clay Cooper, watchman, family man, and formerly retired member of Saga. Mere pages into the book and Gabriel shows up on his doorstep begging for help to save his daughter Rose. Clay reluctantly agrees and they set off to gather the rest of the band members up for one more rodeo. The members of Saga are magnificently lovable, the foes they encounter are terrible, and there are so many quotable lines that my book would have had tropical bird-style plumage from all the sticky notes poking out the sides. Clay was wonderful, but Moog was a riot of fun. His never-ending sack of marvels was ridiculous and if I could, I’d so have a hat from which you could pull fully prepared meals. Nicholas Eames even wrote the secondary characters so well that I’d go buy novellas about their life stories!

In short, Kings of the Wyld is one of my best book purchases probably ever. I have not a single regret and am beyond pleased to know that there are future books in store for readers. If you like lovable tough guys, dangerous adventures, and reading about the variety of ways you can fall in battle (trampled, charred, stabbed, eaten etc.) than you’ll love this book. Everyone seems to want a Saga tour t-shirt (definitely a cool idea), but I’d settle for an owlbear.

Stacking the Shelves: 4/15/17

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and it’s all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. You can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!


Received for Review:

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Kangaroo Too by Curtis C. Chen

This is another sci-fi spy novel and it’s going to be so much fun! Thanks to Thomas Dunne books for sending this one over. I think it literally showed up 2 days after I requested it!

The Summer Dragon by Todd Lockwood

I missed out on this one when it was released last year, but managed to snag a finished paperback copy. Its got amazing illustrations scattered throughout the book which adds so much to the presentation! Thanks to DAW for sending this.

A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge

This is one from Amulet Books that had such an intriguing synopsis. A Face Like Glass was released in the UK several years ago and is now being released in the US for the first time.

Godblind by Anna Stephens

GRIMDARK!!!! Anything touted as being for fans of Abercrombie, Lynch, and Lawrence is probably alright. Thanks to HarperVoyager and Edelweiss.

The Witch’s Kiss by Katherine and Elizabeth Corr

A YA love story that I may or may not like. I’ll be honest, I thought the cover was neat! Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.

The Space Between the Stars by Anne Corlett

The destruction of Earth and the human exodus always both intrigues and terrifies me, so obviously this book was appealing. With thanks to Berkley and NetGalley for providing an eGalley.

The Legion of Flame by Anthony Ryan

YESS!! A non-audio copy! I didn’t care for the narration, so I think I’ll enjoy actually reading The Legion of Flame more than the first book. Thanks to Ace and NetGalley.

Books Purchased:

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

This book was ridiculously good and I highly recommend the audio version! Review will be forthcoming.

The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi

Another awesome space opera from Scalzi. The characters were fun and it wasn’t too dour for an “end of the world as we know it” book. A review will be posted within a few weeks.

Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine – Review

Cover- Ink and Bone

Published: July 7, 2015

Publisher: NAL

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 355 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

 

Synopsis:

In an exhilarating new series, New York Times bestselling author Rachel Caine rewrites history, creating a dangerous world where the Great Library of Alexandria has survived the test of time…

Ruthless and supremely powerful, the Great Library is now a presence in every major city, governing the flow of knowledge to the masses. Alchemy allows the Library to deliver the content of the greatest works of history instantly—but the personal ownership of books is expressly forbidden.

Jess Brightwell believes in the value of the Library, but the majority of his knowledge comes from illegal books obtained by his family, who are involved in the thriving black market. Jess has been sent to be his family’s spy, but his loyalties are tested in the final months of his training to enter the Library’s service.

When his friend inadvertently commits heresy by creating a device that could change the world, Jess discovers that those who control the Great Library believe that knowledge is more valuable than any human life—and soon both heretics


Can you believe I nearly forgot to write a review for Ink and Bone!!? I don’t know how such a thing is possible, because I LOVED this book. Having known little about this book besides the fact that it was sort of about the Great Library was enough for me when decided whether or not to give Ink and Bone a read. A book about a library is kind of like magic for someone who loves to read.

The burning of the library of Alexandria is an event that makes historians, scholars, and even some of us book lovers out there cringe, but what if it never happened? Ink and Bone explores the idea of a Great Library that wasn’t destroyed, but rather effectively took over the world. In this alternate history, the Library has spread its tendrils across much of the world, is itself a political entity, and employs the use of magic/alchemy to keep its operations running, without regard to the sanctity of human life. Half the reason the Library is so effective is the people who work there are carefully selected and rigorously trained.

This training period is where Jess Brightwell and the rest of the characters meet one another and the story truly begins. The selection process is fiercely competitive, so at first many of the characters try to undermine one another in hopes of improving their chances of securing a library position. As the story goes along, however, bonds begin to form between those who haven’t been culled from the herd and the action really begins to pick up. I really don’t want to spoil any of the plot so I’ll leave the description of the story at this: it’s fantastic and who knew working for the library could be quite so hazardous!

Ink and Bone was truly a unique literary adventure for me! I loved the characters, which I thought were really well-written and vibrant. The plot thickened more and more by the end of the book and I COULD NOT PUT THIS DOWN. I was in an audiobook haze for hours on end and when I finally got to the end I was crushed and hopeful and so excited to pick up the next one.

Waiting on Wednesday: The Court of Broken Knives by Anna Smith Spark

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where bloggers feature a book that we just can’t wait to get our hands on!


Cover- The Court of Broken Knives

The Court of Broken Knives sounds like my kind of book. Soldiers, empires, and coups always make for a winning combination in my opinion… Throw in a little talk of destiny and unusual children and I’ve basically pre-ordered it already. The Court of Broken Knives is the debut novel of Anna Smith Spark and is due out in the US on August 14, 2017 and in the UK on June 29, 2017.

Behind the Throne by K.B. Wagers – Review

cover-behind-the-throne

Published: August 2, 2016

Publisher: Orbit

Genre: Science Fiction

Pages: 413 (Paperback)

My Rating: 3.5/5.0

Synopsis:

Meet Hail: Captain. Gunrunner. Fugitive.

Quick, sarcastic, and lethal, Hailimi Bristol doesn’t suffer fools gladly. She has made a name for herself in the galaxy for everything except what she was born to do: rule the Indranan Empire. That is, until two Trackers drag her back to her home planet to take her rightful place as the only remaining heir.

But trading her ship for a palace has more dangers than Hail could have anticipated. Caught in a web of plots and assassination attempts, Hail can’t do the one thing she did twenty years ago: run away. She’ll have to figure out who murdered her sisters if she wants to survive.

A gun smuggler inherits the throne in this Star Wars-style science fiction adventure from debut author K. B. Wagers. Full of action-packed space opera exploits and courtly conspiracy – not to mention an all-out galactic war – Behind the Throne will please fans of James S. A Corey, Becky Chambers and Lois McMaster Bujold, or anyone who wonders what would happen if a rogue like Han Solo were handed the keys to an empire . . .


Behind the Throne was a book that I had to do in audio format due to a lack of time to read physical books. I wish I had read a physical book because the audio version is read by a narrator who seems to actually have a British type accent, not an Indian one. It felt forced and was really kind of painful to listen to. Aside from this, I rather liked the book.

Behind the Throne is the story of Hail Bristol, who has been a gun runner for the last two decades of her life, but after the deaths of her sisters is forced to come home and perform her role as heir to the Indranan empire. Hail is extremely capable of not only protecting herself, but dealing with difficult situations, and negotiating with people that are as likely to kill you as they are to deal with you. Her unorthodox resume has in reality, made her the perfect heir for a kingdom in crisis. Hail DOES NOT want this role, but she comes to accept her responsibility and for that I respect her. Two of her closest bodyguards, Zin and Emmory are extremely likable characters and I do think there’s some well concealed sexual tension between Emmory and Hail, though I haven’t quite decided if anything will come of it in the sequel. The great thing about adult fantasy is that it doesn’t always turn into some gushy, ridiculous relationship!

There’s plenty of action in Behind the Throne, but it’s one of those books where everybody talks about everything. The plus here is that the reader understands a broad history of the empire, the political climate, relationships with foreign empires, and what each and every character thinks of everything. In this respect, Behind the Throne is similar to The Goblin Emperor, which I loved. There’s nothing wrong with lots of dialogue in books, but it has to be meaningful! KB Wagers managed to pull this off, but seriously, if Hail Bristol reminded anyone that she used to be a gunrunner ONE MORE TIME, I was about to throw my headphones through the air.

Behind the Throne was surprisingly entertaining despite my criticisms and eventually I plan on reading the sequel as well. I think the series holds considerable potential, considering there were some open ends and clear segues for further plot development. This is a sci-fi book, but don’t let that scare you off if it isn’t your usual genre. It’s not hard science fiction with loads of technical terms, merely set in a futuristic society set on another planet.