Review: The Falconer by Elizabeth May

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Title:  The Falconer (The Falconer book #1)

Author: Elizabeth May

My Rating:blog 5 leaf rating

Buy from Amazon – Buy from Waterstones – Buy from The Book Depository

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Heiress. Debutant. Murderer. A new generation of heroines has arrived.

Edinburgh, Scotland, 1844

Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, was destined for a life carefully planned around Edinburgh’s social events – right up until a faery killed her mother.

Now it’s the 1844 winter season and Aileana slaughters faeries in secret, in between the endless round of parties, tea and balls. Armed with modified percussion pistols and explosives, she sheds her aristocratic facade every night to go hunting. She’s determined to track down the faery who murdered her mother, and to destroy any who prey on humans in the city’s many dark alleyways.

But the balance between high society and her private war is a delicate one, and as the fae infiltrate the ballroom and Aileana’s father returns home, she has decisions to make. How much is she willing to lose – and just how far will Aileana go for revenge?

– Summary not mine; taken from The Falconer’s Goodreads page. 

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If I had to describe this book in three words, I would choose the first words that left my mouth as I finished the last page:
Oh. My. GOD.

To say the least, Elizabeth May knows how to craft a story, or she has some magical power that allows her to hold her reader’s heart in her hand, slowly cradling it at the beginning, gently carressing, and then, by the end, throwing it into a pit of alligators.
At least, that’s how I felt.

Aileana was the kind of kick-ass, sassy lead-role female I absolutely loved. I loved hearing about her fighting abilities, and her training, and her general skill in torching faery butt. I also liked how to herself, she was never strong enough. Then, when we meet Gavin and he witnesses her fighting for the first time, we learn that actually, she has some incredible talent. To put the icing on the cake, the fighting scenes were very well described and very vivid.
One of the other things that I loved about the book was something that was so incredibly unique and fulfilling, that I actually screamed with delight:
Both love interests were present in the story before the actual narrative began.
Aileana had known these people for at least one year. That meant no awkward and vomit inducing love-at-first-sight meetings, and a big thumbs up from me.

The steampunk elements of the story weren’t that much of a prominent interest to me, but I know that a lot of other readers would really like it. I simply saw it as an extra oddity in Aileana’s world.

The bestiary at the back was a wonderful addition to the book, and added a little fun to it. But, be warned. If, like me, you were looking the creatures up in the back whenever they were happened across in the story, you will come across spoilers. Minuscule ones, but still. I’m probably a minority that did this, so it probably doesn’t matter that much.

Now, for my only complaint about the book, which isn’t really a complaint, and isn’t really about the book. The blurb was awful. Simply, awful. If I had never heard of this book, and was simply deciding on the blurb alone, I probably wouldn’t read this book. Thankfully, I had heard wonders about the book, and I simply scoffed at the blurb and opened it up.

That ending though. Oh my.

Review: Banished by Liz De Jager

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Title:  Banished (The Blackhart Legacy book #1)

Author: Liz De Jager

My Rating: blog 5 leaf rating

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sumary finalKit is proud to be a Blackhart, now she’s encountered her unorthodox cousins and their strange lives. And her home-schooling now includes spells, fighting enemy fae and using ancient weapons. But it’s not until she rescues a rather handsome fae prince, fighting for his life on the edge of Blackhart Manor, that her training really kicks in. With her family away on various missions, Kit must protect Prince Thorn, rely on new friends and use her own unfamiliar magic to stay ahead of Thorn’s enemies. As things go from bad to apocalyptic, fae battle fae in a war that threatens to spill into the human world. Then Kit pits herself against the Elder Gods themselves – it’s that or lose everyone she’s learnt to love.

– Summary not mine; taken from Banished’s goodreads page.

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Banished is one of those books that is simply so awesome, so enjoyable, and so imaginative, that you have to take a break every hour or so while reading to just absorb its beauty. With a soul-gripping beginning, and amazing characters, this book will quickly rise up onto your favourites list whilst reading.

One thing that I really enjoyed were the excerpts of what seemed like lore books, or some kind of text book Kit might have studied from. It added to the story without adding too much, or spoiling anything. It gave the reader a better sense of Kit’s world, making it feel more whole and more enjoyable. Because of this, you can easily get lost in the story.

Another of Banished’s strengths is its amazing cast of characters. There’s Kit, main girl, who’s perfectly trained in kicking butt. Then there’s Thorn, faery prince, who you wouldn’t want to give coffee to (well actually, you might). There’s also Aiden, the sassy werewolf. Each quickly gained a place in my reading heart.

To break it down, Banished has everything a good story needs – mystery, the right kind of drama, the perfect amount of action, and the kisses that had to happen sometime (or risk the reader having a heart attack from the stress). The ending will leave you baffled, and at a loss, and most importantly, crying desperately for more.

However, when you try and review this book, you will come up short. It’s hard to formulate thoughts on something you loved so much.

 

 

Review: Deadly Delicious by K. L. Kincy

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Title: Deadly Delicious

Author: K. L. Kincy

My Rating:blog 4 leaf rating

Buy from Amazon – Buy from The Book Depository

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An awful cook, she ruins recipes left and right, and she certainly can’t compete with her family’s reputation for extraordinary food. Her daddy’s parents ran one of the best restaurants in all of Paris, but Josephine lives in Paris, Missouri. On her mama’s side, she’s up against a long tradition of sinfully delicious soul food. Rumor has it, her Creole ancestors cooked up some voodoo to make tasty even tastier. Josephine knows the secret ingredient: she comes from a long line of conjure witches with spellbinding culinary skills.

Disenchanted, Josephine works as a carhop at Carl and Earl’s Drive-In. Just plain old hamburgers, hot dogs, and curly fries, nothing magical about them. She’s got bigger fish to fry, though, when a grease fire erupts into a devilish creature who hisses her name with desire. Turns out he’s the Ravenous One, the granddaddy of all voodoo spirits, and he’s hungry for her soul. Josephine thinks he’s got the wrong girl-she’s no witch-but a gorgeous, dangerous night-skinned lady named Shaula sets her straight. Josephine is one of the most powerful witches alive, so overflowing with conjure that her out-of-control cooking simply catches fire.

Josephine would love to laugh this off, but Shaula warns her that she must learn to master her magic before the Ravenous One devours her soul. Spurred into action, Josephine breaks out her grandma’s old conjure cookbook and starts cooking. Nothing grand, just the usual recipes for undying friendship and revenge. But soon Josephine can’t escape the consequences of her conjure. When the people of Paris start turning into zombies with a strange fondness for cake, Josephine looks pretty responsible for their undead reawakening…

– Summary from the Deadly Delicous Goodreads page.

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When Karen Kincy posted on twitter asking for reviewers to look at her witchy MG novel, I jumped at the chance. I had read one of Karen Kincy’s books before, and I had really enjoyed it, so I was thrilled when right away she agreed to send me a review copy. Due to exams at the time, I wasn’t able to give my attention as quickly to the book as I would have liked, but soon I found myself unable to resist and started reading it.

I soon discovered that Deadly Delicious is a wonderfully fun read, one that I would have definitely eaten up as a middle grade reader (like I did as a young adult one…) and one that I couldn’t recommend enough. Age boundaries were pushed out of the way as I was reading, and I was soon absorbed into the 1950’s, accompanying MC Josephine on her tasty adventures.

I loved being able to hear the character’s accents as I was reading, and being fully absorbed into the conjure cooking culture of Josephine and her family, and the other witches in the novel. Whilst remaining unique and apart from the traditional idea of witches, it still plays on the stereotype with certain ingredients, like moon butter and twisted nails.

Josephine was a very lovable main character, and most certainly a good witch, but there were times where I couldn’t help but wonder about Authelia and her side of the story. Just why had these girls fallen out? Why did Authelia and her friends feel the need to pick on Josephine? I’m hoping that these questions will be answered in future books, if Karen Kincy is planning on turning this into a series.

One of the main strengths of Karen Kincy’s writing was that it wasn’t patronising or ‘dumbed down’ to appeal to children. It was simply a fun and vibrant read, filled with tasty recipes and sassy grandmas.

Review: Half Bad by Sally Green

18079804book info finalTitle: Half Bad (Half Life Trilogy #1)

Author: Sally Green

My Rating:blog 5 leaf rating

Buy from Amazon – Buy from Waterstones – Buy from The Book Depository

sumary finalHalf Bad by Sally Green is a breathtaking debut novel about one boy’s struggle for survival in a hidden society of witches.

You can’t read, can’t write, but you heal fast, even for a witch.

You get sick if you stay indoors after dark.

You hate White Witches but love Annalise, who is one.

You’ve been kept in a cage since you were fourteen.

All you’ve got to do is escape and find Mercury, the Black Witch who eats boys. And do that before your seventeenth birthday.

– Summary not mine; taken from Half Bad’s Goodreads page.

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I received Half Bad as a gift from a friend, as a very early birthday present. I was given the choice to have it early or to wait, and I chose to have it early – some time later, the book was read, but my birthday was still distant on the horizon. Needless to say, I enjoyed the book an incredible amount.

Half Bad had me gripped from the first page – the first person, present tense that is rarely used in books really surprised me, and set Half Bad apart from other books right away. I was curious to see whether the entire book was written this way, but when main character Nathan reminisces of his past life, the tense changes to fit this. This immediately caused Half Bad to strike me as a unique and very enjoyable book.
Do not be fooled by the use of the trope of white and black magic, because the world of Half Bad is still very unique. As I read on, I discovered that Half Bad was literally my perfect type of book. There was a lot of action, a fantasy world that absorbed me, and just the right amount of focus on the romance. There were also so many hints at things that made me want to read on, and the interesting characters really helped make the story come together.
I didn’t find Nathan’s father, Marcus, as menacing as he was made out to be, though. Don’t get me wrong, he was very menacing, but when he actually turns up in the book, he’s not the big raging ball of hellfire I was expecting. This may all change in the sequel though, and I may be forced to eat my own words.
One thing I really enjoyed was the family relationships in this book. Nathan is close to his grandma, but even closer to his half-brother, Arran. The bond between them is very strong and there were more than a few heart-wrenching moments between them, which only added to the pain and difficulty Nathan is forced to go through. These aren’t the only interesting characters though – Celia was also a favourite of mine, because even though she’s portrayed as a very evil, horrible person, there’s also a strange kind of bond between her and Nathan. Their relationship is incredibly complicated, but I hope something good will come of it.

When I finished this book, I just wanted to scream and through it across the room. I loved the ending, but I also really hated it because I wanted more of the story. It will be a long wait for Half Wild, though, and I might just go mad in the time it takes for a copy to reach my hands.

Review: The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

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Title: The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking, Book #1)

Author: Patrick Ness

My Rating:blog 5 leaf rating

sumary finalPrentisstown isn’t like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts in an overwhelming, never-ending stream of Noise. Just a month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd and his dog, Manchee — whose thoughts Todd can hear too, whether he wants to or not — stumble upon an area of complete silence. They find that in a town where privacy is impossible, something terrible has been hidden — a secret so awful that Todd and Manchee must run for their lives.

But how do you escape when your pursuers can hear your every thought?

from Goodreads

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The first thing that struck me about The Knife of Never Letting go was the interesting writing style. Todd’s narration is written in the dialect used in Prentisstown, and since it is coming from his perspective and he cannot read or write, it makes sense that longer words would be spelt phonetically. This made me feel a lot closer to Todd and his story, which I really enjoyed. It also demonstrated how different his world is, and gave the narration personality. I also liked the rather artsy way that the Noise was portrayed – the text in different fonts, showing whether the thought was harsh and quick through a spidery, scrawled text, or whether it was calm and methodical in a very conservative font. It really made me understand how the noise worked, even if I did have to focus and read each thought, trying to gain some insight into who it was.

What really drew me into reading the book in the first place was its very unusual concept. Unusual is a good thing when reading, especially since a lot of books can sound the same, making them quite boring. Even so, once I thought I knew what was going to happen and had been lured into a false sense of knowing the world, a big surprise made me take a step back for a moment, and then read on vigorously for the next three hours. I’m not sure whether this is Ness’ storytelling or my complete lack of observation (it may be a bit of both), but either way I liked it a lot.

Throughout the novel there is a huge sense of foreboding, which at some points made me want to read on more, and at some points made me feel like I was going to go into cardiac arrest. I knew that bad things were going to happen, but the suspense was almost unbearable. The book is very powerful, and very violent. Not just in terms of plot, but in the way that the novel is unforgiving and completely ignorant of the reader’s feelings. In more than one instance, I felt uncomfortable reading violent scenes, but I knew this was Ness’ desired effect.

By the end of the book I was expecting a very large cliff hanger (which I got) and I’m sure this is some evil plot Patrick Ness conjured up to put his readers through the most pain. Nevertheless, I’m eager to read more and will seek out the rest of the trilogy, and the author’s other books, to devour and savour. As a footnote, however, Manchee will never be forgotten (and Ness, never forgiven).

Release Day: The Luthier’s Apprentice by Mayra Calvani

$3.99 (2)

 

The Luthier’s Apprentice by Mayra Calvani

Niccolò Paganini (1782-1840), one of the greatest violinists who ever lived and rumored to have made a pact with the devil, has somehow transferred unique powers to another…

When violinists around the world mysteriously vanish, 16-year-old Emma Braun takes notice. But when her beloved violin teacher disappears… Emma takes charge. With Sherlock Holmes fanatic, not to mention gorgeous Corey Fletcher, Emma discovers a parallel world ruled by an ex-violinist turned evil sorceress who wants to rule the music world on her own terms.

But why are only men violinists captured and not women? What is the connection between Emma’s family, the sorceress, and the infamous Niccolò Paganini?

Emma must unravel the mystery in order to save her teacher from the fatal destiny that awaits him. And undo the curse that torments her family—before evil wins and she becomes the next luthier’s apprentice…

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Purchase for $3.99:

Amazon

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About The Author

Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults and has authored over a dozen books, some of which have won awards. Her stories, reviews, interviews and articles have appeared on numerous publications such as The Writer, Writer’s Journal, Multicultural Review, and Bloomsbury Review, among many others. When she’s not writing, reading, editing or reviewing, she enjoys walking her dog, traveling, and spending time with her family. Represented by Serendipity Literary.

 

Website Blog / Facebook / Twitter /  Goodreads

 

Interview with author Connor Wolf

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1. Hello Connor, and welcome to the books, food and other things blog! It’s lovely to
have you here. To start us off, give us a little introduction.

Hi thank you so much for having me here, I’ll answer all questions as best I can. I’m Connor and I love to write, and of course to read. I’m an avid reader and I read a variety of genres, my favourites being fantasy, action and horror! During the day, I spend time honing my skills as a painter and decorator and in my spare time and evenings I write.

2. Have you always wanted to be a writer?

I haven’t always considered writing to be a possibility as a future profession nor did I much think I would enjoy it as much as I do. I think I first really thought about writing seriously at age 11. I met a well-known author and it was then I really sought to write books.

3. What are your favourite authors and how do you think they have influenced you as a writer?

My favourite author are Oliver Bowden (Assassin’s Creed series) J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter series and Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games series)  it was a mix of these three very talented authors that really help me see the way a book should be written. As I read these books I found myself developing my own style of writing.

4. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

My advice for any aspiring writer out there is perseverance. With a lot of motivation and no small amount of effort, you can hold a finished book, filled to bursting point with everything that you created. It’s not so much about writing skill, or novel length. For me, it’s about imagination, the thrill of creating a whole world filled with creatures and magical things. Putting this to paper and seeing the result after you have finished is what really drives me. It can bring on tears and happiness but whatever you do, don’t give up because if you believe in yourself you can do this.

5. What else do you enjoy other than books and writing?

As stated earlier, I enjoy painting and decorating, I study it at college, but also, I enjoy the more oriental of activities. Martial Arts for me is amazing, it’s so calming and really helps you find who you really are, and what you’re capable of. I’m also a lover of swimming and cycling, I cycle a lot and I really enjoy it.

6. Recently, I reviewed your book, ‘The Bite of Vengeance: The Devil’s Gift’. Why don’t
you tell us a little bit about the book.

The Bite of Vengeance: The Devil’s Gift is the first instalment of a growing trilogy, the second I am working on now. It’s a fantasy-horror book, aimed at those who love a book that really twists and turns. It took me around a year to finish writing it but I really think it was worth it, I’m so happy with the final result.

7. What were the main inspirations behind your action-packed vampire novel?

My main inspiration came from the same place my book was first created, in a dream. I saw the figures muttering indistinctly in my dream, I couldn’t quite see their faces but I knew roughly what they were doing, how they came to be. I wanted to fill in the gaps and share that dream. I’ve always been a big lover of everything vampiric and action-packed. I wanted to write a book that showed the reader what was happening, not watching them eat a bowl of spaghetti. It was this that really inspired me to finish my dream.

8. Since your novel takes place mostly in Italy, have you ever been there?

I’ve never actually been to Italy, but I’ve seen what it looks like and it just looks beautiful, I thought this would be a wonderful setting for my book, plus the fact the Vatican is located here, the building where the Pope resides, the cardinals. It seemed important Roconn lived in Italy.

9. Can you tell us what’s next in store for Roconn?

I don’t want to spoil the next instalment The Bite of Vengeance: Fallen Angel but I can say this, many unexpected things take place, a new side of Roconn will be shown and it is also written in first-person as opposed the the third person of the first book. I found writing in first-person really helps the reader see and feel exactly what Roconn sees and feels, it helps better understand him and see what motivates him with his actions.

10. What film do you think every vampire fan should watch?

I think any vampire fan should watch Underworld. It’s such a fantastic film that really shows vampires in whole new light, for me this is one of the inspirations behind The Devil’s Gift.

11. If readers enjoyed your book, what should they read in the meantime whilst waiting for the sequel?

I think, whilst waiting for Fallen Angel, readers should immerse themselves in a book such as Assassin’s Creed Renaissance or Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood and it’s location in Italy will help keep them in the same area as Roconn.

12. Well, it’s been lovely having you here, Connor! Last of all, where can we find your books?

Thanks again for having me here, it’s been great. The Bite of Vengeance: The Devil’s Gift is available via www.rowanvalebooks.com or www.amazon.co.uk as well as their international sites. eBook & Paperback copies are available for purchase on Amazon, and the eBook is priced at 99p (prices vary via different retailers)