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.

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Review: Geek Girl by Holly Smale

 

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Title:  Geek Girl (Geek Girl book #1)

Author: Holly Smale

My Rating: blog 3 leaf rating

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

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She knows that a cat has 32 muscles in each ear, a “jiffy” lasts 1/100th of a second, and the average person laughs 15 times per day. What she isn’t quite so sure about is why nobody at school seems to like her very much. So when she’s spotted by a top model agent, Harriet grabs the chance to reinvent herself. Even if it means stealing her Best Friend’s dream, incurring the wrath of her arch enemy Alexa, and repeatedly humiliating herself in front of the impossibly handsome supermodel Nick. Even if it means lying to the people she loves.

As Harriet veers from one couture disaster to the next with the help of her overly enthusiastic father and her uber-geeky stalker, Toby, she begins to realise that the world of fashion doesn’t seem to like her any more than the real world did.

And as her old life starts to fall apart, the question is: will Harriet be able to transform herself before she ruins everything?

– Summary not mine;  taken from Geek Girl’s Goodreads page.

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This is a more of a mini-review because while I really liked Geek Girl, there wasn’t really anything different, unusual or really striking that I could say about the book.

Geek Girl is one of those ridiculously funny books, that often you have to pause reading for, because some scenes are just so embarrassing (and hilarious) it’s like you can’t watch. But, it’s a book, so of course you have to read on. Thankfully, the humour makes this book an effortless read and so the pages fly by faster than a jetplane. The humour also makes this book accessible to anyone. Even though my boyfriend turned his nose up at what he clearly thought was a ‘girl’s book’ (he’s very scared of cooties), when I read some parts to him, he would snort with laughter.
This book isn’t something I would normally read (at all). I’m more of a fantasy, sci-fi chick, hence why those are the genres my blog focuses around. But I tried something different with Holly Smale’s book, and I can’t say I was disappointed, or felt that it was a waste of my precious reading time.

While Geek Girl is a mostly lighthearted book that aims to please, there are also some harder themes tackled in the book, such as bullying. Now, this is where my one discomfort arises. In the novel, Harriet is encouraged not to eat. And while she never gives in to this pressure, it isn’t addressed as an issue. It’s not pointed out that telling someone to lose weight is wrong. It’s simply brushed over, and I think that in a book aimed at young girls (the book has 11+ stamped on the back) this probably should have been covered, or at least Harriet should have shown her discomfort in the narrative.

Review: Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

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Title:  Hollow City (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children book #2)

Author: Ransom Riggs

My Rating:blog 5 leaf rating

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

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The extraordinary journey that began in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children continues as Jacob Portman and his newfound friends journey to London the peculiar capital of the world. But in this war-torn city, hideous surprises lurk around every corner. Like its predecessor, this second novel in the Peculiar Children series blends thrilling fantasy with never-before-published vintage photography to create a one-of-a-kind reacting experience.

– Summary not mine; taken from Hollow City’s Goodreads page.

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Ransom Riggs is one of those wonderful writers where it doesn’t matter how much time passes between reading the first and second book – I easily fell straight into the story again, and before I knew it, I was 100+ pages into the book.

I felt exactly the same with the first book in that I loved the combination of vintage photos and the story. I think it’s one of the books major strengths, since it the story becomes more real and unique. In a way I like that it doesn’t tell you which photos are shopped and which ones aren’t, as it adds an air of mystery to the photos, and makes you question those strange looking photos that could go either way. Some are fairly obvious though, like the picture of the Emu-Raffe (which I found terrifying, by the way. And you can go ahead and laugh about that). I also love the style of the actual book – ridiculously gorgeous.

I have nothing but praise for Ransom and his writing. I love that the children weren’t all likable all the time, since I just felt closer to them. They felt like brothers and sisters. I also really commend Ransom’s ability to write about so many characters at once. Often characters can be left out of conversations, or forgotten about, only to reappear later on. This isn’t the case in Ransom’s writing; all of the dialogue is just right.

I love that this is pitched as a YA novel, when really it could be enjoyed by just about anyone (I’m going to run an experiment – push these on my mum, who isn’t a big reader and see what happens). I just want to run in the street throwing nicely passing copies of the book out to people. If that’s not a sign of a good book, I don’t know what is.

When I said I had no criticism for Ransom, I may have lied. Just a tiny bit. Here’s a few pointers I’d love for him to respond to:
1.The book was over way too soon. Why not 700 pages? Better, 1000?
2.I loved your book so much its nigh on impossible to form a proper review. Please fix this in the next book.
3.When is the next one?

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.

TBR Pile #3 – July

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HELLO! And welcome back. I took a hiatus over June to settle into my new home with mum (It’s wonderful by the way – a little cottage surrounded by fields, nature, and a two minute walk from the beach!), but now I’m back, and I’m very excited to be here.

I feel like I’ve learned so much about blogging, and since I’ve actually passed my first blogoversary (I’ve not actually checked…) I’m pretty surprised that my blogging juice hasn’t run out! If anything, it’s doubled. I’m now regularly requesting (and reading) ARCs from NetGalley, I’ve had my first few physical ARCs from BookBridgr and I’m a beta-reader for an author! It’s all pretty amazing.

Since I was on hiatus and didn’t get to post a picture of the books I got for my birthday, here they are:

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I’m super excited about Graceling, and A Great and Terrible Beauty. In fact, I’m excited about all of them! I’m a big fan of Anne Rice, so reading her take on werewolves will be great. The other three I’ve heard so many wonderful things about, and it’s hard not to be excited about them.

I also received Hollow City, which I’ve read already and I loved it. Ransom Riggs is incredibly talented.

Now, onto my TBR Pile! I’ve got a new method – I now have a box with tiny slips of paper, and at the beginning of each month I will pick out four. This is just for the books I own though, and ARCs I’ll just be reading as and when I need to.

Anyway, after making my little TBR box, I picked out two slips. I’m buddy reading The Falconer, and I’m still reading A Discovery of Witches, so it makes more sense to just pick two. That way I definitely know I can read those during July. Here are the books that I picked out:

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Even though I picked out Midnight Alley, I’ll be reading The Dead Girls Dance since I’ve only read the first Morganville Vampires book. I have the first three books in Rachel Vincent’s series, since they were in the ‘3 for £5’ offer in The Works (my favourite bookshop). All in all, I’m pretty happy with the books that I chose. I can tell The Dead Girls Dance and My Soul to Save will be quick reads, which makes up for the huge A Discovery of Witches.

I’ll also be reading an ARC of ‘The Rain’ by Virginia Bergin.

Until next month, happy reading!

Bout of Books 10 – Sign Up & Goals Post!

Bout of Books
Hello everyone! I’m going to be taking part in Bout of Books again. However, since it’s during exam time I have a tiny goal of just 2 books. My normal pace is about 1 book a week, so I’m hoping to double that. Before I show you the books I’m hoping to read though, here’s where you can find everything about Bout of Books.
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Fire and Flood by Victoria Scott
I’ve been wanting to read this one ever since it came out, and after hearing a friend rave about it, I think it’s about time I read it!
Summary: Tella Holloway is losing it. Her brother is sick, and when a dozen doctors can’t determine what’s wrong, her parents decide to move to Montana for the fresh air. She’s lost her friends, her parents are driving her crazy, her brother is dying—and she’s helpless to change anything.

Until she receives mysterious instructions on how to become a Contender in the Brimstone Bleed. It’s an epic race across jungle, desert, ocean, and mountain that could win her the prize she desperately desires: the Cure for her brother’s illness. But all the Contenders are after the Cure for people they love, and there’s no guarantee that Tella (or any of them) will survive the race.

The jungle is terrifying, the clock is ticking, and Tella knows she can’t trust the allies she makes. And one big question emerges: Why have so many fallen sick in the first place?

Victoria Scott’s breathtaking novel grabs readers by the throat and doesn’t let go.
– from Goodreads
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Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop
I’ve had this as an ARC for quite a while, and after starting it a little bit I feel bad about taking so long to read it. Hopefully I can get it read!
Summary: The Darkness has had a Prince for a long, long time. Now the Queen is coming.

For years the realm of Terreille has been falling into corruption, as the powerful Queens who rule it have turned to cruelty.

But there is hope – a prophetic vision has revealed the coming of a Queen more powerful than any other. And once the foundations of her power – father, brother, lover – are in place, she will emerge from the darkness, bringing freedom.

For she is the living myth, dreams made flesh; not just any witch, but Witch.
– from Goodreads

ARC Review: The Devil’s Gift by Connor Wolf

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Title: The Bite of Vengeance: The Devil’s Gift (Book #1)

Author: Connor Wolf

My Rating:blog 3 leaf rating

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Roconn and Maria used to live a simple life. Roconn worked as a priest, whilst Maria looked after the children at home in their rural village. But, when tragedy strikes, and Roconn  is faced with not only the dead bodies of his children but the imminent death of his wife, the Devil himself strikes up a deal. Roconn and Maria become the first vampires – feasting on blood, with superhuman strength and a weakness to sunlight and fire.

With a personal vendetta against God, they become royalty, creating vampire subjects to aid their plot to assassinate the pope. But, their plan will not be easily put into action and soon Roconn is faced with yet more difficult and life changing choices.

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First of all, I found it personally touching to be able to request and review a book written by someone of a similar age also living in my town. Since it’s a small town, I wouldn’t have thought that there would be many people in my town who share the same love for reading and writing as I do (though most of my friends enjoy books, it’s not quite the same obsession I have!)

I found that The Devil’s Gift was quite unlike some other vampire books floating around, and I liked this. The inclusion of religious figures such as the Devil was interesting and made for a very good read, since it showed this isn’t a simple everyday story. And these aren’t sissy Twilight-esque vampires – these are full blown, violent and blood thirsty ones. Yay!

The novel quickly developed into a fast paced book, with an active plot and without wasted pages. It’s a short novel but it makes up for this in quality, with its original and captivating story line, and the promise of it developing into a series is exciting.