Tag Archives: Fantasy

Book Review: The Falconer by Elizabeth May

So I’ve joined Gollancz Geeks and about a month ago I was given my first book to review. I’ll write about being a Gollancz Geek another time, but for now – here’s my first review for them. 

The Falconer by Elizabeth May
The Falconer by Elizabeth May

The Falconer by Elizabeth May holds many firsts for me – it’s the first time I’ve been chosen to read and review for Gollancz Geeks, my first encounter with this author and my first delve into a steam-punk-esque world.

The Victorian era of proper etiquette is in full swing, with a splash of steampunk for good measure and not forgetting fae feeding upon their human victims… as you do.

The heroine Lady Aileana has a conflicted personality since her mother’s death – which she witnessed with her own eyes. Fitting in with Scottish High Society whilst vengeance rages through her veins is a balance she just can’t seem to keep. Though her night murderous rampages do calm her for a short time.

The main characters are all very believable and likeable; despite their sometimes venomous banter.

The faeries are not just your general opposite of nice kind of evil, they have a dark almost Gothic feel to them. They are unrelenting and emotionless. And perhaps more shockingly so… only a few fae are gob-smackingly gorgeous.

Aileana may have unlocked the secrets of being a fairy killers, but the book focuses on her grief over losing her mother. How it has changed her as a person, her perceptions of the world, her priorities but most importantly how she must learn to control her grief if she is going to stop the fae from destroying Edinburgh.

This was a really enjoyable read and although I was skeptical of the steampunk at first it really did add to the story.
The book is well within Young Adult realms and isn’t overly complex but with this book clearly being the first of a larger series the story has great potential.
I found Aileana easy to identify with and I most definitely want a pixie like Derrick living in my closet!
I soon found I didn’t want to put the book down and with the ending being a complete cliffhanger I was left craving a second book (which better not take a age to be released otherwise I might explode!).

 

Rating: stars_4

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Author Website: http://www.elizabethmaywrites.com/
Publisher: Gollancz
Publication Date: September 26th 2013
Pages: 312
Genre(s): Steampunk, Fantasy, Adventure, Young Adult
Purchased From: ARC from Gollancz

Book Review: Mistborn – The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson

The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson
The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson

As the final installment of Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn Trilogy; The Hero of Ages has a lot to live up to as I absolutely loved the first two books.

*WARNING – The next paragraph contains spoilers for the previous book!*

With Ruin now released from the Well of Ascension and gaining strength by the day, all seems lost as Vin and Elend (now Mistborn too) scramble to first put in a contingency plan to buy the people of the Empire more time and search out a way to stop Ruin.
With Rebels still within the Empire, a siege and Koloss in the throws of bloodlust running around – this is no easy task.

Many loose-ends are tied up in this book – we now learn what the Lord Ruler’s 1000 year reign was all about, the origins of Koloss, Kandra and Steel Inquisitors and the overall importance of allomatic powers. Some I had figured out already, and really Sanderson gives you all the clues you need to figure things out but keeps the answers just mysteriously out of reach. The balance is just right, making you have a moment of “Why didn’t I see that before” when the answer is finally written out before you. This spurs you on to read more and more. To quote Kelsier from The Final Empire: “There is always another secret.”

The characters are ever logical and complex. Even “evil” is not just plain evil. Morality is shown in both realms of universal and relative, with many different perspectives. Ultimately, it shows that sometimes moral sacrifices must be made for the greater good.

The action does lull a little during the siege of Fadrex, as for a long time they’re pretty much at a stale-mate in talks with neither Yomen or Elend willing to attack but the chapter’s do travel to Spook and Sazed for a good dose of action. Not to mention as usual with Mistborn, everything happens for a reason and we soon find out why there is such a delay in the talks at Fadrex,

The ending is bittersweet and completely unexpected.  I can honestly say that I will miss reading these books, the characters are so much apart of my emotional journey through the book.

If you’ve read the first two Mistborn books, then you’ll love this as well. If you haven’t, well you definitely need to read those first – either way; highly recommended reading.

Rating: stars_5

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Author Website: http://brandonsanderson.com/
Publisher: Gollancz
Publication Date: February 11th 2010
Pages: 724
Genre(s): High Fantasy, Fantasy, Adventure
Purchased From: Amazon UK

Book Review: The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer

The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer
The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer

I picked up The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer whilst in Holland, as Maaike has pointed it out to me – she hadn’t read it yet, but thought it was my sort of thing.

The Wishing Spell is a young adult book which meshes together the modern world and the world of classic fairy tales such as Cinderella, Goldilocks and the Three Bears and lots more.
Alex and Conner Bailey (twins) have grown up on fairy tales, specifically from a huge book which their grandparents have always read to them. On their twelfth birthday their Grandma passes this book down to them and then the trouble really begins.
After some strange happenings, the twins fall through a portal into the book – landing themselves in The Land of Stories. The portal doesn’t seem to work both ways so they find themselves stuck until they can find a way home again.

The Land of Stories is full of fairy tale folk which the twins meet along the way – most are well known or descendants of well known characters in fairy tales – so you’ll have no trouble in following who is who.
There are also some general fantasy type creatures such as goblins, trolls and fairies – their role in this alternative world is well explained but there isn’t much depth to their stories.

There are two stories running alongside each other in this book – that of Alex and Conner, making their way through the different Kingdoms, trying to find a way home and that of the fairy tale folk.
Unfortunately it seems the twins, although the main characters are much more of a pawn in Colfer’s game to gain a way to write about classic fairy tales. To give another character’s perspective on a classic story or simply document that there was life after that “happily ever after” and it wasn’t all roses.
Whilst it’s interesting to see these different views – I didn’t feel a whole lot was done with them once they were “uncovered”. Without giving any spoilers – it felt very much like “this happened, and then that happened, and then this happened” and so on and so forth. Nothing really strong connected one scene to the next, or one storyline to another.

Unfortunately this left the characters – for the most part – largely flat. Alex the overachiever and Conner the comedian just about sums up what you get to know about the twins.

That being said, I did enjoy the book – it’s just very obvious that this is on the younger end of “Young Adult”. The story is fairly simple but enjoyable. I felt it was sort of a bridge book – between the very simple stories for 9-10 year olds to the more complex, longer books of teenage fiction.

There is a second book in the series and I must say, I’m rather hoping this first book is mostly doing the setting up for that – as it does have the potential to be pretty good.

Rating: stars_3

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Other information:

Author Website: http://thelandofstoriesbook.com/
Publisher: Little Brown
Publication Date: July 17th 2012
Pages: 438
Genre(s): Young Adult, Children’s, Fantasy
Purchased From: The American Book Center

Side note – Decided to do my reviews a little differently – with a rating system and extra information. What do you think? Does this help you more?

Book Review: Unhinged by A. G. Howard (Sneak Peek)

Unhinged by A. G. Howard
Unhinged by A. G. Howard

Please note, this is a review of a sneak peek, one chapter sampler. Not the full book.

It’s not very often I say this, but the cover really did draw my interest first and then I read that this based on Alice in Wonderland – loosely though, as this series takes place after Alice.

Unhinged is the second book in the Splintered series and having not (yet) read the first book – I was unsure what to expect but what can I say, Alice in Wonderland related things intrigue me.

Alyssa Gardner is a descendant of Alice (of the Wonderland fame of course) and she’s found herself involved in Wonderland – much more than she imagined.

Just enough information was giving in this one chapter to wet my appetite. Alyssa is pulled – much against her will, despite now being Queen of the Red Court – back into Wonderland, only to meet Morpheus.

Morpheus is a dark mysterious character. A very modern and grown up take on the Mad Hatter.
His message is simple – Wonderland is in danger, it’s crumbling and only Alyssa can save it.
However Morpheus is a conflicted character – he threatens Alyssa, restrains her but it’s clear he has some affection for her. He very much reminds me of Jareth in Labyrinth in that sense.

Alyssa has to make a choice it seems – the human world, or Wonderland, the catch is can one exist without the other?

I’m really taken in by this sample chapter – so I’ll definitely be buying the first book, and then Unhinged when it’s released.

*Unhinged (Splintered Series) by A. G. Howard is released 1 Oct 2013 in the United Kingdom. Check release dates for your country as they maybe different.

Book Review: Spells by Aprilynne Pike

Spells by Aprilynne Pike
Spells by Aprilynne Pike

Spells by Aprilynne Pike is the second book in the Wings series, which follows Laurel a faerie living the human world.

I have to admit, this book is pretty much “filler” in terms of the action, after the excitement of battles with trolls and Laurel finding out that she’s a faerie – it’s hard at first to accept this calmness.

However this book doesn’t lack excitement or interest. We now see Laurel going to study in Avalon during the summer – essentially re-learning how to be a Fall Faerie which is far from easy for her.
We get a fantastic and memorizing look into Avalon and life there – which although it has it’s faults, you can’t help but want to live there yourself. Everything is so magical but er… without actual magic.

It’s during this book we also learn a little more about Laurel’s past – how she came to be in the human world, and what her relationship with Tamani was like before she left on her mission.
The undeniable connection she has with Tamani now comes into it’s own and we have a full blown love triangle on our hands which Laurel finds increasingly stressful.

Not only is the pressure on with her fall faerie studies but she has her human school work to keep up with too. She has a lot of decisions to make about what path she wants to take with her own life – but before she thinks about herself, she has to think about others safety.

Although in terms of action and moving things forward, this book is actually filler – there is a ton of character and relationships development which makes a really interesting read with the plot slowly coming together in the background.

In some ways this is my favourite book in the series – Avalon is so beautifully described and this is truly where you get into Laurel and Tamani’s minds.
I couldn’t wait to go to bed each night to read more!