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The Falconer by Elizabeth May

The Falconer by Elizabeth MayThe Falconer (The Falconer, #1) by Elizabeth May
Series: The Falconer #1
Published by Chronicle Books on May 6th 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, YA, YA - Fantasy
Pages: 378
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
three-stars

One girl's nightmare is this girl's faery tale

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 received a free e-copy of this book from netgalley.

I requested this book because I’ve been seeing the series by Elizabeth May popping up everywhere. Overall, I liked the book – it was sort of an 18th century Buffy the Vampire Slayer, with fae instead of vampires. I do have a few issues with the book, however.

First, it is awfully similar to the Karen Marie Moning Fever series, which makes it feel a bit derivative. In addition, one of the strengths of Buffy the Vampire Slayer was her relationship with her posse – Xander, Willow and Giles. It would’ve been nice to see some development of the supporting characters so that they could’ve been more active participants as opposed to being essentially window-dressing. I also like the Scottish themes.

Finally, I do have an issue with the title of the book – it’s a bit strange to call a book “The Falconer” when it doesn’t even remotely involve falcons, no matter the historical context. I suppose calling it Aileana the Fae Slayer would’ve been too obvious, however! I’m curious about book 2, and will likely continue the series. This one was enjoyable, but slight, and I doubt it will leave a lasting impression

three-stars

Bridges: A Daphne White Novel

Bridges: A Daphne White NovelBridges by Maria Murnane
Published by Kindle Press on April 4, 2017
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 194
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
four-stars

It’s a piece of news Daphne never expected to hear: Her globe-trotting friend Skylar, who vowed never to get married, is engaged! Time to celebrate in Manhattan—Skylar’s treat, of course. After years scaling the corporate ladder, she can more than afford it.

Daphne arrives in NYC with news of her own—the novel she’s finally finished appears to be going nowhere but the trash bin of every publishing house around. She’s devastated but plans to keep her disappointment under wraps, something that becomes trickier when she sees Skylar’s spectacular apartment. Could her life have been like this if she’d chosen a different path?

What Daphne doesn’t know is she’s not the only one with a secret. Skylar and their friend KC are also holding something back, but what? As the trip unfolds, the truth about each woman emerges, along with tears.

And laughter. And love.

The fun-loving trio readers fell for in Wait for the Rain is together once more. Here's to the power of friendship!

Please note that I received this book from the author via NetGalley in return for a honest review.

I previously read the first book in this series, Wait for the Rain, and really enjoyed it, you can see my review here: Wait for the Rain review at Goodreads. So I was happy to see that Maria Murnane had a follow up with Daphne, Skylar, and KC. The only reason why I gave this four stars and not five was that I wish that Murnane had explored going with another POV with this one like Skylar. I would have really enjoyed that. And I thought the ending with things working out for Daphne would have been better if Murnane had actually kept up with the theme of how hard it is to break into being a published writer.

In “Bridges” it’s been about a year since our 3 Musketeers got together and had a vacation in the Caribbean. After the three women have a video conference call and Skylar lets them know that she is engaged and she wants to fly them to NYC in order to celebrate with her. Daphne is happy to celebrate Skylar’s good news, but hoped that she would have good news of her own to share. She took a year and started to write her own novel, based on her adventures with her friends in the Caribbean as well as the relationship she found after her divorce. Unfortunately, Daphne is getting a lot of rejection letters and is worried that maybe her dream of being a published author will never be realized. And she doesn’t know if she is going to be able to fake being happy surrounded by her two friends who are the moon about different things in their lives at this point.

I have to say that once again Maria Murnane nails female friendships. I really enjoyed how she showcased them in this book and her Waverly Bryson series. A lot of the conversations and ability to read your friend when something is off reminds me of my togethers with my two best friends. I also felt for Daphne while reading this book. Feeling stuck after a divorce, and in a so-so relationship with a guy with her daughter about to go to college leaves Daphne at a crossroads. With her best friend seeming to hit pay dirt and finding the one and living the high life in New York would be a lot to take in and be happy for at the same time. What I liked most about Daphne in this one, is that she comes to a couple of different realizations about herself and also about letting go of things with regards to her daughter.

I have to say that I love Skylar the most in this group. Maybe because I am dancing towards 40 and at this point I have not met one guy who has made me even think about forever. I loved that hard nosed Skylar who had a dating rotation fell hard and fast for what appears to be a really great guy. And I got serious house envy reading about how her home was set-up. I can get why Daphne was jealous.

KC is still the uber cheerleader who loses her shine a bit in this one. No spoilers, but there’s a reason.

We also get introduced to a best friend (in NYC) of Skylar’s that I would love to read more about. Her dating adventures had me laughing out loud. Maybe because I have a few stories as well and I think that this fictional character has gone out with real life guys i have went out with too.

We also get some reappearances of secondary characters in this one that Daphne knows. Once again no spoilers. I will say that I was happy with how things resolved though.

The writing was really good. I have to say that it was just nice to read about a group of women being themselves with each other. You can see why these three women have been friends since college. And I am very excited to see if there will be another story starring them in the near future.

The flow was really good. This was a pretty short book for me, so I was able to finish it in under about 3 hours all together.

The setting of New York really comes alive. We have Hamilton references, discussion of the High Line in New York (it’s really fun to do if you have a chance) Shake Shack which had me hungry, and just a dozen or so more references that shows that the author has been in the city and has explored these places. It really makes the book come alive. Due to this, i emailed one of my friends and now we are trying to set up a trip sometime this year to go to NYC and catch a show. Not Hamilton, I do not have Hamilton money, unlike Skylar.

The ending was great, though as I said above, I think it would have been better without the neatly wrapped ending. Not every book has to be wrapped up in a bow at the end. Or at least I prefer it when they are not.

four-stars

The Tyrant’s Daughter by J.C. Carleson

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Tyrant’s Daughter by J.C. CarlesonThe Tyrant's Daughter by J.C. Carlesen
Published by Knopf on 2014
Pages: 304
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
three-stars

When her father is killed in a coup, 15-year-old Laila flees from the war-torn middle east to a life of exile and anonymity in the U.S. Gradually she adjusts to a new school, new friends, and a new culture, but while Laila sees opportunity in her new life, her mother is focused on the past. She’s conspiring with CIA operatives and rebel factions to regain the throne their family lost. Laila can’t bear to stand still as an international crisis takes shape around her, but how can one girl stop a conflict that spans generations?

I had mixed emotions about this book. It is ambitious, and engaging, and is a very fast read. I think I read it in about an hour and a half, while watching to the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. I am not sure that it succeeded in all of it’s ambitions, but I would generally recommend it.

It is a first person narrative from Laila, with very short chapters. I liked the narrator – she was convincing to me. The cast of this book is limited to a few people: Laila, her mother, her brother, the CIA agent, a few classmates, a few other immigrants from home. The country that Laila has fled is an unnamed country in the Middle East. We are obviously meant to think of Iran or Iraq, but the author never identifies the setting of Laila’s country of origin. The action takes place in a relatively short period of time after Laila’s arrival in the U.S.

There was so much going on in the background of this book: the various forms that privilege can take, how one person’s privilege is another person’s cage, misogyny, the impact of religious fundamentalism, growing up in a world where physical safety is just another commodity, available only sometimes and only ever to the wealthy.

Laila is an insightful narrator, but she is not precocious. She is an ethical person, but not a questioning person. Or at least she wasn’t until after her father is assassinated.

I would love to get the rest of Laila’s story. Those of you who read the book will know just what I mean.

three-stars

And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

And We Stay by Jenny HubbardAnd We Stay by Jenny Hubbard
Published by Delacorte Press on January 28, 2014
Genres: YA
Pages: 240
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads

When high school senior Paul Wagoner walks into his school library with a stolen gun, he threatens his girlfriend Emily Beam, then takes his own life. In the wake of the tragedy, an angry and guilt-ridden Emily is shipped off to boarding school in Amherst, Massachusetts, where she encounters a ghostly presence who shares her name. The spirit of Emily Dickinson and two quirky girls offer helping hands, but it is up to Emily to heal her own damaged self.

This inventive story, told in verse and in prose, paints the aftermath of tragedy as a landscape where there is good behind the bad, hope inside the despair, and springtime under the snow.

Cross-posted from Booklikes. Book 13 of 2014. I received a free ARC of this book from Netgalley. It is scheduled for publication on 1/28/14 by Delacorte Press.

See what you lost when you left this world, this sweet old world
See what you lost when you left this world, this sweet old world
The breath from your own lips, the touch of fingertips
A sweet and tender kiss
The sound of a midnight train, wearing someone’s ring
Someone calling your name
Somebody so warm cradled in your arms
Didn’t you think you were worth anything
See what you lost when you left this world, this sweet old world
See what you lost when you left this world, this sweet old world [Sweet Old World by Lucinda Williams]

Oh, I loved this book so much. It is the story of Emily Beam, in the few months after her boyfriend, Paul, has done something unspeakable at her old high school, committing suicide in the library after she has broken up with him. Emily has been enrolled at a boarding school at Amherst.

Mount Holyoke

What doesn’t this book have? Well, it doesn’t have a love triangle, or bad boys with tattoos, or smexy sexy alphas who control their girlfriend’s every move, or any sort of paranormal creature (and, no, the “ghost” of Emily Dickenson doesn’t count, since she is really more of a presence than an actual spirit).

It is slow and introspective, a look into the resilience of youth following a devastating tragedy. It is about blossoming friendship and growing up and forgiving yourself. And it’s about words and the power of words to heal.

Jenny Hubbard can put together words so beautifully that it broke my heart sometimes. I am barely a fan of poetry, but Emily Beam is a poet, and scattered throughout the book is a series of poems that she wrote in those first weeks and months at school, and they are brilliantly evocative and spare and lovely.

I feel like words are inadequate for me to explain why I loved this book. I connected with it – I have a girl and I have been a girl, and I work with girls who have been through trauma, and so for me, Emily Beam is every girl who uses words to process her pain. I loved this book.

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