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 encounte...moreThe 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!).(less)
I’ve wanted to read The Diary of a Young Girl: Definitive Edition by Anne Frank for a while, but never seemed to get around to it. Then I was going to...moreI’ve wanted to read The Diary of a Young Girl: Definitive Edition by Anne Frank for a while, but never seemed to get around to it. Then I was going to read it before I went to Holland, and visited the Anne Frank house but I didn’t have time. I’m so glad I waited to read it until after I’d been there to see the setting for myself.
I’ve seen various reviews on this book, varying from the terrible to the incredible. I have to say in most cases they’re both wrong in my opinion. What they fail to take into account is that this is not written for someone elses entertainment. Sure Anne repeats herself, she is immature at times and there isn’t a whole lot going on in the Secret Annexe most of the time. But this is real life. This in an insight to a persons real experiences. Is it astonishingly well written? No. But it’s not meant to be. Has Anne lived to tidy up this and make it into a publication it may have been better written, but it would miss the raw emotions of the moment.
I didn’t read the version before all the “extra” bits were added but I can see why her father wanted to keep some of that out of it, some of it is very personal and I’m not sure some of those extremely personal things really added anything.
As I said above, I’m glad I decided to read this after visiting the Anne Frank House, where all this takes place. It helped me visualise the surroundings and how the shortage of space caused arguments between people who has just been around each other too much.
I loved reading this book but it did take me a while to get through. Although I wanted to know what happened next to these people in hiding, it’s not exactly a world you want to get lost in. However I do recommend the book, but you must read it for what it is – an historical document, a personal account/experience not entertainment.(less)
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...moreThe 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.(less)
I’ve been meaning to read some Lovecraft for a while but wasn’t sure where to start – so this book of short stories, I thought was a good taster into...moreI’ve been meaning to read some Lovecraft for a while but wasn’t sure where to start – so this book of short stories, I thought was a good taster into his work. I’m also not usually a big horror fan so I also wasn’t sure I wanted to invest a lot into a genre that I wasn’t familiar with. The three short stories it includes are The Colour Out of Space, The Outsider and The Hound. I’ll be talking about all three.
First up is The Colour Out of Space a clever blend of science fiction and horror. One man, recounts how a large piece of countryside and farming land came to be known as “the blasted heath” after a meteorite crashed to the ground was found to contain a globule with strange properties and a colour that has never been seen before. The terror builds very slowly at first whilst scientists work away at figuring out what’s going on, but it snowballs as it dawns on everyone that they have no idea what they’re dealing with and the fear of the unknown sets in. We then get more personal with the people living closest the the crash site and how it’s affecting them – the strange things they see at night and experience within their own home. The descriptions of events is very deep, but any details about what came from the meteorite are purposely left very thin on the ground – making your mind wander of it’s own accord. This short but very affective story really did give me the creeps.
Secondly we have The Outsider which is much less creepy. The story (which is very short) begins with an individual who is trapped in a rather run down castle and has been for as long as he can remember, he plans his escape but things aren’t what he imagined on the outside. This really is rather trippy. An optical illusion of a sad fairy tale, with a very sad moral reasoning. It’s rather short (even for a short story) so I was left wanting a little more to happen, more detail, more information but I was rather fascinated by the world or plain Lovecraft had created.
Last in this little book is The Hound – a story about grave diggers so hungry to own treasures and things thought lost long ago, that they even steal the “forbidden Necronomicon”. From that day on, they are haunted and hunted by a hound – leaving them scared and paranoid. The characters in this one are all rather intense – whether they are greedy, elated or paranoid – you feel it with them 100%. You can’t escape it because they are such highly fueled emotions. Their desperation in the end is what really gets the horror going as they realise there is only one way to stop being haunted. This definitely has that all out intense, on going terror feel to it. The hound is a constant threat, never leaving them no matter what they do or where they go. It’s a great short story, that could be reworked into a novel quite easily but the ending to this short form is probably much more emotive.
Overall this book is a great buy – it cost me £3.00, is a fantastic quick read and it’s been a great introduction for me into Lovecraft’s work which I will definitely be delving into more. Highly recommend it to anyone who wants ease their way into some H.P. Lovecraft, or who isn’t sure if they’ll like his work.(less)
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 pr...moreSpells 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!(less)