Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Falconer by Elizabeth May

Title: The Falconer (Falconer #1)
Author: Elizabeth May 
Publication Date: September 26th 2013 
Publisher: Chronicle Books

Rating: 4 out of 5 

Goodreads Blurb:
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?

The only problem I had with this book was that it was too violent. But without the violence, this book probably wouldn't have been nearly as interesting. So my feelings are extremely contradictory (like they often are).

Although this book was too short (only 336... jk, it was just extremely fast paced), I enjoyed how we got to piece together the back story part by part. The plot was interesting and Gavin was an unexpected addition. The cliffhanger ending was also unexpected. For a second I though it was merely the end of the chapter, similar to how TV shows break right before the advertisements- suspenseful enough to ensure that viewers don't switch channel, but don't feel like the end. The ending of The Falconer definitely didn't feel like an ending, cliffhanger or not.

The main character, Aileana, is plagued by her mother's death. Unable to handle her grief, she forges a deep hatred for all faery kind (the correct term is sithichean) and decides that it is up to her to protect innocents and kill all sithichean. Little does she know that that has always been her destiny, as all the females before her were Falconers, fated to kill sithichean.

I actually don't know what to think about Kiaran. His intentions were never clear and although I understand that was entirely purposeful, it was just adding to his mysterious, shadowy, secretive stereotype (which is kinda just waaay to cliche). But he was still an awesome faery/sithichean, and an interesting plot complication- who exactly is Kiaran and whose side is he on? SPOILER. When Aileana met with the sithichean that killed her mother, Kiaran stopped Aileana from killing her. He later reveals that their lives are connected, so if the evil sithichean (extremely redundant) is killed, he also dies. Also Kiaran taught Aileana how to kill faery kind... and Kiaran is a faery... THIS is what I meant by plot complication.

This book is ideal for faery lovers who enjoy an unforgiving heroine and a unique plot.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Defy by Sara B. Larson

Title: Defy (Defy #1)
Author: Sara B. Larson
Publication Date: January 7th 2014
Publisher: Scholastic Press

*ARC provided by NetGalley*

Rating: 3 out of 5

Goodreads Blurb:
Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king's army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince's guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can't prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.
The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she's sworn to protect?

An amazing debut that leaves you waiting for more- Defy will capture your attention. But, I warn you, that might be all that it does. 

Alexa, disguised as Alex, is sworn to protect the seemingly sullen and uninterested prince and at the same time make sure no one discovers her secret. After her brother is killed, things q
uickly spiral out of control and soon Prince Damian, Alexa, and a fellow Gaurd member, Rylan, are kidnapped by the enemy and travel through the jungle. 

The main character Alexa, reminds me of Katsa from Graceling with her superior fighting skills and tough exterior.
In the jungle, several interesting revelations take place and Alexa has to decide exactly who to trust. This book was fast-paced and intriguing, and I definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoyed Graceling and Mulan.

I really enjoyed the plot, although it was sometimes lacking. I felt as if the romance took over at times, but overall this book was enjoyable. SPOILER. There is a love triangle.

This book was riddled with revelations, secrets and hidden agendas. I liked how all those fit together to make the book interesting. Even though I felt as if there was too much being thrown in, it was altogether satisfactory.

Although the book was definitely good, I do have some qualms. The world building was practically nonexistent- yes there were definitely some details that seemed interesting (ex: black sorcerers, jungles, the war) but overall there could have been more. Also, this book wasn't particularly creative- it had too many elements from the standard fantasy YA books that were altered a bit to fit the author’s taste. So even though this book didn’t make me go “OMG this is one of my favorite books!” or even “This book is spectacular!”, I still recommend it to anyone looking for a light, enjoyable read.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck

Title: Tiger's Curse (The Tiger Saga #1)
Author: Colleen Houck 
Publication Date: January 11th 2011
Publisher: Splinter

Rating: 5 out of 5

Goodreads Blurb:

Would you risk it all to change your destiny? The last thing Kelsey Hayes thought she'd be doing this summer was trying to break a 300-year old Indian curse. With a mysterious white tiger named Ren. Halfway around the world.But that's exactly what happened.

Face-to-face with dark forces, spellbinding magic, and mystical worlds where nothing is what it seems, Kelsey risks everything to piece together an ancient prophecy that could break the curse forever.Packed with magic, action-adventure, and romance, the epic Tiger's Curse series will keep you breathless and yearning for more.

Kelsey, a seemingly ordinary girl from Oregon, gets a summer job at a circus. There she meets a white tiger called Dhiren, and from that moment, she is pulled into a 300-year-old curse involving otherworldly adventures, extremely handsome tigers, and awesome super powers.

This is one of my favorite books ever! I love the Indian mythology, I love the romance, I love the characters, and I love the my tigers!
 SPOILER. Dhiren, the white tiger from the circus, is actually an Indian prince who was betrayed by his brother and was cursed by the evil sorcerer Lokesh. Lokesh is the power-hungry monster that wants to unite the pieces of the Damon amulet to control all the elements.

So, Kishan (the brother) and Ren have both been living as tigers for more than 300 years. Now how does Kelsey Hayes fit in? She is the warp =D To be a little less incomprehensible, let me explain. Kelsey Hayes is given the task of breaking the curse by completing five sacrifices and finding four gifts by the goddess Durga (controller of the Damon amulet). Their guide and mentor, Mr. Kadam is the reason that they are able to figure all the prophecy mumbo jumbo out and quite frankly, he is the only reason they were able to find out how to enter Kishkindha, the realm of the monkey, Kappas, and predatory plants.

While in Kishkindha, fighting for their lives, Ren and Kelsey fall in love. Cue the silly,cute romance. But after a while, Kelsey convinces herself that Ren is too good for her (he is a prince) and rejects Ren. And after that the romance portion of this series goes in never ending, circles. But in the end it all works out perfectly.

After they avoid the scary plants, they find the gift mentioned in Durga’s prophecy- a Golden Mango that provides an endless supply of food. On the way back, however, both the monkeys and Kappas decide to attack them and they both barely escape with their life. In fact, Kelsey gets poisoned by a Kappa and would have died if it weren't for Fanindra, the golden snake given to them by Durga.

After they leave Kishkindha, Ren discovers that he can turn into a man for a longer period of time (6 hours to be exact) and he is determined to convince Kelsey that they belong together. Kelsey, being ridiculously stubborn, compares herself to a radish, and leaves a heartbroken Ren behind while she flies back to Oregon.

Kelsey- Loves poetry and used to read to Ren at the circus. She is courageous and cares about her tigers.
Ren- The white tiger, loves Kelsey, and also enjoys literature/poetry, quiet, fierce, and extremely prince-like, very handsome
Kishan- The black tiger, Ren’s brother, withdrawn from society, blames himself for what happened, kind/caring, also very handsome

Tiger’s Curse and the rest of the series are so delightfully wonderful that I can’t wait for her next series about Egyptian sun gods and awakened mummies! I am positive Ms. Houck will not disappoint.