Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Falconer by Elizabeth May

From Goodreads:

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 thesìthíchean—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.
I always enjoy a good fantasy story with elements of myths and legends and throw in a kick-ass female and I'm pretty happy. It doesn't always work out that way but this time it did.

I still had some hesitations like the fact that her world-building was a little shoddy. I almost felt a little bad for the fae folk. She paints them as horrible monsters with no redemption and yet her trainer is one and her tailor is also one, though tiny.

Our entrance into her life is one of murder and mayhem. She's a lady and has a hard time keeping up her lady-like duties---like not tearing dresses and corsets while killing fae and saving lords.

She wants revenge for her mother's murder a year ago and only her trainer knows what killed her mother. She's bloodthirsty for the hunt and it's almost all-consuming. The author tries to show her humane side by sharing her feelings of shame and guilt over wanting to hunt and kill the fae but it kind of comes off clunky.

The romance starts off a bit like a love triangle but you soon know where it's all going. Not a lot of chemistry between her and Kiaran. You could also substitute vampires for the fae and not be the wiser....

Overall, it's an interesting and fast-paced story. I like Aileanna. She tries to keep her humanity under horrid conditions. But the world fell flat for me. The steampunk was only there to serve as a way to bring her modern-type weapons in the mid-1850s of Scotland.

It would also be nice to have an ugly protagonist just once. Someone who can get the job done but is not physically pretty. Oh well.

The story gets a bit convoluted towards the end with ancient seals and portals and wandering fae lands. So I'm hoping she delves a bit more into the world and creates some nuance. So many fantasy worlds in YA fiction just need a little more nuance.

Strong and capable female character with some fun fantasy elements. Overall a win. I just hope the next book is better.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Cat Thursday

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! Enjoy! Hosted by Michelle of The True Book Addict.

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Yesterday was International Take Your Cat to the Vet Day! Mine are all up-to-date with their vet visits! Whew. But Boredpanda had some fun and sad pics of cats' visits to the vet! Poor babies.

They also have some good tips and getting your kitty accustomed to going to the vet. So let's keep our kitties safe and healthy!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Reading With My Son--Spidermania

Gabe has gotten really good at reading and it's been very enjoyable to read to him and him back to me. We've been able to have some great discussions this way. Even just to see him get excited about certain things in a book or a topic or what doesn't, is fun to see.

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At the library a few weeks ago he picked out a really cool book on spiders to bring home. Spidermania: Friends on the Web by Alexandra Siy. It has all sorts of electron micrography photos, zoomed in pictures of the spiders' parts. It explains various types of spiders, where they live, how they eat, and why they're important to our planet.

So don't squish a spider!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

2015 Book Stats

Overall, it was a pretty good reading year for me. There were a few standouts, of course. But most of the books read were really solid for me. I read some fun ones with my son and learned some very interesting things, too, along the way.

Total books read all the way through: 56.

2 rereads: Persuasion by Jane Austen and Graceling by Kristen Cashore. Two much needed books at the time.

17 non-fiction

9 audiobooks: I got an Audible subscription this year while I was living in Japan. I did a lot of walking there and this helped pass that time.

17 were children's fiction or young adult fiction.

5 classics: I read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein for the first time. Pleasantly surprised how good it was, especially considering she wrote it so young. So many themes.

6 award winning books

Longest book was 662 pages The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Top non-fiction:
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  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates: This is heart-breaking and a must-read for every human. Opened my eyes as a white person and all the privilege...
  • Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande: Another must-read. If you plan on dying and getting old or have loved ones who plan to do that.
  • So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson: Another eye-opener on social media and what monsters it can turn us into.
  • Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach: This was visceral for me. An unflinching look at what happens to our bodies.

Top fiction:

  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie: I
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    listened to this one and it was thought-provoking. Also a must-read.
  • The Martian by Andy Weir: Another audiobook. This was the only way to read it. The narrator was funny and it was really a hopeful and humorous book.
  • The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss: The world and character building is just phenomenal.
  • The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert: Gilbert brings women scientists into the light. She makes a story about a woman who separately comes to the idea of the theory of evolution during Darwin's time. Fascinating look.

Didn't live up to the hype:

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr: I was expecting more and it just didn't capture my full attention.

Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter: I heard what a great thriller it was and after reading The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins, it just didn't come through for me. I kept asking why this story needed to be told? No clue.