The Falconer by Elizabeth May (Review)

15791085Set in a Steampunk Scotland, The Falconer is probably the best book I’ve read in 2017. In other Steampunk novels there’s been less emphasis on the environment but in The Falconer the main character, Aileana Kameron, is deeply in tune with Scotland, with her nation. Because I have no time spent in Scotland I can only trust that the geography is true to that day. Rather than just name major cities, Aileana takes us on a tour of her neighborhood in both the rain and shine.

I kept forgetting that it was a Steampunk novel, even as Aileana was narrating. Not because it wasn’t well done but because it became part of the story. Where in some books it’s the emphasis, in The Falconer it’s just…there. It just is.

One of the reasons I forgot that it was a Steampunk novel was because there was so much emphasis placed on the supernatural elements of the story. Fae, perhaps my favorite group of otherworldlings, are escaping where they’ve been held and it’s up to Aileana and her partner, Kam, to stop them.

To learn that Kam was a Fae, early on in the book, came as a surprise to me, but only just. In the afterlight, it seems natural that this is how the story and the characters would play out. Who better to train this fair lady to kill the Fae than a rogue of their own kind?

Ah, the love triangles, possibly my favorite part of the novel was oh-so-juicy. While the way the story took a turn in this sense wasn’t surprising, the character of the men she must choose came as a total shock to me, when the second gentleman was introduced.

As a reviewer I know I should have paid more attention to the writing but that’s just the thing: I didn’t. I didn’t pay attention to it because it flowed down the stream and took me gently along with it.

 

Book Trends I’m Tired Of: Ladies, show us what you’re made of!

What are some things you are tired of seeing that are trends in publishing? Maybe something that pops up on a lot of covers these days, or the popularity of certain tropes in a particular genre? Let it out!

The first trend I thought of is so true of way too many YA books:

  1. The helpless female protagonist. The first two books that came to mind were Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey (not a YA book, but still). In Twilight Bella becomes so incredibly obsessed with her male counterpart, Edward Cullen, that she puts herself in life-threatening positions in order to feel him. What dafqu Stephenie Meyer? Give your female characters a life of their own to be in control of; stop making your female characters nothing without a man.
  2. Covers with faces. That’s kinda weird, I know, but I don’t like to see the face of characters. Think Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series or Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments. Not cool, don’t force your characters on me, bro. Instead, consider Sasha Alsberg’s and Lindsay Cumming’s Zenith or Light smoke, cold fire. Those covers are beautiful. While Zenith has just a beautiful shape on the cover that reminds me of Xmas, Bright Smoke, Cold Fire has human figures but sans the faces. The latter is very much appreciated. I can’t see their faces but I do get a sense of what the characters are wearing, something I often struggle with.
  3. Let’s not forget the spines of too many books. They’re too boring. When I read a book I want to see a pretty, naked book underneath the dust jacket. I know I’m being picky but on my book shelf the spine is usually all you can see…Like, make it interesting for me. I display all my books with pride and I actually prefer looking at the spines of books, rather than the front cover when they’re on my bookcase.
  4. The brooding male lead: Twilight and 50 Shades come to mind first. I know I’ve mentioned them a million times but it’s so true. These men even told the woman that they won’t make good partners and they just. Don’t. Listen. While other examples are slow to come to mind, I want to get that out there. Ladies, if he says he’s not going to be a good boyfriend, LISTEN TO HIM and flippin’ get away from him. You deserve better, and this goes for “real” women as well as fictional characters. Show yourself that you love you and stay the fudge away from him. Let him mess up someone else’s life.
  5. Girls are bad at math and if they aren’t, like Hermione, they’re bossy women who are so annoying that even the teachers don’t like her. Ladies, there’s nothing wrong with being smart, or being bossy. Think: Harry Potter and remember that Hermione saved Harry and Ron’s asses over and over again. They even admit that they wouldn’t have survived as long as they did if she hadn’t been their friend. Embrace your nerdy self and show the world what you’re made of!
  6. Image result for harry potter and the sorcerer's stoneImage result for twilightImage result for 50 shades of grey

Batman: Arkham Manor

Arkham Manor, Vol. 1While I wasn’t a fan of the illustrations themselves I found the story interesting. I was caught by surprise when the city decided to turn the Wayne Manor into an asylum for the criminally insane. It reminded me of American Horror Story when a corrupt society tried to create chaos into sanity

While I was surprised by the turn the story took, I was not surprised by Batman’s decision to go ahead and let them build the asylum in the house of his family. Batman is a man of practicality, minus all the gadgets, and  it made sense that he would want his manor to be used for a purpose to better Gotham. After all, he created Batman in order to rid Gotham of the evil that lurked in every corner.

The story itself never had a calm moment, something that is ideal for graphic novels. I kept thinking the story was over and then it took another twist and turn and kept it going, a snowball gathering speed and density.

This graphic novel was complex in a way that forced me to focus, lest I miss the story. Several times I found myself distracted by the gory images (my cup of tea!) and realized that I missed a vital section on the story. Complexity is something I am hesitant to enjoy. While I love losing myself in a story I don’t like being so lost that I can’t find my way through the graphic novel. Fortunately, the story directly corresponded to the dialogue itself so I was able to wade my way back onto dry land.

If you are a fan of Batman, you probably won’t be disappointed by this. Reading this V. 1 instead of publication-by-publication adds to the enjoyment. If I didn’t read this in volume format I would have been disappointed, only because I had to wait for the next installment to come out.
Graphic novels that are fully bound are what I enjoy the most.

I’m a self-professed Marvel-girl but I’m always open to new graphic novel installments. I can now say with confidence that I am both a Marvel girl and, now, a DC girl.

Exploring Tarot Using Radiant Rider-Waite Tarot (Deck and Book)

Exploring Tarot Using Radiant Rider-Waite Book Cover Exploring Tarot Using Radiant Rider-Waite
Avia Venefica
New Age/Divination/Tarot
U.S. Games Systems, INC.
September 28th 2015
Deck and book kit
Publisher

This deck/book set provides everything you need to understand tarot. The full-size deck is a vibrantly recolored version of the classic Rider-Waite deck, updated with subtle shading that gives depth to the familiar tarot scenes. The 272-page, user-friendly handbook with full-color illustrations is perfect for beginners as well as experienced readers who want to refresh their tarot skills.

U. S. Games Systems, INC.

U. S. Games Systems is one of the main publishers of Tarot decks, New Age oracle cards and books. You can’t go into the New Age section of your bookstore and not see U.S. Games’ products staring back at you. And, hey, when it catches your eye, you better believe that you ought to get that now. I have yet to be disappointed in one of their oracle decks. (I also reviewed Under the Roses Lenormand and The Halloween Tarot by them earlier.)

U.S. Games Systems, INC. sent me the book and deck set of The Radiant Rider-Waite tarot. Early on in my practice of reading tarot and, eventually, reviewing, I revised to get The Rider Waite Tarot deck. I insisted on using my Steampunk Tarot deck as I struggled through Review book after review book and I learned next to nothing about reading tarot.

The rider Waite was, to my naïve and untrained eye, too ”boring.” Why look at basic pictures of normal, everyday characters even I could be studying the Gods of the Machine instead?

I have that answer now:

because to learn how to do something well, you have to learn from the best. And, for that matter, the more I look at the RW cards the more I see in the picture that I may have missed before. 

The bulk of this review will center around the book that came with this kit because I’ve already posted a (sub-par) review of the deck. However, there is a major difference between the original deck and the radiant riser Waite deck: this deck is much more, well, Radiant. The intensified colors bring out the beauty in a basic, but powerful, Tarot deck. While there illustrations stay true to form, the quality of the illustrations is superb. 

Along came the book…

The first thing I noticed when I took the book out of the kit in which it rests, was that it was heavy. Heavier than most books, or, a comparison would be The Darkest Minds. It’s heavy in the way that The Wonderbook is. When I opened it I understood why. Every page is in radiant, high color glossy paper that makes the pictures of the cards and the subsections within the book stand out. 

Another part about the book that I noticed early on was that the subsections under each card is colored. There are graphs and highlights, side notes that shine and quotes that line the bottom of the page to give the reader a deeper understanding. The quote at the bottom of each of the cards’ pages reminded me of my Angel cards; little snippets that give you a direct insight into the Angel that is speaking to you.

The book is divided into three sections. The first is The Beginning. In The Beginning, the author explores everything from intuition and it’s role in reading the Tarot to a “glossary of Tarot-Related Terms.” Then as per usual, the book delved into the major arcana, then the minor arcana (or, “pip” cards), ending in a series of “spreads for specific questions.”

The spreads section gives the layout and explains in great detail how that spread works, what the answers will represent, and instructions for setting up the spread. Then, following the spread in great detail, the book gives a sample spread with specific cards randomly drawn. In that sample spread, the author walks you through each card and what they represent and includes sample readings of each spread, card-by-card. At the end of the sample question, it provides more ways to, for example, forecast the querents finances. In the forecast, one of the ways to read your cards is during a specific phase of the moon or, for instance, using a single card.

Get this kit…

If you’re a beginner to the Tarot and even if you’re an experienced reader. This is an absolute and essential tool for learning to read the Rider-Waite card. From quick readings for popular questions to instructions for reading and using spreads, Exploring Tarot Using Radiant Rider-Waite delves into the most detail of any of my Tarot books.

Exploring Tarot is now my staple Tarot book and so, too, is the Radiant Rider-Wait deck. As I said before, to learn the Tarot it’s essential that you learn from an expert (i.e. this book) is one of them, with the cards being the greatest tool of them all. As much as I love specialty decks, I now know that the Radiant Rider-Waite is the best source of Tarot knowledge I’ve come across in my years of reading Tarot books and studying the decks.

For the beginners, get this kit. For the experienced, this is a wonderful source of information that you may have overlooked in your years of reading. I’ve found that re-reading and exploring the basics made me a better reader.

Thank you U.S. Games Systems, INC. for this wonderful opportunity to review this kit for you. Much appreciated and I look forward to working with you in the future.

Waiting on Wednesday-‘Till I Can Afford the Flippin’ Books

This waiting on Wednesday isn’t going to cover new releases, but books I desperately want to own but can’t buy right now. I’m going to start the list off with:

  1. Heartless by Marrisa Meyer
  2. Bright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge 
  3. Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco
  4. The Call by Peadar O Guilin
  5. Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
  6. Poison or Protect by Gail Carriger
  7. Ivory and Bone by Julie Eshbaugh
  8. The Merciless III by Danielle Vega
  9. Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
  10. Dorthy Must Die by Danielle Paige

One day I shall own all of these books. Maybe that could be a 2017 goal. Granted, monies, so it probably won’t happen, but a girl can try!

Top Ten Books I’m Looking Forward to in 2017

TTT

  1. Windwitch- Susan Dennard
  2. The Bone Witch-Rin Chupeco
  3. King’s Cage-Victoria Aveyard
  4. ROSEBLOOD- A. G. Howard
  5. Caraval-Stephenie Garber
  6. The Beast is an Animal- Peternelle van Arsdale
  7. Daughter of the Pirate King-Tricia Levenseller
  8. Spindle Fire-Lexa Hillyer
  9. A Court of Wings and Ruins- Sarah J. Maas
  10. Lord of Shadows-Cassandra Clare

Happy New Year and Welcome Book Challenges

It’s that time of year again: time for me to commit to more than I will actually follow through with. There are just so many good books and awesome challenges that I want to try them all. Here’s what I’m going to do for my challenges. Some I made up, some I found and I’ll link you to those.

readmyowndamnbooksbutton

Read My Own Damn Books mixed with a personal challenge to get my reading % on Netgalley to 70%. It’s a tall order, one I very much want to fill, so I shall cross my fingers. As far as the Read My Own Damn Books, I’ll be doing paper books and Netgalley books. I’m going to gather the titles of all my ARCs, write them down and throw them in a jar. Every month I’ll jiggle the jar and pull out a title to be finished by the end of that month.

Also, this is so bad, I know, but this will include any books I buy in 2017 b/c I have book-buying problems.

2017-discussion-challenge3

I’ve been writing a discussion post for months now, about reading with ADHD. I still haven’t posted it because I want it to be perfect. 7 months later and it’s still not live. This is going to be my first discussion post of the year. I hope to be relatable for those of you struggling, and a new vision for those of you with no experience in the matter. #LetsDiscuss2017

writing-reviews-challenge1

My goal is to write two reviews every month in 2017 for a total of 24 book reviews. So far I haven’t written one in quite a while so I’m hoping this challenge will get me back on track.

newtomechallenge

I think out of all the challenges I’m most excited about this one. Below are some of the suggestions. I’m looking forward to this one so much because I love exploring new series. For instance, I’m dying to read more books in Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series because I MUST know how it ends and I MUST be able to read Lady Midnight. My goal is to read 12 books that are new to me. Below you’ll find a quote from the host’s site.

Anything “new” to you. For example…
–First time reading an author
–first book in a series
–first book you’ve read from a series (doesn’t have to be book one)
–first time trying a genre/subgenre
–a debut book from an author (even if you’ve read them before)

Then I have the miscellaneous ones:

  • FOR EVERY FIVE BOOKS I GET I’LL GET RID OF ONE
  • I will participate at least two memes a month
  • And, probably the most important challenge: FIND MY KINDLE