The Falconer by Elizabeth May {Book Review}

Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review!

The Falconer was everything that I wanted and more! I have recently picked up some other historical fantasy where the main character’s life is changed from ballrooms and dances to weapons and blood, but none of them hold a candle to The Falconer.

Aileanna was an incredibly believable character and was written very truthfully. She didn’t pretend to be another pretty face, she gave in to the urge she had to hunt the Fae and would let nothing get in the way of her mission of vengeance.

I really liked the author’s take on the Fae and reading a book where they are not all good. Historically faeries were not friendly beings, but over the years many stories are told that way. It was a lot of fun to read a story where even the “good” faerie can’t totally be trusted.

Full of interesting and fun (Derrick!) characters, this story is sure to attract a lot of readers. The steampunk setting also makes this a fun ride. I enjoyed that Aileanna uses her smarts to not only create some things stereotypical steampunk (i.e. flying ships, etc.), but also her own weapons to fight the Fae. She is a strong main character and one that readers can look up to.

I cannot wait to continue the series and see what happens next!

9 Books to Read if You Miss Buffy the Vampire Slayer [Book List]

Originally written by me for YALSA’s The Hub.

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Though the show aired one to two years before most of today’s high school seniors were born, Buffy the Vampire Slayer still has a cult following amongst fans of all ages. I have even heard a child in the children’s section of the local library singing songs from the musical as they browsed books. If you’re like me, a crazy fangirl of the show, you miss it immensely. It had humor, heart, and the characters became like family. It has such a huge following that it, thankfully, has continued in graphic novel form. Fans continue to write fanfiction, attend cons to meet the actors, and in general, keep the Slayer alive. Another way to do this is by reading novels that could easily be set in the same world, or that Buffy (and Giles!) would definitely approve of.

Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The description of this novel even says it’s great for fans of BtVS. When I saw that I KNEW I had read it. I was not disappointed. The main character, Kali, is a normal human girl…most days. On every other day she becomes a finely honed weapon, a demon hunter. On these days she battles hell hounds, demons, and other monsters. On her human days, she simply tries to get through high school life. But when she discovers a student will die in 24 hours, she has to figure out how to save them…as a regular human. This was very reminiscent of BtVS in many ways: the setting, the action, and the dilemmas the main character faces. It also reminded me heavily of the season three episode, Helpless, where Buffy battles a crazed vampire, sapped of her strength. This is perfect for any fan of the show!

In the Forests of the Night by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

This was one of the first YA vampire novels that I read growing up and it absolutely possesses that same gothic quality that many of the BtVS (and Angel) episodes contain. This tells the story of Risika, a 300-year-old vampire. It starts off in modern day where she appears to be living a quiet life, until someone from her past starts following her. The story is told in the present and in flashbacks, much like the episodes of BtVS telling the stories of Angel, Spike, Darla, and Dru. If you like a good vampire story, this is definitely one for you! The best part? It continues on in a series, which brings in witches and other creatures, much like BtVS!

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

This novel is great for fans of BtVS because it has a strong female character, but she also struggles with the path that was chosen for her, without her consent. Kestrel is a general’s daughter and is expected to do one of two things: join the military or get married. Neither of these choices are what she wants and they are things she struggles with throughout the story, very much like Buffy in the season two episodes What’s My Line? Part 1 & Part 2. At the beginning of the novel Kestrel makes a hasty decision on her own, and the rest of the book (and trilogy) shows how her actions echo into her future. Also, if you like a brooding love interest such as Angel or Spike, this book has got you covered with Arin!

Sabriel by Garth Nix

I feel like this book does not get enough recognition for how amazing it is. Perfect for BtVS fans as it contains fantasy, humor, and goes to some fairly dark places. Sabriel, like Buffy, is pushed into a destiny out of her control. She is a necromancer, an Abhorsen, like her father. When he goes missing she must venture into the Old Kingdom, a world of magic, to find him. This novel is full of unexpected characters and twists, much like the show. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time and could not put it down. This is another one that continues on into a series, which is still being written, so you get to spend a lot of time with the characters.

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Though this novel is about vampires, they are not quite like the ones we meet in BtVS. The vampires in this novel are elite, but they are not powerful and strong. In turn they have dhampir to protect them. Dhampir are humans that have vampire blood running through their veins. Rose is a dhampir to her best vampire friend, Lissa. When Strigoi, vampires that never die, start to hunt Lissa, Rose must train to protect her friend. This is appealing for fans to BtVS because it has a strong heroine that must hone her strength and skills to fight off unknown foes. It also has a lot of interesting folklore and vampire history, much like Giles’s books. And if you love this, you have a whole series AND spin-off series to enjoy!

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

This is technically an adult series, but has high appeal to YA readers. Yelena is set to be executed, but is saved when offered a job as the food taster for the Commander of their land, Ixia. She is kept in line by the chief of security, who daily feeds her a poison and antidote. If she fails to return for the cure, she will die. While she works for the Commander, she discovers many secrets about her world. Yelena and Buffy are similar in that they have to be resourceful to get out of certain situations where brute strength is not the only answer. This series also has a great brooding love interest for the main character, much like Spike or Angel. It also continues in a spin-off series!

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

A nominee for 2017’s Abraham Lincoln Award this novel (and rest of the series) is perfect for BtVS fans. Not only does the novel contain mysticism and mystery, it also has some butt-kicking female main characters. Each novel is told from the point of view of a different teenage girl that was marked by death himself and trained to be an assassin. These books have everything a BtVS lover is looking for: action, adventure, romance, and humor. I could easily see Buffy finding her way into this world, or somehow being connected to it!

MARY: The Summoning by Hillary Monahan

This first novel in a series harkens back to the first and second seasons of BtVS. Many of those episodes had evil baddies that showed up in one episode and were defeated by the end, but that did not make them any less scary. In this book, four friends attempt to summon Bloody Mary, but are unaware that her dark backstory has caused her to be full of rage. After summoning her they must be cautious at every turn while they attempt to lock her away. This is definitely a case that the Scooby Gang would have taken on while in high school as well!

The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim by E.K. Johnston

This story (a 2017 Caudill nominee) is as if Willow were to tell the story of Buffy. Siobhan is your typical high school student, when suddenly a young, up-and-coming dragon slayer starts attending her school. They quickly become friends, which in turn ends up with her becoming a part of his dragon slaying entourage, as his bard. Siobhan is more than his bard though, she helps him solve problems and accompanies him on many dangerous missions. This is fantastic for BtVS fans that enjoy the relationships between the characters. It is also great for readers who would like to get more of a point of view from someone that isn’t the main hero. Owen is also similar to Buffy in that he has to accept this legacy that was put upon him, but in turn makes it his own, and chooses not to go it alone.

These novels are some of my favorite for getting through my post-BtVS blues. Have you read any of these? Do you have any novels you would recommend to BtVS fans?

  • Tegan Anclade, currently reading The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins

Armada by Ernest Cline [Book Review]

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Here is another review written as if I wrote it for School Library Journal. Between this and Bones & All I wanted to write a positive review and a more critical review. This is the more critical one. I have not read Ready Player One yet, so sue me, but I will definitely still be giving that one a try.

One thing I wanted to add before the review, I listened to the audiobook version of this and Wil Wheaton absolutely made a book that wasn’t my favorite still interesting to listen to! He is a wonderful narrator!

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Bones & All by Camille DeAngelis [Book Review]

Let me preface this post with a little description as to why this review is different. I currently review for School Library Journal and I wanted to practice writing reviews in their style before I submitted my initial application. This review is in the style as I would do it for them.

Also, Camille DeAngelis is one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE authors and I am so grateful for this advanced copy that she sent me! If you have not read her books, I highly recommend that you do! This one won an Alex Award, which are awarded to adult fiction novels that would appeal to teens.

Hope you all enjoy!

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Glitter by Aprilynne Pike – [Book Review]

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*I received this novel from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

This novel was pitched as Breaking Bad meets Marie Antoinette and I KNEW I had to have it. I really went in with no expectations, as I had no idea how these two subjects would connect, which I think is why I enjoyed this so much. If I went in expecting one thing and it did not pan out that way, I would have been disappointed. I am glad I read this without any preamble, it made the ride that much more fun!

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Top 10 Favorite Books in 2015

It’s almost the New Year, so it’s time to remember all the good things about this past year. I have compiled a list of my top 10 favorite books that I read in 2015.

In no particular order, let’s begin!

  1. The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson

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A fantastic read-a-like for Harry Potter fans and those looking for a new fantasy series! Set in an alternate, gearpunk, United States a young boy dreams of becoming a Rithmatist, a wielder of chalk magic. When wild chalklings (much scarier than they sound) attack their school, will he be able to save them? I couldn’t put this book down and cannot wait for the sequel. Keep an eye out for my full review to show up here!

2. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

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I haven’t watched The Office or The Mindy Project, so I went into this knowing virtually nothing other than who she is. OH MY GOSH. HILARIOUS. I read this while sick in bed and was cracking up the whole time, which often induced a horrible coughing fit, but it was so worth it. She is relatable and real! She’s just like everyone else and is not afraid to show it. If you’re looking for a fun, quick read, check this out! Full review to come on here, as well!

3. The Sisters of Versailles by Sally Christie

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Whoa. Sometimes history is stranger than fiction. Most of what I have read of French aristocracy has to do with Marie-Antoinette and the Revolution, or when Mary, Queen of Scots resided in the French court. For me, this was all new, and just as intriguing! Four sisters all mistresses to the same king? Wow. An intriguing story line, beautiful description, and fascinating characters had me reading this one late into the night. Check out my full review here, at The Founding Fields.

4. Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick

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Well…damn. This was my first Marcus Sedgwick book and I was not disappointed. I can see why he either wins or is always nominated for the Michael L. Printz Award. This book is a series to short stories that all tie together to tell a large history of a mysterious island. It is a story of magic. Of reincarnation. Of vampires and dragons. It is absolutely stunning. Pick it up. Read it. Full review to come.

5. All the Rage by Courtney Summers

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Oh this book. I still can’t stop thinking about it. I read it for a Mock Printz discussion and was instantly hooked. Why did I like it so much? Well perhaps you should check out my review, here, and prepare to want to get your hands on it ASAP.

6. The Martian by Andy Weir

martian

I wanted to read this book ever since I heard the description. Luckily Krissy brought it as a choice for our book club and it was picked! Thanks Krissy! It gave me the excuse to read it while not worrying about having to read a different book for book club. I laughed, I cried, I was literally on the edge of my seat. This book is smart and hilarious. I want to meet Mark Watney. This made for a great book discussion, lots of interesting topics! And the movie was fantastic, Hollywood did something right! Keep an eye out for a post of a full review!

7. Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth

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When I saw this was a retelling of Rapunzel I just had to get my hands on it! There are lots of retellings floating around these days, but not that many about this particular fairy tale. It is three different stories about three very different women that all tie together to create an amazing tale. The description, the imagination, the characters, everything was fantastic! Historical fantasy at its finest. Full review post to come!

8. A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

A Darker Shade final for Irene

Calling all fantasy lovers! Pick this book up! This is the story of four very different Londons. When Black London, long dead, starts to creep back into the other Londons, Kell, one of the only people left with the magic to jump between worlds, must find a way to stop it. I absolutely love the world that V.E. Schwab created and there are so many mysteries left to solve! The next one can’t come soon enough! Keep an eye out for the full review!

9. The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

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Sequel to another favorite of mine, The Queen of the Tearling (the review can be found, here, on The Founding Fields), this book picks up right where the first left off. There are some BIG changes in this one though. It made for a very interesting book that I could just not put down! Erika Johansen’s world is awesome and not like any I’ve read before. Fantastic series for fantasy and/or historical fiction fans! Full review will be posted soon!

10. Euphoria by Lily King

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This book is absolutely beautiful. It is the fictionalized story of real life anthropologist, Margaret Mead. She was ahead of her time and quite scandalous. She pushed the edge and spoke many truths others did not want to hear. She also loved in many different ways. This novel was intriguing, heart wrenching, and a great snapshot of that time and of Margaret Mead’s life. Please read this one. Full review soon!

Have you read any of these this year? What did you think? Will you be adding them to your 2016 reading list?

Top Favorite 2015 Release Book Covers

Below is a collage of my absolute favorite book covers of novels released in 2015.

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Click on the titles below to check them out!

The Sisters of Versailles by Sally Christie

The Appearance of Annie van Sinderen by Katherine Howe

Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty

A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn

A Cold Legacy by Megan Shepherd

A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Bohemian Gospel by Dana Chamblee Carpenter

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Tower of Thorns by Juliet Marillier

The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler

Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell

The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski