Book Review: Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hairactually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

4.5 cupcakes

“Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there’s no actual magic in it, but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you can make things happen, almost like magic.”

Daughter of Smoke & Bone is, quite simply, one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. Every word, every page is infused with magic – both literally, in terms of the storyline, and figuratively, in terms of Laini Taylor’s gorgeous, poetic, quote-worthy writing and breathtaking descriptions of Prague. The layers of mythology were equally impressive: from the creation stories of chimaeras to a reinterpretation of the classic battle between angels and demons/good vs. evil, this story was a breath of fresh air in the YA paranormal genre.

All of the characters in the story, both main players and secondary characters alike, felt incredibly real and I fell in love with each and every one of them. Karou is easily one of my favourite heroines, and I loved her determination and creativity. More than that, though, I identified with her loneliness and her feeling that she is incomplete – that there must be something more to who she is, but she can’t quite grasp what that would be.

My favourite characters, though, were some that received a bit less page time: Brimstone, Karou’s adopted father of sorts, and Zuzana, Karou’s best friend. Brimstone’s quiet but fierce love for Karou was beautiful to read about. Zuzana, the “rabid fairy,” was so much more than a source of dark humour: she was truly an important part of Karou’s life, and their friendship felt deep and true.

While the romance was a bit cliched, it was explained in a way that both made sense and added to the mystery of the story. As a result, it was fairly easy to disregard the instalove factor, and I quickly found myself hoping that their love could transcend the many obstacles that they faced.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone is so much more than a story of forbidden love, though: it showcases the importance of love in all of its forms, including familial love and friendship. It speaks of war and peace, the importance of hope, and how difficult it can be to craft your own identity. These themes are so powerful and expertly woven into the mystery-laden plot, adding to the enthralling nature of the story.

Overall, Daughter of Smoke & Bone was a beautifully written, intricate and imaginative tale that I will definitely be revisiting time and time again.

Thoughts from Books (#1)

“We accept the love we think we deserve.”

This is a quote that has resonated with me since the first time that I read The Perks of Being a Wallflower. We are our biggest critics, and often don’t realize how truly beautiful and incredible we are. We have a hard time accepting the love and encouragement that our family, friends and loved ones offer, since we don’t see ourselves clearly; our sights are consumed by what we deem to be “flaws.” We settle for second best, since we don’t feel that we are deserving of anything better. This applies not only to relationships, but also jobs, the way that we perceive the world, and the way that we see ourselves. Loving others comes much more easily than loving ourselves, but both are equally important. We need to rid ourselves of the feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness and embrace our whole being – flaws and all – as something that is beautiful, valuable, good enough for anything, and worthy of being loved.

What are some quotes that resonated with you lately?

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libraries: Netflix for books?

Recently I came across an intriguing article on Book Riot that I thought I would share with you lovely people in the hope of starting some sort of discussion. The article was written by Kelly Jensen and is titled: “Libraries Are Not a ‘Netflix’ for Books.” 

It is clear what stance the article takes on this subject- it argues that libraries are not the book equivalent of Netflix. The primary objective of Netflix is to make money because it is a business and that’s what businesses do. Libraries, on the other hand, exist to spread the love of literature, to act as a resource for knowledge and education, and to serve the community in general. Everyone is treated equally at libraries, whereas on Netflix those who can pay more money have access to more options and features than those who can’t afford to do so. Numerous other arguments to support this idea are explained in the article, but the very last line actually sums it up best: “Libraries reach out where Netflix reaches in.”

Personally, I wholeheartedly agree with the opinion emphasized in the article. I currently work as a page in my local library, and I know from my own experiences that the atmosphere there is not one that would be found at a business. Libraries are not there to make a profit, nor are they there to persuade prospective customers into buying their goods. Library staff members are there to be friendly and helpful- can Netflix say that of its service? Libraries provide patrons with an environment that fosters reading, learning, and a sense of community, which is a statement that Netflix cannot even come close to.

What is your opinion on this topic? Do you agree with the article or are you against it? Or maybe you’re even on the fence? Let me know in the comments section below- I’d love to hear what you think!

Yours,

HOLLY

Waiting on Wednesday (August 27)

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly book meme hosted by Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases that are eagerly anticipated.

This week, I’m waiting on Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang, which has an expected release date of September 9, 2014.

On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s laws of motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road.

Why? Why did Liz Emerson decide that the world would be better off without her? Why did she give up? Vividly told by an unexpected and surprising narrator, this heartbreaking and nonlinear novel pieces together the short and devastating life of Meridian High’s most popular junior girl. Mass, acceleration, momentum, force—Liz didn’t understand it in physics, and even as her Mercedes hurtles toward the tree, she doesn’t understand it now. How do we impact one another? How do our actions reverberate? What does it mean to be a friend? To love someone? To be a daughter? Or a mother? Is life truly more than cause and effect? Amy Zhang’s haunting and universal story will appeal to fans of Lauren Oliver, Gayle Forman, and Jay Asher.

I’ve seen countless glowing reviews of this book, and the comparisons to If I Stay have definitely led to it being placed near the top of my to-read list. It sounds beautifully heart-wrenching, so I absolutely cannot wait to give it a read.

Which books are you waiting on? Leave me a link or a list to your Waiting on Wednesday post below.

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Top Ten Books I Want to Read But Don’t Own Yet

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly book meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, she posts an idea relating to books and encourages other book bloggers to respond with their own top ten lists.

This week’s topic is “top ten books I really want to read but don’t own yet.” Here are ten 2015 releases that I (obviously) don’t own, but am eagerly anticipating:

What are some books that you desperately want to read, but don’t own yet? Leave me a list or a link to your Top Ten Tuesday post in the comments below.

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Book Blitz + Giveaway: Dead Girl Walking by Ruth Silver

deadgirlwalkingblitz

Today, I’m very excited to be participating in the blog tour for Ruth Silver’s newest book, Dead Girl Walking!

Genre: YA Paranormal
Release date: April 25th 2014
Series: Royal Reaper #1
Publisher: Patchwork Press
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Princess Ophelia Dacre sneaks out of the castle to visit her boyfriend in secret. A perfect night cut short when she’s brutally murdered.

Ophelia is given the rare chance to become a grim reaper. She must become Leila Bele, cut ties with her old life, and follow the rules of the reapers. Her greatest adventure begins with death.

About the Author:

Ruth Silver is the best-selling author of Aberrant. The Young Adult/New Adult Romantic Dystopian Adventure, Aberrant is the first in a trilogy, released April 17th, 2013. Silver first began writing poetry as a teenager and reading heaps of fan fiction in her free time. She attended Northern Illinois University in 2001 and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Communication. While in college she spent much of her free time writing with friends she met online and penning her first novel, Deuces are Wild, which she self-published in 2004. Her favorite class was Creative Writing senior year where she often handed in assignments longer than the professor required because she loved to write and always wanted to finish her stories. Her love of writing, led her on an adventure in 2007 to Melbourne, Australia. Silver enjoys reading YA/NA novels and sharing her favorite books with other readers. She also enjoys photography, traveling and of most of all writing.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Author Interview:

Where did you get the idea for a story about grim reapers?

I absolutely loved the show Dead Like Me that was on Showtime many years ago. It was quirky but offered a different perspective on death. That’s what I was going for when I wrote Dead Girl Walking.

If you had the chance, would you want to become a grim reaper?

No thanks! I’d probably struggle a lot with following the rules. Actually, I’m positive I’d be kicked off (if that’s an option).

Can you tell your readers a secret about writing your Royal Reaper series?

Originally the story was going to take place in the 1300’s during the Black Plague along the Silk Road. It became overly complicated with where the story took place and there not being a kingdom nearby to have a princess actually exist. I wanted it somewhat to follow history, but it was too complicated (not to mention the archaic language). So, I opted instead to make it a paranormal fantasy, put the characters in a fantasy world and still have historical events parallel our past.

Do you think books should end with a happily ever after?

I prefer to read stories with happy endings. I’m okay if it’s a series and you’re going to torture my favorite characters and cause them lots of heartache at the end of book one or book two, but by the end of the series/story, I want a satisfying conclusion.

What other paranormal novels do you like?

Recently I was reading CC Hunter’s Shadow Falls series, which I’m in love with. I also love The Mortal Instruments series which falls between paranormal and urban fantasy.

Giveaway:

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if you like… HISTORICAL FICTION

If You Like... graphicWelcome to my feature, If You Like…. INSERT THING HERE. In this feature, I’ll be sharing books related to various television shows, movies, other books…. anything and everything!

This week I’m focusing on a genre that I think is not given enough credit- historical fiction. Much of the time it is viewed as more educational and therefore not as entertaining, but I would definitely argue against it! Yes, you do learn a lot about other time periods, societies, and cultures, but it is also intriguing, enthralling, and thought-provoking. Like a time machine bound within pages!

tardis in vortex

It wouldn’t be right if I didn’t include a TARDIS gif, now, would it??

If you’re looking to dive deeper into the historical fiction genre, then you’ve come to the right place!

tamar coverTamar by Mal Peet.

Set in WWII, this book is a tangled web of story lines, relationships, and secrets. The perspective switches back and forth between today’s time and WWII, which really helps the reader to see the bigger picture of the war in its context. Mixed with a little bit of mystery, this novel will keep you glued to the pages!

 

the help coverThe Help by Kathryn Stockett.

Set in Mississippi in 1962, this book focuses on themes of racial issues, friendship, and women in society. It’s a heart-wrenching story, but it’s also insightful and even funny. The movie is great as well, so if you don’t have time to read this book at least watch the film adaptation!

 

 

revolution coverRevolution by Jennifer Donnelly.

Set partly in modern-day Brooklyn and partly in revolutionary Paris, this masterpiece of a novel is incredibly fascinating and captivating. There are intertwining story lines, complex characters, and amazing settings that seem to come alive around you as you’re reading. This book is definitely worth a read, especially if you’re a fan of French history!

I hope you enjoy these recommendations! What books would you recommend for people looking to read more historical fiction? What are your thoughts on the books I’ve recommended? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY