Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Daughter of Smoke and 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 grown 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 hair actually 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 one of the strangers —beautiful, haunted Akiva— fixes his fire-colored 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?
I’m at a lost to describe this book. Is it a fairy tale? A twist to the old Romeo and Juliet story? A tale of war? A tale of prejudice? It’s all of these things and more.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is my first introduction to Laini Taylor’s work. And it’s was quite an introduction. My friend, Anna - who wrote a BEAUTIFUL review of this novel - mentioned Laini to me many times, always singing her praises. I think Anna has great taste in novels, so I was pretty excited to read this book, especially after I read her review.

Karou is an artist whose imagination creates the wonderful hybrid creatures on the pages of her art-book - which is popular among the other art students at her school in Prague. The creatures are so realistic and Karou even has stories about them, telling it all with the wry smile that hides the fact that her imaginative creations and fantastic stories are real.

I was transported. 

Laini’s descriptive writing style printed such an impressive image of Prague in my head that I’m ready to call a travel agent and book my flight. If only Brimstone’s shop could be reached via plane.

I was enthralled. 

Karou, Zuzana, Issa, Twiga, Yasri, Brimstone and the rest, leaped out of the pages. Laini’s characters are so well developed that I can picture them, right now, almost as if they are crowding my room, vying for my attention. The story was constantly moving, shifting, twisting; but never overwhelming or dull. I practically devoured it.

I was mystified. 

One of the best parts of this story was the reveal in the end. In the back of my mind I knew what was happening, I knew where the story was going - because of the clues that were hidden along the way - but it wasn’t until the reveal that everything became clear. I love when authors can achieve that balance, giving just enough for you to think you’ve got it, but leaving just enough out for you to be surprised in the end. This was the case with Daughter of Smoke and Bone. It was a perfect blend of romance, adventure, and suspense. I cannot wait to read more from Laini!

The Best of the Bunch ~ August 2011

Best of the Bunch is hosted by Lyrical over at Lyrical Reviews YA.
This is a monthly meme where, at the end of every month you pick one book that you read that month that's a must-have/must-read. Afterwards, you can add your link to Lyrical's post and see what other bloggers must-reads.

This month's must-read is Goliath by Scott Westerfeld. I'm a huge fan of Scott Westerfeld's books and Goliath just serves to cement that fondness. Set during WWI, it is the third book in the Leviathan series. While the story is a WWI tale, it's set in an alternate universe where there are two powers - the Clankers and the Darwinist - and the world itself is steampunk-esque.
This trilogy has a little bit of everything; there is action, suspense, a touch of romance to feed your romantic soul, a lot of adventure. Of course, before you can read Goliath you'll have to read Leviathan and Behemoth, both of are great reads as well!

Read my review of Goliath here!

Alek and Deryn are on the last leg of their round-the-world quest to end World War I, reclaim Alek’s throne as prince of Austria, and finally fall in love. The first two objectives are complicated by the fact that their ship, the Leviathan, continues to detour farther away from the heart of the war (and crown). And the love thing would be a lot easier if Alek knew Deryn was a girl. (She has to pose as a boy in order to serve in the British Air Service.) And if they weren’t technically enemies.
The tension thickens as the Leviathan steams toward New York City with a homicidal lunatic on board: secrets suddenly unravel, characters reappear, and nothing is at it seems in this thunderous conclusion to Scott Westerfeld’s brilliant trilogy.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Top Ten Books That Are On The Top Of My TBR List For Fall

I'm participating in the Top Ten Tuesday meme created by The Broke and the Bookish.
This week you will find the top ten books that are on the top of my TBR list for fall. I'm super excited to read some of these and the rest, well, they are a step out of my normal reading list, but I'm looking forward to the journey. What's on your list?

(clicking on the images below will take you to


Monday, August 29, 2011

Goliath by Scott Westerfeld

Alek and Deryn are on the last leg of their round-the-world quest to end World War I, reclaim Alek’s throne as prince of Austria, and finally fall in love. The first two objectives are complicated by the fact that their ship, the Leviathan, continues to detour farther away from the heart of the war (and crown). And the love thing would be a lot easier if Alek knew Deryn was a girl. (She has to pose as a boy in order to serve in the British Air Service.) And if they weren’t technically enemies.
The tension thickens as the Leviathan steams toward New York City with a homicidal lunatic on board: secrets suddenly unravel, characters reappear, and nothing is at it seems in this thunderous conclusion to Scott Westerfeld’s brilliant trilogy. 
I am convinced that anything Scott Westerfeld writes is brilliant. Goliath is no exception.

(Warning: This review might contain spoilers for the first two books in the trilogy - Leviathan and Behemoth.)

Goliath picks up where Behemoth leaves off; Alek and Deryn are back on the Leviathan after playing major roles in the Ottoman Empire revolution.

Alek feels a bit useless onboard the ship since he was a key player in the rebellion, but now just a little better than a prisoner. Deryn is off doing things middies do. The story picks up when the Leviathan makes a detour and witnesses a scary sight in the middle of nowhere Siberia. Secrets abound and the two stars are caught up in the middle of it all.

In this third and final installment of the story, Alek finally learns Deryn’s secret. I really appreciated that Scott decided to reveal this closer to the beginning of the book as opposed to the very end, and I’m very happy with the way it was done.

The introduction of Tesla adds another layer of intrigue to the books. Who is this man and what is the Goliath? While the book is action-packed it’s also perfectly paced. There’s enough mystery to keep the pages turning and Scott Westerfeld interweaves pieces of history into his fantastic prose.

I especially love this trilogy because it makes me enjoy history in a way I’ve never truly enjoyed it before. Sometimes the depiction of the stories are so boring that I often forget that history is real life and real life can be exciting - especially if told by a master. War, even though it’s a horrible thing, is also exciting to read about. What happened? How did it get started? How did it get resolved? What can we learn from the past to make a better future?

Even though it is fiction, reading this trilogy has caused me to read more about what happened during World War I and, on a whole, has sparked an interest in history that I haven’t experienced before. The only downside is that perspicacious lorises aren’t real. I mean, who wouldn’t want one after reading about Bovril? Also, this.

History buffs, steampunk lovers and anyone who loves a good story will most definitely enjoy the Leviathan Trilogy. My only hope is that Scott does what he did with the Uglies trilogy and adds a fourth book. Or hey, a second trilogy? One can only hope.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

In My Mailbox (#2)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.
Each post shows a list of books that were bought/borrowed/received for reviews for this week.
It's always fun to see what other people are talking about and what's coming out soon!

The Borders Stash I

The Help
Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step.
Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.
Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.
Minny, Aibileen's best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody's business, but she can't mind her tongue, so she's lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.
Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein bites into her mother's homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother’s emotions in the slice. To her horror, she finds that her cheerful mother tastes of despair. Soon, she’s  privy to the secret knowledge that most families keep hidden: her father’s detachment, her mother’s transgression, her brother’s increasing retreat from the world. But there are some family secrets that even her cursed taste buds can’t discern.
The Iron Knight (for review via the fair folks of NetGalley) 
Ash, former prince of the Winter Court, gave up everything. His title, his home, even his vow of loyalty. All for a girl… and all for nothing. 
Unless he can earn a soul. 
To cold, emotionless faery prince Ash, love was a weakness for mortals and fools. His own love had died a horrible death, killing any gentler feelings the Winter prince might have had. Or so he thought.
Then Meghan Chase—a half human, half fey slip of a girl— smashed through his barricades, binding him to her irrevocably with his oath to be her knight. And when all of Faery nearly fell to the Iron fey, she severed their bond to save his life. Meghan is now the Iron Queen, ruler of a realm where no Winter or Summer fey can survive.
With the (unwelcome) company of his archrival, Summer Court prankster Puck, and the infuriating cait sith Grimalkin, Ash begins a journey he is bound to see through to its end— a quest to find a way to honor his solemn vow to stand by Meghan’s side.
To survive in the Iron realm, Ash must have a soul and a mortal body. But the tests he must face to earn these things are impossible. At least, no one has ever passed to tell the tale.
And then Ash learns something that changes everything. A truth that turns reality upside down, challenges his darkest beliefs and shows him that, sometimes, it takes more than courage to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Book Blogger Hop (#1)

Book Blogger Hop

I'm taking part in the Book Blooger Hop!
Book Blogger hop is hosted bu Crazy For Books and is a great way to get to know other book bloggers and bookish people =)
Every week you get to answer a question and then hop around to other blogs to see what others have to say.

Q. Non-book-related this week!! Do you have pets?

I don't have any pets! I recently finished reading The Iron Queen and was thinking that if I had a pet cat I'd name him Grimalkin!

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Feature & Follow Friday (#2)

Feature & Follow Friday is hosted by Rachel of Parajunkee and Alison of Alison Can Read and allows book bloggers to connect.
I've decided to do the feature, both on my blog and on this companion site. (Listen, if the doctor can have a companion, so can this um ... my blog!)

Q. In some books like the Sookie Stackhouse series the paranormal creature in question "comes out of the closet" and makes itself known to the world. Which mythical creature do you wish this would happen with in real life?

There's a story I'd always remember from the time I was a young girl. We had some mushrooms growing out of an old stump in my backyard, and one day my dad told me that if I got up early enough - before the sunrise - I'd see little fairies playing among them.

I tried to get up early, but never got to see them. So, I think the mythical creature I'd most like to be real would be fairies. Of course, after seeing Torchwood's Small Worlds, I'm not really sure anymore...

How about you?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Top Ten Books I Loved But Never Wrote A Review For

I'm participating in the Top Ten Tuesday meme created by The Broke and the Bookish.
I started this blog towards the end of December, 2010. My first review was done in January, 2011. Of course, I've been reading for many years before that and there have been books that I'd have loved to review, but I decided to just review the ones I've read since the start of the blog. This week I'll take you through ten books that I've read in the past that I have absolutely loved! Have you read them? If so, let me know in the comments!

  1. Magic or Madness by Justine Larbalestier
    I read this trilogy in 2004 while waiting for the Half Blood Prince to be released. At the time it was controversial because there was ... well, I won't say, I don't want to spoil it, just know it was controversial. I read it and loved it. The idea that magical people had to use their magic or else go mad was not one I've heard about before. The down side of using magic? Well, you'll find out when you read the book.
    The trilogy is set in Sydney and New York City, the characters use a magical door to move from one country to the next - I wish this existed - and the story follows Reason and her friends as they try to figure out just what's going on with them. I loved it! It's one of my favourite trilogies and I think more people need to read these books!
  2. The China Garden by Liz Berry
    This story has mystery, intrigue, adventure, fantasy and romance, all mixed up into a lovely little book, it's perfectly balanced and a great read. It's set in England and follows Clare as she unravels the secret behind her heritage. Absolutely lovely book, I had to get it used because I couldn't find it ANYWHERE! I see it pop up in bookstores every now and then. This book will always be on my bookshelf.
  3. A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
    Sometimes I feel as though this series is underrated - and the movie didn't do it justice. There is a subtle genius to the series. It's something I want to re-read because I'm sure I'd find a lot of things that I missed the first time around. One of the sad things about these books though, is that you really start feeling sad for the Baudelaire children. They can't seem to catch a break! I was cheering them along until the very end.
    I also loved the way the author defined words, there really should be a dictionary according to Lemony Snicket.

  4. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke 
    I'm an absolute fan of this trilogy! Never have I seen the heros so flawed, the villans so dreadful and the story so thrilling. The movie did not do the book justice. I loved the idea that characters of a book could be read out of their story, or humans read into a story. I loved the development of the characters. I generally loved the books. This story sticks with you for a very long time. 
  5. Magyk by Angie Sage
    I picked this one up on a whim and I'm so glad I did. There are wizards, magic (or magyk), ghosts, mysteries, seven children, princesses and many more awesome things. It's geared to young readers, but I think anyone could enjoy them - yes, them, it's a series of books! I haven't finished reading the books, but I'm planning on it! Love the way it's going. 
  6. Enchantment by Orson Scott Card
    Sleeping Beauty retold and awesome. That's all I have to say about this book. It's just awesome. Oh and, go read it.
  7. Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
    Loved, loved, loved this book and series. It's smartly written and makes me wish I'd thought of the story first! Colfer has a way with words. Following Artemis, a genius child and criminal, as he makes deals with fairies and gets entangled into many crazy situations, it's a roller-coaster of awesome.
  8. Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop 
    Not a Young Adult book, and definitely not recommended for young teens, however, this is one of my favourite fantasy books ever. The Dark Jewels trilogy follows the story of Jaenelle; a young girl and one of the magical race called Bloods. Yet, it's never told from the perspective of Jaenelle, only from others who interact with her.
    One thing that I loved about this trilogy is that there are different levels of magical ability among the Blood - you are born with a certain level of magic and you can mature up to a certain level, based on your original level. Jaenelle, a young girl in this book, is cast aside by the adults in her family because they do not recognise that her magic is above anything ever recorded. They believe that she failed her birthright ceremony; they think her eccentric, and so they ignore her, missing out on seeing the special girl living in their own household.
    The trilogy spans Jaenelle, from a young girl learning craft, to a young woman fighting for the survival of the Bloods. There is a lot of spinoffs to this book from Anne Bishop, but none - in my opinion - compares to this trilogy.
  9. Dark Secrets: Don't Tell by Elizabeth Chandler
    I'm absolutely in love with this series. The town of Wisteria holds so many different stories and secrets. This series touch on some of those stories. Each book is a stand alone, but it's really fun reading them as it's set in the same town and some of the people are familiar to the reader. I really wished there were more books, but, alas, they've stopped publishing them.
  10. Rampant by Diana Peterfreund 
    Two words: killer unicorns. What's not to like? 

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