“Dreams of Gods and Monsters (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #3)” by Laini Taylor

Dreams of Gods and MonstersDREAMS OF GODS & MONSTERS (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #3)
Author: Laini Taylor
Read Date: 10 April 2014
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

In this thrilling conclusion to the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, Karou is still not ready to forgive Akiva for killing the only family she’s ever known.

When a brutal angel army trespasses into the human world, Karou and Akiva must ally their enemy armies against the threat–and against larger dangers that loom on the horizon. They begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves–maybe even toward love.

From the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond, humans, chimaera, and seraphim will fight, strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy.

Review summary: Perhaps too ambitious, but a dramatic finale that readers who have journeyed with Karou will certainly appreciate.

*SPOILER WARNING FOR PLOT DETAILS* Continue reading

Time Out for TV: Halftime Commmentary on “I Hear Your Voice 너의 목소리가 들려”

Hey, it’s been a while since I’ve done a Time Out for TV post!

These thoughts about the latest Korean drama I’ve been fixating on has been stewing in my head for a month. I really need to be able to put them into a “pensieve”, so I’m taking a break from books today.

It’s now a little over halftime for I Hear Your Voice 너의 목소리가 들려, which currently airs Wednesdays/Thursdays over SBS in South Korea. Episodes 9-10 aired last week, but my notes are more about the first 8 because there was a natural break in the story at that point. So…8 episodes’ worth of comments! This is going to be long, but it will be such a relief to get this out of my head. *flexes fingers*

Lucky Gremlins are watching a 3D movie! I wish I can watch Lee Jong Seok in 3D.

Lucky Gremlins are watching a 3D movie! I wish I can watch Lee Jong Seok in 3D.

Continue reading

Cover Reveal: “Days of Blood and Starlight”

Oh wow! This is just… wow.

Entertainment Weekly just revealed the cover for the sequel to Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone entitled Days of Blood and Starlight.


In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed “Daughter of Smoke and Bone,” Karou must come to terms with who and what she is, and how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, mysteries and secrets, new characters and old favorites, Days of Blood and Starlight brings the richness, color and intensity of the first book to a brand new canvas.

Publication Date: 6 November 2012

(click on the thumbnail to enlarge!)

Laini posted a teaser about the book when she revealed the title on her blog some time ago. You can read the teaser here.

I’m super excited for this book because I fell in love with Daughter of Smoke and Bone and it made me an instant Laini Taylor fan. Daughter also ended with a sort of cliffhanger—the beginning of a new journey for Karou that may change the lives of all of the characters.

And I need more Akiva, please. 🙂

Waiting On Wednesday: “Deadlocked” by Charlaine Harris

 


Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

 

I doubt it’s still Wednesday anywhere else in the world, so my usual “I come from the future” excuse won’t work today. The truth is, this really is just a late post because, unfortunately, there is still procrastination in the future. 😛

Deadlocked (Sookie Stackhouse #12)
by: Charlaine Harris

With Felipe de Castro, the Vampire King of Louisiana (and Arkansas and Nevada), in town, it’s the worst possible time for a body to show up in Eric Northman’s front yard—especially the body of a woman whose blood he just drank.

Now, it’s up to Sookie and Bill, the official Area Five investigator, to solve the murder. Sookie thinks that, at least this time, the dead girl’s fate has nothing to do with her. But she is wrong. She has an enemy, one far more devious than she would ever suspect, who’s out to make Sookie’s world come crashing down.

Publication Date: 1 May 2012

Dead Reckoning left me hanging, so it’s a relief to know this book will be out in less than a month.

Charlaine Harris has an excerpt of chapter 2 up on her website (click!), and if my math and logic are any good, I’d say the “devious enemy” being referred to in the synopsis is probably werewolf/Sam’s GF/Alcide’s enforcer Jannalyn Hopper. Sorry, Sookie, it really is difficult being the most desirable woman in the supernatural community. 😛

It will be intriguing to see how Sookie and Bill will work together to solve the murder in question. I still can’t forget what happened in the last season of True Blood, where Sookie essentially went all Team Switzerland on us Eric/Sookie shippers. Then again, Sookie is in a different place now when it comes to the books. Just don’t give me a Sookie/Bill reunion, please!

Oh, and I just have to say Charlaine Harris does excellent work when it comes to her characters. Even though I watched True Blood before getting into any of the Sookie books, I can still un-imagine Anna as Sookie, Stephen as Bill, and Alex as Eric because the book characters are very vivid. And that’s saying something considering Alexander Skarsgård’s compelling portrayal of Eric.

I hope that Harris will use this book to start wrapping up any loose ends going into Book 13, which is the alleged last book. While I love the series, it really does have to end some time, and this conflict with King Felipe de Castro of Several States, and the revelations in the Faery world are all good set-ups for the finale. Sookie’s journey has been a very long one, and she deserves her peace and happiness.

⍣ ⍣ ⍣

Honorable Mention for Waiting on Wednesday : Darth Vader and Son  by Jeffrey Brown! Super cute and super sweet! Coming April 18th. 🙂

“Daughter of Smoke and Bone” by Laini Taylor

 
Daughter of Smoke and Bone Final Cover
Title: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Author: Laini Taylor
Read Date: 11 September 2011
Goodreads Status Updates: None. I couldn’t stop reading long enough to go online and post status updates, but my favorite quotes are here.
Review in a nutshell: A fantastic new perspective on popular YA paranormal themes, with memorable characters brought to life by Laini Taylor’s evocative writing.
——————————————————————————————————————————————–

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 otherworldly 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?

 
This is my first Laini Taylor book, but I can already tell that she and I are going to have an enduring “I will buy every single book you write” kind of relationship.

Taylor turns the popular supernatural/Angel romance theme on its head in Daughter of Smoke and Bone.  In Taylor’s mythology, the Angels are not your usual supernatural beings from Heaven (although they still are winged, beautiful, and powerful); they’re flesh and blood creatures from another world, whose civilization is at war with “demons”–the Chimaera, creatures whose body parts are from several different animals.

The story delves deep into the long, violent history of these two races, but no matter who started the conflict, what stands out, for me, is how the line between good and evil blurs as both sides commit acts of war against each other.  Yes, we often associate Angels with the good side, but the Seraphim in this story are just as culpable as the Chimaera, and just as guilty of pride and prejudice.
 

It is a condition of monsters that they do not perceive themselves as such. The dragon, you know, hunkered in the village devouring maidens, heard the townsfolk cry ‘Monster!’ and looked behind him.

 

The character at the center of this dark and grim backdrop is Karou, an art student in Prague whose only family are a group of Chimaera headed by a bull-headed “trader” named Brimstone.  She has no memory of her real parents or where she really came from; the only thing she knows is Brimstone raised her from infancy.

Karou exudes a certain otherworldliness–perhaps further amplified by the blue hair that grows out of her head that color–but remains grounded as a character because most readers will at least be able to sympathize with her loneliness and her quest to learn more about herself.  We may not experience everything that Karou does, but her emotions are easy to understand.
 

Karou wished she could be the kind of girl who was complete unto herself, comfortable in solitude, serene. But she wasn’t. She was lonely, and she feared the missingness within her as if it might expand and…cancel her. She craved a presence beside her, solid. Fingertips light at the nape of her neck and a voice meeting hers in the dark. Someone who would wait with an umbrella to walk her home in the rain, and smile like sunshine when he saw her coming. Who would dance with her on her balcony, keep his promises and know her secrets, and make a tiny world wherever he was, with just her and his arms and his whisper and her trust.

 

As if things weren’t complicated enough for Karou, she encounters Akiva, a Seraph who was sent to the human world on an important mission.  The Seraphim are capable of using glamour to hide their fiery wings, but you can still tell they are not of our world because their shadows show their true form and they are too “breath-stealingly beautiful” to be human.  

“Breath-stealingly beautiful”–Taylor’s words, not mine.  It was only when I read that that I realized just how important an author’s choice of words can be, because someone who can steal my breath away is vastly different from someone who can just take my breath away. Taylor’s prose is evocative and lyrical, and this is what makes the book something more than just a good story.

(Taylor’s description of Akiva evokes a non-traditional image of an angel in my mind.  No, wait, actually, he does not look angelic at all.  Truth be told, the image of Akiva that my mind conjures is the form that the devil will take if he wanted me to willingly follow him to hell. And so he joins Fitzwilliam Darcy in my list of Literary Boyfriends, which is probably TMI for you, but well, you did come here. 😛 )

It’s common in the genre that the supernatural character tends to be distant, aloof, and unreachable.  Case in point: Daniel Grigori in the first 2 books of Lauren Kate’s Fallen series, and even Edward Cullen, to a certain extent (and please don’t raise your eyebrows, okay?)  Well, they’re not human and the aloofness is expected, but I personally look for something in a character that I can connect with so that I can emotionally invest in the story and the romance aspect, in particular.  Taylor managed to provide that in how she wrote not only Akiva, but the Seraphim and Chimaera in general.

On hindsight, Taylor’s world and characters have less of the mystical supernatural flavor of Fallen; the book actually feels more like a Neil Gaiman urban fantasy.  And as with most good urban fantasy, the setting is a character in itself.  Here, Prague really comes alive, and I’m sure that if I’m lucky enough to visit it one day, I will recall Taylor’s words as I see it with my own eyes.
 

Gothic steeples stood ready to impale fallen angels. The wind carried the memory of magic, revolution, violins, and the cobbled lanes meandered like creeks. Thugs wore Mozart wigs and pushed chamber music on street corners, and marionettes hung in windows, making the whole city seem like a theatre with unseen puppeteers crouched behind velvet.

 

Taylor takes great care in building her world and developing her characters, and despite there bring some slow sections, overall, she exerts good control over the pacing of the book. Her control even extends to the romance aspect, which was plausible and thrilling without being suffocating. The scale of the world and the overall arc is epic, but she maintains a feeling of intimacy between the reader and the characters and their personal stories.

[SPOILER WARNING: Don’t read this paragraph until you’ve read the book. I don’t spoil a plot point, but my reaction might give too much away.] There’s one scene, though, that disturbed me a little because I felt it almost bordered on bestiality. Okay, not exactly that; I think this is more about me thinking about the circumstances too much.  To Taylor’s credit, that scene was subtle and well-written, and it’s likely other readers won’t think twice about what happened. There’s just no getting around it because the Chimaera and the Seraphim are what they are, and the scene is needed to make a point. I immediately got over it, though. It’s not a deal-breaker at all for this book, it’s just a personal reaction that I felt I had to mention because I wanted to know how others reacted to that scene.  (If you read the book, please let me know in the Comments if this became an issue for you or not. :D) [END SPOILER]

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is the first in a new series by Taylor, who’s already written a handful of other works. She has a modest but dedicated following, but I think more people should read her books. So if you’re into paranormal romance or YA fantasy or if you’re a sucker for star-crossed lovers or maybe just looking for a different read, give this a try. Heck, even if you hate YA, you should give this a try! It’s one of the best books I’ve read this year.

Here are the links to the lovely book trailers:
Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Part 1: Main Trailer
Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Part 2: Brimstone
Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Part 3: Akiva (The illustrations of Akiva are… ♥♥♥)


This review, including the quotes featured therein, is based on an Advance Reader Copy provided by Hachette Book Group USA (Phils.)
U.S. Street Date: 27 September 2011

Other Reviews:
Chachic’s Book Nook
Chris of Ficsation