Dreams of Gods and Monsters

Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #3) by Laini Taylor
on April 8th 2014
Genres: fantasy, young adult
Pages: 613
Goodreads

Two worlds are poised on the brink of a vicious war. By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera's rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her.

When the brutal angel emperor brings his army to the human world, Karou and Akiva are finally reunited - not in love, but in a tentative alliance against their common enemy. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves.

But with even bigger threats on the horizon, are Karou and Akiva strong enough to stand among the gods and monsters?

The New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy comes to a stunning conclusion as - from the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond - humans, chimaera, and seraphim strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy.

After reading the first two books in this trilogy without being super blown away, I was interested to see how Laini Taylor planned on ending it. I was also a little apprehensive. I was terribly afraid it would quickly turn into a “and everyone lived happily ever after” scenario.

I’m really glad (but also kind of sad) that it didn’t end out that way.

This book was dark. We’ve got smart Karou back, although she’s tired and so done with everything that’s going on. We’ve got her and Akiva on minimal speaking terms, but it’s enough. We’ve got the whole gang of awesome characters ready to fight a war that no one really wants to fight. Let’s gather everyone and kick some butt!

The stand out for me, character wise, in this book was Liraz. I loved her character development, even though it might not have always been straight forward. In the first book, I didn’t like her. By the end of Gods & Monsters, I had a profound understanding for why she is the way she is.

I felt so bad for Ziri throughout this book. Boy got the short end of the stick more often than not. His story line broke my heart the most, I think.

The one main thing I wasn’t a huge fan of was the back story to Akiva and his powers. Maybe it was because we didn’t start learning about it fully until this book (or was it the second?), but I just felt like it wasn’t as flushed out as it could have been. It was like we were told a legend about creation and expected to accept it without any questions. It just bothered me how that entire plot was handled.

I have mixed feelings about the ending, but I’m kind of happy it ended the way it did. I think it was a good compromise. I know that explains nothing, but if you read the books, let me know if you agree.

Really, I’m just happy I finally finished this trilogy. It’s been sitting on my shelf for far too long. And whether or not I like the stories, Laini Taylor has wonderful writing.

One StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

Days of Blood and Starlight

Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor
on November 6th 2012
Genres: fantasy, young adult
Pages: 517
Goodreads

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.

Art student and monster's apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she'll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

As the middle book in a trilogy, Days of Blood and Starlight wasn’t half bad. The plot was a little slow, but that’s because it’s creating a slow build up to the third and final book.

My only real issue with this entire book was Karou.

Oh, uh, spoilers.

I understand that Karou has just basically lost everything and everyone that she loves. I get that. Betrayal is extra devastating. But she gets so…caught up?…in her grief that she stops being Karou. I don’t know if that’s me being uncompassionate, but come on. She’s a smart girl and she closes her eyes to some OBVIOUS shit. Mostly regarding the White Wolf. It aggravated me a lot that I just had to sit by and watch stupid Karou make stupid mistakes while her stupid heart was broken.

I felt intensely sorry for Akiva, even though he’s the one that messed up and got people into this mess. I just..ugh, I don’t know. I feel like he screws things up, tries to apologize, but no one gives a shit that he’s made a mistake. Look, just because the guy’s an angel doesn’t mean he doesn’t mess up.

Days of Blood and Starlight is where I really started to connect with the characters, which was fantastic. Karou I still had issues with, but Zuzana and Mik I absolutely LOVED. I would take Zuze as a best friend any day of the week. I can understand why Karou doesn’t let her in immediately to the Fantastic World of Beasts, but I feel bad that Zuze has to basically fight her to be let in.

Gaining more insight into Akiva and his siblings was fantastic. They become more human (ironic) than in Daughter, where I felt they were just out to kill everyone. Although, this book still has a lot of killing. But it makes you realize how senseless violence is, and how tiring it can be.

On the plus side, there was no insta-love, so that was an improvement for me. We get a darker, grittier, emotional feelz between the characters. Which is an improvement, but still not my favourite. I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again. A lot of relationships in books could be solved with some simple communication. It would save everyone so much heartache.

One StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
on September 27th 2011
Genres: fantasy, young adult
Pages: 422
Goodreads

Around the world, black hand prints 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 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 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?

A little backstory about this series before I start my review. I’ve owned the entire trilogy since Daughter of Smoke and Bone came out in 2011. That’s 7 years these guys sat on my shelf. I originally bought them 1) for the covers, 2) I love things set in Prague, and 3) the plot seemed really intriguing.

I read Daughter about a year after it came out. I was not a fan. I loved the setting, the characters were fun, the plot was okay, but it didn’t do anything for me. Which is shown by the fact that it took me 5-6 years to continue the series even though they sat on my shelf the entire time.

This could get a bit spoilery from here on out, FYI.

Although Karou was fun, I had issues with her personality. I can understand parts of it, she just comes across as whiny. This didn’t get any better in my opinion.

Akiva was cute but he didn’t really do anything for me. His personality seemed very empty.

The main issue I had was the insta-love. The backstory behind that slowly gets explained, but I just couldn’t get on board with it. It seemed very fake to me. I can’t even explain why.

I loved the atmosphere and the universe Laini Taylor created, though, and I think that is what drew me back to this series. In order to continue with them, I had to go back and read Daughter since I legit could not remember a single thing that happened in it. This time around I understood things a bit better, and although I still wasn’t 100% on board with the insta-love, I made it through all right. The rest of the story mattered more to me this time.

I definitely liked it better this time and I’m glad I did a reread. There’s a lot of things I glossed over the first time, which is likely me being an impatient reader. But Laini Taylor is a fantastic writer, which I appreciated more this read. I liked it enough to finish the series, so stay tuned for those reviews!

One StarOne StarOne Star

The Bees

The Bees by Laline Paull
Published by HarperCollins Canada on May 6th 2014
Genres: fantasy
Pages: 344
Goodreads

Born into the lowest class of an ancient hierarchical society, Flora 717 is a sanitation worker, an Untouchable, whose labour is at her ancient orchard hive's command. As part of the collective, she is taught to accept, obey and serve. Altruism is the highest virtue, and worship of her beloved Queen, the only religion. Her society is governed by the priestess class, questions are forbidden and all thoughts belong to the Hive Mind.But Flora is not like other bees. Her curiosity is a dangerous flaw, especially once she is exposed to the mysteries of the Queen's Library. But her courage and strength are assets, and Flora finds herself promoted up the social echelons. From sanitation to feeding the newborns in the royal nursery to becoming an elite forager, Flora revels in service to her hive.

When Flora breaks the most sacred law of all-daring to challenge the Queen's fertility-enemies abound, from the fearsome fertility police who enforce the strict social hierarchy to the high priestesses who are jealously wed to power. Her deepest instinct to serve and sacrifice is now overshadowed by an even deeper desire, a fierce maternal love that will bring her into conflict with her conscience, her heart and her society, and lead her to commit unthinkable deeds . . .

In the beginning, I really liked The Bees. It was interesting, seemingly unique, and I wanted to know where it was going. I held on for about as long as I could.

First, I don’t know WHY but for some reason I didn’t think this was actually about bees. Pretty dense of me since it’s literally in the title and the entire cover is bees. But I figured it was a nickname for whatever faction Flora was from. Nope. She’s a bee. Which I actually thought was pretty cool. When’s the last time you read about a bee?! I like that aspects of Flora were slightly human (feelings, thoughts, etc) but she still had a somewhat bee-sque mentality. It worked for me!

The setting was wonderful, and the way Paull writes is superb. It didn’t feel like a hive at all for me. It was some robust, living, richly exotic world that I found myself wanting to visit. I loooved it.

What fell flat for me was the story. The beginning of it was great. Exploring the hive with Flora was tense and exciting. But about half way through the book I kind of knew what was going to happen and it made me care less about reading it. I think if the entire thing had been shorter, I would have been able to hold on. But 200-ish pages of a story I’ve already guessed isn’t fun.

So, unfortunately, I DNF’d this half way through. It was wonderful though, and I’m sure many people will enjoy it! I did sneak to the end to figure out what happened, so it’s not like I didn’t care. Tehehe.

Jackaby

Jackaby (Jackaby, #1) by William Ritter
Published by Algonquin Young Readers on September 16th 2014
Genres: fantasy
Pages: 299
Goodreads

“Miss Rook, I am not an occultist,” Jackaby said. “I have a gift that allows me to see truth where others see the illusion--and there are many illusions. All the world’s a stage, as they say, and I seem to have the only seat in the house with a view behind the curtain.”

Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary--including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain it’s a nonhuman creature, whose existence the police--with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane--deny.

A lot of people describe Jackaby as a sort of Sherlock….and they have every right to.

If Sherlock hunted the Supernatural, his name would definitely be R.F Jackaby.

I love how we’re showed the world through Abigail Rook, who at the beginning of the book has no idea who Jackaby is. She simply needs a job and he has a posting for an assistant. It made the story more interesting for me, because there was never any info dumping about the world and its supernatural elements. You simply find out about things as she does, which made me connect with her confusion more, but 100% in a good way.

It also made Jackaby more mysterious, sometimes frustrating, but always enjoyable to have on the page and in the story. While some might think he’s cocky or obnoxious, I liked his personality. He sees things that no one else can, so he has very little time to explain things to people. It’s a very easy way to only keep the “important” people around, in my opinion. He doesn’t have to hide himself or spend hours explaining things to people who choose not to believe what he sees. Call me crazy, but I like it. He also has a wicked sense of humour without meaning to.

The case itself was okay. Nothing mindblowing, but it kept me guessing. I’m interested to see if book numero two gets any more thrilling.

Yes, I already bought it. Have you seen those covers?? They’re just too pretty not to have.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Mistborn

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
on July 31st 2007
Genres: fantasy
Pages: 657
Goodreads

Where ash falls from the sky, and mist dominates the night, evil cloaks the land and stifles all life. Criminal mastermind Kelsier teaches Allomancy, the magic of metals, to another Mistborn, urchin Vin 16. The unlikely heroine is distracted by rich Venture heir Elend. Can Kelsier's thieving crew take on the tyrant Lord Ruler and bring back colour to their world?

What isn’t there to love about this book?

I love, love, loved the magic system that we’re presented with. It’s so simple but so imaginative at the same time. I guess the magic itself is simple, but what each Allomancer chooses to do with it is fascinating.

I really liked Vin’s history, with her brother and how she was treated. No matter what she does, she still hears his voice berating her for her choices. Her viewpoint on the world was interesting, and I liked her hard edge. It made her strong and her narration superb. You learn about the world of Mistborns as she does. It’s a great way to have the story unfold.

Kelsier was just a hoot. First off, love the name. Second off, he’s an ass but he doesn’t care and you have to love him for it. Even though he’s got quite a screwed up history, he’s able to put on a good face and be upbeat. Even if he is an ass.

The rest of the gang was wonderful and I liked how we got to explore the different type of Allomancy through each member. They were all vastly different but they all flowed so well.

Everything that this book stands for is amazing. I bought the second one as soon as I finished. I want nothing more than to immerse myself back into this rich world.

I understand why there are a lot of people who rave about Brandon Sanderson.

Favourite Kelsier quote:

Kelsier felt that a skaa Misting’s life wasn’t so much about surviving as it was about picking the right time to die.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

The Prince of Fools

Prince of Fools (The Red Queen's War, #1) by Mark Lawrence
Published by Ace on June 3rd 2014
Genres: fantasy
Pages: 355
Goodreads

The Red Queen is old but the kings of the Broken Empire dread her like no other. For all her reign, she has fought the long war, contested in secret, against the powers that stand behind nations, for higher stakes than land or gold. Her greatest weapon is The Silent Sister—unseen by most and unspoken of by all.

The Red Queen’s grandson, Prince Jalan Kendeth—drinker, gambler, seducer of women—is one who can see The Silent Sister. Tenth in line for the throne and content with his role as a minor royal, he pretends that the hideous crone is not there. But war is coming. Witnesses claim an undead army is on the march, and the Red Queen has called on her family to defend the realm. Jal thinks it’s all a rumor—nothing that will affect him—but he is wrong.

After escaping a death trap set by the Silent Sister, Jal finds his fate magically intertwined with a fierce Norse warrior. As the two undertake a journey across the Empire to undo the spell, encountering grave dangers, willing women, and an upstart prince named Jorg Ancrath along the way, Jalan gradually catches a glimmer of the truth: he and the Norseman are but pieces in a game, part of a series of moves in the long war—and the Red Queen controls the board.

I don’t even know how to review Prince Of Fools properly. I had a hard time following the plot, but I think that has more to do with my attention span and memory rather than the story. I have a hard time reading detailed fantasy novels for this exact reason. And yet, I still enjoyed Prince Of Fools.

How do you explain Prince Jalan to someone? If you have a good way, let me know in the comments. I loved him from the first moment he entered the pages. His sense of humour was on point, and his personality just radiated. I find it hilarious that he’s such a coward, but he fully admits he’s a coward, so it gets him into some interesting scenarios. He’s that friend that you keep around because you KNOW he’s going to make everyone have a good time.

Snorri I had a hard time getting to know, although he had a good personality. I’m hoping that the more he opens up to Jal, the more inside his head we can get because by the end of the book I still wasn’t sure what was going on with him. He’s a man of few words which doesn’t really help. I just know he’s a good person and he’s looking for his family. And he’s a viking. A very big viking.

What I could follow of the plot was alright. Snorri is heading North to save his family, Prince Jalan does not want to head North at all but is forced to because of the curse the Silent Sister placed on him. I’m still not 100% sure who the bad guy from the North is (obviously since I can’t even remember his name). And the army he has is also confusing to me, but it might be because I wasn’t following the story as much as I should have been.

Because of my comprehension skills, I might not continue this series. I don’t know if it’ll be worth trying to get through the next one if I already don’t remember a good chunk of Prince Of Fools. Maybe I should start keeping notes as I go.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

The Taker

The Taker (The Taker, #1) by Alma Katsu
Published by Simon & Schuster on September 6th 2011
Genres: fantasy
Pages: 438
Goodreads

On the midnight shift at a hospital in rural St. Andrew, Maine, Dr. Luke Findley is expecting a quiet evening--until a mysterious woman, Lanore McIlvrae, arrives in his ER, escorted by police. Lanore is a murder suspect, and Luke is inexplicably drawn to her. As Lanny tells him her story, an impassioned account of love and betrayal that transcends time and mortality, she changes his life forever. At the turn of the nineteenth century, Lanny was consumed as a child by her love for the son of St. Andrew’s founder, and she will do anything to be with him forever, but the price she pays is steep--an immortal bond that chains her to a terrible fate.

I couldn’t put this book down. It was absolutely stunning and surpassed any and all of my expectations.

My favourite part about this entire novel is the narrative voice. I think Alma Katsu could write 300 pages about watching paint dry and it would still mesmerize me. The story line alone was fantastic, but when told the way it was, it easily took The Taker to the top of my recommendation list.

Narrative aside, I did love the plot as well. The cover copy gives you an inclination of what the story could be about, but I was still absolutely surprised ever time I turned the page. I finished the book satisfied, but I still want more at the same time! I want to see where the story goes and how the characters develop.

I would highly recommend The Taker to anyone. But I would suggest having a solid chunk of time set aside to read it, as it’s very unlikely you will be able to put it down.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star