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

Thin Space

Thin Space by Jody Casella
Published by Beyond Words/Simon Pulse on September 10th 2013
Genres: young adult
Pages: 256
Goodreads

Ever since the car accident that killed his twin brother, Marshall Windsor has been consumed with guilt and crippled by secrets of that fateful night. He has only one chance to make amends, to right his wrongs and set things right. He must find a Thin Space—a mythical point where the barrier between this world and the next is thin enough for a person to step through to the other side.

But, when a new girl moves into the house next door, the same house Marsh is sure holds a thin space, she may be the key—or the unraveling of all his secrets.

As they get closer to finding a thin space—and closer to each other—Marsh must decide once and for all how far he’s willing to go to right the wrongs of the living…and the dead.

I wanted to love this book SO BAD. I mean, the concept of it is amazing. Who out there would not try and find a thin space to see a lost loved one? Unfortunately, the execution fell flat for me.

Alright, you can go now. No need to read the rest of the review. Jking.

The first issue I had was the bare feet. Does this count as a spoiler? I don’t think so. It doesn’t ruin any of the book, it’s just an integral part of the plot. In order to find a thin space, you have to be able to touch it with your bare toesies. Which makes complete sense to me. So he doesn’t miss finding a thin space, Marsh walks around bare foot. All. The. Time. To school, to the mall, in the middle of winter. All. The. Time. And I get that the adults want to let him grieve, but I don’t think in reality, people would let a kid walk around with no shoes on. I would assume the school would have had to send him home, at the very least. I know my parents wouldn’t have accepted it.

I wanted to like both Marsh and Maddie, but I didn’t feel connected to either of them. I’ve never gone through the type of grief and guilt that Marsh was experiencing, but his attitude towards life was a little much for me to handle. I liked the blooming friendship between him and Maddie (the girl who moves into the house with a thin space) but I didn’t really get a good sense of her. She was just kind of there.

Also, how Marsh knows about thin spaces just seems a little too coincidental for me. He learns about them then BAM, his brother is dead. The timing on that is just a little too perfect.

And finally, the ending. This was weird for me. I actually liked the ending, but I walked away going “that’s it?”. Maybe because I was basically done by this point, but I would have liked it if this whole part was a lot bigger. It’s twisty and I like it.

I mean overall, it wasn’t a HORRIBLE book. I read the entire thing, which is saying something since I’ve DNF’ed a couple of books lately. I’m trying not to push myself into reading things that don’t catch my full attention. So if it interests you, pick it up.

Just set your expectations low and maybe you’ll be blown away.

One StarOne Star

Partials

Partials (Partials Sequence) by Dan Wells
on February 26th 2013
Genres: young adult
Goodreads

Humanity is all but extinguished after a war with Partials—engineered organic beings identical to humans—has decimated the population. Reduced to only tens of thousands by a weaponized virus to which only a fraction of humanity is immune, the survivors in North America have huddled together on Long Island. But sixteen-year-old Kira is determined to find a solution. As she tries desperately to save what is left of her race, she discovers that that the survival of both humans and Partials rests in her attempts to answer questions about the war's origin that she never knew to ask.

I’ve never been a fan of the dystopian genre. And by that I mean I read one, once, a couple of years ago and then never bothered to pick another one up. But this, this! I devoured.

I liked the characters, they were diverse and each had their own personality. I liked that there was a bit of romance, but it wasn’t the focal point. But what I liked the most was the plot.

Dan has given us a future that could actually happen. Army of super soldiers? We probably already have that. Virus that can wipe out 99% of the population? We probably already have that too. Whenever I’ve thought about how the world would end (that happens very little, just so we are all aware), those two things are always the first to come to mind. Both are a form of control; one causes fear and the other helps promote a sense of safety. It’s a very smart way to get humans to do what you want.

It was fun to read the story from Kira’s point of view. She isn’t just some giddy teenager caught up in a bunch of drama. She’s smart, funny and doesn’t always put her heart before her brain (but she’s also human, so sometimes the heart wins out). When Kira takes on the mission to help save what’s left of the human race, she does it for personal reasons too, which adds some depth to the very scientific research she partakes in.

Partials also explores some social themes, like a woman’s right to control her body. Because their numbers are so few, the Senate passes The Hope Act. This states that any woman over the age of 18 must become pregnant yearly (or as much as they can, I can’t quite remember). It’s their duty to the human race. I’ve always been pro-choice when it comes to your own body, but Dan writes in a way that almost had me going “okay, yeah I agree. Women of child bearing age, make babies. That makes sense.” And just as I was leaning one way, a character would voice their opinion and I’d be swayed back the other way. It made for some very interesting personal debates.

Even though I say it’s predictable, it didn’t take away from the fun of this novel at all. I loved it from start to finish, and I was very upset when I had to put it down. I will definitely be picking up the next book in the series.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star