Awesome book! Go read it now. Or read the review first.
“In general, Karou has managed to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she’s a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family. Raised half in our world, half in ‘Elsewhere’, she has never understood Brimstone’s dark work – buying teeth from hunters and murderers – nor how she came into his keeping. She is a secret even to herself, plagued by the sensation that she isn’t whole. Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought.”
Despite have similarities to many popular books at the moment, Daughter of Smoke and Bone manages to be a really unique and unusual book. The brilliant heroine and break away from vampires and werewolves to more unfamiliar and imaginative characters and worlds makes this stand apart from its supernatural romance counterparts. Not necessarily a favourite, but a really solid, well written, and highly enjoyable read with a twist that I didn’t work out for a satisfyingly long portion of the book. Whilst I didn’t reach the end desperately frustrated that I couldn’t read the next instalment immediately, I will definitely be having a read at some point when it is published. I didn’t love it overwhelmingly, the way many readers seem to have reacted to it, but I really enjoyed it and would recommend it as a high quality entry in the supernatural romance genre.
First Line: ‘Walking to school over the snow-muffled cobbles, Karou had no sinister premonitions about the day.’
I read a few really great reviews of this book last year and kept meaning to pick it up, but there was something about the art on the front cover that made me say “meh”…and I kept putting it off. A vague face in a blue Mardi Gras mask? Whatever. But then, around Christmas, I had some free time — with grandparents visiting and playing with the kids, I could actually sit down and read a few books — so, I finally gave it a shot. And am so glad I did.
Read my full review here on my blog.
But first, a bit of housekeeping. Now that I’ve hit my goal, I have to say I just don’t think I’m going to get around to reviewing the stack on the “to review” pile. These books include: Then Came You by Jennifer Weiner, World War Z by Max Brooks, Enders’ Game by Orson Scott Card, Julia’s Child by Sarah Pinneo, 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson, Wool Vol. 1 by Hugh Howey, Messy by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan, and The Truth About Forever/Keeping the Moon/Someone Like You/This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen. Some were great (World War Z, Wool). Some were completely entertaining (Messy, Julia’s Child). Some were formulaic and predictable (Then Came You, all books by Sarah Dessen). And some I just didn’t get (I’m looking at you, Ender’s Game). I’ll start reviewing again in January for CBR5, but until then will be helping Joemyjoe and Bunnybean meet their Cannonball quotas by posting some reviews for them.
Earlier this year, along with many of my fellow Cannonballers, I fell under the spell of Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I immediately pre-ordered the sequel on my Kindle, and was pleasantly surprised when it showed up last week.
Days of Blood and Starlight takes place pretty much immediately after the end of Smoke and Bone. After breaking her wishbone, Karou remembered her life as Madrigal, and her love story with Akiva. Now that she knows he is responsible for the deaths of Brimstone and the rest of her chimaera family, she will never forgive him or allow herself to love him again.
The brutal war between the chimaera and seraphim wages on. The chimaera are almost completely destroyed, but for a small group of rebels who are holding their own against the armies of angels attacking them night after night. For both sides, the only strategy is to kill as many of their enemies as possible — all of the potential peace and harmony once dreamed of by Madrigal and Akiva is now an impossibility.
While Karou and Akiva are still the main characters in the story, Taylor has introduced and/or expanded the roles of a lot of the others, and the narrative jumps from human to angel to chimeara smoothly. We spend time with Karou’s friends from Prague; Akiva’s bastard brother and sister; the seraphim emperor and his horrible brother; Thiago the wolf (who originally had Madrigal be-headed); jumping from past to present without a hitch.
The last book was a bit of a war-torn love story. In this book, I’d call it more of a love-torn war story (is love-torn a thing?). We spend a lot of time reading about the brutality of this ongoing war, and of the innocence lost by so many good souls. The love story is still lurking around in the background, but is by no means the main attraction here.
I’ll be honest, I had a tough time getting into the story. I expected to jump right in and be as swept up as I was last time. But it took me about 70 pages until I really got into its rhythm — and then, I couldn’t put it down. For once, I’m looking forward to the last book in a trilogy!
You can read more of my reviews (and Joemyjoe & Bunnybean) on my blog.
In all of my reading and writing it would be easy to say that I’m thinking too much about books that are meant to be little dollops of entertainment. That may well be true, books may just be meant as minor diversions for over-stimulated minds. But through the past year I realized how the various reading role models I have had in my life taught me how to read, how to love reading and how to use reading to think.
So, after I finished my half-cannonball back in August I kept right on reading and thinking. Balancing all that work with the job I’m paid to do was a little difficult and I only just finished reviews for all of the books read in that span. Rather than reprinting some or all of those reviews here, I wanted to give any readers of this site access to my other site where they can read the complete reviews of various books that might interest you. (If you or someone you know–particularly an administrator–believe this is in someway a misuse of the Cannonball Read site, I sincerely apologize and will remove it ASAP.) Take a look, click around and see what you think of everything else I managed to read this year.
All reviews (plus other older reviews and fancy blog style shenanigans at The Scruffy Rube
Post 1 Book Club Books:
#27–The Unbearable Bookclub for Unsinkable Girls, by Julie Shumacher (2 stars)
#28–Frozen by Mary Casanova (3 stars)
#29–Matched by Allie Condie (2 stars)
#29.5–The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer (illustrations by Elizabeth Zunon) (2 stars)
#30–A Strange Place to Call Home by Marilyn Singer (illustrations by Ed Young) (4 stars)
Post 2: Mock Caldecott Award Candidates
#30.25–Oh No, by Candace Flemming (illustrations by Eric Rohman) (4 stars)
#30.5–Words Set me Free, by Lisa Cline-Ransome (illustrations by James E. Ransome) (4 stars)
#30.75–House Held up By Trees, by Ted Koosner (illustrations by Jon Klassen) (2 stars)
#31–Extra Yarn, by Mac Bennett (illustrations by Jon Klassen) (5 stars)
Post 3: Mock Newberry Award Candidates
#32–Mighty Miss Malone, by Christopher Paul Curtis (3 stars)
#33–Glory Be, by Augusta Scattergood (1 star)
#34–The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate (4 stars)
#35–Wonder, by RJ Palacio (5 stars)
Post 4: Mock Printz Award Candidates
#36–Never Fall Down, by Patricia McCormick (4 stars)
#37–Code Name: Verity, by Elizabeth Fein (1 star)
#38–Year of the Beasts, by Cecil Castelluci (art by Nate Powell) (5 stars)
#39–Every Day, by David Levithan (4 stars)
Post 5: Books with lessons of the year
#40–Remains of the Day, by Kazuo Ishiguro (5 stars)
#41–Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor (5 stars)
#42–A Room with a View, by E.M. Forster (5 stars)
#43–Cinder, by Marissa Meyer (5 stars)
If you were the type to judge a book by it’s cover then the site of a creepy Victorian baby buggy with a menacing assortment of weaponry dangling above it should grab your attention. Also? It’s about a changeling!
Changelings are what the fairies leave behind when they steal off into the dark night with your child in clutched in their knobby hands. Sometimes these are lumps of clay or pieces of wood. Other times they’re misshapen fairy children who die young or simply dissolve into mist.
This book is about Mackie, a changeling who was raised by his new family and is now a high school kid struggling to keep his strangeness a secret. Which isn’t easy given his crippling allergy to iron. Further, chronic iron-poisoning has left him exhausted, severely depressed, and possibly dying. Worse yet, the young sister of Mackie’s classmate, Tate, has died. Only Tate isn’t buying it, she thinks her sister was taken. And she’s convinced Mackie can help her get her sister back. Only doing so would require Mackie to admit that he’s different.
Such a promising cover, such a promising premise. Such a disappointment.
The first 85 pages are spent following Mackie around in his iron-poisoning depressive haze. Finally he is taken to the House of Mayhem which is where the good fairies live. Apparently fairies spend their time playing with old dolls in a cave under a slag heap (the promised Mayhem never really materialized). The fairies of the House of Mayhem live in fear of the bad children-stealing fairies who are ruled by The Lady and her evil henchman, The Cutter.
After 250 pages of depression and dithering Mackie finally decides to take some action which does not involve drinking with his friends, and goes to confront The Lady with the hopes of rescuing Tate’s sister. Things unfold rather poorly from there, which is what happens when you have no plan, weapon, or knowledge to speak of.
If you’re looking for a dreary book with a feeble protagonist then perhaps The Relacement is the book for you.