Posted in book review

Dreams of Gods and Monsters: Reviewed

Sorry about the shifting formatting of reviews :/ I’m still trying to work out what works for me.

Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #3)

Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor (book three in the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy)

Genres/Descriptors: fantasy>paranormal>angels; paranormal romance; YA

Pages: 613

Check it out on Goodreads


I’m not adding a description, since this is the final book in a series (my reviews for book one and book two), so we’re jumping straight into the…

Review:

I’ve stalled as long as I can in reviewing this book, for a few reasons. Mostly because I was so irritated and disappointed by it. If someone had told me, before I read this, that I was going to read a book by Laini Taylor that just didn’t do it for me, I would have laughed about it and thought it was a joke.

The characters were absolutely the best part of this one, and saved the rating from being shamefully low (my shame, because I did not expect to not love this book). Buuut…there were issues with the characters, too.

Eliza is dumped in at the beginning of this book, and I didn’t dislike her character. (My issue isn’t with not liking the characters, it’s the way they were all just poured into the story. More on that later, though.) I just feel like we didn’t get enough time to really grow to care about her. By the end, I liked her, but only barely. I was mostly indifferent, not wishing for her to be killed off, but not cheering for her much, either.

Then there were the Stelians, finally making an appearance on the page. But, once again, we didn’t really get much from our time spent with them. It was basically enough to establish that they’re powerful, with a tiny glimpse into what life is like for them, and that was pretty much it. I. Want. More. I want more information, more character development.

Our surviving cast from the previous two books return, and I loved them. Mostly. I found it really strange that I just stopped caring about Karou and Akiva (as a couple) about halfway through. I expected them to end up together, but I just didn’t care anymore. That said, I did still like them on their own, and I was rooting for them. Just not as a couple :/

Mik and Zuze make a return, and I absolutely freaking love them. They actually might be my favorite characters from this series, even above Karou. Karou might be one of my all-time favorite protagonists, but Mik and Zuze are just wonderful. They’re so cute, and brave. They’re kind of like the heart of things, helping to keep spirits and hope up for the others. Not to mention their loyalty, oh my gosh. I thought they were impressive in the second book, but in this one? Seriously determined, and it leads to a pretty freaking awesome scene that continues to bring a smile to my face every time I think about it.

Ziri, oh man. What do I even say about him? My heart breaks for him, and he is my precious cinnamon roll book child. Then there’s Liraz. I liked her a lot in the first two books. In this one, I liked her, but there were some things, changes in her, that felt a little rushed and artificial. It’s not that I think she was incapable of them, just that they came about so quickly, which made it hard to believe.

Even minor characters we get to know are amazing in these books, and you really grow to either like/love them, or hate them. Well, that was my experience, at least.

The writing was still superb, because Laini Taylor can write. My issues really come in with the plot. This should have been a quartet instead of a trilogy. There was too much dropped in, especially closer to the end, that just wasn’t expanded enough. I don’t care about seeing how everything ends, because I’m fine with the book ending with the future being uncertain for the characters. My complaint is that there was just too much happening, too much being added, and not enough explanation of it all. I really wish the stuff with the Stelians had been added in at least the second book, to introduce that whole situation. (I also think Eliza being introduced at the end of the second book might have been good, because we really needed more of her.)

There was also a really irritating hint that two of the female characters were going to get together, but it was mentioned so briefly and vaguely that I didn’t even catch it until I was checking out some spoilery discussions about the book after I finished it (to see if I was the only person who wasn’t really happy with everything).

There’s another pairing that annoys me, but talking about it would involve either blatantly stating spoilers, or dancing around them in such a vague way that’s just too complicated. I’ll just say I’m not really happy about it. I thought I shipped it, before it actually happened. I don’t hate it, I’m just tired of characters being paired up in finale books.

This book had some ridiculously awesome things in it, but there wasn’t enough detail. There was a huge bombshell dropped, and then…that’s it, the story is over. It made the story feel rushed and even a little incomplete. It wasn’t a very satisfying experience for me, and I hate that. There was so much that could have been expanded, with the mythology and the universe and the characters, so this didn’t really feel like a conclusion to me. If I didn’t know the series was over, I would be wondering when the next book was going to be released.

I have a lot of feelings about this book, and I think the not-so-good ones outnumber the good.

Thing were ended so neatly it was kind of hard to believe. I mean, I did hope for some of it, but it all felt a little too tidy, especially after the huge thing that was revealed, and the consequences of some actions that might have made that huge thing a bigger problem than it already was. Basically, it wasn’t tragic enough 😛 I didn’t want all the characters to die, or be miserable at the end, but everything felt too perfect, despite the looming challenge of the huge thing I keep mentioning.

I could ramble and rant about this book for ages, but this has already gotten pretty long, so I’ll wrap it up.

I was so disappointed by this book, and I almost wish I’d never read it. It’s turned me off Laini Taylor’s books (I was planning to read Strange the Dreamer this month or next) for a while, until I can get over this one 😦


I gave it a grudging 3.5 out of 5 stars, mostly for the characters and writing. The rest was just mediocre for me.

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Advertisements
Posted in book review

Days of Blood and Starlight: Reviewed

Days of Blood & Starlight (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #2)

Title: Days of Blood & Starlight

Author: Laini Taylor

Genre/Other Descriptors: fantasy>paranormal>angels; YA; romance

Publishing info: November 6th, 2012; Little Brown Books for Young Readers; e-book & audiobook

Narrator: Khristine Hvam

Pages: 517

Check it out on goodreads


I’m not going into what it’s about and all that, because this is the second book in a series. If you want to see my thoughts on the first book, Daughter of Smoke & Bone, you can check out my review here.


Review:

I’ve read this book twice. Most recently, I finished it like 10 days ago, and I’m already forgetting most of the book. Again. I don’t know what it is about this one (second book syndrome?), but I find it so forgettable. It isn’t a bad book, it just doesn’t stick in my brain the way the first book does.

The characters were probably the strongest part of this one. Karou did not have a good time, and it was hard to read about the things she endured. There were also some sweet moments, though, especially with Zuze and Mik. I loved their interactions with other characters. And then, there was Ziri. Oh my gods, my precious book child. I’d forgotten about him, between readings, which I think is really sad because he’s a precious cinnamon roll. Okay, he’s a lethal cinnamon roll, but he’s just so good, and I hated that he went through something awful towards the end.

The angel characters were more interesting in this one, and I kind of ended up loving all three of the main ones (Akiva, and his brother and sister…I remember Liraz, but now I’m blanking on the brother’s name). Seeing things from Akiva’s perspective was an interesting change, and it took me a little while to adjust. After that, I think I ended up liking Akiva more than Karou in this one.

If you think trigger warnings are spoilers, skip to the next paragraph. There’s self-harm (not cutting) in this one, which I didn’t find triggering. I think I did the first time around, but I was fine this time. Also, be aware that sexual assault is a thing that happens. There was the intent to rape, but the rapist was stopped, by the intended victim.

Romance wasn’t a huge part of the plot, but I was still rooting for Karou and Akiva. The angst in this one, oh wow. It was angsty in the first book, but this one turns it all the way up. That said, Zuze and Mik were just freaking adorable, and their relationship kind of stole the show, in my opinion. They were kind of disgustingly cute, but also believable, and I love them.

Laini Taylor’s writing is still absolute perfection in this one, which (in my opinion) was well suited for the darker themes. The first book had a touch of darkness, but this one was much, much darker. In this one, you really start to see just how horrible the war between the angels and chimera was, and how vicious both sides can be. It also throws into perspective just how daunting the challenge of finding peace between them must have been to those who wanted the war to end, and not end because one side had destroyed the other entirely.

I think one of my favorite things about this was the way a situation was set up, and then later you find out that what you think happened was not actually what happened. Ugh, that’s so vague, but I don’t want to spoil anything. Even though this was a re-read for me, I’d forgotten this book pretty much entirely (except for literally the last couple pages), and not really knowing where the twists were going to take the story kept me nervous and flipping pages as fast as I could.


I don’t really know what else to say about this book, because it’s already faded so much from my memory. I really liked it, but didn’t love it as much as the first book. I gave it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Posted in book review

Daughter of Smoke and Bone: Reviewed

Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #1)

Title: Daughter of Smoke & Bone

Author: Laini Taylor

Genre/Other Descriptors: fantasy>paranormal>angels; YA; romance

Publishing info: September 27th, 2011; Little Brown Books for Young Readers; e-book & audiobook

Narrator: Khristine Hvam

Pages: 422

Check it out on goodreads


What’s it about?

Our main character, Karou, is a young art student living and studying in Prague. She speaks many languages (not all human in origin), collects teeth for the mysterious Brimstone, and her blue hair grows out of her head that color.

One day, across the world, black hand prints appear scorched into doorways, left there by angelic beings. Karou doesn’t really know who she is, or where she comes from, but after a run in with Akiva–one of the winged, other-worldly beings responsible for the charred hand prints–she’s put on a path that might lead her to the answers she craves. But, you know what they say: be careful what you wish for.


Review:

This was a re-read for me. I first read it six years ago, but I never read the third and final book. One of my goals this year is to finish at least one series I’ve started, and I’ve been itching to re-read these first two books for ages, so I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone.

Honestly, I was scared to re-read this. What if it wasn’t as good the second time around? What if it hadn’t aged well? What if I’ve somehow fallen out of love with Laini Taylor’s writing? Thankfully, my fears were squashed. I devoured this book in a day, thanks in large part to the excellent narration of Khristine Hvam. I did also read along with my Kindle edition, but I read this while I was kind of ill, so I’m not sure I could have finished it so quickly without the audiobook.

Laini Taylor is an artist. Her writing is beautiful, rich, and flows gracefully, even during brutal scenes. The world she created in this book comes alive in a way not many books do for me. I’m not just visiting and catching glimpses of things, I was there, completely, as I read this book. She writes in such a way that I find myself shocked when I look up from reading and find myself in my living room, and not wandering the streets of Prague, or Elsewhere. It’s truly magical.

It’s hard to talk about the plot of this one without giving away spoilers. We start off with kind of normal life, and then things really get started about a quarter to a third of the way into the story. Some people might find the set up for this one slow, because of all the groundwork that’s being laid, but once you get past that, I think it really picks up. I personally didn’t find it slow paced at all, because I was so immersed in the world (I’ve never been to Prague, but the way Laini Taylor wrote about it made me believe that you could wander down a street and find magic), but I have seen complaints about that in the past. What I loved, both times I read this, was the way that things were revealed slowly. It was like layers being revealed, finally explaining everything that we were wondering about until that point.

I have a hard time believing these characters are actually fictional, and aren’t out there somewhere, living their lives. When this book came out, I avoided it for a couple of years because I’m just not into Christian mythology. “Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well.” That tagline did not sell me this book at all. I’m just not into angels and devils and stuff like that. But the way Laini Taylor wove the mythology into this story, and the explanation for the angels and the chimera, was perfection. I absolutely loved it.

Karou is one of my all-time favorite characters. She’s artistic and intelligent, she’s inquisitive, she’s got a fiery personality and can be a bit impulsive (but she also keeps it together under pressure), she can be a little petty, she’s just great. She isn’t a perfect character, and I love that she has very human flaws (or whatever you want to call them).

Like the last time I read this, I also absolutely loved Zuzana, Karou’s best friend. Their friendship is still one of my favorites from a book. It’s so realistic! They’re very close, they banter about things, they support one another, and when an issue comes up, they deal with it together. None of that turning on each other BS. They’re a team, and I love them. I also really liked Zuzana’s boyfriend, Mik, but he was a very minor character so we don’t get to know him very well.

While this is generally spoken about as a romance, and it is, one of my favorite things is that we don’t get to that part for a long time. The first relationships we encounter in this story are Karou’s relationships with Zuzana, and with her chimera family. We get to know all of them long before there’s any real romance stuff happening, and those are treated as just as important as the romance (or possibly even more important).

Speaking of the romance… The first time I read this, I was so ready to hate Akiva (the angel character), but I just couldn’t do it. We don’t get to know him super well in this one, but I enjoyed his character. He was complex, and honestly a nice change from the typical “bad-boy” kind of love interest I was used to finding in books when I read it the first time. He has a dark past, in a way, but the development of his character that we see in this book was so well done. Even when I was disappointed in him, I still wanted to hug him.

A lot of people hate this book for the insta-love, but it’s really not insta-love. I won’t go into more details, just in case there’s someone reading this who hasn’t read it already, but just trust me. It’s not insta-love. There’s a Before and an After, as far as Akiva and Karou’s relationship is concerned, and even during the Before, I didn’t feel like it was the typical insta-love situation.

So, I loved this book just as much the second time around. I’m so nervous about the next two books, though, because I barely remember the second one (I just remember being worried about how the series was going to end haha).

Once again, I gave it 5 out of 5 stars (maybe more like 4.75, but I’m rounding up instead of down to 4.5).

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Posted in book tags/memes

T5W: Tropes I usually hate, done right

I almost didn’t do this one because a) I was having a really hard time coming up with more than 2, and b) I’m sick and have felt like garbage all day. But I finally feel semi-human again, and I tried.


T5W is a weekly meme created by Lainey from gingerreadslainey, now hosted by Sam from ThoughtsOnTomes. You can check out the goodreads group to learn more.

August 8: Books You Liked with Tropes You Usually Hate
–Pick some of your most hated tropes and discuss books (or other media) that actually handled that trope well

I’m not sure if these actually count/work, but my brain is still kind of going “uuuuuggggghhhh” from being sick, so I apologize if they don’t all work.

In no particular order…


Friends Who Are Secretly in Love

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee– I mean really. I usually end up rolling my eyes sooo hard at this trope (and I did a few times while reading GG, because I wanted to shake Monty and Percy), but I kind of loved it in this one. When I wasn’t ready to cry or scream, that is 😛

 

 

Insta-Love


 

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor– I think this is the only book I’ve ever read with insta-love that I liked. 

 

 

 

Girl Changes Her Life After Meeting a Guy



A Darker Shade of Magic
by V.E. Schwab–
I won’t go into details about this one, but I think this counts? It was just done in a way that’s really different from most cases of this trope happening.

 

 

 

Tragic Background = Asshole Character



Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo–
All I’m going to say is “Kaz Brekker.” 

 

 

 

Strong Female Character

Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff– Usually, the #StrongFemaleCharacter is a girl who’s into things that aren’t “traditionally girly,” which…Hanna kind of is. She is a badass, but she’s also the kind of badass I wouldn’t want to cross, whether she’s wearing training gear or fancy clothes.

 

 

Posted in book tags/memes

T5W: Books I Want to Get to This Year

T5W is a weekly meme created by Lainey from gingerreadslainey, now hosted by Sam from ThoughtsOnTomes. You can check out the goodreads group to learn more.

June 27th: Books You Want to Read Before the End of the Year 
–Halfway through the year, and it’s time to evaluate our reading goals and take a look at our TBRs for the second half of the year!

So many. So, so, so many books I want to read ASAP, but probably won’t. *sigh* Honestly, this list could change every 5 minutes, depending on what books I can see from wherever I am in my house, my mood, etc. But these are five books I’ve really wanted to read for a while now, and I’m hoping to get to them all pretty soon.

In no particular order…



The Hate U Give
by Angie Thomas– I swear I think I’ve mentioned wanting to read this several times, yet here I am. I don’t generally like contemporaries, and I have to be in really specific kinds of moods to get through them. I’m just waiting for the right mood to finally come along. Hopefully that will be soon.

 

 


Strange the Dreamer
by Laini Taylor– I’m pretty much just waiting for the sequel at this point. Originally, I wanted to read it right away. Then I had surgery and my whole TBR got shuffled around and off course, so now I’m just waiting. But after I get the sequel, I’ll probably get to it pretty soon.

 

 


Vicious
by V.E. Schwab– Another that I’ve been saying I’ll read for ages, and also one I’m now putting off only because the sequel is coming soon. I might read Vicious before Vengeful comes out, but not long before. Like, maybe a couple week or a month before? Whatever. I’ll be reading it really soon.

 

 


The Library at Mount Char
by Scott Hawkins– This one actually wasn’t super high on my TBR, but I recently started it hoping the strangeness would help snap me out of this reading slump. It didn’t work 😦 But, I think when I’m back to my normal reading, this will be one I’ll finish quickly and enjoy. (This is the only book on the list that I’ve started already.)

 


Uprooted
by Naomi Novik– I think I’ve mentioned this one before, too. It’s been on my TBR for a long time, and on my shelf for over a year, and I keep looking at it when I’m trying to figure out what to read. I think the right mood for it will be coming soon, and I hope I like it as much as I’ve been assured I will.

 

 


What are some books you want to get to before the end of the year?