Book Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke and bone.jpgTitle: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Author: Laini Taylor
Narrator: Khristine Hvam
Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Book 1
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Duration: 12 hours 32 minutes
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

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 otherwordly 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?

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is the first of a series, and because it’s the first, it suffers from being a bit slow in the beginning so that the foundation is laid for the rest of the books. However, the payoff is there, and I was in love with the story by the end.

However, I actually didn’t start really liking the story until about midway through, when we get to the more fantastical elements. I think that Taylor was trying to set up a contrast between Karou’s human world and the otherworld she grew up in, but the Prague stuff just wasn’t all that interesting. Her ex-boyfriend Kasimir is a useless character who doesn’t add anything to the story, and while I liked her best friend, Zuzana, I just didn’t see how they really added anything much to the overall conflict.

But I loved the story once it got going. I generally try to set aside an hour a day to listen to a book, but when it’s good, I have to pry myself away. That definitely happened when Akiva showed up — once he came into the picture, I was listening to 2-3 hours a day. The “plot twists” were a bit awkward, because I think that they’re hinted at too much in the beginning and easily guessable, but that’s redeemed by the characters’ reactions to those twists — the characters are simply beautifully done.

Hvam is a great narrator who does a good job with differentiating between characters. I especially loved her ability to capture the characters’ personalities with the way she spoke. Issa had a crooning voice and lingered over vowel sounds, which made me think of her as a loving, doting sort of aunt figure to Karou. When Hvam spoke as Zuzana, on the other hand, her sounds were clipped, giving her a no-nonsense sort of feel. Hvam’s narration added life to the characters and the story, in general. I think I enjoyed the story more in audio format than I would have in printed, just because I felt so close to the characters through the audio.

I have already added the sequel to my “to-read” list, and am excited to continue with this story. For those who aren’t good at waiting, the end was a bit abrupt, so if you want to start this series, be sure to have the first two books at hand!

Advertisements

Book Review: Alpha and Omega by Patricia Briggs


Title: Alpha and Omega
Author: Patricia Briggs
Series: Alpha & Omega, Book 0.5
Publisher: Subterranean
Hardcover: 105 pages
Summary (taken from Goodreads):

Anna, four years a werewolf, raped, beaten, half-starved and handed from one male to another, places a call from Chicago to the wilds of Montana. She reaches the Marrok, North America’s werewolf ruler, telling him she’s seen a boy, one reported missing and possibly injured. He was in a cage her pack’s Alpha keeps for confining new werewolves.

The Marrok says that his enforcer is flying from Montana to O’Hare. Anna meets the plane, and, Charles, enforcer, as well as the Marrok’s oldest son, insists on staying with her. He has seen she is not the Submissive she thinks she is. Charles is a supreme Alpha, and she is his antithesis, a rare Omega; her very presence lowers tension, calms and soothes.

Overall Rating: 5/5

Having already read Cry Wolf, the first book in the series, this prequel didn’t hold any surprising information; however, I still really liked it. It’s a fast and enjoyable read, even if it is a bit gruesome because of what Anna’s Alpha did to her.

My favorite part was reading about Charles and Anna meeting for the first time. I love seeing their reactions to each other and realizing that they want to be mates. It was a good call on Patricia Briggs’s part to start this series, because I think Charles is such an awesome character and it’s a shame we don’t see him more in the Mercy Thompson series. Anna is also extremely cool; she’s tough while not being overly aggressive and she’s keeps calm in the face of danger. After reading about Adam saving Mercy all the time, it’s kind of fun reading about a girl saving a guy’s ass when he gets himself into trouble.

The one problem I see with this is that, as a novella, it doesn’t explain much. If you haven’t read the Mercy Thompson series or the Alpha and Omega series, this isn’t a good one to start on. Briggs assumes you know how the world works and who some of the characters are and doesn’t go into a lot of explanation. It’s great for those who have already been introduced to this world, either through the Mercy Thompson books or the books in the Alpha and Omega series.

This novella isn’t necessary in understanding the series as a whole, but it is a good read. I highly recommend it for those who have already started the series or those who are thinking of starting the series.

Review: Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris

Dead in the Family.jpgTitle: Dead in the Family
Author: Charlaine Harris
Series: Sookie Stackhouse, Book 10
Publisher: Ace
Hardcover: 311 pages
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

After enduring torture and the loss of loved ones during the brief but deadly Faery War, Sookie Stackhouse is hurt and she’s angry. Just about the only bright spot in her life is the love she thinks she feels for vampire Eric Northman. But he’s under scrutiny by the new Vampire King because of their relationship. And as the political implications of the Shifters coming out are beginning to be felt, Sookie’s connection to the Shreveport pack draws her into the debate. Worst of all, though the door to Faery has been closed, there are still some Fae on the human side-and one of them is angry at Sookie. Very, very angry..

My Review:

Dead in the Family starts off a bit darker than the other novels in the series, but considering what happened in the previous novel, I would have been upset if it didn’t. Sookie has lost a lot of her innocence and naivete, and I think this is a good change from the beginning books of the series. After hanging around the vampires and the weres, something had to happen to make her less soft.

From when I first started reading it until it ended, I couldn’t put this book down. What I love about Harris’s books is that they are so well-constructed and developed. There are a lot of things going on, what with the political business concerning the weres, Alcide’s pack adjusting to the new rules, her relationship with Eric, Eric’s maker coming to visit, and the aftermath of the Faery War. Needless to say, it was packed with conflict and problems. The characters are awesome, as always — Claude was particularly hilarious in this novel, and I’m glad we got to see more of Sookie’s telepathic cousin, Hunter.

This book was a lot calmer than the rest — less tension, less conflict. I didn’t mind it at all, because I feel like this is just the calm before the storm. Victor seems to have it out for Sookie and Eric, something different is happening with Bill’s character (not going to say what due to spoilers!), and the fairy situation is finally starting to wrap up — or so it seems. I think the next few books are going to be very interesting and exciting.

Overall Rating: 5/5

Book Review: Bloody Valentine by Melissa De La Cruz

Bloody Valentine by Melissa De La Cruz.jpgTitle: Bloody Valentine
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Series: Blue Bloods, Book 5.5
Publisher: Hyperion
Hardcover: 147 pages
Summary: (Taken from Goodreads)

Vampires have powers beyond human comprehension: strength that defies logic, speed that cannot be captured on film, the ability to shapeshift and more. But in matters of the heart, no one, not even the strikingly beautiful and outrageously wealthy Blue Bloods, has total control. In Bloody Valentine, bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz offers readers a new story about the love lives of their favorite vamps – the passion and heartache, the hope and devastation, the lust and longing. Combined with all the glitz, glamour, and mystery fans have come to expect, this is sure to be another huge hit in the Blue Bloods series

Also, witness the bonding of Jack and Schuyler.

*WARNING* SPOILERS FOR THOSE WHO HAVEN’T READ BOOKS 1-5

My Review:

I thought Bloody Valentine was a lot of fun. It fills in some holes and gives extra information about Allegra and Schuyler’s dad. There are three short stories, one about Oliver after Schuyler leaves him, one about Allegra and Ben, and then another about Schuyler and Jack.

All of the stories were quick reads and I liked getting insight into the characters. I thought that there was a rather large jump in between books 4 and 5 (The Van Alen Legacy and Misguided Angel), like how Oliver got over Schuyler, and how Schuyler and Jack bonded. This cleared that up, which I appreciated. I also really loved getting more insight into Allegra’s and Charles’s characters (and meeting Schuyler’s dad!). Allegra is such an interesting character because we hear a lot about her, but don’t get to see her. Reading about her running around and going to school was a nice change.

One thing I didn’t like was how Schuyler and Jack were able to resolve the conflict in the third story. Honestly, it wasn’t very believable for me, which kept this story from being really great. On the up side, however, there were a few drawings included at the end, which I thought were cool.

I would definitely recommend this book for fans of the series; like I said, it’s a fast read, and it fills in some holes. Bloody Valentine is a great addition to the Blue Bloods series.

Overall Rating: 4/5


Book Review: Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews

*WARNING: Spoilers for those who haven’t read books 1-4*
Author: Ilona Andrews
Publisher: Ace
Series: Kate Daniels, Book 5
Pages: 308
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)
For Challenge: 100 Books in a Year

Plagued by a war between magic and technology, Atlanta has never been so deadly. Good thing Kate Daniels is on the job.

Kate Daniels may have quit the Order of Merciful Aid, but she’s still knee-deep in paranormal problems. Or she would be if she could get someone to hire her. Starting her own business has been more challenging than she thought it would be—now that the Order is disparaging her good name, and many potential clients are afraid of getting on the bad side of the Beast Lord, who just happens to be Kate’s mate.

So when Atlanta’s premier Master of the Dead calls to ask for help with a vampire on the loose, Kate leaps at the chance of some paying work. Turns out this is not an isolated incident, and Kate needs to get to the bottom of it—fast, or the city and everyone dear to her might pay the ultimate price . .

Overall rating: 5/5

I always worry when a series goes longer than four books. In my experience, very few can go past that point and still keep the magic that made the first books so incredible. Characters lose their edge, relationships lose their spark, and the plot runs around in circles.

This series definitely doesn’t have any of those problems and can handle at least two more books, if not many, many more. Kate is as hilarious and kick-ass as ever. Curran is as possessive, adorable, and of course kick-ass as ever, and their relationship is certainly not losing any sparks. The plot is progressing nicely and I am SO excited for Book 6.

Book 4, Magic Bleeds, was a tipping point for this series. Kate’s secret about her parentage is being revealed to more and more people, and the danger for her is building up. I like that the confrontation between her and Roland doesn’t occur in Magic Slays, because the authors are really building up the pressure and suspense. The break from all the Roland stuff is nice, and we get a deeper look into the world Kate is living in and other dangers she has to face besides those from her father.

All the characters are showing amazing growth, and I’m still as fascinated by them as I was in the beginning of the series. Also, the writing is still edgy and spot-on. Despite all the crap she’s dealt with, Kate certainly has kept her sense of humor.

I only have one minor complaint, and it’s that this book was a little difficult to get into. There is a lot of build-up and background and we don’t get to the really good stuff until the last third of the book. But that last third certainly makes up for the beginning two-thirds.

I highly recommend this book to fans of this series, and for those of you who haven’t started reading these books yet, what are you waiting for?!

OTHER REVIEWS OF THIS BOOK:

Feeling Fictional