Posted in BR: Book Review

Book Review: Laini Taylor’s Breathtaking “Daughter of Smoke and Bone”

 

 

 

 

**Before I continue, I have to credit the following brilliant photographers:
Blue haired girl photo by Ben Waardenburg on Unsplash

Halo photo by Ravi Roshan on Unsplash

Hand reach out photo by Ian Espinosa on Unsplash

Leaning Together Photo by Joao Silas on UnSplash Dark Curls Photo by Carlos Arthur on Unsplash

I hesitated to read Laini Taylor’s novels for a long time as I sniffed out the rumor of a slow-paced discography. Something compelled to keep her work around. Thus, when the courage pooled around my head, I grabbed Daughter of Smoke and Bone, expecting nothing. Let me tell you about my favorite book of the year thus far.

Premise

Karou is an odd girl. Naturally blue hair, hamsas in her palms, and a father figure who trades with teeth. She has no parents, no family, and she draws surreal creatures that she claims to know on a one-on-one basis.

When her portal to a world of magic is sealed, and a mysterious figure follows her, she comes to face her identity, roots, and her connection to the mysterious Akiva.

Book Review-Character Love

Laini Taylor writes Prague such fond tenderness. I could almost taste the pastries Karou and Zuzana eat. The lively streets, the colorful costumes, the tourists wandering, the hushed tones of Karou’s mysterious life urging me to keep on reading. It was delightfully surprising to finish the book in two days.

First, let’s talk about Karou, who, even with all the secrets she keeps, she maintains a softness and purity that led to my completely unwavering loyalty toward her. She gets hurt and uses wishes for revenge. Her manner of responding to cruelty is never exceedingly vicious. I mean, her ex-boyfriend got an itch while posing for a nude portrait. But, as the story unfolds, it becomes abundantly clear that this jerk hurt her in a way much more likely to leave a scar.

Akiva is still a mystery. I know the word is overused in this review but it’s from lack of information on him, truly. I like his quiet strength, the way his past haunts him, his isolation.

It’s amazing to contrast Akiva/Karou with Zuzana/ Mic. Zuzana, the fierce and tiny friend of Karou’s, left my heart aflutter. Seriously. She and Mic were so cute and I hope to see more of them in later books because they have a nectar-sweet presence that I find myself missing often.

Overall

This book was a delightful experience and I cannot wait to read more Laini Taylor books. She writes with such elegance and depth. Her characters are tangible yet somehow otherworldly. I loved Daughter of Smoke and Bone. 

 

One of my favorite series ever is Pushing Daisies, a show about a pie maker
  Warning: Here be spoilers. If you are interested in reading this book, and you
  After reading the Raven Cycle, Maggie Stiefvater became one of the most interesting authors on my
Posted in BR: Book Review

Book Review of Shiver, Maggie Stiefvater’s Introduction to the Wolves of Mercy Falls

 

After reading the Raven Cycle, Maggie Stiefvater became one of the most interesting authors on my shelves. Many years ago, I had gathered the first books by her that I had heard of: The Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy. Beginning with Shiver, this trilogy follows werewolves and a girl who is fascinated by them. Unlike the Raven Cycle, this trilogy involves plenty of kissing. Here is my review of the book.

Shiver and warm characters

One of the most surprising things that Maggie Stiefvater accomplishes in this first book is that she creates warm characters. Most books centered around mythological creatures tend to be bloated with world building. I like that this book focuses more on relationships.

There is a sense of urgency to Sam and Grace’s relationship. It colors the relationship with a desperate and hungry tone. When they spend time together, it is domestic at best but they are both drinking in each other’s features, personalities, and quirks. It warmed my heart to see such a love story. To an extent, this ache reminded me of Gansey and Blue in the sense that there are forces beyond the characters, driving them apart.

But, the pack itself was messy and charming, just like a family. I did not expect this either because The Raven Boys had a smaller friend group, and it was not even a set group (new members introduced toward the end of the book series). The complicated dynamics between members of the pack made things even more interesting and realistic. It grounded the story.

The Lone Wolf

I was actually surprised by who is actually the lone wolf. It’s Grace! She is invested in these wolves so much that it often alienates her. Her friendships are rocky and so are her connections to family. This makes her relationship with Sam more intense, more desperate and crucial.

But, of course, the other lone wolf in this is Jack Culpeper. His sister surprised me with her curiosity and cleverness. It is rare in books when so many people are in “the know” about the supernatural creatures in the story. Often, I tried to push myself to empathize with Jack, even though he made a mess in terms of plot. I look forward to his development as a character (and as a wolf).

Dropping Temperatures

With each chapter, the temperature drops and it raises the stakes of this love story. It becomes very clear that Sam is not the Jacob Black of Maggie Stiefvater’s writing. He is sensitive and frank, a pacifist and an artist. In other words, he is our pure cinnamon roll and he must be protected.

Shiver Rating and Final Thoughts

Overall, this was a nice and quick read. It was moving and sweet, but it also lacked depth in terms of character development and conflict. Perhaps this will change in later books. I will say that Stiefvater gets points for creating male characters that do not adhere to strands of toxic masculinity. So, that’s nice to see.

 

 

 

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Posted in BR: Book Review

BR: Star Cursed by Jessica Spotswood Book Review

 

Warning: Here be spoilers. If you are interested in reading this book, and you dislike spoilers, RUN. As Star Crossed by Jessica Spotswood is the middle of a trilogy, I cannot help but spoil the first book at least.

premise

The Cahill sisters, living in an oppressive regime of patriarchy, are forced to keep their magic secret. Older sister Cate is torn between her choice to announce her intention (a tradition within their society). Should she marry and have children? In this case, who does she marry? Does she marry for love or for status? Or, should she join the Sisterhood, a convent for women?

spoilers start now. run.

conflict

Ultimately, this is the middle of a trilogy. Naturally, there is a lot of tension between the characters. In particular, the crux of this book lies in the conflicts among the Cahill sisters, the convent sisters, and within the society as a whole.

It’s a hard thing to balance as part of this experience, dealing with so much pressure with the characters at every turn. Within each family, there is some sort of fight for power. For instance, the most notable ongoing problem is between Maura and Cate (plus occasionally Tess is thrown in there). Given what happened with Maura’s love life in book 1, it is understandable that things were messy for her. So, in true Slytherin style, Maura is ambitiously trying to be the best witch of her time. This may sound fine, until you hear Cate being called into power by Sister Cora (leader of the sisterhood).

Incidentally, this tension also rises beyond Cate and Maura. They are both mentored by two opposing leaders within the sisterhood. Cora, diplomatic and somewhat hesitant, is the current figure at the helm of the Sisterhood. Inez, aggressive and urgent, is leading Maura to get women up against the men. Cora and Cate don’t connect that much, but when they do interact, it is powerful stuff.

On an even larger scale, there is the obvious tension between the Sisterhood and the Brotherhood. Beyond that, it is just women and men, at odds with the double standards set by the patriarchy. Sachi and her illegitimate sister are prime examples of men unwilling to acknowledge their mistakes while also acting as overbearing figures towards women.

nuance

Being the second book, there are hints that some men don’t believe in the oppression of women. Finn is an example of them. I like that not all women are presented as morally good as opposed to men being evil. Instead, there are all these shades of grey. It is really unclear what will happen in the next book.

The scene with Sachi’s sister (whose name escapes me) and their father was truly heartbreaking and kind of terrifying. I don’t like seeing women running for their lives just for disagreeing. Physical intimidation is something I had encountered a lot within discourse, and I think surely one can communicate without it. Sure, the character is presented as a hypocrite. But, I am really hoping for some nice closure for Sachi’s sister…even if I can’t remember her name. It starts with an R.

 

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