Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone

smoke and boneTitle:  Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Author:  Laini Taylor

Genre:  YA Fantasy

 

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?

 

What I thought:

Let me start out by saying how much I truly enjoyed this book.  The writing is fabulous and the story is captivating.  I couldn’t put it down and read it in a day!  Now, I happened to be recovering from bronchitis at the time and couldn’t move or even speak without coughing so I didn’t have much that I could do besides reading!

Karou lives in two worlds.  She is a 17 year old art student in Prague who entertains her friends and classmates with the magical world she captures in her art journals.  A world that is filled with fantastical creatures and magical stories of the WIshmonger and the wishes he trades in.  Except this world isn’t imagined at all but the world orphaned Karou grew up in with these fantastical creatures as her guardians and family.  Karou travels through magic doorways between the human world and the chimaera world until one day these doorways are all destroyed, cutting her off from her family.

I love Karou.  She is just fun!  She lives this magical life (blue hair that grows out of her head that way, wish beads that she wears around her neck, her drawings of another world) and has mastered the art of telling the truth without telling the truth!  It is fun to watch.  She is the perfect heroine for this story.  Independent.  Sarcastic.  I love her.

Akiva is wonderful as well.  He is a beautiful warrior angel who finds Karou in the streets outside one of the doorways into the chimaera world.

The one and only thing I struggled with in this book is the quick change in directions the author took in the developing relationship between Karou and Akiva.  One moment they are enemies and fighting in the streets of Prague with the intent of killing each other; the next they are in love.  I would have liked to see a bit more time taken to develop trust and a relationship.  I think one might need more time to trust a man that just stabbed you!  That said, it really didn’t detract from my love of the story.  I can’t wait to read more!

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Review: Adaptation

adaptationTitle:  Adaptation

Author:  Malinda Lo

Genre:  YA SciFi

Source:  Netgalley

 

From GoodReads:  Reese can’t remember anything from the time between the accident and the day she woke up almost a month later. She only knows one thing: She’s different now.

Across North America, flocks of birds hurl themselves into airplanes, causing at least a dozen to crash. Thousands of people die. Fearing terrorism, the United States government grounds all flights, and millions of travelers are stranded.

Reese and her debate team partner and longtime crush David are in Arizona when it happens. Everyone knows the world will never be the same. On their drive home to San Francisco, along a stretch of empty highway at night in the middle of Nevada, a bird flies into their headlights. The car flips over. When they wake up in a military hospital, the doctor won’t tell them what happened, where they are—or how they’ve been miraculously healed.

Things become even stranger when Reese returns home. San Francisco feels like a different place with police enforcing curfew, hazmat teams collecting dead birds, and a strange presence that seems to be following her. When Reese unexpectedly collides with the beautiful Amber Gray, her search for the truth is forced in an entirely new direction—and threatens to expose a vast global conspiracy that the government has worked for decades to keep secret.

What I thought:

I don’t read a lot of Scifi.  What I have read has been hit or miss.  I either love it and can’t put it down or I struggle to suspend my logic while I try to find something I find believable.  (I know, this coming from a woman who enjoys books about vampires, werewolves, angels, and ghosts!)

Adaptation started out promising.  Mysterious happenings, cover ups and conspiracy theories are all things that get me excited about a book.

Reese, her dabate partner, David, and their coach Mr. Chapman, are waiting in an airport for their flight home to board, when suddenly flocks of birds begin to strike planes causing them to crash.  All flights are grounded.  The three decide to rent a car to return home.  While on route, chaos has struck the city and the trio is victim to an attempted carjacking that has their debate coach shot dead and Reese and David narrowly escaping.  Still trying to get home, Reese and David are in a serious car accident and wake up nearly a month later in a government hospital where they received newly developed medical treatment to save their lives.  Upon returning home, both start to realize that their treatment has left them somehow changed.

This is where the story loses me.  I find the characters’ passivity infuriating.  A teen is treated in a medical facility for almost a month and her mother has not been involved or even aware of anything related to her treatments.  She just passively accepts the “top secret” label and waits for her daughter to come home?  Huh?  I don’t think so!  They would have to put me behind bars, in chains and sedated to keep me away!  And this mother is a lawyer!  I found this book filled with situations just like this that had me wondering what in the world they were thinking!

I had a hard time finishing this book.  I just didn’t really care about the characters or the outcome.  As this is my first “review” book, I feel bad that it is a negative one.  I would hate to tell anyone to pass up on a book, but this one wasn’t for me.

Note:  I received a digital copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

Review – The Raven Boys

the raven boysTitle:  The Raven Boys

Series:  The Raven Cycle #1

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Genre:  YA Paranormal

Source:  Library Digital Audiobook

 

From GoodReads:  “There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before

What I thought:

I know we have been told not to judge a book by its cover.  However, when I saw this book on the shelf at Barnes and Noble, I knew I had to read it.  Once I read the cover, it was done.  I struggled over wanting to buy the book because I was there to pick up a school book for one of my children and this one was not in the budget.  But after a search on my library’s digital website, I found an audiobook and immediately downloaded.

I love audiobooks but I find the narrator makes or breaks the book.  This narrator was perfect.  He had exactly the right voice and style to make listening to Maggie’s magical words a treat!

Maggie Stiefvater has written a very detailed novel with a complicated, layered storyline that is full of mystery.  Throw in a long list of characters and I often find myself lost and flipping back though previously read pages to figure out what I missed.  This is a task impossible with an audiobook.  However, I didn’t need it!  Somehow Maggie managed to not only write her story beautifully but also clearly.  I never felt lost or confused at who a character was.  Maggie’s characters are so unique and well developed that it was easy to keep them straight.

Blue Sargent comes from a family of women psychics.  She lives with her mother, Maura, and aunts, Persephone, Calla and Neeve.  While Blue herself isn’t psychic, she somehow acts as a magnifier for others’ psychic abilities and phenomenon and is often brought along for this reason.  Which is how she finds herself at a small church on the “corpse road” with Neeve on St. Marks’ Eve, waiting for the soon-to-be dead to walk by, and it is also how she, a non-seer, sees her first spirit, an Aglionby boy named Gansey, who falls to his knees in front of her.   Blue has been told her entire life that she is destined to kill her true love with a kiss, and she learns that the only reason she should be able to see a spirit on St. Mark’s even is that he is either her true love or she will somehow kill him.

Blue soon finds herself involved with Gansey and his fellow Raven Boys, as students of Aglionby Academy are known, as they follow an obsessive quest of Gansey’s involving ley lines and a long dead king.  Blue’s friendship with the four boys is sweet one.  Elegant, wealthy Gansey, Adam, the scholarship earner who is keenly aware of the affluence of his friends, dark mysterious Ronan, and quiet Noah, all invite Blue in and include her in their adventure.  The hint of romance takes a back seat as friendship and trust grows which I love as way too many YA books careen into a desperate love at first sight pace.

I completely enjoyed this book and upon finishing, immediately went and downloaded the sequel, The Dream Thieves, also on audiobook.  I’m interested in seeing where this story goes!

WWW Wednesday 5/14/14

www_wednesdays43WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by MizB of ShouldBeReading.  You play along, just answer three questions:

What did you recently finish reading?

What are you currently reading?

What do you think you will read next?

Since last week, I’ve been busy.   Monday is our last day for the year, so I have been studying as much as possible with my kids.  But I’ve also been reading!  A lot!  I’ve been sick with bronchitis so talking and doing pretty much anything too active has been an impossibility!  So while the kids have been busy at their independent studies, I’ve been reading!

This week I’ve read

smoke and bone

I loved it!  Having read a couple reviews on this book, I knew it was one that I would enjoy and I did!

adaptation

This was my first Netgalley review book.  From the description, I didn’t really know what to expect other than SciFi, but it wasn’t the story I read.  I don’t read much SciFi.  What I have read has been either fabulous or “eh.”    I have to say “eh” on this one.

I just started listening to:

the dream thieves

and reading:

miss peregrine

I have no idea what I will read next.  My daughter has been after me to read Insurgent, so maybe.  We usually hit the library on our way home from school that last day for all the fun books that kids haven’t had time to read during the school year, so maybe I’ll pick something up then.

Top Ten Books with Strong Families

toptentuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the broke and the bookish.  This week’s topic is “Top Ten Characters Who X (you fill in the blank — examples: piss me off, are the popular kids, are bookish, would be my bff, that stole my heart, etc. etc.)”

This week’s post started out as a Top Ten but really I think is going to be more of a commentary.  Not only am I am mother, raising three teenage (or soon to be teenage) children, but I am also a counselor/parent educator turned family minister.  To say family is extremely important to me is an understatement.  Really it is a passion.  I want my life and my career about helping parents to create strong close families that love to work, play and just be together.  So I thought I would create a Top Ten Young Adult books that feature strong families.  Shouldn’t be too hard.  Right?  Let’s see.

  1. The Weasley’s from Harry Potter.   This family was the first to spring to mind. I love this loud, chaotic, magical family!    Molly and Arthur are parents I love.  Their family is one that stays together and sticks up for each other.  They are involved in their children’s lives even when they are away at school ( I just love Molly’s howlers!) They  make sacrifices for their family and the cause they believe in.  Not to mention welcome Harry into their family as one of their own.
  2. The Duchannes/Ravenwood family from Beautiful Creatures.  Ok, I realize Lena’s mother is dark and has abandoned her and yes, half of the family is also dark.  But who doesn’t have some of those relatives?  The light side of the family is as close and caring as it is large and I love Macon Ravenwood as the patriarch of the family.
  3. The Tucks from Tuck Everlasting. It has been a really long time since I’ve read this book, but my memory tells me this was a close family.
  4. The March Family from Little Women. I don’t need to explain this one!
  5. The Cullens from Twilight.  While this family may not be your conventional family (how do you parent a 100 year old ‘teen,’ even if you are a few hundred years older…) they are one that stick together through everything.  They can disagree but still be respectful of each other and their leader.

And that is where my list ends.  My list of characters with absent parents, both physically or emotionally, is near endless.

  1. Harry Potter
  2. Katniss Everdeen – Hunger Games
  3. Clary – Mortal Instruments
  4. Bella Swan – Twilight
  5. Ethan Waite – Beautiful Creatures
  6. Lena  – Delirium
  7. Grace – Shiver
  8. Zoey Redbird – House of Night Series
  9. The Baudelaire children – A Series of Unfortunate Events
  10.  Zara – Need

And the list can go on.  I understand how having an absent parent can provide the author with the freedom he or she needs to tell the story.  Can you imagine bringing home a vampire to your present, connected and observant parents?  I don’t think so.  And even the majority of the books I listed as having a strong family, they are not the family of the main character (who’s parent is usually absent).  And I’ve mentioned that I am in the middle of writing my own YA novel, and guess where dad is?  That’s right.  Absent.  (Although, it is absolutely necessary.  I swear!)    However, I love to read about strong families.  I feel it can add so much to the story.  What are some books you’ve read with strong families?

WWW Wednesday – April 2

www_wednesdays43

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by MizB of ShouldBeReading.  To play along, just answer three questions

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you will read next?

 

Currently I am reading:

lost lake

 

and still listening to:

raven boys

It was a slow reading week for me.  I just finished reading:

angel burn

 

You can read what I thought here.

Thanks to my Barnes & Noble ebook settlement I just bought:

out fo the easymiss peregrine

So I will most likely be reading one of these books.

Review – Angel Burn

angel burnTitle:  Angel Burn (released in the UK as Angel)

Author:  L.A. Weatherly

Genre:  YA Fantasy

Pages:  449

 

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

They’re out for your soul.
And they don’t have heaven in mind…

Willow knows she’s different from other girls, and not just because she loves tinkering with cars. Willow has a gift. She can look into the future and know people’s dreams and hopes, their sorrows and regrets, just by touching them. she has no idea where this power comes from. But the assassin, Alex, does. Gorgeous, mysterious Alex knows more about Willow than Willow herself does. He knows that her powers link to dark and dangerous forces and that he’s one of the few humans left who can fight them. When Alex finds himself falling in love with his sworn enemy, he discovers that nothing is as it seems, least of all good and evil.

What I thought:

Angel Burn turns the concept of benevolent heavenly beings upside down.  The angels in Angel Burn are far from the loving guardians or the heavenly warriors that we have come to expect in books where they are featured.  These angels are not here to further the wellbeing of human kind but rather to take from them for their own benefit.  Honestly, I have mixed feelings on the angel turned life energy sucking being feeding off the humans who worship them.  However, even though I like angels to be, well, more angelic, Weatherly did a good job of building a mythology that worked for her story.

Our heroine, Willow, is an independent, competent teen who has come to terms with the fact that she is different.  To start with she lives with her aunt and catatonic mother.  Also she is, and always has been, psychic.  This ability has helped her to earn money to help care for her mother.  While giving a reading to a classmate, Willow learns about the existence of real angels as well as their ‘relationship’ with humans.   And the angels learn about Willow.

Alex is a hired assassin, an angel killer.  Working alone, he receives a call alerting him to an angel that needs to be taken care of.  When he arrives at the given address, what he finds isn’t an angel, exactly.  But she isn’t exactly human either.

I liked this couple.  Rather than the love at first sight that is often a part of YA novels, Alex and Willow don’t hit it off immediately.  They are leery of each other but recognize that, at least at the moment, they need each other.  And I do mean they needed each other.  Willow is not a dependent, whiny girl who needs her guy to fight for her, nor is she a warrior in the body a teenage girl.   Willow and Alex’s relationship is allowed to grow as they learn to trust each other.

While the concept is certainly out of the box, the plot was fairly simple.  There was a number of scenes that contained page turning action, however, there wasn’t a whole lot of twists and turns or jaw dropping revelations that I didn’t see coming.  Still the story was engaging and enjoyable.

Overall, Angel Burn was an enjoyable read.  I liked it enough that I will be adding the second book in the series to my TBR list, although I am not running out immediately to find it.