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Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

I know, I know, you're thinking the world has ended because how can it be that I've finally updated this blog? Not with an apology that would take a few seconds to write (though I owe you guys one of those as well) but an actual review! You've heard it all before, but I've been ridiculously on-another-level busy over the past many months. And it hasn't stopped! In less than month I'll be applying to university to do medicine, probably the biggest hurdle of my life so far. I've really really wanted to update this blog but school has worn me out so much that I never have any energy to even read these days - and when I do it's for my English Lit A-Level.

Anyway, I'll stop with the excuses now and let you know my opinion of 'Daughter of Smoke and Bone.'


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 otherworldly 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.


‘Daughter of Smoke and Bone’ will leave you spellbound. Perhaps that a bit of an overambitious statement to make but I assure you, I’m not over-exaggerating how fantastic a novel it is. The story of Karou and Akiva, the world-building, luscious descriptions of Prague, the romance, the fantasy, the magic and the mystery make this a novel worth reading. And loving.

I was slightly dubious when I first saw its size but on starting it, I raced through it. I was left spellbound by the beauty of Taylor’s prose. Her painstaking descriptions of everything are beautiful – and I mean everything – from the geography of Elsewhere, to appearances of the more unusual-looking characters (i.e. chimaera) to Karou and Akiva’s overwhelming emotions. It felt like watching a film, I could clearly visualise everything, even the imaginary world of Elsewhere.

The writing is not the only strong point. The characterisation, too, is excellent – Karou’s feelings of longing and loss come through so clearly. This is a character you will vouch for through to the end. Akiva, initially too dull and hardened for me to like him, especially as a love interest for Karou, slowly grew on me as his past was revealed to us and his mistakes forgiven.

Taylor has a ridiculous imagination. To be able to come up with an entire world, two original species, a totally new way of representing magic, is no mean feat. Coming up with sub-species as well within Chimaera – human aspect and animal aspect – was fascinating to read about. Having seen what Taylor is capable of, I would very much like to read her debut effort which Goodreads assures me is no less brilliant than ‘Daughter of Smoke and Bone.’ And, surprise surprise, I’m impatient to get my hands on the next book in the trilogy!

I think everyone should give ‘Daughter of Smoke and Bone’ a chance, even those of you that aren’t fond of fantasy, because it is one of those perfect unputdownable YA novels, an instant classic one might say, that renews your faith in the genre (suffice to say it renewed mine). I will not hesitate to reread it in the future, maybe to admire Taylor’s prose or to immerse myself in Prague and Elsewhere once more. Read it. You won’t regret it at all.

Rating: 5/5

Thanks to Hodder & Stoughton for sending the book for review!

Monday, 9 May 2011

Once again...

I'd just like apologise to any readers of this blog! This year has been so overwhelmingly busy - I've been bombarded with exams and coursework and tests since, well, September. I've literally had no chance to rest.

My dad just came into my room and showed me the books that had arrived in the post but that he hadn't given to me in case I got distracted (which was really quite smart of him), so I wasn't even aware that I'd been getting any! I'd just like to apologise to any extremely kind publishers that have sent me books for review - I haven't forgotten about them and I will get back to reviewing as soon as exams finish at the end of June!

So yeah, ultimately what I wanted to say was that I haven't disappeared from the blogosphere and I'll see you all soon!

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Desires of the Dead by Kimberley Derting


Violet can sense the echoes of those who've been murdered—and the matching imprint that clings to their killers. Only those closest to her know what she is capable of, but when she discovers the body of a young boy she also draws the attention of the FBI, threatening her entire way of life

As Violet works to keep her morbid ability a secret, she unwittingly becomes the object of a dangerous obsession. Normally she'd turn to her best friend, Jay, except now that they are officially a couple, the rules of their relationship seem to have changed. And with Jay spending more and more time with his new friend Mike, Violet is left with too much time on her hands as she wonders where things went wrong. But when she fills the void by digging into Mike's tragic family history, she stumbles upon a dark truth that could put everyone in danger.


Desires of the Dead is Derting's follow-up to her immensely popular debut novel, The Body Finder. Derting presents another mystery, one that is equally as gripping. New characters are also introduced: Megan and Mike, a pair of siblings new to the school, and Sara Priest and Rafe, whose intentions are very hard to decipher at first for both Violet and the reader.

Like The Body Finder, there was plenty of mystery present in Desires of the Dead. The story revolving around the siblings was predictable yet still engrossing. Derting included the thoughts of someone involved in the crime, as she did in The Body Finder, though I didn't feel these were as engrossing or to put it plainly, as creepy as the murderer's passages in The Body Finder.

What I particularly liked was the addition of Sara Priest - I'm definitely looking forward to seeing how that storyline progresses in the next novel. Rafe was also a very intriguing character, though I hope his relationship with Violet never becomes more than platonic.
Jay is a total sweetheart - you grow to love him even more than you did in The Body Finder. Violet was maybe slightly less likeable in this book because she kept going off by herself in the middle of the night without telling anyone. You think she'd know better, considering the events of the last novel. Her friends didn't really make much of an impact, the only one who really stood out being Chelsea, but this was almost a positive thing as it meant there was a bigger focus on Violet's and Jay relationship.

I felt that their relationship was presented in a realistic way. Obviously it had its ups and downs, but these were handled in a believable manner by both characters. Derting effectively captured that sense of a new stage in a relationship with someone you've known for a long time. All the especially romantic scenes were handled delicately - no sleaze here.

Derting's prose was mostly smooth, however there were some places where I felt it was too stilted. It didn't affect how riveted I was, however - I literally could not stop reading it.

All in all, as impressive as its predecessor.

Rating: 4/5

Thanks very much to Headline for providing me with a copy for review!

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Ominous by Kate Brian


After the shocking revelations made in the Private prequel, The Book of Spells, Noelle and Reed know they are descendants of the original Billings Girls and their legacy includes a mysterious coven of witches. But it's nothing compared to what happens next.
One by one, Billings Girls go missing from campus.
The entire community bands together to find the lost girls, hoping they are still alive. Reed can't believe tragedy has struck Easton again, and she begins to wonder if the Billings Girls are cursed. But when the first body shows up containing a message just for her, she fears her friends are worse than cursed: they're doomed.

Ominous by Kate Brian is the penultimate novel in a series of fourteen - yes, that's right, fourteen. Luckily I'd read most of the others already, courtesy of my school library, so I could vaguely remember the events of the previous books.

Ominous picks up right where Vanished ended - after Reed discovers the supernatural secrets behind the Billings Literary Society. When I read this new development in Vanished, I was very, very skeptical. To suddenly introduce supernatural elements right at the end of the series made it seem as if Brian was trying to integrate magic and ghosts and the like just because of the overwhelming popularity of YA Supernatural novels these days. I highly doubt that it had been planned out from the beginning. Rather, it was a way to strike to birds with one stone - profit from the public's interest in the supernatural, and introduce a spin-off series set in the nineteen century; historical novels are becoming increasingly popular, after all.

Ominous completely changed that opinion, I'm happy to say. The foray into magic seemed like a natural progression. It was a plausible reason for the events of past novels, considering the outlandishness of the situations that Reed has encountered over the course of series. She'd experienced murder a gazillion times anyway, so why not explain that with a supernatural twist? It didn't seem forced at all to me, especially because of Brian's prose, which remained careful and controlled, with the right amount of description to keep the reader interested. I'll be interested to read what Brian has to offer once Private and its various spin-offs end.

The relationships between the characters were fairly realistic. Thankfully, Noelle's personality did not do a completely turnaround once discovering that she and Reed were sisters. Now that would have been hard to believe. I especially liked the relationship between Josh and Reed - it was healthy and strong with both characters trusting each other completely and relying on each other the right amount - that's something you don't see in a lot of YA novels these days, so it was refreshing to read their interactions.

A good, solid addition to the series. Will definitely be picking up the next one.

Thanks very much to Simon and Schuster for providing me with a copy for review!

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Withering Tights by Louise Rennison


Hilarious new series from Queen of Teen – laugh your tights off at the (VERY) amateur dramatic antics of Talullah and her bonkers mates. Boys, snogging and bad acting guaranteed!

Picture the scene: Dother Hall performing arts college somewhere Up North, surrounded by rolling dales, bearded cheesemaking villagers (male and female) and wildlife of the squirrely-type. On the whole, it’s not quite the showbiz experience Tallulah was expecting… but once her mates turn up and they start their ‘FAME! I’m gonna liiiiive foreeeeeever, I’m gonna fill my tiiiiights’ summer course things are bound to perk up. Especially when the boys arrive. (When DO the boys arrive?) Six weeks of parent-free freedom. BOY freedom. Freedom of expression... cos it’s the THEATRE dahling, theatre!!


I'm extremely happy to say that Withering Heights fulfilled my high expectations. It was fun and hilarious with very likeable characters. Tallulah, though she may be her cousin, is nothing like Georgia, thankfully. For one, she embarrasses herself far less often. That does make it slightly less hilarious than the Georgia Nicholson series but doesn't detract from the overall awesomeness of the book.

What I loved particularly about the novel was how Tallulah and her friends didn't try to act too grown-up. It gives the book a wider appeal, plus it's refreshing for characters to be acting their age. Tallulah, a 14-year-old who has never been kissed, behaves like a 14-year-old who has never been kissed.

The setting was excellent - the flamboyant drama teachers and students added to the hilarity of the novel, and kept me entertained. The troubles the teenagers encounter - boys, dates, knobbly knees, flat chests - are all very amusing and realistic, but perhaps a bit too reminiscent of the Rennison's previous series, almost as if she's used a formula. Hot boys + embarrassing incidents + body insecurities + a troop of quirky friends = an excellent book, which Withering Tights is of course, but I'm hoping Rennison introduces some more original aspects to the series in the next book.

A very entertaining read, guaranteed to put a smile on your face!

Rating: 4/5

Thanks very much to HarperCollins for providing me with a copy.

Monday, 31 January 2011

British Books Challenge 2011

So Becky from The Bookette it hosting The British Books Challenge 2011. For more information on the challenge and to sign up check out this post.

Although I haven't blogged in like forever, I do want to get back into the swing of things and this is a step towards that! It looks like a great challenge, and I'm personally aiming for Home Grown - whilst I would love to achieve a Crown, it's an impossible dream.

Books I'd like to read for the challenge:

You Don't Have to Say You Love Me by Sarra Manning
Withering Tights by Louise Rennison (REVIEW HERE)
Blood Ransom by Sophie McKenzie
Starter for Ten by David Nicholls
Our Tragic Universe by Scarlett Thomas

Saturday, 20 November 2010

An Apology

Dear readers of this blog and publishers that have sent me books I have yet to read and review,

I'm sorry.

I started sixth form this September and lemme tell you, A-Levels aren't easy at all. There is so much work to do and so much pressure put upon us from the school. I've had to throw myself into school activities and extracurriculars because it's all about our university applications these days.

Anyway, I know I've been a really bad blogger so I do aim to rectify that soon. I'm not promising anything though because I've really got to up my game at school as well.

See you soon,