If I had three wishes from a genie, I still don't think I'd be able to wish for Laini Taylor's writing ability. This is now my favourite series of allIf I had three wishes from a genie, I still don't think I'd be able to wish for Laini Taylor's writing ability. This is now my favourite series of all time. I need to reread it immediately. I probably won't have time. BUT I WILL MAKE TIME.
Tell Me More: If I had three wishes from a genie, I still don't think I'd be able to wish for Laini Taylor's writing ability. When I first read Daughter of Smoke and Bone three years ago, I was prepared to be disappointed. The sheer scale of this story was overwhelming to realize, and nothing was predictable. Fast-forward to Days of Blood and Starlight a year later, and not only had Taylor expanded Karou's worlds, but she had also laid out some truly excruciating choices for her characters. Dreams of Gods and Monsters brings it all to a close, and that close is as horrifying as it is exquisite, as painful as it is filled with hope.
As things stand at the end of Blood and Starlight, Karou and Akiva both make the same choice, just articulated and executed differently. Karou chooses to hold onto a hope for her people, helping them in the only way she knows. Akiva chooses hope in the form of quiet revolution. Taylor doesn't pit them against each other for the reader to choose the better character, but she does let their actions speak for themselves, because neither are perfect choices. The fire that drove Madrigal and Akiva all those years ago is still there, and it continues to drive the story forward, even when the characters don't realize it. Their love isn't perfect, and it takes so much of who they are, but they are and have always been stronger together.
Like most final books in a trilogy, Gods and Monsters contains the most expansive world yet, and the story is spread throughout several settings and points-of-view. While most of the book is still told through Karou and Akiva's eyes, Taylor also introduces several new characters. Eliza is my favourite among them, her backstory intriguing and unique enough to rival the seraphim for my interest. Through her, the reader sees the chimaera-seraphim struggle the way humans would, with the added dimension of religion versus science. It all boils down to belief and the awe-inspiring, terrible things done in the name of belief, whether that belief is in power or religion or hope.
In this series, Taylor gives readers characters to believe in. They might be in shapes not easily imagined or seen, but they represent the potential for their respective worlds. Karou follows her heart, even in the face of terror, even when her life is threatened. Akiva doesn't accept defeat, but charges forward to take action, even when it seems hopeless. They're inspiring not because they are powerful, but because they recognize their limitations and press forward anyway. Parallels could be drawn between them and the Faerers, who did not recognize limitations and things better left unseen. Zuzana and Mik may not be fearsome creatures like the chimaera or seraphim, but they are resourceful and clever and honourable. Hazael and Liraz make some truly difficult choices, but their belief in each other and Akiva empowers them through those choices.
The Final Say: Dreams of Gods and Monsters is the kind of story readers dream about, a once-in-a-lifetime kind of tale. The emotion and wonder of Karou and Akiva's worlds are laid out in gorgeously rendered prose that will live in your dreams long after you close the covers. Laini Taylor has made me an admirer for life.
A superb sequel that only raises the bar for all of Lyga's future books, not just the next Jasper Dent installment (because there is one, right? THEREA superb sequel that only raises the bar for all of Lyga's future books, not just the next Jasper Dent installment (because there is one, right? THERE HAS TO BE.)...more
Not cool, Johan Harstad. I'm going to have such a hard time sleeping for the next week at least, and what makes it worse is that there's a Doctor WhoNot cool, Johan Harstad. I'm going to have such a hard time sleeping for the next week at least, and what makes it worse is that there's a Doctor Who episode that has a very similar plot and JUST NO NO NO NO I WAS NOT PREPARED FOR THIS.
I knew there was a reason why my brain refused to let me focus on this book. It's because it knew I'd end up a terrified mess....more
Jennifer Brown's books have always been hit-or-miss with me: I adoredHate List, but wasn't as imprePosted on Seashell Reviews at Mermaid Vision Books!
Jennifer Brown's books have always been hit-or-miss with me: I adored Hate List, but wasn't as impressed by Bitter End. Perfect Escape lands smack-dab in the neutral zone. Kendra's impromptu road trip with her older brother Grayson is certainly interesting, but I couldn't quite connect with Kendra herself. The sibling dynamic between Kendra and Grayson is the strongest part of the novel, and even when I was displeased with the way the plot was unraveling, I was still very interested in how they would manage to work things out. Perfect Escape is just right for the summer--a novel that is simultaneously complex and light enough to bring to the beach....more
Discovery: I came across this book in the Hachette fall catalogue and the premise struck a chord in me.
+ Themes. Before you add this book to your TBRDiscovery: I came across this book in the Hachette fall catalogue and the premise struck a chord in me.
+ Themes. Before you add this book to your TBR pile, be warned that it is much more serious than the premise makes it sound. I know that doesn’t sound likely, but I found myself close to tears more than once while reading it. There is no way that this book can be mistaken for a light read.
Desperation, helplessness, dishonesty: all of these mix into Ames’ story to create a storm of bad decisions and hatred. There were many instances where I was tempted to put the book down because the emotions were simply too much for me to take. While that might sound like a bad thing, I would be the first to recommend this book for the sheer power of Ames’ experiences. Giles doesn’t shy away from the truth of Ames’ family troubles and many teens will relate to the changes that Ames is dealt. I especially loved the ending because honestly? There’s no way a happy ending can be contrived for this story and Giles didn’t try to write one. She was true to the story and that courage alone is worth reading this book for.
+ Voice. Ames is a teenager who has lived her entire life without a single care. When her father is fired, the floor buckles and crumbles beneath her and her family comes close to doing the same. She is stubborn and strong and the saddest part is that she can’t see that strength through her disappointment. Make no mistake, Ames is a character that will stay with every reader after they finish the book because she is who we are afraid to be. She feels too much, she knows too much, she is afraid to let it all in. Every word that comes out of her mouth is two-sided and pained. I may not like her, but she represents that darker side in every person who we have to learn to respect and work with. She’s human, and I admire her for it.
Recommendations: While this isn’t a book for younger readers, I do think it’s something that older readers will understand and learn from, especially in the troubled times we live in today. Gail Giles is to be commended for her honesty and bravery in writing this book.
I have many dear memories of favourite middle-grade novels, like The Giverand Bridge to Terabithia.Posted on Seashell Reviews at Mermaid Vision Books!
I have many dear memories of favourite middle-grade novels, like The Giver and Bridge to Terabithia. They served to ignite my imagination and tell me truths adults may have been reluctant to share with an 8- or-9-year-old. The Storm Makers is a novel worthy of joining those much-loved books. The POV and narration were stellar, lively enough to keep young readers' attention but insightful enough to please older readers as well. In fact, there was an amazing depth to the story, to the point where it stopped reading like a MG novel and the adventure just took over. Jennifer E. Smith's focus on the friendship between Simon and Ruby is the cornerstone of this remarkable novel, which will gain new fans with every reread....more
Release Date: June 4, 2012 Publisher: Poppy (Hachette Book Group) Age Group: Young Adult Pages: 304 Format: Hardcover Source: ARC received from publisher
Tell Me More: Last week, I attended the One Direction concert at the Molson Canadian Amphitheater. As one might expect, the venue and surrounding areas were packed with teenage girls at their most excitable, crowing and shrieking over every little reminder of the boy band they were about to see. (My eardrums haven't quite forgiven me for subjecting them to the high-pitched decibels.) As an infrequent concertgoer, I took the time I spent waiting as an opportunity to observe an age group with whom I rarely interact these days, and concluded that I might be too old to really sympathize with their concerns and foibles. A Midsummer's Nightmare was a lot like that concert--I believe in the importance of its message, and it is certainly necessary to address its issues with teens, but it wasn't a book that had anything new to say to me personally.
The plot is old-hat, and frankly very cliché. Whitley's summer of freedom with her father is turned upside down when he introduces her to a fiancée and future stepchildren. It's a common plot device in YA literature--The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants comes to mind--and not one that has a lot of wiggle room in terms of creativity. Kody Keplinger answers with a controversial twist, where Whitley's future stepbrother Nathan also served as her graduation one-night stand. That was about the only part of the story that interested me in the first half, but it doesn't quite reach a satisfying conclusion.
Whitley is what I could call a Keplinger standard: she swears a lot, is extremely cynical and can't be bothered to care about anyone but herself. I'll put it right out there--I did not like Whitley. There was a touch of Special Snowflake Syndrome that made me roll my eyes at her more than once--she ONLY listens to 90s music? She thinks having friends is overrated? I did not enjoy Keplinger's previous protagonists either (especially Bianca of The D.U.F.F.), but fortunately, she comes the closest to a real character arc with Whitley. A lot of the problems that are brought up in the novel are ones that could be easily solved with a tiny bit of honesty, and it was frustrating to see many of the characters hiding from it and complaining at the same time. Whitley's mental and emotional self-flagellation can grow old very quickly. Again, there is a real possibility that my frustration with this novel and character comes from having grown up. The six years between myself and Whitley have taught me how to deal with relationships and the importance of honesty, both of which she learns in the course of the novel. I appreciated Keplinger's commitment to giving Whitley a chance to grow and figure things out for herself.
Despite my initial distaste and later detachment from Whitley, she remains the most interesting character in the novel. Her father and mother are shockingly cardboard, which does them a disservice. Nathan is exactly what one might expect from his character, and Bailey is unsurprising as well. The standout might be Trace, Whitley's brother, whose tiny moments with his sister help to make her more real. There is a tangible connection between the two of them, and while I understand the necessity of his distance, it is a little disappointing to only have a handful of conversations between them.
Lastly, the romance in this novel felt forced. As much as there is no law preventing it, I was still very uncomfortable with the way Whitley and Nathan's relationship progressed. I wouldn't go so far as to say it was a bad decision for Keplinger to make, but it just wasn't something I enjoyed reading about. I didn't see their relationship as a necessary next step, and their scenes weren't compelling enough for me to want them together, despite everything that happens.
The Final Say: Kody Keplinger's newest reluctant heroine might be pessimistic and wry, but A Midsummer's Nightmare offers teens a chance to learn from her experiences and be brave enough to make their own hard decisions....more