Beautifully written and original, Daughter of Smoke and Bone is the first book in Laini Taylor's trilogy of the same name. In Taylor's richly detailedBeautifully written and original, Daughter of Smoke and Bone is the first book in Laini Taylor's trilogy of the same name. In Taylor's richly detailed world Karou is a seemingly normal human girl, even if strange things seem to happen when she's around, or not as her friend Zuzana frequently complains. You see, Karou leads a secret life, one in which she is raised by the great Chimera Brimstone, and his eclectic entourage of bestial individuals. However, Karou's lives, both on Earth and in 'Elsewhere' are about to collide, and if she doesn't unravel the truth about her own existence, she may lose one or both of her pasts. But time is running out, and soon the doors between worlds could be lost forever.
It would be difficult for me to discuss Daughter of Smoke and Bone without addressing the wonderful cast of characters that inhabit the book's two worlds. Karou is every bit the likeable heroine: tough, independent and yet ultimately conflicted, both by the secrets of her past and the emergence of her future. Complete with an eclectic background cast (stoic Brimstone, merry Issa and dramatic Zuzana) the world comes alive through their delightful interactions.
It is with the brooding angel Akiva, however, that Karou's character really comes to light. While her former self is entirely self sufficient, it is through the intervention of Akiva that Karou begins to unravel the secrets hidden in her past, and ultimately allowing her to play out her role as Juliet to his Romeo. Far from a tale of woe though, Karou's story is full of hope, of love and ultimately of redemption.
Karou and Akiva's story, however, is just the appetiser for what, in my opinion is the strongest part of Daughter of Smoke and Bone - the story of Madrigal. Where the former is a rather Gothic feeling adventure in Prague, the latter is an extravagant tale of love in the mysterious 'Elsewhere.' Here Madrigal is a beautiful but tough soldier in the Chimera army, destined to break her society's most fundamental rule; to not only save, but fall in love with the enemy. A magical fairytale unfolds, and it is hard not to get pulled into the wonderfully realised world.
All of this is told in Taylor's unique style that draws the reader in. I must admit though that, at times, Daughter of Smoke and Bone was missing something and that it was the writing and the wonderful characters that kept me reading. The book's last chapter is a prime example of this. I remember closing in on those final pages wondering how things could be wrapped up in time, and eventually reconciling myself with the fact that events would be dragged out in a second book. But that wasn't to be; the novel ends rather harshly and where the rest of Daughter of Smoke and Bone was detailed and engrossing, it was hard not to feel cheated by the ending. After being wooed by the tale of Madrigal and excited by the world of Karou and Akiva I felt that one of the most interesting prospects in the book was taken from the reader, and one of the book's most prominent questions answered quite abruptly.
It is for this reason that I feel Daughter of Smoke and Bone falls just short of being a great book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good fantasy love story. This one gets a thumbs up from me but it could have been so much more....more
The opening instalment of Richard Phillips’ upcoming Kasari Rho Agenda Assimilation series, The Kasari Nexus is a fast-paced political thriller on anThe opening instalment of Richard Phillips’ upcoming Kasari Rho Agenda Assimilation series, The Kasari Nexus is a fast-paced political thriller on an intergalactic scale. Stranded on an alien spaceship, countless light-years from Earth, Jennifer Smythe and Raul Rodriguez have only their wits to keep them alive. With no hope of returning home, and a ship in desperate need of repair, their only solace is a small, inhabited planet their ship has targeted as its next destination. But as Scion draws ever nearer all hope of shelter is crushed when scans indicate that the malevolent Kasari Collective already has a foothold on the planet.
Meanwhile, back on Earth, their opposition to proposed intergalactic dealings with the Kasari have made Mark and Heather Smythe enemies of the UFNS. Alongside their security team of Mark Gregory, Janet Price and their son Robby they flee North America intending to reach New Zealand via Lima, Peru. But a crack force of Special Forces, led by Daniil Alkaev is on their tail, and if they’re caught the future of the Earth itself hangs in the balance.
Fast-paced and exciting, The Kasari Nexus is a gripping read. The author’s military background comes to the fore, packing the story with gripping battles that draw the reader in. Of course the nature of science-fiction ensures that not all these battles take place with ‘recognisable’ weapons, but Phillips expertly overcomes this ensuring that the battles on Scion seem just as plausible as those that occur on Earth.
With so much detail going into these encounters, the novel could be forgiven for neglecting character development, but The Kasari Nexus doesn’t fall ito this trap. Each of the characters is well rounded, with their own unique personality that doesn’t falter. Each character reacts to their situation as their personality dictates and this helps engage the reader in the story. I’ve found in the past that some science-fiction neglects this aspect and distances the reader when someone acts out of character.
If I was to have one issue with The Kasari Nexus, and it is a minor problem, it comes in the form of the book’s place in the overall Kasari story. Coming, as it does, after a previous trilogy there has already been a detailed history built up for the characters. So as not to alienate new readers, Phillips occasionally has to refer back to events that have already happened to explain characters’ actions. This unfortunately breaks up the flow of the story from time to time, providing a minor irritant; that aside, I would recommend giving The Kasari Nexus a read. An entertaining read, and a definite thumbs up from me.
*review facilitated by the wonderful people over at NetGalley.com*...more
The second instalment in The Lunar Chronicles quartet, Scarlet sees Marissa Meyer return in exceptional form to her re-imagined, futuristic fairytaleThe second instalment in The Lunar Chronicles quartet, Scarlet sees Marissa Meyer return in exceptional form to her re-imagined, futuristic fairytale world. The first book in the series, Cinder, concluded with the titular character interned in a New Beijing jail awaiting execution at the hands of the malevolent Queen Levana and Scarlet picks up the story with the unwilling fugitive hatching plans to free herself.
Lunar plans, however, are not limited to the execution of a deserter, and thousands of miles away in France, Scarlet, a young farmhand, is about to find herself embroiled in an adventure that reaches far beyond her quiet town of Rieux. It has been nearly two weeks since Scarlet’s grandmother went missing and the police have given up hope of finding her. When they dismiss the case as just another runaway, Scarlet is left to uncover the truth, setting off on a path that will see her story entwined with that of the mysterious fighter known only as Wolf. Together they uncover a tale so unbelievable it threatens to unravel all that Scarlet knows about her past, and will forever change her future.
With Cinder the author had already proven her ability to rework classic fairytales into engaging adventures for a modern audience, and she takes things a step further with Scarlet. Seamlessly, integrating the Cinderella and Red Riding Hood tales in her own unique style, Meyer offers a story that is both nostalgic and original. Scarlet offers a clever twist on the roles and relationships of classic characters, providing an engaging world that teases and encourages the reader to become involved with the story.
Ultimately it is the author’s ability to engage the reader that marks Scarlet and by extension The Lunar Chronicles series for significance. The book is a fairly easy, light read, sure to entertain both young adult and fantasy audiences; leaving them wanting more. ...more
When I first started Cinder I thought I'd find it a difficult read; something in the writing felt a bit odd. When I got into the book though I found iWhen I first started Cinder I thought I'd find it a difficult read; something in the writing felt a bit odd. When I got into the book though I found it to be a pleasant and enjoyable read, and I'll certainly continue to read the series....more
An interesting account of the life of one of Ireland's revolutionary heroes. As Donal Fallon cautions throughout, MacBride didn't actively take part iAn interesting account of the life of one of Ireland's revolutionary heroes. As Donal Fallon cautions throughout, MacBride didn't actively take part in planning for the 'Rising', so much of this work relates to MacBride's time in South Africa, or with other relevant Irish nationalists. As such, this book frequently strays from its primary subject but regardless offers an intriguing account of the life of John MacBride....more
I must admit, I found this book a strange read. While I enjoyed the setting, the writing and the characters, I found it difficult to get into. PerhapsI must admit, I found this book a strange read. While I enjoyed the setting, the writing and the characters, I found it difficult to get into. Perhaps it was just the way that the book was written, splitting the time John spent at the house day-by-day, frequently in the style of a diary. Beyond this small annoyance though, I found After Me Comes the Flood to be a pleasant read, and one that I would recommend....more