Wow this was a fantastic book! I am not surprised to discover thThis review was originally posted on Tea, Daydreams & Fairytales on 7th July 2012.
Wow this was a fantastic book! I am not surprised to discover that this was originally written years ago on fictionpress and has only more recently been edited and published by a professional publishing house – it’s beautifully written and really packs a punch! This is one of those Young Adult novels that really gets it right, the world building is simply brilliant, I loved this war torn land and can’t wait to find out more about the magical elements that have been driven underground. The characters and character development is handled well and the writing is filled with witty banter. Even though the book is 400 odd pages it’s a fast read – highly entertaining.
This is the story of Celaena a teenage girl who also happens to be the most feared assassin of Ardalan. At some point prior to this book taking place, Celaena is betrayed and caught and the book starts with her imprisoned in the salt mines of Endovier where prisoners are sent to work to the death. Where most prisoners die within mere months, Celaena has managed to last a year so far without breaking her spirit. Enter the handsome prince Dorian who gives Celaena a chance at freedom if she will compete as his contender to become the King’s champion against other criminals all desperate for pardons and a fabulous salary. Things start getting scary when something starts killing off competitors one by one and Celaena is determined to find out and stop whatever it is before it comes after her.
What I loved most about this story was the character of Celaena, I just found her so relatable. She was strong, intelligent and confident and not in the least bit ashamed to admit it. She was also scarred and vulnerable with a traumatic past that is continuously alluded to in the story – it just made me want to give her a great big hug. There are elements of a love triangle in this novel but it’s a weak one – romance is definitely not a major part of this story it just enhances your understanding of the characters and gives you an insight into their personalities. The crown prince Dorian is well done, given his background as a pampered ladies man he could have been so unlikeable but he is witty and the flaws just give him room for growth and he definitely grows during this novel. The other love interest is captain of the royal guard and Dorian’s best friend Chaol, who is the strong silent type. Now this is a man I think many women would get behind, behind that tough battle strong exterior is a vulnerable man just waiting for the right woman to love him and make things all better. I will be very surprised if this isn’t who Celaena ends up with in the end though I’m sure many would disagree with me!
The world of Ardalan is beautifully depicted and I really need to go and read all the prequels that Maas released to see if you get further information into the wars and loss of the magic in the world. I’m also interested to find out more about the assassins’ guild that is mentioned numerous times when hearing about Celaena’s past.
There is simply so many hints and references given in this beautifully told story that I just can’t wait to see where things head in the future sequels. This was a wonderful fantasy story I enjoyed it immensely and Celaena is a fantastic heroine and role model for a Young Adult crowd.
Thank you Netgalley and Bloomsbury UK & ANZ for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. Throne of Glass is released on 2nd August 2012 and I most definitely recommend you pre-ordering your copy!...more
"Envy hurt exponentially more than heartbreak because your souThis review was originally posted at Tea, Daydreams & Fairytales on 4th August 2012.
"Envy hurt exponentially more than heartbreak because your soul was torn in two, half soaring with happiness for another person, half mired in a well of self pity and pain."
I chose to read this novel back in January for the Dystopian Challenge and all I remembered upon opening the Kindle document was that it was post apocalyptic. Within a few chapters I started to get a real sense of familiarity to the story and characters and when I discovered that it was a Jane Austen retelling this made a whole lot of sense, there is a real Austen feel about this novel while still managing to spin a completely new and novel story.
The story is about 2 children – 1 rich, Elliot and 1 a slave, Kai. These two are born on the same day and form a strong friendship that overtime blossoms into love. 4 years prior to this book taking place, Kai leaves to try and make a better life for himself while Elliot stays behind, bound by duty to try to protect and look after the other people on the estate before her father’s disinterest drives it to the brink of ruin. Fast forward to today and Kai comes back, as the dashing and incredibly successful Captain Wentworth still hurt and angry about Elliot’s choice to leave him and ready to show her what a poor choice she made.
Elliot is a wonderful strong female lead, one who is self sacrificing, independant and who clearly cares deeply for others overcoming many societal predjudices. As one of the luddite nobitlity she takes her role as caretaker to the reduced (generations of people on which genetic experimentation went incredibly wrong) seriously unlike many of her society counterparts. The best part about her carefully constructed charactered is how layered she is. She chooses honor over love and underneath her tough exterior is pain, regret and a tinge of hopelessness. Mixed in with these many emotions are deep seated religious beliefs and fears about innovation, science and change making her a delightfully complex heroine.
Kai/Wentworth is a very typical Austen male love interest and while the arrogance has been toned down for a more modern audience I can still imagine many of his reactions wouldn’t sit well with teens today. His blind hatred to Elliot at the beginning of the story does seem to dissolve fairly quickly with very little reason, though many reasons why he should love Elliot are still shown to the reader. His character is given depth through the ethical dilemmas he faces while apart from Elliot with relation to science and innovation. The decisions and rational behind his choices definitely round him out making him more appealing and also add a extra layer of complicaton between himself and Elliot.
The many issues dealt with in this book make it such a very interesting read and I could easily imagine reading this story for a second or third time and taking very different messages away from it. From family drama, slavery, genetic experimentation, religious persecution and pitfalls of scientific innovation, there are many important questions to ponder as a reader and this book did a great job of painting everything a delicious shade of grey and never tried to sway your point of view one way or the other.
This is such an engrossing book, I finished it within a day and it’s probably one of the best written novels I’ve read since Daughter of Smoke and Bone. If your looking for a book that makes you want to think yet still keeps you entertained then I can’t recommend this enough!...more
"She had been innocent once, a little girl playing with feathers on the floor oThis review was originally published at Tea, Daydreams & Fairytales
"She had been innocent once, a little girl playing with feathers on the floor of a devil’s lair. She wasn’t innocent now, but she didn’t know what to do about it. This was her life: magic and shame and secrets and teeth and a deep, nagging hollow at the center of herself where something was most certainly missing."
"Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well."
Wow, what a commanding start to a novel. That opening sentence hooked me in, it set the bar high and boy does Laini Taylor deliver! Daughter of Smoke and Bone tears down the common formula for paranormal romance and sets a new standard. Based in Prague you meet Karou the azure haired girl an aloof art student by day and mysterious errand girl for the chimaera named Brimstone by night. While she is human, Karou was raised by Brimstone and some of his colleagues in his workshop hidden “elsewhere” accessible only through portals disguised as doorways. Brimstone tells her nothing, everything is a secret and Karou is raised a lonely girl who feels separate from humanity and with no clue as to how she ended up under Brimstone’s care. All this changes when by complete chance she encounters Akiva on one of her mysterious errands and her world starts to come apart.
The world building in this book is phenomenal. I’ve never been to Prague but I desperately want to go after reading countless descriptions of city scenery this being one such example:
"The streets of Prague were a fantasia scarcely touched by the twenty-first century—or the twentieth or nineteenth, for that matter. It was a city of alchemists and dreamers, its medieval cobbles once trod by golems, mystics, invading armies. Tall houses glowed goldenrod and carmine and eggshell blue, embellished with Rococo plasterwork and capped in roofs of uniform red. Baroque cupolas were the soft green of antique copper, and Gothic steeples stood ready to impale fallen angels. The wind carried the memory of magic, revolution, violins, and the cobbled lanes meandered like creeks. Thugs wore Motzart wigs and pushed chamber music on street corners, and marionettes hung in windows, making the whole city seem like a theater with unseen puppeteers crouched behind velvet."
Along with the beautiful descriptions of Earth, Taylor introduces Eretz a world filled with Angels and Demons and torn viciously apart by war. You can visualise this alien land so well through the story and even though the book is laden with descriptions and explanations it at no point takes away from character development.
I loved the character of Karou. She was smart, clever, witty with just a hint of sorrow. You got a real sense of her inner strength even though she is fairly reserved – definitely not a flashy heroine! I was a bit worried by Akiva initally - I thought he was going to be a little too heartless and cold to me. There is nothing I like less than a girl who fawns herself over a complete asshole. Thankfully he wasn’t like this at all and as the story progresses you really appreciate how he is actually flexible and willing to grow.
The relationship that develops between Akiva and Karou could have so easily crossed the line into creepy and unrealistic but instead its authentic and innocent. You find yourself wanting it to work out for them against all the odds. Taylor shifts this story between both their perspectives and it really helps strengthen the realism in their growing love for one another. It’s hard to go into their relationship without giving too much of the story away but you do believe that these two are destined to be together and to do great things for the fate of 2 races and 2 worlds.
I also loved the fact that there is no clear cut good and evil in this book and that war isn’t anything to be glamorized instead its something that literally consumes both sides and everyone loses out:
"Have you ever asked yourself, do monsters make war, or does war make monsters?
While this sounds like a standard Young Adult romance it truly isn’t. The story changes about half way through when Karou learns the answers to just a few of Brimstone’s secrets and it almost feels like you are reading a different novel. This is not a story of happily ever afters even if it started with a fairytale beginning. This is a story that sends you on a whirlwind of all sorts of emotions, from grief, love, shock, betrayal and tragedy. It leaves you out of breath at the end and in complete awe. I was unable to contemplate starting another book for a good week, it took me that long to digest it.
I find myself recommending this book to everyone I know. While the story resolves itself and leaves the reader feeling complete, the ending is still a cliffhanger and I can’t wait for 2nd novel – Days of Blood and Starlight to be released in late 2012. I read this book in January 2012 and I won’t be surprised if in December this year I still list this as one of the best books I read in 2012. This book deserved its 5/5 stars and then some....more
Kyle took a deep breath, like he had picked up on the question I hadn't asked. That was one of the differences between him and Jason: Kyle always gave just as much weight and consideration to the things I didn't say as to the things I did.
When I first saw Hemlock on the list of 2012 Debut Authors I instantly fell in love with the cover. I then saw it was about werewolves and hesitated as this isn’t really a topic that greatly interests me. The cover love won out and I selected it as one of the 12 debut author novels I would read for the 2012 challenge, and how glad am I!
Set in the small town of Hemlock just 5 months after the death of her best friend, Mackenzie is still grieving and feeling haunted by Amy’s vicious death by a white werewolf. When the Trackers – an extreme anti werewolf task force come to town by police invitation Mac soon gets caught up in a web of intimidation, lies and politics. Between working out who Amy’s killer is, trying to keep Amy’s boyfriend and her friend Jason from self destruction and struggling with her feelings for Kyle her best friend, this book is jam packed with action, suspense and relationships.
This was a wonderful mystery/thriller that had a dose of paranormal mixed in to create a fantastic book concoction! The whole premise that the government had to admit that werewolves existed as the spread of LS (Lupine Syndrome) was just too much to keep under wraps, and the idea that anyone infected is sent away to special camps felt realistic and I wanted to find out more. Add in the Trackers a group of fanatical werewolf haters who are well known to go outside the boundaries of the law to destroy those hiding their infection and you have a world fraught with change and fear. The town of Hemlock gave the appearance of a small sleepy American town which was given the spotlight after a rash of werewolf attacks, the last of which happened to Amy, Mackenzie’s best friend.
I really loved the main character Mackenzie. She had so much heart, even after having such a rough start in life. You find out that Mackenzie has witnessed and experienced some pretty gruesome things in her past, especially relating to the Trackers and I love that this book doesn’t shy away from the brutal reality of things. She has a great sense of loyalty to her friends and to Tess her guardian which is displayed through virtually all her actions within this book.
I really enjoyed the love triangle in this novel. Both the boys sound a bit boring at first glance – Jason, the bad boy and Kyle the perfect best friend. When you get below the surface both of them are wonderfully crafted, flawed but beautiful individuals. I especially loved the character of Jason, he’s so clearly messed up and just needs someone to help him make it all better. I love how he grows and develops through the story and the inner strength he shows towards the end when all his beliefs are turned upside down.
The actual plot in this story is also fantastic and I could barely put this book down I was really keen to find out what would happen next. I did have a pretty good idea where things would eventuate by about two thirds through but that didn’t lessen my enjoyment of the story. I’m also looking forward to finding out more about the underground werewolf community in the sequel. I strongly urge you to consider picking this book up if you like a good paranormal mystery!
Thank you Edelweiss and Harper Collins for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. Hemlock is released today the 8th May 2012....more