Posts Tagged ‘Laini Taylor


“He read while he walked. He read while he ate. The other librarians suspected he somehow read while he slept, or perhaps didn’t sleep at all.” CBR9 Review 39.

UnknownI love Laini Taylor. I adored Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and I really liked Days of Blood and Starlight. (I admit, I was not 100% enthusiastic about Dreams of Gods and Monsters. But as a whole, the trilogy was top-notch.) So I was ready to love this.

And I did. Until the very last page.**

Super quick overview here:
Like the Smoke & Bone trilogy, Strange the Dreamer takes place in a fantasy world at an unknown time in history. Our hero, Lazlo Strange, is an orphan, who by chance, has his dream job working in the largest library in the land. There he spends every waking moment learning about the magical lost kingdom of Weep — a mythical land that disappeared years ago.

When out of nowhere, a band of soldiers from Weep arrives in his city, looking for the smartest scholars and scientists to come and help them save their magical kingdom, Lazlo can’t imagine not being allowed to join them. Fortunately, he impresses their leader with his knowledge of their history and language, and finds himself along for the journey as the leader’s personal secretary.

Meanwhile, we learn about a strange group of isolated teenagers who live somewhere near Weep, and all have magical powers of some sort. One can control the weather. One can control the growth of any plant she comes in contact with. And one can enter and manipulate the dreams of the citizens of Weep. And none of them ever know she’s there.

Until Lazlo Strange.

Really, I could go on and on for 100 more paragraphs, telling you all of my favorite parts. But as alwaysanswerb said earlier this year in her most excellent review, “Just read it.”

Seriously, if you’ve ever read and liked anything at all by Laini Taylor, you need to read this.

And if you’ve never read anything by Laini Taylor, what the hell?

Its beautifully written. The fantasy world is amazingly real. It is at times shocking and heartbreaking and funny and sad and it made me feel all the feels. A story of love and hope and magic and intolerance and hate. It had everything.

**Ugh. After over 500 pages, I was pretty angry when I got to the end of this one.

I should have known that this book would be the beginning of a series of books. Its really my own fault for not researching this fact. Because when I got to the last page, and saw this:


I was so invested in the story that I was really annoyed. It was like a slap in the face.


Scootsa1000’s #CBR6 Review 53: My True Love Gave to Me by Every YA Author in the World

UnknownUsually, I review my 52 books and then take a break for the rest of the year. And after this review, I plan to do so. But since this is a holiday-themed book, I figured I would write something up.

My True Love Gave to Me is a book of short stories, all Christmas themed. The stories are written by an all-star team of YA champions: Holly Black, Ally Carter, Matt de la Pena, Gayle Forman, Jenny Han, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Myra McEntire, Rainbow Rowell, Stephanie Perkins, Laini Taylor, and Kiersten White. Yes, that’s right. Cannonball favorites Laini Taylor, Holly Black, and Rainbow Rowell ALL IN ONE COLLECTION.

I was all set for this to pretty much be the best book ever. A new holiday classic.

And I guess that was my mistake. The book is fine. Some of the stories are actually pretty good. But.

I think writing a short story is a very specific talent. And a bit of a lost art. Especially for authors who specialize in trilogies that never seem to end. Stephen King is really good at it, but Stephen King works very hard at it. He constantly works on short stories to keep himself in fighting form. I’m not so sure that David Levithan is following quite the same writing regimen.

I’ll cut the book some slack. None of the stories are outright terrible.

My least favorites were  Jenny Han’s “Polaris is Where You’ll Find Me” (about a human girl raised as an elf at the North Pole), and Levithan’s “Your Temporary Santa” (a gay, jewish kid dresses up as Santa for his boyfriend’s little sister?).

In the next group, stories that I thought were fine, were Link’s “The Lady and the Fox” (Link is really just too weird for me, but she is great at managing the short story format), “What Have You Done, Sophie Roth?” by Gayle Forman, “Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus” by Myra McEntire, and “Star of Bethlehem” by Ally Carter. They were all just fine. Lonely girl meets magical spirit in the woods every Christmas. Jewish girl and black boy at really WASP-y college bond over Christmas. The town Christmas pageant is saved by the least likely suspect. Hannah Montana escapes the horrible celebrity life and finds Christmas happiness in Oklahoma.

The last bunch were pretty darn good, actually.

I hadn’t heard of Matt de la Pena before, but his story “Angels in the Snow” was quite lovely.

My favorite in the book was Stephanie Perkins’ “It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown.” A simple story about picking out a Christmas tree that made me care and want to know more about the characters. I hoped they would end up happy.

Holly Black’s “Krampuslauf” was weird and fun, and I liked most of it. I preferred the parts of the story that were about normal events, not the supernatural.

“Welcome to Christmas, CA,” by Kiersten White was everything a holiday story should be. Christmas miracles, love, family togetherness, communities coming together. Very nice.

Laini Taylor’s “The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer” was very Laini Taylor-y. Like an old-fashioned fairy tale that doesn’t necessarily have a happy ending. It was dark, yet romantic. I’m not sure I liked the story, but I loved the writing.

Lastly, we have Rainbow Rowell’s “Midnights”. I liked the story of these two friends and how their relationship progresses over the years, checking in on them on New Year’s Eve every year. I wanted to read more about them. My issue with it was that as a short story, it felt incomplete. It seemed more like a chapter out of an unfinished book to me. I would definitely read that book, if Rowell wanted to write it. It just didn’t really work as a 20 page story.

I love the idea behind this book, I just wish I had enjoyed it a little bit more.


Scootsa1000’s #CBR6 Review 22: Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor

UnknownI’m about to confess something that I don’t think will be a very popular opinion around here.

I just read Dreams of Gods & Monsters. And I didn’t love it.

I know, right? What’s wrong with me? How could I think such a thing?

Honestly, I just don’t know.

I loved the first book. LOVED it. And I really liked the second one, and definitely appreciated what a great set up it was for a third book. I found myself really drawn to these characters and caring about what might happen to them. I was so excited to read this book. When I got it home from the library, I sat down immediately, and got right to it.

And I found myself, more often than not, putting it aside. This is not something that happened with the first two books. Ever.

I can’t really put my finger on the reason why, but this book (at least for the first 400 pages or so) just didn’t suck me in. It wasn’t until the scene in The St. Regis Hotel in Rome that my interest began to be piqued.

And that’s not the fault of Laini Taylor. That woman can write. She can move from humor to suspense to tragedy at the drop of a hat. Her descriptions of Rome, Morocco, and Eretz were gorgeous,  bringing to life realistic, beautiful places I could easily imagine.

But I just wasn’t engaged. And I’m sorry for it.

I really wanted to love this final entry in what is still one of the strongest trilogies out there. But I’m still glad I read it and happy that I stuck with it all the way through. I’m glad I got to know these richly drawn characters and spend a little time with them.

I’m not going to go into too much detail about the ending, but I do want to say that I didn’t really think it worked. It all seemed a bit too much like a storybook happy ending, which after three books filled with war and suffering and broken hearts, wasn’t quite what I had expected. I’m not saying I was hoping for Death and Destruction For Everyone!, because I certainly wasn’t. But I’m not sure I was hoping for this, either.

Anyway, thanks to Laini Taylor for these great books. I’m sorry this one didn’t do it for me, but I still loved them as a whole.

And I ❤ Ziri. That’s all.

</end confession>


Scootsa1000’s #CBR4 Review 52: Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

Yay! Finally book #52, and I’m happy to report its a really good one.

But first, a bit of housekeeping. Now that I’ve hit my goal, I have to say I just don’t think I’m going to get around to reviewing the stack on the “to review” pile. These books include: Then Came You by Jennifer Weiner, World War Z by Max Brooks, Enders’ Game by Orson Scott Card, Julia’s Child by Sarah Pinneo, 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson, Wool Vol. 1 by Hugh Howey, Messy by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan, and The Truth About Forever/Keeping the Moon/Someone Like You/This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen. Some were great (World War Z, Wool). Some were completely entertaining (Messy, Julia’s Child). Some were formulaic and predictable (Then Came You, all books by Sarah Dessen). And some I just didn’t get (I’m looking at you, Ender’s Game). I’ll start reviewing again in January for CBR5, but until then will be helping Joemyjoe and Bunnybean meet their Cannonball quotas by posting some reviews for them.

Earlier this year, along with many of my fellow Cannonballers, I fell under the spell of Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I immediately pre-ordered the sequel on my Kindle, and was pleasantly surprised when it showed up last week.

Days of Blood and Starlight takes place pretty much immediately after the end of Smoke and Bone. After breaking her wishbone, Karou remembered her life as Madrigal, and her love story with Akiva. Now that she knows he is responsible for the deaths of Brimstone and the rest of her chimaera family, she will never forgive him or allow herself to love him again.

The brutal war between the chimaera and seraphim wages on. The chimaera are almost completely destroyed, but for a small group of rebels who are holding their own against the armies of angels attacking them night after night. For both sides, the only strategy is to kill as many of their enemies as possible — all of the potential peace and harmony once dreamed of by Madrigal and Akiva is now an impossibility.

While Karou and Akiva are still the main characters in the story, Taylor has introduced and/or expanded the roles of a lot of the others, and the narrative jumps from human to angel to chimeara smoothly. We spend time with Karou’s friends from Prague; Akiva’s bastard brother and sister; the seraphim emperor and his horrible brother; Thiago the wolf (who originally had Madrigal be-headed); jumping from past to present without a hitch.

The last book was a bit of a war-torn love story. In this book, I’d call it more of a love-torn war story (is love-torn a thing?). We spend a lot of time reading about the brutality of this ongoing war, and of the innocence lost by so many good souls. The love story is still lurking around in the background, but is by no means the main attraction here.

I’ll be honest, I had a tough time getting into the story. I expected to jump right in and be as swept up as I was last time. But it took me about 70 pages until I really got into its rhythm — and then, I couldn’t put it down. For once, I’m looking forward to the last book in a trilogy!




Scootsa1000’s #CBR4 Review #3: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

I read a few really great reviews of this book last year and kept meaning to pick it up, but there was something about the art on the front cover that made me say “meh”…and I kept putting it off.  A vague face in a blue Mardi Gras mask?  Whatever.  But then, around Christmas, I had some free time — with grandparents visiting and playing with the kids, I could actually sit down and read a few books — so, I finally gave it a shot.  And am so glad I did.

This is the story of Karou, a 17 year-old living in Prague and going to art school.  She has no traditional family, but instead was raised by a group of mysterious creatures called chimaera — creatures who are made up of various different animal or human parts (e.g., human body with lizard head, female head and torso with snake bottom, male torso and head with wolf legs, etc.).

Her foster father is Brimstone, who mysteriously collects human teeth and then uses them to grant wishes.  Brimstone and his team live in a mysterious world that is not quite our world, but accessible through portals (actual doors in various cities on Earth).  Karou acts as a messenger for Brimstone, traveling across the globe and collecting teeth for him, but never fully understanding why.

On a trip to Morocco, she notices that the portal door has a black handprint burned into it (and each door around the world receives a similar marking), and then she comes across a ferocious — and beautiful — angel named Akiva.

The story then becomes the tale of Akiva, the angel warrior, and the war between his people and the chimaera.  And it gives background on who Karou is and why/how she was raised in Brimstone’s mysterious world.

This was a terrific story, with lively characters and beautiful descriptions.  It made me want to go back to Prague for a second visit, as it brought the city to life in my memory. I was never annoyed by the potential romance between the characters (unlike say, any stories with sparkly vampires in it), and would happily read the next book in the series.


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