Sunday, October 23, 2011

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

I consider my self a fairly creative person.  I mean, I can come up with a few good ideas, make a few things, and say a few funny things.  But, let me tell you, after entering the world Laini Taylor created in Daughter of Smoke and Bone (watch the trailer), I realize that I am bland.  Boring.  Vanilla ice cream at best, people.  This lady's mind creates the most amazing images, characters, and situations.  I imagine a movie of this book would be just as visually stunning as Avatar.  I kid you not.

Karou might look like this.
The main character in this tale, Karou is a mystery.  She is a girl with blue hair and lots of tattoos who is young, suspiciously independent, and a fantastic artist.  She lives in Prague with only a best friend to comfort her and an ex-boyfriend to annoy her, but she also has access to portals that transport her to another realm where she is a courier for the "wishmonger", Brimstone. 

Brimstone and the others at his shop are chimera.  Each of them is an amalgam of many different kinds of animal and human aspects.  While in the world of the chimera, Karou never ventures outside of the wishmonger's shop.  She remembers a childhood of sleeping in the shop and befriending the chimera inside these confines.  But as she grew older, Brimstone insisted that she live in the human world.  So, Karou continues her life.  She pretends to live with her grandmother so children's services does not take over her life.  She avoids questions she can't answer, like where did she come from? and who are her parents?  She continues completing Brimstone's errands which, get this, require her to travel far and wide and collect teeth.  Yes, I said teeth.

Brimstone might
look like this
The collection of teeth is not always easy.  Karou is often put in life threatening situations, like the day she encountered Akiva.  Akiva is a seraph.  The problem is that the chimera and the seraph are sworn enemies who have been at war since, well, since forever.  When Karou and Akiva first meet, Karou has no idea what he is, and she is a mystery to him as well.

Akiva might look like this.
But, when the portals to that lead to Brimstone's shop are closed, Karou desperately wants to return to the only family she has known.  Her quest to discover how to reunite with them leads her back to Akiva, and she is able to learn the secret of her past and of a world she could never have imagined.

This is really a book that pulls the reader in to its magic.  I'm not generally one for the sappy romantic parts of anything, but the passage in the book that says:
     "Love is a luxury."
     "No.  Love is an element."
     An element. Like air to breathe, earth to stand on.

Now, that is beautiful.  Just beautiful.

My other favorite line of the book is the one that says: To be continued.  Bring it on, Laini Taylor, bring it on.

*Being vanilla ice cream, you obviously realize I didn't draw any of these awesome pictures.  I used Google to find them.  You can too. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fairest of All

Let me first say that I love Disney. Disney movies, Disney World, Disney anything. I love it. So, clearly the union of Disney and a young adult books would be on my list! I think this is so smart because those folks at Disney cast their nets toward an audience they don't always target. Genius, I tell you. Serena Valentino joined up with Disney to bring Fairest of All: The Untold Story Wicked Queen (watch a fanmade trailer here) to those of us who fell in love with Snow White's story as a child.

The story begins with a happy family made up of a beautiful child, a doting valiant father, and a georgeous loving step-mother. However, things change after the brave king is killed in battle. After this, the Queen becomes troubled.  The root of her troubles being a magic mirror bestowed upon her by her dearly departed husband's family.  Because of her childhood insecurities, the Queen becomes vulnerable to the manipulation of the mirror. 

As the story unfolds, Snow White grows from a darling child to a beautiful young woman, further compounding the problem.  The gulf between the Queen and Snow White grows until Snow White is forced to leave home for her safety.  Despite the seemingly bleak outlook, the story does have a happy ending as good Disney tales should.

What I really liked about this book is that it showed the troubled and true side of the Queen.  Even though her problems were due to the dark, magical manipulation, readers see the roots of mental illness being cultivated by the situation.  It's a sad world out there for so many people.  Now, I mean, I realize most people are not trying to remove the hearts of their step-daughters with a dagger, but still, I felt sorry for her when I understood her pain. 

Bless her wicked little heart.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


I've mentioned before that I'm a teacher of English.  So, obviously I was drawn to a book that tied into the classic and twisted tales of Edgar Allan Poe.  Nevermore (watch a fan-made trailer here) by Kelly Creagh did not disappoint me in my quest to find for a creepy read with a Poe twist.

In Nevermore, Isobel Lanley has the perfect life: she is the star flyer on the cheerleading squad; she has a boyfriend that makes all her friends jealous.  But, her only problem seems to be the project she must do in her English class.  Her teacher assigned partners and topics for the project, and Isobel gets partnered with the school's lead goth, Varen Nethers, and assigned the topic of Edgar Allan Poe.  From the start, Varen makes it clear that he has no intention of working with Isobel.  However, Isobel begins to feel strangely drawn to Varen and his dark world.

As time goes on, Isobel begins withdrawing from her perfect life to spend time with Varen.  Simultaneously, she begins having very frightening and realistic dreams.   These dreams seem to be tied to the sketch pad where Varen shares his innermost thoughts.  As it turns out, this sketchpad serves as a link between the real world and the frightening dream world of Edgar Allan Poe.  When Varen sketched Isobel's name into the pad, she too was linked to this terrifying world of morgues, death, and horrifying characters.  Isobel must desperately try to save herself and Varen from this world, but as you might expect it is not easy to escape the dream world.

I really like how Creagh wove aspects of Poe's life into the book.  For example, Varen was darkly attractive and had a few ladies from which to choose, just like Poe.  Also, Varren's step-dad is just like John Allan, foster father of Poe.  Probably my favorite tie-in was Reynolds.  Creagh used this character to explain the legend of the Poe Toaster.  I love this! 

The sequel to Nevermore, Enshadowed, is set for release on January 24, 2012.  While I've not had the priviledge of reading this one, I anticipate that the story will continue with Isobel's search for Reynolds and may take readers to Baltimore.  Fans of Poe will remember that Baltimore is steeped in Poe history and is his final resting place.  I think this will be a very exciting adventure. 

As a sidenote, Creagh's website is beautiful.  You should totally visit it.  It's beauty is mesmerizing and it's superbly informative also.  Also, I would love an ARC of Enshadowed.  And there you have it; I am not too proud to beg!