Reading Rewind: Dreams of Gods and Monsters, Night of Cake and Puppets, and The Girl & the Machine

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The past two weeks, I continued/finished my binge read of Laini Taylor’s Smoke and Bone trilogy (and companion novella). Why, why, why didn’t I start this series years ago? So effing brilliant. I also got to read a fun short story from amazing sci-fi writer Beth Revis.

Monsters

Goodreads Summary:

By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her, if there can even be a future for the chimaera in war-ravaged Eretz.

Common enemy, common cause.

When Jael’s brutal seraph army trespasses into the human world, the unthinkable becomes essential, and Karou and Akiva must ally their enemy armies against the threat. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people.

And, perhaps, for themselves. Toward a new way of living, and maybe even love.

But there are bigger threats than Jael in the offing. A vicious queen is hunting Akiva, and, in the skies of Eretz … something is happening. Massive stains are spreading like bruises from horizon to horizon; the great winged stormhunters are gathering as if summoned, ceaselessly circling, and a deep sense of wrong pervades the world.

My Thoughts:

Dreams of Gods and Monsters follows in the same gorgeous writing and amazing characters as the rest of the series. Seriously, the way these books are written is stunning. Everything is tied together, even if you don’t notice at first, and is supported by perfectly crafted sentences and dialogue that you wish you could just live inside the book. I loved how the end wasn’t all perfectly tied up and you knew the story still continued after the end, but still left me feeling very satisfied and hopeful and completely in love.

At times I felt like there was too much going on, too many plot points that were interesting and I knew they be important, but nothing I was invested in (Eliza and Jael, specifically). And in some cases almost anti-climactic. I guess I was just thinking the book would be more epic–bigger battles, more destruction, more loss. Don’t get me wrong, I am so very grateful for the lives that didn’t get lost, but I was prepared for it to be so much darker and more painful. And part of me wishes I’d gotten a little more of that. But it was a fantastic ending to Karou and Akiva’s story.

Puppets

Goodreads Summary:

In Night of Cake & Puppets, Taylor brings to life a night only hinted at in the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy—the magical first date of fan-favorites Zuzana and Mik. Told in alternating perspectives, it’s the perfect love story for fans of the series and new readers alike. Petite though she may be, Zuzana is not known for timidity. Her best friend, Karou, calls her “rabid fairy,” her “voodoo eyes” are said to freeze blood, and even her older brother fears her wrath. But when it comes to the simple matter of talking to Mik, or “Violin Boy,” her courage deserts her. Now, enough is enough. Zuzana is determined to meet him, and she has a fistful of magic and a plan. It’s a wonderfully elaborate treasure hunt of a plan that will take Mik all over Prague on a cold winter’s night before finally leading him to the treasure: herself! Violin Boy’s not going to know what hit him.

My Thoughts:

Night of Cake & Puppets is, I think, my favorite of the entire series, even though it’s not part of the main story. I love, love, love Zuzana and Mik. They are so damn adorable and vivid and the perfect blend of sarcasm and genuine emotions. They are exactly the kinds of people I want to be friends with. I loved getting both of their POVs as they work their way through their first date. It was magical and swoony and absolutely perfect.

Machine

Goodreads Summary:

This short story follows Franklin, a time traveler with limited abilities: He can only travel into the past within his own lifetime. And then a girl shows up in his life. She claims to have met a future version of himself, and that the machine she invented will help him to go anywhere in the past or the future without limitations. When Heather shows Franklin the machine, she ensures him that they will change the world together and make it a better place. But Franklin can’t help but feel a little ominous about it all…

PLEASE NOTE: This short story is a part of the larger collection of short stories by Beth Revis, entitled THE FUTURE COLLECTION.

My Thoughts:

The Girl and the Machine is a quick read that, at its core, is about humanity and how one person’s actions affect those around him. Oh yeah, and time-travel. I loved the idea of Heather building a machine that worked with Franklin’s blood to allow time travel both forward in time as well as backwards, unlike Franklin’s natural ability to only travel back in his own timeline. It got a little uncomfortable toward the end when Franklin started talking about all the girls he “slept with” and though there is a good reason for it, it felt very forced and awkward. I was glad it turned out the way it did because after that conversation, I hated Franklin and didn’t want to keep following his story thinking he was supposed to be someone I cared about. Overall, good story with a nice twist but without the character development that usually comes with a story from Beth Revis.

*I received an ARC from the author for an honest review.

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Reading Rewind: Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Days of Blood and Starlight

Reading_Rewind-01I decided to end the year on an epic reading note and picked up a series I have heard rave reviews about from so many friends. I started the series as an audio book (which for this particular series was absolutely perfect!) and then devoured the rest of book 1 and all of book 2 in hardback. Now I’m onto book 3 and am so in love and so inspired to write from the perfection that is the Smoke and Bone trilogy.

DaughterGoodreads Summary:

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

My Thoughts:

I cannot believe it took me so long to read this book. It is gorgeous and fanciful and sarcastic and all sorts of brilliant. I loved the mix of real world and “monsters” and how Karou fit with both. And Akiva. Who could resist that kind of undying love and attraction? Such a tortured love story wrapped up in a whole heap of feels from the rest of the characters. Absolutely amazing.

StarlightGoodreads Summary:

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.

Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

My Thoughts:

Days of Blood and Starlight is such an epic sequel. The writing is just as gorgeous as in Daughter, and the characters are even more complex and heartbreaking and so very flawed, but you can’t help to hope right along with them as they try desperately to save their world. And seriously, can I just say how much I LOVE Zuzana and Mik? They are so adorable and loveable and just bring a lightness to this story that would’ve been missing otherwise. Karou needed her friends and they did not disappoint. The tension between Karou and Akiva was painful and gut-wrenching at times, but felt so exactly right for these characters. Things will never be the way they once were for those two, but there is no doubt that they will overcome everything between them and find a way to save themselves right along with both worlds.

Favorite Books of 2014

According to Goodreads I read 71 of my wanted 75 books in 2014. But what Goodreads doesn’t know is that I also read 6 full manuscripts for friends (not to mention the number of times I read my own books, but M said mine don’t count!). So, I’m considering my reading challenge a total win.

There were books that I enjoyed, there were books I honestly didn’t care if I finished, and then there were books that blew my mind with their sheer brilliance. Books that I will push on friends and strangers just because everyone needs to read them. Books that inspired me, tortured me, made me laugh, made me cry and, most definitely made me grateful for so many different kinds of characters and stories. Below are the ones that I still can’t get out of my head.

Books

A Corner of White and Cracks in the Kingdom by Jaclyn Moriarty

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

The Raven Boys, The Dream Thieves, and Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan

Strange Sweet Song by Adi Rule

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor (I’m not finished with Dreams of God and Monsters yet, otherwise it would be on here too!)

Landline by Rainbow Rowell