Daughter of Smoke & Bone

Taylor, Laini. Daughter of Smoke & Bone (2012). Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. 448 Pages. $12.00

Daughter Of Smoke & Bone | Book One

DSB_final_6_1From Goodreads

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?

First Lines

Walking to school over the snow-muffled cobbles, Kaoru had no sinister premonitions about the day. It seemed like just another Monday, innocent but for its essential Mondayness, not to mention its Januaryness. It was cold, and it was dark – in the dead of winter the sun didn’t rise until eight – but it was also lovely. The falling snow and the early hour conspired to paint Prague ghostly, like a tintype photograph, all silver and haze.

Thoughts

Once upon a time, a little girl was raised by monsters.
But angels burned the doorways to their world, and she was all alone.
             Laini Taylor, Daughter of Smoke & Bone 

I have this online friend from Chicago. I’ve known her for nearly 10 years now, and we talk a lot, about important things and silly things. In 2012 she sent me a Christmas present. I didn’t get it, and was heartbroken, because she knows me so well and sends me such lovely gifts. Upset by the fact that I would never see the one-of-a-kind presents, or the book she had chosen, she packed a replacement present. It arrived, and I was thrilled. Four months later, just after my birthday, the first package arrived.

I found myself with two copies of Daughter of Smoke & Bone as well as some lovely other things (including a pair of origami crane earrings.) So, because she had loved it enough to send it to me not once, but twice, despite the fact that it is not a book I would have chosen (I do not know why, only that I looked at it multiple times and never chose to buy it) I read it.

And I loved it.

To quote a friend of mine, who just recently read it:

I think you said you had that book… Daughter of Smoke & Bone, have you read it? I just started it last night and I’m almost done with it already. It’s kind of fanfictiony, and I suspect the main characters might be borderline mary sues, cause everyone is just oh-so-goth-pretty but I am really liking it and it’s a fast read. (I can’t tell if it’s pleasure or guilty pleasure.) Akiva is so cute.

The world crafting is really good in this book, if I’m saying that right. You know what I mean. The writer makes really vivid images in your head, I feel like I’m watching a movie. Man I love books.

I put  that in there both because when I asked her if she wanted to help she said I could just use her chat comments as-is ( ♥ you, Anna), and also because she summed it up really nicely.

It is a fast read, with a steady but quick pace. The plot progresses well, and though it moves along, it doesn’t feel rushed. Time is still spent on the world, and the necessary world-building. I don’t want to go too in depth on that, because if you have not read it, then to go too detailed will take away some of the pleasure of discovering it as you read.

The writing is vivid, lyrical, flowing, any number of nice words can be used to describe it. It reads well. The flow is smooth and enjoyable. When Taylor describes things, she does so with the right amount of detail, bringing to mind vivid imagery, letting you see her world as you read it.

Karou is the main character, a girl who reads like a mary sue in the best of ways. She’s strong, beautiful, and smart, she’s got her crazy blue hair (which grows in that way) and a mysterious past. Despite all of this, she remains relatable, and as a reader it is very hard to not like her.

And Akiva… there is so much about him that I love. He’s a great character in his own right, and his story just gets deeper and deeper as the series continues. I don’t want to dwell on him too much here, again for fear of saying something that takes away the magic of discovery.

That is a huge factor in this book, too. The whole series. It’s got this great plot that’s clearly been all mapped out by the author, and as it meanders back and forth and loops and twists and doubles back, the pieces come together and you discover that it really is a great book.

I loved it. I hope if you’ve read it you loved it as much as me, and if you haven’t… remember, it was good enough that I was gifted it twice.

It gets 5/5 and a suggestion that you hurry up and read it, since the whole trilogy is out and you don’t need to worry about cliffhangers.

 

 

 

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Hyperbole and a Half

Brosh, Allie. Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened (2013). Touchstone. 384 Pages. $6.99

Book Cover Final threeFrom Amazon

This is a book I wrote. Because I wrote it, I had to figure out what to put on the back cover to explain what it is. I tried to write a long, third-person summary that would imply how great the book is and also sound vaguely authoritative– like maybe someone who isn’t me wrote it– but I soon discovered that I’m not sneaky enough to pull it off convincingly. So I decided to just make a list of things that are in the book:

Pictures
Words
Stories about things that happened to me
Stories about things that happened to other people because of me
Eight billion dollars*
Stories about dogs
The secret to eternal happiness*

*These are lies. Perhaps I have underestimated my sneakiness!

First Lines

It seems like there should be some sort of introduction to this.

Here is a recreation of a drawing I did when I was five:

It’s a guy with one normal arm and one absurdly fucking squiggly arm, If you look really closely you can see the normal arm under the squiggly one. What you can’t see is that in the original, the squiggly arm continues for the entire length of a roll of butcher paper. It started on one end and then just kept going until I ran out of paper.

I remember drawing it and thinking. This is insane… I can’t even believe how long this guy’s arm is. If I had not run out of paper, who knows what would have happened.

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Let’s Pretend this Never Happened

Lawson, Jenny. Let’s Pretend this Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir (2012). Berkeley Trade. 384 Pages. $7.99

letpretendthisneverhappened31From Amazon

When Jenny Lawson was little, all she ever wanted was to fit in. That dream was cut short by her fantastically unbalanced father and a morbidly eccentric childhood. It did, however, open up an opportunity for Lawson to find the humor in the strange shame-spiral that is her life, and we are all the better for it.

In the irreverent Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Lawson’s long-suffering husband and sweet daughter help her uncover the surprising discovery that the most terribly human moments—the ones we want to pretend never happened—are the very same moments that make us the people we are today. For every intellectual misfit who thought they were the only ones to think the things that Lawson dares to say out loud, this is a poignant and hysterical look at the dark, disturbing, yet wonderful moments of our lives.

First Lines

This book is totally true, except for the parts that aren’t. It’s basically like Little House on the Prairie but with more cursing. And I know, you’re thinking “But Little House on the Prairie was totally true!” and no, I’m sorry, but it wasn’t. Laura Ingalls was a compulsive liar with no fact-checker and probably if she was still alive today her mom would be saying “I don’t know how Laura came up with this whole ‘I’m-a-small-girl-on-the-prairie’ story. We lived in New Jersey with her aunt Frieda and our dog, Mary, who was blinded when Laura tried to bleach a lightning bolt on her forehead…”

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Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes

O’Brien, Cory. Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes: A No-Bullshit Guide to World Mythology (2013). Perigee Trade. 304 Pages. $10.92

tumblr_ncowy3sgun1sokmcuo5_r1_1280From Goodreads:

All our lives, we’ve been fed watered-down, PC versions of the classic myths. In reality, mythology is more screwed up than a schizophrenic shaman doing hits of unidentified. Wait, it all makes sense now. In Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes, Cory O’Brien, creator of Myths RETOLD!, sets the stories straight. These are rude, crude, totally sacred texts told the way they were meant to be told: loudly, and with lots of four-letter words. Skeptical? Here are just a few gems to consider:

  • Zeus once stuffed an unborn fetus inside his thigh to save its life after he exploded its mother by being too good in bed.
  • The entire Egyptian universe was saved because Sekhmet just got too hammered to keep murdering everyone.
  • The Hindu universe is run by a married couple who only stop murdering in order to throw sweet dance parties… on the corpses of their enemies.
  • The Norse goddess Freyja once consented to a four-dwarf gangbang in exchange for one shiny necklace.

And there’s more dysfunctional goodness where that came from.

First Lines

Introduction

(Or the Part of This Book You Can Safely Tear Out If You Need to Make It Slightly Lighter for Some Reason)

‘Sup guys.

Here is a book I wrote, and I hope you enjoy it.

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The Glass Magician

Holmberg, Charlie N. The Glass Magician (2014). 47North. 226 Pages. $4.99

The Paper Magician | Book Two

22341276Notes & Disclaimers:

  • I received a copy for review through NetGalley.
  • This review is pre-release. Expected publication is November 4, 2014.
  • Because this is the second book in a series, there may be spoilers for the first book, The Paper MagicianProceed with caution.

From Amazon

Three months after returning Magician Emery Thane’s heart to his body, Ceony Twill is well on her way to becoming a Folder. Unfortunately, not all of Ceony’s thoughts have been focused on paper magic. Though she was promised romance by a fortuity box, Ceony still hasn’t broken the teacher-student barrier with Emery, despite their growing closeness.

When a magician with a penchant for revenge believes that Ceony possesses a secret, he vows to discover it…even if it tears apart the very fabric of their magical world. After a series of attacks target Ceony and catch those she holds most dear in the crossfire, Ceony knows she must find the true limits of her powers…and keep her knowledge from falling into wayward hands.

First Lines

A late summer breeze wafted through the open kitchen window, making the twenty tiny flames upon Ceony’s cake dance back and forth on their candlewicks. Ceony hadn’t made the cake, of course, as one should never bake her own birthday cake, but her mother was a good cook and a better baker, so Ceony had no doubts that the confection, complete with pink cherry frosting and jelly filling, would be delicious.

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The Paper Magician

Holmberg, Charlie N. The Paper Magician (2014). 47North. 226 Pages. $4.99

The Paper Magician | Book One

20727654From Amazon:

Ceony Twill arrives at the cottage of Magician Emery Thane with a broken heart. Having graduated at the top of her class from the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, Ceony is assigned an apprenticeship in paper magic despite her dreams of bespelling metal. And once she’s bonded to paper, that will be her only magic…forever.

Yet the spells Ceony learns under the strange yet kind Thane turn out to be more marvelous than she could have ever imagined—animating paper creatures, bringing stories to life via ghostly images, even reading fortunes. But as she discovers these wonders, Ceony also learns of the extraordinary dangers of forbidden magic.

An Excisioner—a practitioner of dark, flesh magic—invades the cottage and rips Thane’s heart from his chest. To save her teacher’s life, Ceony must face the evil magician and embark on an unbelievable adventure that will take her into the chambers of Thane’s still-beating heart—and reveal the very soul of the man.

First Lines

For the past five years, Ceony had wanted to be a Smelter.

However, while most graduates of the Tagis Praff school for the Magically Inclined got to choose what material they dedicated their craft to, Ceony had been assigned. “Not enough Folders,” Magician Aviosky had explained in her office.

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I’m back!

So… life. Let’s talk about life and how sometimes things go a totally different direction than you expected.

In July of 2012 I applied for an apprenticeship. In September I took a test. In January 2013 I had an interview, and in March of 2013 I started down a career path I’d never have expected for myself.

I’m an Apprentice Electrician with the I.B.E.W. (Local 6) learning a skilled trade. I work in San Francisco, and commute to the city every morning. I love  my job. I love working with my hands and using my brain. I love facing challenges, and learning new things every day. I love being able to stand back and look at what I’ve accomplished. I absolutely love getting to turn on things I’ve wired. Knowing that I’m the reason a light turns on when you flip a switch is still new and exciting.

I am learning about how to work safely, and do some really cool things. I’m learning about unions and why they are still important. I’m making a wage I can afford to live on for the first time in my life. I am in a really good spot. Finally.

10440937_823755267415_2928247814265384531_nDuring all of this, I read. A lot. I read on the train to and from work (~40 minutes each way) and if a book was especially good, I’d keep reading into the evening. I have a huge backlog of books I can review, and I hope to get back to doing this soon.

(Seriously, check out how stuffed my bookshelf has gotten. Yeah, some of those have been reviewed already, but there are so many that haven’t.)

So, if you’re still around, or if you’re new to me and this blog… let me know.

What’s been going on with you? How are you? How are things? What wonderful or terrible or terribly wonderful things have happened recently?

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