Top 5 Moments with Pierce Brown – Author of the Red Rising Series

 

One of the benefits of living in a major city is when authors come to town and you have the privilege of being able to exist in their presence for a short time. In February of 2016 I had the utter delight of basking in the literary genius of Pierce Brown, the author of the Red Rising series.

For those of you not familiar with the Red Rising series (you poor, poor souls) the three books in the trilogy, Red Rising, Golden Son and Morning Star, tell the story of Darrow, a lowly Red miner whose heart-wrenching loss leads him into the very midst of the high-society Golds to claim his revenge. What started out as a quest for redemption driven by the words of a young girl soon morphs into the reforging of an entire society, stretching across stars and planets to sweep even the most unwilling into its unfolding.

I’m not usually a fan of sci-fi, I will be the first one to admit it.  The mechanical and planetary backgrounds of sci-fi novels have often turned me off in the past, but this series is so much more then spaceships and stars. Each character is insanely fleshed out to the point where you are emotionally invested in several of them for entirely different reasons, the story telling is flawless and flows without a hitch, and those plot twists, oh be still my heart. And being the historical nerd I am, I can’t help but give a nod of appreciation to the Roman, Viking and other historical goodness woven into Brown’s world and characters.

I could remark on the obvious reality that Mr. Brown is most certainly eye candy, but I was much more impressed with the wealth of knowledge he possessed, how easily he interacted with the crowd (many of which were obviously die hard Red Rising fans) but more importantly, the wisdom he imparted for those writing their own stories who wanted to dig a little deeper into his creative process. Here are some of the highlights that I took away from my evening with Pierce Brown…

  1. Brown revealed that many of his characters were inspired by a specific song. When he needed to think, Brown would drive around in his car listening to different kinds of music, pulling inspiration from different genres and sounds. Sevro came to being after hearing a Notorious B.I.G song – and for those who have read the first book or all three of them, and have mad respect for Sevro, it makes complete sense.
  2. He’s not aiming to write an all-encompassing world, such as that of George R.R. Martin or Tolkien. He’s not interested in anthologies filled with maps and family histories. Everything he needs to know about the world is in his head and that’s how he wants it.
  3. One of the best pieces of writing advice he gave was that if you can’t fit the most important traits/major story line points/beliefs of a character on a post-it note, you aren’t ready to write that character yet. Short, sweet, simple.
  4. He writes to entertain himself. And Brown is just insanely grateful that other people find his story, and the nerdish and sci-fi references embedded in his stories, as interesting as he does.
  5. THERE IS ANOTHER TRILOGY COMING! Same world, some familiar characters, some new ones. Gory damn. And the Red Rising series has been purchased by Universal Pictures to be made into movies. Double gory damn.

I am sure there are countless other comments I could make about Brown and other people likely walked away with different favorite moments then mine, but either way, there’s no denying that Brown is a down to earth guy with a wicked mind for story telling. I personally cannot wait until we have another piece of Brown’s work in our hands and I have no doubt, with a slight homage to Sevro, shit will escalate in the most glorious of ways.

Devon – a1000booklife

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

INSPIRE International Book Fair

On the snowy weekend of November 13th and 14th a few die-hard book friends and I found our way to the Convention Center in Toronto to enjoy the International Book Fair. I know it’s now 2015 but I wanted to share some of the pictures and thoughts from the weekend.

It was a fabulous event full of hundreds of author interviews, signings and sessions to help potential writers become inspired. There were 5 main stages and other countless smaller show areas, and the authors present represented every genre from Children Literature to Memoirs. There were also major vendors like Indigo and Harpers (props to Harlequin for their cute display!) and of course, the highlight for many of the attendees – the book signings where you could talk for those few moments with an author you admired!

– – – – – – – –

The highlight of the weekend was most certainly Ms. Maggie Stiefvater, Teen author extraordinaire. The crowd was fuuuuull of teeny fans but thankfully we camped out early enough to get front row seats. Stiefvater was highly entertaining and she shared stories that influenced her writing, including her love of fast cars and the quasi-supernatural experiences she’s had throughout her life. She moved around while talking and was extremely animated, which made it an extremely entertaining listen. After witnessing her awesome quirkiness in person, I have so much more respect for her writing style and storytelling. And yes, I got my book signed!

*Maggie Stiefvater is the author of the Raven Boys Cycle (The Raven Boys, Dream Thieves and Blue Lily, Lily Blue), the Shiver series and The Scorpio Races

– – – – – – – –

One of the speakers that I found the most interesting was Deborah Harkness, the author of The Discovery of Witches and its two following volumes. She is a Professor of History and spoke extensively about writing Historical Fiction, something I hold close to my heart (my Masters in History is giving a nod at the moment). I have to admit that I gave up on reading The Discovery of Witches early on but after listening to Harkness, I have vowed to give it another try. Listening to her describe how she did the historical research and the thought process for this series helped inspire my own ideas for future writing excursions based in historical settings.

*Deborah Harkness is the author of the All Souls Trilogy (The Discovery of Witches, Shadow of Night and The Book of Life)

– – – – – – – –

For you lovers of 50 Shades of Grey, turn away now. Sylvia Day’s Crossfire series blows Christian Grey out of the water. Not only is Sylvia Day one hell of a classy lady in person, but her intelligence is something fierce. It was crazy interesting to hear how her characters take on a voice in her mind who sometimes chastise her for what she has them doing in the story and how what started out as a 3 book series how now evolved into something much more (5 books in total by the end). I also had a run in with her in the bathroom that included a conversation about the Canadian delicacies of poutine and Beaver Tails, so props to Day for hearing out our weird, but delicious, food choices.

*Sylvia Day is the author of countless Romance novels but the Crossfire Series is likely the most well known (Bared to You, Reflected in You, Entwined with You and Captivated by You)

– – – – – – – –

I attended a session concerned with writing about topics that can be rather touchy, such as disabilities and harrowing personal experiences, which was headed by Amanda Lindhout and Lisa Genova.

Lindhout’s memoir, A House in the Sky, describes her terrifying experience of being kidnapped and held hostage for over a year while traveling through war-wracked Somalia as a reporter. I read this book and was both disturbed by what she experienced and yet impressed that any person could maintain their sanity while enduring the starvation, torture and mental deterioration that Lindhout did. In person, she was incredibly open and honest about her experiences and gave further insight to what she had written in her memoir.

Lisa Genova is best known for writing novels that include characters suffering from diseases such as Alzheimer’s or the very rare, Huntington’s disease. The screen play of her book Still Alice is currently receiving Oscar attention for its portrayal of a woman struggling with Alzheimer’s disease. Genova was incredibly well spoken in regards to giving voices to those who suffer from various neurological conditions and diseases, allowing her own expertise as a neuroscientist to lend further credence to how the lives of people change and the difficulties they face when they are inflicted by mental diseases.

*Lisa Genova is the author of Left Neglected, Inside the O’Briens and Love Anthony

– – – – – – – –

I have to admit that I ended up seeing Sarah Richardson and Tommy Smythe because Maggie Stiefvater was on the same stage afterwards and I wanted a prime seat, yet I have to admit that I really enjoyed listening to them! I’ve always known Sarah Richardson as the classy decorator from Toronto that my Mom is obsessed with (and who later received a signed copy of Richardson’s Sarah’s Style quite happily!). The chemistry between them provided a hilarious interview and hearing the stories of Richardson’s junk collecting made it well worth it!

*Sarah Richardson has numerous decorating shows on HGTV including Design Inc., Sarah’s House and Sarah 101.

 – – – – – – – –

While those were the highlights, there were many other fantastic authors present including Margaret Atwood (while I missed her session it was the most packed of both days), Anne Rice (whose views on gender and sexuality are beyond her time), Eric Walters (who has an obvious passion for helping children living in poverty across the world), Will Ferguson (the author of 2012 Giller Prize winner 419) and Wayson Choy (an amazingly enlightened man who I had seen speak a few years prior as well). On the kid side of things there were also great writers present, such as Jeff Kinney the author of the Diary of the Wimpy Kid series and Jon Klassen, author and illustrator of I Want My Hat Back, This Is Not My Hat and Sam and Dave Dig a Hole.

There were also countless amazing workshops to inspire writing by the Humber School for Writing. I attended two that gave me a clearer vision of writing non-fiction: “Writing about Family: Fraught or Fiction?” and “How to Write a Memoir”. There were many others and it was a great opportunity for aspiring writers to hear tips and advice from seasoned literary veterans.

Unfortunately it was announced on February 9th that they will not be holding the event against next year. It was extremely disappointing news and I can only hope they change that decision in future years. It was a fabulous weekend, full of literary creativity and bookworm friends!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Ruins by Dan Wells

Ruins

“It’s exactly like that,” said Marcus. “Nobody has a  . . . destiny. I mean, nobody has some kind of inescapable path for their life. This mud was made from clay, and that clay could have been anything at all until somebody made it into a mug. People aren’t mugs, we’re clay. Living, breathing, thinking, feeling clay, and we can shape ourselves into anything we want, and we keep shaping ourselves all our lives, getting better and better at whatever we want to be, and when we want to be something else we just smooth out the clay and start over. Your lack of ‘purpose’ is the single best thing about you, because it means you can be whatever you want.”

Ruins is the finishing touch in the Partials series and completes the story of Kira, Samm, Marcus and a world that is being ripped apart by prejudice and animosity. Despite traveling across the country, the cure only becomes clear to Kira when she willingly returns to the torture of Dr. Morgan’s lab. While Marcus and the remaining humans of East Meadows struggle to flee the oncoming threat of a nuclear storm, Samm and Heron remain in the colony where the truth first became clear to Kira; Partials allow human babies to survive and humans interaction eliminates the expiration date that will soon kill every last Partial in the country. The true challenge now is not discovering a cure but convincing both warring sides to forget the reasons they have killed each other for years and forgive the enemy for the sake of survival.

Wells touches on themes that must be prevalent in teens’ minds (and even adults, as they wonder about the future of the world their children will grow up in). As much as history and war has pitted Partials and humans against one another, ultimately they must co-exist to ensure the survival of both species. Applying that to our world is just as simple and certainly as necessary. Despite our different religions, economies, beliefs and goals, losing one branch of our global population would significantly affect all others in a truly damaging manner. Humanity, as a whole, is diverse and while these differences mark us as belonging to one group or another, civilization would suffer if one façade was completely wiped away. Turn on the TV or browse a website and you’ll see humans fighting and resisting one another. Wells world is the same and he does not paint it with a sparkly brush- he exposes war, fleeing fugitives and ethnic revenge as the destructive forces they can be. With teens becoming more and more aware of the uprisings in our societies, Wells does them justice by writing a book that reflects our world in a very authentic way but maintains the necessary distance to keep it from becoming an overly depressing read.

I enjoyed how Wells made heroes, small or large, out of so many of his characters and showed that mundane acts could be courageous when done for the well being of others. Kira and Samm are the most obvious but others rose to the occasion is unanticipated ways; Heron and her encounter with the Blood Man, Green and his refusal to give up, Ariel leading the ones she loves into the unknown for the sake of the new generation carried in their group.

The story also took turns that I didn’t expect. The entire under current story line of the “Blood Man” infused the story with some good ole’ mystery and kept you guessing right to the very end on how important his role may or may not be, and how it would come to fruition. It can certainly be pegged as a fast-paced story with major plot changes and events that keep you on your toes and wondering to what level Wells might elevate the story to next.

Wells does a great job of ending his series by tying up all the loose ends and completing the journies of his characters to satisfaction. Science, biology and evolution remain the focal points right to the very end and he never sways from touching on the destruction or triumphs they can foster.

Devon – a1000booklife

Other books by Dan Wells: Partials (2013) and Fragments (2013)

Leave a comment

Filed under Teen

The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman

400000000000001187920_s4

“From the time I began my career at the museum, my father told me I was a wonder of the world. Yet when I held up my hand mirror to study my face, it did not seem wondrous to me. My features- gray eyes, black eyebrows, high cheekbones, pale complexion- added up to a plain person, a simple individual no one would look at twice. I considered myself to be nothing special, a dull creature who could not compare to those God had made to be unique in all the world, for the living wonders my father employed were as marvelous as they were strange.”

There is something about the circus that displays the strange and unbelievable that grabs a person’s imagination. As a child it’s the wonder that such things exist and as an adult it’s a chuckle at the creativity behind the display and maybe even a slight appreciation for a well created trick for the eye. I had high expectations for Alice Hoffman’s The Museum of Extraordinary Things and while it may not have been what I expected, it was still a very enjoyable read nonetheless.

Coralie has grown up with people that the rest of society deems “freaks” but to her they are friends, family and individuals with beautiful thoughts and intentions no matter how different the shells they live in may be. Her father employs these people at his museum where he displays the strange and frightening, a mad but ingenious scientist who is always dreaming up the next oddity he can create. He even places his daughter in a tank, her webbed fingers and toes making her a mermaid worth displaying. Eddie has run from his only remaining family member, forsaken his Jewish community and lost hold of who he is, all the decisions he made in his youth haunt him every day in one manner or another. But Eddie has a gift and is able to find things and people lost to the whirlwind of life, his only saving grace as far as he is concerned. Random events will bring these two old souls together amidst the noise and metropolis of a blooming New York City and redefine what is strange and what is fate.

Hoffman is one of those authors that I truly respect and look forward to new releases from. She has a fantastic writing style and very few people can match her when it comes to telling a story with finesse. And from the books I have read by Hoffman, she often chooses to tell stories that are intriguing and by taking an angle that might not be expected by her readers.

One of the highlights of reading Hoffman is the intricacy of her characters and The Museum of Extraordinary Things does not disappoint on this front. Coralie is the strong, intelligent lead female character that I wish I would see more often in novels, a woman under the thumb of a controlling father and who lives with a visible peculiarity but who grows to know the value of her own self-worth. Maureen, the housekeeper and mother figure for Coralie and who also has a disfigurement, is a second admirable female character that provides guidance and acceptance. Eddie has countless layers of development; the rejection of his father and religion, his youth as a thug, a return to the beauty of nature, and a desire to find the perfect moment from behind the lens of his camera. Perhaps the most surprising ideology weaved into the story by Hoffman is that the museum’s human displays, the Wolfman, the Butterfly Girl, all of them, are still humans and seek the same things that their more perfect counterparts do. All of these characters exist against the background of Coney Island in a time when the entire world was changing and people struggled to find their place in it, no matter their outward appearance.

While a small part of me would have loved to see a bit more about the different acts and people of the circus-like museum, The Museum of Extraordinary Things is still a wonderful story of life, love, hope and urges the reader to revaluate their definition of extraordinary. For those who enjoy Hoffman and her literary passion for telling a consuming story, this is a must read.

Devon – a1000booklife

Other books by Hoffman: The Ice Queen (2006), Green Angel (2010), The Dovekeepers (2011), The Red Garden (2011), Green Heart (2012) and many others

Leave a comment

Filed under Fiction

Death at SeaWorld: Shamu and the Dark Side of Killer Whales in Captivity by David Kirby

Death-at-Sea-World1

But what if the capture of the young calf had never occurred? Tilikum might still be swimming free in the frigid water of the North Atlantic, chasing his cherished herring, perhaps alongside his mother. He might be surrounded by siblings, nieces, and nephews, and his grandmother might still be leading the pod.

An oceanic Tilikum would be gliding through his boundless home with fearless power and majestic grace, his fin erect, his teeth intact, his interactions with humans minimal and nonlethal. There would be no need for gelatin or Tagamet, antibiotics or isolation.

And of course, if Tilikum had never been wrenched away from his family and friends, entirely for the amusement of humans, the family and friends of Keltie Byrne, Daniel Dukes, and Dawn Brancheau might not be grieving to this day.

Tilikum was trying to tell us something. It was time to listen.

The road to this book began with watching the documentary Blackfish (thank you to my sister and her Netflix). It was spurned even further by a love of marine life that I’ve had since I was a little girl. I was never one of those kids who begged to go to Marineland, but more so a kid who begged for whale watching out on the ocean every summer my family went out East (to the Maritimes for you Yanks, much love to ya). Even now, living a few short hours from Niagara Falls and having been there numerous times, there has never been a desire to visit the so-called “educational marine mammal” park. After watching the ground-breaking Blackfish and reading Death at SeaWorld: Shamu and the Dark Side of Killer Whales in Captivity as a follow up, I’m grateful I recognized, even as a kid, that something about SeaWorld and its captivity of orca whales just didn’t feel right.

In Death at SeaWorld Dr. David Kirby tells the story of whale captivity for the purpose of entertainment and propagated by a company driven to protect their earnings as well as the complexities of the marine whale communities those whales were taken from in the wild. As one reads through the book it becomes clear that the very topic of captive vs. whales in the open oceans is what both sides cling to for their defense. Kirby moves back and forth between the views of the scientific community, along with the freely swimming whales they study, and the stories of whales who now perform in parks around the world. The history of the whale entertainment industry is examined stage by stage along with the whales that perform (whether captured or born at SeaWorld), the stages of protest against whale custody and finally the fatal attack on Dawn Brancheau in 2010 that led to a public war about the morals of whale captivity.

There are so many things I loved about this book. First, while the first impression is to think this book is biased, especially considering its agenda and the main figures that Kirby includes, I slowly came to understand that much of the evidence against SeaWorld was damning enough by itself (four deaths seems legitimate enough proof to me). Kirby also states in the prologue that he offered SeaWorld representatives opportunities to respond and be involved but heard nothing back. Their side is voiced through public statements and contact, and even then it is clear how contradictory their own public declarations have been.

Kirby has done extensive research to make this study as accurate as possible. The studies and ideologies of many of the world’s most renowned marine biologists and scientists who specialize on orcas are included, backed up by statistics and research. Dr. Naomi Rose is the main scientific figure, a marine biologist who spent years studying the pods off of the Pacific coast and who took up the anti-cap torch. Kirby also includes the stories of numerous SeaWorld trainers who during their employment saw things they could not come to terms with (such as the lack of stimulation for the whales and the horrendous ways in which some of them died) and would later speak out against their former employer.

However, the most significant aspect is the stories of the whales themselves. From their boredom in non-stimulating holding tanks, the destruction of their families and social customs, from drilled down teeth and deadly mosquito bites, to the victory of a singular release into an open concept sea pen, Kirby reveals how their intelligence, emotions and human-like familial structures are abused for the sake of entertainment. The big-bad ocean was never such a thing to them (as SeaWorld apparently likes to claim) but a world of interaction and discovery. It becomes clear that keeping orca whales caged in tanks is like sentencing a Great Dane to live forever in a car.

There’s no denying that the deaths that occurred at SeaWorld over the past few decades are tragedies. Kirby recognizes that in Death at SeaWorld but he also examines the causes that led up to these tragedies. When you finally turn the last page there is only one conclusion to come to; that killer whales deserve to be in the depths of the ocean and not in the shallows of a tank.

Devon – a1000booklife

Other books written by Dr. David Kirby: Animal Farm: The Looming Threat of Industrial Pig, Dairy, and Poultry Farms to Humans and the Environment (2011)

Leave a comment

Filed under Science

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

the-historian

“A singular image drifted back to me: Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, where I’d strolled that recent sunny morning, and the gates where the Ottoman executioners had displayed the heads of the sultan’s enemies. Dracula’s head would have warranted one of the highest spikes, I thought – the Impaler finally impaled. How many people would have gone to see it, this proof of the sultan’s triumph? Helen had told me once that even the inhabitants of Istanbul had feared Dracula and worried that he might fight his way into their very city. No Turkish encampment would have to tremble again at his approach; the sultan had finally gotten control of that troublesome region and could set an Ottoman vassal on the Wallachian throne, as he’d wanted to years before. All that was left of the Impaler was a gruesome trophy, with its shrivelled eyes and tangled, blood-caked hair and moustache.”

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova was published in 2005 and I might have missed it if not for the advice of a friend who suggested it for the historian in me. And that is exactly who this novel is perfect for, anyone with that historian thread in their interests.

This story is told from several different characters’ point of view but all focus on the same fixation; searching for the resting place of Vlad the Impaler. Paul has always impressed the importance and love of history on his teenage daughter, bringing her when he visits other countries to give his academic lectures. He has secrets however and he slowly begins to reveal them to his daughter as she matures. It has been a lifelong obsession that started with the disappearance of his thesis advisor during University, Paul Rossi, which catapults him into a whirlwind of historical research that will lead him across the world. Paul is accompanied by a brilliant but enigmatic woman named Helen and trailed by a strange librarian who seems to defy death. The search for his advisor, who in many ways is valued more as a father figure, will take them to Istanbul, Hungaria and eventually Romania. With each location they gather another piece of evidence about the infamous Vlad Tepes, the barbaric warlord of the fifteenth century who earned the name Dracula, and begin to unravel the legend of Vlad the Impaler’s life and mysticism. All of this is learned through letters left for Paul’s daughter  as she too begins a search for her father, who has suddenly disappeared as well.

It only struck me as I wrote this review and searched through the book for the daughter’s name that it is never actually revealed. One might assume from this that she is the “Historian” that the novel is named for but, in my opinion, the title of historian can apply to numerous characters including Paul, Helen, Professor Rossi, the numerous academics they receive assistance from throughout the story and ultimately the very man they are searching for. History is the name of the game in this book. The constant use of research, the countless libraries they visit, the ancient manuscripts and songs that yield evidence, the academic atmosphere of the entire story is the literary dream for anyone who loves learning about history and all the facets it is recorded in. When doing a bit of background reading about the book I learned that Elizabeth Kostova did a tremendous amount of research to make this retelling of Dracula’s story as accurate as possible. As with any historical fiction some things have been changed to enhance the story but it is quite evident how much effort Kostova has made to ensure her novel was historically captivating and realistic.

With that being said, I can certainly see how someone who does not have a great interest in history might find this book a bit tedious. It is almost 700 pages and for some that is just too long. I will admit that it took me a while to get into the book but when I did I was eager to read it to completion. Koskova is a beautiful writer and the descriptions of the locations are stunning. However, I think it is safe to say that this is certainly a book for someone with the patience for intense but gradual story-weaving and a love for everything history.

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova is a historical fiction of significant standing, both in storytelling and length. Readers of a certain nature will love the historical nature of this novel and appreciate the quality of its writing. The subject of Dracula has always been fascinating and Kostova writes a new version of the age-old story grounded in historical evidence that makes it a treat to read for all the history lovers out there!

Devon – a1000booklife

Other books written by Elizabeth Kostova: The Swan Thieves (2013)

Leave a comment

Filed under Historical Fiction

Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

BLOOD-STARLIGHT_510

“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a new way of living—one without massacres and torn throats and bonfires of the fallen, without revenants or bastard armies or children ripped from their mothers’ arms to take their turn in killing and dying.

Once, the lovers lay entwined in the moon’s secret temple and dreamed of a world that was like a jewel box without a jewel—a paradise waiting for them to find it and fill it with their happiness.

This was not that world.”

I was saving Days of Blood and Starlight for a special occasion and that occasion was the holiday season of 2013. Even though it was released almost a full year prior and I had owned it for several months, I had to wait. Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone left such a lasting impression on me that I wanted to savor the reading of its partner, Days of Blood and Starlight (which, oh praise the lord, is the middle child in a trilogy), to finally consume it during a time that would only heighten its reading. And so in two short days I lay under a fur blanket with my Christmas tree twinkling before me while snowflakes coated everything in the world outside and lost myself in the exquisite, and equally exquisitely painful, world of Karou and Akiva.

Karou’s world has been shattered—both figuratively and literally. Her monster family has been snatched away from her and massacred, while their homeland city of Loramendi has been wiped from existence, both acts performed under the banner of vengeance claimed by the Angels. Worse yet, it is Akiva that set such tragedies into motion and that betrayal has forced her to return to what remains of her people. With Brimstone dead, the demons require a new resurrectionst and while she was not aware of it at the time, Brimstone has been grooming her to do just that her whole life. So it is now Karou who sorts through piles of teeth and rebuilds lost bodies, placing souls back into them but at the cost of her own physical pain. To make life even more difficult, Thiago the demon warlord, looms over her, a constant reminder of a painful past even as she struggles to come to terms with the memories awoken from her previous life as Madrigal. Akiva is also suffering, believing that Karou is dead and forced to watch as his kin track down demon farmers and peasants to be slaughtered. Both will soon make choices that will change the futures of their races and maybe, perhaps, bring their dream of peace to life again.

Once again, it is the complexity of her characters and the unparalleled telling of the story that make Taylor a master of her craft. I cannot say enough about how unique and captivating the characters are; Zuzanna and Mik’s deepening devotion to one another (a necessary happy love story to juxtapose the catastrophic state of Karou and Akiva’s), Ziri who is the last remaining member of Karou’s previous clan, Ten’s sly and spy-like presence, the arrogance of the emperor angel Joram and the conniving, ruthless intentions of his brother Jael. I especially loved how you were given a clearer view into the world of the angels, only to learn it is a truly hateful and soiled place. I came to admire Liraz, Akiva’s warrior sister, so much more and was thankful for a book that had not just one, but several strong female leads. Akiva’s pain is palpable through Taylor’s writing, as was Karou’s but I do have a huge thank you to send out to Ms. Laini Taylor. I have a theory. We’ll call it the Second-Installment-Heroine-Collapse theory (SIHC for short), based on the pattern I’ve come to see amongst Teen trilogies where the heroine was an extremely strong, intimidating, powerful figure in the first book, but then suffers an utter breakdown in the second book. I’m not by any means saying that what these heroines have suffered in the first book is not deserving of a breakdown, but it is disappointing to watch such kickass female characters dissolve into simpering fools of inability when really, all I want to see is the heroine own her emotions and keep the strength I admired so much about them in the first book. So, thank you Laini Taylor for doing just that with Karou. This story is dark, extremely dark, but while Karou has suffered, and continues to suffer unimaginable losses, she maintains her inner strength and sanity to remain true to who she is. I breathed a huge sense of relief when I saw this was not a book that had fallen to the SIHC philosophy.

I cannot say enough about this book and how much I loved it. The world that Taylor creates is one you can immerse yourself in completely, with returns to modern day settings here and there to keep you balanced. I craved those moments when she would reveal more about the glass citadel of the angels or the deep woodlands where demon peasants lived. It was an all-encompassing, imaginative environment and very few authors can draw me into their vision as vividly as Taylor’s writing does.

I’m aware that this review is quite longer than what I usually write but I suppose that is what happens when a book grips and compels me as much as Days of Blood and Starlight did. I cannot wait until the conclusion of this trilogy, Dreams of Gods and Monsters, is published in April and yet I am reluctant for that day to come because I just want this series to go on and on and on. Taylor’s writing is based on quite common themes- tyranny, betrayal, family, hope- but it is the wrapping of those themes that makes her series so breathtaking. I, along with numerous friends who have borrowed the first and second book from me, eagerly wait for another dose of magic from Laini Taylor.

Devon – a1000booklife

Other books by Laini Taylor: Dreamdark series (2007 and 2009), Lips Touch (2009) and Daughter of Smoke and Bone (2011)

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized