Young Adult Audiobook Review: Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor
Late last year I listened to the first book in this series on audiobook, and it was fantastic! The second book did not disappoint, but I will say that there were fewer surprises.
Laini Taylor’s world of Eretz, on the other side of the portals from Earth, is full of mystical creatures and angels, and lovely, fun, lively, and sometimes hilarious, characters. Zuzana is the primary comical relief character, and like in the first book, she is my favorite with her sparkling personality. Things grow darker in the second book, and things are more difficult for Karou as the narrative pushes forward.
My favorite thing about Laini Taylor’s books is her amazing way with language. She fills the page with surprising word pairings and description that brings the world to life. The audiobook, narrated by Khristine Hvam, is also brought to live through her wonderful reading and embellishment of character voices. I love how Hvam performs each character in a subtly different way, though, like in the first book, I don’t like the voice of Razgut, mostly because it creeps me out.
I can’t wait to listen to the third and last book of this trilogy, Dreams of Gods and Monsters, which I’ve already checked out from my local e-library. I highly recommend these ebooks, but be warned, each book clocks in at over fourteen hours of goodness, which for me means an awful lot of time at the gym.
I loved this book! An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir brought back all the good feelings I got reading the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Not that this was like the Hunger Games… I mean, it was a dystopian world, but a fantasy one, and there were some elements of death match style competition, but mostly it was a very unique story.
The tale is told from two alternating perspectives, Laia and Elias. They worked so well with each other and each voice was independent and unique, so i never forgot who was narrating that part of the story. The fantasy elements had their own uniqueness to them too, though they did not play that big of a role in the first book of this series. I have a feeling these elements will play a bigger part in book two. In fact, that was almost one of my pet peeves about this book: that the fantasy elements were almost forgotten about and then dropped in there here and there. There wasn’t much consistency with that. But I still loved it. I would definitely recommend this book to any fans of the Hunger Games, The Throne of Glass Series, or Rebel in the Sands. I can’t wait to read the next one.
One of the books I fininshed reading while on vacation was As I Darken by Kiersten White. This is an ‘alternate’ history, taking place during the time of the Ottoman Empire and Mehmed the II. The ‘alternate’ comes from the fact that White has made Vlad the Impaler a girl. This bring such an interesting dynamic to this story. The whole book was well written, rich with detail and character and raw emotion.
There are really three main characters in this book, Lada, her brother Raul, and Mehmed. Lada is just what I love in a heroine, she is fierce, fiery, and needs no one (or likes to think she does). It makes me wonder what other histories would sound like if famous males were females. It’s an interesting concept to say the least. I’ve never read any of White’s other books, but I’ve heard from other people that they are great reads as well. As I Darken has definitely encouraged me to seek out more of White’s work.
So here’s the thing: every year I ask for books at Christmas. I love books, to me, there is no better present. Only, when I was recently counting the books on my ‘To Be Read’ shelf, I realized I had 67 books stacked up. 67! According to Goodreads, I’m currently on book 39, which I will finish today or tomorrow, along with book 40, which is my Short Story Advent Calendar (one story a day up until Christmas). This means, that to get through my entire ‘To Be Read’ shelf next year, I’m going to have to up my Goodreads Reading Challenge to 70 Books. That’s almost double what I did in 2016. But that’s okay. I can do it. I just need to read more, and I love reading. This also means I get to spend more time wearing my Christmas socks, which I love. I love them so much I wish it was acceptable to wear them out in public.
My favorite Christmas mug was broken last week, so I’m currently on the hunt for a replacement. Meanwhile, I’m drinking all my coffee with whipped cream, as the Christmas season calls for. Today is my last day at the office until next Wednesday, so I’m hoping for more than a few quiet moments where I can knock off a few books from my list of 67. Maybe if I only have 65 on my list by January 1st things will seem less daunting in the new year.
So, here’s to Happy Holidays, whipped cream, and cats in trees.
Way back in April or May I briefly mentioned that I was reading this book. When I finished it, I didn’t post a review, because I only review Young Adult fiction on this site, even though I read a smattering of other stuff. But lately I’ve come across a few different posts and lists that include Queen of the Tearling under Young Adult fiction.
My own opinion is that Queen of the Tearling isn’t ‘Young Adult’, because to me, Young Adult has a certain voice, a certain sassiness to it that other fiction does not. But I can see where the crossover occurs, and that’s with the 19 year-old Queen herself. Sometimes, books are classified as Young Adult just because the main character is young adult. But that’s not what makes something YA. But regardless of where you find this book shelved, it is a wonderful read, one that will most likely top the list of favourite books I read in 2016, which is a post I’m planning prior to the new year.
Queen of the Tearling is considerably darker than, say, the Throne of Glass Series, because, for one, there isn’t the same filter. Dark deeds aren’t just hinted at, they are spelled out. The atmosphere itself is dark and dreary, unlike TOG, which always feels fun, somehow. The writing is more immersive in QOTT, which means less reliance on dialogue and more longer, lingering passages of exposition. But QOTT is beautifully written and a pleasure to read. If you love fantasy and YA but want to read a book that is a slightly different pace than what would normally be found on the Young Adult shelves, try Erika Johansen’s work. The last book in the trilogy was just released last week, so if you want to read the whole series in one go, you now can!
Do you know a girl who loves books? I do. In fact, I am one. So today I’m going to give you my top 10 gift ideas for girls who love books. This is all stuff that I’ve found on my online “window shopping” that I totally crave. Hopefully, you’ll find something on this list that the reader you know and love will crave too.
Maybe it’s because, for me, Christmas is all about snow and snow is all about warmth and comfort. But I have a serious desire to get some leg warmers or ‘reading socks’ this Christmas. It’s always nice to be warm when reading.
2. Reader Themed Mug
Along with being warm, I like to have a warm drink by my side when I’m spending a winter day indulging in a book. I own so many mugs that my husband has tried to ban me from buying more, but it hasn’t stopped me. Especially when it comes to mugs decorated with imagery from my favourite fictional worlds.
I love reading. I love books. I love owning books. I love marking those books as my own so that I can rest assure that when I lend them to people they will make their way back to me. Bookplates are great not just for fiction, but for notebooks, binders, or anything else needing a ‘This Belongs To’ sign.
4. Reading Journal
As an avid reader, i track what I read. I use Goodreads to do this, but I also keep a notebook, just in case I ever forget my password and also because I like writing things down with pen. Is there anything better than doodling on piece of paper.
5. Book Themed Adult Colouring Books
Adult colouring books are everywhere these days. They came into popularity sometime last year, and have stuck around. I own two and I love them. The popular young adult Throne of Glass series released a colouring book earlier this year, or there are always classics to choose from like Alice in Wonderland.
6. Book-Turned-Movie Movie Soundtracks
Some of the hottest Young Adult Books are made into movies, and those movies have been given stellar soundtracks featuring some of today’s best selling artists. On the Miss. Peregrine’s soundtrack, you’ll find Florence and the Machine, and Pink has a stunning track on the Alice Through the Looking Glass soundtrack.
I believe I’ve already hit on how I love to be both warm and comfortable when reading, though I will read in such uncomfortable places as the subway, a cafe, an on any public bench when I’m killing time waiting for someone. But at home, I’m going to make sure I’m reading some place I can really relax.
8. Soft Blankets
Can I just say see #7 above? Soft fur blankets or fan fic favourites are my picks!
9. Book Bag
Book lovers will probably go gaga over book themed library bags. I use them not only on my trips to and from my local library, but also just around town for groceries, or to stock up on books when I’m heading out of town on a long trip. Sure, I have an ereader, but I have to pack real books too, because what if—GASP—everything electronic stops working?
And of course, what would be a list of gifts to give a book lover without mentioning books? But it can be difficult to buy a reader a book. It’s always a worry that they will have already bought the book you picked out, or that it just isn’t their style, so when all else fails, go with a gift card, this way the reader can choose just what kind of happy ending they want to read about.
If you read the news, then you probably know that everyone is fretting about the impending destruction of the earth. There’s the recent Brexit vote, Donald Trump’s win, the never-ending war in Syria, Terrorism. If you’re a Doom Thinker, then you probably like dystopian novels. I’ve read my fair share of Young Adult end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it books, so here’s my round-up of my favorites, and a few selections that I hope to fit into my reading schedule in the near future.
Invitation to the Game by Monica Hughes
I’m sure I’ve written before about my love for Monica Hughes. In my teen years, I read everything by her that I could get my hands on, but Inivtation to the Game remained my favorite book. It’s about a group of teens invited to play a virtual reality game to escape their horrible lives in a world where there are no jobs, and no money. Only the game isn’t everything it seems. It’s a quick, easy read, but well worth it.
2. The Hunger Games (series) by Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games is near the top of almost every book list I make. I love this series, book or movies. If you haven’t heard of The Hunger Games, then you must have spent the past five years living in the middle of the ocean with no connection to the modern world. If you’ve heard about the books but haven’t read them yet, then pick them up. Suzanne Collins has beautiful writing that you don’t want to miss out on.
3. The Selection (series) by Kiera Cass
This pick might be highly controversial to some, as The Selection series is primarily romance versus dystopian. I was surprised by how much I liked this series, and in truth, I enjoyed it more for the romance aspects than the dystopian ones, but I still think The Selection series is a great read.
4. The Maze Runner (series) by James Dashner
The world as we know it has been destroyed by disease and teens have been stuck in some kind of weird maze. Yeah. You’ve probably heard of this series or watched the movies. The Maze Runner is a great action book, and makes me think a lot about scientific experimentation, the truth about disease, and what’s really real.
5. Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
I read this amazing piece of Young Adult fiction and award winner a few years ago, and have yet to post a back dated review for it. But I really enjoyed the story, and when I finished it, I went looking for a second book, which at the time there wasn’t one. There is now, and Drowned Cities is another book on my Want to Read List. Ship Breaker follows Nailer, a young boy who has to scavange for valuable parts on old ships to get by in a world ruined by the melting of the polar ice caps.
6. Undertow by Michael Buckley
This book is a bit different than the rest on the list, because the dystopian-ness is caused by the rise of sea creatures from the ocean floor (not a virus, corruption, or a collapse in government). But I have a weakness for all things ocean, and I loved the main character, Lyric, and the grimy, gritty feel of this story.
7. Divergent (series) by Veronica Roth
I know that a lot of lists ove this book at the top, and while I liked, I didn’t find the world as convincing as some of those above, but I still loved the series. The movies are pretty good too, even if they are up in the air regarding whether or not the last movie will go to television or theaters, and whether Shailene Woodley will actually be in the show (you can read more about this here).
8. Wither (The Chemical Garden Series) by Lauren DeStefano
This series, like The Selection, is more romance driven than dystopian focused. However, the characters were strong and the mystery keep one reading. If you haven’t read this series yet, and you’ve read everything else on my list, you might as well try this one.
9. Pretties (series) by Scott Westerfeld
If there’s one thing I was obsessed with in this book, it was the hover-boards. I still want one to this day. This dystopian series primarily deals with a world obsessed with looks and social media. If you feel this kind of pressure, then you’ll probably relate to the main character, who realizes that maybe a perfect looking world, isn’t so perfect underneath.
The following are books I haven’t read yet, but that are on my Want To Read list. Legend has been sitting on my ereader for four years. There just isn’t enough time in the world for books!
10. The 5th Wave (series)
Aliens and the end of the world. Yes Please!
11. Legend by Marie Lu
I’ve heard such good things about this book, and like I mentioned above, it’s been waiting to be read for four years! That’s probably the longest of any book on my To Be Read shelf. Poor book! Hopefully I’ll find time for you soon!
12. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
I love Cinderella. I fear for a sad, dystopian future. I’m sure I’ll love this series when I get around to reading it.
Have you read any of these books? What would you add to this list?