book review and book cover Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

Magan: Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

book review and book cover Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

Days of Blood and Starlight (Book #2) by Laini Taylor [twitter | website]
Daughter of Smoke and Bone Review
Publication Date: November 6, 2012
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 528
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: angels, book series, animal humans, war, forbidden love
Format read: e-book received from Little, Brown (Thank you!)

Summary: Akiva has burned portals and caused much of the Chimaera population to die. Karou went in search of her family via a remaining portal. The Chimaera and Seraphim are in the midst of a destructive war.

Oh, friends. I’m trying so hard to gather my thoughts and compose myself (and my words) after finishing Days of Blood and Starlight. What a beautiful, wonderful, incredible book by Laini Taylor. I’m going to try to be as spoiler-free for this book, but I will mention a few things from Daughter of Smoke and Bone because I just don’t see a way to properly write this review without doing so.

Laini’s writing is so different, so unique; though her story isn’t at all like Harry Potter, I do feel her character development and world building feels much like what we’ve read and loved by J.K. Rowling. For this very reason, when I first began reading Days of Blood and Starlight I realized I would need to go back and refresh my memory on the final details of book one in the series. I re-read approximately the last third of the book and I’m so glad I did. Here are a few refreshers for you if you need them:

SKIP THE BULLET POINTS IF YOU HAVEN’T READ DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE!

  • Karou puts the pieces together and realizes she is the resurrected, human version of Madrigal. Madrigal was a Chimaera that fell in love with a Seraphim, Akiva. Seraphim and Chimaera are enemies and are at war with one another. Madrigal was publicly beheaded for her relations with Akiva.
  • Brimstone, the resurrectionist, gave Madrigal life in the human world as Karou.
  • Karou learns that Akiva is responsible for burning hand prints on portals and for killing Chimaera (we’re uncertain if this includes Brimstone, Issa, and Yasri at the end of book one).
  • Though Karou and Akiva were falling in love again, once she knows the truth about his mission, she leaves him in search of another portal.
  • (Here’s a really cool resource for finding out more about Daughter of Smoke and Bone.)

There are a lot of unknowns going into Days of Blood and Starlight. We mostly see Akiva’s perspective in the beginning because he’s unsure of Karou’s whereabouts and if she’s even alive. He’s brokenhearted and helpless. The nature of this book is heavier and more melancholy because our lovers are separated and their world is in the midst of a devastating war. My hopeless romantic self had a hard time processing how Karou and Akiva’s relationship could ever be rekindled, if at all.

While most of book one took place in the human world, our setting fluctuates a lot between there and the Seraphim/Chimaera world. Laini blew my mind by continuing to develop the story further by so incredibly crafting the details of the war. While still told from third person, expect to fluctuate a lot between characters: Akiva, Ziri (a Chimaera who long ago crushed on Madrigal), Jael (the Seraphim Emperor’s cousin with a nasty face scar), Silverswords (guards that protect the Emporor), etc. Very minor characters are given their moment and the impact of this was great. I found myself reeling from the gamut of emotions because of some of these unexpected scenes. The changing point of view only added to the well-roundedness of the story and enhanced my reading experience.

For whatever reason, I was not able to read through Laini’s work at breakneck speed (though not for lack of wanting to). With both books, I felt the need to tread slowly and really take in all the details. This allowed me to wallow in some of the events so much so that I felt like if I walked outside, I might be stepping into their world.

It’s not often that I feel a middle book in a series is as fulfilling as (or even better than) the first book. Friends, I am here to declare that I feel even more dedicated to Laini and her beautiful story. Expect to have your heart broken a few times, to fall in love with characters that were only on the perimeter in the first book, to be in awe of Laini’s imagination, and to feel empowered by the time you read the final words of Days of  Blood and Starlight.

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Estelle: Death & the Girl Next Door by Darynda Jones

Death and the Girl Next DoorDeath & the Girl Next Door by Darynda Jones
Book 1 of Darklight series (trilogy)
Publication Date: October 2, 2012
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Pages: 304
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: paranormal, missing parents, high school, forbidden love
Format read: ARC from Netgalley (Thanks!)

Summary: It’s coming upon the 10th anniversary since Lorelei’s parents vanished without a trace. With her sophomore year of high school underway, things get interesting when the hot and mysterious Jared shows up at school, and she realizes one of her fellow students is stalking her. Lorelei’s life is definitely about to change…

Loreli is pretty much your average teenager. She’s sarcastic, she has two great best friends (Brooklyn and Glitch) who she trades short jokes with and gets much support from, and lives with her adorable grandparents (I like Grandpa best!) who have taken her in since her parents’ disappearance.

But the similarities between Loreli and the reader pretty much end here.

She has a fellow classmate named Cameron following her. Loreli’s “quirk” is sparked when she bumps into Jared, a new kid at her school that she can’t take her eyes off of. Then there’s the fact that Cameron and Jared are like fire and ice when they are thrown into the same room together.

The big question is Why?

Jones has taken on an intriguing premise filled with angels and devils and heaven and hell, but unfortunately she may have been a bit over ambitious. For the most part, the novel is very slow-paced and there is a lack of the breadcrumbs placed throughout the story to move it along and build up to this satisfying climax. Instead big chunks of information are given to readers in various spots and the suspense and feeling of ohh-ahh discovery is lost.

While I did chuckle a few times at the exchanges between Loreli and her friends, their tone seemed mostly juvenile. I know they were only sophmores in high school, but when Jared seemed to embody the older tone and mannerisms of a Harlequin hunk, the difference was amplified even more.

Structurally, I keep wondering if this book would have worked better told from different POVs (Loreli, Jared, and Cameron) so readers could get more of a handle on this “secret” world, their ties to one another, and their individual histories. And character wise, I felt like the friendship between Loreli and her friends always trumped the romantical entanglements, when love was so central to the plot.

Even though paranormal isn’t a genre I frequently visit, I know that I can easily get swept up in a book with strong characters and a well-planned out plot line. I wished that had been the case here, but, instead, I felt like I was going through the motions without being invested in what was happening. And as the first in a three-book series, this doesn’t fare well for me to continue.

It hurts my heart to say it, but not every book can be a winner.

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