Days of Blood & Starlight is a magical book. Yes, it is a book that includes a magical world but it is more than that. Laini Taylor's writing surpasses that of most YA authors I've read and she has created a new world that is vividly alive. Combine that with memorable characters and for me, who has spent the past year powering through YA lit, it is one of the few books that really stands out from the rest. I love this book and enjoyed it more than the first one, if only because it didn't delve into all of the history and background that the first one did.This one had a strong plot that moved the characters I've come to care about along.
The writing is a little heavy-handed at times but with the amazing narration by Khristine Hvam, it flows by effortlessly, wrapping the listener into the different worlds. My favorite moments still are the ones between Karou and Zusana, and even Zusana and Mik. Who am I kidding, I want Zusana to be my best friend and be witty with a fun accent all the time. The levity that she brings to the story helps ground it at times as Zusana does for Karou.
This review is vague to avoid any spoilers. All I can say is that Akiva and Karou spend most of the book separated but it gives the reader more time to further appreciate what they're each going through. And all of that history in the last third of Daughter of Smoke of Bone that frustrated me turns out to be 100% essential and by tacking it on in the first book, it gives Days of Blood & Starlight the freedom to keep a good pace for the readers.
I enjoyed Daughter of Smoke and Bone quite a bit, but I absolutely loved Days of Blood and Starlight. Can't wait for the third book to find out what happens next!
I can't believe there are so many good reviews for this book!
For me, at the very basic level, there are two key parts of a book - the writing and the story. For audiobooks, there's also the performance. In this case, it is an interesting story, bogged down by frustrating, overdramatic writing and metaphors. Halfway through the book I had to look it up online to see reviews to figure out what the irritating scratching sound was. It sounded like a gimmick and it drove me crazy. I hoped, hoped, hoped that it would have a solid purpose or reason for being included in the audio.
Apparently in the written version, there are words that the protagonist says, that are then crossed out as she rephrases her thoughts, her words, etc. In the audio book it is denoted by a scratching sound. Something I didn't know until I looked it up. It's also something I wished they had left out.
The benefit to looking it up though is that a reviewer on Amazon decided that every time there was an over the top metaphor, readers should drink. It made me laugh as I listened because otherwise I would have been rolling my eyes. Although if I had tried this, I would have been drunk in 10 minutes. In the first Anne of Green Gables books, Anne is over the top as a young girl with her flowery, poetic words. Unlike the early Anne, the protagonist in Shatter Me is not 12, she's 17. Used sparingly, metaphors can be great, filled with insight about the character or the situation. Used every other sentence, they become laughable or frustrating.
Unfortunately, I won't be continuing with the series because there's better writing, and better stories I would prefer to read/listen to.
Given the description of this book and all of the great reviews for it, I bought it and started listening. A little way in, I went back and checked the reviews on Audible. ALL of them are glowing. Not a one mentioned the issues I was having with the book. So I listened a little more before going to check reviews on Amazon.com. I should have started there as I wasn't alone. Rarely do I find myself openly mocking a narrator (outloud), wanting to hit her upside the head or getting so frustrated with a book. Yet, the story is compelling So despite the cons and the overwhelming desire to return the book because I still have eight hours left to go, I'm considering keeping it. The jury is still out.
Indian curses and mythology are pretty cool
1. Long - about 1/3 of it could be edited out as there is an amazing amount of detail that is never mentioned again. For example, the narrator spends what feels like eons describing a tour of the house she's staying in, or of the pizza they're eating. And only about 1% of it is relevant later.
2. Excessive detail - Yes, I mentioned it in point #1, see, it's irritating.
3. Narrator (Kelsey) - I have yet to figure out how old she is. I think she's 17 but at one point she mentions that she's legally an adult. Which means that she's 18. So for the sake of this point, we'll say 17/18 years old. This girl is extremely naive in her knowledge about some things and extremely knowledgeable about others. Not to mention her vocabulary is far more impressive for any teenager. So it's tricky. I've found myself pretending that she's an adult because that's what she sounds like. The issue with doing that is then she'll do something or say something ridiculous to remind me that she's in her teens.
4. Questions and curiosity - Kelsey says about every 10 minutes that she has so many questions and then sits down to interview people she's talking to to ask them all of her "questions." They smile fondly at her and say, "I know you'll have questions." Then she'll proceed to interview them in a way that unless you were conducting an actual interview, you would never do. Writing conversations is difficult but there are ways to do it without it becoming an interview session.
5. Musings - it's almost beneficial for Kelsey to befriend an animal, given all of her musings /endless conversations with herself as a way to provide more backstory.
There's more, but I'll stop because I feel like I'm on a rant. The overall point is that I was disappointed in the story, particularly when I remembered that this 16+ hour book is the first of four. The premise is an interesting one, shape-shifting tigers are cool, but overall, I don't recommend it. Most likely, it's going back. Life is too short.
I'll admit that at first I didn't want to read this book. WW2, two friends - one a pilot the other a spy, blah, blah, blah. It would make me cry and I typically avoid things that make me cry. However, the glowing reviews and my current addiction to YA lit made me break down and try it.
There aren't words for how happy I am that I downloaded it and once I started listening, I couldn't stop. The relatively simple story of a growing friendship during wartime takes on several new twists and the two perspectives in the story of the friends adds to the complexity and nature of the characters. The two characters - a spy and a pilot are women and they take you on an unforgettable adventure, transporting the listener to England and France during WW2. The actors added to the every growing richness of the story. And as clues are dropped throughout the story, by the end I wanted to go back and start over to make sure I caught them all and listen to it with a new perspective. In this case, it's the same response I had after watching The Usual Suspects for the first time as Kevin Spacey spun his story about Keyser Söze. The threads of the story slowly intertwine into an unforgettable gem of a book and I can't recommend it enough.
The first three of the Iron Fey books were enjoyable, moved at a quick pace and made for engaging listening experiences. Not to mention that the narrator of those books is outstanding. But now we're at book four. One that changes everything around, no longer coming from the perspective of the Megan Chase, the brave Iron Queen, we are now focused on Ash, the cold-hearted, nearly stoic Winter Prince. As a central character, Ash lacks the heart that carried Megan and the listeners/readers along.
I've always liked Ash as a character and I certainly want to like him more. His icy demeanor has been melting a little but that does tend to make it tricky sometimes. While I appreciated the story and the structure, it was some of the little things that drove me crazy. Sending the group through testing grounds that sounded like Indiana Jones and then having the characters say flat out that they seemed familiar, having Ash learn to use an iPad, etc. Those things weren't clever or funny, but instead irritating me as they seemed to be tongue in cheek that feel flat. Maybe I'm being overcritical but I can't wait for the book to be over so I can be done and move on. I just need to know what happens, because despite everything, I want to know what happens.
The narration is okay. I can't tell if the flatness of it is the character or the narrator but either way, the entire story falls flat when compared to the vibrancy of the other books. My advice? Stop at book three.
This was one of those books that had me at a frustrating impasse: I wanted to keep listening so I could find out what happened, while at the same time I didn't want the book to end. That's a difficult position to be in and for that reason, it was bittersweet when it did end. I wanted the story to keep going.
The Little Princes is a quiet gem of a book. And having the author narrate added an extra connection to the story. As soon as it started and I was able to get into the story and that feeling never left. I saw the Nepal and the children through the author's eyes and desperately wanted them to be okay. The story left me inspired, hopeful and most of all, thankful that there are people like Conor Grennan who work to transform the lives of those who need it most.
One last note: I'm not one to gush unless I feel passionately about something, as I do about this book. This isn't a type of book I would normally read as a few I've tried lately that appeared similar to this were incredibly self-indulgent on the part of the author. That has made me a tough critic on books about an author's journey. The difference is that the author's self-depreciating humor was funny as were his interactions with the children. Ultimately though, the focus of Little Princes wasn't about the author, it was about saving the children and the extent that the author and others went through to do so once he realized that this was what he needed to do.
And for that reason alone, I can't recommend it enough.
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