Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor Review

In general, Karou has managed to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she’s a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family.

Raised half in our world, half in ‘Elsewhere’, she has never understood Brimstone’s dark work – buying teeth from hunters and murderers – nor how she came into his keeping. She is a secret even to herself, plagued by the sensation that she isn’t whole.

Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought. 

DOS&B

Daughter of Smoke and Bone was January’s book club book. It was my second choice, but when I really looked at it, I was quite gutted we’d chosen it. I didn’t really have an interest in reading it. It seemed very sci-fi/fantasy-y, and Young Adult, which I’d always say I’m not really into (yes, I know the last book I reviewed, and loved with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay). One Saturday I forced myself to start it.

And didn’t stop. I read all day. I stopped to make dinner. In the evening I started watching TV, but it didn’t hold my attention, as DOSAB was on my mind. I had to carry on until I fell asleep, then when I woke up, I couldn’t stop myself from reading until I finished it.

As you can tell, I loved it.

From the beginning the story really drew me in.

Kauou wants to be able to live a normal, human, life, without interruption from Brimstone. But he, along with his other ‘Chimaeras’ are the only family she’s ever known, so how can she give them up. She’s Brimstone’s courier, travelling the world (through the door from his shop which opens to many different countries and cities across the world), to collect his ‘gems’, but he asks too much of her, and she often has to leave Prague for hours, days, sometimes even weeks and isn’t able to tell her friends why.

However things start happening that may lead her to having to make a decision. How can she choice Brimstone and ‘her family’ though, when all she’s seen of ‘elsewhere’ is his shop – she’s only been allowed through the door to earth, not the other side.

On top of all this, she wants to know who she is, who her parents are, and how she came to live in Brimstone’s world.

The best thing about this book, is it’s the first of a trilogy. Two more books. How brilliant is that! I’m really looking forward to reading them. 

It seems I love YA Fantasy/Sci-fi series’ – which I should have realised  before, when I consider books from the Hunger Games’ and Delirum series’ were among some of my favourite books of the 2013 (and 2012 – I read one of each in each year!).

The book is mainly set in Prague, but travels other countries and continents, and of course to ‘elsewhere’ and beyond, so it fits perfectly into the Antartica/Other Setting category for the ‘Global Reading Challenge’ I’m doing this year. 1 down, 6 to go.

The First Big Step

Have a look at this:

Novel Postiting

Do you know what this is? This is me trying to make sense of my novel in post-it form. I’ve read through it all (most, I’ve still got a couple of pages to go), and now the post-its are summarising what is in each section. The plan is to make that into a plan of what I’m missing – there’s a few chunks I haven’t written, and you know, an ending.

There’s a few scenes I’m sure I’ve written, but I can’t find. I have a bad, bad feeling they may be on one of my old work computers. From an old company. That I left a few years ago. Bad feeling. I wrote the majority of this during NaNo – 2011 (ouch!), so there’s a big possibility, although I thought I’d taken it all. Oh dear. Of course it could also be that I’ve ‘written’ it in my head, but not on paper. Who knows.

I had some goals last week, lets see how I did with them:

2x runs, 2x 20 minute + walks, 2x 10 minute walks (getting off the tube a stop earlier). I did the 2 runs (yay), but only one of the 20 minute walks. I really need to start doing the walks, the running is good, but I need to be exercising more than three times a week.

Find the missing pages of The Man of My Dreams (on the hard drive??). Print them. I didn’t find anything extra, but I looked for it. I think this means I’ve lost some. Damn.

Read 10 pages I currently have, and ones I will hopefully find. Done.

Start with sticky notes of plot points etc. As above, started.

Fast twice – at least. Once. And a half. Still, once is better than not at all.

My goals for this week are the same, except I’ll add

Visit 2 other blogs. I used to visit lots of blogs and really enjoy seeing what other people were doing, and I found it inspiring. I feel like if I’m going to get back into writing/editing properly, I should get back into this too. (Next week I’ll add some Twitter time I think!).

2 book reviews, one for here, one for Novelkicks

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Review

WARNING: THE HUNGER GAMES and CATCHING FIRE spoilers.

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she’s still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what’s worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss’s family, not her friends, not the people of District 12.

Mockingjay

You know you’ve read a good book, when 24 hours after finishing it, you’re still thinking about it (a lot), and debating with yourself if it was the right ending.

Katniss has to become the face of the revolution, something she’s not keen on, but does it with her own conditions agreed to. She’s stuck with the few survivors of District 12, in District 13, which up until the end of Catching Fire she (and we) didn’t know existed. District 13 are heading up the rebellion against the Capitol. She finds the adjustment to living there hard, even with best friend Gale by her side. Especially since her ‘’boyfriend,’’ fellow Hunger Games competitor Peeta has been kidnapped by the Capitol and through broadcasts, it’s obvious he’s being tortured.

The book follows the rebels on their journey to convince other Districts to join with them to over throw the Capitol, the wars and what is a very dramatic finale.

I was hooked on this from the minute I started it. Any spare moment I could find, I was reading it, and even took a lunch break this week, for 30 minutes reading, because I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I know the ending was the right one, I know it, but I was sad about it, and wanted it to end another way (this is the romance side of me!).

I read The Hunger Games in 2012, and Catching Fire in 2013. As soon as I read the first, I wanted to read the second, and third, but I made myself spread them out, so it wasn’t over so quickly. Now I’ve finished Mockingjay, I’m really sad. Three years of a series, and it’s over.

Now I have the debate of whether to watch the films, it would keep them going, but, films are never as good as books, and do I want to tar the great place they are in my heart with less than brilliant films – but what if they’re good? The casting certainly is good – each character I’ve seen looks perfect for the part! I’ll keep thinking about that one, and for the time being, keep the series of books in a very special place in my heart!

5 Year Blogiversary

When I posted my blog yesterday, I noticed a notification telling me that 5 days ago, my blog was 5 years old. WOW! 5 years. 5. Five. FIVE.

I can’t believe it. It feels like a lifetime ago, but at the same time, it doesn’t feel like 5 years ago.

I remember starting it. I’d been made redundant from my job, and could only get a job with much lower pay, and responsibility. I’d do my hours at work and leave (on time) and not worry about anything until I got there the next day.

I decided I’d do something productive with my time, and start a correspondence writing course with The Writer’s Bureau. My boyfriend suggested I start a blog to track my progress. This was back before I knew much about blogging, twitter, or anything much online. I thought it was a geeky thing to do, not something someone like me would do. Besides, who would read it, who would be interested in what I write? More to the point, what would I write?

I decided to go for it, because, you know, it was a good idea to track my progress.

And I loved it. Almost immediately I loved it. It was like writing a diary again – something I did when I was at school, but hadn’t really since leaving university (I’m not even sure I did at uni, I do remember writing one when I had my year out in America though).

I loved just writing about what was going on. I loved that people read my blog. I loved that people commented on my blog. I loved finding other blogs,  by other people, who were like me – writers. Other than my mum, I’d never met anyone else that shares that passion. I loved getting involved in the writing community on blogs and Twitter. I loved everything about it. I made friends, discovered NaNo, and wrote – I wrote novels and short stories and random bits here and there. I even published writing on my blog (mostly unedited as part of Fiction Friday, which I was addicted to).

5 years later, I don’t have that passion for blogging, and for writing anymore, life (my job!) has got in the way, but I want them back. I love blogging, and writing, and hopefully I’m going to love editing. I remember what they’re like and I want to be that person again. My job is stressful, and takes up way more than the 35 hours a week that it should – it tires me out and I get back from work and just want to crash in front of the TV, but, I also want to be the blogger/writer that I was – no that I can be. I can be more than I was. I can do this editing thing and send my novel to agents etc. I can blog regularly. I can, and I will.

ROW80 Sunday Check In

Hi!

I read an article today which was rating the days of the week. Sunday was 4th out of 7. It’s good, but towards the end, you feel the life sucking out of you, as you realise you have work tomorrow. Yep, I’ve got that feeling. I had so much I wanted to do this weekend, and I feel like I’m heading into another week, with hardly any of those things done.

I have had a nice relaxing weekend, so all good.

Only I’ve not touched my novel – so BAD! BAD BAD BAD. I knew I wouldn’t yesterday as I had plans, but I really wanted to today. I don’t even have an excuse. Again.

Anyway, I had a quite a few goals for this week. This is how I got on with them:

2x runs, 2x 20 minute + walks, 2x 10 minute walks (getting off the tube a stop earlier): I’ve done 3 (THREE), runs (woo hoo), and 2x 10 minute walks. Not good, but that extra run is brilliant.

Print off another section of The Man of My Dreams. I’ve got another 12 pages, that I know about. Maybe the missing bits are in those 12 – I think I’ve got more missing than that though. I found a whole load more than just those 12 pages.

Read said 12 pagesI read all 12 pages, and most of the rest I found. I’ve still got some to read through, but I’ve maybe read 30 pages this week. That’s good.

Find the missing pages of The Man of My Dreams (pray they’re on the hard drive). Print more. I’ve not done this as I had found more that were printed. I need to find the rest (still got my fingers crossed for the hard drive).

Read more. As above, I read about 30.

Start with sticky notes of plot points etc. Um. No. That was my plan for today that didn’t get fulfilled. 

Fast twice: I managed once. I started on Thursday too, but had a really long tiring day, and didn’t have the patience or anything to think about fasting, or cooking. I had half a baguette with ham for dinner. Oh dear.

2 book reviews, one for here, one for Novelkicks. I’m hanging my head in shame. Nope, neither.

I’d like to come up  with some great excuses,  but I don’t have any new ones – work was still busy, I’m still exhausted.

I hope this week I’ll finish a couple of things which should lead to a small respite in the craziness. Small.

My goals for this week are almost the same as last week:

2x runs, 2x 20 minute + walks, 2x 10 minute walks (getting off the tube a stop earlier)

Find the missing pages of The Man of My Dreams (on the hard drive??). Print them.

Read 10 pages I currently have, and ones I will hopefully find. 

Start with sticky notes of plot points etc. I started this way back, last year, the year before? But I’ve put them in a note book, rather than up. They’re no where near complete. I’ve got blue butterflies and hot pink squares. That’s pretty cool right – should give me a push! Hope boyfriend won’t mind me decorating the bedroom walls/mirror again!

Fast twice – at least – I also managed this last week! Up until today, I’d lost weight. I need to stop weighing myself daily!

2 book reviews, one for here, one for Novelkicks.

Fingers crossed for this week. Good luck with your goals, whether doing ROW80, or if you’re just setting yourself goals.

My Week Reviewed

I’m almost ashamed to post my achievements this week – there are none. I had one goal for the week, ONE and I didn’t even achieve that.

Up to now, my weekly goals have been to spend some time over 3 days, reading my novel, to blog (ROW80 check-in), to write a book review, and to do some exercise. This week, I can’t remember why, but I just set myself the goal of editing. My boyfriend was away, so I’d planned to come home and work on the novel, not turn on the TV, not do anything, but read, read, read. Not too hard eh? Uh, wrong. Lets look at my excuses… uh… reasons.

With boyfriend away from Wednesday, I planned to start on Wednesday.

London had tube strikes Wednesday and Thursday. The tubes on my normal way to work, weren’t running where I needed them to, or on my back up, or last resort way. I had to find another way there, and back. Getting there wasn’t too bad, but on Wednesday, I didn’t want to risk getting stuck, so I thought I’d walk part way home (I work about 10km from home, walkable, but not the whole way, on my own at night, and not with my laptop, or in the evening). I walked about 3/4km then got the tube. When I got home it was late. I ate and crashed in front of the TV, exhausted – no energy for editing/reading (note, had I have had exercise as a goal, that would be a win!).

On Thursday, I stayed at work until 8pm. Got home at 9.30pm, no way I was going to do anything then. Friday I had dinner plans.

Saturday, I found a novel I started reading – Undreamed by Paul Western’Pittard – and COUDLN’T PUT IT DOWN. I’m not exaggerating. I started reading it at 10am, had to get up to (poorly) clean the flat (for a viewing, but I was hung over, so it was very poor), then sat back down with it. I made food, but while I ate it, and the whole rest of the day, I read it until I finished. It was brilliant. If you’ve not heard of it, go look now here. Buy, read. You won’t regret it. I love psycholgical thrillers – this reminded me a lot of one of my favorite books – Before I Go To Sleep by SJ Watson.

Anyway, by the time I’d finished it on Saturday, it was pretty much bedtime, no time for anything else.

Today, I realised that I don’t have any paper at home, so couldn’t print off the next bit of my novel to read – classic excuse eh.

It’s not all that bad. I read 20 pages on my journeys  on Thursday and Friday, I just wanted to do more.

I have found that there’s a lot missing from the version I’ve printed off. I think I probably saved different sections as different files. I hope, because otherwise I’ve lost some. I hope it’s on my boyfriend’s external hard drive. Tomorrow, I’ll get paper, and check. Fingers crossed please.

Another reason this week wasn’t all bad, is that I nearly missed my tube stop TWICE because I was so into the novel. That’s good, right.

I need to thank Laura for sending me texts from ‘my novel.’ Had she not done this, I’m sure the week would have been a total disaster. She reminded me about it. Thanks buddy!

I still wish I’d put exercise on my goals list last week – I went for a run today, and I’ve been kind of doing my own 30 day squat challenge. Ish. It is exactly as what it sounds like, 30 days of squats (with breaks every 4/5 days for rest). I don’t know the exact number of squats you’re supposed to do, but I’ve been doing them while I clean my teeth almost daily. Not too bad. I also did a lot of walking.

Goals for this week:

2x runs, 2x 20 minute + walks, 2x 10 minute walks (getting off the tube a stop earlier)

Print off another section of The Man of My Dreams. I’ve got another 12 pages, that I know about. Maybe the missing bits are in those 12 – I think I’ve got more missing than that though.

Read said 12 pages. 

Find the missing pages of The Man of My Dreams (pray they’re on the hard drive). Print more.

Read more. 

Start with sticky notes of plot points etc. I started this way back, last year, the year before? But I’ve put them in a note book, rather than up. They’re no where near complete. I’ve got blue butterflies and hot pink squares. That’s pretty cool right – should give me a push! Hope boyfriend won’t mind me decorating the bedroom walls/mirror again!

Fast twice – at least – I also managed this last week! Up until today, I’d lost weight. I need to stop weighing myself daily!

2 book reviews, one for here, one for Novelkicks.

I think that’s very achievable. Here’s to a good week – this will be my best week this year, who am I kidding, since NaNo 2012, if I achieve everything!