Thursday, January 31, 2013

...on Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor

Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor
Series: Daughter of Smoke & Bone #2
Published by Little, Brown BYR
Publish Date: November 6, 2012
517 Pages
Source: Library


Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.


Art student and monster's apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she'll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope
But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream? -( from Goodreads)

Days of Blood & Starlight
by Laini Taylor 

My Thoughts:  Have you ever loved the first book in a series so much that you were scared to read the next book? That was exactly how I felt with this book. I fretted over it for much too long.

I was first in line at the library to check it out, then it sat in my library bag for days, and then I moved it from the bag to beside my bed, where it sat for several more days. Then I finally got the nerve to pick it up and start reading.

The first thing you need to know is this:
Daughter of Smoke & Bone is one of my all-time favorites. 
I've read it several times. I've listened to the audiobook several times, which is stunningly gorgeous. I've had waves and waves of emotions that only increase every time I revisit the story. Tears even! It's one of those books that I've read and loved enough that I can pick it up and just randomly open it to any passage for a few minutes and be completely satisfied. THAT's how much I love Daughter of Smoke & Bone.

These feelings have a lot to do with Taylor's writing, of course. She has this undeniable skill to mesmerize me with her words - to draw me in and whisk me straight to her fictional Eretz or to the streets of Prague. But it's also the chemistry between Karou and Akiva. Theirs is a relationship that is so high up on my list of favorite romances that sometimes I can verbalize why I love them so much. I'm probably sounding crazy right about now, but I just love them


At the end of Daughter of Smoke & Bone, I felt like "WHAT!?" - but by this time I've read the book enough to expect that ending and those feelings, and with each reading I knew that soon there would be more to the story. However, that did nothing to alleviate my fear of the second book
*This second-book fear is very common with me and books. I also have final-book fear. Perhaps I should blog about this?

The second thing you need to know is this:
I kept seeing all of these 5-star reviews...
but there was also talk about sadness and war and death. What?
So, in my fear of this second book, my mind only became more afraid! How on earth can people read a book that is supposed to be filled with Akiva and Karou that is actually filled with death and war and sadness and despair and still give it 5 stars? My brain was just not processing this. It was not. And the book sat in my library bag as a result. 

But when I finally started reading, things started to become clearer to me. I understood why everyone was so doggone vague in their reviews. And what all of this crazy talk was about. I began to allow myself to love on this book a little bit. A lot, actually. 

The third thing you need to know is this:
This IS indeed a 5-STAR book.
AND it is a book about WAR. And DEATH. And some parts ARE sad.
But I saw hope at the end, and that is what I felt overall.

Y'all, I was absolutely taken by this book. I found such JOY in reading it - every single word - even in the death and war and even sorrow. The things that happened in this book...I think they had to happen this way for the story to go on. And I am so very anxious to see where the story goes because I personally feel hopeful in the ending. 

I have no idea where the story can go from here. I have an inkling of how it will begin, but I don't know how it will end up. Laini Taylor has proven that her stories take us on wild rides. I'm not ready for the last part yet, and when the time comes for it to be published - I'm sure there will be lots of fear and anxiety and pep-talking for me. But however it ends up, I'm sure that it will be a heck of a ride getting there. She has definitely left us in a place for something special to occur. 

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Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor is complete perfection underneath another beautiful cover. I read it slowly, of course, like I often do - so I could take in every detail and savor it. Every sentence is perfect, as if Taylor thought long and hard about exactly which word she would use at exactly which place. I am happy to report that I feel no second-book slump here.

These characters - the ones we know and love - feel so developed and so very real to me, even though some of them are not of this world. What is amazing to me is that somehow Taylor found it in herself to develop them even further - for example, we find out so much more about favorites Karou, Akiva, Zuzanna, and Mik. And for those of us that are huge fans of characterization (like me) - OH! the joy of learning more about some of those we barely knew from the first book! My heart soared at the opportunity to get to know more about Akiva's siblings, Hazael and Liraz. There are also more bad guys, of course, and they are really bad - but I love wonderfully written bad guys; Laini Taylor has given us just that. Fortunately the good ones are so good that my love for them triumphs my bad feelings for the bad guys. 

Once again, the world-building is fantastic and the settings chosen by Taylor are easily visualized and perfect. I especially love the castle in the sandy desert where Karou spends most of her time doing what she does. Taylor describes it so well and the scenes in this palace play out in my mind just like scenes from a movie. The pacing is interesting - there are some intense action scenes that are fast-paced mixed with slower, more character-driven scenes. I personally love this mixture because I feel like I need breaks from all of the war and the fighting (due to the depth of emotional investment I have in this series) because there is fighting interspersed fairly regularly throughout pretty much the entire book.

And honestly? The little plot twists and incredibly smart things that Laini Taylor wrote into the story? Every time something like that would come up, it would me gasp or say "Oh my gosh!" or something like that. Trust me, it happens plenty of times throughout this lengthy book. This series just keeps getting better and better.

I know that I was afraid to read this book, and I am not ashamed of being that way. My quirky fears are well-founded BUT I am happy to report that in this case, there is no need to be afraid of Days of Blood & Starlight. It is a wonderful story, even with the heartache and pain that comes with it, and I will be re-reading the heck out of it. I can all guarantee that next year, when the time comes for the final book to be released, I will be just as fearful for the end of the series and I will be going thru the exact same emotions leading up to the book's release - I won't want this beautiful series to end. Perfection, it is. 

I recommend Days of Blood & Starlight for fans of fantasy/urban fantasy, angels, magic, and absolutely beautiful writing. 

HELLO, BEAUTIFUL MAP OF ERETZ.
I used you so often!

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Days of Blood & Starlight will appeal to fans of:

YA Fantasy/Supernatural with Magic
Angels
Beautiful Writing
Fantastic Characterization
Romance: Yes! Maybe/kinda/sorta a hint of a triangle-to-come?
LOVE the Setting, AGAIN

Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor
is currently available for purchase.

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Have you read DAYS OF BLOOD & STARLIGHT?
What are your thoughts?
Is it hopeful to you, or sad? 

If you haven't read it, is it on your to-read list?


18 comments:

  1. Asheley, you are my favorite. Mainly because you say things like doggone and that's so southern and adorable.

    I thought that Days Of Blood & Starlight was both hopeful and sad. I mean, I just spent so much of my reading feeling heavy because of Karou's situation and the pain and loneliness she endures, plus Akiva's sadness. Then you know, when a certain death happens, that big turning point death was awful, but the ending left me hopeful for a new leaf and for book three.

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    1. Hopeful and sad, yes. I think that by the time I read it, I had prepared myself for whatever was going to be thrown my way, so I was ready for it. BUT I wasn't really expecting Karous to be in HER situation. Nor was I expecting Akiva to be in HIS situation. So I was surprised by Laini's story. I still loved it, though, even though it had so many things like war and death in it. I think it was necessary for a *hopefully* fantastic ending. I'm hopeful and also nervous.

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  2. This wasn't on my tbr list until I read this review. I didn't really like Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I thought it was a very well written book, but not really my thing, so I didn't feel the need to keep reading the series. This is the only review I've read for this book, but I'm actually reconsidering my decision not to continue. I tend to like books that are more emotionally heavy and everyone is saying this book is fantastic. How can I say no to all that? lol

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    1. This book IS fantastic, but it IS heavy. AND I'm one of the biggest fans of the series, that is a promise. It's pretty intense, but it's because of how attached readers become to Akiva and Karou, I think, and because of the sheer amount of devastation throughout the book (war, etc). It's brilliant - I mean, it's Laini Taylor. I'm SO interested in you not liking Smoke and Bone. I feel like I need to go dig up your blog post on it if you have one. If you DO decide to read it, let me know and we can discuss!

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  3. This book (or #1) is so far out of my comfort reading zone -- but my best friend raved about it and made me PROMISE to read it -- so it's checked out from the library, and waiting patiently on my book shelf. It's #3 in my TBR queue. Crossing my fingers.

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    1. Oh, I hope you like it! I love Smoke and Bone so much! I can't wait to read this one again. I can't believe how much I love these books. It has so much to do with how great the writing is, and how unique the story is, and plus I love the audiobooks too, so I like to flip-flop between reading the print sometimes and listening sometimes.

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  4. I agree completely Asheley. I really enjoyed Daughter of Smoke and Bone but for me, this was the stronger novel BECAUSE of the sadness, war, and death, but also the underlying hope. Plus, I love how much more subtle and nuanced the romance was, how desolate it just felt while reading it. I cannot WAIT for Book 3 and desperately need to know what happens, especially after those plot twists as the end of DoBaS! Taylor is one author I can count on to deliver for sure! :)

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    1. YES YES YES!!! I can imagine that this one was tougher to write, too. I agree, I feel like we can count on Laini Taylor, especially after this, and especially after loving a book that was so emotionally heartbreaking-yet-wonderful. THAT is craft and skill.

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  5. Excellent review! I put off reading book #2 (even though I got a copy as soon as it released) because I knew I would want to take my time with it savoring the writing. But once I did finally pick it up...OH MY GOSH. I seriously loved it more than book 1! Gah. So awesome. I loved learning more about the chimaera, more about what's up in Eretz, the parts with Mik & Zuzana, Karou being both fragile and strong at the same time. If it were legal to marry books, I would so propose to this one. :) I have no idea what's up for book 3, but I'm content waiting for once; I feel completely satisfied after reading book 2 (which almost NEVER happens!).

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    1. I know, NO IDEA about book three. So scared, already, but at the same time I kind of trust Laini Taylor. I LOVED Akiva's siblings and that story line and my heart was just AAAHHH for Karou and what she was doing but it was also AAAHHH for Akiva and all he did. And THAT ENDING. Gosh, I need to buy this one so I can re-read it. And I need to listen to it too. I work myself up so much getting so scared of books that I am so excited for but it ends up being SO WORTH IT, better than I could imagine sometimes.

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    2. I think you said it perfectly: "I kind of trust Laini Taylor." I hadn't thought about it that way, but I feel the same! I was worried about that second book slump, and yet ended up loving the second book even more. YAY FOR AWESOME BOOKS!

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  6. This book absolutely slayed me. I loved Daughter of Smoke and Bone so much so I was definitely afraid of the book 2 slump, but Days really blew it out of the water. I loved spending more time in Eretz and learning about their world and I can't wait for what Taylor has set up in the third book.

    This book was about war and death, but it's message is about hope and that's what kept me going through all the dark parts. LOVE! Will be one of my top 10 in 2013.

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    1. Oh Eretz is so awesome. And that MAP! I kept looking at it like I was tracing the path of everyone while they were walking or running or flying or whatever.

      Your whole second paragragh - YES. Absolutely. I can't wait for the final book, but I'm already dreading the end of the series because it is THE END and that makes me so sad! I get so emotional, it's ridiculous.

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  7. EEEE I need to get my hands on this! Fingers crossed for le library!

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    1. I know! I had my library order a copy so I could read it! I HAD TO. I'm SO GLAD I did. So worth it.

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  8. I TOLD YOU SO! I'm so glad that you finally picked this up and that you saw the HOPE threaded through this book, even at the darkest times. I love how you talk about not understanding how you could love a book with so much death and destruction in it BEFORE you started reading it. But THEN you saw the magic of Taylor's writing. She is just amazing. I will be encouraging you to read book 3 when the time comes. I don't know what is to come either, but I am hopeful that these characters will continue to find pockets of joy in their world. AND NO LOVE TRIANGLES. I want that third person to fall for another person, who I think would be a better match for them.

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    1. Yes to all that you said here. I am already excited about my re-reads of these books in anticipation of the final book coming out and I'm already nervous about the final book coming out. I saw this at the library again the other day (shame on people for not having it checked out!) and I wanted to pull it off the shelves and read it again. Instead, I pulled it off the shelves and looked at the map, because it is so awesome.

      IN TRUTH: Knowing that there was war, death, destruction, etc in this book to the degree that there was before I went in - that HELPED me, though. I think I would've been a little broken-hearted if I would've gone in blindly. I still would've loved it. The story is fantastic, but I wouldn't have felt the heights of joy and love that I feel for it. So I'm glad that I chose to read your review and Jess' review, because I felt prepared.

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  9. Taylor wrote this well. She added enough new characters and back story to provide plenty of materials for books to come.

    Micky Johnson (One Way Links)

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