Mini Review for Night of Cake and Puppets by Laini Taylor

34733250Night of Cake and Puppets
By: Laini Taylor Illustrated by: Jim Di Bartolo
Release Date: September 12, 2017
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

My Rating:

In this stand-alone companion to the New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone series comes the story of Mik and Zuzana’s fantastical first date- as a gorgeously illustrated gift edition with bonus content included.

Petite though she may be, Zuzana is not known for timidity. Her best friend, Karou, calls her “rabid fairy,” her “voodoo eyes” are said to freeze blood, and even her older brother fears her wrath. But when it comes to the simple matter of talking to Mik, or “Violin Boy,” her courage deserts her. Now, enough is enough. Zuzana is determined to make the first move, and she has a fistful of magic and a plan. It’s a wonderfully elaborate treasure hunt of a plan that will take Mik all over Prague on a cold winter’s night before leading him to the treasure: herself! Violin Boy is not going to know what hit him.

New York Times bestselling author Laini Taylor brings to life a night only hinted at in the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy—the magical first date of fan-favorites Zuzana and Mik. Originally published as an ebook, this new print edition will include breathtaking black and white illustrations, plus bonus content in a gorgeous package perfect for new and current fans of the series.

My Thoughts:
I absolutely looooved this novella! It had been far too long since I’d been in this world. I always loved Zuzana and Mik so reading how they got to know one another and their first date was so much fun.Now, in all honesty, I still haven’t read the last of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series. I know, its awful. You see, I love these books so much I couldn’t say goodbye. I pre-ordered the book and it’s been sitting on my shelf just waiting for me. I just can’t do it yet. I don’t want to say goodbye. Reading this novella really got me back into it though so I think I might just pick it up soon

NoCaP was written just as beautifully as the books were and the advanced reader copies did have some of the artwork. A lot wasn’t finished but I know in the hardcover it’ll be beyond amazing. I loved having little illustrations as I read. I fell so in love with Taylor’s writing all over again. I read Strange the Dreamer recently and it was incredibly written but it does have a much more serious aura than these books. I had forgotten how funny Laini Taylor was! I laughed out-loud and I want to know these characters. They are all so unique and clever.

For all of those new to this series- you can totally read this first if you want! It doesn’t give away any major spoilers and it’s a great introduction to the world and writing style. This review can’t be long since this is a novella but just know that this is a must read! Go forth and pre-order.

Review of The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

TheDeadHouseThe Dead House
By: Dawn Kurtagich
Release Date: September 15th 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Format: Print ARC
Source: Kelly from Effortlessly Reading

My Rating:

Over two decades have passed since the fire at Elmbridge High, an inferno that took the lives of three teenagers. Not much was known about the events leading up to the tragedy – only that one student, Carly Johnson, vanished without a trace…

…until a diary is found hidden in the ruins.

But the diary, badly scorched, does not belong to Carly Johnson. It belongs to Kaitlyn Johnson, a girl who shouldn’t exist Who was Kaitlyn? Why did she come out only at night? What is her connection to Carly?

The case has been reopened. Police records are being reexamined: psychiatric reports, video footage, text messages, e-mails. And the diary.

The diary that paints a much more sinister version of events than was ever made publicly known.

My Thoughts:
I finished this book last night and my first take away was that The Dead House was brilliantly and wonderfully WEIRD. I don’t even know how to adequately form a review for this book because it was just so strange and really relies on the reader’s take away. This book meshed horror and psychology wonderfully and had me hiding the book at bedtime (I felt like the creepy cover was watching me).

The book’s format was really interesting but might make some readers nervous since it’s not common. The story unfolds through news articles, journal entries and descriptions of video found during an investigation. The novel starts with a report about an incident happening and then fast forwards two decades to the finding of Kaitlyn’s journal. I absolutely loved this technique and felt it was an incredible way to approach an unreliable narrator.

I really don’t want to give too much away since the fun of reading The Dead House revolves around watching the mystery unfold and for the reader to take their views and create what they believe really happened. This book read very quickly and had me at the edge of my seat. I read this over the course of two evenings and I’ll say…it disturbed my sleep! Really, this book delves into violence, psychology, demons, possessions, witch-craft, ghosts…and really all the creepy things you could possibly think of all meshed together into a crazy awesome book.

Because of the format I did feel like an observer and did not connect to the characters in the way I normally would but this did not detract in the slightest for me. I felt reading about the events I knew had happened and having a bit of an idea of what the incident was really added to the tense atmosphere.

Final Thoughts:
I’m sorry that this review couldn’t go into more detail but if you like to be slightly horrified and haunted then I think you’ll love this book. I know for a fact this will not be a book I’ll soon forget. Add Dawn Kurtagich to my ‘pick up whatever she writes’ list.

Review of The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

The Coldest Girl in ColdtownThe Coldest Girl in Coldtown
By: Holly Black
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: September 3rd 2013
Barnes and Noble

Thank you Stephanie (Inspiring Insomnia) for letting me borrow your copy!

My Rating:

Summary (via Goodreads):
Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

The Story:
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown started off very strong, the story starts with our main character, Tana, waking up confused after a party went tragically wrong. Black wrote the beginning so detailed and vividly that Tana’s fear and unease were tangible. I held my breath as I read; the scene being incredibly realistic and disturbing. For me, after this initial segment the story started to drag and I really struggled immersing myself as thoroughly as in the beginning. I felt that things were progressing too slowly, I wanted more to happen a lot faster.

There is a lot of information that Black had to provide as a backdrop to her story. We learn though flash backs from Tana or her sister’s point of view how our world turned to one where vampires are real and living among us. I felt the flashbacks provided the information I needed though I didn’t particularly enjoy reading them.

I did feel the way the Coldtowns were described was sadly accurate to how it might be if real. This story was bleak and gritty. I could never decide as I was reading if I was enjoying it or not. A lot of the writing was very eloquent,

But the thing is, I hadn’t known myself at all until I went away (page 350 of arc).

But other descriptions felt over done to me…granted, this is an arc so it could be edited down before the final version and I kept that in mind. An example of a really beautiful description going too far in my opinion,

His blood was shady afternoons and metal filings and tears running-thrumming through the fat roots of veins to drip syrup slow, spurting across her mouth, teeth, chin. (pg 316 of arc).

The Characters:
I never fully connected with Tana due to her decisions always seeming very naïve to me. I constantly felt that she walked into some really horrible situations and it honestly frustrated me. Her blind trust of strangers perturbed me. As the story progressed she did seem to learn from her mistakes and not repeat them. Her character grew, toughened up and actually became much more enjoyable to me. I did feel incredibly sorry for her because of her past experiences, and that did give her reason to act in the way that she did on some occasions. I  feel that Black did create a rounded character with depth though, personally, I wasn’t impressed with her.

I found the entire cast of secondary human characters very dislikeable, from her family members, ex boyfriend to the people she meets on the road. The only character I could really stand behind was Jameson (and I loved his white crow).

The most intriguing and well constructed character to me was Gavriel, a vampire. I was taken with him immediately  and would have loved to have seen much more of him and his back story. We do get to see a few flashbacks from his life and those were my favorites. I did find that Tana was much more likeable when in his presence and the book picked up and became vastly more interesting when he was involved. Worse problem was he wasn’t there nearly enough.

Final Thoughts:
I have read the first two books of Black’s Curse Worker series and found them highly enjoyable. This was not the best vampire book I’ve read mostly due to the slow story progression and lack of likeability of the main character. That being said I will be picking up the sequel if there is one.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown Book Trailer: