Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Book Review Club (January 2012)

Happy New Year! And what better way to ring in 2012 than with a bunch of reading recommendations! My critique partner, Kelly Hayes, and I were at a party together last month. Fun times! And we were talking about books. No surprise there. :) Anyway, Kelly was RAVING about the book she'd just finished reading and offered to review it for us. And here it is!


Karou is not your average teen. Really. First of all, at the age of seventeen, she has her own flat in Prague, speaks many different languages, has blue hair, and goes to art college where she fills dozens of sketch books with monsters and fantastical beings. But those are the ordinary things in her everyday world. What really sets Karou apart is her other life, the one even her best friend doesn’t know about.
The only family she’s ever known is a group of beings from a parallel word. Her father figure is a monster named Brimstone, part ram, part lion, part human, who deals in teeth of all kinds from all over the world. Karou has been running errands for him for years, some of them extremely dangerous, but she still doesn’t know what he does with all those teeth.
She also knows nothing about her own origins. It’s all very mysterious and will keep you guessing for at least the first half of the book, while the artfully rendered backdrop of Prague adds a nice gothic feel.
Karou’s life takes a dire turn when black handprints appear on doors around the world, portals for dimension-hopping traders, one of which is the door to Brimstone’s shop. These portals are being sealed by a team of warrior angels. Suddenly Karou is cut off from her Chimera family. But, being the kick-ass heroine that she is, she’s not going to take this lying down. She fights an angel named Akiva, barely escaping with her life. Then he comes looking for her and all hell breaks loose.
What follows is a complex tale of war, forbidden love, identity, magic and mythology. And the way Laini Taylor weaves all these elements together is its own form of magic. Her blending of past and present, romance and violence, reality and fantasy is seamless. Her humor is of the darker variety and at times laugh-out-loud funny. And her prose is lyrical and surprising.
By all rights I should have disliked this book. Angels don’t impress me. I avoid most fantasy like a bad virus. And a three-part series can seem more like an endurance test than a pleasurable reading experience. Not only did none of this bother me, but I got sucked into this story like I had walked through a portal into a world I didn’t want to leave. Bring on that second book!

Thank you, Kelly! I love your reviews.

Please click through to the reviews below. It's a great way to start the year!


Stacy Nyikos: THE WAR HORSE by Michael Morpurgo (middle grade)

Jody Feldman: SHELTER by Harlan Coben (young adult)

Scott Parker: THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins (young adult, science fiction)

Alyssa Goodnight of the Writers' Road Less Traveled: UNRAVELING ISOBEL by Eileen Cook (young adult)


Sarah Laurence: THE LAST NUDE by Ellis Avery (historical fiction) *includes author interview

Jenn Jilks of Cottage Country: LEFT NEGLECTED by Lisa Genova

Patti Abbott: THE SISTERS BROTHERS by Patrick deWitt

Staci of Life in the Thumb: BOOKS CAN BE DECEIVING by Jenn McKinlay (cozy mystery)

Riccarla Roman on Beth Yarnell's blog: DOWN THE DARKEST ROAD by Tami Hoag


Lucy Sartain of Ranting and Raving: STORIES I ONLY TELL MY FRIENDS by Rob Lowe (autobiography)

Linda McLaughlin: JACK KENNEDY: ELUSIVE HERO by Chris Matthews

Sarahlynn of Yeah, but Houdini didn't have these hips:

Note to Reviewers: Any errors (broken link, missed review, etc), just shoot me an email or leave a comment. Thank you so much for your reviews!


Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Hmmm...a book that you're prone to disliking that you end up loving? That's a review that always gets my attention!

David Cranmer said...

So many great choices again, Barrie. I hope to contrubute in the new year. Oh, and best of 2012 to you.

Stacy said...

Sounds like a unique book.

Sorry I didn't have the time to participate this month, but yay for Book Review Club 2012!

Linda McLaughlin said...

Thanks to Kelly for the great review. DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE sounds intriguing, and I do like fantasy sometimes. It's always great when you end up loving a book you didn't expect to like!

Happy New Year to all.

Barrie said...

Green Girl: That's exactly what I was thinking! Plus, I love the line: "I got sucked into this story like I had walked through a portal into a world I didn’t want to leave."

Barrie said...

David: Happy New Year back at you! And I'm looking forward to your reviews this year too! :)

Barrie said...

Stacy: Yes, yes! Yay for the Book Review Club 2012. :)

Barrie said...

Linda: Happy New Year to you, too! I'm headed over to your blog to check out your review. Sounds like a very interesting book.

AbaGayleb said...

Happy New Year! The book sounds pretty interesting. (:

Sarah Laurence said...

Kelly, I've had similar hesitations about reading this kind of book but your review makes me want to take a look. I've read only positive of this one. Thanks!

Barrie, thanks for hosting and Happy New Year!

Alyssa Goodnight said...

I've seen a lot of this book recently, but after this review, I think I just might have to pick it up (despite not being much of a fantasy fan myself).

Excellently done! Thank you!
(And thank you, Barrie, for hosting!)

Sarahlynn said...

What a lovely title.

Happy New Year to all!

Beth Yarnall said...

Hey Barrie, I'm a little late chiming in but can you add me to the list? My friend Riccarla Roman reviewed Tami Hoag's newest thriller Down the Darkest Road for me. Thanks!

Linda McLaughlin said...

Hey, Barrie, I forgot to mention that I bought How They Croaked for my 11-year-old nephew (among other books & DVDs) but that was the one he said was "terrific" in his thank you note. Thanks for the recommendation!