Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Magic and Will - Smoke and Bone

~Daughter of Smoke & Bone~
Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Book 1

By Laini Taylor
Amazon ~ Powell's ~ Jan's Paperbacks

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she speaks many languages - not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.

When one of the strangers - beautiful, haunted Akiva - fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

It's impossible for me to start out with anything other than how much I loved this book. So there, I said it. I went into this one not knowing anything other than the gorgeous cover, that it had nearly topped Amazon's Best Books of 2011 list, and that it was (most likely) YA fantasy. It took me maybe 5 chapters before I was completely hooked, and maybe just a few more before I knew I loved it.

This book read beautifully. I've read stream-of-consciousness narratives, bare-bones description narratives, and even a few artsier narratives, but this book blew me away with its way of speaking. Descriptions were neither tedious nor sparse, but were melodious, whimsical, and, dare I say poetic? Yes, though I'll admit that poetry isn't my cup of tea, I found this narrative to be poetic while still giving me the substance and form I'm used to. Much different than any other novel I've read.

That goes for the setting as well. Set primarily in Prague, there is a lot of description about the city. But though it's set in the real world, in our world, there is so much fantastical description woven throughout the mundane, it's almost like it is another world. Such that when we do travel to another world (or dimension), it doesn't feel nearly as alien as it could.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Of Authors and Teeth

Last Tuesday, something amazing happened...

No, I'm not talking about the election. I'm talking about getting to read Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke & Bone (henceforth called Daughter), then getting to see her that night at my local Powell's!

Now, my review will be coming out tomorrow, but I just wanted to give a little teaser post about the event I was lucky enough to go to.

I know you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover...
but come on, people! How amazing is that hair?! Yes, I saw a picture of her on the dust jacket of Daughter above the author blurb, and she had pink hair there, but it's still pretty freaking awesome. (And I apologize for the low-quality picture from my phone - left my good camera at home that night.)

She spoke a little on the writing process of Daughter, read a couple completely non-spoiler-ly passages from the newly released (that day, in fact) Days of Blood & Starlight (henceforth called Days), and then opened it up for questions.

I was especially impressed by not only not spoiling just-released Days, but also not spoiling anything from Daughter. So even if I hadn't literally stayed up all of the night before devouring all of Daughter (like I had any choice in the matter), I wouldn't have had to plug my ears at all! I love it when authors are kind like that.

Also, the writing advice, or rather exposing her strategies for getting things done, was excellent! It's certainly nice to know that even though not all writers are the same, at least a few successful writers share the scattered brain syndrome, the perfectionist tendencies, and the need for escape now and again.

And finally, though it is a custom at Powell's to raffle off swag of some sort, Ms. Taylor was generous enough to offer 2 prizes from the new Daughter of Smoke & Bone jewelry line! You can check out the full site HERE, with nearly everything they're going to be offering (she said a couple pieces are still in the works). PLUS proceeds from sales are currently going toward the Sandy recovery efforts.

But that's not all...I was a lucky recipient of one of the teeth!

Yes, teeth. I'll get more into the teeth in my review, but for those who have read the book(s), aren't these totally amazing?! Not sure what type of tooth it is, other than brass, but I love it nonetheless!

After the raffle, she also had a bunch of Days tote bags, but since I didn't have a copy to sign, I went ahead and took my leave. Overall, a great night without a bunch of political drama or stress.

If you want to go see her for yourself, and help celebrate Days's release, here's her current tour information:

You can bet that if I find a copy of my own I'll be heading down to Clackamas in a couple weeks to get it signed. ;D

Now...back to my review...

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Book-Inspired Movies

Top Ten Tuesday
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at The Broke and the Bookish.

Freebie week! And that means I get to branch off of books (slightly) and go into a sister subject, movies. Movies based on, adapted from, or inspired by books (and maybe one graphic novel). Keep in mind that this is my list, and by all means not encompassing every book-based movie out there, nor is it completely unbiased. This isn't a review, it's a list, so forgive me my crushes...

Haven't (Yet) Read the Book

Treasure Planet
Muppet Treasure Island5. Treasure Planet & Muppet Treasure Island
Robert Lewis Stevenson's Treasure Island

Had to go with a tie for this one. Treasure Planet has amazing artwork, music, and some of my favorite characterizations of the side characters, while MTI is just plain fun with our old muppet favorites and Tim Curry. Ah...Tim Curry...

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen4. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Alan Moore's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Graphic Novels

While only vaguely resembling Moore's original concept, and deemed by many to be a lazy script with even lazier acting, it happens to be one of my favorites. I'll admit I have a slight crush on Tony Curran's character, the re-imaginged Invisible Man, Rodney Skinner - Gentleman Thief, but regardless I find the whole premise and execution fun and inspiring. And much more lighthearted than the graphic novels.
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
3. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

I don't find the Burton remake as horrible as some, but I still have to go with the original version as my favorite of the two adaptations. The whimsy, the music, the Wonka, it just comes down to a movie I can watch over and over again no matter what my mood.

How to Train Your Dragon
2. How to Train Your Dragon
Cressida Cowell's How to Train Your Dragon Books

This very well may be one of my favorite movies of all time. The voice-acting, the animation, the story, the dragons - everything about it is amazing. I'm now watching the TV-series on cartoon network, which is pretty good as well. At first I thought it would be the same story, different day type thing, but they're keeping things fresh and expanding more than I expected, which is a very nice surprise. Overall, I hope to see more from this series, and I'm very tempted to pick up the books, even though they're for a much younger audience.
The Lord of the Rings
1. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
J.R.R Tolkien's Lord of the Rings Trilogy

I don't care how many Tolkien fans say they hate this and that about the series, these are still a great series of movies. I love watching them, then watching the extended editions, then the commentary, then all the behind the scenes extras, then running through the series again. I've actually done a back-to-back extended edition viewing once...and if that's not love, I don't know what is.

Read the Book
5. Dracula
Bram Stoker's Dracula

The Francis Ford Copula version, accept no substitutes. Watched it as part of class in college, have loved it ever since. Romanticized, yes, but still a lovely dark gothic classic. And I don't care who you are, Gary Oldman rocked Dracula.

4. Holes
Louis Sachar's Holes

One of my favorites partly because it sticks so closely to the source - of course, Louis Sachar wrote the screenplay too, so that helped. Still, the tone, the acting, and the great way everything wound together both in the present and the past (without the 3 hours of Cloud Atlas) is storytelling perfection. Add in Henry Winkler, Sigourney Weaver, and Shia LaBeouf and you've got yourself a winner.

Dracula3. The Phantom Tollbooth
Norton Juster's The Phantom Tollbooth

A forgotten classic that I wish would resurface, and soon, The Phantom Tollbooth is my favorite Chuck Jones animation. A boy who just can't find anything to do is shown the magic and excitement of words, math, music, and the imagination. What better story to read and show to our kids than that?
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

2. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia

This was nearly at the top of my list for the sole reason of being more entertaining (to me) than the book. Taking the world of Narnia and presenting it in the majesty and splendor, bringing to life the magic and wonder, and all that creature work. It rivals even Lord of the Rings! The second movie did stray away from the original a little more, and I haven't even seen Dawn Treader yet, so I can't vouch for the series as a whole. Still, a great adaptation of a great book is really hard to come by, so I applaud this team for going to the effort.

Harry Potter1. Harry Potter Films
J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter Series

While I can't say I find the series flawless, and in fact I haven't convinced myself to watch the 8th movie yet, I still have to rank Harry Potter as my favorite adaptation. The continued efforts of cast and crew to bring to life a literary phenomenon, as well as matching the tone and substance to the original material, and doing so for eight movies... How can I not rank them highest on my list?

Honorable Mentions:
Marry PoppinsElla EnchantedHaven't Read
Jurassic Park
Mary Poppins
A Muppet Christmas Carol
V for Vendetta
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
Christopher Nolan's Batman Trilogy (if comics count)
Have Read
The Neverending Story
Ella Enchanted
James and the Giant Peach

So, which book-inspired movies are your faves?
Do you prefer loosely based adaptations or strictly canon versions?
Or would you rather Hollywood leave your treasured tales alone?
Let me hear you howl!