Dreams of Gods & Monsters - Aly

Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor

Disclaimer: This review first appeared on my Goodreads profile. You can also view it, and other reviews, on our Tumblr here.

Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #3)

Overall GR rating: 4.35 stars.
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars.

"Once upon a time, an angel and a devil pressed their hands to their hearts and started the apocalypse."

I've said this before and I will say it again: I thank the Lord for giving us Laini Taylor who has restored my faith in paranormal YA. From the outside, the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogymay look like any other overused-to-death plot, but once you start reading, you will realise it is so much more than that. 

In the last instalment of this beloved trilogy, Taylor gives uspassion, suspense and laughter. Where others failed, she excelled. Where others have tried, Taylor has tried and succeeded. Trust me, there's a huge difference there.

I fell in love with Karou from page one of Daughter of Smoke and Bone and she has not - not once - let me down. If you're looking for a typical Mary Sue, a boring and annoying character, with little action and little coherent thoughts, then this book is not for you. Dreams of Gods and Monsters is action packed, exciting and the characters will not let you down.

The Summary

"From the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond, humans, chimaera and seraphim will fight, strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy."

Dreams of Gods & Monsters picks up where we were left in Days of Blood & Starlight. Karou has taken control of the chimaera army and is intent on turning the dream she once had with Akiva into reality. As Jael's seraphim army invade the human world, Akiva and Karou ally their enemy armies and prepare to fight an impossible war.

Usually, I would've grown bored and restless by this point in the series. Too many loose ends, too many unfinished stories and too many words get between me and the ending and, usually, I'd want it to just end already. For the first time in forever -- cue Frozen here -- I didn't want this trilogy to end. Although it's a beast of a book, and it took me a good three days or so to get through it, I dreaded the moment it would reach its climax and end.

The Characters

*cue happy dance*

Character development? Check!
Characters know their priorities? Check!
Love on the back burner? Check, check, check!

Taylor ticked all the boxes in my Guidelines to An Awesome Book check list. I was so sick and tired of seeing important main characters putting important tasks on hold so that they can kiss/dry hump themselves to death. In this book, I think Karou and Akiva kissed a total of two times -- both after the war. Their priority was to stop evil from causing a disaster in the human world, rally their armies together and defeat said evil and restore faith to their world, and they made sure they did all this before running away to a deep, dark corner and chewing each other's faces off.

The character development is almost perfect. Karou is a kick-ass heroine who don't need no man, who knows what she has to do and actually does it for once. 

We get to know Akiva much better in this last book -- who he is, where his powers come from and what his powers cause to the world -- and it's refreshing that he doesn't go all depressing emo on us when Karou says no. 

The only question I have with the characters are with Zuzana and Mik. Where the fuck are their parents?! How on Earth (or Eretz, heh-heh) do they manage to disappear for months on end, without a phone call or email, and get away with it? Surely their parents are worried sick? You know, since the apocalypse started?! I love the fact that Karou doesn't abandon her human friends shortly after falling in love and running away to another world, but I would've liked a bit more explanation as to why they could just up and leave without anyone questioning this. Especially since we get our fair share of Zuzana's point of view as well as a number of other characters and not once are her parents/family mentioned.

Sliiiightly weird, but other than that, I love them all!

In Dreams of Gods Monsters the point of view switches from Karou to Akiva, to Liraz to Zuzana, to Ziri to Mik and Jael. So we have a lot of switching, but each voice is so distinct and different, I didn't mind at all. The only thing I would change (and this is for all the books) is the flashbacks. We're given a bunch of flashbacks at random times. You might be reading from Karou's POV, start a new chapter and suddenly you're reading from Madrigal's POV from a quarter of a century ago. It can get confusing but I found it easy to tell once the second or third flashback happened.

The Plot

It thickens! Although it started off as your typical overused, overcooked and overdone angels-come-to-earth-hey-instalove story, it quickly evolved from there and became much more. We're given legends, history and language that no other books has given us before. We're given races and armies and a war that rallies all other wars. It's incredibly well done and I would pay gold to have been inside Taylor's mind as she thought all of this up. Not only did she give us a new world, she gave us more than one and a "system of energies" that helps us make sense of it all.

The Romance

The romance takes a back burner. Seriously. We were faced with the dramatic, annoying insta-love in the first book but it slowly develops from there at a snail's pace. I can honestly say that, although the dream and war are based on the love felt by two enemies, it doesn't play much of a role in the books. It's not as important.

However, to satisfy the love saps out there, Zuzana and Mik are over-heels in love and aren't afraid to show it.

The Ending

Definitely left something to be desired. I was hoping and hoping that maybe the series would be continued, but it seems not. The ending is pretty open -- we're left with new characters and a new, bigger impending war between the Stelians and the creatures of the "great All" and it felt a bit jarring, because we really don't know what's going to happen next. We're given some pretty good closing paragraphs for every character, but with something so big at the end, I was disappointed that we're not given more. Taylor should have omitted it entirely or give us a novella to completely conclude the trilogy.

Overall: 4.5 stars. Incredibly happy with it.


Daughter of Smoke & Bone - A review by Aly

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

Disclaimer: This review first appeared on my Goodreads profile. You can find this review and others on our Tumblr page here.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #1)

"Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there's no actual magic in it, but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you can make things happen, almost like magic."

*takes deep, shuddering breath*



Where do I start? How to begin? How could I possibly find words to describe this utterly beautiful, perfect story? Anything I say won't do Daughter of Smoke and Bone any justice. 

It's one of those books that you just... have to read, to understand where the praise is coming from. It's not your typical story (although some aspects can be easily referred to as cliché) and it's woven with magic. It's a story within a story, and one that will hook you from page one.


"Errand requiring immediate attention. Come."

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 had to family. Raised half in our world, half in 'Elsewhere', she has never understood Brimstone's dark work now 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.

When I first read the blurb, the first question I had was, "What is Elsewhere? Where is Elsewhere?" and it's a question that will plague you, dear reader, until the very end. The truth is, Elsewhere is Elsewhere. It has no place of it's own and, like in limbo, it is stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Karou's not your typical heroine, but at the same time she is. She questions everything and everyone and constantly carries this feeling of being split, of not being whole, around on her small shoulders. She's an art student whose life is split in two and who seeks answers from her loved ones. So when the truth begins to leak in the form of black, scorched hand prints on Portal doors, she needs to make a decision.

And fast.

The setting

We're in Prague! No, really, it feels like you are. The cobblestones, the buildings, the shining sun on your skin... it feels so real when described by Laini Taylor

It feels so real, like you're walking alongside Karou. Everything is described in detail, but not so much as to bore you, just enough to paint a vivid, gorgeous picture in your mind's eye. It's the perfect setting for the book, and so pretty.



Goddamn, it's been a while. Who doesn't love a real, true, kick-ass heroine? A punky girl with blue hair and tattoos, that Karou. I immediately fell in love with her persona - she's funny, sweet but a real teenager in the sense that she will have a bitchfit if she feels like it. She doesn't take no for an answer, expresses wishes on little and is just awesome.

I loved her. I loved her sass (that is now a word, ok?), her bitch-please attitude towards her ex-boyfriend and I adored that she could turn from normal teenage girl to kick-ass, angel-fighting badass in a matter of seconds.

At the same moment, she became aware of the pulse in her palms that had made her curl her hands into fists at her first sight of him. It thrummed there still, a pent-up energy, and she was jolted by the certainty that it emanated from her tattoos. An impulse overcame her to throw up her hands, and she did, not in cringing surrender, but with palms powerfully outthrust, inked with the eyes she'd worn all her life without ever knowing why.

She has got to be my favourite MC of all time. You just can't get enough of her.

This is coming from someone who rarely becomes attached to an MC, purely because they're always so boring. Karou, though, is not. 


He's a sexy mofo. Like, really sexy. It's easy to believe that such sexiness/beauty/whatever you want to call it, because Akiva isn't normal.

He's an angel.

He's kickass (if not a bit whiny at times, but that's okay).

He's beautiful.

Into kohl-rimmed eyes in a sun-bronzed face. Fire-colored eyes with a charge like sparks that seared a path through the air and kindled it...

Angel indeed.
He stood revealed. The blade of his long sword gleamed white from the incandescence of his wings - vast shimmering wings, their reach so great they swept the walls on either side of the alley, each feather like the wind-tugged lick of a candle flame.

Those eyes.

He's a perfect love interest and one you will love too.

Overall: a must read . If you're not into fantasy, magic or anything that isn't considered 'normal', then this isn't for you. But if you are... well, I have no idea what you're waiting for. Start reading already!

PS I will write a more coherent review at some point this week. Excuse my gushy fangirling feels.


Anna Dressed in Blood - A review by Aly

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Disclaimer: This review first appeared on my Goodreads profile. It can also be found on our Tumblr here.

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna, #1)

*Shakes head in disappointment*

You know when you walk into a book store, and you see a beautiful cover that catches your attention and you immediately think, "That looks good!" and you read the blurb and review quotes and you think, "Yep. This looks great. I need to read it."

And then you start reading the book and it fails in every single aspect, and you're left with nothing but bitter disappointment?

That's Anna Dressed in Blood. The premise was interesting, but everything else just failed.


"Cas Lowood is no ordinary guy - he hunts dead people.

People like Anna. Anna Dressed in Blood. A beautiful, murderous ghost entangled in curses and rage. Cas knows he must destroy her, but as her tragic past is revealed, he starts to understand why Anna has killed everybody who's ever dared enter her spooky home.

Everyone, that is, except Cas..."

When I read the blurb, it sounded incredibly interesting. So interesting that I bought it straight away and didn't even bother reading the reviews here on Goodreads (which I usually do before spending money).

When I then read the review snippets, I thought it was going to be a scary, gory, sleep-with-the-lights-on book, but I couldn't have been more wrong.

The premise

Cas Lowood has accepted a new job -- to banish the spirit of Anna Dressed in Blood, a murderous, spiteful spirit who dismembers every human that dares step across the threshold of her home.

From page one, I could see that I wasn't going to like it as much as I expected to. Cas Lowood is a dick. He's cocky, shallow and very much in your face. He does nothing at all to win over the readers or even his cat, Tybalt. I felt incredibly sorry for his mother, who has to put up with a son like Cas, someone who doesn't give a flying fuck about other people's wishes except his own. He's very selfish that way and his mother just goes along with whatever he wants to do. So when they decide to go to Ontario, Canada to hunt Anna, his mother didn't even bat an eyelid.


Throughout the entirety of the book, Cas constantly says, "I'm the only one who can do this job. I'm the only one who can kill ghosts." Which left me screaming, "Why? Why are YOU the only one who can? What if there are others out there? Hm? HMMM?" I think Blake could've given us an explanation for this, even if it was just a theory, as I know there is another book in the series.

Cas likes to think he's the super macho hot guy. The second he steps into his new school, heads swivel in his direction and girls fawn all over him as if he was Depp-hot, which I highly doubt.

"Or maybe I'm just damn easy on the eyes."

Are you, Cas? Because I have no fucking clue what you look like! We are never given a physical description of the MC. EVER. 

He's the kind of guy who thinks he's 'all that':

"When I walk by, I pointedly ignore her."

And he obviously thinks he's drop dead gorgeous because...

"At lunch, Carmel flags me down, but I don't go over right away. I'm not here to date anyone, and I don't want to give her the wrong idea."

Cas, honey, you're not going to give her the wrong idea if you sit with her at lunch.

"I make my way to her table, seeing eyes growing wider as I do. Ten or so other girls just developed instantaneous crushes on me."

I STILL don't know what you look like, mate! 



So when you hear the name Anna Dressed in Blood, and you hear that she tortures and maims any human that walks into your house, your first thought is, "My, she must be terrifying."

Anna wasn't terrifying at all. I scare easily, but Anna made me laugh. Sure, her appearance was a bit off putting, but other than that, she's a pretty boring ghost. Emphasis on pretty.

"Her feet drag horribly along like she can't use them at all. Dark, purplish veins cut through her pale white skin. Her hair is shadow-less black, and it moves through the air as though suspended in water, snaking out behind and drifting like reeds. It's the only thing about her that looks alive. ... There is the dress. It's wet, and red, and constantly moving. It drips onto the ground."

Scary, right? Sounds pretty terrifying, huh?

Well after a few scenes she's then described as 'beautiful', 'ethereal' and 'gorgeous' -- nothing like the crazy killer from a few pages back. In the end, Anna is nothing but a damned spirit who falls in love with Cas.

Which brings me to my next point!

The romance

You haven't known instalove until you read this book. The romance fell from the sky and landed on their laps. It came from nowhere. One minute Cas is going on about how he must banish this awful murderous spirit, and the next he's in love, and thinking about their future, and talking to Thomas about how he doesn't think he can live without her.

It's awful, disconcerting and inconsistent and it just didn't sit right with me. There was no build-up, no grand revelation, just 'omg I'm in love with her'.

Overall, I was incredibly disappointed. If you want blood, gore, hair-standing-on-end, sleep-with-the-lights-on book, this isn't it. If you want plot holes, random mythology thrown at you, flat characters and cheap romance, then this book is definitely for you.

1.5 stars


Slated - A Review by Aly

Slated by Teri Terry

Disclaimer: This review was first published on my Goodreads profile.
It can also be found on our Tumblr here

Slated (Slated, #1)

*Taps mouth*
*Places hands on keyboard*
*Scratches head*

Well. It was an interesting read, to say the least. Before I continue, I would like to say that three stars is not bad. At the beginning, I was leaning heavily towards four/five stars but the second half of the book started chipping away at my imaginary rating.

Kyla has been "slated", a form of punishment induced by the Government on those who are about to face a prison sentence or worse. By being slated, it means you're given a second chance at life, a second chance to reinvent yourself and become whoever you want to be. By following through with this procedure, you will lose knowledge on everything, including how to walk, talk and eat without assistance.

Like a newborn baby. Except these newborn's are below sixteen years of age and have defied the Government in one way or the other. Each new Slated (yes, with a capital 'S') are given a watch -- aLevo -- that measures their happiness, to put it in layman's terms. Whenever your levels drop under the 4.0 mark, you can suffer blackouts, strong headaches and, in the end, death. It's to keep people happy and to stop them from fighting or harming others.

Of course, Kyla is special. Something went wrong in the procedure, and her memories are coming back...

Writing & Plot:

It's such an innovative idea, and one that you can imagine happening in the future. If the Government opted for the Slated option in the future, it would benefit hundreds of thousands of people. Instead of sending criminals to prison to serve hard time, their memories will be wiped and they (and you) can start a new life. How awesome would that be? To be given a second chance at life?

So I definitely enjoyed the idea of the book. Was it executed well enough for my liking? Not really. Although it was a great premise, we were given nothing but huge blocks of information that I had to digest and then remember for future references. In some parts, it felt like studying for a pop quiz.

The writing is simple. Not too simple so as to bore me to tears, but simple enough so that you can feel exactly what it would be like to live in Kyla's head. She's an artist, and the descriptions of places and surroundings was really well done, especially for someone who didn't know what the colour orange was until the doctors told her.

Speaking of Kyla!


*facepalms repeatedly*

Good God, this child. In the beginning, I gave her a lot of excuses to act like a total grade A moron. You know? She's been Slated, she doesn't know how to act like a normal person! She doesn't know how to not attract attention! Right?



The first thing she does to 'not attract attention' is fall into crazy instalove with Ben, a fellow Slated, right under the eyes of their friend Tori. Tori is gorgeous but described as "twisted and bitter". Duh. Relationships between Slateds are banned until the age of 21 (I don't get why it's 21, when the legal age to do everything in the UK is 18, and this book is based in the UK). However, what got on my nerves the most was how Kyla cried and moaned about Tori 'not being right' for Ben and how she was madly in love with him.

Dude. You've known him like a week. Get over yourself.

Kyla is a nice character, but the problem for me was trying to sympathise with her. She constantly questioned everything around her, even when told not to, threw accusatory remarks at random people in her adoptive family and just can't keep her mouth shut. If you were given a second chance at life, your LAST chance, would you throw it away because you can't hold your tongue? No, you'd do your damned hardest to please everyone. In the end, I couldn't sympathise with her. Not even a little bit.


It's not a bad book. It's intriguing and interesting and can hook you in just by using the right words/scenes. It's cleverly written, but I think Ms Terry bit off a bit more than she could chew. There's definitely room for improvement, and I believe she could've done more with what she had.

Rating: 3 stars


Beauty Queens - A review by Aly

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Disclaimer: This review first appeared on my Goodreads profile.

There's only a few things I love with the passion of a thousand burning suns:

- Chocolate
- Books
American Horror Story
- Cats

However there is only one person I love with the passion of a thousand burning suns:

Libba Bray

She's fantastic. Her writing is witty, crazy and over the top sometimes. She can spew stories like word vomit and everything she touches turns to gold. I am a huge fan and always will be until the end of time. I fell in love with A Great and Terrible Beauty, adored the ink off The Diviners and cried when she sent me an autographed bookmark years ago.

(I still tear up now, but don't tell anyone!)

So when I picked up Beauty Queens, I expected wit, humour, fanatical self-obsessed characters and to-die-for pirates.


The fifty contestants of the Miss Teen Dream pageant are, uh-oh!, stranded on a desert island after a terrible plane crash. With only a few survivors, the girls need to either fight or take flight.

We have a bunch of teenage girls used to the pampered life, of calorie counting and product devulging. These girls are used to having it their way -- of winning everything and battling other girls in crazy frenzies that would put men to shame.

When I first began reading it, I thought, "This is going to be hilarious. Silly girls with no survival instict? They're going to be torn apart!"

But here's the great thing about this book: it's so realistic, so terrifyingly real, that I cried and laughed an screamed along with the rest of them. As you're reading, you'll come to love all the characters, from Adina, the wannabe journalist who only entered the pageant to 'expose' the show, to Tiara, the adorable 'dumb' girl that makes you spit your drink everywhere when she comes out with lines like, "Uterus isn't a disease" and "It's so phallic!" to the hot pirates that crash onto the island (they're actually actors from a popular TV show that took the ship for a joyride and made a booboo)  to Agent Jones and even MoMo B ChaCha, the crazy dictator who has a stuffed lemur as a loveable sidekick.

Within the perfectly printed pages of this book, you'll get acceptance, love, starvation, thirst, pain and sadness, and hilarious one liners. What they don't tell you is this:

- First love
- Transsexual competitor
- Lesbian relations
- Sign language

This is why I loved the book. It started off as stereotypical but quickly evolved into something awesome. Everyday topics are challenged and friendships are forged in the most unlikely ways. 

It's fun, it's funny, it's awesome! There aren't enough adjectives to describe Libba Bray's execution of finding yourself in the wilderness.

Better review to come, but READITREADITREADIT!

Fangirl - A review by Aly

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Disclaimer: This review first appeared on my Goodreads profile

"In new situations, all the trickiest rules are the ones nobody bothers to explain to you. (And the ones you can't Google.)" - Cath, Fangirl.


We've all been labelled fanboys/girls at some point on our lives, whether it be for a favourite TV show, a film, a book or even a celebrity. The word fangirl is defined as "a female fan, especially one who is obsessive about comics, film, music, or science fiction" but also works great for boys because, believe it or not, sometimes boys have bigger fandoms than girls!

Hard to believe, right? It's true though.

I'd had Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell on my 'to-read' list for a while, considering it came out in September 2013. So when I finally got round to purchasing a copy, I expected this sort of attitude:

And this...

And maybe a little bit of this, too...

And I wasn't disappointed.

As an ex-fangirl myself, I could related to Cath's emotional attachment rather well. When I was younger, my sister and I lived, breathed and ate (metaphorically) Harry Potter. We would write crazy fanfiction stories, blog into the early hours in the morning and when the final book came out, we camped out for the midnight launch and took part in what had to be the craziest race to spend money ever. It was a wonderful time and one of my best memories, it helped us grow and we became inseparable.

The time came to grow up, though, and that sucked. My sister, two years younger than me, became part of the 'it' crowd in school, which meant even mentioning Harry Potter or the fandoms would score her -50 points to Gryffindor and a lot of mocking.

I continued writing fanfiction for a while, moving from Harry Potter to Twilight (I know, worst mistake of my life!) and then stopped when I realised I wanted to write my own fiction.

The blurb:

"Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan...

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words... And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?"

When Cath and Wren head for college (or University, for our Brit readers out there!) Cath becomes more and more engrossed in her fandoms whilst Wren leaves it behind to live the crazy freshman life. Cath has two objectives -- survive her first year and finish her Simon Snow fanfic before the last instalment of the series comes out. 

Will she be able to do it? Can she hack the pressure from her fans as well as passing her first year?

This is a lyrical, poignant coming of age story -- about fandoms, about becoming independent and most of all about first love.


Man, I loved her. She's one of the characters you can just relate to, who speaks about certain aspects of life and you can point your finger and say "Too right!" and "I've done that before!" or even "You're not alone." Her voice brings to life every young adults fear and she takes you onto the path of growing up -- it's an inevitable fact, but one feared by many. Who wants to grow old and leave their childhood behind? No one, that's who.

She's funny and witty, although sometimes she comes out with the weirdest things (and she seems to have an odd eyebrow fetish):

"His eyebrows were orgasmic."

'"His lips were thin but dark, like the inside of his mouth'."

She's the sort of girl you would want to take home to your parents (boys) or become BFFLs with (girls). Cath might have her priorities all screwed up, but she's real. It was refreshing to read from her point of view -- so many YA characters have let me down this year.


I need a Levi in my life. Heck, every girl needs a Levi in their lives! He's sweet, charming and, although 21 and old enough to know better, he forces Cath to follow her dream of finishing her Simon Snow fanfic. He's a happy-go-lucky kinda guy and spend all of his time laughing and smiling, even in the worst kind of situations...

He pops lines like these as if they're going out of fashion:

“I choose you over everyone.” 

“I miss you."
"That's stupid," she said. "I saw you this morning."
"It's not the time," Levi said, and she could hear that he was smiling." It's the distance.” 

“She smiled, and her eyes started to drift downward. 
Back up to his eyes.
"You know that I'm falling in love with you, right?” 

“Take off your glasses."
"Why? I thought you liked my glasses."
"I love your glasses. I especially love the moment when you take them off.”

For the most part, whenever Levi was mentioned, this was me:

And throw in a bit of this...

And you had yourself a very happy Aly. He's everything you would want in a fictional character.

Overall, 10/10 would recommend to everyone. Such a sweet, heartfelt book. Perfect for those, especially, who can relate to the whole 'fandom' idea.

My rating: 4.5 stars.