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Daughter of Smoke & Bone - Laini Taylor So refreshingly original, well-described, with full, fleshed out and utterly believable characters. This is my first book by Laini and it won't be my last. Review should be up within the next day or so!-As far as anyone knows, Karou is just a normal girl attending a high school for the arts in Prague. A girl with a talent when holding a pencil that does wonders in a sketchbook. And as far as anyone knows, the images inside Karou's many sketchbooks are part of her evocative imagination, and when people ask what Issa has been up to they expect that her answer is part of an overall story with an ending only Karou can tell. With a wink and the right tone of voice, the truth is easily painted as fiction with no questions asked. That is until her routine, but curious life is upended with a visitor she didn't know to expect and an answer that, like Karou's images, was hiding there all along.Daughter of Smoke and Bone is easily one of the best books that I've read this year, and I would go so far as to place it in the top five. Usually with a book the notion that it is incredibly original and refreshing would outweigh a lot of things, but the fact is that the crafting of this story far outshines everything else. If this book were set in the United States it would not have had the impact that it did; the fairy tale background of Prague evoked such strong imagery and a sense of unmarred age that it lent itself well to the story that played out on its streets. I'd almost say that the setting of Prague was the custom-fitted costume that the characters wore to great effect.And what is a well-designed costume without actors that can do it justice? The characters in this story, very much including the secondary, were perfectly fit. I think it will be difficult not to like Karou, who is smart, strong, and loyal. When Karou got mad, I was angry. When Karou was upset, I wanted to know more along with her. She is definitely a character that I would love to hang out with, especially if it was with her best friend, Zuzana - a sassy little thing with a clever tongue and an impeccable sense of style. The rest of them were amazing, too, but I don't want to give too much away. I will mention, however, that my favorite of the characters is probably Brimstone, but I'll let you find out for yourselves.Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a book that I was left thinking about for days after I finished, and it's one where you'll be very much glad that it's part of a series. With a wonderful cast of characters and a take on mythology that's refreshing in its originality and depth, this is a book that you won't want to miss. I'm not sure where the next book is going to go, but it's a journey I'll definitely be pre-ordering.