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Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer #1) | Lani Taylor

strange-the-dreamer

Strange the Dreamer by Lani Taylor, March 2017, Hodder & Stoughton, RRP$19.99 AUD

Synopsis

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around – and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance to lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries – including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Hachette Australia, in exchange for an honest review.

Please Note: all opinions are mine and are not endorsed with any company or organization. 

Review

Setting.

I thought that parts of the fantasy world were so unique and intriguing, but I also thought it was heavily influenced by places in the real world. I LOVED the different cultures and I hope to see more of this world in the sequel.

Characters.

For a protagonist, Lazlo was pretty cool and I was definitely rooting for him. I just found him a little too ‘nice’ and—like the plot—rather predictable. I loved the comic relief from some of the minor characters, and the ‘antagonists’ added so much to the story (really, there would not have been a story without them).

Plot.

Unfortunately, this is what let the book down for me. I won’t say too much because it is DEFINITELY better to go into this book blind. Even though the plot was interesting and engaging, all of the early reviewers were super mysterious about the book, and there wasn’t much to go on from the synopsis, and I still managed to guess every twist and turn, no matter how small, before it happened. Perhaps the foreshadowing was just a little too obvious for me and I picked everything up, but I also predicted the major plot twist before even starting the book. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the journey, I loved most of this book. I just felt disappointed that there wasn’t more to the conclusion and it seems I am unsatisfied when I’m right. I just wanted to be surprised JUST ONCE.

Writing.

Lani Taylor’s writing style was beautiful—as everyone assured me it would be—and I’m so glad of that; it greatly added to my overall enjoyment of the book. I feel that a fantasy as epic as this needs that defining writing style.

5/5

Although I really enjoyed most of the book, I was just really disappointed with the ‘plot twist’ and the ending, which is affecting my review. I suggest you read other reviews before deciding whether or not this is the book for you.

I’m looking forward to seeing where the sequel goes (and hopefully not correctly guessing the entire plot before starting the book).

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April TBR

Whereas before, I was reading essays and extracts for university this semester, this month I have to start on the four novels on my required reading list which means less time for fun reading *sniff*sniff*. I’m still putting three YA books on my TBR because I want to get to them ASAP. The books I’ll be reading for class (listing them here because it’ll completely ruin the aesthetic of the post otherwise) are In Cold Blood by Truman Capote and The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath—did anyone guess I that I’m taking a non-fiction course? I might also pick up Great Expectations by Charles Dickens to help the first-year student I privately tutor.

The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

I realised when writing my post for Monthly Recommendations in March that I really haven’t read that many Own Voices books and that I needed to do something about it. Unfortunately, most diverse reads (thus Own Voices books) have a contemporary setting—which I rarely enjoy—so I was ecstatic to find this Own Voices historical paranormal that sounds right up my alley! It’s won so many awards; it’s sure to be amazing.

A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper

I saw a post featuring this book on Trisha’s (from Trisha Talks Texts) Instagram and just knew it would be amazing! I picked it up from my library in March but didn’t get the chance to read it then, so I’m reading it now. I can’t wait to add another #LoveOzYA book to my favourites list!

Alex and Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz

I didn’t know I needed this until it existed. Even though I’m not a huge Hamilton fan (although I’m sure I would be if I saw the musical because musicals are THE BEST), I’m really excited to read some YA historical fiction set in this period—and a romance, no less! Last year I became obsessed with the TV show TURN: Washington’s Spies (I binge-watched all three seasons in less than two weeks…) and I am desperately in need of something to hold me over until season four airs.

 

New Releases

There are so many great books coming out in the next few months! The April releases I’m most excited for are:

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March Wrap Up

This month’s reading wasn’t too bad, and I actually managed to read more this month than any other! Still, I’ll be needing to read more books in the future if I want to keep up with my reading goal of 60 books in 2017. All in all, I have generally been reading quality over quantity and I’ve yet to rate a book less than 4 stars (though that may change when I pick up my required reading for this semester).

prisoner-of-night-and-fogPrisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman

4/5

Before going into this book, I thought it was set during WWII Germany, but it wasn’t and I’m glad of that because this was so much better. This duology instead explores the lead up to the war and Hitler’s rise to power, which I didn’t know much about. Although the protagonist is fictional, there are still a whole host of characters based on real people. I loved this book and highly recommend it!

conspiracy-of-blood-and-smokeConspiracy of Blood and Smoke by Anne Blankman

4/5

After reading the first book, I wasn’t sure what more could happen in the sequel. And to be honest, the sequel wasn’t completely necessary and I would’ve been contented to have read Prisoner of Night and Fog as a standalone. In saying that, it still added depth to the characters and story.

Duology review HERE.

Nemesis

Nemesis by Anna Banks

5/5

This is my favourite read of 2017 so far. I was completely blown away. And I have a new book boyfriend. Yes, it was trope-y and in many ways very similar to other YA fantasies out there, but I loved it! I actually borrowed it from my library, since I was hesitant to buy it because of bad experiences with the author’s past works, but as soon as I closed the covers on that last page I found myself ordering my own copy online. I can’t wait for the sequel!

Full review HERE.

The Secret of Nightingale WoodThe Secret of Nightingale Wood by Lucy Strange

4/5

This was recommended to me by some dear friends on Instagram and I’m so glad they did! Although I don’t read much middle-grade, I fell in love with this beautiful story that explore grief and family.

strange-the-dreamerStrange the Dreamer by Lani Taylor

5/5

I never read Lani Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, but I was always told of the stunning writing style. This was the only expectation I had going into Strange the Dreamer and I was not disappointed. I know many people got ARCs and had the opportunity to read the book early (lucky people) but for those of you who are yet to pick it up, PLEASE DO. There is a reason for the hype: beautiful writing style, intense fantasy world, remarkable characters; it is everything you could possibly want in a book. Except for the incredibly predictable plot twist (which I guessed before even picking the book up) which was rather disappointing BUT as far as I know from the reviews I’ve read, everyone else loved the ending.

Full review to come.

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March Book Haul

Well, that book buying limit didn’t last long… Only two months into the year and I’ve already broken my self-imposed rule of buying just four books per month. Such self-control. I really have no excuses. Most of these were impulse buys. I have a list of the books being released this year that I am permitting myself to buy, and only three of the books I bought were on it. Oops.

Gifts

Traitor Angels by Anne Blankman

I already owned Anne Blankman’s historical YA (which I read and adored this month) so I thought using the in-law’s birthday gift card was the perfect opportunity to get this one! I was really interested in it when it was released last year, but put off getting it for some reason. Anyway, I have it now!

The Turncoat’s Gambit by Andrea Cremer

This was the other book I got with the gift card. I’d been waiting and hoping that The Turncoat’s Gambit would be released in paperback eventually so that I could have it to match the rest of the trilogy, but alas, that was not to be. So even though the covers match, I have one odd hardback…

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberley Brubaker Bradley

This was gifted to me by the lovely Jeann from Happy Indulgence. She was unhauling some books to make room on her shelves and I gladly took this award-winning middle grade off her hands. Thank you, Jeann!

Prizes

A Talent for Murder

A Talent for Murder by Andrew Wilson

I love Agatha Christie’s murder mysteries so I was thrilled to win an ARC in a giveaway on Facebook from the publisher Simon & Schuster Australia!

Publishers

Wonderful Feels Like This by Sara Lovestam

Although I don’t often read contemporary novels, I think this one sounds absolutely adorable! Personally I think the elderly make the best friends so I can’t wait to read about Steffi and Alvar.

Strange the Dreamer by Lani Taylor

OMG.

Bought

King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard

I wasn’t entirely sure if I wanted to continue this series or not and at the beginning of 2017 I decided I wouldn’t. Then the hype got to me and now I own King’s Cage.

Roseblood by A. G. Howard

Again, I don’t read contemporary books. But PHANTOM OF THE OPERA.               I tried so hard to resist, but that cover sang to me, in dreams it came… that voice which calls to me, and speaks my name… (Ok, I’m sure you get it now).

Daughter of the Pirate King by Trisha Levenseller

Pirate books are the best.

The Scarecrow Queen by Melinda Salisbury

Maybe I was completing the trilogy; maybe I just wanted another orange book for my rainbow shelves…

Silver Stars by Michael Grant

I haven’t read Front Lines yet, but I’m sure I’ll love it. Because we all know I’ll read anything related to WWII.

Nemesis by Anna Banks

I convinced myself that I didn’t need this book. I said to myself, “Elle, just borrow this one from the library.” So I did. But then it turned out to be THE BEST BOOK I’VE READ IN 2017 so obviously I needed to get a copy to add to my own personal library.

The Imposter Queen by Sarah Fine

I’ve been eyeing off this book since it was released in January 2016 and I finally caved and bought it on a little online shopping spree. Also, I read Cait’s (from Paper Fury) Goodreads review. If that isn’t persuasive writing, I don’t know what is!

The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

With the Goodreads Monthly Recommendations group March topic being ‘Own Voices’ and white, female me not having read very many own voices books, I decided I needed to get one in that online shopping spree order. Since (again) I don’t like contemporaries, I found this YA historical paranormal and IT SOUNDS AMAZING. I plan to read it in April and will be sure to let you know just how much I love it.

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Nemesis (Nemesis #1) | Anna Banks

Nemesis

Nemesis by Anna Banks, October 2016, Feiwel and Friends, RRP$26.98 AUD

Synopsis

Princess Sepora of Serubel is the last Forger in all the five kingdoms. The spectorium she creates provides energy for all, but now her father has found a way to weaponize it, and his intentions to incite war force her to flee his grasp. She escapes across enemy lines into the kingdom of Theoria, but her plans to hide are thwarted when she is captured and placed in the young king’s servitude.

Tarik has just taken over rulership of Theoria, and must now face a new plague sweeping through his kingdom and killing his citizens. The last thing he needs is a troublesome servant vying for his attention. But Mistress Sepora will not be ignored. When the two finally meet face-to-face, they form an unlikely bond that complicates life in ways neither of them could have imagined.

Sepora’s gift may be able to save Tarik’s kingdom. But should she risk exposing herself and her growing feelings for her nemesis?

Review

Setting.

I am completely in love with this complexly developed fantasy world and I wish I could go there in person! There are dragon- and mermaid-like creatures and so many more. One of the kingdoms is based on Ancient Egypt, but the author makes Theoria all her own. There are also some cool magic and alchemical elements that really add to the book.

Characters.

I have an announcement to make: I HAVE A NEW BOOK BOYFRIEND. Tarik, *sigh* where do I even begin? Handsome, compassionate, humble, ROYAL. I am head-over-heels in love and you will be, too! I thought Sepora was also a great protagonist, but still with plenty of room for growth throughout the series. Although these two protagonists and their relationship is a significant part of the story, I really felt that it was their interactions with the other characters that made the book. I can’t wait to read more about them all!

Plot.

All you hate-to-love trope fans, this is for you! Not only did I love the fantasy elements—and the romance—of this book, I loved the politics of the world. Books (particularly fantasy novels) with a heavy political element are my favourite, and Nemesis is no exception! So fans of The Winner’s Curse series by Marie Rutkoski are sure to love this. I also appreciated the strong feminist and humanitarian themes running through the book. Even though the parental figures were somewhat absent in this book, I still liked the exploration of different family dynamics and how they affected the characters. And I’m sure that at least one parent will be more present in the sequel.

Writing.

At first, I found the book a little difficult to get into with all of the world building typical of a fantasy, but it was so worth it.

5/5

This is by far my favourite read of 2017 so far and I’m so excited to see where this series goes! I can’t wait for the sequel Ally to be released in October of this year. I wish this series was going to be longer than just three books because I LOVE IT.

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Prisoner of Night and Fog Duology | Anne Blankman

Synopsis

In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her “uncle” Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf’s, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.

Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler. And Gretchen follows his every command.

Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can’t stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can’t help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she’s been taught to believe about Jews.

As Gretchen investigates the very people she’s always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?

Review

Setting.

Most of the WWII book’s I’ve read are set in the 1940s in the midst of the war, yet this duology was totally unique, showing us the conditions of Germany in the 1930s and Hitler’s rise to power. I LOVED IT. Dark and ominous and completely thrilling!

Characters.

To say that Gretchen could be frustrating would be an understatement. But again, we are only seeing her life from when she is seventeen and her childhood would DEFINITELY have impacted the way she thinks and makes decisions. This doesn’t make her any less frustrating of a character, just more understandable. I liked the way these books played with stereotypes and the way real life people made an appearance as characters throughout the story. Daniel was the sweetest and contrasted to the villains.

Plot.

I loved the first book. I liked the second book. But the second book, to me, seemed superfluous and I would’ve been quite content with The Prisoner of Night and Fog to be a standalone. That being said, there was some seriously intense action and amazing character development in Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke. The mystery element of these stories was good, but I also found many of the plot points obvious and predicted a lot of the story before it happened or the mystery revealed—which made the characters seem a bit daft that they didn’t work it out earlier. Probably my favourite aspect of these books was the psychoanalysis of the characters—I found it absolutely fascinating!

Writing.

Really well done, implementing some of the vernacular of the period it was set.

4/5

Prisoner of Night and Fog was a great debut by Anne Blankman, and although I feel that the second book wasn’t necessary to the story I still loved every minute of it. I can’t wait to read the author’s latest release, Traitor Angels!

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Own Voices | Monthly Recommendations March 2017

This group was created by Kayla from Kayla Rayne and Trina from Between Chapters. You can join the Goodreads group and find other participants HERE.

The topic for March is Own Voices. I admit, I haven’t read a great deal of Own Voices books so I’m probably not the best person to get recommendations from, but here are a couple I’ve read and enjoyed plus a couple that I look forward to reading. For more recommendations, I highly recommend you check out the Goodreads group for Monthly Recommendations (link above).

Please comment below with your favourite own voices books so I know what I should be adding to my TBR!

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