Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor || 4.5 Stars

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Title: Muse of Nightmares (Strange the Dreamer #2)

Author: Laini Taylor

Published: October 2, 2018

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Synopsis: 

*If you’re new to the series. Please see my review of book one. Synopsis contains spoilers for book 1 and is taken from Goodreads.*

In the wake of tragedy, neither Lazlo nor Sarai are who they were before. One a god, the other a ghost, they struggle to grasp the new boundaries of their selves as dark-minded Minya holds them hostage, intent on vengeance against Weep.

Lazlo faces an unthinkable choice—save the woman he loves, or everyone else?—while Sarai feels more helpless than ever. But is she? Sometimes, only the direst need can teach us our own depths, and Sarai, the muse of nightmares, has not yet discovered what she’s capable of.

As humans and godspawn reel in the aftermath of the citadel’s near fall, a new foe shatters their fragile hopes, and the mysteries of the Mesarthim are resurrected: Where did the gods come from, and why? What was done with thousands of children born in the citadel nursery? And most important of all, as forgotten doors are opened and new worlds revealed: Must heroes always slay monsters, or is it possible to save them instead?

Love and hate, revenge and redemption, destruction and salvation all clash in this gorgeous sequel to the New York Times bestseller, Strange the Dreamer.

Note: I received buttons and signed sample chapters of book one from the publisher. I bought both books myself. Opinions are my own.

Bluejay feather quill pen.

Review

Initial Thoughts

When I first finished Muse of Nightmares I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. Upon reflection, I’ve decided that love it.

Why the skepticism?

The reason for my initial skepticism has to do with the fact that the first time I read the book, I was debating whether or not I was satisfied with the novels confrontation scene between our main characters and the antagonist. It seemed that the antagonist didn’t interact with the main characters until late in the book and when they did, everything seemed to happen at once.

The final confrontation scene resolves rather quickly, with several major characters not needing to do much of anything to resolve the problem.

Why the change of heart?

Despite these initial qualms, the more I thought about what I’d read, the harder it became to stop thinking about it. So much so that it got to the point where I’d reread the whole book, and have reread most of it one time more and still this book lingered in my thoughts. For a while, I had a hard time determining why. Eventually, I came to the realization that this was because it’s not really the plot that I love about this book.

It’s the characters; the thought provoking exploration of human nature, even though a fair number of the characters aren’t fully human; and the beautiful, poetic writing that I love. Because, the heart of most books isn’t their plot: it’s their characters’. And, what beautiful characters we have here.

With this in mind, I’ve changed my initial assessment that this book should be rated 4 our of 5 to a 4.5 out of five.

The Characters

This book juggles too many points of view for me to count, yet I was never confused as to whose perspective I was reading because all the characters have such unique voices. Lazlo didn’t get nearly as much time to narrate here as he did in book one, but he was still ever present on the page.

Sarai took center stage in this one, hence the book being named after her, and the book features more of the side characters from book one. Also added to the mix are Kora and Nova, whose story initially seems unrelated to the book as a whole but whose connections to the main plot eventually become apparent.

What’s Next?

The way this book ended makes me wonder if we’ll be seeing more of these characters in a future series. Fingers crossed, because I would love that. 🙂 Only time will tell.

Rating

This is one of the few times when I’ve liked a book more with distance. Yet, there is no denying that I loved this book beyond the extent I usually enjoy books I would rate 4/5, so I’ve settled on 4.5/5 instead.

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If you haven’t read Muse of Nightmares yet, are you planning to? Have you read the first book? If you’ve already read it, what was your favorite part? Do you think there will be some sort of continuation?

Please disclaim spoilers in the comments.

Please share your thoughts in the comments and follow me on social media!

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Five years of Blogging || My Blogiversary

Wordpress 5 year aniversery

Earlier this month, I got a notification from WordPress.com saying that it’s been five years since this blog was created. This seemed a little hard to believe. Five years is a long time. Yet, sure enough, my oldest public post was published on July 29, 2013, meaning the blog itself would have been created over a week before.
Thank you to everyone who has helped keep me motivated to blog for so long by following, commenting, or liking my posts!

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If you have a blog, when did you start it? How has it changed over time? If you don’t have a blog, what’s the longest you’ve maintained something you’re proud of (a journal, an organization, a business, etc.)? 

Please share your thoughts in the comments and follow me on social media!

Twitter | Bloglovin’ | Goodreads

First Half of 2018 in Review || Statistics About What I Read so Far

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So, I’ve been slacking on my wrap-up posts. As in, to the point where I haven’t written one in 6 months. I kept trying to write something to make up for this, but kept getting overwhelmed by the shear number of books I needed to cover. So, I decided to write this post instead.

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What I Read

The first half of this year proved a great reading experience. I read 27 books. I gave 2 books a 5 star rating and 16 received a 4 star rating. Two of these 4 star books were rereads from previous years. (The books themselves are listed at the end of this post.)

Books Read Per Month

I read between 6 and 2 books each month of the year so far. Or, between 1 and 3 books if I exclude this month, which isn’t over yet. This averages to 4 and 1/3 books per month.

Most Read Genres

I’ve read 11 fantasy books, 10 sci-fi books, 4 contemporaries, and 4 historical fiction novels. Note that some books fall into multiple categories. I’m very satisfied with this. I read more diversely in terms of genre than I have in just about any time period I’ve recorded so far.

In terms of age groups 20 out of 27 were young adult and 7 out of 27 were adult. I read no middle grade novels. These statistics are a bit more disappointing, because I generally have a more even split and read a few middle grade novels. However, with how busy I’ve been this year, I can see how my reading habits might favor YA novels, which tend to be shorter than adult novels on average.

Fun Facts

    • 20 books had at least one female point of view (POV) character. 18 books had at least 1 male POV character. 1 book had a character who didn’t identify as a male or female (they were someone who got a different body everyday).
    • 3 of the books I read were published before my birth.
    • 20 of the books I read were set on Earth, either in full or in part. Of those, only 5 took place somewhere outside of the US. Only 3 of those 5 took place somewhere other than the United Kingdom.

Read in 2018

Should I make infographics like the one at the top of this post more often? What did you read in the first half of 2018? What are your thoughts on these statistics? 

Please share your thoughts in the comments and follow me on social media!

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Books vs. E-Books || An In-depth Comparison

Ebook in Stars

Hello everyone, I was asked to compare print books and e-books for a class assignment. It occurred to me that while I’ve seen lots of book bloggers compare the two based on their personal preferences, I’ve never seen a post compare them based on their functionality. I thought reformatting my assignment into a blog post would be a perfect way to change this.

Extra credit if you can figure out what subject this assignment was for. 🙂

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Cover Vs. Cover

Paperback books have a spine and cover to tell readers what they’re about before opening the book. This is possible via books’ titles and illustrations. Books’ titles must summarize a book’s content in a single word or phrase. Books’ cover art must further their titles’ goal by conferring elements like a book’s tone and setting.

Spine vs. List

The books’ spines allow for stacking them side-by-side along a bookshelf while still being able to see a books’ title and a small segment of the book’s cover art. This allows many books to be displayed side-by-side at once.

E-books lack spines but their titles are often displayed side-by-side in a long list. This is similar to a bookshelf in that books are organized by titles, like at a library, and the title remains the first thing readers see.

Sometimes, books’ covers accompany their titles to provide the reader further information about a book. This display function is a better metaphor for when someone pulls print books off a shelf to examine their covers than a bookshelf.

Page Vs. Page

Both print books and e-books divide content into sections known as pages. Pages make it possible to read books without being overwhelmed by their length, while, in the case of print books, also providing yet another method of being easily stacked.

E-books don’t need to be stacked. Pages instead provide readers with an experience more similar to reading the print books they’re familiar with. E-books have limited screen space.

They can’t display the whole book at once because that would make the text too small to read. The e-books could have solved this in another manor, like scrolling on a webpage, but instead their designers chose to solve this problem through pages similar to a print book.

E-books often include arrow symbols. These symbols alert users to the need to click to the next page as opposed to the scrolling common in webpages. This might be confusing to someone who had only ever read things on the computer and never used a book.

Customization Vs. Eye Strain

Another feature e-books have added to print books is their customizability. E-books allow users to change aspects like the font, the text size, and the page color. This makes e-books more accessible to readers with accessibility issues like low vision, color-blindness, and dyslexia.

Before these readers would have had to rely upon large print and books with non-conventional page formatting, but now, they can use the same product as other users.

Audiobooks vs. Reading Aloud

E-books are also sometimes bought alongside audiobooks or have functionality that otherwise allows them to be read aloud. This allows greater functionality for both blind readers and those who enjoy multitasking or switching between formats.

Heavy Books Vs. Charging Time

E-books are great for those who would have otherwise needed to carry around large numbers of heavy books too. E-readers and e-book apps allow readers to carry around the equivalent of their entire bookshelf wherever they go.

Then again, print books do not require charging and can be less likely to cause eye strain. They also provide a print representation for avid readers to enjoy and treasure.

Conclusion

Personally, there are some situations I enjoy reading e-books, but print books have a definite appeal. Print books are beautiful, but e-books are great for a busy life where it’s a burden to have too much to carry.

As for functionality, e-books are in many ways more functional than print books. The exception comes when people do not have constant access to electricity. In these cases e-books are completely useless.

In other words, if it’s the apocalypse, print books are superior.

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Best assignment ever, am I right? Okay, so I was kidding about the extra credit I mentioned at the beginning, you still won’t guess which class this is from. Print books or e-books? 

Hope this wasn’t too technical. 😉 Share your thoughts in the comments!

 

My Bookish Identity Tag || I’m a Shadowhunter I guess?

My Bookish identityThis tag explores readers’ possible identities in popular fictional universes.

I was tagged by Kelly @Another Book in the Wall.

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What Dystopian/Fantastical World Would You Want to Live In?

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I think I’ve said this before somewhere, but I’ll say it again. I would love to live in the world of Scythe by Neal Shusterman . . . except maybe sometime before book two begins because reasons . . .

Then again, in the fictional future of Scythe there is a good chance that if I’d been born anytime with in 150 years or so of book 2 happening I’d still be alive then. It’s a conundrum.

For more of my thoughts on Scythe see my review.

Who Would Your Partner Be?

I’d never say no to being business partners with someone like Katness Everdeen. Then she could get me out of trouble and save my life if it ever needs saving. Hopefully it won’t. Also, I’d be popular by association.

Who Would Be Your Godly Mother/Father [Percy Jackson]? (Quiz)

I got Athena. Not what I was expecting, but I’m okay with that.

Would You Be a Downworlder or Nephilim [Shadowhunter World]? (Quiz)

I got Shadowhunter. This is hilarious because, LOL, no.

Which Hogwarts House Would You Be In [Harry Potter]?

Ravenclaw

Which Faction Would You Be In [Divergent]? (Quiz)

Erudite apparently. It gets a bad reputation in the series, but I’m going to take this quiz as a result going back to Erudite’s core value: seeking knowledge.

And, an excuse to read all day? Yes, please.

What Would Be Your Daemon [Northern Lights]? (Quiz)

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An Arctic hare. It would be awesome having an Arctic hare follow me everywhere. Unless I had to clean up after it. Then it would be not so awesome. . . I don’t think people in the Northern Lights series (which I know as The Golden Compass) had to do that? I just read the prequel a few weeks ago, so I should really know this.

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Want to be tagged? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll add your name to a list of people I’ve tagged in this post!

Did you take these quizzes? What were your results? Any surprises? 

Share your thoughts in the comments!

 

My Top 5 Most Anticipated Books of 2018

emotions-2975395_1920There are some really great books coming out this year, and I can’t wait to read them.

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Thunderhead (Arc of a Scythe #2)

Release Date

January 9, 2018

Thoughts

Already read this one and loved it. Shusterman is one of my favorite authors, so of course I wasn’t missing this book. Will say more soon in my wrap-up posts or a full review.

Check out my review of Scythe here.

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Iron Gold

Release Date

January 16, 2018

Thoughts

I’ve already got a copy and can’t wait for a chance to read it. I’m a bit weary of there being so many first person point of views in one book, but I enjoyed Red Rising, the prequel series, enough to give it a try.

See my reviews of books one, two, and three of the prequel trilogy.

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Defy the Worlds (Constellations #2)

Release Date

April 3, 2018

Thoughts

Just finished my reread of book one. It was still great the second time. I need to know what these characters do next!

Hate the cover change. But, as long as the book is good, I don’t care too much.

Check out my review of Defy the Stars here.

Skyward

Release Date

November 6, 2018

Thoughts

You thought you would get through this list without me mentioning one of Brandon Sanderson’s books? *laughs* Not happening.

I typically like Sanderson’s adult fantasy more than his YA, but I’ll still read anything he writes.

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The Cruel Prince

Release Date

January 2, 2018

Thoughts

I’d never even heard of this book until after its release, but the number of positive reviews it’s received intrigues me.

 

 

The Writer’s Tag || Why I write, The Best Writing Time, and 2018 Resolutions

The Writer's Tag

I wasn’t officially tagged for this, but I did tell Marie @drizzle and hurricane books I might do this, so let’s just pretend. Shall we?

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What genres, styles, and topics do you write about?

I tend to write science fiction and fantasy in almost all sub-genres, leaning a little more towards science fiction.

How long have you been writing?

This depends on how you define “writing.” If we’re referring to writing in my free time as opposed to for other obligations, then around 5 years, possibly a little longer.

Why do you write?

Because I love it.

When is the best time to write?

When I have no other obligations. Just kidding . . . kind of. The only time I tend to have available to write is right before I go to bed after everything else I need to do for the day is finished, but, to be honest with myself, I’m a morning person.

What parts of writing do you love and hate?

I love it when the words flow and everything I’ve researched and outlined clicks together into a coherent whole.

I hate getting started on a day when I’m mentally exhausted and the early stages of the editing process when I’m overwhelmed by all a pieces flaws and can’t see any way to fix them.

How do you overcome writer’s block?

In several ways. It depends on what I think is causing the writer’s block.

My most common solution is to take a break from writing to brainstorm a chapter-by-chapter outline of the next few chapters that need writing.

Are you working on something at the moment?

Sort of. I’m beginning to edit the novel length piece I wrote last summer, but it’s slow going.

What are your writing goals this year?

As the year ends in a few days, this will refer to my writing resolutions for 2018.

  • To receive at least three rejections for something writing related.
  • To finally get to a point where I have edited a novel length draft enough that I feel it is ready for beta readers.

I’m expecting a lot of writing non-related things to happen in 2018, so I’m not setting many goals.

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If you write, what are your answers to some of these questions? If not, what surprised you? What are some of your 2018 resolutions, especially book related ones? 

Share your thoughts in the comments below, and Merry Christmas if you celebrate, hope you had a nice day if you don’t!

Should books make us happy? A Discussion || The Empress (Diabolic #2) Review

The Empress Discussion

Okay everyone, today I’m trying something a little different and writing a discussion post followed by a review. The discussion is spoiler free. Unlike my usual reviews, this review will contain spoilers. You have been warned!

Also note that this discussion is only my personal opinion. Feel free to disagree.

Not too long ago, I finished reading The Empress (The Diabolic #2) by S.J. Kincaid. It left me conflicted.

The root cause of this confliction is this: I regard good books as books that make me feel emotion, but how many of these emotions need to be positive for me to consider a book good?

Discussion

Extreme tragedy is more realistic. People experience constant ups-and-downs. Fiction reflects this reality, but it is not reality. Therefore, it doesn’t necessarily need to reflect the level of tragedy experienced in real life.

People in real life don’t often make a single decision that changes everything and leads to action. People in real life repeat themselves, are grammatically incorrect, and speak in run-on sentences.

Try as writers might, words on a page cannot and never will reflect every aspect of the world around us. Good thing too: if it did, novels would bore us all to tears.

And, yet, this makes the reality writers present in fiction no less important. Movements like “#ownvoices,” which promotes books written by someone belonging to an underrepresented group about a character from that same group, show how the reality presented in fiction might shape others perception of our own.

Herein we have the root cause of my dilemma: fiction cannot reflect all aspects of reality but the reality that is presented is of critical importance.

I suppose, then, the answer to my question depends on whether or not the depiction of extreme suffering depicted in a way that the reader feels some of the character’s emotions because they have come to care about this character so much is critical to what people need to experience in fiction to sympathize with the experiences of our fellow humans.

To this, I have no answer.

There is also the question of whether this matters in a work like The Empress, where the characters’ problems are ones we of the 21st century do not experience . . . At least, I hope there are no genetically modified bodyguards out there because if there are, I must be living under a rock.

Conclusion

In the end, it depends on the reason we’re reading. If we’re reading for escapism, books should, most likely, make us happy. If we’re reading for authenticity, then books probably won’t make us happy because life isn’t the most happy of places.

Bluejay Feather

Review

Please check out my spoiler free The Diabolic review or skip to the “Rating” section if you do not want to be spoiled!

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Last warning: spoilers ahead.

As you may have guessed from my discussion, I am still not sure how I feel about this book.

The first half is super awesome and I loved it. One of the things that bothered me about the world building in the last book was that the characters have all of this advanced technology but no one knew anything about science because science was forbidden.

In this book we have an answer. It’s explained so well, and I love the author’s idea for a space-faring society that regressed to the point where a ten-year-old today might know more about physics than the society’s emperor.

It’s the second half that left me conflicted.

It was so heartbreaking to first see Tyrus during the second half, mostly because it was hard to see Nemesis’s heart breaking. It made me realize how much I’d come to care for her, but it also hurt to see her so distraught.

I think the other thing I didn’t like about the way this book ended is that the second half almost seemed to undo the progress made in the first half. The characters made so many discoveries, but those discoveries were invalidated when most of what they discovered got destroyed.

I’m also surprised by how much I disliked the romance ending the way it did. Usually, I would love the female protagonists to have more agency and realize they don’t need a guy or, in some cases, that the guy is essentially abusing them, but seeing such a drastic change in the love interest just hurt too much.

Yet another example of how much I’ve come to care for these characters.

In the end, I suspect much of how I feel about this book will be influenced by the course book three takes.

End of Spoilers

Rating

Despite my misgivings, I will give this book a good rating because a book that can make me experience so many emotions is a well executed one.

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Do you read books that make you unhappy? Have you read The Empress? What is your favorite book that has left you emotionally torn? 

Please remember to flag spoilers in the comments!

I believe this is my first discussion post on my blog. If you would like to see more in the future, let me know in the comments!

 

My Favorite Books of 2017

Top Ten Tuesday

Let’s be honest, 2017 has been far from my best reading year, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t find some new favorites. It does feel odd writing about my favorite books with half a month left to the year, however. So, even though this is called top ten Tuesday, I will be sharing my top five picks of the year instead.

No promises, but given how much more free time I will have for the rest of this month than I’ve had for the rest of the year, how much I anticipate the books I plan to read next, and the fact that I finished one of the books on this list yesterday, I suspect there will be a part two with five more books to come.

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is the top ten books of 2017.

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Title

The Caves of Steel (Robots #1)

Thoughts

I did not expect to enjoy this nearly so much as I did, but Asimov’s works have been so praised so highly in sci-fi cannon for a reason. This isn’t actually the work in this series that impacted me most. I just figured choosing the first book in a series is most appropriate, so don’t be surprised if one of the sequels appears in part 2.

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Title

Defy the Stars (Constellations #1)

Thoughts

So, I just really like Abel (this book’s robot main character) okay?

This book has a lot in common with the one above it. While Asimov’s world-building is better and more complex, this book is more character driven with a more modern appeal.

Read my full thoughts in my review.

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Title

Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer #1)

Thoughts

Laini Taylor has a way with words. I love the way she combines lyrical prose with her fantasy settings. Her characters were awesome too. For my full thoughts read my review.

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Title

Adulthood Rites (Xenogenesis #2)

Thoughts

Yet another work often praised as sci-fi cannon. I enjoyed the first book in the series last year, and this book proved just as good.

Just about my only complaint about the Octavia Butler books I’ve read so far is that they are so short, but that seems to be part of the style during the time period when most of her novels were written.

 

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Title

Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive #3)

Thoughts

Most of you who follow this blog must be shocked, (AKA surprised that this book wasn’t the first one they saw on this list) but I loved Oathbringer. I usually wouldn’t put a book I’d finished the day before on a list of favorite books, but there is little doubt in my mind that this one would make the list even if it had been the first book I read this year.

I don’t think I loved it as much as the second book, but I still loved it enough that I didn’t feel in any way left down. I also read this over 1000 page book almost entirely in two days. If that’s not a sign that I love it, I don’t know what is.

There will most likely be a full review to come once I have more time to process the book’s events and possibly reread it.

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What are your favorite books of 2017? Have you read any of these? Do you have trouble choosing favorites like I do? 

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Reader Confessions || All Readers Have Them

My Reader ConfessionsI told RiverMooseBooks I would share my writer confessions, but I haven’t written enough book related posts lately. So, here are my reader confessions instead.

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  1. Sometimes, I read the last page first.
  2. I DNF about as many books as I finish.
  3. I used to hate reading.
  4. I’ve only read one contemporary book this year. (Hoping to change this soon.)
  5. I would never be able to read anywhere near the number of books that I do without audio books.

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What are your reader confessions? Should I do my writer confessions next? Should I write more short posts like this in the future or do you prefer long, thought out posts? 

Share your thoughts in the comments below!