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.

4.5 blue jays

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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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.

Bluejay Feather

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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!

Second Liebster Award || I Fail at Shipping

Liebster Award

I’d like to thank Lyndsey @Lyndsey’s Book Blog for the nomination!

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Rules

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and link to their blog.
  • Answer their eleven questions.
  • Write eleven questions of your own.
  • Nominate eleven bloggers and let them know they’ve been tagged.

Lyndsey’s Questions/My Answers

If you could live in any fictional world (doesn’t have to be fantasy, just any book world) which would it be?

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I would want to live in the world of Scythe by Neal Shusterman because then I’d have the possibility of living a super long, happy life and have access to the thundercloud, which sounds awesome.

I would not, however, want to be a scythe. Wait, they make the people who don’t want to be scythes into scythes. Maybe this is isn’t the best idea after all . . .

Which fantasy creature would you love to have as a pet?

I would want a spren from The Stormlight Archive. Don’t think they’d appreciate being called pets though. They’d be more like a companion.

If you could control one of the elements (earth, air, water, fire) which would you choose?

I would choose water because it’s everywhere, and I can’t have fire because I would so burn myself by mistake.

Do you prefer tea or coffee? How do you take it?

Tea, I usually put mint in it, but no other sweeteners. I love mint too much for my own good. If I could, I’d probably put it in everything. I also like mint herbal teas a lot. Especially peppermint herbal teas.

Would you rather be too hot or too cold?

I used to say too cold, but I’ve lived in the subtropics for too long now and don’t know how to deal with the cold anymore. Now I have to say too hot.

What’s your favourite colour?

blue

Team Edward or Team Jacob?

During the time when I was into Twilight I would always answer “I don’t know” to this question. I’ve never been all that involved with shipping.

Go to your Goodreads to read list, what’s the fifth book on your list?

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Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao

Ketchup or mayonnaise?

Ketchup

Do you prefer paperbacks, hardbacks, ebooks or audiobooks?

Lately, I prefer audiobooks because I don’t have time for much else, but if I had a choice I would choose hardcover/hardbacks.

Who would be your dream book boy/girlfriend?

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I honestly don’t know. I’m not really involved with shipping. I guess Lazlo from Strange the Dreamer because he seems nice? I think we’d get along well, and some of these perfect looking fictional boys make me nauseous thinking of their perfection. In some ways, Lazlo seems more realistic.

My Questions

  1. What is your favorite book genre?
  2. What’s the first book you remember reading?
  3. Why did you start your blog?
  4. What book did you expect to hate but end up loving anyway?
  5. What are you reading right now?
  6. Go to your bookshelf or Goodreads. Choose the first book you see. What’s the book’s title?
  7. Would you rather never read again or never write again?
  8. Open the first book you see and flip to a random page. What’s your favorite line on that page?
  9. What’s the first book blog you remember visiting?
  10. If you were going to give a free copy of one book to every person on the planet, what book would you choose?
  11. What is your favorite part about blogging?

My Nominations

Violet Daniels @a color of her own
Chelsea R. H. @an ordinary pen

The Story Sponge 

victoriaelizabethellis @Carton-Manette-Darnay
Madeline Rose @The Book Pusher

Some of you are probably wondering why there are only eight names on this list when the instructions say to nominate eleven people.

The blue jay must have eaten all the letters in those names. *shrugs* That’s the trouble with naming a blog after a bird.

Just kidding, I can’t decide who else to pick. If you’re a blogger and would like to become one of the missing names, let me know in the comments. I’ll consider adding your blog to the list.

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Were any of my answers a surprise? What would be your answers to the questions I was asked? Anything we have in common? 

 

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

April and May 2017 Wrap-Up

Monthly Wrap-up

Reading

Between April and May I read eight novels.

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Title

The Sun is also a Star

Short Synopsis

Two teenagers meet and fall in love on the day that one of them is being deported.

Note: I received an advanced copy from the publisher. However, this is is with regards to the final audiobook, which I did not receive from the publisher. Opinions are my own.

Thoughts

I liked this book more than I expected. The characterization is great, and the novel was more thought provoking than I thought it would be.

Rating

4 blue jays

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Title

Gemina (Illuminae #2)

Short Synopsis

Large corporations plot to get away with mass murder to make profits in space.

Note: I received an arc from the publisher. I read the first half this way, but decided to wait for the release date because so many details were to come. I listened to the second half of this book in audiobook form. Opinions are my own.

Thoughts

The gap between my reading of the first and second half of this book comes down to bad timing more than anything else. I started reading this book right before going on vacation, and a million things started the moment I got back from vacation, so this book sort of fell by the wayside.

Apart from that this was a really fun, suspenseful read.

Rating

4 blue jays

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Title

A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3)

Short Synopsis

The third book in a trilogy that I cannot write a synopsis of without spoiling books one and two.

Thoughts

I enjoyed this book, but it was a slower read than the previous books. Also, I didn’t get all of the resolution I’d been hoping for. For more of my thoughts on the Shades of Magic series see my series review.

Rating

4 blue jays

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Titles

The Scrivener’s Bones (Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians #2)

The Nights of Crystallia (Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians #3)

Short Synopsis

Alcatraz fights against the cults of evil librarians that secretly rule the world.

Thoughts

I thought the second book was hilarious, but the third book started to get a little old. I think I would have enjoyed book three more if I hadn’t read them so close together.

Rating

Book two gets a 4/5. Book three gets 3/5.

4 blue jays

3 blue jays

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Title

The Robots of Dawn (Robots #3)

Short Synopsis

Bayley must visit a Spacer world to prove a man’s innocence.

Thoughts

I enjoyed this novel and am sad that this seems to be the last book with Baley as the protagonist. However, I think this was my least favorite book in the series. This has a lot to do with the fact that Asimov’s romance writing skills are rather cringe worthy.

Rating

4 blue jays

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Title

Strange the Dreamer

Short Synopsis

Young man who loves libraries goes on a long journey.

Thoughts

‘I really enjoyed this book. See my review for my full thoughts.

Rating

4.5 blue jays

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Title

The Revealed (The Missing #7)

Short Synopsis

Seventh book in a series about missing children from history.

Thoughts

This series has drawn out a little too long for my tastes. This book was fun, but I won’t be reading the final novel.

Rating

3 blue jays

Writing

I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo in April. Most of the month was spent revising short stories. I wanted to do more editing on one of my novel length project, but at least I met my goal.

Camp April 2017 Stats

I’m planning to participate again in July. As of the moment, my goal is to get a significant portion of the way through the short story I talked about in my Beautiful People for Writers post this past May.

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Any thoughts on these books? 

What did you read last month?

Anyone participating in Camp NaNoWriMo next July? 

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Strange the Dreamer 4.5 Stars

0526171722Title: Strange the Dreamer

Author: Laini Taylor

Published: March 28, 2017

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Synopsis: Lazlo Strange has spent his life recording the mystery that is the unseen city of Weep. Even its name is lost. Lazlo heard the name stolen from his lips when he was five years old.

Lazlo longs to leave his life as a librarian behind and search for Weep. Yet, Lazlo is only a dreamer with no resources. Until one day when Lazlo’s dream comes to him by way of visitors from the city of Weep itself. Unfortunately, Lazlo’s dream seems determined to disappear again without him.

Lazlo must find a way to meet the visitors from Weep before their departure, or Lazlo will loose the chance to fulfill his dream of visiting the unseen city forever.

Note: I received buttons and sample chapters from the publisher. I bought the book itself. Opinions are my own.

Review: I read the first few chapters in a sampler from BEA and fell in love. It took me a little while to get to this book when first it came out because I was so busy at the time. By then it had been so long since I’d read the first couple chapters I had to start from the beginning.

It took me a little while to reread the first couple chapters. Not because they were boring, but because I’d already read them and still had a lot happening in my life.

I read Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone series a few years back, and loved the prose. Taylor can weave images with her words. This proves perfect for a novel that features a mysterious “unseen city.” 

The novel is written in third person omniscient point of view, an unusual choice for young adult novels. The author shows each character’s motives well. Each character is so distinctive that I never got confused about which character the story was following.

The two main characters are Lazlo Strange and Sarai. Lazlo is an orphaned librarian who’s spent his whole life dreaming and writing books about the lost city of Weep. Sarai isn’t introduced until about a forth of the way through the book.

My least favorite part of Strange the Dreamer is the pacing. It wasn’t enough to be off-putting for me as I still loved so much about the story. However, there were times when I felt like skipping pages because I wanted to get to the more action based scenes. This is especially true with regards to the romantic story-line.

This is one of those books where I wanted to see less romance and more action, but then I almost always want that. Maybe that’s just me.

The slow pacing continues until about the last fourth of the story where everything starts to happen at once. 

The ending is a cliffhanger, but one that I knew would happen for most of the book. The plot itself is rather predictable, but there were enough elements that left me guessing that I was still entertained.

While I loved the description of the places and the world itself, there were certain world building aspects that I didn’t like. The magic system is one in which magic resembles superpowers. I’ve seen this form of magic system done often.

The world building also draws on familiar tropes and legends. For example, Weep reminded me a lot of Atlantis or many other mysterious cities explorers set out to find.

The people of Weep are also much more ambiguous than the city itself. I got the sense that Taylor was trying to keep the people of Weep as vague racially and culturally as she could so that she would not appear to draw her inspiration from any one culture.

That said, I still really enjoyed reading this book. 

Rating: I recommend this book to people who love beautiful language and great character development, but can handle slow pacing.

4 blue jays

10 Most Anticipated 2016 Book Releases

I’m anticipating far more books than will make it on this list, but these are the ten I am most looking forward to. This list is in order of my very most anticipated of the ten to least anticipated of the ten. Though if the book has made this list at all it still means that I really want to read it.

Before I begin I would like to give an honorable mention to book three in the Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson. If this book is somehow released this year than it is absolutely my most anticipated.

Morning Star (Red Rising Trilogy, #3)

1. Morning Star (Red Rising #3) by Pierce Brown

Release Date: Febuary 9, 2016

After the end of the second book, Golden Son, I am eagerly awaiting the third book in the Red Rising trilogy.

The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn, #6)

2. The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6/Alloy Era #3) by Brandon Sanderson

Release Date: January 26, 2016

Few who follow this blog are likely to be surprised in my choice of a Brandon Sanderson novel. Even if Stormlight #3 does not release this year I’ll still be satisfied by a combination of this book and Calamity.

Flamecaster (Shattered Realms, #1)

3. Flamecaster (Shattered Realms #1)

Release Date: April 5, 2016

This is the spin-off series of Seven Realms taking place a number of years later. I really enjoyed the world of Seven Realms, and the way the series ended left a few left ends in terms of this fictional world as a whole so I am curious to see what has changed in the time between the two series.

4. The Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) by Leigh Bardugo

Release Date: September 22, 2016

I really enjoyed the first book in Six of Crows, and I’m curious about the direction the second book will take.

A Gathering of Shadows  (A Darker Shade of Magic, #2)

5. A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

Release Date: February 23, 2016

The first book was addictive and fun. I’m curious to see which direction the second book takes.

6. Gemina (Illuminae Files #2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Release Date: Fall 2016

I really enjoyed the first book, and hope that it means more YA novels set in space will gain popularity in the future as I would like to read more of them. I’m also very curious to see the direction the second book takes.

Beyond the Red

7. Beyond The Red by Ava Jae

Release Date: March 1, 2016

I follow this author’s blog, and find the writing advice she gives to be very useful. The setting of an alien planet in a YA novel also interests me greatly.

Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1)
Not the final cover.

8. Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Release Date: September 27, 2016

I really enjoy this author’s writing style, and suspect that this will have continued to grow in her newest series. This book sounds like it has the potential to be very good.

The Girl from Everywhere (The Girl from Everywhere, #1)

9. The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

Release Date: February 16, 2016

The summary of this book sounds very interesting to me. Time travel interests me, and I figured this list needed more novels from debut authors.

The Hidden Oracle (The Trials of Apollo, #1)

10. The Hidden Oracle (The Trials of Apollo #1) by Rick Riordan

Release Date: May 3, 2016

Rick Riordan’s books always have a tendency to put me in a very good mood. It was hard to choose the final book in this list, but in the end I chose this one for that reason.