Blog Tour- Review for Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Welcome to the Strange the Dreamer blog tour! I’m the first stop and I’ll be sharing my attempt at a review. There are some books that seep into your veins and you aren’t the same after reading them- Strange the Dreamer is one of these books. I don’t feel I’m fully adequate to express myself in a review but below is my attempt. But first, let’s take a look at the book and author…

About the Book

StrangeTheDreamerStrange the Dreamer
By: Laini Taylor
Release Date: March 28, 2017
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Summary:
A new epic fantasy by National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestselling author Laini Taylor of the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy.

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?

In this sweeping and breathtaking new novel by National Book Award finalist Laini Taylor, author of the New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, the shadow of the past is as real as the ghosts who haunt the citadel of murdered gods. Fall into a mythical world of dread and wonder, moths and nightmares, love and carnage.

Welcome to Weep.

LINKS: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound

ABOUT LAINI TAYLOR:

Laini Taylor_Author Photo_AliSmith creditLaini Taylor is the New York Times bestselling author of the global sensation the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy: Daughter of Smoke & BoneDays of Blood & Starlight, and Dreams of Gods & Monsters, and the companion e-novella, Night of Cake & Puppets. She is also the author of the Dreamdark books Blackbringer and Silksinger, and the highly acclaimed Lips Touch: Three Times, a National Book Award finalist. Her newest book, Strange the Dreamer, is the first in a stunning new epic duology. Laini lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband, illustrator Jim Di Bartolo, and their daughter Clementine.

LINKS: Website | Twitter

My Review

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I am a long time fan of Laini Taylor’s work and couldn’t wait to get my hands on Strange the Dreamer. It lived up to every single expectation I had for it. Beautifully written, magical and a story that left me breathless. I don’t know how Taylor creates such detailed and exquisite worlds. And her characters! Just wow- Lazlo is real to me now as are all the population of Weep.

We follow Lazlo on his journey from junior librarian to Weep. He’s had a lifelong obsession with Weep and the idea of magic. To watch him realize that dream and get to experience what he’s wanted to for so long was wonderful. He also has such character growth as the story progressed. I loved reading from his view point and seeing this intricate world from his eyes.

The mystery around the city of Weep kept me completely mesmerized. I became just as enamored with it as Lazlo. I needed to know what all had happened in Weep’s past just as he did. The characters we meet in Weep are so well developed and detailed. I love the mix of dreamers, gods and myths in this book. It all ties so beautifully together.

Beyond just how intoxicating the characters and story are the writing itself is something else entirely. I can’t think of any other author that can write like Taylor can. Her words are literally magic. And because of this magical writing this book will cast a spell on you. It’s a long one- with a lot of characters and world building and you’ll want to savor it. Don’t go into this thinking it’ll be a quick read. You’ll want to take your time and really bask in the words and world.

In short- read this book as soon as possible.

Tour Schedule:

Week 1:
3/20: My Friends Are Fiction – Review
3/21: Alexa Loves Reading – Bookish Style Files
3/22: Mundie Moms – Review
3/23: What Sarah Read – Review
3/24: Reading Teen – Review

Week 2:
3/27: No BS Book Reviews – Makeup Collage
3/28: YA Bibliophile – Review
3/29: The Irish Banana Review – Review
3/30: Quite the Novel Idea – Review
3/31: Fiction Fare – Review

 

Review of Caraval by Stephanie Garber

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By: Stephanie Garber
Release Date: January 31st 2017
Publisher: Flatiron
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or a performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find to magic in this world . . .

Welcome, welcome to Caraval—Stephanie Garber’s sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game.

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

My Thoughts:
This book was so beautifully written and the story- gah I loved every word. Caraval has easily became one of my favorite books ever. I can’t wait for everyone to read it and love it too. I loved the magical atmosphere Garber infused into this book. It truly felt mysterious and the world was so beautifully described. Scarlett sort of sees emotions in bursts of colors and this gave the book something unique and magical. All of the descriptions were so vivid and lush. Tell me this doesn’t make you want to cozy up with this drink…

Browned suger and melted butter with hints of cream and toasted cinnamon. It tasted like the best parts of the Cold Season, mixed with just a hint of heat. ARC page 188

The story was told from Scarlett’s point of view. She was the older sister and felt a responsibility to take care of her younger sister- Tella. Tella feels she needs to get the most out of her life and struggles with how responsible Scarlett is. Their father was cruel and a really intimidating villain to me. He smells of overripe plums and so when the color purple, or plums are mentioned I actually felt anxiety. I feared what he’d do to the girls which amped up the tension. When one sister stepped out of line he’d punish the other sister since he knew their love for one another would hurt more than personal physical punishment. He was manipulative and vindictive.

Early on, Scarlett gets thrown in with the character of Julian. He’s instantly likeable to me even though he seems untrustworthy. But, I couldn’t help but fall for his charm. These two are unlikely companions throughout the novel. Julian had insider knowledge of the game and so he helps Scarlett along her path to find her sister. You never exactly know if Julian was telling the truth and we are left as in the dark as Scarlett on whether to trust him or not.

I loved that Caraval was as foreign to me as it was to Scarlett. I journeyed with her through all the twist and turns. I never knew exactly what was real and what wasn’t. I would think I had something figured out then that would get thrown out. As Scarlett encounters characters I never knew if they were good/bad/ neutral. I didn’t know who to trust.

The character of Legend was incredibly mysterious. I don’t even know what to make of him- what exactly are his motivations? Is he purely evil? I just don’t know! I can’t wait to learn more in the next book. The open ended questions are intriguing rather than frustrating. I was riveted completely and I feel that this world could be explored so deeply and there are so many characters that could have their own stories written about.

I loved every detail Garber included, each character (even tiny side characters) and it all flowed so perfectly and created such an immersive reading experience. It all felt very initial and it was evident the author knows her world and has many other twists up her sleeves.

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Final Thoughts:
I am in love with the game of Caraval, the world, the characters and the writing style. Give me all of Stephanie Garber’s words please.

Review of Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

crookedkingdom Crooked Kingdom
By: Leigh Bardugo
Release Date: September 27th 2016
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world.

My Thoughts:
This book was beyond fantastic. I am unable to really articulate how much I loved this book. It is no surprise to anyone that follows me on Instagram or Twitter but I am such a fan of Bardugo’s writing. I have loved each of her books and think that Crooked Kingdom might be my absolute favorite.

Bardugo takes her readers much deeper into each character’s backstory in CK. We get so much more development and understanding about each of their pasts. I found these bits so incredibly emotionally moving. I don’t cry often in books but this one had me in tears several times. I have such a deep love for each character I am still not over how heartbreaking it was to see this series end.

Though I love each, Kaz has got to be my very favorite. There’s just something about him that pulls me in- I love how even with how tragic his past was he still has the capacity for kindness (in his own twisted way). I love a character that straddles good and evil and Kaz did this. I never knew exactly what he’s capable of which always keeps me guessing.

Once again the city of Ketterdam was a living and breathing place. Bardugo was capable of putting so much detail into her descriptions I felt like I was there (not always a good thing!) Her descriptions of each character’s relationship to the city helped to color the setting and give it life. Since the stakes are so incredibly high the pacing was fast and I flew through the pages. I tried to savor this read but I found myself progressing far too quickly. I wanted it to never end.

The novel had an amazing finish and most of the character’s story lines had closure. There was however a character that didn’t get a full ending so I’m hoping that well see more in the future. I can’t accept that Bardugo is done with Ketterdam and its citizens.

One question I’ve been asked several times- do you need to read the Grisha series before Six of Crows? Well, I think you completely could but you will miss some of the backstory of the world and some characters do cross over. I feel that every reader should dive into both series and I personally prefer to read in publishing order though technically you could read SoC prior to the Grisha books.

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Final Thoughts:
Crooked Kingdom was an impeccable finish to Six of Crows. I can’t really complain about any aspect (even my tears) and I only hope that Bardugo weaves a couple of The Dregs into her future stories.

Now tell me- how do I live without more Kaz stories? The only thing I’ve found to fill the void left by this series ending was to purchase SoC/CK merchandise. I thought I’d share some of my favorite things…

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Crooked Kingdom Tote by Evie Seo
No Mourners No Funerals Candle by Lumiere Candle Shop
No Mourner No Funerals Art Print by Her Bookish Things

Blog Tour-Review of Heartless by Marissa Meyer

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Heartless
By: Marissa Meyer
Release Date: November 8th 2016
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Format: Print arc
Source: Publisher

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Long before she was the terror of Wonderland — the infamous Queen of Hearts — she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the yet-unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend and supply the Kingdom of Hearts with delectable pastries and confections. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next Queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the king’s marriage proposal, she meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship.

Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

My Thoughts:
I am a long time fan of Marissa Meyer and when news of Heartless broke I was instantly in love with the concept and knew I’d have to read it as soon as I could. I love Meyer’s way of reworking fairy tales and I knew that the character of the Queen of Hearts would be in amazingly capable hands.

I went into reading this book expecting it to not end on a happy note because…well I think we all know how the Queen of Hearts becomes. I must admit that I’ve never seen her character as anything more than a villain and never really stopped to thing about what might have made her this way. I love that Heartless introduces us to Cath- the woman before she becomes the Queen of Hearts.

What I didn’t expect was to become so connected to Cath and feel for her so deeply. I loved how layered she was and her love of baking was a perfect touch. Though she seems to have all the great things in life- a title, family and riches- she really only wants to open up a bakery.  Because of Cath’s love for sweets the food descriptions in this book were amazing. Her dynamic with the secondary characters was beautifully done and I especially loved her best friend.

The society Cath was raised in was narrow-minded and the constraints put on her were frustrating. I felt that her inability to follow her dreams completely made her motivations and actions believable. The fact that her family forbids to support her and was adamant she go against her own desires to fulfill their idea of what she should do was pretty heartbreaking to read.

Obviously this book takes place in Wonderland and had aspects that link it to Alice in Wonderland. What I love about Meyer’s retellings is that she isn’t overly obvious with how her stories connect with the original tale. I adore the little tidbits that were thrown in and felt it was brilliantly done. Cath’s world might have rigid views on a woman’s place but the world itself was whimsical and I loved seeing characters from the original fairy tale make an appearance.

I don’t think there could be a Meyer book that didn’t include a fantastic romance. I completely felt the chemistry between Jest and Cath and knowing that things could not in any way work out in the end built the tension up. Jest’s character was so wonderfully depicted. Jest’s character was so wonderfully unique.

Final Thoughts:
Heartless was the perfect origin story for the Queen of Hearts and Meyer has forever changed how I’ll view her character from here on out. Though this book had a slower pacing I felt it was a perfect build-up to an incredibly tense story which will leave you honestly wanting more. I really hope that Meyer will venture back into Wonderland.

There are 45 Days Until Heartless

Be sure to catch Marissa Meyer on tour…

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Blog Tour-Review of A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir + Giveaway

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I am so excited to be involved with the blog tour for A Torch Against the Night. Early on I fell in love with An Ember in the Ashes and Tahir’s writing. I had high expectations for this follow-up and wow…it was beyond even what I imagined.

My Review

ATATNA Torch Against the Night
By: Sabaa Tahir
Release Date: August 30th 2016
Publisher: Razorbill
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

A copy 0f this book was provided by the publisher in consideration for an honest review.

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Elias and Laia are running for their lives.

After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.

Laia is determined to break into Kauf – the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison – to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars’ survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.

But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene – Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike.

Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own – one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape… and kill them both.

My Thoughts:
It is rare indeed when a sequel is capable of being even better than the first book- and A Torch Against the Night actually succeeded in this.

This time we join Laia and Elias as they run to escape the fall-out from the last book. We get a much broader look at the world, the Empire, and how things are for people living in this land. Laia was determined as ever to do whatever it took to save her brother from his fate in Kauf Prison. This book had a lot of traveling (which if done poorly can be dreadfully dull) but it was done so beautifully with a very even pacing and just the right amount of description to give the reader a vivid vision but never veering on too much.

One of my favorite aspects of Torch was that we got a point of view from Helene- I think we all grew to love her in the first book and I loved being able to see from her view point as well as learn more of her inner thoughts and motives. She was such a complex character, pulled in so many directions I couldn’t help but have my heart break for her. To have her tasked to find the now traitor Elias and be responsible for his demise- just AHHH. What a cruel twist.

Elias was by far, once again, my favorite character. I am so intrigued with his backstory and really everything about him. His chemistry with Laia was perfect though I could always use more scenes with the two of them together (I’m a greedy reader).

All of these characters are so well developed, and all straddle what’s good and what’s not. I love that I never exactly know who to trust-this adds a level of connection to Laia since I am learning as she does. I’m as unsure as she was about who to trust, what other’s motivations are and this adds so much to the tension. Even slower paced scenes were enveloped in tension which to me, made the entire book an incredibly fast read since I couldn’t wait to find out what would happen next.

I was so happy also that we get to learn more about the fate of Laia’s brother. He was such a pivotal character for her story arc it was wonderful to learn a bit more about who he was as well as what happened to him after he was taken. And, I’ve not even mentioned yet how unpredictable the story-line was for me and how there were twists, turns and reveals that sort of blew my mind.

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Final Thoughts:
I felt that A Torch Against the Night was an even stronger than the first book. Tahir dove into her characters giving them further depth as well as incorporating some incredible twists and turns in the story. This was the type of sequel that totally exceeded my expectations and took the story somewhere I’d not expected. I highly recommend this series.

Giveaway

Enter for a chance to win a finished copy of A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir and an An Ember in the Ashes quote tote bag (ARV: $30.00).

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:01 AM Eastern Time on August 29, 2016 and 11:59 PM Eastern Time on September 16, 2016.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about September 23, 2016. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

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