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Young Adult / May 2, 2017
Strange the Dreamer by Laini TaylorStrange the Dreamer
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Date: March 2017
544 pages
Source: Purchased
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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 or 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?

Welcome to Weep.

As a huge fan of both Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy and her Faeries of Dreamdark series (which WAY more people need to read!),  Strange the Dreamer was one of my most looked-forward to books of 2017.

I was so instantly attached to Lazlo Strange that I felt almost more invested at the start of the book than I was later when the limelight was shared with other characters. Lazlo’s story arc is a common one in literature and film, but popular. An orphan who doesn’t know where he comes from, he spends his days as a librarian researching the lost city of Weep, a personal obsession of his. Unexpectedly, a delegation of warriors comes one day from the lost city seeking help and Lazlo answers the call to adventure that lies outside of his books, finding a way to insinuate himself with those chosen to make the journey to Weep. As expected Laini Taylor’s prose is spellbinding and dreamy, but never in a way that drowns out the actual story and action taking place.

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By: Diane
Review, Young Adult / March 7, 2017
The Song Rising by Samantha ShannonThe Song Rising
Author: Samantha Shannon
Series: The Bone Season #4
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Date: March 2017
384 pages
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Fantasy
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The hotly anticipated third book in the bestselling Bone Season series – a ground-breaking, dystopian fantasy of extraordinary imagination

Following a bloody battle against foes on every side, Paige Mahoney has risen to the dangerous position of Underqueen, ruling over London's criminal population.

But, having turned her back on Jaxon Hall and with vengeful enemies still at large, the task of stabilising the fractured underworld has never seemed so challenging.

Little does Paige know that her reign may be cut short by the introduction of Senshield, a deadly technology that spells doom for the clairvoyant community and the world as they know it…

* This review is for the third book in a series. While there are no big spoilers for the previous two, this is not a stand alone and will make more sense to those who have read the previous installments.

If I am reading a series that is longer than three books and am going to lose interest in it, typically book three is where it all starts to fizzle out. I enjoyed the first two book in The Bone Season despite the fact that, in general, I have no interest in dystopian novels. However the criminal underground + supernatural element in this one kept me invested and entertained. I went into The Song Rising with some prejudice, almost prepared to finally get bored and be let down.

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By: Diane
Adult, Review / November 29, 2016
Elantris by Brandon SandersonElantris
Publisher: Tor
Date: May, 2006
638 pages
Source: Purchased
Genres: Fantasy
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Elantris was the capital of Arelon: gigantic, beautiful, literally radiant, filled with benevolent beings who used their powerful magical abilities for the benefit of all. Yet each of these demigods was once an ordinary person until touched by the mysterious transforming power of the Shaod. Ten years ago, without warning, the magic failed. Elantrians became wizened, leper-like, powerless creatures, and Elantris itself dark, filthy, and crumbling.

Arelon's new capital, Kae, crouches in the shadow of Elantris. Princess Sarene of Teod arrives for a marriage of state with Crown Prince Raoden, hoping -- based on their correspondence -- to also find love. She finds instead that Raoden has died and she is considered his widow. Both Teod and Arelon are under threat as the last remaining holdouts against the imperial ambitions of the ruthless religious fanatics of Fjordell. So Sarene decides to use her new status to counter the machinations of Hrathen, a Fjordell high priest who has come to Kae to convert Arelon and claim it for his emperor and his god.

But neither Sarene nor Hrathen suspect the truth about Prince Raoden. Stricken by the same curse that ruined Elantris, Raoden was secretly exiled by his father to the dark city. His struggle to help the wretches trapped there begins a series of events that will bring hope to Arelon, and perhaps reveal the secret of Elantris itself.

A rare epic fantasy that doesn't recycle the classics and that is a complete and satisfying story in one volume, Elantris is fleet and fun, full of surprises and characters to care about. It's also the wonderful debut of a welcome new star in the constellation of fantasy.

Brandon Sanderson’s cosmere universe is large and can seem intimidating from the outside. Many recommend  Mistborn as a good starting place. Elantris  gets my vote. Some practical reasons for this: Elantris is a stand-alone. Mistborn is a trilogy with each book on the long side. And while his Stormlight Archives are my absolute favorite, the learning curve on the world building is pretty high.

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By: Diane
Young Adult / October 28, 2016
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa TahirAn Ember in the Ashes
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Series: An Ember in the Ashes #1
Publisher: HarperVoyager
Date: 4th June 2015
450 pages
Source: Purchased
Genres: Fantasy
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Set in a terrifyingly brutal Rome-like world, An Ember in the Ashes is an epic fantasy debut about an orphan fighting for her family and a soldier fighting for his freedom. It’s a story that’s literally burning to be told.

What if you were the spark that could ignite a revolution?

For years Laia has lived in fear. Fear of the Empire, fear of the Martials, fear of truly living at all. Born as a Scholar, she’s never had much of a choice.

For Elias it’s the opposite. He has seen too much on his path to becoming a Mask, one of the Empire’s elite soldiers. With the Masks’ help the Empire has conquered a continent and enslaved thousands, all in the name of power.

When Laia’s brother is taken she must force herself to help the Resistance, the only people who have a chance of saving him. She must spy on the Commandant, ruthless overseer of Blackcliff Academy. Blackcliff is the training ground for Masks and the very place that Elias is planning to escape. If he succeeds, he will be named deserter. If found, the punishment will be death.

But once Laia and Elias meet, they will find that their destinies are intertwined and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

In the ashes of a broken world one person can make a difference. One voice in the dark can be heard. The price of freedom is always high and this time that price might demand everything, even life itself.

I read An Ember in the Ashes by the wonderful Sabaa Tahir last year after receiving the beautiful UK hardcover from my boyfriend. Honestly, if you haven’t seen it, it is beautiful. Once the jacket is off, it is this lovely gold and I am basically in love with it. Anyway, enough about how in love I am with the cover and more about this review! I thought I would do a mini review for An Ember in the Ashes before I share my review of A Torch Against the Night, the second book in this series. As I read Ember in Summer last year, I thought it would be best to post a short review, although I know that I may omit some details as I have read quite a few books since last summer.

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By: Vicky