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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, Top Ten, Young Adult / February 14, 2017

Happy Valentines! Time to do a list of my favorite literary couples!

I’ve made sure to include all different kinds here, from fantasy and classics to the actual romance genre. Some are from novels where there is very little focus on romance, but what’s there I adore. My criteria was simple, I couldn’t just have loved the couple while reading. These are the characters that stayed with me long after I finished their stories.

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By: Diane
Adult, Review, Uncategorized / January 3, 2017
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine ArdenThe Bear and the Nightingale
Date: January 2017
336 pages
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction
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A magical debut novel for readers of Naomi Novik’s Uprooted, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, and Neil Gaiman’s myth-rich fantasies, The Bear and the Nightingale spins an irresistible spell as it announces the arrival of a singular talent with a gorgeous voice.

At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

I was really interested in reading The Bear and the Nightingale after it seeing it suggested for fans of Uprooted, one of my favorite books. In the end, I found this is hard to rate given that it was very good in some places and less so in others.

The first quarter I didn’t care for. I’ve never really enjoyed things with a hungry and cold atmosphere and have had trouble with other books set in Russia. I feel like one of the few people who didn’t like The Bronze Horseman. At the start the characters feel pretty remote, closer to fairy-tale stock characters than real people. I did end up invested in the protagonist, Vasya, by the mid-point. But she isn’t surrounded by much in the way of good side characters. Most are unlikable or forgettable. I get really into side characters, sometimes they are my favorite part of the story. The side characters in Uprooted felt more fleshed-out and real to me. There are a few here, but I’d have liked more. There also aren’t many interesting females beyond Vasya.

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By: Diane
Adult, Young Adult / December 20, 2016

One of my favorite things to read from other bloggers is their favorite books of the year. I’ve read so many amazing books this year, many of my favorites were not new releases. Like The Realm of the Elderlings books by Robin Hobb, in which I still have two more series in that world to finish. For the purposes of this list I will stick to new releases, so here it is, my 5 Favorite New Releases of 2016!

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By: Diane