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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
Features / July 26, 2016

Fantasy has long been my favorite genre, and while I have dozens of favorite individual books, I wanted to give some focus to overall favorite authors in the genre. People who I have read and loved more than one book/series and from whom I am always wanting the next story! 🙂

  1. Juliet Marillier: My absolute favorite out of all Marillier’s work is the multi-generational Sevenwaters Trilogy, which kicks off with Daughter of the Forest, a beautiful retelling of the fairy tale The Wild Swans. The second book in the trilogy is Son of the Shadows and features one of my all time top book boyfriends (BRAN)! The entire series is gorgeous. She also has a beautiful beauty and the beast style retelling titled Heart’s Blood that I adore. Her current series is Blackthorn & Grim, featuring the journey of two prison mates, the healer woman Blackthorn and her devoted shadow Grim, after their escape. These all read like historical novels with magic/mysticism woven in.
  2. Patricia McKillip: I am a huge fan of books that feature faeries. To me, no one does this better than McKillip. Frequently the fay are written as little more than what humans would be like if they were immortal, deadly beautiful, and possessed magic powers. It doesn’t seem to be easy for an author to capture that necessary alien quality they should have. At the end of the day I feel these beings should be incomprehensible and totally other. Mckillip gets this. Part of her success comes in that she does not over-expose them, her books are not set in fay worlds. When they influence the story it is always with that distinct and chilling feeling of how remote and unknowable they and their world are. The Book of Atrix Wolfe and Winter Rose are two favorites.
  3. Brandon Sanderson: Prolific and consistently good. I feel The Stormlight Archives are the best even if it is not necessarily the best series for a newbie to his universe. There are plenty of worthy starting places though, his Mistborn series being the most famous.
  4. Scott Lynch: Okay so he is still in the midst of his first series, so I can’t point towards a diverse body of work yet. But seeing as The Lies of Locke Lamora is one of my absolute favorite books of all time and I continue to devour The Gentlemen Bastards series, I could not leave it out.  Stories set around thievery and heists are one of my favorite themes as they inevitably feature the intelligent and morally grey characters I adore (warriors often get away with being thick as mud) and there is no character I love more than Locke.
  5. Laini Taylor: I loved both her Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy and the lesser known Dreamdark series (which I desperately hope she will one day finish!). She maintains a wonderful balance between consistent characters that are easy to invest in, unique world building, and a heart centered plot. In all her works there is something so unique in the manner which she weaves all three.

Honorable mention for fantasy stories by other authors I have loved over the past year: Uprooted by Naomi Novik, Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, and The Winners Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski.

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By: Diane
Features, Top Ten Tuesday / December 31, 2015

What a great year it’s been for reading! I didn’t quite finish my ambitious challenge of 75 books this year, but this is due to me taking a very long time to read one of the series on this list (well worth the time spent). To see the rest of the books I read this year, see my Goodreads Challenge.

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By: Daphne
Top Ten Tuesday / June 30, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday banner

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish to show off our book-related lists!

I haven’t done one of these in a while, but it’s always been my tradition to mark my top ten books of the year so far! This time it has been relatively easy picking my top list. I read lots of enjoyable 4 stars, but not many 5 stars. Without further ado, here is my list!
 

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By: Daphne
Adult, Review, Young Adult / March 27, 2015
Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini TaylorDreams of Gods and Monsters
Author: Laini Taylor
Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone #3
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Date: April 2014
613 pages
Source: Purchased
Genres: Fantasy
Buy the BookGoodreads

By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her, if there can even be a future for the chimaera in war-ravaged Eretz.

Common enemy, common cause.

When Jael's brutal seraph army trespasses into the human world, the unthinkable becomes essential, and Karou and Akiva must ally their enemy armies against the threat. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people.

And, perhaps, for themselves. Toward a new way of living, and maybe even love.

But there are bigger threats than Jael in the offing. A vicious queen is hunting Akiva, and, in the skies of Eretz ... something is happening. Massive stains are spreading like bruises from horizon to horizon; the great winged stormhunters are gathering as if summoned, ceaselessly circling, and a deep sense of wrong pervades the world.

What power can bruise the sky?

From the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond, humans, chimaera and seraphim will fight, strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy.

At the very barriers of space and time, what do gods and monsters dream of? And does anything else matter?

It was always going to be hard to end a series like this, whose first two instalments Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Days of Blood and Starlight, were so incredible I struggled to find words to describe how much. Worry not, as Laini Taylor did an exceptional job with Dreams of Gods and Monsters which has more incredibly written prose and a beautiful ending (although I’m still sad it had to end—I could read this series forever).

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By: Daphne