Review of ‘Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1)’ by Laini Taylor

Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1)Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Beautiful wording and lovely imagery both show that Laini Taylor knew just how to engage this reader!

In the Kingdom of Zosma lives a boy named Lazlo Strange. A war orphan, Strange is not only the predicament he was found in as a baby, but the name given to label the orphan children without names of their own.

Since he was five years old, Lazlo has been obsessed with stories about Weep, lost city or myth, depending on who you asked. But it’s while he is on the path to becoming a full-fledged librarian, that Eril-Fane, the legendary Godslayer of Weep, arrives with his band of warriors to Zosma, and Lazlo is given the opportunity to go to Weep.

In Weep, new mysteries abound for Lazlo, as well as strange dreams. Dreams that feature a lovely, blue-skinned goddess…but in a city where gods and goddesses should no longer exist–hence the title ‘Godslayer’–why is Lazlo dreaming of one, and why does she seem so real?

Lazlo is determined to find answers, but when he does, will they be too shocking to accept?

I have only read one other Laini Taylor book, Daughter of Smoke & Bone–though I will likely have to reread it because I just can’t remember anything about it–but I have the feeling that I will not be forgetting Strange the Dreamer though, because I couldn’t help but be fascinated by Taylor’s writing, it’s beautiful, and not in a way that felt at all pretentious to me.

I’ll admit that in the beginning (for maybe a good 25% of this book), I wasn’t quite sure what exactly was going on, because all of the beautiful, complex writing went right over my head (the reason I also had to dock a star), but I kept on with it, and ending up loving this book!

The characters were all so interesting, and I really enjoyed delving more deeply into their lives. Lazlo, of course, was by far the most interesting of all, and I found myself very intrigued by the mysteries that surrounded him. Like, where did he come from? Who were his parents? How did he become an orphan, and why is Weep so important to him?
I wish I could say more, but I really don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll just say that I can’t wait to learn more about him!!

I won’t go at all into the subject of the blue-skinned goddess, instead choosing to raise your curiosity for this book, though the goddess does prove to be pivotal to the story, and another aspect I’d love to learn more about.

Finally, Weep itself, was interesting as well. The mystery behind its disappearance from the rest of the world, leading to its essentially becoming forgotten, is definitely a key plot point, and I seriously cannot wait for the next book!!!

I feel like I can go on and on, gushing about this book, but I think by now it’s pretty obvious I loved it!

So on that note, I will end this review with this little bit that I absolutely loved from this book:

‘And that’s how you go on. You lay laughter over the dark parts. The more dark parts, the more you have to laugh. With defiance, with abandon, with hysteria, any way you can.’

Yes, I totally recommend this book!!!

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Review of ‘Shadow Run (Kaitan Chronicles, #1) by AdriAnne Strickland and Michael Miller

Shadow Run (Kaitan Chronicles, #1)Shadow Run by AdriAnne Strickland and Michael Miller

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An exhilarating space opera that will be sure to keep you enamored with its cast of cool/misfit characters, and the constant action that seems to infuse their everyday lives.

Seventeen year old Qole is the youngest person ever from Alaxac to own and captain her own ship, and one of the best when it comes to harnessing shadow, an inky, black substance that is used for its ability to produce massive amounts of energy.

As ‘shadow fishers’, Qole and her crew are kept busy with catching the shadow and selling it for profit.

It’s with the arrival of new crew member, Nev, that things start to get shaken up. Because the mysterious Nev has secrets, and one very big one depends on his convincing Qole that she is the key to some groundbreaking discoveries, which also means he needs to get her to his home planet. With or without her cooperation.

What Nev doesn’t count on, is his rivals also finding out about Qole, and wanting her for themselves. Dead or alive.
Neither does he ever think he’d possibly grow to have feelings for her…or that she could possibly be returning them.

But with new dangers now following Qole and her ship, she will have to learn to trust Nev so that she and her crew can survive.

I have a friend to thank for telling me about this book, cause otherwise I would have missed out on the opportunity of going to the authors talk and signing in my city, considering we don’t get as many opportunities up here in Alaska…

Anyway, let’s move on.

Knowing that the authors are Alaskans, I definitely feel like there were similarities to Alaska, and Alaskan living. For instance, shadow fishing is very reminiscent of commercial fishing, in that they both accumulate large quantities of ‘fish’, and sell for profit.
Then there’s Alaxac itself, which bore many similarities to Alaska, what with its small town living.
Finally, there’s the fact that Qole and her brother Arjan who are very much like Native Alaskans, taking from them the heart and strength that comes with survival in rough terrains.

Now for the characters.
Qole and Nev are our MCs; both from very different lives, and both having very different views. But each are passionate when it comes to what they believe, and I really respected that about them. Admittedly, both can be pretty narrow-minded at times, and that can get annoying, but fortunately the good out-weighed the bad, so I still liked them.

The supporting characters aren’t given much back story, nor “screen time”, but if I had to highlight any of them, it’d probably be Basra, the gender-fluid crew member who specializes in selling the shadow to the best buyers. I think Basra’s inclusion in the story definitely shows how hungry readers are for diverse characters. Now, I’m not going to say that because of this, Shadow Run is somehow making history or anything so monumental, but I appreciated it none-the-less, and will likely remember this book more because of this.

Definitely one I’ll recommend!

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Review of ‘The Idea of You’ by Amanda Prowse

The Idea of YouThe Idea of You by Amanda Prowse

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An emotional read that shows us one woman’s struggles to have a baby in an otherwise “perfect” life.

In The Idea of You, Lucy Carpenter appears to have it all. Nearing forty, she’s now happily married to a wonderful man, Jonah, she has a successful career, and the chance to complete her small family with a baby.
But Lucy and Jonah soon find that having a baby isn’t quite as easy as they thought, and the struggles end up wearing on the two, straining their marriage.
Then, when Jonah’s ex-wife in France contacts him because she’s having a difficult time with their daughter Camille, Lucy and Jonah agree to invite Camille to live with them for the summer in England.
Ideas of bonding with her new step-daughter evaporates as soon as Lucy meets the prickly teen; and she’s then having to contend with the added fissures it brings to her already struggling relationship with Jonah.
And now, it appears that Lucy’s “perfect” life may not be all that perfect after all.

I wasn’t all that interested in this book initially; it seemed too…boring, to be honest. We get to see how Lucy met Jonah, then the early months of their marriage. We also see the couple struggle to have a baby. So I know this book is a contemporary, hence the modern, real life struggles, but I personally was not really interested in reading fiction about everyday life.
At least not at the moment.
But in my quest to finish more NetGalley reads, I continued on and ended up liking it more than I thought I would.

Lucy, I think, is meant to be a complex character, showing all of the emotions a woman may go through when trying to have a baby. We see her happy, hopeful, and then finally, sad. I’ve never had any children myself, so I can’t claim any sort of knowledge when it comes to having them, though I have heard that pregnancy can be harder the older you get, so I’m not very surprised that Lucy is struggling at age 40. Obviously women older than her do get pregnant, but I’m not going to over-analyze the reason a fictional character can’t seem to get pregnant. Also, what about IVF? Just an idea if one is so desperate to have a baby, and it does appear that she has the money to pay for it…

I should move on before I continue to sound even more insensitive…

I loved Jonah, because he was just so understanding and sweet and caring towards Lucy! She literally found the perfect husband!
Okay, so the the perfect man did come with baggage in the form of a teenage daughter, but he’s so good that I almost can forgive him.
Unfortunately for Lucy, Camille makes for the stereo-typical step-daughter from hell.
Lucy does try to welcome Camille, but Camille is not having it. I’d understand it a bit more if she was acting out because she was afraid her father was being taken away from her, but having spent most of her life living in France with her mother and step-father (who she also calls ‘dad’), even Jonah admits they weren’t very close. So I can’t quite understand where all her hostility is coming from. I won’t address this subject further for fear of spoilers, and not wanting to give anything pertinent away.

There’s definitely the sense that a lot of drama could be avoided if people just talked about their problems, but that would be too easy, and this book would be boring otherwise.

Big reveals abound in the last quarter of the book, and this is when I started to genuinely feel emotional reading it. There were some tears, and if a book can move me to cry, then I think it has done its job.

So, though initially slow-moving, I do feel this book did get better, so I will recommend this if you’re interested in a book that will likely have you ranging in emotions.

Thank you to Lake Union Publishing via NetGalley for giving me this copy in exchange for an honest review. 

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Review of ‘Duels and Deception’ by Cindy Anstey

Duels and DeceptionDuels and Deception by Cindy Anstey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Though fluffy and sweet, this book entertains and will have you engaged by the MCs and their clever/funny conversations.

Lydia Whitfield is a young woman of good social standing in a time when your fortune and pedigree defined you. The only child of her mother and late father, she is the one who currently runs her family estate–though not without her mother’s brother’s “assistance”, and the land manager under her uncle’s thumb. Until she marries, she must also deal with her uncle’s ridiculous ideas concerning the property.
It’s because of these ideas that Lydia thinks it is time to get married to the man her late father had picked out for her; a man that would also be somewhat easy for her to influence when it came to things running smoothly. But he is not quite ready to marry, and wants to wait a few years, so Lydia tasks her new law clerk, Robert Newton, with drawing up a marriage contract that should work in her favor as well.
But it’s outside of Mr. Newton’s office that Lydia and Mr. Newton end up being kidnapped! This experience draws the two closer together, and it’s with Mr. Newton’s assistance that Lydia (when both have escaped) must find out who is trying to extort money out of her, as well as attempt to tarnish her family’s reputation.
Digging deeper into this investigation will bring forth uncomfortable and unsettling revelations in regards to people she thought she knew…but with Robert Newton’s help and their growing attraction to each other, she may be able to make it through this storm. (Did you like how I got all Harlequin with that?)

I really found this book to be super cute and fluffy. It was also sweet in an almost exaggerated way, but honestly, I did not mind it at all.

I loved the pairing of Lydia and Robert! The two are obviously into each other, though a few things do stand in their way (including Lydia’s eventual fiancé); and their conversations with each other show not only similar humor, but similar mindsets as well.

I also liked the variety of secondary characters sprinkled throughout the book. Like Robert’s friend, the Lord Cassidy, who is challenged to a duel for an offense he does not remember, and to top it off, he doesn’t even remember the issuer of the challenge! This whole instance really was just so comical!

There are other interesting characters, but I’ll have to say that Lord Cassidy was by far my favorite.

The kidnapping and escape did bring an interesting bit of action/thrills, but nothing overly much. The experience does play a significant part in this story, but in a slightly comical way that doesn’t seem to make all that much sense when it happened. I liked how this experience in a way did bring a more natural –well, considering the circumstances as natural as one can– reason for the two to become so close in such a short time. It’s no wonder when people gravitate towards each other during what appears to be a life or death situation, but this pairing was so much from the idea of imminent death, but from the fact that these two genuinely liked each other. The circumstances only served to bring out more feelings for each other, though the two don’t actually address these feelings as anything more than they really can.

Anyway, long tangent aside, I really did enjoy this book and will be glad to recommend it!

Thank you to Swoon Reads via NetGally for giving me this copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of ‘Crow Mountain’ by Lucy Inglis 

Originally posted October 15, 2015 on Goodreads.

Crow MountainCrow Mountain by Lucy Inglis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I started this book initially with no idea what it was really about. I understood that it was going to be told in two parallel accounts, one in the present, and one in the past. But I wasn’t sure how they were supposed to correspond, besides the fact that both were of English girls, taking shelter in a mountain cabin in Montana, each with a young man who knew of survival. The modern story being that of Hope Cooper and Cal Crow, and the past belonging to Emily and Nate.

Honestly, I enjoyed Emily and Nate’s story much better. I loved reading about an English girl from a wealthy, proper family having to adjust to living in the backwoods with a young American guy who only seemed to emphasize their differences in class. Being that she lived in a time when young women were expected to be the epitome of moral decorum, it was obviously difficult for her to adjust to mountain-living, especially with a guy who could care less about maintaining respectability. Though the two differed tremendously, I enjoyed reading about their interactions, and I really couldn’t help but fall for Nate. He was everything you can want in a potential love interest, and his patience with Emily was amazing. I’m not sure many guys could handle her and her bristly ways.

The Hope and Cal couple were alright, but they just weren’t super interesting to me. I don’t really have any legit complaints when it comes to them, but I think the fact that I was so in love with Emily and Nate kind of made the other couple a bit lukewarm for me, unfortunately. But they really weren’t bad overall.

In conclusion, I loved this book to pieces, and gladly recommend it to all.


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Review of ‘Birthright (Legacy, #1) by Jessica Ruddick

Birthright (Legacy, #1)Birthright by Jessica Ruddick

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A cute paranormal romance that had me entertained by its main characters and their witty banter.

On her 16th birthday, Ava Parks comes in to her birthright, learning that she is a seeker. A seeker’s job is to find people with white auras, because these souls are the ones with the potential to become angels. As soon as she finds these people, she has to submit their names to the Grim Reaper, who then ends their lives. Once a name is submitted, Ava and her mother then move on to another town, where the process is started all over again.
Only, this time the white aura belongs to Cole Fowler, an attractive classmate who tends to infuriate her, but more than once has also come to her rescue. It’s her growing feelings for him that leads to her choosing to save him instead of allowing death to take him, and now it’s up to Ava to make sure to keep Cole safe, all while dealing with the added danger of Cole’s past.

I enjoyed reading Birthright. Though admittedly, the idea of having Grim Reapers as a plot point is somewhat played out, in Ruddick’s books, they aren’t exactly the main focal point; Ava’s job as seeker is. It’s a horrible position to be in, because then she’s ultimately the one choosing who is going to die, and she has to have their death on her conscience. It’s no wonder when she finally rebels. It’s surprising how grounded she is, really, and I like the way she was able to find some sort of normality in her burgeoning relationship with Cole.

Ava’s “relationship” with Cole actually turns out to be a saving grace, and his influence brings a new sense of responsibility to her life, as well as the need to have someone–other than her mother–care about her. I really liked how he could be snappy (though it was usually in response to her own snappiness), but he looked out for her and helped her out of some scary situations.

Of course there’s danger that comes with cheating death (have we not seen Final Destination??) and of course Ava and Cole will have to deal with whatever comes their way, but all cheesiness aside, at least they have each other… *Gulp*

Though this book can be considerably stereotypical when it comes to all things YA, I still enjoyed it considerably and will definitely be reading book 2.

I’ll recommend it if you’re into stereotypical and cheesy paranormal romances where grim reapers are not the emphasis, but still mentioned.

Thank you to Jessica Ruddick via Netgalley for giving me this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Monday Edition of #currentreads

It’s been so long since I’ve done a Monday update of what books I’m currently reading, that I felt I really needed to get one posted!
So here are my current reads:
1. Carve the Mark (Carve the Mark, #1) by Veronica Roth – I’m 37% in and am really liking the story progression. The MCs are both very different in regards to position and “gifts”, but they’re both more similarly empathetic than they ever would have thought.
2. Shadow Run (Kaitan Chronicles, #1) by AdriAnne Strickland and Michael Miller – 31% into this one, and also another book I am enjoying! Though set in space in a dystopian world, the authors were still able to infuse the story with elements that channeled their Alaskan lives.
3. Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1) by Laini Taylor – only 3% in, but not for lack of trying to read this. Taylor is a very whimsical storyteller, so it’s pretty obvious that her writing would be really well done; I do find myself in her thrall when I am able to read this book.
Finally, with my featured NetGalley read:
4. The Idea of You by Amanda Prowse – 6% in.

I was invited to read this one, so I’m not sure if it was one I’d have personally requested-at least, I’m not sure yet. This book is alright so far, but I’m not too sure where it’s going yet. I guess we’ll see how this one goes and whether or not I actually draw any feelings from this one.
•There we are with my current reads, and hopefully I’ll be better with posting these updates! Thanks for reading, and I’d love to hear what your current read is?