“There comes a certain point with a hope or a dream, when you either give it up or give up everything else.” // Review of “The Muse of Nightmares” by Laini Taylor

Title: Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer #1)
Author: Laini Taylor
Audio book narrator: Steve West
Genre: Fantasy
Target audience: Upper YA
Date Read: 21/02/19– 22/02/19
Rating: ★★★★

Review:

This book gave me a lot of feelings. Laini Taylor is a stunning world-builder and wordsmith, but I did find myself getting frustrated throughout portions of the book. I may have banged my hands against the steering wheel on more than one occasion when I was listening while driving.

Muse of Nightmares picks up exactly where Strange the Dreamer left off, though we are very quickly introduced to two new characters, Kora and Nova, whom we learn more about as the story goes. Their stories eventually converge with the others in a tumultuous finale.

The world that Laini Taylor created in Strange the Dreamer is exapnded upon ten-fold here. To explain how would be a spoiler, but it did do my head in just how much scope there is.

The writing is once again beautiful, and I can’t really complain about it at all, except to once again observe that is very dense in its descriptions at times. My main issue with this one was the pacing. Two centuries could be covered in a chapter, followed by a twenty minute fight scene that spanned several chapters. And the characters were all very powerless throughout those, which made it more frustrating.

But despite those frustrations, when I reached the end, I felt fully satisfied and found that I was smiling to  myself.  The book ends with “The end… or is it?”, which made me both laugh and moan. The way the story wraps up completes the main story of Lazlo and Sarai and Minya and Eril Fane and the city of Weep, but it leaves us with other stories still left to tell. And despite those niggles and frustrations I had with this book, I’m pretty sure I would read anything set in this world that Laini Taylor decided to write.


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#WWW Wednesday – 27 February 2019

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! This blog hop is hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for this week, and just answer the three questions.

What have you recently finished reading?

I finished Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor and can safely say that I was going through a weird bunch of chapters last week when I rambled about it for three paragraphs. XD I would love if Laini Taylor wrote more stories set in this universe – Lazlo and Sarai’s story is definitely completed but there’s lots of stuff in the epilogue that could be expanded upon… it even finished with “The end… or is it?” which makes me wonder if she’s seriously considering it.

also read Famous Last Words over the weekend. This was a random pick at the library which turned out to be really addictive and enjoyable! I enjoy contemporary ghost stories! I forgot. It was a bit predictable (I had the serial killer picked nearly from the get go) but it was also really addictive.

I have finally found my review groove again and am actually caught up! Everything I’ve read this year has a review either posted or scheduled. You can read my reviews of The  Zigzag Effect by Lili Wilkinson and Second Star by JM Sullivan by clicking their titles.

What are you currently reading?

I started the audio book of Bird Box by Josh Malerman today. I don’t have Netflix so since everybody was watching the movie, my obvious reaction was “I should read the book”. I have some questions about how they manage certain things with blindfolds, but so far, it has explained the things that have occurred to me. Can someone tell me if it’s ever explained why the children have no names? That part is bugging me.

I am also reading Jigsaw of Fire and Stars by Yaba Badoe, which was another library book. The voice is really interesting and quite distinctive. It has a magical realism vibe… With that cover and the description on the back, I actually didn’t realise it is set in the present day, so that was a bit jarring. But I’m still interested to see where it goes.

I am still going on The Dying Flame by R. L. Sanderson, but it’s on a bit of a hold while I read my library books!

There are a couple of other things I have just started, but I’m not quite committed enough to them to mention them here just yet. Maybe next week.

What do you think you will read next?

I’m thinking it’s time to read Romanov by Nadine Brandes. I could totally go some historical fantasy about the Russian royal family right now. I also maybe added a whole bunch of books about the Romanovs, both fiction  and non, to my TBR the other day so it’s highly possible I might proceed to fall down that rabbit hole.

What are you reading this week? 🙂

#WWW Wednesday – 20 February 2019

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! This blog hop is hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for this week, and just answer the three questions.

First of all, a bit of a plug!

So do you remember in my last WWW post, I mentioned I was contemplating starting a Booktube channel to talk about Australian authors? Well, I didn’t think about it for too long and I started one! I’ve already put up two videos, so check it out if you feel inclined.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled WWW post.

What have you recently finished reading?

Only one thing finished this week: the ARC of Second Star by J. M. Sullivan, which actually ended up frustrating me a lot. It had a strong start but didn’t live upt to it.  My review goes up on Friday.

My review of In Another Life by C. C. Hunter went up on Monday and you can read it here.

What are you currently reading?

I started The Dying Flame by R. L. Sanderson, who is a friend of mine! And I am a terrible friend for taking 18 months to read this. But hey, at least this way, the sequel is already out for me to get straight onto. I have read her YA Contemporaries but this is her first fantasy. It is not disappointing because she is a tremendous writer and you should all read her books.

I’m also reading Out There: A Scientific Guide to Alien Life, Antimatter, and Human Space Travel (For the Cosmically Curious) by  Michael Wall, who is a senior editor at space.com. I’m trying to read more non-fiction and this stuff is interesting, though I don’t find myself engaged… I think because I don’t speed through non-fiction  the way I do through fiction,I get frustrated, but I’m trying to push past that because learning is good.

Okay so Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor. Guh. This book. It’s just… there’s just so much… detail. And scope. Like the world just got a million times bigger about halfway through this. A lot of the mythology that’s set up Strange the Dreamer is actually playing a much bigger part here.

Can those of you who said you need to get onto reading this do so soon because I have a feeling I’m going to get to the end and want to talk to people about this. (I’m only sort of joking). I’m also no longer sure this is just a duology because I’m around 70% of the way through and I feel like there’s no way she can satisfyingly tie everything up in 30%. I may be wrong, though.

What do you think you will read next?

As it was last week, this is a very good  question. I’ve very much been mood reading lately. I’ll probably try to find another Australian title.

What are you reading this week? 🙂

#WWW Wednesday – 13 February 2019

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! This blog hop is hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for this week, and just answer the three questions.

First of all, a bit of a plug!

So do you remember in my last WWW post, I mentioned I was contemplating starting a Booktube channel to talk about Australian authors? Well, I didn’t think about it for too long and I started one! I’ve already put up two videos, so check it out if you feel inclined.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled WWW post.

What have you recently finished reading?

This was a good reading week!

I finished The Slave City, the third Viper and the Urchin book by Celine Jeanjean. I enjoyed seeing the world of the first two books expanded as the characters travelled to a new country. I reviewed it here.

After that, I read my ARC of In Another Life by C. C. Hunter, which comes out at the end of March.  This is a YA contemporary about an adopted girl who finds out that her adoption may not have been strictly legal…

Then I read Finding Aurora by Rebecca Langham, which is queer retelling of Sleeping Beauty.  This was really good except I didn’t realise it was a novella, so it was really short! I reviewed it here.

Lastly, I read The Zigzag Effect by Lili Wilkinson. This is a YA contemporary about a teen who gets a summer job working for a magician and I had hoped to really love it. It was enjoyable but not my favourite.

I’ve got to get a few reviews written but I also posted my review of Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor here.

What are you currently reading?

I’m reading an ARC of Second Star by J. M. Sullivan, which is a sci-fi retelling of Peter Pan. It has some really strong aspects and some… not so. Like Harry Potter references in the very far future? Except some of the character dynamics feel more like they are from the time period of the original story… so. Still, I am enjoying it. I’m about 40% of the way through and at the moment it’s feeling like a solid 4 star read.

I think I went at least a week without listening to Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor, but I’ve started up again with it this week. Minya was frustrating me for a while but we are now getting to know her a bit more, which is good. But at the same time, as with the first book, I can tell the different story threads will intersect at some point and I kind of wish they’d hurry up about it!

What do you think you will read next?

I should probably start focusing on my Australian Women Writers Challenge, since I upped my goal to twenty for this year (the previous few years I’ve only offficially aimed for twelve) and I’ve only read two. It’d be good to get ahead in case i start lagging around uni and travel times later in the year.

What are you reading this week? 🙂

“Do you still think I’m a singularly un-terrible demon?” “No,” he said smiling. “I think you’re a fairytale.” // Review of “Strange the Dreamer” by Laini Taylor

Title: Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer #1)
Author: Laini Taylor
Audio book narrator: Steve West
Genre: Fantasy
Target audience: Upper YA
Date Read: 16/12/18 – 21/01/19
Rating: ★★★★

Review:

This is such a huge book and it took me so long to get through the audio version, all 18 hours of it! I was going to return the audio book and get the ebook instead, but then I ended up powering through the last third. I have a feeling that had I read it at my own pace, it may have even been a five star read. That is not to say that the audio book was bad, far from it, but it did stretch the story out more than perhaps it should have been (not that there would have been any way to pare it back other than abridge it and … yeahno).

This is a dense, slow-burn, character-driven fantasy, filled with beautiful language. Its about dreams in all senses: one’s hopes for the future and the visions we see when we’re asleep. Some might find the writing too flowery, but I found it fell just on the right side of that fine line. It is jam-packed with details, though, and sometimes I wondered whether it was a little too much. I think this is partially because I was reading the audio book and couldn’t make the decision to skim over a few things that  I might have were I reading the print version.

For a book with such  a large cast of characters, Taylor does a wonderful job of giving them all individual personalities. Even the mythology is delicately crafted, and I could imagine the past events described by many of the citizens of the city of Weep. And of course, as a librarian, I particularly loved that the hero in an epic fantasy was a dorky librarian whose nose was broken by a book of fairytales.

Needless to say, I was very keen to begin the second book as soon as I reached the end of the first. This was my first foray into Laini Taylor’s work but it certainly won’t be the last.


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#WWW Wednesday – 29 January 2019

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! This blog hop is hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for this week, and just answer the three questions.

What have you recently finished reading?

I finished The Black Orchid, which is #2 in Celine Jeanjean’s The Viper and the Urchin series. I remembered a fair bit of it from the first time I read it, but I still enjoyed all the little details I had forgotten. l

am behind on my reviews, so nothing new posted this week.

What are you currently reading?

I am making progress with Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor. I get the reasons for Minya’s single-mindedness but it is still irritating me. But Lazlo and Sarai are still great.

Also reading The Slave City, the third Viper and the Urchin book. It hasn’t quite grabbed me the way the other two did but I remain jealous of Celine Jeanjean’s ability to craft a world and structure a plot.

What do you think you will read next?

I have no idea! I haven’t read anything for my Australian Women Writers Challenge yet and considering I upped my goal this year, I should probably get on that. I’m also contemplating starting a BookTube channel focusing on Australian authors, so if I want to do that any time soon, I’ll need to get started.

Short and sweet post this week! What are you reading? 

#WWW Wednesday – 23 January 2019

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! This blog hop is hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for this week, and just answer the three questions.

What have you recently finished reading?

I finished my re-read of The Bloodless Assassin by Celine Jeanjean. I only remembered a few little details and so I enjoyed revisiting this story a lot. Definitely recommend this series for any steampunk fans. I’m not reviewing this again but you can read my original 2015 review here.

I also finished Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor on audio and didn’t even need to get the e-book in the end! This is a great fantasy book, and I’ll have a review up soon. If I try to express any thoughts here, I am sure I will start rambling.

What are you currently reading?

I have moved on to The Black Orchid, which is #2 in Celine Jeanjean’s The Viper and the Urchin series. I am remembering a little bit more of this one than I did of the first, but that’s not hampering the experience too much.

I have also started Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor. I decided to get the audio book because it is a few hours shorter than Strange the Dreamer so I don’t think I’ll have quite as much trouble getting through it.

What do you think you will read next?

I have an ARC of The Slave City, the third Viper and the Urchin book, which comes out on January 31 (hence the re-read of the first two). Going by the summary, it looks like the characters will be venturing out of their home of Damsport, and I am excited to see Jeanjean expand on the world she has built.

It feels slightly strange to have only two authors represented in a whole WWW post, but there we are! Not gonna lie, I’m a little bit proud of the layout of this post, lol!

What are you reading this week?

#WWW Wednesday – 16 January 2019

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! This blog hop is hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for this week, and just answer the three questions.

What have you recently finished reading?

Sad to say I ended up DNFnig The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi. This was a real disappointment as it sounded like something I would really love  but just nothing about it worked for me. Since it’s a DNF, I didn’t review it as such, but I wrote some thoughts on my GoodReads. But don’t take my word for it, as there are 277 five-star reviews and onlyl 41 two-star. It was released yesterday so go find yourself a copy if it sounds like your thing!

While that was the closest I came to finishing something this week, I did post my review of Seanan McGuire’s Every Heart A Doorway, which you can read here.

What are you currently reading?

Still going with  Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor on audio. It’s 18 hours long and I’m around the 9 hour mark! I’m actually tempted to return the audio book and buy the ebook, maybe with WhisperSync included. I’m not good at long audio books! Plus I’m not doinig a lot of solo driving and it’s too hot to go walking at the moment.

I have started re-reading The Bloodless Assassin by Celine Jeanjean. I gave this five stars when I read it in 2015 and was gushing all over it. It’s possibly closer to a four star read for me now? But I really love Jeanjean’s world-building and the characters are very strong. I’ve always found steampunk books a bit hard to get into but I never had that problem with this series.

What do you think you will read next?

I’ll move onto The Black Orchid, which is the second book in the The Viper and the Urchin series by Celine Jeanjean. After that, I’m not sure!

What are you reading this week?

#WWW Wednesday – 09 January 2018

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! This blog hop is hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for this week, and just answer the three questions.

What have you recently finished reading?

My first book for 2019 is Every Heart A Doorway by Seanan Maguire. I have followed Seanan on Twitter for years so I figured it was time I actually read some of her writing. This is one of those books where I can see why a lot of people love it, but I just didn’t completely love it. I still gave it 3 stars and I’ll have a review up as soon as I figure out exactly what I liked and disliked (it’s that kind of book).

What are you currently reading?

Not much movement on  Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor in the past week. There have been times where I could have been listening to it (cleaning, etc.) but just wasn’t quite in the mood.

I’m also still going with The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi. I don’t know why I’m not more into  this?! I love historical fantasy but maybe I’m not into heist plots?

What do you think you will read next?

I am planning to re-read The Bloodless Assassin by Celine Jeanjean and its sequel in preparation for the release of the third book in the series at the end of the month. Depending how much I remember, I might do a bit of a skim, but it’s been a while, so might not remember much. I did give this book 5 stars the first time I read it, so I hope to get the same reaction this time around.

What are you reading this week?

#WWW Wednesday – 02 January 2018

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! This blog hop is hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for this week, and just answer the three questions.

Happy 2019, everyone! I hope your year is filled with five star reads. 😀

What have you recently finished reading?

I finished Wundersmith by Jessica Townsend in time to pass it on to my niece at Christmas! While I don’t think it was as good as Nevermoor, it did pick up in the last third and bumped my rating from two to three stars. My review is here.

I didn’t get a huge amount of time to read while I was away over Christmas but I finished The Enchanted Sonata by Heather Dixon Wallwork on the plane home. I really loved this one! It was really charming. Here’s my review.

I’ll also have my December reading wrap-up posted tomorrow. My intention was to post it yesterday and while it was pretty much written at that point, I forgot to finish and post it.

What are you currently reading?

I’m still listening to Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. I finished Part 2 in the car this morning. It’s… quite dense? But it does have a lot of interesting mythology and the characters are very well drawn, so the density isn’t necessarily an issue.

I have also started my ARC of The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi, though at time of writing I’m only about 5% in. I love historical fantasy and I’ve been hearing good things about this one, so I have pretty high expectations.

What do you think you will read next?

I am planning to re-read The Bloodless Assassin by Celine Jeanjean and its sequel in preparation for the release of the third book in the series at the end of the month. Depending how much I remember, I might do a bit of a skim, but it’s been a while, so might not remember much. I did give this book 5 stars the first time I read it, so I hope to get the same reaction this time around.

I’ve set my GoodReads goal to 100 books this year.

What are you reading this week?