Book Review: Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor

This book is the sequel in the Strange the Dreamer series. You should definitely read the first book Strange the Dreamer before picking up Muse of Nightmares. The first leaves the reader with so many questions and this one is the answer key. In fact, this book leaves off right where the first one ends. I’ll try to leave this review spoiler free so it is thin on book summary.

What can I say about this book other than it is amazing. It ripped out my heart and then fix it back into my chest and filled it again almost to bursting. I finished reading this book before bed and I couldn’t go to sleep because I was just so happy. I feel like I was on a journey right along with the characters feeling everything they feel. Laini is a words smith. She makes the reader understand how characters can be good and bad by creating the clearest, realist picture of people. The magic and the world are huge and detailed but not confusing. Plus, shout out to an epilogue I needed to read. Perfect closure to a story leaving me satisfied and dreamy.

In this book, we follow the same cast of characters but even a few new ones, Nova and Kova, enter the fold becoming a critical point of the story. Lazlo returns but we spend less time in his head. Sarai also returns and as the title of the book leads you to believe, yes this is her book. She is sweet, strong, and instead of breaking people down she is learning to use her magic to help people. Rudy, Feral, and Sparrow are back. I think Sparrow gets a little more magical growth in the story but Rudy and Feral set the perfect teenage tone. Minya is a marvelously complex character. All the pain she holds and knowing every decision made was to protect the others. Even though I disagreed with her so many times, it is so easy to understand her position completely. The character with probably the most unexpected arc is Thyron. I don’t want to give anything away but at first, I was a little confused why he was getting page time. Let’s be honest he isn’t the best person in the first book but it made me so happy to see him develop. (Squeal!) Lastly, Eril-Fane and Azareen. Sigh. So much emotion.

Yes, these books are considered young adult but the themes in this book are ones we are constantly facing throughout life. How grief can be blinding and holding on to pain is such a negative weight. Learning to let go of hurt and learning from mistakes and after all that knowledge, you can still do good. Moving on from the ugliness. Thank you Laini Taylor.

ARC provided in exchange for an honest review.  Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor will be published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on October 2nd, 2018.

Purchase Muse of Nightmares through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Book Depository.

Purchase the first book in the series, Strange the Dreamer, through AmazoneBooks.com, Barnes & Noble, or Book Depository.

Where are the Book Reviews?

If you have followed me for book reviews know they will be a more often occurrence on this blog but not weekly. I am a slow reader. I have been put down for what I have read, haven’t read, or how long it takes to read something as long as I can remember. I was on a roll with content. In the past, when I didn’t have something lined up, I didn’t know what to do so, I just didn’t post. Not a great way to start but it has happened and it may happen in the future so be prepared. It’s hard to be a book lover and a slow reader when so many will diminish a person’s love for something when it is not up to certain popular standards but I still love reading and sharing my love for the written word. I will have times when writing and reading are hard. I can’t stop these slumps and insecurities from happening but I will try to keep my goals the same. As for the future, hang tight, another book review is coming soon.

I do like writing my little book reviews because I like to support authors and spread my love of reading. But I would still like to write about other things.

If you would like to support me, please consider clicking on one of the links below and buying something.

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“To be good at writing is to be good at pulling out your own hair. What use is talent that pains you?” – How to Stop Time By Matt Haig

Book Review: How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

Tom Hazard looks 41-years-old but he has a rare condition. He ages at a slower rate and is actually four-hundred-and-thirty-nine-years old. Tom is protected by a secret society for people like him and with their help, he must move around every 8 years to not create suspension. The number one rule to this secret club, don’t fall in love which hasn’t been a problem for Tom. This time around he decides he will move back to his old stomping grounds, London, to become a high school history teacher but when he meets a woman at work he starts to remember the fulfillment and hurt that comes with any life. Now, Tom’s current life is haunted by his past experiences and he must decide if he will stay stuck in his former memories or finally begin living in the present.

How to Stop Time alternates between present-day London and Tom’s many past memories but I was never confused. Haig does a good job of keeping the story moving but not disorganized. The synopsis of the book will have you think this is a love story between two people but I think it is about following Tom during a time when he feels his life is spent and is questioning his place not only in the world but in the secret society. There is a love story but it’s not the novel’s main focus like the movie, “The Age of Adeline” or the book, The Time Traveler’s Wife. The romance is slow burning and a reader may be confused when they start reading and find nothing happens with this present day romance until the last half of the book. It takes Tom a long time to accept his feelings. I think the main theme of the book was more about the heaviness of being alive. How a group of people you thought was protecting and helping you may have been hurting you? Also, seeing the good, “to love food and music and champagne and rare sunny afternoons in October. You can love the sight of waterfalls and the smell of old books.”

I really enjoyed this book. I found myself marking many passages that stuck with me. The read can be a little slow at times (what life is always exciting?) but it was quite thrilling by the end.

Some favorite quotes:

“That’s the thing with time, isn’t it? It’s not all the same. Some days – some years – some decades – are empty. There is nothing to them. It’s just flat water. And then you come across a year, or even a day, or an afternoon. And it is everything. It is the whole thing.”

“And, just as it only takes a moment to die, it only takes a moment to live. You just close your eyes and let every futile fear slip away. And then, in this new state, free from fear, you ask yourself: who am I? If I could live without doubt what would I do? If I could be kind without the fear of being fucked over? If I could love without fear of being hurt? If I could taste the sweetness of today without thinking of how I will miss that taste tomorrow? If I could not fear the passing of time and the people it will steal? Yes. What would I do? Who would I care for? What battle would I fight? Which paths would I step down? What joys would I allow myself? What internal mysteries would I solve? How, in short, would I live?”

Purchase this title through Amazon, Book Depository, Barnes & Noble, or Ebooks.com.

Book Review: City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab is a middle school, paranormal novel and the first book in the Cassidy Black series. Cassidy must go to Edinburgh, Scotland when her parents, ghost hunters, get a TV show. Her parents can’t see ghosts but Cass can. Ever since her drowning Cass can pull back the Veil that separates the living from the ghost but she is not alone. She is joined by her best friend Jacob, the ghost who saved her that day in the river. In Edinburgh Cass meets Lara, a girl that can also see the dead, and learns she has a lot more responsibility but can Cass keep herself safe in a city with many more ghost, a veil grabbing at her, and an evil woman in red known to snatch children’s life force.

I am not the intended age group however, ten-year-old me ate this up. I loved reading the way the Scottish history and superstitions were spun into the story. Schwab does a great job with the book’s atmosphere. It felt as if Edinburgh was another character and the description of the Veil left me with a vivid picture of the in-between. Schwab was able to make a creepy, chilling setting without being gruesome. Also, through their interactions, rules, and secrets, I really enjoyed Cassidy’s relationship with her best friend, Jacob.

My negative, there is a great deal of background before the subplot takes over. The story falls into the first book in a series flaw, a slow beginning and an over too soon ending but I still found myself invested. The end gifts the reader with nagging little questions about what haunted city setting could possibly be next (I have my mind set on Paris) and the ending’s ominous undertone with certain characters.

I enjoyed this novel as an adult reader and if you know middle school readers with a pension for ghost stories, look no farther then City of Ghosts.

ARC provided in exchange for an honest review. City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab will be published by Scholastic Press on August 28th, 2018.

Purchase this title through Amazon and Book Depository.

 

Book Review: Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren.

After a few embarrassing meetups in college Josh Im and Hazel Bradford reunite years later. Josh is sweet, thoughtful, and sensible while Hazel it quirky, funny, and straightforward. After Josh’s last relationship ends horribly Hazel convinces Josh to go on double dates with her. The dates they pick for each other don’t always work out but they have fun spending time together and the more time spent together the stronger the romantic tension.

This is the first novel I’ve read by the writing duo Christina Lauren and it was such an entertaining rom-com read. There were even parts that made me laugh out loud.

Hazel may lack a filter and be a bit zany but she has a big heart and doesn’t come across too over the top. I thought she was clearly believable and likable. Josh is a sweet straight man which makes it easy to fall in love with him. I was never left believing these characters would never work. Their friendship/romance was a little the opposite attract trope but didn’t feel thrown together or so contradicting to feel stretch thin. Instead, the relationship between Josh and Hazel was a slow burn, a lovely way to build tension, and with the feeling of a well-suited pair. Christina Lauren also does a great job of making the characters’ responsible adults talking about real-world topics like sex, testing, and bleeding without any shame, or guilt.

My only negative with the book was with the ending. I won’t give anything away but it felt rush. I would gladly pick up another novel by Christina Lauren in the future. They can paint clear scenes and deep characters without heavy fluff. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes contemporary romance and is looking for an energetic and cheerful read.

ARC provided in exchange for an honest review. Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren will be published by Gallery Books on Tuesday, September 4th, 2018.

Purchase this title through Amazon or Book Depository.

Book Review: The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris is a very powerful read. Based on a true story the book is about Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, sent to the concentration camp, Auschwitz, in April 1942. Determined to survive he uses his charm, and ability to speak several languages and works at keeping useful. Eventually, he is put to work as the tattooist of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Struggling with the moral integrity of the job, being the tattooist has more rations, better sleeping arraignments, and more freedom to move around the camp. Lale uses his fortunate position helping his fellow prisoners stay alive exchanging money and jewels from murdered Jews for food and medicine. While tattooing one day he meets Gita and instantly falls for her. He swears they will survive the camp and marry. This is their story.

This book is a story of resilience and love. While we are familiar with the horrific time period and the conditions endured by so many, Morris’s retelling of Lale’s story is a reminder of the strength, courage, and fight for life and love. It is a hard book to review. This book was well-written, stirring up so many emotions and Lale’s story will stay with me. At times, hard to read, but impossible to put down. Thank you Heather Morris for helping bring Lale and Gita’s story to light.

ARC provided in exchange for an honest review. The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris will be published by Harper Paperbacks on September 4th, 2018.

Purchase this title through AmazonBook Depository, or eBooks.com.

Book Review: Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Spinning Silver is much more than the retelling of Rumpelstiltskin. It incorporates fantasy, myth, and dark retellings making it a lush layered novel with flushes out characters and worlds.

The story starts with Miryem, daughter, and granddaughter to a moneylender. Her family is poor since her father repeatedly fails at collecting dues. When her mother becomes ill and Miryem has grown sick herself from constant poverty she goes out to collect the funds owed. She soon finds she is good at the job and over time turns more silver into gold. But this causes the notice of the Staryk, a terrible being who brings the winter and wants gold above all else.

The story includes a woman hired to pay her (physical) abuse father’s debt and take care of her siblings. There is also the story of a noble girl, considered plain and useless to her father but who must fight for her life and those she loves after she is married to a cruel tsar cursed with a fire demon in his body.

The world building is seemingly simple. The introduction to the world builds on the people’s stories and fears till the magic is more than just under the surface but true and an increment part of these women’s everyday lives.

Novik has a talent for presenting multiple character point of views with complex sub-plots weaving everything into a single brimming tale. I didn’t find it hard to follow the different perspectives. Each character had a distinct voice but the book also uses a corresponding symbol for each character at page breaks or beginning chapters. I loved the strong empowering female theme throughout. Another thing to note is Miryem and her family is Jewish. The novel touches on the importance of her Jewish identity as well as with small-town prejudices, and anti-Semitism making it more relevant to today’s world.

Spinning Silver has a way of taking historical and present topics of discussions, mixing in myths and fairytales, and making everything relatable. Overall, Naomi Novik can transport you to a time and place you can believe without a doubt is real and that is real magic.

ARC provided in exchange for an honest review. Spinning Silver by Noami Novik will be published by Del Rey on Tuesday, July 10th 2018.

Purchase this title through AmazonBook Depository, or Ebooks.com.