Review: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

29486766The 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 to 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?

In this sweeping and breathtaking new novel by National Book Award finalist Laini Taylor, author of the New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, the shadow of the past is as real as the ghosts who haunt the citadel of murdered gods. Fall into a mythical world of dread and wonder, moths and nightmares, love and carnage.

Laini’s Goodreads | Website | Twitter 

 Amazon US | Amazon AU | Booktopia | Bookdepository

Thank You Hachette Australia and Netgalley for allowing me a copy to read and review.I don’t think I’ve ever been more full of wonder when reading a book then during Strange the Dreamer. I finished it over a week ago and I am still just contemplating. THAT ENDING! I wanted to cry. I wanted to break something. I needed a hug. Love, love, loved it! You’re a brilliant woman Laini Taylor and your imagination is phenomenal, but damn you, that epic cliff hanger has caused me one of the biggest book hangovers I’ve had in years.

At the start of the story we meet Lazlo, dubbed Strange the Dreamer, as a small energetic orphan boy with a vivid imagination and love of stories. We get to see him grow and find himself a safe haven with a job as a junior librarian, where his love of stories and desire to learn all he can of the lost city of Weep flourishes. Lazlo becomes a mild mannered, intelligent and kind hearted young man. A twist of fate sees Lazlo going on the adventure of a life time, taking his lifelong dream by the reins and traveling to find the answers his heart truly desires.

Straight from the start I felt a strong connection to Lazlo and Sarai (The Muse of Nightmares) and I grew to love many more characters along the way. The Characters were deeply developed, most likeable, some lovable, some scorn worthy and with one to be feared.Laini’s writing is beautiful, her world building is intricately beautiful, the underlying plot is beautiful, the whole gosh darn book right down to the cover, is beautiful. Actually beautiful really isn’t even a good enough word. This story has it all; mystery, adventure, magic, romance, forgiveness and revenge.

I was in Weep. I ran with Lazlo straight towards danger. I felt my hands pass into the Mesarthium. Strange the Dreamer is an enthralling story, cover to cover you can’t step away. I give it Five “just go and read it” Stars.

Guest Post: Author Yuri Hamaganov

What is your writing routine?

Practice makes perfect. It is extremely important for a novice writer to realize this simple and reliable wisdom. It doesn’t matter how big your talent is, no matter how good your idea is. Without practice – nothing will happen.

The GROND series will consist of eight novels. Four are ready, now I’m finishing the fifth, more than half of the work has already been done. And I reached this result only when I started working on my idea every day.

I live in a small town, next to a huge city. Every working day I go to Moscow to work by train, and then I return home. Two and a half hours there, two and a half – back. I used to spend this time without much benefit: I read, listened to music, slept, or just looked out the window. But then I started work on the first novel in the GROND series and realized that the usual routine must be radically changed, because I don’t have enough days off for my book. And then I wrapped this aimless loss of time in my favor.

Now I’m working on my book on the train, and you’ll be surprised at how much you can do there. The novel doesn’t write itself, it must be written. And then rewrite, edit, add new fragments, and re-edit. I’m going to Moscow and working on my book, putting on the headphones for a soundtrack to some sci-fi movie, a collection of old pop-music or rock radio. At work, I think about my book, and in the evening, on the way back, everything repeats. The screen of the laptop, text and music in the headphones.

Working on a book doesn’t mean writing a new chapter every day. Often I am engaged in planning – I state my thoughts on the new book in the text, I create notes and carefully explain to myself the logic of what is happening on the pages. I answer the question: why did these or those events occur, why this or that character behaved this way. Readers will never see these drawings, but without them the book would not be possible. You can also read the books of competitors in search of new, interesting ideas and watch the videos you need to work – anything for the benefit of the common work.

This is my writing routine – working on a book every day. Don’t wait for inspiration, there is always something to do. Write the text, read the text, edit the text, plan the text. Learn from others, get the information you need, develop a promoting strategy and again work on the text. The technique is simple, but reliable, I checked it on myself, which is what I wish for you.

All the best,

Yuri Hamaganov


GROND: The Raven High
by Yuri Hamaganov
Genre: YA Scifi
Release Date: April 2017

Summary:

In the year 2086, Earth is exhausted. The seas have been emptied, the bedrock and soil stripped of their resources, and the superheated atmosphere churns with terrible storms. Those who can afford to do so live in the limbo of virtual reality, and the billions who suffer in poverty have no work, no clean water, and no security from the chaos.

The only hope for those trapped on a dying Earth are the Changed—the seven bioengineered post-humans who work in their separate manufacturing facilities orbiting high above the planet. Raised from birth for their work and fully matured at ten years old, their genius provides the nanomaterials that have begun to cleanse Earth of the pollutants that have wiped out almost the entire ecosphere.

But for Olga Voronov, youngest of the Changed, the isolation and endless toil are not the greatest of her challenges. Down on Earth there are those who resent and fear her talents—and would prefer that humanity not be given the second chance that only she could make possible …

Links: GoodreadsAmazon US | Amazon AU

About the Author:
Yuri Hamaganov lives in Moscow. He created the eight-volume GROND series as a present for himself when he was twelve years old. This was the story he had always dreamed of exploring, and when he realized that nobody had written it for him, he set out to do it himself.


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Book Blitz: Dating the It Guy by Krysten Lindsay Hager

Dating the It Guy
Krysten Lindsay Hager
Publication date: March 21st 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

Emme is a sophomore in high school who starts dating, Brendon Agretti, the popular senior who happens to be a senator’s son and well-known for his good looks. Emme feels out of her comfort zone in Brendon’s world and it doesn’t help that his picture perfect ex, Lauren, seems determined to get back into his life, along with every other girl who wants to be the future Mrs. Agretti. Emme is already conflicted due to the fact her last boyfriend cheated on her and her whole world is off kilter with her family issues. Life suddenly seems easier keeping Brendon away and relying on her crystals and horoscopes to guide her. Emme soon starts to realize she needs to focus less on the stars and more on her senses. Can Emme get over her insecurities and make her relationship work? Life sure is complicated when you’re dating the it guy.

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EXCERPT:

“By the way, did you hear Lauren got into Senator Agretti’s old school?”

“Seriously? I wonder if she applied there because Brendon did,” I said.

Margaux snorted. “Duh, of course. Seriously, she might as well just pee on him to mark her territory.”

“Margaux, shut up,” Kylie said.

“Whatever. Anyway, the important thing is if Brendon knew she was applying there,” Margaux said. “Em, do you think he knew?”

I hoped Lauren was just trying to follow Brendon, but what if they had planned this whole thing while they were dating? What if he convinced her to apply there so they could go to college together, wear matching American flag sweaters with big scarves while drinking hot chocolate, and jump into leaf piles just like a preppy clothing catalog. At least now I didn’t have to worry about them reciting poetry to one another in South Bend, but still, what if they had made plans to go to school together?

“Don’t worry about it,” Kylie said. “She was probably trying to follow him—like she always does. She’s so pathetic.”

Kylie was trying to make me feel better, but Lauren was far from pathetic. After all, she was pretty much the “Most Likely to Succeed” poster girl. While she was out overachieving and saving the world without messing up her perfect, bouncy hair, I was trying to get through each day. I tried to push away the image of Lauren and Brendon holding hands and drinking hot chocolate under a stadium blanket.

Author Bio:

Besides mining her teen years and humiliating moments for her novels, Krysten is also a book addict who has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. Krysten writes about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, frenemies, crushes, fame, first loves, and values. She is the author of True Colors, Best Friends…Forever?, Next Door to a Star, Landry in Like, and Competing with the Star (The Star Series: Book 2). Her debut novel, True Colors, won the Readers Favorite award for best preteen book. Krysten’s work has been featured in USA Today, The Flint Journal, the Grand Haven Tribune, the Beavercreek Current, the Bellbrook Times and on Living Dayton.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Pinterest / YouTube


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Blog Tour: Finding Molly by Justine Prado

Finding Molly: An Adventure in Catsitting
by Justine Prado
Illustrated by Jenn St-Onge
Genre: YA Graphic Novel
Release Date: January 2017
Emet Comics
Finding Molly: An Adventure in Catsitting is a graphic novel about Molly Sanchez-Talebi, an unemployed art school grad who hesitantly starts catsitting to pay the bills. She dreams of breaking out of suburbia and her artistic rut, but she has a lot of self-discovery to do before that happens. The comic follows her funny misadventures as she learns that maybe these (sometimes) friendly felines are just what she needs to get her life on track.
MY THOUGHTS:
This comic was fun to read and a delight to look at. I ended up devouring the whole thing in one sitting. The story follows Molly as she tries to navigate the big bad world and make ends meet without relying on her parents anymore. Molly is only 23, so we get to ride her emotional rollercoaster of moving out of her parents home and being alone for the first time. There are friends, new and old, fears to overcome, happiness to find, muse’s to let in, a boy who could be more than just a friend, Oh and there are lots of adorable naughty cats! I give it Four “I really enjoyed it” Stars.
* * * *

Links: GoodreadsAmazon US | Amazon AU

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Blog Tour: K My Name is Kendra

kmynameiskendrabanner

kendra2017coverTitle: K My Name is Kendra

Author: Kamichi Jackson

Genre: Young Adult

Fifteen-year-old Kendra James’ life begins to spiral out of control with the return of her long-lost runaway sister Meisha, and the visit of a young celebrity uncle with questionable intentions. Things take a particular turn for the worse when that uncle exploits Kendra’s loneliness and untreated depression and makes a move on her that sends her world into a tailspin from which she’s not sure she’ll ever recover. Will she survive this tragedy…or will she hit rock-bottom before anyone even notices?

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Author Bio

In addition to K My Name Is Kendra, Kamichi Jackson is the author of an eBook entitled Where Present Meets Past (originally available as part of the now-defunct Amazon Shorts Program), the middle reader book You’re Too Much, Reggie Brown, a forthcoming adult novel entitled The Brownstone, two unproduced screenplays, and several short stories. KJ has made numerous appearances in support of her work, among them the Baltimore Book Festival. When not writing, Kamichi is likely off somewhere singing karaoke. The South Norwalk, Connecticut native currently resides in Northern Virginia with family.

* * BOOK EXCERPT * *

I think someone is stalking me.

I say this, not because I’m paranoid, but because I’ve been seeing the same strange car outside my house almost every other day for the past two weeks. I haven’t told anyone but Nita about it. She thinks I should call the police or something, but what are they going to do? Whoever is inside the car hasn’t done or said anything to me, so what would I be reporting?

Of course that could change. I realize that today when I step outside onto the front steps of my school. This could be the afternoon that changes everything.

“What’s wrong?” Nita asks as I stop dead in my tracks, almost tripping this kid walking on my heels.

There it is again. The same black car with the tinted windows. I recognize it right away because it has two small dents in the back door and a bright red ball on the tip of the antenna. I still can’t see who is inside, and I can’t tell if the person is even looking my way, but it’s definitely the same car.

“What’s wrong?” Nita asks again. She looks across the street. “Is that it?” she asks and I nod.

“I need to know,” I say as I step down off the curb. The car starts to move forward and I wave and scream for it to stop. It does, and I keep running towards it, even though I hear Nita yelling behind me that I shouldn’t go. She catches up to me and pulls on my sleeve, yanking me back before I reach the car.

“Even three-year-olds know not to talk to strangers, Kendra!” she warns. “Come on, girl. Let’s go.”

I know she’s right and I sigh, letting her lead me away. There’s a buzzing noise behind us as we’re walking, and I can tell the driver is opening the window now.

“Keep going!” Nita whispers, her grip on me getting tighter.

All of a sudden I hear my name called out from behind me. Nita and I both stop. She looks at me. We turn at the same time and step forward a little bit towards the car. I hear ding ding ding as the door opens, and a lady’s leg—rockin’ the fiercest thigh-high boot I think I’ve ever seen in my life—hits the pavement, and then the rest of the woman slides out from behind the wheel.

“Who are you?” Nita asks her, not letting go of my arm.

“My name is Meisha,” the young woman replies to Nita, but she’s not looking at her. She’s looking straight at me.

“She’s my sister,” I add, my voice so low I can barely hear myself saying the words.

PRAISE FOR KENDRA

“This emotionally powerful novel gets right to the essence of what a young adult novel should be, empathetically exploring the experience of a teenage girl. Kendra is dealing with depression, the social dynamics of the black community, family problems, and abuse, yet holding on to a core of optimism that will help her become a strong and successful adult. Kendra is the first member of her family to reconnect with her missing sister, Meisha, who ran away a decade earlier. Meisha’s return puts a strain on the family when the reason behind her departure is finally revealed. Kendra’s talent and strong desire to be a writer bring the attention of her English teacher, but this also leaves her vulnerable to her famous sports announcer uncle, CJ. Desperate for attention, Kendra ignores the warning signs; CJ gains her confidence and offers her a laptop to use in his apartment. The abuse that follows is not described in detail and is not the only defining point for the character. An excellent read for any girl who feels misunderstood, or for readers that remember what it felt like to be confused and hurt, but hopeful as they moved toward adulthood.”

–Publishers Weekly (as part of the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition)

This book is for 15 year olds, parents of 15 year olds, friends of 15 year olds and for those who know a 15 year old. It touches on very real issues that young adults encounter and the conflict that ensues. This book is captivating and meaty yet an easy read. This is not your average, predictable young adult novel but a layered, well executed story that illicit illumination through the heavy darkness felt by depression. Well done!

–S. Jones (Amazon.com Customer Review)

Links: Website | Goodreads | Amazon US | Amazon AU

 

 

 

Review: The Cruelty by Scott Bergstrom

33791316The Cruelty is the first book from a groundbreaking new YA voice: an utterly compelling thriller.

When Gwendolyn Bloom realizes that her father has been kidnapped, she has to take matters into her own hands. She traces him from New York City across the dark underbelly of Europe, taking on a new identity to survive in a world of brutal criminal masterminds. As she slowly leaves behind her schoolgirl self, she realizes that she must learn the terrifying truth about herself. To overcome the cruelty she encounters, she must also embrace it.

Paperback, 448 pages
Published February 9th 2017 by Walker Books. Goodreads.

 Amazon AU | Amazon US | Booktopia | Bookdepository


I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review >>

“A woman who seeks to rise in this world must be crueller than even men.”

Yes! Kill them, kill them all Gwendolyn. Oops sorry, that wasn’t me, it was The Cruelty inside me.

We (the reader) follow 17-year-old Gwendolyn Bloom as she goes through the process of; finding out her dad is missing, finding out what her father did for work wasn’t what she thought it was, finding out who she can and cannot trust, and finding out what she is truly capable of.

We watch Gwendolyn harden and evolve as she unearths and follows clues about the whereabouts of her father and the real reason behind his disappearance. Her journey takes her from New York, to Paris, to Berlin, to Prague, to her own personal Hell and back again.

I really enjoyed this book. I am confident I could give this book to my 78-year-old crime thriller loving grandfather and he’d devourer it. I confident that even in my early teens I would have enjoyed this book. Scott Bergstrom has written a captivating story that I think teens and adults alike will eat up greedily.

I loved that Gwendolyn wasn’t instantly a super spy /ninja assassin extraordinaire. She wasn’t a natural born killer, she made mistakes, had regrets, got herself in and out of trouble, needed help and knew when and when not to use the help offered – but ultimately, I loved that she got the job done like a boss, like a badass bitch.

 “…if no one else is going to act for me, then I have a choice: remain a child and do nothing, or become an adult and do it myself. That, it seems to me, is the difference between the child and the adult, the difference between the girl hunted by wolves and the woman who hunts them.”

By the last page of the story Gwendolyn Bloom is dead and a force to be reckoned with lives on in her hard-won skin.

There is a sequel, The Greed, coming out in 2018 and I am interested to see what becomes of Gwendolyn, her crash course mentor Yael and what goes down with the organisation that now, as I see it, “owns” Gwendolyn and her father.

Four “I really Liked It” Stars.

The above is what I drafted before I went onto Goodreads to see what the masses thought. It is, what after much deliberation I ended up posting. I almost altered it, I started to, because of all that I ended up reading online started to sway me (reviews from people I respect, news articles about the author and tweets about the text).

People are calling the author out for comments made in the book by the protagonist. I remember that while reading the particular part of the book they refer to, that I just thought he was trying to make her come across a bit up herself, you know, as if she thought she was above it all. Then after reading all the banter online I thought, damn maybe I got it wrong, maybe he really believed what he was writing. Maybe I’m stupid.

Calling the author out for the story being too farfetched and a protagonist being to superficial in her transformation. Hello you’re reading the YA book version of a mission impossible action movie, of course it’s farfetched and shallow. Isn’t that the point. Again, maybe I’m stupid.

Calling the author out for some belittling comments he and his people made. To me they just came off as idiots not knowing what they were talking about. I’m sure their intention wasn’t to offend. I’m sure that they are just ignorant of the wonderfully diverse and complex world that is young adult literature. Again, maybe I’m stupid.

Once I realised that other people’s views were swaying me I stopped and went back to the copy that I had drafted immediately after finishing it. My honest review. Yes, it is a happy rah rah review where I only mention the good points, but that’s how I try to write all my reviews. There is enough negativity in the world without me adding to it and I want my reviews to make people read more books, not turn them off them.

Sorry, I had to say something. It really upset me how quickly I started to think my thoughts were wrong. Damn you internet.I really enjoyed reading this book. You blew my after book buzz.

Cover Reveal: The Cat’s Eye Chronicles

For 5 years running, The Cat’s Eye Chronicles has been a bestselling YA Fantasy Adventure series on Amazon, BN.com, iTunes and more. In those 5 years, the series has reached #1 in Kindle Fantasy 10 times and ranked #9 on the Amazon Top 100! It was recently picked up by Tantor, one of the largest audiobook producers in the world, and will be released as Audiobooks during 2017.

In celebration, The Cat’s Eye Chronicles is getting a brand new look, envisioned straight from author T. L. Shreffler! T. L. Shreffler creates all of the concept art and covers for the series. She imagined Epic Fantasy illustrations featuring the main characters in environments from the Cat’s Eye world. Enjoy!

Synopsis: Sora’s Quest (The Cat’s Eye Chronicles Book 1) by T. L. Shreffler

Sora Fallcrest always dreamed of adventure, but as a member of the nobility, she learned the ways of a Lady instead. Now seventeen, she is expected to choose a husband and marry. She plots to run away, but just as she is stepping out the door, she runs into a mysterious man–and is kidnapped.

Abducted from her manor, Sora is plunged into a world of magical races, arcane jewellery and forgotten lore. She finds herself at the mercy of a dangerous assassin, haunted by an even darker past. She yearns for freedom, but he won’t let her go–not when her Cat’s Eye necklace is the only thing that can save his life.

But the necklace itself presents a problem. It is an ancient device from the long-forgotten War of the Races, and its magic has the ability to steal souls. Can Sora learn to wield its power–or will the power wield her?

*Sora’s Quest is a YA Fantasy adventure written in the spirit of Tamora Pierce, Sarah J. Maas and Maria V. Snyder. Enjoy this first book in the series for free!

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iTunes | Google Play

“An Epic Fantasy quest-lover’s dream come true. 5 stars!” ~Book Briefs

Cover Reveal: Fragile Chaos by Amber R. Duel


Fragile Chaos by Amber R. Duell
Genre: YA Fantasy Romance
Release Date: July 11th 2017
Radiant Crown Publishing
Summary:
A GOD OF WAR SEEKING RESTORATION.
AN UNWILLING SACRIFICIAL BRIDE.
BETRAYAL THAT COULD DESTROY THEM BOTH.
“[E]very fiber of my being is woven from the rage of mortals.”
Theodric, the young God of War, has a talent for inciting conflict and bloodshed. After being stripped of his powers by his older brother, King of Gods, he sets out to instigate a mortal war to prove himself worthy of being restored to power.
“I loved Kisk once; it was my home… But that was before. This is now.”
Sixteen-year-old Cassia, like many in the modern era, believes gods and goddesses to be just a myth. Enemy to her country and an orphan of the war, she has no time for fairy tales. That’s until religious zealots from Theo’s sect offer her up as a sacrifice.
Can Cassia and Theo end the mortal war and return balance to the earth and heavens? Or, will their game of fate lead down a path of destruction, betrayal, and romance neither of them saw coming?
 
About the Author
Amber R. Duell was born and raised in a small town in Central New York. While it will always be home, she’s spent the last six years living in Germany and Maine as a military wife where the next step is always an adventure.
When Amber isn’t writing, she’s wrangling her two young sons. She is a lover of history, a fan of snowboarding, and a travel enthusiast. In her downtime, she can be found curling up with a good book and a cat or two.
For more information, visit www.amberrduell.com.
Author Links: