Title: Strange the Dreamer
Author: Laini Taylor
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton (UK edition)
My Rating: 5/5 stars
Format/Source: UK edition from Bookdepository
(Side note: Just putting it out there that I don't know if it was only for the first editions, but my UK hardcover came with a title page signed and illustrated by Laini herself as well as blue-stained pages. You need this in your life. 😍)
Where, oh where, to begin with this striking, unforgettable story Laini has given us?
Like with her Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, Laini's unrelenting and unparalleled talent for seamlessly weaving words together as if they were magic has once again offered us a remarkable, spellbinding world full of its own unique mythology/history and rich characters that you are bound to adore.
Title: A Torch against the Night
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Series: An Ember in the Ashes
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin Books)
My Rating: 2/5 stars
This review may be shorter than my others, but by my rating, you can probably tell how I felt about this one, and I hate to go on and on about books I disliked when everyone else loved them–for that, you can choose to check out my Unpopular Opinion post coming soon. 😉
“So long as you fight the darkness, you stand in the light.”
So I should start this off by saying that those who were enthralled with An Ember in the Ashes will probably enjoy this sequel. I never quite loved Ember as much as everyone else seemed to, but I did really like it and bought my own copy after borrowing it from the library. (As someone with limited shelf space, this says a lot.) I also really liked the idea of a duology. Maybe it’s just because this is now part of a four-book series, but Torch suffered some serious second-book syndrome; it definitely felt like a filler book. I was highly disappointed.
A Torch Against the Night picks up pretty much immediately after its predecessor, with Elias and Laia escaping Blackcliff with the objective of reaching Kauf prison. There they plan to free Darin, Laia’s brother, whose knowledge might be key in leading a successful rebellion against the Empire.
Helene is now Blood Shrike and must obey newly-crowned Marcus, who tasks her with capturing Elias, whereupon his return he will be executed. As if choosing between serving the Empire–which she has planned and trained for all her life–and saving her best friend’s life wasn’t already hard enough, Helene must also consider her family whom Marcus is using as leverage to ensure her loyalty.
Title: Spindle Fire
Author: Lexa Hillyer
Series: Book 1 out of 2 in the Spindle Fire duology
Format/Source: DISCLAIMER–This is a review of an ARC I received through #booksfortrade on Twitter, so there may be differences from its finished copy.
My Rating: No rating (DNF)
Spindle Fire is a brand new, inventive retelling of Sleeping Beauty that also borrows elements from Alice in Wonderland. (Sounds perfect so far, right?)
It focuses on Princess Aurora of the kingdom of Deluce and her half sister, Isabelle. Though extremely close, the two are, of course, polar opposites–both physically and characteristically.
Aurora is petite and girly, where Isbe is tall and awkward. Aurora is devastatingly gorgeous with sun-kissed hair and skin, while Isbe is pale with dark, contrasting features. Aurora is reserved and perfect as a princess should be, and though Isbe is brave and headstrong, she has always been cast-aside and overlooked; unloved and under-appreciated. After all, she is only kept around out of common courtesy, as she is the illegitimate daughter of Deluce’s late king.
Oh, and there’s another thing: both of the girls are missing key senses after being tithed of them at a young age. Aurora was tithed of her sense of touch as well as her ability to speak, while Isbe was tithed of her sight.
All of their differences aside, the two have always been inseparable. The strong bond between them is all they have left in the world, so when Aurora and the rest of her kingdom falls victim to a strange, ominous sleeping curse, of course Isbe is willing to do whatever it takes to save her beloved sister.
Author: S. Jae-Jones
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books (Macmillan)
My Rating: 4.25/5 stars
Format/Source: US hardcover from my local library
Coming from a family as musically-inclined as hers, it’s only natural that eighteen-year-old Elisabeth, more affectionately called Liesl, dreams of becoming a composer. A female musician, however, is definitely not natural. Society would most certainly look down on her.
In addition to that hindrance, Liesl already suffers from a severe lack of confidence in her music. She was never encouraged and educated with the same care as her brother, Josef, so instead she hides her dreams away in a locked box that lives under her bed.
“The wishes we make in the dark have consequences, and the Lord of Mischief will call their reckoning.”
All her life, Liesl has always put herself last. As the oldest child in her family, it’s always been her job to look out for her younger siblings–her beautiful, golden-haired sister and foil, Käthe; and Josef, her brother with whom she shares an intense, almost unearthly, bond.
This bond is actually where Liesl’s troubles begin. By favoring one sibling, she has neglected the other and put her in danger.
“Once there was a little girl who played her music for a little boy in the wood. She was small and dark, he was tall and fair, and the two of them made a fancy pair as they danced together, dancing to the music the little girl heard in her head.”
When Käthe goes missing, Liesl immediately knows just who is responsible for her sister’s disappearance. The boy that she used to play with in the Goblin Grove near her house. The boy who was not actually a boy at all, but Der Erlkönig. The Goblin King of legend. The cruel Lord of Mischief.
“I could not tell what color his eyes were from where I stood, but they were likewise pale, and icy. The Goblin King tilted his head in a duelist’s nod and gave me a small smile, the tips of his teeth sharp and pointed. I clenched my fists. I knew that smile. I recognized it, and understood it as a challenge.
Come rescue her, my dear, the smile said. Come and rescue her…if you can.”
Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends (Macmillian)
Rating: 3.75/5 stars
“Now mine eyes see the heart that once we did search for, and I fear this heart shall be mended, nevermore.”
Welcome to my first entry in my “Unpopular Opinion” series, wherein I discuss, well… my unpopular opinions.
Since the ACOTAR trilogy is coming to an end in early May–well, at least it’s only the end of this arc, thank goodness–I think it’s only fitting that I start with this series.
So, my Unpopular Opinion: I did not like A Court of Thorns and Roses.
Hear me out before you go grabbing those pitchforks though! I loved, loved, loved its sequel A Court of Mist and Fury.
I knew this was something I’d eventually want to discuss, so while reading both I wrote these fun, silly lists that basically summed up my thoughts at the time of what I liked and what I disliked about each book:
Similar to the popular magazine “Who Wore It Better?” columns, “Who Wrote It Better?” is where I compare two books or series that share a similar plot, setting, background, or subject matter.
First up in the “Who Wrote It Better” saga (*click the titles for their Goodreads links*):
By my ratings, I think you can tell which I enjoyed more, but here in this post I will explain why. You can also consider this a recommendation; if you enjoyed one, you may enjoy the other. 😉
Author: Esther Dalseno
Publisher: Three Little Birds Books
My Rating: 5/5 stars
“Seven emotionless princesses.
Three ghostly sirens.
A beautiful, malicious witch haunted by memories.
A handsome, self-mutilating prince.”
And with that quote right there, I knew I had stumbled upon something special. I found Drown in my Goodreads recommendations and although it normally takes a trusted reviewer for me to pick up a book, I decided to take a chance on this one. And, oh boy, am I glad I did. Somehow it only has a hundred or so reviews on Goodreads, and that really needs to change. So here I am.
Drown is a dark re-telling of The Little Mermaid, but not the Disney version. No, you won’t find any talking flounder or composing crabs here.