Strange The Dreamer- Laini Taylor – Review

Lazlo Strange is an outsider. He was orphaned by a war and left with a group of monks. He has grown up thinking he is nothing, just someone to be there to help but never to stand out in the crowd. He lives for one thing, the lost city of Weep.

He is the only one who remembers the real name of Weep which was stolen from his mind. He is the only one who believes that the place is real. He makes it his life mission to find this land and prove its existence.

That chance comes and he is taken to his long dreamed of land. Only it is not a magical place, like he thought. It is lost and needs his help. He finds that what he believed is not the whole story. Weep has a dark past, one that is being told from only one side.

On the other side of Weep’s story is Sari and her siblings. Children of gods who are thrown into a life they don’t know how to navigate. Are they the monsters everyone fears they are? If your parents do horrible things are you then horrible as well? Can you make peace with your past to live for a better future?

This book explores an idea that fascinates me which how is evil created. Is evil something that is born into someone or is evil created by circumstance? The godspawn in this story are the product of evil acts by their parents. They are babies when their parents are killed in what they call The Carnage.

They can’t even remember what happened, except for Minya; more on her in a minute. Sparrow, Ruby, Feral and Sari were left orphaned by the people who were wronged by these gods. They did not grow up with the anger and dangerously dark influence of their parents. They got to grow up on their own, teaching themselves the rules of the world.

The people of Weep though only see their parent’s past mistakes. They hold onto the memories of that darkness. They can’t fathom the idea that Sari and her siblings are not their parents. They believe these gods are evil to their core, that it is part of their nature. But we see that not being true. We see the good these characters can do. I loved that idea and the way it was explored through the different characters.

Minay was the most fascinating character to me. First she is stuck in the body of a six year old. We know she has the mind of an adult but her growth stopped after The Carnage. The idea of this angry child walking around stuck with me. I can see her having this rough and dark attitude but then being in this small body, almost too small to contain all that anger and hurt.

She is the only one who remembers The Carnage. She saved who she could and it eats at her soul that she could not save more of the babies. We see that she is full of anger and resentment towards the people of Weep. She blames all of them for one man’s actions.

It provides an interesting question for the reader. Who is in the wrong? Is anyone in the wrong? The Godslayer did what he thought he had to do to protect his people. Minya did the same. Both see the other as monsters and both are right in a sense. I am very interested to see how this plays out in the second book.

While I like Lazlo and Sari’s relationship it took me a little by surprise. They moved really fast in their falling for each other and for me I felt it was a bit too fast.

Sari has been manipulated and isolated her whole life and she finally finds someone outside of the other godspawn who can see her. She is captivated by him and I understand why. What I didn’t understand was why she fell in love with him right away. I wanted to see her explore who he was more, to try to underhand where he came from better. I even wanted her to be a bit cautious and suspicious of him. Instead she falls right into his arms.

While it didn’t annoy me too much and didn’t make me hate their characters, I did feel like it made them a bit cliche. I am always looking for a character to act outside the norm and wanted her to be a bit darker and edgier. I am curious to see how Sari’s character develops in the next book.

There was nothing that made me upset to removed me from the story. I did feel like it was building quite a bit and a lot of set up but the story telling kept me interested. I think the writing itself helped move the slower parts along.

“It was impossible, of course.
But when did that ever stop any dreamer from dreaming?” – pg. 25

“Beautiful and full of monsters?
All the best stories are.” – pg. 115

“And that’s ho 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.” pg. 135

“Here was the radical notion that you might help someone simply because they needed it.” pg. 287


March Wrap Up

This was one of my best reading months yet. It is rare that I can get through more than 3 books in a month. This month I read 8. (Now at least 3 of those were short and I was able to read them in about two days, but still). I have been in a groove with the books I have been reading. They have all been ones that I want to go back to over and over again.

I am currently 3 books ahead of my Goodreads reading goal, which is nice. I like to get ahead so that when I slow down my reading pace I have some room. I know that the next few books I plan on reading will be longer so that room will be good to have.

Haven’t written too much. Some personal things have made it hard for me to focus. I am still part of a writing group so that is forcing me to write something tangible at least every two weeks.

The only blog posts I have written have been reviews this month. I wanted to write more but have been preoccupied and busy. I am hoping to step it up a bit more next month.

Books I read:
The Invisible Library – Genevieve Cogman – This book started off a series that has potential. I wasn’t enthralled by the book but I did enjoy it and I do plan on continuing with the series soon.

In An Absent Dream– Seanan McGuire – The Wayward Children series is one of my all time favorites. The way these books can focus on issues and tell a compelling story is fantastic. This one hit home and I actually wrote a story based off a quote.

The World of Lore – Monstrous Creatures – Aaron Mahnke- This was fascinating with new information that I hadn’t read before.

Gateway to the Gods – K.A. Applegate – This one looked at the idea of these gods being trapped by their stories which was interesting.

The World of Lore – Wicked Mortals – Aaron Mahnke – This one didn’t thrill me as much as the first one. It veered away from the theme a bit too much.

The Past and Other Things that Should Stay Buried – Shaun David Hutchinson – Great characters, might have worked better as a short story instead of a novel.

Brave the Betrayal – K.A. Applegate – Explored the idea of when to hold values and beliefs and when to think about your over all health and safety.

Inside the Illusion – K.A. Applegate – Gave us insight into Senna which helped round out the series.

Blog Posts:
Since all my posts were reviews this month and they are all linked above I am not going to link them again here.

Shows I watched:
Umbrella Academy – I have heard about this show for a minute and finally gave it a shot. It was fantastic! I adored the characters and loved the storyline. It felt new and refreshing. I adored Klaus and need him as a friend in my life. I really hope there is another season of it!

Queer Eye – The third season of Queer Eye came out on Netflix and I am in love. This show is the definition to positivity and happiness. I adore the way they help people be better and not change who they are. I cannot be unhappy after watching this show!

Inside the Illusion – K.A. Applegate- Everworld #9 – Mini-Review

This is the one I have been looking forward to re-reading the most out of this series. In fact I jumped right into it after Brave the Betrayal instead of reading something else in-between.

This is the only time we get this story from Senna’s POV. I love when we get inside the head of the villain or the antagonist. I find it fascinating to learn how they think and how they make the choices they make. This time was no different.

As I have been reading the series again I found myself not caring much about Senna. I can’t remember how I read her when I first read the series as a teenager. She didn’t leave much of an impression on me. I was curious about her but I wasn’t dying to understand her.

In this book we see that the her past has colored all her decisions. She is resentful and angry. She is someone who blames the world for her issues and she is going to make that world pay. Senna is done being pushed around and left to the side. She is going to rule this world if it kills her.

I understand her anger. She was left by her mother, dropped into her father’s family and left on the outside of a seemingly perfect family. She knew she was different but no one was around to explain to her how or why. Naturally she become a loner and very independent.

Where I lose sympathy for her is her decisions in this world. She is only out for herself and she will use anyone to get what she wants. She doesn’t think about the consequences of her actions. She doesn’t care who make it out in the end, as long as she is the one with the power.

Power has corrupted her. I wonder if her mother had been braver and stuck around how Senna would have turned out. I wonder if she would have learned to appreciate her power and use it to help instead of hurt.

I can’t remember exactly what happens from this point on. I don’t know how her story ends but I am almost positive it isn’t well. I am more excited now to continue the series because I want to see where her story goes.

Brave the Betrayal – K.A. Applegate – (Everworld #8) – Mini-Review

(This is a review for the 8th book in this series, there may be spoilers for previous books)

For this book we were back in Jalil’s head. I vaguely remembered this one, mostly because of the upside down world part. I found it interesting how as I read certain aspects came back to me. I was reading and was like “Oh yeah, forgot about that guy.” I found it a bit fun in this one to see how much I remembered and how much came back to me.

Two parts of this book stood out to me. One was this one centered on the African gods. The interesting part was that we never actually meet any of them. We meet a minor, messenger type god. We never meet the major ones. This portion gave me more a feeling of forbidding than anything else.

What this book did make me want to do is research the African culture and the gods that were mentioned here. I wonder if we don’t get to see much of them because the author didn’t know much about them or if the history and information available is scarce.

I also wonder if this part was smaller because people are not as familiar with these gods and thus she concentrated her time in the story on the stories people are more familiar with? Though that is a lost opportunity to learn more and become familiar with a new set of stories.

This all plays into the theme of this book though. In this one we see Jalil and April unwilling to submit to these gods and make a sacrifice. They anger the gods and get themselves in trouble. The issue is they learn that this not the world they grew up in. This is not our world and thus our rules do not apply here.

They both were firm in standing their ground and trying to not be “weak” but in the end they nearly get themselves killed. I liked this exploration of the idea of “giving in” or doing something to keep yourself safe. Does it really reflect bad on them if they had done the sacrifice? They couldn’t live with the idea but does it really change the way they think? Does it change their beliefs in the end?

What it does to Jalil is make him realize he has a darker streak to himself. He is willing to take out others and make them change but not for himself. I can’t quite remember how his story finishes but I am curious how he ends up and where he is at the end of this series.

The Past and Other Things that Should Stay Buried – Shaun David Hutchinson – Review

Dino and July were best friends at one time. That friendship ended and now they are enemies. Now July is dead and Dino is lost. What happens when July sits up in his parent’s funeral home, alive but no quite? Can they fix what was broken? Or will their feud cause a rift in the world itself, stalling death and destroying life as we know it?

The reason I like Shaun David Hutcinson’s books and stories so much is because he knows how to write characters. His characters are vibrant and full of life (no pun intended). He creates people you can find in any place in the world and feel like you can connect with them. Any story that can create characters that I can understand is a story I am going to enjoy.

Dino was a great character. He is one of those people I can relate to really well. He is someone who wants to make sure the people around him are taken care of and are understood. He is willing to put aside what he wants or likes in order to make others happy. He is pretending he is going to join the family business to avoid the conflict with his family.

He spend so much time trying to keep the peace and please others he is losing himself. I understood him because I am much the same way. I define myself by how the people around me are doing. If I can help them and make them happier then I assume I am happier. I forget that sometimes you have to find your own way and find what you want. Sometimes you have to define yourself in your own terms and hope others understand. And if they are people who love you and care about you they will understand.

Now July is Dino’s opposite. July is harsh and brash. She is someone who is going to fight you at a drop of a hat. She is someone who will tell you what she thinks, could care less about what you think and is going to tell you why you are wrong. She is the kind of person that when you first meet her you are going to be turned off by her attitude. You are going to think her rude and selfish.

What Hutchinson does is show that she has a softer side. Right away we see that she cares about her family. Throughout the story you see her reasons for her actions and you realize she is willing to fight for those she cares about. She is just lost. She needs that softer and kinder hand to temper her down. I loved her character because she was complicated. While she was annoying and harsh I understood her. I liked that we see that life is not easy and understanding people is complicated.

Hutchinson has a tendency to put in slight bits of the supernatural or the otherworldly in his books. In we are the ants it was aliens but you never wanted to quite understand the aliens. The larger story dominated and you knew the aliens were there and were important but you didn’t focus on them.

Unfortunately that didn’t work as well in this book in my opinion. I wanted that deeper connection to the story so I didn’t constantly wonder at the reason that July was back from the dead and why no one else was dying. That is touched on but never explained. I found myself wondering about it the whole book unlike we are the ants where I barely registered the aliens purpose.

I think that is largely because this book felt like it was a lot of running around in circles. They went from one place to another and had a heart to heart conversation over and over again. I felt like we could have done all of this really well in a short story or even a novella. I think the larger format made it so we had to rehash ideas too often and drug it out. I think I would have connected more if the story had been shorter.

While the plot didn’t hold my attention it didn’t throw me out of the book. It didn’t make it unreadable and I wasn’t just waiting to get to the end. There was nothing that really stuck out as parts that I disliked. It was a quick read that hit some powerful notes.

I gave the book three stars. While I loved the characters and the development of them I just wish the plot had been a bit more robust or the story had been shorter.

Quotes

“People, Like cats are obsessed with boxes. Cats are content to squeeze their own furry assess into boxes clearly too small for them, whereas humans take sadistic pleasure in trying to shove one another into boxes.” (pg. 14)

“Mirrors are liars. They never show us what’s truly there. They show us what we expect to see.” (pg. 134)

“Men who’ve been taught that emotions are a weakness, and they’re never to show weakness, or they bottle it up and camouflage it with laughter or anger or silence.” (pg. 171)

“Even when she didn’t know who she was, she fought for the right to screw up and figure it out on her own.” (pg.235)

The World of Lore – Wicked Mortals – Aaon Mahnke – Mini-Review

I picked this one up the same time I picked up the Monstrous Creatures edition. I was so enthralled by that one that I decided to read this one right away instead of taking a break for more story-esque books. I thought this one was going to dive into the minds of infamous criminals and serial killers.

I love books that go into the way people’s minds work. I am fascinated by how people think, why they make the decisions that they make, and why they do what they do. I think reading about that is always interesting and that is what I thought this book was going to be about. I thought it was going to give the backstory and the history of these people. I thought there would be commentary on their choices and why they may have done what they did.

While it started out that way diving into H.H. Holmes and others that was only a small part of the book. The first half, if that was about certain people and who they were and where they came from; but then I felt like he ran out of people or sources and fell into just randomly telling stories.

At times the stories felt random barely a page and many times they were about frauds or people fooling other people. There was a whole section on the witch trials again which got boring to me. While it was talked about why people accused people of witch craft and of being sorcerers it didn’t really stay with the theme of wicked mortals. At least not how it was blurbed and how I understood it.

I read the last half quickly, just trying to get through it because it wasn’t holding my attention anymore. I felt like we stopped talking about people making bad choices and just talked about why people were superstitious and fearful of everything. It just didn’t fit with the theme of the rest of the book I thought.

I end up giving the book 3 stars mostly because of the first half. That half I found fascinating , the last half I just had to get through.

Gateway to the Gods – K.A. Applegate – Everworld #7

The group of friends is beginning to realize their lives are now in to parts. There are the Everworld parts, full of adventure, danger and new ways of seeing themselves. Then there is the real world part, school, the mundane and the normal. Which is the one they are meant to live? Where do they belong?

This book was told from April’s POV. We see that she is struggling with a few things in this book. First she can’t understand the way the gods think. They are literally under siege and yet they are barely able to make any changes. They can’t think outside of what they normally think. They can’t adapt.

I thought it was super interesting the way this idea was explored. The idea that the gods are stagnant. They can’t dream or imagine. They are the molds created by the stories that were told about them in the old world. Once they left that world there was no one left to make them into new people or give them new abilities. They are stuck in one form, unable to adapt or change.

I also liked how this book begins to explore the idea that this life is not a nightmare for these four kids. They are beginning to see the advantages to this life. April is conflicted because she likes the independence and the importance she feels in Everworld. She fights, she wins and she is in control.

But that also terrifies her. She is scared of leaving what she knows behind. She is scared to think that Everworld is becoming where she wants to be. For the others there are plenty of reasons why they would choose the other world but for April she doesn’t have a bad home life or OCD to force her to choose this world. She is just seeing that maybe there is more for her here.

I also liked that her conflict is many sided. She is confused not only about her desire to stay in the world but also about what being in a new world is doing to her belief system. She is losing her faith a bit, seeing the world in a new way. She is scared to change her way of thinking and and I am curious how that evolves over the last few books.

This book is the turning point in my memory of the series. I know we are going to move to Egypt and African Gods soon but I don’t remember much beyond that. I am eager to continue from here because my memory is fuzzier. I am interested to see how we get to the end, which I do remember and know I loved.

The World of Lore – Monstrous Creatures – Aaron Mahnke – Mini review

I am going to do just a mini-review for this book since it isn’t a fiction book and thus doesn’t have as much to analyze with plot, setting or characters.

If you have read a number of my other reviews and posts you will know that I love myths and legends. I also love the supernatural (even if it freaks me out a little bit at times). I love the idea of there being creatures things we can’t explain in the world around us.

This book is based off of (or more like a transcript) of the podcast by the same name. Now I have never listened to the podcast, mostly because I tend to get bored and distracted when listening to books or podcasts. Some of the reviews I saw were a bit critical because they said it was what was already in the podcast and nothing added.

I can’t speak to that part but I can speak to the fact that this book did a fantastic job of giving history and stories about some major things in our culture. It delves into vampires, werewolves, zombies, legends and ghosts. I know quite a bit about some legends but this book actually talked about things I didn’t know.

I think my favorite part of this book were all the stories that were told throughout the book. It went into great detail about some of the stories that started a lot of these legends. It went into depth about them, and you got to see how these ideas grew out of these tales.

I loved that it was tied to history. We forget many times that in the past they didn’t have the advantage of the knowledge we have. They didn’t have the ability to explain away things like we did. We see that they strived to get explanations and did it the only way they knew how with the only knowledge they had.

I thought it did a great job at talking about these ideas while also delving into what causes people to think this way. We see that as humans we will go to great lengths to explain difficult things away. I loved the context this provided.

I walked away from this book with a deeper appreciation and much more knowledge about these topics than I had before. I didn’t feel like I was rehashing things I already knew. Too many times these books feel repetitive to me and this one didn’t.

If you enjoy tales of the unknown and supernatural and want to learn more this a great read and I am sure a great podcast.

In An Absent Dream – Seanan McGuire – Review

Katherine Lundy makes a choice early on in her life. She is going to live her way, she is going to do what she wants when she wants. She learns quickly the world is not going to work in her favor. She finds a door to The Goblin Market, a world where you can get whatever you want as long as you are fair with your deals. But what happens when some deals ask for too much?

I love this series. I love the way this feels like a fairytale while also capturing some important issues of today. You get a lesson without realizing it and you get to see that not all stories end with a happily ever after moment.

This story in particular was about a girl who realizes early on that she is okay being alone. I think I like this one the best so far because I identified with Lundy so well. I was also the quiet child, who loved books and followed the rules. I also balked at the idea of having to fall into line of what a true woman is supposed to be.

I felt like we got to understand Lundy so well. Her back and forth through the door showed us that she was struggling with deciding where she belonged. While the other books the characters stayed, finding their new lives and ways of life, Lundy was stuck in this in-between. She wanted both and learned the hard way that life is not always fair.


Not much threw me out of this book. They are shorter so we get hints at bigger events that happen but I am starting to see that it fits in with the fairytale atmosphere of these stories. While it was a bit bothersome not knowing more about the battles she fought I realized it was more important about what happened afterward. Lundy was created from those after moments and choices and not from the moments themselves.

There was nothing that kept my from enjoying the story. It was fast paced. It hit all the points of the character development well. I read it in 2 days and was sad when it ended.

I gave the book four stars. I loved the story and can’t wait to see who we get to understand better next.

“If the children in the yard next door or on the playground couldn’t find her worth loving the same way, she wasn’t going to change for them.” (pg. 17)

“Following the rules didn’t make you a good person, just like breaking the rules didn’t make you a bad one, but it could make you an invisible person, and invisible people got to do as they liked.” (pg. 38) (This hits very close to home).

The Invisible Library – Genevieve Cogman – Review

There is a Library full of Librarians whose job it is to go to alternate worlds and find important books. They are returned to the Library where they are kept safe and all knowledge is contained in one space. Irene is a junior librarian, someone raised her whole life in this world. Kai is her trainee with secrets. Together they are tasked with retrieving a version o the Grimm fairytales. Seems easy until twists, turns and secrets are revealed. Quickly it becomes a quest for survival for not only the book but themselves as well.

I love the concept of this book. I loved the idea that there are alternate worlds all connected through this Library. The idea that there are people whose sole job it is to go into all these worlds and get important books is fantastic. This is 100% the job I would want if it was an option.

I love that this also connect magic into these worlds. At first I wondered if it was just going to be alternate worlds that certain things didn’t happen in. But no, there are worlds like our own and then there are world with magic and then there are worlds that are a combination of both. I like this because it extends the scope of these stories. I wonder how they will play out throughout the series.

Kai was an interesting character. I knew there was something more about him from the very beginning. You get a hint he is hiding something. I liked the fact that he can switch his personalities so much. One minute he is able to play a proper gentleman of the times then he goes into thief mode. As a reader I felt like I was kept guessing. We still don’t know everything about him and I wonder where his story will go.

Alderich is also an interesting character. I know there is so much more to their story. I want to know how they became who they are. ( I am going to use they because it is unclear what Alderich is at this point, whether human or even has a gender). There is mystery here and I am curious about it all.

I had a few minor issue that didn’t necessarily take me out of the book but kind of gave me pause. First I wasn’t thrilled with the Language system being called The Language. It felt like a lazy name to me. Every time I read it was jarring almost like it was left there a placeholder and was never changed. I felt like it could just have used a better title.

While this world as fascinating I found myself very unclear of how it all worked. I don’t quite understand The Language itself. Why it matters? Who can use it? How do you use it? How do you learn it? I felt like it was there as a way to get out of situations.

I also didn’t quite get the whole chaos idea. It was vaguely explained but I needed a bit more to understand it. Why was there this chaos idea? Why are Fae the main issue around it? How does it work? Why is it called chaos? I again felt like it was hinted at but no real detail given.

My biggest issue with this book was Irene. I honestly did not care for her character at all. She was all over the place. She felt like a strong minded character at the beginning but she got weaker and weaker as the story went on. I thought she could take care of herself but then she went alll damsel who needed men to save her.

She got herself into situations that made no sense. She inner monologued a lot but she never came to any real conclusions in time. She doubted herself too often. She was vague about what she was talking about. I just wanted her to get herself together a bit more. I hope she gets better throughout the series.

I ended up giving this book 3 stars. There is a lot of potential here. The world in fascinating. Some of the characters are great. The mystery is there. I am planning on continuing on with the series but just not right away. I just hope it gets better.

%d bloggers like this: