Review: Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor

Series: Strange the Dreamer #2
Published by: Hachette Australia
ISBN: 144478904X
ISBN 13: 9781444789041
Published: October 2018
Pages: 514
Format reviewed: eVersion (from NetGalley)
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five
Lists: Favourites and Recommended
Related Reviews: Strange the Dreamer #1

We pick up from where the first book left off pretty well seamlessly, except for a brief introduction of the second set of characters that we start to follow in this book – Kora and Nova, twins. Their sections of this book expand infinitely on the world as it was before Lazlo and Sarai etc all exist – how Skathis was when he was younger, what other powers there are in existence, and how there is so much more to everything than we originally thought.

I want to keep this review free from spoilers, so it’ll be short.

For those who’ve read the first book we know we’re in a land of humans and godspawn (blue people who have powers, and whose parents turned the humans below them into slaves and concubines) who are all struggling to survive. Among the humans we have Lazlo who was an orphan and made his way into the Great Library of Zosma, and then to live among the survivors who want to get rid of the last vestiges of the godspawn (not knowing that a few children managed to survive in the towering palace that looms over them, cutting off all sunlight.)

Lazlo was once told that there are great people in the world who will achieve great things. And that there are also people who will help them achieve their greatness. He thought he’d be one of them – there to fetch and carry, and not say a word when others benefit from his grand work as it should be enough to know inside, you were a part of something great.

However, like any great story, it turns out that there was always something more to Lazlo than even he knew about himself.

Throughout this book we get to explore that, the boundaries and abilities of powers by those who hold them, but are still always learning more about themselves too – which is excellent. So often in books you see people with powers and that’s it. In this we get to see them try new things and hope, as, after all, none of them really had anyone left to show them how.

We see a lot of anguish in these characters, and how they need to either come to terms with the poor hands they’ve been dealt or lose themselves to their anger and vengeance.

There are a massive amount of characters in this series and yet they’re all developed, and pulsing with their own lives and manners, and all could easily pull off their own series of their own.

We were told this was to be a duology, and yes, the story could end here. There’s an image at the start and end of the book in what one can only assume are in two of the many languages we hear of in these books – and though I’ve translated them (and happy to share somewhere I won’t spoil anyone who wants to figure them out for themselves), it’s still not enough. I want there to be so much more! Surely Sarai and Lazlo will find the certain someone with that certain gift, and then their story together (although already well on its way) can really take off.

(And I need to see what happens next to Thyon and Ruza! Come on!)

(And what happens to Lazlo. Cough.)

(And who else they find.)

(And what Minya and Kiska eventually talk about.)

(And just, everything!)

Review: Exit Strategy by Martha Wells

Series: The Murderbot Diaries #4
Published by: Tor
ISBN: 1250191858
ISBN 13: 9781250191854
Published: October 2018
Pages: 160
Format reviewed: eBook from publisher
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five
Lists: Favourites and Recommended
Related Reviews: All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries #1) | Artificial Condition (The Murderbot Diaries #2) | Rogue Protocol (The Murderbot Diaries #3)

Spoilers will appear beyond this point – novellas don’t really leave room for much to review other than fangirl gushing which I totally have in gusto for this series, however, is probably better for twitter and reaction updates rather than a posted review.

Continue reading

Review: The Dragon with a Dragon Heart by Stephanie Burgis

Series: Tales from the Chocolate Heart #2
Published by: Bloomsbury Publishing
ISBN: 1681196972
ISBN 13: 9781681196978
Published: August 2018
Pages: 240
Format reviewed: eVersion from NetGalley
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Four out of Five
Related Review: The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart (Tales from the Chocolate Heart #1)

We return to the Chocolate Heart, the best chocolate shop in the kingdom of Drachenburg, however where the first book followed our favourite young dragon, Aventurine, this time we follow her friend, Silke. Silke, who also works for the chocolate shop (when she’s not helping her older brother at the small stall they have) who has a silver tongue and could either be an excellent media mogul or perhaps a conwoman… however, she is soon hired by the royal family instead.

When Silke first came to Drachenburg it was as an orphan. She and her brother had been travelling with their parents and a caravan of others when they had to cross a forest that was known for mysterious and terrible things… but they were desperately fleeing their home, so they enter anyway. And Silke never saw her parents again, and now lives on the riverbank in a tent that gets burned down every so often (the people of Drachenburg really do seem awful). So when Silke finds a better paying job in the Chocolate Heart (as we saw in the first book) she’s overjoyed (especially as hot chocolate is amazing generally, but even moreso when made by Marina and Aventurine) but even she can’t say no when the royal family offer her a challenge that, if she were to succeed, would result in her having a home within the castle walls forever.

The only problem is… it’s to do something quite terrifying. And means Silke will have to confront her past and her parents disappearance… something she hasn’t spoken about with anyone. Not even Aventurine.

In this book we get to see more of the royal family – the highly intelligent and ruthless older princess Katrin, as well as her younger sister who wants to be valued far more than she currently is, Sofia. We get to see other races in this world other than dragons, and we basically get nothing but excellent female characters getting things done, no matter what their age is.

This is a fun, middle-grade romp of an adventure. It’s sweet and sassy, and it reaaaally makes you want a super thick hot chocolate while you read.

Review: The Black God’s Drums by P. Djèlí Clark

Published by: Macmillan – Tor/Forge
ISBN: 1250294711
ISBN 13: 9781250294715
Published: August 2018
Pages: 110
Format reviewed: eVersion from NetGalley
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five
Lists: Favourites and Recommended

The Black God’s Drums is a novella by P. Djèlí Clark, and features an alternative history America where the events of the American Civil War have been slightly changed and the States are not as United as they once were. Slavery is still present, but there are key differences, and each state operates to its own rules. Separate to that, there is now steampunk technology and it’s on an airship that our main character, Creeper, wants to escape on and leave New Orleans far, far behind.

Born during a violent storm, Creeper has divine powers curtesy of Oya, the African orisha of the wind and storms, who lives inside her and pulls her this way and that to her own purposes. Such as sending her warning signs or shoving attackers away by force, and in return Creeper is able to be stealthy and move silently, which enables her pickpocket lifestyle as well as being able to hear dangerous things, and eventually, come into close contact with a very dangerous weapon.

Way back when, I tried to be a writer. And I was obsessed with sky pirates (and by extension, their vehicles) – so this was a special kind of high for me. The airship captain is especially a favourite, and I would love a series of her life and loves (please and thank you), as well as a heck of a lot more of this world and the rest of its characters – Creeper goes without saying, and I second my friend Alex’s review mention of the nuns.

This is a powerful and elegantly written novella at only just 100 pages. You have a full world and history in your head, beautifully orchestrated characters, and while this is a satisfying read plot-wise it’s simply too good to leave it there – you’ll need and want more.

Let’s hope we get it.

Review: After the Wedding by Courtney Milan

Series: The Worth Saga #2
Published by: self published
ISBN: 1717220576
ISBN 13: 9781717220578
Published: April 2018
Pages: 364
Format reviewed: eVersion from NetGalley
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Four out of Five

After the Wedding by Courtney Milan is the second in the Worth Saga, following Once Upon a Marquess.

In the first book we met Judith and Christian, and while we meet two of Judith’s four siblings, we only hear about Camilla, who took a spur of the moment opportunity when it presented itself and has then regretted it ever since.

When their father was found guilty for treason Judith became head of the household, and struggled to keep food on the table for her younger brother and sisters. An uncle offered to take Judith and Camilla in, however refused their younger sister, Theresa. Judith then refused, not wanting to leave anyone behind. Camilla, however, scared of the unknown, took the offer thinking it would mean a roof over her head in the very least.

The uncle however passes her on to someone who passes her on, and so forth, until she is basically a servant. And then she gets a little too close to a man who promises her everything yet leaves her ruined… and she is forced to move on again, however now at half pay. She finds herself servant to a rector who is at best a cad and at worst a bounder (sorry, I saw the chance to reference Austentatious and I had to take it) who is sneaking money meant for honourable things into his own pocket.

It is here that Camilla runs into Adrian, a man posing as a valet who is actually there on a mission from his uncle, to try to prove the rector as a disreputable man. However instead, the rector forces Camilla and Adrian into a compromised situation, which then gives him grounds to force them into an actual shotgun wedding, and toss them both out onto the street.

From there we have two people who are growing more and more attracted to each other, who are married so could legally act on these urges, however also want an annulment for the simple fact that it was a shotgun wedding and therefore they had no choice in the matter.

There are some other plot things here and there, but parts weren’t as clear as they could have been and the second quarter of the book dragged so much that it took me months to get through. Then it all picked up again and I finished the last half within an hour, and I can’t wait for the next one.