Monday, December 31, 2018

Review: Charmcaster by Sebastien de Castell

Charmcaster (Spellslinger #3)
Charmcaster by Sebstien de Castell
Orbit, 2018
Paperback. 432 pages.

About Charmcaster:

"A failed mage learns that just because he's not the chosen one it doesn't mean he can't be a hero in the third book of an exciting adventure fantasy series from Sebastien de Castell. 

Kellen's life as an outlaw spellslinger is about to get a lot worse. In Gitabria, a miraculous discovery draws spies from all over the continent willing to kill to get their hands on it. 

Swept up in the race for power, Kellen is forced to join the pursuit. But the invention holds a dark secret-one that could spark a war."

Charmcaster is the third book in Sebastien de Castell's planned six book Spellslinger series, and it's this installment that finally felt fully settled and was able to turn this series in new direction. Now that the major events of the first two books have been introduced fully and explored and/or solved, Castell has more room and ability to expand upon the characters themselves and introduce new plot lines.

One thing that I can say for sure about this book is that you're never going to get bored. These pages are action-packed as Kellen and rest of the gang continue to get into some sort of trouble almost constantly. Some of the action and constant obstacles actually got a little old for me at times, but overall it made for a highly entertaining time. In regards to the constant action, I will say that there seemed to be too many plot ideas trying to take center stage at one time that was. There are some diversion from the main plot that was started in the second book, but there are some offshoots that are what made this book feel overly convoluted at times.

Despite the occasionally wandering plot, this was definitely a stronger book than Shadowblack and I'm glad to see these characters continue to explore more and learn new things about both themselves and the world they inhabit. As mentioned before, it seems as though the world and characters have been introduced enough in the exposition of the first two books that Castell can now further enhance the world and add in new places, history, conflict, and magic, all of which he did wonderfully. One thing that I've really enjoyed about this series is how many different and new places, ideas, and magic uses Castell has created. It's a very imaginative world that makes it easy to sink into and enjoy without too much effort.

The characters, as always, are really well-developed and have such distinct, entertaining personalities that I really feel as though I know them. I've also noticed the the secondary characters introduced in subsequent books have only gotten stronger and more multi-dimensional than before, which is something I really appreciate. Kellen continues to be a character that always impresses me with his growth and learned maturity. As readers, we really get to follow Kellen as he learns about the nature of the world he lives in and how to handle his strengths and shortcomings. This kid has had a lot thrown at him in a short amount of time, which makes it doubly impressive how he's dealing with everything. Reichis and Ferius, of course, continue to be shining characters that I always enjoy seeing, and we do start to get to see even more sides of Ferius in this book.

Overall, I've given Charmcaster 3.75 stars! I do plan to continue with the series because it is a genuinely fun, entertaining series. I already have a copy of Soulbinder, book four, staring at me from my shelves, so I plan to dive into it soon!

*I received a copy of Charmcaster courtesy of Orbit Books in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating of the novel.*

Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository

Friday, December 28, 2018

Anticipated January 2019 Releases!

2019 is already upon us and as crazy as that is, and whether we're prepared or not, the best part is that there are so many awesome books being published! As always, I've gathered up some of the many books coming out next month that I'm looking forward to or that I know a lot of you are looking forward to. I'm usually a bit weird and anxious about starting a new year (I can't fully explain it), but it does that at least book-wise it's shaping up to be a great start to a new year!

The Kingdom of CopperGolden State by [Winters, Ben]

The Hod King by Josiah Bancroft || January 22nd -- Amazon Book Depository

The Gutter Prayer by Gareth Hanrahan || January 17th -- Amazon Book Depository

The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden || January 9th -- Amazon Book Depository

The Wolf in the Whale by Jordanna Max Brodsky || January 29th -- Amazon Book Depository

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer || January 29th -- Amazon Book Depository

Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer || January 15th -- Amazon Book Depository

The Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty || January 8th -- Amazon Book Depository

In an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire || January 8th -- Amazon Book Depository

The Wicked King by Holly Black || January 8th -- Amazon Book Depository

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi || January 15th -- Amazon | Book Depository

The Severed Moon by Leigh Bardugo || January 29th -- Amazon Book Depository

Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee || January 15th -- Amazon Book Depository

The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh || January 8th -- Amazon Book Depository

White Stag by Kara Barbieri || January 8th -- Amazon Book Depository

The Similars by Rebecca Hanover || January 1st -- Amazon Book Depository

The Girl King by Mimi Yu || January 8th -- Amazon Book Depository

The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye || January 8th -- Amazon Book Depository

Golden State by Ben H. Winters || January 22nd -- Amazon Book Depository

The Cerulean by Amy Ewing || January 29th -- Amazon Book Depository

At the Wolf's Table by Roselle Postroino || January 29th -- Amazon Book Depository

The Whispers by Greg Howard || January 15th -- Amazon Book Depository

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo || January 29th -- Amazon Book Depository

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley || January 24th -- Amazon Book Depository

No Exit by Taylor Adams || January 15th -- Amazon Book Depository

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Review: The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

*The Gilded Wolves will be published Tuesday, January 15th, 2019!*

The Gilded Wolves (The Gilded Wolves, #1)
The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi
Wednesday Books, 2019
Hardcover. 464 pages.

About The Gilded Wolves:

"Set in a darkly glamorous world, The Gilded Wolves is full of mystery, decadence, and dangerous but thrilling adventure. 

Paris, 1889: The world is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. In this city, no one keeps tabs on secrets better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier, Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. But when the all-powerful society, the Order of Babel, seeks him out for help, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance. 

To find the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin will need help from a band of experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian who can't yet go home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in all but blood, who might care too much. 

Together, they'll have to use their wits and knowledge to hunt the artifact through the dark and glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the world, but only if they can stay alive."

The Gilded Wolves is one of those books that I've been anticipating for so long now and have been seeing so many wonderful things about that my expectations were pretty high. I always try not to let the hype influence my expectations too much, but I still had high hopes and honestly, they weren't quite met with this one. 

This book follows a diverse group of characters who regularly embark upon a variety of 'acquisitions' (aka heists), in which the leader's main goal at the end of everything is the reinstatement of his inheritance. The Gilded Wolves is a lot of a fun and makes for a highly entertaining story, but it's also one that felt oddly paced and a little difficult to get through at times. I found the beginning of the book in particular to be exceptionally slow and difficult to get into. It wasn't until at least a hundred or so pages in that I really started to be able to enjoy the story more and follow along with the world. The magic and world felt rather confusing to me at many times, almost as if we'd been dropped into a sequel or part of an already-established world. There was also a lot of info-dumping in the beginning (I assume to help with the more confusing bits), but it was a beast to plow through and frankly just made it harder to get into the story. There was way too many things going on, and I feel like if it had been narrowed down to be slightly more focused in scope it might have been easier to follow.

One of the strongest points of this book, however, is the cast of characters. Chokshi truly did a remarkable job of including well-developed, vastly diverse characters, from race to sexuality to religion and more--and all with fantastic personalities and great humor. There are racist elements discussed in productive manners, sexist elements (this is 1889 Paris, after all), and many people consider one of the characters to be on the autism spectrum (I don't feel knowledgeable enough to fully comment on that, but I feel it is important to note that that seems to be a common thought). All of this really made for interesting and authentic experiences. My only struggle with the characters was that it seemed like some (not all!) of the witty dialogue and banter was a little forced, as if Chokshi wanted her group of characters to be so amusing that she ended up trying too hard and was left with some unnatural dialogue and interactions. 

Our main character group consists of Severin, Laila, Zofia, Enrique, and Tristan. Severin is basically the leader of the group and is a very determined, passionate person. He likes to act as though he's tough and hard-hearted, but he's also pretty vulnerable as well; he also makes a lot of extremely frustrating decisions that annoyed me quite a bit throughout the book. Laila is a lovely person who is exceptionally considerate of others and always feeding them, and I particularly loved the close attention she paid to Zofia's preferences and how she always did her best to always accommodate them. A+ as a good friend and person! Zofia is a character I really liked. I think her personality was expertly done and I found it interesting to see her experiences with all of the different characters, especially in regards to her intelligence and struggle to understand some types of humor. Enrique is the wittiest of the bunch and is the type that is always around to make jokes and make things more light-hearted--or complain about things. Lastly is Tristan, the more serious brooding one of the bunch at times, but who also has a soft spot for animals, particularly large spiders, and who can easily turn up his charm and big eyes to win people over.

If you like solving different puzzles and riddles (especially ones including math), then you are going to love this book. If you don't, well, there might be a lot of places you'll want to skim. I unfortunately happen to be in the latter half. I love a good puzzle, but I don't love reading about people solving them and doing math so much, so those extensive sections tended to be a bit much for me. 

Before I end this review, I want to touch on one very minor thing that bothered me (there will be no spoilers, but this is very mildly in general spoiler territory, so if you want to know absolutely nothing about this book then skip over this one paragraph--but I promise I won't give away anything major): In the beginning of the book's setup we are told that Severin and his gang do so many acquisitions all the time and are experts at it by now. That's all fine and dandy, but in The Gilded Wolves just about every single plan they undertake goes awry in some way or another. I like seeing that people are human and make mistakes, but honestly, if you're going to say a group is excellent at what they do, you're going to have to prove that to me at least once. From what I can tell, they mess up a lot. This is a minor quibble on my end, but it did frustrate me.

Overall, I'm really unsure what to rate this book. Part of me thinks of this book with fondness for how entertaining and imaginative it was, but part of me is also bored and frustrated with a lot of it as well. For now, I'm giving it 3.75 stars. The characters and diversity inclusions were awesome, the sheer imagination in this world and magic system was fascinating, but the execution was all a little unimpressive. I do still highly recommend this to you if it sounds interesting because so many people seem to be adoring it and I wouldn't want you to miss out on that potential!

Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository

Monday, December 24, 2018

Double Mini-Reviews: Rule by Ellen Goodlett & Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd

Rule (Rule, #1)Rule by Ellen Goodlett
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Hardcover. 376 pages.

About Rule:
"Three girls with three deadly secrets. Only one can wear the crown. 

The king is dying, his heir has just been murdered, and rebellion brews in the east. But the kingdom of Kolonya and the outer Reaches has one last option before it descends into leaderless chaos. 

Or rather, three unexpected options. 

Zofi has spent her entire life trekking through the outer Reaches with her band of Travelers. She would do anything to protect the band, her family. But no one can ever find out how far she's already gone. 

Akeylah was raised in the Eastern Reach, surrounded by whispers of rebellion and abused by her father. Desperate to escape, she makes a decision that threatens the whole kingdom. 

Ren grew up in Kolonya, serving as a lady's maid and scheming her way out of the servants' chambers. But one such plot could get her hung for treason if anyone ever discovers what she's done. 

When the king summons the girls, they arrive expecting arrest or even execution. Instead they learn the truth: they are his illegitimate daughters, and one must become his new heir. But someone in Kolonya knows their secrets, and that someone will stop at nothing to keep the sisters from their destiny... to rule. 

Magic, mystery, and blackmail abound in this sensational and striking fantasy debut."

LIKES: Ren, Zofi, and Akeylah were all wonderfully strong in their own unique way that stood out so much. Each girl was very different from the others, but they come together so well and learn to use their weakness as strengths, as well allowing their minds to be opened and consider new ideas. I think she did that beautifully. There was unnecessary hatred among them at first, but Goodlett did a wonderful job of having the girls mature and realize that hating each other was not going to solve anything. I also loved the handling of systemic racism and prejudice, discrimination, and other social issues, all of which I think were thoughtfully considered and also rather thought-provoking. I enjoyed the overall mystery and getting to know each of the girls through both their positive and negative decisions in life, as it really helped them become well-rounded figures.

DISLIKES: Honestly, I'm not sure why this has so many negative reviews. One reason could be because the magic system requires an individual to essentially cut into their arm/leg/etc., which could be found triggering for self-harm. That's totally valid and if that is something that would bother you, then do keep that in mind before reading this book. That being said, I thought it worked well as a magic system because by cutting into oneself for blood, it shows an immediate consequence of using your power and how it is limited. I would have liked more detailed world-building, as it did feel fairly limited at times and left me wondering. My main dislike is the cliffhanger ending. Look, I don't mind a bit of a cliffhanger--it keeps us excited!--but when it's literally akin to someone hanging off a cliff, it's almost cheap and feels like I'm being taken advantage of as a reader. Maybe I overreact, but it still bothers me.

Overall, I've decided to give Rule four stars!

*I received an ARC of Rule courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating of the novel.*

Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository

Grim Lovelies (Grim Lovelies, #1)
Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd 
HMH Books for Young Readers
Hardcover. 376 pages.

About Grim Lovelies:
"Seventeen-year-old Anouk envies the human world, where people known as Pretties lavish themselves in fast cars, high fashion, and have the freedom to fall in love. But Anouk can never have those things, because she is not really human. Enchanted from animal to human girl and forbidden to venture beyond her familiar Parisian prison, Anouk is a Beastie: destined for a life surrounded by dust bunnies and cinders serving Mada Vittora, the evil witch who spelled her into existence. That is, until one day she finds her mistress murdered in a pool of blood—and Anouk is accused of the crime. 

Now, the world she always dreamed of is rife with danger. Pursued through Paris by the underground magical society known as the Haute, Anouk and her fellow Beasties only have three days to find the real killer before the spell keeping them human fades away. If they fail, they will lose the only lives they’ve ever known…but if they succeed, they could be more powerful than anyone ever bargained for. 

From New York Times bestselling author Megan Shepherd, Grim Lovelies is an epic and glittering YA fantasy. Prepare to be spellbound by the world of Grim Lovelies, where secrets have been long buried, friends can become enemies, and everything—especially humanity—comes at a price."

LIKES: I loved Shepherd's The Madman's Daughter, so I was pretty excited to check this book out and see what else she could do.  I thought that the general concept of the beasties, the witches, and how the magic system worked was pretty interesting. There is a time limit placed on the events of this book, which lent to a quick pace that kept the story moving at all times. This book also went darker than I expected at times, though the darker aspects were more told as a past event rather than something currently happening, though there is still some violence in this book. I was also rather shocked and impressed by the last quarter or so of the book, including the ending--it definitely wasn't how I expected Shepherd to end this tale. I also love the Goblin characters and their carefree, tricky nature, and I can't wait to see more of them in the sequel.

DISLIKES: As much as I enjoyed the beasties and the magic system, I would have liked a little more explanation of various histories related to it. Everything is fully explained, but it still felt rushed and I had to digest it all very quickly. In addition, the entire story felt a bit rushed. I'm not sure we spent quite enough time at the original house and with the characters before the big life-changing event occurs, and I think it would have helped with the development of the characters. I feel like we got to know the characters decently well, but they needed more depth to their personalities. The romance was also something I could have done without.

Overall, I ended up realizing I had a fun time reading this book and the plot was an interesting one, so I've given Grim Lovelies four stars! I would say a younger YA reader might be more drawn to this one, though it was a certainly an entertaining read no matter what one's age.

Buy the book:  Amazon | Book Depository

And as I won't be posting tomorrow for the holiday, I just want to wish everyone a very happy holiday! I  hope you all have a wonderful time with whatever your plans are! 

Friday, December 21, 2018

Book-to-Film Adaptations to Look Out For In 2019

A new year means new movies and TV shows, many of which are often adapted from books we love (and some we don't)! We all know that for the most part the book is almost always better than the movie (with a few exceptions--The Princess Bride is an example of something that's perfect on both page and screen, of course), so it's always interesting to see how things are interpreted.

I personally always have mixed feelings about book to movie/TV adaptations. Everyone has different interpretations of a book, so the adaptation is most likely going to be a bit different from whatever we might have imagined. There are also some aspects of books that just don't translate well from page to screen, so changes have to be made. With that said, there are definitely some adaptations that make unnecessary changes and create a rather horrible outcome, so it's important to remember: no matter what, you always have the original!

 I decided to collect a list of a few different adaptations that have caught my eye recently because I've actually read the books, so I thought it would be fun to make a post to explore a small selection of what's coming next year. I also went ahead and posted the small movie description that can be found on the adaptation's IMDB page to give an idea what the film will focus on, since it sometimes differs from the book.

The Turn of the ScrewThe Turning (The Turn of the Screw) by Henry James
Release Date: March 28th, 2018
Starring: Mackenzie Davis, Finn Wolfhard, Barbara Marten
Director: Floria Sigismondi
Format: Movie
IMDB Description: "A young governess is hired by a man who has become responsible for his young nephew and niece after the deaths of their parents. A modern take on Henry James' novella 'The Turn of the Screw'."

I was tentatively excited for this one until I saw that it was a "modern take" on Henry James' novella. A lot of people would probably prefer that, but modern settings just aren't my favorite thing, especially when it's a book set in another time period--and are governesses still a thing these days? I'd say not so much in the US at least, but I suppose I don't really know. That being said, it will still be interesting to see how this turns out! 

The Call of the WildThe Call of the Wild by Jack London
Release Date: December 25th, 2019
Starring: Karen Gillan, Dan Stevens, Harrison Ford
Director: Chris Sanders
Format: Movie (Animated)
IMDB Description: "A sled dog struggles for survival in the Alaskan wild." (wow, descriptive!)

I just recently saw this one mentioned and I'm pretty excited for it! It appears that this will be an animated adaption, which sounds like it could be pretty neat and might lend to some more creative aspects. I'm also a huge Harrison Ford fan (ever since I saw those Indiana Jones movies back in the day he's been a favorite, what can I say), so I'm curious to see what his role is.

Catch-22Catch-22 by James Heller
Release Date: 2019
Starring: Christopher Abbott, Kyle Chandler, George Clooney, Hugh Laurie
Director: ?
Format: Limited TV series
IMDB Description: "[None posted at time of making this]"

I read this so long ago and honestly didn't care for it, but it should be interesting to see it afapted. It hasn't been adapted since the 1970s, I believe, which I guess is an acceptable length of time for a remake (but honestly the amount of remakes these days is insane). I'm also a bit of a Clooney fan, so that intrigues me.

Little WomenLittle Women by Louisa May Alcott
Release Date: December 25th, 2019
Starring: Saoirse Ronana, Florence Pugh, Timothee Chalamet, Emma Watson, Meryl Streep, Laura Dern
Director: Greta Gerwig
Format: Movie
IMDB Description: "Four sisters come of age in America in the aftermath of the Civil War."

The first thing I thought when I saw this one was, "another one!?" There were two adaptions just this year alone (a TV mini series and a movie)! Neither of the two from this year were that great, so maybe this one will be better. I'm not sure how many more iterations of Little Women I can stand, but I do like Emma Watson, Saoirse Ronan, and Timothee Chalamet (and the other stars are big names) so maybe this will be worth the watch.

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, WitchGood Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
Release Date: 2019
Starring: Ilan Galkoff, Michael Sheen, Sam Taylor Buck, David Tennant
Director: Douglas Mackinnon
Format: TV Series
IMDB Description: "A tale of the bungling of Armageddon features an angel, a demon, an 11-year-old Antichrist, and a doom-saying witch."

I probably have the highest hopes about this one because Neil Gaiman worked a lot with the creators on it, so if it's something he signs off on, then I think it's going to be good. Plus, all the bits that have been teased already look fantastic. Really can't wait for this one!

The GoldfinchThe Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Release Date: October 2019
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Sarah Paulson, Ansel Elgort, Finn Wolfhard
Director: October 11th, 2019
Format: Movie
IMDB Description: "A boy in New York is taken in by a wealthy Upper East Side family after his mother is killed in a bombing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art."

I won't lie, I'm judging this one hard. Everyone went crazy when they announced Ansel Elgort as Theodore because he was "perfect' for the role, and all I have to say is what?? He's absolutely not. I don't like it, but hey, I'll wait to give me full judgment until I've seen the movie. Maybe Elgort will surprise me (but no pressure). Nicole Kidman and Sarah Paulson, though? That's a strong cast.

Native SonNative Son by Richard Wright
Release Date: January 24th, 2019
Starring: Nick Robinson, Margaret Qualley, Sanaa Lathan
Director: Rashid Johnson
Format: Movie
IMDB Description: "A young African-American man comes of age in the South Side of Chicago during the 1930s."

It's been a long time since I've read Native Son, but I'm excited to see how this turns out. I only remember vague bits of the plot and characters so I don't have any strong feelings on the casting, and I really haven't heard this adaptation mentioned anywhere yet. It looks like a pretty coming-up release, though!

Artemis Fowl (Artemis Fowl, #1)Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
Release Date: August 9th, 2019
Starring: Judi Dench, Hong Chau, Mirdanda Raison, Josh Gad
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Format: Movie
IMDB Description: "Artemis Fowl II, a young Irish criminal mastermind, kidnaps the fairy LEPrecon officer Holly Short for ransom to fund the search for his missing father in order to restore the family fortune."

Full disclosure: I've never read the Artemis Fowl books. I mainly have secondhand excitement because my sister loved these books when we were kids and it makes me excited that they are adapting these and to see my sister excited. I don't love the new book covers though, and neither does she. I'm sure this will be a fun adaptation, so I look forward to it!

Dragon Rider PosterDragon Rider by Cornelia Funke
Release Date: 2019
Starring: Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Felicity Jones, Freddie Highmore, Patrick Stewart
Director: Tomer Eshed
Format: Movie (Animation)
IMDB Description: "A young silver dragon teams up with a mountain spirit and an orphaned boy on a journey through the Himalayas in search for the Rim of Heaven."

I just think that this is going to be so fun! I have a soft spot for animated films like these, partially because I'm a little animation geek and partially because they help me relax and just enjoy a movie. Plus, dragons!

Have you read any of these books? Are you looking forward to any of these adaptations or any I didn't mention? Let me know!

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Review: Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor

Muse of Nightmares (Strange the Dreamer, #2)
Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2018
Hardcover. 514 pages.

About Muse of Nightmares:

"'Sarai has lived and breathed nightmares since she was six years old. 

She believed she knew every horror and was beyond surprise. 

She was wrong. 

In the wake of tragedy, neither Lazlo nor Sarai are who they were before. One a god, the other a ghost, they struggle to grasp the new boundaries of their selves as dark-minded Minya holds them hostage, intent on vengeance against Weep. 

Lazlo faces an unthinkable choice—save the woman he loves, or everyone else?—while Sarai feels more helpless than ever. But is she? Sometimes, only the direst need can teach us our own depths, and Sarai, the Muse of Nightmares, has not yet discovered what she's capable of. 

As humans and godspawn reel in the aftermath of the citadel's near fall, a new foe shatters their fragile hopes, and the mysteries of the Mesarthim are resurrected: Where did the gods come from, and why? What was done with thousands of children born in the citadel nursery? And most important of all, as forgotten doors are opened and new worlds revealed: Must heroes always slay monsters, or is it possible to save them instead?"

I absolutely loved Strange the Dreamer, so Muse of Nightmares was easily one of my most anticipated 2018 releases. Of course, I also worried about how this could possibly live up to the beauty of Strange the Dreamer.... and I now feel so ashamed for ever doubting Laini Taylor because this was truly phenomenal. This book is also one of the reasons that I don't do my 'best of' list until the last week of December, because this is definitely going to be on it. 

Also--just as a head's up before going in, I don't plan on going into too much plot detail, but this is a sequel so if you haven't read Strange the Dreamer there may be some soft spoilers within--beware!

Muse of Nightmares picks up pretty much right after the cliffhanger that was the ending of Strange the Dreamer and we are immediately thrown back into everything, which I appreciated because I was desperate to know how things would work out. I think my favorite things about this book is Taylor's balance of action and non-action scenes. This isn't really what I would consider a fast-paced, high-action story, yet I couldn't turn those pages fast enough. There are some more fast-paced scenes, but there's also much that focuses on other components and really adds a nice balance to the pacing. If you didn't like the slower pace as much in Strange the Dreamer, then you will probably like this one a bit more because there is not quite as much meandering as the first book had, but it still has Taylor's vivid writing that breathes life into each page.

Although we spend plenty of time in Lazlo's head, this book does branch out a bit more and we seem to spend more time in Sara's head (which is why I assume this one is titled Muse of Nightmares), as well as some in Minya's and Thyon's, and a few others. Lazlo is still perfectly adorable and innocent, as well as passionate about what he knows he wants, and Sarai is still determined and as selfless as Lazlo. These two are beautiful together and I'm not sure the last time I rooted for two people are much as I did for these two.

As much as I love the worldbuilding of this duology, the rest of the characters are easily one of my other favorite components. They are all such an eclectic, mixed variety of people that bring so much life and enjoyment to the story. Some of our favorite supporting cast return such as Eril-Fane, Tizerkane, Ruza, Thyon, Feral, Ruby, Sparrow, Calixte, and so many more. Thyon and Minya were two that had rather prominent roles in this installment, and I loved how Taylor portrayed their personalities and sentiments. Both undergo momentous changes throughout this book, some of which were initiated in the first book, and Taylor did this in an understandable and steady pace. She didn't make either character undergo unnecessary changes or have abnormally quick changes of heart, but she instead made it a gradual process that makes sense. I particularly liked that we got know more about Minya's backstory and why she is the way she is now, as it shed so much like on the general backdrop of the plot as well.

In addition to our beloved returning characters, we also meet two new characters, Kova and Nova. I don't really want to tell you how we know these characters or why they are important, but they end up being pivotal to the events of Muse of Nightmares and I found they added a really interesting dynamic and storyline. 

I really can't go into detail about the major plot twist (?) direction this story took, but my god was I not expecting this book to go in the direction it did! As soon as I realized what might be happening, I was so blown away and impressed by what Taylor made this book. It's brilliant and truly momentous and I am still excited just thinking about it. I definitely plan to re-read Strange the Dreamer sometime in the semi-near future to see what I can pick up in that book that may have hinted at what happened in this book. 

I desperately need more from this world and these characters. I have so many new questions that I want to explore and I will sacrifice anything (and look, I'm willing to make my morals a little grey, so honestly, anything) needed in order to get more from Taylor. It's not that things aren't wrapped up, because they definitely are; Taylor answers all of the main plot questions and wraps up everything we've wondered, but because of what happens and how big this world gets, there's just so much more that my imagination wants to explore. 

Overall, I've given Muse of Nightmares a well-deserved five stars. I honestly can't put into words how much I have loved this duology. I just love these books.

Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository