Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Strange The Dreamer - Review

Book Review:
Title: Strange The Dreamer
Author: Laini Taylor
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
I received an early copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

“You’re a storyteller. Dream up something wild and improbable," she pleaded. "Something beautiful and full of monsters."
“Beautiful and full of monsters?"
“All the best stories are.” 

The 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 or 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?
Welcome to Weep.
I am writing this review about 10 minutes after finishing the book, which probably isn't the best idea since I'm feeling a little emotionally unstable. Just a little. Okay, I'm lying - I'm a mess! But, this is the only time I have spare to write this review, so we're going with it. Prepare for possible babbling:

Strange the Dreamer was a dream!
It's no secret that Laini Taylor is a master of words. Her writing is lyrical, whimsical and all round beautiful. Every sentence she creates has an air of specialness to it - like it has been crafted with the utmost care and love. There's simply nothing ordinary and dull with Laini's work, it's magical.
There's this one quote I read,
“I think you're a fairy tale. I think you're magical, and brave, and exquisite. And I hope you'll let me be in your story.” 
and immediately I thought, 'I wish I was in a Laini Taylor story' because I know whoever I was, whether I was a hero or villain or just a passerby, my character would be written beautifully.

Truthfully, I never expected to love this book as much as I did. The size of the ARC was seriously intimidating. The writing can take a bit to get used to. And the pacing is quite slow.
But honestly, the book wasn't big enough, I was left craving more after the end. The writing was exquisite, I simply cannot fault it. And the story pacing was lush. It really allowed me to fully appreciate the story at hand and be able to emotionally connect with each and every character.
I was captivated from the very start to the very end.

A lot of that captivation was due to the awesome cast of characters. They were all equally as complex and interesting to read about. For starters, we have Lazlo Strange, who is a librarian and a professional dreamer. For most of his life he has been obsessed with the lost city of Weep & he pretty much spends his days trying to learn everything and anything he can about the city. It's so endearing to read. Lazlo is probably one of the sweetest and kindest MCs I have ever read about - A true cinnamon roll!
We also have Minya, a six year old godspawn (half god/half human,) who I think is probably the most complex character. She has good intentions, in trying to protect her own, but her methods to do so were definitely questionable.
And then we have possibly my favourite character of the book, Sarai. She is a godspawn, like Minya, and a cinnamon roll, like Lazlo. I loved her so much - for a good 80% of the book, my heart ached for her and I just wanted to jump into the story and give her the biggest hug ever! (I've also created my own group in honour of Sarai. It's called #ProtectSaraiAtAllCosts)
There were also some amazing side characters like, Ruby, Sparrow, Feral, Thyon & The GodSlayer.

I understand why some people may struggle to get into this book, but personally, I adored it. There was nothing I didn't enjoy (well, apart from that ending!!!!!) & I cannot wait till I get my hands on the sequel!
Roll on 2018!

Overall, Strange the Dreamer is a slow-burn, yet lush, story filled with mystery, rich world-building and the most lovable main characters. (AND heartbreak - can't forget the heartbreak! *cries*)
Definitely a Top 10 Read of 2017!

5 Stars

Saturday, 8 April 2017

NAONDEL - Blog Tour

Blog Tour
Author: Maria Turtschaninoff
Publisher: Pushkin Press
Release Date: 6th April 2017 (UK)

WELCOME to the 9th and final day in the NAONDEL Blog Tour!

In the opulent palace of Ohaddin, women have one purpose - to obey. Some were brought here as girls, captured and enslaved; some as servants; some as wives. All of them must do what the Master tells them, for he wields a deadly and secret power. But the women have powers too. One is a healer. One can control dreams. One is a warrior. One can see everything that is coming. In their golden prison, the women wait. They plan. They write down their stories. They dream of a refuge, a safe place where girls can be free. And, finally, when the moon glows red, they will have their revenge.

What better way is there for us to end this wonderful blog tour than hearing about Maria Turtschaninoff's future plans and what she has is store for us next:


9. What next?
For the past year, I have been working on the third instalment in the Red Abbey Chronicles, “Letters from Maresi” (working title). At one point I thought the book might morph into two novels, but I reined it in and I think I will be happy with it as one novel. “Letters from Maresi” follows Maresi as she returns to her home province and attempts to start a school and spread the knowledge she gained at the Abbey. I have just finished a first rough (oh so rough) draft and soon I will start the first rewrite.

And then will follow the next.

And the next.

I hope to be able to submit the manuscript in the fall.

Will that then be the end of the Red Abbey Chronicles?
I don’t think so. As I have mentioned earlier in this blog tour, there are many story seeds I would like to plant and see if they grow. Things mentioned in Maresi, in Naondel and in “Letters from Maresi”. Some of these seeds may tie in to the Red Abbey, and some may not – but this does not overly concern me. My previous books Arra and AnachΓ© (not yet translated into English) are set in the same world, and have loose ties to the other novels, but are not “Red Abbey”-books. For me, however, the novels are all equally part of the world building I am doing, book by book.

But I am an intuitive writer and I have learned never to think I can steer my creative process very much. There will eventually be one story that tugs at my sleeve harder than the others. And then all I can do is take my pen and follow, wherever the story leads me. "


How exciting!
Don't forget Naondel & Maresi are both out in the UK and are available to purchase!
NAONDEL: Amazon | Waterstones | Whsmith

(Thank you to Vicki at Pushkin Press for inviting me to take part in the Naondel Blog Tour!)

About the Author:

Maria Turtschaninoff was born in 1977 and has been writing fairy tales since she was five. She is the author of many books about magical worlds, has been awarded the Swedish YLE Literature Prize and has twice won the Society of Swedish Literature Prize. She has also been nominated for the 2017 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award and the 2017 CILIP Carnegie Medal. Naondel is part of the Red Abbey Chronicles which began with Maresi.

Monday, 30 January 2017

CARAVAL - Blog Tour (Dream Cast)

Blog Tour
Title: Caraval
Author: Stephanie Garber
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Release Date: 31st January 2017 (UK & US)

"Whatever youve heard about Caraval, it doesnt compare to the reality. Its more than just a game or a performance. Its the closest youll ever find to magic in this world."

Welcome to the 5th and final day in the Caraval Blog Tour!
Before we begin, for those of you who might not know much about this wonderful book, here's the synopsis:

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their ruthless father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the legendary, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.
Then, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation to Caraval finally arrives. So, Tella enlists a mysterious sailor’s help to whisk Scarlett away to this year’s show. But as soon as the trio arrives, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organiser, Legend.
Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nonetheless soon becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with her sister, with Legend, and with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

I'd be surprised if you don't know this already, but I loved Caraval. It was one of my top 10 reads of 2016, and I even wrote a blog post stating 5 reasons why you should pre-order it (you can read that HERE if you wish.)
 After finishing this book, the one question in mind (apart from, can I have book 2 now, please!?) was what actors/actresses would fill these roles perfectly, because if you don't know already, Caraval has been optioned for film! (insert squeals of delight)
I'm still debating about my dream cast, so instead here is Stephanie Garber telling us about her dream Caraval cast:

"My Dream Cast for Caraval"
The day Caraval sold was one of the most magical days of my life. It was a dream come true to finally sell a book, after years and years of writing and rejection. Then something even more incredible happened, Twentieth Century Fox bought the film option.
I’m not going to lie, ever since then I’ve been fantasizing about who would make up my dream cast.

I love Maria Avgeropoulos’ portrayal of Octavia on the television show The 100—I think she’s fierce but vulnerable, and when I used to watch the show I rooted for her in every scene, so I think she would make an excellent Scarlett.

 Earlier this year I watched the live action Cinderella starring, because my sister told me the party scene made her think of Caraval. She was totally right. But the party wasn’t the only thing that reminded me of Caraval. When I saw the movie’s star, Lily James, I thought she would be the perfect actress to play Scarlett’s younger and more spontaneous sister, Donatella.

Governer Dragna
Christoph Waltz is one of my favorite actors. I think he plays especially great villains, so I would love to see him portray the role of Scarlett and Donatella’s cruel father, Governor Dragna.

I know I’ve already mentioned one actor from The 100, but that show has such a great cast I couldn’t help but pick another actor for my dream cast of Caraval. Bob Morley plays Bellamy Blake on the 100, and he has such a strong, commanding presence that I think would make a fantastic Dante. All he needs is some tattoos.

Julian is one of my favorite characters in Caraval, which is probably why I’ve had the hardest time casting him. So if anyone thinks they’ve found the perfect actor to play Julian please let me know. If Rodrigo Santoro from Westworld were younger I think he would do a great job, but sadly he’s a little too old now.
(Click each of the actors/actresses names to find out more information about them)

I don't know about you, but I am loving this dream cast! (I think Stephanie's dream cast has just become my dream cast.) They all fit the bill perfectly!

So we've heard who Stephanie likes, but now it's your turn: Stephanie & I would love to hear who would be part of your dream cast for Caraval! Share your ideas in the comments below!

About the author:

Stephanie Garber loves Disneyland because it’s the one place on earth where she feels as if the fantastical stories she loves to write about could actually come to life. When she's not writing young adult fantasy, she teaches creative writing at a private college in northern California, where she’s known for turning assignments into games and taking students on field trips that involve book signings. Caraval is her first novel for young adults.
Find her on: Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

That is now a wrap on the Caraval Blog Tour, which means that we are only ONE DAY away from the long awaited release of Caraval!
Don't forget to pick up your copy tomorrow (Jan 31st!) - Amazon | Waterstones | Whsmith
(Thank you to Jenni and the whole Chapter5/Hodder team for inviting me to take part in the blog tour & thank you to Stephanie for taking the time to share her dream cast!)