Strange the Dreamer

Strange the Dreamer was written by Laini Taylor and is due for release later this month. It’s a fantasy epic which tells the story of a young librarian’s quest to discover a legendary city. The novel forms the first part of a duology, though a release date for its concluding part has not yet been announced.

Lazlo Strange has long lived up to his unusual name. Raised by monks, and later finding his calling as librarian in the Great Library of Zosma, he has spent his life ardently researching the myths and folklore that the other scholars sneer at. His goal is to learn all he can about the Unseen City – a place lost to the world years before when its name was stolen from the minds of all who knew of it and replaced with a single word: Weep.

Yet everything changes when the Tizerkane – the legendary army of Weep – come to Zosma. Their leader Eril-Fane – a man known as the Godslayer – is in search of the wisest men in the world. He needs them to solve a problem that has been plaguing Weep, but he will not speak of exactly what that problem entails. Although Lazlo has no skills to offer, he still manages to impress Eril-Fane with his stories and thus secures a job as the Godslayer’s secretary.

Lazlo dreams of discovering all of the mysteries that Weep has to offer, yet everything he finds just raises more questions. Fifteen years previously, something terrible happened in the City – something that gave the Godslayer his title but also left him filled with shame. As a blue-skinned woman begins to appear in Lazlo’s dreams, he slowly starts to put the pieces together. Yet who is this mysterious stranger, and could she possibly be somewhere in Weep?

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The Scarecrow Queen

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier novels in the series. You can read my reviews of these books [here] and [here].

My exam is over and I passed – yay! Let’s celebrate by looking at something new and exciting.

The Scarecrow Queen was written by Melinda Salisbury and first published in 2017. It is the final instalment of The Sin Eater’s Daughter trilogy and is preceded by The Sin Eater’s Daughter (2015) and The Sleeping Prince (2016). The novel carries on exactly where the previous book left off, so please note that you really need to read them in sequence to have the faintest idea of what’s going on.

From his seat in Lormere, Prince Aurek has absolute control. The people are too afraid of his golem army to rise against him and, with Errin and Silas taken captive, all hopes of deconstructing the Opus Magnum seem to have been lost. With only Hope, Nia and Kirin left for support, Twylla flees across the land in search of a safe haven but there is none to be found. One by one, all of the kingdoms are falling to the Sleeping Prince.

It’s not long before Twylla realises what needs to be done. Aurek can’t be allowed to remain in power. It’s up to her to rally the support of the oppressed peasants, gathering them together and training them to fight. Although Aurek’s army is vast, they only follow him because they are afraid. Using the things that she learned as Daunen Embodied, Twylla knows that she can restore the thing that he has taken from them: their hope.

In Lormere Castle, Errin must face a struggle of her own. Not only is she the prisoner of Aurek, but she is bound by magic to obey his whims. She knows that if she slips up he can easily order her to kill herself or, worse still, take out his anger on Silas. Yet she also has hope. Behind Aurek’s back, she plots with Merek – planning an escape for both them and their friends. Yet their alliance is wrought with danger. One mistake would reveal to Aurek that the former King of Lormere hides right under his nose, and would result in a painful death for them both…

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Young Adult Comics

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I haven’t had time to prepare a proper review for today as I’m currently studying for an exam. Don’t worry though – so long as I pass, everything should be back to normal for next week!

Anyhow, instead I thought I’d use today’s post to talk about something a little different. If you follow me on Goodreads, you’ll already know that I’m also an avid comic book reader. While comics are a bit more mainstream now than they once were, they’re still often looked down upon as being of lesser value than other forms of art and literature. This is quite frankly crazy – as with the novels that I’ve reviewed, the quality of comics can vary quite wildly between titles, writers and artists.

Therefore, I thought I’d use this post to talk about my favourite comics for middle grade and young adult readers. Everything on this list (apart from Nimona) is an ongoing series so you should be able to find them at your local book store, library or comic book shop. I also should note that all of these series are all Western comics. While I do also read manga, these days I’m more of a Western comic book reader and so I’m not up on the most recent Japanese titles to recommend.

Anyhow, let’s start with some Marvel comics!

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Northern Lights

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Northern Lights (or The Golden Compass as it is known in America) is really a book that needs no introduction. It was first published in 1995 and forms the first part of Philip Pullman’s epic His Dark Materials trilogy. The novel is followed by The Subtle Knife (1997) and The Amber Spyglass (2000). It has since been adapted into many formats, including a film and graphic novel, and a companion series has recently been announced with the first title due for publication at the end of this year.

Since the death of her parents, Lyra Belacqua has been raised at Jordan College and is content roaming the roof tops and fighting the travelling Gyptian kids with her friend, Roger, and daemon companion, Pantalaimon. However, nothing can last forever. Roger mysteriously disappears one evening and, shortly afterwards, a beautiful woman named Mrs Coulter expresses an interest in adopting Lyra. Although worried about her friend, Lyra is excited to live with such a beautiful and intelligent woman. However, the Master of Jordan expresses concern about Mrs Coulter’s intentions. He gifts Lyra a rare truth telling device called the alethiometer and makes her swear to never show it to her new guardian.

The longer that Lyra spends in Mrs Coulter’s home, the more that she realises that the woman isn’t as kind as she first seemed. When Lyra discovers that she is directly linked to the Gobblers – a group of kidnappers who may be responsible for Roger’s abduction – she runs away and sets off on a journey of her own. Her goal is to save Roger and then head North in search of her Uncle Asriel – a prisoner of the panserbjørne – and deliver the alethiometer to him.

However, Lyra’s journey is filled with danger. Armoured bears, warring witch clans, and the terrible secret behind the Gobblers all stand between her and her goal. Most mysterious all is the nature of Dust, unexplained particles that drift down from the Northern Lights and stick to adults. Is it true that they pour from a parallel world? And if so, what are Lord Asriel’s plans for it?

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Wererabbits Need Your Support!

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Hi everyone. This is a post of different sort. If you’ve followed me for a while, you might remember that I’ve posted a couple of reviews about M.Y. Zeman’s Chronicles of a Wererabbit series. These are great books for young teens, which focuses on the adventures of the world’s only Wererabbit. They also contain things like werewolves, hyper-intelligent rats, talking motorbikes and sabre-toothed tigers. Oh, and Snow’s dads are both vampires – how neat is that?

The long and the short is that the series is tonnes of fun, however it’s published entirely out of the author’s pocket. As she wants to make the third book – Snow Island – as cool it can be, she’s taken to Kickstarter to raise funds to cover its publication.

CLICK HERE TO VISIT SNOW ISLAND’S KICKSTARTER PAGE!

The author is looking to raise $1,000 to cover her expenses and offers all kinds of things as rewards, from copies of her books to crocheted mice. If you could spare a little change to help her out, she’d be massively grateful. Plus, you’d have done your bit to help out independent publishing and woodland creatures would love you. I think…

Anyhow, if you need any more convincing, here are some links to my reviews of the first two books. You can bet that I’ll also be reviewing the third, just as soon as I get my hands on a copy!

Snowball: Chronicles of a Wererabbit

Snow Bunny: Chronicles of a Wererabbit

Caraval

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Caraval was written by Stephanie Garber and first published in 2017. It’s a fantasy story about the experiences that a young woman has when she’s invited to take part in a magical game. The novel is the first part of a planned duology, although at the time of writing no future instalments have been announced.

Scarlett has always dreamed of seeing Caraval – a yearly performance known for its audience participation and magic – but it seems that her chances have run out. Her abusive father has arranged for her to be married to a nobleman that she’s never met and Scarlett knows that she has no choice but to obey. He’ll only hurt her younger sister – Tella – if she displeases him.

When her long-awaited invitation to Caraval finally arrives, Scarlett is disappointed but knows there is nothing that she can do. However, Tella is not about to let her sister’s last chance at adventure slip away. Teaming up with Julian – a young sailor – the two fake a kidnapping and spirit Scarlett away to the festival. However, as soon as they set foot on the island, things start to go wrong.

Legend, the enigmatic master of Caraval, spirits Tella away. The game this year is to be a hunt for the stolen girl and the winner is promised to receive a wish in return. Scarlett is not interested in the prize but knows that she needs to get her sister back before the five days are up, otherwise she risks missing her wedding. Teaming up with Julian, the two work together to solve Legend’s clues. However, Caraval is a place of illusion and magic and Scarlett finds herself pitted against dozens of other players, all willing to go to any length to win…

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Boudica’s Daughters

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Boudica’s Daughters was written by Sheridan Winn and first published in 2016. It’s a fantasy story with historical elements, focusing on a family who are drawn closer together by both personal tragedy and an archaeological find. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to have read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

Lilla has always seen ghosts, though she often finds that people don’t believe her. Therefore, it’s not really surprising that when her family moves out into the Norfolk countryside, she starts to see spirits of ancient warriors. Two thousand years before, the Iceni tribe was known to live in the area and when Lilla uncovers an ornamental hare in the woods behind her house, she quickly learns that it belonged to the daughter of Queen Boudica.

However, her investigation into the ghosts is put on hold when her sister returns home from University. While Lilla has always been a bit weird, her sister Janey was the life and soul of the party. Yet Janey’s not the same as she was. In the past year, she’s gone increasingly off the rails and fallen in with a bad crowd. It’s not long the family discover why, and the tragic revelation shocks all of them to the core.

In an attempt draw her sister out of her depression, Lilla enlists her to help scour the woods for Iceni treasure. As they discover more than they ever could have imagined, the sisters slowly begin to grow closer as they search for a way to both help Janey and the restless spirits find peace.

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The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

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The Coldest Girl in Coldtown was written by Holly Black and first published in 2013. It is a dark fantasy story, set in a world where a vampire plague has swept America. The novel is loosely based around one of Black’s short stories, and the original can be found in the collection The Poison Eaters and Other Stories. However, this story is intended to stand alone and so you don’t have to have read any of her other work to fully appreciate it.

The world changed rapidly after the existence of vampires was revealed. While they had previously kept to themselves, a rogue vampire went out of his way to spread their sickness across the globe. Bitten humans quickly became Cold, rapidly gaining an uncontrollable desire for human flesh. If they managed to consume this, they then transformed into a true vampire. In a bid to contain the infection, the American government created the Coldtowns – quarantined areas where both vampires and Colds could live without fear of being hunted.

Tana is in trouble. She woke up after a party to find that all her friends were dead. While trying to find a way to escape without waking the vampires who feasted on them, she came across a strange scene. Her Cold ex-boyfriend, Aidan, and a strange vampire both chained in one of the bedrooms. Unable to leave them to the mercy of the killers, she tries to rescue both. However, during this escape, she is grazed by a vampire’s fangs. Realising that she may now be infected, Tana drives towards the nearest Coldtown. She knows that she has no choice if she wants to keep her family safe.

Tana just wants to find a place to sweat off her infection, but Coldtown is not as safe or glamorous as the internet feeds make it appear. Most of the population are humans who have thrown away their freedom for a chance at immortality. If these people realise that Tana and Aidan are Cold, they would do anything to force them to complete their transformations. Added is the complication that Gavriel – the vampire she saved – has a history with the most popular superstar of Coldtown. If Tana wishes to survive, she may need to become a monster…

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The Dark Days Club

the-dark-days-club

The Dark Days Club was written by Alison Goodman and first published in 2015. It’s a dark fantasy story set in England’s Regency Era, focusing on a young lady finding out about the existence of a demon-hunting secret society. The novel forms the first part of the Lady Helen series and is followed by The Dark Days Pact (2017). The final instalment of the trilogy has yet to be announced.

Lady Helen Wrexhall has just reached eighteen years of age and is finally old enough to make her debut in society, attending balls and soirées to make a good impression on any potential husbands. Although she carries the stain of her family name, her uncle is convinced that the inheritance left to her by her disgraced mother will be enough to attract a suitable match.

However, the first man that seems to be interested in Helen is the infamous Lord Carlston – a man suspected of murdering his previous wife. Helen’s uncle is not impressed that Carlson – a distant relation of his – is trying to use their name to catapult himself back into high society. However, Helen soon learns that Carlston is not interested in her as a match. He is a Reclaimer – a member of a secret society called the Dark Days Club – and he believes that Helen is one as well.

Through secret meetings with Carlston, Helen learns all about his organisation, the horrible monsters that they fight and their sacred duty to protect humanity. However, the more that Helen sees of their world, the more certain she is that she doesn’t want anything to do with them. Yet Carlston is certain that a powerful creature known as a Grand Deceiver is on the rise. How could Helen be able to deny her calling when she could be the only one capable of stopping it?

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The Diviners

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The Diviners was written by Libba Bray and first published in 2012. It’s a paranormal novel set in the Roaring Twenties, which focuses on a flapper discovering her psychic powers as she faces a supernatural murder. The novel forms the first part of a series and is followed by Lair of Dreams (2015), though at the time of writing no further instalments have been announced.

Evie O’Neill has caused her parents trouble from the last time. Her “party trick” of divining a person’s darkest secrets from a personal item has led to nothing but trouble in her hometown and so her parents decide to ship her off to stay with her uncle in New York City. Although her uncle runs the boring Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult (known to locals as the Museum of Creepy Crawlies), Evie is still thrilled. She can’t wait to meet up with her childhood friend, Mabel, and take the town by storm.

However, she soon discovers that a great evil has gripped the city. People are being found ritually murdered, missing body parts and branded with occultist symbols. The police are baffled and turn to Will for advise. When Evie comes into contact with an item belonging to one of the victims, she has a vivid vision of the murder taking place. She realises that she could use her power to help catch the killer, but how can she find a way to do so without making her superstitious uncle suspicious?

Meanwhile, something strange is happening all across America. Individuals with powers that are similar to Evie’s are finding themselves drawn to New York without even being aware of why. In Harlem, a young seer begins to prophesise a coming storm. Its clear that these Diviners are being drawn by some power far great than themselves, but what can it mean and how can they be expected to face it?

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