Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1) – Laini Taylor

28449207RATING:⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️


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 form 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? And who is the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams?

In this sweeping and breathtaking novel by National Book Award finalist Laini Taylor, author of the New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, the shadow of the past is as real as the ghosts who haunt the citadel of murdered gods. Fall into a mythical world of dread and wonder, moths and nightmares, love and carnage.

The answers await in Weep.

REVIEW (Spoiler Free):

Strange the Dreamer was absolute magic. I was speechless when I finished because it was so beautiful. Laini Taylor has the exceptional gifts of story telling and world building. Her writing is stunning. There is really nothing else like it. She literally writes magic! I really liked the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy but Strange the Dreamer blew me away. I don’t know how I can possible write a review that adequately describes how spectacular it is.

I don’t know how she does it, but once again Laini Taylor has built a beautiful world. The Unseen City is so creative and original. I had never read anything like it. I was completely immersed in this world. The atmosphere is whimsical, lyrical, and at times bleak. I wanted to savor every single moment. The characters and plot were completely unique. Lazlo and Sarai are excellent leads. I especially adore Lazlo because he is so kind, dorky, and a book lover! I loved reading both of their POVs. I truly felt like I was there with them, especially in the dream sequences. And Minya!? What a creepy and well-done antagonist! I love to hate her!!

The story is filled with magic, dreams and nightmares, gods and goddesses, godslayers, ghosts, romance, friendship, and moths! There also is the strong theme and message about race and how wrong it is to judge someone based on the color of their skin. This book was not only a fantastical story, but also can relate to our society. I love when authors are able to do this with their books.

The mystery, the love, and the messages of Strange the Dreamer are all phenomenal. I was hooked from the first line. It is a love letter to reading and book lovers everywhere. There is a quote in the book that says, “On the occasions that he did look up from the page, he would seem as though he were awakening from a dream.” I absolutely felt like I was in a dream while reading Strange the Dreamer. It took my breath away and I will carry this story with me forever. I cannot wait to read what happens next in Muse of Nightmares.

Thank you, Laini Taylor. You are a queen.

Favorite Quotes:

  • “He read while he walked. He read while he ate. The other librarians suspected he somehow read while he slept, or perhaps didn’t sleep at all.”
  • “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.”
  • “It was impossible, of course. But when did that ever stop any dreamer from dreaming.”
  • “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.”
  • “Life won’t just happen to you boy, he said. You have to happen to it.”
  • “I turned my nightmares into fireflies and caught them in a jar.”
  • “He looked him right in the eyes and saw a man who was great and good and human, who had done extraordinary things and terrible things and been broken and reassembled as a shell, only then to do the bravest thing of all: He had kept on living, though there are easier paths to take.”
  • “And they gazed at themselves in it, side by side and hand in hand, and they beheld neither gods nor monsters. They were so nearly unchanged, and yet that one thing – the color of their skin – would, in the real world, change everything.”


Rule – Ellen Goodlett (Advanced Reader Copy)

37946451RATING: ⭐️⭐️


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.

REVIEW (Spoiler Free):

I was fortunate to receive an uncorrected advanced reading copy of Rule from NOVL at Book Con 2018.

I am so bummed. When I heard NOVL was doing an ARC drop of Rule at Book Con I was thrilled! The synopsis sounded intriguing and I couldn’t wait to dive into a new fantasy. Grabbing Rule from the NOVL booth was the first thing my friend and I did at Book Con. I am sorry to say that Rule was a huge let down for me.

This book is pitched as “Three Dark Crowns meets Pretty Little Liars.” I haven’t read TDC, but I definitely think Rule leaned more to the Pretty Little Liars comparison. The only big comparison to TDC is that there are multiple heirs vying for the same crown. However, this is not the main plot point of the story and it’s really only the catalyst for bringing our protagonists together. The main conflict/plot is that the girls are being threatened by an unknown blackmailer ~ which is like Pretty Little Liars with A. There’s nothing wrong with this, but it wasn’t for me. It felt very soap opera-esc and juvenile. It just wasn’t the book I expected.

Now for the world-building…or lack thereof. Our story takes place in the Reaches, which is a nation made up of five regions. This world was interesting and could have been great, but it came up short. I felt like I was thrown into this world and given both too much information and not enough. There was a lot of information dumping, but it barely scratched the surface. I know that sounds like a contradiction, but it’s the only way I can think of to explain my thoughts. The reader is quickly given a ton of info purely to set up the story instead of build a world. It also bothered me that everything happened very sequentially…meaning if “x” happened to Zofi in chapter 1, it would then happen to Akeylah in chapter 2 and Ren in chapter 3. This wouldn’t have been as big of an annoyance to me if the world building had been better.

One thing that I did like was the magic system. I thought the Blood Arts and Vulgar Arts were fascinating…especially the latter. At first I was confused and I couldn’t really visualize it (I think this has to do with being thrown into the world). It became clearer as the story progressed and the magic was shown and explained more. For example, there is a chapter where the characters discuss different tithes and ways to use the blood arts. The magic definitely felt unique, but I wish we could have explored it more.

I did love seeing strong, diverse female leads narrating our story. The problem was I just wasn’t very attached to them. Again, this has to do with being thrown into the world and flooded with information. For example, we are told that Zofi loves Elex and that they have this amazing bond, but we don’t really know why. We’re just told that they’ve grown up together. This relationship could probably benefit from a prequel. I also felt like the character development was lacking. Our protagonists do get from point A to B, but it kind of just happens quickly and too easily.

I enjoyed the mystery of the blackmailer and trying to figure out who it was. It was a slow start, but the last third of the book definitely picked up and got me excited. But, I am so mad about the ending. WHAT A LET DOWN! I’m so disappointed. If anyone wants to talk about the ending and their thoughts please send me a message! I’d love to know what other readers think!!


  • Beautiful cover!
  • More Pretty Little Liars than Three Dark Crowns.
  • The world had a ton of potential, but it came up short due to information dumping.
  • Cool magic system!
  • Strong, diverse female protagonists.
  • Poor character development.
  • Very frustrating and annoying ending.
  • Ended with a cliffhanger so will there be a sequel? If there is a sequel I don’t think I’ll read it.
  • Overall I was disappointed by Rule and I am so bummed about that.

Four Dead Queens – Astrid Scholte (Advanced Reader Copy)

fourRATING: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️


Seventeen-year-old Keralie Corrington may seem harmless, but she’s, in fact, one of Quadara’s most skilled thieves and a liar. Varin, on the other hand, is an honest, upstanding citizen of Quadara’s most enlightened region, Eonia. He runs afoul of Keralie when she steals a package from him, putting his life in danger. When Varin attempts to retrieve the package, he and Keralie both find themselves entangled in a conspiracy that leaves all four of Quadara’s queens dead.

With no other choices and on the run from Keralie’s former employer, the two decide to join forces, endeavoring to discover who has killed the queens and save their own lives in the process. When their reluctant partnership blooms into a tenuous romance, they must overcome their own dark secrets in hopes of a future together that seemed impossible just days before. But first they have to stay alive and untangle the secrets behind the nation’s four dead queens.

An enthralling fast-paced murder mystery where competing agendas collide with deadly consequences, Four Dead Queens heralds the arrival of an exciting new YA talent.

REVIEW (Spoiler Free):

I was fortunate to receive an advanced uncorrected galley copy of Four Dead Queens from Penguin Teen at Book Con 2018. I had only heard a little about this book, but I was thrilled when I was able to get a copy from Penguin Teen’s “secret ARC drop”. Can we talk about THAT COVER!?!?! It is stunning! It’s also super cool because it has a sticker on it that says “~Exclusive~ Book Con 2018 Edition~” which I thought was an awesome touch to make the cover even more special.

And now for the story…I was blown away by this book! Four Dead Queens is a combination of my favorites genres. It’s fantasy, mystery, and action-adventure within a dystopian-esc world! The world of Four Dead Queens is extremely interesting! Quadara is a nation made of four quadrants. These four quadrants are physically separated by walls, but also divided by different customs, values, and cultures. Each quadrant is ruled by one queen who together are the four queens of Quadara. The four queens must follow Queenly Law, prioritize their own quadrant, and also rule together to ensure their society is successful. This world was so fresh and unique! It’s very hard to create new worlds today because there is so much content out there. However, Astrid Scholte was able to do this extraordinarily well. I am very impressed with this book and I look forward to hearing more from her in the future. There is a quote in Scholte’s author bio that I think described her writing perfectly…”She’s a visual writer and aims to capture the vivid stories that play like movies in her head.” I can say with 100% confidence that Scholte accomplished her aim with Four Dead Queens. I was swept away in the world of Quadara.

I normally do not like when books have more than two or three POVs. Four Dead Queens has SIX! However, this did not bother me at all. We get perspectives from our protagonist (Keralie), the four queens, and another that I will not spoil! Too many POVs can feel overwhelming and make the story difficult to follow, but this was not the case here. Each POV was well done and added to the story. It did not feel overwhelming at all. I loved all of the POVs, but I especially enjoyed the four queens’ chapters. It was fascinating to see their perspectives and insights.

Four Dead Queens is NON-STOP! The action is constant and completely engrossing. Every single chapter was full of twists and turns. There were so many clever plot twists and surprises! I couldn’t believe how many skeletons these characters had hidden away in their closets! The last twist was absolutely incredible! I had some inkling of who I thought was responsible, but I had no idea the extent of the plot.

The ONLY reason I gave four stars instead of five is because I thought the ending was very neat. It seemed almost too clean and easy, but I still loved it!

I loved this world that Astrid Scholte created. I am not sure if Four Dead Queens is going to be a series, but I actually hope that Scholte writes companion novels as opposed to a sequel. I loved Keralie and Varin, but I want to explore more of this world!


  • Absolutely GORGEOUS cover!
  • Quadara is a fresh, unique, and interesting world.
  • Six point of views can be overwhelming, but Astrid Scholte did it in a way that was beneficial to the story. I think that the story would not have been nearly as good without all of the POVs.
  • Twists! Turns! Surprises!
  • I would love to explore the world of Quadara more! There is so much more I want to know!!