Books, Review

Book Review: Strange The Dreamer – Laini Taylor *****

“I turned my nightmares into fireflies and caught them in a jar.”

book review strange the dreamer laini taylor

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.

Hurray!! I have found my first 5-star book of the year. From the first page I knew I was going to love it. The way it is written is so beautiful and so magical. It was brilliant!!

First of all, let’s talk about the sweet gem that is Lazlo Strange. He was so relatable, the way he cherishes stories and doesn’t want to do anything other than read. I caught myself smiling whenever he would talk about books.
I also think his character arc is beautiful. From the boy fighting shadows to well.. you’ll have to read the book to find out.

Then there are all the other characters and the roles they play. (I’m being really careful here because I don’t want to give anything away.) Of course, this is only the first book in a series, so there’s a lot left to be told in the next books. They are such a varied bunch of people and they all have their special abilities. You’re always going to like one more than the other but overall, they were all a perfect fit in the story.

And then it all comes back to the writing which, let me tell you, was something else. Laini Taylor’s writing is so vivid and lyrical and downright beautiful. I loved it more than I can tell you. Honestly, how can I even put this into words…

Even though the ending broke my heart, it was perfect in its own way. It all just comes crashing down once you realize what’s going on. So, so cleverly done!

I wish I could just pick up the next book.

So now… we wait…

 

Books, Review

Book Review: Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier **

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again…

book review rebecca daphne du maurier

Working as a lady’s companion, the heroine of Rebecca learns her place. Her future looks bleak until, on a trip to the South of France, she meets Max de Winter, a handsome widower whose sudden proposal of marriage takes her by surprise. She accepts, but whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to the ominous and brooding Manderley, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man. And the memory of his dead wife Rebecca is forever kept alive by the forbidding housekeeper, Mrs Danvers…

I’ll just say it like it is. I did not like this book.

While I was reading it, I kept hoping that it would get better, hoping that it would pick up, hoping for an amazing twist. Nothing came.

Let’s start at the beginning. The protagonist is a child and acts like a child. She falls madly in love with some man who’s much older than her. They marry, right there and then.

He takes her back to Manderley where he used to live with his wife, Rebecca, who has sadly passed away. Everyone loved her, everyone still loves her. This is repeated over and over again. Nothing has changed it the year since her death and our child is blown over and accepts all of it.

Then there’s a lot of whining and sighing on the protagonist’s part because she can’t get used to being the lady of the house. She hides from the staff and visitors. Seriously, couldn’t you have thought of that before you jumped into marriage? Oh, wait.. you didn’t think, you just married him on the spot.

Then, finally, the twist comes and what a disappointment it is. There is no way, at all, that you as the reader could have figured this out. The protagonist says that “suddenly all the pieces fit together”. NO! Everything is put into context, a completely different context that you could know nothing about because there was no build-up to that twist. None. It was just thrown at you.

I guess that’s what annoyed me most of all. I love a good twist. I love going back and seeing how it was done. How, if you paid really close attention, you could have known. But that’s not how it was done here and I hate it so much.

Then after everything you’ve learned. Nothing happens. Apparently, some things can just be forgiven? Just like that? Really? Oh right, because she loves him…

I actually don’t know how I managed to get through this book and I don’t understand why so many people love it.

If you love it, please explain to me why. Am I missing something?

I’m sorry for the rant. I did not mean to offend anyone. But why can’t I like the books everyone else seems to like??

Love

Ellen

Books, Review

Book Review: The Loneliest Girl in the Universe – Lauren James ****

book review the loneliest girl in the universe lauren james

Romy Silvers is the only surviving crew-member of a spaceship travelling to a new planet, on a mission to establish a second home for humanity amongst the stars. Alone in space, she is the loneliest girl in the universe until she hears about a new ship which has launched from Earth – with a single passenger on board. A boy called J.

Their only communication with each other is via email – and due to the distance between them, their messages take months to transmit across space. And yet Romy finds herself falling in love.

But what does Romy really know about J? And what do the mysterious messages which have started arriving from Earth really mean?

Sometimes, there’s something worse than being alone . . .

Sometimes, you read a book and it’s so well thought out that it puts a smile on your face.

I requested this book from the publisher (Walker YA) after seeing Grace Latter rave about it on twitter (and later on her blog). The story immediately spoke to me so I decided to just go for it. I couldn’t believe my luck when I got an e-mail from the lovely Sophia, saying she would send me a copy. (Thanks again! How gorgeous is this arc cover!)

the loneliest girl in the universe lauren james arc cover

By the time it arrived (it takes an annoyingly long time to get this to Belgium..) I decided to take it with me on a weekend we had planned with friends. The moment I got in the car, I started reading. (Don’t worry, my husband was driving.. I wasn’t doing anything dangerous) By the time we got to our destination, I was about 100 pages in and let me tell you, I was hooked.

It’s the kind of story where you only get one person’s perspective, so naturally you are missing details. Romy has been through a lot that she doesn’t want to talk about, so you are left in the dark. This meant that, even when I wasn’t reading, I was still thinking about the book, trying to figure everything out.

I finished the book the next day, sitting in a hammock in the shade because it was BOILING HOT. (Seriously, what’s been going on with the weather??) The story is such an adventure. It’s exciting and scary and believable (even though it’s set in space). That’s what made it a winner for me. Romy was believable. She suffers from panic attacks and the writer doesn’t hold back. I really appreciated that because I know that crippling fear of what might be moving in the dark.

This is not a romantic story. It’s about longing, loneliness and the idea of love.

I really, really liked it.

If you’re interested, it will be released on September 7th. I recommend you check it out.

The Goodreads page is filled with positive reviews, come on.. we can’t all be wrong 😉

 

Books, Poetry, Review

Book Review: The Princess Saves Herself In This One – Amanda Lovelace ****

“a
world
where all

human beings
are taken care of

shouldn’t be called

a “revolutionary”
way of life

& yet
it is.

burn

review the princess saves herself in this one amanda lovelace

“Ah, life- the thing that happens to us while we’re off somewhere else blowing on dandelions & wishing ourselves into the pages of our favorite fairy tales.”

A poetry collection divided into four different parts: the princess, the damsel, the queen, & you. The princess, the damsel, & the queen piece together the life of the author in three stages, while ‘you’ serves as a note to the reader & all of humankind. Explores life & all of its love, loss, grief, healing, empowerment, & inspirations.

To say that this poetry collection takes you on a journey is a serious understatement. I loved this book, got swept away, cried (several times) and laughed (several times). Of course, some poems spoke to me more than others but overall I was touched. I recognized a lot of feelings I’ve felt myself growing up.

Some of my favorite poems had references to Harry Potter. Like this one:

“The little girl
isn’t listening to you-

she’s way too busy
staring out the window,

fantasizing about
a world of

magical accidents,
flying envelopes,

screeching owls,
adoring giants,

brooms that
do more than sweep,

friends who are
always loyal,

& a train
that will take her

to an enchanted place
far far far

away from
here.”

Put under a lifelong spell.

This poetry collection talks about a wide variety of things such as abuse, grief, loss but also self-discovery, love and acceptance.

If you’re new to poetry, this might be a good place to start. It’s pretty straightforward and easy to follow.

If you’re a seasoned poetry-reader, you might enjoy the style, the messages, the story linking all the poems together.

In short, I believe this is a collection for everyone. I will pick it up again soon, to see if I’ve missed anything. I read it over the course of an evening so it doesn’t take up a lot of time. I want to dive back in and mark all my favorite poems so that I can just pick them up whenever I feel like it.

I would definitely recommend this to anyone who’s interested in poetry!

Books, Review

Book review: The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood ****

“Nolite te bastardes carborundorum. Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”  

handmaids tale margaret atwood

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now…

What really struck me in this book was the truth that radiated from the pages. There were so many sentences that just struck me.

Like this one:

“Ignoring isn’t the same as ignorance, you have to work at it.”

This story takes place in a future so close to ours that our main character still remembers a life, her life before everything went wrong. Image your life where everything is taken from you. Your money, your rights, your freedom, your body. That’s what this story is about and it’s painfully believable.

Our world is changing. You only have to turn on the tv or radio or read the papers to notice this change. The world my children will inherit won’t be the same one I got from my parents.

“Better never means better for everyone… It always means worse, for some.”

There were many moments in this book where I saw my own reflection in the pages. When she’s attending the birth she says:

“But who can remember pain, once it’s over? All that remains of it is a shadow, not in the mind even, in the flesh. Pain marks you, but too deep to see. Out of sight, out of mind.”

And ow my god, yes. This. This right here. It just tore at my heart because it’s so perfectly 100% me. Sometimes, writing is so on point that it hurts.

I think everyone will take something different from this book. You will mirror your own self to these characters. Maybe the male characters will say something that someone once said to you. (Yup. There were several sentences that sounded familiar.) Or they will share their thoughts or feelings and you’ll feel understood.

In the end, I think this is an important book and I’m glad that I read it. I felt a bit let down by the end (I just don’t like that sort of endings so I know that it’s just me) but I’m sure it’ll stay on my mind.

Have you read The Handmaid’s Tale?
Did you like it?