There’s something about a culmination that makes me hesitate. Whether it’s a fear that the ending won’t live up to my expectation or a desire for the journey to never end, it leaves me inclined to never finish anything. Not in life, mind you; I’m incredibly dependable and the opposite of a procrastinator when it comes to reality. But when it comes to entertainment, I’d rather let the story live on unfinished in my mind than risk a final chapter that sours something I grew to love. Constant Readers of Stephen King can relate, I’m sure; though I love his work, the endings are rarely satisfying. However, there are some authors I always trust to really deliver with their endings, and Nora Roberts is high up on that list. She knows how to stick the landing every single time. The Rise of Magicks is no exception, and has actually shot this series into my list of best loved series of all time, alongside The Kingkiller Chronicle and The Stormlight Archive. …
Ah, Veronica. You’re the sassiest, most self-confident female protagonist I’ve ever come across in a Victorian setting, and I loved every minute of your snark. This was indeed A Curious Beginning to your story. I’m already excited to visit with you again in the future, and to see what further adventures you stumble your way into further along in the series.
“I abhorred weakness of any kind but most particularly in my tea.”
I’m sure most everyone who follows my reviews has noticed this by now, but I really love Nora Roberts. I don’t tend to read all that much in the contemporary or romance genres, but she’s my exception. I’ve been reading my way through her back catalogue since I was fifteen or so, and for the past ten years have been reading her new releases as soon as I can get my hands on them. Now, she’s one of the few authors who is an insta-buy for me. While Under Currents didn’t blow me away, it was another strong offering that demonstrated to me once again that Nora seems incapable of producing a dud. She’s just awesome.
“The couldn’t take who we are away from us. We’re who we are despite them.”
I’m so amazed by Blake Crouch. With Dark Matter, he enthralled the reading world with a wild plot and breakneck action. With Recursion, he proves that Dark Matter wasn’t a fluke. Crouch delivered a level of intensity that I’ve rarely encountered in the written word via a fascinating, disturbing premise. More surprisingly, he crafted a romance unlike any I’ve ever read. After reading Recursion, Crouch has become an insta-buy sci-fi author for me.
“Nothing can be controlled. Only endured.”
This was such a charming read; one that I have picked up because I was attracted by its title and cover design depicting one of those enchanting English bookshops. The allure of a story about a bookshop (and by natural extension, books) was just too irresistible, and as such, despite my typical apprehension with romantic novels, I knew that I would attempt reading this book.
And with that, I dipped my toes into the Prologue and came across this beautiful passage which charmed me immediately.
ARC provided by the publisher—Tor.com—in exchange for an honest review.
This starts out promising but overall it’s really just not for me.
The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht is a debut that I’ve heard great things about. It’s been advertised as a compelling dark fantasy about revenge, murder, and magician. For what its worth, it did started out that way; strongly atmospheric and dark. However, once the romance started, I found that the twisted relationship and unrealistic progression in their romance (though, maybe that’s kinda the point of the relationship) that constantly hangs in a weird status throughout the book became more of the main focus than everything else. …
This is not a book I would have ever picked up on my own. First of all, the cover just was not appealing to me. It’s a chick’s face. There is wind coming from somewhere, blowing said chick’s hair across her face. She would probably benefit from a hair tie or a headband. And that’s all there is to the cover. Bland, right? Also, it sounded like a really weird blend of commonly used tropes, such as the combination of vampire hunters and inter-dimensional travel. Furthermore, it involves one of my least favorite tropes: the dreaded love triangle, or in this case, a love square.
So, if I was so opposed to various aspects of this book, why on earth did I pick it up? Because my mom told me to. …
The Priory of the Orange Tree is among the most beautiful works of literature I’ve ever read. In an age of fantasy where grimdark is by and large the king of the genre, Priory breaks the mold by showcasing breathtaking beauty in its prose.
”We mean to reforge with love what greed has broken.”
If grimdark views the world through a filter of ashy sepia, Priory instead views the world through a filter that oversaturated each and every color, giving every inch of itself an otherworldly brightness that I’ve found in very few fantasy tales. The best comparisons I can think of in tone would be The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle and Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay. In both of these books, as well as in Priory, there are terrible, nigh-apocalyptic happenings, as are found in nearly every fantasy novel that has captured the imaginations of their readers. The difference is that if you took a deep breath inside the worlds of these three books, you would fill your lungs with the heady scent of orange blossoms and lavender and life, as opposed to the heavy ashen air that would clog your throat in the worlds of their grimdark counterparts. I feel that the beauty of these worlds only increases the tension and the stakes if our heroes cannot find a way to save the day. It’s far sadder to me to watch something heartbreakingly lovely go up in smoke than it is something weathered and grimy. That’s my opinion, at least. …
Muse of Nightmares is another lovely display of Taylor’s craftsmanship. It continues a story that is pretty and romantic and moving, a story that began in Strange the Dreamer, the other half of this duology. Unfortunately, it didn’t pack quite the same punch as its predecessor. Don’t get me wrong; it’s still a lovely novel. But the first novel was stunningly tangible, and this follow-up felt more like a phantom of that loveliness instead. Which is a comparison that is appropriate on multiple levels, as you’ll see if you choose to read this. And you definitely should read this, if you’ve read Strange the Dreamer. While I might not think it was quite as strong as the first installment, it still provided a satisfying ending encased in Taylor’s exquisite prose.
“It was better than any story he’d ever read. It was like being inside a story and writing it all around you, and not alone but with someone who just happened to be as magical and beautiful as a fairy tale made real.”
Upon a second reading, I absolutely stand by everything I wrote in this review. Strange the Dreamer remains one of the most beautiful, lush novels I’ve had the pleasure of reading. The romance is star-crossed, which I’m not usually a fan of but which was heartbreakingly lovely in this story. I love this book so much and am so excited to start the next installment. Side note: I listened to the audio version for my reread and it was gorgeous. I highly recommend the audio if you plan to reread this. Now, on to the original review!
This was probably the most romantic story I’ve ever read. I read and really enjoyed Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, but this book was far superior in every way. The characters, the plot, the setting, and the romance were captivating. The writing itself was among some of the most exquisite I’ve ever had the pleasure to read. …