My Favourite Fantasy #2

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I’m so excited for this post, cos it’s been *ages* since I talked about my top ten favourite fantasy, and I’ve been wanting to do a follow up for years! Now I’m finally doing it and *bonus* I’ve added in some sci fi this time round (yes, I could have done a separate post, but I don’t have such a long list for it). I feel like this will be a bit like my favourite classics and romance lists- I’ll just keep adding to it more and more 😊 Without further ado, let’s talk about some of my *new and shiny and glorious* faves:

bear and the nightingale

Bear and the Nightingale– I mean, you all knew I was going to include this, didn’t you? This sumptuous Russian fairy tale retelling stole my heart from the second I stepped into Arden’s world. Atmospheric and so-darn-beautiful, I will never cease to be amazed by how magnificent this book is.

strange the dreamer

Strange the Dreamer– well, duh, Laini Taylor had to be on this list! Her writing is exquisite, her worlds sensationally unique and her romances to die for!

circe

Circe– this is by far and away one of the most exquisite books I’ve ever read. And on top of that, it’s a perfect retelling of the Odyssey. I. am. in. awe.

hazel wood

Hazel Wood– another book I have endless admiration for. For me, what makes this so special is how it balances the gothic and fairy tale elements just so. As a lover of both genres, this book bowled me over, transporting me far away into the Hinterland.

Neverwhere

Neverwhere– bringing me closer to home, Neverwhere tells the story of a hidden London, steeping the streets in mythological imaginings. A truly magnificent work.

charmed life

Charmed Life– I know there are probably a lot of other Diana Wynne Jones’ books with more renown, however, this one for me brings me such joy. Perhaps I’m being a little sentimental, it’s just this one hits all the right emotional notes.

poison chris wooding

Poison– I had to triple and quadruple check that this wasn’t on my last list- because I ADORE THIS WONDERFULLY WEIRD BOOK. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it may make you feel like you’ve hopped down the rabbithole in terms of plot, yet it’s undeniably a unique read.

warrior heir

Heir Series– I read this fairly recently and it still manages to make me oddly nostalgic- because the characters and relationships and stories have a way of clinging to your soul. Yes, Chima Williams is another author making a repeat appearance on this list- that’s just because she’s another author who never fails to knock it out of the park.

red sister

The Book of the Ancestor Series– I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this is the kind of series that reminds me why I got into fantasy in the first place. There’s so much to love about this- from the world to the sense of sisterhood to the romance. I just adore this series and can’t wait to read more from the author!

Red Rising Pierce Browns

Red Rising– well, when I mentioned sci fi faves, I bet you all guessed this would be on here. Many of you will already know my love for this *prime* series, so I’ll be quick in saying for the millionth time: this is gorydamn good! I mean, it’s Romans in space- need I say more?!

shades children

Shade’s Children– I’m never quite sure what genre this is- but it doesn’t matter, cos I will always love this twisty standalone.

the martian

The Martian– who’d have thought that a book about a guy stranded on Mars would be so much fun? That’s because Mark Watney rocks. Funniest protagonist I’ve ever read- and he makes this race-against-time sci fi so spectacular.

And that’s all for now! I have a few more I’d like to add, but I like to give it some space after I read books before declaring them *favourites*. Are any of these your favourites? Do you have any favourite fantasy books you’d like to recommend? Let me know in the comments!

*All the Bananas* predictions update (with new forecasts!)

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Eons and eons ago, I did a post talking about some of my five star predictions… now I’ve finally read all the books and can tell you what I thought of them! (of course I wrote the original so long ago that this follow up post might seem irrelevant- maybe just play along and pretend this isn’t coming from left of field 😉) Let’s not waste any more time and get to it!

strange the dreamer

Strange the Dreamer– success! In fact, I’ve since completed this duology and considered it perfection! Though it doesn’t come as a surprise- I’ve rated every. single. one of Taylor’s books 5 bananas- and that’s cos they deserve ALL THE LOVE!!

book of dust

Belle Sauvage– this came very close with 4½/5 well deserved bananas. This was a little on the slow side and it didn’t quite live upto the original trilogy. Having said that, this new series has an exquisite fairy tale feel and I got the sense it was building towards something big and beautiful in the next book- we shall have to wait and see when the Secret Commonwealth comes out in October.

wolf by wolf

Wolf By Wolf- I’ve read this entire series now and am happy to say it ended up with an average rating of 4/5 bananas- which is not to be sniffed at! There were aspects I liked less than I expected, but obviously glad I read it.

iron gold

Iron Gold– oh so close: this got 4½/5. I’m counting that as a win though- because I loved the bloodyhell out of this book and it was fantastic to have the gang back together. As with Belle Sauvage I had the sense that the series is *going places*.

girl in the tower

Girl in the Tower– we have a winner! Arden, like Taylor, has never let me down and it’s completely unsurprising that I gave this 5/5 bananas. This is another one where I’ve since read the sequel and given that 5 bananas as well!

Alrighty then- I’d say that went pretty well! And obviously, cos this was so successful, I want to see if I can do it again. Here are some upcoming releases/future reads I reckon I’ll be giving all the bananas:

Some of these could go either way, but I have high hopes for them all!

I’ll probably update you about how this went in a few years 😉 For now, I want to know what upcoming books you think will be 5 star reads? Let me know in the comments!

Muse of Nightmares was Visionary!

muse of nightmaresIt’s hard for books to live upto their predecessor- especially if said predecessor was a book like Strange the Dreamer. When a book plays havoc with my emotions like that one did, you can safely bet I’m going to be HERE for the sequel… but also nervous because how can a book live up to perfection, build on everything it did well AND satisfactorily conclude a duology all at the same time?!!? Well, never fear, Muse of Nightmares is here! Somehow this book did all those things- which obviously means I’m completely crazy about it. Prepare for some serious GUSH. *You have been warned*.

“Once upon a time there was a silence that dreamed of becoming a song, and then I found you, and now everything is music.” 

The second I picked this up, I was instantly re-immersed in the beautiful world and story. I felt as if I had just put down the last book and had been holding my breath until I returned for more. In fact, that’s how I felt the whole way through this book. From the beginning, I was lulled into Laini Taylor’s lustrous narrative. I did not want to wake- no matter how intense or maddening or complex the plot became.

“Her voice would die before she ran out of rage. She could scream a hole in her throat and come unravelled, fall to pieces like moth-chewed silk, and still, from the leftover shreds of her, the little pile of tatters, would pour forth this unending scream.” 

And it was pretty relentless. New dimensions to the story made it feel as mind-trippy as a tour through Inception. I liked the addition of the sister’s story, I appreciated the detailed origins of the gods and I couldn’t get enough of the insights into the Ellen’s past. Most of all, I loved how this book both answered mysteries and revealed other areas of exploration.

“…that’s another story.”

Because one of my favourite parts of this book is the way it hints of other worlds and stories. Both of tales past and yet to come. I was seriously fangirling over Taylor’s references to the seraphim Daughter of Smoke and Bone and little links she was making to possible other works in the pipeline. It just made me squeal with delight to know that Laini Taylor basically has an extended universe now. It’s really no secret that I’ve adored everything I’ve read by Taylor so more- and the idea that there’s more to come? AHHHH! Celebrations all round!

“There was a word from a myth: sathaz . It was the desire to possess that which can never be yours. It meant senseless, hopeless yearning, the way a gutter child might dream of being king, and it came from the tale of the man who loved the moon.”

I’m in awe of this lady, because her skills as a writer are unparalleled. If I could have, I’d have memorised every. line. of. this. gorgeous. book. Every sentence was sensational; so many of the individual word choices rolled off the tongue. And yes, I am that impressed with this writer, even at the micro level. And no, it’s not over the top- it’s just that good 😉

“Now it was back, and it felt, as it ever had, like calligraphy, if calligraphy were written honey.”

As a story, this really took the main characters on an emotional journey. In part, it was a tale of pain and trauma and grief. Yet, underpinning that were lessons of recovery. There were times it was so exquisite it made my soul ache for these wonderful, wonderful characters. I felt everything with them and for them.

“It’s the mind. It’s the most complex and astonishing thing there is, that there’s a world inside each of us that no one else can ever know or see or visit.” 

And not just for the protagonists- the side characters were so well drawn as well. I especially liked how the antagonists from the first book were fleshed out and given room to grow. Thyon was humanised so much more; Minya’s mind set was explored with real psychological depth and given the headspace to evolve before our eyes- so much so I ended up relating to her more than Sarai and the ever-perfect Lazlo.

“Wishes don’t just come true. They’re only the target you paint around what you want. You still have to hit the bull’s eye yourself.”

In the end this gave me everything I wanted from this book- and more. One could say I enjoyed the hell out of Muse of Nightmares 😉 Naturally, I’m giving it:

5/5 bananas

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So have you read this? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!

All the Endings: Books Finales that *WOWED* Me

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So I mentioned yesterday that I’m being a bit introspective at the moment and thinking about endings. A lot of books are about the journey- but let’s face it, the ending can often make or break a book. Since I’m upto that stage in my WIP, I started to fret about the kind of endings that leave me dissatisfied, but while I was writing the piece I realised there are a lot more endings that blew me away than let me down. And since this seems to be such a great procrastination tool, I decided I should do a counter-post and share some endings I’m utterly enamoured by:

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Poison– no spoilers, but loved the inventiveness of the book and unexpected ending blew me away.

emperor of thorns

Emperor of Thorns– completely bold, completely perfect- this ending was everything you could want from a series finale.

golden son

Golden Son– I love a good cliffhanger- it’s a special kind of torture to have to wait between books when everything’s on the line- I’m weird I guess 😉

Heir-of-Fire-UK

Heir of Fire– what was I saying about cliffhangers? 😉 It was an emotional end to an emotional book. This happens to be my favourite of all Maas’ books- and that’s cos the drama didn’t let up for even a second. And while the conclusion resolved a lot that went down in the book, it set up plenty for the next instalment.

broken things

Broken Things– kind of spoilery, but this is kind of my answer to the issue with TFIOS ending. I love when books are a little meta- especially when that means they mirror an aspect of a book within the book.

harry potter and the chamber of secrets

Chamber of Secrets– this is my favourite HP ending. It has the best mystery and reveal in the series in my opinion. And I simply adore how it was executed.

daniel deronda

Daniel Deronda– I love how realistic this felt at the same time as meting out justice for the characters. While the flawed heroine didn’t get exactly what she wanted, it made sense to me. And the perfect hero got exactly what he deserved. It felt so right.

persuasion

Persuasion– I’m a sucker for a happy ending and no one does that quite like Austen. This for me is the most perfect of all her creations in that regard, because it feels the most earned.

memoirs of a geisha

Memoirs of a Geisha– in a similar vein this appealed to the romantic in me. I love how this book is devoted to the idea that love can work out in the end.

tess

Tess of the D’Urbervilles– I also really appreciate books on the other end of the spectrum and frankly this is that. It’s perfectly tragic.

we were liars

We Were Liars– this heartbreaking finale made me absolutely break down- and I can’t say anymore because of *spoilers*- it’s best to go into this book blind and see for yourself.

count of monte cristo

Count of Monte Cristo– not only does this deliver exactly what you want, it also deals with a complex moral in a clever way.

shades children

Shade’s Children– this is the kind of ending that I used to just pick up and read on its own over and over. Because it’s just perfection. The twist towards the end was great, but really the best moment in the whole book is that flash forward.

anansi boys

Anansi Boys– I always love the way Gaiman shifts the story around a twist- and this is no exception. In fact, this was the book that made me fall head over heels for Gaiman’s work. And that ending- I wasn’t expecting that at all- *mindblown*.

noughts and crosses

Noughts and Crosses– it kind of had to end this way- but OH MY HEART! I will never be over it.

strange the dreamer

Strange the Dreamer– of course, Laini Taylor had to make it onto the list- because this is how to do an ending. I love how it felt both foreshadowed and sudden!

And that’s all for now! Do you agree or disagree with any of the books on this list? And what’s your favourite endings? Let me know in the comments!

Reverential for Strange the Dreamer

strange the dreamerThis book was everything I hoped it would be. From the exquisite and striking opening to the excruciating ending, I was absolutely absorbed in this. As I have come to expect from Taylor, the writing was so quotable and the world building beautifully distinct.

“We are all children in the dark, here in Weep.”

I don’t know what there is to say about Lazlo Strange, the main character, other than I *loved* him. Everything from his name to his looks to his personality was perfectly drawn. I was rooting for him from the second he was introduced. I don’t want to go into spoilers, but his ridiculous drive to help even his enemies made him one of the most adorably selfless characters I’ve ever come across and I think I will always, always rate him as a favourite now.

“It was impossible, of course. But when did that ever stop any dreamer from dreaming.” 

And ugh I was definitely against his nemesis Thyon. While Taylor expertly showed us where he was coming from and made his motivations understandable, all I wanted to do was hit him over the head with a giant book. He was the worst kind of villain, because he didn’t just steal tangible objects… he stole dreams. His cruelty reminded me of the pain of plagiarism and I saw this as a clever allegory for intellectual property theft.

“The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around”

Miraculously, I was as invested in Sarai’s story. As the Muse of Nightmares (another great title), her powers were so imaginative and really added another dimension to the storytelling.

“If you’re afraid of your own dreams, you’re welcome here in mine.”

The romance in this really worked for me, especially as it was a slow burn. I squealed so loudly when they finally got together.

“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.” 

Of course, the mysteries and stories of Weep really worked for me as well. While I did see one of the plot twists coming a mile off, I did not know what would happen and would have never pictured that finale. It was an agonising torment to see where it went- and I really can’t wait for book 2!

5/5 bananas

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This is why Laini Taylor is one of my favourite authors! I’ve never deducted a single banana from her books… so forgive me for the very biased review 😉

Anyway- have you read this? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!

And you can check out my thoughts on the sequel Muse of Nightmares here