review-ish-thingy: strange the dreamer by laini taylor

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I have never read a book quite like this one.

I also probably couldn’t explain it if I tried. It is so full of fantastical elements that to fully explain one would leave all the others out. Or if I explained everything, you would be unable to see how all the elements fit together, because they all seem so different from one another–but rather than throw a bunch of weird concepts into a world just to make the story sound cool, Laini Taylor actually crafts a world where these things fit in and make sense (while also maintaining an air of mystery!). Really, the only way to comprehend it all is to read it, which I highly suggest that you do.

First, the characters. They’re all very intriguing and have depths to them that later get explored–every single one is distinguished from the rest, even minor characters. But I might say the most curious bunch of characters are Sarai, Lazlo, the Godslayer, and Minya–all of them have some good and bad in them, all of them are beautifully written, and all of them demand your sympathy and attention.

Sarai has cinammon hair and skin as blue as cornflowers and dragonfly wings. She screams moths that dissipate in daylight.

Lazlo is a librarian/dreamer who spends his days thinking one thing: a mysterious city that has been forgotten by everyone else, and the name of which has been stolen from him.

The Godslayer is a hero to his city, but his shame and guilt for what he’s done runs through him as truly as his blood and spirit.

And Minya is the blue-skinned savior of four, a witness of bloodshed and carnage from too early an age, trapped at six-years-old and running everything by the strength of her will alone. (She’s so creepy. I love her.)

All of these concepts are written with descriptions and language that set it apart from other stories; I would say it’s written like a fairy-tale, but fairytales aren’t usually as elaborate as this–it’s more like a legend, or a myth, which makes sense because those are what the story is full of.

The settings themselves are very clearly established, each unique and coated in the feelings each character associates with them. The language that Laini uses to express what these places are like make you see it so clearly around you and it builds up a yearning for these places, especially the ones that the characters themselves yearn for.

There’s a grand library where Lazlo lives, which he’s fond of for saving him from the drab life of working and keeping his interests secret, and for being a place where he can read stories and learn about the mysterious city he someday wants to find.

Then there’s Weep, the city that can’t see the sky, haunted by blue-metal structures that cannot be removed but which serve as constant reminders of the trauma the city has faced for two-hundred years.

And then there’s dream-Weep, which is bright and full of laughter and the kind of place where a blue-skinned girl can eat cakes while she wears the moon on her wrist.

Things like this give the whole story its own unique character, with gorgeous prose and complicated characters and settings that seem worlds apart from one another with their own separate wonders. The simplest way to describe the story is, in fact, a description said by the characters: above all things, it’s a story that is “beautiful and full of monsters.”

Never is there a page you don’t want to quote descriptions out of or a concept in the story–including ones I haven’t even begun to describe–that doesn’t sound both impossible and real. There is never something good without its inverse, both in the characters and in the world, and that, of course, makes for the best kind of story.

So give this book a go–it feels like a legend, and it feels like it’s real, and it is full of strange things, and it is written like a dream.

quotes!:

  • “He dreamed of deserts and great empty cities and imagined he could feel the minutes and hours of his life running through him, as though he were nothing but an hourglass of flesh and bone.”
  • “’If you’re afraid of your own dreams, you’re welcome here in mine.’”
  • “Sometimes a moment is so remarkable that it carves out a space in time and spins there, while the world rushes on around it.”

MAGIC WORD OF THE DAY/WEEK/MONTH/WHATEVER:

Ruderal, which means thriving on broken ground.

-THE END-

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review-ish-thingy: vicious by v. e. schwab

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This book is an utterly fascinating take on superheroes. The concepts are so well-developed and believable that I’d be surprised if things didn’t actually work that way. It’s basically a character study involving trauma, super powers, and questionable morals. No side is made out to be the good side or the bad side–they’re both terrible, it’s just difficult to decide which one is worse.

And oh, it is so good.

Every character is given the attention they deserve from the narrative, but it leaves enough open to interpretation. I found myself drawing on elements from the story and expanding them in my head, coming up with ideas that weren’t explicitly mentioned but were definitely implied just subtly enough. The characters were made out to be distant, almost inhuman, but the characteristics they showed even when lacking any sense of empathy or fear still helped me to relate to them and see how yes, this could be me.

Reading about their super powers was enjoyable and exciting, and the non-linear storytelling did well in keeping some secrets but not being too vague. At first it was a one-sided story with little explanation of the true motives of the other side, but at the halfway point it delved straight into the other side and why they did what they did.

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The hours drawing towards the climax increased in intensity and the climax itself was no disappointment. I feel like that was the moment when the superhero inspiration it drew from comics and movies showed through, because I can easily picture it on a big screen.

All in all, the characterization, plot, and concept were all very well delivered and the blurred line between good and evil was intriguing and perfect for the story. This book is very worthy of your time and money, and I recommend it heartily as well as all of V. E. Schwab’s other books, of course.

MAGICAL WORD OF THE DAY/WEEK/MONTH/WHATEVER:

Cathexis, which means a concentration of mental energy into one specific thing.

-THE END-

newly released books i’m excited for

Alternatively titled, brand new books with gorgeous covers that I definitely would not mind someone giving me out of the kindness of their heart, hint hint. (Even though I already own one out of the list. But I wouldn’t object to a second copy!)

  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (feb 28)
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    I’ve heard so much good about this one! It’s a YA contemporary inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and everyone is raving about it. It tackles serious topics from the view of a sixteen-year-old girl, it’s simultaneously important and humorous, and I really want to get my hands on a copy.


  • The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi (march 28)
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    I’ve been waiting for this one for at least a year and it’s finally out! It’s an MG adventure about “a steampunk Jumanji with a Middle Eastern flair” with a Bangladeshi-American main character and lots of family dynamics. Also, apparently, a lot of food descriptions Every aspect of the book just looks so good. Out of this entire list, this is the one I currently want most.


  • Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (march 28)
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    I actually don’t know the premise of this one clearly, so it’s kind of a mystery to me, but I’ve heard the prose is really beautiful. It’s apparently about an orphan-dreamer-librarian and a mythical lost city, which is a really cool premise even though it doesn’t give away much. Of course, the only way to find out more is to read it!


  • Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham (feb 21)
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    This one is a YA historical fiction mystery with two points-of-view a hundred years apart! There’s a girl who finds a skeleton and starts investigating a century-old murder, and a boy in Tulsa in 1921. And of course I love mysteries and historical fiction (well, I love everything and those genres fall under everything), so I really really want this book.


  • A Conjuring of Light by V. E. Schwab (feb 21)
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    This is the only one from the list that I’ve actually started. I’ve already posted pictures of my (twice) signed copy here and I’m reading this slowly, but I’m very excited to see how everything concludes. The basic concept is four parallel Londons with varying degrees of magic, if you don’t already know that. In this book specifically, there are boats and funny scenes on said boats and very intense moments, as well as multiple things I haven’t gotten to yet so no spoilers. This is a wonderful series, people. Read it if you haven’t already!


  • Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves (march 28)
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    This one is a YA historical fantasy! It takes place in Hungary and it’s about a girl who can’t do magic at all but comes from a family of people with pretty powerful magic. Of course, it’s a concept that has been done before, but I want to read it for the setting, history, and pretty cover if nothing else. Plus I’ve heard that it takes its own unique spin on the concept, so I’m excited to read it!


  • The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco (march 7)
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    This is a YA paranormal fantasy about a necromancer named Tea! According to the summary, necromancers are feared and she has to leave her kingdom to train under an older, wiser necromancer. I love stories about necromancers and such, so nothing to object to here!


  • Strangers in Atlantis by Matt Myklusch (april 1)
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    This is the second of the Seaborne books, and it happens to be by one of my favorite authors (who also wrote the Jack Blank series, which I HIGHLY recommend). It’s MG and it’s about pirates and apparently there’s a gateway to Atlantis, so all good things!


  • Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan (march 14)
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    This one is a contemporary MG featuring a Pakistani-American girl! It’s about identity and culture and dealing with vandalization, and I want this book so much. I want them all so much. Please give them to me.


Do any of these books appeal to you, and if so, which ones? Are you willing to gift me any of them? Or all of them? Let me know!

MAGICAL WORD OF THE DAY/WEEK/MONTH/WHATEVER:

Savoir faire, which is the ability to act or speak appropriately in a social setting. Also known as something I do not have.

-THE END-

unfinished stories from my journal

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Some of these are slightly dark, and others are just plain weird, just to warn you. Here are some snippets and things I found in my journal! It’s not all of them, of course, but it’s a lot.

5/27/16: “He used to be a delicate creature, once.

Before he fractured and broke.

Before he became an unclimbable mountain made of glass, full of jagged edges and sharp smiles.

Before anyone who got close got cut, before they bled out and learned, finally, to stay away.

His hands, once soft, were claws with a poison touch. His eyes, once warm, now burned like uncontrolled flame.

Yes, he used to be a delicate creature. But there were no blunt edges to him now.”

8/2/16: “He stopped dreaming when his city turned to dust. When the people he loved had gone and he couldn’t remember why, or how. Or who.

When he couldn’t remember how old he was, because it had been decades, maybe centuries. When the cold, the relentless cold refused to leave.

He knew that silence wasn’t a sound, but it seemed to have an echo in his empty, broken town.”

no date:

  • “There is no cold until you think there’s cold.
  • Even the clock’s ticking cannot keep them apart.
  • We”

(What was this supposed to be? I have no idea.)

8/30/16: “Hair dyed just lighter than roses, warm feet against colder tiles on the floor. Silver eyes beaming through dull walls, through cobwebs dangling from unreachable heights, through gray inescapable prisons.

An unfaltering melody dies.

The tune lies somewhere in the muddle head turning, slowly, to the window.

A scratching sound? Like someone’s trying to scramble up the tower walls but is failing miserably. Muddle head out the window, pink braid dangling out and nearly touching the ground. Boy, no more than sixteen–same age, then–standing confusedly outside the tower.”

(This was an attempt to make it unclear whether the story is in first, second, or third person, and possibly also a Rapunzel retelling.)

no date (but probably the same day): “In someone else’s universe, you are a planet, vibrant and mysterious. Here, you are a moon, orbiting and made of footprints left in dust, constantly changing phases.”

9/2/16: “‘I’m going.’ She said it out of the blue, sitting against the wall of his workroom, biting her sleeve nervously.

‘You’re what?’

‘I’m going,’ she repeated, dropping her arm, and pushing herself up. ‘I’m not waiting for someone else to volunteer and mess things up. This is my change. I’m going.’

He set his tools down with a clatter. ‘Please no.’

‘I am,’ she repeated furiously. ‘You won’t can’t stop me.’

Every The words felt like stings, and suddenly he needed to stop it, to defend himself before she could hurt him more. ‘How can you say that? It’s dangerous, and I might–‘

‘I know it’s dangerous!’ she snapped. ‘But I’ve spent an entire life being neglected and it’s too late now for someone you to want to protect me.’

His eyes started to burn, and he tried to deflect the topic away from himself. ‘Have you even told your family?’

Kesslyn’s eyes hardened. ‘Yes.’

‘Then I know they’re not fine with you just up and leaving–‘

‘I don’t care whether they like it or not! This is so much bigger than what everyone wants–this is about saving them, and you. This is my chance to be important to someone, Clev! Why would you want to stop me from that?’

‘You’re important to me!’

A silence fell around them, thick as fog and made composed of unsaid words. They were suddenly both very, very aware of the things between them that they never dared to speak.

Kesslyn broke through the fog-like silence, her voice much softer, almost hopeful and almost dreading the answer.

‘ . . . really?'”

(This one is actually a possible snippet from one of my WIPs, although way ahead of where the story is at the moment.)

9/7/16: “The wall is a prison. A gray thing that keeps you me in, locks me up in a place I don’t want to be.

The wall is safety. A beautiful blockade that protects me and keeps me from being dragged down to the level the ones inside are at.”

(I’m 99% certain I didn’t write this is something political?? Not sure how that happened though.)

9/28/16: “Our smiles will not shatter. You will feel threatened by our supposed happiness and attempt to destroy it, but we will laugh it off and you will hate it. We will endure all with a smile, even when we have nothing. Our smiles will not shatter even as our souls will.”

1/5/17: “Tell my broken bones that their song will be the most beautiful because theirs is not a perfect melody, but a shattered one, like broken chandeliers and dazzling shards of glass. Tell them that their story is most important because it is one of healing, not of staying one way for all of eternity.”

1/26/17: “She walked a delicately strung tightrope and I was her net, waiting below should she miss a step. I would catch her, always, until she could make it the whole way without falling. And still I promised to always be there.

But it was them who removed me, because the audience preferred win or lose, no second chances. They wanted her to make it alone–no, they wanted her to fail alone, and have no one there to save her.

But what should happen if she fell beyond the depths of saving? What should happen if I were not there to stop her?

I promised her . . .”

1/26/17: “The bullet pierces flesh.

I do not know whether it’s him or me, and then I don’t know what I’m asking it is I don’t know, but all I know is that there is a moment when all of the space between the metal bullet and the skin disappears.

Someone is not making it out alive.

But has he shot–is he shooting–or is it me with the gun in hand? Is it me dying, or him? I feel no differences between us, though moments before the differences felt plenty.

Has one of us shot ourselves? Is that it? Or are we enemies here just to destroy each other?

I can’t remember anymore. Maybe I never remembered in the first place.

All I can remember is the force of the shot, the soundlessness, the shock registering on both our faces then not registering at all. I remember falling, but I don’t know who is doing the falling, who has a new bullet lodged in the skull–I remember my eyes being too slow to watch it happen, seeing only the bullet in its first moment and what happens in its last.

I remember a body on the ground, but I don’t know if it’s mine.

I see the gun, pulled out, pointed but not pressed tightly against. The irreversible moment as the trigger soundlessly clicks. The bullet out, the bullet in.

The bullet pierces flesh.”

1/30/17: “How many times have I walked down these halls, dreaming–and how many times through those, in awe that dreams come true?”

Any thoughts? Which do you like best? Or worst? Lemme know!

MAGICAL WORD OF THE DAY/WEEK/MONTH/WHATEVER:

Nescient, which means lacking knowledge or ignorant.

-THE END-

a guide: how i write

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(This is my 50th post!)

There’s no right or wrong way to write, but here’s the procedure I typically use to begin writing!

  1. GRAB A SNACK.
    Very necessary. Usually it’s something like peanut butter sandwich crackers, or a packet of brownies–whatever happens to be available.
  2. FIND A COMFORTABLE SPOT.
    Usually I sit against my bed with a pillow between us so that the frame doesn’t dig into my back. Surrounding myself with many pillows is even better. Pillows are very useful.
  3. OPEN THE DOCUMENT.
    Although I write short stories in my notebook, I mostly use Google Docs for my larger projects, a.k.a. novels. Not that Google Docs isn’t (very) flawed, but it’s the best resource available to me without paying.
  4. SET A TIME FOR A WORD WAR.
    Some people don’t know what word wars are, so if you’re one of those people, they’re basically set periods of time when you and your friends try to write as much as possible. After the set amount of time is up (usually it lasts from five to fifteen minutes), you tell each other how many words you wrote using the handy-dandy word count tool available on most word processors, and whoever wrote the most words wins. There’s almost always someone available to word war when I want to, which is very fortunate. It helps with motivation, especially if you’re competitive.
  5. CONTINUE WRITING FROM THE LAST WRITTEN SCENE.
    Sometimes it takes a long while to figure out how to continue, because writer’s block is a pain. But usually, if I just start rambling about something in the story (like, say, a fountain), it’ll help me get back into the story. It’s just the first draft, after all; it doesn’t need to flow neatly quite yet.
  6. REMEMBER TO AVOID STEREOTYPES.
    A lot of very minor characters tend to pop up as I’m writing because my characters kind of need to interact with other people. But since really minor characters aren’t as important to develop as major ones, I tend to use a default for all of them until there’s nothing to differentiate them. So whenever a new person comes up in the story, I challenge the original idea for them. Usually I find that the default is Caucasian, male, and abled, so I change that. Of course, you shouldn’t rely on this all the time–that creates an opposite stereotype/default, which is the same problem but on the other end of the scale, resulting in the same flat characters. That’s how a lot of tough, brave heroines have become so cardboard-like in YA fiction, after all.
  7. LEAVE NOTES FOR MYSELF USING GOOGLE DOCS’ COMMENTING CAPABILITY.
    This is really useful because as I’m writing, I know what my writing is lacking in. If I leave it without giving myself a note, then I’ll forget it and have to rely completely on rereading to find what I need to fix. But if I do leave a note for myself, sometimes as simple as highlighting a sentence or a word and writing “check” in the comment section, I can look back on it and see exactly what needs to be fixed or researched.
  8. CHECK WHO WON THE WORD WAR.
    Once all the writing is over, I check with my friends to see who won. Mostly it isn’t me, unless I accidentally cheated the word war and kept writing too long–but that’s not a bad thing! That means I can easily write more with or without another word war to motivate me.
  9. REPEAT STEPS 4-8.
    Self-explanatory; repetitively doing word wars does help me to keep going.

MAGICAL WORD OF THE DAY/WEEK/MONTH/WHATEVER:

Quietus, which means death or something that causes death.

-THE END-