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Muse of Nightmares by Laini TaylorMuse of Nightmares (Strange the Dreamer, #2) by Laini Taylor
on October 2, 2018
Genres: fantasy, young adult
Pages: 528
Format: eBook, ARC
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads

In the wake of tragedy, neither Lazlo nor Sarai are who they were before. One a god, the other a ghost, they struggle to grasp the new boundaries of their selves as dark-minded Minya holds them hostage, intent on vengeance against Weep.

Lazlo faces an unthinkable choice—save the woman he loves, or everyone else?—while Sarai feels more helpless than ever. But is she? Sometimes, only the direst need can teach us our own depths, and Sarai, the muse of nightmares, has not yet discovered what she's capable of.

As humans and godspawn reel in the aftermath of the citadel's near fall, a new foe shatters their fragile hopes, and the mysteries of the Mesarthim are resurrected: Where did the gods come from, and why? What was done with thousands of children born in the citadel nursery? And most important of all, as forgotten doors are opened and new worlds revealed: Must heroes always slay monsters, or is it possible to save them instead?


Strange the Dreamer (#1): ★★★

Always and forever: the children. Each face was seared into her mind, two versions of them, side by side: alive and terrified next to dead and glassy-eyed, because she had failed to save them.

They were all I could carry.

If Strange the Dreamer was a story about clutching to hope while searching for yourself and a place of belonging, Muse of Nightmares is about trauma: attempts to bury it, the horrible fear and rage and emotional damage it causes, and the slow and difficult process of healing from it. Yeah, it’s also about magical young blue people and colonialism and Tizerkane warriors and a city named Weep which is itself traumatized from brutal oppression. But as I said, to me, while the other elements are all vital to it, the overarching story is ultimately about trauma and healing.

Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa: A Case of Misguided ExpectationsShadow of The Fox (Shadow of the Fox, #1) by Julie Kagawa
Published by Harlequin Teen on October 2, 2018
Genres: fantasy, young adult
Format: ARC, eBook
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads

One thousand years ago, the great Kami Dragon was summoned to grant a single terrible wish—and the land of Iwagoto was plunged into an age of darkness and chaos.
Now, for whoever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers, a new wish will be granted. A new age is about to dawn.
Raised by monks in the isolated Silent Winds temple, Yumeko has trained all her life to hide her yokai nature. Half kitsune, half human, her skill with illusion is matched only by her penchant for mischief. Until the day her home is burned to the ground, her adoptive family is brutally slain and she is forced to flee for her life with the temple’s greatest treasure—one part of the ancient scroll.
With an army of demons at her heels and the unlikeliest of allies at her side, Yumeko’s secrets are more than a matter of life or death. They are the key to the fate of the world itself.


Shadow of the Fox has me at a loss for how to review it.

It’s received so much praise already – often from other reviewers who I really respect and whose book opinions or recommendations I usually agree with or find helpful – yet despite that, it largely fell flat for me. The prose and the dialogue, in particular, were the reading equivalent of listening to nails on a chalkboard.

What went wrong? Am I just an alien from another planet, operating on an entirely different wavelength from both Julie Kagawa and all the reviewers who loved Shadow of the Fox? Am I just a ship passing in the night, completely missing this hype…ship? Am I disappointed by this book because I had unrealistic or misguided expectations for it? Can I even hope to pick apart my complicated feelings of disappointment and ambivalence about this book?

Additionally, one question which I feel is important for me, as a white person, to ask myself is this: if I dislike an ownvoices work of literature, is it my own internal biases, learned patterns of racism, and/or a lack of similar lived experiences or background knowledge which lead me to dislike the book? Am I harming initiatives to increase diversity in literature by not liking this book? I searched around for some ownvoices reviews of this novel and couldn’t find any at the time of writing, so let me know if there are reviews I should link here, or if you’re an ownvoices reader yourself.

I’ll put my best effort toward examining all of this honestly, for whatever that’s worth. I’ll start things off positively by listing some things I liked.

The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner: A Beautiful, Magical TaleThe Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner
Published by Redhook on September 25, 2018
Genres: fantasy, young adult
Pages: 464
Format: ARC, eBook
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads

Captivating and boldly imaginative, with a tale of sisterhood at its heart, Rena Rossner's debut fantasy invites you to enter a world filled with magic, folklore, and the dangers of the woods.
Raised in a small village surrounded by vast forests, Liba and Laya have lived a peaceful sheltered life - even if they've heard of troubling times for Jews elsewhere. When their parents travel to visit their dying grandfather, the sisters are left behind in their home in the woods.
Soon a troupe of mysterious men appear in town and Laya falls under their spell-despite their mother's warning to be wary of strangers. And these are not the only dangers lurking in the woods...
The sisters will need each other if they are to become the women they need to be - and save their people from the dark forces that draw closer.

Friends, I love this book. I think some readers who aren’t fans of verse in their novels may not enjoy it, but for anyone else, I highly recommend it. I want to say that before anything else because I went into reading this novel knowing very little other than that I loved its cover and found the synopsis enticing. I’m so glad I did. It captured my heart and my imagination right from its opening pages.

Although I love Tati’s stories and his answers, I wonder why a small voice is a daughter’s voice. Sometimes I wish my voice could be loud–like a roar. But that is not a modest way to think. The older I get, the more immodest my thoughts become.

Also, here’s some recommended listening for this review/this book before I really dive into things: