Strange the Dreamer and My Lady Jane // Beautiful world-building and a creative twist on history

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Hello everyone!

Today I am excited to tell you about two books that I’ve recently read:

To be honest, I was hesitant to pick up Strange the Dreamer, because I didn’t quite enjoy Daughter of Smoke and Bone as much as I thought I would. However this book did not disappoint!

Secondly, I never read historical fiction. Like, at all (it’s bad), however I thought I’d give My Lady Jane a try since I heard that it is a fun read.

Anyway! Without further ado…

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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.

What I liked

  • The characters! I love Sarai, Feral, Ruby, Sparrow, and even Minya. It is a fun cast of characters who I want to continue reading about.
  • LOTS of imagination. The world building is amazing. I love how magic works in this world, and the terminologies used to describe it. It feels like a world that is vast and magical, and that we are just skimming the surface in this book.

What I didn’t like

  • I’m not very used to the omnipresent narrator. It seems like the story is written through one character’s POV at a time, but often perspectives change within a chapter or even within a paragraph.
  • So far I’ve heard lots of praise about Laini Taylor’s writing style, so this is going to be an unpopular opinion. I feel a bit bogged down with the big words and the lengthy descriptions. (I like brevity, LOL!)

The Bottom Line: 4/5 stars

Though I am not used to the writing style and the POV switching, I enjoy the characters and the world building. This is a series that I look forward to continuing.

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Edward (long live the king) is the King of England. He’s also dying, which is inconvenient, as he’s only sixteen and he’d much rather be planning for his first kiss than considering who will inherit his crown…

Jane (reads too many books) is Edward’s cousin, and far more interested in books than romance. Unfortunately for Jane, Edward has arranged to marry her off to secure the line of succession. And there’s something a little odd about her intended…

Gifford (call him G) is a horse. That is, he’s an Eðian (eth-y-un, for the uninitiated). Every day at dawn he becomes a noble chestnut steed—but then he wakes at dusk with a mouthful of hay. It’s all very undignified.

The plot thickens as Edward, Jane, and G are drawn into a dangerous conspiracy. With the fate of the kingdom at stake, our heroes will have to engage in some conspiring of their own. But can they pull off their plan before it’s off with their heads?

What I liked

  • It’s a HILARIOUS book. Each characters have their own quirks – Jane likes books (a LOT), and Gifford is… well, a horse half the time. They make fun of each other and it’s all very funny to read.
  • Light and easy to read.
  • Unique writing style.
  • Creative twist on history. I like that this book is not bogged down on facts, which is what intimidates me when it comes to the historical fiction genre. This may be a good place to start for beginners to the genre (such as myself.)

What I didn’t like

  • TOO funny. And yes… there is such a thing. There are moments that are quite serious which is interrupted by a humorous commentary by the narrator or the intrusion of another character. It lightens up the mood, however it interrupts the flow of the scene.
  • I don’t feel a connection to the characters. It’s true that they each have their own personalities: Jane is a bookworm, Gifford is a poet who wants to hide the fact that he is a poet, Edward is sexist but learns the errors of his ways, Bess is really REALLY smart. However, I don’t always understand the motivation behind their actions, which is frustrating.
  • Pacing is slow. This is a fairly long book (almost 500 pages), and I felt impatient at times waiting for things to happen. (Again, I like brevity :’) )

The Bottom Line: 3/5 stars

My Lady Jane is a fun, light-hearted novel that made me smile and laugh out loud. However, I am frustrated by the slow pacing and the actions of the characters.

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You can probably guess by now that I like simple writing and fast pacing. Do you like detailed descriptions or do you prefer simple language? Do you prefer fast or slow pacing? Is there such a thing as TOO funny?

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24 thoughts on “Strange the Dreamer and My Lady Jane // Beautiful world-building and a creative twist on history

  1. Interesting review Sophie! Sometimes funny gets out of hand and becomes parody and this is quite annoying for me too. Pace and language depend on the kind of book actually but my preferences lean towards simple and fast. I enjoy a nice description as much as anyone and I cherish slow paragraphs but when I hate it when it gets snail paced.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Michael! Yes I think this book is an example of how funny got out of hand for me. Glad to hear that you also enjoy books with simple language and fast pacing. I also can’t stand snail paced books lol 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved these reviews! I was a bit on the fence about Daughter of Smoke and Bone, but everyone has been recommending me Strange The Dreamer. I think I’ll give it a try, I’m really curious about the world-building in that one 🙂
    I think you felt pretty much the same way as I did, about My Lady Jane. It was a fun and entertaining read, but I didn’t quite connect with the characters and sometimes the story felt a bit… long, for me, I was waiting for this to really happen and they took their sweet time, haha.
    Great reviews! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Marie ❤ I really did enjoy Strange the Dreamer more than Daughter of Smoke and Bone. The world building is phenomenal! Really hope that you will get to read this book 🙂
      I am glad that you felt the same way about My Lady Jane! The story was quite long and in my opinion the pacing could have been faster and some scenes/dialogues could have been shortened or removed. However it was a fun read and I am glad to have read a historical fiction book (finally) after a long time haha
      Have a good week ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved your review for these!

    Both books are on my TBR and it was perfect to see an honest opinion from someone who enjoys brevity and isn’t a big fan of historical fiction as well!

    In particular it was great to hear your thoughts on My Lady Jane’s comedy! I wanted to try and read this before My Plain Jane came out and I think I can fit it in better for my mood now (I knew it was a humorous book but was more bracing myself for the historical style).

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    • Thank you for your lovely comment ❤ My Lady Jane definitely doesn't read like a historical fiction book although it does belong in the genre. I think it seems more like a humorous/fantasy type of novel. Hope that you will enjoy this book if you do decide to give it a try 🙂

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  4. I totally agree with the heaviness of Laini Taylor… but she sure is the queen of world building to me! And I actually just finished My Lady Jane… it was a super long book (but multiple POVs should increase the page length) and the beginning totally dragged for me… I didn’t connect to them until they were on the run?! ❤ Lovely reviews Sophie!!

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    • Hi Dani ❤ Haha yes I agree that Laini Taylor is amazing at world building!! Did you read the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series as well? I finished the first book and now I am more motivated to continue the series 🙂
      Haha yes My Lady Jane was a really long book and I felt that the pacing dragged in the beginning as well.
      Thank you Dani ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have read the entire Daughter of Smoke and Bone series, lol. The rest of the series is different from the first book so depending how your level of love for it the second book will be an improvement or a little disappointing. I do love the fascinating places she goes with the story though it is looooong. ♥️ enjoy!

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  5. hehe I think you’re entitled to like whatever styles appeal to you most lol- I actually love Taylor’s style, but I’ve heard it’s hit or miss and I understand that (especially since there’s plenty of writers/styles I do not like- I don’t always like brevity 😉 ) Anyway, I’m glad you liked it apart from that- I still haven’t read it cos I’ve been saving it a little. I’m really glad My Lady Jane was so funny- but I do get what you mean about how comedy can sometimes be distracting from other elements. Sounds fun overall and I do still plan to read it. Great reviews!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you!! Yes we all have writing styles that we prefer. It really does depend on the person! I really do love Laini Taylor’s books in other aspects (such as her characters and especially the world building) so I am looking forward to reading more of her books. Haha I know the urge to ‘save’ a book for later – hope you will enjoy this when you do read it 🙂 Also hope that you will like My Lady Jane. I’ll look forward to hearing your thoughts about that 🙂

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  6. YAAAAS! Someone else who didn’t much care for My Lady Jane. People were RAVING about this one and I was like: “The fudgecakes? This is awful.”

    I also had serious issues with the humor factor, but that partly stems from reading historical fiction for its societal drama. It’s hard to get scheming and plotting and intrigue in fantasy and scifi and it was just such a shame for this to be treated more like YA fantasy than historical fiction. *sigh*

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  7. Great reviews for both of these books Sophie! 🙂 I’m really glad you enjoyed Strange the Dreamer despite not being as keen on Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone series. I have to admit I’m not really a fan of the omnipresent narrator either, it tends to pull me out of the story when I know more than the characters you know? but I didn’t notice it as much in Strange the Dreamer for some reason. I do get what you mean about Laini’s writing style, personally I love it but it does take me a while to get into her books given how wordy they can be.
    Also I’m really glad you enjoyed My Lady Jane for the most part as well, though it’s a shame you didn’t connect with the characters as much. 🙂
    Again great reviews! 😀 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • I feel the same way about the omnipresent narrator. I think I am more in tune with a character when a chapter (or a section of one) is devoted to their POV. Haha yes I do find that it took a longer for me to get into this book because of the writing style. Maybe that is something to get used to as I read more of Laini’s books 🙂
      Thank you Beth ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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