Repost: Interview and Book Review: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

 

28374007In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.

The last queen standing gets the crown.

Holy moley this book was an excellent roller coaster of emotions and craziness.

Blake has created an absolutely intriguing story world where the isolated island members are pretty fanatical about their precious queens and they will do almost anything to see their queen crowned.

The narration in this story is a bit muddled at times, because the story seems to flow from character to character third person limited, so that way the reader is in the loop about all of the dealings behind the scenes, and everything that is going on within the three areas of the island where the girls are kept.  Obviously the reader gets the point of view of each of the queens, Katharine, Arsinoe, and Mirabella.  But we also get the point of views of those closest to them, Natalia and Pietyr for Katharine, Jules, Joseph, and Billy for Arsinoe, and Luca for Mirabella.  While I did find the narration switches to be confusing at times and sometimes the narrative voices blended together, it served the story well and it allowed for a few *gasp* moments during my read.

As for the queens themselves as characters: I can’t decide which one I like more.  Fierce Arsinoe who has overcome her faults and accepted her fate only to find her fate different by the end of the novel.  Loving Mirabella who can control raging fire but can’t control how much she loves and misses her sisters.  Shy Katharine who is stronger than anyone will give her credit for, despite her short comings.  They were all raised to hate and want to murder their siblings in order to take their crown, but fore the most part the girls are pretty reluctant.  It seems that for the most part, none of them actually hate each other, but are just kind of resigned to their lot in life…of having to commit murder in order to live.

It’s a pretty dark burden they all carry, but they do manage to find a bit of happiness in their worlds, although an unfortunate love triangle pops up that broke my heart for two different characters. Damn you, Blake for giving me feels.

The narrative has such a sense of urgency throughout the whole book, which is excellent considering the story takes place over a number of months leading up to the final conclusion of Beltane at the end of Three Dark Crowns.

The readers learn a pretty important plot point there at the end, one that will change the course of the next installment.  Overall the world building was excellent for a first fantasy novel, and I’m sure we will continue to get more details on the history of the prophecy for the triplets (I can hope!), and more insight into what happens if the queens fail to kill one another.

4.5 Bards! Keep an eye out for our interview with Kendare Blake from the Texas Teen Book Festival!

four.fivebards

 

 

 

 


#ReadADessen Review: Along for the Ride

It’s been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parents’ divorce—or since the fighting started. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live.
A job in a clothes boutique introduces Auden to the world of girls: their talk, their friendship, their crushes. She missed out on all that, too busy being the perfect daughter to her demanding mother. Then she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she’s been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend.
In her signature pitch-perfect style, Sarah Dessen explores the hearts of two lonely people learning to connect.

 

The first time i read Along for the Ride I was in high school.  Now that I am an adult and am re-reading this book I am seeing it in a much different light. When I was younger I never realized how toxic Auden’s mother and father were. While I was reading this i was kind of shocked to see how toxic her parents were because i did not remember seeing them in such a negative light. As someone who has dealt with toxic family members in their life, I understand the struggle one goes through while coming to terms with the fact that someone you love is toxic to you and you don’t want to let that person go because you do love them and care about them. Auden deals with her parents toxicity gracefully as she learns who she is.

This book is all about change and if people can change. At the beginning of the story we see Auden as a young woman who doesn’t really know who she is. She does her best to please her parents and she does the best in school so that they will notice her.  As the story progresses we see Auden come out of her shell, and learn who she is as well as who she wants to be. The journey Auden goes through is something most young women can relate to. In this book we also see how the people around Auden change, it is nice that we can see the changes her parents go through as she grows as a person.

Although this is not my favorite Sarah Dessen book this is most definitely in my top 5 favorites.This book is perfect for any woman who has had any type of family issue or has simply experienced change in their life.

4.5 Bards

Along for the Ride


Kindle Edition: Check Amazon for Pricing Digital Only

Review – The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron

What isn’t written, isn’t remembered. Even your crimes.
Nadia lives in the city of Canaan, where life is safe and structured, hemmed in by white stone walls and no memory of what came before. But every twelve years the city descends into the bloody chaos of the Forgetting, a day of no remorse, when each person’s memories – of parents, children, love, life, and self – are lost. Unless they have been written.
In Canaan, your book is your truth and your identity, and Nadia knows exactly who hasn’t written the truth. Because Nadia is the only person in Canaan who has never forgotten.
But when Nadia begins to use her memories to solve the mysteries of Canaan, she discovers truths about herself and Gray, the handsome glassblower, that will change her world forever. As the anarchy of the Forgetting approaches, Nadia and Gray must stop an unseen enemy that threatens both their city and their own existence – before the people can forget the truth. And before Gray can forget her.

The first thing i need to mention about this book is that there is self harm, not by the main character but it is by someone close to her.

I had been thinking about listening to the audio-book for months when i picked it up. I was bored and needed something to listen to while at work. When I started listening to it, I was iffy about it. Originally I was not a fan of any of the characters and I almost gave up about third of the way in, but i was told it would get better so i kept on reading.  The entire first half  of the book nothing made sense! It was getting very confusing in certain parts. There is very little to no explanation of anything in the first half but once the second half starts you figure out what exactly is happening and why. The first half of the book went really slow but once things started moving I could not stop listening to it

-Spoilers Ahead-
I was trying to not get attached to the characters but the more I read(well listened) the more I became attached to the characters.  I was intrigued as to why Nadia could remember but nobody else could. As the story goes on we find out that Canaan is actually not on Earth but on an entirely different planet. We find out that the people on the planet were supposed to be colonizing the it so that they could see if life was sustainable there. the farther in the story you get the more you find out about why Canaan is the way it is and who the original settlers were and why Grey is so important to Nadia.

Overall after you get to the second half of the book it is fantastic.  It improves ten fold which is nice. The story becomes much more fast paced and everything ties in. The person who does the voice for the characters does a great job at narrating each character and does them each justice.

3.5 Bards

The Forgetting


Kindle Edition: Check Amazon for Pricing Digital Only

#ReadADessen Review: The Truth About Forever

Are you as excited about the release of Sarah Dessen’s newest young adult novel, Once and For All (out June 6, 2017) as I am?! We teamed up with Penguin Teen to celebrate the release by counting down the weeks with reviews of her previous novels. Check out the description of Once and For All, and then our review of The Truth About Forever.  Stick around until the end of the post, you can enter to win a full set of Dessen’s catalog in paperback!

Louna, daughter of famed wedding planner Natalie Barrett, has seen every sort of wedding: on the beach, at historic mansions, in fancy hotels and clubs. Perhaps that’s why she’s cynical about happily-ever-after endings, especially since her own first love ended tragically. When Louna meets charming, happy-go-lucky serial dater Ambrose, she holds him at arm’s length. But Ambrose isn’t about to be discouraged, now that he’s met the one girl he really wants.

 

REVIEW:

In The Truth About Forever, when asked how she is coping with her father’s death, invariably seventeen year old Macy Queen’s answer is “fine,” when nothing could be further from the truth. In actuality, she is drowning in grief while maintaining a flawless façade of good grades and unblemished behavior. Though she feels lost when her boyfriend heads to “Brain Camp” for the summer, she finds herself a job with the quirky Wish Catering crew, and meets “sa-woon”-worthy Wes, whose chaotic lifestyle is in direct opposition to her own.

As the two share their stories over the summer, Macy realizes she can no longer keep her feelings on ice. Though it feels like her future ended with her dad’s death, Macy’s learns that forever is all about beginnings.

I sit here, after finishing The Truth About Forever for about the 20th time, and I am crying.  This book isn’t just important to me because of how long I’ve been a Dessen fan, but because I grew up with a lot of death in my life.  Yes, that doesn’t sound ideal or even something that you’d want to hear about, but it’s true.  I’d been to more funerals in the first 12 years of my life than I would go to in the next 12. So this book spoke to me in so many ways.

Another aspect that was important to me was the accurate representation of disease like breast cancer (my mother is a survivor) and heart disease (two of my grandparents passed away from heart attack’s like Macy’s father).  So obviously, so many ways I connect to this novel that have nothing to do with the love story, which, in my opinion is much more of a third tier narrative compared to that of Macy’s healing and her growth as someone who was no longer defined by her grief.

Sure, I love a good romance like the next person, but I think I fell in love with the friendship that Macy and Wes developed before anything romantic happened.  Honestly, I think this type of relationship development is so much more rewarding than immediate physical intimacy.  Not saying that I don’t enjoy physical intimacy (I now feel like I need to apologize to my mother), but the friendship foundation has always made any relationship worthwhile for me.

I am working on a piece that explains how much Sarah Dessen’s writing has meant to me, and how her books have always provided a light in the darkness any time I needed it.  I find picking up her books, even if I’ve read them more than twenty times, to be so fulfilling and beautiful.

I will always give this story, one of my heart (hand in heart, anyone?!), 5 Bards.

 

 

 

 

Enter to win! 

Giveaway Details:

Enter for a chance to win one (1) set of Sarah Dessen’s books in paperback (ARV: $132.00).

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on April 17, 2017 and 12:00 AM on May 29, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about June 1, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

 

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Book Review: Frostblood by Elly Blake

Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a fireblood who must hide her powers of heat and flame from the cruel frostblood ruling class that wants to destroy all that are left of her kind. So when her mother is killed for protecting her and rebel frostbloods demand her help to kill their rampaging king, she agrees. But Ruby’s powers are unpredictable, and she’s not sure she’s willing to let the rebels and an infuriating (yet irresistible) young man called Arcus use her as their weapon.

All she wants is revenge, but before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to take part in the king’s tournaments that pit fireblood prisoners against frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her and from the icy young man she has come to love.

Oh, Frostblood.

This book kind of felt like coming home.

If coming home involves a typical love story between the woman with a secretly powerful ability and a quick wit and sarcastic nature who is forced to spend time with a caustic and aloof man who also has a powerful ability and a secret past. But think about it, for those of us who have been reading young adult for years will recognize this trope and the stereotypical nature of it.  Of course there is a girl who has a power like no other, and of course there is a guy who is her polar opposite (in the case of Frostblood, literally), but they have an undeniable connection.  I will say, I do love a good love story where the love interests start off hating one another and growing to love one another.  That slow burn gets me every time.

Ruby/Taylor

So, all of the above did not mean that this book was bad.  Yes, it followed a lot of clichés and the story at its bare bones is not wholly original, BUT I thoroughly enjoyed reading this.  I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump and have been distracting myself with television, but sitting down and starting this…I read it all in one sitting.  It was fast-paced, which left little to be desired in the way of true character development, but the action was decent!  The world building needed a bit more expansion, in my opinion, mostly because there was just information on superstition and their religion, rather than anything serious.

I think the thing that did stick out to me was the amount of familial relationships that were explored in this novel.  Not just with Ruby and her mother, but with Arcus and Brother Thistle, the monks as a whole, Arcus and his brother, even the very secondary character of the small girl and her family of refugees traveling the countryside; that was my favorite part of this narrative.

The basics of the narrative kind of reflects a bit of a Marxist dichotomy between the bourgeois (the Frostbloods) and the proletariat (the Firebloods), except with even more murder and prejudice.

Overall, I found Frostblood to be a pretty average read. I didn’t absolutely adore it but I liked it just fine.  It’s definitely a story I think I’d actually keep up with, though.

3 Bards.

 

 

Book Review: Sad Perfect by Stephanie Elliot


The story of a teen girl’s struggle with Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder and how love helps her on the road to recovery.

Sixteen-year-old Pea looks normal, but she has a secret: she has Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID). It is like having a monster inside of her, one that not only dictates what she can eat, but also causes anxiety, depression, and thoughts that she doesn’t want to have. When she falls crazy-mad in love with Ben, she hides her disorder from him, pretending that she’s fine. At first, everything really does feel like it’s getting better with him around, so she stops taking her anxiety and depression medication. And that’s when the monster really takes over her life. Just as everything seems lost and hopeless, Pea finds in her family, and in Ben, the support and strength she needs to learn that her eating disorder doesn’t have to control her.

Release Date: February 28, 2017

A couple disclaimers before I get started. Jessica originally agreed to write an honest review of this book in exchange for an advanced copy. As someone in recovery for ED, she jumped on the chance to review a new book with positive representation, especially about a relatively unknown ED. However, before she received the book she read this anonymous review by another ED survivor. We talked about it and decided it might be too triggering for her to read it, so we had the book sent to me instead. Full disclosure, I do not have an eating disorder but I am familiar with Jess’s story and one of my best friends from high school almost died because of her struggle with her ED.

Okay, so I slept on it before writing this review and I’m still angry but I’ll try to keep the yelling out. First things first, I am not a fan of second person narration. While overall it was a quick read, it was irritating trying to get through it. Second, Pea spends this entire book putting down other girls, and even gets this idea reinforced from her boyfriend who says, “Maybe that’s what I expect girls to do, pick girlie colors, but you’re different,” and, later on, the quintessential quote, “You’re not like other girls.” Excuse me while I go scream for eternity that THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH OTHER GIRLS.

And that’s just what I thought was disappointing about this book. But Sad Perfect is more than just disappointing, it’s damaging on so many levels. When Pea first gets her diagnosis of ARFID she immediately starts one on one and group sessions of therapy. There’s not much focus on either of these things as part of her recovery. The things we do see of group therapy are her continued thoughts of otherness. She repeatedly mentions that her ED is different than the other girls (only girls, because obviously only white girls can have ED) and therefore somehow worse. This opinion does not change by the end of the book.

While she does continue therapy throughout the book, it seems that the only real help she gets is from her boyfriend whom she met in the very first chapter. She decides that he helps her so much that she stops taking her anti-depressants. So when they get into a fight, she starts self harming with a safety pin (way to glorify that by putting it on the cover of the book, btw). While self-harm can coexist with ED and other mental illnesses, her self-harm was literally a plot device to get her admitted to a hospital on suicide watch, where Elliot vilifies almost all hospital staff and makes gross stereotypes of the people that “need” to be there.

Pea’s stay in the hospital was her catalyst for wanting to get better and taking responsibility for her “monster.” She talks at length about how she created this monster and that really the monster is her and that her ED is her fault. She then goes on to say that she doesn’t deserve to be in the hospital when she has her family and Ben (who she has known for approximately 10 seconds) who love her. But these stereotypically low-income people need to be in the hospital because they don’t have anyone who loves them. There were multiple times that I wanted to throw this book, but during her whole hospital stay I had to physically restrain myself from actually doing so.

At the end of the book, we’re left with the message that Pea is still different from everyone else and that the power of a boy loving you will make you want to get better. I understand that Elliot’s daughter suffers from ARFID and she wanted to shed light on what her daughter and her family went through. However, it’s glaringly obvious that she has no knowledge whatsoever about any other ED and doesn’t care to.

For a better look at ED, check out Jessica’s review of Elena, Vanishing. And for more information about eating disorders and treatment visit the National Eating Disorder Association.

If I could give this zero bards, I would, but I guess I’ll settle for one.

Book Review: Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

Mary B. Addison killed a baby.

Allegedly. She didn’t say much in that first interview with detectives, and the media filled in the only blanks that mattered: A white baby had died while under the care of a church-going black woman and her nine-year-old daughter. The public convicted Mary and the jury made it official. But did she do it? She wouldn’t say.

Mary survived six years in baby jail before being dumped in a group home. The house isn’t really “home”—no place where you fear for your life can be considered a home. Home is Ted, who she meets on assignment at a nursing home.

There wasn’t a point to setting the record straight before, but now she’s got Ted—and their unborn child—to think about. When the state threatens to take her baby, Mary must find the voice to fight her past. And her fate lies in the hands of the one person she distrusts the most: her Momma. No one knows the real Momma. But who really knows the real Mary?

Release Date: January 24, 2017

I think one of the best things about the movement in young adult literature to include diverse authors and own voice narratives is that stories like Tiffany D. Jackson’s will become popular. This novel has all the things that make a good crime novel wonderful, it has a likable yet maybe untrustworthy narrator, a vicious and questionable crime, interesting family dynamics, insight into the criminal justice system when it comes to teenagers, and the dynamics of a group home.

Now, I realize that this is still a fictional narrative but there are a lot of similarities between this Mary’s story and that of the real life child murderer, Mary Bell.  Jackson doesn’t really delve into that in this novel, but she does have a secondary refer to Mary as Mary Bell in one interaction, so I thought it would be interesting to point out the similarities between the character and her real counterpart.

Mary Bell was around 10 years of age when she murdered two toddlers, she had a known strange relationship with her mother (who attempted to kill her a few times), it was an extremely sensationalized case, with her only receiving a minimum sentence since she was a child with diminished responsibility (much like our character).  Another part that is taken directly from reality is the last name of the victim, Richardson. Now, the average Young Adult reader probably wouldn’t be aware of these similarities, but I just happened to read a true crime book a few years ago that brought this up.

I applaud Jackson for bringing a story like this to the forefront, because as awful as it is to kill a child in a narrative, it is something that happens.

Jackson did such a great job of keeping the reader in the dark about certain aspects of the crime and of Mary’s life prior to the death of the child.  I think that the questions about Mary and her Mother really provide more mystery than the death itself.  It’s an interesting commentary on emotional abuse and the desperate relationship between these two characters, plus is raises the question of just how far you’d go for family.

In addition, Jackson was amazing at including linguistic representation of accents.  I find it lacking when an author sometimes just mentions that a character has a type of regional accent without showing this to the reader in dialogue. Bravo for including this, I loved it and it really put me IN those characters’ voices.

I’m giving this novel 4 Bards.  There is a very upsetting scene with an animal in this and violence between characters that doesn’t involve the murder of the child, so please be aware of this when purchasing it for your teen.

Book Review: Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken

All Etta Spencer wanted was to make her violin debut when she was thrust into a treacherous world where the struggle for power could alter history. After losing the one thing that would have allowed her to protect the Timeline, and the one person worth fighting for, Etta awakens alone in an unknown place and time, exposed to the threat of the two groups who would rather see her dead than succeed. When help arrives, it comes from the last person Etta ever expected—Julian Ironwood, the Grand Master’s heir who has long been presumed dead, and whose dangerous alliance with a man from Etta’s past could put them both at risk.

Meanwhile, Nicholas and Sophia are racing through time in order to locate Etta and the missing astrolabe with Ironwood travelers hot on their trail. They cross paths with a mercenary-for-hire, a cheeky girl named Li Min who quickly develops a flirtation with Sophia. But as the three of them attempt to evade their pursuers, Nicholas soon realizes that one of his companions may have ulterior motives.

As Etta and Nicholas fight to make their way back to one another, from Imperial Russia to the Vatican catacombs, time is rapidly shifting and changing into something unrecognizable… and might just run out on both of them.

Holy. Cow.

Let me start by saying, that I love time travel. However, time travel gives me a headache because it makes me think too much and ask too many questions. That being said, that only happened like three times over the course of these two books. This sequel is incredible. There’s always so much that’s going on but it never feels like too much. And at the same time, it’s at a pace where you can grasp how the mechanics of traveling work, without questioning it too much because you’re too invested in what’s going to happen next.

I was lucky enough to meet Alex Bracken (and Susan Dennard) on the WayWitch tour, and something that Alex said about how she constructs her characters really stuck out to me, “what about your world has caused you to be this way?” She does an excellent job of portraying that on the page, and for me, the biggest example of that is Nicholas. Not only in his motivations for independence and freedom from the Ironwoods, but in how Etta, and later Sophia and Julian, see him and how the recognize their privilege (the word privilege is actually used multiple times and it’s glorious).

I was so excited to get more of Sophia’s story in this book. Honestly, I loved her in the first one, even though she was always getting in the way. To me, it definitely always felt like there was more to her, and I am so so so glad that Bracken decided to expand on her character. And I’m even MORE glad that she explicitly says that she prefers women and always has. Nicholas’s response was also amazing. I love that they grudgingly come to rely on each other and even care about each other. Their journey and friendship is one of my favorite parts of the book.

In a book about time travel with ruthless people taking the idea of “the ends justify the means” a little too far, for me, this book was more about family. Every single character is on a journey that connects them with family, whether it is blood or found. But at the same time, it shows that family is messy and not perfect and sometimes you have to confront the fact that your parents can make mistakes.

I could talk about this book all day, honestly, I loved it a lot, 4.5 bards.

Book Review: Roseblood by A.G. Howard

In this modern day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera.

At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn—an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known. 

Release Date: January 10, 2017

As much as I love Phantom of the Opera, I wouldn’t 100% classify myself as a Pham, but I do enjoy the musical and the original novel by Gaston LeRoux.  Yeah, yeah, I was one of those obnoxious kids who absolutely had to read the original novel before ever seeing the play or the movie (the book is amazeballs, guys).

ANYWHO, anyone who has followed Midsummer for a while will know that I’m a giant fan of A.G. Howard’s Splintered series and *cough* MORPHEUS, so when it was announced that she was doing a modern retelling of Phantom I got pretty psyched. Now, I’d probably steer away from calling it a retelling after reading it all the way through, it’s more of a modern continuation of the story.  Erik (yes, that is the phantom’s name from the original novel) is STILL haunting the opera house, albeit he is pretty old and a bit creepier in a whole new way thanks to Howard’s take…I refuse to spoil this for you. It’s pretty brilliant.

So, I will admit to you that the novel does start off a bit slow as it seemed that the pacing just wasn’t 100% there at the beginning.  We immediately see our new Christine (Rune) arriving to her new boarding school, which we all know means some shenanigans will happen when the parents are gone!

Rune has some pretty deep mental scars, I mean her grandmother tried to drown her and set her house on fire, but music has always helped her get through.  She has a strange compulsion to sing upon hearing certain songs, and it honestly sounds like she is capable of hypnotizing those around her while she is singing (that’s important).

Low and behold, she finds the phantom haunting her….except her phantom is Thorn.  He’s crush worthy and described as absolutely beautiful. I immediately imagined Dominic Sherwood, but I think he will always be in my fan cast for Wintersong. Either way, their fates are clearly intertwined, and sometimes I absolutely love the fated couples trope, while other times I find it ridiculously cliche…but this one was one I was absolutely here for. Rune x Thorne…Rorne. RORNE STAN.

Anyway, I’m sure this book won’t be for everyone, but I really enjoyed reading it. (In a 5 hour period..worth it)

4.5 Bards for my love, A.G. Howard.

 

Book Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

Release Date: January 31, 2017

Holy Hell in a hand-basket.

Stephanie Garber has created a world that I don’t want to leave, and characters I want to follow throughout their life stories.

I started this book on 9PM on a Sunday night, after I’d been sick for a week and sleeping as much as possible to get over it.  Once I started, I couldn’t put it down.  I found myself saying, “One more chapter,” okay, “Now, one more chapter,” over and over again until it was 1AM and I closed the book with a sigh. This doesn’t include the extra 30 minutes I sat there considering the ending and the complications that came along with it. I think in reality I maybe got 5 hours of sleep this night, but what is important is that I LOVED this book.

This world was created in such an organic way that nothing in the plot seemed like it was out of place or sudden.  Not only was Caraval such a richly developed story but the description of the characters and the locales within the novel were exquisite. I wish I could have seen the canopy bed in Scarlett’s room, had a sip of that crisp cider that enhances vision, or even run my hands over the gowns in the store where she sells two days of her life.

While I was totally proved wrong about who I assumed Julian was from the beginning (*shakes fist* tricky Garber, tricky!) he was a great example of a male character who comes off as such a…how to I put it…douchebag that really turns out to be a character with so many more layers than initially shown.  In fact, he was the saving grace for Scarlett (and the narrative) in many spots.

Probably an unpopular opinion: Dante? *fans self* A body covered in tattoos and a beautiful face to boot? *swoons*

Now, as someone who has had a struggle with her relationship with her sister (we are doing so much better as we’ve aged, by the way *Love you, Ginger!*), I think that for me what really made this story so impactful was the demonstration of absolute love and devotion between the two siblings.  Obviously it seems very one sided at the beginning as it is third person limited point of view, but the reader discovers it is a very equal love and something that both sisters suffered for.

All I can think of as I remember my mind blowing and wonderful late night read is that this is a story that I will come back to and re-read many times. Plus, who wouldn’t want to lose themselves in a fantasy world with Scarlett, Julian, and Tella?

**Trigger warning for parental physical abuse**

Pre-order a copy of Caraval now, I promise you won’t regret it.

4.5 Bards

 

 

 

 

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