Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

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Hello there! I’m back with another book review. I, much to a couple of my friend’s recommendations to finally read this book already, did exactly that. I originally wanted to purchase the UK version of this book because it’s SO PRETTY (see below)

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but alas, I just never got around to actually purchasing it. So I went to Barnes and Noble a few weeks ago and saw it was on sale for just $7?! Obviously, I bought it. Now, I’ve recently gotten into this weird funk with books. I’m having a difficult time sticking with a book and not getting bored with it. What’s really helped me is listening to the audiobook of the book I’m physically reading and switching on and off. I explained in a post a long while ago about how I can’t listen to audiobooks if the narrator doesn’t catch my attention. I end up suffering from a lot of secondhand embarrassment if the narrator uses voices and whatnot. Thankfully, the narrator for A Man Called Ove was phenomenal, so I decided to fire up my audible account again (unless I can get it from overdrive) and switch on and off between physical and audiobook again.

Summary: 

The story centers around two sisters Scarlett and Donatella (or Tella, for short). Scarlett, who is newly engaged to a Count whom she’s never met despite being set up with him by her father, the governor of the Isle of Trisda, where they live. So Scarlett and Donatella’s  father is literally THE WORST. He’s mean, weirdly smells like perfume, and wears these plum colored gloves 24/7. Oh, and he also physically abuses his daughters. When one sister does something he deems “unacceptable”, he hits the opposite, innocent sister. It’s messed up and I immediately hoped he would meet a very untimely end. Scarlett and Donatella used to have a mother, who left their family when they were children (honestly I don’t blame her). Scarlett harbors a lot of resentment with her mother for leaving Scarlett and Donatella behind with such a cruel father.

Ever since her mother left, Scarlett has dreamed of finding a way to escape her father. Scarlett and Donatella grew up listening to stories told by their grandmother about Caraval, a game played on a far away Isle and the infamous Legend, the Carval grandmaster. If you play the game of Carval you win a wish. Scarlett dreams of being able to run away with Tella. To meet master Legend himself and be free from their father’s wrath. Scarlett writes to him every year and asks him for an invitation to Caraval. Little does Scarlett know that her letter will soon be answered along with two invitations to Caraval.  Scarlett immediately sets out to tell Tella the good news when she finds her entangled in the arms of a mischevious sailor named Julian. Little does Scarlett know, Donatella had plans to run away with Julian that very night. With Scarlett’s wedding just a few days away, she’s torn between going with Tella to Caraval or remaining behind with their father and his mysterious plans for her future.

Scarlett soon finds herself being hauled off to Caraval with Julian. But where’s Tella? Donatella, Scarlett comes to know, has been taken to Caraval to be used in this year’s game. If Scarlett plays the game right and finds Donatella in time before her wedding  and the game’s end, she’ll win the coveted prize of being granted one wish.


My thoughts: 

So, I had a difficult time getting into this one. Not so much the characters, mostly the world building. I was fine when the main character, Scarlett, arrived on the Isle where Caraval takes place, but once she stepped into the world of Caraval, I became very confused. The audiobook really helped me with that though, so if you’re someone who has a difficult time getting into books, I definitely recommend listening to it or switching on and off like I did with this one.

At first, I despised Julian. He annoyed me, but I had a feeling in the back of my mind that opinion would change and, obviously it did. I liked Scarlett, but I kept growing impatient with her. The main point of Caraval is that “it’s only a game”. This is stated so many times to Scarlett that at one point, I was just like, “Oh my gosh, Scarlett, relax, let loose!” She was just too uptight. What Scarlett lacked in her ability to let loose, Donatella had and vice versa. Donatella was a fun character, but her flightiness I found irritating at times. I do wish the novel had spent more time letting the reader get to know Donatella, but that will be resolved since the sequel will mainly focus on her.

Final Thoughts: 

Once I got into the heart of the story I really didn’t want to put it down! It kept me on the edge of my seat until the last page. I was really relieved that this story wasn’t as predictable as I thought it would be. I’m very excited to see where this story continues. I hope we get more of *spoiler*, Scarlett and Julian’s relationship. Julian really grew on me. I think it also helped that I pictured him as Oscar Isaac.

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Needless to say, I pre-ordered a copy of the sequel, Legendary, before I even finished it.  I purposely didn’t read the synopsis for the sequel until I finished this one so I wouldn’t be spoiled. I’m really excited that the sequel will be primarily focused on Donatella, because, THAT. ENDING. I NEED TO KNOW!!

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

It’s Been a While, but Here’s a Review!

Hello!

Wow, it has been A LONG TIME since I posted a review. I fell off the blogging wagon last year. Nothing happened to cause that, it was just pure laziness, I’ll be honest. I really want to get back on said wagon and review again, so I’ve been thinking about ways to keep me motivated to write more reviews. I decided I’m going to post monthly reviews instead of a separate review for each book I finish. My reviews are also going to be shorter since there may be more than one book reviewed in each post. I read ‘A Man Called Ove’ by Frederik Backman per my aunt and uncle’s recommendation. They both read it last year and raved about it. I’ve heard good things about this on booktube and Goodreads prior to their reviews, but they solidified my desire to read it when they said it reminded them of my grandfather. Obviously I was hooked then and there because I miss him a ton.

This story is about a man in his late 50’s named, you guessed it, Ove. The novel begins a few months after Ove’s wife, and better half, Sonja, passes away. He spends the entire novel wrestling with the decision to be with her because his life without him just isn’t the same. There’s actually a quote I loved that says, “He was a man of black and white. And she was color, all the color he had.”

Ove is a curmudgeon who has his opinions and doesn’t like for them to be tried or altered. He doesn’t like change and he especially doesn’t like the rate at which the world around him is changing. When a family moves in next door, Ove finds himself in various situations that are both comical and life changing. Ove follows a strict routine every day that consists of taking a walk around his neighborhood For a daily inspection to make sure rules are being followed and nothing is out of sorts. This made me laugh because as we see throughout the novel, nothing is ever as it should be in Ove’s eyes. It’s always the opposite.

We meet various neighbors throughout the novel that test Ove’s patience but transform him as well. The character development of Ove was truly one of the best I’ve read in a long while. We literally watch Ove come out of his shell little by little in each chapter. The story also goes back in forth in time from Ove’s childhood to his young adulthood and then to his present day self. We get to learn about his wife and his upbringing.

My favorite thing about this story was how much I saw my grandfather in Ove. My grandfather was grumpy and set in his ways but he also surprised you most of the time. Above all, my grandfather had the biggest heart I can imagine and would have done ANYTHING for his family, just like Ove. I’m so glad I read this story and I’ll definitely be picking up more of Frederik Backman’s novels in the future.

My rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

April Currently Reading & A Court Of Thorns And Roses Re-read

Hey guys! Just checking in to update you all on what I’ve been reading and what books I have planned to read for the rest of this month!

First up, I decided to read the great classic The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Last year I heard the news that a Hulu series based on this book was going to be made and released this year. It’s kind of sad to me how I tend to discover books, or they won’t won’t spark my interest, until I learn about them being optioned for a TV or film series. But, I digress.

I’ve seen this book on numerous favorite books lists across the internet and I’ve always been intrigued by it. Except, for some reason I kept forgetting to read the synopsis. I really didn’t know what this story was about or how profound and alarmingly eery it relates to our time. Especially right now. Synopsis aside, I honestly thought it was written in the late 1800’s. In my defense, I came up with that assumption based off of the cover. It just looks so classic and medieval!

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However, I did do my research and realized how fitting and timely it is for this book to be made into a series. And even more so, now that we’re living in a He who shall not be named, era where women’s right’s and equality need to be fought for even harder. It’s daunting, but I’m glad this book is getting new attention and gaining more readers. I did start reading a copy from the library and I was able to get drawn into the story, but I noticed that a lot of people expressed that they enjoyed listening to the audiobook so I decided maybe listening to it would help me keep my interest in tact. I re-activated (then cancelled, shhhhhh) my audible subscription so I could purchase it for $14 instead of $29.

A cool thing about this audiobook is that it’s narrated by the actress Claire Danes, who, besides Elizabeth Moss playing Ofred in the Hulu adaptation, is so great and really brings Ofred to life in the book. I’m kinda, almost halfway through and I’m really enjoying it so far. I’ll update with a full review once I finish!

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The other book I’m reading is Letters To The Lost by Brigid Kemmerer. This is a YA book about a girl named Juliet Young. Juliet recently lost her mother and she’s still grieving. Juliet visits her mother’s grave every day, leaving her letters that she wrote. One day she returns to her mother’s grave to find that someone has replied to her last letter. At first she’s furious, but then she writes back to the stranger who, in turn, replies again. That stranger is the rumored notorious senior class “juvenile delinquent” Declan Murphy. Declan is doing community service at the cemetery for a crime that haunts him every day. One afternoon he answers a letter he finds on a headstone.

Neither Juliet nor Declan know who one another is. Actually, they both know OF one another, but they don’t know that either of them are behind the letters that they send. Juliet and Declan are somehow drawn to one another after a series of run-ins at school. I’m about midway through and I like it a lot. It does kind of remind me a little of ‘You’ve Got Mail’ with the anonymous back and forth in messaging, but I love ‘You’ve Got Mail’ so I’m down with that. Actually, I’m at a part where Declan has found out who his “Cemetery Girl’ is, and he’s struggling to decide if he should tell Juliet outright who he is, or keep his identity hidden. I kind of like knowing something that the main character doesn’t.


I’ve took out this graphic novel, Giant Days Vol. 1 by  John Allison, Lissa Treiman, and Whitney Cogar. These graphic novels chronicle the collegiate lives and adventures of three girls, Susan, Esther, and Daisy.

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I also grabbed our copy of the graphic novel Nimona by Noelle Stevenson from the library. This one’s about a young, villainous shapeshifter named Nimona and her sidekick, Lord Ballister Blackheart.  I’ve heard a lot of good things about it and I’m in an adventurous mood. I’m also going to have a long weekend due to the Easter holiday, so these will be perfect for my little staycation!


Lastly, my friends, I am going to talk for the billionth time about the near masterpiece that is Sarah J. Maas’s A Court Of Thorns And Roses series. If you have not read it yet, or plan on reading it, there are spoilers ahead so ah, proceed with caution as they say.

A Court Of Wings And Ruin  or ACOWAR, is just 20 days away. 20 . DAYS. AWAY. I am so excited and so nervous and so ready to go back to the Night Court and hang out with Feyre and Rhys and the rest of the Night Court gang and go on new adventures with them. I just get so giddy about this series, it’s ridiculous. As I previously mentioned in my ACOMAF Playlist blog post from two weeks ago, I am mentally preparing myself for this next installment. I’ve been listening to my playlist non-stop, gabbing about it at work with my dear friend and co-worker, Michallyn. I’ve bought a gorgeous ACOMAF quote bookmark, I even bought bookish ACOMAF themed candles (don’t @ me, I admit I am obsessed), and as of this morning I finished my re-read of ‘A Court Of Thorns And Roses’.

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I have so many thoughts. There are so many things I missed reading this the first time around. One thing I love about re-reading, and especially going back to the first installment of a series after reading the books that follow, is combing through and discovering things that connect and bring the story together. Like events, phrases, or even characters you may have had previous opinions of based on the events in the first book that may have changed in the second *ahem* Rhysand. But now that you know what happens and how things play out, you can weave everything together and be like, “OHHHHH MY GOD THAT MAKES MORE SENSE!”

*Coughs*

Like Rhys and Feyre.

LIKE RHYS AND FEYRE.

RHYS. I hate how the first book takes literally twenty chapters for him to make his entrance in the story, but now that I know his real deal, every time he would come up in a scene I’d squeal like an idiot. If you think this is embarrassing, and I don’t blame you for rolling your eyes nor do I blame you if you’re suffering from secondhand embarrassment already, because, same. But even worse, and I know I’ll go back and re-read this in a few months time and want to throw my phone or computer, but I just love Rhys so much. I feel like he’s real, even though I am fully aware he is not. I literally have to take off my cardigan at work whenever my friend Michallyn and I talk about him because I get hot flashes.

Okay let’s move along before I die of heatstroke thinking about Rhys.

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But for real, I missed so many things. Like how much of an ass Tamlin was. Even though he was trying to protect Feyre, *insert eye rolling emoji* but also trying to make sure she was eavesdropping on his conversations with Lucien about the current state of affairs regarding Amarantha as well as the other courts in Prythian, he wasn’t as romantic to me as he was the first time I read this. Probably because I literally jumped overboard the ‘Famlin’ ship and onto the ‘Feysand’ ship of dreams (see what I did there?), but still…

Other things that stood out/ I’ve re-discovered/realized:

  • Lucian is wonderful and I hope that even though Feyre will be spying at the Spring Court, that her and Lucien will reconnect. I love their friendship so much.
  • I keep wondering if during Fire Night, when Feyre kept hearing that voice inside her head telling her “Go, go see.” WAS THAT RHYS? In some, weird, way.

Which brings me to another question: In ACOMAF, Rhys tells her that he could see her when she was living at the cottage, long before she ever murdered Andras. HOW?! I understand their bond because of the tattoo be puts on her to signify their bargain, but HOW did he know? Just, HOW??

  • “There you are, I’ve been looking for you.”

When I first read this book last spring, I was like, who the eff is this asshole?! Now I’m like HE’S YOUR MATE, FEYRE, RUN INTO HIS ARMS AND NEVER LET GO. *clears throat*

  • “It took me a long while to realize that Rhysand, whether he knew it or not, had effectively kept me from shattering completely.”

YUP. You’ll see, Feyre.

  • “When you healed my arm… You didn’t need to bargain with me. You could have demanded every single week of the year.” My brows knit together as he turned, already half-consumed by the dark. “Every single week, and I would have said yes.” It wasn’t entirely a question, but I needed the answer.

A half smile appeared on his sensuous lips. “I know,” he said, and vanished.

Okay this part made me confused. Like, I feel like this is a moment where her previous assumptions and opinions on Rhys were shaken a bit. This also further alludes to one of the reasons why he helped her under The Mountain in the first place. One of them being that, although the mating bond didn’t click for him, yet. He knew.

  • When Amarantha is literally ripping Feyre apart and Rhysand screams “Feyre!’

I died. Not Tamlin. Not Lucien. Rhysand. Rhysand. Did. That.

  • Rhys and the mating bond

When I first read this, the part with Rhys and the mating bond literally flew over my head. Until I read other reader’s reviews and they were all asking “What was with Rhys in the end? Why did he stumble?” and I was like, “Wh- whaaaaaaa?!

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BUT NOW I KNOW EVERYTHING

I also realized that it didn’t click for Rhys until that moment because while they were talking, Feyre was mostly looking out at the mountain and then talking about her new fae body and looking at that. BUT,  when they finally gaze into one another’s eyes, intently, Rhys is like, IGOTTAGOBYE

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These GIFs are literally perfect considering I picture Brendan Urie as Rhysand so… *Coughs politely*


So that’s it for today. I’m gonna go read ACOMAF and die and think about Rhys…

Review: Close Enough To Touch by Colleen Oakley 

Hello, friends!

I hope everyone is doing well and enjoying whatever you’ve been reading! I just finished a book called ‘ Close Enough To Touch’ by Colleen Oakley. This was a very sweet and moving story about a young woman named Jubilee Jenkins who has an allergy to *wait for it* human touch. Woah, right?!

Continue reading “Review: Close Enough To Touch by Colleen Oakley “

Stories & Characters That Stick With You – A Playlist 


*Sighs dramatically* 

You guys, I’m going through some terrible ACOMAF (A Court Of Mist And Fury) withdrawal. I’m talking like, the book hangover to kick all book hangovers to the curb. Despite reading so many awesome books to finish out last year, and quite a few great ones so far this year, none of those books have kept me so invested in their stories and their characters, as well as cause me to think so fondly about it, quite like this series has. I tried to read and get into Sarah J. Maas’ other series, ‘Throne Of Glass’ after finishing up ACOMAF, but it just didn’t do it for me. It didn’t pull me in like ACOTAR and ACOMAF did. Maybe it’s because ACOTAR gave me such a book high. Or maybe it’s because I was technically late to the ‘Throne Of Glass’ party, but I just wasn’t as invested in the story or the characters as I would have liked to be. 

Continue reading “Stories & Characters That Stick With You – A Playlist “

Review: The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon

 

Hello, everyone!

I’m currently doing very poorly at posting reviews, I’m so sorry. I really have zero excuse for my lack of posts other than I’ve been very lazy and almost all motivation to post a review is lost. And that is barely an excuse. This winter has taken hold of me like hibernation takes hold of a bear. Also, anxiety and depression, but mostly the cold winter. But I want to do better. I really, really do. I find what really helps me put my thoughts in order after finishing a book, is writing about it. And I’ll never grow as a reviewer if I don’t you know, review. 

HOWEVER, I have emerged from my cocoon of comfy blankets, tea, and junk food to tell you about this book I just read. It’s by the lovely and talented Nicola Yoon, author of the YA hit and soon to be released film, ‘Everything, Everything’. This is her second novel and IT. WAS. AMAZING.

Continue reading “Review: The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon”

My Top 12 Books of 2016

Hello, friends! Hope you’re all doing well and I hope you’re all reading something great!

The time has come for me to list and discuss my top twelve books of 2016. I know my opinions on these books most likely won’t be shared by others, but that’s what makes a readers’ experience with their books so wonderful! Everyone views and consumes their books in a unique way; and sees things within the pages that another reader may not.

Continue reading “My Top 12 Books of 2016”

Happy Halloween! Happy Thanksgiving! Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Holidays! Happy New Year! Goodbye 2016!!!

 

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You can download this free desktop and phone wallpaper from Lily & Val Living by clicking on the picture!
Continue reading “Happy Halloween! Happy Thanksgiving! Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Holidays! Happy New Year! Goodbye 2016!!!”