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

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!!!”

October & Halloween Reads! 


Happy October, everyone! I’m going to admit something. I used to hate Halloween. I know, it’s crazy, but it’s true. I mean don’t get me wrong, being a kid, dressing up and filling my pillowcase full with candy was always a highlight every year, but that’s about it. I hated anything scary. Most of it was due to a memory from one Halloween when I was a kid, that I couldn’t shake for some time. When I was 9, my sisters and I went to my aunt’s, who lives a town over, to go trick or treating with my cousins. They lived right next door to my grandparents, and every year we’d go and see my grandparents before we went out into the night in search of candy clad in various costumes. My grandfather would give my sisters and I each $20.00, candy, and a glow stick on a string to wear around our necks (so we wouldn’t get kidnapped because what better way to throw off a captor than a bright, shiny glow stick!?. Joking aside, my grandparents let us go out alone, just us cousins but wanted us to be safe all the same.

Once we had those things we were ready to traipse around the neighborhood and get as much candy that we could get our hands on. Everything was going fine that night. I got a decent amount of candy, even a bunch of change. We even found a house with a family outside grilling hot dogs and handing out sofa to trick or treaters table of hot dogs!  And then we came upon another house, about a block away. It was decorated and the lights were on. I seemed inviting; there was an bowl full of candy on the porch step, and next to it was a person, or maybe it was a scarecrow? I couldn’t tell. All I remember was watching my cousin, Jordan, walk towards the porch to grab some candy when the whirring of a chainsaw pierced the cool, night air and who I thought was a scarecrow, was actually the owner of the home. They  jumped up and began chasing trick or treaters down the sidewalk. I was mortified. I ran away. And ever since then, every house we went to I was terrified to grab any candy for fear that I’d be jump-scared out of my wits and chased down the driveway.

I hate being scared. I avoid haunted houses and haunted attractions. I don’t like scary movies. I do not like jumping out of my seat, close to wetting my pants due to a demon or ghost or what have you, popping out of the screen in front of me. I like creepy thrillers, but even then, there’s always a bang just a tad too loud that forces me to adjust myself in my seat to make it look like I wasn’t scared, I was just fixing my wedgie?

With that being said, I know it sounds like I’m a monster. But I do like Halloween. I like old, creepy movies. And as much as I like old, creepy movies, I like creepy books. Once October arrives, I scour Goodreads to find the book that will keep me up at night. I love scary books because yes, they may scare me, but they won’t make me jump or adjust myself in my seat.

I wanted to share the creepy stories I’ll be diving into this month. Some are scary, some are thrilling, and some are just full of monsters and things that will go bump in the night. I also started reading ‘Outlander’ to lift the mood a little. After I finish each I’ll post a mass review and share my thoughts!

The Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics

Through The Woods by Emily Carroll

This Savage Song  V.E Schwab

Slasher Girls and Monster Boys by Leigh Bardugo and others

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts 1 & 2



I. Have. Thoughts. 

So many about this script book. 

I pre-ordered and anticipated this book since February and since then I’ve spent a lot of time coming up with various scenarios and ways that this story would turn out.

First thing’s first. I knew this would be different. I don’t have very much experience reading plays other than reading Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet in high school; as well as a few plays in  a college class I took. With that being said, I sometimes had a difficult time imaging the events taking place as well as the dialogue. These things, however, did not stop me from reading this. I didn’t want to give up, I wanted to challenge myself with this different form of writing and reading, and I’m glad I did.

I took my time reading this because I knew it was probably the last time I’ll ever get to visit these characters and go on a new adventure with them. That being said, the following is NOT spoiler free.

This story opens up with Harry and Ginny Potter’s two oldest children, James and Albus, going off to Hogwarts. Albus is a first year and he expresses his concern of not being sorted into Gryffindor House like his brother and his parents. He doesn’t want to let Harry down. This particular scene gave me a flashback to the epilogue in the final novel where Albus tells Harry the same concerns. (I’d make a joke about how much that scene in the movie and the final book made me cringe and roll my eyes, but I won’t)

I mean, I get it. If I were Albus, especially with a name like his, (full name Albus Severus Potter), I would feel the same burden as well. I did like revisiting this scene for old time’s sake. Which brings me to who Albus is. He is not that concerned with being placed in Gryffindor because like Harry mentioned, the Sorting Hat takes your opinion into account, and that it did. So much so that the hat placed Albus in Slytherin. However I kind of saw that coming, and I liked that he wasn’t put in Gryffindor, but I think it would have really thrown readers for a loop if he was placed in Hufflepuff. I’d love to see how Harry and Ginny would have felt about that. Not that Hufflepuff is not a great House, because it is and it’s just as  wonderful as Ravenclaw and Gryffindor and yes, even Slytherin, but I would have loved to see them say “Oh, well that was a different outcome than what we had anticipated.”

Another character we get to meet is Draco Malfoy’s son, Scorpious. Scorpious was my favorite character in this play. He befriends Albus on the train on their first journey to  Hogwarts, much like how Harry befriended Ron 20 years earlier. We also have the pleasure in meeting Ron and Hermione’s  daughter, Rose. Rose is very quick to take a disliking to Scorpious and warns Albus to be wary of who he becomes friendly with. There’s also a rumor going around that Scorpious is not Draco’s son, but Voldemort’s and that Malfoy and his late wife wanted to protect the Malfoy lineage and preserve an heir to the line, that they used a time-turner to send Scorpious’ mother back in time to meet Voldemort and well, you know… Yes I shivered too. Scorpious, however, knows that he’s just like Albus. He has pressure weighing on him to be the exact opposite of Draco, whereas Albus is facing the pressure to be just like Harry and the great men he’s named after. Albus however, wants no part of it. Albus wants to be his own person and write his own story. He doesn’t want to live in the shadows of his father or Dumbledore or Snape. He just wants to be Albus.

We flash forward to Albus’s second year at Hogwarts. Harry is encouraging him to make more friends, but Albus insists that he has all the friends he needs, Scorpious. Draco has similar feelings toward Scorpious and his friendship with Albus. Draco is so over the rumors that his son is the spawn of Voldemort that he asks Harry for a huge favor. Harry is the Head of the department of Magical Law Enforcement. Draco knows that Harry can use his position to dispel these rumors. He asks Harry to release a statement stating that all remaining Time-Turners have been destroyed. However, an arrest made a year later will reveal that not all of the time-turners have in fact, been destroyed.  

Harry, it turns out, is facing some similar demons. He and Albus don’t see eye to eye. He wants so desperately to relate to his son, but he can’t. This stress is showing in Harry’s work ethic as well. Hermione is the Minister of Magic and reminds Harry time and time again, much like she did when they were in school, to stay on top of his paperwork. 

Another character we get to see again is Amos Diggory, the father of Cedric Diggory, whose murder Harry still has nightmares over. Amos confronts Harry one night asking if the rumors that there is still a time-turner out there, are true. If so, he wants Harry to use it to bring back his son. Harry immediately shuts the idea down and denies the existence of a remaining time-tuner even existing. Little does he know that Albus is listening in to this exchange and gets an idea: he and Scorpious are going to bring back Cedric Diggory. Unfortunately, they don’t know that doing this, messing with time like this can change everything that happened even back to the night when Harry’s parent’s were murdered.

We also meet another character named Delphie. Delphie is Amos Diggory’s neice. She takes a quick liking to Albus and Scorpious and further convinces them that bringing Cedric back could bring so many great things. This turns out to be a very bad idea. In the remaining of the play, we go back in time. Characters are not who they say they are, and the truth about who these characters really are is revealed. 


So here’s what I liked:

  • Albus and Scorpious. I wanted them to be together so bad.  I ship them so much. I think having queer characters in Harry Potter, especially two main characters like these two would have been monumental and it honestly would have given this story so much more heart and inclusiveness to the LBGTQ+ fans of the fandom. Scorbus forever.
  • Mrs. McGonagal. YAAAAS QUEEN! I’m so glad she returned. She’s still as quick-witted and sassy as ever.
  • Hermione as Minister of Magic. SLAY, GIRL. 

Here’s what I hated: 

  • WHERE WAS TEDDY LUPIN?! He would have made this story SO GOOD. I honestly wish this story was about Albus struggling with living in Harry’s shadow, but also, meeting Teddy Lupin and befriending Scorpious and having so many adventures together.
  • Cornelious Fudge announcing anything during the Time-Turner time travel parts. WHAT?! He NEVER spoke like that. Ever. Who is he, Peeves?
  • Also, why wasn’t Peeves in this? I’m pissed. 
  • Delphie. Why? No. I feel like she was thrown into this story just to bring Voldemort back. There can be conflict in Harry Potter without Voldemort being involved. (see the entire plot to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban)
  • The whole alternate universe idea of Ron not being with Hermione and instead being with Padma Patil. I just, don’t… understand. Also, why was Ron the way he was? I know Ron is a doofus, but he’s an annoying doofus you can’t help but love. He has his shining moments. I felt like he was being made into a joke at times. He even made dad-jokes. NOPE.
  • Again, where was Teddy Lupin, though??

To wrap this up. I’m glad I got to see these characters again. I’m grateful that Jo gave us the opportunity to see what the Golden Trio is doing now. This felt a bit too much like fan-fiction for me. I don’t mean this as a dig to fan-fiction and fan-fiction writers, because those writers and stories are important, but as an official release from J.K. Rowling, I have to say I was a bit disappointed. I could differentiate between the parts Jo wrote, which I loved, and the parts that she didn’t. 

I would have LOVED it if this story was about Albus’ time at school, but also giving readers a peek into the Marauders era of Harry Potter. I can picture Albus and Rose going to Hogwarts and meeting Scorpious and befriending Teddy Lupin. Discovering what James and Sirius and Remus were like growing up as students at Hogwarts. I want to know more about Snape and Lily. I would have loved to see Albus discover Harry’s Marauder’s map and then inserting the Time-Turner into the story that way would have been SO SO GOOD. Sigh.

My rating: 3/5 Stars