Caraval By Stephanie Garber

Welcome, welcome to Caraval! The grandest show on land or by sea. Inside you’ll experience more wonders than most people see in a lifetime. You can sip magic from a cup and buy dreams in a bottle. But before you fully enter into our world, you must remember it’s all a game.

My Rating: 4 Stars

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Published: January 2017

Publisher: Flat Iron Books

Format: Hardcover, 402 pages

Source: Purchase

I went into this book with really high hopes as I kept hearing it compared to the Night Circus which is one of my favorite books. Where I was able find some similarities I actually found it was very different from the Night Circus. However I was not at all disappointed to say the least.

The writing and world building is exceptionally magical. It’s a fantastical story about sisterhood, trust and adventure that is set in a dark and twisted world that is captivating and run by a mysterious man who might be quite mad. This book is full of uniquely astonishing characters, who drew me in from the very beginning and never let go.

The plot in this has a good suspenseful pace to it that is completely transfixing and kept me intrigued the entire time reading. Within every chapter there is a new mystery that unfolds and must be solved which keeps you from ever wanting to put the book down.

What happens beyond this gate may frighten or excite you, but don’t let any of it trick you. We will try to convince you its real, but all of it is a performance. A world built of make-believe. So while we want you to get swept away, be careful of being swept too far away. Dreams that come true can be beautiful, but they can also turn into nightmares when people won’t wake up.

Caraval is a once a year magical game, where only the lucky to be a part of as its invitation only. Once there you are allowed to choose whether you would like to participate or spectate and Scarlett Dragna has spent her whole life on the island of Trisda dreaming of the spectacular Caraval. Unfortunately for Scarlett and her young sister Tella, they suffer a mean and cruel father who keeps them under a watchful eye, never letting them step foot off the island. Now Scarlett finds herself in an arranged marriage and is sure that her dreams of seeing Caraval are something of the past.

But as destiny would have it Scarlett and her sister are sent the much sought after invitations to Caraval. With Scarletts wedding fast approaching she is not jumping at the opportunity she has always dreamed of, therefor with the help of a mysterious handsome sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the games.

Every person has the power to change their fate if they are brave enough to fight for what they desire more than anything.

Once they arrive and to Scarletts dismay Tella is nowhere to be found and she must proceed on without her and with a not so trustworthy companion Julian. Scarlett soon discovers that Tella has actually been kidnapped by Caraval’s Mastermind, Legend and that this season’s game is centered on Tella and the first to find her wins the game.

Scarlett is thrust head first into an elaborate game, filled with love, adventure, magic and even heartbreak, or so she thinks is just a game because everything feels far too real to be a performance. Scarlett has five nights to find her sister or else she fears she may lose her forever.

The Poppy War By R. F. Kuang

I have become something wonderful, she thought. I have become something terrible. Was she now a goddess or a monster? Perhaps both

My Rating: 5 Stars

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Published: May 2018

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Source: Purchase

War doesn’t determine who’s right. War determines who remains.

Wow what an astonishing read. I can’t even begin to explain how amazing this novel is. It surprised me at every turn and without a doubt will be on my top reads of 2018. It is dark and horrifying and I couldn’t keep away. This very graphic and violent adult fantasy brings forth the shocking truths of war. And before I go any further I should issue a serious content warning with this book as it explores some very dark themes. So please continue with caution, there are trigger warnings for basically everything.

This is a dim military fantasy that is inspired by Asian culture and mythology, and draws most inspiration from the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Rape of Nanking. This is truly a one of a kind read, which will completely draw you in making you fall in love with all the complex characters, having you on the edge the entire time franticly turning the pages with every horrifying moment and wanting more. It is brutal and bloody and beautifully written is all I can really say and I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book.

But I warn you, little warrior. The price of power is pain.

It all begins with Rin, an orphan from the war and determination to change her fate. Rin pours herself in to studying for the Keju – the empire-wide test that is her ticket out of the Rooster Province and even more importantly out of an unwanted arrange marriage. To Rin’s surprise and that of everyone else, Rin aces the test and finds herself on the very top of list scoring the highest. Thus landing her a spot at the Sinegard- the most elite military school in Nikan.

But surprises aren’t always a good thing, and Rin soon realizes that. Because Rin is a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south she is the target of her fellow classmates bullying. As a result of Rin’s isolation from the other students she soon discovers she possesses a lethal, magical power and an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Rin finds aide in an unlikely teacher who might actually be insane, and has a weakness for psychedelic drugs.

Rin soon learns that the gods they all thought long dead are actually very much alive and if she can somehow master her powers she will not only be able to tap into them but control them as well. If Rin can master this feat she will accomplish so much more than just surviving the Sinegard.

For years the Nikara Empire has been at peace since the second poppy war. But now the Mugan are stirring, and the federation are finding themselves on the brink of a third war. Will Rin be able to control her powers in time? Or will the time of peace they thought they had fall to the Mugan army?

My Plain Jane By Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows & Brodi Ashton

If there was something strange in your neighborhood, you could, um, write the Society a letter, and they would promptly send an agent to take care of it.

My Rating 3.5 Stars

⭐⭐⭐ 1/2

Published: June 26th, 2018

Publisher: Harper Teen

Source: Owlcrate

Ok so here is the deal, I absolutely loved My Lady Jane it was a five star read for me so I was beyond excited for this one as it is a retelling of Jane Eyre which is one of my favorite classics and take that, add in ghosts and the paranormal, I was all in! So I had very extremely high hopes for it. And maybe it was due to my love of My Lady Jane and Jane Eyre and that my expectations were too high, but it just fell short for me. However w I did still enjoy the story and it was entertaining it just didn’t live up to the humor that was My Lady Jane and the source material behind the story. I was hoping for a story centered around Jane when I actually felt Charlotte Brontë was the star in this story, and my favorite character ended up being a ghost named Helen!

“Do not eat anything she whips up in a cauldron,” Helen whispered.

Jane of course is a penniless orphan just as we all know her to be but she is special in the sense that she can see and speak to ghosts. She becomes the governess at Thornfield Hall. There, she meets the mysterious and brooding Mr. Rochester. And I bet you can imagine that she falls in love with him despite the fact he is old enough to be her father and has some major baggage, which she may or may not end up marrying…

Charlotte Brontë a dear friend of Jane and you guessed it an aspiring author who never goes anywhere without her notebook jotting down anything and everything collecting tidbits for her future novels. Charlotte finds herself alongside the top paranormal investigator Alexander Blackwood and on a journey in trying to sway her good friend Jane in becoming an agent for the Society for the  Relocation of Wayward, solving some mysteries and hunting down some ghosts along the way.

Sadie By Courtney Summers

And it begins, as so many stories do, with a dead girl.

 

My rating: 5 Stars

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Published: September 2018

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Format: Hardcover, 308 Pages

Source: Purchase

This book absolutely blew me away. It is raw, gut-wrenchingly brutal and an all-around unforgettable experience. If I wasn’t crying I had goosebumps the whole entire time I was reading this. Courtney Summers writing has completely delivered an amazing hard hitting topic that truly leaves you haunted. The story format was so unique and well executed I had to remind myself over and over that this is a YA fiction novel and not a true crime.

This novel is unique in the fact that is told from a popular podcast and the first person narrative of Sadie our main Character. A few years back a friend referred a true crime investigative podcast to me called Up And Vanished which I became completely enthralled by (if you like true crime and podcasts I highly recommend this one) and this novel reminded me so much of that, which I think is the creepiest and most haunting aspect of this book. And that is fiction that it may be unfortunately these events can very well be real and we live in world where terrible things happen to young women and Sadie nails that topic right on the head. With that being said there are some trigger warnings with this one such as violence, sexual abuse, and alcohol and drug abuse.

“She’s dead,” I whisper and I don’t know why this is the thing I choose to say out loud because it hurts to say it, to feel the truth of those words pass my lips, to have them be real in this world, But she’s dead is the reason I’m still alive. She’s dead is the reason I’m going to kill a man.

West McCray a popular radio personality finds himself in the tiny town of Cold Creek, Colorado investigating a missing runaway Sadie Hunter. His initial thoughts where girls go missing all the time and wants to blow it off but after West’s boss West finds out that Sadie has ran away after the brutal murder of her younger sister Mattie to his dismay his boss decides it’s worth looking into and that the story is there he just has to find it.

Sadie has just had her world ripped out from beneath her. But with the money she has saved and the switch blade in her pocket she has a plan. Sadie takes us on a dark and dangerous road trip, piecing together the few clues she has to hunt down the man who took her sisters life. Sadie is determined, fearless and she wants revenge.

Alternating back and forth between Sadie’s first person narrative and the podcast transcripts together, we embark on a suspenseful mystery uncovering clues along each step. The experience will have you biting your nails and leaves you utterly shaken.

Grace and Fury By Tracy Banghart

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For every woman who has been told to sit down and be quiet… And who stood up anyway.

Grace And Fury By Tracy Banghart

My Rating: 3 Stars

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Published: July 31st 2018

Publisher: Little, Brown

Format: Hardcover – The OwlCrate Edition!

Source: OwlCrate

Ok So I really had a hard time rating this one. There were so many aspects that I loved and several that bothered me. I absolutely loved the feminism and sisterhood and set-up in this story. However at times I felt it was a bit predictable at times and the ending felt rushed. With that being said I really did enjoy this, it was a fast easy read and I feel it’s just the beginning to what is going to be an epic series.

This story is a feminist YA fantasy centered around two sisters that is full of plot twists and packed with court politics and intrigue, with some slow burn romance and a historical feel to it. The first couple chapters start out a little slow as the scene is being setup but then soon you get hit with a much unexpected plot twist, and from there it’s a wild ride that keeps you turning the pages so keep with it I promise it is worth it.

The story is being told through alternating POV’s between two sisters, Nomi and Serina who couldn’t be any more different. Serina Terraso has been groomed her whole life to become a Grace, basically a glorified concubine to the heir of the throne. This is her one chance to secure her family’s future, and to protect her younger headstrong sister and keep her out of trouble. Nomi is the rebel who has always stood in the shadows of her older sister and has been trained to be Serina’s handmaiden. But this is never what Nomi wanted and she despises the roles and restrictions that has been set upon them as women. It’s this rebellious fire of Nomi’s that catches the heir’s attention and her secret that puts Serina’s life at risk.

Tension rises and plot twists ensue and now both sisters find themselves trapped in a life that neither ever imagined living. Nomi is being paraded around in the Palazzo as a Grace trying to find power and position to save the life of her sister. But it’s a lot easier said than done, with a traitor among them and deception at every turn Nomi is unsure of who she can trust. Serina has been thrust into a ruthless world on the desolate island of Mount Ruin where women prisoners are put on stage to fight to the death. She is running out of time and must learn quickly how not to be the weakest link if she is going to survive.

My Lady Jane By Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton & Jodi Meadows

And most of all, she loved the way books could transport her from her otherwise mundane and stifling life and offer the experiences of a hundred other lives.

My Rating: 5 Stars

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Format: Hardcover, 491 pages

Published: June 7th 2016

For everyone who knows there was enough room for Leonardo Dicaprio on the door. And for England. We’re really sorry for what we’re about to do to your history.

As soon as I read that dedication, I knew I was going to love the book. Let’s just say I devoured it in one day.

My Lady Jane is a hilarious and wildly entertaining tale through the history of Lady Jane Grey, King Edward VI and Gifford ‘G’ Dudley. It is filled with fabulous British humor, and tons of silly references to Monty Python. And The Narration! The Narrator was the best part of the book, with their riotous tidbits and facts throughout the book they literally had me giggling out loud. What is not to love about History, Humor, Romance and a magical ability of animal shape-shifting!

If you are looking for a funny and light read with a touch of silly romance then this just the book for you. Beware though as this isn’t your typical historical fiction novel. The story does start out with just a twist on what we know to be true, but about halfway the Lady Janies (the nickname for trio of authors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows) completely throw history out the window and make it their own! I really enjoyed this read, it was well worth all the hype and I can’t wait to pick up My Plain Jane.

“No horse jokes,” he said.
“My lord, I apologize for the horse joke. If you put down the book—unharmed!—I will give you a carrot.”
He brandished the book at her. “Was that a horse joke?”
“Neigh.”
“Was that a horse joke?”

The story is centered on three main characters and are told their stories through our fabulously dry narrator.

Young King Edward, only sixteen is dying and without an heir he finds himself being forced to choose who will inherit his throne. But is only concerned about if he will be ever be able to kiss a girl.

Lady Jane Grey first Cousin to the king whose first and only love is that of her precious books and never pays much mind to anything else, is married off to Gifford Dudley but order of her dear cousin Edward. Oh and that little part about her to become the next in line for the throne.

Gifford Dudley (we call him G) is a horse… yes you heard me right, every day at sun up G turns into a noble chestnut steed. But then at dusk he is transformed back into a man.

Plot thickens and conspiracy ensues as we follow our three characters on their adventures to secure the throne, prevent a war between two sides and keep their heads along the way!

The Lost Sisters By Holly Black

 

BE BOLD, BE BOLD, BUT NOT TOO BOLD, LEST THAT YOUR HEART’S BLOOD SHOULD RUN COLD.

My Rating: 5 Stars

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Published October, 2nd 2018

Format: E-book, 50 pages

Let’s start with a love story. Or maybe it’s another horror story. It seems like the difference is mostly in where the ending comes.

There is absolutely no other magic like the writing of Holly Black, and oh man did it feel good to be back in her wondrous faerie world, even if for just a few pages. This smart and creative little novella was brilliantly told in the second person format of a letter from Taryn to Jude that gives you some insight to the events that unfolded in The Cruel Prince between the twins. The story really gave me an even greater appreciation of the Cruel Prince and built even more future excitement for the Folk of the Air Series!

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Taryn and she had a faerie lover who came to her at night. He was generous and adoring, but visited only in the dark. He asked for two things: one, for her to keep their meetings secret, and two, never to look upon his face fully. And so, night after night she took delight in him but, after some time had passed, wondered what his secret could be.…

Ok so now let’s talk Taryn, I absolutely despise her and I think hate isn’t even a strong enough word for my feelings for her. The whole time I am reading I am thinking you and Locke 100% deserve each other and all the future misery that will be bestowed upon you. Just how selfish can she be? ugh…

Now that I got that rant out of the way, this little novella lets you take a good look at Taryn and Locke and their relationship through Taryn’s eyes. You get to see just how manipulative and cruel Locke really is and how he spins these webs of treachery and deceit and actually gets enjoyment out seeing them unfold and wreck the lives around him. This story also paints a good picture on how love can be cruel and wicked and often blinding us to others and our surroundings.

Fairy tales are full of girls who wait, who endure, who suffer. Good girls. Obedient girls. Girls who crush nettles until their hands bleed. Girls who haul water for witches. Girls who wander through deserts or sleep in ashes or make homes for transformed brothers in the woods. Girls without hands, without eyes, without the power of speech, without any power at all. But then a prince rides up and sees the girl and finds her beautiful. Beautiful, not despite her suffering, but because of it.

It’s a short treacherous and completely haunting experience that left me feeling inky all over, but wanting more at the same time. Just like The Cruel Prince this story makes you feel like you have opened a doorway and walked right into the faerie realm that is among the pages. It’s amazing how even in just a little novella Holly’s writing really drives you as a reader drawing you in the entire time reading.

Such a pleasent tease this was and will definitely not hold me over until The Wicked King releases.

The Cruel Prince By Holly Black

“I am going to keep on defying you. I am going to shame you with my defiance. You remind me that I am a mere mortal and you are a prince of Faerie. Well, let me remind you that means you have much to lose and I have nothing. You may win in the end, you may ensorcell me and hurt me and humiliate me, but I will make sure you lose everything I can take from you on the way down. I promise you this is the least of what I can do.”

The Cruel Prince

By: Holly Black

My Rating: 5 Star

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Format: Hardcover,

Ok let me just start off this by saying OMG, I might have just died after reading this, and I don’t know how I am going to survive the wait for the sequel!!

I have heard nothing but great things about Holly Black’s writing and I cannot even begin to express how much she delivered with this book. The book was nothing short of magical, it was dark, cruel and wonderfully wicked. I could not put it down once I started reading. And let’s just talk about her imaginative world building, she puts words to page that are just so enchanted it bring the book to life. I absolutely fell utterly in love with this book and it is most definitely making my top reads for 2018!

This book follows our main character Jude who at the very young age of seven, along with her two sisters witness the ghastly murder of their parents. Jude and her sisters are then taken by their parents murdered and forced to live in the dangerous court of the high faerie.

Leaping forward ten years Jude has grown up as the adopted daughter of the faerie general and has become accustomed to life at the high court and is desperate to fit in among them. Regrettably for Jude many of the fey loathe humans, especially Prince Carden who happens to be the cruelest and most wicked of the high king’s sons.

Jude dreams of one day becoming a faerie knight and she will do just about anything to get there, even risk her life. “If I cannot be better than them, I will become so much worse.” Jude’s determination gives her thirst for power and position that set her down a path, which she may not survive. But she will do whatever it takes to get there thus earning her the respect she so desperately seeks. She is soon immersed in the palace intrigues and deceptions as a spy where she discovers that there are secrets everywhere and has to resorts to trickery and even bloodshed.

Jude reaches as point of no return and risks everything in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters.

“Nice things don’t happen in storybooks. Or when they do happen, something bad happens next. Because otherwise the story would be boring, and no one would read it.”

An Enchantment of Ravens By Margaret Rogerson

Fantasy, fairies and romance oh my!

My Rating: 5 Stars

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Published: September 26th 2017

Format: Hardcover, 297 pages

Craft is what they covet, Whimsy is where they seek it. Isobel a mortal girl is the master of her craft and has a dangerous clientele of fair folk, to whom she creates stunning portraits for. The fair folk are unable to craft and the simplest of acts such as putting pen to paper will reduce them to dust. With the fair folks obsession with the craft they often travel into Whimsy and trade their valuable enchantments for one of Isobel’s Paintings.

Isobel is soon called upon to paint the royal prince of the autumn court – Rook’s Portrait. After spending much time with the prince she soon realizes that there is something different about Rook. Isobel sees a true human sorrow in his eyes, and puts it to canvas in her painting, a costly mistake.

Rook is furious with Isobel as she has not only put his throne on the line but also might cost him is life. He shows up in the middle of the night and whisks her away in order to stand trial in his autumn court for what she has done.

Along their journey through the fairy lands they encounter danger at every turn. With their own survival at stake they are forced to rely on each other, turning a hatred into trust and thus deepening their alliance into something more that neither one of them want to admit… as love among the humans and fair folk is forbidden and if caught would mean death for them both under the good law of the Alder King.

Will the exquisite craft Isobel can create and the power that Rook possesses be enough to stand against the ancient law and ruthlessness of the fairy courts? Isobel and Rook must fight for their lives in a world where there are secrets lurking in the corners, everything is not as it seems and deception and decay wear a mask of beauty.

This book was right up my alley. It was recommended that if I loved A Court Of Thorns And Roses then I would love this one too! And it did not disappoint. However with that being said I knew going in that this was going to be a fast easy read and just the right book to give me a small dose of the ACOTAR fairy world that I needed, and it was just that. Margaret Roberson’s writing and story flowed well, and completely left me wanting more!

Fawkes By Nadine Brandes

“Remember, Remember the fifth of November, The Gunpowder treason and Plot; I know of no reason why the Gunpowder treason should ever be forgot!” – Guy Fawkes

My Rating: 5 Stars

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Published: July 10th 2018

Format: Hardcover, 448 pages

We all have learned about Guy Fawkes and the Infamous gunpowder plot of 1605 during the great plague that wreaked its havoc across the country. Fawkes is a magical retelling of those events by the wonderfully talented Nadine Brandes, which is beautifully told and does not disappoint.

Nadine brings to life a truly imaginative balance of history and fantasy that will leave you completely enchanted and fully immersed in 17th century London. The fact to fiction in this is absolutely seamless, and she introduces a very creative color magic which is a breath of fresh air.

Be ready to embark on an adventure alongside Thomas Fawkes the son of the great Guy Fawkes as he sets off on an epic journey of self-discovery. Thomas comes from a long line of keepers and therefore is a keeper by default in world where color magic is caught between two sides; the keepers and the igniters. Both sides believe the other is responsible for a stone plague that is wreaking havoc across the lands and either will do anything to diminish the other. Keepers are currently under the oppression of the igniters as the igniters want the freedom to use the power of white light, which allows one to speak to all of the colors rather than following the keeper way of just bonding to one color, that of your mask.

Thomas is just about to enter manhood and receive his mask so he may be able to bond with a color. Thomas desperately wants to bond with the color grey as he has been cursed with the stone plague and believes the only way to save his life is by commanding grey to rid him of the plague once and for all. However nothing is ever as simple as one may wish it to be. On the night of his color test where Thomas will be receiving his mask from his father, he finds out his father will not be coming thus he is cast out from school unable to perform his color test to begin wielding color magic. Now with his future and life are hanging in the balance Thomas sets off to London in search of his father and demand that he is given his mask.

Once in London Thomas finds his father, only to discover that he is part of a plot to take down parliament and the King of England in all their igniter ways for they believe this will finally rid them of the dreaded stone plague. Thomas’s father refuses to give him his mask until he is able to prove himself as a true keeper and a trustworthy member of the plot.

In Thomas’s journey to earn his mask he finds himself torn between two sides and at a crossroad to seek the truth. Will Thomas follow his father joining in the plot to kill the king, saving the keepers from oppression and possibly risk the life of a girl he loves? Or will he find out the truth behind this white light and why is speaks to him?

I absolutely fell completely in love with this story and it will easily be one of my favorite reads of 2018. Nadine has created such uniquely rich characters that keep you turning the next page. I am giving this the full five stars it well deserves and cannot wait for her next book Romanov to come out next year!