Review | Caraval Took Me On A Magical Mystery Journey

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By: Stephanie Garber

Overall Rating: ★★★★

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance…but is it? In order to save her sister she becomes tangled in the game – realizing magic, love, lies, and danger are around every corner (and not everything is as it seems).

Where is Tella? Who is Legend? And how is she going to get out of this mess safely. Panic ensures, madness creeps in and you won’t know what to believe.

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TL;DR:

Caraval was a rollercoaster of WTFs and OMGs. Imagine every amazing magician movie mixed with some fairy tale fantasy vibes. Nothing is what it seems and I couldn’t guess any of the twists, which always makes for a great story for me. I still don’t know who to trust or what is real. Now I need Legendary and Finale in my life STAT.

The Good

The Atmosphere

Caraval is a mood. I felt like I was in the Golden Age of Piracy on an island in the Caribbean, where everyone is called lovelies, dukes and counts exist (and they sell rum), and characters wear top hats and petticoats. Then, I was on a magical island version of Diagon Alley, where watches are magical and people trade in secrets. Caraval has it’s own living, breathing environment and you’ll want to get lost in it.

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The Plot Twists & Reveals

Okay, bare with me here. But I am OBSESSED with movies about magic, and all I could think about while reading this was that it was a mix of The Prestige, Now You See Me, and The Illusionist. There’s a quote from The Prestige that speaks to this book so well and I had to share it because it captures my feelings so perfectly.

“Every great magic trick consists of three parts or acts….Now you’re looking for the secret… but you won’t find it, because of course you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to know…making something disappear isn’t enough; you have to bring it back. That’s why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call “The Prestige”.”

THIS BOOK HAS THE BEST PRESTIGE. I was in shock at the end and none of my guesses (save for maybe one) were correct. I LOVE a book that keeps me guessing until the very end. Garber was meant to be a magician IRL. She put on a SHOW.

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That Epilogue

Okay, seriously. I felt so tortured by that last note, but it was the ONLY thing I guessed right the entire time (or did I? I still don’t even know!). It set up book two perfectly while opening the door for an entirely new Caraval adventure.

The Bad

The Character Growth

The characters could have used some revamping. Scarlett and Tella are crazy in their own ways and I found myself bouncing back and forth when deciding if I liked them or not. As of now, I love Julian (but he has some things to make up for), Scarlett redeemed her timid ways, and Tella is still just crazy AF.

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Scarlett’s Struggle

The entire time Scarlett is looking for her sister I found myself not caring…at all. We don’t see enough of Tella in the beginning of the book to actually worry for her safety – at least in my mind – so I found it a void point in the plot. I cared more about Scarlett and hoping she didn’t die before finding out the truth (whatever “truth” actually is at this point. LOL.)

The Ugly Truth

This book was so good. If you’re into dark Harry Potter-vibe magic, pirate-esque characters, and a good mystery – read this!

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Have you read this book? If so, what did you think of it?

Review | Roar Has Got the Eye of Tiger, Is A Figher, & So Much More

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By: Cora Cormack

Overall Rating: ★★★★

Goodreads Summary

Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people.

Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough.

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TL;DR:

This book is such a good series opener and I can’t wait for Rage. This is everything I would hope for in a book: a princess who ISN’T a damsel in distress, a heroine who’s smart, haughty and can (kinda) take care of herself, a love interest who is genuine and caring & an unseen, creeper villain who gives you chills. It’s Into The Storm/Twister with some Airbender Vibes and it’s so good.

The Good

Rora Can’t Be Tamed

She starts off as Aurora – weak, powerless, timid. She ends as Roar – powerful, confident and everything you want to read about. Of course there are cliches. She’s the princess without powers who needs to save her people but I still found her story intense and exciting. Haughty boss girls who just want to learn are my vibe.

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Antagonists & Morally Gray Characters FTW

love stories where the threats are looming and that foreboding feeling is stuck in the pit of your stomach because you can’t quite put your finger on who or what is the actual problem. Roar has a lot of issues to deal with including  a creepy storm lord who hangs around and talks to dead guys he’s just killed and Prince Cassius, who I LOVE even though I probably shouldn’t. The political drama is Game of Thrones level, without the blood and gore.

Locke, Where Have You Been All My Life?

I usually find myself stuck with the romantic, primpy guys or the rugged, seemingly feelingless men. Locke manages to be the perfect combo of them all – caring, rugged, stubborn, and to mention he chases magical storms for a living. WHAT MORE COULD YOU ASK FOR.

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The Bad

I Want More

Honestly, the only thing I could think to put here is that I wish there was more to learn and dive into – about the Pavan family, about Storm magic, about everything. Here’s to hoping Rage will bring a lot of answers to my current questions.

The Ugly Truth

Read Roar! The magical world of Pavan is fresh, intriguing and Aurora will draw you in with her attitude and wit.

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Have you read this book? If so, what did you think of it? Will you be adding it to your TBR?

Review | The Rook Is The Fantastical Story You’ve Been Missing

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By:Daniel O’Malley

Overall Rating: ★★★★

A lady wakes up in a park surrounded by dead guys wearing latex gloves. She doesn’t know who she is, how she got there, or what she should do next. Follow Myfanwy (rhymes with Tiffany) as she finds out ghosts and ghouls are real, she works for the British equivalent of the Men in Black, and that one of her coworkers is trying to kill her.

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TL;DR:

The Rook is a little Men in Black, a little Downtown Abbey, a little X-Men and some Jason Bourne mixed in for good measure. The inspiration was obvious, but I still felt like I was reading something completely fresh, riveting and mind-bending. If you’re looking for a new fantasy series where dragons are real, people have super powers, and the British government is hiding it all from the normal guys like us – dig into the Checquy Files ASAP!

The Good

The Heroine

Myfanwy wakes up as a “new” person and has to learn how to be  her while navigating the ins and outs of acceptable behavior for a superhuman government agent, and she doesn’t always get it right. She’s believable and strong and it’s refreshing to have a snarky character to read about that isn’t high and mighty about the greater good. No cliche “I don’t trust other girls” or “I’m only friends with boys” or whatever else you can think of.

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There’s A Little Something For Everyone

Like, I said – The Rook had scenes that reminded me of so many different pop culture icons, but it still felt new and fresh. This makes it great for a lot of different tastes. You like Supernatural? You British Men of Letters peeps get ready. Prefer some X-Men Xavier’s School for the Gifted? Read On. Looking for some Bourne Identity vibes. This has it! Is Downtown Abby more your style? You’ll love it. There’s even some very sly Greek Mythology references, but don’t blink because you might miss them.

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There’s No Smut!

I’ve been so knee-deep in fantasies with forbidden love, love triangles, unrequited love, etc. etc. that I forgot stories without love aspects exist! It was refreshing to have the focus be on literally everything else (like hello, someone is trying to kill you, WHY would you even bother with dating at that point?). O’Malley got it right.

The Bad

It Has It’s Slow Moments

For some reason it took me longer than usual to get through almost 500 pages. I chalk it up to the lulls in the story. Some of them are necessary, but some points could have been moved along a bit more quickly.

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The Ugly Truth

This is an amazing fantasy/sci-fi read! There’s a rich world, strong characters, and enough mystery to go around. I can’t wait to get my hands on the second book, Stiletto!

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Have you read this book? If so, what did you think of it?

Review | An Enchantment of Ravens

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By: Margaret Rogerson

Overall Rating: ★★★

Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. But when she receives her first royal patron – Rook, the autumn prince – she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes, a weakness that could cost him his life.

My TL:DR before I get into all the deets: An Enchantment of Ravens is a more dangerous version of Alice in Wonderland with a hint of  Dorian Gray thrown in. It’s whimsical, with just enough danger to keep you on your toes, but I found myself wanting more. More romance, more answers, more in-depth character backgrounds, more everything. 

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The Good

The Atmosphere

I’ve read so many books about faeries, but for some reason Rogerson’s take just seemed way more magical. When I say this reminds me of Alice in Wonderland, it’s because the world is very bizarre and whimsical in the most entertaining ways – from the fae princes down to the food they eat, there’s always something mystical to find.

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The Heroine

Isobel isn’t fierce or quick-witted like we’ve become accustomed to with YA heroines. She’s subtle, soft, smart, and endearing. Yet, she still manages to handle herself among the fae by being the cool, collected artist they crave. She sticks to her principles and even scolds herself when she knows she’s being like “those girls”. She isn’t the typical type of character I end up loving, but for some reason she just works. Not everyone needs to be a warrior princess to be amazing.

The Bad

Lack of Details

This isn’t to say that the descriptions and attention to detail were lacking, I just wish there had been more development with everything. I’m pretty sure this is just me being a sucker for a good series and never wanting stories to truly end but…¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

I just can’t stop thinking about things like: Why can’t faeries do any type of crafts? What happens to Rook and Isobel? What about the King? What about the world that people sail to to get away from magic? I just have SO. MANY. QUESTIONS. They’re definitely all unnecessary, but alas, I still think everything ended too quickly.

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The Ugly Truth

This book is a quirky, quick and fun read. If you’re into faeries and the lore, then you will definitely enjoy Rogerson’s world. Isobel and Rook are so precious and pure, their relationship will warm your heart like a mid-summer night’s dream (get it…because Puck, *badumpsh*). I’d recommend this if you need a pick-me-up from a book hangover or if you’re just looking for something light!

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Have you read this book? If so, what did you think of it?

Review | Kingdom of Ash Put Me In a Major Book Hangover

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By: Sarah J Maas

Overall Rating: ★★★★★

Aelin is in an iron coffin. Rowan is looking for his mate. Aedion and Lysandra are trying to hold off demon-soldier hoards. Dorian and Manon are off looking for some keys and witches. Chaol is off being an annoying d-bag per yoozh. Meanwhile Maeve and Erawan are just doing their thing, trying to take over the world.

How does this end? I will tell you…AMAZINGLY. It’s been almost a month and I have yet to get over this epic ending.

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Stealing this from my Rowaelin playlist because I just think it fits SO WELL. Every relationship, every plot line, everything is just End Game.

The Good

Character Arcs

I didn’t think it was possible for me to love these characters more than I already did, but I guess war really does bring out the best in people. All the main players manage to grow and thrive, even through all the hardships. And, I can’t believe I’m going to say this…but even Chaol was great in his own way. He didn’t annoy me once and that’s a pretty big accomplishment since I’ve managed to hate him for 70% of the entire series.

The Downfalls

Does it make me evil that I actually enjoyed the fact that not everything in this story works out? War is being fought in every corner of the world and I don’t think I would have been as happy if everything was a-ok and the heroes always won. Sometimes bad things happen to good people and I’m perfectly okay with that.

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The Feels

I had to stop reading at least 10 times to give myself a chance to recover from all the emotions. Even when happy things happened, I still found myself wanting to cry tears of joy. I hate hugging and showing any type of emotion…but SJM brought me to the brink of a nervous breakdown and I lived for it. If you live for having your heart ripped out and pieced back together multiple times, you’ll love this story.

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The Bad

This Could Have Been Two Books

There were several major events that take place in this book, but there’s a point where things go from slowly, slooooowwllly progressing to much MUCH more urgent. 0 to 100 in less than 10 pages. I felt like I was reading two different stories. And, while I know the set up was important, there were a few places where this book could have stopped…and then started up again as a new book. I guess this is just me being selfish and wanting more?

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The Ugly Truth

I LOVED THIS BOOK. It’s now mid-November and I still haven’t gotten over all my feels. I can’t read anything new because I’m still stuck in Terrasen with the Cadre and Aelin and I don’t mind it one bit. This might be up at the top of my favorite series endings right along with Deathly Hallows.

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Have you read this yet? If so, what did you think of it? Are you in a book hangover like me? Will it ever end?

Review | Nevernight Puts the Sass in Assassin

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By: Jay Kristoff

Overall Rating: ★★★★

Mia Corvere is the daughter of an executed traitor. She manages to escape her would-be killers and ends up under the tutelage of a retired assassin, who teachers her all his murder-y ways.

She joins the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church – and tries to out-assassin a bunch of other rude, angsty, stab-y teens so she can become a Blade and get the revenge she desires. But of course, nothing is ever that easy and Mia has to deal with her feelings and an unknown murderer that keeps offing a bunch of students. Think Hogwarts, but for assassins instead of wizards.

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The Good

The Characters

No one in this story can be considered “good” and yet I still find myself rooting for these ruthless killers. Mia, Tric, Mr. Kindly and even Lord Cassius all toot my horn. Who wouldn’t want to be friends with a bunch of assassins and a demon cat? Let’s just say after you read this you’re going to wish you knew how to sword fight, mix up a poisonous elixir and be a pickpocket…and you wouldn’t think any of it was morally unacceptable.

The Writing

I felt like I was living in a Roman drama, but at the same time found myself laughing at the most inappropriate times. Like, am I reading about the downfall of Caesar if it was set in the Mean Girls world? I’m pretty sure I was, and I’m not mad about it. The dad jokes and sarcasm just made everything so much more amazing…Kristoff put literal book worms in the library. What did we do to deserve such a great story?

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THAT PLOT TWIST

It took a while for things to get really good. But oh. my. gosh. that ending took me by surprise. You think the story is going one way and then BAM! it takes a sharp turn into “what the EEEFFF is going on now?!” It was a bit like a Game of Thrones plot twist, blood and gore included.

The Bad

The Footnotes

Literally the only reason I didn’t give this book 5 starts is because of the footnotes. I LOVED the added sass by whoever the narrator is, but those footnotes were the death of me. I got through this book way more slowly than I would have because I kept having to backtrack and re-read after pausing mid-page to go down to the footnotes. Dense books just aren’t my thing.

The Ugly Truth

Nevernight was an amazing book. The story, the characters, the writing, the everything was SO. GOOD. My only wish was that it was slightly less dense. I would have even preferred if it was written in more of a play-style setting. It was halfway there anyway. I’m definitely recommending it to friends, but will hold off on a re-read until I get through the entire series!

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Have you read this book? If so, what did you think of it?