Caraval by Stephanie Garber
Synopsis: "Remember, it’s only a game…
Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her 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 faraway, 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. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.
Welcome, welcome to Caraval…beware of getting swept too far away."
Review: WOW. just WOW. I have seen this book everywhere, so after picking this up I already had pretty high standards, but let's just say that my mind was completely blown.
Caraval has taken me on a journey. When people say books transport you to new worlds, no book does it quite like Caraval. Although, it was incredibly unique (like, I was unable to think about anything else) here are some the things I felt hints of similarities to while reading:
The characters, relationships, worldbuilding, and plot were all so unique that I still can't fully wrap my head around it.
The characters were perfectly imperfect. Unlike most YA novels where we have a classic heroine who is unconfidently perfect, we have some very real characters who each make their own mistakes and carry their own flaws.
The creativity of the world of Caraval is beyond me, but it really works itself into everything else. (AKA It makes everything, especially relationships, VERY complicated). Caraval's magic takes away any of my plot predictions (not a single prediction I had played out and if it did I was already there, so not much of a prediction ahah).
Caraval is on the surface level simply beautiful, but its beauty hides a darkness you can feel while reading: that constant anxious feeling that you have every time you turn the page, but don't know why. Anyone searching for a pageturner and something to scramble your brain and grab and twist your heart, please pick up this amazing novel. (Now it's time for me to leave and return to this insane world as I pick up Legendary! SO EXCITED)
Cover: ★★★★★ ( I MEAN)
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Synopsis: "When you can't beat the odds, change the game.
Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn't think they'd survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they're right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz's cunning and test the team's fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city's dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world."
Review: This was such a bittersweet read. Knowing that the story was ending, yet reading such a well-written story had me wanting to read faster, yet not wanting to finish. The first novel set up the world building and all the first impressions of the characters, but Crooked Kingdom really explored the characters, their relationships, and the plot.
The plot was such a rollercoaster and it was somewhat predictable, but still enthralling. With the plot, the switching of character plots really helped move everything along and created suspense by focusing on only one perspective at a time. This switching also really helps me create that image in my brain and I can definitely see this being a movie one day!.
As much as the plot was invigorating, I think this series is a series you read for the characters. They are such a fun group of amazing individuals who only heighten each others' strengths when they are together. This kind of relationship is so amazing to read and gives you that family vibe.
Overall I am just very much attached to everyone and as much as I want more books, Crooked Kingdom was a good book to end at, but I'm just glad I own Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom so I can go back and reread whenever I need some more of these amazing characters!
Cover: ★★★★★ (AND THOSE FREAKIN GORGEOUS RED PAGES)
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Synopsis: "Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be cojnmpromised.
With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met."
Review: I always say things like I recommend this book to everyone, and I do mean it, BUT this book is THE book I think everyone needs to read. It is not just a "coming out" book, it is a book that really captures the teenage experience and something that just really resonated with me.
BLUE. Simon and Blue have this amazingly, natural, and realistic back and forth conversation that was so real it was beautiful. Fantasy romances are often fast paced and exciting, but this book has a more realistic example and that made it all the more touching and emotional to read.
The parent teenage relationship is also so realistically portrayed in this novel. It's not like other YA novels where parents never interrupt their crazy, adventurous teenager's lives. It's also not a perfect relationship of simply being best friend's with their children. It's real and raw and delves into the feelings of dislike between each other, but the love that still holds them all together.
This book should be read not only because it is a well-written book, but it is important. It covers LGBTQ topics of course, but also a lot of race and how even a person, who isn't considered a racist, can have some concerning racial thoughts, like simply assuming someone was white, just natural instincts and thoughts that being in this society has ingrained into us.
* on a lighter note, I LOVE golden retrievers so kudos to Bieber. (Simon's adorable golden retriever) Also love oreos, so I'm with you Simon.
Anyways, for all these reasons and many more that I can't even truly express in words, I would recommend picking up this book for a quick, yet life changing read. Now I'm off to go and see how the movie compares!
Cover: ★★★★☆ (Who cares though, the words are so much more important)
The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo
Synopsis: "Love speaks in flowers. Truth requires thorns.
Travel to a world of dark bargains struck by moonlight, of haunted towns and hungry woods, of talking beasts and gingerbread golems, where a young mermaid's voice can summon deadly storms and where a river might do a lovestruck boy's bidding but only for a terrible price.
Inspired by myth, fairy tale, and folklore, #1 New York Times–bestselling author Leigh Bardugo has crafted a deliciously atmospheric collection of short stories filled with betrayals, revenge, sacrifice, and love.
Perfect for new readers and dedicated fans, these tales will transport you to lands both familiar and strange—to a fully realized world of dangerous magic that millions have visited through the novels of the Grishaverse.
This collection of six stories includes three brand-new tales, all of them lavishly illustrated with art that changes with each turn of the page, culminating in six stunning full-spread illustrations as rich in detail as the stories themselves."
Review: After the Grisha trilogy I fell in love with this world and this collection of the grisha fairytales has stolen my heart. I can't help but wish I grew up with stories like this. Leigh Bardugo actually made these stories pretty empowering, possibly even unintentionally, but it was a much appreciated change to the princess and fairy magic we got as little girls.
*I also HAVE to mention that the art is STUNNING and just such a beautiful flow that connected the story so well.
I loved each and every story but here's a quick idea of how I see it:
Amaya and the Thorn Woods
Cover: ★★★★★ (AND ALL THE BEAUTIFUL ART INSIDE)
* MILD SPOILERS IN QUOTES PROCEED WITH CAUTION*
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Synopsis: "Criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker has been offered wealth beyond his wildest dreams. But to claim it, he'll have to pull off a seemingly impossible heist:
Break into the notorious Ice Court
(a military stronghold that has never been breached)
Retrieve a hostage
(who could unleash magical havoc on the world)
Survive long enough to collect his reward
(and spend it)
Kaz needs a crew desperate enough to take on this suicide mission and dangerous enough to get the job done - and he knows exactly who: six of the deadliest outcasts the city has to offer. Together, they just might be unstoppable - if they don't kill each other first."
Review: LOOK WHO'S FINALLY READ SIX OF CROWS. After waiting for much too long to pick up this book, I have finally read it and as a huge fan of Leigh Bardugo and super high expectations for this book (as the Grisha Trilogy is one of my favorites) I have to say that I loved this book with every ounce of my being (a lot of this is due to Kaz but who can blame me).
Here is why I really enjoyed Six of Crows:
This novel was a rollercoaster of emotions and I really couldn't put it down (and when I had to I couldn't stop thinking about it). I was very much emotionally invested in these characters and they were definitely my favorite part just because, not only were they easy to connect to, but their backgrounds were so unique and full of details that really brought them to life and had me wanting to know MORE. The characters' romances were also perfectly imperfect and I gush every time I think about it because the romance was absolutely adorable and frustrating, yet such a perfect contrast to the harsh action and darker plot line.
I fully loved this story, but if I truly HAD to complain I would say that I found a couple plot points pretty predictable, but it was nothing to worry about when everything about it was still full of excitement.
For fans of fantasy, romance, or action, I would 100% recommend Six of Crows. (Though I would honestly recommend this to everyone, because I think it's simply a book everyone needs!)
*Would have gushed some more but I'm off to read Crooked Kingdom!*
" 'No mourners,' ... 'No funerals,'"
" 'I'm a businessman,' he'd told her. 'No more, no less.' 'You're a thief Kaz.' 'Isn't that what I just said?'"
"Shame holds more value than coin ever can."
"The easiest way to steal a man's wallet is to tell him you're going to steal his watch."
"Better terrible truths than kind lies."
King's Cage by Victoria Aveyard
Synopsis: "In this breathless third installment to Victoria Aveyard’s bestselling Red Queen series, allegiances are tested on every side. And when the Lightning Girl's spark is gone, who will light the way for the rebellion?
Mare Barrow is a prisoner, powerless without her lightning, tormented by her lethal mistakes. She lives at the mercy of a boy she once loved, a boy made of lies and betrayal. Now a king, Maven Calore continues weaving his dead mother's web in an attempt to maintain control over his country—and his prisoner.
As Mare bears the weight of Silent Stone in the palace, her once-ragtag band of newbloods and Reds continue organizing, training, and expanding. They prepare for war, no longer able to linger in the shadows. And Cal, the exiled prince with his own claim on Mare's heart, will stop at nothing to bring her back.
When blood turns on blood, and ability on ability, there may be no one left to put out the fire—leaving Norta as Mare knows it to burn all the way down."
Review: I thought my heart was already shredded to pieces, but this book made my heart disintegrate into ashes and then stomped all over it. Despite regularly punishing myself with the words of all these amazing authors (who like to tear readers' hearts apart) I was still not prepared .
Mare goes through a lot in this book and at first I found her a bit annoying, but it's hard to be annoyed after all that she's gone through. She deserves to focus on herself more and she's untrusting, but who wouldn't be in her situation?!
In book one there was romance, in book two it was all adventure, and in book three there is self awareness or Mare finally learning herself and her demons and a touch more romance than book 2. However, this book was finally the book to really acquaint the reader with Mare, it became more personal and more heartfelt (all the easier for my heart to shatter). Not only do we get to understand Mare more, but Cameron's perspective is also shown in this book! It was super interesting to see her thoughts aside from Mare's and there's no doubt that I feel so much closer to her character as well now.
There is not much more I can say without spoiling this intense plot, but all I can say is that I'm eternally grateful the ending was not a cliffhanger because I could not wait a couple more months for the next book! Saying that, I still can't wait for book number 4!!
Favorite Quote(s): (VICTORIA AVEYARD WRITES SO BEAUTIFULLY)
*I received an ARC of the witch doesn't burn in this one through Netgalley, but this in no way affected my honest opinion about the book.*
Synopsis: "The witch: supernaturally powerful, inscrutably independent, and now—indestructible. These moving, relatable poems encourage resilience and embolden women to take control of their own stories. Enemies try to judge, oppress, and marginalize her, but the witch doesn’t burn in this one."
Review: Amanda Lovelace has won my respect and my heart after a rollercoaster of a collection of poems in her first book, the princess saves herself in this one, and this following collection only adds to that. After her first novel that went over the many events of her life, I was able to grasp a portion of her life and it felt so full coverage I was wondering where she would go next with this book. She went deep and right into feminism and I couldn't have been happier and more appreciative.
Empowerment is more important than ever and so is speaking up about women's rights and equality, especially as seen with all the talk of movements like #MeToo and the Women's March. The entire collection was also incredibly relatable. Her first book was relatable but applied pretty specifically to the events she lived through, but this one spread to include what many women face daily.
I felt such a strong connection to these words and they really tugged at my heart and pushed my brain and I could feel this string that tied all women together: the experiences I had went through without even realizing how many other girls did too .(Not the cases like rape or catcalling necessarily but the more of the subtle things of being told to smile, subconsciously taking up less space, etc.)
I know guys might be like, I'm not a girl why should I read this, but I would recommend for boys to read this as well, it shows you just how much women have to go through to reach the equality most guys are born with. Girls, please pick this up, you deserve to know how powerful you are, despite race, religion, physical appearance, etc. , because women truly are some kind of magic.
I would quote this entire book if I could, but I can't so I had to REALLY cut down.
"self-love is not an instant or overnight evolution"
"confidence isn't egotism."
"safety has never been our privilege"
the princess saves herself in this one by Amanda Lovelace
Synopsis: ""Ah, life- the thing that happens to us while we're off somewhere else blowing on dandelions & wishing ourselves into the pages of our favorite fairy tales."
A poetry collection divided into four different parts: the princess, the damsel, the queen, & you. the princess, the damsel, & the queen piece together the life of the author in three stages, while you serves as a note to the reader & all of humankind. Explores life & all of its love, loss, grief, healing, empowerment, & inspirations."
Review: First of all, this is simply such a powerful book and I am honored to have the chance to read it because as a teenage girl, getting close to being an adult, it is empowering and important to get to read words like these.
I've never really written a review for poetry before and I almost didn't plan on writing one, but this book has created waves of emotions (sometimes literally as I bawled my eyes out). Knowing that this book contained nonfiction was something I kept in my mind and as a very privileged girl for not having experienced to many of the cruelties that this world has to offer, it hurt even more to see the pain in this book.
These poems truly encompass what feel like a lifetime of emotion all into 156 touching pages. This lifetime shared with us contains: love, heartbreak, family, self, death, hate, and all the feelings in between. Compared to much longer novels, I expected to speed through this book easily, but it ended up taking much longer for me to complete as almost every poem gave me revelations or swept me up into such strong emotions that I had to pause.
I know reviews are meant to share with others about the experience the book provides, but this is one of those books that are simply indescribable, so I guess you'll just have to go and read it yourself. It truly is a book I would recommend to everyone, because there is so much to understand about where women stand and why people need to love (both themselves and others).
Cover: ★★★★★ (Super aesthetic, but the words are more of the focus and beauty cannot explain the strength of this writing)
Favorite Quote(s): (I wanted to quote everything, but here are some shorter bits and pieces that caught my attention)
Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff
Synopsis: "A ruthless young assassin continues her journey for revenge in this new epic fantasy from New York Times bestselling author Jay Kristoff.
Assassin Mia Corvere has found her place among the Blades of Our Lady of Blessed Murder, but many in the Red Church ministry think she’s far from earned it. Plying her bloody trade in a backwater of the Republic, she’s no closer to ending Consul Scaeva and Cardinal Duomo, or avenging her familia. And after a deadly confrontation with an old enemy, Mia begins to suspect the motives of the Red Church itself.
When it’s announced that Scaeva and Duomo will be making a rare public appearance at the conclusion of the grand games in Godsgrave, Mia defies the Church and sells herself to a gladiatorial collegium for a chance to finally end them. Upon the sands of the arena, Mia finds new allies, bitter rivals, and more questions about her strange affinity for the shadows. But as conspiracies unfold within the collegium walls, and the body count rises, Mia will be forced to choose between loyalty and revenge, and uncover a secret that could change the very face of her world.
Set in the world of Nevernight, which Publishers Weekly called “absorbing in its complexity and bold in its bloodiness,” Godsgrave will continue to thrill and satisfy fantasy fans everywhere."
Review: MIA CORVERE IS BACK. Nevernight was one of my favorite books of 2017 so starting off the year with Godsgrave was the perfect choice. As Mia is one of my favorite characters (maybe not ethically lol), I was ecstatic to simply read about her again, but Godsgrave was filled with plenty of Mia, adventure, stabstabstab, and SO MUCH MORE. Simply put, I CANNOT WAIT UNTIL SEPTEMBER 4th.
Jay Kristoff continues his witty comments in the subscript? of the book and the commentary is actually one of my favorite parts of this series. Not only do I get to learn more about this absolutely brilliant and insane world and its history, but it also provides some light hearted humor which helps balance out all the darkness is the rest of the book.
Godsgrave was an adventure and a half. While Nevernight was the perfect introduction to this world of assassins, Godsgrave moves on from a simple introduction and dives into the action of this world. SO MUCH HAPPENS and each page had my full attention, but I won't spoil anything because you deserve to go through all the emotions I did. Just like with Nevernight, there is some love, but in this I see Mia as discovering just a bit more about herself and learning to make her own choices.
However, there was one little annoyance with this novel. I predicted a certain something would happen, which it did, BUT AT THE END OF THIS NOVEL.... I thought it would happen much earlier on and I waiting for this for the entire novel, so much to my disappointment I will be waiting for more once September 4th comes around. (wow Stephanie way to be vague, but hey at least no spoilers!)
My love for this series has only grown since the moment I first read Nevernight and I would definitely recommend this book to everyone and though I wouldn't necessarily want to live in their world, I love reading about it and simply reading about Mia who is definitely one of my favorite female main characters ever!
Cover: ★★★★★ THE ART WITH THIS SERIES IS STUNNING
Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard
Synopsis: "If there’s one thing Mare Barrow knows, it’s that she’s different.
Mare Barrow’s blood is red—the color of common folk—but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control.
The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince—the friend—who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.
Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors.
But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat.
Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?
The electrifying next installment in the Red Queen series escalates the struggle between the growing rebel army and the blood-segregated world they’ve always known—and pits Mare against the darkness that has grown in her soul."
Review: I AM NOT OK. After somehow surviving Red Queen I am back again with Glass Sword which was more than I bargained for and my heart is shredded to pieces, but since I'm sure this book was written with that purpose I would have to say it did its job well.
I thought Red Queen was an emotional rollercoaster, and it was, but this was even crazier. I sat in silence trying to act normal, but half the time all I wanted to do was scream, cry, or laugh (and probably all three at once). While Red Queen was more emotional and dealt with more romance, I felt that Glass Sword toned that down a bit but dialed up the plot twists and adventure beyond what my poor beating heart could even handle.
Beside having my heart ripped and shredded to pieces, my second favorite part of this novel was the characters! Victoria Aveyard is the true queen and I fell so in love with all this people, which only hurts all the more when they're gone, BUT it's ok some people live. ;) (At least that's what I tell myself from bursting into tears.)
I am just so completely and utterly immersed in this world and despite all the good words I want to say for this novel, all I can truly say is that I just want more... So off I go to read King's Cage! (then marks the painful wait until May 14th when the final book is released!)
A fan of anything fiction, furry, & fun.