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Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Caraval by Stephanie GarberCaraval (Caraval, #1) by Stephanie Garber
Published by Flatiron Books on January 31st 2017
Pages: 407

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.

There’s just a sad love… deep in your eyes… a kind of pale jewel….

That’s the lyrics to As the World Falls Down, my favorite song from my all time favorite movie, Labyrinth. Why am I type-humming it? Because my brain thought of Labyrinth so many times while reading Caraval! EXCELLENT.

The gist of Labyrinth: A sister, trying desperately to rescue their younger sibling, is forced into a beautiful, yet terrible magical place, that plays tricks on you, and forces you to make hard decisions. A ticking clock, a handful of characters that you don’t know if you can trust, and a very possible tragic ending.

Caraval reminded me of Labyrinth often, but it also was so completely its own thing. It was colorful, deadly, romantic, full of lies and promises and nightmares. I didn’t think I’d like this book, so I waited nearly a year after it was released to read it, and now I’m irritated with myself that I didn’t read it sooner. It was phenomenal!

Scarlet is racing against the clock, taking leaps of faiths, and reaping the benefits and consequences of those decisions. She’s often questioning her own sanity while trying to save her little sister Tella. Scarlet is so strong and brave, and full of so much love to risk everything to save her sister. But, this book is not just about Scarlet saving her sister, it’s also about her saving herself. Scarlet is forced to work through her own deep seated fears and unrealistic expectations, and has to question who she is, and who she wants to be.

There’s so many twists and secrets in this book, and I would never wish to spoil anyone, so I’m not going to go into any more details about the plot. Honestly, most of the time I didn’t really understand what was going on, because like Scarlet, everything was an illusion, lies mixed in with some truths, and I didn’t know what to believe. All of this was definitely purposeful though – so yay! The author succeeded in confusing me, not giving anything away, and making me so enraptured that I stayed up to 3am reading. #shameless

Garber’s writing is vigorous and vivid. This book is scary and beautiful. Part of me really wants a movie adaptation, but then the other part, really doesn’t. I’m conflicted, because I’d love to see the magic and dark beauty brought to life on the big screen, but also totally scared that the adaptation will be a failure like so many book-to-movie adaptations end up being.

Has anyone else fallen in love with Caraval? What do you think about a movie adaption?

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The Traitor’s Kiss (The Traitor’s Circle #1) by Erin Beaty

The Traitor’s Kiss (The Traitor’s Circle #1) by Erin BeatyThe Traitor's Kiss (The Traitor's Circle, #1) by Erin Beaty
Published by Imprint on May 9th 2017
Pages: 352

An obstinate girl who will not be married. A soldier desperate to prove himself. A kingdom on the brink of war.

With a sharp tongue and an unruly temper, Sage Fowler is not what they’d call a lady―which is perfectly fine with her. Deemed unfit for marriage, Sage is apprenticed to a matchmaker and tasked with wrangling other young ladies to be married off for political alliances. She spies on the girls―and on the soldiers escorting them.

As the girls' military escort senses a political uprising, Sage is recruited by a handsome soldier to infiltrate the enemy ranks. The more she discovers as a spy, the less certain she becomes about whom to trust―and Sage becomes caught in a dangerous balancing act that will determine the fate of her kingdom.


I keep thinking to myself “stupid, stupid girl! Why did you wait so long to read this exceptional book?!!”

About 3/4 of the way through The Traitor’s Kiss, I was determined that this book was definitely going to be a 4 Stars read, then all the sudden this amazing twist occurred, a new, exciting and daring revelation that blew me away. I truly didn’t see it coming! It catapulted my love for this book to 5 stars. The rest of the book was just as awesome with more twists and a lot of action, so of course that 5 stars stuck.

Sage starts out as an easy girl to like, and then she quickly becomes someone you love. She’s incredibly smart, book and street-wise. She’s very stubborn and has a bit of a temper, but when the shit hits the fan, I’d definitely want her on my team. Sage thinks herself to be plain and unremarkable, but that’s so far from the truth. She’s charming and perceptive, and easily blends into different crowds, something that the matchmaker instantly notices and respects. The soldiers who were chosen to escort the matchmaker’s group of brides-to-be across the country, are also wowed by Sage, because she’s magnetizing, quick-thinking, and overall an incredible asset. She’s a kick ass spy for the matchmaker and the soldiers.

I loved how this book is like a re-imagined version of Disney’s Mulan. During the beginning of the book when Sage is getting cleaned up to meet the matchmaker, I couldn’t stop singing “bring honor to us all”.


And then when the matchmaker is examining Sage and noticing her shortcomings, I pictured the plump, miserable character from Mulan saying, in her nasally bitchy tone, “too skinny”.


Sage is definitely like Mulan, the girl everyone takes for granted. They think Sage’s impossible to tame, but then she stuns then all by being a force of nature, throwing on her britches and getting her hands dirty. If you love Mulan, you’ll definitely love Sage!

Sage’s foil ends up being a particularly attractive soldier who is charged with monitoring her for suspicious activities. These “suspicious” activities are basically just her collecting intel on attractive bachelors for her job as an apprentice matchmaker. Sage also suspects that this handsome soldier is hiding secrets, and it’s so funny watching the two of them spying on each other, while also trying not to fall for each other.

Seriously, read this book! If not just for Sage, then also for a hot, slow brewing romance that you don’t want to miss.

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Cover Gushing – ‘The Wicked King’

EW just shared the cover for Holly Black’s book, The Wicked King, the second in The Folk of the Air book series.

Loook at it. It’s STUNNING. I needed to share it, because I am gushing with love, obsession and want for this sure-to-be amazing sequel to one of my favorite 2018 books, The Cruel Prince.

I loved TCP’s cover, but The Wicked King is just a whole new level of amazing. The water is beautiful and I NEED to know why it’s playing such a big part in this second book. Selkies? Mermaids? Kelpies? All of the above?! I need to know – ahhhh!

I don’t want to spoil The Cruel Prince for those who haven’t read it, so if you want to read the awesome excerpt for The Wicked King, click here to be brought to the EW article.

Check out the covers below. Which do you like better?


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The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca Ross

The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca RossThe Queen's Rising by Rebecca Ross
Published by HarperTeen on February 6th 2018
Pages: 464

When her seventeenth summer solstice arrives, Brienna desires only two things: to master her passion and to be chosen by a patron.

Growing up in the southern Kingdom of Valenia at the renowned Magnalia House should have prepared her for such a life. While some are born with an innate talent for one of the five passions—art, music, dramatics, wit, and knowledge—Brienna struggled to find hers until she belatedly chose to study knowledge. However, despite all her preparations, Brienna’s greatest fear comes true—the solstice does not go according to plan and she is left without a patron.

Months later, her life takes an unexpected turn when a disgraced lord offers her patronage. Suspicious of his intent, and with no other choices, she accepts. But there is much more to his story, and Brienna soon discovers that he has sought her out for his own vengeful gain. For there is a dangerous plot being planned to overthrow the king of Maevana—the archrival kingdom of Valenia—and restore the rightful queen, and her magic, to the northern throne. And others are involved—some closer to Brienna than she realizes.

With war brewing between the two lands, Brienna must choose whose side she will remain loyal to—passion or blood. Because a queen is destined to rise and lead the battle to reclaim the crown. The ultimate decision Brienna must determine is: Who will be that queen?

I’m so glad I got this book from the library, and didn’t buy it outright like I originally considered, because it was a huge letdown.

The world was too big and not properly introduced. The characters overcame incredible feats and developed deep emotions too fast to be believed. The concepts in this high fantasy were too fantastical to be contained in one book, and because of that, all the characters were luckily and conveniently able to overcome their own hurdles quickly and easily.

For instance, Bri gets about 5 lessons of swordsmanship, and then they say she’s great enough to fight in a battle. Whaaat? A lot of things in this book didn’t logically make sense.

The worst part though, was the fact that the first couple chapters basically outlined the entire story.  I was easily able to figure out who Bri was, what she was going to face, and where her journey was going to go.

The only thing I enjoyed about this book was the demure relationship between Bri and her Master, Cartier. Unfortunately it was fleeting.



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Blood Oath (Darkest Drae, #1) by Raye Wagner, Kelly St. Clare

Blood Oath (Darkest Drae, #1) by Raye Wagner, Kelly St. ClareBlood Oath (Darkest Drae, #1) by Raye Wagner, Kelly St. Clare
on November 9th 2017

Dark Fantasy. Dragons. Intrigue. Romance.

More than anything, I crave adventure. But in the disease ridden land of Verald, life is mapped out much like the well-established rings of our kingdom.

At the very heart reigns our vicious king and Lord Irrik, an invincible dragon shifter, at his side. Their power poisons the land and the people, leading to a steadily mounting number of enemies.

But change is coming.

When the rebellion surges, the king strikes back. Captured by Lord Irrik, I'm suddenly embroiled in a deadly game. One where I'm desperate to understand the rules.

Because I'm not only fighting for my life... but also a love that could be the very key to my freedom.

I’ve never been a huge high fantasy fan, but lately I’ve felt more daring to give books like Blood Oath a chance. I’m so glad I took the chance, because this book was so much fun!

Our main character Ryn, is well-balanced and easy to love. She’s stubborn, and funny, and doesn’t let people push her around. She has a tendency to throw herself headfirst into precarious situations, but I could easily excuse her recklessness, because she does it mostly out of love and kindness for others. I was devastated when Ryn lost her mother in the beginning of the book, and I was angry when it was revealed her mother had been keeping a lot of important secrets from her. I was quickly invested in Ryn and her difficult journey.

Lord Irrik is one of those delicious,  dark and broody guys that make your ovaries go nuts. He’s a drae (dragon shifter) who has spent most of his life destroying villages and killing people for a hideous, cruel king. When Ryn is kidnapped and tossed into the king’s dungeon, she spends a lot of time with Lord Irrik. She doesn’t excuse the horrible things Lord Irrik does, but she does start to accept that there’s more to his situation. I’m a sucker for that brooding bad boy who has the potential to find redemption, so of course I fell hard and fast for the sexy drae. Ryn and Lord Irrik’s relationship is complicated from the beginning, and only gets more difficult throughout the book.

Ryn’s world kind of reminded me of The Hunger Games, because there’s different sections of the kingdom that cultivate different things. In The Hunger Games it was food, trees, coal etc., but in Blood Oath each sector cultivates a different type of crop. Everyone in these sections are peasants and slaves to a king who rules in the center with a bloody fist.

The ending of Blood Oath was devastating, and shocking, and left me incredibly enticed for book two. Blood Oath only introduced a small part of Ryn’s world, and I’m really looking forward to learning more about the other kingdoms in book two, Shadow Wings.

Seriously, read this book if u love dragon shifters, high fantasy, and extremely strong and resilient heroines. This book has characters you’ll immediately love, and magic you’ve never seen before.