Book Review War Of The Cards by Colleen Oakes

Book: War Of The Cards by Colleen Oakes

Published November 2017 by HarperTeen|352 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Queen Of Hearts Saga #3

Genre: YA Re-telling/Fantasy

 The final book in the twisted YA trilogy re-imagining of the origin story of the Queen of Hearts.

Dinah has lost everyone she ever loved. Her brother was brutally murdered. The wicked man she believed was her father betrayed her. Her loyal subjects have been devastated by war. And the boy she gave her heart to broke it completely.

Now a dark queen has risen out of the ashes of her former life. Fury is blooming inside Dinah, poisoning her soul and twisting her mind. All she has left is Wonderland and her crown, and her obsession to fight for both. But the war rages on, and Dinah could inherit a bloodstained throne. Can a leader filled with love and rage ever be the ruler her kingdom needs? Or will her all-consuming wrath bring Wonderland to its knees?

This is not a story of happily ever after.

This is the story of the Queen of Hearts.

I’ve been with this series since the very beginning, and while I’m sad to see it end, I also thought it was a great ending to the series.  I remember reading ARC’s of the first two books on netgalley years ago, and I’ve been anxiously awaiting this book ever since.  I’m really glad I finally read it!

There were things I did not see coming, and I really felt for Dinah.  I have, for the entire series, and in particular, everything with Wardley and her (biological) father broke my heart.  More so with Wardley than anything else, because I was wondering how things would work out for them.

I really liked this take on the Queen Of Hearts, and while I’ve read very few Alice In Wonderland re-tellings, this one is my favorite by far.  The Queen Of Hearts is such a villain in the Alice In Wonderland story, and yet, Dinah doesn’t feel like a villain at all.  She’s a very sympathetic character, and I couldn’t help but want things to work out for her.

I did love how the original version of Alice In Wonderland was tied in to this story, and I thought it was very original and different.  I’ve read quite a few re-tellings over the years, and this one is the most connected to the original story that I’ve ever seen.  It was unexpected but also really cool, especially since I did have fun trying to figure out who was who from the original story.  Now I feel like re-reading Alice In Wonderland…

It’s definitely the strongest in the series, and Dinah has changed a lot.  You’d want (and hope) that the last book of a series would be the strongest, and this book delivered on that.  I could picture the battle so clearly, and yet, it was pretty gory, so keep that in mind if you decide to pick this up.

And the epilogue…I have mixed feelings about it.  I don’t understand why Wardley did what he did, considering how things went between him and Dinah, but there was something very hopeful about the epilogue as well.  Like things are okay, and will continue to be okay.  I’m glad there’s hope for Wonderland, and that the series ended with some hope that things would get better.

5 stars.  War Of The Cards is a great ending to a great series, and I absolutely loved the book and Dinah.


Book Review: Buried Heart by Kate Elliott

Book: Buried Heart by Kate Elliott

Published July 2017 by Little, Brown Books For Young Readers|465 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Court Of Fives #3

Genre: YA Fantasy

 The explosive finale to World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott’s captivating, New York Times bestselling young adult series

In this third book in the epic Court of Fives series, Jessamy is the crux of a revolution forged by the Commoner class hoping to overthrow their longtime Patron overlords. But enemies from foreign lands have attacked the kingdom, and Jes must find a way to unite the Commoners and Patrons to defend their home and all the people she loves. Will her status as a prominent champion athlete be enough to bring together those who have despised one another since long before her birth? Will she be able to keep her family out of the clutches of the evil Lord Gargaron? And will her relationship with Prince Kalliarkos remain strong when they find themselves on opposite sides of a war? Find all the answers in this beautifully written and exciting conclusion to World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott’s debut New York Times bestselling young adult trilogy!

I’ve really enjoyed this series but I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I enjoyed the previous two.  I had a harder time getting into this book, and it seemed a lot more complicated than the previous books.  I did struggle to keep up with the characters, and what was going on, particularly with Prince Kalliarkos and his family.

I don’t think I read it at the best time, and maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for a fantasy.  Still, I did really like it, and it was a pretty good ending to the series.

In particular, I really liked seeing how Jess dealt with both her Efean heritage and her Saroese heritage.  She didn’t really belong to either world, and it felt like she was very much torn between both.  You see what a balancing act it is for her, and how she ended up being part of the revolution.

I really felt for the Efean people, and the anger they felt at their land and their way of life being overtaken.  While it will take a long time for the dust to settle, things felt really hopeful, and I liked that there was hope that things would get better.

However, it felt like there were endless discussions about the revolution, and not a lot of action.  It made the book seem really slow, and there wasn’t enough conflict or struggle in this book to keep me really interested in what happened next.  It felt like this book lost the momentum that the previous books had built up.

I also wanted more magic, like the sparks we see in Court Of Fives.  Even though it’s fantasy, there weren’t a lot of fantasy elements.  The very few that we do see aren’t explored the way I thought they would be.

I was never a fan of the romance between Jes and Kalliarkos, and I thought their relationship ended with a whimper.  It seemed so strong in the first book, but by the end of Buried Heart, I found I didn’t really care.  He was put in a hard position and Jes also had some things she really needed to work out, but I would have been fine without it in this book.  It was also strange, because it seemed liked she wanted to be with Kalliarkos, and yet…it seemed like Ro was an option for her.  It felt very sudden, and almost like she settled for him because Kalliarkos wasn’t around a lot.  Maybe I’m misreading things, but that’s how it seemed to me.

4 stars.  I didn’t love Buried Heart, and it is my least favorite book in the series.  It is a pretty solid ending to the series, even if I would have liked a few things to be different.

What I’ve Been Reading: Part Three

So, I’ve been doing a series of posts talking about some of the books I read that I never got around to talking about.  We are starting to get to some books that I’ve read a little more recently than some of the other books, so I have more to say about them…but also not quite enough to do a full review.  If that makes sense.

  • Poison’s Kiss by Breeana Shields.  I wanted to like this one a lot more than I did.  It’s a cool concept, an assassin who can kill people by kissing them, but it didn’t work for me.  And that’s a little disappointing, because I really wanted it to work well.    I loved how Marinda looked out for her brother, and how much she cared for him.  It was really nice to see, but that was the only thing that I really, absolutely loved.  The story didn’t make a lot of sense, but things are magically explained at the end.  The thing that made the LEAST amount of sense was how another girl had to seduce the boys that Marinda kissed.  What’s the point of death by kissing if you’re not the one seducing them enough to get close to them?  And how do these boys even go from the one to Marinda without questioning it?  I do not understand this at all.  What, Marinda can’t seduce them or something?  Or this other girl can’t kill them?  This makes zero sense to me.  My rating is 2 stars for things that didn’t make a lot of sense and the lack of world building.
  • The Secret History Of Us by Jessi Kirby.  I used to LOVE her books, but the more Jessi Kirby books I read, the more I dislike them.  I don’t know if it’s because my interests have changed or I’m harder to please because I read a lot of YA contemporaries, but I didn’t like this one as much as I thought I would.  The pace was pretty slow, and I wanted more of Olivia dealing with her amnesia.  She does try to piece things together, but I wanted more frustration or something from Olivia.  I also wanted more with Walker, but instead, he barely made an appearance.  I wanted more of a reveal, and I felt like something bigger was going to happen.  But nothing bigger happened, even though the book made it seem like something mysterious was going on.  The Secret History Of Us gets 2 stars.  It was okay, but I wanted more than what we got.
  • American War by Omar El Akkad.  I really liked this book at the beginning, and it was really interesting.  But then it lost steam, and I lost interest by the end of the book.  Like The Handmaid’s Tale, the future we see in American War is one I can picture easily.  You do get a good look at what a modern war would look like, and it’s interesting that climate change is what triggers the issues between north and south.  I would have it expected it to be over something else, women’s reproductive rights, LGBT rights or something involving religion.  I know it’s terrible to make an assumption like that, but I do like that climate change is what triggers because it is different than what you might expect.   I felt like a lot of things weren’t really explained or addressed, and it felt like something was missing regarding the use of fossil fuels.  I don’t know if maybe Sarat’s perspective really limits what we know, since she was 6 when war broke out, but a little more broad of a picture would have been nice.  American War gets 3 stars.

Book Review: Hunted by Megan Spooner

Book: Hunted by Megan Spooner

Published May 2017 by HarperTeen|374 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Fantasy/Fairy Tale Re-Telling

Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them. 

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance. 

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?

I really liked Hunted!  I really do like reading re-tellings, especially when fairy tales are involved.  Hunted is a re-telling of Beauty And The Beast, and I could definitely see the connections to the Disney movie that we all know and love.  But a little darker, and with some Russian folklore thrown in.  I really liked the addition of the Firebird, and it actually fit really well with the story.  I also thought that having Beauty be blindfolded was interesting as well.  I’m not sure why, but it made the story more interesting.

I also liked seeing the interludes that are narrated by Beast.  Interludes are the best way to describe them because they’re not really chapters.  But I really liked it because you get a lot of insight into who Beast is, and what he’s thinking.  You also get an idea of what happened, though not completely.

There’s something about this book that is cold and icy.  Which really fits the Russian feel of the book.  The snow and cold, and it’s rural and medieval Russia, and it just fits with everything going on.  It definitely feels more Russian than European, which was actually really nice, because it’s different than most re-tellings.  If you want a Russian twist on Beauty And The Beast, this is the book to read.  Actually, if you like Beauty And The Beast, this is a book I would recommend.

There is something about this book that is very haunting and restless, and Yeva definitely has a sense of wanderlust.  She definitely seemed happier when she was able to go between the cabin, her sister’s home, and the castle.  She and Beast seemed to fit well together, because they both seem restless and yearn for something more than what they have.  There’s definitely an…understanding…between them, and I actually really like that they aren’t in a rush to get married.  It would have been easier to have them get married in the end, but they don’t, and that was really refreshing to see.  Especially given it’s rural, medieval Russia.  I may be making assumptions here, but it seems like it would be the thing to do for that period and time period.

4 stars.  I didn’t completely love it, but I did really like it.  If you like fairy tales, Beauty And The Beast, and medieval Russia, this is the book for you!

Book Review: Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows

Book: Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows

Published September 2017 by Katherine Tegan Books|496 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: Fallen Isles Trilogy #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

From the New York Times bestselling co-author of My Lady Jane comes a smoldering new fantasy trilogy perfect for fans of Victoria Aveyard and Kristin Cashore about a girl condemned for defending dragons and the inner fire that may be her only chance of escape.

Mira has always been a symbol of hope for the Fallen Isles, perfect and beautiful—or at least that’s how she’s forced to appear. But when she uncovers a dangerous secret, Mira is betrayed by those closest to her and sentenced to the deadliest prison in the Fallen Isles.

Except Mira is over being a pawn. Fighting to survive against outer threats and inner demons of mental illness, Mira must find her inner fire and the scorching truth about her own endangered magic—before her very world collapses. 

And that’s all before she ignites.

I was really excited about Before She Ignites, especially since I loved her Incarnate series.  There are dragons, and how can you not love books about dragons?

I could definitely relate to the anxiety Mira feels, and while she counts a lot, it seemed to calm her down.  I don’t know anything about OCD, but the counting seemed more like a way to relieve anxiety than anything else.  I liked seeing how well-written it was, and how she had to deal with crippling anxiety at one of the worst points of her life. Mira really is more than the pretty face that the Council wants her to be, and she is an amazing character.  She’s strong and thoughtful and determined to go back for the people in the Pit.  I also liked that she wasn’t magically cured by the end of the book.  It could still go that way, of course, but I hope it doesn’t.  I want to see her continue to deal with her anxiety and her panic attacks.

I have mixed feelings about the whole timeline.  There was a lot of jumping around in terms of time.  On the one hand, I did really like it.  It gave a lot of insight into Mira, and how she became friends with her bodyguard, the dragon trainer, and two dragons in particular.  You learn how she ended up in prison, and that is important.  But at the same time, I didn’t like it, because it was hard to keep up with at first, and you’d have chapters where it would 7 months earlier, then present time, and then 10 years already.  So the past isn’t exactly linear, which didn’t completely work for me.  It worked well enough, but I didn’t completely love it either.

At first, it wasn’t clear who betrayed her, and I thought maybe it was her two friends or her family.  It turned out not to be the case, but I thought it was boring, who really betrayed Mira.

And how did the Luminary Council have so much control over Mira’s life?  If her father wrote the treaty, and named it after her, why did they have so much control?  It makes no sense, and I feel like things and places and events were mentioned but not completely explored.  I really wanted to know more about the politics of the area and about her family as well, but that wasn’t really explored either.  With two more books to go, I’m hopeful that we’ll get more of the world and what’s going on.  Also, the noorstones and how they were used didn’t make any sense to me.  That seemed more confusing than everything else put together.

Dragons!  I loved Mira’s relationship with the dragons.  They’re clearly important to her, and it seems like they’re very important to the world she lives in as well.  I wonder if the dragons help ease her anxiety.  She did seem more comfortable around them than anyone else.  My other theory is that the abilities we see her display are somehow connected to the dragons.  I don’t think she’s a dragon or anything like that, but I wonder if there is some sort of bond or something really special between Mira and the dragons.  It’s a feeling I have, and I think that it could be interesting to explore.  I want to see more dragons.

And that cover!  It’s beautiful, and it’s not often I want to frame the cover of a book, but this is one of them.  That cover is absolutely amazing, and I can’t stop looking at it.

At first, I thought that there would be quite a bit of romance.  But there really wasn’t any, and I feel like a lot of authors would have gone in the love triangle direction- with Mira, her bodyguard, and the guy in the cell next to her. But I’m glad we don’t really get any of that.  I suppose it’s still possible, but I feel like it maybe would have been introduced if that there the case.  I do feel like there’s enough going on without the romance, but I doubt that’s going to happen.

4 stars.  I really liked it, especially Mira’s anxiety.  That part was really well-done, but I wish we got more world-building and more of an explanation of the political system.

Book Review: Poisoned Blade by Kate Elliott

Book: Poisoned Blade by Kate Elliott

Published August 2016 by Little, Brown Books For Young Readers|468 Pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Court Of Fives #2

Genre: YA Fantasy

Jessamy is moving up the ranks of the Fives—the complex athletic contest favored by the lowliest Commoners and the loftiest Patrons in her embattled kingdom. Pitted against far more formidable adversaries, success is Jes’s only option, as her prize money is essential to keeping her hidden family alive. She leaps at the chance to tour the countryside and face more competitors, but then a fatal attack on Jes’s traveling party puts her at the center of the war that Lord Kalliarkos—the prince she still loves—is fighting against their country’s enemies. With a sinister overlord watching her every move and Kal’s life on the line, Jes must now become more than a Fives champion…She must become a warrior.

I definitely admit to re-reading this one pretty recently (and not too long after originally reading it), so hopefully my review for this one is okay!

I really like this series, and this book was better than the first one.  We see more of the world that Jessamy lives in, and even though we don’t see much of the Court Of Fives in this book, we do see how her training and the Court has helped her.  I’m curious to see how it will continue to help her in the next book, especially with everything that happened in this book.  It seems like she has the support of the commoners, and I’d really like to see if that has more of a role in the next book.

I was a little disappointed that we didn’t see any of the games, but I know that the book can’t revolve completely around it.  Still, I want to see more of it, and how it will help her in the rest of the series.

I like how nothing seems to affect her, at least as far as insults go.  She’s not ashamed of who she is or where she came from, and it’s certainly easy to see why the Commoners seem to love her.  She’s fighting for her family and herself, though I could do without her father.  He’s not going anywhere, of course, but this is a man that I do not like. And I’m not sure about her one sister either, but we shall see in the next book what is going on with the sister and the dad.  I feel for her mom and only one of the girls is still with her, plus having twin infants.

I really liked seeing the divide between the Efeans and the Saroese, and the divide seems bigger than the ever in this book.  But then again, the book seemed more focused on class than the previous one.  Or maybe I was paying attention to it more in this book (or just noticed it more).  And it makes me sad that Jes is seen as less of a person, not only because she is a woman, but because of her parents and where they came from.

4 stars.  I did like the world-building in this book a lot more than the previous one, and I can’t wait to read the next one.

Book Review: Shadowhouse Fall by Daniel Jose Older

Book: Shadowhouse Fall by Daniel Jose Older

Published September 2017 by Arthur A Levine Books|368 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: Shadowshaper Series

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

The extraordinary sequel to the New York Times bestseller Shadowshaper is daring, dazzling, defiant.

Sierra and her friends love their new lives as shadowshapers, making art and creating change with the spirits of Brooklyn. Then Sierra receives a strange card depicting a beast called the Hound of Light — an image from the enigmatic, influential Deck of Worlds. The shadowshapers know their next battle has arrived.

Thrust into an ancient struggle with enemies old and new, Sierra and Shadowhouse are determined to win. Revolution is brewing in the real world as well, as the shadowshapers lead the fight against systems that oppress their community. To protect her family and friends in every sphere, Sierra must take down the Hound and master the Deck of Worlds …or risk losing them all.


I really liked Shadowhouse Fall!  I do wish I had re-read Shadowshaper first, because I didn’t remember anything from it, but I still managed to follow what had happened.  There were times where I was slightly confused about what was going on, and that was mainly with keeping up with the characters and the Deck Of Worlds.  I’m not sure if it was not remembering anything from the first book, or if maybe it had to do with the series.  A little bit of both, I think, thought it seems to be more of not remembering much of anything from Shadowshaper.

I did like the relationships Sierra had with her friends and her family, and she really worried about their safety.  Her relationships really gave her strength, and I liked seeing how much they relied on each other.  It really is about the group, and how they’re stronger together than they are apart, and I think that’s a really nice change from a lot of other characters who might try to handle things themselves.  And characters who seem to accept help but would rather not have it.

Some of the moments that really stand out to me, however, have nothing to do with shadowshaping and the Deck Of Worlds.  The interactions Sierra and her friends have with the police are all too real, and it didn’t take away from the novel at all.  In fact, it added to it, because while Sierra and her friends are a part of this world that honors their culture and heritage, they also have to deal with people who don’t, and who would do everything in their ability to take their power and voice away.

The magic really is expanded in this world, and I liked seeing that there’s more to it than we thought.  It really added to the book, because it makes the world come alive in a way I didn’t think was possible.  We see how music and art really come alive, and there’s something about it that really drew me in.  Shadowshaping is so unique, but I love how the characters are able to use art in a really cool way.

4 stars.  Even though I didn’t completely fall in love with this book, I still think this series is amazing and a must-read.  I can’t wait to see what happens in the next book.

Book Review: Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas

Book: Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas

Published February 2017 by HarperTeen|422 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Fantasy

The Girl of Fire and Thorns meets The Queen of the Tearling in this thrilling fantasy standalone about one girl’s unexpected rise to power.

Freya was never meant be queen. Twenty third in line to the throne, she never dreamed of a life in the palace, and would much rather research in her laboratory than participate in the intrigues of court. However, when an extravagant banquet turns deadly and the king and those closest to him are poisoned, Freya suddenly finds herself on the throne.

Freya may have escaped the massacre, but she is far from safe. The nobles don’t respect her, her councillors want to control her, and with the mystery of who killed the king still unsolved, Freya knows that a single mistake could cost her the kingdom – and her life.

Freya is determined to survive, and that means uncovering the murderers herself. Until then, she can’t trust anyone. Not her advisors. Not the king’s dashing and enigmatic illegitimate son. Not even her own father, who always wanted the best for her, but also wanted more power for himself.

As Freya’s enemies close in and her loyalties are tested, she must decide if she is ready to rule and, if so, how far she is willing to go to keep the crown.

I liked Long May She Reign.  It’s a really cool combination of fantasy and mystery.  It’s strange, because it had the feel of a fantasy, but had a lot of mystery elements too.

I really like the idea of a girl becoming queen after the 22 people in line for the throne ahead of her die.  In that sense, it reminded me a lot of Designated Survivor.  But in a completely different, fantastical world.  On top of that, you have Freya trying to find out what happened to the king and many others at the party.

I also liked seeing Freya try to find her way as queen, and deal with her advisors, who want to deal with things differently than she does, and who make decisions on her behalf that maybe she doesn’t agree with.  She really wanted to do the right thing, and she really wanted to do things her way, and I really liked that about her. She was such a determined person, who was more interested in science and research until she had to step and become queen.

Still, as much as I liked Freya, and the premise of the book, it didn’t quite work for me.  It had a lot of potential, but it didn’t completely match the expectations I had going into the book.  I think part of it is because it’s a standalone, so there were times when it seemed like everything had to fit into a few pages.  But it also meant that not everything got the attention it should have.  Like the culture, and I felt like the Forgotten were never really explained.  I wonder, had the book had been at least two or three books, if the book and idea could have reached its potential.  Maybe not, and it’s possible that things could have felt more drawn out.

I was surprised that it was a stand-alone.  Then again, I’m always surprised when I stumble across a stand-alone fantasy.  I have mixed feelings about it, because on the one hand, I do wonder what the book what have been like if we had more time with Freya and this world.  At the same time, though, I don’t know that there’s enough for more books.  I think I’m just going to leave it there, because I feel like I’m starting to repeat myself.

3 stars.  I liked it, and it was a really interesting idea.  I particularly liked Freya, and the world seemed interesting enough.  But it also didn’t reach it’s full potential, and it seemed like something was missing.

Audio Book Review: The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski, Narrated by Justine Eyre

Book: The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski, narrated by Justine Eyre

Published March 2015 by Listening Library|Length: 10 hours

Where I Got It: I borrowed the audio book from the library

Series: The Winner’s Trilogy #2

Genre: YA Historical Fantasy

A royal wedding is what most girls dream about. It means one celebration after another: balls, fireworks, and revelry until dawn. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement: that she agreed to marry the crown prince in exchange for Arin’s freedom. But can Kestrel trust Arin? Can she even trust herself? For Kestrel is becoming very good at deception. She’s working as a spy in the court. If caught, she’ll be exposed as a traitor to her country. Yet she can’t help searching for a way to change her ruthless world . . . and she is close to uncovering a shocking secret.

This dazzling follow-up to The Winner’s Curse reveals the high price of dangerous lies and untrustworthy alliances. The truth will come out, and when it does, Kestrel and Arin will learn just how much their crimes will cost them.

I really liked The Winner’s Crime.  I definitely liked it more than The Winner’s Curse, and I’ll definitely be listening to the last book in the trilogy because I want to see what happens next.

The Winner’s Crime picked up where The Winner’s Curse left off, and we see what’s been going on with Kestrel after the events of the first book.  We definitely get more of this world and the different cultures, which I really liked because it expands the world so much.  There’s a lot more to this world than the Valorians and the Harani, and I hope we see more of this world in the next book.

There is a little part of that’s worried we won’t, because of everything that happened with Kestrel, particularly towards the end of the book.  But if the series continues to be narrated by Kestrel and Arin, then maybe we will see more of the world they live in.

We really see Kestrel in a different way.  Dealing with the emperor and his son and everything else going on- she has more to worry about than her romance and flirtations with Arin, which wasn’t frustrating the way it was in the first book.  Partly because of everything Kestrel is dealing with in this book, but also because it does slip in the background in this book.  I’m still not a fan of Arin, and while I might end up liking him in the next book, I doubt that will change.

As much as I liked this one, it did move pretty slow.  I definitely took random breaks when I was listening to it, so I’d listen to it on my way to work, and then switch over to the radio or podcasts for a couple of days.  Or I’d randomly listen to it on the way home from work, and then switch over to the radio or podcasts.

It also seemed more political and there was a lot more intrigue, which was nice.  Especially after the romance of the first book, which I wasn’t a big fan of.  It went in a different direction than I thought it would, and I feel like the next book is going to go in a completely different direction as well.  Hopefully in a good way.  It was an unexpected surprise in this book, but it was a good surprise, and it made a series I was unsure more interesting, and one I want to finish.

I’m definitely reminded of the Roman Empire, for some reason.  I don’t know why, but it has that feel to it. An Ember In The Ashes comes to mind as a possible read-alike, and I’m not sure why.  But it could be interesting to pair the two books together.

3 stars.  It’s almost 4 stars, but not quite.  It did move a little bit slower than I would have liked, but I did like it more than the previous book.

Book Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Book: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Published January 2017 by Flatiron Books|416 books

Where I Got It: I own the e-book

Series: Caraval #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

How far would you go to save your sister?

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved 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 far-away, 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. 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. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

Caraval interested me when I first heard about it because it reminded me of The Night Circus.  There is a very Night Circus feel to the book, and I was reminded of The Crown’s Game as well.

The idea behind Caraval, and how it came to be is really interesting.  There were a few different variations about how it started, and even now, I’m having a hard time figuring out which variation is the true story.  I did like the connection to Scarlett’s family, and I wonder if it goes deeper than we know.  And if there’s more to it than what we saw in the book.  Especially with he ending.  It makes me wonder if there’s more to it then I initially thought. Was Caraval the reason why their mother left when they were little, or was it something else?  Will we learn what happens to their mother in the next book?  Because the ending made me feel like there’s a lot going on with their mom than I ever thought.

Speaking of Scarlett’s mom, she is mentioned, but I didn’t really think about her until the end of the book. What does she have to do with Tella and what she may have done in this book?  It’s clear something happened with Tella, but we never see what it is, since the book is mostly focused on Scarlett finding her.

I am really curious about Tella, and what’s in store for her.  I’m curious about Scarlett as well, but again…the ending makes me wonder about how things are going to turn out for Tella.  I’m really hoping the next book focuses on her, because I have the feeling there is more to her story than what we get into this book.  I need to know more!

I thought the world-building was interesting.  I wish we got more of it, because it didn’t seem like enough to me. We got a good enough sense of what Caraval is, and it really does seem like a carnival-type game.  There’s something Night Circus-esque about the island and all of the shops places.

There are very dreamy descriptions, which I really liked, but even though I got a good enough sense of the world, I wanted more of the history.  I wanted more about Legend and Scarlett’s family and their mom, and I felt like we got just enough of the world to know what was going on.  But it seemed pretty bare in comparison to what it could have been.  Still, I thought the idea of Caraval was interesting, and I think there’s a lot more to it than what we saw in this book.

4 stars.  I really liked, and I think it’s a pretty good read-alike for The Night Circus.  I wish we had a little bit more of Caraval and the island, but overall, I really liked how everything was described.