Blog Collaboration Day 1: Caraval Audiobook Review

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HEY, EVERYONE!

Today let me introduce to you a 3-day collaboration post with my best friend, Bea @WhenCuriosityKilledTheCat.

You might be wondering why we’re doing this out of the blue, but we’ve both agreed that we need to break from our normal routine and post something other than pure reviews. We’ve planned on doing this earlier, but because of personal matters and other holdups, we kept pushing back our schedule. But now, finally, we can get this out of our systems.

(Note: We’re just using this alliance to share our fangirling over Caraval. XD)

For now, we’ll start with giving our own respective reviews of Caraval. I’ll share my thoughts about its audiobook while Bea gives hers on the paperback version. Visit her at When Curiosity Killed The Cat to know what she thinks!

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ALRIGHT…

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CARAVAL

Author: Stephanie Garber

Narrated by: Rebecca Soler

Format: audiobook

Genre: YA, Fantasy

Published: Jan. 31, 2017 by Flatiron Books

RATING: 5 stars (★★★★★)

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.

 

Listen to an excerpt here.

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Story-wise, Caraval has to be one of the most compelling plots I’ve ever come across. I was thrilled in a way I’ve never been, and to think I am not much of a fan of circuses and carnivals, this is really saying something indeed. Not only is it just a magical game, it’s an elaborate performance as well. My feelings got so easily tangled with its twists and turns. It feels as if I was being driven mad along with the main character Scarlett.

Aside from the game, it was also fun trying to figure out the other characters, especially Julian. He makes you suspicious one moment and trusting the next. Back and forth it goes, until you can no longer decide which is real and which isn’t. Same goes for the rest. Tella surprised me the most, but it was ultimately Legend who had me wondering most of the time. I waited for his appearance to come, and when it did, I was both disappointed and not. (You’ll know what I mean when you read the story.) And Scarlett – I love how far she would go for her sister. But sometimes she drives me nuts with the marriage thing and her obsession with finding her sister. I wanted her to have fun and be more adventurous. But from her point of view, I can totally understand how this may be a little difficult. Anyway, the whole cast of characters were fantastic and memorable. I love how Garber made each one of them shine – even the minor ones.

I also like the world Garber crafted for Caraval. Enchanting, magical, bizarre, whimsical and so utterly full of random surprises – it was a world that was so dizzyingly easy to lose yourself in. The descriptions were incredible to the point I can almost visualize them vividly. That’s how good Garber’s writing was.

And combine all that with Soler’s narration – you have got a masterpiece.

To be honest, I wasn’t really expecting Caraval to live up to its hype. I even tried to stay away from it like it’s a plague. Then one day, out of nowhere, I just decided to open its audiobook version and started listening. Ten seconds into the audiobook, I knew I had a winner.

I think what really gripped me first was the childhood, dream-like quality in Soler’s voice when she was emulating Scarlett, writing her first letters to Legend. That was the only trigger I needed to keep going. I was truly amazed and enthralled by Soler’s performance. There were times when her accents slip, but then she blows me away with her soulful delivery.

She made an already compelling story even more compelling; she captured the essence of each character and gave them the most suitable voice; she just —- she simply brought to life the magic of this story. As a listener, I couldn’t have asked for more.

If it weren’t for the audiobook, I never would’ve guessed how great Caraval is. Until now, even after weeks of finishing it, it still excites me to hear about anything Caraval-related. This book really made me want to grab a copy of the real thing. And to those of you who’ve already read Caraval, I urge you to listen to the audiobook as well if you want an amplified experience. 🙂

 

P.S. If you read and loved Caraval, you might also wanna try A Crown of Wishes by Rokshani Chokshi. It’s the sequel to The Star-Touched Queen but can still definitely pass as a standalone. It has a somewhat similar plot to Caraval. They both have a pair of characters participating in a magical game wherein the winner gets one impossible wish as a prize. But before you get any doubts, I assure you – these two books are totally unique and set apart from each other. If you still doubt me, you can go ahead and read both books and see for yourself. 😉

 

Thanks for reading this post, lovelies! We’ll be back tomorrow. 😉

 

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ARC Review: On The Spectrum by Jennifer Gold

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ON THE SPECTRUM

Author: Jennifer Gold

Release Date: September 12, 2017 (my birthday!!)

Publisher: Second Story Press

Date Started/Finished: June 6-7, 2017

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Mental Health

Format: eARC

Source: Netgalley

RATING: 5 stars (⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐)

SYNOPSIS: (Goodreads)

Growing up in the shadow of a famous mother, Clara has never felt good about her body. Now, at sixteen, she has an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating. After a social media disaster, she decides to escape for the summer to Paris to stay with her estranged dad and her six-year-old brother, Alastair, who is on the autism spectrum. Charged with his care, Clara and Alastair set out to explore the city. Paris teaches Clara about first love and gives her a new love of food. And Alastair teaches Clara about patience, trust and the beauty of loving without judgment. Continue reading

Blog Tour: The Unlikelies by Carrie Firestone

The Unlikelies

by Carrie Firestone

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

Release Date: June 6th 2017

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

RATING: 3 stars (⭐⭐⭐)

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Synopsis:
Five teens embark on a summer of vigilante good samaritanism in a novel that’s part The Breakfast Club, part The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, and utterly captivating.
Rising high school senior Sadie is bracing herself for a long, lonely, and boring summer. But things take an unexpected turn when she steps in to help rescue a baby in distress and a video of her good deed goes viral.
Suddenly internet-famous, Sadie’s summer changes for the better when she’s introduced to other “hometown heroes.” These five very different teens form an unlikely alliance to secretly right local wrongs, but when they try to help a heroin-using friend, they get in over their heads and discover that there might be truth in the saying “no good deed goes unpunished.” Can Sadie and her new friends make it through the summer with their friendships–and anonymity–intact?
This rich and thought-provoking novel takes on timely issues and timeless experiences with a winning combination of romance, humor, and wisdom.

Continue reading

Blog Tour: The Best Kind of Magic by Crystal Cestari


The Best Kind of Magic

by Crystal Cestari
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Release Date: May 16, 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy

RATING: 4 stars 

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Synopsis:
Amber Sand isnot a witch. The Sand family Wicca gene somehow leapfrogged over her. But she did get one highly specific magical talent: she can see true love. As a matchmaker, Amber’s pretty far down the sorcery food chain (even birthday party magicians rank higher), but after five seconds of eye contact, she can envision anyone’s soul mate.

Amber works ather mother’s magic shop–Windy City Magic–in downtown Chicago, and she’s confident she’s seen every kind of happy ending there is: except for one–her own. (The Fates are tricky jerks that way.) So when Charlie Blitzman, the mayor’s son and most-desired boy in school, comes to her for help finding his father’s missing girlfriend, she’s distressed to find herself falling for him. Because while she can’t see her own match, she can see his–and it’s not Amber. How can she, an honest peddler of true love, pursue a boy she knows full well isn’t her match?

The Best Kind of Magic is set in urban Chicago and willappeal to readers who long for magic in the real world. With a sharp-witted and sassy heroine, a quirky cast of mystical beings, and a heady dose of adventure, this novel will have you laughing out loud and questioning your belief in happy endings.
 

Continue reading

Blog Tour: Seasons Within by Lele Iturrioz (Review + Giveaway)

Seasons Within
Lele Iturrioz
(Acorn Publishing)
Publication date: December 15th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

Most teenage girls know their name, where they came from, who they are. Not G, a beautiful redhead with unusual markings on her wrist. She gets her name from a silver locket she keeps around her neck, unaware the engraved letter “G” on its front holds the secret to her past.

G’s life before the age of six has been a mystery to her. Each night for the last twelve years she’s been haunted by the same nightmare—a war. Horrendous beasts, warriors able to wield the four elements, and a boy who saves her by means of blue fire taunt her memory. But on her eighteenth birthday, G’s life begins to unravel. When she meets her new Chemistry professor, a man with an uncanny resemblance to the boy who saves her, she knows there must be more to her dreams.

It’s dangerous not knowing who you are, what you’re capable of, and what future awaits you. Especially when the darkness that slaughtered your entire world, just found you.

Goodreads / Amazon


REVIEW

THIS – I JUST GOT TO HAVE THIS.

What can I say? Lele Iturrioz’s debut novel was just GREAT. It was entertaining, magical, imaginative and above all, it has an awesome set of characters.

I also found the cover very attractive, but what REALLY lured me in was this book’s sense of humor. I cannot count how many times one of the characters or scenarios made me laugh, both silently & out loud.

What I also love about this book is the camaraderie among G’s guardians. They’re the kind of people you want to hang out with. No formalities at all. The type that reminds me of Rhysand’s Inner Circle, the bonds between Fairy Tail members – all of them are just super amazing people even without the magical abilities.

G as the main character of the whole story was mediocre.However, she SHONE because of the presence of the other characters around her and her interactions with them. I enjoyed their banters, their relationships – everything. I also appreciate the fact that not everyone is pleased with her either, even thought they’re supposed to be her allies. It somehow creates a balance between the two.

I’m also fond of the romance here. G and Edan make a great pairing since they always clash against each other. But then there’s also Veter and Shui – personally, I think they’re more of my favorite than team Gaidan. But that’s only because I find Veter’s gestures so sweet and cute to the point that I was almost jealous of Shui. Really, these guys just make me want to sigh. Anyways, I’m glad that I have another couple to add to my list of favorite OTPs ever.

I should also special mention Priyam – G’s forever sarcastic and witty best friend. But besides the fun and liveliness she brings into the group, I just love her friendship with G. Theirs felt like one of the most genuine fictional friendships I’ve ever encountered.

And the writing? Spot-on! The pacing is just right, and the mood and the tone of the story kept me hooked right to the end.

I had been looking for a fantasy book that makes me feel all warm and gooey inside and Lele Itturioz’s Seasons Within was just perfect. Cured me of my ongoing two-week reading slump, even.

I just have two main issues with this book: 1) minor errors with the grammar and wording (though that didn’t prevent me from enjoying the entire book) and 2) I wasn’t intimidated enough by the antagonists in the story. However, there was something in the ending that made the main villain more interesting and piqued my curiosity.

Overall, Seasons Within was a very interesting and well-done story that gave me so much good vibes until the very end. I seriously can’t wait to read the next book and I just hope that the author never loses her knack for humor in the coming sequel. Highly recommended, I wish this book gains more popularity and appreciation with time.

Bonus: So this is what sugar gliders look like huh, now I know. But still… do they eat sugar cubes? (Note: Only those who’ve read the book will get it. 😂)

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RATING

5 stars (⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐)


Author Bio:

Major geek by day, hermit writer by night! Love books, sugar gliders and everything that comes in a delicious taco.

I’m the author of the YA fantasy series, Seasons Within

I spend my time writing, planning on writing, reading, drinking coffee like there was no tomorrow, MMA and chilling with my friends and loved ones.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter


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It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover || My 8 Naked Truths

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I T   E N D S   W I T H   U S

A u t h o r : Colleen Hoover

P u b l i c a t i o n : August 2, 2016 by Atria Books

G e n r e : Romance, New Adult, Contemporary

S y n o p s i s : Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up – she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily’s life suddenly seems almost too good to be true.

Ryle is assertive, stubborn, and maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily, but Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing.

As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan – her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.

With this bold and deeply personal novel, Colleen Hoover delivers a heart-wrenching story that breaks exciting new ground for her as a writer. It Ends With Us is an unforgettable tale of love that comes at the ultimate price.

This book contains graphic scenes and very sensitive subject matter.


R E V I E W

“It stops here. With me and you. It ends with us.”

Hello again, lovelies! Thanks for stopping by.

Naked truths are a primary feature in this novel written by CoHo. Therefore, I’ll deliver this review as well in naked-truth-style. So, without further ado, here are my naked truths:

1. I think Colleen definitely outdid herself this time. Her latest novel, It Ends With Us, is truly a great masterpiece.

2. You can tell right away that it’s special – unlike any of her other books. You see, of all the novels I’ve read written by her, I think It Ends With Us is the only one that will stay with me forever. It’s hard to forget that kind of story and that alone is what makes it a great book.

3. I was already caught from the moment I read that dedication. It intrigued me, to say the least, and I wondered what she meant by that. Realization dawned on me as I read through Lily’s story, and I was heartbroken and crying even after the story had been concluded.

4. And just when I thought I couldn’t be moved any more than that, I saw the author’s note and wept some more.

5. I was perfectly satisfied by how the conflict was resolved. It made perfect sense and it saved their relationship from total ruin.

6. I should also mention the cleverness behind that cover. I think the crushed petals perfectly symbolize Lily and the abuse she went through. Besides, it doesn’t hurt to look at too. I would definitely want it on my bookshelf.

7. I was initially apprehensive over reading this book, not just because of all the hype surrounding it, but also partly because of the disappointment I felt towards CoHo’s previous books. Turns out I need not have worried at all, because It Ends With Us was absolutely great and more! It restored all my faith in CoHo’s writing skills.

8. Heartfelt, endearing and utterly realistic, It Ends With Us is a book you should definitely read right away!


Favorite Quotes

“There is no such thing as bad people. We’re all just people who sometimes do bad things.”
Colleen Hoover, It Ends with Us

“All humans make mistakes. What determines a person’s character aren’t the mistakes we make. It’s how we take those mistakes and turn them into lessons rather than excuses.”
Colleen Hoover, It Ends with Us

“He pulls back to look down at me and when he sees my tears, he brings his hands up to my cheeks. “In the future… if by some miracle you ever find yourself in the position to fall in love again… fall in love with me.”
Colleen Hoover, It Ends with Us

“Just because someone hurts you doesn’t mean you can simply stop loving them. It’s not a person’s actions that hurt the most. It’s the love. If there was no love attached to the action, the pain would be a little easier to bear.”
Colleen Hoover, It Ends with Us

“Fifteen seconds. That’s all it takes to completely change everything about a person. Fifteen.”
Colleen Hoover, It Ends with Us

“Naked truths aren’t always pretty.”
Colleen Hoover, It Ends with Us

“I feel like everyone fakes who they really are, when deep down we’re all equal amounts of screwed up. Some of us are just better at hiding it than others.”
Colleen Hoover, It Ends with Us

“Just because we didn’t end up on the same wave, doesn’t mean we aren’t still a part of the same ocean.”
Colleen Hoover, It Ends with Us

“And as hard as this choice is, we break the pattern before the pattern breaks us.”
Colleen Hoover, It Ends with Us

“You can stop swimming now, Lily. We finally reached the shore.”
Colleen Hoover, It Ends with Us

“Maybe love isn’t something that comes full circle. It just ebbs and flows, in and out, just like the people in our lives”
Colleen Hoover, It Ends with Us

“I’ll keep pretending to swim, when really all I’m doing is floating. Barely keeping my head above water.”
Colleen Hoover, It Ends with Us

“You are my wife. I’m supposed to be the one who protects you from the monsters. I’m not supposed to be one.”
Colleen Hoover, It Ends with Us

“Sometimes even grown women need their mother’s comfort so we can just take a break from having to be strong all the time.”
Colleen Hoover, It Ends with Us

“Our eyes, locked together, speak more naked truths than our mouths ever have.”
Colleen Hoover, It Ends with Us

“You’re the most important part of my life, Lily. I want to be what brings you happiness. Not what causes you to hurt.”
Colleen Hoover, It Ends with Us

“But then this morning I had to tell him goodbye. And he held me and kissed me so much, I thought I might die if he let go.
But I didn’t die. Because he let go and here I am. Still living. Still breathing.
Just barely.”
Colleen Hoover, It Ends with Us


R A T I N G

Outstanding (★★★★★)

Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas || A Heavy Dose of Awesomeness

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E M P I R E   O F   S T O R M S

A u t h o r : Sarah J. Maas

P u b l i c a t i o n : September 6th 2016 by Bloomsbury USA Children

G e n r e : Fantasy, YA, NA, Action, Adventure, Romance

S y n o p s i s : The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those don’t.

As the kingdoms of Erilea fracture around her, enemies must become allies if Aelin is to keep those she loves from falling to the dark forces poised to claim her world. With war looming on all horizons, the only chance for salvation lies in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.

Aelin’s journey from assassin to queen has entranced millions across the globe, and this fifth installment will leave fans breathless. Will Aelin succeed in keeping her world from splintering, or will it all come crashing down?


R E V I E W

“Nameless is my price.”

Remember when I said that the Throne of Glass series put me into my longest reading slump ever? Well… reading the fifth book Empire of Storms was the COMPLETE opposite effect of that.

It took me weeks to get a hold of myself and write a sane review because I was in a daze most of the time, shocked at the events that had transpired in this book. Even when I delved into another book, I still couldn’t get EoS out of my mind. It was just brilliantly crafted, with its epic plot twists and fast-paced narration. There were times I kept biting my lip, chanting “Oh, god. Oh, god. Oh, god.”, whenever the characters plunged themselves into dangerous situations and thought they’d be doomed.

“We’d better eat before we raise hell.”
Sarah J. Maas, Empire of Storms

I also grew to love the characters more in this book – both old and new. But the absence of some totally disappointed me. Even as I reached the last chapter, I expected them to make an appearance but there wasn’t even one sign of them in the book – not one word from them and it’s got me worried and thinking what could’ve gone possibly wrong with their journey. Seriously, I can’t handle it if something happens to my beloved Chaol, much as he annoyed me in the previous book. Maas better prepare an epic comeback for them in the next instalment or else.

As for Aelin’s group, they just keep growing awesome and awesome. With the addition of their crew, things got more exciting, along with the growing tension between some of them. I enjoy their interactions, the bonds they’ve made and the challenges they faced. I might even have a grudging respect for some of the villains, particularly Lorcan. I have mixed thoughts about Maeve even after that scene. I don’t know – I still can’t make up my mind whether I really hate her or not.

And Lysandra – my god, she’s just become my new favorite. I really, really like her. I find shapeshifters super-cool but that’s not just what drew me to her. After joining the crew, she sort of became Aelin’s closest confidante and right-hand, and Aelin trusted Lysandra to do things that the others couldn’t – extremely difficult choices that if presented to anyone else, they would certainly balk or object. But Lysandra isn’t like that. She does what needs to be done with a cool acceptance, but it doesn’t mean that she wants to. She’s extremely loyal, and I love that about her. I also love how Maas had put her on the spotlight in one of the chapters.

“I’m going to call in old debts and promises. To raise an army of assassins and thieves and exiles and commoners.”
Sarah J. Maas, Empire of Storms

And of course, I also love Aelin. She still hasn’t lost that trademark swag we are all very fond of, plus her tendency for theatrics (even if it was her own undoing). And can I just mention how funny her arguments with Rolfe are? The way Rolfe reacts at everything Aelin says entertains me so much, I keep wishing they have another round. But enough about Rolfe, what I’m trying to say is Aelin is still Aelin, but Maas was able to develop her character further in EoS. At the beginning, Darrow emphasized how much he rejected Aelin as his queen… that Aelin didn’t deserve the title Queen of Terrasen. But after everything that happened, I think we can all agree that Aelin has stepped up to her role rather stunningly.

“A court that wouldn’t just change the world. It would start the world over.”
Sarah J. Maas, Empire of Storms

As for the rest – Dorian, Manon, Elide, Aedion, Rowan, Gavriel and Fenrys – I love them all to pieces too. I could describe my feelings for them one by one in detail but that would take PAGES. And even though it should bother me, the fact that their group were made up of nothing but royalties, nobilities and high-ranking warriors never ceases to amaze me. Not to mention the fact they each have their own OTPs. Call me gullible,but  I don’t care.

“I love you. There is no limit to what I can give to you, no time I need. Even when this world is a forgotten whisper of dust between the stars, I will love you.”
Sarah J. Maas, Empire of Storms

Furthermore, I wasn’t bored by Rowan and Aelin’s relationship. I am still very awed by the depth of their relationship and the things they went through together, but I have to say that their sex scenes were a little bit too over the top for my taste.

But most of all, the similarities of EoS to ACOMAF was super noticeable. It didn’t bother me much, but it certainly decreased the level of surprise I felt over some of the plot twists. I wonder if this was intentional, if Maas is planning for the worlds of ACOMAF and EoS to overlap, or if this was just a result of being unable to come up with different and more creative twists. Either way, it doesn’t diminish my need to know what happens next for our beloved characters.

“The world,” Aelin said, “will be saved and remade by the dreamers, Rolfe.”
Sarah J. Maas, Empire of Storms

All in all, EoS is a book that totally blew my mind; it was extremely exciting, fast-paced and very emotional. I wouldn’t mind reading it again and again, despite its sheer size. Mind you, I stayed up ‘til morning to finish it, not wanting to lose my thrill over the story for one second.  That’s how addicted I was to EoS.

How about you? Have you read this book yet? If not, then pick it up soon and prepare to be amazed! 😎😎😎😉😉😉


R A T I N G

Outstanding (★★★★★)