ARC Review: Caraval – Stephanie Garber

Synopsis: caraval cover.jpg

WELCOME TO CARAVAL, WHERE NOTHING IS QUITE WHAT IT SEEMS.
Scarlett and Tella have never left the tiny isle of Trisda, pining from afar for the wonder of a Caraval, a once-a-year week-long performance where the audience participates in the show.

Caraval is Magic. Mystery. Adventure.

When the sisters’ long-awaited invitations finally arrive, it seems their dreams have come true. But no sooner have they arrived than Tella vanishes, kidnapped by the show’s mastermind organiser, Legend.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is an elaborate performance. But she quickly becomes entangled in a dangerous game of love, magic and heartbreak.

And real or not, she must find Tella before the game is over, and her sister disappears forever.


I received a free proof copy of this book courtesy of Chapter 5 Books in exchange for an honest review. 

THIS BOOK WAS JUST

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I mean, I knew I was holding something special in my hands even based on the red sprayed edges that the UK copy of the proof has – but I did not expect just how good the story within the pretty pages would be.

The tagline “Remember it’s only a game” plays such a huge part whilst reading – the strong minded and resilient protagonist turns out to be wonderfully unreliable as she’s enveloped in the mystical game of Caraval. At points,  I was really struggling to see what was truth and what was a concept created by Master Legend in order to engross his guests despite having that constant reminder branded on the covers of the book.

The reading experience was almost magical.

I absolutely loved the relationships in this story – both romantic and not. Sisterhood played such a vital role and truly drove the plot of the novel. Despite everything they had been through (please mind a mild trigger warning for parent-child abuse for those easily affected by such matters – albeit it is never very graphic just present within the novel), their bond was unmistakably strong and definitely only grew through the novel as Scarlett strived to find Tella.

When it comes to romance, this was a great example of how a fantasy romance should be written; none of this insta-love, love triangle malarkey that we so often see in YA Fiction. Just subtle, slow burn romance which added to the story without completely overpowering all the other concepts within it.

Also, may we just talk about the plot twists? Can we? Because there were SO MANY. All of which I really could not even begin to predict. Once I thought I could predict something…. it turned out I was grossly mistaken. This book was one huge enigma to me, and I absolutely loved that!

The plot itself was so wonderfully dark and disturbing at points, and also as previously mentioned – psychologically affecting. The settings of this novel were so well described I could picture everything with great clarity. I honestly commend  Garber for this, and can definitely say that she truly has a gift for creating a sense of mystery using her plot and setting, and building it right up until the end. And unlike some authors’ attempts, the ending actually delivered. Questions were answered, but enough were left to make me anticipate the next book with great excitement.

I will not say much more about this book, for I think that the effect of it is spoiled the more you know about it – it’s one of those books where the less you know the better the reading experience will be. One that leaves you wishing that there was a way to forget things about the books you had read just to be able to relive them anew.

I can just say that you should definitely read this masterpiece and get lost in the world of Caraval, and I can only hope that you will enjoy it as much as I did.

My Rating: 4.9 if not 5/5 Stars

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ARC Review: Sanctuary Bay – Laura J. Burns, Melinda Metz

Synopsis:sanctuary bay cover.jpg

When Sarah Merson receives the opportunity of a lifetime to attend the most elite prep school in the country-Sanctuary Bay Academy-it seems almost too good to be true. But, after years of bouncing from foster home to foster home, escaping to its tranquil setting, nestled deep in Swans Island, couldn’t sound more appealing. Swiftly thrown into a world of privilege and secrets, Sarah quickly realizes finding herself noticed by class charmer, Nate, as well as her roommate’s dangerously attentive boyfriend, Ethan, are the least of her worries. When her roommate suddenly goes missing, she finds herself in a race against time, not only to find her, but to save herself and discover the dark truth behind Sanctuary Bay’s glossy reputation.


I received an eARC edition of this novel courtesy of St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I – I need a sequel. That cliffhanger ending, well; that well-developed “cliffhanger” ending was just too much for my brain to handle. If this turns out to be a standalone novel I am going to be greatly disgruntled because I just need to know where the story went after the words ran out in a very Hazel Grace Lancasteresque way.

It took  me a while to warm up to the idea of the story however, I’m not particularly fond of the tropes which it held within itself . The whole poor girl in school full of rich people thing didn’t bode well with my dislike of similar stories and I found that the sliight love triangle sort of thing that I smelled very early on in the story didn’t help at all.

BUT, these rich kids weren’t the usual arseholes that we usually meet in these sorts of novels – they were actually quite nice to the MC which I found rather surprising.

I also really liked how dark the story got at times, it was captivating and mildly terrifying but the odd combination of feelings actually worked in favour of the book .

The mystery part of the novel actually worked; there were countless plot twists which managed to catch me off guard. And if that isn’t a sign of a successful book of this genre, I don’t know what is. The suspense definitely built up during the course

The suspense definitely built up during the course of the novels thanks to the MC’s unawareness to what was going on around her. I actually really liked her voice, Burns and Metz had a pleasant to read writing styles which weaved flawlessly together to make a story I enjoyed.

I’m not going to lie, this book was really trippy at times, it was largely a case of having to figure out things along with the protagonist, which was difficult as things weren’t always what they seemed and even when she was sure of something, something else proved to be true/ messed up what she thought and it was just so incredibly suspenseful in a really cleverly crafted way, the story was honestly full of so many dark and unexpected secrets!

I can safely say that I enjoyed this book and would definitely be willing to read its sequels if any were to arise (which would put my bookish needs to rest).

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Book Review: Black Waters – India R. Adams

Synopsis:black-waters-cover

The blue water Whit once loved now looked black because it was claiming her, taking her from me.

Whitney Summers is Link’s best friend. He would do anything for her, even sacrifice their friendship to protect her. Whitney believes she understands what is transpiring in her life, but so much stirs beneath the surface. As her closest friend and protector, Link faces the darkness in his own life to guard the girl he loves.
This is Link’s story…

There was no beauty in her dying that day…

 

 


I received an eCopy of this book courtesy of the lovely author herself in exchange for an honest review.

Honestly, I did not know that it was possible to rewrite a book from another person’s perspective and still make me feel approximately

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All of the things were felt whilst reading this novel, from sadness to anticipation, to fear, to outright happiness when the ending rolled around (and not because the book was awful and I was relieved, but because it was a heartwarming ending which I will forever be thankful for because it was honestly such a good conclusion to the novella).

I have to say that I probably should have re-read Blue Waters before starting Black Waters, but it did trigger enough memories of the prequel-ish-not-really for me to be able to fully enjoy it. And enjoy it I did.

This book was so damn detailed I honestly wish all authors cared enough to pad out secondary characters enough to be able to accomplish what India did within the limited page count. Characters I had not cared for or understood before suddenly became incredibly important? I actually understood the actions of Link’s father much more than I had during Blue Waters.

For some reason, though, I could not connect with Link as much as I had with Whitney, at least during the first half of the book, before major events and reveals happened which put his character in a much different, and a slightly more favourable light.

As you may already be able to tell, this book truly was the perfect companion of its predecessor, all the gaps and questions were filled in perfectly and India didn’t stop there.

We were also introduced to completely new ideas, courtesy of Whit’s oblivious state in Blue Waters. Link’s narrative presents us with what seemed like concrete information which seemed like things that really shouldn’t have been able to go unnoticed during the previous novella. So many twists in such a short space of time, my mind was reeling – it was WONDERFUL.

I cannot criticise this book, much alike I was not able to find anything wrong with Blue Waters; the writing style, the characters, the pace amalgamated into another amazing novella; so huge kudos to India R. Adams for writing this series.

My Rating: 4.75 Stars/5 Stars

“There was no beauty in her dying that day…”

-Link

Book Review: A Banquet of Consequences- Elizabeth George

Synopsis:a banquet of consequences cover

Inspector Lynley investigates the London end of an ever more darkly disturbing case, with Barbara Havers and Winston Nkata looking behind the peaceful façade of country life to discover a twisted world of desire and deceit.

The suicide of William Goldacre is devastating to those left behind. But what was the cause of his tragedy and how far might the consequences reach? Is there a link between the young man’s leap from a Dorset cliff and a horrific poisoning in Cambridge?

Following various career-threatening misdemeanours, Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers is desperate to redeem herself. So when a past encounter with bestselling feminist writer Clare Abbott and her pushy personal assistant Caroline Goldacre gives her a connection to the Cambridge murder, Barbara begs DI Thomas Lynley to let her pursue the crime.

Full of shocks, intensity and suspense from first page to last, A Banquet of Consequences reveals both Lynley and Havers under pressure, and author Elizabeth George writing at the very height of her exceptional powers.


 I received a copy of this book  from Hodder & Stoughton via Bookbridgr in exchange for an honest review.

So this was actually the first book I read in the Inspector Lynley series (always a bright idea to start on the 19th book in a series- isn’t it?) and I have to say it was largely enjoyable, despite not being quite in my comfort zone when considering its genre. In saying that, I would say that the book could definitely be read as a stand-alone, although I will most probably be looking to read the previous ones in order to understand the background of the lead characters slightly better in the future (however distant it may be).

I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by my liking of the book as I usually have a hard time reading not only adult fiction, but also any book with split POV. However, George executed this brilliantly and I can definitely say that it was a great decision on her part as it helped piece the story together (oh how happy I was when all the puzzle pieces eventually amalgamated to make the big picture) and allowed for the development of all the characters.

The characters were well-written and kept me interested through the 550 page long book, which in my eyes saved it; because I somehow managed to predict the ending, at least for the most part… which was slightly disappointing – but other than that the story of all the men and women was riveting – I felt somewhat sorry for India, and dismayed at the end of her story because I didn’t quite understand her last actions, but I guess they were extremely commendable (as much as they were stupid and crazy). I – as well as quite a few other readers from the opinions I’ve read – hated a certain character so much that I wanted them dead… which for a second time probably makes me an incredibly mean person, but the readers of this particular novel (as well as her others from the sounds of things) will probably completely agree with me, George simply has a way of creating such characters.

George handled quite a few controversial topics with ease, they created much needed plot-twists and turns which drove the plot at a comfortable pace, when I started reading the book without any others to distract me I managed to finish it within 4 days whilst others stared at me with disbelief as I tackled the monster of a book.

Overall, despite the overall predictability of the conclusion (which was probably down to my own style of reading and nothing else) I enjoyed the book, and would definitely recommend it to readers looking for a detail-ridden, mystery-driven novel full of superbly written characters (including a dog) and plot.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

“He wants your sympathy, and sometimes, India, people mistake sympathy for love.”

Nathaniel Thompson