If It’s Not a Rant, It’s a Rave: Review of Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

Alex Approximately

Have you ever read a book that is so swoony and adorable that it makes your stomach ache? Well, Alex, Approximately is one of those books that gave me butterflies from all it’s cute and adorable moments. I loved its “You’ve Got Mail” mysterious identity vibe and all the swoony banter. There is also a slight hate/love relationship that brews and it is the best developing relationship I have read in a long time. 

One of my favorite things about Jenn Bennett’s books is how realistic she writes her characters. The two main characters in Alex, Approximately, Bailey “Mink” and Porter “Alex,” are both awkward, smart, hilarious, and they both own up to their own unique style. I love that Bailey not only adores classic movies, just like Porter, but she also leaves her house with the best hair and outfits that mirror the style of Lana Turner. Porter is one of the most straightforward and headstrong characters I have read; I loved how honest and confident he is throughout the story. And the playful repartee and chemistry between these two characters will have you happily sighing while your cheeks ache from all your smiling. 

What I liked most about Alex, Approximately is that the story is so heartwarming and knee-weakening. I am a huge fan that the characters did not come off too angsty. Instead these characters, and their destined chance to meet, is flirtatious and bold. Once again Bennett has written a romantic story that I cannot wait to pick up again, so I can re-experience all the laughs, swoons, and sexy sarcasm that overpowers this book. 

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My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

about the book - Alex

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Title:
Alex, Approximately
Author: Jenn Bennett
Publication date: April 4, 2017
Publisher:  Simon Pulse
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

SYNOPSIS:

The one guy Bailey Rydell can’t stand is actually the boy of her dreams—she just doesn’t know it yet.

Classic movie fan Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online as Alex. Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.

Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new archnemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever it is she’s starting to feel for Porter.

And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N |  The Book Depository

About the author Pearl Thief

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Jenn Bennett is an artist and RITA-nominated author of the Arcadia Bell urban fantasy series (Kindling the Moon) and the Roaring Twenties romance series, including Bitter Spirits, which was chosen as one of Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2014 and winner of RT Book Reviews Paranormal Romance Book of the Year, and Grave Phantoms—which was awarded RT’s May Seal of Excellence for 2015. The Anatomical Shape of a Heart, (aka Night Owls in the U.K.) is her first YA contemporary romance. She lives near Atlanta with one husband and two evil pugs.

Website | Twitter |Goodreads | FacebookInstagram | Tumblr

NOTE:  I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in an exchange for a review. I bought this book with my own funds and reviewed it at my own discretion.  All statements and opinions in this review are mine.

If It’s Not a Rant, It’s a Rave: A Million Junes by Emily Henry

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Title:
A Million Junes

Author: Emily Henry
Publication date: May 16, 2017
Publisher:  Razorbill
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy 
Format: e-ARC from Penguin’s First to Read site

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Romeo and Juliet meets One Hundred Years of Solitude in Emily Henry’s brilliant follow-up to The Love That Split the World, about the daughter and son of two long-feuding families who fall in love while trying to uncover the truth about the strange magic and harrowing curse that has plagued their bloodlines for generations.

In their hometown of Five Fingers, Michigan, the O’Donnells and the Angerts have mythic legacies. But for all the tall tales they weave, both founding families are tight-lipped about what caused the century-old rift between them, except to say it began with a cherry tree.

Eighteen-year-old Jack “June” O’Donnell doesn’t need a better reason than that. She’s an O’Donnell to her core, just like her late father was, and O’Donnells stay away from Angerts. Period.

But when Saul Angert, the son of June’s father’s mortal enemy, returns to town after three mysterious years away, June can’t seem to avoid him. Soon the unthinkable happens: She finds she doesn’t exactly hate the gruff, sarcastic boy she was born to loathe.

Saul’s arrival sparks a chain reaction, and as the magic, ghosts, and coywolves of Five Fingers conspire to reveal the truth about the dark moment that started the feud, June must question everything she knows about her family and the father she adored. And she must decide whether it’s finally time for her—and all of the O’Donnells before her—to let go.

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble |  The Book Depository


My Rants and Raves of A Million Junes

Last year, Emily Henry’s debut novel, The Love That Split the World, won me over. It was beautifully written, the story was intense and intriguing, and honestly that book still sits well in my heart. And you guys, Henry’s new novel, A Million Junes, is just as impeccable. The novel is a meshing of generational curses, smart and quick-witted dialogue, and eccentric magic.

In A Million Junes, Emily Henry’s words are lyrical. She writes at such an elegant and wistful pace that I often forgot I was reading a book. Not only do her words melodically carry you through a world that merges reality and fantasy, but her writing transcends you into alternate worlds where memories exist by the seed of a dandelion. Henry’s storytelling took me on a collision course of in-between worlds that carry the reminisced emotions of comfort, laughter, heartache, and sorrow. A Million Junes is mesmerizing and thought-provoking and truly a gem to read. 

In reference to the main character, Jack “June” O’Donnell IV often wears her heart on her sleeve. Her sarcasm and wit have no filter, which carries well-needed humor in a story that is filled with grief and haunting despair. June’s attitude and opinions change as the story progresses, and I like that her growth is driven by both emotion and reason. And when this sassy, passionate teenager meets Saul, an enemy to her family, I love that June’s world is set into a whirlwind of challenges and transformation. 

The friendship that develops between June and Saul is beautifully weaved through white lies, snarky jokes, and good rapport. Their chemistry and fast-paced repartee are both heartwarming and hilarious. After their first encounter with one another, I wanted every page dedicated to their conversations. EVERY! SINGLE! PAGE! 

After reading A Million Junes, I hugged the book to my heart. I am 100% sure that this book will be one of those novels that I reread, because I will forever want that enchanting feeling back in my soul. I truly think A Million Junes will be my cure for future reading slumps. I love that this book exists and I love what it stands for. A Million Junes carefully situates two characters in a familial feud that darkens the pages with curses and haunting memories, but, in the end, it manifests that sorrow into experiences of forgiveness and moving forward.

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NOTE: Thank you to Penguin’s First to Read program for providing me an e-galley/e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own.

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Don’t Kiss the Messenger by Katie Ray

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Title: Don’t Kiss the Messenger
Author: Katie Ray
Publication date: April 10, 2017
Publisher:  Entangled Teen Crush
Genres: Young Adult, Contempoary, Romance

ABOUT THE BOOK:

For most of her teenage life, CeCe Edmonds has been dealing with the stares and the not-so-polite whispers that follow her around Edgelake High. So she has a large scar on her face—Harry Potter had one on his forehead and people still liked him.

CeCe never cared about her looks—until Emmett Brady, transfer student and football darling, becomes her literature critique partner. The only problem? Emmett is blindsided by Bryn DeNeuville, CeCe’s gorgeous and suddenly shy volleyball teammate.

Bryn asks CeCe to help her compose messages that’ll charm Emmett. CeCe isn’t sure there’s anything in his head worth charming but agrees anyway—she’s a sucker for a good romance. Unfortunately, the more messages she sends and the more they run into each other, the more she realizes there’s plenty in his head, from food to literature. Too bad Emmett seems to be falling for the wrong girl…

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book involves one fiercely scarred girl who wants the new guy in town, the new guy who thinks he wants the new girl, and the new girl who really isn’t sure what she wants, and the misunderstanding that brings them all together. You’ll laugh, you’ll swoon, you’ll fall in love.

Goodreads Amazon |Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo |
Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.ca | Entangled Publishing


My Rants and Raves of messenger

Don’t Kiss the Messenger is a gender-reversed, high school retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac. It’s a story about disguise, miscommunication, and hidden crushes. Often I find stories about deception frustrating because I am so impatient for the truth to be revealed, but in this book the use of modern technology to disguise flirtation is creatively thought out and well executed. I thought (and loved) that the book gave off vibes that reminisced the classic independent heroine and witty banter that is portrayed in the movie 10 Things I Hate About You. 

One of my favorite parts of Don’t Kiss the Messenger was the constant references to Shakespeare. You cannot go into a story focused on disguise and deception without Shakespeare’s works making an appearance. And every time Cece, the main character, quoted a Shakespeare play, I would get so excited. It’s not every day you read a character that appreciates the language of the Bard. 

Not only is Cece a Shakespeare fanatic, but she is also likable, sarcastic, confident, and fierce. Although she faces scrutiny every day from strangers who take pity on her or are awe-struck by the scars on her face, Cece keeps her head up high and tries to excel in every way she possibly can. She tries not to let her flaws define her, but it’s hard because she lives in a world that focuses on perfection as a defining factor. Cece has excellent taste in music, she’s fearless, and I love that she knows that sometimes a good cry is the best medicine.

I also liked Emmett, Cece’s crush. Emmett is not set up as the perfect high school jock. He has a past that is heartbreaking, and a future that needs mending. Emmett might be clueless on a few things, but his interest in literature, music, and defending his friends makes him stand out. 

Cece and Emmett’s friendship and relationship is an emotional roller coaster. And even though they have their twists and turns, the chemistry between these two characters is electric. Their friendship is based on witticism, sarcasm, and laughs. I love how they feed off each other’s energy and their banter is so cute and hilarious. I rooted for them the entire book, even when the disguised messages were grating my last nerve, hahaha.

Although stories that use disguises as a tricking mechanism sometimes frustrate me, the deceiving charade that takes place in Don’t Kiss the Messenger is heartwarming and swoony. Yes, I might have gotten annoyed at times, mainly because I wanted the truth leaked, but deception was perfectly set up as a steady beat throughout the pages and had me hooked to the very end. I highly recommend this book to fans of Shakespeare, literature nerds, music fiends, and anyone who appreciates a good love story. 

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My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

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Katie Ray

 

About the Author:

Katie Ray (also known by her previous author name, Katie Kacvinsky) writes teen and new adult fiction novels. Her books have been nominated for YALSA awards, and First Comes Love was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award. Her screenplay, A High Note, was a semifinalist in the Austin Screenplay Competition in 2015. She currently lives in Ashland, Wisconsin with her husband, two children, and a slightly insane dog.

Author Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

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If It’s Not a Rant, It’s a Rave: Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton

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Title: Traitor to the Throne
Author: Alwyn Hamilton
Publication date: March 7, 2017
Publisher:  Viking Books for Young Readers
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, 
Format: Signed Hardcover, purchased

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Gunslinger Amani al’Hiza fled her dead-end hometown on the back of a mythical horse with the mysterious foreigner Jin, seeking only her own freedom. Now she’s fighting to liberate the entire desert nation of Miraji from a bloodthirsty sultan who slew his own father to capture the throne.

When Amani finds herself thrust into the epicenter of the regime—the Sultan’s palace—she’s determined to bring the tyrant down. Desperate to uncover the Sultan’s secrets by spying on his court, she tries to forget that Jin disappeared just as she was getting closest to him, and that she’s a prisoner of the enemy. But the longer she remains, the more she questions whether the Sultan is really the villain she’s been told he is, and who’s the real traitor to her sun-bleached, magic-filled homeland.

Forget everything you thought you knew about Miraji, about the rebellion, about Djinn and Jin and the Blue-Eyed Bandit. In Traitor to the Throne, the only certainty is that everything will change.

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N |  The Book Depository


My Rants and Raves of Traitor to the Throne

I loved Rebel in the Sands, so I was so happy to dive back into this world. One of my favorite things about Traitor to the Throne is that it quickly picked up where we left off in the previous book. I was so afraid that I would forget the characters and the whole plot, but this was not the case. Alywn Hamilton writes with such great description and drops great hints of the backstory, so I was happily engulfed and surrounded in Amani’s world, thoughts, and motives all over again. 

What I loved most about Traitor to the Throne is that even though I am in love with the old band of characters, I also started fangirling over the introduction of new characters. As I was reading the book, I was on the edge of my seat trying to figure out who the “traitor” might be, but you guys, there were a lot of revealing twists and turns that I honestly did not see coming. I love how action packed the story is, which honestly allowed the story to quickly flow. I could not put the book down. 

Additionally, Amani continues to be one of my favorite heroines to root for in young adult literature. I love how independent and quick thinking she is. Her motives and actions are always selfless, which usually puts her…uhhh…in not so good situations. And in Traitor to the Throne, she once again proves that she is fierce and badass. 

The only rant I have about Traitor to the Throne is that I wish there were more scenes between Amani and Jin. I love the chemistry and dynamics between these two characters. Their relationship makes my heart ache, in a good way though, and I think they are dynamite on the page. Although the plot rarely portrayed these two on the same page, I was always yearning for them when they were separated and overly excited when they were in a scene together. 

As a second book to the series, Traitor to the Throne did not disappoint. I am definitely excited for Book 3, because OHMYGOD what is going to happen next?

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NOTE:  I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in an exchange for a review. I bought this book with my own funds and reviewed it at my own discretion.  All statements and opinions in this review are mine.

If It’s Not a Rant, It’s a Rave: Starfall by Melissa Landers

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Title: Starfall 
Author: Melissa Landers
Publication date: February 7, 2017
Publisher:  Disney-Hyperion
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Sci-Fi 
Format: Hardcover, purchased

ABOUT THE BOOK:

When Princess Cassia Rose fled her home world of Eturia to escape an arranged marriage, she had no idea her sudden departure would spark a war. Now after two years hiding as a ship hand, she is finally returning to her beloved home, but not in the way she imagined. Shackled by bounty hunters, she is violently dragged back to account for her crimes. Her only solace is that the Banshee crew managed to evade capture, including Kane Arric, her best friend…with occasional benefits.

Meanwhile, Kane and the rest of the crew of the Banshee plan a desperate rescue mission. But when they arrive on Eturia, Cassia isn’t exactly in need of heroics—she’s claimed her birthright as Eturia’s queen, but has inherited a war-torn planet simmering with rebellion. Cassia must make alliances, and Kane, the bastard son of a merchant, isn’t a choice that will earn her any friends. Kane knows he will never find someone to replace Cassia—and is certain she returns his feelings—but how can he throw away his own promising future waiting on a queen?

When the outer realm is threatened by the dangerous Zhang mafia, Cassia, Kane and the rest of the Banshee crew uncover a horrifying conspiracy that endangers the entire universe. In the face of unspeakable evil, Cassia must confront her own family’s complicated legacy on Eturia and decide once and for all who her real family is.

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N |  The Book Depository


My Rants and Raves of Starfall

I swear Melissa Landers should write for a TV show. Her gift for storytelling is so engaging, and Starfall had me on the edge of my seat from chapter 1. There were so many twists and turns that I did not see coming, and I could not have asked for a better story to unfold in the Starflight series. UGH, WILL THERE BE MORE IN THIS SERIES?! PLEASE TELL ME THERE WILL BE MORE!

I love the chemistry between Cassia and Kane. Their dialogue, actions, and feelings toward each other is sizzling, swoony, and oftentimes frustrating (but so, so good). Their friendship, teasing on-and-off-again relationship, and sacrifices that they make for one another throughout the book fueled me to the very end. Their relationship is so imperfect, yet swoony, which made me root for them throughout the entire novel. 

Starfall is so quick-paced and action-packed, but it’s the development of the roguish Kane and the smart, cunning, and fierce princess Cassia that strengthened my love for this book. And I loved that behind Cassia is a gang of misfits who would sacrifice anything to keep her, and each other, from becoming a victim of their enemies. The friendships in this book (and series) are true squad goals, and allow the story to unfold with excitement and adoration. If you’re a fan of television shows like Firefly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and even The Magicians, this book is for you! You will fall in love with the strong friendships, wild escapades, snarky attitudes, and witty dialogue that meshes this novel into a one of a kind sci-fi adventure.

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NOTE:  I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in an exchange for a review. I bought this book with my own funds and reviewed it at my own discretion.  All statements and opinions in this review are mine.

If It’s Not a Rant, It’s a Rave: Review of Unrest by Wendy Higgins

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Title: Unrest
Author: Wendy Higgins
Publication date: February 14, 2017
Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
Genres: New Adult, Romance, Science Fiction, Dystopian
Format: Kindle (Purchased)

About the Book:

New York Times bestselling author Wendy Higgins brings you the second book in this thrilling apocalyptic world…

Being on the run in the desert means food and sanctuary are hard to come by, but Amber Tate and her crew are not about to give up. Not after having the things they love brutally ripped from them by an unknown enemy who sent their world into the apocalypse.

Survival takes precedence, but once safe shelter is found, their guards fall and the emotions they’ve been holding in are finally released. Anger, insecurities…lust. In their tight quarters, Amber, Rylen, Tater, and Remy can’t escape it. The past must be faced, and passions run even stronger in the darkest of times.

In the midst of unrest, their worlds are rocked again when they discover the truth about the war that’s ruined their lives. They thought finding out the enemy’s identity would give them the edge; instead it’s revealed terrifying dangers they never thought possible.

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N 


My Rants and Raves of Unrest

Wendy Higgins has a natural talent for writing engaging books, and her latest edition to the Unknown Trilogy, Unrest, proves how amazing of a storyteller she is. I swear this story sucks you in, and with every page you cannot look away. Unrest is action-packed, conspiracy driven, and contains just the right amount of romance to make your heart ache. I savored every word of this book, and afterwards immediately looked up the release date for Book 3 (which, by the way, is currently November 2017). 

One of the reasons I love this series is because of the focus on the brother and sister relationship between Amber and her brother Tater. As individuals they are fierce and strong, but as a duo they are stronger, fiercer, and smarter. I like that they have their differences, but as family they are connected on a deeper level to protect and take care of each other. They don’t always agree on things, but their sibling-love shines more brightly with every struggle they face. 

Additionally, I love this series because of the science fiction vibes behind the pages. Conspiracy theories and well articulated action-packed scenes are my favorite story-driven devices used in apocalypse books. Higgins’ craft provides so many twists, turns, and “oh-shit” moments throughout the book. I love how in one moment I’m one the edge of my seat and the next I’m in the character’s minds thinking about curing UTIs. When faced with outsiders taking over your country, Higgins proves that survival is more than finding allies. Her characters realize survival takes love, guts, strength, and the dependence on the knowledge of the past, nature, and the resources that surround them. 

And last, I’m not going to lie, but the number one reason I love this series is due to the sizzling connection between Amber “Pepper” and Rylen. When you’re facing an apocalyptic catastrophe, falling in love is probably not the first thing on your  survival list. But sorry not sorry, their infuriating crush slowly rolling into sexy times was always going through the back of my mind as I read this book. I love how endearing their friendship is depicted. They depend on each other for balance to stay sane and safe in their ruined world. And even though I might be focused on the idea of more smoochies, I just think these two belong together. 

Now give me book three, please! 

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NOTE:  I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in an exchange for a review; I reviewed it at my own discretion.  All statements and opinions in this review are mine.

If It’s Not a Rant, It’s a Rave: ARC Review of Caraval by Stephanie Garber

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Title: Caraval
Author: Stephanie Garber
Publication date: January 31, 2017
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Format: ARC, gifted from friend

About the book:

Welcome to Caraval, where nothing is quite what it seems.

Scarlett has never left the tiny isle of Trisda, pining from afar for the wonder of Caraval, a once-a-year week-long performance where the audience participates in the show.

Caraval is Magic. Mystery. Adventure. And for Scarlett and her beloved sister Tella it represents freedom and an escape from their ruthless, abusive father.

When the sisters’ long-awaited invitations to Caraval 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 only an elaborate performance. But nonetheless she quickly becomes enmeshed 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.

A mesmerising, magical and stunningly imaginative debut novel for anyone who loved The Night Circus and Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N |  The Book Depository


Rants and Raves of Caraval

Hello, my name is Cassie, and I am a Caraval addict…I mean fanatic. I have read Caraval by Stephanie Garber twice, and I’m utterly, unbelievably in love with the characters, the story, and the world–anything and everything Caraval. I honestly feel like I was bewitched by this book; Garber uniquely captivates her reader with gritty emotions, enchanting sentences, and the most vivid images of luster and love.

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Caraval is a book that will charm you from the first page. Along with a collection of letters to and from a game-master named Legend, Scarlett and Tella’s story starts off as weary and cautious, but blooms into a world where darkness hides mischief, and magic awaits every corner. Throughout my reading experience, my mind was whirled with thoughts of endless enchantment and ominous whispers. There were so many unexpected twists and turns that I honestly did not see coming. If you are a fan of surprises and mystery, you will love this book.

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From the well-paced storyline to the dynamic characters to the setting that I’m dying to visit, Caraval is a strange, bewitching, and fantastical read. Caraval is about magic, but more importantly, this book emanates and breathes magic while you’re reading it. Garber’s storytelling transfixed me in a carnival game filled with wishes and desires, and I personally dream to be a player in Legend’s carnival game depicted in this thrilling, haunting, and overall mesmerizing world.

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I loved Caraval most of all because it’s a story with limitless possibilities. It is a story about sisters. A tale of escapism. A nose-dive adventure into forming new friendships, finding trust, and understanding love. And, it is a story about conquering dares, taking chances, and fully living. Overall, I cannot rave enough about how much I enjoyed Caraval. This book may end up being one of my favorite reads of 2017, and I very much look forward to revisiting this world in the sequel. 

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NOTE:  I received this ARC from a friend. I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in an exchange for a review; I reviewed it at my own discretion.  All statements and opinions in this review are mine.