If It’s Not A Rant, It’s a Rave: ROAR by Cora Carmack

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Title: 
ROAR

Author: Cora Carmack
Publication date: June 13, 2017
Publisher:  Scholastic
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy,Romance

About the Book:

In a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them.

Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people.

To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters.

Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage. 

She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough. 

Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master.

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


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***Warning: This review contains some spoilers. ***

Wow, ROAR is the high fantasy young adult book that I did not know I had been yearning for. Everything from the elaborately described world and clothing all the way to the unique Stormling magic had me hooked. And OHMYGOD, do not get me started on the well-developed and fantastically written characters. With every page scorched with complex characters and enthralling scenes, I highly recommend that you pick up ROAR and prepare yourself for an action-packed journey that follows a heroine worthy of all the praise.

In regards to Roar, our main character, she is not set up as the literary snowflake: a character that is special and is destined to save the world. Honestly, she is a princess that knows she is supposed to hold an innate, ancestral power. She knows that she is supposed to have the gift of a Stormling, allowing her the ability to protect her kingdom from the wreck of storms, but for some reason her powers have remained dormant. Roar is often depicted as innocent and inexperienced, but she is also feisty and headstrong. I really liked that she initiates and holds strong to the idea that she must work hard and go beyond the palace walls to understand her powers (or lack of). Instead of waiting for her powers to come to her, she goes out to find them. YES *air fist pump*!!! 

In reference to the romance aspect of ROAR, I was deeply in swoons and sighs. I really enjoyed the chemistry between Roar and Locke, a character who has the gift of Stormling magic but was not born with it. Locke gives Roar hope that she can awaken her innate power, but more importantly I like that he challenges her mentally, physically, emotionally, and magically. One of my favorite parts of watching their friendship grow is that they are both stubborn characters, so of course, I fell in love with their banter and arguments. And as this fantastical story unfolds, their friendship also starts to twist into something new.

At the beginning of ROAR, I thought there was a love triangle brewing, but thankfully that theory is washed away. But I still wasn’t 100% on board for a feisty friendship to twist into a romantic relationship. Do not get me wrong, I love stories that encompass romance and hot, swoony scenes, but once these two characters, Roar and Locke, become something more than friends, their chemistry became irritatingly fluffy. Locke’s ability to challenge Roar slowly fades and I honestly was not a fan that once the kissing scenes start, he begins to coddle and become overly protective of Roar. UGH, no! Yes, she is often portrayed as vulnerable, but come on Locke, Roar is not defenseless;  she is bold and fierce–there is lightning in her heart and she is ready to strike.

Not only are the main characters well-developed, but the side characters are also unforgettable. Roar is surrounded by all walks of life. And on her journey of discovery, she is given the chance to befriend a group of unique and crazy bandits: a witch, a trickster, and a stealthy spy, to name a few. These individuals challenge Roar and give her an outlet to explore the world outside the palace walls with a new lens. 

Another raving part that I liked about ROAR is the ending. Usually fantasy books end in a gut-wrenching cliffhanger; instead, ROAR ends with hope and a swift glance at an upcoming battle. AHHH!!! So if you are ready for one of the most well-thought out series littered with secrets waiting to be uncovered,  a book with the strongest storms to battle along with many twists and turns, I highly recommend ROAR as your next read. Prepare yourself for an addicting read of perilous magic, steamy kissing scenes, and a group of outlaws worth cheering for. 


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Cora Carmack is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. Since she was a teenager, her favorite genre to read has been fantasy, and now she’s thrilled to bring her usual compelling characters and swoon-worthy romance into worlds of magic and intrigue with her debut YA fantasy, Roar. Her previous adult romance titles include the Losing It, Rusk University, and Muse series. Her books have been translated into more than a dozen languages around the world. Cora splits her time between Austin, TX and New York City, and on any given day you might find her typing away at her computer, flying to various cities around the world, or just watching Netflix with her kitty Katniss. But she can always be found on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and her website www.coracarmack.com.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest Goodreads

NOTE: Thank you to Netgalley and TOR Teen for providing me an e-galley/e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own.

Book Review: Lucky In Love by Kasie West

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Title:
Lucky in Love
Author: Kasie West
Publication date: July 25, 2017
Publisher:  Scholastic
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

ABOUT THE BOOK:

In this new contemporary from YA star Kasie West, a girl who wins the lottery learns that money can cause more problems than it solves, especially when love comes into the picture.

Maddie doesn’t believe in luck. She’s all about hard work and planning ahead. But one night, on a whim, she buys a lottery ticket. And then, to her astonishment —

She wins!

In a flash, Maddie’s life is unrecognizable. No more stressing about college scholarships. Suddenly, she’s talking about renting a yacht. And being in the spotlight at school is fun… until rumors start flying, and random people ask her for loans. Now, Maddie isn’t sure who she can trust.

Except for Seth Nguyen, her funny, charming coworker at the local zoo. Seth doesn’t seem aware of Maddie’s big news. And, for some reason, she doesn’t want to tell him. But what will happen if he learns her secret?

With tons of humor and heart, Kasie West delivers a million-dollar tale of winning, losing, and falling in love.

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


Lucky in Love

You guys, I’m so upset that this book did not work for me. Kasie West’s books are always a hit or a miss for me, and Lucky In Love turned out to be my least favorite book of hers. I hate admitting that, but the story did not work for me. I could not connect with Maddie, the main character, at all. Her voice was too “internal” and self-involved for me and I got so irritated with all her irresponsible choices when it came to her lottery winnings. In the end, I could not deal with how naive she was. 

I did, however, really liked the friendship that develops between Maddie and her co-worker Seth. I loved how nerdy, awkward, and cute they act in each other’s presence. Their adorable interactions always lifted my spirits during my reading of Lucky In Love, which made the book tolerable for me.

Another rave for me is the ADORABLE cover. I love how vibrant, cute, and swoony it is. Even if the story did not win me over, this cover definitely did. I wish I could have loved this book, but in the end, Lucky In Love was not a winner for me. But I really do hope it works for other contemporary readers–maybe I just wasn’t in the right mood to read it at the time.

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My Rating: 1 out of 5 Stars

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

If It’s Not a Rant, It’s a Rave: Hunted by Meagan Spooner

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Title: Hunted 
Author: Meagan Spooner
Publication date: March 14, 2017
Publisher:  HarperTeen
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling
Format: Physical ARC

ABOUT THE BOOK:

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?

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


My Rants and Raves of hunted

Hunted is the fairy tale that I want to read to my future children. It is the retelling that I want every girl to read, and realize, “when the world pushes me down, I can lift myself up.” The author, Meagan Spooner, has molded a beloved classic story, “Beauty and the Beast,” and has shaped it into a book where Beauty (Yeva), a beloved sister and a devoted daughter, sets out into a wilderness where only beasts are guaranteed to survive. And as the heroine of the tale, Beauty is a fighter: a fierce, fearless, and determined woman with a good heart and a quick reflex to persevere. 

One of my favorite aspects of Hunted is the pacing. The story does not move too quickly, with one action domino-ing into a quick reaction. But the story also does not linger with the slow steady steps to a happily ever after ending. Instead, Spooner’s “Beauty and the Beast” retelling, purposely chimes like a steady hand playing Claude Debussy’s “Clair De Lune.” Spooner’s words hit all the high and low notes at the precise duration and location. The book reads like a sheet of music with a steady and heart-lifting tone. 

I also enjoyed how Hunted bridges the reader between reality and the enchanted unknown. As snow hides and blankets the pawed-footprints of a predator, the wind whispers the sad melodies of cursed beasts and creatures who yearn to be saved even if the risk of death lingers in between the whirlwind of snowflakes. Spooner creates a fantastical world that is both pleasing and awe-inspiring to the senses. The world of Hunted smells of musky fur, tastes of crisp air, and crunches with the sound of dried pine needles, all while the sharp bitter frost aches your bones. And although the Beast’s forest is wild and his castle is crumbling, I loved that it is Beauty’s presence that tames his surroundings into a eyeopening world of loyalty, understanding, and compassion.  

This novel will make you believe that magic and fairy stories are real. Hunted is assorted with a dynamic cast of characters; characters who are vulnerable, feral, bewitched, haunted, or even tricksters. The world-building is lush and the characters are so sharp and primitive. I loved every aspect of Hunted, and I cannot wait for readers and dreamers to experience it. 

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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 received this physical ARC copy through a blogger exchange. 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: The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

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Title: The Bone Witch
Author: Rin Chupeco
Publication date: March 7, 2017
Publisher:  Sourcebooks Fire
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal
Format: e-ARC/Netgalley

ABOUT THE BOOK:

The beast raged; it punctured the air with its spite. But the girl was fiercer.

Tea is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy makes her a bone witch, who are feared and ostracized in the kingdom. For theirs is a powerful, elemental magic that can reach beyond the boundaries of the living—and of the human.

Great power comes at a price, forcing Tea to leave her homeland to train under the guidance of an older, wiser bone witch. There, Tea puts all of her energy into becoming an asha, learning to control her elemental magic and those beasts who will submit by no other force. And Tea must be strong—stronger than she even believes possible. Because war is brewing in the eight kingdoms, war that will threaten the sovereignty of her homeland…and threaten the very survival of those she loves.

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


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This is a story about a girl named Tea.
No, not like the drink, but “Tey-uh,” instead.
She loved her brother, Fox, so much, that she raised him from the dead.

Now necromancy is not a praised trick.
Instead of being in awe of her magic,
Her village called her a bone witch.

Though her witchcraft could help heal sickness and hearts,
A bone witch was feared most of all,
Because no one understands their darkness and their art.

Tea is forced to leave her village, family, and friends.
She is taken under the wing of another bone witch,
Where she starts a new life with a darkening power to spin.

Summoning the dead can be seductive and dark.
Tea is told by strangers that she is soulless from the start.
But our heroine is fierce and remains protective over her heart.   

With the rare gift of death magic, Tea can control others’ minds.
She has the ability to conquer monsters, dragons, the Faceless, and spies. 
But her gift comes with limitations, and love and trust is not easy to find. 

Although this story is very slow in pace,
It is the love interests that might keep you vested and make your heart race.
Or maybe you will fall for the boy who loves to dance and dress in lace.   

Tea’s story is filled with twists and turns; a bewitching tale so deep.
She’s infatuated with a Prince, so prepare yourself for a romance that slowly reaps. 

And I promise you this, when you begin The Bone Witch, you will find no time to sleep. 

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NOTE: Thank you to Netgalley and Sourcebooks Fire  for providing me an e-galley/e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own.

ARC Review: Cashmere by Temple West

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Title: CASHMERE
Author: Temple West
Release Date: February 14, 2017
Publisher: In Medias Res Publications
Pages: 460
Genres:  Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance

Synopsis:

This high-stakes sequel to Velvet proves that when you’re the only human caught in a paranormal war, high school can get a little tricky. With Adrian’s brother trapped in hell, the Praetorian Guard has made Stony Creek their base-of-operations, but Caitlin has a bad feeling they’re more interested in her than in finding Lucian. Caught in a sea of conspiracies and lies, Caitlin and Adrian perform a risky magical procedure in an attempt to protect Caitlin from compulsion.

Relieved that her nightmares have ended, Caitlin is disturbed to find that something even stranger has taken their place.

Determined to get on with her life, even amid a crazy paranormal manhunt, she applies for a competitive summer fashion internship in New York. Searching desperately for answers about what Caitlin might be, how Adrian’s father is involved, and where Lucian has been kidnapped to, Caitlin and Adrian must rely on each other to survive. But when the truth finally comes to light, the consequences are unimaginable.

And the question still haunts them both: even if they survive, how will they deal with the fact that Adrian is immortal and Caitlin is not?

Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


Rants and Raves of Cashmere

You know how some people think that vampire books are overrated, especially young adult vampire books? Well, those people are wrong. When I go into fantasy or paranormal books, I’m always looking for three things: 1. Well-developed characters; 2. Great world-building; and 3. Originality–and the possibility of a new spin on old ideas. Temple West’s Velvet series has all of these qualities, and Cashmere, the second book to Caitlin and Adrian’s love story, does not disappoint.

As an avid follower of Temple West’s social media accounts, I could definitely tell West puts a lot of herself in her writing. She’s creative, a designer, a storyteller, and someone that wants to give the world a badass heroine worth rooting for. Yes, the main character, Caitlin, has her flaws, but what teenager doesn’t. Caitlin’s character shines more brightly when she is stubborn, ranting, and articulating her next move. Even if that next move is mending a friendship, designing her prom dress, or understanding the role she plays in the paranormal world she is currently accepting as reality. Caitlin is a “think-before-I-act” type of person, which makes me love her even more.

I like West’s writing, because she writes with a rhythm that allows you to get lost in her words and world-building. In Cashmere, she puts you in the characters’ heads, and you get the grit, the raw emotions, and even the messed up dreams that might characterize your subconscious as a Star Trek character (HAHAHA). I do not know how West does it, but she can take the most scary and uncomfortable scenes and add a dash of silliness that equates into the most powerful and memorable chapter.

In Cashmere, West brings back a lot of familiar characters from Velvet, but she also introduces some new characters. Kalare is definitely my new favorite character. Kalare adds so much sass and smarts to each scene she is in. This girl can rock a leather jacket, a designer dress, and some hilarious sarcasm.

The main rant I have about the book is that I thought some of the chapters could have been condensed. Some scenes, close to the end of the book, run too long for my comfort. I love when action, even if it is the characters plotting their next move, carries the flow of the story. However, sometimes I found the story stuck and I wanted to skip to the next chapter (I might just be a little impatient, hahaha). Overall, I really enjoyed Cashmere and the unique vampire twist West has given her series. Now I need book three! 

NOTE: Thank you to Temple West for providing me an e-ARC of Cashmere. I was not asked to write or promote a review of the book. To see my original post as a host for the Cashmere blog tour, in which I shared an excerpt and my favorite quotes, go HERE. All statements and opinions stated in this post are my own.

If It’s Not a Rant, It’s a Rave: ARC Review of Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

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Title: Wintersong
Author: S. Jae-Jones
Publication date: February 7, 2017
Publisher: Thomas Dunne
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Retelling
Format: e-ARC from Netgalley

About the book:

Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.

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


Rants and Raves of Wintersong

Once again, another 2017 debut novel has bewitched me, and this time I have been enchanted by Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones. Set up as a retelling of Labyrinth, I interpreted Wintersong more as a mashup of Christina Rossetti’s cautious poem “Goblin Market,” the fierceness of “Beauty and the Beast,” with sparks of Jane Eyre‘s “plain-Jane-with-an-independent-will” shadowing the burning flames of Liesl and the Goblin King’s story. I don’t say this lightly, but after reading this novel, I just wanted to shout, “F!!!!CK, this book is so good!” 

First, I loved the storyline and pacing of Wintersong. After devouring 150 pages in one sitting, and noticing that the book was 448 pages long, I slowed my reading speed in order to savor the story a little longer. S. Jae-Jones writing is so beautiful and engaging. I really enjoyed how her writing illuminated such strong passion and raw affection on the page. I personally found her storytelling and characters leaving more than a story buzzing in my ear. In my case, Liesl and the Goblin King haunted my dreams, whispered in my thoughts, and begged that I finish their story whenever I put the book down.

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Liesl and the Goblin King’s relationship is not set up as any typical young adult trope. Instead of instant-love, these two characters carried a flame for each other since their youth, where they laughed, danced, and played music in the Goblin Grove. And as they grow older, their infatuation for one another remained an ember slowly bursting into flames of desire. Their relationship is filled with anger, misunderstandings, tenderness, excitement, and such intense devotion. The chemistry between these two characters is breathtaking–it cracks, it sizzles, and it purrs. They are two independent beings, eager to please themselves and each other. 

In the end, I found Wintersong to be a vibrant story about caution, close family bonds, sacrifice, fiery passion, trust, and love. Although the ending is left open-ended, I would love to read a sequel. I’m being selfish here, because I want more Liesl and the Goblin King! (Sorry not sorry.) I cannot recommend this novel enough. If you enjoy the intense and complicated relationships portrayed in Victorian novels, a dash of German language, crossing the blurred lines between fantasy and reality, and the slow burn of two characters connecting in a novel, Wintersong is the perfect book before you. 

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star rating

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

NOTE: Thank you to Netgalley and Thomas Dunne for providing me an e-galley/e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own.

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.