Caraval by: Stephanie Garber

Summary:

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.

The Review:

Earlier in the year in my Top 5 Wedneday Debuts I’m Exitcied For, this book was on  the the list, mainly because the premise intrigued me. Mainly because the Caraval sounds a lot like The Night Circus, and it didn’t disappoint.

Let’s first discuss the characters. Scarlett was a pretty good protagonist. While in the beginning of teh book she was very annoying and whiny which I thought would infuriate me. But as the book went on she did mellow out for me and got better. For a majority of the book she is trying to find her sister and win the Caraval game in order to do so. She realizes that she has to go through a lot of quick thinking in order to do so. I like how that she always wanted to attend the Caraval and she keeps sending letters in order to get tickets to go.

Tella, her sister is very outgoing and I love the relationship between the two sisters, which I always feel that is lacking in a lot of YA books is great sister relationships, and you see after Tella gets captured why she wants to rescue her. Both of them live in an abusive household, and dream of escaping, it is also what bonds them as sisters.

Julian, is pretty much the lovable rogue character in the book. While his character arc is playing the rogue type character, who will obviously fall in love with the female lead, I did like his character. You can tell that he cares a lot about Scarlett and wants her to find her sister. While a romance was there it didn’t distract us from the plot.The other supporting characters in the Caraval were great as well, but I wish they had a bit more development, but hopefully future books will do that.

The world building was not as great as I wanted it to be. When Scarlett finally entered Caraval, I wanted rich descriptions of worlds sort of like Alice in Wonderland, and a sense that you are “not in Kansas anymore”. But the story itself was really good. This will be most likely be very vague since I don’t want to spoil anything but I did like the twists and turns the book took, and Legend, the leader of the Caraval was a pretty good villain who reminded me a lot of Rumpelstiltskin from Once upon a Time.

At first, I didn’t like the twist but as I really thought about it, I thought it was pretty good and you see why it happened. Also the epilogue has another great twist which makes you want to know what happens next

In the end, Caraval was a great debut for Stephanie Garber which have us great story and characters that you want to see more of, and I want to see where the story goes.

Grade: 4/5

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Summary:

Thou shalt kill.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

The Review:

This was another book, in which I was intrigued by the premise. A world without death is a fantastic premise, and how there still needs to be death in order for the population control.

First off, I love the characters. The book is told through two POVs which are Citra and Rowan. I love how both characters progressed throughout the book. Both were sort of unsure about whether or not to become a scythe, but they start to learn a little bit more about the scythe history and why they need to do what they do. Their mentor Faraday is a great mentor figure who deeply cares about them.

Another great character is Scythe Curie, who was deemed the Goddess of Death. You see a lot of her views on death and being a scythe, she also lived through the “Age of Morality”. Scythe Goddard was a fantastic villain. He was a scythe who got a pleasure out of “gleaning” and would do so without hesitation or worry. I felt that both characters should light side and dark side of being  a scythe.

The world-building was extremely well done. It had a good amount of info dump, but the book wasn’t too bogged down by it. It gave us a world without hunger, disease or war. The world before was called “The Age of Morality”. It seems like a world worse than the one the book is set in. But I do love how Citra and Rowan question the world by asking ‘What murder is?” or “What is a cold?” It kinda shows how far the world has came.

It also does a good job at showing the politics of the world of the scythe, and how one becomes a scythe. The book is mostly dealing with Citra and Rowan’s training to become a scythe and going through several trials in order to do so. The trials are there to set up their morals and how they would become a scythe. I also liked seeing the different types of “gleanings” they would have to do.

There is also a religious group called the Tonists who don’t believe in scythe, they were briefly mentioned and seen, but I would love to see more about them. I also felt the ending  was a bit rushed and I would have liked to see the ending more developed. But it does make me excited to see where the story goes.

In the end, I enjoyed Scythe and I thought it was definitely worth the hype. I loved the ideas that the book brought up, especially about death. The characters were well developed and added a lot to the story. I want to see where this story goes.

Grade: 4.7/5

Beauty and the Beast: Movie Review

Hello everyone,

Here is another movie review, which was one of my most anticipated movies Beauty and the Beast.

This is the one I was very concerned about because out of all the live action adaptations, this is the one I remember seeing the original in theaters. But I have to say is that I really love this movie.

The plot is basically the same as the original in which a prince gets turned into a beast by an enchantress and has to fall in love in order to break the curse.Belle is a smart girl who dreams of something more. After her father gets imprisoned by the Beast, she takes his place. If you are familiar with original you pretty much know how it the story goes.

While I will say that the original animated version is better, but the 2017 film did a great job at recapturing the magic of the 1991 version, and reintroducing the story to new fans who haven’t seen the original. It was great hearing the original music and I loved the new songs such as, How Does a Moment Last Forever, and Evermore. They even fixed a few plot holes such as how long the cruse take, and  Belle’s mother.

Emma Watson did a good job at playing Belle, while the singing could have been better, you felt as if she was the live action version of Belle, but there was a few bits of Hermione in there, with her loving books.

Dan Stevens, who portrays the Beast also does a good job as well. While he didn’t have the same aggressiveness like the original. He does do a good job at portraying the Beast’s softer side when he begins to fall in love with Belle.

Luke Evans plays Gaston, and he was amazing really playing up the alpha maleness of Gaston trying to woo Belle, with of course Belle not having any of it and I actually like is the portrayal of Gaston a lot better than the original, with even more doucheness as the original.

Even the supporting characters had a lot more development than teh original such as Le Foe who was more than just Gaston’s lap dog, and the servants who even had more to lost from the curse.

In the end, Beauty and the Beast was a great adaptation of the original, that felt as if you were loving and watching the original. The new songs are great, and adds to the movie I am very excited to see what other live action Disney movies come out.

Grade: A

 

Hype or Like Friday: Favorite Musicals

Happy Friday everyone, and here is another Hype or Like Friday.

The theme is Monster Mash March and the Book of the Month is:

Hype or Like Friday is a meme created by Jillian, Larkin, and Britt to discuss about hyped books and see if they’re hyped up or not. There would be book of the month that you can read, and the post your review for it on the end of the month, then rate it whether it’s a hype it or like it.

March 10: Favorite Musicians/Songs/Musicals (cause Song is in the title, heh, get it?)

For this one I am choosing musicals, because I love musicals and I never really talked about my love for musicals so here they are in no particular order

Hamilton

One of the more obvious choices, but hey its really good. Using the use of hip hop to tell the story of Alexander Hamilton. It cleaned house at the Tony awards, and its so popular that it is hard to get tickets. But you could listen to the cast album and still follow the story.

Wicked

The story about the witches of Oz, and the backstory of the Wicked Witch of the West and the Good Witch of North, it answers the question “are people born wicked or do they wickedness thrust upon them”  I saw this when it came to Boston years ago and loved it ever since.

Chicago

This is me cheating a bit because I saw the movie first and didn’t even know about the stage show, but the movie got me into musical theater, and it revitalized the movie musicals.

Book of Mormon

From the creators of South Park, it gives a humorous look at Mormon religion, another soundtrack I listen to on my spotify, and of course being the creators of South Park has a lot of vulgar humor.

Spring Awakening

I remember I joked in one of my Women and Gender Studies classes that Spring Awakening should be an analogy for comprehensive Sex education. Another one of my favorites, I also called it my first “grown-up” musical because of the subject matter.

Waitress

Written by one of my favorite artists, Sara Bareilles, she takes a movie and puts music in it to tell the story of Jenna, a pregnant waitress in a loveless marriage trying to find herself. Also being by Sara Bareilles the music is amazing.

Honorable mentions: Legally Blonde, Fun Home, In the Heights, Kinky Boots, any Disney animated movie, Next to Normal, Billy Elliot and La La Land.

What are your favorite artists, songs or musicals? Let me know in the comments below.

 

Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Science Fiction and Fantasy Books

Happy Wednesday everyone, and here is a Top 5 Wednesday and the topic is:

March 8th – Favorite Science Fiction & Fantasy Books *BooktubeSFF Awards Crossover Topic!*
–In collaboration with the BooktubeSFF Awards, talk about your favorite science fiction and fantasy books of all time!

Top 5 Wednesday is a group in Goodreads and was formerly created by Lainey at gingerreadslainey and is now done by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes. It is open to everyone.

Science fiction and fantasy books are usually my go-to genres that I love reading.

Disclaimer: What I won’t put on the list because I feel I talked about them a lot already: Harry Potter, A Song of Ice and Fire, Ready Player One, and Lord of the Rings. Those are very obvious choices to me and I want to discuss other books I read.

Star Wars: The Thrawn Trilogy by Timonty Zahn

I know it is not in continuity any more but I strongly recommend this series to any Star Wars fan because it does give us a glimpse of the expanded universe, and also one of my favorite Star Wars villains Admiral Thrawn.

A Darker Shade of Magic by: V.E. Schwab

I could also put other V.E. Schwabs books on the list as well, but this is one of my favorites. I love the use of magic and the different Londons that was introduced to this world. Kell and Lila are some of my favorite characters, and I want to see where the story takes them.

The Illuminae files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

A very unconventional, unlike anything that I have ever read, in the best way possible. While the format may put some people off for a bit, it is very worth it. It is action packed, has great developed characters, and a great story.

Red Rising series by Pierce Brown

I am currently reading Golden Son, at the moment and I am enjoying it very much. Red Rising was an amazing book that I would like to call The Hunger Games in space. Red Rising was one of my favorite books I read last year, and I am so glad that I am continuing  the series.

Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo

Another one of my favorite books, the Six of Crows duology is one of my favorite series. It also has one of the best ensembles I have read in YA, which reminded me a lot of the crew from Firefly. It has a great plot, well written and developed characters, and it is also a heist novel which is always good.

Those are my Top 5 science fiction and fantasy books. What are your favorite science fiction and fantasy novels? Let me know in the comments below.

 

Logan: Movie Review

It’s been a while since I did a movie review, and what better movie to review than Logan, the latest movie within the X-Men universe.

Logan is the third solo Wolverine movie, with this also being Hugh Jackmans seventh appearance as the character, (ninth if you count his cameos in both X-Men First Class and Apolocypse), and as usual he was great as Wolverine.

The story takes place in the year 2029, and Logan is basically a limo driver, driving people around and trying to get money to buy a boat. It never really give us any insight on what happened to the other X-Men, but I think without going into spoiler territory, you get a brief mention about them. Also the adamantium is slowly killing him, which is delaying with healing powers. He is also tasked with transporting a young girl, Lara (Dafne Keen) who is basically Logan’s daughter and X-23. He is also aided by Prof X (Patrick Stewart), whose mind is deteriorating which cause seizures, and effects his powers as well. The movie is basically a road trip movie with Logan trying to protect Lara from bad guys who are trying to get her and experiment on her. It seems very basic, but it works in this movie.

First of all, Hugh Jackman was amazing as Logan/Wolverine. You get a sense that he has been through a lot as a character, and you get a sense of growth from his time on the first X-Men movie to this one. Also has his last appearance as Wolverine this was the perfect swan song for him.

Patrick Stewart is also amazing as Prof. X, who also been through a lot and you see how the relationship between Logan and Charles. That was also his last appearance as Prof. X, and boy does he give a good performance.

Another great performance was Dafne Keen as Lara, who I would describe as Eleven from Stranger Things with Wolverine claws, and while she doesn’t say much in the movie she gives a really good performance mainly through facial expressions.

What also made this movie was the R rating. While a majority of comic book movies are PG-13, an R rating gave this movie a lot more edge to it. You will see a lot of blood and gore, which is what is needed for a Wolverine movie.

In the end, Logan was everything that a Wolverine solo movie should be. It had great depth and character, while also delivering on the action. As a final outing for both Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart, they did amazing in their roles.

Grade: A+

 

A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab

Summary:

Kell is one of the last travelers–magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes connected by one magical city.

There’s Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, and with one mad King–George III. Red London, where life and magic are revered–and where Kell was raised alongside Rhy Maresh, the roguish heir to a flourishing empire. White London–a place where people fight to control magic and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London. But no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red traveler, ambassador of the Maresh empire, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.

The Review:

With A Conjuring of the Light being released, and also as a new fan of V.E. Schwab (her two other books I have read was Vicious and This Savage Song), I felt a need to read this book series because I have heard great things about and it definitely lived up to the hype.

What I love about her writing style is how descriptive everything is, every single word means something, and adds to the world building, in which multiple London  exist, which is already a great concept in itself.

Kell, is a erand boy for the King and Queen of Red London, where magic is worshiped and has to travel between London’s in order to do so. It is while he is traveling through London’s he meets Lila, or becomes a victim on Lila’s theft, and then the two go on an adventure.

I love Kell and Lila, and what strikes me about V.E Schwab’s writing is how she writes characters interactions with each other, without having a romantic aspect seem forced. They also worked well together with Lila using her skills as thief and Kell using his skills with magic

A lot of the supporting characters are also great like, Prince Rhys, Kell’s “brother”. While Kell was adopted into the royal family, not much is given about his life before that. But Rhys and Kell’s relationship is also really well done, while we don’t see much of Rhys at least until towards the end of the book, but you still get a sense of their relationship throughout the book.

Another set of supporting are the villains, the Dane twins who are trying to take over all of the London’s with the use of a stone that both Lila and Kell has with them. They were great villains, even if they didn’t get as much development as they should have. But boy were they evil.

While the plot of the book is a slow burn, but it is a good slow burn which does a good job at developing the characters and the world around them and makes you care about what happens to the characters. The different London’s were very good and I want to see more of them.

In the end, A  Darker Shade of Magic was a great first book in what hopefully will be a great series. As a fan of V.E. Schwab’s writing it always kept me wanting more and seeing how the story continues.

Grade: 5/5

 

Starflight by Melissa Landers

Summary:

Life in the outer realm is a lawless, dirty, hard existence, and Solara Brooks is hungry for it. Just out of the orphanage, she needs a fresh start in a place where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles. She’s so desperate to reach the realm that she’s willing to indenture herself to Doran Spaulding, the rich and popular quarterback who made her life miserable all through high school, in exchange for passage aboard the spaceliner Zenith.

When a twist of fate lands them instead on the Banshee, a vessel of dubious repute, Doran learns he’s been framed on Earth for conspiracy. As he pursues a set of mysterious coordinates rumored to hold the key to clearing his name, he and Solara must get past their enmity to work together and evade those out for their arrest. Life on the Banshee may be tumultuous, but as Solara and Doran are forced to question everything they once believed about their world—and each other—the ship becomes home, and the eccentric crew family. But what Solara and Doran discover on the mysterious Planet X has the power to not only alter their lives, but the existence of everyone in the universe…

The Review:

This was another book on my TBR, mainly because it had at space pirates, and anything set in space is a must read for me, and I was pleasantly surprised about how much I liked the book.

First of all, the setting, I always like books set in space, mainly its just the Firefly fan in me, it reminded me of Firefly especially the bits of the outer realm being lawless and ruthless.

The character  also really liked. I like Soloara’s no-nonsense attitude throughout the book. She is very street smart and it works when she has to work with Doran. Doran is sort of the over privileged prince character who really has a heart of gold. While it does seem cliched, the character was framed a lot better, and it seemed like a fish out of water story with him having to evade arrest with the help of Solara.

I also liked some of the action the book had especially when the ship is going through space running from the Enforcers.

A negative that I kinda had with the book was sort of the pacing. While the plot picks up in the beginning of the book, it was the middle of the story is where I felt the story started to slow down, but it did have some great character moments between Solara and Doran, which actually made me care about their relationship when it starts to develop.

I also felt that some of the supporting characters could have some had development as well. Mainly the crew of the Banshee, which reminded me a lot of the crew of Serenity from Firefly. They each had a role of the ship and I would have liked to learn more about them.

I also thought the twist at the end was actually well done, and it was telegraphed throughout the book.

In the end I thought Starflight was a great read, especially if you are a fan of science fiction. I will be continuing the series hopefully soon.

Grade: 4/5

 

 

Hype or Like Friday: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Happy Friday everyone,

Sorry I haven’t done these in quite a while, school and work got a little backed up but I was able to read Truthwitch and finally do a Hype or Like Friday review of the book.

Hype or Like Friday is a meme created by Jillian, Larkin, and Britt to discuss about hyped books and see if they’re hyped up or not. There would be book of the month that you can read, and the post your review for it on the end of the month, then rate it whether it’s a hype it or like it.

Summary:

In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands.

Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home.

Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she’s a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden – lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult’s true powers are hidden even from herself.

In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls’ heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

The Review:

While this wasn’t on my TBR, I did see this book a lot at bookstores and even the blogoshphere, and I decided to read the book because I do like fantasy novels, and this book is totally worth the hype.

First of all, I love the setting of the book and how it deals with an impending war and how it would effect both Safiya and Iseult, two friends. What I love is seeing the friendship between Safi and Iseult because you never see much female friendships in YA and even though they did spend parts of the book away from each other, you still get a glimpse of their relationship. Both Safi and Iseult also deal with how the impending war impacts their family. Safi has to deal with her uncle trying to broker a peace deal and using her to do so and Iseult is dealing with the fact that she has powers and was basically lied to her entire life, and learning how to use her powers.

The world building is also really well done. It wasn’t a lot of info dumping which most fantasy books, and was able to introduce us to this world without dealing with exposition and it did it more organically through the characters. I also like how the witches are described in the book, they had different factions and being a Truthwitch meant being so powerful that many either want to use or want her dead. There was a few times in the middle of the book where the story started to drag a bit

Safi spends a majority of the book being on the run and is guided by Merik, Merik is an awesome character. He is basically Malcolm Reynolds meets Nathan Drake. While he is reluctant at first he does help her and you even like the relationship between the two. While it did feel a bit rushed, both characters were at least developed enough to cheer them on.

In the end Truthwitch was a book worth the hype, it was a real engaging read that did a great job world building but also developing its characters. I look forward to reading more of this series.

My grade is LIKE

Grade: 4/5

 

Top 5 Wednesday: Books to Get you out of a reading slump

Happy Wednesday everyone, and here is another Top 5 Wednesday and the topic is:
February 22nd: Books to Get You Out of a Reading Slump
–Winter is a hard season for a lot of people and many of us are slumpy. Let’s talk about some books that are great for getting you out of a slump!

Top 5 Wednesday is a group in Goodreads and was formerly created by Lainey at gingerreadslainey and is now done by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes. It is open to everyone.

Another great topic, mainly because I have reading slumps and it took a really great book in order for me to get back on track.

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

I read this book during one of my reading slumps in which before that, the previous books I read I either DNF or was just plan bored by them. An Ember in the Ashes got me back on track. I was action packed, had well developed characters and left you wanting more.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Another great read, especially if you haven’t read anything in a while. While it may seem like a beach read. It is a very dark and disturbing book that you wouldn’t want to put down.

Legend by: Marie Lu

Another great and action packed book with a lot of twists and turns, especially if you haven’t read something in a while or was just burned by the previous books you read.

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

If you are looking for something unconventional to read, I would recommend Illuminae because of how different it is from everything else that I have read and it seems refreshing to read a book like that.

The Shadow Queen by: C.J. Redwine

As a fan of fairy tale retellings, of course this you get me out of a slump. I read it just last summer and really loved the book and it got me back on track with reading. Also the cover looks amazing.

Those are the books that I would recommend to get me out of a reading slump. What books are great to get you out of a slump? Let me know in the comments below.