Blogmas Book Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

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GoodReads Summary:
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.
Caraval (Caraval, #1)Review:
In an attempt to read all of the GoodReads Choice Awards Nominees, I am having to catch up on a few series that I have fallen behind on. Caraval is one of those series. I read this when it first came out in 2017. But never managed to pick up the second book when it came out. So, now the series is complete and the third and final book is a nominee, so I’m playing catch up.
I enjoyed this one. I don’t know how much of that was due to my love of the narrator and how much was actually due to the story. My all-time favorite narrator, Rebecca Soler, is really what brings life to this story. I was actually tearing up at one point because of the emotions she portrays.
Garber has created some really interesting characters in this story. Scarlett is annoying, but also, I couldn’t help but feel for her. She comes from a family that is not great. Her dad is abusive, her mother left, and her grandmother died. She’s planning to marry a stranger to escape her father. The one thing she wants most in the world is to protect her younger sister, Tella.
Tella is reckless and just wants to have fun. She doesn’t totally understand what kind of man her father is. I thought she was kind of selfish. I get choosing your own happiness, but at the expense of your sister? A sister that has done nothing but protect you her entire life? That’s selfish. I’ve heard the next book is more focused on her, so we will see if my opinion of her changes.
I really don’t even want to talk about the men. They’re all liars. They’re conniving and, dare I say, evil. I still kind of liked them though. The twist with Julian and Legend was a great one. I wanted to hate them, but…somehow couldn’t?
Overall, I enjoyed this. Though there were somethings I didn’t like, it was still a fun story. I would have liked to know a bit more about the world and the magic. The world wasn’t explained outside of Scarlett’s hometown and the island where Caraval happens. The magic was very undefined. There didn’t seem to be too many limitations and I was just left wanting to know more. I liked the characters well enough, even the ones I didn’t like really made me feel something. I had fun listening to the audiobook and I’m interested to see what’s going to happen next.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly

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Summary:
Isabelle should be blissfully happy – she’s about to win the handsome prince. Except Isabelle isn’t the beautiful girl who lost the glass slipper and captured the prince’s heart. She’s the ugly stepsister who’s cut off her toes to fit into Cinderella’s shoe … which is now filling with blood.
When the prince discovers Isabelle’s deception, she is turned away in shame. It’s no more than she deserves: she is a plain girl in a world that values beauty; a feisty girl in a world that wants her to be pliant.
Isabelle has tried to fit in. To live up to her mother’s expectations. To be like her stepsister. To be sweet. To be pretty. One by one, she has cut away pieces of herself in order to survive a world that doesn’t appreciate a girl like her. And that has made her mean, jealous, and hollow.
Until she gets a chance to alter her destiny and prove what ugly stepsisters have always known: it takes more than heartache to break a girl.
StepsisterReview:
I had the pleasure of meeting Jennifer Donnelly while she was doing the book tour for Stepsister. She was honestly so inspiring. I’ve been so excited to read Stepsister since that event. I finally managed to listen to the audiobook for the NEWTs.
Stepsister is the story of Cinderella’s sisters and what happens to them after Ella marries the prince and becomes Queen. I am in awe of Donnelly with the complexities of this story. Isabelle is being guided by two characters, Fate and Chance. It took me way too long to realize the significance of Chance other than it just being his name. Chance steals Isabelle’s life map from the Fate’s, and does everything in his power to change her path.
Isabelle was a really unlikable character. Which I’m pretty sure was the intention. This wasn’t a happy story. It was a story about growth. How to find the pieces of your heart and escape the title of ‘ugly step-sister.’
I am really not sure how to explain this story. But it was one of loss and regret and learning to love yourself. The things that Isabelle and her family endure could break anyone. But she doesn’t let it. She tries and tries, again and again, to do the right things, to be a better person. But she learns that it’s not that easy. Isabelle’s path is not an easy one, but despite the forces trying to hinder her, she finds her way.
Overall, this was a fascinating story. It was filled with unlikeable characters that learned how to be better, how to change their ways before it was too late, and how to love themselves even though they may not be traditionally pretty. Fate and Chance pulled the path in countless directions, keeping things interesting. If you’re a lover of fairytales, this is the story for you.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Day Eighteen: Audiobook Edition

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Hi, lovelies! Let’s talk about audiobooks. I know not everyone listens to them, but I thought Spooktober would be the perfect time to talk about some really well-done audiobooks that would be perfect for this time of year. I’ve listened to a fair share of them in the past year, some good, some bad, but today I’ll talk about the best of them.

Sadie by Courtney Summers
If you haven’t heard about this book, specifically the audiobook, you must live in a closet. This full-cast audiobook follows two storylines and I just could not stop listening. The story is just brought to life in this format.

Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi
I loved this book, no matter the format. The story was fascinating and full of mystery and adventure. The audiobook really brought the characters out.

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson
Kate Rudd is an incredible narrator. I loved this book physically, but even more so on audio. This is a must-read for the fall season.

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus
With multiple narrators, this was another one that I just didn’t want to stop listening to until I got to the end. One of Us is Lying was also good on audio, but this one was better.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Though the narrator took a bit of getting used to, I really enjoyed the audiobooks for this one. It’s such an atmospheric story, and audio really enhanced that.

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
A throwback for some YA paranormal, the audiobook was fun and slightly cheesy, there were sound effects and songs and I just had fun with it.

Shelter in Place by Nora Roberts
This mystery was a wild one. I cried in the first chapter and was trapped on the edge of my seat for the rest.

Let me your audiobook recommendations in the comments! I’m always looking for the next one to listen to. Have you read any of these?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Summary:
Sixteen-year-old Cinder is considered a technological mistake by most of society and a burden by her stepmother. Being cyborg does have its benefits, though: Cinder’s brain interface has given her an uncanny ability to fix things (robots, hovers, her own malfunctioning parts), making her the best mechanic in New Beijing. This reputation brings Prince Kai himself to her weekly market booth, needing her to repair a broken android before the annual ball. He jokingly calls it “a matter of national security,” but Cinder suspects it’s more serious than he’s letting on.
Although eager to impress the prince, Cinder’s intentions are derailed when her younger stepsister, and only human friend, is infected with the fatal plague that’s been devastating Earth for a decade. Blaming Cinder for her daughter’s illness, Cinder’s stepmother volunteers her body for plague research, an “honor” that no one has survived.
But it doesn’t take long for the scientists to discover something unusual about their new guinea pig. Something others would kill for.
Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1)Review:
I have been wanting to reread this series for years. I remember reading these books years ago when they first came out but it’s been so long, I barely remember anything from them. The audiobooks have been repeatedly recommended to me so I thought I’d give them a try. Cinder is the book I chose to fill the spot for Ancient Runes – Retelling in the Magical Readathon (read my whole TBR here.)
I really enjoyed the audiobook version of this story. I think the narrator did an excellent job of telling the story. The characters were easily identifiable, their voice was enjoyable. I thought it was a great listening experience over all.
As for the story itself, I remembered a few of the bigger plot twists so the story seemed almost predictable but that was just because I’d read it before. Regardless, this didn’t take away from the story at all, in my opinion. I think a science fiction Cinderella retelling is one of the more creative things I’ve heard of. I also think that the retelling aspect of the story is pretty good. Cinder’s backstory is the typical father figure dying and being left with awful stepmother/sisters. I really liked that in this retelling Cinder is actually friends with one of her stepsisters.
There was so much going on in this book, but I think it was paced well and each new aspect of the mystery and plot were introduced nicely and without seeming rushed or too much. Knowing the little bit that I know about the series already; it was interesting to see how some of the ideas shared in this book were going to play a part in later books in the series.
I really liked Cinder. She was sassy but awkward. She was extremely insecure about her cyborg parts which was sad but makes me excited to see her grow more confident and happier with who she is. There’s so much potential for character growth and I know it’s coming after learning what we did in the minutes of the book. The things we learned about Cinder have me so excited to finish rereading the series.
Overall, I had a fun time with this audiobook. I’m happy to have found another series that I like the audiobooks for. I can easily get sucked into this series and I can’t wait to reread the rest of the books.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Pacifica by Kristen Simmons

Summary:
Blue skies. Green grass. Clear ocean water.
An island paradise like the ones that existed before the Melt.
A lucky five hundred lottery winners will be the first to go, the first to leave their polluted, dilapidated homes behind and start a new life. It sounds perfect. Like a dream.
The only problem? Marin Carey spent her childhood on those seas and knows there’s no island paradise out there. She’s corsario royalty, a pirate like her father and his father before him, and she knows a con when she sees one. So where are the first five hundred really going?
PacificaReview:
This is the second book by Kristen Simmons that I have tried because she is going to be at an event I am also going to be at. Sadly, I am once again disappointed. I liked Pacifica more than her other novel, but I don’t think I’ll be trying any other books by her.
I have the same issues with this story that I did with ARTICLE 5. The setting was incredible. A dystopian California full of political drama and ruined by natural disasters along with other human causes. The world was interesting and chaotic and filled with all the things I like (read: pirates, futuristic messed up America, hate to love).
Despite the potential this story had with the setting, I just didn’t care about the characters. They were alright. They weren’t anything special. The typical misunderstood poor girl and privileged boy from the nice side of town. One teaches the other how messed up the world really is and all the things that the rich people are doing wrong. I just didn’t care about any of it. I really wish I did because it could have been a story I really like but I just wasn’t invested in these characters.
I wish I had liked this story more, but I didn’t. It had all of the elements of a story I would like, but the characters just fell flat for me.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

GoodReads Summary:
Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now.
Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock and roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.
Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.
Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.
The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer who takes her work to a new level with Daisy Jones & The Six, brilliantly capturing a place and time in an utterly distinctive voice.
Daisy Jones & The SixReview:
There were so many things I loved about Daisy Jones and the Six that I honestly don’t even know where to start. Taylor Jenkins Reid is so incredibly talented. I can only hope to be as skilled as she is one day. I listened to the audiobook for this story and I’m very glad I did. I’ll talk about that first. This audiobook was narrated by a full cast. Each character had its own narrator which is one of my favorite things. I adore audiobooks with full casts. Each narrator bought life and personality to their character. I loved the interview formatting of the story as well. Bringing up an event or time period and then letting each of the characters tell the story of that event the way they remembered it was so complex and captivating. Which brings me to one of the things that really fascinated me about this story. Because it was the memories of all seven of the band members, plus a few other characters, no one characters told the same story. They each told things they were they remembered so the experiences varied from character to character. I think that added so much complexity to the story. It really made you think about how no two people have the same memories or experiences of the same events. Another thing that Taylor Jenkins Reid does really well is writing a story that pulls you in and doesn’t let you go until she’s finished. After reading this book, it was hard not to think that these were all real people and a totally true story. The fact that Reid can make me think, “wait this didn’t happen?” really just blows me away.
I’m not going to talk about each character because there were entirely too many and that would make this review way too long. The characters each had their own personality and their own voice which I appreciate. They were distinct and vibrant, each in their own ways. They all had different goals and motivations which really made for a great story. They brought such fun and excitement and life into the story. I think the character were really what made Daisy Jones and the Six was it was. The story was all about the characters and their experiences and their feelings. There wasn’t really a specific plot outside of following the band members and other miscellaneous people as they rose to fame and then eventually fell apart. I think this story was written beautifully. I loved the whole experience. I cannot wait to see what Taylor Jenkins Reid comes up with next.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday – Audiobooks

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each week we talk about our top ten with a different topic provided by Jana. This week’s topic is top ten – Audio Freebie (Any audio goes: audiobooks, music, podcasts, you name it.) I’m going to share my top ten favorite audiobooks.

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The Themis Files by Sylvain Neuvel

Sadie by Courtney Summers

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

One of Us is Lying  by Karen M. McManus

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Puddin’ by Julie Murphy

What are your favorite audiobook books?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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