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Bone Gap – Laura Ruby

Bone Gap – Laura RubyTitle: Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
Publishing Info: March 3, 2015 by HarperCollins
Source: Borrowed from Hoopla
Genres: Young Adult, Mythology, Magical Realism
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: December 11, 2016

Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps—gaps to trip you up, gaps to slide through so you can disappear forever. So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised. After all, it wasn’t the first time that someone had slipped away and left Finn and Sean O’Sullivan on their own. Just a few years before, their mother had high-tailed it to Oregon for a brand new guy, a brand new life. That’s just how things go, the people said. Who are you going to blame?
Finn knows that’s not what happened with Roza. He knows she was kidnapped, ripped from the cornfields by a dangerous man whose face he cannot remember. But the searches turned up nothing, and no one believes him anymore. Not even Sean, who has more reason to find Roza than anyone, and every reason to blame Finn for letting her go.
As we follow the stories of Finn, Roza, and the people of Bone Gap—their melancholy pasts, their terrifying presents, their uncertain futures—acclaimed author Laura Ruby weaves a heartbreaking tale of love and loss, magic and mystery, regret and forgiveness—a story about how the face the world sees is never the sum of who we are.

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BONE GAP has been highly praised and sounded incredibly intriguing, often being marked as “magical realism” by several of its readers, so when I saw the audiobook pop in my options from Hoopla, I knew I really wanted to read it! I’ve been getting into magical realism more and more lately and it sounded like something I was definitely in the mood for, especially with its positive feedback.

I guess the biggest thing that stuck with me after finishing the book is that I’m not really sure in what category to put this book! It ended up being on a sort of Raven Cycle plane where it’s kind of magical realism, kind of mythology, and kind of its own genre. BONE GAP felt like took a while to get to the “magical” parts but there were some things that were constantly developing that finally blossomed into their full potential towards the end of the book, sort of causing that magical reveal. I do have to say, though, that I was hoping for a bit more of that throughout the beginning and middle. It definitely had a unique feel and was unlike anything I’ve ever read but I still struggled — as I have with a lot of books lately — in feeling connected to the overall concept in the earlier portions of the book.

The ending of the book seemed like a little too much at all once. The portions of the book with Roza were certainly leading there, and the reader is fully aware that what’s happening to Roza certainly isn’t normal, but the ending almost left me with more questions than answers in some respects. One big issue I also had with this book was my own interpretation of the synopsis.

Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps—gaps to trip you up, gaps to slide through so you can disappear forever. So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised.

I accidentally took this statement literally, and with so many mentions of magical realism, I was assuming that the gaps were literal gaps in the corn field — like a Field of Dreams sort of concept — and people ended up disappearing. I mean, the town is named Bone Gap so I thought the gap was literal. Whenever I have misinterpretations like that, it really takes me a while to adjust, so that was more of a personal problem and I had to really refocus.

The bright, shining piece of this book for me what the interesting cast of characters! Finn, Sean, Roza, and Petey are such complex and interesting characters, with many different relationships to tie them together. I loved all of the different forms of love that are included in this book and how many different layers there were to each one. Each personality was so different too! The characters all have their strong points and each one really helps the others learn and grow. It’s a beautiful, tangled web and I really enjoyed each character that the book featured!

BONE GAP was cleverly written and wonderfully layered. The whole concept (aside from the magical aspects) was built upon a reveal that I didn’t even see coming until it was almost revealed and it was wholly unique and a little heart-breaking. I was impressed with Laura Ruby’s creativity, depth, and ability to plot out the whole book in ways that I hadn’t imagined. I always feel like it’s super impressive when I’m able to be caught off-guard because being an avid reader, I’ve just read so many different things that it’s always impressive to see even more originality in a book.

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Incredibly unique concepts. I love being able to read a book unlike anything else I’ve read before! In a blogging world where I’m constantly looking for read alikes, it’s very, very cool to read something that I can’t even compare to anything else.
Left Me Wanting More: Clarity. I had the minor (well, maybe more than minor) issue that I misinterpreted the synopsis and unfortunately, it did affect how I read the book. I also had the moments in the book itself where I just wanted a little bit more information on the world and the details.

Addiction Rating
Try it

Sadly I didn’t love this book but I also didn’t dislike it. It was a smooth read from start to finish but I do think that some things could have been described a bit more. Others have totally loved it though! I’m definitely interested in reading more from Laura Ruby and I’m excited to see what else she comes up with!

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BOOKS LIKE BONE GAP

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    SHADOWLANDS

Where Futures End – Parker Peevyhouse

Where Futures End – Parker PeevyhouseTitle: Where Futures End by Parker Peevyhouse
Publishing Info: February 9, 2016 by Penguin
Source: Publisher, Borrowed from Hoopla
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Parallel Universe
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: December 6, 2016

Five teens.
Five futures.
Two worlds.
One ending.
One year from now, Dylan develops a sixth sense that allows him to glimpse another world.
Ten years from now, Brixney must get more hits on her social media feed or risk being stuck in a debtors' colony.
Thirty years from now, Epony scrubs her entire online profile from the web and goes “High Concept.”
Sixty years from now, Reef struggles to survive in a city turned virtual gameboard.
And more than a hundred years from now, Quinn uncovers the alarming secret that links them all.
Five people, divided by time, will determine the fate of us all. These are stories of a world bent on destroying itself, and of the alternate world that might be its savior--unless it's too late.

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Wow, that was so incredibly disappointing. Even after finishing, I’m not sure what the point of this book was. I was excited because it featured four different points in time, all tying back to one specific concept but the different time periods were truly pointless. I’m even more disappointed because I actually liked the very first POV of Dylan and his discovery of The Other Place. I would have read a whole book about that in itself and I think that’s how this book really should have gone because the switches to different times left literally everything undeveloped. It wasn’t enough time to get to know new characters, it wasn’t enough time to get to know new times, and it wasn’t nearly enough time to understand how The Other Place connected to these time periods other than brief encounters that some of the characters had. There was absolutely no point to the 10 years from now and 30 years from now time periods. The 60 didn’t really have much more substance either, I guess, but it had a virtual reality concept that I enjoyed given my experience with books like READY PLAYER ONE and a Sanderson novella, Perfect State. 100 years from now tied back into The Other Place but this was something that could have been developed in an entire story with just Dylan’s POV, all set in today’s time, and it all could have actually been developed. That was truly the only enjoyable part of this story. There’s so much switching around and the new time periods don’t even tell you much about The Other Place, why it’s so important, and what its actual connection is with our world.

I would have actually read Dylan’s whole story and I think that WOULD have been a great book. It had a Neverending Story kind of feel (I’m sure I was influenced by their mention of it but it really did have that feel for me) and his story was clearly the most important. There was a lot to explore and set up and build there and the author chose instead to push the meat and potatoes of the book aside and start exploring new worlds. I think maybe those future worlds would have made good novellas to supplement Dylan’s story, or even a series with these being sequels or companions… But for the love of all that is good, don’t abandon something so important like that. The other time periods weren’t even interesting. They were surface stories that didn’t go anywhere, setting up romances to watch them fall, celebrity fame, egos… I mean, it didn’t even connect to the Other Place other than some interactions with the people and mentions of people going back and forth. There was little to no reason for these characters to be main characters in the story and they barely interacted with the important parts of the plot. They were shallow characters, shallow stories, and really not for me.

This book was kind of fanta-sci (a fantasy and sci-fi mix) but I don’t feel like that concept was structured well. It was fantasy in the sense that the Other Place was made to feel like a fantasy world — magic, forests, mages, water nymphs, creatures, etc — and yet it was also described as an alternate universe. So is it a magical world made real or is it a real world that we create into fantasies? It was all a little fuzzy. I wouldn’t say this alternate world has to be like ours, because you can’t expect all universes to be like ours, but the author didn’t seem to really distinguish exactly what it really was and kind of waffled back and forth, especially with the mix of calling the people from the other world “aliens”. I can see why aliens would be an appropriate term but it also didn’t quite feel right. The different futures also added to the sci-fi feel but then it even extended into dystopian as the futures progress and the readers see such a decline of our own world. And Dylan’s portion in the beginning was sort of magical realism meets sci-fi… so it was just all very muddy.

When it comes down to it, I’m mostly just so disappointed in how everything was so underdeveloped. When a seasoned reader can’t even tell you the point of the story when the book is over, that’s not a good thing. I needed to spend so much more time with the Other Place to really understand it and even just understand why this story about it was important. Sure, okay, it was important because in the end, it severely impacts our world but why? How? It was just kind of told that this is what it is and this is what happens but there was no detail how things worked, why our world was connected, or even why the Other Place affected our world so much.

Mostly, I just didn’t enjoy the writing. I can sometimes overlook plot holes or lack of details if I’m enjoying a book but pretty much everything except the beginning and end was pointless. Every character except for Dylan was annoying (Reed was okay but his world was still meh). This book was just one giant disappointment when it could have been so good. So much potential and not put to good use.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Fantasci. This book was kind of a mash-up of fantasy and sci-fi… with some magical realism feels? It was interesting but I did wish for more clarification.
Left Me Wanting More: Of one story. Just when things got going in one character’s story, the story switched to a new one. It was really frustrating, felt under developed, and didn’t allow me to connect with anyone or anything.

Addiction Rating
Skip it

This book was too all over the place and didn’t come together in the end. I’d say just skip it!

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BOOKS LIKE WHERE FUTURES END

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    INSIGNIA

Blog Tour: The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles | Guest Post on Instalove

Welcome to the blog tour for
The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles!

I’m so excited to share today’s blog post which is my blog tour stop for THE EDGE OF EVERYTHING by Jeff Giles! I was so honored to read the book early and provide a blurb for the ARC, thanks to Bloomsbury Kids, and then to meet Jeff Giles at BEA and be able to say hello. Now I’m a part of the blog tour and it’s been so great being so involved with this book!

For today’s post, Jeff Giles is talking a little bit about instalove. As with some books where two worlds collide, instalove happens. Heck, instalove just happens in real life. When I first saw the topics for guest posts for the blog tour, I instantly latched onto this one because I feel the same way! I even had a post that defended instalove because not all instalove is unrealistic. Today’s post has a full discussion from Jeff and I just love it!

Before we jump into the tour, let’s take a second to check out some details about the book:

Blog Tour: The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles | Guest Post on InstaloveTitle: The Edge of Everything (The Edge of Everything #1) by Jeff Giles
Publishing Info: January 31, 2017 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: Publisher, BEA 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Paranormal, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: March 27, 2016
Related Posts: The Edge of Everything

It's been a shattering year for seventeen-year-old Zoe, who's still reeling from her father's shockingly sudden death in a caving accident and her neighbors' mysterious disappearance from their own home. Then on a terrifying sub-zero, blizzardy night in Montana, she and her brother are brutally attacked in a cabin in the woods--only to be rescued by a mysterious bounty hunter they call X.
X is no ordinary bounty hunter. He is from a hell called the Lowlands, sent to claim the soul of Zoe's evil attacker and others like him. Forbidden to reveal himself to anyone other than his victims, X casts aside the Lowlands' rules for Zoe. As X and Zoe learn more about their different worlds, they begin to question the past, their fate, and their future. But escaping the Lowlands and the ties that bind X might mean the ultimate sacrifice for both of them.

“INSTALOVE ACTUALLY”
by Jeff Giles

When you’ve got a novel about to come out, you spend a lot of time reading reviews of other people’s books as a sort of dress rehearsal for reading your own.

I love the intensity of opinion among readers, whether it’s positive, negative or sideways. For some reason, I especially love the continuing debate about instalove, so I thought I’d share the thoughts that have been piling up in my head.

When I was younger, instalove was called “love at first sight”—and nobody ever questioned it. People generally liked the idea that, at any moment, they could turn a corner, accidentally spill coffee on someone, and proceed directly to Happily Ever After. The trope was no more realistic then than it is now, but it made every second of every day feel like a lottery ticket that could pay off big.

These days, a lot of readers DNF novels like that, of course. That may be because young people are savvier now. They know, from the internet, that some people lie about/disguise who they are every day.

For the record, I think it’s a good thing to be careful about falling in love and to expect novels to be subtle and realistic. I’m not in love with instalove in any way—but I want to say a few things in its defense, because I think it get a bad rap sometimes. Not always, but sometimes. So let’s pretend that I’m instalove’s court-appointed lawyer and I have to defend it, because it’s my job. Okay?

Here we go.

1. Sometimes people DO fall in love instantly.

It happens, even if it doesn’t happen a lot. One of the gifts, and curses, of being young is that you feel things with an almost supernatural intensity. Juliet was 13. Romeo was a couple years older.

But people of all ages can fall in love fast. It may be because they’re at a transitional point in their lives and especially open to possibility. It may be because they’re vulnerable after a loss or a trauma. It may be because they’re stranded in the Artic during a scientific expedition and the generator’s dying and the helicopter’s not coming after all and they have to huddle for warmth. But it does happen.

2. Not every character who THINKS they’re in love is ACTUALLY in love.

People lie to themselves sometimes. We ALL know people like this. They want to be in love so much that they rush in, in clear violation of the famous Elvis song about how only fools rush in. A lot of times instalove is just insta-lust in disguise, obviously. If you see a character whose eyes turn into heart emojis within three pages, the author may setting him or her up for a fall.  

3. If a novel (or a movie) is good enough, it will make you forget that you hate instalove.

The Titanic sank within four days. Four! That’s how long Jack and Rose had to fall in love. Yes, it helps that Jack selflessly gave his life even when there was definitely enough room for him on that floating door.

4. People are more likely to fall in love fast if someone (parents, say) or something (an iceberg, maybe) are trying to keep them apart.

That happens constantly in books and movies, right? It happens in real life, too. None of us want to be told who to love. None of us want to give up because there’s a war coming, or a dystopian government has outlawed love.

5. Even bad instalove is better than that thing where two people meet and hate each other’s guts before realizing they’re soul mates.

I can’t stand that. Give me anything else. Just because you detest someone does not mean you should marry them!

6. If a character is going through tragic stuff, as many YA characters are, an author may just really want to give them a partner for the journey.

It’s not a great excuse, I know. But authors are protective of their characters, and they often want someone to stand by their MC every second and say, “I love you. You can do this.” Yes, that person could be a friend or a sibling or a sentient robot, but sometimes you really just want to give your character someone to kiss.


Don’t miss the rest of the blog tour stops for THE EDGE OF EVERYTHING!

GIVEAWAY

There’s also a giveaway as a part of the tour for one copy of the book + keepsake metal bookmark! This giveaway is open to US/Canada only. Enter the Rafflecopter form below for your chance to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Kill the Boy Band – Goldy Moldavsky

Kill the Boy Band – Goldy MoldavskyTitle: Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky
Publishing Info: February 23, 2016 by Scholastic Inc.
Source: Audible, ALAMW16
Genres: Young Adult, Satire
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: November 19, 2016

Just know from the start that it wasn’t supposed to go like this. All we wanted was to get near them. That’s why we got a room in the hotel where they were staying.
We were not planning to kidnap one of them. Especially not the most useless one. But we had him—his room key, his cell phone, and his secrets.
We were not planning on what happened next.
We swear.
From thrilling new talent Goldy Moldavsky comes a pitch-black, hilarious take on fandom and the badass girls who have the power to make—or break—the people we call “celebrities.”

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KILL THE BOY BAND was actually really, really enjoyable. I’ve seen a lot of mixed reviews for this book and I think a lot of it was that people didn’t know quite what to expect but this totally met my expectations and I had so much fun reading it! To set the scene for you, picture this book like Teaching Mrs. Tingle meets 2gether meets Drop Dead Gorgeous — satirical, laugh-out-loud funny, and some delightfully dark humor.

This is one of those books where the more I think about it, the more I realize how much I enjoyed it. It’s a book unlike anything I’ve recently been reading and I love books that do a little something different than the rest of the community! The voice felt true and I just loved the dark humor. The satire and poking fun at boy bands was so much fun because it was silly with some hilarious exaggerations (that’s where that 2gether feel comes in) and yet serious in showing how intense being a fangirl can be and how some things get taken way too far. I really enjoyed the mix of silly and serious and how well that shaped the overall story!

I personally think the author did a great job with this book but it also definitely has a specific audience and it will probably bit a big hit or a big miss with a lot of people. I personally was on the hit side and surprisingly, the more time that passes, the more I think about how much I enjoyed it. I just had so much fun listening to this (I bought the audio in an Audible sale) and I ended up being the perfect audience! I was a bit unsure at first and there were some points where it got to be a bit much but I still really enjoyed it overall!

The characters were shallow and for once in a book, I actually kind of liked it? It was part of the point that the book was making. The guys in the band were mostly shallow because not all boy bands were formed with love and happiness and some are just the product of marketing. (Girl bands too.) The fangirls are shallow because the extents to which these fangirls were portrayed is totally shallow, so it made total sense to me! I’m not saying fangirls are shallow, so please don’t take that the wrong way! I simply mean that the book took the more surface level of being a fangirl and magnified it. As an avid reader and big fan of many authors/fandoms/series, I am totally on board with the flailing and following of an artist! The point that this book makes is how far it can be taken and when it gets taken too far how it can become dangerous or make the artist feel uncomfortable. The fan/artist relationship is really interesting and mutually beneficial in so many ways. It also can be a very rocky road if the mutual respect isn’t there and this book crossed that line on both sides. KILL THE BOY BAND took that darker side of fangirling, amped it up a notch, and created a bit of satire out of it. This was also amplified on the boy band side of things too. The Ruperts (the fictional band in the book) are reminiscent of One Direction (who I literally know nothing about except a few of the band members’ names) and also pieces of 90s boy bands like *NSYNC and O-Town, which I’m using a my references here because my older sister was an *NSYNC fangirl and because she was, I was in a way too, so I ended up with a lot of boy band knowledge. I won’t give you a boy band history lesson but I saw a lot of similar things in KILL THE BOY BAND that has happened in real boy bands as far as band drama, members not getting along, some members getting more attention than others, and how each member treats fans, managers, and everyone in between. Everything was exaggerated and satirized but very interesting, especially if you have some previous knowledge or experience as a boy band fangirl!

Long story short, I think I was just the ideal audience for KILL THE BOY BAND! It was dark, funny, and just really enjoyable. I’ve been dealing with a lot of serious things in my personal life and KILL THE BOY BAND was a refreshing and funny read when I needed something a little less serious and a little more removed from reality without being a heavy fantasy book. I think you may need know exactly what you like before reading this one because it may be a hit or miss concept for many people, but if you enjoy dark satire, this could be a really enjoyable read for you!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Satire. There isn’t a lot of satire in YA and this was refreshing and enjoyable! I thought it was a lot of fun!
Left Me Wanting More: Reality. Things were quite exaggerated so at times I did wish for more reality but I really did enjoy the dramatization of things as well!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

I think you need to be the right audience for this book, but if it sounds like your cup of tea, I highly recommend it! I actually had a lot of fun reading it!!

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BOOKS LIKE KILL THE BOY BAND

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    MY LADY JANE

Time After Time (Time Between Us #2) – Tamara Ireland Stone

Time After Time (Time Between Us #2) – Tamara Ireland StoneTitle: Time After Time (Time Between Us #2) by Tamara Ireland Stone
Publishing Info: October 8, 2013 by Disney Hyperion
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Time Travel
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: November 19, 2016
Related Posts: Time Between Us (Time Between Us #1)

Calling Anna and Bennett’s romance long distance is an understatement: she’s from 1995 Chicago and he’s a time traveler from 2012 San Francisco. The two of them never should have met, but they did. They fell in love, even though they knew they shouldn't. And they found a way to stay together, against all odds.
It’s not a perfect arrangement, though, with Bennett unable to stay in the past for more than brief visits, skipping out on big chunks of his present in order to be with Anna in hers. They each are confident that they’ll find a way to make things work...until Bennett witnesses a single event he never should have seen (and certainly never expected to). Will the decisions he makes from that point on cement a future he doesn't want?
Told from Bennett’s point of view, Time After Time will satisfy readers looking for a fresh, exciting, and beautifully-written love story, both those who are eager to find out what’s next for Time Between Us's Anna and Bennett and those discovering their story for the first time.

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I had waiting so long to read TIME AFTER TIME that I think I to a little too disconnected from the series and story line here… I just wasn’t AS interested in this book as I was with the first but it was truly at least three or four years (I think I borrowed someone’s ARC of TIME BETWEEN US) sine I had read the first book so while I really loved TIME BETWEEN US, I didn’t really feel that strong of a connection to TIME AFTER TIME.

That being said, the story was still a lot of fun! I really enjoy Bennett’s POV and I always enjoy a good male POV because I read so many female ones in YA. It’s an interesting change of pace and sometimes it’s nice hear things from the flip side. I couldn’t remember if Anna had a POV in TIME BETWEEN US while I was reading TIME AFTER TIME (she didn’t) but either way, Bennett’s POV was a great and refreshing voice from what I had been reading recently.

I always like the time travel aspect of a story and this was no different. I liked Bennett’s abilities, the rules, and consequences of his traveling. There were even more rules and details in this book and I really enjoyed that there were a few more rules to his ability… But I also didn’t really know who invented these rules. I felt like since it was science-fiction that I was looking for more reason as to why he had this ability but I guess I don’t really need that because I never question it in a fantasy setting!

I really did like the ending a lot! It was a nice way to close everything off because I was wondering what was going to happen there. I was going back and forth for a while thinking I knew what was going to happen and then ended up wondering again. I also think I just read this at a hard point in time because I wasn’t able to focus as much BUT that was also part of the reason why I wanted to read it. I knew it would be nice going back to a series I had already started and a solid romance was what I wanted!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Time Travel Romance. I loved how this romance spanned multiple years… through time! It was really neat to see these two characters connect over different time spans.
Left Me Wanting More: Connection. I needed to do my own time traveling here because I just left in between book one and book two!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

This is such an enjoyable duology! I really enjoyed both books — I just wish I hadn’t left so much time in between each one!

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BOOKS LIKE TIME AFTER TIME

(Click the cover to see my review!)

THE LOVE THAT SPLIT THE WORLD    LOOP

Caraval (Caraval #1) – Stephanie Garber

Caraval (Caraval #1) – Stephanie GarberTitle: Caraval (Caraval #1) by Stephanie Garber
Publishing Info: January 31, 2017 by Macmillan, Flatiron Books
Source: ALAMW16, BEA 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: November 14, 2016

Whatever you've heard about Caraval, it doesn't compare to the reality. It's more than just a game or a performance. It's the closest you'll ever find to magic in this world . . .
Welcome, welcome to Caraval―Stephanie Garber’s sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game.
Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved 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 far-away, 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. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

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Welllllll it’s another black sheep moment. CARAVAL didn’t really work for me and I know a lot of that was a personal preference. It had a Wonderland sort of feel in the sense that everything was so whimsical and Caraval itself kind of didn’t have any rules. Well, I should say that there definitely was a rule set but it was one of those fantasy situations where the characters find them out whenever something happens, so it really seems like there aren’t any rules until something happens. Really it’s just a matter of personal preference — when I’m in a fantasy setting, I really do need rules so I feel like I understand the structure of a setting and that was a bit much to really reach and understand how the magic worked.

I love books with a strong sibling aspect but I was actually disappointed with the sister relationship. They did care for each other more than anything and yet it still felt very surface level for me and that the reader was told how much the sisters loved each other and aside from the grand gesture, I didn’t really feel it. I felt like it could have gone much deeper with things like details, history, and special moments instead of them immediately being separated and the readers being told they have a special bond instead of really witnessing it.

This is maybe a mild spoiler but also happens very early on in the book so really not… But I also had a very hard time with their father’s abusive actions. I felt like there could have been so many reasons these sisters wanted to escape their father and their island and I didn’t feel the physical abuse was necessary. It was mean and nasty and the reasoning for everything really didn’t sit right with me. Surprisingly, this was a really big turn off for me, especially since it was the entire motivation of the book. It just felt a little too super-villain for me and I had a hard time seeing the father as a legitimate character. He seemed more like a caricature and not a realistic character.

I did love Julian and his interactions with Scarlett (the nickname thing was actually very cute, which sometimes doesn’t go well) and he was very suave. The romance was complicated and interesting and I loved the chemistry between Scarlett and Julian. That was something that was really great and consistent throughout the book for me!

CARAVAL was a quick and entertaining read but I’m not really sure if I want continue the series as of right now. I really wasn’t a huge fan of the writing because it definitely did feel young to me. I may see if others who had similar feelings ended up enjoying the sequel once the time comes. Really when it came down to it, I felt like CARAVAL had several places to really shine and it all kind of fell flat for me. The setting was very vivid, but didn’t feel structured. The ending was very lacking and could have happened so differently, felt like an “easy” way out of the conflict, and left me rather disappointed. Most of the characters felt underdeveloped. Most of it just didn’t quite click for me and the vivid descriptions just weren’t enough to dazzle me to make me overlook the things that I was missing.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Bad boy romances. Julian was a little rough, snarky, and kind of a bad boy and I really enjoyed his character a lot!
Left Me Wanting More: Structure. I have trouble with fantasy worlds like this where characters figure the world out as they go along. It really ends up feeling like the author kind of figured it out as they went along too, even if they had everything plotted out from the beginning.

Addiction Rating
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People LOVED this one but I just didn’t click with it. It was a quick read for me but I just didn’t totally love it.

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HEARTLESS    CRUEL BEAUTY

This is Our Story – Ashley Elston

This is Our Story – Ashley ElstonTitle: This is Our Story by Ashley Elston
Publishing Info: November 15, 2016 by Disney Hyperion
Source: Publisher, Netgalley
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: November 15, 2016
Related Posts: The Rules for Disappearing (The Rules for Disappearing #1), The Rules for Breaking (The Rules for Disappearing #2)

Five went in. Four came out.
No one knows what happened that morning at River Point. Five boys went hunting. Four came back. The boys won’t say who fired the shot that killed their friend; the evidence shows it could have been any one of them.
Kate Marino’s senior year internship at the district attorney’s office isn’t exactly glamorous—more like an excuse to leave school early that looks good on college applications. Then the DA hands her boss, Mr. Stone, the biggest case her small town of Belle Terre has ever seen. The River Point Boys are all anyone can talk about. Despite their damning toxicology reports the morning of the accident, the DA wants the boys’ case swept under the rug. He owes his political office to their powerful families.
Kate won’t let that happen. Digging up secrets without revealing her own is a dangerous line to walk; Kate has her own reasons for seeking justice for Grant. As investigates with Stone, the aging prosecutor relying on Kate to see and hear what he cannot, she realizes that nothing about the case—or the boys—is what it seems. Grant wasn’t who she thought he was, and neither is Stone’s prime suspect. As Kate gets dangerously close to the truth, it becomes clear that the early morning accident might not have been an accident at all—and if Kate doesn’t uncover the true killer, more than one life could be on the line…including her own.

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I was so excited for a new book by Ashley Elston because I loved her debut duology THE RULES FOR DISAPPEARING and THE RULES FOR BREAKING! I’m always looking for more YA mysteries and thrillers because there weren’t a lot for a very long time and the insurgence of them now is so exciting! When I heard about THIS IS OUR STORY, it immediately went on my list of books I added to get my hands on!

One thing I really loved about this book is how well it was set from a teenager’s perspective. I think the hardest thing about YA mysteries is making a believable reason for why a teen is involved in the case and why they wouldn’t go to an adult or the police. In the case of THIS IS OUR STORY, main character Kate works for the district attorney’s office (as does her mother) and she assists her boss by dictating and spotting details for him, as he has failing eyesight and isn’t ready to step down from his job yet. Kate acts as an extra pair of eyes for him throughout his investigation of the River Point Boys, a group of kids involved in the murder of one of their best friends. I really loved how well this concept worked because it allowed Kate to have access to the case and obtain more details than a normal kid or outsider.

The book was interesting from start to finish but I didn’t get quite as into the story as I had hoped. I’ve gotten sucked in to quite a few mystery/thrillers and I did enjoy the whole book but it wasn’t as gripping as some other books I’ve read. The story was still very well put-together and carefully crafted. Ashley Elston did a great job with the character relationships, keeping identities secret, and weaving in doubt and suspicion.

I would say her first books/series were my favorite so far but THIS IS OUR STORY was also a very solid read! I wished I had been able to get into it a bit more, but I’ve had such limited reading time lately and a lot going on that it could always be situational and not the book. It was a very good mystery still and I really did enjoy it! It didn’t stand out as much as I had hoped but a wonderfully solid book and one I’d recommend!

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Kept Me Hooked On: YA detectives. I always love mystery/thrillers but it’s hard to get teens on the scene in a realistic way. This was done really well and I loved how Kate got involved in the case!
Left Me Wanting More: Thrills. The book was great but I think I was missing just a few more thrills to really suck me in.

Addiction Rating
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If you’re looking for more YA mysteries, THIS IS OUR STORY is a great one to pick up! It was pretty realistic and incorporated the story line well for the age and setting.

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