Tag Archives: Fantasy

Blog Tour: Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton | Book Scents + Giveaway!

Blog Tour: Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton | Book Scents + Giveaway!

Welcome to the blog tour for
Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton!

I’m so excited to share today’s blog post which is my blog tour stop for TRAITOR TO THE THRONE by Alwyn Hamilton! Thanks to the amazing team at Penguin Random House for having me be a part of the tour and share some of my favorite parts of any book… the scents! Being a candle-maker, I’m obsessed with the different scents described in books and there were a few lovely aromas in TRAITOR TO THE THRONE that caught my eye. On today’s stop, I’m sharing some of those and have a special candle giveaway too!

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

Blog Tour: Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton | Book Scents + Giveaway!Title: Traitor to the Throne (Rebel of the Sands #2) by Alwyn Hamilton
Publishing Info: March 7, 2017 by Penguin
Source: Publisher
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Parallel Universe
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: March 17, 2017
Related Posts: Rebel of the Sands (Rebel of the Sands #1)

The sizzling, un-put-downable sequel to the bestselling Rebel of the Sands!

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

When Amani finds herself thrust into the epicenter of the regime—the Sultan's palace—she's determined to bring the tyrant down. Desperate to uncover the Sultan's secrets by spying on his court, she tries to forget that Jin disappeared just as she was getting closest to him, and that she's a prisoner of the enemy. But the longer she remains, the more she questions whether the Sultan is really the villain she's been told he is, and who’s the real traitor to her sun-bleached, magic-filled homeland.
Forget everything you thought you knew about Miraji, about the rebellion, about djinni and Jin and the Blue-Eyed Bandit. In Traitor to the Throne, the only certainty is that everything will change.


ABOUT ALWYN HAMILTON

Alwyn Hamilton was born in Toronto and spent her childhood bouncing between Europe and Canada until her parents settled in France. She grew up in a small town there, which might have compelled her to burst randomly into the opening song from Beauty and the Beast were it not for her total tone-deafness. She instead attempted to read and write her way to new places and developed a weakness for fantasy and cross-dressing heroines. She left France for Cambridge University to study History of Art at King’s College, and then to London where she became indentured to an auction house. She has a bad habit of acquiring more hardcovers than is smart for someone who moves house quite so often. Follow her at @AlwynFJH.

BOOK SCENTS: TRAITOR TO THE THRONE

Ever since I started making candles, I’ve been so much more in tune with the sensory notes in the books that I read. I feel like aromas in a book are easily skipped over and forgotten once a reader has finished because noticing and committing a smell to memory is such a unique experience that it’s harder hang onto if you haven’t experienced it first hand. I know at least for me, when a book draws on a familiar smell, I’m instantly hit with memories and nostalgia that have the potential to tie me to a book more than any other scenic description so I feel like those smells that add to the atmosphere are not to be overlooked!

Drawing upon my newly heightened awareness, I’ve started keeping tracking of specific scents described in book and how they really paint an even more vivid picture for a reader! Today on Book Scents, I’m sharing some of my favorite aromas from THE VALIANT! They immediately had me thinking back on what fragrances I would use to mimic each experience and I’ve included each one below. (Now how do we make these posts scratch and sniff?)

I knew which tents were slightly lopsided, and what the birds sounded like in late afternoon from the bathing pools, an that the smell of fresh-baked bread meant Lubna was on cooking duty for the day.

Inspiration: The rebel camp
Fragrances: Freshly-baked bread, outdoors, fresh air

Even down in Dustwalk, we’d heard stories about the celebrations. Of fountains full of water flecked with gold, dancers who leapt through fire as entertainment, and food made of sugar that was sculpted so fine the folks who made it went blind. 

Inspiration: Aureanzeb celebrations
Fragrances: Rain water, fire, sugar

I felt steam in the air before we’d gone much faster, the cloying scent of flowers and spices already winding their way to my body.

Inspiration: The harem
Fragrances: Jasmine, gardenia, spice market, cinnamon, sandalwood

There were a hundred more gardens that bloomed so thick with flowers I could barely get the doors open, or where music speed to drift through the walls along with a breeze that smelled of sale and bright air.

Inspiration: The harem
Fragrances: Sea mist, ocean, jasmine, fresh air

He smelled of mint mostly, but there was an undercurrent of desert dust and gunpowder when he kissed me that made me desperately homesick.

Inspiration: Jin
Fragrances: Earthy mint, fire & smoke, outdoors, sandalwood

So what do you think?! Which scents do you think are the strongest sensory inspirations? Which are your favorites?


Don’t miss the rest of the blog tour stops for TRAITOR TO THE THRONE!

Week One:
3/6 – The YA Book Traveler – Mood Board
3/7 – Tales of the Ravenous Reader – Author Q&A
3/8 – Love is Not a Triangle – Review
3/9 – Mundie Moms – Review + Favorite Quotes
3/10 – Butter My Books – Guest Post
Week Two:
3/13 – Brittany’s Book Rambles – Guest Post
3/14 – The Eater of Books! – Favorite Quotes
3/15 – Two Chicks on Books – Author Q&A
3/16 – Lost in Lit – Review
3/17 – My Friends Are Fiction – Review
Week Three:
3/20 – The Yong Folks – Author Q&A
3/21 – The Book Addict’s Guide – Traitor Candle
3/22 – Seeing Double in Neverland – Review
3/23 – Bookworm Everlasting – Review
3/24 – Fiction Fare – Guest Post

GIVEAWAY

There are TWO exciting giveaways for my stop on the blog tour today! The first is through Penguin for a chance to win a copy of the book! See rules and details below and enter the first Rafflecopter form for you chance to win!

Enter for a chance to win one (1) grand prize set of Alwyn Hamilton’s books, including a paperback copy of Rebel of the Sands and a hardcover of Traitor to the Throne, or to win one (1) of five (5) paperback copies of Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton (ARV: $10.99 each).
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on March 6, 2017 and 12:00 AM on March 27, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about March 29, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The second giveaway is my own personal contribution to this blog tour stop because I turned one of these book scents into a TRAITOR-inspired candle! The candle giveaway is for one 8oz tin called “Desert Kisses”, inspired by Jin, with scents of mint, gunpowder, and sand. Open to US entries only. Must be 13 years of age or older to win. Candle giveaway open from 3/21/17 through 3/28/17. Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman

Neverwhere – Neil GaimanTitle: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
Publishing Info: September 2, 2003 by HarperCollins
Source: Gift
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: December 21, 2016
Related Posts: Fortunately, the Milk, Stardust, American Gods, The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Under the streets of London there's a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks.
Richard Mayhew, a young businessman, is going to find out more than enough about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his workday existence and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and utterly bizarre. And a strange destiny awaits him down here, beneath his native city: Neverwhere.

bookreview1

NEVERWHERE was such a magical experience! I have Alyssa to thank for introducing me to Neil Gaiman and telling me to listen to the audio of this book and actually buying the audiobook for me! Neil Gaiman is an amazing narrator and I always love listening to authors narrate their own story because nothing is left to interpretation. You know they’re reading it exactly the way they want it told.

As much as the whole experience was magical, the characters really made the book. I absolutely loved Richard who is a sweet little cinnamon roll and just so much fun to follow on this journey. He’s so pure of heart and gets into this whole mess because he stops to help a stranger in need. I loved his sweet disposition throughout the book and he was just so utterly charming. I really connected with his characters so much. I also loved strong yet sweet Door and the quest that she’s on throughout this book. She’s a wonderful mix of confident, independent, caring, and thoughtful. And of course I loved the Marquis de Carabas who is part slick, part mentor, part questionable, and part father-figure. He was that character that I love who seems a little bit questionable and has a lot of gray areas when it comes to morals or doing the right thing but when it comes down to it, he really ends up protecting the other characters and has a soft spot deep down.

I will admit that the journey got a bit fantastical for me (which Alyssa warned me might happen because she knows my tastes so well). It wasn’t a bad thing at all, but I’m very much a rule person when it comes to fantasy worlds (which is why I get along with high fantasy so well!) so in spots where the reader is constantly learning about new places or meeting new people with no added history of what/who they are or why they’re a part of the story, my mind just begins to wander and tries to logic them into place, which isn’t the intent of the book. Again, not a bad thing and not something I mean to critique — just a point of why it wasn’t total 100% five stars for me! But when reading stories like these, I try my best just to go with the story and allow myself to get lost in it. I tried to take on Richard’s mentality of suspending the disbelief, which was fun too because it was a struggle for him!

I absolutely LOVED the ending of NEVERWHERE. I won’t spoil anything of course but it was such a wonderful way to wrap everything up. I loved being able to see Richard really figure out what he wants in the end and the final appearance of everyone just warmed my heart! I’m never disappointed in the endings of Neil Gaiman books and really, that’s such a crucial part for me as a reader. A bad ending could ruin a whole book and Neil Gaiman always wraps things up so wonderfully.

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

NEVERWHERE was an amazing audiobook for many reasons. Firstly, because Neil Gaiman himself narrates it. He has such an amazing narration voice and I just love when authors narrate their own books because you know that everything is pronounced right, the inflections are all correct, and nothing is missed. It was also SO COOL because there were some neat sound effects (echoes when in a tunnel, muffled voices and static on the phone, etc) and I was just so giddy to hear them! They really made the experience so special. And if you read this, be sure to get HOW THE MARQUIS GOT HIS COAT BACK on audio too! I paid a few bucks for it but it was the full BBC production with a full cast, lots of sound effects, music — it was SO entertaining and so worth the cost of a cup of coffee for that.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Fantastical worlds. I do love fantasy but I’ll admit that I’m more of a high fantasy person than books that involve creatures and things like that. I did enjoy this zany other side of London and it was so much fun to experience in this sort of setting!
Left Me Wanting More: Rules. I always love world-building that has a lot of rules. It sets up a great structure for me and I adapt better to rules than to whimsy!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

If you’re a fan of any type of fantasy, NEVERWHERE is a great read. It’s fun and light and still maintains a world of depth and danger.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE NEVERWHERE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    THE MAGICIANS

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.

bookreview1

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!

book_recommendations1

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

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.

bookreview1

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
Get a second opinion

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.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE CARAVAL

(Click the cover to see my review!)

HEARTLESS    CRUEL BEAUTY

The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Neil GaimanTitle: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Publishing Info: June 18, 2013 by HarperCollins
Source: Borrowed from Hoopla
Genres: Adult, Magical Realism
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: November 7, 2016
Related Posts: Fortunately, the Milk, Stardust, American Gods, Neverwhere

A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn't thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she'd claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.
Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.
A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly's wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.

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Apparently the end of 2016 was filled with Neil Gaiman after listening to two full-length novels and one extra, all on audio. I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump and was looking for something comforting and that I knew would be pleasant to listen to and it doesn’t get much better than Neil Gaiman’s stories and his own narration.

I’m really glad that I waited to read/listen to THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE and didn’t pick it up right away. Magical realism is a genre that’s been growing on me over the years and I’ve reached a point where I’ve read a few books within the genre of which I’ve grown quite fond. Usually when I experience a genre clash, it’s all about reading the right books and my latest magical realism reads have just really been clicking. I fear if I had read THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE too soon, the magical experience of everything may have been lost on me and I might not have connected well and I’m so glad that I was really able to appreciate this book!

Alyssa, my friend and master of Gaiman novels, described this one to me as a children’s story for adults, being that the narrator is an adult who is telling the story but it’s about a series of events that happened to him as a child, all around when he was about seven years old, and I think that’s a great way to describe this novel. THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE felt very much like an adult-oriented book and yet it had the younger, children’s mentality due to its time frame and focus. Despite how well I think Neil Gaiman writes for any age, I feel like I tend not to wholly connect to a book that mixes or crosses ages like that. I don’t often like when adult books dip down into a childlike focus and the mix of mentalities can be a bit too much for me sometimes, and that seems to be why I didn’t totally 100% love this story.

I really did enjoy the magic that occurred throughout the book, though! I love magical realism because it doesn’t have to play into stereotypical creatures or situations that are so often found in paranormal or urban fantasy genres and yet it still connects with real life. That slight blur between the narrator’s home life and the magic of the Hempstock family was just delightful and I love the feeling of it being right on the surface. The little beasties and dangerous magical things are that much more frightening in THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE as well because the characters don’t know or understand the rules of their world and often time can’t predict how to control, discourage, or manage them. They’re that much harder to get rid of as well when there’s a limited amount of help and not an entirely fantastical community to offer support.

THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE was a quick read and I loved the overall atmosphere and feel. I don’t like stories that dip into the childhood years as much because it’s just not something I connect with as much as I do young adult or adult novels but I still enjoyed it from start to finish. Neil Gaiman always creates the most wonderful atmospheres that have readers completely believing in these worlds and I loved being totally sucked into the story.

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

I borrowed this audiobook from Hoopla (bless you, Hoopla) because I was having an audiobook slump and needed a narrator I could trust who was also a male voice. I just wasn’t in the mood for a female voice after striking out a few times. I love when authors narrate their own books because I just feel you really get things EXACTLY the way they intended, especially parts that were songs (and actually sung)! Neil Gaiman has a wonderful narrating voice as well and his audiobooks are just so pleasant to listen to.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Magical Realism. This is still a new-ish genre to me and I’m finding that I’m enjoying these stories more and more!
Left Me Wanting More: Sophistication. The book was actually plenty sophisitcated, I guess, but I just don’t connect to that childlike mentality as much.

Addiction Rating
Read it

If you’re a fan of Gaiman, looking for a good audiobook, or attempting to get into more magical realism, this is a great place to dive in!

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Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) – Leigh Bardugo

Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) – Leigh BardugoTitle: Crooked Kingdom (The Dregs #2) Publishing Info: September 20, 2016 by Macmillan
Source: Amazon, Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: October 12, 2016

When you can’t beat the odds, change the game.
Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team's fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.

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** No spoilers for CROOKED KINGDOM but there will be spoilers for book one, SIX OF CROWS so if you haven’t read SIX OF CROWS yet, avert your eyes! ** 

CROOKED KINGDOM was one of my most-anticipated reads of the year because naturally, anything Leigh Bardugo has me jumping up and down with anticipation! I actually really enjoyed this book more than SIX OF CROWS and I think part of that was because I was already so immersed in this world after being able to read SIX OF CROWS twice and then let all the characters settle in and my love for them grew as I waited for CROOKED KINGDOM!

I felt like CROOKED KINGDOM had a little more of that heist aspect which was definitely established in SIX OF CROWS, but the job in CROOKED KINGDOM really did have a different feel! The overall tone felt a little lighter and had a little more fun snark whereas SIX OF CROWS felt a little bit more serious. I also absolutely looooved the addition of the extra crossover to the original Grisha Trilogy. I won’t say exactly how it does crossover so anyone who hasn’t read CROOKED KINGDOM can still be surprised and excited, but I will say that I was just delighted by the connections made to the Grisha Trilogy in this book and how it played into the plot of CROOKED KINGDOM. It was so much fun and involved some of my favorite things from the original trilogy. It’s not something that people will miss out on if they haven’t read the Grisha Trilogy yet but it does make it more fun to see that connection!

I really just connected to this more than I did with SIX OF CROWS. I mean, I loved them both, but I think reading, and then re-reading, and then letting those characters sit with me over time really had my love grow even more and so I felt so much more of a connection. And of course, reading the second book in a series also allowed me to sink into the work and think about it for months and months before the book’s release. I just felt like I got to know everyone and everywhere just a little bit more and now that the group was established, it really felt so much more cohesive too. To be fair, they were always pretty cohesive but I loved the way the group settled and they all just belonged together.

Leigh Bardugo is just a master. From plot to romance to action, she can write any aspect of a book and totally nail it. The Grishaverse is one of my favorite places and I’m so happy to have been able to read these stories. I’m actually really glad that this was a duology and not more of a series because it closed out so well (which amazing job, Leigh!) and it didn’t need to be dragged out into one or two or more books. I would always love to read more but I like that it was wrapped up so quickly and neatly! It felt perfect.

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

I actually didn’t like the audio narrators as much this time around. I was really bothered by the fact that they didn’t pronounce things all the same and some were just straight up pronounced wrong. With a cast of 6 audio narrations, that’s kind of (aka really) important.
Anyway! I thought that CROOKED KINGDOM had more heists AND more humor AND more cross-over than SIX OF CROWS and I looooved it. The crossover was simply fantastic and I actually wish I had read it instead of listening because of one of the characters who appeared and the narrator didn’t to them justice.

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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Two-book series. I’ve become a pretty big fan of duologies and duets! I really like being able to get more of a story or world but not have a series drag on forever. I love how neatly this was wrapped up!
Left Me Wanting More: Crossover. Don’t get me wrong — the crossover was fantastic. I just can’t get enough! I love the original trilogy so much that I’m always up for more!

Addiction Rating
Buy it, treasure it

Leigh Bardugo is queen and her books are amazing. BUY THEM. READ THEM. LOVE THEM.

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