Tuesday, February 21, 2017

{Review+Design Vlog} CARAVAL by Stephanie Garber

O P E N I N G   L I N E:

  IT TOOK SEVEN YEARS TO GET the letter right.

(pg. 1, US hardcover edition)

“What happens beyond this gate may frighten or excite you, but don’t let any of it trick you. We will try to convince you it’s real, but all of it is a performance. A world built of make-believe. So while we want you to get swept away, be careful of being swept too far away. Dreams that come true can be beautiful, but they can also turn into nightmares when people won’t wake up.”

~CARAVAL by Stephanie Garber

One of the most highly buzzed-about books of 2017 has not only just hit shelves, but has already spent two weeks sitting pretty at #2 on the New York Times Best Sellers List!!!  CARAVAL by Stephanie Garber fills in the hole that THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern left behind in my heart and promises readers a breathless, enchanting ride. I've been chasing after a book like this for so long, but every single book that has a TNC comp doesn't live up to my super-high expectations. CARAVAL does. The world swept me away from the very beginning and the characters wormed their way into my heart.

How far would you go to save your sister? Sisters Scarlett and Donatella have grown up with an exacting, demanding father who isn't afraid to punish the sisters in order to keep them in line. Scarlett is desperate to free them both from his tyranny, and feels her upcoming marriage to her unknown betrothed will do that. As a child, she wrote yearly letters to the Master of the Caraval, begging the group to come to her island and perform their magical enchantments. Now, with her impending nuptials a mere week away, the sisters are finally invited to attend Caraval. Now, when there is so much to lose if Scarlett's wedding doesn't go as planned. Donatella, however, isn't about to let this opportunity slip away because Scarlett has grown too cautious and kidnaps her sister. She disappears before Scarlett can find her at Caraval, and suddenly becomes the prize. At Caraval, you can be an active participant or you can watch from the theatre balconies. When Scarlett chooses to play, she has no clue that all of the participants will be tasked with finding Donatella. In a world where you can trust no one, not even yourself because magic lies, what means will Scarlett go to in order to survive and find her sister before time runs out?

This book is so visual, it's breath-taking. You can smell the air, taste the magic, even see the swirls of color the way Scarlett does. I wanted to reach out and touch everything, and wished Caraval was a real place. Although, in some ways, I also didn't, because it's also a very dangerous, heart-breaking place. I haven't been so enamored with a world utterly enchanting me since THE NIGHT CIRCUS, and I fully embraced the experience.

I love that this book is all about sisterly bonds. Not enough books feature this, and it's always endearing when they do. I also like that the love aspect wasn't instantaneous and took a backseat to the novel's plot. I had a rollercoaster of emotions as I read the twists and turns of this novel, and while some hunches played out, others didn't. I was so happy not to have all the surprises figured out from the beginning the way I often do, which heightened my enjoyment of the novel.

It's hard to talk about everything that occurs in CARAVAL without spoilers and instead, I invite you to pick up the book and experience the world for yourself. The journey is beyond your imagination, and you won't want to let go once you hit the end. Thankfully, Garber plans one more book in the series, and you'll know the scope of its direction by the novel's end. I'm already shivering with anticipating just thinking about it!

Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG13 ( Kissing. Innuendo about a "very special hug" that will bypass younger readers.  Nothing is graphic or described...or even HAPPENS except as an aside at the very end.  )
Language: -- 
Violence: G ( There is talk of decapitation, but nothing is visually shown. )
Other:  PG ( There is talk about rakes and what may be done in one's free time, but it's all innuendo and nothing happens! )
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

This one is too gorgeous to talk about. 

I need to show you via video!

O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: Stephanie Garber
Release Date: January 31, 2017
Publisher: Flatiron Books // Macmillan
Received: For Review
(Video portion via Purchased copy)

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.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The BEST news so far in 2017 is BOOK RELATED!!!! Have you heard???

Love fairy tales and mythology?
Fans of mermaids, dragons, unicorns, and other mythical creatures?
Enjoy when a beloved classic tale is retold?
A Twist in the Tail Thursdays features all this and more!

Everyone's excitement about the following news was all over social media after the announcement, but if you managed to miss it, well, I'm too excited not to talk about it again, so get ready for the best news I've heard so far in 2017!!!

On Valentine's Day, the Publishing Industry proved it loved readers by giving them a present twelve year's in the making. His Dark Materials author Philip Pullman has finally finished writing THE BOOK OF DUST, and it's going to be a trilogy. The first, still untitled book releases simultaneously in the UK and US on October 19th, 2017.

The first book in the series, THE GOLDEN COMPASS,  was turned into the movie starring Nicole Kidman a decade ago, and the BBC is working on creating a TV series that will begin airing in either late 2017 or sometime in 2018.

Here are a few details from the Publishers Weekly press release:

 "Plot details are under wraps until publication, of course, but in a statement provided by his publishers, Pullman shared that the book is set 10 years before the events of THE GOLDEN COMPASS and centers on Lyra Belacqua, heroine of the His Dark Materials trilogy, a series that has sold more than 17.5 million copies in 40 languages since its debut in 1996. 

Pullman has also coined a new publishing term to describe the forthcoming work. It is neither a prequel nor a sequel nor a standalone. 'In fact, The Book of Dust is.... an equal,' Pullman wrote. 'It doesn’t stand before or after His Dark Materials, but beside it. It’s a different story, but there are settings that readers of His Dark Materials will recognize, and characters they’ve met before. Also, of course, there are some characters who are new to us, including an ordinary boy (a boy we have seen in an earlier part of Lyra’s story, if we were paying attention) who, with Lyra, is caught up in a terrifying adventure that takes him into a new world.'”

Growing up, His Dark Materials was one of my all-time favorite series, surpassed only by The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. I read both series again and again. The books shattered and broke me, but also filled my heart and took me away on dangerous, captivating adventures.

My own tattered copies, still cherished and kept on a shelf of honor!!!

Poor tattered books!
(I'll likely have to re-buy these if they come out with a pretty new box set!!!)

When I recently heard that the BBC was going to produce the series for TV, I was extremely excited. They've created some compelling series and have great quality, and I trust them to do a great job. Every couple of months, I've been checking to see if there's been any major news on airdates, etc., because I'm so impatient to fall n love with this story all over again.

I've also been chomping at the bit for a re-read, and just can never work it into my reading schedule. Now, with The Book of Dust on the horizon, I have a really good excuse to dive back into this beloved series!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

{Review} RHYMES WITH CUPID by Anna Humphrey

O P E N I N G   L I N E:

  ACCORDING TO THE ITTY Bitty Pocket Guide (Secrets of the Heart edition), Cupid is the god of love. He's the son of Aprhodite, the goddess of love and beauty, and Ares, the god of war. He's beautiful and mischievous and winged like an angel.
  But at the SouthSide Mall in Middleford, Mained, Cupid was a far, far cry from the golden-haird god that the pocket guide (aisle four, right across from the ceramic clowns) described. He stood on the counter of Goodman's Gifts and Stationary near hte cash register--an overweight battery-powered baby doll with shiny red hearts on his diaper. When you pushed his belly button, he winked a creepy mechanical eye at you and started to sing along to music that came out of a speaker in his butt--the chorus of the classic 1960s Motown hit, "Do You Love Me (Now That I Can Dance)." And the doll could dance, in a way. You had to give him that.

(pg. 1 US paperback edition)

This review was first posted at ABS on November 25, 2011.

“I picked out a card with a simple red heart on the front, set against a silver backdrop. 'This is the least bad one we have.' I handed it to him and watched him open it.

'It's blank,' he observed.

'Exactly,' I said. 'If you like someone, you should care enough to write your own message. Or at least, that's what I've always thought.'

~Elyse and Patrick, RHYMES WITH CUPID

If you're a fan of contemporary YA romances such as ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins, you'll really enjoy this as well! Anna Humphrey's RHYMES WITH CUPID is exactly what you would expect: A light-hearted, feel-good romance. Every once in a while, it's nice to read something sweet and predictable, and this book is as gooey-good as the ice cream sundae on its cover!

Main character Elyse is a cynic and doesn't believe in love after a relationship that ends badly. She works at a mall gift shop and is forced to promote sappy Valentine's Day cards and singing Cupid dolls. Her co-worker Dina, however, is really into the holiday despite also not having a boyfriend. Dina is emotionally attached to a guy who always blows her off, and Elyse decides to get her over him once and for all. She decides to hook her up with a guy named Patrick who comes into the shop one day looking for a new pen. He's pretty cute and, as luck would have it, he's Elyse's next-door neighbor, too. The only problem? Patrick only has eyes for Elyse...and Elyse might be starting to have second thoughts on pairing him up with Dina, even though the last thing she wants is another relationship.

A book like this one is the reason I often prefer contemporary romances to the paranormal/fantasy insta-love syndrome. I prefer it when relationships grow gradually and bonds build through friendship before blooming into something more. This is one reason I liked ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS so much. I've been trying to replicate the feeling I had when reading that and so far, RHYMES WITH CUPID has come the closest. There are some really great scenes between the two main characters that are completely re-readable. Granted, there are times Elyse annoys me because she's so gung-ho on swearing off love. How can she resist Patrick? He's incredible; I'd totally date a Patrick if he was in my life. I mean, he's such a good guy that he will stay parked in a parking lot to make sure she gets on the bus okay at night even though they don't know one another. Totally sweet, right? At the same time, there are reasons for the things Elyse does and it's commendable that she's willing to sacrifice her own happiness for a friend's. If you're looking for a tasty, sweet read this Valentine's Day, this one might be just what your sweet tooth is looking for!

Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG ( Kissing )
Language: G ( Tame words such as "jerkwad" are used. 
Violence: --
Other:  PG13 ( Mention of secondary characters at keg parties with underage drinking and their smoking habits, but not something either main character partakes in. )
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

I honestly think the book covers for this book and PAST PERFECT by Leila Sales (guest post and review HERE) should be flip-flopped. In PAST PERFECT, the main character, Chelsea, and her best friend Fiona are ice cream connoisseurs and the book takes place during the summer. This breezy cover would be perfect, right? RHYMES WITH CUPID, on the other hand, takes place in February. Okay, so maybe a rain jacket is still a little inappropriate, but you could do the same cover with snow. The cover never really jived with PAST PERFECT despite how much I enjoyed it.

That said, the cover is really cute and breezy, easily ear-marked as a light-hearted romance, so it's perfectly suited for its genre!

O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: Anna Humphrey
Release Date: Out Dec. 21, 2010
Publisher: Harper Teen
Received: Purchased


Goodman's Gifts & Stationery Store

February 14
Cashier: Elyse

3 boxes of heart-shaped chocolate . . . $12.00
Chocolate is the only good thing about this nauseating holiday.
4 containers of candy hearts . . . $5.00
Ever since my ex cheated on me, I've sworn off love. Too bad my new neighbor Patrick didn't get the memo.
1 Valentine's Day card . . . $4.50
I'm not interested. Although, he is pretty cute. And sweet. And funny.
1 singing Cupid doll (promotional item) . . . $0.00
Stupid Cupid! Point your arrows at someone else. . . .
Subtotal . . . $21.50

It's going to be a complicated Valentine's Day.

Monday, February 13, 2017

{Review/Giveaway} THE WISH GRANTER by C.J. Redwine

Tour Schedule:
Week One:
2/6/2017- Zach's YA ReviewsGuest Post
2/7/2017- FiktshunReview
2/8/2017- Novel NoviceGuest Post
2/9/2017- BookCrushinReview
2/10/2017- Ya and WineGuest Post

Week Two:
2/13/2017- A Backwards StoryReview
2/14/2017- YA Books CentralGuest Post
2/15/2017- Mundie MomsReview
2/16/2017- Two Chicks on Books- Guest Post
2/17/2017- The Best Books Ever Review

O P E N I N G   L I N E:

  HUMANS WERE PATHETICALLY predictable. Always longing for more. Always desperate to get their way. Shamelessly grasping for what remained out of reach, even when it cost them dearly.
  He despised them.

(pg. 10, US e-ARC edition)

“It was the defiance that sparked his interest.

And his fear.

The defiant ones didn't break when you threatened them. They didn't cave to bribes or bargain for their own safety.

But every human had a breaking point. He just had to find hers.

~Alistair Teague, THE WISH GRANTER

I always love when a "lesser known" retelling gets its day in the spotlight. While Rumpelstiltskin isn't as unknown as other tales (especially thanks to the popularity of ABC's Once Upon a Time), I'm still amazed by the amount of people who've never heard the tale, because I feel like I've known it all my life. But if you don't like retellings, have no fear! This actually ISN'T a retelling. It's just influenced by the tale. CJ Redwine is great at taking traditional lore and turning it into something new. Last year, she debuted the first book in her retelling line, THE SHADOW QUEEN, which is basically a retelling of Snow White where she falls in love with the Hunter--who, oh, yeah, is a dragon. There are a lot of other twisted tales mixed into traditional fantasy on the way, too!

You definitely DON'T have to read THE SHADOW QUEEN in order to read THE WISH GRANTER. There's one small cameo with the couple from the first book, but it's very blink-and-you-miss-it, and won't detract from the plot at all. There's also a really cool cameo with Hansel and Gretel, and I can't wait to see them again in future books in the series and dive into their eventual story!

I've wanted to read THE WISH GRANTER since Fall 2015 when I was lucky enough to attend a writer's retreat/workshop hosted by C.J. Redwine. She whispered secrets about this book, and talked about this book's structure A LOT during various workshops. We all wanted it so desperately, and I felt so incredibly lucky to receive an ARC last year and read it early to quench my thirst!

THE WISH GRANTER centers around Princess Arianna and her twin brother Thaddeus--who is now King, even though the two are illegitimate. After tragedy takes the royal family, only Thad is left to rule. What the kingdom doesn't know is that he struck a deal with a Wish Granter in order to claim the throne, and he's playing a dangerous game of cat and mouse with a creature far more twisted and cunning than he could have ever imagined...

When Ari finds out what her brother has done, she sets about finding a way to break the curse. She doesn't expect to fall in love in the process, or to trade her soul to protect all she loves. The stakes have never been higher, and if Ari can't figure out Alistair Teague's past, none of them will have a future to return to.

One thing I really love about THE WISH GRANTER is how non-traditional it is. The stakes are dark and very, very high. One thing that stuck with me from C.J.'s workshop was some advice to take everything away from your characters. Once you've done that, take even more. What are they desperate to keep? What happens if that is taken from them? So much is taken from these characters, yet they are still determined to finish what they started. I like that the journey isn't easy or without loss, that things aren't perfect and neat. It's more realistic this way!

Speaking of realistic, I also love the slow-burning nature of Princess Ari's relationship with Sebastian, the new Royal Weapons Master. The two don't start off attracted to one another. Neither has the goal of romance in mind--especially not with one another. They both know what they want in life, yet somehow, they slowly fall for one another and find themselves with new goals and new priorities--which makes their mission to break the curse even more perilous as they become one another's weakness. Redwine has a very natural way of writing romance, and I always love the way she describes how her characters feel about one another and interact and eventually come together. Her kissing scene in DEFIANCE remains one of my favorite YA kissing scenes, and the first kiss in THE WISH GRANTER--well, let's just say it's a little unlike anything we see in literature and is definitely memorable!

Princess Ari is an especially fun character. She's not a frivolous frou-frou princess. She has fire and spunk; she beats to her own drum. She doesn't pander to nobility or care if she hurts their feelings--or even care what they think about her. She loves to eat and doesn't care that she's a little bigger than most of the other girls around her or that they frown down upon her for it. She loves baking--and eating, and won't change that to garner anyone's good opinion. She's smart, too, and able to create elaborate plans and do research that may potentially help her brother out of his situation, even if it puts her in danger. She has a huge heart and will do anything for those she loves, and I really liked her character!

If you love original fantasy, you'll love THE WISH GRANTER. If you love novels that are influenced by other works, however slightly, you'll love THE WISH GRANTER. If you love books with princesses and curses and slow-urning romances, you'll love THE WISH GRANTER. The novel releases tomorrow just in time for Valentine's Day, so treat yourself to a great gift that you'll enjoy reading again and again!

Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG ( Kissing )
Language: G ( One use of bastard; made-up curse word "daka" 
Violence: PG13 ( Some disturbing character deaths; some street brawls/fist fights; a whipping; a building burned to send a message; characters being attacked by blood-thirsty creatures; souls stolen from bodies. )
Other:  PG ( Mention of a mother's drug addiction; mention of a father's abusive nature. )
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

I cannot WAIT to see this cover in person. It's embroidery, y'all!!! EMBROIDERY.  Can't can't CAN'T wait to see it up close!!!

I love the way both of the covers in this series so far have been really unique. The first cover uses real apples to create the texture of the title. This cover uses embroidery. I can't wait to see what comes next!

I also love the way the interior map looks--and this time, the endpapers are the map--and they're BLUE. And SO pretty.

©C.J. Redwine

I also like the hint of danger on the cover--that's blood falling from that needle, and it has more than one meaning. PLUS, I like how it mirrors the drip from THE SHADOW QUEEN cover....

Such a great design to this series!

O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: C.J. Redwine
Release Date: Out February 14, 2017
Publisher: Balzer + Bray // Harper Teen
Received: ARC for Review


An epic, romantic, and action-packed fantasy inspired by the tale of Rumpelstiltskin, about a bastard princess who must take on an evil fae to save her brother’s soul, from C. J. Redwine, the New York Times bestselling author of THE SHADOW QUEEN. Perfect for fans of GRAVELING and The Lunar Chronicles

 The world has turned upside down for Thad and Ari Glavan, the bastard twins of SĂșndraille’s king. Their mother was murdered. The royal family died mysteriously. And now Thad sits on the throne of a kingdom whose streets are suddenly overrun with violence he can’t stop. 

 Growing up ignored by the nobility, Ari never wanted to be a proper princess. And when Thad suddenly starts training Ari to take his place, she realizes that her brother’s ascension to the throne wasn’t fate. It was the work of a Wish Granter named Alistair Teague who tricked Thad into wishing away both the safety of his people and his soul in exchange for the crown. 

So Ari recruits the help of Thad’s enigmatic new weapons master, Sebastian Vaughn, to teach her how to fight Teague. With secret ties to Teague’s criminal empire, Sebastian might just hold the key to discovering Alistair’s weaknesses, saving Ari’s brother—and herself. 

But Teague is ruthless and more than ready to destroy anyone who dares stand in his way—and now he has his sights set on the princess. And if Ari can’t outwit him, she’ll lose Sebastian, her brother…and her soul.



C.J. Redwine loves fairy tales, Harry Potter, and Sherlock. She is the author of the Defiance trilogy, a post-apocalyptic fantasy from Balzer + Bray. C.J. lives in Nashville with her husband and children. If the novel writing gig ever falls through, she’ll join the Avengers and wear a cape to work every day.

To learn more about C.J., visit her website at www.cjredwine.com



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