Caraval

OH MY GOODNESS! I am at a loss for words. If you knew me personally – you would know that basically never happens but let me try my best to explain my speechlessness. I have just finished reading Stephanie Garber’s Caraval and it was absolutely unforgettable! In all honesty, before we proceed, stop now and please add it to your TBR… it’s okay…I’ll wait.

You added it? Put it on your Amazon wish list? Made it to the local bookstore?

Good. Let’s proceed.

Caraval is the story of two sisters, Donatella (Tella) and Scarlett born, raised and restricted to their home island of Trisda. Living under the strict and abusive supervision of their father, Governor Dragna forces the two sisters to yearn for lives far away from their reality especially for the mysterious and magical tournament, Caraval. Scarlett eventually grows out of her fascination but hopes that her impending marriage to an unknown suitor will be the salvation that her and her sister have been waiting for while Tella yearns to attempt bolder methods.

Stephanie Garber is incredible in this novel and does a remarkable demonstration of skill in this fantasy novel. The themes are sisterhood, self-discovery and love in a multitude of forms. Despite the romance that builds in the story, it’s purely and innocently done and refreshingly not the primary focus of the story. No better story of sisters has been done this well apart from the film, Frozen with Elsa and Anna (at least that comes to mind). Caraval was the fantasy novel that I desperately needed to read and I will probably re-read again, each time finding something new to love about it. This has definitely earned and carved a place for itself in my favorites.

I also tweeted at Stephanie Garber today and she responded to me. I fangirl-ed soooo hard.

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The Night Circus

“The circus arrives without warning” is the opening sentence to The Night Circus, setting the stage for a novel full of magic, mystery and intrigue. Author, Erin Morgenstern, takes full artistic advantage of the endless opportunities in this novel to describe visually dynamic scenes of the circus turning each reader into a rêveur of Le Cirque du Rêves.

The Night Circus is a fantasy novel that follows main characters, Celia Bowen and Marco Alisdair. Both are competitors in a complex magical challenge of skill and endurance starting as early as their childhood. As the story progresses, you learn that this competition involves a lot more than just testing skill and there are consequences to every action. Morgenstern blew my mind with this novel and had me lost in the mystery of Le Cirque du Rêves. The characters are exceptionally vivid and each detail serves a purpose in the conclusion. I absolutely adored reading this book and am unsurprised that it has become a #1 National Bestseller.

Growing up, I solely read fantasy books because when I was a kid — real life was never as much fun as the fantasy worlds I got to venture into. I journeyed to Hogwarts with Harry Potter and friends, fell in love in Forks, WA in Twilight, and committed a large part of my youth to keeping up with the Vampire Academy series. As I’ve gotten older, my tastes of changed some and I’ve been trying to expand to other genres like memoirs/biographies, literary fiction, thriller and suspense novels and these are just a few among others. The Night Circus gave me a sense of nostalgia for when I clung to those stories as a child and a reminder that there’s no real age restriction for a good book.

I would recommend this to: all readers looking for something outside of their comfort zone, those who were young fantasy lovers (like myself) for the perfect nostalgic purchanse and lastly to lovers of magic, the CIrcus and a touch of romance.

 

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

I have just finished reading the final Harry Potter book, “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” and I sincerely do not know what to do with myself at this point. I’m extremely nostalgic because I remember being in middle/high school when I started reading the series. I was obsessed. My parents, being strict and religious, constantly were trying to stop me from reading the books since magic was inherently satanic but I made it my mission to read the books anyway. There was something more to them for me than just the magical powers that the cast possessed. It was the story of a boy who defied the odds, exceeded expectations, faced his fears and accomplished amazing things. Whether I borrowed the books from friends or checked them out from the local library, I managed to read the entire series all the way up to “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.”

I never wanted the series to end but when it did, it was perfectly executed. All loose ends were tied and I was content with knowing that Harry went on to marry Ginny and Ron and Hermione had ended up together. As I concluded the books, I eagerly awaited the movies. Harry Potter being one of the few book series that was the most closely adapted when converted into a film series. The characters came alive and did not disappoint. It was interesting to see the film and identify the differences. For example, Prisoner of Azkaban was probably my favorite book within the series but Goblet of Fire was actually my favorite film adaptation. I liked how they incorporated the other Wizarding schools and you saw their use of magic during the TriWizard Tournament. So, it should come at no surprise that when I was sitting in the Colorado Springs Airport and I saw the girl beside me reading “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.” I knew I had to have it. I was excited because I knew the book, written as a script for a play, would be years into the future and could be very different from the stories I held dear.

As I began reading, I tried to remain impartial. I did not want to go into it with any bias. I was just thrilled to have a taste of J.K Rowlings’ creativity again in some form. I was breezing through the pages and honestly liked the way that the script gave the story a different perspective. It was choppy at times since it was not meant to be a chronological story but overall, I think that the book was a great way to close out the series for life long fans. There will always be questions about the futures of Harry, Ron, Hermione and even Draco but I think that “the Cursed Child” does a lot to tie up some of those loose ends. You see Harry, the young boy who gave us such hope, take on the role of Father which is not an easy task. He struggles a bit and it reminds you that he is flawed, he makes mistakes and has fears just like any other person. At one point, I was genuinely scared that the plot was going to take a turn that could lead to future books and that surprisingly filled me with dread. I think that this was the perfect way to end the series as a whole and if another book was to emerge it wouldn’t have the same strength as the other books have had.

 

Never Let Me Go

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As of a few hours ago, I finished reading Kazuo Ishiguro’s “Never Let Me Go.” I truly enjoyed reading it and it brought up a lot of interesting questions, at least personally, about the concepts of life and mortality. That seems a little melodramatic but I actually enjoyed the unique perspective and how it makes you question those things.
There may be some spoilers up ahead so if you haven’t read the book you might just want to skip ahead to the end of the asterisks.

 
*** Spoilers Ahead: So, the book interestingly enough takes on the perspective of students who are essentially raised at an academy, Hailsham, in order to be used for organ donations. You come to learn that the students are actually clones that are being raised at the academy in preparation for when they come of age, become carers for a time frame until their eventual time to donate their organs. There doesn’t seem to be any further explanation given for what the organs are used for other than the brief mention of cures to cancer in this seemingly alternate reality since the book is set in England, 1990s****

 
Overall, I really liked reading the book because it was a unique concept that I’d never heard of being done. I also have never had the pleasure of reading any other works from Ishiguro so I was eager to see his style reveal itself. Ishiguro does a phenomenal job of creating dynamic, three-dimensional characters who actually evoke strong emotions from the audience. I couldn’t help but become overwhelmed by empathy when it came to the narrator, Kathy and her interactions with her friends, Tommy and Ruth. Kathy seems to live her life quietly which is contrasted by her childhood friend, Ruth. You see that Kathy and Tommy come to grow up curious about themselves, their futures and what exactly the guardians are not telling them. This curiosity seems to become an underlying theme in the lives of Tommy, Ruth and Kathy until it all reaches a head.

 

I would recommend this book to all those who like Kazuo Ishiguro’s previous works, those who enjoy a little bit of sci-fi and enjoy reading thriller/suspense books.