Review: Caraval Trilogy by Stephanie Garber

***MInor Spoilers***

All and all this was an enjoyable series. The Caraval trilogy is about sisters, Scarlett and Tella. In their own ways they both are obsessed with a mysterious and magical game called Caraval. It is lead by the even more mysterious Legend. Scarlett for years wrote letters to Legend begging him to bring his game to their small island for her sister’s birthday to no avail. That is until the invitation to play the game finally comes on the eve of her wedding. Scarlett is thrilled at the offer but doesn’t want to accept because she has convinced herself that her upcoming marriage will save her and her sister from the abusive father. Tella has either ideas and with the help of the charming Julian, Scarlett is whisked away to Legend’s private island to play Caraval. She plays the game in earnest as Tella is taken and to win the game she must find her before anyone else. It’s whimsical and heartbreaking as Scarlett overcomes her own fears and traumas to win the game and find her sister. Now, Tella I do not like as much as Scarlett. In fact if my sister did to me what Tella does to Scarlett I wouldn’t be so forgiving. I was very upset with how it ended and after finding out the second book, is from Tella’s point of view I almost didn’t want to read it. It wasn’t that bad. While Scarlett is earnest and constantly thinking of her sister and others, Tella is selfish and self involved. This Caraval isn’t like the others because it’s the real this time. The Fates who once ruled and were cruel were trapped in a deck of cards and are threatening to be released. The only person in their way is Tella. She made a a deal with the Prince of Hearts to help her get to the Caraval and in return she needed to find the true identity of Legend. Tella didn’t know she made a deal with a Fate. In the process of playing the game, Tella falls in love with a man named Dante who is more then she bargains for. If Tella wins she will either doom humanity by betraying Dante and Caraval or lose more of her family by betraying the Prince of Hearts. Well, things don’t end the way anyone thought and the final book has alternating POV of Scarlett and Tella. Honestly, I really wish it had more Scarlett then Tella but it was welcomed development to have Scarlett back. She was a little frustrating at first because she insisted on getting to know the Fiance she left behind and for little pay off. He was there and then not. Same with their Mother. Tella spends all of the second book, trying to release her only to have her die a few chapters into the third. Minor criticisms. The biggest issue I have that was never addressed is this. The end of the first book, Tella is believed dead by their abusive father. When the second book, they are invited to go with Caraval to the capital of the Empire. Scarlett doesn’t want to go because her former fiance lived there and was afraid they might be seen and word would get back to their father. So what does Tella do? She gets in engaged to the heir to the Throne. Their abusive father is the Governor of the island they grew up on. While news may travel slowly to their former home, it would eventually get to him that the heir was engaged and surely he would have recognized his own daughter. It was like this whole plot point was just forgotten and we are supposed to forget it too but it bothered me the rest of the series. Other than that, I enjoyed this series and I’m glad that I waited to read it until it was completed to start reading it. It’s nice to read a series all together for once.

Quick Review: Broken Throne by Victoria Aveyard

Fans of the Red Queen series should devour this short story collection. Even if they have already read the two previously released short stories, it is still worth the read. Broken Throne is gives more insight into the world building that author Victoria Aveyard did to create her series. Historical notes by Julian is the perfect way to go deep into how Norta, Montefort, Lakelands, Piedmont and neighboring countries came to be and gives perspective on where they are now. In between the history lessons are short stories, new and old, set in this world that focuses on supporting characters or backstory. The story that fans will probably be the most interested in reading is Fire Light. Fans who were left a little disappointed on how Mare left thing with Cal at the end of War Storm will get some closure in this story. Mare and Cal have been through a lot. They have both done things to others and to each other that they can’t take back. They both needed time to heal from everything that has happened and accessed who they are now and not who they were before they meant. Can they forgive each other? Can they forgive themselves? It was a sweet story that wraps up their story nicely. While I think this was a wrap of the series but I think there is a lot here for more book set in this universe. The Nortan states push towards a representative government is rocky and the epilogue mentions further drama that could easily be turned into a series. There are a few countries that were mentioned but we haven’t been that could be explored. Not to mention, as more and more Reds turn out to be New bloods, there could be so many more stories about them and how that plays out in the world. So what I’m saying, I don’t think we have seen the last of Norta or the Lakelands or Montefort or the last of Mare, Cal, Evageline, Iris, Farley and the other characters either. Whenever Victoria is ready to come back she should know I’ll be waiting.

Quick Review: The Reckoning of Noah Shaw by Michelle Hodkin

So not a lot of happened in this book. Noah Shaw has already been a mess but he’s even more so after the events of the last book. If we are being truthful, he’s never really dealt with the events of Mara Dyer trilogy and now that everything has spiraled out of control, he’s really not dealing well. He broke things off with Mara after discovering what she has done and kept from him. He discovers that Mara’s Grandma, who should be dead is still alive has plans for him. If that wasn’t enough, he lost his power to heal and is a little lost M, Mara’s grandma, wants him to do what Mara did and access his memories and find the clues that can help her and Mara against the Professor but Noah isn’t so keen. The last thing that Noah wants to do remember and feel and after everything that has happened is a little bit paranoid. So yeah, he resists and avoids but also does what he is asked. We get a few answers to how everything began and why some are dying but we are mostly still left in the dark. I wouldn’t say this book was boring but it didn’t have the oompf of previous books. I can only hope that the pay off will come in the final book.

Quick Review: Defy Me by Tahereh Mafi

The second book in a trilogy is always a difficult one and this one is no different. I felt it was a little uneven. It first felt a little slow in the beginning and then lose it’s momentum in the end. This was also difficult because this book really lays out all the abuse and trauma that Juliette/Ella has been put through by the Reestablishment. So much of her young life had been taken from her and not just from her but Warner and the other children of the World commanders. It’s very heartbreaking everything that she has been through and everything that continued to be done to her, her sister and friends. I really enjoyed the chapters in Kenji’s POV and was sad when they stop halfway through. MORE KENJI. The ending was sweet but also kinda cruel because for a brief moment they all were in peace that we all know will not last long. So it wasn’t t he best book in the series but it was a good set up to what is to come and reminder of all that is at stack from them.

Review: Seafire by Natalie C. Parker

I fell in love with the premise of this book immediately. A crew of woman sailors out for revenge against the regime that killed or hurt their families. It just seemed like the book I needed to read right now. Caledonia Styx, the captain is a flawed heroine for sure but she is also a good leader. Wracked with guilt after hesitating to kill the Bullet, member of the so called Army that rules the oceans, that lead to the death of her own family. She builds her ship and crew along with her friend Pieces. Many of her decisions on her personal desire to kill this one Bullet and this at times clouds her judgment. The weight of being the Captain and responsible for the lives of her crew members weighs heavily on her as their mission becomes more and more dangerous. After taking on one enemies ship they take on a Bullet. She doesn’t trust him but he offers her information that she can’t deny and things start moving very fast.

From the very beginning this book was intense. I could feel the tension that the characters were feeling throughout their journey. The story is in Caledonia’s point of view and we get a glimpsed of a determined but also conflicted girl. She is a born leader and has the complete loyalty of her crew but has so many doubts and fears that she can’t see it. Almost the entire book , Pieces tells her how much she needs to let go and trust that her crew has her back and just when I thought the message got through, she does something stupid but I won’t go into that because that would spoil the end. That’s the beauty of this book. It really is about female friendship. Caledonia only succeeds because of the crew she assembled and that’s a powerful message. Often girls are taught to be in competition with each other but we can be so much stronger together. All of the characters are fully fleshed out. We don’t get as much of their back story but we get full character traits and that each girl is their own person. In the upcoming books, I hope we get more of her crew and where they came from and how they joined the crew. I really loved this book and happy and sad that it’s a trilogy because I don’t want to journey to end but I also want to read the next book like right now.

Quick Review: A Question of Holmes by Brittany Cavallaro

I thought that the Charlotte Holmes series was only so supposed to be a trilogy. In fact, it was in my year-end review of Series I said good bye too last year. So talk about a surprise to find out that there was a fourth book. It’s always a little unnerving when an author decides to extend their series beyond the original plans because sometimes the story just isn’t there to support it. I felt that A Case for Jamie ended things pretty well. Lucien Moriarty was caught and Jamie and Charlotte were able to have a reconciliation. They didn’t know where their relationship was going to go but they knew that they were going to have some kind of relationship. I thought it was good way to end it. This book really wasn’t necessary but also not unwanted or unwarranted. Charlotte and Jamie are in Oxford for summer courses and while they are there they pick up a case. The year before, the drama department had a series of unfortunate accidents that ended with a student disappearing. The stakes are not as high this time, since the mystery has nothing to do with them but it still works. Charlotte is healing from the all the trauma of the past couple of years and from her family. Living with her Uncle Leander has really been good for her. It also, as well as this case, has given her time to figure out what she wants to do with her life and who she is. It also gives her time to truly work out her feelings for Jaime. I missed Jamie’s narration but it was fascinating to be on Charlotte’s head a little more. Getting a first hand account of not just how she deduces but also how she is processing her own trauma. I think we expect people to get over the trauma quickly and move on but it’s not the simple. We don’t change over night and that is what this novel illustrates. It’s a little bittersweet but also very healthy. I’m glad we had this final chapter. It may not have been as exciting as the previous books, it did give us the true closure we needed.