Book Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber (Spoiler Alert)

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Published by Flatiron Books

Release Date: January 31, 2017

YA Fantasy, Romance 407 pages

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Photo taken from Instagram @marasfoldedpages

Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find yourself magic in this world.
Stephanie Garber, Caraval

Goodreads Description:

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her 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 faraway, 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. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.

Dark air fell over his eyes as he leaned near to her once more and whispered, “I know you want to find your sister, but on this isle secrets are valuable. Be careful about giving yours away too freely. If people know what you want the most, it can be used against you.”  ~Stephanie Garber, Caraval

….

 

This book was definitely not what I expected. Set in another time and place, The Dragna sisters are an interesting family. As the mystery unraveled during the games I found it harder than I thought to decipher what was real and what wasn’t. The magical atmosphere was enchanting and the writing is beautiful.

At times I did find Scarlett’s childishness slightly annoying, but I loved how much she had grown throughout the story. And the whole time I was just as upset with Tella as Scarlett was, until she turned out to be a genius!

The book didn’t answer what happened to their mother. Or what the woman in the grey dress was screaming about in the tunnels. Or the age difference and if Scarlett will not age as well if she’s allowed to stay with Legend and his crew.

I found the whole premise of the games intriguing, and Julian even more so. I found myself wondering when the game actually started. I like the premise of unreliable characters and point of views, and this novel did not disappoint.

The concept of secrets and lies as currency, time working against you, and boys with hearts made of black was right up my alley. I highly recommend this novel.

Overall, I’m curious and excited to see how the story will continue in Legendary for the Dragna sisters and give this novel 4.5/ 5 stars.

Thanks for reading! Mara x

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Book Review: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (spoiler alert)

Jane Eyre By Charlotte Bronte

Published by Penguin Classics

Release Date: (Originally published) October 16th, 1847

Classic, Fiction, Romance, 507 pages

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@marasfoldedpages

“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”
Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

My Review:

I read this novel at the start of the summer, and it actually turned out to be longer than I had originally thought. The 500+ pages was a little daunting, but I was excited to read my first classic nonetheless. It started out as a memoir type read of Jane’s life in the first 10 chapters. Then it flooded into a love story, then almost a horror story. When Jane runs away, I couldn’t help but wonder why she didn’t take any extra money, or things to trade while she was in hiding? This story raised some questions, but was ultimately an interesting and inspiring story.

I also liked how she ended up finding her family, and was able to support herself before she chose to come back to Mr. Rochester. Because then it was her choice, and she wasn’t dependent on him. The twist of events however, left him dependent on her. The changes in genre or theme was interesting as well, and I enjoyed all of them.

I really enjoyed the ending of the novel, although I would have liked if they moved to moor house together, or somewhere else. But I did like when he got his vision back, and they had their kids. I also liked knowing what happened to her kin, as well as Mrs. Reeds daughters.

What I liked most about this novel, was that Jane didn’t marry out of necessity, and was stubborn about it too. She was her own well-established woman, with her own money and family, before she sought out Mr. Rochester(assumingly) to marry. I think that’s what made this novel so ahead of its time.

Overall, I recommend having a solid amount of time set aside for this novel, and an interest in classics beforehand. I give this interesting novel a 4/5 stars.

Thanks for reading! Mara x

Book Review: Holding Up The Universe By Jennifer Niven

Holding Up the Universe By Jennifer Niven

Published by Ember

Release date: October 4th, 2016

YA Contemporary, Romance, Fiction 391 pages

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Do you ever wonder if it’s everyone else who sees the world differently? Like maybe you see people the way they’re supposed to be seen. ~Jennifer Niven

Goodreads Description:

Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for every possibility life has to offer. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything. 

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone.

Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world, theirs and yours

“It’s the suddenness of life changing in an instant that makes me anxious when I sleep and makes me tell myself to breathe when I’m awake.” ~ Jennifer Niven, Holding Up the Universe

My Review:

I really enjoyed this novel, and it’s my first read by Jennifer Niven. I’ve heard many great things about her books, and I was not disappointed.

This novel was built on the characters and I really liked both of the main characters. Libby was my favorite, her grief and fear was relatable, although maybe not to that extent. Her struggle with weight as she goes through high school is one of the most relatable concepts for teens, and I was taken right back to my own high school days. She also reminded me a little of Eleanor from Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park.

Jack was quite an interesting character. I had not previously heard of Prosopagnosia, and was unaware of just how many people suffer from this face recognition problem. The personality he had to develop to deal with it was interesting, and I really liked his development when he became more involved with Libby.

The way that the novel flowed was interesting and slightly different than other novels I’ve read. The way the days were introduced was interesting. I also liked the short chapters that alternated between Libby and Jack.

The plot was also very engaging, and I also got some ‘Sierra Burgess is a Loser’ vibes from the plot. The dialogue was hilarious at times, and the sarcasm was very relatable. The dialogue between Jack and Libby was also very cute, and their relationship was enjoyable to read. Overall I really enjoyed this novel, and I’m really interested to read her novel All The Bright Places soon. I give this novel 4/5 stars.

Thanks for reading! Mara x

Book Review: The Bone Cage by Angie Abdou

Published by NeWest Press

Release Date: July 1, 2007

Fiction, 235 pages

Goodreads Description:

Digger, an 85 kilo wrestler, and Sadie, a 26-year-old speed swimmer, stand on the verge of realizing every athlete’s dream–winning a gold medal at the Olympics. Both athletes are nearing the end of their athletic careers, and are forced to confront the question: what happens to athletes when their bodies are too old and injured to compete? The blossoming relationship between Digger and Sadie is tested in the all-important months leading up to the Olympics, as intense training schedules, divided loyalties, and unpredicted obstacles take their draining toll. The Olympics, as both of them are painfully aware, will be the realization or the end of a life’s dream.

The Bone Cage captures the physicality, sensuality, and euphoric highs of amateur sport, and the darker, cruel side of sport programs that wear athletes down and spit them out at the end of their bloom. With realism and humour, author Angie Abdou captures athletes on the brink of that transition–the lead-up to that looming redefinition of self–and explores how people deal with the loss of their dream.

I’ve recently read Angie Abdou’s The Bone Cage for my university English literature class, and I really wanted to share my thoughts on it. This novel follows the struggles of both Sadie and Digger on their trials and training for the Olympics. Digger is a wrestler, and faces not only his own struggles, but his friends as well. The story mainly follows Sadie, a swimmer since her youth who discovers moral conflicts as well as personal setbacks leading up to the Olympics.

Overall the plot was well written, although this was a short novel and a quick read there was multiple important messages throughout. However, I did feel that since the chapters were so short, it really cut the momentum while reading.

This novel was largely based on character development of both of the main characters. The lessons that Sadie and Digger both learn, about growing up, living life, and having a goal are relatable, and well portrayed.

The dialogue was interesting, and the relationships that Sadie had with people in her life were different from the relationships that Digger had. The parent relationships were also interesting to see, and ultimately gave me a whole new perspective on our country’s athletes.

I enjoyed the poems and other bits that Sadie thought about while swimming. Her English literature degree was interesting to hear about, and how her mind wondered while in the pool for so many hours in a day.

Overall this was an outstanding novel on perspective and our countries athletes. I give this well written novel 4/5 stars, and recommend it to anyone who loves sports, or knows someone who loves sports.

Thanks for reading! Mara x

Book Review: Renegades by Marissa Meyer

Renegades by Marissa Meyer

Published by Fiewel & Friends

Release Date: November 7th, 2017

YA Fantasy, 556 pages

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Photo taken from Instagram @marasfoldedpages

Goodreads Description: 

Secret Identities. Extraordinary Powers. She wants vengeance. He wants justice. ~Renegades, Marissa Meyer

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies — humans with extraordinary abilities — who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone… except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice — and in Nova. But Nova’s allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.

This was definitely one of my favorite reads of this year! This being my first Marissa Meyer novel, I had a lot of expectations. Honestly speaking, this novel was amazing, and even better than I hoped! It looks large and intimidating at 500 plus pages, but its very easy to read, and flows really well. I fell in love with her writing, and can’t wait to get my hands on more of her books!

I loved the concept of the types of heroes and villains in this world. I also loved how this novel was told with dual POV, with four identities…

The teams that were explained at the beginning of the book were easy to figure out in Nova and Adrian’s world. The original team was intriguing as Captain Chromium was the first to create and lead a team of superheros. However, my favourite characters consisted of the younger generation lead by Sketch. I found each character and power interesting and loved how Meyer brought the world to life.

This novel is largely based on character and morals, and what it really takes to become a proper hero or villain. I felt like this idea was being vastly explored with more than one main character, and I really would like to see more of this struggle in the next upcoming novel.

“There are many dangerous people in this world. but there are also many good people. Brave people. No matter how bad things get, we have to remember that. So long as there are heroes in this world, there’s hope that tomorrow night might be better.”
― Marissa Meyer, Renegades

I thought all of the aliases were so cool, and being a total Marvel universe fan, this was right up my alley. There was a ton of action in this novel, and was also filled with suspense, a slight romance and amazing badasses.

I’ve been told that her next novel in this planned trilogy comes out in November, and I can’t wait to pick it up! Spoiler alert: The ending is a total cliffhanger! Overall, 5/5 stars and I recommend this novel especially if you love superheroes and comics.

Thanks for reading! Mara x

Book Review: Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

 

Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

Published by Simon & Schuster Books

Release Date: March 27th, 2018

YA Contemporary Romance, 394 pages

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Photo taken from instagram @marasfoldedpages

“I like knowing that you exist. It doesn’t make me feel any less lonely, because life is lonely, but it makes me feel a lot less alone.”
 Mary H.K. Choi, Emergency Contact

I picked up this novel after hearing it was unbelievably cute, and had an amazing cover. Once I read this novel, I immediately fell in love with the characters. Penny was so relatable, I felt like I literally was her at times. Her awkwardness, as well as her fears were what really resonated with me. Sam on the other hand, was a dreamboat from the beginning. I loved his character, and how he felt like he was lost and trying to find himself at the same time. He’s also pretty cute boyfriend material if you ask me.

The plot was well written, their relationship was addicting and I always wanted more between them. As one of the first novels I’ve read that involves ‘modern day communication’ via text messages, I thought it was well done and entertaining.

Penny’s coming of age in university was also really interesting to me, as I also am going through a beginning university phase. Both Penny’s and Sam’s development was fun to read and definitely entertaining.

Her English class subplot about the anima and digital world was interesting to me as an aspiring writer. I thought this was an interesting concept, and I really enjoyed it.

Overall, I give this novel 5/5 stars! And recommend it to anyone who is a fan of Jenny Han or Rainbow Rowell.

Goodreads Description:

For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.

Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him.

When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.

Thanks for reading! Mara x

Book Review: Freshmen ARC by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison

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Book Review: Freshmen ARC by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison

Published by Delacorte Press

Release Date: June 12th, 2018

YA Contemporary Romance, 352 pages

Goodreads synopsis:

Getting in is just the beginning.

Phoebe can’t wait to get to college. On her own, discovering new things, no curfew . . . she’ll be free. And she’ll be totally different: cooler, prettier, smarter . . . the perfect potential girlfriend. Convenient: the only person from her high school also going to York is her longtime crush, Luke.

Luke didn’t set out to redefine himself, but as soon as he arrives on campus, he finds himself dumping his long-term long-distance girlfriend. And the changes don’t stop there. In fact, being on a soccer team is the only thing that stays the same.

Just when things start looking up (and Phoebe and Luke start hooking up), drama looms on the horizon. Rumors swirl about the Wall of Shame, a secret text chain run by Luke’s soccer team, filled with compromising photos of girls. As the women on campus determine to expose the team and shut down the account, Luke and Phoebe find themselves grappling with confusing feelings and wondering how they’ll ever make it through freshman year.

….

I received this novel at Yallwest this year, and was really excited to have read it before my own big move into university this fall!

What sticks out the most in my mind about this book, was that there was a whole lot of character, but not a whole lot of plot. This novel followed two POVs: Phoebe, and Luke. Both are just starting college, and had actually gone to high school together beforehand. This book starts off with drama, and ends with drama. Don’t get me wrong, I live for the drama sometimes, it just didn’t seem to be going anywhere in particular plot wise.

I particularly loved Phoebe’s obsession with Hot Luke Taylor, mostly because it was so relatable. Her friends are everything I could hope to find in friends at college, and her unfortunate problems that seemed to keep happening to her were hilarious when dealt with by the three of them.

“What should I do?” I turned to Negin.
“I don’t know.”
“Are you a doctor or not?” I screeched.
“As I have said a thousand times, I won’t be a doctor for seven years.”
― Tom Ellen & Lucy Ivison, Freshmen 

I think that Frankie was my favorite character, she was so true and hilarious the whole time, she was the best part of this novel. I also related to Luke, as I know what it’s like to base your life on someone, and then have it all taken away and be lost for a while.

This novel was also somewhat British, which I wasn’t aware of when I first started it, so I was imagining a Canadian or American style of college. I mostly clued in with their increasingly British mannerisms and when they joined the quidditch league, and I so wish there was more of those around here!

There was mention of sleeping girls, and how the soccer team would take photos of the girls they were with, and would post them in their group chat. This however seemed minor, and I felt like it wasn’t the central focus of the novel.

Overall, so much drama, with little plot line. Still a highly hilarious, enjoyable and fun read! 4/5 stars

Thanks for reading guys! Mara x

Book Review: Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Book Review: Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Published by Simon Schuster

Release Date: November 22, 2016

YA Dystopian, 435 pages

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Photo taken from Instagram @marasfoldedpages

Thou shalt kill.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

This book was recommended to me for a while before I finally picked it up, and I’m so glad that I did! It had quite a lot of hype around it, and turned out different that I was expecting. The concept of no natural death in a world where everyone can age forever was hard for me to grasp at first, but Shusterman built the world beautifully. Once I realized just how much power and freedom the scythes had in this world, I thought of our own politics and power in government in real time.

The idea of the Scythes was intriguing. Especially how each one had their own “style”. For their attire and robe choices, as well as their methods of execution and choice of victim. I also really enjoyed the Scythe journal entries that started the chapters. Once I knew the characters enough, I could learn more about them and what it’s like inside their head.

Here is an excerpt of a journal entry:

“If you’ve ever studied mortal age cartoons, you’ll remember this one. A coyote was always plotting the demise of a smirking long-necked bird. The coyote never succeeded; instead, his plans always backfired. He would blow up, or get shot, or splat from a ridiculous height.

And it was funny.

Because no matter how deadly his failure, he was always back in the next scene, as if there were a revival center just beyond the edge of the animation cell.

I’ve seen human foibles that have resulted in temporary maiming or momentary loss of life. People stumble into manholes, are hit by falling objects, trip into the paths of speeding vehicles.

And when it happens, people laugh, because no matter how gruesome the event, that person, just like the coyote, will be back in a day or two, as good as new, and no worse—or wiser—for the wear.

Immortality has turned us all into cartoons.”
― Neal Shusterman, Scythe

The plot grew on me, as the underlying problems quickly surfaced closer to home as the main characters made progress with their training.

The villains weren’t brought in until later, and when they first were I wasn’t sure if it was a flashback or whose narrative it was coming from. Once I figured out who’s POV, I could decipher their motives and try to figure out their next moves. It was interesting to see a crew of Scythes.

This was a very complex novel, each POV and chapter was well thought out to pace the story. I must say it got more interesting about halfway through when the first major plot twist hit. And it was a wild ride from there. The writing style was unique, and I would like to continue the story with the next book.

I loved both of the main characters, which is a first for me. Both Rowan and Citra were relatable as they were summoned to this line of work, and battled their way through it. I’m excited to see where their relationship goes from here.

The ending was one of the major plot twists, and left me needing the next book in this series! Overall, 4.5/5 stars.

Thanks for reading guys! Mara x

Book Review: Seafire ARC by Natalie C. Parker (Spoiler Free)

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Photo(s) taken from Instagram @marasfoldedpages

“Seafire follows the captain of an all-female ship intent on taking down a vicious warlord’s powerful fleet.”

Book Review: Seafire by Natalie C. Parker (Spoiler Free)

Published by Razorbill, Penguin Teen

Release Date: August 28, 2018

YA Fantasy, 374 pages

I got this book from Penguin teen at Yallwest this year, and I am so excited for this trilogy!

Seafire is described as Mad Max on the sea with pirates, and I couldn’t agree more. I was in love with the ship Mors Navis and it’s completely functional all girls crew right from the start.

The Captain, Caledonia is my favorite character in this novel. Not because she knows everything and is their leader, but because she has her flaws and knows it. She always puts her crew first and is the definition of a fierce female.

The plot was well constructed, and was fast paced with interesting dialogue between action scenes. I loved the writing and how things should be going so bad for Caledonia, but she catches a break right at the last second and survives. Her character development was complex, as she’s mainly motivated by revenge, and that ending scene! I’m excited to read the next book, and I’m sure there’s more development to come for Caledonia.

The antagonists, and the concept of the Fivesons of Aric’s army was perfect. I can’t wait to see where this goes! Her past is going to haunt her, and the end of this novel is such a cliff-hanger, I need the next books now!

As well, the cover of this novel is so beautiful, I can’t wait until I can buy the whole series in hardcover copies because I love this book and story so much. And I never buy duplicate copies.

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Goodreads description:

After her family is killed by corrupt warlord Aric Athair and his bloodthirsty army of Bullets, Caledonia Styx is left to chart her own course on the dangerous and deadly seas. She captains her ship, the Mors Navis, with a crew of girls and women just like her, whose lives have been turned upside down by Aric and his men. The crew has one misson: stay alive, and take down Aric’s armed and armored fleet.

But when Caledonia’s best friend and second-in-command just barely survives an attack thanks to help from a Bullet looking to defect, Caledonia finds herself questioning whether or not to let him join their crew. Is this boy the key to taking down Aric Athair once and for all…or will he threaten everything the women of the Mors Navis have worked for?

I can’t recommend this book enough, and I overall rated it 5/5 stars!

Thanks for reading! This is definitely one to look out for at the end of the month!

Mara x

Book Review: Chemistry Lessons ARC by Meredith Goldstein

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Photo taken from Instagram @marasfoldedpages

Book Review: Chemistry Lessons ARC by Meredith Goldstein

Published by HMH Teen

Release Date: June 19, 2018

YA Contemporary Romance Fiction, 245 pages

Goodreads description:

For seventeen-year-old Maya, the equation for happiness is simple: a dream internship at MIT + two new science nerd friends + a perfect boyfriend = one amazing summer. Then Whit dumps her out of the blue. Maya is miserable until she discovers that her scientist mother, before she died, was conducting research on manipulating pheromones to enhance human attraction. If Maya can finish her mother’s work, maybe she can get Whit back. But when her experiment creates chaos in her love life, she realizes that maybe love and loss can’t be understood using the scientific method. Can she learn to trust the unmeasurables of love and attraction instead?

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