Friday, February 24, 2017

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

~Audiobook Review~
Title: Caraval (Caraval #1)
Author: Stephanie Garber
Released January 31, 2017
Listened via Audible subscription
Rating: 2/5


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 (Summary from Goodreads).


*Review may contain  minor spoilers*

I've seen the cover of this book EVERYWHERE - on Instagram, on peoples' TBR lists, booktube, Reddit...EVERYWHERE.

And it was a huge disappointment.

I didn't feel that way through the first half.  In fact, being on the Julian x Scarlett ship train blinded me to the flaws in the writing.  Three major things bothered me:

1. Metaphors were nonsensical

I have this bad habit of reading negative reviews on Goodreads.  Once a negative review points out something, I start to notice the problem, too.  I probably wouldn't have been bothered by the weird descriptions unless I was reading the physical book (I was listening to the audiobook), but once someone pointed them out, I couldn't stop noticing them.

Can someone tell me what violet feels like? What does midnight and wind taste like? I just can't with these descriptions.

2. The story was choppy

The summary seems pretty dang enticing - A story about magic and getting entrancing in a game! Well, we get magic and a game, and that's about it.  The story lacked structure (much like my reviews).  Most of Caraval is Scarlett reminding herself that she HAS TO SAVE HER SISTER and JULIAN'S MUSCLES!!  Every time Scarlett discovered a clue, it felt too perfect.  Too forced.

3. It was basically a fanfiction

The bridges in Caraval changed direction when people walked on them...sound familiar? It reminded me of the staircases in Harry Potter.  Okay, no big deal right?  Then we discover Scarlett is supposed to marry (*SPOILER*) a dude named Nicholas Darcy. DARCY - a rich dude that kinda acts like an asshole.  And of course I thought of Pride and Prejudice. We meet a side character named Iko and I immediately think of The Lunar Chronicles. At this point, I was starting to get annoyed.  Iko isn't exactly a common name.

But perhaps the most obvious sign that this is basically a fanfiction is the entire premise of Caraval being a mysterious show that doesn't stay in the same place for long and is a competition.  Um....even the cover resembles The Night Circus!! I mean COME ON.  How do books like this get published?

I don't typically give books such a low rating; usually I don't finish books I dislike this much.  When I don't finish, I feel like I shouldn't review unless I read over half of it.  I happened to actually finish this because it was an audiobook and I needed something to listen to while knitting a blanket.  Also, I didn't realize how much certain things bothered me until toward the end.

Audiobook Performance Review
Narrated by: Rebecca Soler
Rating: 4/5

I don't have a lot of experience with audiobooks yet, but I felt that the performance was very good considering how bad the writing is.  I think it was actually the feeling exuded by Soler that kept me from noticing a lot of the writing flaws throughout most of the novel.  I liked that Julian's accent sounded Mexican (I could be way off base so sorry if my ignorance offends anyone!), because the names of the southern islands were Mexican.  The only voice I didn't care for much was Legend's - it sounded like an evil middle aged woman.  I feel like his voice should have had more of a magician's flair to it, confident.  I also like that she didn't try to make her voice sound manly for the male characters.  Overall, the voice acting made the book bearable.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Morning Star by Pierce Brown

Title: Morning Star (Red Rising #3)
Author: Pierce Brown
Released February 9, 2016
Borrowed from Library
Rating: 3.5/5


Darrow would have lived in peace, but his enemies brought him war. The Gold overlords demanded his obedience, hanged his wife, and enslaved his people. But Darrow is determined to fight back. Risking everything to transform himself and breach Gold society, Darrow has battled to survive the cutthroat rivalries that breed Society’s mightiest warriors, climbed the ranks, and waited patiently to unleash the revolution that will tear the hierarchy apart from within.

Finally, the time has come.

But devotion to honor and hunger for vengeance run deep on both sides. Darrow and his comrades-in-arms face powerful enemies without scruple or mercy. Among them are some Darrow once considered friends. To win, Darrow will need to inspire those shackled in darkness to break their chains, unmake the world their cruel masters have built, and claim a destiny too long denied—and too glorious to surrender.


**This review contains spoilers**

Wow, so I think I'm just gonna start from the beginning.  I was going into this book with medium to high expectations after experiencing the greatness that is Golden Son.  The writing in the beginning was fantastic.  It captured Darrow's hurt and craziness from being imprisoned and tortured for over a year.  After he was rescued and reunited with Sevro, I was in heaven.  Sevro's lines are so funny, and I think he is everyone's favorite character not just because of his shoot-first-ask-questions-later style, but because he seems to be the best developed character.

While the beginning parts were good...the middle of the book was quite stagnant for me.  In Red Rising, the side characters had some personality, but still felt like cardboard.  There was a lot of action and little twists and turns.  Golden Son improved on this issue of characterization immensely, and had PLENTY of exciting action parts.  But Morning Star turned all the side characters into cardboard, especially Mustang.  I didn't feel any emotion from her in this entire book, even in that cliche epilogue.  Where was her concern when Darrow was getting his freakin' hand cut off? Why wasn't there a better reunion scene between her and Darrow after his captivity?  It felt like the Howlers all had the same personality, as well.

The story wasn't as action-packed, and the parts that did have action felt unexciting to me. I feel like the descriptions are not clear enough for me to imagine the setting, yet also too drawn out to be exciting (if that makes sense).

I have to say that the ending was both good and disappointing.  When Cassius shot Sevro in the chest six times and I thought he was dead:

That's one of my favorite gifs lmaoo.  I was legit about to give this book 2 stars.  But then we find out Cassius and Sevro were acting and almost everything was right again...except, I can't help but wonder what the point of that was?? Why didn't Cassius start kicking ass before Darrow got his hand cut off?? I was just confused.  Even with the plot twist, the end fighting scene just seemed...dry.  BUT, I was still happy with the ending, because my Sevro was still alive (basically the reason I gave this 3.5 stars instead of 3).

It seems like most of this review is a rant, but I did honestly like the series as a whole.  As I was reading Morning Star, I couldn't help but think of how far Darrow has come from his meager beginnings as a Red Helldiver in the mines of Mars.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Wires and Nerve by Marissa Meyer

Title: Wires and Nerve, Volume 1 (Wires and Nerve #1)
Author: Marissa Meyer
Illustrator: Douglas Holgate
Released January 31, 2017
Bought Hardcover from Amazon
Rating: 4.5/5


In her first graphic novel, bestselling author Marissa Meyer extends the world of the Lunar Chronicles with a brand-new, action-packed story about Iko, the android with a heart of (mechanized) gold. When rogue packs of wolf-hybrid soldiers threaten the tenuous peace alliance between Earth and Luna, Iko takes it upon herself to hunt down the soldiers' leader. She is soon working with a handsome royal guard who forces her to question everything she knows about love, loyalty, and her own humanity. With appearances by Cinder and the rest of the Rampion crew, this is a must-have for fans of the bestselling series (Summary from Goodreads).


So I'm kinda biased because I love everything this woman writes and I knew I would love this going in.  This is Marissa Meyer's first graphic novel, and my first time reading a graphic novel.  Although I obviously have no experience reading graphic novels, I thought the illustrations were great, and I loved getting into the world of The Lunar Chronicles in a different format.

Wires and Nerve begins after the events of Winter, the final book of The Lunar Chronicles.  I would definitely recommend reading TLC before this graphic novel, because there is no way you could get the same experience without knowing all the awesomeness that came before the events of this graphic novel.

**The rest of this review contains spoilers**

So I absolutely loved all the scenes with Iko.  She still has her sassiness, and she's also a badass as she dishes out sweet justice to Levana's former mutated soldier army.  It's interesting how Iko struggles with her "feelings."  As we know, Iko is an android, but her feelings feel very, very real.  Although the Rampion crew treats Iko like any other human being, she feels lonely knowing she is most likely the only android with a personality chip that's so independent.  Other humans besides the Rampion crew treat her like any other android, and that definitely gets on her nerves (see what I did there? okay I'll stop).

This theme of Iko struggling with having human emotions is also reflected in her relationship with one of Cinder's guards, Kinney.  Kinney seems like a jerk - it appears he only sees Iko as the android she is, and he often makes mean comments to her about it.  However, I just think he is afraid of getting feelings for a robot (understandable), and is taking it out on her.  THAT LAST CHAPTER THOOO. Never thought I would ship an android and a human!

I felt that Iko and Cinder were most like their book selves, but for some reason I didn't feel it with the other Rampion crew members.  Thorne didn't look like how I would imagine, and I felt he wasn't as witty as he normally is.  However, I know this is Meyer's first graphic novel, and I can't imagine it is easy conveying personality into short bits of dialogue. These were the only reasons I decided to rate 4.5 stars instead of 5.  Well, also because I really want MORE.  I'm so happy to have this on my bookshelf, and I can't wait for the next volume! I wonder how many volumes there will be of my sweet, sweet babies?
Wednesday, February 1, 2017

February TBR

January was filled with good books and a great start to reaching this year's reading challenge of 40 books!

Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson
Heartless by Marissa Meyer
Steelheart (Reckoners #1) by Brandon Sanderson
Morning Star (Red Rising #3) by Pierce Brown - Review to come

Books lined up for February:

1. Wires & Nerve by Marissa Meyer - I've been looking forward to this graphic novel for a looong time!! I can't wait to get back into the world of The Lunar Chronicles through a different format. Words cannot express how excited I am! That cover looks AMAZING. I finally have my hands on it, and I will probably put Morning Star on the back burner until I finish reading this.

2. Illuminae by Amie Kaufman (The Illuminae Files #1) - I've heard many good things about this series, mainly because of its unique format.  The story is told through documents, emails, letters, etc. rather than the standard novel. I'm definitely intrigued!

3. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (The Kingkiller Chronicle #1) - I've heard great things about this from two BookTubers, and has amazing reviews on Goodreads.  I've been meaning to get to this for a while, but the size of the book is a little intimidating.  Since I've read bigger books than this, I decided to get over my hesitation and go for it this month!

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