Legendary Gives Us a Heroine Who Knows the Value of a Good Bluff

The background is a spades playing card. The text reads "New York Times Bestselling Author Stephanie Garber, Legendary, A Caraval novel."

I reviewed the first book, Caraval, here. 

Caraval is a magical carnival where participants compete to win a prize. At the previous Caraval, Scarlett competed to save her sister Tella and win their freedom. But Tella hasn’t shared all of her secrets, and those secrets will have her competing in the next Caraval–where she’ll have to choose who to save, and who to sacrifice.

In a way, Tella had been the hidden protagonist of Caraval. Scarlett might have been the narrator, but she was walking on a path that Tella laid out for her. Tella’s decisions drove the entire plot of the book. So it was super exciting to get the next book from her perspective, because though I like Scarlett, Tella has so much more agency.

And true to that promise, Legendary starts us off by revealing a whole heap of Tella’s secrets and motivations. She’d had access to way more information than we’d known (through the eyes of her sister) in the first book. And she’d tracked down that information because she’s been fighting fate for a long time now–and she’s not about to stop now. Continue reading “Legendary Gives Us a Heroine Who Knows the Value of a Good Bluff”

Chains Carried on Wings is a Semi-finalist in the YA Genre of the 2019 Kindle Book Awards

The shadowy figure of a girl stands against a backdrop of the moon. The text reads "Chains Carried on Wings, Living on the edge of acceptance."

The 2019 Kindle Book Awards are ongoing, and they’ve just announced their Category Semi-finalists today–with Chains Carried on Wings making the cut in the YA genre.

So that’s pretty cool.

This book was all about being non-standard, from the way that my protagonists fit into their world (or don’t) to the fantasy cultures populating my story. Whether I pulled that off or not is up each reader to decide, but the experience of writing it really meant something to me, and I’m glad it does something for other people as well.

3 Book Series that Rank as my Childhood Favorites (and One I Wish I’d Read)

In another prompt from Top Ten Tuesday from That Artsy Reader Girl, I’ll be searching my memories for whatever I can recall about the most meaningful reads I had in my childhood. Those are from three series, one middle grade historical fiction and two young adult fantasies. Plus one bonus young adult fantasy author I wish I’d found while I was still a kid.

The Royal Diaries by various authors

A girl pets a cheetah in front of a river. The text reads "The Royal Diaries, Cleopatra VII, Daughter of the Nile, Egypt, 57 B.C."

I loved this series as a kid. Every time my elementary school had another book sale, I’d hunt though the shelves for another one of these books, and it was always so exciting to find one I hadn’t read yet.

Each one of these novels, written by different authors, features one historical female protagonist from a royal/political family during her teenage years. The first one I ever read, the one that started the habit, followed Cleopatra VII (the famous Cleopatra). I don’t remember much beyond that I loved it, and that it was set during the years she and her father visited Rome–before he died, and way before she became queen.

This series also introduced me to Nzinga Mbande, who was a total badass and deserves to be way better known as a historical figure. Continue reading “3 Book Series that Rank as my Childhood Favorites (and One I Wish I’d Read)”

First Five Books I Reviewed (Which Somehow Turned into a Critique of My Past Writing Ability?)

This topic prompt was proposed over at Top Ten Tuesday from That Artsy Reader Girl.

Thankfully, my old blog serves as an online record of my first book reviews (from 2012!). Wow, was I nowhere near as good of a writer then as I am now. In chronological order, here are the first five books I’ve ever reviewed and a quote from my not-that-well-written thoughts on them. (Also some criticisms about my former self’s reviewing skills–but with full appreciation that using whatever words I had back then is what allowed me to get better.)

1. The Lies of Locke Lamora

Genre: Fantasy

The view of a city built over a canal. Text reads "National Bestseller, The Lies of Locke Lamora, 'Fresh, original, and engrossing...gorgeously realized.' - George R.R. Martin, Scott Lynch, Author of The Republic of Thieves."
Image: Spectra/Random House LLC

“This book, set in a city evocative of Venice, is about a group of conmen who unwittingly become dragged into the middle of a political power struggle…From gladiators fighting sharks to a religious cult obsessed with their own mortality, it’s the details of the world and how it works that pulls readers in.” – World Building in The Lies of Locke Lamora  Continue reading “First Five Books I Reviewed (Which Somehow Turned into a Critique of My Past Writing Ability?)”

Caraval: By Far the Twistiest YA Fantasy I’ve Ever Read

This was one amazing ride. At first, the appeal of this story rested in the atmosphere of the setting, filled with wonder, and in trying to figure out what is going on. And then it broke my brain.

A pattern is visible over a night sky. The text reads "Remember it's only a game...Caraval, New York Times Bestseller, Stephanie Garber."
Image: Macmillan

Premise

Scarlett has dreamed of Caraval her entire life. She finally receives an invitation to the magical carnival, where participants compete to solve a mystery with a wish as the price, when it’s too late. Her abusive father is finally marrying her off, and she won’t jeopardize her chance to be free of him.

Her sister has other plans. Tella wants to escape their father as badly as Scarlett, but she wants to do it on her own terms. And she won’t allow Scarlett to give up on something she’s wanted so easily.

But Caraval is not the haven from their troubles that Scarlett wanted. Because the mystery that she and her competitors must solve? It’s the disappearance of her own sister.

Continue reading “Caraval: By Far the Twistiest YA Fantasy I’ve Ever Read”

Top Five Platonic Friendships in Books

The topic for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, is platonic relationships. I thought I’d be able to pick out my selections for this pretty quickly. But to my surprise, I ended up eliminating a few potential choices because the platonic/romantic status of a relationship was left ambiguous.

In no particular order:

  1. Uprooted by Naomi Novik
A woman stands in a window with a rose. There is imagery of trees and plants, along with birds and dragons. The words read "Naomi Novik, Uprooted."
Image: Del Rey

I really wanted to avoid selecting this book, because it came up in my last TTT list as well. But that would be disingenuous, because Uprooted blows most other novels out of the water with its focus on friendship. Agnieszka and Kasia’s friendship is the heart and soul of this book. It’s given the kind of development normally reserved for a romance (while the romance is relegated to a lesser role–which I’m totally happy with, by the way. I think that should be done more often.) Continue reading “Top Five Platonic Friendships in Books”

My Five Most Memorable Villains for Top Ten Tuesday

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, Top Ten Tuesday gives a weekly prompt for a list of books, and this week’s theme is villains. Interestingly enough, when I was going through the list of the books I’ve read, I found that I usually remembered the protagonists much better than the villains. So for me, this became an exercise in finding the stories where the villains stood out in my memory, where something made them stand out. And then figuring out what that something is.

In no particular order:

The Toby Daye series by Seanan McGuire

A woman stands in a forest, with butterflies flying around her. The text reads "New York Times bestselling author Seanan McGuire, Hugo Award nominated series, The Brightest Fell, an October Daye novel"
Image: Tor

The character of Amandine had been vaguely hinted at in earlier books in this urban fantasy series, a picture emerging of a distant fae mother with a rift in her relationship with her half-human child, who nonetheless cared about her kid’s life. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting when we finally met her. But it wasn’t for her to become the villain of the story. Continue reading “My Five Most Memorable Villains for Top Ten Tuesday”

Bookcon 2018: Let Me Recount My Favorite Author Anecdotes

Last weekend was Bookcon, and I got the chance to go to some great panels. Pretty much everyone was interesting, but some of the writers told some seriously memorable anecdotes. I’m going to paraphrase what I remember of them, so keep in mind that memory is a tricky thing, and the following represents whatever managed to lodge itself in mine—which may not be 100% accurate. Continue reading “Bookcon 2018: Let Me Recount My Favorite Author Anecdotes”

Chains Carried on Wings Release and Upcoming Sale

I envisioned myself slowly wading into the pool of indie publishing, but now that I’ve started, I kind of want to plunge in. Which probably explains why I went ahead and published my first YA epic fantasy novel, Chains Carried on Wings, on Amazon.

A woman wielding a sword stands on a rocky outcrop with the moon looming in the background. The text reads

Saig had always lived on the edge of acceptance. Unlike a proper daughter of the head family, she longed for the freedom of the open woods over the confinement of her home. It was enough to drive away the two people who should, by rights, have been her closest companions.  Continue reading “Chains Carried on Wings Release and Upcoming Sale”