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”

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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”

Crooked Kingdom: A Gang of Misfits Up Against the World

 

A crow flying vertically in front of a gray background, with the words "#1 New York Times-Bestselling Author Leigh Bardugo, Crooked Kingdom." Followed by the words "When you can't beat the odds, change the game."
Image: Henry Holt and Co. via Leigh Bardugo

Genre: YA Fantasy

Synopsis: Criminal mastermind Kaz put together a crew of teenagers and used them to pull off an impossible heist–but instead of reaping the rewards, they were betrayed. Now they have to get back at the people who back-stabbed them, save one of their own, and hopefully come out with something to show for it. But every power in the city wants to get their hands on what–or rather, who–they stole. Making it ever more complicated to stay in control of the situation, as the crew’s resources and allies dwindle. Continue reading “Crooked Kingdom: A Gang of Misfits Up Against the World”

Poisoned Blade, and a World Moving Towards a Revolution

An a sword shown over a shield with a blue background, with the cover readeing "To win the game, she must fight a war. Poisoned Blade. A Court of Fives novel. Kate Elliott, World Fantasy Finalist."
Image: Hachette Book Group via Kate Elliott; Cover Artist: Wes Youssi and Sammy Yuen

Genre: YA Fantasy

Synopsis: Jes and her sisters have grown up relatively sheltered, their aristocratic father hiding them away from much of the prejudice against their mother’s race. But after the kingdom’s politics force their father to abandon his family, the girls navigate the world’s dangers on their own. Jes has a place for herself running the Fives, a prestigious obstacle course race. Continue reading “Poisoned Blade, and a World Moving Towards a Revolution”

We Don’t Live in a Homogenous World: List of 10 Science Fiction/Fantasy Works

There are plenty of authors from underrepresented groups writing fantastic science fiction and fantasy, and they’re equally deserving of publicity and support. It’s also important to remember that media can be powerful. It influences how we view the world, and what we think of as normal. That kind of power needs to be in the hands of people with wide ranges of perspectives, so that audiences are introduced to different ideas. So that everyone has a voice. Continue reading “We Don’t Live in a Homogenous World: List of 10 Science Fiction/Fantasy Works”

The Bear and the Nightingale: Independent Heroines, Folkloric Settings, and the Struggle for Personal Freedom

97811018859321
Image: Random House

Genre: YA fantasy

Synopsis: In Lesnaya Zemlya, the old religion coexists with the new, both of them in practice by the people of the land. This is the world Vasilisa grows up in. She attends church, then leaves offerings for the spirits of the land and household. Moreso, unlike the rest of her community, she can see and speak with these spirits. Continue reading “The Bear and the Nightingale: Independent Heroines, Folkloric Settings, and the Struggle for Personal Freedom”