Tag Archives: fantasy

Legendary by Stephanie Garber

IMG_8306Legandary by Stephanie Garber is the sequel to Caraval, a book with a beautiful cover that dominated everyone’s YA to-read lists. The plots of the series revolve around a very tricky game that is magical, but can have carry over effects into the characters’ lives beyond the games. Caraval introduces you to Scarlett (the narrator) and Tella (narrator’s little sister) and follows Scarlett as she plays the game for the first time. Legendary resumes the night after Caraval, and shifts narrators to Tella to follow her immersion into another round of the game. I much preferred Tella as a narrator over Scarlett, and the author captured their differences in this quote:

“Tella was the sister who would destroy the world if anything happened to Scarlett, but Scarlett’s world would be destroyed if anything happened to Tella.”

While I didn’t love Caraval (lots of world building, main character irked me frequently, the romance and the language was sugary and made me grit my teeth; see my full review here for more), I was interested enough to scoop up Legendary, assuming that the laborious world building in the first novel would pay off by letting the reader dive head first into the sequel. And for the most part, it did! The main difference between Caraval, is that many of the characters in this book resemble a group of Fates (kind of like immortal Gods) that once existed in the land where Legendary takes place and they crop up repeatedly throughout the plot. In case it’s hard to keep track of all of the Fates, there is a very handy glossary at the end of the novel, which I wish I had known about before I finished reading.

The world where the games take place is beautiful, but sometimes the descriptions within Legendary felt like a rendition of the same story from before, which to some extent, it has to be because the sisters are playing iterations of the same game. The settings are always colorfully described. Sets and plots considered, I think this would be a fantastic show on The CW if it were to ever be optioned as a series instead of a film.

While I liked the overal plot, I still got annoyed at the romantic interactions between the characters initially and warmed up to them slightly by the end of the book. The romance wasn’t as syrupy as Caraval, but still a bit much for my taste, especially because one of the lead romance figures was constantly described as “smelling like ink” which peeved me a bit and was incredibly redundant. As with Caraval, some of the written comparisons simply don’t make sense (i.e. “some faces were narrow and as sharp as curse words”), but maybe this will be appealing to certain readers.

All in all, I found Legendary to be completely captivating while I was reading, but kind of forgettable as soon as I put the book down. It reminded me of a piece of cake that you keep returning to and giving yourself more slices of, but when you really think about it, cake alone isn’t enough. I found many pieces of the book to be annoying, but was still entertained as a whole, so how to rate it? If the descriptions of the book sound like a gem to you, please pick it up because you’ll probably love every page! If the things I described irking me, might annoy you, perhaps consider this as a guilty pleasure read that might irritate you at points or pass on it altogether. 

The book concludes in a way that will make the reader wonder if the stories of this world are finished for the author, but I think, regardless of whether more novels continue this series, my time of visiting Caraval has come to end. 

Disclaimer: I was provided with a digital copy of this book for free from Flatiron Books via NetGalley. All opinions expressed in the review are my own and have not been influenced by Flatiron Books or NetGalley.

Publication Date: 29 May 2018 by Flatiron BooksFormat: ARC e-book.

Author: Stephanie Garber web/facebook/@twitter


Mini Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

caravalHmm… this is a tough review to write because I definitely enjoyed the overall plot of Caraval, but didn’t necessarily enjoy the journey to get to the bigger plot points. For the first 270 pages or so, this read was a slog that I only trudged through because it was one of two books I brought on holiday (Side note: I found an Advance Reading Copy version of this book in a lending library so it’s possible the final published version is different from what I read). Once I hit the turning point, I quickly finished and enjoyed the remaining storylines, but nothing should take more than 200 pages to be compelling! The romance between two of the leads was a little much for me and I found myself annoyed that adolescents might read this and think this is how they should build their crushes on other people (stop describing this man’s ~perfect muscles~!!), but hopefully the t(w)weens will roll their eyes while reading those pieces too and think “not for me!” The family relationships and affiliations were better described and fuller. All that said, I’ll probably still pick up the sequel if it gets good reviews since the laborious (unnecessary) world building was established with the first novel and I enjoyed the second half much more than the first. 

Publication Date: 31 January 2017 by Flatiron Books. Format: Paperback ARC.

Author: Stephanie Garber web/facebook/@twitter

stardust by neil gaiman

stardustVery rarely do I enjoy when authors narrate the audiobooks of their own novels (see my cringe worthy review of Lord of the Flies by William Golding), but Neil Gaiman must be a multi-talented superstar! I found myself borrowing the audiobook of Stardust from my local library upon realizing that I had never read any of Gaiman’s works despite seeing that lots of people I follow on twitter mention him often. This is no doubt aided by his own very active Twitter presence  because it truly appears that Gaiman is a Renaissance man and can don many hats. I selected Stardust as my first Gaiman read because I remembered that the film version is one of my best friend’s favorite movies (… yet I somehow still haven’t seen the film… sorry Sam!).

Gaiman is an incredibly animated narrator and is able to tell the story in a similar vein to people who are trained to be the best audiobook narrators. Thus, I didn’t have any of the normal issues that I experience when I listen to books narrated by their authors when I listened to Stardust. Despite Gaiman’s enthusiasm, I did find the book a bit boring in the beginning and likely would have put it aside after the first few pages if I had been reading the book instead of listening to it. That said, I became much more engaged after the “world building” was complete and the action started filling my ears.

Stardust is a fairytale for grown ups, according to Gaiman in a bonus interview that is included at the end of the audiobook. The “grown up” part mainly means that the novel includes some sex scenes and that the overall tale, in the way it’s presented (even if the sex scenes hadn’t been included), wouldn’t be that entertaining to a child. This is because pieces of the book draw upon experiences and feelings that you have as you become older, but that you likely don’t have a familiarity with if you’re under the age of twelve. Stardust follows the story of Tristan Thorn, a young man, who decides to leave his home on a quest to win the hand of a lady that he would like to marry. He ventures to another land to complete a quest that he conjured himself and encounters many hijinks and twists and turns (fit for a fairytale!) along the way. I didn’t really get into the book until the introduction of Yvaine, which luckily happens fairly early into the story, as I found her to be the most interesting character in the book and thoroughly enjoyed all of the scenes which included her. While I was able to guess some plot pieces of the book along the way, parts of the ending surprised me and left me in awe of how Gaiman constructed his truly great fairytale for grown ups.

Should I check out a different one of Neil Gaiman’s works? What’s your favorite thing that he’s published?

Publication Date: 1 February 1999 by HarperCollins. Format: Digital Audiobook from Harper Audio.

Author/Narrator: Neil Gaiman web/@twitter

harry potter series by j. k. rowling

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Audiobook Cover

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Audiobook Cover

Last fall during the holiday season, I found myself feeling a bit nostalgic. I had moved to a new city that I hadn’t quite adjusted to yet and was missing being geographically close to my loved ones. To combat my homesickness, I decided to dip into one of my favorite memories and reads from my childhood: the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. I hadn’t done a proper re-read since the final book (Deathly Hallows) was published in 2007 and it was time for me to re-visit the beloved series. I was able to finish the first two books in 2014 and listened to books 3-7 in 2015, with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban being my first completed book of 2015 and thus kickstarting my journey of reading 52 books in 52 days during 2015.

Unfortunately, my hardcover books are stowed away at my grandparents’ house and I didn’t want to carry the heavier books (aka 4-7) on the subway every day, so I decided to digitally check out the audiobooks from my local library. If you’re a member of your local library, you should find out if your library has digital services. The Brooklyn Public Library has a few digital resources, including Overdrive, a service that I access on my phone regularly. If you haven’t used Overdrive or if you’re not a member of your local library, I thoroughly recommend you introduce both of these into your life! Libraries are pretty great, but they’re even better when they give me access to resources like digital Harry Potter audiobooks for free when the entire series would have cost $242 if I paid to own them!! Audiobooks are very expensive and public libraries are helping expand access to them. This post could also aptly be titled “A Love Letter to Public Libraries.”

These audiobooks were absolutely great and allowed me to dive back into a series that I grew up adoring, while allowing them to feel fresh because the narrator, Jim Dale, is enormously talented. Even though the series is comprised of more than a hundred characters, Dale managed to provide each of them with a unique voice. He is definitely the most adept audiobook narrator that I’ve listened to so far since my foray into audiobooks approximately a year ago.

If you haven’t done a re-read (or a read ever) of the Harry Potter series, think about adding them to your to-read pile. If you haven’t listened to an audiobook before, I think this series narrated by Jim Dale is a wonderful introduction to how fun they can be to weave into your life.

Publication dates: 29 June 1997 – 21 July 2007 by Pottermore. Format: Digital Audiobook.

Author: J. K. Rowling web/@twitter

Narrator: Jim Dale web