Magical, Mysterious & Mesmerizing: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Posted February 5, 2017 by Hannah in Reviews, Young Adult / 3 Comments

Magical, Mysterious & Mesmerizing: Caraval by Stephanie GarberCaraval Series: Caraval #1
by Stephanie Garber
Published by Hodder & Staughton, Hachette Australia on 31st January 2017
Pages: 416
Format: E-Book, E-ARC
Source: Publisher, Netgalley
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Two sisters bound by love and a father they fear escape their tiny, secluded island for the wondrous performance of Caraval, where the audience plays along in a mysterious and magical game of determining what's real and what's fantasy. And where only one sister might be brave enough to win the ultimate prize of 'an impossible wish'...

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny isle of Trisda, pining from afar for the wonder of Caraval, a once-a-year week-long performance where the audience participates in the show.

Caraval is Magic. Mystery. Adventure. And for lonely Scarlett, it represents freedom, an escape from her abusive father and from her own dark past.

Still, Scarlett is too scared of her father to leave Trisda. Until she is kidnapped by her wild younger sister Donatella and a dangerous yet oh-so-seductive sailor named Julian and taken to the mystical Isla de los Suenos, the site of this year's Caraval. When they arrive, her sister immediately disappears. Since protecting Tella is all she knows, Scarlett is forced to join forces with Julian and find her before the evil Master of Caraval does...

You’ll hear a lot of pretty words used to describe Caraval – spellbounding, mystical, magical, breathtaking, atmospheric – pretty much all are accurate and true. Caraval is one of those stories that is so visually stunning, that for a debut author, Garber has cemented herself as an author whose words truly leap off the page.

So what’s all the fuss about? What we have is our heroine, Scarlett, who haslonged to participate in Caraval, the legendary magical circus-come-scavenger hunt. When she is gifted three tickets – one for her, one for her sister Tella, and one for the fiancee she’s never met. But when Tella goes missing on their arrival and Scarlett is left with Julian, the enigmatic sailor who whisked them to the island, Scarlett must play the game – and win – in order to get her sister back, and alive.

Caraval is full of plot twists, which is part of what makes the book so delectable. If you think you’re getting the stock standard YA fantasy, then you’re wrong. I was so caught up in ‘playing the game’ with Scarlett and trying to second guess every next step and play that I was completely swept up in the book, and couldn’t put it down. Was it real or not real? Only a game or not? I’ll leave you in suspense and make you go read the book.

The relationship between Tella and Scarlett was amazing, and sadly, I just wanted more and more. As you can tell, Tella isn’t present for a lot of the book, popping every now and again but there was a such a strong sense of love and devotion between the two. They were two incredibly different characters, and at times I felt that there could have been more depth to both. At times I felt Scarlett to be quite a judgemental character, but I was impressed at her determination in never giving up in finding Tella. And a character with synesthesia? I’d never heard of that before now, and at first it was a little confusing, but once I begun to understand Scarlett, it made a great aspect of the novel. Speaking of relationships – I can’t not mention Julian, who was probably my favourite character. I loved the banter between him and Scarlett, and the way he pushed her to be a better person.

There were a few minor niggles that made Caraval a four star instead of five star read, and I hope that they’ll be explored more in coming books (oh please tell me there’s more books!). Firstly is the world building – you get a brief sense of the world that Scarlett lives in, a conglomerate of islands ruled by governors, but you don’t get much beyond that. And I always find fantasy worlds so fascinating, so this left me a little disappointed. I wanted to know more about the culture, the history – from my sense, I got a very Italian vibe, especially with the names and costumes. Look at me, always wanting more!

So if you are wanting a book that is visually rich as it is enchanting, then look no further than Caraval. And if you don’t do it for the story, those covers, am I right?!

A huge big thanks to Hachette Australia who provided me a copy in exchange for review. Caraval is out now in all major bookstores and retailers.

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Five Reasons to Fall in Love: New York Nights by C.J. Duggan

Posted February 4, 2017 by Hannah in New Adult, Reviews / 0 Comments

Five Reasons to Fall in Love: New York Nights by C.J. DugganNew York Nights Series: Heart of the City #2
by C.J. Duggan
Published by Hachette Australia on 1st February 2017
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher, Finished Review Copy
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Sarah Williams is a spirited, independent Aussie who has always dreamed of New York City. So when a job opportunity arises to become an au pair for a successful businessman in the heart of Manhattan, Sarah jumps at the chance to follow her dream.

What she didn't bet on was a beautiful newborn and a distant, abrasive man whose eyes hold a million anguished secrets. Determined to care for his daughter and face the challenges of the impossible Ben Worthington, Sarah was always prepared to follow her heart; she just wasn't prepared to lose it to a complicated man like Ben.

It’s not that hard to fall in love with a C.J. Duggan book. They’re always so perfect for any situation – perfect for a long, warm summer’s night with a glass of wine. Perfect for snuggling on a cold winter’s night – with a glass of wine. Perfect for, well, any occasion really. With a C.J. Duggan book, you know what you are getting – romance, adventure and that good fuzzy feeling at the end of it all.

As for New York Nights? Well, it’s definitely one of my favourites, that’s for sure. Okay, okay, I’m purely judging on my “Duggan Boys,” and Ben is Top 3, that’s for sure (what are the other two? Dean and Sean of course, and not necessarily in that order!), but New York Nights has many other qualities that we can discuss too. So if you’re looking for five reasons to pick this little gem up, here we go!

  1. New York, New York! What a Wonderful Town!

New York is one of my favourite cities in the world, and provides the most gorgeous & lush backdrop to Sarah’s story. We see the city through her eyes –  a first timer, fresh off the plane Aussie and it’s exciting to see her experience it for the first time. New York City is beautiful, and there’s a certain magic to it. Of course, it doesn’t help that the book is mainly set in the Village areas near Washington Park – I’d totally die to have a zipcode there!

      2. What’s Lacking in Plot is Made Up for in Characters

Look, not every book needs to have oodles of plot. And as with a lot of contemporary romances, there’s more of a focus here on the main characters themselves, and not necessarily the plot. With New York Nights, what you see is what you get, and what I love about C.J. is she doesn’t beat around the bush – simply, Sarah is an expat au pair for a broody, hardly-ever-present, single Dad with a newborn. While not exactly enthralling stuff for some, what C.J. does is give us characters that make something of it and turn the narrative into a gorgeous story. Sarah is compassionate, a little naive and stubborn. Which clashes perfectly with an equally stubborn Ben who is finding it hard to transition from workaholic into parent. The secondary characters are stars themselves, and you are left wanting just a little bit more so that you can spend time with them all.

        3. Small Town Aussie Girl, Big City Dreams

I can’t help it, I love it. People who seize their independency and seek the world beyond their sphere are my type of people. Don’t get me wrong, if this is not you, then that’s fine as well. But I see so much of myself in a character like Sarah, one who takes the opportunities that come their way with no bars hold and put aside their fears to grab on to it and make something of themselves. With every uncertainty, we saw Sarah’s sense of humour shine through, and her ability to take on any challenge made me so proud.

       4. Warm Fuzzies Galore

Have I said anything about the warm fuzzies this book gives you yet? Probably, but here it is again. New York Nights is full of cute little moments that have you squeeing and sighing all book long.

      5. Did I Mention Ben Worthington Yet?

HA. Of course I have. Maybe ten or fifteen times, but listen up, I’m going to tell you again. WHY ARE ARCHITECTS JUST SO DAMN ATTRACTIVE? There’s a running joke with my friends that “I’m going to find myself an architect.” Sadly, thus far in life they’ve all been in books. It must be because they’re creative and good at math. But man alive, Ben Worthington was swoon material to the max. He was that broody Alpha male without the over the top you get in a lot of romances. He was kind, he was caring, and why does a baby make guys 1456478% more attractive? I loved how Ben’s relationship with little Grace was adorable and sweet and swoon.

Basically? If you need a pick me up, C.J’s got you covered. I can’t wait to read the other Heart of the City books – Paris Lights is out now, and London Bound is due in March and there you have it, a trio of wonderful reads that will leave you lusting for more.

(legit an accurate representation of me after reading this book)

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Happy Book Birthday New York Nights!

Posted January 29, 2017 by Hannah in uncategorized / 0 Comments

I’m so excited to be participating today in the release day blitz for New York Nights, the second standalone in the Heart of the City series by awesome Aussie author C.J. Duggan. New York Nights is a great, warm fuzzy type of a read, and I’m especially excited to share my review with you later in the week. But so you know what I’m talking about, and just to torment you a little, there’s going to be teasers as well!

Title: New York Nights

Series: Heart of the City #2

Author: C.J. Duggan

Publisher: Hachette Australia

Genre: New Adult

Release Date: January 29, 2017

New York Nights is the second standalone book in CJ Duggan’s HEART OF THE CITY series – a very sassy, super sexy New Adult romance from the internationally bestselling author of the SUMMER and PARADISE series.

Sarah Williams is a spirited, independent Aussie who has always dreamed of living in New York City. So when a job opportunity arises to become an au pair for a successful businessman in the heart of Manhattan, Sarah jumps at the chance, ready to embrace the Big Apple in all its brilliant well-lit glory. What she doesn’t bet on is Grace, the beautiful newborn she’ll be looking after, and Grace’s distant, abrasive father whose eyes hold a million anguished secrets. Determined to care for Grace and face the challenges of the impossible Ben Worthington, Sarah was always prepared to follow her heart; she just wasn’t prepared to lose it to a complicated man like Ben.

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AVAILABLE NOW FROM 

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CJ DUGGAN is the internationally bestselling author of over ten books. She lives with her husband in a rural border town of New South Wales. When she isn’t writing books about swoony boys and 90s pop culture you will find her renovating her hundred-year- old Victorian homestead or annoying her local travel agent for a quote to escape the chaos.

WEBSITE / FACEBOOK / TWITTER / GOODREADS / NEWSLETTER / INSTAGRAM

 

 

 

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All The Books I Need in 2017: The Contemporary Edition

Posted January 26, 2017 by Hannah in uncategorized / 1 Comment

OH MY GOSH THERE ARE SO MANY CONTEMPORARY BOOKS IN 2017!!!

How am I supposed to read all the books when there are so many?! I need a holiday, stat! I didn’t realise it would be so hard to pick what I’m looking forward to the most. There’s the books that remind me of my favourite movies (You’ve Got Mail & Stranger Than Fiction), there’s books that sound so adorable that I want to eat them right up, there are books with ballet, with Antarctica (I KNOW!) and then there’s the creepy psychological thrillers I’m getting addicted to at the moment.

If one decided to live off contemporaries for the year, one would definitely have enough sustenance, for sure. And it’s because of that reason I’m not going to go into the books that I wanted to read in 2016, because otherwise we shall be here until 2020 – God Forbid!

Let me know down the bottom what you’re looking forward to reading the most – and are there any others I should definitely be putting on my list? As always, all images link to Goodreads – so go add them ASAP!

 

 

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All The Books I Need in 2017: The SciFi Edition

Posted January 21, 2017 by Hannah in uncategorized / 3 Comments

Hey gorgeous people! I’m a bit behind on blogging right now (thanks, Mean Reds), but hopefully over the next couple of days I can get back into the swing of things, and what a better way to do so than to gush about more books I’m excited to read this year?!?

This time it’s Sci-Fi books, and to be honest, I’m never too sure exactly what SciFi means. What are the requirments? Does it mean space is the main setting? Does it mean it’s a dystopia? Or does it mean it’s set in the modern world but are there scientific elements that are considered as “fiction” because they are not the norm in current society? If you know, please tell me!! Anyway, of course, here are the books I want to read that come under the sci-fi bracket this year. As always, if you have any suggestions, tell me those as well! Links will take you to Goodreads.

Apparently I don’t have a lot of Sci-Fi on my 2017 list…this needs to be changed, stat!

 

Two other books I’m also excited for that don’t have covers are Contagion by Teri Terry, a fabulous #UKYA author who wrote the Shattered trilogy, and the debut novel This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada (who is an Aussie living in the US!).

Of course there’s always the books I didn’t read last year…

 

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January 2017 New Releases Giveaway Hop! (INT)

Posted January 14, 2017 by Hannah in Giveaways / 76 Comments

WELCOME! It’s January, and with the new year brings a new giveaway! I hope you all survived the festive season, and are falling into 2017 with aplomb. 2017 is definitely going to be an interesting year, that’s for sure, and I’m (kind of) excited to see what it shall bring!

After a quiet Christmas and New Year (I was working for both), I’m starting to get ready again for university, which isn’t until March but you can never be too prepared, right? I’m also trying to read as much as I can and binge a few TV shows before crunch time -right now, I’m watching season 2 of Crazy Ex Girlfriend, and then I’m on to Jane the Virgin! Have you watched either? What TV shows are you binging right now? Feel free to give me suggestions!

So let’s without further ado head on to the best part of this post – the giveaway! Normal rules apply, but for those who are new (or don’t remember), here is the gist of it:

ONE (1) winner will win ONE (1) January 2017 New Release to the value of AUD$30. And as long as The Book Depository ships to you, anyone can enter! Not sure if that’s you? Check here. The winners will have 48 hours from me contacting them to say hello, or another winner/s will be chosen.

Last month’s winner was Jaime, who chose The Secret of a Heart Note by Stacey Lee. Definitely a great choice!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don’t forget to check out the other blogs on the hop too!

And as always…

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