*Reread Book Review* Welcome, Welcome to Caraval by Stephanie Garber: The Magic Comes Alive

It’s that time of year everyone! The birds are starting to chirp, the weather is getting warmer…and Finale is hitting shelves in just a few weeks! So, to take part in all the excitement, I’m posting my thoughts about reading Caraval for the second time. Flatiron Books on Twitter is doing a wonderful Caraval Reread (they’re currently on Legendary) to help prepare for the release of Finale. I can barely contain my excitement for this world and the final book (though I will admit I am sad to see the story end).

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CaravalTitle: Caraval

Author: Stephanie Garber

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Release Date: January 31, 2017

Pages: 407 pages

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Summary:

Remember, it’s only a game…

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her 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 faraway, 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. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…beware of getting swept too far away.

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I haven’t read Caraval since November 2016, a couple months before it hit shelves. I was enamored with the world Stephanie Garber brought to life. I became a starry-eyed girl that fell in love with Caraval and the players and the magic and the sisters. It was a world I wanted to live in, a world I could easily see myself getting lost in. A little over two years later, and here I am re-reading Caraval. And let me tell you – the magic does not disappear the second time around. I’m actually a firm believer the magic will never disappear from this beautiful world.

My friends and family members know how much Caraval means to me and how much I absolutely love the story. The story didn’t just remind me what it’s like to dream about magic and live a life of adventure; Caraval helped reignite my love for writing and for that, I will always be grateful of the world Stephanie has created.

I wanted to find a book that was filled with magic and adventure, and Caraval was exactly that for me. The magic leaps off the pages and the world reminded me what it was like to be a kid and believe in impossible things. Caraval brought back the magic I’d lost while growing up and showed me that magic is in everything we do and it’s worth believing in, even if you are an adult.

Caraval tells the story of two sisters: Scarlett and Tella. Scarlett has always wanted to attend Caravalso when she receives tickets to attend, she’s beyond ecstatic, but also weary. She just never expects her sister and their companion, Julian, to kidnap Scarlett and bring her to Caraval. And that’s where things start to take a turn: Tella becomes the prize of winning Caraval, so Scarlett has no choice but to play if she wishes to rescue her sister.

Even though this story is filled with magic and romance and mischief, the heart of the story is sisterhood. And though I do not have a sister, I can understand what it could be like to have that bond through Scarlett and Tella. It’s such a magical and beautiful thing to witness through the pages of Caraval. It reminds me of the relationship I have with my brother; it’s probably not similar to the relationship sisters share, but I am thankful for a brother who would protect me the way Scarlett protects Tella.

Caraval will always hold a special place in my heart and it will always be a book I’ll reread. If you have not read Caraval by Stephanie Garber, I highly recommend, especially if you like magic!

nikole

*First Line Friday* 3/22/19 Finale- Stephanie Garber

40381392Welcome, welcome to Finale, the third and final book in the #1 New York Times bestselling Caraval series!

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…all games must come to an end.

It’s been two months since the last Caraval concluded, two months since the Fates have been freed from an enchanted deck of cards, two months since Tella has seen Legend, and two months since Legend claimed the empire’s throne as his own. Now, Legend is preparing for his official coronation and Tella is determined to stop it. She believes her own mother, who still remains in an enchanted sleep, is the rightful heir to the throne.

Meanwhile, Scarlett has started a game of her own. She’s challenged Julian and her former fiancé, Count Nicolas d’Arcy, to a competition where the winner will receive her hand in marriage. Finaly, Scarlett feels as if she is in complete control over her life and future. She is unaware that her mother’s past has put her in the greatest danger of all.

Caraval is over, but perhaps the greatest game of all has begun―with lives, empires, and hearts all at stake. There are no spectators this time: only those who will win…and those who will lose everything. . .

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The Beginning

“The first time Legend appeared in Tella’s dreams, he looked as if he’d just stepped out of one of the stories people told about him.”

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The Page 69 Test: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Happy Saturday, everyone! I meant to post this a couple days ago, but this week has been insanely busy. I’ve barely had time to read and it’s very sad. I’m hoping I have some time later today after I attend an amazing book signing!

To start of this wonderful Saturday afternoon, here is our third post of the Page 69 Test. The two paragraphs below illustrate what this post is.

The Page 69 TestMy co-bloggers and I have started a new weekly blog post: The Page 69 Test! Have you heard of the page 69 test? If not, it’s basically where you read page 69 of a book you think you will like. If you liked reading page 69, chances are you will enjoy reading the rest of the book.

Instead of posting the full page, we will be posting the first 10-20 lines of that page, starting with the first full sentence.

In honor of Stephanie Garber’s Legendary being a #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER, I thought this post would feature the first book in the trilogy, Caraval. Caraval is one of mine and Stacy’s favorite books, so we were so excited when we heard the news about Legendary. Stephanie most definitely deserves being a New York Times Bestseller!

“‘Then why are you trying to stop us from leaving?’ Julian’s hands were on his belt, one reaching for his knife.

‘This boy’s a bit paranoid, isn’t he?’ Algie turned to Scarlett, but she was feeling sage-shaded colors of suspicion as well. Was it just her, or were the clocks on the wall ticking faster than before?

‘Come on,’ she said to Julian. ‘Tella’s probably worried to death about us by now.’

‘You’ll find whoever you’re looking for faster this way.’ Algie stepped over to the rosewood grandfather clock, opened its glass door, and tugged on one of its weights. As he did, the metallic puzzle clocks on the wall shifted. Click. Clack. Their pieces snapped together, rearranging into a magnificent patchwork door with a notched count wheel in place of a handle.

Algie waved an arm theatrically. ‘Today only! For a bargain price the two of you can use this entrance – a shortcut into the heart of Caraval.'”

Ahh, I absolutely LOVED this book. So if you have yet to read Caraval, I highly recommend!


Synopsis of Caraval by Stephanie Garber

CaravalRemember, it’s only a game…

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her 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 faraway, 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. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…beware of getting swept too far away.

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Have you used the Page 69 Test?

♥Nikole

*Arc Review* Carnival Magic- Amy Ephron

“Remember, sometimes the best way to see someone again is not to say good-bye.”

We all have those fond memories of the Carnival. Where you begged and pleaded for your parents to take you. And when you finally get there, the air felt different. Like maybe you were in a different world. But in the end, we all had that same feeling, as if that place held all the answers to the universe and we all left with a little magic in our hearts. This is what that book reminded me of. All those fond memories from the past that you hold so dear to your heart.

It took some time for me to actually get into this one. And It kind of dragged for me until the hall of mirrors. After you are introduced to that clever trick, that is when the story fully develops.

The brother and sister combo is really sweet and you cheer them on as they go on one wacky adventure at the carnival. We all should feel envious but not that much as we see what they endure.

As I was reading this, I kept thinking about all the people who I’m going to recommend this to at work. It had a lot of strong vocabulary building words. I know parents will love that not only are their kids reading but they are learning new words that they haven’t been introduced to yet.

Having an imagination kind of disappears as you grow older but this will bring it right back into your world. Just remember to Touch The Sky!!!

Blog Tour – By a Charm and a Curse by Jaime Questell

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Good morning, fellow book lovers! Today is a special day for two reasons. One, it’s my birthday, so hoorah! And two: I had the amazing opportunity to be a part of the By a Charm and a Curse by Jaime Questell blog tour! I wanted to share my birthday with a very wonderful read, one of my favorites of 2018, so being a part of this tour is definitely the highlight of today. I also had the chance to interview Jaime, which you can check out here.

By a Charm and a Curse is a fantastic read! So, check out the information on the book and author below, an excerpt, my review, and an awesome giveaway hosted by Entangled Teen and Jaime Questell!

Thank you Entangled Teen for the opportunity to be a part of this blog tour and for the chance to read By a Charm and a Curse early!


About By a Charm and a Curse:

CharmLe Grand’s Carnival Fantastic isn’t like other traveling circuses. It’s bound by a charm, held together by a centuries-old curse, that protects its members from ever growing older or getting hurt. Emmaline King is drawn to the circus like a moth to a flame…and unwittingly recruited into its folds by a mysterious teen boy whose kiss is as cold as ice.

Forced to travel through Texas as the new Girl in the Box, Emmaline is completely trapped. Breaking the curse seems like her only chance at freedom, but with no curse, there’s no charm, either—dooming everyone who calls the Carnival Fantastic home. Including the boy she’s afraid she’s falling for.

Everything—including his life—could end with just one kiss.

Buylinks: https://entangledpublishing.com/by-a-charm-and-a-curse.html


About Jaime Questell:

JaimeJAIME QUESTELL grew up in Houston, Texas, where she escaped the heat and humidity by diving into stacks of Baby Sitter’s Club and Sweet Valley High books. She has been a book seller (fair warning: book lovers who become book sellers will give half their paychecks right back to their employers), a professional knitter, a semi-professional baker, and now works as a graphic designer in addition to writing.

Author Links:

Author Website: jaimequestell.com

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jaimequestell/

Author Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/jaimequestell

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15396319.Jaime_Questell

Newsletter: http://jaimequestell.com/events/


Excerpt from By a Charm and a Curse:

Leslie smiles at the girl with a mixture of pride and tentative hope. “It took us a few days to get Sidney set up somewhere else, and I’m sorry about that. But this wagon belongs to the occupant of the box.” Leslie strokes the side of the ladder that leads to the door. “What you’re going through is terrible, we know it is, though we can never truly understand. It’s a small comfort, but we want you to have a place that’s just your own, a place that you can use to escape.”

A weak, wobbly smile lifts the corners of the girl’s mouth as her gaze roves over the outside of the wagon, a shadow of the smile I saw the other night, when she was with her friend. I wonder what it would take to get her to smile for real.

“What about Sidney?”

“Sidney can make do.” Leslie’s smile broadens into a grin. “Have you seen the way he’s been eating? I wouldn’t be surprised to see him waddle out of the cook shack one of these mornings like Templeton the Rat.” She dangles a small copper key from the end of a length of faded red ribbon. “It’s like I said—the carnival owes the person in the box. This is the least we can do for you in return.”

The girl’s hand shakes as she reaches for the key, and she wraps her slender fingers around it tightly, as though she’s afraid of dropping it. I lose sight of her as she steps inside, and all I can do now is hope she likes the wagon.

I turn to head home and feel the sickening lurch as my foot lands in a slick patch of mud and whips out from beneath me. I throw out my arm. A flash of white-hot pain flares through my hand, but I manage to keep my footing. I step out of the mud that had nearly sent me sprawling on my ass, unsure as to how I even missed it in the first place. Then my hand begins to throb.

A gash runs diagonally across my palm. Blood wells from the wound, filling my cupped hand. The pain sets in, a deep pulsing starting in my palm and radiating up my arm. I glance over at the trailer and see a splash of red smeared along a sharp flap of metal. I must have sliced my hand on that as I tried to grab onto something to keep from slipping.

Falling on carnival grounds doesn’t happen; the charm sees to that. But my bloodied hand begs to differ.


My review: 

By a Charm and a Curse was a unique read and unlike anything I have read before. I feel like that is something very common people say a lot, but in this case, it is true. I’ve read quite a few carnival-themed books, but not once did I compare this beauty to them, and that’s because there is nothing to compare. The magical idea behind By a Charm and a Curse is wholly original and one that peaked my interest. I mean, a curse AND a charm involved in a carnival?! That’s definitely an attention grabber!

The curse, itself, is such an intriguing part of the story. I spent most of the book trying to figure out how the curse came to be and why this carnival was cursed. I was also very much captivated by the charm of the carnival. When I did find out why the curse and charm were created, I was not disappointed.

The two main characters, Emma and Ben, are what pull the story together. The dual narration gives the reader the wonderful opportunity to peek inside each character’s mind and see what it is really like to live with a cursed, yet charmed, carnival. And when things start going wrong in the carnival, the reader gets to see how Ben and Emma react to each incident.

The setting of this book was not just magical, but also captivating. I love the carnival setting and Jaime Questell does not fall short in describing the beautiful setting and landscape of each carnival night. She really goes into detail of the Girl in the Box and her role, while also giving the reader the chance to see the main attractions of the carnival. My favorite attraction was by far Gin and Whiskey’s (you’ll have to read the book to find out which attraction they performed 🙂 ). The pace of the novel was also steady and I did not get that feeling of anything being rushed.

The secondary characters—the carnival workers and performers—were fantastic and relatable and they felt so real. I felt like they were people who I would most definitely befriend. Well, I’d befriend almost all of them. There are some who are questionable and you will understand why when you read By a Charm and a Curse.  

By a Charm and a Curse is a novel I am so thankful I stumbled upon. This beautiful and intoxicating read kept me up late into the night and even had me reading some chapters when I should have been working. Everything about this book pulled to me and made me feel like I was actually there with the characters. I cannot wait to read Jaime Questell’s next work.

By a Charm and a Curse can be found at your local bookstore. I highly recommend this book!


And don’t forget to enter the rafflecopter giveaway for a By a Charm and a Curse swag pack! You can enter here

By A Charm and a Curse: An Interview with Jaime Questell

Good morning, awesome book lovers and book nerds! I hope everyone is having a wonderful week. I certainly am, and I am super excited to be hosting a wonderful author on our blog today!

I had the lucky opportunity to read an early copy of By a Charm and a Curse by Jaime Questell. It was a beautiful book about magic and love and what it takes to end a curse that protects those affected by it. I found Jaime’s debut novel to be refreshing and unique. This is definitely a book you are not going to want to miss, especially if you love carnivals and dark magic.


Here is the summary of By a Charm and a Curse, provided by Goodreads:

CharmLe Grand’s Carnival Fantastic isn’t like other traveling circuses. It’s bound by a charm, held together by a centuries-old curse, that protects its members from ever growing older or getting hurt. Emmaline King is drawn to the circus like a moth to a flame…and unwittingly recruited into its folds by a mysterious teen boy whose kiss is as cold as ice.

Forced to travel through Texas as the new Girl in the Box, Emmaline is completely trapped. Breaking the curse seems like her only chance at freedom, but with no curse, there’s no charm, either—dooming everyone who calls the Carnival Fantastic home. Including the boy she’s afraid she’s falling for. 

Everything—including his life—could end with just one kiss.

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Now doesn’t this book just sound AMAZING?! I definitely found it to be!

JaimeBut, anyway, on with the show (see what I did there)! Besides getting an early review copy of By a Charm and a Curse, I had the wonderful opportunity to interview the author of the novel, Jaime Questell. She was an absolute blast to get to know and I am very thankful to her, as well as her publicist, for letting me host her on the blog! And I find that this post is even more special because this is also my first ever interview hosted on the blog! I am super stoked for you all to get to know Jaime!

It’s time to draw the curtains aside and let the show begin!


  1. Have you always wanted to be an author? If not, what was your first dream job?

I always wanted to be a graphic designer, which is what I do now! I love it, it’s like solving puzzles with colors and shapes and text. Although, when I was younger, I was convinced I’d be a fashion designer.

  1. What was the hardest part of getting published for you?

Learning to not compare my process/reviews/expectations to my peers. It’s so hard to remember that everyone goes through struggles in the publishing industry, and just because they don’t talk about it, doesn’t mean they don’t have their own frustrations.

  1. What was your favorite part of the publishing process?

I won’t lie – I love getting ARCs. And getting to know my fellow debuts has been pretty awesome, too.

  1. Where did the inspiration come from for By a Charm and a Curse?

I had been listening to the Dresden Dolls song Coin-Operated Boy and had an image of a girl falling from a great height. That got me thinking, where did she fall from? And did she survive? What happened next? That turned into a short story, which my crit partners demanded I expand. That turned into CHARM!

  1. The curse in By a Charm and a Curse is unlike anything I’ve read! How did the idea for the curse come about?

It kind of emerged as a very warped version of the curse from Beauty and the Beast. But instead of cursing the other carnival employees and performers, I wanted to see what would happen if they benefited from the curse. How quickly would that warp them, and what would they do to keep the status quo?

(Side note: if you would like to read more about the curse, check out this post on Entangled Teen).

  1. Did you have By a Charm and a Curse mapped out before you started writing?

For the most part, I’m a huge plotter, but CHARM was just one of those things and it felt like my fingers knew what was happening almost before my brain did. It is the easiest thing I have ever written, and I hope something comes along to take that title from it!

  1. There is an array of characters in By a Charm and a Curse. Were any of those characters based on people you know?

Some have touches of people I know, and some are based on characters I like. Leslie and Lars are riffs on Leslie Knope and Ron Swanson. Gin and Whiskey have a touch of my own daughters in them. And Juliet loves food as much as I do.

  1. Who was your favorite character to write?

Whiskey has the best lines and was so much fun to write. I can’t help it – I always have a Whiskey-esque character in everything I write.

  1. Was there any specific chapter/scene you enjoyed writing the most?

I loved the scene in the gas station. It was so interesting to try to figure out what these characters, whose lives are so different from anything I’ve known, would do for fun. A gas station food fight felt very appropriate.

  1. What was it like writing in two different character perspectives?

In some ways it was harder, making sure their voices were different enough that a reader could know what chapter they were in without referencing the chapter pages, but in some ways it felt like a cheat! With two POVs, I could tell the reader things I needed them to know but that the character wouldn’t know, and it made things so much easier!

  1. If you were part of a charmed carnival, what act would you perform?

I really want to say that I’d do something graceful where I could wear a sparkly costume, like the lyra hoop, but I’m so uncoordinated. I’d probably be better off slinging cotton candy or corn dogs. 😀

  1. Were there any songs you had to listen to while writing?

Yes! Music is so helpful to me when writing. When I wrote Emma, I’d listen to this band Kitten, and when I wrote Ben, I’d listen to the Rubens. When I wanted to get the feel of the carnival, I’d listen to that Dresden Dolls song or a cover of Rock and Roll by Rasputina.

  1. As a Harry Potter fan, I have to ask: what is your Hogwarts’s House? 😊

Gryffindor! Though I think I have a touch of Slytherin, to be honest.

  1. If you could have your book turned into anything (movie, Broadway musical, dance number, etc.), what would it be?

I’d want CHARM to be one really well done season of TV. I feel like there’s more than could be fit into a movie, but not enough for multiple seasons. Though I wouldn’t say no to a movie!

  1. Any advise to writers and aspiring authors?

Self-care is so important. Whether that means taking breaks while drafting, reading to refuel your creative well, knowing when to take a step away from social media…because you can’t write when you feel like crap.

  1. Were there any books/authors that had inspiration on your work?

Too many! As I mentioned, I love Holly Black. I’m also inspired by Leigh Bardugo, Laini Taylor, Maggie Stievfater, Kelley Armstrong, Stephanie Garber, Lisa Maxwell, Zoraida Cordova…I could go on all day.

  1. What book(s) are you currently reading?

Umm, also too many! You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon; Nothing Left to Burn by Heather Ezell; and Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner. I’m also really exited to read The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert; Everless by SaraH Holland; Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke; and American Panda by Gloria Chao.


Thank you so much, Jaime, for stopping by and I had a great time getting the chance to interview you! Thank you to Entangled Teen and Jaime’s publicist for making this possible! It was an absolutely pleasure hosting you on the blog!

By a Charm and a Curse hits shelves February 6, 2018, so don’t forget to mark your calendar! If you love magic with a mix of romance, I’d definitely add By a Charm and a Curse to your Books-to-Buy list!

That’s all for today, everyone! Thank you again to the wonderful people at Entangled Teen!

♥Nikole

 

Wednesday Readings – WWW

Hi, everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday! I enjoyed spending the time with my family and reading in front of the fire place…when I had time to myself. I have family still in town so I won’t be posting much this week, or reading for that matter. But I did have enough time to squeeze in the three WWW’s: What I am currently reading, what I recently finished, and what I plan on reading next. I changed the name so our awesome readers do not get confused with the other Waiting on Wednesday posts created by Jill at Breaking the Spine.


What am I currently reading?

Cruel Prince

This book is so. Freaking. Good. I’m a little over half way through (I’d hoped to be done reading The Cruel Prince by now but not everything goes as planned), and I am just loving the characters and faerie aspect. Holly Black sure knows how to weave a wonderful tale!

Charm

I recently started By a Charm and a Curse. I’m not too far into the story but I know I will be by the end of today. This book pulls you into a unique carnival setting, and I can’t wait to see what happens to the characters.


What book did I recently finish?

Everless

Everless comes out next month, and this is a must-read. If this book is not on your TBR list, it needs to be! Everless was such an excellent read, with a unique build-up and setting. Sara Holland did a fantastic job with building suspense, and I am eagerly awaiting the sequel!


What book do I plan on reading next?

Hazel

The Hazel Wood has been on my TBR list since June, so I am excited to enter this fantastical world and see what Melissa Albert has in store for her readers. Plus, the cover is just GORGEOUS! I am all about fairy tales and myths, so this book is definitely right up my alley.


What book(s) are you currently reading?

I hope you all have a great week and Happy New Year!

♥ Nikole