Final Page Flipped: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Caraval (Caraval, #1)Caraval by Stephanie Garber

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Goodreads blurb:

Welcome to Caraval, where nothing is quite what it seems.

Scarlett 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 Scarlett and her beloved sister Tella it represents freedom and an escape from their ruthless, abusive father.

When the sisters’ long-awaited invitations to Caraval finally arrive, it seems their dreams have come true. But no sooner have they arrived than Tella vanishes, kidnapped by the show’s mastermind organiser, Legend.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But nonetheless she quickly becomes enmeshed in a dangerous game of love, magic and heartbreak. And real or not, she must find Tella before the game is over, and her sister disappears forever.

I probably should have stopped reading when I realised I wasn’t enjoying it, but I’d seen so many rave reviews that I felt I had to push on.

Sadly, the book felt like such a wasted opportunity. I really liked the concept of the Caraval game but spent the whole book being too frustrated at the main character to properly appreciate it. Reflecting on the ending, specifically Tella’s involvement with the planning of her kidnap, the story has such a good premise but was just poorly executed.

One of the elements I found interesting was the main character sees emotions as colours. I’ve always been very intrigued by synesthesia and suppose the author must be too, but it didn’t really improve the story much for me.

When the character DeEngl showed up I wanted to physically throw the book. Perhaps it’s just me, but an anagram (for Legend, the infamous Master of Caraval) just seemed so condescending. But I’d already had way too much at this point.

Ending on a positive note, I did enjoy Scarlett’s shapeshifting enchanted dress.

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Final Page Flipped: The Chimes by Anna Smaill

The ChimesThe Chimes by Anna Smaill

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Goodreads blurb:

The Chimes is set in a reimagined London, in a world where people cannot form new memories, and the written word has been forbidden and destroyed.

In the absence of both memory and writing is music.

In a world where the past is a mystery, each new day feels the same as the last, and before is blasphony, all appears lost. But Simon Wythern, a young man who arrives in London seeking the truth about what really happened to his parents, discovers he has a gift that could change all of this forever.

This is a hard book for me to review because yes, I liked it overall but it was tough to get started and the ending infuriated me. More on that below.

In the book ‘the Chimes’ are a song that plays to all of London each night to destroy memories. Or at least that’s how I understood it. It was a fun element added to the usual dystopian fiction, and it was fun to discover slowly from the artifacts and old code (written word) that it was a dystopian future. In the beginning, not much is revealed about the world the narrator Simon lives in and I had to trust it would all make sense in due course. That did make it difficult at times, especially as I didn’t pick up the meanings of some of the music phrases; subtio/piano etc
And I’m still unsure if solfege is more of a sign language than just the music notes shown in the prefix.

I loved the first half of the book, reading about Simon joining the pact and their daily lives. It was so interesting the way Lucien would sing them directions and tunes that would help them with daily tasks like checking snares. I was a bit sad realising we wouldn’t find out more about the other pact members once Simon and Lucien left.

The biggest surprise to me was the romance between Simon and Lucien. I almost feel like I need to reread the first part of the book to see if I can pick up any hints of it developing. It was very sweet though and the most memorable quality of the book.

That ending though:
*Spoiler*
I was at about 3/4 of the way through the book and the characters hadn’t even gotten to the Citadel. I was thinking ‘How can they possibly get there, foil the Magistrate, and succeed in their plan all in the last bit of the book? There must be a sequel.’ But no, it was all just crammed into the last few chapters and that really kind of ruined the book for me. Specifically when Simon has been detained and believes Lucien is off to his death but then wait! – the Chimes are playing their song, he must have succeeded, hooray! I really would have liked the Citadel part of the book to have been expanded on, maybe learn a bit more about Clare to understand better her decision to sacrifice herself. It took the better part of the book for Simon to accept the truth about the Chimes yet Clare was happy to accept that her entire life has been a lie within about a day. End rant.

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This is the last book I was able to read forย All The Short Ones Readathon ๐Ÿ˜€
Which is great because that means I got to 7 out of my 10 books!
Hopefully I can get to the others I missed out on soon ๐Ÿ™‚

Final Page Flipped: Don’t Stay Up Late by R.L. Stine

Don't Stay Up Late: A Fear Street NovelDon’t Stay Up Late: A Fear Street Novel by R.L. Stine

My rating: 1 of 5 starsย – but truthfully it’d be zero stars

Goodreads blurb:

Ever since a car accident killed her father and put Lisa and her mother into the hospital, Lisa can’t think straight. She’s plagued by nightmares and hallucinations that force her to relive the accident over and over again in vivid detail. When Lisa finds out that a neighbour is looking for a babysitter for her young son, she takes the job immediately, eager to keep busy and shake these disturbing images from her head. But what promised to be an easy gig turns terrifying when Lisa begins to question exactly who – or what – she is babysitting.

I can’t recall hating a book so thoroughly in my life. Which is a disappointment as the Goosebumps books are largely what sparked my passion for reading. As annoyed as I am, I don’t want to have a huge rant about it so here are a few reasons why I disliked it *contains spoilers*

– The narrator Lisa is very one dimensional. We never hear anything about her except for what is happening in the present moment. Throughout the book, she only misses her recently deceased father twice, and only really in passing.
– The pop culture references came off as just trying too hard. As did all the conversation; it never felt genuine and only served to move the story forward.
– Her babysitting job is ridiculous; this frustrated me more than anything. She is terrified of the job but can’t quit because her family needs the money. So why couldn’t her mom have taken the job then? It just seemed so illogical to me. I don’t know much about leave in the US but surely her mom had some sick leave? Surely they weren’t that hard up for cash?
– The writing style was just plain awful. One of the descriptions was actually “It was a tall building surrounded by tall trees”. Really? Couldn’t you think of any other adjective for trees?

Okay, so despite my intentions this has become a bit of a rant. I needed to express my disappointment that I thought I was going to get a ‘Goosebumps for adults’ series and ended up with a story that would have failed a high school English submission. I almost feel bad about donating my copy, it was that bad.

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My 5th book forย All The Short Ones Readathonย ๐Ÿ˜€
Which means I’m halfway through my list!
I also readย The Metamorphosisย and Animal Farmย but as they were so short I didn’t have much to say about them

Final Page Flipped: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the LaneThe Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Goodreads blurb:

Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettieโ€”magical, comforting, wise beyond her yearsโ€”promised to protect him, no matter what.

This is my third Neil Gaiman read (after American Gods and Coraline) and I’m now convinced I need every single book of his in my possession! After finishing this book I checked Audible to see if there is an edition narrated by the author and my heart literally swelled with happiness to discover there is! So yes, this book moved right to the top of my favourites.

Two things that work SO well in this book are the old magic and the child narration. I’m just now noticing, oddly, that the narrator is never identified by name. I read in the acknowledgments that most of the settings resemble the author’s childhood, so maybe his name is Neil ๐Ÿ˜›
The narrator is such a likeable child and his quote “I lived in books more than I lived anywhere else” reminds me so much of my own childhood.

I just loved the Hempstocks, who I take it represent the maiden, mother, and crone. It was exceptionally magical when our clever little narrator asks Lettie “How long have you been eleven for?” – even if it made me cringe thinking of Twilight lol
So many aspects of the Hempstocks magic were just so heartwarming; the way they could sense people approaching their farm and how endless worlds seemed connected its borders, the random trinkets used to bind Ursula, the fairy ring, and of course the ocean at the end of the lane ๐Ÿ˜‰

Whilst the ending upset me, it was fitting. I especially loved the way our narrator returns to the farm every so often to visit Lettie. I also have a suspicion that Lettie had something to do with the fact none of the narrators love interests lasted.

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This is book #2 for All The Short Ones Readathon ๐Ÿ™‚

Final Page Flipped: Pull Me Under by Kelly Luce

Pull Me UnderPull Me Under by Kelly Luce

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Goodreads blurb:

Kelly Luce’s Pull Me Under tells the story of Rio Silvestri, who, when she was twelve years old, fatally stabbed a school bully. Rio, born Chizuru Akitani, is the Japanese American daughter of the revered violinist Hiro Akitani–a Living National Treasure in Japan and a man Rio hasn’t spoken to since she left her home country for the United States (and a new identity) after her violent crime. Her father’s death, along with a mysterious package that arrives on her doorstep in Boulder, Colorado, spurs her to return to Japan for the first time in twenty years. There she is forced to confront her past in ways she never imagined, pushing herself, her relationships with her husband and daughter, and her own sense of who she is to the brink.

I’ll admit one of the most appealing elements of this book was the Japan setting, and I loved the snippets of Japanese culture described throughout. The details of the temple pilgrimage were fascinating and led me to seek more details about the trail outside of the book.
But travel inspiration aside, I did really enjoy this read. I loved how the story started off by recalling the narrators time spent in the detention centre; doing so really grabbed my interest and I was invested in the story before I knew it.

As we learned more about Rio as an adult I started to dislike her as she seemed selfish and dishonest. I tried to cut her some slack as her upbringing obviously caused some trust and relationship issues. I can (sort of) also understand how a lie told enough times can be believed as truth by the teller. Rio basically lied a little bubble around herself to protect herself from the truth of her past.

At first mention of the ‘black organ’ I thought we were going to hear about a Dexter-esque ‘Dark Passenger’, but it seemed to me that Chizuru was just referring to her heart. Dealing with the constant bullying and casual racism due to her parentage seems to have made 12 year old Chizuru hot-tempered and her heart/black organ reacts strongly to indignation. I wouldn’t say that’s particularly uncommon, but her reaction to it was interesting.

I never pictured her as a murderer. It wasn’t until her husband asked her whether she felt like a murderer that I even really associated that word with her. It certainly wasn’t a premeditated act, but it wasn’t exactly an accident either, so I’m not sure what to make of it.

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This is book #1 for All The Short Ones Readathon ๐Ÿ™‚
I’ve actually read 4 so far but am very behind in reviewing!

All The Short Ones Readathon

There is something absolutely shocking in my living room right now..ย The shelves of my beloved bookcases are completely bare! In preparation for our upcoming house move my precious books have all been boxed up to keep them safe and sound. But as my TBR pile is becoming embarrassingly large I put them aside separately in an attempt to force myself to get some of them read. Caseyย fromย adoptabookausย introduced me to a fun readathon for March to try and conquer that monstrous TBR, All The Short Ones Readathon. The goal is to read books under 300 pages during March. From my TBR box, 10 are under 300 pages. I would feel SO accomplished reading 10 books in March but that’s probably a bit of a stretch. I’ll list them all anyway just in case it motivates me to be a high achiever ๐Ÿ™‚

Here they are in no particular order. Click the image to be taken to Goodreads ๐Ÿ˜‰


693208
31493481297417127220309761905716078220
25070955
2352301228116773
22452008

Am I the only one who has entirely too much fun choosing the correct cover on Goodreads? ๐Ÿ˜›

So that’s my pledge for the readathon. Let me know if you recommend any in the list; they’re all new to me!

Final Page Flipped: Divergent by Veronica Roth [audiobook]

Divergent (Divergent, #1)Divergent by Veronica Roth

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Goodreads blurb:

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtueโ€”Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really isโ€”she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really areโ€”and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . .or it might destroy her.

Divergent made it’s way to my wishlist after I committed the ultimate bibliophile sin and watched the movie first. I was very excited to see the audiobook available at my library and found Emma Galvin to be the perfect voice for Tris.

The faction system in this dystopian world really is fascinating. I can’t help but wonder if without the corruption and deception it could have carried on harmoniously for years. That being said, I always like place myself in these fictional worlds and I really can’t say which faction I would choose. Maybe I need my own aptitude simulation.

I didn’t expect to like Tris as I didn’t like her in the movie, but I really enjoyed the insight into her character and found myself supporting her choices. The author does a convinceing job of describing Tris’ emotions when she’s faced with challenges and blossoming romance. I actually couldn’t get enough of the Tris and Four romance and found myself with a huge smile on my face after every interaction.

Divergent has made its way onto my favourites shelf and I’ve kept the box set on my birthday wishlist. I’m already eyeing off some of the Tobias narrated ebooks.

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