Are you ready for a surprise? I actually finished a series! Not only did I finish a series but I competed the entire trilogy within 35 days which feels like a record for me . It’s not because I finished The Hunger Games series over one weekend in 2011 but that was almost another life! I don’t remember completing a series so quickly in recent history.
I absolutely loved this series! I gave each book 5 shiny stars.
I felt that the character development was so strong as the series followed sisters Scarlett and Donatella who really grew and came into their own. I enjoyed seeing them gain independence and acceptance that they had so sorely desired. Their sisterly bond was so strong and was beautifully written.
The world of Caraval was one of the strongest examples of world building in a series that I have read in recent memory. The world continued to expand as the series continued but I wasn’t left waiting for explanations in the earlier chapters. The world felt real and rounded and just grew to reveal new locations.
I loved the wee romances that were introduced but they felt like a second plot to the main quest element of the series.
Each book had their own mission and I found each book to be fast paced and exciting. I was left wanting more despite everything being tied up quite nicely, I just wanted more because I adored it. I feel like there wasn’t a weak link, usually there’s a slightly weaker book in a trilogy but these all felt strong and I had a great time reading this series!
This week I devoted some time to my heavily neglected kindle. I’ve so many unread ebooks so they were long overdue some attention.
I’d also been forgetting about my NetGalley approvals, despite getting so excited when I got the approval confirmation. It was like I forgot about them but I really needed to pick up the books that I’d previously been so excited about. I was so happy to pick them up because I had a good time with these books and I remembered why I was so excited to read them in the first place. Delighted!
In the last week I read the following books, which I ramble on about in my vlog:
Secluded Cabin Sleeps Six by Lisa Unger
A Witch’s Guide to Fake Dating a Demon by Sarah Hawley
Patricia Wants to Cuddle by Samantha Allen
Each of these books came from NetGalley but my rambles are my own
A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.
After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister, Scarlett, from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.
The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister’s. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice, but now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever…
Welcome, welcome to Caraval . . . the games have only just begun.
I started reading the Caraval series last month as a buddy read and we all enjoyed it so much that we agreed to read the next book together. We were supposed to wait until next month to read book three together but we’re pulling it forward because this series is so good! So I can’t feel too guilty about not making much progress in my existing series as while I have started a new series, I’m going to finish it this month.
I absolutely loved this book. Yes, it was the second book in a series but if you wanted to jump into book two without reading book one, it could work as a first introduction to the world. Although I’d highly recommend starting with book one as a be more of this world, the better! This book was told entirely from Tella’s point of view and I enjoyed getting to know her a lot better as she was a side character during the first book.
This time it was Tella’s turn to participate in Caraval and she had a secret task. It turned out that she had a secret and had made a deal. A very risky deal!
I loved that we got so much more of characters that had been introduced in book one, Tella and Dante took leading roles. Jacks, The Prince of Hearts was also introduced and he is my favourite character in Once Upon a Broken Heart so I was delighted! I loved the relationship between Tella, Dante, and Jacks. Morally grey brooding characters were very enjoyable to read about.
I feel like a lot of questions from Caraval had been answered and more questions asked. I found this to be such a fast based and exciting adventure.
The book took place in a gorgeous and opulent empire which had various quarters. I enjoyed this new area and I’m a sucker for a creepy castle setting which did get introduced.
There’s a new baddy introduced in this book. The Fates. Previously locked away but they wanted to be released. I enjoyed learning more about the fates and what had happened to them.
There wasn’t a lot of Scarlett or Julien in this book, they had taken the lead roles in book one so it was strange seeing them as side characters. I feel like they didn’t really have a lot going on this time but I was still happy to have the other characters get their turn in the spotlight.
This world was just fantastic and I loved being brought back to it. This was a thrilling adventure and I was gripped! This was a buddy read that we had intended to read over a week…I read it in 5 days and some of my pals read it quicker. Very few of us lasted the full 7 days without reading ahead. I think that’s a sign of a beloved book. I’m so excited to read the next book and see if some questions I have will be answered. I may have found a new favourite series!
With February coming to an end, it’s time for me to wrap up all of the Scottish fiction read this month. It’s been a very good and varied month for me and Scottish fiction. This month I read two romances, for ‘tis the season, one fantasy, and one…I have no idea what genre Lanark belongs to!
In this video, I chatted about the following books;
I didn’t ask to be a bridesmaid. And I didn’t expect it meant co-ordinating with my best friend’s uptight lawyer brother.
But I’ll do anything to make it perfect. Which means smiling even when I want to scream.
Until my psycho ex decides it’ll be fun to start stalking me, and Matt agrees to be my fake boyfriend to put him off.
So I guess he’s not all bad. But falling for the best man-or any man- is not on my agenda.
Thanks to my sharp instinct and work ethic, I’ve been successful in life. Except in relationships.
Ever since my perfect woman dumped me I can’t look at anyone else. But she’s coming to the wedding, and I can’t let her see me alone.
When I find my sister’s bridesmaid crying under a table, I figure out a way we can help each other. After all I’m a lawyer and I know how to draw up a contract: pretend to date without cuddling, kissing, or falling for each other.
It sounds simple enough, but I’m tempted to break my own terms.
What’s this? Me reading another romance novella? Yes it is! It’s February, I had to read another romance. Nicki Bell is my go to author for a happy ever after.
I really enjoyed the characters in this book, I got my grumpy/sunshine romance. Grumpy/romance is one of my favourite romance tropes! I found the relationship between Ashley and Matt was so cute and had me cheering for them.
Of course there was some conflict which felt very realistic and I just felt for the characters.
This was a short and sweet romance and I just ate it up. I really enjoyed it, it was cute and fun. The book was predictable but not in a bad way, I got the ending I hoped for and I really like knowing I will get a happy ending from this author.
This book was an exclusive story available by being on the author’s mailing list so while I did get this book for free, I wasn’t obliged to review it (or like it! But I did)
A legendary competition. A mesmerizing romance. An unbreakable bond between two sisters.
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.
First let me just address that yes, I did start another series despite having a goal of making my way through my existing series…but hear me out…whoops, I started another one.
I am a huge fan of Stephanie Garber! I am in love with the Once Upon a Broken Heart series and during my wait for the third book in that series, I decided to pick up the original Caraval series. I buddy read this book and we all enjoyed it so much that we’re buddy reading the whole trilogy, what a sign of a great series!
I absolutely love the world of Caraval. The majority of the book took place inside a game called Caraval. This was a magical and fantastical world where nothing felt real. I loved this and my love of this author’s world building was part of the reasons that made me want to read this series.
I enjoyed the characters so much in this book. Scarlett’s strength and her protective nature towards her sister was so beautiful. She was very much the big sister. Her number one goal was to protect her sister Tella. Tella was a little wilder, unpredictable and impulsive. Their dynamic felt relatable as siblings.
There were two sort of love interests- Julian and Dante. They sounded dishy and dreamy and I loved seeing Scarlett loosen up and start to think about what she wanted for herself. What she wanted for her future.
In this world, it was made very clear that you couldn’t trust everyone. So I trusted nobody! I felt so tense just waiting for something to go wrong and for somebody to get hurt. I enjoyed knowing that things were not what they seemed.
I did find part of this book to be a bit difficult to read. There was a scene that involved a sacrifice which was similar to The Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode The Gift. When I first watched that episode, my sister turned to me and told me that she would do that for me. If ever I were a key to unlock a hellmouth, good to know! This year marks the ten year anniversary of my sister’s death so this part of the book affected me quite greatly. I still loved book though, I just also think my sister would have loved it too.
I laughed, I swooned, I cried. I loved this book and I’m so excited to read the next two books in this series and see where it takes me! I want good things for Scarlett and Tella!
I had a very busy week and in this Vlog I’m chatting about all of the books that I have read this week. I’m feeling really good about them and about making progress in my February TBR!
This week I read a book by one of my favourite (and autobuy) authors – Silvia Moreno-Garcia. I also found a new favourite. But mainly, I read a whole lot of gloriously creepy books, and one very emotional read.
When Ropa Moyo discovered an occult underground library, she expected great things. She’s really into Edinburgh’s secret societies – but turns out they are less into her. So instead of getting paid to work magic, she’s had to accept a crummy unpaid internship. And her with bills to pay and a pet fox to feed.
Then her friend Priya offers her a job on the side. Priya works at Our Lady of Mysterious Maladies, a very specialized hospital, where a new illness is resisting magical and medical remedies alike. The first patient was a teenage boy, Max Wu, and his healers are baffled. If Ropa can solve the case, she might earn as she learns – and impress her mentor, Sir Callander.
Her sleuthing will lead her to a lost fortune, an avenging spirit and a secret buried deep in Scotland’s past. But how are they connected? Lives are at stake and Ropa is running out of time.
I’m very proud of myself for making some progress in my series with this book which is book two in the Edinburgh Nights series. Dare I say that I enjoyed this book more than the first one!
I absolutely love Ropa as a character. She’s so strong and tough but with such softness and love when it comes to her friends and family. I enjoyed finding out more Ropa’s grandmother and her history and magic.
I found the world building in this book to be fantastic! In the first book I thought the world was like a sort of medieval version of Edinburgh but I was wrong. This book revealed so much more of the world which was actually the modern world…just a different timeline.
The magic system is so cool. I loved getting to know more about the magic system and the rules surrounding it. I got so excited by the magical bank and the archive (possibly extra excited about the archive because it was next to a shopping centre I used to frequent as a teenager!). I feel like a have a really good understanding of the magical system and the risks involved in using magic.
This book had two different story arcs which I enjoyed to different levels.
I didn’t enjoy the storyline with the mysterious stranger as much. Mainly because I didn’t like the stranger. He seemed dodgy and untrustworthy and I just wasn’t overly into his tale.
I loved the storyline with Max, the unwell child. This story took us to one of Edinburgh’s oldest magic school. That magical garden gave me everything!
This was a wonderful continuation of the series and I’m buckled in for book three!
Samantha Heather Mackey couldn’t be more of an outsider in her small, highly selective MFA program at New England’s Warren University. A scholarship student who prefers the company of her dark imagination to that of most people, she is utterly repelled by the rest of her fiction writing cohort–a clique of unbearably twee rich girls who call each other “Bunny,” and seem to move and speak as one.
But everything changes when Samantha receives an invitation to the Bunnies’ fabled “Smut Salon,” and finds herself inexplicably drawn to their front door–ditching her only friend, Ava, in the process. As Samantha plunges deeper and deeper into the Bunnies’ sinister yet saccharine world, beginning to take part in the ritualistic off-campus “Workshop” where they conjure their monstrous creations, the edges of reality begin to blur. Soon, her friendships with Ava and the Bunnies will be brought into deadly collision.
The spellbinding new novel from one of our most fearless chroniclers of the female experience, Bunny is a down-the-rabbit-hole tale of loneliness and belonging, friendship and desire, and the fantastic and terrible power of the imagination.
Wow! Just…wow! This book was absolutely spectacular.
The characters were so interesting and unpredictable. Samantha was on the outside and seemed pretty content to be on the outside. She had a couple of friends but not in her class. I thought she was a little bit lonely and lost. The bunnies were so creepy! They had their own individual personalities yet functioned more as one singular unit. The bunnies wore twee/cutesy clothing (I own a few garments mentioned in this book. Should I be offended or scared?).
I love a creepy girl gang. This is my favourite trope! The bunnies were almost cult like. They gave and they took away. Just when I felt that they might just be an intense symbiotic group, things escalated pretty dramatically.
I really enjoyed the bleak university setting. A grand and historical campus surrounded by streets filled with danger. This enhanced the isolation that Samantha found herself to be in.
The Smut Salon genuinely had me aghast! I don’t know what I had expected from this book but I hadn’t expected that.
There were points where it wasn’t clear whether events were happening in the reality of the book or just in the characters’ minds. I am a fan of an unreliable narrator where it’s sort of left up to the reader to determine whether things actually happened.
Every single character in this book was dodgy. They were all hiding something and I just loved trying to work out the characters and get to the bottom of what was going on.
I feel like this book had me on edge the entire time! I feel like I just didn’t know what was going to happen next and I kind of loved that.
This was such a hauntingly chilling book. The atmosphere was so creepy, the characters were so interesting, and the plot just kept me guessing! I also loved the subtle nods throughout the book to the film Heathers, which is one of my favourite films! It gave me almost some nostalgia and I just love this sort of dark and creepy book. It reminded me a little of Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M Danforth and Other People’s Clothes by Calla Henkel. Not necessarily in plot but the general vibes and in the way that I loved them all.
This week I decided to read both the highest and lowest rated books on my unread pile. My never ending and ever growing unread pile!
The highest rated book that I owned (according to Goodreads) was The Ministry of Unladylike Activity by Robin Stevens. Having previously read 4 books by this author, I was excited!
The lowest rated book on my shelf was The Lock In by Phoebe Luckhurst. I got this book in a book-swap and honestly had zero expectations going in as I’d forgotten the plot. I’d also forgotten whether or not my friend who gave me it had enjoyed it. This was a bit of a wildcard read.
I also fell into a bookshop and came out with a wee book haul. I had a whole bunch of reward points and I spent them after some careful consideration.