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BOOK REVIEW: Legendary (Caraval #2) by Stephanie Garber

BOOK REVIEW: Legendary (Caraval #2) by Stephanie GarberLegendary (Caraval #2)
by Stephanie Garber
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

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.

“Not everyone gets a true ending. There are two types of endings because most people give up at the part of the story where things are the worst, where the situation feels hopeless. But that’s when hope is needed most. Only those who persevere can find their true ending.”

Some books are instant reads. Some books take a while to sink in. Some books you know you need to wait until you’re in the right mood. And some books-some books will be good no matter when you start them. That is this book.

“Scar, I don’t know what you’re thinking, but I swear there is nothing going on between Dante and me. You know how I feel about boys who are prettier than me.”

But, in this case, it was also that other book that I wasn’t in the mood to read until recently. And do you see what the result was? Do you understand how it wickedly dipped it’s claws into my heart, gouging me from within, causing rivulets of blood to seep into my soul? We all know Garber loves her blood, though, am I right?

For it was also said the Prince of Hearts was not capable of love because his heart had stopped beating long ago. Only one person could make it beat again: his one true love. They said his kiss had been fatal to all but her—his only weakness—and as he’d sought her, he’d left a trail of corpses.

I needed this book when I was at my lowest of lows, when no other book was doing it for me, when I didn’t even know it was the cure. I’ll admit that, while everyone probably knows I’m an emotional mood reader, this book took a little longer for my interest to pique. Was it because I had gotten the Caraval ARC so long ago that the new release seemed underwhelming because of time? Was it because my daughter was born only two months before and I just was too exhausted to pick it up, then lost track of time and forgot all about it and eventually decided ‘eh, I’ll pick it up when I pick it up since it’s not shiny and new anymore?’ Was it really a time thing? Or was it something deeper? Did I know my heart would yearn for the more complex, yet so wonderfully simple, things in life the older and (dare I say) more mature (sophisticated?) I got? No matter the reason, I wasn’t ready for this book, and if I had read it sooner I’d have ruined it. That’s what I do know.

So enter Tella.


I’m not the type of person that likes when main characters change, so I was having a somewhat hard time reconciling the fact that I was no longer going to be following Scarlett and Julian as closely. But once this book got past the first couple chapters-I was hooked. The love interest, to me, didn’t seem like he was going to bring anything new to the table, and perhaps he didn’t, but all of sudden, when we got to that ball, early on, I was done. In fact, that scene was pivotal in so many ways it shaped the tone for the rest of the story.

Scarlett was Tella’s person—the one someone in the world whom Tella could always count on. Tella might not have believed in falling in love, but she had literally bet her life that Scarlett loved her. Tella would destroy the world before she allowed anything to happen to her sister.

Tella is headstrong. Tella loves adventure and men and living life to the fullest-and she loves her sister so dearly she trusted that she’d come through for her during Caraval. But Tella doesn’t believe in love. She doesn’t believe in giving herself over to someone so fully they can hurt you. Unless it’s her sister, or, in this case, her mother, expending that love to anyone else is a risk-and she’s not willing to take it. But Dante is dark and alluring and he always seems to come through for her. And I’m so trash for it-I really am.

Tella had exchanged things with other young men, but never hearts, and though she still had no plans to relinquish that part of her to Dante, she was beginning to understand how hearts could be slowly given away, without a person even realizing. How sometimes just a look, or a rare moment of vulnerability like the one Dante had just shared with her, was enough to steal a fraction of a heart.

And that’s the thing with this series-I feel like I can’t say much about anything, yet the art and the fangirling and the obvious love for it is everywhere, so how do people not know things? I’ll stay true to myself and not spoil anything…but man do I want to. Scarlett is on her own secret missions, Julian knows something he’s not telling anyone, Tella meets a mysterious new guy, Jacks, who is more than meets the eye, and the stakes of Tella winning the game are so high-they might just cost her her life. This book is so out of this world imaginative without being crazy (I lie-it’s so crazy), I can’t help but to fall deeper and deeper in love with it the more I think about it.



The seamstress shook her head, again muttering something about Tella having no idea what sort of game she was playing.
But Tella knew exactly what type of game she was a part of: one that would destroy her and the people she cared about if she didn’t win.

There’s just something so deep and moving, to me, when a male character plays like he can’t be the hero for the heroine and, in this case, truly means it and exercises it. But they are always always first in line to save the damsel in distress, to do sacrificial things that don’t seem like a big deal to them but are actually the world to the heroine and, actually, extremely deadly, and who would stop time, move the world, and alter the stars to make sure the girl doesn’t die and…these heroes speak to my heart, make my soul soar, and make a giddy fangirl out of me. And, even better? I love when the hero and heroine have a witty repartee going. And I love love love when the girl has another guy nipping at her heels, making the hero have to show a little grit of the teeth, a little tensing of that square jaw, and a flash of jealousy in those heavenly eyes. Again-trash for it.

DROWN IN IIIIT

And Julian like…I can’t help but be obsessed with him as well, too. His story is so amazing, to me, the way he would do anything for the girl he loves, even though he has serious commitments elsewhere-in this book we see Scar and Julian’s relationship tested, and Julian falters a lot…but I think we’re in for an epic end to that love story and I’m so here for it-I always loved these two, and I loved that we got to see it here. And that’s the thing-I never care for other couples when it comes time to move on, but we can’t truly move on from these sisters. They have two sexy as hell brothers, and I need both of their HEAs in my life, OKAY?!

“If you’re here to learn about Legend,” he said, “I can tell you more than anyone inside there.”
“Would you tell me who he is?” Tella asked.
“You know I can’t do that.”
“You could if you were Legend.”
Dante’s voice rumbled with a laugh. “If I was Legend I’d definitely never tell you.”
“Because you don’t trust me?”
“No,” he answered slowly, gently tugging her even closer. “I’d hold on to my secret because I’d want to keep playing the game with you, and if I told you the truth it would spoil all the fun.”

And the peril. Like…no it’s not crazy but there are so. Many. Scenes. That take my breath away, that made me gasp and smile simultaneously (because I’m a sick individual, we know this), and one scene even resulted in epic proportions unmeasured in recent history. Well, okay, I’ve had some good peril moments lately (and I bet in book 3 we’ll get mooooreeee), but there are two scenes that make my life complete. I love them. I need them. I want more of them. I shall return for them and re read them over and over and over again-I do so love a good hero saving ‘not his girl but he sure loves this girl’ scenes. I don’t think there are enough well written scenes that test the hero’s willingness to die for the girl…we need more of this, yes? Yes. Always. Infinitely. Never enough.

Tella claimed she didn’t want love—she liked to say love trapped and controlled and ripped hearts apart. But the truth was she also knew love healed and held people together, and deep down she wanted it more than anything. She enjoyed the kisses, but a part of her always wished that whenever she walked away from a boy he’d run after her, beg her to stay, and then promise he’d never leave.

And, because of said romantically perilistic scenes that had me so happy I could have peed my pants, I immediately took to the Twitter verse I’m so horrible at to find special editions of each (I am in such huge trouble here. SUCH HUGE TROUBLE). And. Every. Caraval and Legendary and Finale edition. That’s right-I’ve spent way too much, and gotten way too much merch. And I STILL haven’t found it all-but I’m SO CLOSE I CAN TASTE IT. My Finale luck has been immense, But that’s due to my awesome foresight (and UK Bestie, the unshakeable Pea) and ability to realize I need that bright red cover in my life, and all it’s brothers and sisters right next to it-all shapes and sizes and colors and ethnicities-we’re all equal here, okay? One love and all that jazz? I don’t discriminate-paperbacks, hardbacks, colored pages, signed pages, UK editions, different colored editions, book box editions…I want them all, I need them all. But, alas, I’ve failed on at least two-I’m hoping my luck changes! EEPS!

…there was more to life than staying safe.

So, here we are. I’m just a girl, loving a book, falling harder for a series many are obsessed with, spending more money than I have on merch and pining away for the final book. But maybe that’s the thing-my body wouldn’t let me read the second book so quickly because it knew I’d need the last book as soon as possible. But honestly, really, do you think this was an accident? Fooled you all. I had it planned the whole time, you sillies.

Now who’s the genius.

**********************

Why. Why did I wait so long to read this book? Where has this book been all my life?

Do you hear that? That’s the sound of my slump flying far, far away.

RTC

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BOOK REVIEW – Legendary (Caraval #2) by Stephanie Garber

BOOK REVIEW – Legendary (Caraval #2) by Stephanie GarberLegendary (Caraval #2)
by Stephanie Garber
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Stephanie Garber’s limitless imagination takes flight once more in the colorful, mesmerizing, and immersive sequel to the bestselling breakout debut Caraval

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.

“What have I always told you about the future?”
“Every person has the power to write her own.”
 Tella said.

Please God. Let there be a third book. There has to be a third book. Right? RIGHT?! THIS WAS SO GOOD. I spent a good four hours this morning finishing this book, completely ignoring everything else around me an I can’t say that I regret it. I mean seriously, the only part of this book that I didn’t like was when it ended…

Dante looked up and gave her a fallen star’s smile.
“You should always wear flowers.”

Would it be bad if I said I hoped the next book (IF there is one) was also centered around Tella? I liked the first book BUT this one was just so much better in my opinion. I thought Garber’s writing had seriously improved, the plot was even more twisty than in book one AND Tella was just so damn likeable! 

Tella might have been many things, but she was far from silly or worthless or whatever labels people liked to affix because a person was young and female.

I only read Caraval once as an ARC so it’s been quite awhile but from what I can remember, Tella is so much fiercer than Scarlett. I loved her sass and how even in the moments where she knew she should be scared of the people and things happening around her, she put on a brave face. She always had a retort ready for Dante and Jacks or anyone else trying to stand in her way. I couldn’t get enough!

But Tella didn’t believe in impossible choices. In her experience one path was always clearly worse than another.

I was a huge fan of the plot centering around the Fates, too. I’ve always thought that the concept of fate was an extremely interesting thing so the fact that Tella had to worry about them AND a new game of Caraval made the stakes even higher this time. It was all so incredibly twisty and complicated and of course you never can tell what’s real or fake—who’s working for Legend and who’s genuinely trying to help Tella. I LOVE IT.

But Tella didn’t want to look at the stars. She wanted to see him.

There also might be a love interest in here that I am completely obsessed with. Extremely broody and obviously I will not be saying more, just know that I am all for this ship. 100%. That’s basically why I need another book if we’re being honest with one another, lol. 

Tella claimed she didn’t want love—she liked to say loved trapped and controlled and ripped hearts apart. But the truth was she also knew love healed and help people together, and deep down she wanted it more than anything.

Overall I was THOROUGHLY impressed, you guys. While the first one was good, this one was GREAT. All the stars!

“Don’t be like me and settle for the ease of an almost-ending, when you could have the true ending.”
“I’m not sure I understand what that even means,”
 Tella said.
“It means most people give up at the part of the story where things are the worst, where the situation feels hopeless. But that’s when hope is needed most.”

ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review. The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication. THANK YOU NetGalley and Flatiron Books for the chance to read this early. ♥

BOOK REVIEW: Caraval (Caraval #1) by Stephanie Garber

BOOK REVIEW: Caraval (Caraval #1) by Stephanie GarberCaraval (Caraval #1)
by Stephanie Garber
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Whatever you've heard about Caraval, it doesn't compare to the reality. It's more than just a game or a performance. It's the closest you'll ever find to magic in this world . . .

Welcome, welcome to Caraval―Stephanie Garber’s sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game.

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved 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 far-away, 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. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

 

*ARC(s) courtesy of Flatiron Books in exchange for an honest review*

Not quite sure how far she’d already fallen, she imagined loving him would feel like falling in love with darkness, frightening and consuming yet utterly beautiful when the stars came out.


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I read this before Christmas, and it was like the most wonderful gift. Like all gifts, if unwrapped slowly, the anticipation is built and, if the present is worth anything, the end is an explosion of fireworks, hysteria, and utter glee at all your questions being answered…and all your wildest fantasies coming alive.


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And that’s exactly what Caraval was like. I’m not quite sure what I was expecting, but not once was it anything that happened in this story. But, the best part is, you really don’t have to strain yourself trying to figure everything out. In fact, I quite enjoyed unraveling the mystery bit by bit…without having to drive myself insane to feel like I was keeping up with everyone and everything.

“Don’t look at me like that,” Scarlett said. “It doesn’t work on me.”
“That’s why it’s so fun.”

No, the beauty of this story is the simplicity. Not once does Garber try to make Caraval something it’s not. Instead, she ventures into a world of vivid imagination, creating something that feels real, palpable…well, at least in fantasy.


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It’s a world we all want to escape into, to become a part of…that is, until things don’t seem so pretty. Until seemingly vile people begin to surface and even less appealing scenarios arise. Not all is as it seems in the beautifully alluring world of Caraval…and Scarlett has a front row seat.


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Scarlett has always wanted to attend Caraval, admiring it from afar since she was a child. She and her sister Donatella dreamed of the day the Caraval Master would write back and say he was finally bringing the show to them, that they’d finally get to see the show of all shows. After all, he is a man of legend, and his show and it’s performers proceed him. But perhaps the Caraval Master isn’t as illustrious and kind and amazing as he seems…maybe he’s more monster than man, and he’s finally taken notice of Scarlett’s pleas.


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Not only did Flatiron send me an ARC of this novel, they also, additionally, sent me the audio version to listen to for my enjoyment. I’ll admit this is my first audio version of any book EVER, but I found it to be quite nice and it really enhanced the story after I had read it already. It was nice to lay back and listen, to hear the different voices and see the book from a different perspective. I had thought it would hinder my enjoyment of the story, but it actually enhanced it. It’s apparently narrated by the person who also did the Lunar Chronicles, so perhaps this will help sway your decision. She really put everything into the voices and I think added something special I hadn’t realized was possible. (Look at the end of my review for a free clip of the audiobook version).

“…Follow the boy with a heart made of black.”

I can’t quite explain the magic of this story, only that it seems unparalleled, at least while you’re entwined within its pages. There were moments where I felt ‘color explanation’ was overused, and that might be my only lingering concern when I think back, but then again, I remember truly enjoying the visceral feelings I experienced when they were used-so can I really complain?? Colors, as a closet artist, are like crack to me, so seeing them so intricately used within the story is thrilling…if not overly so.


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So, if you’re looking for a fun, quick read where you’re surrounded by magic, intrigue, and a mystery that gets more dangerous with each passing page-this is the book for you. Scarlett is an intelligent girl, and by a certain point in this book, she has no clue who to trust. Her enchantment with the traveling show begins to fade as things begin to turn darker…and instead of a fantasy, it’s a race to save her sister’s life.

But before you fully enter into our world, you must remember it’s all a game. What happens beyond this gate may frighten or excite you, but don’t let any of it trick you. We will try to convince you it’s real, but all of it is a performance. A world built of make-believe. So while we want you to get swept away, be careful of being swept too far away. Dreams that come true can be beautiful, but they can also turn into nightmares when people won’t wake up.”

I can’t help you with who to trust…but I can assure you that someone stole my heart from the moment we meet him-whether he’s friend or foe, I can’t say…but damn if he isn’t sexy as hell. Have fun. *smirky face*

Metallic and wet and just a little sweet. Bravery and fear and something else she couldn’t distinguish. Dimly, she knew she tasted his blood. It was like no other gift she’d ever received. Strangely beautiful, alarmingly intimate. And she wanted more of it. More of him.

If you want a clip of the audible of Caraval, click HERE, courtesy of Flatiron.

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