Tag: Young Adult (Page 1 of 156)

BOOK REVIEW: Finale (Caraval #3) by Stephanie Garber

BOOK REVIEW: Finale (Caraval #3) by Stephanie GarberFinale (Caraval #3)
by Stephanie Garber
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

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

A love worth fighting for. A dream worth dying for. An ending worth waiting for.

It’s been two months since the Fates were freed from a deck of cards, two months since Legend claimed the throne for his own, and two months since Tella discovered the boy she fell in love with doesn’t really exist.

With lives, empires, and hearts hanging in the balance, Tella must decide if she’s going to trust Legend or a former enemy. After uncovering a secret that upends her life, Scarlett will need to do the impossible. And Legend has a choice to make that will forever change and define him.

Caraval is over, but perhaps the greatest game of all has begun. There are no spectators this time: only those who will win, and those who will lose everything.

Welcome, welcome to Finale. All games must come to an end.

Review:

Finale was a fabulous conclusion to the Caraval Trilogy!  We alternated between Tella and Scarlet in this story, and I kept my fingers crossed that they would both get their happily ever afters!  As someone who read OUABH first, I lost a lot of the peril that could be found in the pages.  I knew the ending, and how quite a few pivotal moments would unfold.  While it affected my reading of this story, there was still so much to love.  The characters made this final book, and I loved watching them fight for their happiness every step of the way!

Her steps faltered, but she didn’t stop.  If anything, she ran harder.  The Fates had won another round.

Finale was so different from the previous two stories.  There wasn’t a Caraval, so the magic, intrigue, and mystery from the games were missing.  Yet those elements could still be found elsewhere, in the characters and the world around them.  And as someone who adored Scarlett and Julien’s book a little more than Tella and Dante, I was shocked that Tella and Dante stole the stage.  While I still loved my moments with Scarlett and Julien, Tella and Dante felt otherworldly to me.  When they were around one another, it was like the sun shined brightly.  The tension between them was palpable.  I just wanted to push them together!

He smelled like dirt and tears and perfection.  And she decided then that she was never, ever letting go of him.

But then there was also Jacks, and he was the prince of pulling on one one’s heart.  I never knew if I could truly trust him, yet I wanted to!  And the moments that Tella was in the middle of Jacks and Dante, oh it all made me so giddy!  I loved the jealousy and strong emotions that were invoked.  While I only had my heart set on one boy, I loved that he gave her an impossible choice.  Yet Tella had such a strong head on her shoulders and ultimately knew what she wanted.  I loved that she wasn’t willing to bend for her HEA!

Tella had never been attracted to Julian, but for a moment she’d hated how jealous she’d been of what her sister had with him.  Enough would never be enough for Tella.

Finale was filled with revelations, twists and happily evers for both sisters.  While the ending wasn’t exactly perfect in my eyes, I felt like we got to see more of Scarlett’s than Tella’s ending.  Regardless, I still adored how the story ended.  This is a series I’ll definitely want to reread down the road, and I can’t recommend it enough for ya fantasy fans!

PS On page 255, there was something foretold…..does this mean we will get another series in this world?  I have my fingers crossed!

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

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

Synopsis:

Donatella and Scarlett Dragna escaped their cruel father and made it out of Caraval alive, but the games aren’t over yet. What Scarlett doesn’t know is that, in order to gain their freedom, Tella made a deal with a mysterious stranger and now it’s time to pay.

Except what Tella owes is something that no one has ever been able to deliver: the true name of Caraval Master Legend. Tella’s only chance at uncovering Legend’s true identity is to enter the dangerous game of Caraval once more, and win. But what will she have to sacrifice to do that?

Review:

Legendary started right after Caraval ended, and Tella had made a dangerous bargain.  She was to obtain Legend’s real name, and for that she had to win the next Caraval.  Back are the mysterious moments, the what ifs, and not knowing what was going to happen next.  Legendary took us through another game that twisted and turned as the story unfolded.  The journey was magical, and I loved seeing it through Tella’s eyes.  If you adore YA fantasy, definitely give this series a try!

He cradled her sobbing head to his chest. “Can you open your eyes for me?”
“Maybe I want to sleep here,” Tella mumbled. “I’d wager it’s safer than in your arms.”
“What’s so dangerous about my arms?” He murmured.
“For me, everything.” Tella slowly lifted one lid open.

Tella was a sneaky little soul.  I was intrigued that she kept one of the Fate cards that she had stolen.  It showed her pictures of the future, or possible futures.  Her decisions could change what it showed her.  So as Tella worked her way to winning Caraval, it was impossible not to feel everything that she did.  She was brave, focused, and loved her sister fiercely.  And even though Tella didn’t believe in true love, watching her interact with Dante and Jacks were my top favorite moments in this book!

Dante’s voice rumbled with a laugh.  “If I were 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 onto 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.”

Dante, oh my heart.  When Dante created a situation pushing her closer to Jacks, I was intrigued that he would play such a dangerous game.  I had already fallen for Dante in the previous book.  He was a man surrounded by darkness and the unknown.  Yet Dante also came through time and again.  I couldn’t help but love him. 

His laughter was surprisingly disarming.  “Then tell yourself everyone wishes they were me, dancing with you.”  With a grin he must have stolen from the devil, Jacks looped an arm around Tella’s hips and swept her on the dance floor.

Jacks created jealousy and tension that was so delicious and palpable.  He was a man who was so much more than what he seemed.  And I don’t want to say more because of spoilers, but just know that both of those men were so easy to love and obsess over.   Yet as someone who read OUABH, I definitely recommend reading this series before Once Upon a Broken Heart.  Or else you’ll spoil so many pivotal moments in this story.

He was supposed to break her heart.
She wasn’t supposed to break his.

Legendary was shrouded in mystery, and the story wove itself together so beautifully.  With characters that were so easy to like, a story-line that kept you turning the pages, and magic sprinkled throughout the book, Legendary was such a fabulous YA fantasy!  

BOOK REVIEW: Sweetheart by Cookie O’Gorman

BOOK REVIEW: Sweetheart by Cookie O’GormanSweetheart by Cookie O'Gorman
Purchase on: Amazon
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Sweetheart (suh-weet-hart): Someone who is kind, friendly, and/or lovable. For reference, see Scarlett Kent.

Seventeen-year-old Scarlett Kent likes the idea of love—in theory. She’s just never had time for romance. Voted Most Likely to Succeed, founder of a youth mentoring program, and an aspiring professional violinist, Scarlett has goals—and a list of “firsts” she’d like to complete before graduation.

One thing that’s not on her list: Falling for Sam Bishop.

Flirtatious jocks who sleep through class aren’t her type—no matter how good Sam looks in his jersey. But when her car breaks down, Sam stops to help…which leads to an unexpected offer.

Sam volunteers to help Scarlett complete her list. In return, she’ll help him win back his ex.

It’s a sweetheart deal that should benefit everyone.

But between kissing lessons and pretend dates, Scarlett realizes Sam is the perfect fake boyfriend. And if she’s not careful, he could be her first real heartbreak.

This book features two souls who’re meant to be, one fake arrangement, so many heart-melting kisses and answers the question:

What happens when a perfectionist falls for a player?

Review:

Sweetheart was a fake dating, young adult romance that was smile inducing and will warm your heart.  The characters were so easy to love, and the story-line had me finishing this book in less than 24 hours!  If you love books that have a fun and flirty vibe, are beyond adorable, and radiate happiness, then you need Sweetheart in your life!

“Just get in the car, Starlet,” he said.
He popped the locks, and I did just that.
As I slid into the car, however, I mumbled, “My name’s Scarlett. Not Starlet.”
Sam gave me that half-grin. “I know,” he said.
Sure you do.

Scarlett Kent had a list of “firsts” that she wanted to complete before she graduated High School.  When Sam Bishop picked her up on the side of the road, after her car died, he also agreed to help complete her list.  In exchange, it would help him win back his ex.  But as they made their way through her list, it was hard to keep feelings just fake.  And not fall in love with the other.

His hand on my waist burned.
His eyes stared into mine.
His breaths were so close I felt as much as heard his next words.
“You okay, Kent?” he asked.
“Yeah, I—”
A locker door slammed loud enough to make me jump.

I adored Scarlett!  She was determined and focused on her goals.  Whether it was the youth mentoring program she worked on, or dedicating hours to become a professional violinist, Scarlet gave her all.  So I love that she was brave and wanted to conquer her list!  Even if she was skeptical of love.  And while she was someone who seemed to like to be in control, I loved watching how Sam pushed her outside her comfort zones in the best possible way.  Especially when he was constantly being the object of her attention.

“I’m not crying.”
“Yeah.” He reached forward, cupped my cheek, and gently ran his thumb beneath my eye, capturing a tear that had managed to escape. “Must be my mistake,” he murmured.

Sam was a soccer player who was so effortless to love.  He was one of those guys who was sweet, but also sexy.  Playful, but could also take charge.  I loved every single side of Sam!  And the little clues he seemed to be dropping were right there, in front of Scarlett’s face.  The way he could say one thing, when it was actually something else had me squealing in joy!  Yet Scarlett was too focused on the end game to see what was truly going on.  Sam will make you swoon, sigh, and fall in love!  I loved him with my whole heart!

Sam was right. I’d imagined my first kiss in a million ways, in different places, different scenarios. But try as I might, even with my overly active imagination, one thing remained the same. There was one face that always came to mind.
His.
But the kiss wasn’t real, I reminded myself.
We did it to seal our agreement and check an item off the list.

Sam and Scarlett used to be the bestest of friends, yet that all fell apart when they went to high school.  So there was this tension between them that was delicious.  And as they started to check things off Scarlett’s list, it was so easy to fall that much deeper for the two of them.  From that first kiss, to spinning, kisses on fingers, practicing with a bystander, to mini golf, there were so many memorable moments!  Plus I adored the nickname Sam gave Scarlett.  Watching their fake dating and love story unfold was not only so much fun, but it was heartwarming too!

“Mission accomplished.” He grinned, but I just shook my head. Before I could think better of it, I said, “I missed you.”
Sam’s expression sobered. “I’ve been right here, Kent.”
I nodded. “Yeah, but…never mind.”

You know that moment, when what started out as fake, no longer feels that way? When they can’t stop thinking about each other, and the touches and glances just move to another level?  O’Gorman executed making the reader feel all of their feelings and angst beautifully!  And on top of that, there were so many characters that appeared from previous books in this story!  Do you need to read any books before this one?  No!  But I can’t recommend all of her books enough!  Scarlett’s sister’s story was Bookworm fyi ♥.

“One more kiss.”
“Whatever you want,” Sam said and pulled me closer.
Those words would replay a thousand different times in my mind.

Sweetheart was an adorable fake dating romance story that will have you smiling from that first page to the last!  There were moments that will make you laugh and also have you falling in love.  So if you need a feel good story that will leave you happy, definitely give this one a try!  I can’t recommend it enough!

*I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book, provided by the author. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*



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

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

Synopsis:

Welcome, welcome to CARAVAL, Stephanie Garber’s enchanting, NEW YORK TIMES bestselling fantasy debut about two sisters swept up in a mysterious competition filled with magic, heartbreak, and danger

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 attend. 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 whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, and her sister disappears forever.

Continue the adventure in Legendary and Finale―out now!

Review:

Caraval was a young adult fantasy that swept me away.  This book completely enraptured me and I had to know what happened next.  With jealousy, trust, betrayal, and love filling the pages, I absolutely adored this story!  But just a heads up, you definitely want to read this before Once Upon a Broken Heart.  I was told otherwise, and I wish I hadn’t read OUABH first.  There was a huge spoiler for me, that made me realize a scene was not what it seemed, ugh.

For the first time in her life, she’d felt special.  Chosen.  But once again, rather than feeling as if she were playing the game, it seemed as if the game were playing with her.

Scarlett was someone I easily liked.  She tried her best to protect her sister from her father’s wrath.  And she thought her arranged marriage would help her and her sister, Tella, escape from the little tiny island they lived on.  So her lifelong dream of attending Caraval was fading away, until she got an invitation to attend this year.  Tella and a sailor took Scarlett to Caraval, yet not everything was what it seemed.  Tella was taken by the creator of Caraval, and whoever found her first was not only the winner, but got a wish too.

Scarlett tried to wiggle free, but the look on his face stopped her.  He’d never stared at her like this before.  Sometimes he gazed at her as if he wanted to be her undoing, but just then it was as if he wanted her to undo him.

From the moment Scarlett found herself on the boat with Julian, I was hooked.  I loved that he called her Crimson.  And while Julian was a complete mystery, I loved the tiny bit that we knew.  He seemed to have a kind heart and his humor cracked me up.  Yet Julian had many shades of gray.  And I wondered what secrets he was keeping from Scarlet, because he seemed to know more than he shared.  So while I didn’t understand why I could be so nervous for a man that seemed to have lies swirling around him, I couldn’t deny I had fallen for him.  He captured me so easily in his web.

“Julian,” she said in a whisper, as if anything louder would destroy the delicacy of the moment, “why are you doing this?”
His amber-flecked eyes met hers, and something in them made her breathing hitch.  “I’d think that answer was obvious.”

The pages were filled with riddles galore, and I was glued to this story.  The world Scarlett found herself in was shrouded in mystery.  And it seemed like there were wisps of magic everywhere.  From her dress, to those she met, to even what her eyes witnessed, it had to be magic.  Or maybe you just weren’t supposed to trust what you saw.  But as the story unfolded, Scarlett learned that this game had a deadlier side.  Death, blood, and loss could be found in the pages.  And scenes left me staring in shock.  I couldn’t believe what had happened.  Who knew Caraval was so dangerous…..

Scarlett didn’t know how many times she repeated his name.  She said it like a prayer.  A plea.  A whisper.  A good-bye.

If you love young adult fantasy, I can’t recommend this book enough!  And if you love romance laced into your stories, you’ll definitely be happy.  The earrings, day of life and message in the clock had my heart soaring!  The moments that Scarlett and Julian were together, were everything!  Now I’m excited to read Tella’s story next!

BOOK REVIEW: (The Improbable Meet-Cute #1) by Christina Lauren & Worst Wingman Ever (The Improbable Meet-Cute #2) by Abby Jimenez

BOOK REVIEW:  (The Improbable Meet-Cute #1) by Christina Lauren & Worst Wingman Ever (The Improbable Meet-Cute #2) by Abby JimenezThe Exception to the Rule (The Improbable Meet-Cute #1)
by Christina Lauren
Purchase on: Amazon
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

On February 14, an accidental email to a stranger opens the door to an unexpected relationship in a captivating short story by the New York Times bestselling authors of The Unhoneymooners.

One typo, and a boy and girl connect by chance. Wishing each other a happy Valentine’s Day isn’t the end. In fact, it becomes a friendly annual tradition—with rules: no pics, no real names, nothing too personal. As years pass, the rules for their email “dates” are breaking, and they’re sharing more than they imagined—including the urge to ask…what if we actually met?

Christina Lauren’s The Exception to the Rule is part of The Improbable Meet-Cute, irresistibly romantic stories about finding love when and where you least expect it. They can be read or listened to in one sitting. Let’s make a date of it.

Review:

The Exception to the Rule was a friends to lovers, epistolary romance that was beyond adorable!  By accident, they started emailing each other in 2014.  And continued to send an email wishing the other a Happy Valentines Day every year.  And each year that followed, I loved their little happy messages to each other.  And the rules of secrecy they played by.  Yet as the years went by, real life started to slip in.  They would tell each other things they struggled with or what had shattered their hearts.  If they were dating someone.  To just sharing things that made the other person smile.  I loved watching a true friendship form!

“Too soon?” he asks, breath minty, his lips only an inch from mine.
“I don’t normally kiss before the first date,” I tell him. “But you’re the exception to the rule.”

Yet I am so beyond glad I listened to this in audio format.  Since we spent over half of this book in email format, I was so glad I didn’t have to pay close attention to who was emailing who.  I could just listen if it was a male or female voice.  And when they finally met in person, I was dying!  Kindness, thoughtfulness, heart and what-ifs filled the pages!  I loved how that unfolded.  Plus we were given an epilogue that made my heart soar.  This novella was so much fun and I’m so glad I listened to this story!

 

BOOK REVIEW:  (The Improbable Meet-Cute #1) by Christina Lauren & Worst Wingman Ever (The Improbable Meet-Cute #2) by Abby JimenezWorst Wingman Ever (The Improbable Meet-Cute #2)
by Abby Jimenez
Purchase on: Amazon
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

They’re falling in love, yet they’ve never met. Maybe fate can intervene in a heartwarming “what-if” short story about new beginnings by the New York Times bestselling author of Yours Truly.

Holly is dealing with the impending death of her grandmother and still reeling from a bad breakup. One bright spot: a Valentine’s Day card on Holly’s windshield—even if it wasn’t meant for her. An amusing mistake soon turns into a lovely exchange of anonymous notes, little acts of kindness, and a growing affection between two strangers. What happens when one of them has to say goodbye?

Abby Jimenez’s Worst Wingman Ever is part of The Improbable Meet-Cute, irresistibly romantic stories about finding love when and where you least expect it. They can be read or listened to in one sitting. Let’s make a date of it.

Review:

Worst Wingman Ever was an adult, epistolary romance that will tug at your heart.  For a novella, this story was so full of life.  It’ll make you smile, laugh and I even shed a few tears.   I found myself smiling long after that last page, and now I’m excited to binge all of Abby Jimenez’s previous books!

Time is such a precious thing. How you spend it, how you waste it. And it becomes even more valuable as the hourglass runs out, because you will never get more of it. I see it every day. The panic as the last grains of sand fall.

Holly was a hospice nurse whose current job was taking care of her grandma, as she slowly passed.  In the midst of her heart shattering each day, she found a funny Valentine’s card on her vehicle.  Even though it wasn’t meant for her, it led to her exchanging notes with a stranger.  And acts of kindness too that will make your heart soar.  

That’s the thing about kindness. You never know how big the ripple is. How one little selfless gesture can make all the difference for the person who receives it.

I loved Holly’s family so much!  Her sister Jillian was so kind, positive and made me laugh!  And she tied into the first book, The Exception to the Rule.  I loved that little easter egg!  Plus I adored her mom and aunt too.  So thank goodness for these women, because we desperately needed laughter when we were with Holly.  Watching her grandma slowly fade away hurt my heart.  I felt like I was there with my Grandma and Grandpa all over again, holding their hands during their final moments.  So I cried my eyes out.  Holly and her families’ pain felt so real to me.

She took my spot in the elevator, and I was still facing her, trying to get my puppy to move in the direction we were going, when her eyes dropped to my tool belt. “Red,” she said, almost to herself. Then the doors closed and she was gone.

This story alternated between Holly and John, and it was so easy to fall in love with John’s huge heart.  He was kind, thoughtful, generous and I loved how he helped Jillian out, even though he didn’t know who she was.  His rescue also solidified what an amazing man he was!  So when we learned about his jaded past, I just wanted to hug him.  He desperately needed some happiness in his life too, just like Holly!

“Take responsibility for your own unhappiness.
If you don’t love your life, change it.”

There were so many fun moments within these pages.  The red power tools had me screaming.  The reason behind a name was so freaking adorable.  And when they met in person I gobbled up every single moment they had together.  This story was the perfect mix of emotional and heartwarming, and is my favorite so far in this group of novellas!

 

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