March 2017 Bookish Wrap Up

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Middle of the month isn’t so bad to post a March recap, right? It’s been a really busy time here at my real job and (surprise!) I’m getting married, so my hobbies have taken a little dip in productivity. I swear I’m coming back!

Onto the recap; I read four amazing reads during the month of March. I noticed recently that all of the books I’ve chosen to read have been pretty amazing. Even my TBR has so many books I’m excited to read (although I can’t read as fast as I accumulate). It makes me really happy I have such great reads. Here’s the rundown:

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

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When Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home, long drives to explore the island, and quality time with the man she might one day marry. What she doesn’t know is that Nick’s family home happens to look like a palace, that she’ll ride in more private planes than cars, and that with one of Asia’s most eligible bachelors on her arm, Rachel might as well have a target on her back. Initiated into a world of dynastic splendor beyond imagination, Rachel meets Astrid, the It Girl of Singapore society; Eddie, whose family practically lives in the pages of the Hong Kong socialite magazines; and Eleanor, Nick’s formidable mother, a woman who has very strong feelings about who her son should–and should not–marry. Uproarious, addictive, and filled with jaw-dropping opulence, Crazy Rich Asians is an insider’s look at the Asian JetSet; a perfect depiction of the clash between old money and new money; between Overseas Chinese and Mainland Chinese; and a fabulous novel about what it means to be young, in love, and gloriously, crazily rich.

A Conjuring of Light by VE Schwab

29939230THE BALANCE OF POWER HAS FINALLY TIPPED…
The precarious equilibrium among four Londons has reached its breaking point. Once brimming with the red vivacity of magic, darkness casts a shadow over the Maresh Empire, leaving a space for another London to rise.

WHO WILL CRUMBLE?
Kell – once assumed to be the last surviving Antari – begins to waver under the pressure of competing loyalties. And in the wake of tragedy, can Arnes survive?

WHO WILL RISE?
Lila Bard, once a commonplace – but never common – thief, has survived and flourished through a series of magical trials. But now she must learn to control the magic, before it bleeds her dry. Meanwhile, the disgraced Captain Alucard Emery of the Night Spire collects his crew, attempting a race against time to acquire the impossible.

WHO WILL TAKE CONTROL?
And an ancient enemy returns to claim a crown while a fallen hero tries to save a world in decay.

Next Year For Sure by Zoey Leigh Peterson

30201150After nine years together, Kathryn and Chris have the sort of relationship most would envy. They speak in the shorthand they have invented, complete one another’s sentences, and help each other through every daily and existential dilemma. When Chris tells Kathryn about his feelings for Emily, a vivacious young woman he sees often at the Laundromat, Kathryn encourages her boyfriend to pursue this other woman—certain that her bond with Chris is strong enough to weather a little side dalliance.

As Kathryn and Chris stumble into polyamory, Next Year, For Sure tracks the tumultuous, revelatory, and often very funny year that follows. When Chris’s romance with Emily grows beyond what anyone anticipated, both Chris and Kathryn are invited into Emily’s communal home, where Kathryn will discover new romantic possibilities of her own. In the confusions, passions, and upheavals of their new lives, both Kathryn and Chris will be forced to reconsider their past and what they thought they knew about love.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

27883214Scarlett 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.

 

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

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Remember, it’s only a game…

Maybe it’s me or the most recent weeks, but I’ve been watching and reading a lot about warp realities and the mind playing tricks on you. What is real? What’s not real? How can you tell the difference?

In a world where you can’t tell what’s real and what’s not real, how do you know who your allies are? Who can you trust?

You can easily say the same with the characters in Caraval by Stephanie Garber.

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com) 

27883214Scarlett 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.

Rating: 5/5 buttons

My thoughts

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What I would do for a letter to arrive to me with an exciting journey to a magical place. I’ve been waiting for my Hogwarts letter since I was a kid. Still haven’t gotten it yet.

For Scarlett, it came at the most inappropriate time; ten days before her wedding to a guy she doesn’t know. While she’s wanted to be invited since she was a kid, it wasn’t until she was an adult and getting married to someone that it finally happens. I think there’s a strong metaphor in where childhood fantasies end and real life begin. Stephanie Garber makes an amazing argument that sometimes we all need a little magic in our lives regardless of how old you are.

And Scarlett deserves it. I don’t want to give anything away, but living the life she’s had I’m surprised that she came out of her younger years with the hope of magic still in tact.

I love that Scarlett makes mistakes and tries things that fail. I love how human she is and how slowly she learns the magic of Caraval. I think that if she found things out quickly or tested a theory and it worked on the first try then the story would be a little less believable. She’d be a little less relatable and maybe even a less interesting novel. Who gets everything handed to them on a platter?

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For a fantasy novel, there isn’t a lot of world-building but in this case I think it’s fine since the majority of the novel takes place in a fantastical world within the world. For most world-building, you’re assuming that the characters will be roaming across this world to do whatever it is that they need to. Because Caraval is specifically about the game, the only world you really need to understand is Caraval and Stephanie Garber does a good job at that.

However, I would have loved to feel a little bit more a part of this world. While Stephanie Garber includes handwritten letters throughout the story, I’d love to see the green glass key or the carousel or even the room of stars at the very end. I get that it’s up for your mind to make up what these places will look like, I think if every chapter started with a little illustration then it’d really bring you further into this story.

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Finally, I also wonder if Stephanie Garber has synesthesia. I don’t know how to describe it well, but it’s your brain processing two things at once or doing them together. For example, some people are able to perceive different colors or numbers when associating a word, a person, or a food. It’s like two sensory parts of your brain combining together to create one. Anyway, the way Scarlett associates people with color and smells feels like she may be dipping into that part of her brain capacity. It’s quite interesting and it makes me wonder if the author is as well.