Monday, January 30, 2017

By Your Side by Kasie West

By Your Side
By: Kasie West
Released: January 31, 2017
Source: Edelweiss
Purchase the Book: Amazon
*A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her. Only he doesn’t come. No one does. Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side? (Goodreads)

I really enjoyed By Your Side a lot! This book surprised me in the best way and was about so much more than I expected. I'm a huge fan of Kasie West's contemporary books and this was another adorable story that was difficult to put down.

By Your Side is the story of Autumn who accidentally gets locked in the library for a long weekend. She soon discovers that she isn't alone though. She's locked in with Dax, who is rumored to have spent time in juvie.

Autumn was a well developed and complex character. She worries a lot about what other people think of her and her choices. She can also become too caught up in her own head and tends to forget to take care of herself at times. Overall, I just found Autumn to be a realistic character that I could really connect with. I also loved how close Autumn was with her parents and brother. I especially loved Autumn's older brother and I would have loved to see even more of him in the book. 

Dax was a really interesting and complex character that I loved getting to know. He's quiet and tends to keep to himself. He doesn't want to get close to anyone or have any commitments. I loved the relationship that developed between Autumn and Dax though. I loved that at first it seemed like Autumn and Dax were polar opposites. However, as they got closer, they began to find that they actually shared a connection. 

The plot was paced well and it was so difficult to stop reading. I liked that there were a lot of flashbacks intertwined with the present because it helped develop the relationships that Autumn shared with her friends and family. There were also so many great moments throughout this book that made me smile and laugh. However, one of my favorite aspects of this book was how realistically West portrayed anxiety. She did a wonderful job showing a character who lives with anxiety.

Overall, I really enjoyed By Your Side a lot and reading Autumn's story. I already can't wait to reread this book again soon. If you're a fan of contemporary books, then I highly recommend picking this one up.      

My Rating:

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

By: Stephanie Garber
Released: January 31, 2017
Source: ARC from NYCC
Purchase the Book: Amazon
*An advanced reader's copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

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. (Goodreads)

I loved Caraval and I wish could read this book for the first time again. It was such a twisted and magical story. 

Caraval is the story of sisters, Scarlett and Tella, who escape from their father to attend Caraval. It's an invitation only game that happens once a year and the audience is a part of the game. Scarlett has been told that it's only a game, but Tella is kidnapped as soon as they arrive and whoever finds her first wins. 

Scarlett was a well developed and complex protagonist. She's always dreamed of seeing the Caraval performers and she is so excited when she receives the invitation to attend. However, she is also very cautious. She is Tella's big sister and does whatever she can to try to protect her little sister after their mother left them. Scarlett tries to place all of the responsibility on her own shoulders. She even agrees to an arranged marriage in the hopes that it can better the life of her and her sister. I respected Scarlett for her determination and I understood why she felt the need to be so cautious. However, I also understood why Tella would push her so much to live her life as well. I even found myself agreeing with Tella and wanting Scarlett to take a chance

There were also so many interesting and well developed side characters throughout this book. From the sailor, who helps the sisters get off their island, to Legend, the master behind Caraval. However, one of my favorite aspects of Caraval was that at the heart, it's a story of two sisters and how far each would go to protect the other. The relationship between Scarlett and Tella was so real. They have their differences and don't always agree on what's best. Tella is much more impulsive where Scarlett is more careful. They love each so much though and that was strongly evident on the pages within this book. I loved that even though Scarlett was the older sister, Tella would still try to protect Scarlett in the same way. 

The plot was paced well and I found it so difficult to put this book down. I loved how mysterious and twisted the story was because I genuinely didn't know what to expect next. There was a new surprise every couple of chapters and just as soon as I thought I figured it all out, there was another twist waiting. This is definitely one of those books where the less you know before reading it, the better.

Garber truly created a fascinating and magical world that I quickly got swept up in. I loved how colorful and unique it all was. It's definitely become one of my new favorite fictional worlds. Garber's writing was also stunning and there were so many lines that I found myself writing down. I'm looking forward to reading what she writes next.      

Overall, I loved Caraval! It was a beautiful and surprising story that you won't be able to stop thinking about long after you finish reading. The characters were well developed and the world was built with so much detail. Caraval is definitely one of the must-read books of this year!

My Rating: