Book Review: Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown

Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone is the fifth non-fiction book by qualitative researcher and writer Brené Brown.

A couple of years ago, a friend lent me Rising Strong, another of Brené Brown’s books. I was having a tough time. That book pulled me out of the depths of my despair page by page. It was transcendent. Thus, I’ve been collecting Brown’s other work. I got Daring Greatly at a book swap, and I got this one from Indigo on Black Friday. The pretty cover didn’t hurt!

Here’s the cover of Braving the Wilderness:

I love it! Simple but perfect.

Here is the synopsis of Braving the Wilderness from Amazon:

“True belonging doesn’t require us to change who we are. It requires us to be who we are.” Social scientist Brené Brown, PhD, LMSW, has sparked a global conversation about the experiences that bring meaning to our lives—experiences of courage, vulnerability, love, belonging, shame, and empathy. In Braving the Wilderness, Brown redefines what it means to truly belong in an age of increased polarization. With her trademark mix of research, storytelling, and honesty, Brown will again change the cultural conversation while mapping a clear path to true belonging.

Brown argues that we’re experiencing a spiritual crisis of disconnection, and introduces four practices of true belonging that challenge everything we believe about ourselves and each other. She writes, “True belonging requires us to believe in and belong to ourselves so fully that we can find sacredness both in being a part of something and in standing alone when necessary. But in a culture that’s rife with perfectionism and pleasing, and with the erosion of civility, it’s easy to stay quiet, hide in our ideological bunkers, or fit in rather than show up as our true selves and brave the wilderness of uncertainty and criticism. But true belonging is not something we negotiate or accomplish with others; it’s a daily practice that demands integrity and authenticity. It’s a personal commitment that we carry in our hearts.”

Brown offers us the clarity and courage we need to find our way back to ourselves and to each other. And that path cuts right through the wilderness. Brown writes, “The wilderness is an untamed, unpredictable place of solitude and searching. It is a place as dangerous as it is breathtaking, a place as sought after as it is feared. But it turns out to be the place of true belonging, and it’s the bravest and most sacred place you will ever stand.”

Finally, here’s my review of Braving the Wilderness!

This book was a disappointment. For most of it I couldn’t even grasp the concept Brown is getting at. This is the idea of “true belonging.” It could be that this book didn’t touch on things I want to improve on now. Or that I’m just disappointed because Rising Strong hit such a strong sweet spot of good writing and research + exactly what I needed at the time. I don’t know. However, what I do know is that I didn’t enjoy it. It almost felt like Brown just wanted to make some more money from another book. So, she just wrote some stuff that she’d been thinking about recently, put a pretty cover on it, and called it done.

Something else to note:

I found Rising Strong to be super believable and motivational. I think this was because so much of it was based on research. Braving the Wilderness felt a lot more like a story that she thought of that made sense. But it wasn’t really backed up with facts or figures or even anecdotal evidence. By the time I finished the book, I wasn’t sure what I’d read, or why.

Overall, 2/5 stars.

After Rising Strong, this was a disappointment with little substance. I don’t think I’m any better off from having read it.  And that’s usually my goal when reading books in this realm.

Enjoy the interesting read!

– Paperback Patronus

Book Review: Just Little Things by Nancy Vu

Just Little Things: A Celebration of Life’s Simple Pleasures is a lovely little book by Nancy Vu.

First, how did I discover this book?

I bought it as part of my Boxing Week haul. Indigo had a lot of graphically-based books, like Adultolescence and Quiet Girl in a Noisy World, on sale. This book was one of the ones in that class, and it caught my eye. Partly because of the title, and partly because of the colour.

Here’s the cover of Just Little Things:

Pretty cute! I love the small bar of colours — the inside of the book is also very colourful.

Here is the synopsis of Just Little Things from Amazon:

“Seeing a baby yawn

Drawing on a foggy window

Finding a curly fry mixed in with your regular fries

These and 247 other little things that make everyday life a joy are collected in this delightful, surprising, and heartfelt book. Based on the popular website, this book will strike a chord in anyone who is open to celebrating the little moments of greatness all around us.”

Finally, here’s my review of Just Little Things!

This was a really lovely book. It’s a quick read: I devoured it in one relatively short sitting. The whole time I was reading it, I just felt incredibly content. I found myself looking around the room, smiling at all the small things in my home and in my heart that make me feel warm and happy every day.

I find that especially in the winter, I often become overcome by the darkness and the wet, and I just wish I could sleep my days away under three duvets. This book really helped me remember all the things I love about my life, even when I haven’t seen the sun in days (if you needed a reminder, I live in the Pacific Northwest in a temperate rainforest).

Other awesome stuff about this book:

I really liked the formatting. In case you haven’t noticed yet from my earlier reviews, the physical feel, smell, look, and formatting of books can make or break my opinions about them. Also, I love pretty covers, and I love inventive and creative designs inside them.

Accordingly, this book does really well on the visual front. Each page has a full-colour background, and all of them are in varied colours. Then the “little thing” is written in big type, centered on the page. It’s simple, bright, and easy to read.

Overall, 5/5 stars.

This was a quick, super-enjoyable read that really helped me to get back to regularly thinking about all the awesome little things in my life and how happy they make me. I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone!!

Definitely happy reading!

– Paperback Patronus

My First Read-A-Thon!

This past Saturday, the 13th, my friend on Bookstagram, @yannesreads, hosted a 24-hour read-a-thon.

What’s a read-a-thon, you ask?

You’re asking the right person! Essentially, it’s a set time on a set date in which participants who sign up read as much as they possibly can. In this case, the read-a-thon was 24 hours long. People usually decide between two types of participation.

Type A: Full-Tilt

This type of participant will attempt to read for the entire 24-hours without stopping for sleep. Props to them, I could never do it. I’ve only pulled three all-nighters in my entire almost-27-year lifetime, and each of them destroyed me physically for about a week.

Type B: Passive

This type of participant, aka me, will attempt to read as much as possible during the 24-hour period while still sleeping and doing other regular life activities.

So, how’d it go?

I really enjoyed this. I often have weekend plans to read. However, I more often just get cozy with my face in my phone most of the time. Having the extra motivation of a read-a-thon and posting about it on my Bookstagram really gave me that kick I needed to get off my phone and in between some pages. Here’s what I read!

Books I read during the read-a-thon:

The Graduate – Charles Webb

I started this book on Friday evening and finished it on Saturday, the day of the read-a-thon. My review of this one appeared a few days ago. I won’t spoil it, but it wasn’t very good.

Quiet Girl in a Noisy World: An Introvert’s Story – Debbie Tung

I’ll be posting my review of this graphic novel soon! I LOVED IT. Story of my life.

Braving the Wilderness – Brené Brown

I’ve also read Rising Strong by Brené Brown, and compared to that, this book was a disappointment. Review coming shortly!

Just Little Things – Nancy Vu

This was a lovely little “break book” in between finishing Braving the Wilderness and starting Astrophysics…. It was such a sweet little reminder of all that is good about life. Short review coming soon!

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry – Neil DeGrasse Tyson

I read about half of this book on the read-a-thon day. I finished it two days ago and will be posting a review soon, it was pretty great!

Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel

This one I barely started in the evening, but so far it seems like it’s going to be amazing!!!

What’s Next?

I’m glad you asked!! I really enjoyed participating in this read-a-thon, so now I’m planning to host my own! I’m not sure when, because I’ve got a very busy few weeks coming up (hello, parent-teacher!), but all you lovely people who read this blog will be the first to know!

Happy Reading!

– Paperback Patronus


Book Haul: Boxing Week 2017!

This is my first blog Book Haul post, so here’s the deal:

Bookstagram members are, once again, likely pretty familiar with these. However, for those of you who aren’t, any time we get books in the mail, which we call Book Mail, we like to share what we’ve gotten. Usually, if it’s at the end of the month,  or for a particular event or time period (like Black Friday or Boxing Week), we call it a Haul.

So, without further ado, here’s my Boxing Week Book Haul, which I’m over the moon about!

It was so big, it came in three different packages, the last of which arrived Monday this week.

Now, here’s a list of all the titles and links to their Amazon pages (and my blog reviews, if they’re up already):

Dark Tower 1-3 Boxed Set – Stephen King
Sapiens & Homo Deus Boxed Set – Yuval Noah Harari
Journey Through A History of Magic – British Library
Just Little Things – Nancy Vu
Furiously Happy – Jenny Lawson
The Female of the Species – Mindy McGinnis
Talking as Fast as I Can – Lauren Graham
Commonwealth – Ann Patchett
A Court of Thorns and Roses – Sara J.  Maas
Fierce Kingdom – Gin Phillips
Helium – Rudy Francisco
Depression & Other Magic Tricks
Our Numbered Days – Neil Hilborn
Adultolescence – Gabbie Hanna
Chasers of the Light – Tyler Knott Gregson
The Alice Network – Kate Quinn
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Hardcover House Editions) – J. K. Rowling
The Child Finder – Rene Denfield
Quiet Girl in a Noisy World – Debbie Tung
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry – Neil deGrasse Tyson
Magpie Murders – Anthony Horowitz
The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
whiskey words & a shovel volumes I-III – R. H. Sin
Dear Ijeawele, Or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Murder on the Orient Express – Agatha Christie
My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward – Mark Lukach
Project Semicolon: Your Story Isn’t Over – Bleuel

Evidently, I dove into this haul pretty quickly!

I have already read Dear Ijeawele…, Astrophysics for People in a Hurrywhiskey words & a shovel IQuiet Girl in a Noisy WorldAdultolescenceHeliumOur Numbered DaysDepression & Other Magic TricksChasers of the LightJust Little Things, and Journey Through A History of Magic. Phew!

I think that the next book I’ll be reading from this haul is The Child Finder. It’s been all over Bookstagram, and I’m in the mood for a bit of suspense.

Finally, other things I’m really excited about:

I’ve never read any Stephen King before. However, I saw the Dark Tower movie and really enjoyed (a lot to do with Idris Elba, but also to do with the storyline!), so I think the Dark Tower books might be my gateway into reading Stephen King!

Also, I’ve never read any Agatha Christie books either. I didn’t particularly want to see the movie, because it wasn’t rated very highly. And it has Johnny Depp in it. But the story really intrigued me, so I’m excited to read the book! Maybe it will make me want to read more Christie mysteries, too!


Now that I’ve shared this with you, I’m off to start a reading-filled weekend!

Happy reading!

– Paperback Patronus

Book Review: The Graduate by Charles Webb

The Graduate is a novel by Charles Webb.

This was an interesting purchase for me. When I was a first-year in university, I took a Film Studies course. In it, we watched the scene in the movie The Graduate in which the song “The Sound of Silence” plays for some educational purpose about a type of shot or something. I loved the scene, and wanted to watch the movie.

Then I found out it was based on a book.

There went all thoughts of seeing the movie until I’d read the book. Years passed. Then I discovered Book Outlet, and as I was scrolling through looking for great deals one day, I saw The Graduate.

Obviously, since I’m writing this blog post, I bought it. The rest is history.

Here’s the cover of The Graduate:


Here is the synopsis of The Graduate from Amazon:

“When Benjamin Braddock graduates from a small Eastern college and moves home to his parents’ house, everyone wants to know what he’s going to do with his life. Embittered by the emptiness of his college education and indifferent to his grim prospects — grad school? a career in plastics? — Benjamin falls haplessly into an affair with Mrs. Robinson, the relentlessly seductive wife of his father’s business partner. It’s only when beautiful coed Elaine Robinson comes home to visit her parents that Benjamin, now smitten, thinks he might have found some kind of direction in his life. Unfortunately for Benjamin, Mrs. Robinson plays the role of protective mother as well as she does the one of mistress. A wondrously fierce and absurd battle of wills ensues, with love and idealism triumphing over the forces of corruption and conformity.”

Finally, here’s my review of The Graduate!

I’m going to be up front: I did not like this book.

Although the young-adult angst the main character experiences upon completing his undergraduate degree seems realistic, he is a wholly unlikable character. As are most of the other characters in the story.

Benjamin’s response to his existential crisis seems natural as well. But it doesn’t make it any more enjoyable to read, and I can’t say that the point of reading this novel would be to learn something. Normally, I can take a lot of very interesting life lessons or things to ponder from stories I dislike. Not so from The Graduate. All I took away was frustration at the characters and at the fact that I spent a few hours reading it.

However, it did have some redeeming qualities:

The dialogue in this book was very skillful. It felt true to the characters, and really illustrated the awkwardness in the relationships between the characters. It felt awkward to read it, which I imagine was the point.

Overall, 2/5 stars.

This was a strange, largely unenjoyable read that I wouldn’t recommend. I think that’s a first.

Happy? Reading?

– Paperback Patronus

Book Review: The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give is the first novel by author Angie Thomas.

This book was definitely a recommendation buy. Everyone on my Bookstagram has been talking about it for a while. I also don’t read enough diverse books, so I felt that this was a good place to start.

Here’s the cover:

Here is the synopsis of The Hate U Give from Amazon:

“Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.”

Finally, here’s my review of The Hate U Give!

This is a difficult one for me to talk about. Not because I didn’t like it. I adored it.

However, it talks about a lot of things that I don’t feel that I can speak to. That I don’t think I have the right to speak about. Racism. Police brutality. Race in general.

I could say that it felt authentic to me, that it felt like a realistic and fair portrayal of the community it is based in. I could say that it must be because Angie Thomas is black. But as a white woman, what right do I have to say what is authentic to a community other than my own? None.

Yes, I can have an opinion on those things. I am not a racist. I think that police have been too strongly racially profiling people and that even if it’s subconscious, they often target people of colour. However, I am not a person who can speak for communities of people of colour.

What I can talk about is how it affected me. And it affected me deeply. This book made me uncomfortable. Good uncomfortable. Uncomfortable that I don’t know how to talk about these issues without seeming like I’m trying to speak for people.  It made me angry. Angry about the injustice that people in these communities experience daily. It made me sad. I felt motivated to act, but also terrified about making a choice to act with the wrong intentions.

This book definitely left me with a lot to think about.

Other Awesome Stuff

This book had great characters. Some were likeable, some were not. And that was a good thing. The characters that were not so nice were great examples of the things that non-marginalized groups can do unintentionally that are harmful.

This book was also suspenseful. I’m not going to spoil the major conflicts in the story, but they’re very interesting, seem realistic, and are not easily resolved.

Overall, 5/5 stars.

This was an amazing read, and I highly recommend it for readers in their teens and up.

Happy reading!

– Paperback Patronus

Book Reviews: 5 Poetry Anthologies

I ordered five poetry books from Indigo during their boxing week sale, and I just went on a binge and read them all in the span of four days.

The books, in the order that I read them, are:

Our Numbered Days, by Neil Hilborn
Helium, by Rudy Francisco
Chasers of the Light, by Tyler Knott Gregson
Depression & Other Magic Tricks, by Sabrina Benaim, and
Adultolesence, by Gabbie Hanna

I decided that since they are all fairly quick reads and I likely wouldn’t have enough to say to do a full post review for each, I would do a big post on all of them at once.

Without further ado, here we go with the poetry books!

First: Our Numbered Days, by Neil Hilborn

I first discovered Neil Hilborn on Facebook. One of my friends shared a video of him performing his poem, “OCD.” It is amazing, and is shared in several places. This book is sponsored by Button Poetry, which I think is where the performance I saw was originally shared from.

Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy his book of poetry as much as I’d hoped to. In fact, “OCD” was my favourite poem in it. I fully acknowledge the possibility that his poetry is all meant to be spoken, and that reading it from a page does not do it justice. Alas, that’s what I did.

I did, however, like that his poetry had a lot of references to other writers. It was really interesting to see how he incorporated their work into his poetry, and made it his own,.

Favourite poem: “OCD.”

Overall, 3/5 stars. An interesting read, but not as soul-crushing or inspirational as watching him perform “OCD.”

Second: Helium, by Rudy Francisco.

This was partly a cover buy, and I partly bought it because Indigo recommended it and I trust them.

Favourite poem: “My Honest Poem.”

Francisco writes killer metaphors. My favourite poem from this book is direct evidence of that.

I also really liked that his poems addressed topics such as the environment, race, and politics.

Overall, 4/5 stars.

Third: Chasers of the Light, by Tyler Knott Gregson.

I had already read one of Gregson’s other poetry books, All the Words are Yours, before purchasing this one. I really enjoyed it, and this one was no different.

Favourite poem (Gregson doesn’t title his poem, so I’ve just included the whole thing):

“If I died tonight
I think I
would like to come back
as your morning
Just as strong
and just
as necessary.”

One thing I didn’t enjoy about this book was that it felt repetitive. However, he writes his poems on a typewriter on top of found paper and they are very visually interesting, which adds to the appeal of reading the poetry for me.

Overall, 3/5 stars.

Fourth: Depression and Other Magic Tricks, by Sabrina Benaim

Favourite poem: “nature versus nurture.”

I really liked the way that Sabrina put a voice to her depression. It felt relatable in a way that mental illness doesn’t ways feel.

I did find that some of the poems were a bit meandering and not quite catching or impactful enough for my liking.

Overall, 3/5 stars.

Fifth: Adultolescence, by Gabbie Hanna.

Favourite poem: “Worry.”

This book of poetry is hilarious. The “advice” poems running through it add a great thematic thread and are very funny. The drawings really add to the poetry. Also, each poem never feels too long or circuitous like some of the poems in a couple of the other books were.

At times it felt a little too Sesame Street, with its funny rhymes, but most of the time that aspect of it was humourous endearing.

Overall, 4/5 stars.

Out of all the books, I’d say my favourite was Helium, closely followed by Adultolescence.

Happy reading!

– Paperback Patronus

Book Review: #GIRLBOSS, by Sophia Amuroso

#GIRLBOSS is a non-fiction book by CEO and Creative Director of Nasty Gal, Sophia Amoruso. What kind of girl doesn’t want to be a girlboss? I’m an introvert and that idea still appeals to me (not the implication of being the head of a company, just the general badass ideal).

I bought this book based on a recommendation from a friend.

I also love non-fiction, especially from female voices, so it was a no-brainer for me.

Here’s the cover:

Here is the synopsis of #GIRLBOSS from Amazon:

“In the New York Times bestseller that the Washington Post called “Lean In for misfits,” Sophia Amoruso shares how she went from dumpster diving to founding one of the fastest-growing retailers in the world.

Sophia Amoruso spent her teens hitchhiking, committing petty theft, and scrounging in dumpsters for leftover bagels. By age twenty-two she had dropped out of school, and was broke, directionless, and checking IDs in the lobby of an art school—a job she’d taken for the health insurance. It was in that lobby that Sophia decided to start selling vintage clothes on eBay.

Flash forward ten years to today, and she’s the founder and executive chairman of Nasty Gal, a $250-million-plus fashion retailer with more than four hundred employees. Sophia was never a typical CEO, or a typical anything, and she’s written #GIRLBOSS for other girls like her: outsiders (and insiders) seeking a unique path to success, even when that path is windy as all hell and lined with naysayers.

#GIRLBOSS proves that being successful isn’t about where you went to college or how popular you were in high school. It’s about trusting your instincts and following your gut; knowing which rules to follow and which to break; when to button up and when to let your freak flag fly.”

Finally, here’s my review of #GIRLBOSS!

This is a fun read. I think it would be interesting regardless of how it is written, simply because Amoruso’s story is just so captivating. It’s literally rags to riches. Girl to girlboss. But it’s so much better than just interesting, because I found her writing to be good.

It’s definitely not one of those “rich CEO writes a book because they have had a noteworthy experience but are terrible writers” type of tell-all books.

However, some of the stuff she writes does cross the line a bit into the “preachy cliché you can do it if you put your mind to it” zone. I find that a lot of non-fiction books are like that. I find myself thinking, yes, I know that with hard work and determination you can go far, but I want to you know what you did specifically; that’s why I’m reading your book!

Those feelings didn’t overwhelm the great aspects of the book, though.

Other Noteworthy Stuff

I loved the structure of this book. The chapter divers include quotes and awesome sketches. Stylistic choices like these that  go the extra mile really make me enjoy books, especially non-fiction ones.

Overall, 4/5 stars, good for any girlboss anywhere!

Happy reading!

– Paperback Patronus

Book Review: Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Rebel of the Sands is the first novel by author Alwyn Hamilton. It is the first in a trilogy. Book two is Traitor to the Throne, and book three is Hero at the Fall.

This book was definitely a cover-buy for me.

When I tell you more of the cover story, you’ll see why that’s kind of coincidental.

Here’s the (UK) cover of Rebel of the Sands, which is STUNNING. I only just found out that it’s the UK cover, more on that later…

Here is the synopsis of Rebel of the Sands from Amazon:

“Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mythical beasts still roam the wild and remote areas, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinn still perform their magic. For humans, it’s an unforgiving place, especially if you’re poor, orphaned, or female. Amani Al’Hiza is all three. She’s a gifted gunslinger with perfect aim, but she can’t shoot her way out of Dustwalk, the back-country town where she’s destined to wind up wed or dead.

Then she meets Jin, a rakish foreigner, in a shooting contest, and sees him as the perfect escape route. But though she’s spent years dreaming of leaving Dustwalk, she never imagined she’d gallop away on mythical horse—or that it would take a foreign fugitive to show her the heart of the desert she thought she knew.

This startlingly original Middle-East-meets-Wild-West fantasy reveals what happens when a dream deferred explodes—in the fires of rebellion, of romantic passion, and the all-consuming inferno of a girl finally embracing her power.”

Finally, here’s my review of Rebel of the Sands!

This book was great!

First, the character development was really well done. Characters seemed realistic and had complex flaws. They also had interesting relationships with others.

I also really enjoyed the world-building and setting. It’s certainly unique: as the Amazon review states, it’s “Middle-East-meets-Wild-West” and I couldn’t put it better. This is a far different world than anything I’ve read in a book recently, which was refreshing.

Finally, it’s just a really fun, exciting read. The plot is full of twists and turns, and doesn’t feel too fantastical that I have to shelve my disbelief while reading. I definitely appreciate when it feels like the plot is actually mostly realistic.

As an added bonus, the ending didn’t feel like too much of a cliffhanger, even though it did set up the next book nicely. Bonus!

Now, about those covers…

I ordered my copy of Rebel of the Sands from Book Outlet. I received what I didn’t know was the UK cover. When books 2 & 3 in the trilogy started popping up on Bookstagram (people have been receiving ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) of book 3 recently), I went to Indigo to order book 2.

That’s when I found this.

Ew. My Bookstagram followers agree by a landslide, here’s the results of a recent poll I put up in my Story:

When I first saw the North American cover, I was worried that publishers changed the covers mid-series, but I figured out pretty quick that the UK/AUS covers were still nice. Here’s book 2 (Traitor to the Throne) on Amazon. The only problem is that they seem to only be available in paperback in that format. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem (I am Paperback Patronus, after all), but when I got Rebel of the Sands from Book Outlet, they only had it in hardback. Sigh. Mis-matched series frustrate me.

Anyway, with all that said: overall, 5/5 stars.

This was a really fun, suspenseful, action-packed read. The world-building was really great, and I also liked the character development. I highly recommend it, and hope that the other two books in the series are just as enjoyable!

Happy reading!

– Paperback Patronus

Book Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Caraval is the first book by writer Stephanie Garber.

Once again, Caraval was a cover buy for me (I’m sensing a trend). It was also a Bookstagram hype buy. Tons of people were talking about this book and how much they loved it. After I bought it, some people started saying they didn’t like it very much, so I went into reading it with a bit of hesitation, and I finished reading it with that same hesitation.

I won’t say more until I include the usual stuff!

Here’s the beautiful cover that made me want the book in the first place:

Here’s the book’s synopsis from Amazon:

“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.”

And here’s my review of Caraval!

There were two feelings that sort of stuck with me almost the entire time I was reading Caraval. The first, scattered. The second, over dramatic.

Let me explain.

The whole time I was reading, I felt distracted. Normally, when I really enjoy the book, after reading a few sentences, I am in it. Music playing? Can’t hear it. TV on? Not listening. Husband banging pots around in the kitchen? Don’t care. While reading Caraval, my eyes were constantly dancing across the pages, onto the next page, reading ahead, having to go back. And any little sound or distraction had me away from the book. It was strange.

I don’t think that it was because it wasn’t interesting. It still felt like I was reading a page-turner – I loved the suspense and read it really quickly because I was always wanting to know what would happen next. But as I was reading it felt like it wasn’t keeping my attention.

The other word, over dramatic, applies to the main character, Scarlett. She just seemed to overreact to almost everything, and it started to get annoying. Normally I like main characters despite their flaws, but I got tired of her after a while. It will be interesting to see if her character develops/improves in the next book.

I enjoyed it.

It just wasn’t my favourite thing ever. Definitely a page-turner, even if I didn’t like some aspects of it. The concept is very interesting – a magical, mysterious game called Caraval, where the rules are constantly changing. I also liked the main storyline of two sisters trying to escape their unfair life circumstances. It just fell a little flat.

Other Noteworthy Stuff

I really liked that I couldn’t tell who was telling the truth in this story. The narrator, the main character, Scarlett, is definitely reliable. However, two characters in particular, Julian and Legend, are extremely unreliable. As are the rest of the characters, actually.

It makes for a suspenseful romp in which you never really know who to trust. It’s also part of what makes Scarlett feel a bit over dramatic; her inability to trust anyone constantly overwhelms her.

Overall, 3 stars.

Really interesting concept, but lacking in depth. I found it to be over dramatic, and not developed enough in some parts. I’m intrigued enough, however, to want to read the sequel. Legendary, the second book in the series, is scheduled to come out on May 28 of this year.

Happy reading!

– Paperback Patronus