In a city of daimons, rigid class lines separate the powerful from the power-hungry. And at the heart of The City is the Carnival of Souls, where both murder and pleasure are offered up for sale. Once in a generation, the carnival hosts a deadly competition that allows every daimon a chance to join the ruling elite. Without the competition, Aya and Kaleb would both face bleak futures–if for different reasons. For each of them, fighting to the death is the only way to try to live.
All Mallory knows of The City is that her father–and every other witch there–fled it for a life in exile in the human world. Instead of a typical teenage life full of friends and maybe even a little romance, Mallory scans quiet streets for threats, hides herself away, and trains to be lethal. She knows it’s only a matter of time until a daimon finds her and her father, so she readies herself for the inevitable. While Mallory possesses little knowledge of The City, every inhabitant of The City knows of her. There are plans for Mallory, and soon she, too, will be drawn into the decadence and danger that is the Carnival of Souls.
From Melissa Marr, bestselling author of the Wicked Lovely series and “Graveminder,” comes a brand-new tale of lush secrets, dark love, and the struggle to forge one’s own destiny.
— Goodreads.com description
You know when you get a text message from April that says “Pg. 106 Carnival of Souls. Total Anna passage.” you just HAVE to read a book. And does she know me or what?!
Wooooo page 106. Hot stuff. Okay, so it was a little bit of instalove, but it was instalove wrapped up in secrets and this animalistic “pack sense” Kaleb had…and that was so different that I loved it.
Carnival of Souls really won me over in its world-building. It was creepy and cool and dark and mysterious and I was entranced.
Did I love the book overall though? Maybe not as much, but I think that can be attributed to the fact that I was reading it in a hospital waiting room. The violent scenes just didn’t mesh with my environment, so I think they didn’t click with me as much as they would have at another time. Do you know what I mean? When and where you read a book can really affect your reaction. In this case, I liked it but can just tell I would have LOVED it if I’d waited to read it at a better time.
By Gennifer Albin
Publication date: Oct. 16, 2012
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR), 368 pages
Incapable. Awkward. Artless.
That’s what the other girls whisper behind her back. But sixteen year-old Adelice Lewys has a secret: she wants to fail.
Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, she’s exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen as a Spinster is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to embroider the very fabric of life. But if controlling what people eat, where they live and how many children they have is the price of having it all, Adelice isn’t interested.
Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and wove a moment at testing, and they’re coming for her—tonight.
Now she has one hour to eat her mom’s overcooked pot roast. One hour to listen to her sister’s academy gossip and laugh at her Dad’s stupid jokes. One hour to pretend everything’s okay. And one hour to escape.
Because once you become a Spinster, there’s no turning back.
— Goodreads.com description
The real standout for me in Crewel was Gennifer Albin’s writing. Her story follows Adelice, a “Spinster” gifted with the ability to control the world around her by weaving time and matter to her will. The elements that create the world around us are beautifully described as a tapestry, vibrant and strong in parts and weak and frayed in others. Albin does a stand-out job here, making Adelice’s loom come to life in our imaginations. It’s just gorgeous.
I also adored the themes of gender equality in Crewel. I mean, the girls are called “Spinsters” and they have to wear extreme cosmetics and take a purity pledge. Hello, double-standards! Feminist Anna loved these elements, and I’d like to see more authors taking these things on.
But, I definitely had problems with the world-building in this book…just a little hard for me to follow along in terms of the geography of Arras, the power structure, etc. Also, I didn’t love the love triangle aspect. Sure, the boys were cute and great, but the choice Adelice would make was clear to me from the get-go, so it dragged.
All in all, this was a well-written read with an intriguing premise. Flawed? Sure, but I’m still very curious to see what happens in book two!
The Raven Boys
By Maggie Stiefvater
Publication date: Sept. 18, 2012
Scholastic Press, 408 pages
It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.
Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.
His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.
But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.
For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.
From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.
— Goodreads.com description
Maggie Stiefvater is one of my all-time favorite writers. Her settings come always alive in my imagination, her word choice is beautifully poetic, and her stories always tug on my heartstrings.
The Raven Boys, though I would say I enjoyed it overall, was a slightly different experience. The writing was much less lyrical than in some of her past works, which took a bit of getting used to and didn’t seem very “Maggie Stiefvaterish.” And at parts I was a little confused as to what was happening, in all honesty. I have to admit that made it a bit of a mixed bag for me.
Still, I applaud her for trying something new. And I adored that this series is more of a magical mystery. The characters were crazy and endearing, and I’m eager to follow them into the unknown.
By Sarah Rees Brennan
Publication date: Sept. 11, 2012
Random House Books for Young Readers, 370 pages
Source: Publisher, via NetGalley
Kami Glass loves someone she’s never met . . . a boy she’s talked to in her head ever since she was born. She wasn’t silent about her imaginary friend during her childhood, and is thus a bit of an outsider in her sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, Kami hasn’t suffered too much from not fitting in. She has a best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head.
But all that changes when the Lynburns return.
The Lynburn family has owned the spectacular and sinister manor that overlooks Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries. The mysterious twin sisters who abandoned their ancestral home a generation ago are back, along with their teenage sons, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami. Kami is not one to shy away from the unknown—in fact, she’s determined to find answers for all the questions Sorry-in-the-Vale is suddenly posing. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the depths of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary friend has become a real boy, does she still love him? Does she hate him? Can she trust him?
— Goodreads.com description
When I met Sarah Rees Brennan at RT Teen Day in February, I was about halfway through Unspoken. I remember running up to her and telling her that I was just going insane not knowing what was going to happen next! I think I might have freaked her out a little, but what can you do, she just laughed. I NEEDED TO KNOW.
The premise here guaranteed I’d be hooked from the get-go – I mean, a girl has an imaginary male best friend? All her life? And realizes he’s real…and has just moved to town?! That’s CRAZYPANTS, and I love it.
Unspoken was a thriller that had me dying to find out what would happen next. That being said, I did struggle a bit to keep up with the story — as things progressed, I got lost in the mechanics of the Sorry-in-the-Vale mythology.
So it wasn’t a favorite, but I definitely was captivated throughout. I’m surprised I haven’t read anything by Brennan before and fully intend to rectify that immediately!
Shadow and Bone
By Leigh Bardugo
Publication date: June 5, 2012
Henry Holt and Co., 358 pages
Source: Purchased for my Kindle
Alina Starkov doesn’t expect much from life. Orphaned by the Border Wars, the one thing she could rely on was her best friend and fellow refugee, Mal. And lately not even that seems certain. Drafted into the army of their war-torn homeland, they’re sent on a dangerous mission into the Fold, a swath of unnatural darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh.
When their convoy is attacked, all seems lost until Alina reveals a dormant power that not even she knew existed. Ripped from everything she knows, she is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling. He believes she is the answer the people have been waiting for: the one person with the power to destroy the Fold.
Swept up in a world of luxury and illusion, envied as the Darkling’s favorite, Alina struggles to fit into her new life without Mal by her side. But as the threat to the kingdom mounts, Alina uncovers a secret that sets her on a collision course with the most powerful forces in the kingdom. Now only her past can save her . . . and only she can save the future.
— Goodreads.com description
I find magic books so appealing, and Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo is no exception.
There’s a war between good and evil — a must for magic books — and I love how delightfully precarious the line between the two sides is in this book. Plus, each page filled me with the sense that anything could happen. So magical!
Did I love it as much as the friends who recommended it to me? Probably not, but I still enjoyed it through and through. The Russian-esque setting and the slang words used got me a little too confuzzled to love it as much as I wanted. I just couldn’t keep up with it!
Still, the plot is full of exciting twists, and the setting is plush and vivid. And the romance. Gah. I’m so horribly torn. I’m sort of rooting for the bad boy, y’all. Can’t wait to see what happens next!