The one good thing about frigid January: its a great time to curl up with a good book! This edition of Book Beat has a variety of different books and some books destined to make my best of 2017 list (already)!
Caraval by Stephanie Garber
Pitch: Magical and gorgeous fantasy filled with mystery and romance
Story: “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.”
Quick take: Caraval has everything going for it: mystery, action, romance, a gorgeous world, good guys, bad guys and ambiguous characters. It’s wonderfully written with so many unexpected embellishments. Don’t miss this one! If you submit proof of your pre-order to this website, the publisher will send you a coloring map of Caraval as thanks.
Available: January 31st
By Your Side by Kasie West
Pitch: Cute contemporary romance between two folks who are broken in just the right ways for each other.
Story: “In this irresistible story, Kasie West explores the timeless question of what to do when you fall for the person you least expect. Witty and romantic, this paperback original from a fan favorite is perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins and Morgan Matson.
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?”
Quick take: A cute little island-paradise-fantasy of being trapped in a library. This is a perfect little romantic escape with plenty of tension and sigh-worthy moments. Perfect if you need a little happy break from reality.
Available: January 31st
History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
Pitch: An emotional tale full of grief, regrets, first love and yeah, more grief
Story: “When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.
To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart.
If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.”
Quick take: As you would expect, this is a sad, melancholy book about grief and guilt. There are lighter parts through flashbacks to happier times when Griffin and Theo first meet and when they come out. It’s a great read, but be prepared to be sucked into a dark world.
Available: January 17th
Love and First Sight by Josh Lundquist
Pitch: Big transitions for a blind boy who suddenly gets his sight
Story: “Love is more than meets the eye.
On his first day at a new school, blind sixteen-year-old Will Porter accidentally groped a girl on the stairs, sat on another student in the cafeteria, and somehow drove a classmate to tears. High school can only go up from here, right?
As Will starts to find his footing, he develops a crush on a sweet but shy girl named Cecily. And despite his fear that having a girlfriend will make him inherently dependent on someone sighted, the two of them grow closer and closer. Then an unprecedented opportunity arises: an experimental surgery that could give Will eyesight for the first time in his life. But learning to see is more difficult than Will ever imagined, and he soon discovers that the sighted world has been keeping secrets. It turns out Cecily doesn’t meet traditional definitions of beauty—in fact, everything he’d heard about her appearance was a lie engineered by their so-called friends to get the two of them together. Does it matter what Cecily looks like? No, not really. But then why does Will feel so betrayed?”
Quick take: A funny and fascinating story of a boy who’s content with his life, but is curious about experiencing more. The heart of the story is really about accepting people for who they are and Will and Cecily have an adorable relationship.
Exo by Fonda Lee
Pitch: An action-packed science-fiction tale which questions whether the collaborators or resistance fighters are on the right side of history
Story: “It’s been a century of peace since Earth became a colony of an alien race with far reaches into the galaxy. Some die-hard extremists still oppose alien rule on Earth, but Donovan Reyes isn’t one of them. His dad holds the prestigious position of Prime Liaison in the collaborationist government, and Donovan’s high social standing along with his exocel (a remarkable alien technology fused to his body) guarantee him a bright future in the security forces. That is, until a routine patrol goes awry and Donovan’s abducted by the human revolutionary group Sapience, determined to end alien control.
When Sapience realizes whose son Donovan is, they think they’ve found the ultimate bargaining chip . But the Prime Liaison doesn’t negotiate with terrorists, not even for his own son. Left in the hands of terrorists who have more uses for him dead than alive, the fate of Earth rests on Donovan’s survival. Because if Sapience kills him, it could spark another intergalactic war. And Earth didn’t win the last one . .
Quick take: Lots of action, but if you want a simple good guys vs bad guys story, this isn’t it. Donovan learns that the terrorists may have a worthy agenda and the collaborators may have our best interests in mind after all. Lots of grey areas to explore as this epic adventure takes off.
Available: January 31st
The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles
Pitch: Contemporary fantasy with true love and a mysterious bounty hunter
Story: “It’s been a shattering year for seventeen-year-old Zoe, who’s still reeling from her father’s shockingly sudden death in a caving accident and her neighbors’ mysterious disappearance from their own home. Then on a terrifying sub-zero, blizzardy night in Montana, she and her brother are brutally attacked in a cabin in the woods–only to be rescued by a mysterious bounty hunter they call X.
X is no ordinary bounty hunter. He is from a hell called the Lowlands, sent to claim the soul of Zoe’s evil attacker and others like him. Forbidden to reveal himself to anyone other than his victims, X casts aside the Lowlands’ rules for Zoe. As X and Zoe learn more about their different worlds, they begin to question the past, their fate, and their future. But escaping the Lowlands and the ties that bind X might mean the ultimate sacrifice for both of them.”
Quick take: The Edge of Everything reads like the start of a new popcorn movie franchise with a headstrong teenage girl, an emo boy and exotic settings.
Available: January 31st
Thanks to Macmillan (Caraval), Harper Teen (By Your Side), Little Brown (Love and First Sight), Scholastic (Exo) and Bloomsbury (The Edge of Everything) for providing the books for review. Want more details on my impression of these and other books? Check out my ratings and full reviews at Goodreads.