Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Caraval, by Stephanie Garber, begins with Scarlett Dragna, who lives on a secluded isle with a cruel father who uses his daughters’ love for each other to control them. Whenever Scarlett does something wrong, her father punishes her sister, Donatella (Tella), instead. Scarlett banks her and her sister’s safety on her upcoming arranged marriage to a count whom she has only conferred with through letters. 

For years, Scarlett has written to Legend, the mysterious master of Caraval, hoping that he will bring his extravagant performance to her isle. Finally, when Legend writes back with three tickets to Caraval (which will be taking place on a magical island this year), Scarlett thinks she Tella would be better off not going. However, Tella has other ideas.

Far more bold and far less of a worrier than her protective sister, Tella and a strange sailor, Julian, conspire to bring Scarlett away from their father to the island where Caraval will be that year. When Tella suddenly disappears, Scarlett, who would do anything for her sister, begins to find that Tella has a greater part in Caraval than Scarlett had known. The only way Scarlett knows of that will reunite her with Tella is to win Caraval.

Caraval is Legend’s once-a-year performance which takes place over the course of five nights. Ticket holders can choose to either watch or play the game. The year Scarlett plays, the stage is a village, where the audience members who have chosen to play the game stay. Each night, Caraval fills with magic and illusions, and the players search for clues to guide them to the final prize. Scarlett finds herself in a performance where reality is blurred; it becomes difficult to differentiate the real people from actors who are simply playing parts in the game.

With Stephanie Garber’s beautiful descriptions and elegant characters, Caraval is one of my favorite young adult books. I particularly enjoyed reading from Scarlett’s perspective because her personality is not necessarily standard of a fantasy novel’s heroine, but her love for her sister motivates her throughout the book. By the end of Caraval, she has noticeably grown. Scarlett also describes senses and feelings with color, and the vivid imagery that results is magical. 

The story of Scarlett and Tella is continued in Legendary, which is written from the perspective of Tella. 

Caraval’s fantastic characters, vivid descriptions, and unanticipated turns make the book so difficult to set down. Stephanie Garber’s exquisite writing is a wonderful gift to read, and I highly recommend Caraval.

– Mia T.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Amy Chelsea Stacie Dee by Mary G. Thompson

This book was far too drawn out. In the beginning, the event of when both Amy and Dee got kidnapped by the same man was interesting. Not only was Dee the only one the man wanted, but additionally the kidnapper, Kyle, didn’t treat either Amy or Dee with respect, and ultimately hit Amy day on, and raped Dee.

Now with Amy being free from her kidnapper, she has to pick up all of the pieces she left behind in her life; but how can you protect a dark secret for so long? Amy remembers the frightful day when she killed her cousin Dee; if it wasn’t for Kyle raping her every night she may have actually loved her own children, but from the day that she recognized she was pregnant all the lights went down on her. In order to save her cousin’s kids, Barbie and Lola, Amy will do everything she can to save the only thing she knows.

-Rylie N.

Amy Chelsea Stacie Dee by Mary G. Thompson is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Stolen by Lucy Christopher

This was a very good book if you enjoy suspense and mystery.

The book starts when Gemma is at the airport with her parents. After fighting with her parents before the flight starts Gemma goes to the local kiosk with a coffee shop; she then spots a gorgeous man named Ty staring at her. While Gemma is searching for her wallet in her purse she, Ty helps pay for her coffee. Not only is Gemma stunned, but she is surprised that some man would actually want to help her out. She is then offered a spot to sit with Ty while he “offers” to put cream in her coffee for her. While Gem is not looking he places a drug in her drink so he can abduct her. Before Gemma can even recognize what he has done to her, she finds herself stranded in the middle of the desert in Austrialia. Not only is Gemma frightened, but she starts to become attached to Ty and can’t stop thinking about him.

Even though I understood that Ty had stolen Gemma, I think that he actually crafted a better life for her. Not only did he show affection towards her but he also showed that he was selfless when he demonstrated that he would save her above everybody else even if it meant that he would go to jail for over fifteen years. At the end of the book dark secrets start escaping Ty’s lips and explains how he had been watching Gemma since she was five. Not only does Gemma feel attached to Ty, but well at home she can’t stop thinking about him.

This book would definitely be a good read for someone that enjoys suspense.

-Rylie N.

Stolen by Lucy Christopher is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

This book by Elizabeth Scott is unlike any book that I’ve read before. The book follows a girl named “Alice” who has been kidnapped by a pedophile, Ray. It shows her life five years after Alice has been kidnapped by him and all the horrible things she has to go through everyday.

I recommend this book only to readers who are able to read books like this. Some parts of this novel were definitely really hard. I really enjoyed reading this book because of all the intensity it had and suspense. I read this book in one sitting, I couldn’t put it down. Although this book is short, it contains so much. I couldn’t believe how much Elizabeth Scott had fit inside.

If you think you would be able to read this book, I would recommend trying it out. This story is one I will never forget, and for some reason this book made a really big impact on me. After finishing, I shut the book and just stared into space. There was so much to say about this story, so I hopped on to this blog and wrote about it.

-Kyndle W.

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library