Tag Archives: local authors

Caraval

I decided to join an online book club where, instead of reading the same book, we read the same genre or type of book, and start from there. To kick things off in January, we started with local authors. And after debating what book I wanted to buy (we were challenged to read something outside our usual style), I remembered that I had a book that fit the bill already at home. So I dug Caraval, by Stephanie Garber, out from the bottom of one of my TBR piles.

Sisters Scarlett and Donatella have always lived on the island of Trisda, and when their mother was there, things went well. But after their mother vanished, their father moved from protective to controlling and abusive. All the sisters want is the chance to experience life for themselves, and maybe a little magic.

Scarlett is soon to be married when she receives an invitation to Caraval, a magical game where players work to solve a mystery and win a prize. This year’s prize, a wish, could change the girls’ lives. Though Scarlett is more reserved and cautious, Donatella is impulsive, so despite the danger, the girls end up on the magical island hosting Caraval–only they are separated. Scarlett planned on staying only one night then hurrying home to be in time for her wedding, but this year’s game for some reason seems to revolve around the sisters, and Scarlett can’t go home without Donatella. But as she gets deeper into the game, Scarlett starts to wonder if she’ll get through the game with even her life.

Young Adult isn’t generally a genre I read. It’s hard to pinpoint why, exactly, the writing style just doesn’t appeal to me. It often feels a little trite and unreal. Caraval was a little different. Though the story felt a little Disney at times– love-at-first-sight kind of romance, inexhaustible source of optimism, knowing everything would work out fine in the end–it was a good story, unique in it’s twists and turns. When she begins the game, Scarlett is told not to believe anything, that everyone and everything is out to fool her. With this in mind, it keeps you guessing throughout the story, wondering if anyone is true, or if it’s all just lies and pretend.

However, while some twists were a little surprising, the style and genre gave a lot away, too. Without giving spoilers for what happens in the book, you just know that it’ll all work out in the end. Perhaps it was knowing that the plot of the story revolves around a magical game that made certain twists less than believable, in terms of permanence, or perhaps it was most the genre that gives me that sense, but it was a deterrent for me, as far as continuing on in the series. While I’m curious about a few things, I’m not chomping at the bit to go buy the rest of the series. And as long as I’m reading books I’m moderately interested in (instead of allowing myself to buy the shiny new books I’ve been drooling over this holiday season), I may as well make a dent in the hoard I’ve got at home.

 

The Mourning Hours

I’ve been aware of Paula Treick DeBoard for a while, as she’s a local author in our area, but I’d never tried her books. When some of my used book scavenging gave me the opportunity to read some of her work, I quickly realized I should have started much sooner.

Kirsten Hammarstrom was just a kid when her quiet Wisconsin life was turned upside down. Her brother was the star athlete of the town, but when his girlfriend disappears, and he’s the last person to have seen her, the small town turns against the whole family. Kirsten tries hard to believe the story her brother offers for what happened that night, but a niggling voice inside suggests otherwise. Years later, another tragedy brings the splintered family back together, and the truth finally comes out, giving them all a chance to heal.

I started this book before bed one night, and had trouble putting it down. By the next night, I had less than 50 pages left (and I was not keen on leaving it until the next day, but, responsibility…). It was a fast read, written from a young girl’s viewpoint, capturing the naivety and innocence of a kid trying to make sense of what she’s seen and heard, and trying to come to terms with the sense of betrayal that comes with her conclusion.

The first of her novels, DeBoard proves herself a master at weaving a suspenseful story, full of characters that feel real. The choices the family makes are ones that readers can understand and relate to.

The Mourning Hours is a well written book, keeping readers engaged right up until the very end. I’m glad I have a second of DeBoard’s books to start on soon.