ENCHANTING READ: “CARAVAL” BY STEPHANIE GARBER

Inspiration

There is perhaps nothing better than curling up with a good book and a cup of coffee on a cold winter’s night. Living in Central New York, I love using the cold, dark winters as an excuse to catch up on my reading.

I adore getting lost in a book. But it’s not always easy to find out one that I can get lost in. One that presents the ideal blend of unique, like-able characters, suspense and an original story line.

For me, “Caraval” by Stephanie Garber hit all of these high points and then some. Truly, I could not put this book down.

Revolving around sisters Scarlett and Tella Dragna, “Caraval” is the story of their adventures as they are presented with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: the chance to attend Caraval – the magical once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show. Readers should not be fooled by the fairytale mystique, however, as the story quickly moves from magical to treacherous, and the girls learn that Caraval is so much more than just a performance.

There were many great elements to this read, but what I enjoyed most was the pace of the story. It constantly kept me guessing. Every time I thought I had solved the mystery, the story took me for another loop.

I am so thankful I picked up this read at the bookstore and hope that you enjoy it just as much as I did! I definitely feel more inspired for having read it.

Here’s to eagerly awaiting the release of the sequel, “Legendary” on May 29!

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Holiday Book Review: “Hiddensee: The Tale of the Once and Future Nutcracker” by Gregory Maguire

Review

In the past, I’ve been pretty upfront about my love for nutcrackers. I love the story, their ties to folklore and the belief that they can be used to ward off evil and bringing good luck (I may be a tad superstitious).

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A fan of fantasy novels, you can only imagine how excited I was to hear that Gregory Maguire was taking on the story of the nutcracker in his most recent novel “Hiddensee: a Tale of the Once and Future Nutcracker.”

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That being said, let me make one thing clear: Like most of Maguire’s novels, this book is absolutely not the story that you think you are getting when you pick it up. This story does not focus on the nutcracker, but rather, his maker, Heir Drosselmeir the toymaker.

Without giving too many spoilers away, I will say that the book follows Drosselmeir through life, beginning with his youth as a young boy named Dirk. While at first you suspect (and maybe hope) that Dirk will grow into the nutcracker, that theory is quickly dashed when his mentor dubs him Drosselmeir.

There’s no getting around it: this book is odd. It’s quirky, dark and at times requires your complete concentration. It is not a cheerful rendition of German children dancing around the Christmas tree, plagued by the wretched mouse king.

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It’s a highly symbolic journey into the human subconscious, with its theme for longing for childhood innocence making it relatable. It is, first and foremost, beautiful. I’m not sure I realized just how much I enjoyed this book until after I was done reading it.

Like all Maguire novels, this book makes you think. This is probably why I loved it so much. I’d recommend this read to nutcracker fans, literary nerds and fantasy enthusiasts alike. An absolute must-add for your holiday reading list!

P.S. 17 Days Until Christmas!