Book Stop – ARC Review – Finale by Stephanie Garber

Finale by Stephanie Garber

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Publish Date: May 7, 2019

Series: Caraval #3

Genre: Fantasy, YA

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Finale was more than just the ending to a magicians game, it was the game of survival and a pick and choose between love, life, or power. Never before have I read a book in a series that instead of being riveted by the book itself I imagined the author writing it. My imaginings took me on a wild journey for book 3 here, in which the author started a series and the story becomes possessed and now the author has to fight to get the story to both come out onto the page as well as shove all the excess back in. All the while the author is battling the “beast,” the story is throwing idea after idea out at the author in attempts to distract her. Until finally she gets everything out she can, barely obtaining her well fought victory feeling exhausted and drained. For me this series has evolved in a manor that goes along with my above imaginings. Book one is calm and seductive luring you into the world just like it did for the author. Book 2 the possession becomes evident and the author is ready for the battle but the distractions being thrown into her mind keep winding up in the story creating a wild ride and mashup of things not seen in book 1. Then there is book 3, which seemed more like a last ditch effort and hail mary pass in an attempt to reach some sort of conclusion or finish line without tripping on any plot holes along the way.

Despite the book coming to a nice conclusion for the series I still feel a little rode hard and put up wet. The suspense created between the constant back and forth for all the characters as well as never knowing who is on top of the pile was quite exhausting for me. I also felt like in book 3 here all my “loves” from book 2 regressed into a hotmess mashup. Tella who in book 2 displayed a strong, driven, heroine personality regressed to naive, wishy washy, pawn here in book 3. Scarlet… in her attempts to become more like Tella causes even more chaos and through everything in this book I just kept thinking.. We have a book about Scarlet, we have a book about Tella, now we need a book where they and all their collected allies in the game tackle a problem together and learn to trust each other despite all the lies in the first 2 books.. Unfortunately this is not what happens. There really never was a “Eureka” moment. It was just every man for himself till the end basically. I felt like this was the book that should have brought everyone together meshed them cohesively and created some extra depth and for me it came up a little short.

The story itself was still enjoyable but it just lacked some finality that with a name like Finale should have been made a little more evident. I mean have they really wrapped anything up? I mean honestly? I feel like we are basically in the same spot as where book 2 left off but with a tad more “agreeable” characters, and some choices that should have been made back at the end of book 2 finally decided upon. I ended up just being disappointed that it still feels like we aren’t at a true end.

I requested and received an ARC of this via NetGalley and the publisher Flatiron Books in exchange for an honest review. Thanks so much for the opportunity to read and review this book.

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Book Stop – ARC Review – Dark Shores by Danielle L. Jensen

Dark Shores by Danielle L. Jensen

Publisher: Macmillan-Tom Doherty Associates For Teen

Published: May 7th 2019

Series: Dark Shores #1

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Supernatural

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
*Requested and received an ARC of this via NetGalley and the Publisher Macmillan-Tom Doherty Associates for Teen in exchange for an honest review. Thanks so much for the opportunity to read and review this work.*

So I was completely sold by this blurb.. hook, line, and sinker… Super entertaining read with a really riveting premise. I have to say this wasn’t what I was expecting, and it did take me a bit to really become invested. This story really has some amazingly in depth and super original backstory and I honestly if there had just been more of it straight out of the gate I think this might have caught me up a little sooner.. There are also some really deep currents running here that we have just barely touched the surface. Some times a slow revealing backstory adds to the intrigue and mystery of the story and other times it just makes me antsy to get some info so I can make things make sense.

I was expecting more sea “scenes” as well as more of the supernatural aspect but the focus of this book was definitely character and relationship development focused which for me was a little disappointing because I think I was definitely leaning toward wanting more of the action/adventure vibes, rebellion etc. The author spends a lot of time developing both the characters and the character relationships which is great in the stand point that you get to watch as the main characters grow and slowly broaden their horizons; however, this also slowed down the plot a lot because it seems our characters, especially our FMC, are completely stubborn and really put up a loooonnnggg fight. So by the time the story ended I felt like we really hadn’t made all that much progress for a “check point.”

Teriana, our FMC, makes a mistake trusting a childhood friend with secrets that aren’t hers to tell and endangering not only her own people but people across the world as well, because these secrets end up in the hands of the West who will stop at nothing but world dominion. In Teriana’s world West and East must always remain separate and her people. The people of the sea keep them that way. Now Teriana must lead the West to the East in order to save her own people even if it damns her soul. Marcus, undefeated in the West, must lead his legions to the East because he has no choice. Black mail and deception are being used against him and in order to protect his family he must do as he is told.. he belongs to the legion.. orders are his life. The West is unprepared for what they have stepped off into however because the pagan gods worshiped by the rest of the world are way more real than myths and legends and it seems everyone may have stepped off into a war between them…

It boils down to this, there is so much more going on with this story than what the author chose to focus on here in book one. This is both a good thing and a bad thing, at least for me. The good is that I am super pumped to continue this series and get all the information and reveals that were just barely skimmed here in the first book. The bad is that alot of books that don’t put enough “skin in the game” in book one often times lead me down a plot hole road of disappointment. So for future books in this series I’m hoping for more nitty gritty and way more of the whole supernatural aspect to the story and less back and forth between main characters. What little we did get here in this story was enough of a sneak peak to keep me glued to the pages the entire book wanting more. Can’t wait for book 2!
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A TRUE Book Slump – When a book makes you want to stop reading forever.

A character in a book, hurt my feelings so much I took a break from reading..

So most readers have visited the Book Slump street before. On this street its almost like a reader can’t catch a break. Nothing seems interesting, or intriguing, and all the plot lines of every book we seem to pick up fall super flat. Instead of books being our escape, our happy place, they become work and all of a sudden instead of falling into the world created by the writer all we see are just the words on the page. I too have book slumps, fortunately for me, I read super fast and so usually can move in and out of a slump so fast its like that “street” becomes more of a blink and you will miss it type.

I myself have never been ashamed of any of the genre’s I read. I love fiction: fantasy, romance, scifi, YA, NA, Adult, childrens, you name it I love it and am super excited to talk about books and authors all day.. to the detriment of those around me even. I also want to say that not only have I never been ashamed of what I enjoy reading but in my meager blogging experience and my goodreads career I have found that a more accepting community is not to be had. The Blogging community is one of the best I have been blessed to experience, and more encouraging, caring, uplifting people I haven’t found yet!

All that being said. A character in a book, hurt my feelings so much I took a break from reading the other day. Granted it took me about 24 hours to smack some sense into myself and toss up that middle digit in said imaginary character’s way.. Afterwards I realized I must have been having a sensitive day or some such nonsense for it to have effected me in that way but allow me to explain.

This character was the MC in what was actually titled a Romantic Comedy. This male character was a writer desperate for publication of his magnum opus and in a fit of temper because no one would pick up the book he wrote what he called “drivel” as a sort of revenge against the man type scenario. This “drivel” ended up becoming a best selling book with agents chomping at the bit to get their hands on it for publication. This MC then proceeds to judge super harshly the genre of Romance and fantasy in general as well as the demographic of readers who love and live for the words in their books. I have experienced heightened emotions many many times in books, usually for or directed at the characters in the books. I have also experienced uplifted and motivational feelings from books that make me want to be a better person and touch me on a super personal level. I am not sure that I have ever been made to feel bad about myself by a character in a book before.. until this day. All of a sudden I realized that the irritation I felt at not being able to connect to books in the past wasn’t a true book slump. This my reader friends is the true meaning of Book Slump! A real slump is one that makes you want to pack up your toys and head to some other hobby. The real freaking deal, and though I didn’t allow it to last very long because lets face it that imaginary character can shove it, I was very surprised by how much that guy hurt my feelings personally, and made me feel anger at anyone talking smack about what I really love to do. Ironic that this character would be the MC in a “romantic comedy” as he seems more like a nasty villain.

I felt like I should take the time to share these thoughts and provide encouragement to those around me. Do what you love and don’t let the naysayers bring strife up in your bubble.. even if the naysayers are imaginary. Have any of you had a book or character that rubbed you so wrong you had to step away? Let me know!

Book Stop – ARC Review – Vampire Hearts by Katie M. John

Vampire Hearts: Book One of Bathory Academy by Katie M. John

Publisher: BooksGoSocial

Publish Date: July 27, 2018

Series: Bathory Academy #1

Genre: Older YA, Fantasy, Paranormal Romance

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I think 3-3.5 stars for me. The premise and the uniqueness of the backstory really made the book for me. I am loving how really rich the world building is here, pulling together some of the oldies with a whole lot of newbie made for a really great read. The very clever and subtle name drops made me feel like I belonged. I had no trouble sinking right into the world and scenes and honestly there was enough going on that I remained invested from cover to cover; however all that being said it really did take us a while to really get anywhere and by the end of the book I really don’t feel like we made a lot of progress plot wise. If we really break it down there was a back and forth of scenes that instead of keeping up moving forward kept us kind of stagnant throughout the first book. This is interwoven with backstory and some reveals here and there as well as introduction to new characters so I never really felt bored but I can definitely see where the repetition of certain actions could loose some readers.

Alex, our MC, has just found out he is a born vampire (inter generational – meaning his parents were not vampires but the gene passed to him from his grandfather.) Rushed off to Bathory Academy school for supernatural, Alex is thrust into a hierarchical Vampire system that doesn’t quite sit well with his millennial upbringing nor his hero complex. He also is having a hard time with self acceptance, refusing to feed. Scarlet our FMC is the darling of Bathory Academy, also with some “revolutionary” views herself. Scarlet comes with her own drama and has conflict with how she was raised and her belief system herself. Alex and Scarlet have a somewhat instant connection which slowly reveals itself to perhaps being more than just fate. As Scarlet becomes a target from a religious group hell bent on destroying all vampires especially those from her line, and the Supernatural community becomes embroiled in more and more turmoil as the fascist system they have been living under for centuries reaches closer to a breaking point, the students at Bathory Academy as well as Alex and Scarlet must come to realize their parts in the future of supernaturals as well as deal with this mysterious connection.

I think we are store for a healthy amount of problems as the students aren’t in possession of all the information like the teachers/adults. The withholding of information always causes issues and drags a story out longer than necessary so I’ll have to keep that in mind for when the next book comes out. All in all though I thought this was an interesting and entertaining read and am looking forward to book 2 hoping we really get somewhere there.

I requested and received an ARC of this via NetGalley and the Publisher BooksGoSocial in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Stop – Requested Review – Legend of Griff by Richard Sparrow

The Legend of Griff by Richard Sparrow

Publisher: Independently Published

Published: December 27th 2018

Series: Legend of Griff #1

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Humor

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars for me. So just to start off with the feel of the book I was getting “The Black Cauldron” vibes the entire time. I am not sure why.. maybe the pig farmer thing? The orphan and sword thing? I couldn’t shake it throughout the story. I really loved the “spoof” factor in the book. The author seemed to take popular fantasy tropes and basically make fun of them in a very entertaining fantasy story. Instead of the handsome young hero with a tortured past off to save the world with his magic sword that just appeared out of thin air, the reader basically get an anti hero. A foul mouthed Goblin with a penchant for thievery and a very healthy dose of survival skills who just so happened to accidentally kill the hero and now has to somehow find a way to weasel his way out of becoming involved with this journey.

In terms of originality I’d give it 5 stars lol. I think what kept me off that 4 star is the fact that though we are having an entertaining jaunt and a very detailed world building and backstory, the first book didn’t really feel like it got anywhere for me. I am not quite sure where we are headed plot wise. I feel like we never really reached the climax so to speak, however there are definitely things simmering on all the burners.. there are a lot of burners it seems. We have a complete cast here and get a whole heck of a lot of viewpoints. It was a little difficult to finally get everyone separated in the respective corners but by the end I felt like a had a pretty decent grasp. I’m afraid if too many more ingredients join in however the pot will be overflowing.

All in all this really was an entertaining flip on the popular tropes of the world of fantasy. The book was really well written and very easy to sink into. This is seeming to be a story that’s not about the destination but all about the ride. I’m down with that!

I was contacted by the author and asked to take a look at this book and leave an honest review.
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