Book Stop – ARC Review – Soul of the Sword by Julie Kagawa

Soul of the Sword by Julie Kagawa

Publisher: Harlequin Teen/Inkyard Press

Published: June 18, 2019

Series: Shadow of the Fox #2

Genre: Fantasy, YA

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5-4 stars. Ahhhh, Lets just say I’ve been ruminating on my review for as long as I dared. I’m on the fence.. not because I didn’t like but because I did and at the same time I didn’t get the answers I wanted here in book 2. So now I’m here we are on the cliff edge.. again… still wanting answers from book one and now having to wait till next year? to get the answers. Gah. I love the anime feel and it definitely continues into book 2 of the Shadow of the Fox series. However, now that I think back on my anime experiences.. I remember several times in which it took an entire season in order to defeat one monster. I’m hoping that is not the case here, I feel like our characters are having more and more problems heaped upon them and hope is but a speck on the horizon, or an almost forgotten memory. Like there is some deja vu of hope here.. Got me all twisted!

In the second book, Yumeko’s journey continues to the Steel Feather temple but her heart is set on saving Tatsumi. Yumeko’s dreams are haunted by a white fox who says he can teach her the way to save Tasumi, but the cost is so great. The journey is quite perilous and there was quite a bit of action and intrigue but at the same time Tatsumi is getting farther away. Hakaimono it seems has some ideas of his own and he wants nothing more than to be free of the sword. He teams up with the master of demons with a deal to get the scrolls for him even though demon’s cannot summon the dragon, if the Master will free him from the sword. Yumeko has also been summoned by the Shadow Clan the head Diva herself. It seems there is dissension in the shadow clan revolving around the lost Kage Tatsumi and the Lady wants Tatsumi saved if possible and returned back under her thumb. All the while Yumeko’s entourage grows closer together, and begin to face the trial after trial including which priority is more. Saving Tatsumi? Saving the Empire? Saving the world? The pieces are being arranged if only we knew who the main players would end up being.

The ride has been really great but I need some info stat! I really want answers about Yumeko’s past. Who are all these players? I really loved how in this book Yumeko’s magic got to come out and play for bit. I would LOVE to see more of that. Show us what a Kitsune is really capable of and why they are one of the most revered spirit messengers in Japanese culture. There are just so many mysteries and book 2 just rode us along and didn’t answer any of my questions. As a messenger of the gods shouldn’t she be a tad more on the BAD A side? Bring it! I can’t wait to see where the next book takes us!

*I received an AR copy of this via NetGalley and the publisher Harlequin Teen/Inkyard Press in exchange for an honest review.*
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Book Stop – ARC Review – The Night House by J. C. McKenzie

Probably need to start start a list.. I am forever starting lists and never pulling all my lists together. Anyways.. this book needs to go on the list of Stand-alone’s that I really wish were a series list .. This is my note to myself and others lol.

The Night House by J.C. McKenzie

Publisher: Backlit Publishing

Published: March 22nd 2019

Genre: Sci fi, Fantasy, Paranormal, NA/Adult

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5-4 stars. This was a really intriguing read, with a real unique start. Magical apocalypse + aliens + BAMF FMC assassin.. I mean whats not to love about any of these things. I have to say that I’m really disappointed that this isn’t a series starter.. It had everything there to set up for a series but then kind of abruptly wrapped everything up at the end. At the end I was really hoping to do some research and find that there are some other sequels or a saga or some companion novels but I haven’t found anything yet. Maybe in the future?

We start with our FMC Taya, during a magical apocalypse. A portal has opened and a magical wave comes through and basically incinerates most of the population of earth. As Alien lords come through the portal to round up whoever is left for slavery Taya fights tooth and nail for survival. Attacking the Alien supply carts etc. During one raid everything goes wrong and Taya ends up captured with a choice. Slavery, or 1 year of training with her captor to become the Lord’s right hand woman and assassin with the bonus that she will be killing other aliens from the other houses as necessary. Taya makes her choice and learns more and more about the humanoid race that came through the portal, she learns all about their culture and history. When more and more truth surfaces though Taya must end up choosing the life she has been fighting for or the life she has made.

Really rich world here with tons of potential and honestly I feel like we have just barely scratched the surface. I can’t help but want to know more. The characters had great chemistry though I kind of wish that each individual had a little more depth. I’m on the holding out side that this author is going to take this farther. Either way this book was really good and totally worth the read.

I requested and received an ARC of this via NetGalley and the Publisher Backlit PR in exchange for an honest review.
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Book Stop – ARC Review – Shadow Frost by Coco Ma

HYPE HYPE HYPE ya’ll. This is the first work of 19 year old author Coco Ma. She wrote this when she was only 15 and I just can’t even express how talented this author is. I went in expecting something good but a little on the superficial side and this author took my expectations and smacked me in the face with them. Touche Coco Ma.. Touche.

Shadow Frost by Coco Ma

Publish Date: October 1, 2019

Publisher: Blackstone Publishing

Series: TBD

Genre: YA Fantasy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4-4.5 Incredibly astonished, jaw dropping stars. This author has a great future ahead of her if this is just a glimpse of what she is capable of at the age of 15. I am definitely a fan. Shadow Frost combines a whimsical writing style, enchanting and complex magical system, depth full characters, and a unique world into a captivating reinvention of the tale of Snow White. The author manages to weave in intrigue, betrayals and plot twists in such a way to keep the readers on their toes and glued to the pages. I think that the author has a calling for the YA fantasy genre. Especially in her ability to convey maturity in her characters and chemistry between them but still keep things suited to her audience. I thought the characters had great range and depth, and for having so many that, in itself, was remarkable.

Enter the world of Axaria, a land created by the council of Immortals– the nine gods and goddesses of the Immortal Realm. Princess Asterin, our sassy, strong, and fiercely determined FMC, has just discovered she is omnifinitied, one who is rare and gifted in all the nine elements of magic in her world. A darkness has risen up in Asterin’s kingdom, and it is up to Asterin, and her most trusted and talented friends to push it back to where it came from. Asterin in a desperate attempt to live up to her soon to be ruler status as well as her mother’s expectations. Asterin and her companions set off on their journey. But not everyone Asterin meets is friend and in their search for the demon plaguing the land, they discover the treachery is much closer to home and the truth shall be revealed and must be accepted even if no forgiveness can be found.

The story itself is very original, so much so that I only started to recognize aspects to tie it to the fairy tale Snow White at about 40% in. I love that. It made me as the reader think I had uncovered some great hidden mystery! The magical system created for Axaria was really great but more information would have been awesome. It was complex in that it was not just built on the elements but on spells also. We didn’t really get a very good breakdown of what this magic is capable of yet which leaves room for growth in a sequel but at the same time didn’t give us much to go on in the the fights.. Why are things hard? Why do certain things work and others don’t? What makes one magic bad and one good? Where is the line?

I think this supernatural world was built quite well, but the reader could have really benefited from more backstory and details here and there. For example I personally would have loved more info about the Immortals, it seems there is something going on in the Immortal realm that we have just barely grazed upon here in this book. Like things are happening over there. Having Queen Priscilla’s story, as well as the stories of others just barely hinted at around the magical world would have also answered a lot of questions for me. I identified several areas where it looked like other fairy tale reinventions could be starting, Sleeping Beauty, and Beauty and the Beast to just name a couple. What I would really like to know is if I’m reading to much into the story or if the author definitely is going to pursue these avenues. Though I haven’t seen any evidence so far stating matter of factly that this is book one in the series, this cannot be the end. I ended this story wondering if I had discovered some missed plot holes, or if I had discovered multiple unfinished avenues the author plans to pursue later. These unanswered questions are the reason for my quad stars. I feel like a lot of the questions I have were left with the reader on purpose so as to answer them in a later work. Not knowing for sure is just about killing me lol.

It is just phenomenal really that this is the author’s first work, and that the author was only 15 at the time it was written. Definitely something I would recommend for YA fantasy readers, or lovers of fairy tale retellings. This author is one to watch out for!

I requested and received an AR copy of this via NetGalley and the Publisher Blackstone Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Stop – ARC Review – The Evil Queen by Gena Showalter – The Binge is real 5 STARS!

The Evil Queen by Gena Showalter

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Publish Date: June 25, 2019

Series: The Forest of Good and Evil #1

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

*I requested and received an AR copy of this via NetGalley and the publisher Harlequin TEEN and Inkyard Press in exchange for an honest review. Tons of thanks for letting me read and review this book Gena Showalter is one of my favorite authors.*

All NIGHT BINGE! Well, you see… what had happened was… I, like an idiot, decided to start this before going to bed.. I should know better, I really should. This is not your typical ever after, it was heartbreaking, gut wrenching, infuriating, and the chemistry between the characters like to scalded my fingertips! This book had one of the most unique takes on a prophecy that I’ve read before keeping the reader guessing till the very end on who’s who, and rooting for the characters with every emotion on the scale.

This is one of those books where the prologue really threw me, not sure why it threw me so much but after that prologue it was almost impossible to focus enough to really fall into the start of the book. I think it had more to do with my ADD than anything as I just couldn’t get the prologue out of my mind and reconcile that brief glimpse we got with the start of this book. So that being said, it was a little difficult to sink into this story, not because of the world building itself but because the backstory was hard to reconcile until further into the story. After a few chapter’s though I was so incredibly hooked that there was no “putting the book down.”

Everly Morrow, our FMC, has been raised in the mortal dimension with no idea that she is a fairy princess, nor does she know that on the day or her birth a prophecy was made tying her fate to a fairy tale. In this case the tail of Snow White. Growing up with her twin sister Hart who is beautiful, communes with animals, and is her greatest and only friend. Everly would do anything for Hart and her family. Her world turns upside down as both her and her sister find out they have supernatural powers. Everly communes with mirrors, unfortunately her power must come from a source because she is a sorcerer decedent.. in this case her source becomes her mother and since she is unable to control her powers her mother ends up dead. In a letter to her daughters Everly’s deceased mother reveals Everly is in fact not her daughter and now she must venture to the land of her birth to find answers and thwart a prophecy as well as meet her true family. This book is absolute evidence that Evil isn’t born but made.. nothing goes right for Everly she gets the short end of the stick in almost every situation. The only good thing, meeting the prince. But isn’t prince charming supposed to love Snow White? All the trials reveal each player in the game, all except the Evil Queen. It can’t be Everly, but if not Everly then who… Maybe everything isn’t black and white because not everyone can be all good, all the time…

The chemistry between Everly and the prince was off the charts, steamy, beautiful and heartbreaking. I just can’t even. This journey was epic but never boring and the twists and turns really made for an incredible ride for the reader. It was just sooo good. I can’t wait to see what other fairy tales are tied in!
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