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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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 – ARC Review – Ignite by Donna Grant

Ignite by Donna Grant

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Publisher: St. Martins Press

Expected Release: April 30, 2019

Series: Dark Kings #15Dark World #35

Requested and Received an ARC of this via NetGalley and the publisher St. Martins Press, in exchange for an honest review.

I felt this book was a solid 3 stars for me. I want to start off by saying this book does not work very well as a stand alone it is number #15 in a series and so has 14 books worth of back story and experiences that the characters have gone through, as well as 14 books worth of buildup of an ongoing secondary plot line.

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Book Stop – ARC Review – House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

Publisher: Random House Children’s Books

Expected Publication: August 6, 2019

Genre: Dark Fantasy, Horror

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I requested and received an ARC of this via NetGalley and the Publisher Random House Children’s Books in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for allowing me to read and review this work.



4.5 stars.. Whew I’m pretty sure this kind of blew me away. I’m still reeling, sitting here wide eyed and shell shocked. I was not expecting this fantasy with its bits of darkness, hints of horror, and touches of madness. Mind trip… that is what this book was. I went into this thinking it was going to be a simple retelling of a childhood tale but this is more Grim than fairy.. Maybe even more Grim than Grim themselves. I actually had to untwist my mind before throwing together this review. The anxiety and suspense almost put me down…

In this dark reinvention of the tale of The 12 Dancing Princesses the author Erin A. Craig brings hints of horror to a classic fairy tale. Annaleigh, our FMC, watches as yet another sister is given back to the sea. Its a curse the townspeople say.. First her mother and then 3 of her elder sisters, all have died under suspicious circumstances. Annaleigh is determined to find out what is going on and save the rest of her family. As she makes some discoveries everything seems to be leading toward dead ends literally. Not only that Annaleigh has noticed her younger sister making really disturbing drawings, and seeing things.. and now Annaleigh has started seeing them too. Being led to a dimensional doorway “of the gods” the remaining sisters turn towards balls and dancing all night long to distract themselves from the life of mourning they have been cursed to live. Annaleigh though, must unravel the mysteries surrounding her sisters deaths, as well as break this curse before her sisters dance themselves all to death… or maybe its all in her head…

There are some really intense scenes in this book some of which are incredibly heart pounding. The author definitely has talent for twisting things back and forth on top of each other until you can’t tell which way is up and you end up ass over ankles. I’m not sure if I’ll ever want to reread it again.. because once was enough for me to remember forever…
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Book Stop -ARC Review – Storm and Fury by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Storm and Fury by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Publisher: Harlequin Teen (US and Canada) Inkyard Press

Expected Publish Date: June 11th 2019

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I requested and received an ARC of this via NetGalley and the publisher Harlequin Teen and Inkyard Press in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much for allowing me to read and review this author’s work!

4.5 Stars rounded up to 5!! I thoroughly enjoyed this story. Throw in the action, intrigue, character chemistry and intensity, and intermittent humor with a Bad A sarcastic FMC and you have an equation for success! I am a huge sucker for the strong FMC, and no matter how many times I read stories with one, they get me every time! Full disclosure I am a Jennifer L. Armentrout fan. I did read the blurb, however, I was not expecting this to be a spin off series. I think that is why I had to dial back the star power a little. My OCD kicks in when I feel like I’m being dropped in the middle of a story and the already developed relationships portrayed in the book as well as the hints of past adventures put my radar up which made me have to pause and go digging for the root series. So.. heads up this is a spin off to all you out there looking to pick up your newest series addiction, but you may want to start at the beginning or you’ll wind up back paddling in the same boat as me lol.

Trinity, our FMC, lives in a community of gargoyle shifters called Wardens, but she herself is not one. She comes across human but she has a secret.. of BAD A proportions. Training most of her life with her sworn guardian protector, she knows she is a weapon but she must also stay hidden for everything hunts her kind, and she is one of the last. Of course, the staying hidden and protected part of the deal, that’s not really her jam. She senses the rise in demon activity. It is the gargoyles duty to police the demons and they just aren’t working fast enough for her tastes… especially once her bonded guardian is kidnapped. Teaming up with Zayne, the annoying and handsome Warden from another clan who might have some secret shady contacts seems to be her best bet to bring back her bonded brother. Trinity discovers pretty quickly the black and white world she grew up in has way more shades of gray than come in the crayon box. She must now decide what side she is playing for because of course there are always sides.. and whether or not she can live with the side she picks. She must also come to grips with the fact that those she loves may be on a different side of this war that seems to be brewing…

Love love Trinity! A tiny bit word vomit, with all the sarcasm, and the skills to back up the trash talk. I’ve been holding out in 2019 on picking my new FMC girl crush but shes definitely going on my list. I can’t wait to see more of this series!
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Book Stop – ARC Review – The Warrior by Sarah Fine

The Warrior by Sarah Fine

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Publisher: 47 North

Expected Publication: March 26, 2019

Series: The Immortal Dealers #3

Genre: Fantasy

Requested and received an ARC of this via NetGalley and the Publisher 47 North in exchange for an honest review

3.5 Stars rounded up to 4. I rounded up because as a whole the series was pretty good. I think with this series I have had a little expectation versus reality come to Jesus. What kept me from full out 4ing the book rather than just rounding up, was the fact that in every book since the epicness of book one, I have been pulling for Ernie to become a real Bad A. Have you ever just really wanted something for someone so badly, only to be disappointed when they don’t live up to the expectations you have set for them? Is it really their fault? Honestly, I have wanted it so bad for her that every time it doesn’t happen I think I loose a little of myself.. Though in this book of the series, Ernie does represent a little better, I find that once again my expectations and desire to see her not only succeed but mop some floor with people were dashed. Even with all the events of the book lining up perfectly, I mean its like she got bit by the dang radioactive spider…. I find that as a whole I was underwhelmed by her again. The story itself is so great and so original. I still get Yu-Gi-oH flashbacks a little.

This 3rd book in the series here picks up right about where book 2 left off. Ernie and her not so allied “allies” are now dealing with their new forager who seems to have some pretty benevolent plans for each of the dealers. That is until they realize this new forager just specializes in manipulation and each of the dealers are just a playing piece in her game of death, destruction, and power. As Ernie once again begs and pleads for everyone to work together, because lets face it ya’ll she just doesn’t quite cut the mustard by herself, she gets the cold shoulder left and right because of the disasters of book 2. Finding the sunrise relic, like the last forager warned her to do, Ernie unlocks a whole new mess upon herself and her friends. A mess of powers left over from a previous forager. Needing her help to explain what is happening to her and her friends they turn toward this remnant of an forager, Phoebe, for help. Phoebe, seems to be the answer to their prayers, benevolent, kind, helpful… but her long game may just put all the dealers in an even worse mess and its up to Ernie and her friends to actually team up for a change to make a difference in the way things are done!

I feel like my review is coming off a little Ernie hater-aideish.. that’s not the case, I like Ernie.. I just wanted more from her and find that she just never quite lived up to my expectations of her. I’m now left wondering what is in store for this group! Surely we aren’t at the end of the story.. maybe just the end of this leg in the journey? I would love to see more from this world with its interesting magic concepts. Maybe pit our dealers against some new enemy? Either way I’ll definitely keep an eye out for more from this author in the future!
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