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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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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Featuring: The Nut Haul off NutGalley!

Apparently NetGalley has a great sense of humor, sprucing up their site for April Fools. So cute and fitting in my case for sure lol. I wanted to take the time to give a shoutout to NetGalley and say I appreciate them, as well as showoff a couple of ARC’s I’ll be reading this month that I requested and received! You know how it is, your searching through the recently added list and you see one of your most favorite authors. I fangirled out the day I saw one of Jude Deveraux’s books on there.. unfortunately for me that request was denied quick, fast, and in a hurry. Sooo after I picked up the pieces of my broken heart, I’ve learned not to get my hopes up too far just in case. This last request binge I went on though was super fruitful! So lets see what I got in my Nut Case for the month of April!

The Evil Queen by Gena Showalter

You see this beauty! Love freaking Gena Showalter! Lords of the Underworld is one of my most favorite series! I can’t wait to start this!

Releases: June 25, 2019

Goodreads Blurb:

Welcome to the Forest of Good and Evil. A dream come true, and a living nightmare.

Evil isn’t born, it’s made. One thought and action at a time. Take a good look at what you’ve made.

Far, far away, in the realm of Enchantia, creatures of legend still exist, magic is the norm and fairy tales are real. Except, fairy tales aren’t based on myths and legends of the past—they are prophecies of the future.

Raised in the mortal realm, Everly Morrow has no idea she’s a real life fairy tale princess—until she manifests an ability to commune with mirrors.

Look. See… What will one peek hurt?

Soon, a horrifying truth is revealed. She is fated to be Snow White’s greatest enemy, the Evil Queen.

With powers beyond her imagination or control—and determined to change Fate itself—Everly returns to the land of her birth. There, she meets Roth Charmaine, the supposed Prince Charming. Their attraction is undeniable, but their relationship is doomed.

As bits and pieces of the prophecy unfold, Everly faces one betrayal after another, and giving in to her dark side proves more tempting every day. Can she resist, or will she become the queen—and villain—she was born to be? 

Continue reading “Featuring: The Nut Haul off NutGalley!”

Book Stop – A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
January 29th 2019

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance

Series: A Curse So Dark and Lonely #1

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I did not read the blurb before reading this book. I just saw a lot of hype and jumped right in, so for me it was exciting when I discovered it was a retelling if Beauty and the Beast. I really like how the author made the retelling both obvious and original at the same time, reinventing many of the concepts but keeping the main points recognizable! It was good! Indeed it was!

Our FMC Harper, is kidnapped during a botched rescue attempt in which she was trying to prevent the mapper from grabbing a different woman. Once grabbed she is “whisked” away to a world of impossibilities. I will say that the “denial” phase was starting to get a little old, but the author did finally move on. Super hostile to her kidnappers, she isn’t taking any crap from any one. Rhen our MMC lives a cursed season, over and over again until his beast form overcomes him. He has long since given up hope that someone could fall in “real” love with him…and this may be his last chance. Thrown together Rhen and Harper decide to team up for a cause greater than Rhen’s curse, the saving of his kingdom that has long been neglected due to his beasts actions. An invader has begun conquering and terrorizing the people and Harper isn’t having it. I think that the most mind blowing thought that has stuck with me in this story is how the author has Harper point out to the beast that yes he has had all these attempts to make all these women fall in love with him.. but at which point was he ever willing to fall in love back? Never.. so he hadn’t ever really changed because once again he was just trying to get what he needed and not give love in return! 🤯. Never looked at it from that exact perspective before. I mean it was obvious that even in the Disney version the beast falls in love with the girl but it never occurred to me that in this version the reason no one had fallen for him is that he wasn’t willing to give of himself and in essence hadn’t learned his lesson…

In this story the FMC has a really mild form of Cerebral Palsy. The author did not elaborate on this illness and barely even called any attention to it. I’m not sure if I loved that fact or if I was irritated by it. Cerebral Palsy has such a wide range of symptoms varying in severity. Without more details on the actual character’s symptoms we can’t even form an accurate opinion on how it effected her during all her trials which bummed me because I feel like it lessened her greatness and at the same time it was almost like the author was intentionally not trying to call attention to her illness so that no preconceived notions could be formed, and Harper couldn’t be pigeon holed into greatness “because” she overcame an illness. The book portrays Harper as great because she is just a Bad A FMC, not because she had to overcome her trials *and* a disability. I understand that. Either way this had no real effect on my enjoyment of the story, I just personally would have liked to know more about our character’s CP.

I loved the retelling and am definitely intrigued on what direction the next book will take!

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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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