Book Review

ARC Book Review: The Ballad of Never After (Once Upon a Broken Heart #2) by Stephanie Garber

Rating: ★★★★☆
Audience: YA Fantasy Romance
Length: 416 pages
Author: Stephanie Garber
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Release Date: September 13th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The fiercely-anticipated sequel to the #1 New York Times bestseller Once Upon a Broken Heart, starring Evangeline Fox and the Prince of Hearts on a new journey of magic, mystery, and heartbreak.

Not every love is meant to be.

After Jacks, the Prince of Hearts, betrays her, Evangeline Fox swears she’ll never trust him again. Now that she’s discovered her own magic, Evangeline believes she can use it to restore the chance at happily ever after that Jacks stole away.

But when a new terrifying curse is revealed, Evangeline finds herself entering into a tenuous partnership with the Prince of Hearts again. Only this time, the rules have changed. Jacks isn’t the only force Evangeline needs to be wary of. In fact, he might be the only one she can trust, despite her desire to despise him.

Instead of a love spell wreaking havoc on Evangeline’s life, a murderous spell has been cast. To break it, Evangeline and Jacks will have to do battle with old friends, new foes, and a magic that plays with heads and hearts. Evangeline has always trusted her heart, but this time she’s not sure she can.

Thank you to Macmillan Audio for my early audio copy!

DEVASTATION.

The way I gasped at a particular scene near the end. Holy wow. Gotta give it up to Stephanie Garber. I wasn’t super on board with this series after the first book (but still enjoyed). I took a bit more convincing here and then realized just how attached I had become to these characters.

Jacks and Evangeline have great snarky banter. I love the give and take and that they got a lot more softer moments here. There’s an intense and undeniable pull between them that I can’t wait to learn more about. I think Jacks is too much of a hidden character, even after two books. I want a few more layers peeled back on him so we can get the raw intensity of his past that I know is coming. Evangeline bothered me a whole lot less too and I think it’s kind of fun to be apart of her mindset as she handles all of the fates and prophecies.

Things occasionally felt bogged down by the tangents of story telling. Gratefully they did actually connect back into the main plot so I didn’t feel lost for long. The audio was fantastic! I loved the narrator and it made for a great listen.

I’m of course, very much curious where this series is going to continue onwards to. There’s plenty left open and I adore Garber’s writing and her passion for love conquers all mentality. I’m going to be sitting in a puddle of anxiety until I get my hands on the next book.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fantasy Romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: make-outs
  • Violence: med/high
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: physical altercations, near death experiences, kidnapping, magical weaponry
Book Review

Book Review: Once Upon a Broken Heart (Once Upon a Broken Heart #1) by Stephanie Garber

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy
Length: 408 pages
Author: Stephanie Garber
Publisher: Flatiron
Release Date: September 28th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

How far would you go for happily ever after?

For as long as she can remember, Evangeline Fox has believed in true love and happy endings…until she learns that the love of her life will marry another.

Desperate to stop the wedding and to heal her wounded heart, Evangeline strikes a deal with the charismatic but wicked Prince of Hearts. In exchange for his help, he asks for three kisses, to be given at the time and place of his choosing.

But after Evangeline’s first promised kiss, she learns that bargaining with an immortal is a dangerous game—and that the Prince of Hearts wants far more from her than she’d pledged. He has plans for Evangeline, plans that will either end in the greatest happily ever after or the most exquisite tragedy.

A GOOD START.

I admittedly let myself hype this one up because I love Garber’s Caraval series. It did let me down a little, but not enough to even suggest I won’t pick up the next book.

Who did I miss most? JACKS. I felt that he wasn’t in it as much as he should have been as the supposed main love interest. He popped in and out until the second half where I finally saw more of him. There wasn’t enough active chemistry between Jacks and Eva for me to fully be on board. I’m interested, I’m testing the waters, but I’m not convinced they are a romantic duo. A lot remains to be seen.

A bit of a wild story moving all over the Northern lands of the Caraval world. I liked that it was in a different location so that things didn’t overlap with previous characters too much and that this could be its own series. There’s A LOT of lore and little stories throughout to tell the background of what’s happening around Eva and what Jacks is trying to accomplish. It was easy to follow and I love Garber’s writing style. While it wasn’t everything I hoped for, I’m excited to see the story continue. JUST GIVE ME MORE JACKS.

Eva has a lot of growth to hopefully look forward to as well. She just seemed to naïve and trusting of every single person. I’m actually hoping she becomes a bit more bitter and gray to see another side of her.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fantasy Romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: make-outs
  • Violence: physical altercations, magical attacks
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: murder, blood depiction

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Book Review

Book Review: Finale (Caraval #3) by Stephanie Garber

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆ 
Audience: Young adult fantasy
Length: 496 pages
Author: Stephanie Garber
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Release Date: May 7th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Welcome, welcome to Finale, the third and final book in the #1 New York Times bestselling Caraval series!

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…all games must come to an end.

It’s been two months since the last Caraval concluded, two months since the Fates have been freed from an enchanted deck of cards, two months since Tella has seen Legend, and two months since Legend claimed the empire’s throne as his own. Now, Legend is preparing for his official coronation and Tella is determined to stop it. She believes her own mother, who still remains in an enchanted sleep, is the rightful heir to the throne.

Meanwhile, Scarlett has started a game of her own. She’s challenged Julian and her former fiancé, Count Nicolas d’Arcy, to a competition where the winner will receive her hand in marriage. Finaly, Scarlett feels as if she is in complete control over her life and future. She is unaware that her mother’s past has put her in the greatest danger of all.

Caraval is over, but perhaps the greatest game of all has begun―with lives, empires, and hearts all at stake. There are no spectators this time: only those who will win…and those who will lose everything

LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE.

I had to take a few days before writing this review because I loved this book that much. Oh my goodness, PLEASE READ THIS SERIES and thank me later. This is what my carnival + fantasy dreams are made of.

WHAT A FINALE. (yes, I will use this pun without any shame).

Okay, my heart is in a million pieces. What I loved absolute most about this book was how it was entirely focused on love. AND IT WASN’T CHEESY. That I feel is the hardest part of any romance-ish book. Finale was full of love, it controlled the book. Oh, it was so well done. I could gush forever at this one fact.

Now, I know most people love Scarlet, BUT I LOVE TELLA MOST. I love that she’s stubborn and passionate. She’s fiercely loyal and loves with a controlled recklessness that makes me love her even more. I was happy to have her as the main POV (Scarlet was the other one, but only occasionally). Scarlet did grow A LOT in this book. She took control of her own choices and really helped those around her. She showed strength and grace and so much love to those she held dear. I do love Scarlet and Julian though. Julian melts my heart into a tiny thousand pieces. Both Legend and Julian are completely frustrating, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I don’t know how many times I squealed or felt like shouting at this book IF LEGEND DIDN’T GET HIS CRAP TOGETHER. Hot dang, that guy was running me ragged. I’ve been #teamlegend from day one. Jacks is great and all, but Legend. LEGEND. Speaking of Jacks, he was this morally gray character that spoke to my soul. He was twisted and in way too deep with Tella. The possessiveness he exhibited made me flip out more than once. The way this all settled left me breathless.

This book was less focused on the games and more on real life. I love the way this adapted over the entire series. This felt like the older and wiser sibling of a book. It really started out as a game, but as life always comes rearing back, Finale remained in the literal world. A lot of mystery and intrigue was left to be solved to save the world before the Fates took over.

I’ll say it again, the ending left me breathless. Y’all. THE ENDING. IT. WAS. EVERYTHING. Perfectly done. A happily ever after I have been dreaming of since Caraval was first released. I now am pleading to the bookish gods for a spin-off starring some of my favs.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: lots of kisses
  • Violence: knives, poison, magic

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