Book Review: The Ballad Of Never After by Stephanie Garber

Hello Readers!

This is a blog post that I have been dying to write for quite awhile! Some of you may remember last year that I was included in a Blog Tour supporting Stephanie Garber’s new book / series, Once Upon A Broken Heart. It was a great opportunity for me, I got an advanced copy of the book and even got to interview Stephanie for my blog (she’s great)! Well Flatiron Books decided to do another blog tour to support the continuous of this story and asked me to join back in on the fun! I obviously jumped at this opportunity. Garber’s Caraval series is one of my absolute favorites – I loved the magical game of Caraval, the cast of characters plus the unique twists and turns. Once Upon A Broken Heart takes place in the same world as Caraval, so I recommend that you read (enjoy) that series before diving into this one. Once Upon A Broken Heart follows Evangeline Fox – an orphaned, hopeless romantic who will do almost anything to save her fiancé and get her happily ever after. I devoured this book last year and it ended with quite the cliffhanger. So… what did I think of The Ballad Of Never After?

I. LOVED. IT. To keep this review spoiler free, I won’t be discussing book 1 or any of the major plot points, so you can read this review without fear! Ballad picks up almost immediately after the events of Broken Heart. Many of our favorite characters return for an encore performance including Jacks, Lala and Chaos. Right from the start, there’s an interesting new plot that’s the main driver of the story. Evangeline soon finds herself not only on a new quest but with a dangerous new curse to contend with. The action starts from the beginning and does not let up until the final page. I found the chapters to be rather short which kept me turning the pages and saying “Ohhhh, just one more chapter!” a little too frequently. Garber has always had descriptive and flowery writing but I found there to be a lot more similes in this book than most of her others (as the book progressed they seemed to even out though). I’m not a big romance fan but I felt like the relationships in this one were well done and very fairytale-esque. I especially loved the ending of the book – there were some very unique and creative ideas used to really wrap everything up. I was worried how this was going to end since Garber has been very coy about whether this is a duopoly or a trilogy (and if you came here looking for that answer, I’m sorry, you’ll have to read the book to find out! If you’re a fantasy fan, who likes a dash of romance and a whole lot of action, I can confidently say this book will be RIGHT up your alley!

Once Upon A Broken Heart is out now and sold by all major book stores like Amazon. The Ballad Of Never After is out Tuesday, September 13, 2022! Preorder your copy today at all major book store or Amazon. A huge thank you to Flatiron Books for including me in their Blog Tour and for the ARC of The Ballad Of Never After.

As always, don’t forget to subscribe and make sure to stop back with your feedback after you’ve finished this one. I can’t wait to hear everyone’s thoughts on the ending!

Until We Meet Again,
Mr Geek

August ’22 TBR!

Hello Readers!

As much as I hate to say this, and can’t believe it’s true, the summer is starting to wind down and I’m starting to have dreams of everything Pumpkin Spice! While I do enjoy the warmer months (I’m an avid golfer), the Fall is definitely one of my favorite seasons – I’m already starting think about some horror book I can read in October for Halloween! For the month of August, I received an ARC of one of my most anticipated releases of the year (more on that soon) but I decided to let that guide the rest of my TBR selections for the month. I’m going to be reading nothing but fantasy reads in August, so let’s dive into the books!

To start off, I’ll be kicking off the month with an ARC of The Ballad of Never After by Stephanie Garber. This is the sequel to Once Upon a Broken Heart which came out last year and I also participated in a blog tour to support. I loved the Caraval series (well, Legendary was fine… too many descriptions of dresses). This new series takes place in the same world as Caraval, with some minor spoilers (so be sure to read those books first), and we get to revisit some favorite characters! I don’t want to go into too much detail here because this picks up immediately after the first book and I don’t want to spoil anything!

Next up, I’ll be finishing the last book from my “Judge A Book By Its Cover” TBR last month and reading Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare. This is the first book in The Lost Hours trilogy. I’ve been absolutely loving Clare’s more recent Shadowhunter Chronicles releases. The Dark Artifices was absolutely fantastic and I’ve heard great things about this series too. Chain of Gold is a follow up to The Internal Devices trilogy. In these new books we follow the children of many of the characters we met in The Internal Devices. Again, don’t want to spoil anything so I’m going to go ahead and leave it at that!

After Chain of Gold, I’m planning to pick up The Spinner of Dreams by K. A. Reynolds. I’ve had this one on my TBR for years and I’m excited to finally get to it. This is the story of Annalise who was cursed as a child and embarks on an adventure to enter the Labyrinth of Fate & Dreams, defeat the Fate Spinner and finally rid herself of the curse. The plot was intriguing and it seems like something I’d enjoy, only time will tell!

Last up, I’m not sure what I want to finish off the month with. I have a couple options, so if you’ve read any of them, send me your recommendations. I’m considering The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi, The Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare, All of Us Villains by Amanda Foody or Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody. I’m sure that no matter what I pick, I’ll be thoroughly entertained – all of these books have received pretty solid reviews on GoodReads.

What’s on your TBR for the month? Have any recommendations for me? Leave me a comment and, as always, don’t forget to subscribe!

Until We Meet Again,
Mr Geek

Top 5 Favorite Books of 2021

Hello Readers and Happy Valentine’s Day!

Since today is the “holiday” that celebrates love, I though this would be the perfect time to talk about all the books I LOVED in 2021! Plus… I am WAY behind on my 2021 recaps and thought this would be the perfect excuse to still write this post even though it’s about 7 weeks late (Oops). So grab your Conversation Hearts, Dove chocolate, you favorite person and let’s talk books!

The first book I’d like to mention, and definitely a favorite of the year was Everything Is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo. How I stumbled upon this awesome book was completely accidental. I typically do most of reading on my Kindle Oasis and have been trying not to buy as many physical books (key word there is tying) because I’m running out of space. I decided to run into Barnes & Noble to pick up a book and ended up chatting with one of the employees. One thing lead to another and she ended up recommending Everything is Figureoutable to me. I had never heard of this book but the synopsis hooked me from the start. You can figure out everything if you put your mind to it. I’ve read both the physical book and the audiobook (which is narrated by the author, high energy and extremely motivating to listen to) and completely loved it. I’m not a huge fan of nonfiction but this was such an inspirational book, how could you not love it?

Next up we have Once Upon A Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber. I loved Garber’s Caraval series and it was great returning to this world! While Once Upon A Broken Heart isn’t directly connected to the Caraval series, there are some overlaps and Easter eggs that you’ll pick up on having read those books first. I was already excited about this book but to make it even better, I was asked by Flatiron Books to join their Blog Tour supporting this release! The plot of this novel was simple, how far will you go for your happily ever after? For Evangeline Fox, it’s pretty damn far – so far, that she makes a deal with a Fate to help her win back the love of her life. From this somewhat simple deal, a dazzling story unfolds filled with adventure, magic, murder and mystery. This book also swooped in to save me from a pretty terrible reading slump, so I can’t recommend it enough! If you’re looking for more content on Once Upon A Broken Heart, check out the Author Q&A we did here or my full length review of the novel here.

Continuing on with favorite fantasy, I read and loved Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare. GOOD LORD was this a great book. This was the epic conclusion of the Dark Artifices trilogy (which is also my favorite trilogy that Clare has written to date). This book came in at over 900 pages and it did not feel that long! It read so fast that I found myself absolutely devouring it during Tome Topple Round 14 back in March. Since this is the last book in a series, I don’t want to go into much plot here to avoid spoilers (and I’m not going to talk much about the series because the Shadowhunter books are all so interconnected). If you’re a fan of fantasy, magic and memorable characters, the Shadowhunter Chronicles are for you. There’s a lot of “required reading” to be able to read this series but it’s all worth it. I was completely engrossed by all 3 books in this series and cannot praise them enough!

As I start to wind down my list, I feel like it’s only appropriate to include one of my favorite thrillers – Survive The Night by Riley Sager. I am quickly becoming a Riley Sager fan – I’ve read a few of his books and have a few more waiting on my Kindle. I’ve enjoyed each one and I think Survive The Night might be my favorite so far. This book takes place in the 90s, before cell phones and readily available technology. After Charlie Jordan’s roommate is murdered, she’ll do anything to get away from her college campus, including taking a ride home from a stranger who may or may not be a murderer. The story unfolds over the course of the night as her and her mysterious companion travel in his car. There’s an unreliable narrator and twists at every corner. There were quite a few things that caught me by surprise (and other things I saw coming a mile away) but overall, I loved this one. It was fast paced and kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. I’ve seen some reviews dragging this book but if you can suspend belief for awhile (and go back to a pre-technology time) I think you’re really going to like this one!

Last on my list is Undaunted: Overcoming Doubts and Doubters by Kara Goldin. This was also a nonfiction read (look at me, 2 nonfiction titles in my Top 5 list) and it was utterly fantastic. Goldin is the CEO is one of my favorite beverage companies, Hint Water. Hint is an unsweetened water beverage that is PACKED with fruit flavors. I stumbled upon this company years and years ago at a local grocery store. I picked up a few bottles and have loved it ever since (ironically, I had a problem with a few of the bottles that I purchased – when I reached out, I ended up emailing back and forth with Kara’s husband, Theo). The only way I can explain this book is equal parts life advice, inspiration and entrepreneurialism. Goldin is so down to earth and relatable. When Goldin created Hint, she started the company as a way to drink more water and kick her Diet Coke habit. As you read her story, you come to find out that every product expansion or growth opportunity was born from something personal that Goldin cares deeply about. If you’re looking for some inspiration or just a feel-good story, be sure to pick this one up!

Well, that’s it. Those are my Top 5 books of 2021 that I just loved. I hope this post provided you with a few potential new titles to try or maybe I mentioned one of your favorite books! What did you read that was absolutely amazing last year? Leave me a comment or you can always tweet me @ItsMrGeekToYou.

Until We Meet Again,
Shawn

September ’21 Wrap Up

Hello Readers!

It’s so hard to believe that September is over and we’re into the Fall season! I’m not going to lie, this is definitely one of my favorite times of the year. Unpopular Opinion: I am not a huge fan of Summer – it’s so hot, humid and uncomfortable. I’d take pretty much any other season but especially love the Fall – Pumpkin and Apple flavored things, cooler temperatures and comfortable clothes. Seriously, what is not to love?! I feel like I have FINALLY gotten myself out of the huge reading slump that I’ve spent most of this year in. September was a great reading month for me, so without further ado – let’s get onto the books I read!

First up was Once Upon A Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber. I was lucky enough to be included in a Blog Tour helping to promote Stephanie’s new book. I got an ARC and tore into it as soon as it arrived in the mail. I won’t spend a ton of time recapping here but definitely check out my full review here and the Author Q&A we did with Stephanie! This book was absolutely fantastic from start to finish. It was fast paced, interesting, had some very “fairy tale-esque” elements and overall was a really fun read. If you’ve read the Caraval series, this is a must read for you!

Next up was Tales From The Shadow Market by Cassandra Clare. For anyone who has been around this blog for a bit, you know I have a goal of reading my way through the Shadowhunter Chronicles. I finished Queen of Air & Darkness earlier this year and absolutely loved it. The Dark Artifices trilogy was by far my favorite so far. I want to move onto The Eldest Curses and The Last Hours trilogies but first I had to knock out this short story collection. Overall, I enjoyed this novellas. Revisiting some familiar faces (like Jem & Tessa) and meeting some new characters was great and I feel prepared for The Last Hours trilogy. Most of these stories were pretty interesting but there was the occasional dud thrown in there.

My final completed book of the month was For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing. HOLY. SHIT. This book was fantastic. It was a fast-paced, thrill ride from start to finish. I loved the dark academia setting! There were so many twists and turns throughout this book that I thought I was going to have whip lash. I’m hesitant to even give a summary of this book because I don’t want to spoil anything. Basically, Teach of the Year, Teddy Crutcher, does whatever he sees fit to help his students (for better or for worse). If you’re a fan of the thriller genre, give this one a try (and go into it blind). It’s such an enjoy book and it’ll definitely keep you guessing until the tail end. There are some pretty farfetched things that happen but, it’s a book, just roll with it!

I have a few books that I’ve started and haven’t finished (probably will wrap them up in October or November, planning a “Spooky” TBR for October, similar to what I did last year). The first was Under The Whispering Door by TJ Klune. I’m about 50% through this and while I’m enjoying it, reading has been a bit of a struggle. The subject matter of the book has been a little difficult to read so I’ve been picking away at this one whenever I can. The other book is When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel H. Pink. This one has been pretty interesting. The book focuses on timing and when the best times are to make decisions, ask for favors or attempt a daunting task. More to come on these books soon in a future recap!

How was your September? Read anything good? Any important life events? Let me know in the comments!

Until We Meet Again,
Mr Geek

Once Upon A Broken Heart Author Q & A with Stephanie Garber!

Hello readers!

I am coming at you today with a VERY special blog post. A little over a month ago, I was asked if I would be interested in participating in a Blog Tour to support Stephanie Garber’s upcoming release, Once Upon A Broken Heart. After taking a few minutes to contain my excitement, I quickly replied to the email from Flatiron that I would love to participate! In addition to receiving an ARC of Once Upon A Broken Heart, which I just finished moments before writing this post and freaking loved, several participating bloggers (including yours truly) were asked to submit questions for a Q & A with Stephanie.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Once Upon A Broken Heart, here’s a quick synopsis to catch you up:

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…

So, without further ado, lets dive into the questions (I’ve also linked to the other blogs down below in case you’d like to check them out as well)!

We know the Prince of Hearts, Jacks, plays a leading role in Once Upon A Broken Heart. Can readers expect any other familiar faces from the Caraval series? 

www.TreatYoShelf.blog

Stephanie: I usually try not to answer this question — I like it when people don’t know what to expect. So, I won’t say if there will be any other familiar faces in Once Upon A Broken Heart. But I will say that readers might meet one or two characters who were mentioned in the Caraval series but didn’t actually get any page time. 

Why do you love Evangeline and the Prince of Hearts and why should readers root for them?

www.ElevenThirteenPM.com

Stephanie: This is such a funny question, and I feel as if I shouldn’t confess the answer to this because I actually wrote Once Upon A Broken Heart with the hope that readers would feel as if Evangeline should run far away from Jacks, but at the same time really want them to kiss each other. 

I love Jacks because he’s pretty much the worst. He says terrible things and he does terrible things—which is why Evangeline should stay away from him. However, I love Evangeline because she’s such an optimist—I love that she believes in love at first sight and happily ever after, and even though she should probably run away from Jacks, I think she’s just the type of girl he needs in his life. 

Your books always read like fairytales (at least for me)! What are your favorite fairytales?

www.AlexaLovesBooks.com

Stephanie: Thank you so much! I love fairytales and I have so many favorites. My very favorite is anything that’s Beauty and the Beast inspired. I love stories that involve truly unlikeable beast-like characters changing as they fall in love, and I’m always sucker for the kidnapped/captive girl trope. 

If you could be transported into the world of ONCE UPON A BROKEN HEART, what kind of character do you think you would be and would you be easily swayed to make a deal with a Fate?

www.ACourtofCoffeeandBooks.com

Stephanie: Ooh, this is such a fun question. I want to say that I’d make a deal with a Fate because I think it would be interesting and exciting. But, I probably wouldn’t actually make a deal with a Fate because I know it never ends well. I’d most likely stay away from all things Fate and spend time seeing the wonders of the Magnificent North. I’d eat dragon roasted apples, hunt for enchanted books, look for mermaids in the ocean, and hopefully get in a little magical trouble, but not the kind that involves Fates.

Which one of your characters do you relate to the most and why? Are there pieces of yourself in both Evangeline and Jacks?

www.MermaidReadsBookBlog.wordpress.com

Stephanie: There are always pieces of me in my heroines. I think Evangeline has a lot of my positivity and my optimism. I’m hopefully not like Jacks, but I will admit that I do relate to his character. I tend to hold onto things from the past, especially heartbreak, which is something that I have in common with the Prince of Hearts. 

Well there you have it friends! Hopefully this Q & A helped satisfy your excitement (or maybe it just fanned the flame) for Once Upon A Broken Heart! I want to give a HUGE shoutout and thank you to Flatiron Books for including me in this Blog Tour and to Stephanie Garber for taking the time to answer the questions user in this Q & A. Stay tuned for my full, spoiler-free, review coming to Treat Yo Shelf later this week!

As a reminder, Once Upon A Broken Heart is out September 28th, 2021 and is currently available for preorder!

Until We Meet Again,
Mr Geek

(Slumpy) August ‘21 Wrap Up

Hello Readers!

It has been a little while since I wrote. I never got around to creating my August TBR because I have been in a terrible, terrible, terrrrrrrrrrrrrrible reading slump. I haven’t been motivated to read for months (and I’m actually behind on my GoodReads goal which is the first time this has happened in 5 or 6 years). The books I’ve been picking up just haven’t been grabbing me and, instead of putting them down, I try to persevere which hasn’t been working out great for me.

For this month, I only finished 1 book (but have started several others, which I’m going to touch on). My only completed book this month was The Maidens by Alex Michaelides. This was one of my most anticipated books of the year and I did really enjoy it. I loved Michaelides debut novel, The Silent Patient, which came out a few years ago. It was intriguing, fast-paced and un-put-down-able. The Maidens is about a violent murder that happens at Cambridge University. When group therapist, Mariana, finds out it was her niece’s roommate, ends up becoming entrenched in the investigation. The Maidens was definitely more of a slow burn when compared to The Silent Patient. There was some setup needed before it really started to find its groove (but once it did, watch out). Overall, I enjoyed this (it was a nice beach read while I was on vacation).

The other books I’m currently reading (but haven’t finished) are: Tales From The Shadow Market by Cassandra Clare, Under The Whispering Door by TJ Klune (ARC – Out September 21, 2021) and Once Upon A Broken Heart (ARC – Out September 28, 2021). I typically take my time when reading Shadowhunter short story bind ups (I read them here to there as I have time). These have been pretty enjoyable and are gearing me up to read The Lost Hours trilogy later this year. I’ve been working my way through Under The Whispering Door for a few weeks (and it has contributed to my slump a bit). This book deals with life / death and is quite sad overall. I knew going into this novel, it was going to be nothing like House In The Cerulean Sea (which was one of my favorite reads of 2020). I’m about halfway through this one, so I’m going to save all my thoughts until I’m finished. The last book I have going, and just recently started, is Once Upon A Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber. My ARC arrived a few days ago and I immediately had to started it. I loved the Caraval trilogy and figured this book was going to be right up my alley (I was right). Once Upon A Broken Heart has really got me back into a reading groove and I’m hoping that this momentum continues! If you’re interested in this upcoming release, keep an eye on my blog for a full-length review post and author interview with Stephanie Garber!

If anyone has any recommendations for fast-paced books that helped you out of a reading slump, PLEASE leave them in the comments (especially since I have some catching up to do this year to meet my GoodReads goal).

Until We Meet Again,
Mr Geek