Posts Categorized: eARC

Book Review | In ‘Wilder Girls’ the Horror is Somehow Beautiful

July 9, 2019 Bonnie 2019, Book Reviews, Early Review, YA 3 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review | In ‘Wilder Girls’ the Horror is Somehow BeautifulWilder Girls by Rory Power
Published by Delacorte Press on July 9, 2019
Pages: 368
Genres: Horror, Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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three-stars

It's been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty's life out from under her.

It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don't dare wander outside the school's fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.

But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there's more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.

The girls used to be normal. They used to number almost a hundred students at Raxter before the Tox came. Before everyone was transformed into something different.

‘It’s like that, with all of us here. Sick, strange, and we don’t know why. Things bursting out of us, bits missing and pieces sloughing off, and then we harden and smooth over.’

As time passed, the girls’ numbers dwindled but the ones that survived continued holding out hope for a cure that was promised.

Wilder Girls begins with an otherworldly air. A girl with a second spine, another with an eye that has fused shut with something growing underneath. It’s eerie and unsettling and their story only gets better (or worse, depending on how you look at it.) Much like the cover, the horrors within have their own sort of twisted beauty that is equal parts horrifying and mesmerizing. Horrific, yes, but at the heart of Wilder Girls though is a story of love and friendship. After Hetty’s best friend Byatt experiences a flare-up and is sent to the infirmary which many girls never return from, Hetty begins a dangerous search for answers. Her search quickly disturbs the delicate veil of secrecy that surrounded the school to keep the girls in the dark from what was truly happening to them.

The horrors of the island and the girls themselves were perfectly described and I found the comparisons to Annihilation to be apt. I wanted more questions answered about the island, the effect on the animals, and the irises, but I also wanted the resolutions we did get to still be rooted in that otherworldly horror. They were instead stripped of that mystery, made the answer far too simplistic, and made me wonder if any of the horror was truly real at all. Powers is a skilled horror writer and her debut proves this. I anticipate that Wilder Girls is just a dip in the pond of the horror stories she has in store for us.

‘I think I’d been looking for it all my life – a storm in my body to match the one in my head.’

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Freaky Friday | The Brink (Awakened #2) by James S. Murray & Darren Wearmouth

June 28, 2019 Bonnie 2019, Book Reviews, Freaky Friday 2 Comments

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Freaky Friday | The Brink (Awakened #2) by James S. Murray & Darren WearmouthThe Brink by James S. Murray, Darren Wearmouth
Series: Awakened #2
Published by Harper Voyager on June 18, 2019
Pages: 240
Genres: Horror
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Also by this author: Awakened

two-stars

The sequel to the international bestseller (including #1 Sunday Times bestseller) Awakened, by one of the stars of TruTV’s Impractical Jokers and a bestselling science fiction author.

Former NYC Mayor Tom Cafferty has been haunted by the horror of a single day. The opening of the brand new Z-train subway line beneath the Hudson River—the supposed shining moment of his tenure. But the ribbon-cutting ceremony turned deadly when the train carrying Cafferty’s wife and other citizens was attacked by a horde of hyper intelligent, bloodthirsty creatures previously unknown to humanity.

Everything changed for Cafferty, ex-NYPD officer Sarah Bowcut, and tech-expert Diego Munoz that day. They had uncovered the deadly truth: the attack was no accident.

And now the creatures that wreaked havoc underneath New York have spread worldwide, and with a massive cover-up—and a secret organization holding nations hostage with the knowledge of how to kill them—Cafferty’s team must fight against impossible odds to save the entire planet from an apocalyptic scale disaster.

An explosive and thrilling international adventure, the stakes are even higher in the latest book from bestselling duo James S. Murray and Darren Wearmouth!

Awakened Series

Rapid Reviews – The Line That Held Us, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, Awakened

Awakened (Awakened #1) by James S. Murray & Darren Wearmouth [Review]

‘We stand on the edge of extinction. The brink, if you will.’

After surviving the subway attack in New York City, NYC Mayor Tom Cafferty and fellow survivors have teamed up to take on the Foundation for Human Advancement, the secret organization that maintains control of the creatures that could wipe out the planet. For decades, the Foundation has demanded funds from world leader’s in exchange for their continued survival but following the subway attack and information uncovered about the Foundation and its leader, Albert Van Ness, no one is willing to comply anymore.

The Brink picks up where the first installment, Awakened, left off with a race against time to stop a madman from destroying the world with bloodthirsty creatures that live beneath the Earth’s surface. Discovered during the end of WWII in Germany, Van Ness’ father discovered the way to control the creatures and has been using them as blackmail since. When Albert took over following his father’s death, he continued working towards achieving his dream of purifying humanity. Much like the second-half of Awakened, the story devotes much of its focus to the political drama and conspiracies rather than the actual creatures. Personally, I found the creatures to be of far more interest than anyone in this cast of one-dimensional characters. The creatures are only featured in a few scenes and they were horrific and thrilling but the authors placed much more focus on their laughably evil villain. It’s pretty disappointing when humans are more monstrous than the actual monsters.

The book is a very short read, however, I’m sad to say the dialogue is inept, the storyline is banal, and the ending was so ridiculous that it removed any interest I had in completing the trilogy. Disappointing that the exciting world these authors created with Alien-like creatures ended up being backseat drivers to a story about a Hitler-esque villain.

“My God,” Cafferty said.
“No, not God,” he replied. “Albert Van Ness.”

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Book Review | In ‘The Unhoneymooners’, Enemies Become Lovers

May 7, 2019 Bonnie 2019, Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review 4 Comments

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review | In ‘The Unhoneymooners’, Enemies Become LoversThe Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
Published by Gallery Books on May 14, 2019
Pages: 432
Genres: Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Also by this author: My Favorite Half-Night Stand, Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating, Love and Other Words

three-stars

Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Amy, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of... lucky.

Olive’s twin sister Ami just got married to a dudebro named Nate yet before the party was even over, everyone had become violently ill from the free seafood buffet Ami had won in a contest. Everyone except Olive (due to a fortunate shellfish allergy) and her new brother-in-law Ethan (because of a general aversion to buffet style eating). Being too sick to go on their free honeymoon (also won in a contest) Ami convinces Olive to go for her and Nate convinces Ethan to go for him. Ten days in Maui would be a complete dream, however, Olive and Ethan hate each other so it’s not expected to feel like paradise. Their plan to stay as far away from each other as possible goes awry when Olive runs into her new boss and quickly buries herself in the lie that she’s actually there for her honeymoon. Then Ethan runs into his ex who is there with her new fiancé and suddenly he’s telling her that he and Olive are there on their honeymoon too. Suddenly they find themselves spending far more time than planned together, only to keep up appearances, of course. It’s not like they’re enjoying each others company or anything.

Do you know how you showed someone in fifth grade that you had a crush on them? By being the rudest prick on the playground? Well, Olive and Ethan act like they never graduated to sixth grade. Their rudeness slowly begins to morph into playful banter and they finally started to leave their fifth-grade antics behind. The characters themselves weren’t the easiest to like (which made it hard to root for them) what with Olive’s continued insistence that she possesses the worst luck on Earth, convinced that everything she touches is going to end up going wrong somehow. She can’t even manage to enjoy her day at the spa while she’s being pampered in Maui.

‘This type of blissful, transcendent spa experience isn’t for me. I’m the one who gets a fungal infection from a pedicure in the Cities and a bikini wax burn at a spa in Duluth.’

It became tiresome, quickly. Ethan wasn’t much better with his strange attitude he has towards Olive that wasn’t explained away till the latter half of the story and not in the most explainable way either. The biggest flaw in this romance, and what makes this my least favorite Christina Lauren to date, is the overwhelming amount of drama. There are multiple sub-plots that are clearly meant to cause that “necessary” tension in a romance, but it felt like they had gone overboard with the unnecessary angst. Admittedly though, the authors turned my doubts around with some stellar character development that made these intolerable people actually likable. They manage to create such enviously romantic pairs (yet still never straying into far-fetched territory) that you can’t help but hope to find a love that makes you feel just as good.

“What are we doing tonight?” he asks […]
“Do we really want to push it?” I ask. “We’ve been together for…” I pick up his arm and glance at his watch. “Like eighty years straight. There are bruises, but no bloodshed yet. I say we quit while we’re ahead.”
“What does that entail?”
“I get the bedroom and Netflix, you wander the island to check on your hidden horcruxes.”

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Life’s Too Short – Polaris Rising, Sherwood, Old Baggage

March 21, 2019 Bonnie 2019, Adult, Book Reviews, Life's Too Short, YA 10 Comments

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Life’s Too Short – Polaris Rising, Sherwood, Old BaggagePolaris Rising by Jessie Mihalik
Series: Consortium Rebellion #1
Published by Harper Voyager on February 5, 2019
Pages: 431
Genres: Sci-fi
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
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dnf

A space princess on the run and a notorious outlaw soldier become unlikely allies in this imaginative, sexy space opera adventure—the first in an exciting science fiction trilogy.

In the far distant future, the universe is officially ruled by the Royal Consortium, but the High Councillors, the heads of the three High Houses, wield the true power. As the fifth of six children, Ada von Hasenberg has no authority; her only value to her High House is as a pawn in a political marriage. When her father arranges for her to wed a noble from House Rockhurst, a man she neither wants nor loves, Ada seizes control of her own destiny. The spirited princess flees before the betrothal ceremony and disappears among the stars.

Ada eluded her father’s forces for two years, but now her luck has run out. To ensure she cannot escape again, the fiery princess is thrown into a prison cell with Marcus Loch. Known as the Devil of Fornax Zero, Loch is rumored to have killed his entire chain of command during the Fornax Rebellion, and the Consortium wants his head.

When the ship returning them to Earth is attacked by a battle cruiser from rival House Rockhurst, Ada realizes that if her jilted fiancé captures her, she’ll become a political prisoner and a liability to her House. Her only hope is to strike a deal with the dangerous fugitive: a fortune if he helps her escape.

But when you make a deal with an irresistibly attractive Devil, you may lose more than you bargained for . . .

DNF @ 33%

My hopes were high when I first saw this title for two reasons. 1. I’m always looking for my next Fortune’s Pawn (because that book was hands down amazing) and this one sounded like it had the potential to come close and 2. the amazing blurb on the front cover from my favorite duo: Ilona Andrews.

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Runaway space princess, badass and dangerous male lead, and of course, space. This really did have all the elements of a story I would normally love but there was something off about it for me, although, I attributed it to the impending book slump I felt creeping up on me. I got to about 1/3 read before I realized that it still wasn’t doing it for me and that despite having everything I should loveit felt too mechanical as if the story was following a tried and true formula that so many books before it have used and its heart just wasn’t in it.

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Life’s Too Short – Polaris Rising, Sherwood, Old BaggageSherwood by Meagan Spooner
Published by HarperTeen on March 19, 2019
Pages: 480
Genres: Fairy-Tales/Retellings
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Also by this author: Hunted, Unearthed

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Robin of Locksley is dead.

Maid Marian doesn’t know how she’ll go on, but the people of Locksley town, persecuted by the Sheriff of Nottingham, need a protector. And the dreadful Guy of Gisborne, the Sheriff’s right hand, wishes to step into Robin’s shoes as Lord of Locksley and Marian’s fiancé.

Who is there to stop them?

Marian never meant to tread in Robin’s footsteps—never intended to stand as a beacon of hope to those awaiting his triumphant return. But with a sweep of his green cloak and the flash of her sword, Marian makes the choice to become her own hero: Robin Hood.

DNF @ 20%

I’m a huuuuuge Robin Hood fan so I was thrilled to find out about this gender-bent version where Maid Marian takes up where Robin left off following his death. A badass Maid Marian, what could possibly go wrong? Oh wait, I spoke too soon.

Plotwise, practically nothing seems to transpire in the 20% I managed to read (and considering this book is a hefty 480 pages, that’s damn near 100 pages. Something should have happened.) And the highly anticipated badass Maid Marian? Instead of badass, she was just perfect at everything and we were constantly reminded how much better she was than even Robin. There’s confidence but then there’s just being a pompous ass and that’s exactly where Maid Marian ended up on the spectrum.

I received this book free from Library Thing in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Life’s Too Short – Polaris Rising, Sherwood, Old BaggageOld Baggage by Lissa Evans
Published by Harper Perennial on April 16, 2019
Pages: 320
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: ARC
Source: Library Thing
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Also by this author: Crooked Heart: A Novel

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The author of the acclaimed Crooked Heart returns with a comic, charming, and surprisingly timely portrait of a once pioneering suffragette trying to find her new passion in post-WWI era London.

1928. Riffling through a cupboard, Matilda Simpkin comes across a small wooden club—an old possession that she hasn’t seen for more than a decade. Immediately, memories come flooding back to Mattie—memories of a thrilling past, which only further serve to remind her of her chafingly uneventful present. During the Women's Suffrage Campaign, she was a militant who was jailed five times and never missed an opportunity to return to the fray. Now in middle age, the closest she gets to the excitement of her old life is the occasional lecture on the legacy of the militant movement.

After running into an old suffragette comrade who has committed herself to the wave of Fascism, Mattie realizes there is a new cause she needs to fight for and turns her focus to a new generation of women. Thus the Amazons are formed, a group created to give girls a place to not only exercise their bodies but their minds, and ignite in young women a much-needed interest in the world around them. But when a new girl joins the group, sending Mattie’s past crashing into her present, every principle Mattie has ever stood for is threatened.

Old Baggage is a funny and bittersweet portrait of a woman who has never given up the fight and the young women who are just discovering it.

 

DNF @ 10%

The story of an elderly suffragette who now leaves a comfortable life decides to leave that comfort behind and get out there and continue to make a difference. Maybe I didn’t give it long enough but such a powerful subject matter needed to be more engaging. The writing was well done and the historical research was evident but it was unfortunately a bit dry.

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Book Review | “Daisy Jones & The Six”: the Rise and Fall of Fame

March 14, 2019 Bonnie 2019, Adult, Book Reviews 4 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review | “Daisy Jones & The Six”: the Rise and Fall of FameDaisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Published by Ballantine Books on March 5, 2019
Pages: 368
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Also by this author: Forever, Interrupted

three-stars

Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock and roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.

The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer who takes her work to a new level with Daisy Jones & The Six, brilliantly capturing a place and time in an utterly distinctive voice.

Daisy: Just how honest do we have to get here? I know I told you I’d tell you everything but how much “everything” do you really want to know?

Daisy Jones & The Six was one of the biggest rock bands of the 70s but following the end of their first tour, the band broke up without ever revealing why. In this documentary-style novel, Taylor Jenkins Reid brings to life a fictional band while revealing their rapid rise to fame and an even faster descent.

Does anyone remember VH1’s Behind the Music? Back in the day when the internet wasn’t nearly as impressive and your favorite bands definitely weren’t on social media, music fans had Behind the Music. These documentaries featured interviews with the band, friends/family, managers, and anyone else that had an interesting story to tell about the band. Daisy Jones & The Six reads exactly like an episode set in the 70s replete with band drama and rampant drug abuse. The story effectively strips away the veneer that gets built up around celebrities, exposing their vulnerability and weaknesses, and revealing them as being no different than anyone else. The songs they write were the soundtrack to their drama-filled lives, forcing them to experience it all again and again with each new performance. The entire novel is essentially one massive interview, with each individual giving their perspective on what occurred which didn’t always coincide with someone else’s account but considering all the drug use and the many decades that have passed, I suppose that’s understandable.

While I found the style of the story to be a nice change of pace, unfortunately, the style managed to undermine the story as a whole. The emphasis on the importance of their song-writing and the feelings that the verses cultivated was something I wanted to be able to feel through reading about it, but it didn’t translate well on page. There was a definite lack of connection and I simply never found a reason to be invested in the lives of these individuals. Their story was an unending loop of song-writing, performing, drama, and partying yet you know it’s all building up to something big and my curiosity had me flying through this novel. I realized when the big reveal came that a greater investment in the characters was vital to feeling anything other than letdown when it actually came. Still an interesting novel for anyone looking for a glimpse into the craziness of music in the 70s.

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Life’s Too Short – Courting Darkness, The Cassandra, The Wolf and the Watchman

February 28, 2019 Bonnie 2019, Book Reviews, Life's Too Short 5 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Life’s Too Short – Courting Darkness, The Cassandra, The Wolf and the WatchmanCourting Darkness by Robin LaFevers
Series: Courting Darkness Duology #1
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on February 5, 2019
Pages: 512
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Also by this author: Grave Mercy, Dark Triumph, Mortal Heart

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Death wasn’t the end, it was only the beginning…

Sybella has always been the darkest of Death’s daughters, trained at the convent of Saint Mortain to serve as his justice. But she has a new mission now. In a desperate bid to keep her two youngest sisters safe from the family that nearly destroyed them all, she agrees to accompany the duchess to France, where they quickly find themselves surrounded by enemies. Their one ray of hope is Sybella’s fellow novitiates, disguised and hidden deep in the French court years ago by the convent—provided Sybella can find them.

Genevieve has been undercover for so many years, she struggles to remember who she is or what she’s supposed to be fighting for. Her only solace is a hidden prisoner who appears all but forgotten by his guards. When tragedy strikes, she has no choice but to take matters into her own hands—even if it means ignoring the long awaited orders from the convent.

As Sybella and Gen’s paths draw ever closer, the fate of everything they hold sacred rests on a knife’s edge. Will they find each other in time, or will their worlds collide, destroying everything they care about?

DNF @ 10%

Courting Darkness returns the focus to Sybella (originally from Dark Triumph) and her new mission in life. I adored the original trilogy and while it has been said that it’s not necessary to read them to appreciate the new duology, I found a definite lack of world-building and establishment of character in this installment. Whether or not it’s necessary, I would highly recommend reading them for the background knowledge alone since it does not appear to be given in Courting Darkness. And while it must be said that there isn’t anything necessarily wrong with this story (despite my obvious DNF) I realized shortly into this that while I was originally excited for more stories set in this world, I felt that the original trio’s stories had been told and nothing more was needed.

I received this book free from Library Thing in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Life’s Too Short – Courting Darkness, The Cassandra, The Wolf and the WatchmanThe Cassandra by Sharma Shields
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on February 12, 2019
Pages: 304
Genres: Historical Fiction, Fairy-Tales/Retellings
Format: ARC
Source: Library Thing
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dnf

The Cassandra follows a woman who goes to work in a top secret research facility during WWII, only to be tormented by visions of what the mission will mean for humankind.

Mildred Groves is an unusual young woman. Gifted and cursed with the ability to see the future, Mildred runs away from home to take a secretary position at the Hanford Research Center in the early 1940s. Hanford, a massive construction camp on the banks of the Columbia River in remote South Central Washington, exists to test and manufacture a mysterious product that will aid the war effort. Only the top generals and scientists know that this product is processed plutonium, for use in the first atomic bombs.

Mildred is delighted, at first, to be part of something larger than herself after a lifetime spent as an outsider. But her new life takes a dark turn when she starts to have prophetic dreams about what will become of humankind if the project is successful. As the men she works for come closer to achieving their goals, her visions intensify to a nightmarish pitch, and she eventually risks everything to question those in power, putting her own physical and mental health in jeopardy. Inspired by the classic Greek myth, this 20th century reimagining of Cassandra's story is based on a real WWII compound that the author researched meticulously. A timely novel about patriarchy and militancy, The Cassandra uses both legend and history to look deep into man's capacity for destruction, and the resolve and compassion it takes to challenge the powerful.

DNF @ 21%

In Greek mythology, Cassandra was cursed to speak prophecies that no one would ever believe. Sharma Shields’ Cassandra is a woman who also possesses the ability to prophesize and when she goes to work for the research facility that created the atomic bomb during WWII, her protestations fall on deaf ears when she tries to warn everyone of what’s to come. The plot of this one sounded fascinating and I was anxiously awaiting my opportunity to read it but unfortunately, I found Cassandra’s character to be insufferable and the rest of the characters were completely depthless. Whether or not they were developed further on in the story is a moot point since I obviously did not finish this story, however, character development is not a better late than never sort of thing and should have been done in the very beginning. The bit of story I did read left a lot to be desired plot-wise as well. Cassandra’s story lacked fluidity and felt rather like she was simply checking off boxes on a list of what she knows she does in life. Considering she’s got the gift of prophecy it’s thoroughly possible that this could have been the reason, except, Cassandra never felt like an active participant in her own life and seemed much more likely that it was the author checking off boxes instead. It was at about the point I hit this quote that I decided this just wasn’t for me:

“I admired his stridency. I wanted to bake it, to eat it like a large meat loaf so that it would enter my bloodstream and become my own.”

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Life’s Too Short – Courting Darkness, The Cassandra, The Wolf and the WatchmanThe Wolf and the Watchman by Niklas Natt och Dag
Published by Atria Books on March 5, 2019
Pages: 384
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
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In this breathtakingly bold, intricately constructed novel set in 18th century Stockholm, a dying man searches among the city’s teeming streets, dark corners, and intriguing inhabitants to unmask a ruthless murderer—perfect for fans of Perfume and The Alienist.

It is 1793. Four years after the storming of the Bastille in France and more than a year after the death of King Gustav III of Sweden, paranoia and whispered conspiracies are Stockholm’s daily bread. A promise of violence crackles in the air as ordinary citizens feel increasingly vulnerable to the whims of those in power.

When Mickel Cardell, a crippled ex-solider and former night watchman, finds a mutilated body floating in the city’s malodorous lake, he feels compelled to give the unidentifiable man a proper burial. For Cecil Winge, a brilliant lawyer turned consulting detective to the Stockholm police, a body with no arms, legs, or eyes is a formidable puzzle and one last chance to set things right before he loses his battle to consumption. Together, Winge and Cardell scour Stockholm to discover the body’s identity, encountering the sordid underbelly of the city’s elite. Meanwhile, Kristofer Blix—the handsome son of a farmer—leaves rural life for the alluring charms of the capital and ambitions of becoming a doctor. His letters to his sister chronicle his wild good times and terrible misfortunes, which lead him down a treacherous path.

In another corner of the city, a young woman—Anna-Stina—is consigned to the workhouse after she upsets her parish priest. Her unlikely escape plan takes on new urgency when a sadistic guard marks her as his next victim.

Over the course of the novel, these extraordinary characters cross paths and collide in shocking and unforgettable ways. Niklas Natt och Dag paints a deliciously dark portrait of late 18th century Stockholm, and the frightful yet fascinating reality lurking behind the powdered and painted veneer of the era.

DNF @ 20%

The Wolf and the Watchmen is a story set in 1793 involving the brutal murder of a man and the duo on the hunt for the perpetrator. This is quite a violent and graphic story but it paints a vivid portrait of 18th century Sweden. Did anyone watch the show Taboo with Tom Hardy? It reminded me a lot of that except Taboo has a facet of the supernatural and this story did not. While I don’t normally need supernatural additives in my historical fiction for them to suceed, it did make me realize that I felt like there was something missing to this story that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. This story is admittedly very well-written and I can see why it was awarded best debut novel by The Swedish Academy of Crime Writers, unfortunately, the bleakness of the story was absolute and I couldn’t find the motivation to finish.

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Book Review | The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

February 14, 2019 Bonnie 2019, Adult, Book Reviews 12 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review | The Dreamers by Karen Thompson WalkerThe Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker
Published by Random House on January 15, 2019
Pages: 320
Genres: Sci-fi
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Also by this author: The Age of Miracles

four-stars

In an isolated college town in the hills of Southern California, a freshman girl stumbles into her dorm room, falls asleep—and doesn’t wake up. She sleeps through the morning, into the evening. Her roommate, Mei, cannot rouse her. Neither can the paramedics who carry her away, nor the perplexed doctors at the hospital. Then a second girl falls asleep, and then another, and panic takes hold of the college and spreads to the town. As the number of cases multiplies, classes are canceled, and stores begin to run out of supplies. A quarantine is established. The National Guard is summoned.

Mei, an outsider in the cliquish hierarchy of dorm life, finds herself thrust together with an eccentric, idealistic classmate. Two visiting professors try to protect their newborn baby as the once-quiet streets descend into chaos. A father succumbs to the illness, leaving his daughters to fend for themselves. And at the hospital, a new life grows within a college girl, unbeknownst to her—even as she sleeps. A psychiatrist, summoned from Los Angeles, attempts to make sense of the illness as it spreads through the town. Those infected are displaying unusual levels of brain activity, more than has ever been recorded. They are dreaming heightened dreams—but of what?

‘…so much of this life will remain always beyond her understanding, as obscure as the landscapes of someone else’s dreams.’

In Southern California, a small town becomes the epicenter of a strange contagion that causes people to sleep indefinitely. Some won’t ever open their eyes again. There’s confusion and hysteria regarding how it’s spread, how to contain it, and meanwhile, more and more people fall victim to the seemingly unavoidable illness. But while it appears that these individuals are sleeping peacefully, inside, their minds are more active than any recorded human brain in history. But what exactly do they dream of, in this inescapable slumber? While they sleep, the waking ones are left to care for their bodies to ensure that one day it will be possible for them to wake again. As the day’s pass and questions remain unanswered, the dreamers begin to outnumber the ones that remain awake.

Karen Thompson Walker once again brings us a dystopian tale that is unsettling in its plausibility. The Dreamers shows us a glimpse at a multitude of individuals within this town without becoming overwhelming: the student that regrets leaving for college and hopes for a day when she’s able to go home, the parents with a newborn who fear falling victim and leaving their baby alone, the young girls that have always fended for themselves fine but now have no other choice when their father falls asleep. The focus on a variety of individuals manages to show the differences in how they react to the unknown by the different facets of their fear and builds on that frenzy of inner turmoil, not knowing what actions to take to avoid becoming the next victim. It’s when the reader is given a glimpse into the mind of a dreamer that you begin to wonder if these individuals are in fact “victims”.

I was a huge fan of Walker’s debut, The Age of Miracles, and I was thrilled to see her focus on another dystopian centered story. The Dreamers, however, takes a different route focusing on the philosophical aspects of the contagion rather the scientific reasoning behind it. This difference in focus, and Walker’s enchanting writing style, inevitably gives the story a dreamlike feel that pairs well with the feeling of disconnect these characters exude, quarantined within a town and simply waiting for the day that they too fall asleep and never wake. The Dreamers doesn’t necessarily end in ambiguity but it certainly lacks concrete answers that would normally be expected in novels of this ilk but are exactly what you’d expect in an actual dream. This story still manages to be incredibly satisfying as long as you’re willing to lose yourself in its slow, hypnotic rhythm.

The Fever by Megan Abbott [Purchase|Review]
Lock In (Lock In #1) by John Scalzi [Purchase]
Blindness by José Saramago [Purchase|Review]

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Life’s Too Short – Transcription, The Clockmaker’s Daughter, 99 Percent Mine

January 31, 2019 Bonnie Book Reviews, Life's Too Short 15 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Life’s Too Short – Transcription, The Clockmaker’s Daughter, 99 Percent MineTranscription by Kate Atkinson
on September 25, 2018
Pages: 352
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Also by this author: Life After Life

dnf

In 1940, eighteen-year old Juliet Armstrong is reluctantly recruited into the world of espionage. Sent to an obscure department of MI5 tasked with monitoring the comings and goings of British Fascist sympathizers, she discovers the work to be by turns both tedious and terrifying. But after the war has ended, she presumes the events of those years have been relegated to the past forever. Ten years later, now a radio producer at the BBC, Juliet is unexpectedly confronted by figures from her past. A different war is being fought now, on a different battleground, but Juliet finds herself once more under threat. A bill of reckoning is due, and she finally begins to realize that there is no action without consequence. Transcription is a work of rare depth and texture, a bravura modern novel of extraordinary power, wit and empathy. It is a triumphant work of fiction from one of the best writers of our time.

DNF @ 5%

I tried reading this in print twice. I even tried listening on audio thinking I’d have better luck. I never got past 5% on either occasion. I could very well blame it on my mood reading tendencies or even my impatience, however, it’s simple: this book never managed to hook me. WWII, mid-century London, espionage… this really should’ve worked for me but I think I was anticipating much more action than what was being delivered and it ended up being a similar case like Sweet Tooth. Life After Life was stunning yet A God in Ruins was another DNF. Atkinson is an incredible writer but alas, I’m not sure her stories are the best fit for me.

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Life’s Too Short – Transcription, The Clockmaker’s Daughter, 99 Percent MineThe Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton
Published by Atria Books on October 9, 2018
Pages: 485
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Secret Keeper, The House at Riverton

dnf

My real name, no one remembers. The truth about that summer, no one else knows.

In the summer of 1862, a group of young artists led by the passionate and talented Edward Radcliffe descends upon Birchwood Manor on the banks of the Upper Thames. Their plan: to spend a secluded summer month in a haze of inspiration and creativity. But by the time their stay is over, one woman has been shot dead while another has disappeared; a priceless heirloom is missing; and Edward Radcliffe’s life is in ruins.

Over one hundred and fifty years later, Elodie Winslow, a young archivist in London, uncovers a leather satchel containing two seemingly unrelated items: a sepia photograph of an arresting-looking woman in Victorian clothing, and an artist’s sketchbook containing the drawing of a twin-gabled house on the bend of a river.

Why does Birchwood Manor feel so familiar to Elodie? And who is the beautiful woman in the photograph? Will she ever give up her secrets?

DNF @ 15%

My track record with Kate Morton isn’t great, The Secret Keeper-5 stars, The House at Riverton-3 stars, The Lake House-DNF, and now another DNF. I’m drawn to her stories because I’m a huge fan of the dual timelines, the English settings she favors, and this one apparently included a ghostie mystery! Unfortunately, I hadn’t even gotten to 10% before I was bored and confused because I think I had counted 5 different timelines and I was having to bust out my post-its to keep notes on who’s who. I’d still love to revisit Morton’s earlier works that everyone highly recommends (The Forgotten Garden and The Distant Hours) and hope that it comes close to the entertainment I found in The Secret Keeper.

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Life’s Too Short – Transcription, The Clockmaker’s Daughter, 99 Percent Mine99 Percent Mine: A Novel by Sally Thorne
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on January 29, 2019
Pages: 368
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Hating Game: A Novel

dnf

Crush: a strong and often short-lived infatuation, particularly for someone beyond your reach…

Darcy Barrett has undertaken a global survey of men. She’s travelled the world, and can categorically say that no one measures up to Tom Valeska, whose only flaw is that Darcy’s twin brother Jamie saw him first and claimed him forever as his best friend. Despite Darcy’s best efforts, Tom’s off limits and loyal to her brother, 99%. That’s the problem with finding her dream man at age eight and peaking in her photography career at age twenty—ever since, she’s had to learn to settle for good enough.

When Darcy and Jamie inherit a tumble-down cottage from their grandmother, they’re left with strict instructions to bring it back to its former glory and sell the property. Darcy plans to be in an aisle seat halfway across the ocean as soon as the renovations start, but before she can cut and run, she finds a familiar face on her porch: house-flipper extraordinaire Tom’s arrived, he’s bearing power tools, and he’s single for the first time in almost a decade.

Suddenly Darcy’s considering sticking around to make sure her twin doesn’t ruin the cottage’s inherent magic with his penchant for grey and chrome. She’s definitely not staying because of her new business partner’s tight t-shirts, or that perfect face that's inspiring her to pick up her camera again. Soon sparks are flying—and it’s not the faulty wiring. It turns out one percent of Tom’s heart might not be enough for Darcy anymore. This time around, she’s switching things up. She’s going to make Tom Valeska 99 percent hers.

DNF @ 49%

I was one of the many that adored The Hating Game so admittedly, my expectations were through the roof. But unfortunately, this reads like her actual debut, and if this was the first Sally Thorne I picked up I’d be hard-pressed to pick up anything else of hers. It worked for me at first and I came close to finishing but clearly didn’t make it.

Darcy Barrett read like my kind of girl, at first. Badass bartender, take no shit from anyone, does anything and everything she wants… I don’t know, that’s some shit to aspire to. Enter the love interest that she’s apparently been in love with since she was eight. Yes, eight years old. Everything went downhill from there. She started acting excessively weird and was damn near intolerable and her obsession with the love interest is nothing more than just that and there was never any real rhyme or reason to it. Sure, she was attracted to him, she found him to be the most perfect human being, but there was never any real clarification why. Yes, I need at least some reasoning behind “the spark”. I’m not a romantic, you say? Yeah, so sue me. Between her ripping actual cabinets off the hinges mid-conversation (yes, they were in the middle of a remodel but still) and her actual purring when he touches her in a pretty platonic way, the weird behavior was just too much for me in the end.

“I know my eyes probably go black and crazy, but I press back into his palm and exhale a weird purr. His reaction is instant. I’m bumped away and my skin goes cold. He looks shocked, like I’ve just coughed up a furball.”

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Rapid Reviews – Nightchaser, Lipstick Voodoo, Miss Kopp’s Midnight Confessions, Miss Kopp Just Won’t Quit

January 26, 2019 Bonnie 2019, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Rapid Fire Reviews, Read in 2018 6 Comments

Sometimes review writing is hard. Sometimes you don’t have a lot to say. Sometimes you’re just lazy as fuck. These are Rapid Fire Reviews.

Rapid Reviews – Nightchaser, Lipstick Voodoo, Miss Kopp’s Midnight Confessions, Miss Kopp Just Won’t QuitNightchaser by Amanda Bouchet
Narrator: Susannah Jones
Series: Endeavor #1
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on January 1, 2019
Pages: 404
Genres: Sci-fi
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads

Short Summary: Tess Bailey and her crew are like Robin Hood and his merry men, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, but after stealing something of enormous value, they’re all running for their lives from The Galactic Overseer.

Thoughts: Sometimes you read a book and get so wrapped in how entertaining it is that you forget to view it through a critical lens, and that’s okay because while this one had its flaws (lack of clear worldbuilding) it was still fun and thrilling and the romance was steamy good.

Verdict: Nightchaser had some key foundational pieces missing in the worldbuilding but there was enough of a story there to be redeemable and some lost ground can be made up for in the follow-up installment that I’ll be eagerly awaiting.

four-stars

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Rapid Reviews – Nightchaser, Lipstick Voodoo, Miss Kopp’s Midnight Confessions, Miss Kopp Just Won’t QuitLipstick Voodoo by Kristi Charish
Narrator: Susannah Jones
Series: Kincaid Strange #2
Published by Vintage Canada on January 8, 2019
Length: 12 hrs and 10 mins
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Format: Audiobook
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Short Summary: Kincaid Strange, voodoo practitioner, finds herself searching for a solution when her roommate ghost, grunge rocker Nathan Cade, comes home bound to a body risen from the dead. Things take even more of a turn for the worse when people from Nathan’s past are being killed in gruesome ways and the local authorities begin to suspect Strange of being involved.

Thoughts: It’s hard for Urban Fantasy to be anything but formulaic, however, Charish manages to incorporate enough unique details to make this feel like something refreshingly original. Between the vast array of paranormal beings and the wide cast of memorable characters, this is one series to be paying attention to.

Verdict: The world-building that Charish laid the groundwork for means that (hopefully) there are many more installments in the crazy life of Kincaid Strange to look forward to. I also desperately hope that Susannah Jones continues to narrate her adventures because she does an absolutely superb job.

three-half-stars

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Rapid Reviews – Nightchaser, Lipstick Voodoo, Miss Kopp’s Midnight Confessions, Miss Kopp Just Won’t QuitMiss Kopp’s Midnight Confessions by Amy Stewart
Narrator: Christina Moore
Series: Kopp Sisters #3
Published by Recorded Books on September 5th 2017
Pages: 384
Length: 10 hrs and 4 mins
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: Audiobook
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Short Summary: When Bergen County, New Jersey begins to see a rise in young women being wrongly arrested for morality charges, Constance Kopp takes it upon herself to investigate because no one else believes that these girls should be doing anything but staying home and keeping house. But the real test comes when her youngest sister Fleurette moves out to travel with a vaudeville show and Constance is torn between wanting to see her home and safe and out living her life how she chooses.

Thoughts: This installment definitely lacked a certain excitement and intensity that were present in the previous two novels, however, the stories of the Kopp sisters are far from dull.

Verdict: The continued focus on women’s rights in the early 1900s is eye-opening and informative and the fact that this is all based on a real individual makes it even better.

three-stars

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Rapid Reviews – Nightchaser, Lipstick Voodoo, Miss Kopp’s Midnight Confessions, Miss Kopp Just Won’t QuitMiss Kopp Just Won’t Quit by Amy Stewart
Narrator: Susannah Jones
Series: Kopp Sisters #4
Published by Recorded Books on September 11, 2018
Length: 8 hrs and 53 mins
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: Audiobook
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Short Summary: When Sheriff Heath decides to run for Congress after his term as Sheriff is up, the man running in his place is extremely vocal about his opinion on Miss Kopp and her presence in the jail, but she can only hope that the town will vote against him. The election, unfortunately, doesn’t go as planned and it puts Constance at a crossroads in life.

Thoughts: The fourth installment has the intensity that I was missing with a story still enmeshed in history, still audaciously feminist, and possessing a rousing message about it never being too late to change your path in life.

Verdict: This installment had me falling back in love with this series all over again. The next installment will definitely bring a lot of change to this series, but I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the Kopp sisters.

four-stars

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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Rapid Reviews – 2018 Christina Lauren Releases

November 23, 2018 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Rapid Fire Reviews, Read in 2018 5 Comments

Sometimes review writing is hard. Sometimes you don’t have a lot to say. Sometimes you’re just lazy as fuck. These are Rapid Fire Reviews.

I only just discovered the wonders of Christina Lauren this year and am so glad that they write as fast as they do! I’ve got quite a backlist to look forward to as well. But here are my mini-reviews for their three 2018 releases.

Rapid Reviews – My Favorite Half-Night Stand, Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating, Love and Other WordsMy Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren
Published by Gallery Books on December 4, 2018
Pages: 400
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Short Summary: When Millie and her four male friends all realize they need dates for an upcoming banquet, they make a pact to join an online dating site thinking that’ll be a quick fix but Millie finds herself matched with one of her friends and decides to keep her identity secret from him.

Thoughts: I really love how consistently the authors develop their characters, but I definitely felt a kinship with Millie’s dry sense of humor and fascination with serial killers. My Favorite Half-Night Stand highlights the perils of online dating (and falling for your best friend) in the most hilarious of fashions.

Verdict: My love for Christina Lauren books was definitely not a phase — this hilarious swoon-fest gets all 5 stars from me (and is the current reigning favorite).

five-stars

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Rapid Reviews – My Favorite Half-Night Stand, Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating, Love and Other WordsJosh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren
Published by Gallery Books on September 4, 2018
Pages: 320
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Short Summary: Josh and Hazel have known each other since college but after Josh gets unceremoniously dumped, Hazel decides to agree to go on a bunch of double dates with him to get him back in the game. Even though the sparks fly, they’re dating other people, they’re definitely not dating each other.

Thoughts: Josh (quiet, professional) and Hazel (quirky, one of a kind) were the perfect counterpoints to one another and their double dates were a super cringe-y good time. The humor is never over the top as it is paired with Hazel learning how to stand up for herself and not let people change her colorful nature.

Verdict: This one is great, of course, but the ending was not one I expected (and I’ve heard this is definitely not the norm in CL endings). I must say that despite the curveball ending, it was handled surprisingly well.

four-half-stars

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Rapid Reviews – My Favorite Half-Night Stand, Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating, Love and Other WordsLove and Other Words by Christina Lauren
Published by Gallery Books on April 10, 2018
Pages: 432
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Short Summary: Macy and Elliot fell in love when they were just teenagers but tragic events separate the two and they don’t have the opportunity to reconnect until a chance run-in gives them a second chance to fix what broke 10 years prior.

Thoughts: This book made me realize that I’m a super fan of the friends to lovers trope and that I love a good dual timeline story but I hate stories where there is unnecessary drama simply because people don’t know how to communicate.

Verdict: Having read more CL stories, this one is definitely heavier and angstier in terms of plot, but it will definitely put you through the emotional ringer (in a good way).

four-stars

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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