Posts Categorized: eARC

Life’s Too Short – Barbed Wire Heart, Unbury Carol, Future Home of the Living God

April 6, 2018 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Life's Too Short, Read in 2018 2 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 – Barbed Wire Heart, Unbury Carol, Future Home of the Living GodBarbed Wire Heart by Tess Sharpe
Published by Grand Central Publishing on March 6th 2018
Pages: 416
Genres: Southern Gothic/Country Noir
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Never cut the drugs--leave them pure.Guns are meant to be shot--keep them loaded.Family is everything--betray them and die.

Harley McKenna is the only child of North County's biggest criminal. Duke McKenna's run more guns, cooked more meth, and killed more men than anyone around. Harley's been working for him since she was sixteen--collecting debts, sweet-talking her way out of trouble, and dreading the day he'd deem her ready to rule the rural drug empire he's built.

Her time's run out. The Springfields, her family's biggest rivals, are moving in. Years ago, they were responsible for her mother's death, and now they're coming for Duke's only weak spot: his daughter.

With a bloody turf war threatening to consume North County, Harley is forced to confront the truth: that her father's violent world will destroy her. Duke's raised her to be deadly--he never counted on her being disloyal. But if Harley wants to survive and protect the people she loves, she's got to take out Duke's operation and the Springfields.

Blowing up meth labs is dangerous business, and getting caught will be the end of her, but Harley has one advantage: She is her father's daughter. And McKennas always win.

DNF @ 16%

Southern Gothic is my jam and Barbed Wire Heart sounded right up my alley. Of course, when you compare anything to Winter’s Bone I’m even more on board. Harley McKenna’s character did in fact, read a lot like Ree Dolly with her badass nature and overall inability to sit on the sidelines letting someone else handle business. It’s an admirable quality and I’m quite fond of this characteristic in female characters. For some reason though, something about the characters, the atmosphere, and the story itself just never rang true for me. It felt like a combination of a lack of authenticity and simply trying too hard to fit in all the guns, the drugs, the bad men, and excessive violence that are characters in and of themselves in novels of this ilk. Whatever it was that ultimately turned me off from this story, I wish it wasn’t the case because I had high hopes for this one.

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 – Barbed Wire Heart, Unbury Carol, Future Home of the Living GodUnbury Carol by Josh Malerman
Published by Del Rey on April 10, 2018
Pages: 384
Genres: Fantasy, Western
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Also by this author: Bird Box, Black Mad Wheel

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Carol Evers is a woman with a dark secret. She has died many times . . . but her many deaths are not final: They are comas, a waking slumber indistinguishable from death, each lasting days.

Only two people know of Carol’s eerie condition. One is her husband, Dwight, who married Carol for her fortune, and—when she lapses into another coma—plots to seize it by proclaiming her dead and quickly burying her . . . alive. The other is her lost love, the infamous outlaw James Moxie. When word of Carol’s dreadful fate reaches him, Moxie rides the Trail again to save his beloved from an early, unnatural grave.

And all the while, awake and aware, Carol fights to free herself from the crippling darkness that binds her—summoning her own fierce will to survive. As the players in this drama of life and death fight to decide her fate, Carol must in the end battle to save herself.

DNF @ 15%

As you might have guessed from the title, Carol is dead. Or at least she dies a lot but she comes back, for some mysterious reason. When Carol was still alive and kicking, she married this pretty horrible dude named Dwight (horrible dude, horrible name… it fits) who only pretended to like her for her money, but now that she’s died again, he intends to keep it that way. Except for her ex, the outlaw James Moxie is coming to save her from a forever death. Yeah, outlaw. This is some bizarre blend of fantasy and the Wild West and there were absolutely no ‘horror’ bits about it. Except having to read characters constantly repeat the phrase “Hell’s heaven” ad nauseam was plenty horrific enough.

Honestly, this just sounds like a bad Lifetime movie, but Bird Box remains one of my all-time favorite horror novels and I keep trying his stories even though nothing has managed to come close.

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 – Barbed Wire Heart, Unbury Carol, Future Home of the Living GodFuture Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich
Published by Harper on November 14, 2017
Pages: 288
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Also by this author: The Round House

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The world as we know it is ending. Evolution has reversed itself, affecting every living creature on earth. Science cannot stop the world from running backwards, as woman after woman gives birth to infants that appear to be primitive species of humans. Twenty-six-year-old Cedar Hawk Songmaker, adopted daughter of a pair of big-hearted, open-minded Minneapolis liberals, is as disturbed and uncertain as the rest of America around her. But for Cedar, this change is profound and deeply personal. She is four months pregnant.

Though she wants to tell the adoptive parents who raised her from infancy, Cedar first feels compelled to find her birth mother, Mary Potts, an Ojibwe living on the reservation, to understand both her and her baby’s origins. As Cedar goes back to her own biological beginnings, society around her begins to disintegrate, fueled by a swelling panic about the end of humanity.

There are rumors of martial law, of Congress confining pregnant women. Of a registry, and rewards for those who turn these wanted women in. Flickering through the chaos are signs of increasing repression: a shaken Cedar witnesses a family wrenched apart when police violently drag a mother from her husband and child in a parking lot. The streets of her neighborhood have been renamed with Bible verses. A stranger answers the phone when she calls her adoptive parents, who have vanished without a trace. It will take all Cedar has to avoid the prying eyes of potential informants and keep her baby safe.

A chilling dystopian novel both provocative and prescient, Future Home of the Living God is a startlingly original work from one of our most acclaimed writers: a moving meditation on female agency, self-determination, biology, and natural rights that speaks to the troubling changes of our time.

DNF @ 20% (+ scan reading)

The concept of evolution reversing itself is a potentially fascinating story, but Erdrich didn’t exactly tackle the details of this idea. It’s merely a stated occurrence and the story instead focuses on women being rounded up for breeding stock because there are so few “original” babies being born. Which… just sounds a lot like The Handmaid’s Tale to me. Whether or not it’s the renewed interest in The Handmaid’s Tale what with the new show, but there have been a ridiculous amount of dystopian tales surrounding the degradation of women as of late. This is all well and good, I’m always on board for a good dystopian story, but with Future Home of the Living God, Erdrich’s attempts to hop on the bandwagon of dystopian lit results in nothing more than a lesser, imitative version.

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Rapid Fire Reviews – The Dry, Strange Weather, Witch Creek, The Wolves of Winter

February 22, 2018 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2018 7 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 Fire Reviews – The Dry, Strange Weather, Witch Creek, The Wolves of WinterThe Dry by Jane Harper
Series: Aaron Falk #1
Published by Flatiron Books on January 10th 2017
Pages: 336
Genres: Mystery
Format: eBook
Source: Library
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Short Summary: Federal Agent Aaron Falk returns to his small hometown for the funeral of his childhood friend who is accused of murdering his family and then committing suicide, but this small town is full of terrible secrets and shocking surprises.

Thoughts: This mystery is one of the most impressive debuts that I’ve read in a very long time, intertwining a past vs. present story, a captivating writing style, and a tangled mystery that was most thrilling when all is revealed.

Verdict: Whether or not this needed to be the start of a series, Jane Harper impressed me so much I’ll be reading anything and everything she writes.

four-stars

Rapid Fire Reviews – The Dry, Strange Weather, Witch Creek, The Wolves of WinterStrange Weather by Joe Hill
Published by William Morrow on October 24th 2017
Pages: 432
Genres: HorrorFantasy
Format: ARC
Source: Library Thing
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Also by this author: NOS4A2Twittering from the Circus of the DeadThe Fireman: A Novel

Short Summary: A camera that slowly eats your soul with each picture, a mall security guard is believed to have prevented a mass shooting, a man on his first skydiving adventure lands on a seemingly sentient cloud, and a sudden apocalyptic event in Boulder, Colorado causes the clouds to rain deadly nails.

Thoughts: Strange Weather is an indelible collection of four short stories about vastly different topics that relate in some way to weather but all leave you with that unsettled feeling that Hill is oh so good at.

Verdict: While this was an impressive collection, it wasn’t consistent and I hoped for a little more from certain tales; however, it is apparent that Hill is just as talented in short story form as he is in novels.

four-stars

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.

Rapid Fire Reviews – The Dry, Strange Weather, Witch Creek, The Wolves of WinterWitch Creek by Laura Bickle
Series: Wildlands #4
Published by Harper Voyager on February 27th 2018
Pages: 384
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Also by this author: Dark AlchemyNine of Stars

Short Summary: Petra Dee won’t let a little thing like cancer stop her from finding her husband who she fears is lost to the darkness that lies under her town, but the Tree of Life is growing strong again and the power behind it won’t be stopped.

Thoughts: Petra’s perseverance to find her husband was admirable, but quitting chemo halfway through to go in search of him was fairly asinine and this installment, the weakest so far, could and should have been more about her search for Gabriel.

Verdict: I love this magical series and despite this weak installment, the cliffhanger means there are more installments to come and I’m still definitely on board for more Petra (and 100% more of her coyote side-kick Sig.)

three-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 Fire Reviews – The Dry, Strange Weather, Witch Creek, The Wolves of WinterThe Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson
Narrator: Jayme Mattler
on January 2nd 2018
Length: 8 hrs and 53 mins
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
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Short Summary: After a nuclear war and a devastating pandemic, Lynn McBride and her family are surviving in the wilds of Canada, but secrets her parents kept hidden are suddenly seeing the light of day and those secrets endanger everyone.

Thoughts: This can easily be compared to all the big names: The Road, The Passage, Ashfall, etc. because despite my continued love for the genre, it’s been done to death; however, Johnson manages to still make this a worthwhile tale (especially with the added help of narrator Jayme Mattler).

Verdict: As a debut author, Johnson’s pick of genre may be overdone but his writing skills shine with possibility for future novels.

three-stars

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.

 

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Life’s Too Short – Bonfire, The Wedding Date, Andrea Vernon and the Corporation for UltraHuman Protection

February 16, 2018 Bonnie Book Reviews, Life's Too Short 8 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 – Bonfire, The Wedding Date, Andrea Vernon and the Corporation for UltraHuman ProtectionBonfire by Krysten Ritter
Published by Crown Archetype on November 7th 2017
Pages: 288
Genres: Mystery
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Should you ever go back?

It has been ten years since Abby Williams left home and scrubbed away all visible evidence of her small town roots. Now working as an environmental lawyer in Chicago, she has a thriving career, a modern apartment, and her pick of meaningless one-night stands.

But when a new case takes her back home to Barrens, Indiana, the life Abby painstakingly created begins to crack. Tasked with investigating Optimal Plastics, the town's most high-profile company and economic heart, Abby begins to find strange connections to Barrens’ biggest scandal from more than a decade ago involving the popular Kaycee Mitchell and her closest friends—just before Kaycee disappeared for good.

Abby knows the key to solving any case lies in the weak spots, the unanswered questions. But as Abby tries to find out what really happened to Kaycee, she unearths an even more disturbing secret—a ritual called “The Game,” which will threaten the reputations, and lives, of the community and risk exposing a darkness that may consume her.

With tantalizing twists, slow-burning suspense, and a remote, rural town of just five claustrophobic miles, Bonfire is a dark exploration of the question: can you ever outrun your past?

DNF @ 10%

I’ve become a big dnf-er in recent months, especially when I was working two jobs because my time was oh so very precious. This was one that didn’t make that crucial “worth it” mark. I’ve had Bonfire sitting on my digital shelf for months but in my mind, I was saving it for when I needed something awesome, for when I wanted to read a really great book. I’m not sure exactly how I established such lofty expectations for this book, but I did. This really had all the workings of a book I’d no doubt love: mysterious disappearances, the small-town girl returns home, and possible legal/courtroom drama. It could have been a perfect combination of Sharp Objects and The Fever but quickly morphed into an Erin Brockovich novelization but without the allure of Julia Roberts. There wasn’t anything completely terrible about Bonfire, there just wasn’t anything special about it either.

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 – Bonfire, The Wedding Date, Andrea Vernon and the Corporation for UltraHuman ProtectionThe Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory
Published by Berkley Books on January 30th 2018
Pages: 320
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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A groomsman and his last-minute guest are about to discover if a fake date can go the distance in a fun and flirty debut novel.

Agreeing to go to a wedding with a guy she gets stuck with in an elevator is something Alexa Monroe wouldn't normally do. But there's something about Drew Nichols that's too hard to resist.

On the eve of his ex's wedding festivities, Drew is minus a plus one. Until a power outage strands him with the perfect candidate for a fake girlfriend...

After Alexa and Drew have more fun than they ever thought possible, Drew has to fly back to Los Angeles and his job as a pediatric surgeon, and Alexa heads home to Berkeley, where she's the mayor's chief of staff. Too bad they can't stop thinking about the other...

They're just two high-powered professionals on a collision course toward the long distance dating disaster of the century--or closing the gap between what they think they need and what they truly want...

DNF @ I don’t even know

This debut contemporary romance has a glowing recommendation from none other than Roxanne Gay on the very front of this cover. I had such high hopes for this mold breaker of a romance novel that includes an interracial couple but there wasn’t even enough of a spark for me to want to see how everything played out. It all starts with a somewhat cliché meeting in a broken down elevator where the duo strikes up a stilted and awkward conversation which leads to him asking her to be his date at a wedding. First things first, there was zero chemistry. No spark. None. I didn’t particularly care for either character but I certainly didn’t care for Drew after my first impression of him.

“Don’t look at me like that! I’m not a girlfriend kind of guy! And when I could tell that she might want something more serious, I ended it.”

Ohhh. Yay. A real charmer.

And I can understand that Alexa’s continued lack of self-confidence was supposed to be something that a normal woman could sympathize with but it was so constant even in the short amount that I read that it was distracting to the actual story.

‘…she was almost distracted enough not to wonder if he could detect the Spanx underneath her dress. Almost.”

See, she’s even distracted.

“Oh, and don’t forget! The hashtag is #jollymosh.” Molly smiled and glided away.

If I ever actually get married, someone please shoot me if I ever have a hashtag for my damn wedding. Especially one as terrible as that.

Warning, bout to get vicious. Bottom line? The writing was stilted and simple, the characters lacked any sort of complexity and originality, despite including an interracial couple Guillory was far from breaking any sort of mold, and even the whole reason for the story, the romance, fell completely flat and wasn’t anything to swoon over. Some serious steam can result in (literary) elevators, but you won’t find that here. Check out The Hating Game for one particularly great elevator scene and Hearts in Darkness for what you’d hoped Alexa and Drew’s elevator meeting would have been like.

I received this book free from the Author 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 – Bonfire, The Wedding Date, Andrea Vernon and the Corporation for UltraHuman ProtectionAndrea Vernon and the Corporation for UltraHuman Protection by Alexander C. Kane
Narrator: Bahni Turpin
Published by Audible Studios on August 22nd 2017
Length: 8 hrs and 49 mins
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Author
Audible
Goodreads


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Andrea Vernon always thought she would spend her life living in Paris writing thought-provoking historical novels all day and sipping wine on the Seine all night. But the reality is she's drowning in debt, has no prospects, and is forced to move back to Queens, where her parents remind her daily that they are very interested in grandchildren.Then, one morning, she is kidnapped, interviewed, and hired as an administrative assistant by the Corporation for UltraHuman Protection. Superheroes for hire, using their powers for good. What could possibly go wrong?Lots.Her coworkers may be able to shoot lightning out of their hands or have skin made of diamonds, but they refuse to learn how to use the company's database. She has a swell hook-up buddy relationship with The Big Axe, but he's pushing to go exclusive. Then there's the small matter of a giant alien space egg hovering over Yankee Stadium, threatening civilization as we know it.Will Andrea find contentment in office drudgery? Can she make a life together with a guy who's eight feet tall and never puts down his axe? And will she ever figure out how her boss likes her coffee?

DNF @ 28%

I have a sense of humor, I swear. It’s just… sarcastic and dark. Doesn’t make it any less funny.

Goofy humor? I don’t get. I understand that a joke was intended, but my brain clearly lacks the proper wiring for actual laughter to occur. That’s exactly what it was like listening to Andrea Vernon. Bahni Turpin does a superb job narrating what I’m sure is a very hilarious and entertaining tale about superheroes. But we’re not talking superheroes like Wolverine. No, instead we’ve got Teleporter Joe who can only teleport one way to Roosevelt Island (and only when he has an erection) and anyone that teleports with him gets diarrhea.

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Life’s Too Short – Made for Love, A Plague of Giants, Shadowless

December 30, 2017 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Life's Too Short 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.

Life’s Too Short – Made for Love, A Plague of Giants, ShadowlessMade for Love by Alissa Nutting
Published by Ecco on July 4th 2017
Pages: 320
Genres: Contemporary
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Also by this author: Tampa

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Hazel has just moved into a trailer park of senior citizens, with her father and Diane—his extremely lifelike sex doll—as her roommates. Life with Hazel’s father is strained at best, but her only alternative seems even bleaker. She’s just run out on her marriage to Byron Gogol, CEO and founder of Gogol Industries, a monolithic corporation hell-bent on making its products and technologies indispensable in daily life. For over a decade, Hazel put up with being veritably quarantined by Byron in the family compound, her every movement and vital sign tracked. But when he demands to wirelessly connect the two of them via brain chips in a first-ever human “mind-meld,” Hazel decides what was once merely irritating has become unbearable. The world she escapes into is a far cry from the dry and clinical bubble she’s been living in, a world populated with a whole host of deviant oddballs.

As Hazel tries to carve out a new life for herself in this uncharted territory, Byron is using the most sophisticated tools at his disposal to find her and bring her home. His threats become more and more sinister, and Hazel is forced to take drastic measures in order to find a home of her own and free herself from Byron’s virtual clutches once and for all.

DNF @ 40%

I knew from having read Tampa that Nutting could come up with some bizarre shit of a storyline that I’d still relish in reading. But I have come to realize with this novel that even I have limits. Made for Love felt like some bizarro Black Mirror parody sort of world where Hazel leaves her husband Byron who wants to implant a mind-meld chip into her brain. We’re given a flashback to how they met and it was all such a hilarious spoof on Fifty Shades of Grey and I was completely on board. Even the terribly awkward (but extremely comical) return home to her father where she finds him residing with a real-life sex-doll named Diane. Bizarre, yes. But I was still fully on board. I’m apparently cool with strange science fiction storylines and sex-dolls but I draw the line with strange men attracted to dolphins. Yeah, you read that right. After several chapters of Hazel and her father (and we mustn’t forget Diane), we’re thrown for a loop when we’re introduced to Jasper who, after conning his latest girlfriend into giving him all her money and bailing, experiences a random dolphin attack and finds himself only attracted to dolphins. And describes this attraction in explicit detail. I may never look at a dolphin the same.

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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 – Made for Love, A Plague of Giants, ShadowlessA Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne
Series: Seven Kennings #1
Published by Del Rey Books on October 17th 2017
Pages: 618
Genres: Fantasy
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
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Also by this author: Hounded, Hammered

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In the start of a compelling new series, the New York Times bestselling author of The Iron Druid Chronicles creates an unforgettable fantasy world of warring giants and elemental magic.

In the city of Pelemyn, Fintan the bard takes to the stage to tell what really happened the night the giants came . . .

From the east came the Bone Giants, from the south, the fire-wielding Hathrim - an invasion that sparked war across the six nations of Teldwen. The kingdom's only hope is the discovery of a new form of magic that calls the world's wondrous beasts to fight by the side of humankind.

DNF @ 30%

I really loved the first few installments of Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles but I called it quits after book four. The humor was still there, the great characters, but it started to feel very repetitive. I heard about a brand new series coming from him and was so ready for a fresh new story. And one about a fantasy world with giants and magic? Oh man, I’m so disappointed this wasn’t all I had hoped it to be. The opening was extremely promising, where a bard with magical abilities begins to tell the story of the Bone Giants. He’s able to take on the appearance and voice of individuals so most of the first chapters were voiced by a different individual with a different perspective of things ongoing. Around the time when Hearne attempts to merge their storylines together was when he lost me. There were too many characters with obscure names, too many points of view, and too much to keep track off right from the beginning to keep me invested.

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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 – Made for Love, A Plague of Giants, ShadowlessShadowless by Hasan Ali Toptaş
Published by Bloomsbury on October 17th 2017
Pages: 320
Genres: Literary Fiction
Format: Hardcover
Source: the Publisher
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Hasan Ali Toptaş, "the Turkish Kafka", playfully challenges ideas of identity and memory in this surprising and beguiling novel.

In an Anatolian village forgotten by both God and the government, the muhtar has been elected leader for the sixteenth successive year. When he drunkenly staggers to bed that night, the village is prospering. But when he awakes to discover that Nuri, the barber, has disappeared in the dead of night, the community begins to fracture. In a nameless town far, far away, Nuri walks into a barbershop, not knowing how he has arrived. Blurring the lines of reality to terrific effect, this novel is both a compelling mystery and an enduring evocation of displacement.

DNF @ 15%

I typically stick with a pretty concrete set of genres because literary fiction and I so rarely get along. Sometimes I really try to push myself out of my comfort zone, hoping to find some diamond in the rough that will inevitably encourage me to venture outside that zone more often. This is one of those out of my comfort zone picks. Unfortunately, this is not encouraging me to pick up more literary fiction but instead to stay securely comfortable in the genres that I consistently love.

I never quite understood what was going on because it was this strange blend of literary fiction and magical realism, except I guess it’s supposed to be real but honestly, I don’t even know. I’m sure there is some beauty to a story such as this but when “his ears grew larger than soup ladles”, the broom suddenly had a voice, walls shivered at his touch, and his hair grew back immediately after being cut I just knew this was unfortunately not the book for me.

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Rapid Fire Reviews – Artemis, Ink and Bone, Into the Drowning Deep, The Hazel Wood

December 29, 2017 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Rapid Fire Reviews, Read in 2017, YA 4 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.

Artemis by Andy Weir
Narrator: Rosario Dawson
Published by Audible on November 14th 2017
Length: 8 hours and 59 minutes
Genres: Sci-fi
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
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Goodreads

Short Summary: Jazz Bashara is a full-time resident (and smuggler) of Artemis, the only city on the moon, but when she’s offered a sum of money that would solve all of her problems she accepts, the only problem is this job is completely out of her comfort zone and causes her more problems than she had before.

Thoughts: This story wouldn’t have been nearly as fantastic if it wasn’t narrated by Rosario Dawson who transformed this oftentimes comical heist on the moon into an actual performance.

Verdict: I loved The Martian and I loved Artemis so Andy Weir can just keep those entertaining Sci-Fi stories coming.

four-stars

Rapid Fire Reviews – Artemis, Ink and Bone, Into the Drowning Deep, The Hazel Wood

Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine
Series: The Great Library #1
Published by Berkley on April 5th 2016
Pages: 374
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Source: Blogging for Books
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Short Summary: In an alternate universe where books are illegal to the public and the Library of Alexandria is still standing, a group of individuals train to enter into the service of the Library and realize that corruption reigns supreme from within.

Thoughts: Caine has created a fascinating alternate universe with hints of steampunk and while there seemed to be a little too much going on at times it was a captivating story with a full cast of characters and ends with a cliffhanger that leaves you no option but to continue.

Verdict: An intriguing first installment that gets the mild info-dumping necessary with any fantasy world out of the way in hopeful anticipation of a solid follow-up in Paper and Fire.

three-half-stars

Rapid Fire Reviews – Artemis, Ink and Bone, Into the Drowning Deep, The Hazel Wood

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant
Series: Rolling in the Deep #1
Published by Orbit on November 14th 2017
Pages: 440
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Hardcover
Source: the Publisher
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Short Summary: Everyone was presumed dead after the Atargatis was lost at sea, but a new crew is being assembled to go back to the Mariana Trench to search for the existence of mermaids, this time presumably taking better precautions.

Thoughts: Grant was a bit excessive with her use of prose and her oftentimes exhaustive detailing of characters; however, her much apparent research into marine biology was incredibly informative and the gory horror was a definite thrill.

Verdict: A good one for campy horror fans and science nerds alike, but there’s no denying this story is drowning in an unnecessary amount of pages.

three-stars

Rapid Fire Reviews – Artemis, Ink and Bone, Into the Drowning Deep, The Hazel Wood

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
Published by Flatiron Books on January 30th 2018
Pages: 368
Genres: Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Short Summary: Alice and her mother have spent their lives on the road, trying to evade Alice’s grandmother and the bad luck that shadows their every step, but when her mother is kidnapped and taken to the Hinterland (a supernatural world that her grandmother created in her fairy tales) Alice is forced to confront the fact that these fairy tales might be real.

Thoughts: The blend of dark fantasy/fairy tales in a contemporary world was so fascinating and Alice’s character is incredibly likable; however, the mystery (and the story itself) unraveled a bit at the end and wasn’t as coherent a closure as I would have liked.

Verdict: Interesting fairy tale world, solid opening, mediocre ending: still definitely worth a read.

three-stars

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Rapid Fire Reviews – Lightwood, The Weight of This World, Wildfire, The Rules of Magic

December 28, 2017 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Rapid Fire Reviews, Read in 2017 7 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 Fire Reviews – Lightwood, The Weight of This World, Wildfire, The Rules of MagicLightwood by Steph Post
Published by Polis Books on January 24th 2017
Pages: 336
Genres: Southern Gothic/Country Noir
Format: eBook
Source: the Author
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Short Summary: When Judah Cannon is released from prison and returns to his hometown of Silas, Florida, he finds himself swiftly wrapped up in the troublesome workings of his family once again except this time may not result in prison, but death.

Thoughts: Steph Post has written a riveting noir-style story about revenge and betrayal that switches up the typical Appalachian setting of most Southern Gothic novels and gives us a peek at the dynamic and dangerous world of Florida scrub country.

Verdict: Daniel Woodrell, Donald Ray Pollock, and Cormac McCarthy are all big names of the often lurid genre but Steph Post proves with Lightwood that her name is just as deserving to be listed amongst them.

four-stars

Rapid Fire Reviews – Lightwood, The Weight of This World, Wildfire, The Rules of MagicThe Weight of This World by David Joy
Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons on March 7th 2017
Pages: 260
Genres: Southern Gothic/Country Noir
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Goodreads

Short Summary: Aiden McCall and Thad Broom have been best friends since they were children, both trapped by the imaginary confines of their hometown even after a huge amount of money ends up in their possession after witnessing the violent death of their drug dealer.

Thoughts: Joy’s graceful prose is all the more evident when its backdrop is a brutal tale but the two pair perfectly by focusing on the powerful loyalty between two lifelong friends.

Verdict: There’s no sophomore slump to be had here; The Weight of the World is just as fantastic as Where All Light Tends to Go which makes the wait for The Line That Held Us all the more interminable.

four-stars

Waiting on Wednesday – Wildfire (Hidden Legacy #3) by Ilona AndrewsWildfire by Ilona Andrews
Series: Hidden Legacy #3
Published by Avon on July 25th 2017
Pages: 400
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Short Summary: Life is never quiet for Nevada Baylor who realizes she’s in love with Mad Rogan, has to contend with being hired for a job by his beautiful ex, but she’s also dealing with her evil grandmother trying to kidnap her solely because of the power she possessed.

Thoughts: The intricate world-building, passionate romance, and overall excitement of this series continue in this installment that just might not be the last in the trilogy as first presumed.

Verdict: This is the 19th Ilona Andrews story so clearly I’m a bit of a fangirl; however, it never ceases to amaze me the originality of their stories and how I don’t think I’ll ever get enough of them.

four-stars

Rapid Fire Reviews – Lightwood, The Weight of This World, Wildfire, The Rules of MagicThe Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman
Series: Practical Magic #2
Published by Simon & Schuster on October 10th 2017
Pages: 384
Genres: Historical FictionMagical Realism
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Goodreads

Short Summary: In Practical Magic we learn about the Owens sisters in the present day and in this unexpected prequel, we learn about their ancestors and the curse on the family that dates back to the early 1600s.

Thoughts: The Rules of Magic is an enchanting story that flows softly, never with any sense of urgency or climax, but delineates on a family that we never quite knew we wanted (or needed) to know more of until this was released.

Verdict: I was worried that this prequel (released twenty-two years after Practical Magic would feel stale and wouldn’t possess the same magic as its predecessor: I was wrong.

four-stars

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Life’s Too Short – The Simplicity of Cider, Tess of the Road, Strange Fire

December 21, 2017 Bonnie Book Reviews, Life's Too Short 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.

Life’s Too Short – The Simplicity of Cider, Tess of the Road, Strange FireThe Simplicity of Cider by Amy E. Reichert
Published by Gallery Books on May 16th 2017
Pages: 336
Genres: Magical Realism
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Also by this author: The Coincidence of Coconut Cake

dnf

Fall in love with The Simplicity of Cider, the charming new novel about a prickly but gifted cider-maker whose quiet life is interrupted by the arrival of a handsome man and his young son at her family’s careworn orchard by the author of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake and Luck, Love & Lemon Pie.

Focused and unassuming fifth generation cider-maker Sanna Lund has one desire: to live a simple, quiet life on her family’s apple orchard in Door County, Wisconsin. Although her business is struggling, Sanna remains fiercely devoted to the orchard, despite her brother’s attempts to convince their aging father to sell the land.

Single dad Isaac Banks has spent years trying to shield his son Sebastian from his troubled mother. Fleeing heartbreak at home, Isaac packed up their lives and the two headed out on an adventure, driving across the country. Chance—or fate—led them straight to Sanna’s orchard.

Isaac’s helping hands are much appreciated at the apple farm, even more when Sanna’s father is injured in an accident. As Sanna’s formerly simple life becomes increasingly complicated, she finds solace in unexpected places—friendship with young Sebastian and something more deliciously complex with Isaac—until an outside threat infiltrates the farm.

From the warm and funny Amy E. Reichert, The Simplicity of Cider is a charming love story with a touch of magic, perfect for fans of Sarah Addison Allen and Gayle Forman.

DNF @ 20%

I adore Magical Realism and I adored Reichert’s debut The Coincidence of Coconut Cake but this one just didn’t do it for me. I’ve had a rollercoaster of a reading year and being very much a mood reader it seemed like every time I picked this one up, it never felt like the right time. Alas, I’m making this my last attempt (my fifth attempt, for the record) and calling it quits. This book possessed a lovely, heartwarming feel to it as you learn about the orchard and see all these special touches of magic throughout but as the summary states, Sanna is most prickly indeed. Her character was so completely off-putting to me that it lessened my interest in everything else. Did she redeem herself in the end? Possibly. But if I’ve restarted a book five times in a single year and still can’t get through it, honestly, that was more time spent trying than should be necessary.

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 – The Simplicity of Cider, Tess of the Road, Strange FireTess of the Road by Rachel Hartman
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers on February 27th 2018
Pages: 544
Genres: Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Also by this author: Seraphina

dnf

Meet Tess, a brave new heroine from beloved epic fantasy author Rachel Hartman.

In the medieval kingdom of Goredd, women are expected to be ladies, men are their protectors, and dragons get to be whomever they want. Tess, stubbornly, is a troublemaker. You can’t make a scene at your sister’s wedding and break a relative’s nose with one punch (no matter how pompous he is) and not suffer the consequences. As her family plans to send her to a nunnery, Tess yanks on her boots and sets out on a journey across the Southlands, alone and pretending to be a boy.

Where Tess is headed is a mystery, even to her. So when she runs into an old friend, it’s a stroke of luck. This friend is a quigutl—a subspecies of dragon—who gives her both a purpose and protection on the road. But Tess is guarding a troubling secret. Her tumultuous past is a heavy burden to carry, and the memories she’s tried to forget threaten to expose her to the world in more ways than one.

Returning to the fascinating world she created in the award-winning and New York Times bestselling Seraphina, Rachel Hartman introduces readers to a new character and a new quest, pushing the boundaries of genre once again in this wholly original fantasy.

DNF @ 15%

Blogger Problem #74: Being blinded by the excitement surrounding an ARC that you accept it without completely thinking it through.

Seraphina was a real struggle for me to get through, especially when all my blogger friends were raving about it. Despite this, I still picked up Shadow Scale (Seraphina #2) and ended up DNF-ing. Even though Tess of the Road is not classified as Seraphina #3, it really is. It’s set in the same world, most of the same characters, just focusing on a different main character. Same series, spin-off series, either way… I really should have skipped over this one. Hartman’s world building is spectacular but I continue to struggle with the pacing of her stories.

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 – The Simplicity of Cider, Tess of the Road, Strange FireStrange Fire by Tommy Wallach
Narrator: Julia Whelan, Joy Osmanski, Madeleine Maby, Corey Brill, Jacques Roy, Gibson Frazier
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on October 3rd 2017
Pages: 386
Length: 9 hours and 35 minutes
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
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Also by this author: We All Looked Up, Thanks for the Trouble

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It only takes a spark.

They said that the first generation of man was brought low by its appetites: for knowledge, for wealth, for power. They said mankind’s voracity was so great, the Lord sent his own Daughter to bring fire and devastation to the world.

The survivors were few, but over the course of centuries, they banded together to form a new civilization—the Descendancy—founded on the belief that the mistakes of the past must never be repeated.

Brothers Clive and Clover Hamill, the sons of a well-respected Descendant minister, have spent their lives spreading that gospel. But when their traveling ministry discovers a community intent on rediscovering the blasphemous technologies of the past, a chain of events will be set in motion that will pit city against city…and brother against brother.

Along with Gemma Poplin, Clive’s childhood sweetheart, and Paz Dedios, a revolutionary who dreams of overthrowing the Descendancy, Clive and Clover will each play a pivotal role in determining the outcome of this holy war, and the fate of humanity itself.

DNF @ 10%

I understand that the whole purpose of a blurb is to quickly encourage readers to pick it up, but when you do, and the blurb is nothing like it promised, that’s mighty disappointing. Oregon Trail meets Westworld was what hooked me and caused me so much excitement I admittedly didn’t even read the rest of the blurb (although this is a rampant problem for me.) If I had read the entire blurb I would have been immediately put off by the excessive religiousness and would’ve skipped this. But nooooo…. my 10-year-old brain started daydreaming of Oregon Trail instead.

Image result for oregon trail dysentery meme

Strange Fire is told from the point of view of two brothers from a religious society that views technology to be the root of all evil. It’s less fantasy and more futuristic dystopian but possessed an essence of more popular dystopian novels (Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, Handmaid’s Tale, as well as the more recent Blood Red Road.) The writing was well done but the plot was slow to build which makes more sense when you consider it’s the start of a series. I tried to keep an open mind regarding the religious aspects but this ultimately just failed to capture my interest.

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Short & Sweet – Final Girls, The Boy on the Bridge, The Twilight Pariah

December 15, 2017 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2017, Short & Sweet Reviews 6 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.

Short & Sweet – Final Girls, The Boy on the Bridge, The Twilight PariahFinal Girls by Mira Grant
Published by Subterranean Press on April 9th 2017
Pages: 112
Genres: Horror
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Also by this author: Feed, Deadline, Countdown: A Newsflesh Novella

three-half-stars

What if you could fix the worst parts of yourself by confronting your worst fears?

Dr. Jennifer Webb has invented proprietary virtual reality technology that purports to heal psychological wounds by running clients through scenarios straight out of horror movies and nightmares. In a carefully controlled environment, with a medical cocktail running through their veins, sisters might develop a bond they’ve been missing their whole lives—while running from the bogeyman through a simulated forest. But…can real change come so easily?

Esther Hoffman doubts it. Esther has spent her entire journalism career debunking pseudoscience, after phony regression therapy ruined her father’s life. She’s determined to unearth the truth about Dr. Webb’s budding company. Dr. Webb’s willing to let her, of course, for reasons of her own. What better advertisement could she get than that of a convinced skeptic? But Esther’s not the only one curious about how this technology works. Enter real-world threats just as frightening as those created in the lab. Dr. Webb and Esther are at odds, but they may also be each other’s only hope of survival.

‘Reality was a hard habit to quit sometimes, especially for someone who knew what lies could cost.’

Esther Hoffman is a journalist seeking the underlying story of Dr. Jennifer Webb who has created a new virtual reality therapy program which uses horror movie style dream sequences in an attempt to change the long-term behavior of its patient. Esther is convinced that Dr. Webb is nothing but a con artist and during their interview, Webb suggests she personally experience the program and Esther agrees, hoping to get the inside scoop. While inside the sequence, Webb decides to join Esther in the zombie apocalypse simulation in an attempt to develop a relationship with her and possibly change her outlook towards her program. The problem is, while the two are locked inside a fabricated horror movie, there’s actual horror developing in the real world.

‘Everything they were before they came here is behind them now, and soon they will be free, soon they will be able to start to heal, soon—’

Grant is no doubt a skillful short story writer, able to develop characters and plot effectively, drawing in readers with her consistently original narratives. Final Girls is a fantastic blend of science fiction and horror with a Nightmare on Elm Street feel to it where dreams quickly become a reality. This novella manages to even touch on more serious topics regarding doctors and treatment and the dangers of such an effective program like this falling into the wrong hands. The creative blend of science fiction and horror in the beginning did, admittedly, morph into something less unique by the end, transitioning instead to a storyline more commonly seen, but Final Girls is still a worthy read if you’re looking for some thrilling psychological horror.

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.

Short & Sweet – Final Girls, The Boy on the Bridge, The Twilight PariahThe Boy on the Bridge by M.R. Carey
Series: The Hungry Plague #2
Published by Orbit on May 2nd 2017
Pages: 392
Genres: Horror
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Also by this author: The Girl With All the Gifts, Fellside

three-half-stars

Once upon a time, in a land blighted by terror, there was a very clever boy.

The people thought the boy could save them, so they opened their gates and sent him out into the world.

To where the monsters lived.

In The Boy on the Bridge, M. R. Carey returns to the world of his phenomenal USA Today and word-of-mouth bestseller, The Girl With All the Gifts, for the very first time.

Expectations are a bitch.

The Girl With All the Gifts was one of my all-time favorites of 2014 and I was filled with trepidation when this prequel was announced. Sure, there was a story that could be told but did it need to be told is the real question. The Boy on the Bridge is a prequel story that tells of the original mission of the Rosalind Franklin, the mobile science lab that Melanie essentially hijacks in Girl. Knowing the end result of the mission will lead any reader to understand that there can be no happy ending, only a story to be told. It’s bittersweet to see this new crew of scientists searching the world for a cure to the hungries, still filled with a chance of hope for the few surviving individuals of the world.

“Things don’t end, after all. They only change, and you keep changing with them.”

The Boy on the Bridge wasn’t nearly as compelling as I had hoped or anticipated. The writing was oftentimes overly technical which resulted in a definite detachment from the emotional tale at its center and it seemed as if Carey was writing it as something that had already passed rather than something happening presently.  I often found myself wondering if my overall opinion would have been different if this had been released prior to Girl. If I had been more interested in discovering these intriguing details of a widespread infection if I didn’t already know the outcome. I’m not really sure. I don’t feel Carey was being opportunistic by writing this but simply chose to expand on this fascinating world he created, and that’s fair. It’s also fair that I simply didn’t care for it and think Girl was solid and complete enough to stand on its own, but it is what it is.

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.

Short & Sweet – Final Girls, The Boy on the Bridge, The Twilight PariahThe Twilight Pariah by Jeffrey Ford
Published by Tor.com on September 12th 2017
Pages: 176
Genres: Horror
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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two-stars

Three friends go looking for treasure and find horror in Jeffrey Ford's The Twilight Pariah.

All Maggie, Russell, and Henry wanted out of their last college vacation was to get drunk and play archaeologist in an old house in the woods outside of town. When they excavate the mansion's outhouse they find way more than they bargained for: a sealed bottle filled with a red liquid, along with the bizarre skeleton of a horned child

Disturbing the skeleton throws each of their lives into a living hell. They feel followed wherever they go, their homes are ransacked by unknown intruders, and people they care about are brutally, horribly dismembered. The three friends awakened something, a creature that will stop at nothing to retrieve its child.

“You can’t kill the dead. You’ve got to outsmart them.”

Tor.com released a “Fall of Fear” sampler which included A Long Day in Lychford by Paul Cornell, Switchback by Melissa F. Olson, The Murders of Molly Southbourne, and this title. This one enticed me the most. I’m also a terrible sucker for a great cover, and this one is a winner. It gives you the impression the story you’re about to embark on is atmospheric and eerie, and something perfect for any horror fan. Admittedly, I had high hopes having heard great things about Jeffrey Ford but this one a total dud. The blurb on the cover “Richard Linklater meets Stephen King meets Indiana Jones meets, well, Jeffrey Ford” by up and coming author Paul Tremblay is admittedly extremely off base. Just because something is tagged as horror doesn’t make it the next Stephen King and just because there’s some mild excavation of an old house doesn’t make these characters the next Indiana Jones, let’s be real.

The Twilight Pariah is a novella that tells the story of a final college summer between three friends. Maggie, the budding archaeologist of the group, convinces Russell and Henry to help her excavate an old privy at the Prewitt mansion. Ironically, the only thing I kept thinking about was an article I had recently read about archaeologists digging up Paul Revere’s outhouse. But also, there’s nothing particularly horrifying about the prospect of digging out an outhouse. Of course, finding a skeleton of a horned child should change things when shortly after a series of horrifying murders start taking place in town, but that sense of horror simply never coalesced. The characters are nothing but cardboard cutouts with a few quirky descriptive lines thrown in as a half-assed attempt to differentiate, which is pretty typical of characters in most short stories/novellas but there isn’t a credible plot to at least support the lacking characters. Ford tries to take this centuries-old mystery and link it to the present but it was a pretty flimsy connection, to say the least. And that ending. It felt like the author realized he was past his word count limit had to wrap shit up, pronto. Lackluster characters, middling plot, and an inadequate conclusion. Disappointing.

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Life’s Too Short – Lost Boy, The Afterlife of Holly Chase, Catalina

December 14, 2017 Bonnie Book Reviews, Life's Too Short 4 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 – Lost Boy, The Afterlife of Holly Chase, CatalinaLost Boy: The True Story of Captain Hook by Christina Henry
Published by Berkley Books on July 4th 2017
Pages: 292
Genres: Fairy-Tales/Retellings
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
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Also by this author: Alice, Red Queen

dnf

From the national bestselling author of Alice comes a familiar story with a dark hook—a tale about Peter Pan and the friend who became his nemesis, a nemesis who may not be the blackhearted villain Peter says he is…

There is one version of my story that everyone knows. And then there is the truth. This is how it happened. How I went from being Peter Pan’s first—and favorite—lost boy to his greatest enemy.

Peter brought me to his island because there were no rules and no grownups to make us mind. He brought boys from the Other Place to join in the fun, but Peter's idea of fun is sharper than a pirate’s sword. Because it’s never been all fun and games on the island. Our neighbors are pirates and monsters. Our toys are knife and stick and rock—the kinds of playthings that bite.

Peter promised we would all be young and happy forever.

DNF @ page 77

I went into this with insanely high hopes because 1. I love a good villain retelling and 2. I loved The Chronicles of Alice but despite this, I don’t think high expectations is what caused me to DNF. I was fine with Peter being a more tarnished version of the Peter we all already know and I was fine with Jamie being a decent human being because that just means we get to see the path he ended up on that resulted in Captain Hook. No, what was disappointing was the writing. This was an extremely violent retelling (not an issue for me) but it’s written like it’s a Young Adult novel. Lost Boy was also marketed somewhat towards the YA crowd, what with the influx of fairy tale popularity, which would possibly explain the difference in writing styles between Alice and Lost Boy. It could also be argued that it was written in such a way because the characters themselves were children, however, these are “children” that have been children for many decades, locked in their children bodies while they remain in Neverland. I feel like they would have still matured in some sense over time. Regardless of why it was written this way, I didn’t care for it, it was slow and plodding and the characters and world were under-developed relying on existing impressions of a widely known tale.

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 – Lost Boy, The Afterlife of Holly Chase, CatalinaThe Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand
Published by HarperTeen on October 24th 2017
Pages: 389
Genres: Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Also by this author: Unearthly, Hallowed, Boundless

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On Christmas Eve five years ago, Holly was visited by three ghosts who showed her how selfish and spoiled she'd become. They tried to convince her to mend her ways.

She didn't.

And then she died.

Now she's stuck working for the top-secret company Project Scrooge--as the latest Ghost of Christmas Past.

Every year, they save another miserly grouch. Every year, Holly stays frozen at seventeen while her family and friends go on living without her. So far, Holly's afterlife has been miserable.

But this year, everything is about to change. . . .

DNF @ 3%

No, I didn’t get far enough into this story for it to begin to differentiate between its classic inspiration, but Holly Chase is a horrid brat. Much like Ebeneezer Scrooge but I guess I can handle that kind of behavior in a horribly cranky old man versus a self-entitled teenager who is cruel to the housekeeper. Honestly, this is Mean Girls: the Christmas version; if Regina George was visited by the three ghosts of Christmas. I’m not here for that.

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 – Lost Boy, The Afterlife of Holly Chase, CatalinaCatalina: A Novel by Liska Jacobs
Published by FSG Originals on November 7th 2017
Pages: 240
Genres: Contemporary
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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dnf

A magnetic, provocative debut novel chronicling a young woman's downward spiral following the end of an affair

Elsa Fisher is headed for rock bottom. At least, that's her plan. She has just been fired from MoMA on the heels of an affair with her married boss, and she retreats to Los Angeles to blow her severance package on whatever it takes to numb the pain. Her abandoned crew of college friends (childhood friend Charlotte and her wayward husband, Jared; and Elsa's ex-husband, Robby) receive her with open arms, and, thinking she's on vacation, a plan to celebrate their reunion on a booze-soaked sailing trip to Catalina Island.

But Elsa doesn't want to celebrate. She is lost, lonely, and full of rage, and only wants to sink as low as the drugs and alcohol will take her. On Catalina, her determined unraveling and recklessness expose painful memories and dark desires, putting everyone in the group at risk.

With the creeping menace of Patricia Highsmith and the bender-chic of Bret Easton Ellis, Liska Jacobs brings you inside the mind of an angry, reckless young woman hell-bent on destruction--every page taut with the knowledge that Elsa's path does not lead to a happy place. Catalina is a compulsive, deliciously dark exploration of beauty, love, and friendship, and the sometimes toxic desires that drive us.

DNF @ 3%

I read a single chapter of this book. It was enough. Catalina is the story of Elsa Fisher, a woman that spirals out of control after her affair with her married boss is discovered. She returns home, to a place where she never wanted to return to, to people she never wanted to see again, but she slips easily back into that life. Except everything is a tragedy because well, life is just so hard.

“Charly? She will definitely want to go shopping. And we will get Frappuccinos with skim milk, and try on dresses, and talk about whatever argument she and Jared are currently in the middle of. God, how exhausting to be back.”

I guess I never really understood why she HAD to go back home. Sure, maybe that’s explained in a later chapter, but she’s introduced as this martyr that loses her job and just gives up and goes back home. Why didn’t she try to get a new job? Why do I care? Oh wait, I don’t.

“The room-service boy lingers, saying he thinks redheads are pretty. He’s young and breakable and it would feel so goddamn good to break something.”

Yeah, Elsa Fisher is a pleasant individual. Real likable.

“I shower with my drink and take one of Mother’s Vicodins.”

Oh goodie. I picked up the novelization of a soap opera. Hard pass.

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Life’s Too Short – Surprise Me, Ultraluminous, All the Crooked Saints

December 8, 2017 Bonnie 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 – Surprise Me, Ultraluminous, All the Crooked SaintsSurprise Me by Sophie Kinsella
Published by Dial Press on February 13th 2018
Pages: 432
Genres: Chick-Lit
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Also by this author: Wedding Night, My Not So Perfect Life

dnf

After being together for ten years, Sylvie and Dan have all the trimmings of a happy life and marriage; they have a comfortable home, fulfilling jobs, beautiful twin girls, and communicate so seamlessly, they finish each other's sentences. However, a trip to the doctor projects they will live another 68 years together and panic sets in. They never expected "until death do us part" to mean seven decades.

In the name of marriage survival, they quickly concoct a plan to keep their relationship fresh and exciting: they will create little surprises for each other so that their (extended) years together will never become boring. But in their pursuit to execute Project Surprise Me, mishaps arise and secrets are uncovered that start to threaten the very foundation of their unshakable bond. When a scandal from the past is revealed that question some important untold truths, they begin to wonder if they ever really knew each other after all.

DNF @ 25%

The only thing that came as a surprise was this DNF.

Honestly, I only read as much as I did because of my love of Kinsella. You know those stories that start off fairly mediocre and you just keep thinking (in this case, HOPING) that it’ll get better? It started off mildly intriguing: life is perfect for this couple, they have two beautiful children, good jobs, a happy life, and they even complete one another’s sentences. *groan* The two go to the doctor to get physicals at which point the doctor informs them they are perfectly healthy and they should plan on living long, long lives. Then he says: “You should have sixty-eight more wonderful years of marriage!” And then everything goes wrong. Because of course, they didn’t even consider the fact that they’d live that long, never thought about long-term being that long when it came to being married.

“We’ve got so much time.”
“But what are we going to do with it, Sylvie? How are we going to fill the endless, soulless years of mindless drone work? Where’s the joy in our lives?” He looks around the kitchen with a questing gaze, as though it might be in a jar labeled joy, next to turmeric.

Even though everything is perfectly fine and they have happy lives, now they have to deal with the concept that they’re going to have to be with one another for SO LONG. Come on. Hello, till death do us part? This is why everyone fucking gets divorced these days. Nobody stops to consider what it actually means, what you’re committing to, argh. I just found the whole concept stupid. And I’m sure they get over it and get back to being perfectly happy with their kids and white picket fence but I didn’t really care if they worked it out or not. Plus? There was this weird obsession with her dead father and lines like this:

‘Here in the privacy of my own mind, where no one else can hear, I can say it: To the outside world, Dan isn’t in the same league as my father. He doesn’t have the gloss, the money, the stature, the charitable achievements.’

Not just comparing your father to your husband, who in your mind is lacking in comparison, but comparing your dead father to your husband… nope. I’m done.

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 – Surprise Me, Ultraluminous, All the Crooked SaintsUltraluminous: A Novel by Katherine Faw Morris, Katherine Faw
Published by MCD on December 5th 2017
Pages: 176
Genres: Contemporary
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Young God

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Girlfriend. Prostitute. Addict. Terrorist? Who is K?

Ultraluminous, the daring new novel from Katherine Faw, the brilliant author of Young God, follows one year in the life of a high-end, girlfriend-experience prostitute. She has just returned to her native New York City after more than a decade abroad—in the capitals of Asia and the Middle East, her last stop Dubai, with a man she recalls only as the Sheikh—but it’s unclear why exactly she’s come back. Did things go badly for her? Does she have scores to settle?

Regardless, she has quickly made herself at home. She’s set up a rotation of clients—all of them in finance, and each of whom has different delusions of how he is important to her. And she’s also met a man whom she doesn’t charge—a damaged former Army Ranger, back from Afghanistan, and a fellow long-time heroin addict.

Her days are strangely orderly: a repetition of dinners, personal grooming, museum exhibitions, sex, Duane Reades (she likes the sushi), cosmology, sex, gallery shows, heroin, sex, and art films (which she finds soothing). The pattern is comforting, but does she really believe it’s sustainable? Or do the barely discernible rifts in her routine suggest that something else is percolating under the surface? Could she have fallen for one of her bankers? Or do those supposed rifts suggest a pattern within the pattern, a larger scheme she’s not showing us, a truth that won’t be revealed until we can see everything?

DNF @ 6%

I read Young God, so I did know what I was getting into by requesting this one. Or at least I thought I did. Ultraluminous is the story of a prostitute named K who makes up a different name for each new guy. No one else in this story has an actual name either. There’s the bodega guy. The art guy. The calf’s brain guy. The guy who buys’s me things. The junk-bond guy. I understand that the character herself named these characters as such as a lack of caring, deeming it unnecessary to know them personally given her job, but it resulted in an odd experience when reading about it. Her stories about each guy are told in snippets with little to no differentiation between each, almost as if it was a string of her recalling these memories instead of living them in real-time. It was easy to fall into this story and ride this strange stream of consciousness type wave but it was hard to find any entertainment in the sparseness.

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 – Surprise Me, Ultraluminous, All the Crooked SaintsAll the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater
Published by Scholastic Press on October 10th 2017
Pages: 320
Genres: Magical Realism
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Also by this author: Shiver, Forever, The Raven Boys

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Here is a thing everyone wants: a miracle.Here is a thing everyone fears: what it takes to get one.

Any visitor to Bicho Raro, Colorado is likely to find a landscape of dark saints, forbidden love, scientific dreams, miracle-mad owls, estranged affections, one or two orphans, and a sky full of watchful desert stars.

At the heart of this place you will find the Soria family, who all have the ability to perform unusual miracles. And at the heart of this family are three cousins longing to change its future: Beatriz, the girl without feelings, who wants only to be free to examine her thoughts; Daniel, the Saint of Bicho Raro, who performs miracles for everyone but himself; and Joaquin, who spends his nights running a renegade radio station under the name Diablo Diablo.

They are all looking for a miracle. But the miracles of Bicho Raro are never quite what you expect.

DNF @ page 42

The moment I realized I wasn’t going to be able to finish a Stiefvater and I’d be forced to DNF:

I started this immediately when I got it but set it aside after a few pages. I thought it was because, at the time, I was in the midst of a major book slump so I attributed it to that but I had serious problems this time around as well. All the Crooked Saints is this strange, unexpected sort of magical realism. For me though, magical realism needs to be centered in realism. The magical aspects need to feel like a different type of reality but something that’s wholly possible. The magical realism here was just bizarre and out there and simply didn’t work for me. Also, the characters themselves were completely unlikable and were ridiculously pretentious. But there were a few lines I saved and a few lines I saw saved on Goodreads that caused a raised eyebrow or two:

‘She was so mean that she even killed her own name, and now people just pointed to her.’

‘She had been wearing artificial eyelashes in the womb and when they had fallen off in the birth canal, she had lost no time in replacing them.’

‘She formed pots out of clay that were so striking that sometimes, when she went to gather clay for a new one, she discovered that the clay had eagerly already begun to shape itself for her. Her voice was so well trained that bulls would lie down when they heard her sing. […] She could ride two horses at the same time, one leg on each horse, and still hold down her skirt to maintain her modesty, if she felt like it. Her segueza, developed from an ancient recipe, was so excellent that time itself stood still while you were eating it in order to savor the flavor along with you.’

Some may read these lines and think they’re gorgeous, but I can’t deal with an entire book full of that. Even a Stiefvater.

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