Posts Categorized: eBook

Book Review – Legend (Legend #1) by Marie Lu

January 4, 2014 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2014, YA 5 Comments

Book Review – Legend (Legend #1) by Marie LuLegend by Marie Lu
Series: Legend #1
Published by Putnam Juvenile on November 29, 2011
Pages: 305
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic, Romance
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads


three-stars

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths - until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias's death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills.

June and Day lead two completely different lives. June is a Republic soldier and Day is the Republic’s most wanted criminal. After the death of Metias, June’s brother, their lives cross when Day becomes the prime suspect. Finding Day also leads to the exposure of government secrets that cause June to question everything.

Legend is told from the alternating POVs of June and Day. Naturally, they fall for each but unexpectedly I wasn’t too bothered by this predictable turn as Lu somehow manages to make this work. My only issue with the characterization was the lack of differentiation between their two voices. I caught on around halfway through that the sections in bold were Day’s, but based on the writing style alone it often took me several lines to understand who was who in each section.

Big boo in regards to worldbuilding since it was fairly non-existent. What we are given: based in a location known as the Republic, the enemy is another location known as The Colonies, both The Republic and The Colonies used to make up The United States, the poor/slums are dying from the plague and kids are sent to something known as the Trials in order to determine their futures in The Republic. All interesting pieces of the puzzle but lacked too many vital pieces in order to get the full picture. I have high hopes that this will be solved in subsequent books.

I didn’t find anything extremely original about Legend but it was a fairly thrilling and exciting read that I finished in a single day. The bits we do learn about this world do intrigue me and I look forward to finding out more. June is a strong and engaging character and I especially loved the parts of the story told from her POV. I will definitely be continuing this series since I’m forever a sucker for post-apocalyptic stories.

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Book Review – Dreams and Shadows (Dreams & Shadows #1) by C. Robert Cargill

December 6, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 13 Comments

Book Review – Dreams and Shadows (Dreams & Shadows #1) by C. Robert CargillDreams and Shadows by C. Robert Cargill
Series: Dreams and Shadows #1
Published by Harper Voyager on February 26th 2013
Pages: 448
Genres: Horror, Urban Fantasy
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Queen of the Dark Things, We Are Where the Nightmares Go and Other Stories, Sea of Rust

four-half-stars

A brilliantly crafted modern tale from acclaimed film critic and screenwriter C. Robert Cargill—part Neil Gaiman, part Guillermo Del Toro, part William S. Burroughs—that charts the lives of two boys from their star-crossed childhood in the realm of magic and mystery to their anguished adulthoods

There is another world than our own—one no closer than a kiss and one no further than our nightmares—where all the stuff of which dreams are made is real and magic is just a step away. But once you see that world, you will never be the same.

Dreams and Shadows takes us beyond this veil. Once bold explorers and youthful denizens of this magical realm, Ewan is now an Austin musician who just met his dream girl, and Colby, meanwhile, cannot escape the consequences of an innocent wish. But while Ewan and Colby left the Limestone Kingdom as children, it has never forgotten them. And in a world where angels relax on rooftops, whiskey-swilling genies argue metaphysics with foul-mouthed wizards, and monsters in the shadows feed on fear, you can never outrun your fate.

Dreams and Shadows is a stunning and evocative debut about the magic and monsters in our world and in our self.

‘If you remember one thing, even above remembering me, remember that there is not a monster dreamt that hasn’t walked withing the soul of man.’

Dreams and Shadows tells the tale of two young boys: Ewan, who was stolen from his family by fairies when he was a baby, and Colby, who befriended a djinn that granted wishes which changed his life forever. The fates of both become entwined the second they meet and a battle between magical forces ensues.

This could have honestly been a disastrous affair what with the strange mixture of fairies and changelings, angels and the Devil, sorcerers and genies, and the list goes on. But it’s far from a disaster. This was an absolute delight and the exact type of fantasy that I yearn for. I have to make note that despite the inclusion of angels and the Devil this is far from religious and never digs in deep to that aspect; they were just supporting characters of a sort. The characters were fictitious and fanciful but managed to be extremely well-crafted and developed. The male characters were at the very least. It didn’t occur to me until later that the female characters all seemed to be incredibly weak and only described in terms of their looks with the one exception to that statement being Ewan’s scary-as-hell mother. All in all, it’s easy to overlook because of the thrilling plot.

My least favorite aspect of the book ended up being my favorite. In addition to the story being told from three separate points of view, there are excerpts from a book titled ‘A Chronicle of the Dreamfolk’ by a Dr. Thaddeus Ray, Ph.D. They are surprisingly informative pieces on the factual aspects of this fantasy world but it’s initially unclear as to why they’re included. It’s a vital piece of the puzzle that becomes clear late in the novel so don’t skip these sections.

Dreams and Shadows is a story full of magic and mystery and outlandish horror. I so enjoyed the rawness and twisted darkness of this tale and the unique and unusual world-building that fortunately isn’t lacking in detail. Dreams and Shadows possessed a plot with room to grow and is one instance where I’m thankful for it being a series. Queen of the Dark Things is the next installment which is due out in mid-2014. I cannot wait.

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Book Review – Indexing by Seanan McGuire

October 24, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 14 Comments

Book Review – Indexing by Seanan McGuireIndexing by Seanan McGuire
Published by 47North on May 21st 2013
Pages: 347
Genres: Fairy-Tales/Retellings, Fantasy
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Rosemary and Rue, A Local Habitation, Night and Silence

two-half-stars

“Never underestimate the power of a good story.”

Good advice...especially when a story can kill you.

For most people, the story of their lives is just that: the accumulation of time, encounters, and actions into a cohesive whole. But for an unfortunate few, that day-to-day existence is affected—perhaps infected is a better word—by memetic incursion: where fairy tale narratives become reality, often with disastrous results.

That's where the ATI Management Bureau steps in, an organization tasked with protecting the world from fairy tales, even while most of their agents are struggling to keep their own fantastic archetypes from taking over their lives. When you're dealing with storybook narratives in the real world, it doesn't matter if you're Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, or the Wicked Queen: no one gets a happily ever after.

Indexing is New York Times bestselling author Seanan McGuire’s new urban fantasy where everything you thought you knew about fairy tales gets turned on its head.

Indexing was first released as a Kindle Serial and was a bi-weekly mini-party every Tuesday considering how eagerly I awaited the latest installment. The first episode is epic and I can’t even begin to express my love for it. The introduction to this fairy-tale world was perfection. It got a full 5 stars from me and set the bar extremely high for the subsequent stories. This fairy tale world was extremely similar in scope to the graphic novel series ‘Fables’ but in comparison I found the characters were more vibrant and witty and infinitely entertaining. Each Kindle serial, for the most part, managed as a stand-alone and didn’t leave you too exasperated with having to wait another two weeks for more. I say ‘for the most part’ because something happened around episode 8 (out of a total of 12) that took the series into a total nosedive, but I’ll get into that more in a minute.

The ATI (Aarne-Thompson Index) Management Bureau is a covert government agency that monitors fairy tale manifestations and prevents them from getting out of control. According to Wiki, “The Aarne–Thompson tale type index is a multivolume listing designed to help folklorists identify recurring plot patterns in the narrative structures of traditional folktales, so that folklorists can organize, classify, and analyze the folktales they research.” This index system is used as the basis for classifying manifestations that happen in the real world, where children are born predisposed to being a Sleeping Beauty or a Snow White or even a Pied Piper. If unleashed, their fairy tale influence could wreak havoc on the world. All manner of fairy tales are covered: Peter Pans and Cinderellas, Donkeyskins and Beautiful Vassilisas, a Mother Goose, Wicked Stepsisters, Billy Goats Gruff, The Showmaker and the Elves, etc.

So what worked well? Personally I loved the combination of fairy tales and urban fantasy that ultimately made up this story. It was imaginative and creative and really enjoyed the details that went into this. Each individual was given a bit of back story although I believe this could have been further expounded on to showcase their growth. While I didn’t end up preferring one character over another, they all as a whole really added life and charm to this story.

In the end though, I was left ultimately disappointed. When thinking back on the story as a whole, I think it was easy to overlook the choppy feel of the writing since we’re only given bits and pieces at a time. If read as a whole I think it would have been far more obvious and apparent that the story lacked a fully fleshed out plot and was really rather feeble. It didn’t feel as if it was planned as a full novel and was instead planned out as each episode was written. Ultimately, the ending felt strange and disconnected from where it seemed like the story was going and left me with far more unanswered questions than I like.

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Book Review – The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

October 5, 2013 Bonnie Book Reviews, Book-To-Film, Read in 2013, YA 3 Comments

Book Review – The Spectacular Now by Tim TharpThe Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on November 4th 2008
Pages: 306
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads


two-stars

SUTTER KEELY. HE’S the guy you want at your party. He’ll get everyone dancing. He’ ll get everyone in your parents’ pool. Okay, so he’s not exactly a shining academic star. He has no plans for college and will probably end up folding men’s shirts for a living. But there are plenty of ladies in town, and with the help of Dean Martin and Seagram’s V.O., life’s pretty fabuloso, actually.

Until the morning he wakes up on a random front lawn, and he meets Aimee. Aimee’s clueless. Aimee is a social disaster. Aimee needs help, and it’s up to the Sutterman to show Aimee a splendiferous time and then let her go forth and prosper. But Aimee’s not like other girls, and before long he’s in way over his head. For the first time in his life, he has the power to make a difference in someone else’s life—or ruin it forever.

‘Another spectacular afternoon. This weather is unbelievable. Of course, that probably means summer is going to be vicious again, but I’m not worried about that now. I was never big on the future. I admire people who are, but it just never was my thing.’

Sutter is spontaneous with a luring personality who lives life solely in the moment. Aimee is plagued by insecurity but has a mind that is saturated with dreams of the future. The two are an unlikely combination but Aimee is mesmerized by the lifestyle Sutter leads and Sutter is convinced he can do Aimee good by giving her the confidence she needs so badly.

“To hell with tomorrow. To hell with all problems and barriers. Nothing matters but the Spectacular Now.”

Oh, Sutter. His character is not portrayed solely as an addict or an alcoholic, instead he’s this extremely fun and charismatic person that everyone really can’t help but love… he just has a serious problem with alcohol. But that’s not his defining feature. There was a complete lack of character development in regards to Sutter; he simply maintained as he was first introduced. I definitely wished I had seen some alteration, even slight, especially since this is highly considered to be a coming of age tale and I require character development in order for that label to be fitting.

Considering this story is told from the point of view of Sutter, everything is glorified because that’s the mentality he projects on the world. Unfortunately, the same goes for his alcoholic tendencies. It’s reflected in such a glamorized and non-gritty light and I can’t help but take issue with that since this book is targeted towards children. Taken at face value I think it would be difficult for children to see past the facade and realize that Sutter has a serious issue. The ending sheds some light on the seriousness but not enough in my opinion. Sutter’s story is truly a tragedy, I can only hope that for those children that do read this have parents that are willing to sit down and discuss with them the ravaging effects of alcohol.

Despite his good intentions towards Aimee, their relationship is truly toxic. The effect Sutter had on her was initially beneficial, however, she ended up turning down the exact road as him as her grades began to slip and she began drinking (almost) as much as him. What astonished me most was the family members of both main characters and their complete absence in their lives. I understand being a parent myself and not being able to see issues all the time before they rear their ugly head but Sutter made the fact that he was on a downward spiral loud and clear.

My opinion is quite the unpopular one regarding this book. This was well written and an honest depiction of alcoholism, I just didn’t agree with the glamorized feel the book lent it, especially when you consider the target audience.

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Banned Books Week – Child of God by Cormac McCarthy

September 24, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 1 Comment

Banned Books Week – Child of God by Cormac McCarthyChild of God by Cormac McCarthy
on January 1st 1973
Pages: 208
Genres: Southern Gothic/Country Noir
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads


three-stars

In this taut, chilling novel, Lester Ballard--a violent, dispossessed man falsely accused of rape--haunts the hill country of East Tennessee when he is released from jail.  While telling his story, Cormac McCarthy depicts the most sordid aspects of life with dignity, humor, and characteristic lyrical brilliance.


“In October 2007, Child of God was removed from Tuscola, Texas’ Jim Ned High School and canceled from the school library’s order list after one student’s parents challenged the book’s inclusion and even registered an official complaint with the sheriff’s office charging the teacher who included the book on an optional reading list with providing material “harmful to minors” to their daughter. The parents objected to violence, sexual themes, and profanity in the book.”

‘Each leaf that brushed his face deepened his sadness and dread. Each leaf he passed he’d never pass again. They rode over his face like veils, already some yellow, their veins like slender bones where the sun shone through them.’

Lester Ballard is a man born into hardship and is seemingly cursed with tragedy. His mother leaves him and his father when he was young and he is the first to find his father’s body hanging from the rafters when he is just ten years old forcing him to seek help from the townsfolk to get his body down. This requires a quick advancement in maturity considering he’s all by himself and there’s no one left to care for him and the small town he resides in has no intention of doing him any favors.

Lester being made an outcast in his own community is one of the major themes of the novel. He’s constantly rejected by everyone for being strange and different yet he never fails to continue trying to find his place in the town. Their rejection and judgment becomes borderline cruel when he isn’t even accepted within the walls of the church. In addition to the desire for a place in the community, what he desires more is a connection with a woman and he receives nothing but disgust from the female gender. This ongoing rejection can easily be blamed for the reason he took the path he did because he grew up isolated and lacks any sort of moral compass or understanding of right and wrong. His first crime occurs when he stumbles upon the car of a man and a woman who died of carbon monoxide poisoning in the midst of having sex. He decides to not only have sex with the woman but he takes her body back to his house. While it’s easy to be immediately repulsed, it’s actually quite rueful if you consider that this was the first woman he encountered in his life that didn’t immediately run from him in disgust. It’s deplorable, yes, but it’s also pitiable.

What’s most impressive is the fact that McCarthy is able to portray Lester as a morally perplexed human being rather than the quick to judge “psychopath” description that is equally fitting. It’s surprisingly difficult not to feel as least a modicum of pity for the man who was left to raise himself at the age of ten, was later tossed out of his own house and left with no where else to go and forced to live in an abandoned house that just barely protects him from the elements. While this obviously doesn’t excuse him from his horrible crimes (I don’t believe that was ever McCarthy’s intention anyways) it does depict him as an actual person, a child of God, and not a monster and that’s quite possibly even scarier.

McCarthy abandons literary standards by flipping between different writing styles seemingly at random and fails to utilize quotation marks which never fails to infuriate me. Trying to decipher who is talking and when they’re actually talking and not just thinking… that should never be an issue. The various use of prose strewn throughout the novel was definitely a break from the truly ugly story this was and was most welcome.

This book came under fire when a teacher in Tuscola, Illinois asked his Freshman aged pre-Advanced Placement students to choose the book they wish to read for a book report. The parents of a young girl were so offended by the material that the teacher provided their 14 year-old child that they filed an official complaint with the sheriff’s office. From what I can find, no charges stuck with the teacher but this is still appalling. While I can agree this book covers material that may not be suitable for a 14 year old (The main character kills several people and rapes the corpses of women. Another character rapes his daughter.) however I think in this case monitoring of reading material should be handled by the parents. They could have easily had their child pick another book from the list. Charges against the teacher? That’s ludicrous. In addition to that, the banning of this book (or any book) only limits how a person is informed and prevents sheltering an individual from the harsh realities of the world. This story is inspired by actual events in Sevier County, Tennessee so while I don’t believe it’s the best book for a young person, I do not believe it should be banned because I’d rather have a child that’s informed and aware about the world rather than one that walks this Earth oblivious.

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Book Review – Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

September 14, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 16 Comments

Book Review – Attachments by Rainbow RowellAttachments by Rainbow Rowell
Published by Dutton Adult on April 14th 2011
Length: 336
Genres: Chick-Lit, Contemporary Romance
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Landline, Eleanor & Park

five-stars

"Hi, I'm the guy who reads your e-mail, and also, I love you . . . "

Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that somebody is monitoring their work e-mail. (Everybody in the newsroom knows. It's company policy.) But they can't quite bring themselves to take it seriously. They go on sending each other endless and endlessly hilarious e-mails, discussing every aspect of their personal lives.

Meanwhile, Lincoln O'Neill can't believe this is his job now- reading other people's e-mail. When he applied to be "internet security officer," he pictured himself building firewalls and crushing hackers- not writing up a report every time a sports reporter forwards a dirty joke.

When Lincoln comes across Beth's and Jennifer's messages, he knows he should turn them in. But he can't help being entertained-and captivated-by their stories.

By the time Lincoln realizes he's falling for Beth, it's way too late to introduce himself.

What would he say . . . ?

This is not a genre that I typically jump for but I was in dire need of some serious fluff since I had finished The Book Thief and Rose Under Fire in the same day. Plus, I haven’t heard anything other than amazing things about Rainbow Rowell.

Attachments was an absolute treat and I really loved it. The chapters alternate between Jennifer and Beth’s conversations over e-mail which are written in the form of almost instant messages and then normally written chapters from the point of view of Lincoln. Lincoln was a charming character but Jennifer and Beth were the absolute frosting on the cake. Extremely witty and entertaining, Jennifer and Beth were two girls that I would love to be friends with. Jennifer is married and currently having issues dealing with a husband that wants to start having children while she’s still not sure. Beth is in a long-term relationship with a guitarist in an up and coming band and wants to settle down but she doesn’t think he’ll ever want to. Their conversations were constantly cracking me up. Here’s an example of how Jennifer and Beth’s chapters appear and a little snippet of the humor.

Jennifer to Beth
Now that I think about, we’ve known each other six years, and I’ve never seen you in a bathing suit. Or a tank top.
Beth to Jennifer
Not a coincidence, my friend. Iv’e got the arms of a Sicilian grandmother. Arms for picking olives and stirring hearty tomato sauces. Shoulders for carrying buckets of water from the stream to the farmhouse.
Jennifer to Beth
Has Chris seen your shoulders?
Beth to Jennifer
He’s seen them. But he hasn’t seen them.
Jennifer to Beth
I get it, but I don’t get it.
Beth to Jennifer
No sleeveless negligees. No direct sunlight. Sometimes when I’m getting out of the shower, I shout, “Hey, look, a bobcat!”
Jennifer to Beth
I bet he falls for that every time.
Beth to Jennifer
It’s Chris. So recreational drugs are a factor.

And my favorite, because I’m a total Jennifer.

Jennifer to Beth
Even construction workers don’t whistle at me.
Beth to Jennifer
That’s because you ooze preemptive leave-me-alone death rays.

Lincoln was an interesting main character since I can’t recall the last Chick-Lit type novel I read that featured a male character. It was a success though. Lincoln is in his late 20’s and has just graduated (again) from college and has moved back home to live with his mom. He plays Dungeons & Dragons on the weekend, doesn’t like to go out to bars and is terrible at connecting with females. He stumbles upon Jennifer and Beth’s emails in the course of his daily job duties and while they were clearly violating the personal email rule he never reported them. Instead, he continued reading about their lives that interested him in a way he couldn’t understand. While I was anxious to find out what happens when the two finally do meet, the ending was a bit overly mushy and leaned a bit too much towards ‘perfect’.

Attachments is a charming and adorable tale of finding love in the least expected ways and a touching story of female friendship.

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Short Story Review – Twittering from the Circus of the Dead by Joe Hill

August 10, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2013, Short Stories 1 Comment

Short Story Review – Twittering from the Circus of the Dead by Joe HillTwittering from the Circus of the Dead by Joe Hill
Published by William Morrow on August 6th 2013
Pages: 39
Genres: Horror, Zombies
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: NOS4A2, The Fireman: A Novel, Strange Weather

three-stars

 

 

Come one, come all. The show's about to begin. Step right up for the Circus of the Dead: where YOU are the concessions. #CircusoftheDead

 

 

 

@TWITTERING It was just a family road trip to Colorado for snowboarding and skiing.
8:47 PM – 6 Aug 13

@TWITTERING The trip home turns disastrous when they stumble upon the #CircusoftheDead
8:51 PM – 6 Aug 13

@TWITTERING Stopping and taking a break sounds like a plan. Might as well take in some entertainment.
8:54 PM – 6 Aug 13

@TWITTERING The special effects are amazing but something is definitely off.
8:56 PM – 6 Aug 13

@TWITTERING Nobody takes it seriously. Those aren’t real zombies after all. Zombies don’t exist.
8:59 PM – 6 Aug 13

@TWITTERING Nothing goes according to plan. Not when you stop at #CircusoftheDead
9:06PM – 6 Aug 13

@TWITTERING #CircusoftheDead Creepy. Gruesome. Eerie. Full of startling horror.
9:10PM – 6 Aug 13

@TWITTERING #CircusoftheDead All too brief. Abrupt. Inconclusive.
9:11PM – 6 Aug 13

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Book Review – The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer

August 3, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 3 Comments

Book Review – The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean GreerThe Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer
Published by Ecco on June 25th 2013
Pages: 304
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance, Time Travel
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads


four-stars

1985. After the death of her beloved twin brother, Felix, and the break up with her long-time lover, Nathan, Greta Wells embarks on a radical psychiatric treatment to alleviate her suffocating depression. But the treatment has unexpected effects, and Greta finds herself transported to the lives she might have had if she'd been born in a different era.

During the course of her treatment, Greta cycles between her own time and her alternate lives in 1918, as a bohemian adulteress, and 1941, as a devoted mother and wife. Separated by time and social mores, Greta's three lives are achingly similar, fraught with familiar tensions and difficult choices. Each reality has its own losses, its own rewards, and each extracts a different price. And the modern Greta learns that her alternate selves are unpredictable, driven by their own desires and needs.

As her final treatment looms, questions arise. What will happen once each Greta learns how to stay in one of the other worlds? Who will choose to remain in which life?

Magically atmospheric, achingly romantic, The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells beautifully imagines "what if" and wondrously wrestles with the impossibility of what could be.

‘The impossible happens once to each of us.’

Greta Wells is devastated after losing her twin brother Felix to AIDS and after her long term partner Nathan also leaves her. Burdened by a deep depression that is slowly getting the better of her, she takes the advice of her Aunt Ruth and visists a doctor who recommends electroconvulsive therapy. Ironically, right before her first session she considers, “How I longed to live in any time but this one. It seemed cursed with sorrow and death.”

The night following her first session she goes to sleep in 1985 and arises the next day in 1918. She wakes up as herself just under slightly different circumstances: her brother is alive and she is married to Nathan but is in love with a younger man named Leo. She discovers that her 1918 self is also undergoing electroconvulsive therapy and again, the night following her session she arises the next day in another time; this time in 1941. The cycle continues: 1985, 1918, 1941 and so on for 25 treatments.

“You’re all the same, you’re all Greta. You’re all trying to make things better, whatever that means to you. For you, it’s Felix you want to save. For another, it’s Nathan. For this one, it’s Leo she wants to resurrect. I understand. Don’t we all have someone we’d like to save from the wreckage?”

This is a time travel story, yet it’s not really. It touches on the possibilities of past lives and how your actions resonate to future lives and reincarnations of a sort. Because while 1985 Greta is traveling to her past selves, these individuals she’s ‘taking over’ for are also on the same adventure and they’re all trying to correct past mistakes and secure their own happiness.

“Is there any greater pain to know what could be, and yet be powerless to make it be?”

The heart of the story is of course Greta, her lives, and the individuals she loves in these lives. It’s a tale of romance and how each Greta found (and loved) Nathan but after experiencing each of these lives a wrench gets thrown into the works as she is forced to consider the possibility that he is not her one true love, that she’s been blinded into repetition and is only resorting to what she knows.

While each life could easily showcase the historical detailing of the time, this is glazed over. In 1918, we have the flu epidemic and World War I is ending. In 1941, World War II is beginning. In 1985, we have the AIDS epidemic. While living in these time periods, Greta maintains a certain absence as if she’s truly just a visitor and isn’t quite experiencing the moments around her. For someone who said, “…not all lives are equal, that the time we live in affects the person we are, more than I had ever though” I really wished to see the transformation of her character due to her environment and the impacts her surroundings had on her as a person.

The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells is treated as a serious tale of time travel yet is rife with flaws in its design. A definite suspension of disbelief is required because of how truly ‘Impossible’ the story is. Despite this (and the crazy unraveling that occurred at the end), it all managed to still work. It would be easy to nitpick it to death but in all actuality, time travel is not an exact science and different variations are definitely possible and this was quite an original interpretation of it. The story of Greta Wells is an imaginative tale about past lives and the implausible impossibility of “what if”.

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Book Review – Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell

July 27, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 6 Comments

Book Review – Winter’s Bone by Daniel WoodrellWinter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell
Published by Back Bay Books on July 11th 2007
Pages: 225
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, Southern Gothic/Country Noir
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads


four-half-stars

Meet Ree Dolly -- not since Mattie Ross stormed her way through Arkansas in True Grit has a young girl so fiercely defended her loved ones. Sixteen-year-old Ree Dolly has grown up in the harsh poverty of the Ozarks and belongs to a large extended family. On a bitterly cold day, Ree, who takes care of her two younger brothers as well as her mother, learns that her father has skipped bail. If he fails to appear for his upcoming court date on charges of cooking crystal meth, his family will lose their house, the only security they have. Winter's Bone is the story of Ree's quest to bring her father back, alive or dead. Her goal had been to leave her messy world behind and join the army, where "everybody had to help keep things clean." But her father's disappearance forces her to first take on the outlaw world of the Dolly family. Ree's plan is elemental and direct: find her father, teach her little brothers how to fend for themselves, and escape a downward spiral of misery. Asking questions of the rough Dolly clan can be a fatal mistake, but Ree perseveres. Her courage and purity of spirit make her a truly compelling figure. She learns that what she had long considered to be the burdens imposed on her by her family are, in fact, the responsibilities that give meaning and direction to her life. Her story is made palpable by Woodrell, who is "that infrequent thing, a born writer" (Philadelphia Inquirer).

‘You got to be ready to die every day – then you got a chance.’

Ree Dolly is a sixteen year old girl living in the Ozarks and has been burdened with a responsibility that has forced maturity upon her at an early age. Her mother is crazy and can no longer care for her two younger brothers and with her dad missing she’s the only one left to do it. When the loss of their house becomes a threat, Ree is forced to reach out to the Dolly clan; blood relatives, but not ones you ever want to be in the debt of.

‘Long, dark, and lovely she had been, in those days before her mind broke and the parts scattered and she let them go.’

Ree was such an incredibly strong heroine, but wouldn’t ever recognize how weighty her actions are simply because she was doing what had to be done. Her story of survival is a heartbreaking one; growing up in the Ozarks where you’re expected to grow up early and carry your own weight and then later get married and have children of your own. In addition, the community she lives in is known to all as being a center for cooking meth. Ree has different dreams and refuses to settle into the grooves already laid out for her. She intends to join the army and make something of herself, but this dream impossible with no one else to care for her brothers, so it becomes vital for her future to find her father.

‘Fading light buttered the ridges until shadows licked them clean and they were lost to nightfall.’

The writing was exquisitely rendered. Bleak. Dismal. Lugubrious. Just a few words best to describe this small yet substantial story. Daniel Woodrell is unrestrained in his depiction of this Ozark community and just how harsh and desolate parts of this world can be. This may be a story of fiction, yet it’s still based on fact as people live like this to this day. It really puts it into perspective the luxuries that many of us take for granted each and every day.

Winter’s Bone is a dreary story that somehow manages to still radiate hope with an incredibly memorable heroine. Recommended for fans of Cormac McCarthy and Donald Ray Pollock.

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Book Review – The Tao of Martha by Jen Lancaster

July 23, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 0 Comments

Book Review – The Tao of Martha by Jen LancasterThe Tao of Martha: My Year of LIVING; Or, Why I'm Never Getting All That Glitter Off of the Dog by Jen Lancaster
Published by NAL on June 4th 2013
Pages: 335
Genres: Funny-ha-ha, Memoir, Non-Fiction
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Here I Go Again

two-half-stars

One would think that with Jen Lancaster’s impressive list of bestselling self-improvement memoirs—Bitter Is the New Black; Bright Lights, Big Ass; Such a Pretty Fat; Pretty in Plaid; My Fair Lazy; and Jeneration X—that she would have it all together by now.

One would be wrong.

Jen’s still a little rough around the edges. Suffice it to say, she’s no Martha Stewart. And that is exactly why Jen is going to Martha up and live her life according to the advice of America’s overachieving older sister—the woman who turns lemons into lavender-infused lemonade.

By immersing herself in Martha’s media empire, Jen will embark on a yearlong quest to take herself, her house, her husband (and maybe even her pets) to the next level—from closet organization to craft making, from party planning to kitchen prep.

Maybe Jen can go four days without giving herself food poisoning if she follows Martha’s dictates on proper storage....Maybe she can grow closer to her girlfriends by taking up their boring-ass hobbies like knitting and sewing.…Maybe she can finally rid her workout clothes of meatball stains by using Martha’s laundry tips.… Maybe she can create a more meaningful anniversary celebration than just getting drunk in the pool with her husband....again. And maybe, just maybe, she’ll discover that the key to happiness does, in fact, lie in Martha’s perfectly arranged cupboards and artfully displayed charcuterie platters.

‘…ready or not, happiness, here I come.’

Organization = happiness? That’s what Jen Lancaster has set out to prove. Her life is in dire need of some organization not just within her house but in her life in general and she thinks that in doing so she’ll be less stressful and have more happiness. She decides to emulate the Queen of Organization: Martha Stewart. The Tao of Martha is her personal accounting of incorporating Martha’s ideals into her daily life, both when it goes right and when it goes horribly wrong.

Having read all of Jen’s memoirs, it’s become a requirement to pick any new ones up even if they have steadily declined over the years. I’m thinking it’s a combination of lack of new material that’s actually worth writing about and a dramatic change in lifestyle from what we originally saw in her first memoir ‘Bitter is the New Black’. In ‘Bitter’, Jen is a much more relatable person as she’s struggling to survive as her and her husband both are unemployed. With each memoir she is slowly transforming into the person who talks only of her cleaning ladies, monumentally expensive landscaping plans and her shopping excursions to affluent stores that I couldn’t even afford to breathe the air of. While the writing still manages to sustain (somewhat) the snark that we’ve all come to know and love, the stories have become achingly superficial. Prime example:

‘Shoot, I haven’t even reserved an organic turkey yet! (“I’ll take ‘The Most OverPrivileged First-World Complain to Ever Be Uttered’ for a hundred, Alec!”)’

Admitting that you’re being shallow still doesn’t make it funny.

While there were a few laugh out loud moments, I found the majority of ‘Tao’ to be incredibly boring. Early in the beginning there’s a 7+ page accounting of her cleaning her desk which includes an itemized description of everything she had stored from over the years. (Considering she just moved/bought her house a few years ago, all this excessive garbage she dragged to the new house makes it even less funny. Like the broken wine glass shards. Really?) One thing I’ve always loved about her memoirs is how each chapter is a story in and of itself but in ‘Tao’, again, wondering if she was just running out of material, there were several stories that lacked any sort of point and entertainment value (and a few stories that were entirely way too personal and included info I would rather just not know). Like the chapter where we receive entirely way too much info regarding her digestive system. Or the chapter where she discusses her massive love for zucchini for several pages. Or the bit how she’s attempting to figure out why her roses are dying when her friend points out that she probably shouldn’t be watering them with a high pressure hose (duh?)

While the funnies were lacking in consistency, this was still a fun and easy read that also managed to teach me a few things:
-15 pounds of Easter candy for 9 kids = bad math.
-When gardening make sure you don’t wear your older underwear so ticks can’t crawl up and attach themselves to your lady-parts.
-If I start stocking up on emergency rations, six jars of marshmallow fluff is not essential.
-If my doctor ever prescribes me Ambien, I’m chaining myself to the bed.

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