Genre: Mystery

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 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.

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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Goodreads

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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Waiting on Wednesday – Tangerine by Christine Mangan

February 21, 2018 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 4 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – Tangerine by Christine ManganTangerine by Christine Mangan
Published by Ecco on March 27th 2018
Pages: 320
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Format: Hardcover
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The last person Alice Shipley expected to see since arriving in Tangier with her new husband was Lucy Mason. After the accident at Bennington, the two friends—once inseparable roommates—haven’t spoken in over a year. But there Lucy was, trying to make things right and return to their old rhythms. Perhaps Alice should be happy. She has not adjusted to life in Morocco, too afraid to venture out into the bustling medinas and oppressive heat. Lucy—always fearless and independent—helps Alice emerge from her flat and explore the country.

But soon a familiar feeling starts to overtake Alice—she feels controlled and stifled by Lucy at every turn. Then Alice’s husband, John, goes missing, and Alice starts to question everything around her: her relationship with her enigmatic friend, her decision to ever come to Tangier, and her very own state of mind.

Tangerine is a sharp dagger of a book—a debut so tightly wound, so replete with exotic imagery and charm, so full of precise details and extraordinary craftsmanship, it will leave you absolutely breathless.

About Christine Mangan

Christine Mangan has her PhD in English from University College Dublin, where her thesis focused on 18th-century Gothic literature, and an MFA in fiction writing from the University of Southern Maine. Tangerine is her first novel.

I don’t take the risk of picking up debuts as often as I should, but the blurb on the front cover completely sold me:

“As if Donna Tartt, Gillian Flynn, and Patricia Highsmith had collaborated on a screenplay to be filmed by Hitchcock.”

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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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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dnf

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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dnf

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


dnf

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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Waiting on Wednesday – The Outsider by Stephen King

January 31, 2018 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 10 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – The Outsider by Stephen KingThe Outsider by Stephen King
Published by Scribner on May 22nd 2018
Pages: 576
Genres: Mystery, Horror
Format: Hardcover
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Also by this author: Doctor Sleep, Cujo, Pet Sematary

An unspeakable crime. A confounding investigation. At a time when the King brand has never been stronger, he has delivered one of his most unsettling and compulsively readable stories.

An eleven-year-old boy’s violated corpse is found in a town park. Eyewitnesses and fingerprints point unmistakably to one of Flint City’s most popular citizens. He is Terry Maitland, Little League coach, English teacher, husband, and father of two girls. Detective Ralph Anderson, whose son Maitland once coached, orders a quick and very public arrest. Maitland has an alibi, but Anderson and the district attorney soon add DNA evidence to go with the fingerprints and witnesses. Their case seems ironclad.

As the investigation expands and horrifying answers begin to emerge, King’s propulsive story kicks into high gear, generating strong tension and almost unbearable suspense. Terry Maitland seems like a nice guy, but is he wearing another face? When the answer comes, it will shock you as only Stephen King can.

About Stephen King

Stephen King was born in Portland, Maine in 1947, the second son of Donald and Nellie Ruth Pillsbury King. He made his first professional short story sale in 1967 to Startling Mystery Stories. In the fall of 1973, he began teaching high school English classes at Hampden Academy, the public high school in Hampden, Maine. Writing in the evenings and on the weekends, he continued to produce short stories and to work on novels. In the spring of 1973, Doubleday & Co., accepted the novel Carrie for publication, providing him the means to leave teaching and write full-time. He has since published over 50 books and has become one of the world's most successful writers.

Stephen lives in Maine and Florida with his wife, novelist Tabitha King. They are regular contributors to a number of charities including many libraries and have been honored locally for their philanthropic activities.

The last two King releases were honestly disappointing to me (Gwendy’s Button Box and Sleeping Beauties) but I still rave about his Bill Hodges Trilogy so I’m not prepared yet to give up.

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What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Waiting on Wednesday – The Last Equation of Isaac Severy: A Novel in Clues by Nova Jacobs

December 20, 2017 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 4 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – The Last Equation of Isaac Severy: A Novel in Clues by Nova JacobsThe Last Equation of Isaac Severy: A Novel in Clues by Nova Jacobs
Published by Touchstone on March 6th 2018
Pages: 352
Genres: Mystery
Format: Hardcover
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The Family Fang meets The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry in this literary mystery about a struggling bookseller whose recently deceased grandfather, a famed mathematician, left behind a dangerous equation for her to track down—and protect—before others can get their hands on it.

Just days after mathematician and family patriarch Isaac Severy dies of an apparent suicide, his adopted granddaughter Hazel, owner of a struggling Seattle bookstore, receives a letter from him by mail. In it, Isaac alludes to a secretive organization that is after his final bombshell equation, and he charges Hazel with safely delivering it to a trusted colleague. But first, she must find where the equation is hidden.

While in Los Angeles for Isaac’s funeral, Hazel realizes she’s not the only one searching for his life’s work, and that the equation’s implications have potentially disastrous consequences for the extended Severy family, a group of dysfunctional geniuses unmoored by the sudden death of their patriarch.

As agents of an enigmatic company shadow Isaac’s favorite son—a theoretical physicist—and a long-lost cousin mysteriously reappears in Los Angeles, the equation slips further from Hazel’s grasp. She must unravel a series of maddening clues hidden by Isaac inside one of her favorite novels, drawing her ever closer to his mathematical treasure. But when her efforts fall short, she is forced to enlist the help of those with questionable motives.

About Nova Jacobs

Nova Jacobs holds an MFA from the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts and is a recipient of the Nicholl Fellowship from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Jeremy. The Last Equation of Isaac Severy is her first novel.

This sounds like so much fun.


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What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Ominous October – Black Mad Wheel by Josh Malerman

October 6, 2017 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2017 6 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.

Ominous October – Black Mad Wheel by Josh MalermanBlack Mad Wheel by Josh Malerman
Narrator: Robertson Dean
Published by HarperAudio on May 23rd 2017
Length: 8 hours and 2 minutes
Genres: Horror, Mystery
Format: Audiobook
Source: Edelweiss
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Also by this author: Bird Box

two-stars

From the author of the hit literary horror debut Bird Box (”Hitchcockian.” —USA Today) comes a chilling novel about a group of musicians conscripted by the US government to track down the source of a strange and debilitating sound

The Danes—the band known as the “Darlings of Detroit”—are washed up and desperate for inspiration, eager to once again have a number one hit. That is, until an agent from the US Army approaches them. Will they travel to an African desert and track down the source of a mysterious and malevolent sound? Under the guidance of their front man, Philip Tonka, the Danes embark on a harrowing journey through the scorching desert—a trip that takes Tonka into the heart of an ominous and twisted conspiracy.

Meanwhile, in a nondescript Midwestern hospital, a nurse named Ellen tends to a patient recovering from a near-fatal accident. The circumstances that led to his injuries are mysterious-and his body heals at a remarkable rate. Ellen will do the impossible for this enigmatic patient, who reveals more about his accident with each passing day.

Part Heart of Darkness, part Lost, Josh Malerman’s breathtaking new novel plunges us into the depths of psychological horror, where you can’t always believe everything you hear.

“The question is not what you found… but what found you?”

When Philip Tonka wakes in an Iowa hospital, he can’t remember how he got there or what happened to him, but his doctor informs him that he’s been in a coma for six months after breaking every single bone in his body. Prior to this, Philip and the rest of his bandmates, from the 1950s band called the Danes, are approached by government officials to investigate a peculiar sound emanating from the Namib Desert in Africa. The sound has been reported to make people sick when hearing it but most importantly has been the reason why a nuclear warhead was disarmed. Whether or not that sound is the reason for Philip’s injuries remains a mystery since he can’t remember if the source of the sound was ever actually found. Through alternating chapters told in past and present, it’s slowly revealed just what kind of bizarre answers Philip and his friends found in that desert.

After adoring Malerman’s debut novel Bird Box, he quickly became an “I’m reading anything and everything” author for me. I went on to read his short story Ghastle and Yule (I didn’t even finish those 54 pages), his novella A House at the Bottom of a Lake (2 stars), and now I’ve finished his second full-length novel and damn but I’m full of disappointment. Mysterious sounds in the middle of a desert, government conspiracies, memory loss, injuries that shouldn’t even be possible… it sounded like one badass episode of The Twilight Zone and I was all onboard.

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I first tried to read this on my Kindle but Black Mad Wheel has quite the slow, meandering pace that made it difficult to stay invested. I opted to try it on audiobook before officially calling it quits and even if I didn’t end up loving the story as much as I had hoped, Robertson Dean thoroughly sold me on his narrative skills and I will definitely be seeking out more books narrated by him in the future. His various accents used for the different characters did wonders in helping to differentiate them because just from text alone, they all tended to blur together a bit. Once the pieces of the puzzle started coming together though, the story took a decidedly philosophical turn and while I loved the inclusion regarding the true power of music, it all just ultimately lost me in the end with Malerman opting instead to give only a vague hint at any concrete answers the reader may have been hoping for in the end.

“I wonder, soldier, if it’s our mind playing tricks. I wonder if we cannot comprehend a sound with no source and so we invent one. Each our own way to stave off the feelings of futility for having tracked a sourceless sound.”

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Waiting on Wednesday – Origin (Robert Langdon #5) by Dan Brown

June 28, 2017 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 4 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – Origin (Robert Langdon #5) by Dan BrownOrigin by Dan Brown
Series: Robert Langdon #5
Published by Doubleday Books on October 3rd 2017
Pages: 480
Genres: Mystery
Format: Hardcover
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Also by this author: Inferno

The stunningly inventive new novel from the world’s most popular thriller writer

Bilbao, Spain

Robert Langdon, Harvard professor of symbology and religious iconology, arrives at the ultramodern Guggenheim Museum Bilbao to attend a major announcement—the unveiling of a discovery that “will change the face of science forever.” The evening’s host is Edmond Kirsch, a forty-year-old billionaire and futurist whose dazzling high-tech inventions and audacious predictions have made him a renowned global figure. Kirsch, who was one of Langdon’s first students at Harvard two decades earlier, is about to reveal an astonishing breakthrough…one that will answer two of the fundamental questions of human existence.

As the event begins, Langdon and several hundred guests find themselves captivated by an utterly original presentation, which Langdon realizes will be far more controversial than he ever imagined. But the meticulously orchestrated evening suddenly erupts into chaos, and Kirsch’s precious discovery teeters on the brink of being lost forever. Reeling and facing an imminent threat, Langdon is forced into a desperate bid to escape Bilbao. With him is Ambra Vidal, the elegant museum director who worked with Kirsch to stage the provocative event. Together they flee to Barcelona on a perilous quest to locate a cryptic password that will unlock Kirsch’s secret.

Navigating the dark corridors of hidden history and extreme religion, Langdon and Vidal must evade a tormented enemy whose all-knowing power seems to emanate from Spain’s Royal Palace itself…and who will stop at nothing to silence Edmond Kirsch. On a trail marked by modern art and enigmatic symbols, Langdon and Vidal uncover clues that ultimately bring them face-to-face with Kirsch’s shocking discovery…and the breathtaking truth that has long eluded us.

Origin is Dan Brown’s most brilliant and entertaining novel to date.

About Dan Brown

Dan Brown is the author of numerous #1 bestselling novels, including The Da Vinci Code, which has become one of the best selling novels of all time as well as the subject of intellectual debate among readers and scholars. Brown’s novels are published in 52 languages around the world with 200 million copies in print.

In 2005, Brown was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World by TIME Magazine, whose editors credited him with “keeping the publishing industry afloat; renewed interest in Leonardo da Vinci and early Christian history; spiking tourism to Paris and Rome; a growing membership in secret societies; the ire of Cardinals in Rome; eight books denying the claims of the novel and seven guides to read along with it; a flood of historical thrillers; and a major motion picture franchise.

The son of a mathematics teacher and a church organist, Brown was raised on a prep school campus where he developed a fascination with the paradoxical interplay between science and religion. These themes eventually formed the backdrop for his books. He is a graduate of Amherst College and Phillips Exeter Academy, where he later returned to teach English before focusing his attention full time to writing.

Brown is currently at work on a new book as well as the Columbia Pictures film version of his most recent novel.

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I’ve loved this series for many, many years and even though Inferno wasn’t quite so hot (ha) I still am eager for more adventures with Robert Langdon.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Life’s Too Short – If We Were Villains, Ill Will, Yesternight

June 2, 2017 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Life's Too Short, YA 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 – If We Were Villains, Ill Will, YesternightIf We Were Villains by M.L. Rio
Published by Flatiron Books on April 11th 2017
Pages: 352
Genres: Mystery
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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dnf

Enter the players. There were seven of us then, seven bright young things with wide precious futures ahead of us. Until that year, we saw no further than the books in front of our faces.

On the day Oliver Marks is released from jail, the man who put him there is waiting at the door. Detective Colborne wants to know the truth, and after ten years, Oliver is finally ready to tell it.

Ten years ago: Oliver is one of seven young Shakespearean actors at Dellecher Classical Conservatory, a place of keen ambition and fierce competition. In this secluded world of firelight and leather-bound books, Oliver and his friends play the same roles onstage and off: hero, villain, tyrant, temptress, ingénue, extra. But in their fourth and final year, the balance of power begins to shift, good-natured rivalries turn ugly, and on opening night real violence invades the students’ world of make believe. In the morning, the fourth-years find themselves facing their very own tragedy, and their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, each other, and themselves that they are innocent.

Part coming-of-age story, part confession, If We Were Villains explores the magical and dangerous boundary between art and life. In this tale of loyalty and betrayal, madness and ecstasy, the players must choose what roles to play before the curtain falls.

DNF @ 10%

I overlooked the Shakespearean focus of this novel in favor of the comparisons to The Secret History. My mistake. Shakespeare has just never, and I’m resigned to believe will never, be my thing. The opening gives the reader a glimpse at the future, of one of the main characters being released for jail for an unknown crime, and it’s a hook that works. But then we’re introduced to seven characters: Richard, Meredith, Filippa, Alexander, Wren, James, and Oliver. Every single one of these characters, regardless of gender, all blended together without any helpful differentiation to keep track of who was who. The theater kid stereotypes were excessive in my opinion and you practically had to be a theater kid to understand and/or appreciate most of it.

“That was ruthless,” I said, sotto voce.

The author holds a Masters in Shakespeare studies so, being as far from a theater kid as one can get, I can only assume she knows what she’s talking about. Constantly quoting Shakespeare in conversation got old, fast, and by 10% I put on my hipster glasses and called it quits.

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 – If We Were Villains, Ill Will, YesternightIll Will by Dan Chaon
Published by Ballantine Books on March 7th 2017
Pages: 480
Genres: Mystery
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Goodreads


dnf

Two sensational unsolved crimes—one in the past, another in the present—are linked by one man’s memory and self-deception in this chilling novel of literary suspense from National Book Award finalist Dan Chaon.

“We are always telling a story to ourselves, about ourselves,” Dustin Tillman likes to say. It’s one of the little mantras he shares with his patients, and it’s meant to be reassuring. But what if that story is a lie?

A psychologist in suburban Cleveland, Dustin is drifting through his forties when he hears the news: His adopted brother, Rusty, is being released from prison. Thirty years ago, Rusty received a life sentence for the massacre of Dustin’s parents, aunt, and uncle. The trial came to symbolize the 1980s hysteria over Satanic cults; despite the lack of physical evidence, the jury believed the outlandish accusations Dustin and his cousin made against Rusty. Now, after DNA analysis has overturned the conviction, Dustin braces for a reckoning.

Meanwhile, one of Dustin’s patients gets him deeply engaged in a string of drowning deaths involving drunk college boys. At first Dustin dismisses talk of a serial killer as paranoid thinking, but as he gets wrapped up in their amateur investigation, Dustin starts to believe that there’s more to the deaths than coincidence. Soon he becomes obsessed, crossing all professional boundaries—and putting his own family in harm’s way.
From one of today’s most renowned practitioners of literary suspense, Ill Will is an intimate thriller about the failures of memory and the perils of self-deception. In Dan Chaon’s nimble, chilling prose, the past looms over the present, turning each into a haunted place.

DNF @ 25%

Dan Chaon is one of those literary writers everyone raves about. Ill Will has received many spectacular reviews but I’ve realized that he has a style that is very eclectic and definitely isn’t for everyone and that unique writing style is what ultimately did me in. I understand the reason for writing it this way (bouncing between narrators and time) because it caused a sense of disorientation regarding the mystery already surrounding the crime (when Dustin was a teen, his mother, father, aunt, and uncle were murdered and he accused his adopted older brother). Not only did the story bounce rapidly between narrators and between time but often there were sentences left incomplete and particular chapters where text was written in columns and you had to flip back and forth between pages to finish the one column before starting the next which was very difficult on Kindle. I’m not sure if Chaon was going for some House of Leaves-esque formatting or what but it left me so confused in trying to figure out how to read it that I failed to get lost in the story itself.

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

Life’s Too Short – If We Were Villains, Ill Will, YesternightYesternight by Cat Winters
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on October 4th 2016
Pages: 374
Genres: Mystery, Historical Fiction
Format: ARC
Source: Library Thing
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Also by this author: In the Shadow of Blackbirds, The Cure for Dreaming, The Uninvited: A Novel

dnf

From the author of The Uninvited comes a haunting historical novel with a compelling mystery at its core.  A young child psychologist steps off a train, her destination a foggy seaside town. There, she begins a journey causing her to question everything she believes about life, death, memories, and reincarnation.

In 1925, Alice Lind steps off a train in the rain-soaked coastal hamlet of Gordon Bay, Oregon. There, she expects to do nothing more difficult than administer IQ tests to a group of rural schoolchildren. A trained psychologist, Alice believes mysteries of the mind can be unlocked scientifically, but now her views are about to be challenged by one curious child.

Seven-year-old Janie O’Daire is a mathematical genius, which is surprising. But what is disturbing are the stories she tells: that her name was once Violet, she grew up in Kansas decades earlier, and she drowned at age nineteen. Alice delves into these stories, at first believing they’re no more than the product of the girl’s vast imagination.  But, slowly, Alice comes to the realization that Janie might indeed be telling a strange truth.
Alice knows the investigation may endanger her already shaky professional reputation, and as a woman in a field dominated by men she has no room for mistakes. But she is unprepared for the ways it will illuminate terrifying mysteries within her own past, and in the process, irrevocably change her life.

DNF @ 10%

I’d say that I simply picked this up at the wrong time, mood-wise, except I tried to read this book a handful of times on different occasions and never got past 10%. The pacing was the hardest for me because from the very beginning it’s a slow-build and simply didn’t grab my attention in that 10% enough that I felt the need to keep going. The main character, Alice, was also strangely distant and she never quite captured my interest. Cat Winters is typically a favorite of mine but this one just didn’t do it for me.

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Waiting on Wednesday – He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly

May 17, 2017 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 3 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – He Said/She Said by Erin KellyHe Said/She Said by Erin Kelly
Published by Minotaur Books on June 6th 2017
Pages: 400
Genres: Mystery
Format: Hardcover
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Also by this author: The Burning Air

On the eve of a solar eclipse, a couple forced into hiding discovers that they can no longer run from their past in this taut psychological suspense novel.

In the summer of 1999, Kit and Laura travel to a festival in Cornwall to see a total eclipse of the sun. Kit is an eclipse chaser; Laura has never seen one before. Young and in love, they are certain this will be the first of many they’ll share.

But in the hushed moments after the shadow passes, Laura interrupts a man and a woman. She knows that she saw something terrible. The man denies it. It is her word against his.

The victim seems grateful. Months later, she turns up on their doorstep like a lonely stray. But as her gratitude takes a twisted turn, Laura begins to wonder—did she trust the wrong person?

15 years later, Kit and Laura are living under assumed names and completely off the digital grid: no Facebook, only rudimentary cell phones, not in any directories. But as the truth catches up to them, they realize they can no longer keep the past in the past.

From Erin Kelly, queen of the killer twist, He Said/She Said is a gripping tale of the lies we tell to save ourselves, the truths we cannot admit, and how far we will go to make others believe our side of the story.

About Erin Kelly

Erin Kelly was born in London in 1976 and grew up in Essex. She read English at Warwick University and has been working as a journalist since 1998.

She has written for newspapers including The Sunday Times, The Sunday Telegraph, the Daily Mail and the Express and magazines including Red, Psychologies, Marie Claire, Elle and Cosmopolitan.

I’ve read two of Erin Kelly’s books, The Burning Air and The Poison Tree, both ages ago but they left memorable impressions on me. The blurb for her new one is quite mysterious but I like the sound of it.

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What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Short & Sweet (Mysteries) – Behind Her Eyes, Poe, The Butterfly Garden

April 21, 2017 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2017, Short & Sweet Reviews 2 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.

Short & Sweet (Mysteries) – Behind Her Eyes, Poe, The Butterfly GardenBehind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough
Published by Flatiron Books on January 31st 2017
Pages: 306
Genres: Mystery
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
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Also by this author: Mayhem, Murder, The Language of Dying

four-stars

Why is everyone talking about the ending of Sarah Pinborough's Behind Her Eyes?

Louise is a single mom, a secretary, stuck in a modern-day rut. On a rare night out, she meets a man in a bar and sparks fly. Though he leaves after they kiss, she’s thrilled she finally connected with someone.

When Louise arrives at work on Monday, she meets her new boss, David. The man from the bar. The very married man from the bar…who says the kiss was a terrible mistake but who still can’t keep his eyes off Louise.
And then Louise bumps into Adele, who’s new to town and in need of a friend, but she also just happens to be married to David. David and Adele look like the picture-perfect husband and wife, but then why is David so controlling, and why is Adele so scared of him?

As Louise is drawn into David and Adele’s orbit, she uncovers more puzzling questions than answers. The only thing that is crystal clear is that something in this marriage is very, very wrong, but Louise can’t guess how wrong―and how far a person might go to protect their marriage’s secrets.

‘Questions, question, question. It seems that ever since David and Adele came into my life I’ve been filled with questions. They’re like weeds in water. Every time I think I can swim away another one tangles around my legs to drag me back down.’

Everything about this story and its summary scream “typical suburban drama” but Behind Her Eyes is far from anything you’ve ever read, I can assure you. Sure, Louise is a single mom who meets a man in a bar. They share a kiss, but nothing more. When she gets to work on Monday to meet her new boss, David, it ends up being the man from the bar… who is married. Desperate to make everything less awkward, they both admit to it being a vast mistake in an attempt to make sure it’s never brought up again. But when Louise makes a new friend named Adele who ends up being David’s wife, Louise’s life becomes vastly complicated.

The present-day story progresses as David and Adele’s past unfolds which further complicates matters. It’s constantly alluded to that David is overly protective of Adele, that he keeps her literally locked inside their house, that he limits her access to her own personal finances, and that their relationship is far from anything healthy. Adele involves Louise in her personal drama but leaves vital pieces of the puzzle out in a desperate attempt to earn Louise’s empathy. But to what end?

Here’s where things get dicey and where I understand the negative opinions of many even though mine differ. The whole initial setup of this story appears very formulaic, establishing some preconceived notions of where the plot could possibly go. The massive emphasis by Flatiron Books Marketing team on the twist at the end is worthy because it’s one that absolutely no one could have seen coming. It didn’t come out of left field, so to speak, it wasn’t even playing on the same field. No, this twist is practically conjured out of thin air and while this would normally leave me feeling cheated (again, based on all those established preconceived notions) it was such an extremely bizarre and outlandish approach to transforming the a-typical suburban drama into something different that I really couldn’t help but love it. Pinborough never fails to surprise me.

Short & Sweet (Mysteries) – Behind Her Eyes, Poe, The Butterfly GardenPoe by J. Lincoln Fenn
Narrator: Luke Daniels
Published by Brilliance Audio on October 22nd 2013
Length: 10 hrs and 44 mins
Genres: Mystery, Horror
Format: Audiobook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
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Also by this author: Dead Souls

three-stars

It's Halloween, and life is grim for twenty-three-year-old Dimitri Petrov. It's the one-year anniversary of his parents' deaths, he's stuck on page one thousand of his Rasputin zombie novel, and he makes his living writing obituaries.

But things turn from bleak to terrifying when Dimitri is assigned to cover a seance at the reputedly haunted Aspinwall Mansion. There, Dimitri meets Lisa, a punk-rock drummer he falls hard for. But just as he's about to ask her out, he unwittingly unleashes malevolent forces, throwing him into a deadly mystery. He wakes up in the morgue -- icy cold and haunted by a cryptic warning given by a tantalizing female spirit.

As town residents begin to turn up gruesomely murdered, Dimitri must unravel the connections among his family, the Aspinwall Mansion, and the secrets held in a pair of crumbling antiquarian books. If he doesn't, it's quite possible Lisa will be the next victim.


“Two weeks. Everything you love, own, and cherish, can be gone, liquidated, and lost forever in two weeks. Give or take a day.”

Dimitri Petrov is a would-be novelist and current obituary writer for an irrelevant newspaper. He gets tasked last minute with covering a séance at a local haunted house on Halloween (of course), he meets his dream girl, and there’s a lot of awkward conversation where he manages to win her over… somehow. But his life admittedly goes a bit downhill from there when he manages to fall through the floor, wakes up in the actual morgue, and finds that he has a new ghostly friend he dubs Poe that won’t leave him alone. Add in the mystery behind the haunted house, the strange family history of his new girlfriend, the truth behind the tragic deaths of Dimitri’s own parents, some curious ancient books that seem to possess powers, and a spleen-eating serial killer and you’ve got the plot of Poe. All in just over 300 pages.

“I have watched enough cheesy detective television shows in my young life to know that when one is presented with an inexplicable mystery, the first order of business (after procuring good donuts and coffee—check) is to create a wall of clues with photos of suspects and article clippings, preferably in an artistic yet seemingly random fashion.”

In the beginning, this story was entertaining, fast-paced, and fun, but just as it started out fine for Dimitri, unfortunately, the book went downhill as well. The characters themselves were never fully formed except for Dimitri who was the stories requisite guy who found humor and sarcasm in anything and everything (and reminded me a lot of the guy in The Last Days of Jack Sparks.) The mysteries were excessive and mildly convoluted, yes, however the horror elements brought about some very well-written pieces of terror. The descriptions were on point and were enough to churn even the hardest of stomachs. The biggest issue I had was how the author chose to focus more on the cutesy relationship aspects in a plot that didn’t require anything of the sort. Adding a romance factor certainly helps to appeal to a wider audience but it just didn’t work for me.

Having already read Fenn’s sophomore novel, Dead Souls, I can see how far she’s come with her plotting and characterization(Dead Souls is absolutely incredible — read it). Her debut may not have been my favorite but she’s definitely fallen onto my radar on authors to watch out for.

Short & Sweet (Mysteries) – Behind Her Eyes, Poe, The Butterfly GardenThe Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison
Narrator: Lauren Ezzo, Mel Foster
Series: The Collector #1
Published by Brilliance Audio on June 1st 2016
Length: 9 hrs and 13 mins
Genres: Mystery
Format: Audiobook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
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two-stars

Near an isolated mansion lies a beautiful garden.

In this garden grow luscious flowers, shady trees…and a collection of precious “butterflies”—young women who have been kidnapped and intricately tattooed to resemble their namesakes. Overseeing it all is the Gardener, a brutal, twisted man obsessed with capturing and preserving his lovely specimens.

When the garden is discovered, a survivor is brought in for questioning. FBI agents Victor Hanoverian and Brandon Eddison are tasked with piecing together one of the most stomach-churning cases of their careers. But the girl, known only as Maya, proves to be a puzzle herself.

As her story twists and turns, slowly shedding light on life in the Butterfly Garden, Maya reveals old grudges, new saviors, and horrific tales of a man who’d go to any length to hold beauty captive. But the more she shares, the more the agents have to wonder what she’s still hiding.…

“Some people stay broken. Some pick up the pieces and put them back together with all the sharp edges showing.”

FBI agents Victor Hanoverian and Brandon Eddison are put in charge of interviewing a kidnap survivor that goes by the name of Maya who was recently rescued. According to her, she was one of many “butterflies” who lived in a garden. They were all girls who over the years had been kidnapped and brought to the garden by a man only known as The Gardener. He tattoos beautiful wings on their backs, renames them, rapes them, and cares for them until their expiration date of 21-years-old at which point The Gardener would kill them and preserve them in resin such as one does with perfect specimens. The Butterfly Garden switches back and forth between past and present and unveils the ordeals of the years that Maya spent behind the walls of the garden.

First off, yes, this is some sick and twisted sounding shit but whatever, I’m weird. Considering The Collector is one of my all-time favorite books, this story was immediately appealing to me and there were vast similarities. The kidnapped girl(s), the obsession with preserving butterflies (actual butterflies though), and the acclimating the victim(s) to transform their abnormal environment into something normal. Where The Collector was straight forward and quietly disturbing, The Butterfly Garden worked very hard at establishing the belief that we were working with an unreliable narrator and that there was clearly a big twist to anticipate. This was a most unsettling read and the author never flinches away from describing the brutality the girls were forced to suffer through. Also written well (and equally unsettling) was the mentality of The Gardener and how effortlessly he was able to convince himself that he was doing what was right for these girls by taking them in and caring for them.

I did have some serious issues with the technicalities of The Gardener’s whole operation that I’m sure could be easily overlooked with a little suspension of disbelief but sometimes I just can’t be that kind of reader. I’ll add in spoiler tags just in case: View Spoiler » All in all, I had a lot of questions that didn’t come equipped with a whole lot of answers.

And then that ending.

I’M SO ANGRY. I don’t remember the last time I read such an immensely enthralling book that captivated me from page one, had me searching for extra time in the day just to read it, only to have it fall flatter than a fucking pancake at the end. I mean seriously, what even was that? Don’t market your book based on some hidden secret if all you’ve come up with is that. There’s apparently a second book too. No, thank you, please.

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