Genre: Romance

Waiting on Wednesday – The Simplicity of Cider by Amy E. Reichert

February 15, 2017 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 8 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – The Simplicity of Cider by Amy E. ReichertThe Simplicity of Cider by Amy E. Reichert
Series: , ,
Published by Gallery Books on May 16th 2017
Pages: 336
Genres: Foodie Fiction, Magical Realism, Romance
Format: Paperback
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Also by this author: The Coincidence of Coconut Cake

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

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

Isaac Banks has spent years singlehandedly trying to shield his son Sebastian from his troubled mother. Fleeing heartbreak, Isaac packed up their lives and the two headed out on an adventure, taking odd jobs as they drove across the country from California, pulling up to Sanna’s orchard at exactly the right time...

Isaac’s helping hands are much appreciated at the apple farm, even more when Sanna’s father is injured in an accident, leaving her as his sole caretaker. As Sanna’s formerly simple life becomes increasingly complicated, she finds solace in unexpected places—friendship with young Sebastian and something more deliciously complex with Isaac—until an outside threat infiltrates the farm. Can Sanna save the orchard and her budding romance? Or will she lose more than she knew she had?

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

About Amy E. Reichert

Amy Reichert earned her MA in Literature from Marquette University, and honed her writing and editing skills as a technical writer (which is exactly as exciting as it sounds). As a newly minted member of the local library board, she loves helping readers find new books to love. She’s a life-long Wisconsin resident with (allegedly) a very noticeable accent, a patient husband, and two too-smart-for-their-own-good kids. When time allows, she loves to read, collect more cookbooks than she could possibly use, and test the limits of her DVR.

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Reichert’s debut, The Coincidence of Coconut Cake, was sweet, simple fun. The Simplicity of Cider, her third novel, looks to add a touch of magic mixed in with the romance which is one of my most favorite genre combinations.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Short & Sweet – Little Women, Skipping Christmas, Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe

December 30, 2016 Bonnie Book Reviews, Classic Curiosity, Short & Sweet Reviews 1 Comment

Short & Sweet – Little Women, Skipping Christmas, Christmas at the Comfort Food CafeLittle Women by Louisa May Alcott
Published by Tally Hall Press on 1868
Pages: 635
Genres: Classics, Historical Fiction, Holiday - Christmas
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
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three-stars

Grown-up Meg, tomboyish Jo, timid Beth, and precocious Amy. The four March sisters couldn't be more different. But with their father away at war, and their mother working to support the family, they have to rely on one another. Whether they're putting on a play, forming a secret society, or celebrating Christmas, there's one thing they can't help wondering: Will Father return home safely?

“I want to do something splendid…something heroic or wonderful that won’t be forgotten after I’m dead. I don’t know what, but I’m on the watch for it and mean to astonish you all someday.”

Can you believe it? The last person on Earth has finally read Little Women! Okay, I’m kidding, I’m sure I wasn’t the last one to read it but sure feels like it. But yes, this was my very first time reading it and I’m glad I did even though it was a bit of a struggle because 18th century works of fictions and I don’t often get along real well. But despite my apprehension View Spoiler » this one really won me over in the end. I learned to appreciate it for what it’s meant to be: an old-fashioned yet authentic tale of a close knit family, and in particular four very different young women, struggling to find their place in a difficult time in history. It’s not a glamorous tale of silk gowns and ball rooms, but rather an accurate interpretation of how life really was for Louisa May Alcott and her three sisters, as well as all the other women coming of age in the 1800s. It makes you appreciate family, life itself, and presents under the Christmas tree. And NOW, I can finally watch the movie.

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Short & Sweet – Little Women, Skipping Christmas, Christmas at the Comfort Food CafeSkipping Christmas by John Grisham
Narrator: Dennis Boutsikaris
Published by Random House Audio on November 6th 2001
Length: 3 hrs and 42 mins
Genres: Holiday - Christmas
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
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five-stars

Imagine a year without Christmas. No crowded malls, no corny office parties, no fruitcakes, no unwanted presents. That’s just what Luther and Nora Krank have in mind when they decide that, just this once, they’ll skip the holiday altogether. Theirs will be the only house on Hemlock Street without a rooftop Frosty; they won’t be hosting their annual Christmas Eve bash; they aren’t even going to have a tree. They won’t need one, because come December 25 they’re setting sail on a Caribbean cruise. But, as this weary couple is about to discover, skipping Christmas brings enormous consequences–and isn’t half as easy as they’d imagined.

In my opinion, this is the Christmas book. Forget A Christmas Carol or anything else resembling wholesome Christmas stories, Skipping Christmas is a destined classic. What can I say, the concept of skipping Christmas entirely and going on a cruise instead just speaks to my Grinch-y soul.

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This year I opted to re-read the audiobook version which is narrated by Dennis Boutsikaris who portrays Luther Krank perfectly in all his deadpan humorous glory. When I first discovered this novel, many, many years ago… I almost glanced over it because “John Grisham? Isn’t that the guy that writes legal thrillers?” Yep, he sure is, but apparently he also has a humorous side. Many of you have likely seen the film adaptation Christmas with the Kranks which is all sorts of hilarious (especially with the book lacking that sidesplitting scene after Luther gets botox), but this short novel is an amusing way to spend a few hours surrounded by Christmas cheer as you contemplate an alternative to it all.

Short & Sweet – Little Women, Skipping Christmas, Christmas at the Comfort Food CafeChristmas at the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson
Series: Comfort Food Cafe #2
Published by HarperImpulse on September 23rd 2016
Pages: 209
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
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three-stars

Becca Fletcher has always hated Christmas but she has her reasons for being Little Miss Grinch. Now, though, she can’t avoid her version of ho-ho-hell – because she’s travelling to the Comfort Food Cafe to spend the festive season with her sister Laura and her family. She’s expecting mulled wine, 24-hour Christmas movie marathons and all kinds of very merry torture.

Little does Becca know that the Comfort Food Cafe is like no other place on earth. Perched on a snow-covered hill, it’s a place full of friendship where broken hearts can heal, new love can blossom and where Becca’s Christmas miracle really could happen – if only she can let it…

‘They are perfect together, and it’s only their pasts holding them back.
Which, I suppose, is a sentence that could be applied to all of us, in some way or another.’

Becca Fletcher has always been known as the wild child of the family: drugs, alcohol, one night stands, you name it. She’s turned over a new leaf after a tragedy strikes her sister’s family and she realizes that it’s time she became someone that can be depended on. And now that same sister is asking her to come visit her for Christmas. She hates Christmas, but she just can’t say no to her sister.

The little town of Budbury is a charming little seaside village where everyone is friendly and looks out for one another. It’s the kind of quaint place that is only found within the pages of a story, but it doesn’t stop you from wishing such a place really existed. This is a fun Christmas time read but admittedly the Christmas theme took a backseat to the romance. Becca’s sister has been trying to set her up with the cute Irish boy named Sam since this past summer and when she visits, they finally meet in person for the first time. I appreciated Becca’s honesty with her past problems and not wanting to jump into anything (like a bed) too quickly and was up front and honest with him about this. She didn’t beat around the bush and gloss over her problems or make any sort of excuses, so for him to continue to doggedly pursue her despite her insistence they take things slow was a bit problematic for me. Granted, this all works out like your typical storybook romance is supposed to and was undeniably cute once I got past my awkward feels about the whole thing.

Christmas + cutesy romance = two peas in a pod.

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Waiting on Wednesday – Daughter of a Thousand Years by Amalia Carosella

December 28, 2016 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 5 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – Daughter of a Thousand Years by Amalia CarosellaDaughter of a Thousand Years by Amalia Carosella
Published by Lake Union Publishing on February 21st 2017
Pages: 432
Genres: Historical Romance
Format: Paperback
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Also by this author: Daughter of a Thousand Years

Greenland, AD 1000

More than her fiery hair marks Freydís as the daughter of Erik the Red; her hot temper and fierce pride are as formidable as her Viking father’s. And so, too, is her devotion to the great god Thor, which puts her at odds with those in power—including her own brother, the zealous Leif Eriksson. Determined to forge her own path, she defies her family’s fury and clings to her dream of sailing away to live on her own terms, with or without the support of her husband.

New Hampshire, 2016

Like her Icelandic ancestors, history professor Emma Moretti is a passionate defender of Norse mythology. But in a small town steeped in traditional values, her cultural beliefs could jeopardize both her academic career and her congressman father’s reelection. Torn between public expectation and personal identity, family and faith, she must choose which to honor and which to abandon.

In a dramatic, sweeping dual narrative that spans a millennium, two women struggle against communities determined to silence them, but neither Freydís nor Emma intends to give up without a fight.

About Amalia Carosella

Amalia Carosella began as a Biology major before taking Latin and falling in love with old heroes and older gods. After that, she couldn't stop writing about them, with the occasional break for more contemporary subjects. She graduated with a BA in Classical Studies as well as English. A former bookseller and avid reader, her current interests focus primarily on the Age of Heroes and Bronze Age Greece, though anything Viking Age or earlier is likely to capture her attention. Today, she lives in upstate New York with her husband, and dreams of the day when she will own goats.

Amalia particularly enjoys exploring myths that have been overlooked, the footnotes that change or challenge the most popular interpretations, and allow those characters involved a new voice to tell their stories.  Helen, Theseus, and Pirithous are some of her favorites!

She also writes fantasy and paranormal romance as Amalia Dillin.

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VIKING ROMANCE. But also a dual timeline story and I do adore those.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine

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Waiting on Wednesday – Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

December 7, 2016 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 3 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – Exit West by Mohsin HamidExit West by Mohsin Hamid
Published by Riverhead Books on March 7th 2017
Pages: 240
Genres: Literary Fiction, Romance
Format: Hardcover
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From the internationally bestselling author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist, a love story that unfolds across the rapidly changing face of a volatile world..

In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair, and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through. . . . Exit West follows these remarkable characters as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are. Profoundly intimate and powerfully inventive, it tells an unforgettable story of love, loyalty, and courage that is both completely of our time and for all time."

About Mohsin Hamid

Mohsin Hamid is the author of four novels, Moth Smoke, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, and Exit West, and a book of essays, Discontent and Its Civilizations.

His writing has been featured on bestseller lists, adapted for the cinema, shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, selected as winner or finalist of twenty awards, and translated into thirty-five languages.

Born in Lahore, he has spent about half his life there and much of the rest in London, New York, and California.

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This one sounds particularly intriguing. Seems like romance with some strange magical realism/alternate world going on. I like it.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine

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Book Review – The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

November 29, 2016 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2016, YA 0 Comments

I received this book for 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.

Book Review – The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola YoonThe Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Published by Delacorte Press on November 1st 2016
Pages: 384
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
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Also by this author: Everything, Everything

four-stars

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.
The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

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“What a difference a day makes.”

Natasha possesses a scientific and mathematical mind that believes in finding solutions. Her current problem that requires one: her family are undocumented immigrants from Jamaica and she’s being forced to return to the country of her birth that night. Daniel is a poet and believes wholeheartedly in fate. His Korean immigrant parents expect him to attend an Ivy League school, become a doctor, and marry a nice Korean girl. Neither Natasha nor Daniel like the looks of the futures that have been mapped out for them. When the two cross paths and end up spending what Natasha believes to be their last day together (which Daniel is unaware of), their chemistry is undeniable. Whether it’s because of Daniel’s belief in fate or Natasha’s belief in chance, their budding romance is certain. But with only a guarantee of a single day, is a happy ending even possible?

‘We’re kindling amid lightning strikes. A lit match and dry wood. Fire Danger signs and a forest waiting to be burned.’

This story belongs to more than just Natasha and Daniel, although they are the stars of the show. We’re given a behind the scenes look at all the puzzle pieces that had to fall in to place in order for everything to happen just as it did. Not just what happens to Natasha and Daniel, but how their presence impacted the others that they crossed paths with. We see how the guard, Irene, causes Natasha to miss an important appointment but inevitably ends up saving Irene. We see how a near miss with a drunk driver results in changed circumstances for another. We see how a broken down train sets Daniel on a path he otherwise wouldn’t have found himself on. Whether or not this is a vote towards the possibility of fate, that’s certainly up for the reader to decide.

“I didn’t know you this morning, and now I don’t remember not knowing you.”

Yoon has said that while this story isn’t autobiographical, it’s definitely inspired by her own personal love story which must be why this story seems to possess so much sentiment. While I’m not typically a fan of anything closely resembling insta-love, The Sun is Also a Star possesses a type of insta-love that I can get behind. These two characters somehow manage to build a meaningful relationship with one another that was not only believable but something to aspire to, albeit in approximately 12 hours. Suspending your disbelief may be a slight requirement but it’s well worth it for romantics and cynics alike.

“Maybe he was just saying that we should live in the moment. As if today is all we have.”

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Just One Day (Just One Day #1) by Gayle Forman [Purchase//Review]
A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall [Purchase//Review]
The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett [Purchase//Review]

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Book Review – The Hating Game: A Novel by Sally Thorne

November 17, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2016 6 Comments

Book Review – The Hating Game: A Novel by Sally ThorneThe Hating Game: A Novel by Sally Thorne
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on August 9th 2016
Pages: 384
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: eBook
Source: Library
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five-stars

Debut author Sally Thorne bursts on the scene with a hilarious and sexy workplace comedy all about that thin, fine line between hate and love.

Nemesis (n.) 1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome. 2) A person’s undoing 3) Joshua Templeman

Lucy Hutton has always been certain that the nice girl can get the corner office. She’s charming and accommodating and prides herself on being loved by everyone at Bexley & Gamin. Everyone except for coldly efficient, impeccably attired, physically intimidating Joshua Templeman. And the feeling is mutual.
Trapped in a shared office together 40 (OK, 50 or 60) hours a week, they’ve become entrenched in an addictive, ridiculous never-ending game of one-upmanship. There’s the Staring Game. The Mirror Game. The HR Game. Lucy can’t let Joshua beat her at anything—especially when a huge new promotion goes up for the taking.
If Lucy wins this game, she’ll be Joshua’s boss. If she loses, she’ll resign. So why is she suddenly having steamy dreams about Joshua, and dressing for work like she’s got a hot date? After a perfectly innocent elevator ride ends with an earth shattering kiss, Lucy starts to wonder whether she’s got Joshua Templeman all wrong.
Maybe Lucy Hutton doesn’t hate Joshua Templeman. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.

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After the corporate merger between Bexley and Gamin Publishing, complete opposites Lucy and Josh are forced into sharing an office subsequently fueling the beginnings of the hate game. IHATEJOSHUA4EV@ becomes Lucy’s computer password, The Staring Game becomes a daily occurrence, and it’s a constant battle to outdo anything and everything he does. It’s easy to admit that she absolutely despises the man, but can’t help but notice his strange fixation with wearing his shirts in a set order (White, off-white stripe, cream, pale yellow, mustard, baby blue, robin’s egg blue, etc) and the fact that he’s really quite cute, albeit an ass. When a huge promotion becomes available and Lucy and Josh are both in line for it, their games get taken to a whole new level.

‘Both love and hate are mirror versions of the same game – and you have to win. Why? Your heart and your ego. Trust me, I should know.’

Do you remember playing childish games with your crush that usually involved being terribly mean to them which was meant to declare your undying love for them? Did you ever have that guy in middle school that teased you incessantly and then years later he’s asking you to prom? The Hating Game is exactly like that. But adults. In an office setting. Absolutely hilarious and completely steamy. Elevators will never be viewed the same again.

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Opposites attract is quite the predictable storyline because it’s expected that they’re going to end up together, but Thorne makes the adventure to the inescapable conclusion refreshing and delightful. I do not read this genre on a regular basis but every once in a while even my cold, cynical heart needs some fluff. I spent the majority of this novel either admiring the chemistry between these two characters (*cough* holy hotness *cough*) or laughing at the hysterical bantering between them.

“If we leave my car here, Helene will know. She’ll see it.”
“Should we hide it under some branches in a forest?”

Every once in a while, you read a book and you adore it. You don’t want the story to end and when it inevitably does you want to immediately start over. It was everything you were looking for and you can’t wait to dive into the authors other books. But wait, what is this? There are none?! This was a debut!?!

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Fortunately, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Until then, I foresee a re-read in my future.

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Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie, Bob Mayer [Purchase]
I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella [Purchase]
One Plus One by Jojo Moyes [Purchase]

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Poetry Review – The Universe of Us by Lang Leav

September 3, 2016 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2016 3 Comments

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

Poetry Review – The Universe of Us by Lang LeavThe Universe of Us by Lang Leav
Published by Andrews McMeel Publishing on October 4th 2016
Pages: 240
Genres: Romance, Poetry
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Goodreads

Also by this author: Love & Misadventure

two-stars

International best-selling author of Love & Misadventure, Lullabies (Goodreads Readers Choice Award), and Memories Lang Leav presents a completely new collection of poetry with a celestial theme in The Universe of Us.

Planets, stars, and constellations feature prominently in this beautiful, original poetry collection from Lang Leav. Inspired by the wonders of the universe, the best-selling poetess writes about love and loss, hope and hurt, being lost and found. Lang's poetry encompasses the breadth of emotions we all experience and evokes universal feelings with her skillfully crafted words.

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Lang Leav has become extremely popular with her poetry collections ever since her debut collection Love & Misadventure. Misadventure was voted second in the Goodreads Choice Awards in 2013 (beat out by Tolkien), Lullabies, her second poetry collection, actually won the 2014 Goodreads Choice Awards, and her third collection, Memories, was once again second place in the 2015 Awards. Clearly, she’s popular and she’s consistently hitting the mark with her targeted audience. Unfortunately, I am not a part of that audience, and I definitely do not see how her words manage to provoke such a euphoric state. I have admittedly only read Leav’s debut poetry collection, Love & Misadventure. The poems rhymed to an excessive degree, they weren’t particularly moving, and there was even one about flossing. FLOSSING. Yet, as I already stated, her popularity never faltered. I saw the upcoming release of The Universe of Us and thought that I really should give her another shot, because I kept thinking it possible that she had gotten better and her writing could be something I’d be able to appreciate along with the masses.

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Despite my preconceived notions, I still tried to go into this with an open mind. And at first, I think I was actually enjoying myself. Naturally I thought I had a fever, but I figured there could be a possibility that it was a more evolved collection and that I wouldn’t have to read anything about flossing.  photo distnace_zpsml4dpoal.jpgThe flossing one really bothered me, folks.

 photo boat art_zpsgdljlomg.jpgThere were also several pieces of her artwork included for an added flair, except I really have no clue what the fuck is going on in this one. I think she’s setting the boat on fire with a magnifying glass? Honestly, I have no fucking clue. Regardless of the “meaning”, she does have some lovely pieces to admire. And there are actually some lovely poems as well, the only problem is they are few and far between. Leav consistently falls back on her excessive rhyming in order to drive the point that this is a poem, people, bask in its glory. Okay, she doesn’t actually say that but rhyming is not a prerequisite of poetry but it’s a common trend in her work. And then there are the ones that aren’t poetry, some are just declarative statements, and others are nothing more than a simple conversation.

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To me, this just doesn’t strike me as anything unique or requiring any sort of special skill. It felt like nothing more than filler. While there were a few that even I could appreciate, the vast majority of these still failed to impress me and didn’t help me understand the reason for her ongoing popularity. I feel these poems are targeted to the type of individuals that have always said they don’t like poetry. Reading this and loving it won’t make you a fan of poetry though, because while Leav may have some grasp on how to combine words to make something sound beautiful, there really isn’t any sort of depth. There’s nothing particularly profound or complex and if that manages to work for you, great, but I’m going to go read some Plath now.

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Waiting on Wednesday – Veiled by Karina Halle

July 27, 2016 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 6 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – Veiled by Karina HalleVeiled by Karina Halle
Published by Metal Blonde Books on July 28th 2016
Genres: Paranormal, Romance-Suspense
Format: eBook
Goodreads

Also by this author: Come Alive

Death.

It’s something that Ada Palomino has always known so well, having grown up in a house of horrors, surrounded by a family plagued by ghosts and demons and things that go bump in the night.

But after the sudden and tragic death of her mother two years ago, death has never felt so personal.

Or so close.

Now eighteen, Ada is trying to move on with her life and the last month of summer holds nothing but sunshine and promises with her first year at a Portland design school just around the bend.
That is until her increasingly violent and realistic dreams, dreams of other worlds, of portals and veils where her mother is tortured and souls bleed for mercy, start to blend into reality. Ada has to lean on her older sister, Perry, to try and make sense of it all but even then, she’s never felt more alone.

Then there’s Jay. Tall, handsome and deeply mysterious, Jay would be just another stranger, a familiar face on the bus, if it wasn’t for the fact that Ada has met him before.

Every night.

In every single dream.

And the more that Ada is drawn to him in both worlds, the more she’s in danger of losing everything.

Including her heart.

And her very soul.

About Karina Halle

Karina Halle is a former travel writer and music journalist and the USA Today Bestselling author of Love, in English, The Artists Trilogy, and other wild and romantic reads. She lives in a 1920s farmhouse on an island off the coast of British Columbia with her husband and her rescue pup, where she drinks a lot of wine, hikes a lot of trails and devours a lot of books.

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GUYS. Or rather, fans of Halle’s Experiment in Terror series. This is Ada Palomino’s story!!!!!! I’m so damn excited about this one and holy shit, that cover is amazing. According to Halle, this may be a spinoff of the EiT series but can be read as a standalone. And the best part about this news? IT RELEASES TOMORROW.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine

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Book Review – The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett

December 4, 2015 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2015, YA 2 Comments

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

Book Review – The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn BennettThe Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett
Published by Feiwel & Friends on November 3rd 2015
Pages: 304
Genres: Contemporary, Mental Illness
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon|B&N|Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Binding the Shadows

two-stars

A mysterious graffiti artist, an anatomy-obsessed artist, and a night bus that will bring the two together.

Artist Beatrix Adams knows exactly how she's spending the summer before her senior year. Determined to follow in Da Vinci's footsteps, she's ready to tackle the one thing that will give her an advantage in a museum-sponsored scholarship contest: drawing actual cadavers. But when she tries to sneak her way into the hospital's Willed Body program and misses the last metro train home, she meets a boy who turns her summer plans upside down.

Jack is charming, wildly attractive . . . and possibly one of San Francisco's most notorious graffiti artists. On midnight buses and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who Jack really is—and tries to uncover what he's hiding that leaves him so wounded. But will these secrets come back to haunt him? Or will the skeletons in Beatrix's own family's closet tear them apart?

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The Anatomical Shape of a Heart introduces two uncommon artists that meet one another on the Night Owl bus. Beatrix “Bex” Adams is intent on spending her summer perfecting her scholarship entry, an intricate drawing of a cadaver. Jack Vincent is also an artist, but of the more secretive sort, seeing as his graffiti/art goes up on the walls of buildings all over the city. Bex’s focus from her scholarship entry to Jack and his intriguing nature and otherworldly good looks immediately switches and predictability ensues.

I’m a huge fan of this author and her adult Urban Fantasy series, Arcadia Bell. While I’m not a frequent reader of YA Contemporary I was still anxious to see how Bennett did with the switch to YA. Suffice it to say, it breaks my anatomical heart to not have loved this as much as I had hoped. Initially, this reminded me heavily of Graffiti Moon but I failed to fall for Bex and Jack as much as I fell for Lucy and Ed. So, if you’re looking for another love story + graffiti, this isn’t it. At first, I did love Bex. I loved her tales of kids at school calling her Wednesday Addams because of the way she dressed, her affinity for braids, and naturally because of her similar last name. I loved her quirkiness and her desire to do art that was outside of the norm. I loved her conviction and determination to win the scholarship. I wanted her romance with Jack to not completely devour all things interesting about her, but it did. She transformed into a total manic pixie dream girl with Jack fitting in completely as the manic pixie dream boy.

‘When the jacket stood back up, it grew arms and legs and a face that probably competed with Helen of Troy’s in the ship-launching department.
Jack.’

‘He was a walking figure study in beautiful lines and lean muscle, with miles of dark lashes, and cheekbones that looked strong enough to hold up his entire body.’

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There is honestly nothing worse than a heroine waxing poetic about a boys looks,  ad nauseam. A sufficient description without going overboard or sounding like a swoony idiot would have been preferable. So Jack goes around the city of San Francisco in his 1958 Corvette tagging up the place. He has a “retro-rockabilly” look and wears mala beads but claims to be a bad Buddhist. As anticipated, he has a mysterious past where something somber happened but he can’t talk about it because sad.

Then there’s Bex and her sudden obsession with all things Jack. There’s one point in the story where the duo hadn’t been talking because Jack was going through his sad things. A new piece of Jack’s art appears, a single word: ENDURE. Bex begins mulling over the meaning and of course immediately made it all about her.

‘ENDURE. Did it mean anything? Was he expressing something about whatever he was going through? Was it a sign that he was ready to communicate again?’

Oh, come on. His art/graffitti/whatever you want to call it clearly has personal meaning for him and he was doing it long before he met you. The answer is in the very definition of the word: to suffer (something painful or difficult) patiently. The whole psuedo-mystery surrounding Jack’s past (including his romantic past) could have all been resolved over a nice, simple heart-to-heart. But that’s too rational to actually happen and where would we get the requisite drama? I don’t know, I don’t mean to hate on it so much but it was all just so predictable, pretentious, and overdone.

But before I morph into a complete asshole, I’m going to end on a happy note and talk about the one thing I did appreciate about this story: the sex-positive message. We have two teen characters that actually make it a point to have a discussion about sex before diving straight in. There’s also a parent that’s open about sex talks and brings home mass quantities of condoms… just in case. View Spoiler »

I’m clearly not the targeted reader and sometimes I feel I do books a disservice by attempting to explore these genres that I don’t typically read, just in an attempt to branch out. Nothing wrong with reading outside of your comfort zone but I think it’s time to accept that YA contemporary love stories are simply not my cup of tea.

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Book Review – Cam Girl by Leah Raeder

December 3, 2015 Bonnie Book Reviews, New Adult, Read in 2015 1 Comment

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

Book Review – Cam Girl by Leah RaederCam Girl by Leah Raeder
Published by Atria Books on November 3rd 2015
Pages: 432
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Diiiirrrrrrttyyy
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon|B&N|Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Black Iris

four-stars

Vada Bergen is broke, the black sheep of her family, and moving a thousand miles away from home for grad school, but she’s got the two things she loves most: her art and her best friend—and sometimes more—Ellis Carraway. Ellis and Vada have a friendship so consuming it’s hard to tell where one girl ends and the other begins. It’s intense. It’s a little codependent. And nothing can tear them apart.

Until an accident on an icy winter road changes everything.

Vada is left deeply scarred, both emotionally and physically. Her once-promising art career is cut short. And Ellis pulls away, unwilling to talk about that night. Everything Vada loved is gone.

She’s got nothing left to lose.

So when she meets some smooth-talking entrepreneurs who offer to set her up as a cam girl, she can’t say no. All Vada has to do is spend a couple hours each night stripping on webcam, and the “tips” come pouring in.

It’s just a kinky escape from reality until a client gets serious. “Blue” is mysterious, alluring, and more interested in Vada’s life than her body. Online, they chat intimately. Blue helps her heal. And he pays well, but he wants her all to himself. No more cam shows. It’s an easy decision: she’s starting to fall for him. But the steamier it gets, the more she craves the real man behind the keyboard. So Vada pops the question:

Can we meet IRL?

Blue agrees, on one condition. A condition that brings back a ghost from her past. Now Vada must confront the devastating secrets she's been running from—those of others, and those she's been keeping from herself...

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‘We fell apart. Broke each other’s hearts and screwed up our friendship. Now I’m adrift, unmoored without her. I keep treading water, looking for land. All I can see is endless blue.’

After Vada Bergen and her best friend Ellis Carraway are in a car accident, Vada slips into a depression after being injured and left with the inability to do the art which gave her life. Vada and Ellis aren’t just best friends, their relationship goes beyond that, but Vada has always struggled to accept her feelings of love towards Ellis. Even so, their bond still can’t withstand the after effects of the crash either and they drift apart. Unable to go back to school since her injury will barely allow her to hold a pencil, Vada chances upon meeting a couple that introduces her to the world of being a cam-girl; performing sexual acts on camera for anonymous strangers for money. She renames herself Morgan and becomes the companies highest earner with her signature move: a silk tie wrapped around her neck.

Morgan performs for strangers with an unwavering emotional detachment, but then one of her clients begins asking for personal one-on-one chats and then finally to meet in real-life. Ellis comes back into her life as well only jumbling her thoughts and feelings further. Vada has to make the decision to take the chance on a man she knows nothing about, or to re-attempt to accept her perplexing feelings for Ellis.

‘This world is so thick with ghosts it’s a wonder anyone can breathe.’

Leah Raeder continues to amaze me with her powerful novels that tackle those difficult subjects that are too often just easier to ignore. In Cam Girl, she tackles depression, gender-identity, same-sex relationships, and she tackles the sex trade. At first glance, you would probably say that that’s likely to be a bit overwhelming, and you wouldn’t be wrong. Raeder manages to handle these various different topics and their multiple facets with ease though. Her lyrical writing style is once again present in all its glory, transforming an ugly subject matter into something beautiful.

The focus on not just same-sex relationships but the confusion Vada felt due to her mother’s insistence she wasn’t really feeling what she knew she was feeling was a tough pill to swallow. Also, the way the sex trade was presented is definitely a hot topic for conversation. It may be because I just read Tricks and Traffick so I struggle to see the sex trade in anything but a negative light, but Vada used her role as a cam girl as a way to regain her confidence in life. It can be argued that this is healthy or not, but I appreciated having a new spin on that topic.

For those who have yet to experience one of Raeder’s books, you should know they get quite dark and extremely graphic. Her characters all possess their own unique darkness which they spill across the pages for you to experience. It doesn’t make her novels easy to read, but they are honest, full of passion, and brings to light those dormant topics that we should all be discussing.

‘This is what they don’t tell you about losing someone: It doesn’t happen once. It happens every day, every moment they’re missing from. You lose them a hundred times between waking and sleep, and even sleep is no respite, because you lose them in your dreams, too.’

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Cam Girl satisfies the ‘New Adult’ bingo square!

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