Publisher: Audible

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

four-stars

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

Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine
Series: The Great Library #1
Published by Berkley on April 5th 2016
Pages: 374
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Source: Blogging for Books
Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Short Summary: In an alternate universe where books are illegal to the public and the Library of Alexandria is still standing, a group of individuals train to enter into the service of the Library and realize that corruption reigns supreme from within.

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

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

three-half-stars

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

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant
Series: Rolling in the Deep #1
Published by Orbit on November 14th 2017
Pages: 440
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Hardcover
Source: the Publisher
Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Short Summary: Everyone was presumed dead after the Atargatis was lost at sea, but a new crew is being assembled to go back to the Mariana Trench to search for the existence of mermaids, this time presumably taking better precautions.

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

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

three-stars

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

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

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

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

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

three-stars

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Audiobook Review – The Voodoo Killings (Kincaid Strange #1) by Kristi Charish

July 21, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2016 10 Comments

Audiobook Review – The Voodoo Killings (Kincaid Strange #1) by Kristi CharishThe Voodoo Killings by Kristi Charish
Narrator: Susannah Jones
Series: Kincaid Strange #1
Published by Audible on May 10th 2016
Length: 11 hrs and 43 mins
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Format: Audiobook
Source: a Giveaway
Amazon | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Lipstick Voodoo

four-half-stars

For the first time since we launched Bitten by Kelley Armstrong, Random House Canada is thrilled to announce the debut of a new urban fantasy series. Kristi Charish's The Voodoo Killings introduces Kincaid Strange, not your average voodoo practitioner...

For starters, she's only 27. Then there's the fact that she lives in rain-soaked Seattle, which is not exactly Haiti. And she's broke. With raising zombies outlawed throughout the continental USA, Kincaid has to eke out a living running seances for university students with more money than brains who are desperate for guitar lessons with the ghost of a Seattle grunge rocker--who happens to be Kincaid's on-again, off-again roommate.

Then a stray zombie turns up outside her neighbourhood bar: Cameron Wight, an up-and-coming visual artist with no recollection of how he died or who raised him. Not only is it dangerous for Kincaid to be caught with an unauthorized zombie, she soon realizes he's tied to a spate of murders: someone is targeting the zombies and voodoo practitioners in Seattle's infamous Underground City, a paranormal hub. When the police refuse to investigate, the City's oldest and foremost zombie asks Kincaid to help. Raising ghosts and zombies is one thing, but finding a murderer? She's broke, but she's not stupid.

And then she becomes the target...As the saying goes, when it rains it pours, especially in Seattle.

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The Voodoo Killings is a brand new Urban Fantasy series by Kristi Charish which introduces Kincaid Strange, a voodoo practitioner living in Seattle, Washington. Struggling to make ends meet after losing her job with the Seatle PD and now that raising zombies is technically illegal, Kincaid resorts to making the rent by performing seances. Her roommate, a deceased Seattle grunge rocker by the name of Nate Cade, occasionally assists her with these but it’s often difficult for her to persuade him to stop playing video games to do so. When a local bar owner calls to inform her that an abandoned zombie was discovered in his alley, Kincaid Strange becomes his temporary guardian while she tries to not only find out who turned him and why but to keep others from finding out, mainly her ex-boyfriend Aaron who still works for the Seattle PD.

This book didn’t even make it onto my radar (and I compile an entire list of book releases on my blog so I don’t know how I missed this) but thankfully a blogger friend (Thanks, Tammy!) brought this to my attention and I’m so very glad. I knew next to nothing about this story or the author, only discovering it was about zombies (and ghosts!) and I immediately was all on board. With an intriguing form of magic in addition to a fascinating mystery and a most charming cast of characters, The Voodoo Killings was enticing and incredibly entertaining.

“I mean, there’s hell freezing over, pigs flying, and then there’s me and responsibility.”

It’s so refreshing to read about a heroine that is not only a total badass but has flaws and power limitations and isn’t some perfect superhuman, and that’s exactly how Kincaid Strange is written. She’s brazen, headstrong, and isn’t afraid of handling business. In addition to a lead character that can hold her own, her roommate Nate is all that was needed to make up the perfect dynamic duo. But wait, there’s more! The zombies practically adopts, Cameron, fits right into the group. Kindcaid is constantly finding herself in a bind (or three) and her two sidekicks have her back and are constantly keeping her out of trouble. And even better, there is zero romantic inclinations, just pure, unadulterated friendship.

I loved the characters far more than I expected, but I really relished the intricate details of Charish’s magical world. Rather than your typical post-apocalyptic world where some virus has been unleashed causing the existence of zombies, these zombies only come alive because a voodoo practitioner makes it so. The added details regarding the dead being brought back to life to solve land disputes or to discover who murdered them was an amusing concept. Just as long as they consumed a steady supply of brains (animals brains worked in a pinch but human brains really did the trick) they remained fairly coherent for the most part. Additional interesting tidbits included details about different bindings as well as much discussion about Otherside or the energy Kindcaid draws from which comes from the land of the dead.

It was an incredibly compelling story and I enjoyed every minute of it and I do mean every minute in the literal sense. I listened to the audiobook and Susannah Jones’ narration was absolutely brilliant. I am not a night owl at all but I found myself staying up till 1:30am one night because I couldn’t stop listening. Her various voices and accents for both male and female was phenomenal and she no doubt made this already fantastic story into something even better.

Urban Fantasy fans, don’t let this one go unnoticed! The Voodoo Killings possesses a mystery that will keep you guessing, a cast of character you wish you could call friends, and a unique magic system. The ending will leave you hoping there was a second installment ready and waiting. Alas, there isn’t yet. I definitely wont be letting that one fly under my radar though.

It’s a bit difficult to find a copy of this one considering it was published by Random House Canada and currently the only format that can be purchased in the US is the audible version (but I highly recommend the audio!)

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Classic Curiosity – Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

October 11, 2014 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Classic Curiosity, Ominous October, Read in 2014 7 Comments

Classic Curiosity – Frankenstein by Mary ShelleyFrankenstein by Mary Shelley
Narrator: Dan Stevens
Published by Audible on 1818
Length: 8 hrs and 35 mins
Genres: Classics, Horror
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads


four-stars

Narrator Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey) presents an uncanny performance of Mary Shelley's timeless gothic novel, an epic battle between man and monster at its greatest literary pitch. In trying to create life, the young student Victor Frankenstein unleashes forces beyond his control, setting into motion a long and tragic chain of events that brings Victor to the very brink of madness. How he tries to destroy his creation, as it destroys everything Victor loves, is a powerful story of love, friendship, scientific hubris, and horror.

The summer of 1816 was named the “Year Without a Summer” after the eruption of Mount Tambora caused a long and dreary Volcanic Winter. With everyone keeping to the indoors, Mary, her future husband Percy Shelley, Lord Byron and John Polidori all entertained themselves by telling ghost stories and then inevitably it was suggested they each come up with their own type of horror story. It was during this very summer that Mary Shelley, at the age of eighteen, came up with the initial concept of Frankenstein.

‘After days and night of incredible labour and fatigue, I succeeded in discovering the cause of generation and life; nay, more, I became myself capable of bestowing animation upon lifeless matter.’

Frankenstein is the story of Victor Frankenstein, a man that through experiementation in both science and alchemy devised a way to combine pieces of human corpses and give them new life. Frankenstein is a legendary story and has become a pivotal part of our cultural understanding of the supernatural world, however, the novel is actually nothing like the classic movies involving lightning, screaming and Frankenstein actually being excited at his accomplishments.

His shock and awe quickly transforms into a horrific realization at what he was capable of and he ran away in terror, leaving the monster alone. We’re told Frankenstein’s story first and the steps that led to the monsters creation and the subsequent events as well. Frankenstein depicts him as a monster, thus the reason he is never given an actual name, but when we are finally given the story via the monsters point of view we realize this ‘monster’ is quite possibly anything but. His is a story of complete despondency that easily garners your compassion regardless of the pain and suffering he has wreaked. He may be a creation but is he still not a person? Is his creators ensuing abandonment to blame for his conduct because Frankenstein had a duty beyond just his creation? I believe it is. Without his creator there to teach him the ways of the world, he was forced to observe, learn and interpret on his own. So then it was his observances of society what transformed him into who he came to be? A matter of circumstance? He became an outcast of society because of his appearance and after a time became lonely and craved a companion. He sought out his creator so as to force him to duplicate his work.

This is my first read of the classic and I must say it’s nothing like I was expecting. It ended up being a strange and eclectic blend of genres. It was science fiction, with the creation of a man from pieces of corpses, and it was gothic and horror, the dead coming back to life and wreaking havoc on the world. Neither of those were the sole purpose or point of this story; it only set the scene. At the heart of this story are the revolutionary and intellectual questions about life, death and existence. About scientific possibilities and how far is too far. And it’s about compassion and lack of it in this world. Was Frankenstein’s monster truly an outcast only because of his appearance, because initially he showed the utmost caring towards individuals and even saved a drowning girl at one point. Society saw the monster and judged him harshly based off that alone, never giving him the benefit of the doubt. It’s a fictional accounting of a harsh world but it’s a rather truthful and distressing accounting. This is Gothic literature at its very finest and I’m so glad I finally conquered this incredible piece of work.

‘Once I falsely hoped to meet with beings who, pardoning my outward form, would love me for the excellent qualities which I was capable of unfolding. I was nourished with high thoughts of honour and devotion. But now crime has degraded me beneath the meanest animal. No guilt, no mischief, no malignity, no misery, can be found comparable to mine. When I run over the frightful catalogue of my sins, I cannot believe that I am the same creature whose thoughts were once filled with sublime transcendent visions of the beauty and the majesty of goodness.’

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Audiobook Review – Deliverance by James Dickey

June 13, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2014 3 Comments

Audiobook Review – Deliverance by James DickeyDeliverance by James Dickey
Narrator: Will Patton
Published by Audible on 1970
Length: 7 hrs and 35 mins
Genres: Southern Gothic/Country Noir
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Amazon | Audible
Goodreads


three-stars

The setting is the Georgia wilderness, where the state's most remote white-water river awaits. In the thundering froth of that river, in its echoing stone canyons, four men on a canoe trip discover a freedom and exhilaration beyond compare. And then, in a moment of horror, the adventure turns into a struggle for survival as one man becomes a human hunter who is offered his own harrowing deliverance.

This classic tale is vividly read by movie and TV star and Audie Award-winning narrator Will Patton.

Deliverance
de·liv·er·ance [dih-liv-er-uhns]
noun
: the state of being saved from something dangerous or unpleasant

Deliverance is the deceptively simplistic story of four ordinary men from Atlanta that decide to go on a canoe trip in the Georgia wilderness. The river they plan to traverse is destined to disappear soon because of a new dam that will flood the area. Soon into their trip, they encounter two men who live in the nearby mountains and their weekend wilderness adventure quickly morphs into a struggle for their very survival.

‘The river was blank and mindless with beauty. It was the most glorious thing I have ever seen. But it was not seeing, really. For once it was not just seeing. It was beholding. I beheld the river in its icy pit of brightness, in its far-below sound and indifference, in its large coil and tiny points and flashes of the moon, in its long sinuous form, in its uncomprehending consequence.’

Unlike most who have either read this book or experienced the movie, I went into this story completely blind, oblivious of the horrors to come. Being a fan of southern gothic fiction though, it was essential I read the original classic that helped to generate the genre. Published in 1970, Deliverance was Dickey’s first novel and the one he went on to be most known for. In 1965, he won the National Book Award in Poetry and those poetic abilities showed through the darkness of Deliverance. The surprisingly beautiful poetic quality added a much-needed delicacy to this tale so as to make it a much more agreeable read.

“Here we go, out of the sleep of the mild people, into the wild rippling water.”

The river itself, the Cahulawassee River, has much more symbolism than one would initially recognize. The Cahulawassee River is being forced into modern times and will cease to exist in a matter of weeks. These four men are forced into changes as well due to the harsh situations they are involuntary put through. It changes their mindset and state of being and forces them to make choices they never expected to have to make. These changes necessitated the realization that while they felt like ordinary men in comparison to the abominations that they faced, they were more than able to transform similarly all in the name of survival.

Deliverance is a dark and dismal read but is permeated with skillfully beautiful writing that makes it a completely necessary read for any fans of the genre.

The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock {PurchaseMy Review}
Child of God by Cormac McCarthy {PurchaseMy Review}
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad {Purchase}

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Audiobook Review – The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

March 20, 2014 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2014 3 Comments

Audiobook Review – The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret AtwoodThe Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Narrator: Claire Danes
Published by Audible on January 1st 1985
Pages: 11 hours
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood, MaddAddam

five-stars

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now...

‘We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom.
We lived in the gaps between the stories.’

After the United States government is overturned, a fundamentalist Christian regime is established that call themselves the Republic of Gilead. All women’s rights are declared invalid: the right to vote, to have a job, to read or make any decisions on their own. With the ongoing war that followed the demolition of the government, infertility has become a massive problem as most women lack the capabilities now. Women are selected to be handmaid’s and their sole purpose is to provide offspring for the elite members of society. The Handmaid’s Tale is a memoir of sorts of one woman that was selected to be a handmaid.

‘I found myself asking why no one did anything to prevent it happening; surely people would protest, people would try to stop them?’

What a shocking, distressing and jaw-dropping read. The vital aspect of a good dystopian read is whether or not the transformed world is believable and realistic because that’s what truly brings it to life. The Handmaid’s Tale was disturbingly realistic simply due to the ease in which everything was transformed. Women got up, took care of their children and went to work like any other in this day and age. Except one morning, they got up and were told they were no longer able to work. They went to the store and were told they were no longer to make purchases of their own. And all this happened overnight. My first response was to consider how unlikely that is, but rights can be given and they can be taken away just as easily, even in the span of a single night. It’s quite the imaginable nightmare.

‘But who can remember pain, once it’s over? All that remains of it is a shadow, not in the mind even, in the flesh. Pain marks you, but too deep to see. Out of sight, out of mind.’

The main character, Offred, is a woman clearly lacking in spirit after all the horrors she has suffered. The numbness is a bandaid of sorts to help her continue each day yet her anger and outrage remains clear as well as her perseverance to survive. Her day to day accountings are interspersed with memories of the past, when she had a job, and a husband, and a child of her own. That was the most tragic aspect of this story. It’s not the fact that women were basically walking wombs and their only purpose was to provide children for another but that these women had memories of life before. They knew of how different life can be and they had those memories to haunt them.

The Handmaid’s Tale is an incredibly visceral possibility of a potential future that only shows just how fragile women’s rights can be.

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