Publisher: Crown

Book Review – Dodgers: A Novel by Bill Beverly

November 19, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2016 1 Comment

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.

Book Review – Dodgers: A Novel by Bill BeverlyDodgers: A Novel by Bill Beverly
Published by Crown on April 5th 2016
Pages: 304
Genres: Coming-of-Age, Crime
Source: Library Thing
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three-stars

In this stunning debut, author Bill Beverly delivers a story unlike anything else in fiction: a dark, haunting, literary crime novel that is also a powerful coming-of-age narrative, and one that will be sure to appeal to fans of Richard Price or The Wire.

.Dodgers. is the story of a young man named East who works for an LA drug gang, sent by his uncle along with some other teenage boys—including East’s hotheaded younger brother—to kill a witness connected to a major case, who is hiding out in Wisconsin. The journey takes East out of a city he’s never left and into an America that is entirely alien to him, and over the course of his journey the book brings in elements from a diverse array of genres, ranging from crime fiction to road narrative to coming-of-age novel. Written in stark and unforgettable prose and featuring an array of surprising and memorable characters rendered with empathy and wit, .Dodgers heralds the arrival of a major new voice in American fiction.

grey-review

‘Every road had a number and joined up a hundred times with other roads. He saw how they would go. This was like the mazes they use to do in school while the teacher slept. What they said in school was: Don’t worry. Keep looking at it. You can always get there.’

At only fifteen-years-old, East has been working as a lookout for two years at a Los Angeles drug house in a place known as the Boxes. He’s a tough young man and does his job well but when the established system fails and the house falls to the authorities, East is concerned he won’t be trusted any longer. His uncle, Fin, the drug lord he works for, has a new job for him though: a road trip with a crew of boys to kill a witness before he can testify in rural Wisconsin. While the murder is the objective, this road trip becomes much more a coming-of-age tale (regardless of the fact that these boys are mature beyond their years) when they get a glimpse of a world outside of Los Angeles that they have never seen before.

‘Flight, they called it. One part fear, one part the blindest excitement you’d ever known. It freed you from time, from who you were or the matter of what you’d done. You darted, like a fish away from a net, like a dog outrunning a dogcatcher.’

East has street smarts, there’s no doubt about that, but thrown into a world far different from his own causes him to almost regress and become more childlike and naive than the young man we were first introduced to. He adapts and does so quickly, with his determination to survive anything kicking into gear. In addition to East is Walter who has big dreams with a love of science, Michael Wilson who helps aid the drug runs at UCLA, and East’s thirteen-year-old brother Ty who has quickly become callous and hardhearted from the life he leads. None of the boys get along with one another, not even East and his brother, so they not only have to contend with learning how to navigate a world they’ve never been a part of but curb their conflicts with one another so they can make it there in one piece in order to finish the job. Things don’t exactly go to plan, despite the clear-cut path laid out for them.

Bill Beverly manages to successfully portray a calamitous way of life in an undisclosed time period. The research he conducted on criminal fugitives for his non-fiction book, On the Lam, clearly was utilized in this fictional tale. The aspect of this story that really shined for me were the descriptions of the surroundings and how these boys visualized the simplest of things them through their naiveté. This is not an action-packed story of street crime but is rather a haunting, character driven tale that succeeded in balancing despair and hope in equal measure.

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Book Review – The Wolf Road: A Novel by Beth Lewis

September 24, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2016 1 Comment

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.

Book Review – The Wolf Road: A Novel by Beth LewisThe Wolf Road: A Novel by Beth Lewis
Published by Crown on July 5th 2016
Pages: 352
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads


three-stars

True Grit meets The Road in this postapocalyptic psychological thriller--narrated by a young girl who has just learned that her adopted father may be a serial killer, and that she may be his next victim.

In the remote wilds of a ravaged land, Elka has been raised by a man who isn't her father. Since finding her wandering in the woods when she was seven, he has taught her how to hunt, shoot, set snares and start fires--everything she needs to survive. All she knows of the world outside is gleaned from whispers of a cataclysmic event that turned the clock back on civilization by a hundred and fifty years and reduced governments and technology to shambles, leaving men at the mercy of the elements--and each other.

Everything changes when Elka learns that the man she has been calling father is harboring a terrible secret. Armed with nothing but her knife and her wiles, she decides to escape his clutches and sets out on a long journey to the frozen north in the hope of finding her long-lost parents.

But as the trail of blood and bodies grows in her path, Elka realizes that daddy won't be letting his little girl go without a fight. If she's going to survive, she'll have to turn and confront not just him, but the truth about what he's turned her into.

grey-review

‘One a’ them rules is don’t go trusting another man’s path…People do it, they do what their mommies and daddies did, they make them same mistakes, they have them same joys and hurts, they just repeating. Trees don’t grow exactly where their momma is; ain’t no room…I weren’t following no one up through life.’

Deep in the woods of what was once called British Columbia, 17-year-old Elka is struggling to survive on her own. After what she refers to as the “Big Damn Stupid”, the two wars that demolished the world that we know, this post-apocalyptic wasteland isn’t for the weak-willed. When she was only 7-years-old, Elka was caught in a massive storm and lost her grandmother but was taken in by a man she called “Trapper”, a man that taught her everything she needed to know about surviving and became the closest thing she could call family. When Elka discovers that “Trapper” a.k.a Kreager Hallet is wanted by the law for the deaths of many, she disappears thinking that she must be next. Her plan is to finally set off to find her long lost parents who left her with her grandmother to go in search of wealth, but her days traversing the woods alone get her mind racing as to the reasons why Kreager Hallet kept her alive all these years.

Her journey takes her north for many months. Seasons change but she continues to walk towards some unseen destination. Things aren’t easy and she constantly encounters obstacles but nothing she’s not able to find her way around, even with the law that is also searching for her assuming that she’s an accomplish for the murders. She even befriends a Wolf who undertakes the journey alongside her. Elka was an extraordinary character and one that isn’t seen often enough. Resilient, resourceful, with an indomitable spirit, she constantly proved herself to be immensely capable of dealing with any situation presented to her. When she’s forced to deal with other people and society, it was baffling to her that all women wouldn’t be just like her: able to take care of themselves in this harsh world.

‘I seen women take this kind a’ help from a man with a look a’ relief on their faces. I wondered if these women knew how much easier their lives would be if they did all this stuff for themselves.’

The comparisons between The Road and True Grit are apt. The world is a desolate place lacking in any redeemable qualities and has reverted to a Western style. Considering this was once British Columbia, it makes sense that individuals still speak French but to ones like Elka that have spent their life away from the company of people, she’s developed her own dialect that is decidedly Western. The language itself is fortunately effortless to read unlike other books I’ve read where new dialects have been created. The writing itself is fluid and promising for a debut author. There was unfortunately one lapse that ultimately changed the entire story for me: it’s told in past-tense and the essence of the ending is revealed in the introduction. For me, too much was revealed and the element of surprise was spent. Yes, there were additional details to add to the ending that weren’t disclosed until the true end of the story, however, I felt that the initial reveal was wholly unnecessary and the entire story would have been far more effective and enticing at keeping the reader interested if left out completely. Nonetheless, this post-apocalyptic western proves to be an auspicious start for debut author Beth Lewis.

‘Memories ain’t no one’s friend. They show you all the good things you had, all the good things you lost, and don’t let you forget all the bad shit in between.’

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Waiting on Wednesday – The Wolf Road: A Novel by Beth Lewis

March 23, 2016 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 3 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – The Wolf Road: A Novel by Beth LewisThe Wolf Road: A Novel by Beth Lewis
Published by Crown on July 5th 2016
Pages: 352
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
Format: Hardcover
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Wolf Road: A Novel

True Grit meets The Road in this postapocalyptic psychological thriller--narrated by a young girl who has just learned that her adopted father may be a serial killer, and that she may be his next victim.

In the remote wilds of a ravaged land, Elka has been raised by a man who isn't her father. Since finding her wandering in the woods when she was seven, he has taught her how to hunt, shoot, set snares and start fires--everything she needs to survive. All she knows of the world outside is gleaned from whispers of a cataclysmic event that turned the clock back on civilization by a hundred and fifty years and reduced governments and technology to shambles, leaving men at the mercy of the elements--and each other.

Everything changes when Elka learns that the man she has been calling father is harboring a terrible secret. Armed with nothing but her knife and her wiles, she decides to escape his clutches and sets out on a long journey to the frozen north in the hope of finding her long-lost parents.

But as the trail of blood and bodies grows in her path, Elka realizes that daddy won't be letting his little girl go without a fight. If she's going to survive, she'll have to turn and confront not just him, but the truth about what he's turned her into.

About Beth Lewis

I live in a too-small flat in London and regularly battle mice, cold, and irritating neighbours. In my spare time, what little of it I have, I watch too much TV. In my not-so-spare time, I write. Professionally, I'm the Managing Editor of the Illustrated Books division of Titan Books.

My debut novel, THE WOLF ROAD, will be published by Borough Press (HarperCollins) in the UK and Crown (Random House) in the US, in June 2016. It's a literary thriller set in the remote wilderness of the Pacific Northwest.

Saying this was True Grit meets The Road was more than enough for me.

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 – Eleanor: A Novel by Jason Gurley

November 4, 2015 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 3 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – Eleanor: A Novel by Jason GurleyEleanor: A Novel by Jason Gurley
Published by Crown on January 12th 2016
Pages: 384
Genres: Time Travel
Format: Hardcover
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Eleanor and Esmerelda are identical twins with a secret language all their own, inseparable until a terrible accident claims Esme’s life. Eleanor’s family is left in tatters: her mother retreats inward, seeking comfort in bottles; her father reluctantly abandons ship. Eleanor is forced to grow up more quickly than a child should, and becomes the target of her mother’s growing rage.

Years pass, and Eleanor’s painful reality begins to unravel in strange ways. The first time it happens, she walks through a school doorway, and finds herself in a cornfield, beneath wide blue skies. When she stumbles back into her own world, time has flown by without her. Again and again, against her will, she falls out of her world and into other, stranger ones, leaving behind empty rooms and worried loved ones.

One fateful day, Eleanor leaps from a cliff and is torn from her world altogether. She meets a mysterious stranger, Mea, who reveals to Eleanor the weight of her family’s loss. To save her broken parents, and rescue herself, Eleanor must learn how deep the well of her mother’s grief and her father’s heartbreak truly goes. Esmerelda’s death was not the only tragic loss in her family’s fragmented history, and unless Eleanor can master her strange new abilities, it may not be the last.

About Jason Gurley

Jason Gurley is the author of Greatfall, The Man Who Ended the World, and other novels and stories. His bestselling self-published novel Eleanor is forthcoming from Crown Publishing in 2016. His work has appeared in Lightspeed Magazine and numerous anthologies. He lives and writes in Oregon.

I’m a sucker for anything even mildly suggesting time travel but this sounds like a lovely yet heartbreaking story that I have got to try.

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 Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

September 10, 2015 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2015 1 Comment

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

Book Review – The Library at Mount Char by Scott HawkinsThe Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins
Published by Crown on June 16th 2015
Pages: 400
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Hardcover
Source: First to Read Program
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three-stars

Neil Gaiman meets Joe Hill in this astonishingly original, terrifying, and darkly funny contemporary fantasy.

Carolyn’s not so different from the other human beings around her. She’s sure of it. She likes guacamole and cigarettes and steak. She knows how to use a phone. She even remembers what clothes are for.

After all, she was a normal American herself, once.

That was a long time ago, of course—before the time she calls “adoption day,” when she and a dozen other children found themselves being raised by a man they learned to call Father.

Father could do strange things. He could call light from darkness. Sometimes he raised the dead. And when he was disobeyed, the consequences were terrible.

In the years since Father took her in, Carolyn hasn’t gotten out much. Instead, she and her adopted siblings have been raised according to Father’s ancient Pelapi customs. They’ve studied the books in his library and learned some of the secrets behind his equally ancient power. Sometimes, they’ve wondered if their cruel tutor might secretly be God.

Now, Father is missing. And if God truly is dead, the only thing that matters is who will inherit his library—and with it, power over all of creation.

As Carolyn gathers the tools she needs for the battle to come, fierce competitors for this prize align against her.

But Carolyn can win. She’s sure of it. What she doesn’t realize is that her victory may come at an unacceptable price—because in becoming God, she’s forgotten a great deal about being human.

The Library at Mount Char is a most difficult book to explain. We’re introduced to various children who are all raised by Father, a sort of God-like figure in their eyes, but not their actual father. He assigns each child a different subject, referred to as their catalog, to devote their life to studying. Their topics of study aren’t normal though, nothing as basic as English or Math. Instead they are topics such as the study of animals and being able to communicate with them (so much so that the individual became quite animalistic himself), another to the study of healing (however her abilities extend to being able to raise the dead), and another that is able to foretell the future (with the help of her ghost children whom she was required by Father to strangle in their cribs when they were 9 months of age). And that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

Oh, speaking of icebergs, there’s an actual iceberg in the story. He’s got legs. His name is Q-33 North. There’s also a sea tortoise named Diver Eye that is also a minister. And let’s not forget Nobununga who was Emperor of the Forests. He’s a tiger.

Yeah. Me either.

So when Father goes missing, everyone is at a loss as to what to do because he’s always been there to guide them in life. What follows is possibly the most unusual story I’ve ever read. But unusual, bizarre, peculiar, even outlandish — all words that still don’t even come close to describing just how weird this book really is. I’ve got to give the author kudos for an extremely inventive and creative story though even though I still can’t figure out whether I actually liked it or not.

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Book Review – Armada by Ernest Cline

July 23, 2015 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2015 3 Comments

Book Review – Armada by Ernest ClineArmada by Ernest Cline
Published by Crown on July 14th 2015
Pages: 368
Genres: Sci-fi
Format: ARC
Source: Gifted
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Also by this author: Ready Player One

three-stars

Zack Lightman has spent his life dreaming. Dreaming that the real world could be a little more like the countless science-fiction books, movies, and videogames he’s spent his life consuming. Dreaming that one day, some fantastic, world-altering event will shatter the monotony of his humdrum existence and whisk him off on some grand space-faring adventure.

But hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little escapism, right? After all, Zack tells himself, he knows the difference between fantasy and reality. He knows that here in the real world, aimless teenage gamers with anger issues don’t get chosen to save the universe.

And then he sees the flying saucer.

Even stranger, the alien ship he’s staring at is straight out of the videogame he plays every night, a hugely popular online flight simulator called Armada—in which gamers just happen to be protecting the earth from alien invaders.

No, Zack hasn’t lost his mind. As impossible as it seems, what he’s seeing is all too real. And his skills—as well as those of millions of gamers across the world—are going to be needed to save the earth from what’s about to befall it.

It’s Zack’s chance, at last, to play the hero. But even through the terror and exhilaration, he can’t help thinking back to all those science-fiction stories he grew up with, and wondering: Doesn’t something about this scenario seem a little…familiar?

At once gleefully embracing and brilliantly subverting science-fiction conventions as only Ernest Cline could, Armada is a rollicking, surprising thriller, a classic coming of age adventure, and an alien invasion tale like nothing you’ve ever read before—one whose every page is infused with the pop-culture savvy that has helped make Ready Player One a phenomenon.

Zack Lightman is a teenager obsessed with video games (but then again, what teenager these days isn’t?) His uniqueness comes from his obsession with 80s music, movies, and all things science fiction, but this is mostly because his dad was obsessed with those things and he died when Zack wasn’t even a year old. Buried in the personal effects he left behind, Zack discovers some of his journals which detail a possible government conspiracy where video games are actually a tool used to prepare people for a coming alien invasion. Zack thinks his dad was just a little loony towards the end but the harsh reality is his dad wasn’t too far off base with his theories. The end of the world is apparently coming and Zack and his video game buddies are the only ones properly trained to hopefully save the world.

After the success of Ready Player One, Armada could not come out soon enough. Per the summary, it still had the wonderful nerdiness we’ve come to expect from Clines and an interesting twist on video games and a fictional take on the importance in our culture. Yet in Armada, something special was distinctly missing. The complexities of the virtual world named OASIS that Cline created in Ready Player One was understandable, engaging, and tons of fun making you feel like you were along for the ride (even if you weren’t a bigger gamer like me.) In Armada, too much time was spent on the page count before the action actual began (100+ pages) as well as the details of the actions within the game that became inexplicably harder to understand as we got deeper in. The details of navigation (they were primarily flying drones) were given in place of actual action and it was hard to get a feel of things despite the fact the descriptions should have been able to put you smack dab in the driver seat. Maybe because RPO took place in a dystopian future made the concept easier to swallow, or maybe this is just an unfortunate sophomore slump.

The Last Starfight and Ender’s Game (or of course the book) both touch on the same subject: master video gamers are enlisted to save the world from invading aliens. The (slight) difference is the overabundance of pop culture references on just about every single page of this tale and how this pop culture knowledge is also key to helping to combat the invasion. The fact that RPO also focused on pop culture references worked better since the world they currently lived in left much to be desired. Those characters obsession with this particular section in time was viewed as a form of escapism more than anything. Zack Lightman is an 18-year-old kid in present-day who listens to Rush and apparently doesn’t watch any movie that wasn’t released in the 80s. Highly unlikely, even if this obsession is fueled by a father he never met. The whole story essentially felt like fan-fiction written by a gamer who daydreams how his video games skills will one day pay the bills. Or save the world in this case.

At this point, I get it. Cline loves the 80s. The music, the movies, and all the science fiction. If he keeps up the trend of going overboard with the 80s pop culture references in his next novel, I think he’d be better off actually setting the story in the 80s. But first and foremost, I’d like to see him come up with something new and original instead of playing off the same dated sci-fi tropes.

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Book Review – I Take You by Eliza Kennedy

June 18, 2015 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2015 1 Comment

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.

Book Review – I Take You by Eliza KennedyI Take You by Eliza Kennedy
Published by Crown on May 5th 2015
Pages: 320
Genres: Illicit Romance
Format: ARC
Source: Library Thing
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two-half-stars

Meet Lily Wilder: New Yorker, lawyer extraordinaire, blushing bride. And totally incapable of being faithful to one man.

Lily’s fiancé Will is a brilliant, handsome archaeologist. Lily is sassy, impulsive, fond of a good drink (or five) and has no business getting married. Lily likes Will, but does she love him? Will loves Lily, but does he know her? As the wedding approaches, Lily’s nights—and mornings, and afternoons—of booze, laughter and questionable decisions become a growing reminder that the happiest day of her life might turn out to be her worst mistake yet.

Unapologetically sexy with the ribald humor of Bridesmaids, this joyously provocative debut introduces a self-assured protagonist you won’t soon forget.

I had to give this one a lot of thought before reviewing. On one hand, I appreciate the topic of women being sexually liberated and the discussion generated regarding how women are always called foul names when they sleep around but men are praised and applauded for it. I could have totally been on board with that. But… that’s not exactly what was going on here. I toyed with the idea that in order to appreciate Lily and her mental outlook on sex you would have to be like-minded, of which I am so very far from Lily’s opposite, but I don’t believe that’s a necessity here. I’ve read plenty of fiction with characters that are difficult to like and you couldn’t possibly begin to understand their mental motivations (Lolita and especially Tampa, for example) and yet I was still able to appreciate these stories as compelling (and shocking) works of fiction. But this wasn’t about sexual liberation in my eyes. I think it was all taken a bit too far and Lily’s actions became simply foolhardy and desperate when she was sleeping with literally anyone that hit on her. Like her fiancé’s groomsmen. Who also happens to be his boss. In the week leading up to her wedding.

But let’s back up and get a little backstory. Lily Wilder is engaged to be married to a wonderful man named Will. Trouble is, he doesn’t know that she hasn’t stopped sleeping with other men because she’s still not certain she’s actually in love with him. But she accepted his proposal a mere six months after they met because she hated the idea of disappointing him. There’s a bit that gets delved into about her past that sort of justifies her need to please without first being certain about her own feelings, but it was still a bit confounding in the ridiculousness. No one that actually knows Lily and the things that she gets up to thinks that she should actually get married, yet this only makes Lily more determined to do so. Because that reasoning is excellent when deciding on marriage.

I’d like to discuss the one shining moment of this book: It’s absolutely hilarious. Lily and her friend Freddy (Winifred, her lesbian best friend) are quite the dynamic duo. One scene, in particular, had me rolling when they decide to do a few lines of coke to help them finish up the seating arrangements for the wedding. Then they decide to build a fort out of the hotel furniture, order some fish sticks, seat all the bald men together, all the red-heads and all the young children at one table with Lily’s future mother-in-law.

There’s a knock on the door. “Fish sticks!” we yell, and burst out of our pillow fort.

So ridiculous yet so goddamn funny. There were many other scenes like this but I just loved the friendship between these two and the witty banter was only the cherry on top.

Lily, I actually loved immediately because she reminded me of one of my favorite fictional characters.

But Samantha and her wild ways were never muddled with the fact that she accepted a proposal and the unsaid principal behind (most) marriages to be monogamous with one another. Open marriage does end up being discussed to a nauseating degree. And the hypocritical crap had my eyes rolling. And the concept of being in love yet still being promiscuous. Again, I’m all for sexual liberation and doing (and blowing, as Samantha said) whomever you want, but the story failed to convince me that marriage is something that could legit be thrown into that mix. And really left me skeptical as to why Lily even wanted to get married considering she seemed perfectly content continuing as she has been. Subtract the fact that she’s engaged to be married and this story could have totally been Samantha’s tale and I’m not sure I would have looked at this as squinty-eyed as I did once I finished.

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Book Review – The Martian by Andy Weir

February 18, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2014 5 Comments

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

Book Review – The Martian by Andy WeirThe Martian by Andy Weir
Published by Crown on February 11th 2014
Pages: 384
Genres: Sci-fi
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Artemis

four-half-stars

Apollo 13 meets Cast Away in this grippingly detailed, brilliantly ingenious man-vs-nature survival thriller, set on the surface of Mars.

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first men to walk on the surface of Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first man to die there.

It started with the dust storm that holed his suit and nearly killed him, and that forced his crew to leave him behind, sure he was already dead. Now he's stranded millions of miles from the nearest human being, with no way to even signal Earth that he's alive--and even if he could get word out, his food would be gone years before a rescue mission could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to get him first.

But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills--and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit--he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. But will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

‘I can’t wait till I have grandchildren. When I was younger, I had to walk to the rim of a crater. Uphill! In an EVA suit! On Mars, ya little shit! Ya hear me? Mars!’

Mark Watney is a part of the six crew team sent to Mars on a 31 Sol (Martian day) mission. On Sol 6 a dust storm blows in which is so large that NASA immediately aborts the mission. In the process of getting back to the ship, Mark’s suit is punctured by an antenna and the winds blow him far away from the rest of the crew. After being unable to find him and thinking him dead, the now five crew team get to the ship and head for home. Only problem is, Mark survived.

The story is told (for the most part) by detailed work logs as Mark survives day to day. Mark Watney is seriously the most inventive survivalist I’ve ever encountered in a story. I’m sure that’s expected since he has to be smart to have been selected by NASA to go to Mars but this guy was constantly thinking up the craziest and most creative ways to stay alive. He definitely made an extremely unrealistic situation where survival is an impossiblility an actual possibility. But the best part about Mark? He was freaking hilarious.

‘If ruining the only religious icon I have leaves me vulnerable to Martian vampires, I’ll have to risk it.’

‘After a search of everyone’s personal items (hey, if they wanted privacy, they shouldn’t have abandoned me on Mars with their stuff) I found my answer.’

‘I’ll spend the rest of the evening enjoying a potato and by “enjoying” I mean “hating so much I want to kill people.”

Okay, I’m done. But seriously, for a book that contains the craziest survival story I’ve ever read I was quite surprised to be laughing as much as I was.

The science aspects of this novel are extremely detailed and even though several passages were unrecognizable as English to me it’s clear that a vast amount of research was done to make things appear legit so I can appreciate that even if I didn’t always understand it. I loved how at one point he kept continuously referencing ‘Kilowatt-hours per sol’ and realized how exhausting that was so changed their name to pirate ninjas and that was pretty much the best thing ever. A story bogged down with excessive technical detail can easily become tedious but between Mark’s ongoing sense of humor and the ever-present seriousness of the situation he’s in, the story was a consistent nail-biter.

Highly recommended for science geeks who love detailed technical jargon and survivalists because you’re bound to learn a lesson or two from this genius.

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Early Review – Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

May 5, 2012 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2012 1 Comment

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.

Early Review – Gone Girl by Gillian FlynnGone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Published by Crown on June 5, 2012
Pages: 434
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Dark Places

three-stars

Marriage can be a real killer.

One of the most critically acclaimed suspense writers of our time, New York Times bestseller Gillian Flynn takes that statement to its darkest place in this unputdownable masterpiece about a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong. The Chicago Tribune proclaimed that her work "draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction." Gone Girl's toxic mix of sharp-edged wit and deliciously chilling prose creates a nerve-fraying thriller that confounds you at every turn.

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne's fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick's clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn't doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife's head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media--as well as Amy's fiercely doting parents--the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he's definitely bitter--but is he really a killer?

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn't do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

With her razor-sharp writing and trademark psychological insight, Gillian Flynn delivers a fast-paced, devilishly dark, and ingeniously plotted thriller that confirms her status as one of the hottest writers around.

On the day of Nick and Amy’s five year wedding anniversary Nick comes home to find the door ajar, the iron still on, but no Amy. Amy’s typical anniversary gift to Nick includes a treasure hunt with small personal messages to help lead him to the next location and to the big present. When he finds the first clue she had left for him he begins to follow the clues and realizes that Amy had been trying to fix their fractured marriage, but it may have been too late.

The alternating POV (from present time to a past entry in Amy’s diary) absolutely killed this story for me. I’ve ready stories that were written in this same format before but for some reason this one caused me to develop ADD and I was being distracted by the tiniest things. I think I started and stopped this one at minimum a half a dozen times. Now despite this, I must say that it was an extremely detailed and well-written story, I just obviously lack the patience and focus to truly appreciate it.

As far as the characters go, Nick in particular was a very hard read. I didn’t find myself liking him or even feeling sorry for him; however, I suppose that’s to be expected as the way it was written made him a very obvious suspect for the reason Amy went missing in the first place. But of course, it’s hardly that simple. Once the story picked up, and Nick finally started to follow Amy’s clues I got into it a lot more. And once the story hit the midway point and did a complete 180? I was enthralled. Unfortunately that feeling didn’t last very long and I felt that the last half of the book was very disheveled and seriously crazy, and not in a good way.

This is a stand alone novel so I expect a wrapped up ending that answers all of my questions and gives some semblance of a resolution for the characters. I’m not asking for it to be all tied up in a pretty bow or anything but at least don’t leave me with out big wtf. Well, that’s exactly what I got. By the end, the story seemed so unraveled to the point of being undetectable from the story that I originally started reading. Having a story surprise me and go a completely different direction is one thing, but that’s not what happened here. Not a lot can be said without giving serious spoilers to the story but suffice it to say I failed to be impressed by the end. I do give this story credit for the intricate build-up even if the resolution was less than satisfactory.

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Early Review – Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

August 8, 2011 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2011 2 Comments

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

Early Review – Ready Player One by Ernest ClineReady Player One by Ernest Cline
Published by Crown on August 16, 2011
Pages: 384
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic, Sci-fi
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Armada

four-half-stars

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune--and remarkable power--to whoever can unlock them.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday's riddles are based in the pop culture he loved--that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday's icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes's oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt--among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life--and love--in the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.

A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?

When I first heard about this book, I was intrigued but I wasn’t running to read it because I don’t think I was expecting a whole lot out of this. Once I started reading it though, I realized how fascinating it was and how I certainly did not expect it to be as intricate as it was. Wow. Talk about world building.

The summary of the book to me sounded like a cross between the Tron concept (of people being able to insert themselves into video games) and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (where the purpose was to find the golden ticket and compete against the others to win the big prize). But the ‘quest’ in RPO was waaaaay better than Willy Wonka could ever dream of being.

The complexities of the virtual world named OASIS that Ernest Cline created in Ready Player One are astounding. It was so elaborate yet easily understandable and also completely believable. Set in the year 2044, OASIS has become a sanctuary for humans to escape to allowing them to be whoever and whatever they choose. Considering how destitute the real world is, many people spend almost their entire lives plugged into the OASIS.

The creator of OASIS, James Halliday, dedicated his life to his creation. When he dies, he leaves everything he owns including the mass worth he’s accumulated over his lifetime to the single individual who is able to solve the puzzles and acquire the ‘egg’. Sounds easy? A lot of people thought so and many proceeded to dedicate their lives to finding it. Years later no one has been able to decipher any of the clues James Halliday left behind. Wade is the first person to figure out the puzzle and obtain the first key and this is his story.

This sets off a wild chain of events that totally makes you strap on your gear and go on your own quest. I loved the characters and the relationship that they shared with one another. I loved how the author’s writing style had the ability to completely suck you in to the story and almost made you feel like you had your own avatar in the OASIS. I loved everything about this story.

This is highly recommended for video game lovers, lovers of anything 80’s, and anyone who’s looking for a highly enjoyable book!

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