Publisher: Ecco

Waiting on Wednesday – She Rides Shotgun by Jordan Harper

April 19, 2017 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 2 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – She Rides Shotgun by Jordan HarperShe Rides Shotgun: A Novel by Jordan Harper
Published by Ecco on June 6th 2017
Pages: 288
Genres: Mystery
Format: Hardcover
Amazon|B&N|Book Depository
Goodreads

A propulsive, gritty novel about a girl marked for death who must fight and steal to stay alive, learning from the most frightening man she knows—her father.

Eleven-year-old Polly McClusky is shy, too old for the teddy bear she carries with her everywhere, when she is unexpectedly reunited with her father, Nate, fresh out of jail and driving a stolen car. He takes her from the front of her school into a world of robbery, violence, and the constant threat of death. And he does it to save her life.

Nate made dangerous enemies in prison—a gang called Aryan Steel has put out a bounty on his head, counting on its members on the outside to finish him off. They’ve already murdered his ex-wife, Polly’s mother. And Polly is their next target.

Nate and Polly’s lives soon become a series of narrow misses, of evading the bad guys and the police, of sleepless nights in motels. Out on the lam, Polly is forced to grow up early: with barely any time to mourn her mother, she must learn how to take a punch and pull off a drug-house heist. She finds herself transforming from a shy little girl into a true fighter. Nate, in turn, learns what it’s like to love fiercely and unconditionally—a love he’s never quite felt before. But can their powerful bond transcend the dangerous existence he’s carved out for them? Will they ever be able to live an honest life, free of fear?

She Rides Shotgun is a gripping and emotionally wrenching novel that upends even our most long-held expectations about heroes, villains, and victims. Nate takes Polly to save her life, but in the end it may very well be Polly who saves him.

About Jordan Harper

Jordan Harper was born and educated in Missouri. He's worked as an ad man, a rock critic and a teevee writer.

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Harper’s debut collection, Love and Other Wounds: Stories, still regretfully sits on my TBR but both of his books sounds like such me books. Really must make time for these fantastic sounding stories.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Waiting on Wednesday – Black Mad Wheel: A Novel by Josh Malerman

November 2, 2016 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 2 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – Black Mad Wheel: A Novel by Josh MalermanBlack Mad Wheel: A Novel by Josh Malerman
Published by Ecco on May 23rd 2017
Pages: 304
Genres: Mystery, Horror
Format: Hardcover
Amazon|B&N|Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Bird Box

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

The Danes—the band known as the “Darlings of Detroit”—are washed up and desperate for inspiration, eager to once again have a number one hit. That is, until an agent from the US Army approaches them. Will they travel to an African desert and track down the source of a mysterious and malevolent sound? Under the guidance of their front man, Philip Tonka, the Danes embark on a harrowing journey through the scorching desert—a trip that takes Tonka into the heart of an ominous and twisted conspiracy.
Meanwhile, in a nondescript Midwestern hospital, a nurse named Ellen tends to a patient recovering from a near-fatal accident. The circumstances that led to his injuries are mysterious-and his body heals at a remarkable rate. Ellen will do the impossible for this enigmatic patient, who reveals more about his accident with each passing day.

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

About Josh Malerman

FUN FACTS ABOUT JOSH

1. Shares a birthday with Amelia Earhart
Is the middle child
2. At 12, got stung on the face by a jellyfish after father convinced him the ocean was safe
3. The Twilight Zone: The Movie was the first horror film he saw
4. Almost always writes as horror movie soundtracks play on the record player (The Howling, Poltergeist, and Zombi 2 are great, but Creepshow is best)
5. Sings for the rock n’ roll band The High Strung
6. Wrote/performs the theme song for Showtime’s Shameless (starring William H. Macy)
7. Has only read two books twice: William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! and Stephen King’s The Shining
8. Is a member of the Detroit Zoo
9. Lives with his fianceé (whose head he recently shaved) in Royal Oak, Michigan

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I adored Malerman’s debut Bird Box and I’ve been anxiously awaiting more from him. This one certainly sounds intriguing!

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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Early Review – Sweetgirl by Travis Mulhauser

January 29, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2016 3 Comments

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

Early Review – Sweetgirl by Travis MulhauserSweetgirl by Travis Mulhauser
Published by Ecco on February 2nd 2016
Pages: 256
Genres: Southern Gothic/Country Noir
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon|B&N|Book Depository
Goodreads


four-stars

With the heart, daring, and evocative atmosphere of Winter’s Bone and True Grit, and driven by the raw, whip-smart voice of Percy James, a blistering debut about a fearless sixteen-year old girl whose search for her missing mother leads to an unexpected discovery, and a life or death struggle in the harsh frozen landscape of the Upper Midwest.

As a blizzard bears down, Percy James sets off to find her troubled mother, Carletta. For years, Percy has had to take care of herself and Mama—a woman who’s been unraveling for as long as her daughter can remember. Fearing Carletta is strung out on meth and that she won’t survive the storm, Percy heads for Shelton Potter’s cabin, deep in the woods of Northern Michigan. A two-bit criminal, as incompetent as he his violent, Shelton has been smoking his own cook and grieving the death of his beloved Labrador, Old Bo.

But when Percy arrives, there is no sign of Carletta. Searching the house, she finds Shelton and his girlfriend drugged into oblivion—and a crying baby girl left alone in a freezing room upstairs. From the moment the baby wraps a tiny hand around her finger, Percy knows she must save her—a split-second decision that is the beginning of a dangerous odyssey in which she must battle the elements and evade Shelton and a small band of desperate criminals, hell-bent on getting that baby back.

Knowing she and the child cannot make it alone, Percy seeks help from Carletta’s ex, Portis Dale, who is the closest thing she’s ever had to a father. As the storm breaks and violence erupts, Percy will be forced to confront the haunting nature of her mother’s affliction and finds her own fate tied more and more inextricably to the baby she is determined to save.

Filled with the sweeping sense of cultural and geographic isolation of its setting—the hills of fictional Cutler County in northern Michigan—and told in Percy’s unflinching style, Sweetgirl is an affecting exploration of courage, sacrifice, and the ties that bind—a taut and darkly humorous tour-de-force that is horrifying, tender, and hopeful.

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Percy James is used to her mother disappearing, but something unspoken urges her to go off in search for her, despite the approaching blizzard. Shelton Potter is the maker and dealer of the local methamphetamine trade and his house is her first stop. She doesn’t find her mother but she does find a baby, laying in front of an open window as the snow begins to pile on top of her. Not knowing what to do but knowing she can’t leave the baby, she bundles her up and begins a tragic excursion through a blizzard in Northern Michigan.

This story seems like one that has been done time and time again, but it’s one that continues to work for me. Sweetgirl is being compared to Winter’s Bone, and it isn’t wrong, but there’s a wonderful touch of humor amidst the bleakness that also reminds me of Justified. Shelton Potter is a drug-addled character that sets off in the blizzard to find baby Jenna in a misguided attempt at being a hero. At one point he’s sucking on helium balloons and whiskey when he runs out of gas in his snow mobile in the middle of nowhere while pondering the complexities of our existence.

‘His head was throbbing. He wondered if he got worse headaches on account of how big his head was. It stood to reason that he would.’

Deep thoughts, right? He reminded me greatly of Dewey Crowe (Justified) for obvious reasons.

Percy James was a headstrong girl that was clearly used to taking care of herself. Despite moments where she appeared far too articulate for a sixteen year old girl, she was still written genuinely and made the sort of decisions one would expect from a teenager. Like instead of hiking into town to find help for the baby, she sets off deeper into the hills to enlist the help of her mother’s ex, Portis Dale, a kind but troubled man. Together, they traverse the snow-covered hills attempting to survive nature and survive Shelton Potter’s men. Portis Dale was a welcome addition and added another level of wittiness to the story.

“Am I being testy? I’m sorry, Percy. As your cruise director I deeply regret any momentary discomfort my tone may have caused you.”

Sweetgirl impressed me most with its striking descriptiveness and how vividly the scenery was brought to life. There may have been some slight issues in general, but it triumphed in terms of Percy’s personal evolution. For such a short novel, she manages to overcome adversity while learning how to know when to do the right thing and realizing her potential for a brighter future outside of the hills of Cutler County Michigan.

‘Mama loved me. I knew that she did. She loved me in a way not even Starr could, but it had been a long time, maybe as far back as that day at Spring Lake, that her love had not felt confused and undercut with sadness. This had always been the torment of Mama’s love and it remained so now – it was both the sun that had borne me and the endless orbit I tread around its burning.’

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Waiting on Wednesday – The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

January 27, 2016 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 3 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix SweeneyThe Nest Published by Ecco on March 22nd 2016
Pages: 368
Genres: Contemporary
Format: Hardcover
Amazon|B&N|Book Depository
Goodreads

A warm, funny and acutely perceptive debut novel about four adult siblings and the fate of the shared inheritance that has shaped their choices and their lives.

Every family has its problems. But even among the most troubled, the Plumb family stands out as spectacularly dysfunctional. Years of simmering tensions finally reach a breaking point on an unseasonably cold afternoon in New York City as Melody, Beatrice, and Jack Plumb gather to confront their charismatic and reckless older brother, Leo, freshly released from rehab. Months earlier, an inebriated Leo got behind the wheel of a car with a nineteen-year-old waitress as his passenger. The ensuing accident has endangered the Plumbs joint trust fund, “The Nest” which they are months away from finally receiving. Meant by their deceased father to be a modest mid-life supplement, the Plumb siblings have watched The Nest’s value soar along with the stock market and have been counting on the money to solve a number of self-inflicted problems.

Melody, a wife and mother in an upscale suburb, has an unwieldy mortgage and looming college tuition for her twin teenage daughters. Jack, an antiques dealer, has secretly borrowed against the beach cottage he shares with his husband, Walker, to keep his store open. And Bea, a once-promising short-story writer, just can’t seem to finish her overdue novel. Can Leo rescue his siblings and, by extension, the people they love? Or will everyone need to reimagine they’ve envisioned? Brought together as never before, Leo, Melody, Jack, and Beatrice must grapple with old resentments, present-day truths, and the significant emotional and financial toll of the accident, as well as finally acknowledge the choices they have made in their own lives.

This is a story about the power of family, the possibilities of friendship, the ways we depend upon one another and the ways we let one another down. In this tender, entertaining, and deftly written debut, Sweeney brings a remarkable cast of characters to life to illuminate what money does to relationships, what happens to our ambitions over the course of time, and the fraught yet unbreakable ties we share with those we love.

Gotta love a good story about dysfunctional families.

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 – Sweetgirl by Travis Mulhauser

August 5, 2015 Bonnie Adult, Waiting on Wednesday 6 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – Sweetgirl by Travis MulhauserSweetgirl by Travis Mulhauser
Published by Ecco on February 2nd 2016
Pages: 256
Genres: Southern Gothic/Country Noir
Format: Hardcover
Amazon|B&N|Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Sweetgirl

As a blizzard bears down, Percy James sets off to find her troubled mother, Carletta. For years, Percy has had to take care of herself and Mama—a woman who’s been unraveling for as long as her daughter can remember. Fearing Carletta is strung out on meth and that she won’t survive the storm, Percy heads for Shelton Potter’s cabin, deep in the woods of Northern Michigan. A two-bit criminal, as incompetent as he his violent, Shelton has been smoking his own cook and grieving the death of his beloved Labrador, Old Bo.

But when Percy arrives, there is no sign of Carletta. Searching the house, she finds Shelton and his girlfriend drugged into oblivion—and a crying baby girl left alone in a freezing room upstairs. From the moment the baby wraps a tiny hand around her finger, Percy knows she must save her—a split-second decision that is the beginning of a dangerous odyssey in which she must battle the elements and evade Shelton and a small band of desperate criminals, hell-bent on getting that baby back.

Knowing she and the child cannot make it alone, Percy seeks help from Carletta’s ex, Portis Dale, who is the closest thing she’s ever had to a father. As the storm breaks and violence erupts, Percy will be forced to confront the haunting nature of her mother’s affliction and finds her own fate tied more and more inextricably to the baby she is determined to save.

Filled with the sweeping sense of cultural and geographic isolation of its setting—the hills of fictional Cutler County in northern Michigan—and told in Percy’s unflinching style, Sweetgirl is an affecting exploration of courage, sacrifice, and the ties that bind—a taut and darkly humorous tour-de-force that is horrifying, tender, and hopeful.

With comparisons to Winter’s Bone and a beautiful cover reminiscent of The Ploughmen, I knew I needed to read this one.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me a link to your post and I’ll be sure to stop by!

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Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine

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Book Review – Bird Box: A Novel by Josh Malerman

May 23, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2014 6 Comments

Book Review – Bird Box: A Novel by Josh MalermanBird Box by Josh Malerman
Published by Ecco on May 13th 2014
Pages: 262
Genres: Horror
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Amazon|B&N|Book Depository
Goodreads


four-half-stars

Something is out there, something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse of it, and a person is driven to deadly violence. No one knows what it is or where it came from.

Five years after it began, a handful of scattered survivors remains, including Malorie and her two young children. Living in an abandoned house near the river, she has dreamed of fleeing to a place where they might be safe. Now that the boy and girl are four, it's time to go, but the journey ahead will be terrifying: twenty miles downriver in a rowboat--blindfolded--with nothing to rely on but her wits and the children’s trained ears. One wrong choice and they will die. Something is following them all the while, but is it man, animal, or monster?

Interweaving past and present, Bird Box is a snapshot of a world unraveled that will have you racing to the final page.

‘They are monsters, Malorie thinks. But she knows they are more than this. They are infinity.’

Bird Box is about an unseen horror that slowly consumes the world. Starting in Russia, news begins pouring in about people going mad and attacking people before turning the violence on themselves. The only correlation between each event is that these people saw something before completely losing their minds.

The story alternates between past and present and does an amazing job at building up the intensity levels to the point where you think it can’t possibly get more extreme. But it does. And continues to do so until the final pages. We’re first introduced to Malorie who has recently found out she’s pregnant. She lives with her sister who is obsessed with watching the news and reading up on the attacks in Russia. The attacks begin spreading and soon enough they’re hearing of incidents in Alaska and eventually in their own town. The only hope for salvation is by keeping their eyes closed. Always. The story then switches to the future, where Malorie and her two four-year old children have managed to survive but are attempting to traverse a river blind in order to get the help they need. Meanwhile, she is certain they are being followed but not being able to see their pursuer keeps them in constant darkness.

Bird Box is the epitome of suspense. It’s a truly terrifying and unsettling thing to not be able to see, especially when you know you’re forever being watched by something. Something that could cause you to lose your mind with even the briefest glance. These characters are forced to blind themselves in order to adapt to this new post-apocalyptic type world and the portrayal of this forced handicap is extraordinarily done as the reader is also blind to the unknown. Imaginations will run rampant with a host of terrifying possibilities as to what lies just beyond your blindfold. Bird Box is the perfect novel for fans of horror and psychological thrillers, but many will likely have issue with the ambiguous ending.

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Waiting on Wednesday – Bird Box by Josh Malerman

April 16, 2014 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 2 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – Bird Box by Josh MalermanBird Box by Josh Malerman
Published by Ecco on May 13th 2014
Pages: 272
Genres: Horror
Format: Hardcover
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Bird Box

Written with the narrative tension of The Road and the exquisite terror of classic Stephen King, Bird Box is a propulsive, edge-of-your-seat horror thriller, set in an apocalyptic near-future world—a masterpiece of suspense from the brilliantly imaginative Josh Malerman

Something is out there . . .

Something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse and a person is driven to deadly violence. No one knows what it is or where it came from.

Five years after it began, a handful of scattered survivors remain, including Malorie and her two young children. Living in an abandoned house near the river, she has dreamed of fleeing to a place where they might be safe. Now, that the boy and girl are four, it is time to go. But the journey ahead will be terrifying: twenty miles downriver in a rowboat—blindfolded—with nothing to rely on but her wits and the children’s trained ears. One wrong choice and they will die. And something is following them. But is it man, animal, or monster?

Engulfed in darkness, surrounded by sounds both familiar and frightening, Malorie embarks on a harrowing odyssey—a trip that takes her into an unseen world and back into the past, to the companions who once saved her. Under the guidance of the stalwart Tom, a motely group of strangers banded together against the unseen terror, creating order from the chaos. But when supplies ran low, they were forced to venture outside—and confront the ultimate question: in a world gone mad, who can really be trusted?

Interweaving past and present, Josh Malerman’s breathtaking debut is a horrific and gripping snapshot of a world unraveled that will have you racing to the final page.

About Josh Malerman

FUN FACTS ABOUT JOSH

1. Shares a birthday with Amelia Earhart
Is the middle child
2. At 12, got stung on the face by a jellyfish after father convinced him the ocean was safe
3. The Twilight Zone: The Movie was the first horror film he saw
4. Almost always writes as horror movie soundtracks play on the record player (The Howling, Poltergeist, and Zombi 2 are great, but Creepshow is best)
5. Sings for the rock n’ roll band The High Strung
6. Wrote/performs the theme song for Showtime’s Shameless (starring William H. Macy)
7. Has only read two books twice: William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! and Stephen King’s The Shining
8. Is a member of the Detroit Zoo
9. Lives with his fianceé (whose head he recently shaved) in Royal Oak, Michigan

This sounds UNBELIEVABLY good and the early reviews have been promising. Cannot wait to get my hands on this one!

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me a link to your post and I’ll be sure to stop by!

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine

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Waiting on Wednesday – The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

March 12, 2014 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 7 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – The Miniaturist by Jessie BurtonThe Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
Published by Ecco on August 26th 2014
Pages: 416
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Amazon
Goodreads

"There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed…"

On a brisk autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives in Amsterdam to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt. But her new home, while splendorous, is not welcoming. Johannes is kind yet distant, always locked in his study or at his warehouse office-leaving Nella alone with his sister, the sharp-tongued and forbidding Marin.

But Nella's world changes when Johannes presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. To furnish her gift, Nella engages the services of a miniaturist-an elusive and enigmatic artist whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie and unexpected ways . . .

Johannes' gift helps Nella to pierce the closed world of the Brandt household. But as she uncovers its unusual secrets, she begins to understand-and fear-the escalating dangers that await them all. In this repressively pious society where gold is worshipped second only to God, to be different is a threat to the moral fabric of society, and not even a man as rich as Johannes is safe. Only one person seems to see the fate that awaits them. Is the miniaturist the key to their salvation . . . or the architect of their destruction?

Enchanting, beautiful, and exquisitely suspenseful, The Miniaturist is a magnificent story of love and obsession, betrayal and retribution, appearance and truth.

Such a strange and interesting sounding storyline! Really loving this cover too.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me a link to your post and I’ll be sure to stop by!

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine

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

August 3, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 2 Comments

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


four-stars

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

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

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

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

‘The impossible happens once to each of us.’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Early Review – Tampa by Alissa Nutting

June 21, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2013 2 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.

Early Review – Tampa by Alissa NuttingTampa by Alissa Nutting
Published by Ecco on July 2nd 2013
Pages: 272
Genres: Contemporary, Diiiirrrrrrttyyy
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
Amazon
Goodreads


four-stars

Celeste Price is an eighth-grade English teacher in suburban Tampa. She's undeniably attractive. She drives a red Corvette with tinted windows. Her husband, Ford, is rich, square-jawed, and devoted to her.

But Celeste's devotion lies elsewhere. She has a singular sexual obsession—fourteen-year-old boys. Celeste pursues her craving with sociopathic meticulousness and forethought; her sole purpose in becoming a teacher is to fulfill her passion and provide her access to her compulsion. As the novel opens, fall semester at Jefferson Jr. High is beginning.

In mere weeks, Celeste has chosen and lured the lusciously naive Jack Patrick into her web. Jack is enthralled and in awe of his teacher, and, most important, willing to accept Celeste's terms for a secret relationship—car rides after school; rendezvous at Jack's house while his single father works late; body-slamming encounters in Celeste's empty classroom between periods.

Ever mindful of the danger—the perpetual risk of exposure, Jack's father's own attraction to her, and the ticking clock as Jack leaves innocent boyhood behind—the hyperbolically insatiable Celeste bypasses each hurdle with swift thinking and shameless determination, even when the solutions involve greater misdeeds than the affair itself. In slaking her sexual thirst, Celeste Price is remorseless and deviously free of hesitation, a monstress driven by pure motivation. She deceives everyone, and cares nothing for anyone or anything but her own pleasure.

With crackling, rampantly unadulterated prose, Tampa is a grand, uncompromising, seriocomic examination of want and a scorching literary debut.

‘The rage of lust was like an IV drip in my veins; I felt it beginning to spread inside me with the helpless awareness of someone realizing she’s been slipped a drug.’

Celeste has the intensity of a psychopath or even a serial killer when it comes to her sexual obsessions. The desperation in doing whatever it takes to satisfy her need was disturbing to say the least. Her complete disregard for how her actions would affect others in her life was unsettling. Celeste is hands down one of the most warped characters in literature I have ever had the pleasure of reading.

Comparisons to Lolita cannot be helped (although it could also be compared to Belinda by Anne Rampling, one of Anne Rice’s lesser known novels written under a pseudonym), despite the fact it’s actually quite different it still manages to touch upon the same subject. Unlike Lolita, this is not a retelling of events or even a confession but a first person accounting of the main characters sexual forays. But be warned, Celeste makes Humbert Humbert look tame in comparison. Nabokov wrote a truly lyrical story that managed to win over many readers despite Humbert’s wrongs; he became one to be pitied. Nutting has done the opposite with her character Celeste and does not ever intend for you to pity her or feel sorry for her affliction. She’s extremely lewd and vulgar and the pages reek with indecency and she’s not ashamed to admit it.

‘I found that sometimes it was a relief to do something unattractive in private, to confirm that I’m deeply flawed when so many others imagine me to be perfect.’

She found anyone that had begun to show signs that adolescence was leaving them to be completely foul and disgusting and was utterly envious of the female children of her class. The fact that she was flawless and appeared much younger than her true age I think was the only mitigating factor that prevented her from personally disgusting herself as she took extremely good care of herself to avoid showing signs of her age for as long as possible. It could also be said that her sexual encounters with the younger boys was seen as a purifying or cleansing ritual in her eyes. Bottom line, she was an extremely disturbed individual.

Tampa is a book that opens up the discussion that women are obviously not always the victim, that they can be just as guilty and just as psychopathic as their gender counterpart. It’s a topic that forces you to look at the stereotypes in society today whether it is gender stereotypes or even stereotypes based on looks alone. Also, it definitely brings to light how the pursuing of an older woman no matter the age of the pursuer has become slightly glamorized over time.

In an interview with Cosmo (incredible review, definitely worth a read), the author stated that there is a void in literature about female sexual psychopaths and she sought to fill it. I can’t think of any books related to the topic either but I have to applaud the fact that Nutting tackled this subject head-on and didn’t water it down simply to avoid controversy. The extensiveness of her sexual conduct did at times seem gratuitous and left you feeling just as empty as Celeste, however, there’s no denying this was an exceptionally scandalous yet efficiently written debut novel.

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