Publisher: Harper

Audiobook Review – Red Queen (Red Queen #1) by Victoria Aveyard

June 2, 2016 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2016, YA 1 Comment

Audiobook Review – Red Queen (Red Queen #1) by Victoria AveyardRed Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Narrator: Amanda Dolan
Series: Red Queen #1
Published by Harper Audio on February 10th 2015
Length: 12 hours and 40 minutes
Genres: Fantasy, Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads


three-stars

Mare Barrow's world is divided by blood—those with red and those with silver. Mare and her family are lowly Reds, destined to serve the Silver elite whose supernatural abilities make them nearly gods. Mare steals what she can to help her family survive, but when her best friend is conscripted into the army she gambles everything to win his freedom. A twist of fate leads her to the royal palace itself, where, in front of the king and all his nobles, she discovers a power of her own—an ability she didn't know she had. Except . . . her blood is Red.

To hide this impossibility, the king forces her into the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks her new position to aid the Scarlet Guard—the leaders of a Red rebellion. Her actions put into motion a deadly and violent dance, pitting prince against prince—and Mare against her own heart.

From debut author Victoria Aveyard comes a lush, vivid fantasy series where loyalty and desire can tear you apart and the only certainty is betrayal.

style-3 review

“Many things led to this day, for all of us. A forgotten son, a vengeful mother, a brother with a long shadow, a strange mutation. Together, they’ve written a tragedy.”

In Victoria Aveyard’s dystopian fantasy, the world encompasses two different types of people: Silvers and Reds. The Silvers are royalty, the rulers, maintaining their authority with the aid of the supernatural powers they possess. Reds are the working class and are treated poorly by Silvers, possessing no powers of their own to fight back. This split between people has always been this way, until a Red discovers that she possesses the powers of a Silver.

Mare Barrow, age 17 and a Red, knows her freedom is coming to an end soon. At the age of 18, she’ll be conscripted to fight in the war against the Kingdom of Lakeland because she doesn’t possess any useful talents to keep her home. She’s been resigned to her fate, however, when she discovers her best friend Kilorn will be conscripted as well, she becomes determined to find a way for the two of them to escape knowing he wouldn’t survive a war. She plans to use the skills she does possess, thievery, to obtain enough money to buy their freedom but the plan goes awry when she pickpockets, and is caught except miraculously the boy allows her to escape and gets her a job at the palace instead. It’s revealed that she possesses powers that even she wasn’t aware of, and she becomes a powerful pawn between the Silvers and the Scarlet Guard, the leaders of the Red rebellion.

The first half of this book introduces us to the life of a Red, and it’s bleak. The Silvers are painted as brutal tyrants that punish Reds for the smallest of crimes, where food is scarce, and poverty is the norm. The majority have accepted their lot in life, not being able to see any way of overcoming the Silvers. The Scarlet Guard is the heart of the rebellion against the Silvers, and its their help Mare seeks in escaping her and Kilorn’s conscription into war. The world itself isn’t described much outside of Mare’s small village, and while this may be due to the fact that the story was told from her point of view and her view is certainly limited, it would have been nice to be given some semblance of a backstory. All in all, it was still enjoyable and mildly entertaining, at least until the lovey bits were introduced.

Tropes and cliches were fairly common, yet like I previously mentioned it still managed to be an entertaining and far from painful read. Yes, there is a love triangle. Yes, there is also a fair amount of insta-love. No, it didn’t make me want to stab myself in the eye so there’s that at least. There’s the requisite special snowflake that becomes a catalyst for change. There’s constant lies and deceit and basically no one can be trusted. There was also a large amount of unlikely scenarios that required a suspension of disbelief. If you’re a fan of fantasy and capable of not taking a story too seriously, this is quite the entertaining read.

I’m always leery these days when books come with all the comparisons, and especially when those comparisons have been attached to an ample amount of books already. X-Men, Game of Thrones, Red Rising, Hunger Games, Divergent, etc. And sure, I can see the comparisons, but it never became such an obvious rip-off to completely turn me off from this story. All books are inspired by something, it just depends on the way each author spins it to make it unique and their own. Aveyard may not have completely dazzled me with her debut, however, she aroused my curiosity enough especially with the unexpected ending to continue following this story.

“Rise, red as the dawn.”

Divider

Book Review – Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman

May 27, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2016 1 Comment

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

Book Review – Girls on Fire by Robin WassermanGirls on Fire by Robin Wasserman
Published by Harper on May 17th 2016
Pages: 368
Genres: Contemporary, Coming-of-Age
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Waking Dark

two-half-stars

On Halloween, 1991, a popular high school basketball star ventures into the woods near Battle Creek, Pennsylvania, and disappears. Three days later, he’s found with a bullet in his head and a gun in his hand—a discovery that sends tremors through this conservative community, already unnerved by growing rumors of Satanic worship in the region.

In the wake of this incident, bright but lonely Hannah Dexter is befriended by Lacey Champlain, a dark-eyed, Cobain-worshiping bad influence in lip gloss and Doc Martens. The charismatic, seductive Lacey forges a fast, intimate bond with the impressionable Dex, making her over in her own image and unleashing a fierce defiance that neither girl expected. But as Lacey gradually lures Dex away from her safe life into a feverish spiral of obsession, rebellion, and ever greater risk, an unwelcome figure appears on the horizon—and Lacey’s secret history collides with Dex’s worst nightmare.

Like The Virgin Suicides or the novels of Elena Ferrante, Girls on Fire stalks the treacherous territory between girlhood and adulthood. By turns a shocking story of love and violence and an addictive portrait of the intoxication of female friendship, set against the unsettled backdrop of a town gripped by moral panic, it is an unflinching and unforgettable snapshot of girlhood: girls lost and found, girls strong and weak, girls who burn bright and brighter—and some who flicker away.

style-3 review

‘Origin stories are irrelevant. Nothing matters less than how you were born. What matters is how you die, and how you live. We live for each other, so anything that got us to that point must have been right.’

Girls on Fire left me incredibly conflicted and I sat on my review for several weeks hoping that time would help elucidate my feelings. (It did not. Yet here I am.) Girls on Fire consists of the types of teenagers of a Megan Abbott novel; Dare Me is the one that immediately comes to mind. These teenagers are not the teenagers of a Sarah Dessen novel. They are crude and vulgar, whose actions go well beyond shocking and insulting. I was constantly bouncing back and forth between being impressed by their brazenness and appalled by their impudence. It was a bit exhausting.

‘I loved it. Loved it like Shakespearean sonnets and Hallmark cards and all that shit, like I wanted to buy it flowers and light it candles and fuck it gently with a chainsaw.’

Girls on Fire is set in the early 90s when Nirvana was at the top and Real World was everyone’s obsession. A small town in Pennsylvania is horrified after the supposed suicide of the town jock, Craig Ellison. No one thinks he could have done it but the evidence clearly proves otherwise. While the story begins with Craig’s death and is constantly affected by it, the girls are center stage. Hannah Dexter is diffident and Lacey Champlain is fearless, so when Lacey takes “Dex” under her wing, their relationship becomes increasingly virulent the more time the duo spend together. Nikki Drummond is the requisite “mean girl” of the school and Lacey and Dex’s whole relationship is based on their shared hatred of her.

The writing was opulent and whenever the story lost me slightly in its meanderings, the writing always kept me enticed. The story though, there was something excessive and tiresome about the way these young women were written. Something superfluous about their actions and their demeanor in general. The relationship between Lacey and Dex was intense and so very exorbitant. It wasn’t that the writing didn’t properly portray their relationship with one another, but rather it was written with such detail that you became a part of them and a part of their relationship. The whole thing was distasteful and depleting and something that you definitely did not want to be a part of.

It’s a coming of age tale, about the metamorphose that, especially in individuals so young, can undergo because of the lives they’re forced to lead and the people they choose to surround themselves with. Bit by bit, each girl’s story unfolds and I once again found myself torn between how exactly I should be feeling. Despite my wavering opinion and low rating, this was certainly an audacious story to tell and is likely a very accurate portrayal (if a bit extreme) of female relationships and all the dark niches that are rarely exposed.

‘What matters isn’t how we found each other, Dex, or why. It’s that we did, and what happened next. Smash the right two particles together in the right way and you get a bomb. That’s us, Dex. Accidental fusion.’

Divider

Book Review – Sandman Slim (Sandman Slim #1) by Richard Kadrey

May 5, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2016 1 Comment

Book Review – Sandman Slim (Sandman Slim #1) by Richard KadreySandman Slim by Richard Kadrey
Series: Sandman Slim #1
Published by Harper Voyager on January 8th 2010
Pages: 416
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Dead Set, The Everything Box, The Wrong Dead Guy

four-stars

Supernatural fantasy has a new antihero in Sandman Slim, star of this gripping, gritty new series by Richard Kadrey.

Life sucks and then you die. Or, if you’re James Stark, you spend eleven years in Hell as a hitman before finally escaping, only to land back in the hell-on-earth that is Los Angeles.

Now Stark’s back, and ready for revenge. And absolution, and maybe even love. But when his first stop saddles him with an abusive talking head, Stark discovers that the road to absolution and revenge is much longer than you’d expect, and both Heaven and Hell have their own ideas for his future.

Resurrection sucks. Saving the world is worse.

Darkly twisted, irreverent, and completely hilarious, Sandman Slim is the breakthrough novel by an acclaimed author.

style-3 review

“So why’d you come back?”
“I’m going to kill some people,” I tell him. I pour the Jack into the coffee. “Probably a lot of people.”

James Stark is back on Earth after eleven years spent down in Hell, “Downtown” as he refers to it, fighting demons in the pits. He didn’t die to end up in Hell though, his magical group of friends sent him down in exchange for power. They also killed his girlfriend, Alice, the only person he’d ever found that loved and accepted him for who he was, so now he’s back in L.A. for some good old fashioned revenge.

Upon his return, he doesn’t actually realize eleven years has passed and that he’s no longer a 19 year old kid. Time flows differently Downtown. He does manage to bring back a few helpful items to ensure his survival: new Hellion magic to add to the magic he already knew, a magic knife that can not only cut through anything but also quite handily starts cars, a Veritas coin that will answer snarkily any questions posed to it, and a magic key he keeps safely inside his chest (yep, you read that right, inside) which allows him to slip into shadows and appear anywhere he desires. He’s fairly impossible to kill too which certainly helps. Stark is dead set on his revenge, but along the way he gets ensnared in the building evil on Earth which involves some asshole angels, a new sort of beast he didn’t even know existed, neo-Nazis, and even Homeland Security. Suffice it to say, he’s found himself in some shit.

“I’m not rich, but I know I’ll never starve because I can order a burrito and make the counter person think I’ve already paid.”
“Aim high, dude.”

And that’s the best part about Stark: his sense of humor. I adore a great story that is rife with violence and evil and all the wonderful things that go along with that but can still manage to sustain a sense of humor through it all. Stark’s life can admittedly be defined as shitty (eleven years spent in Hell can only be described as such), however, his snide cynicism adds a certain amount of wittiness that makes this damn near perfect. Sandman Slim has often been compared to Harry Butcher of The Dresden Files and while I can certainly see the similarities (male magician, hunting bad guys, solving mysteries, etc.) Stark is an infinitely more compelling character in my most humble opinion. Sure, these books are quite a bit more violent but the violence and the humor go hand in hand. Perfect example: within the very first few pages he’s cut the head off someone but still kept them alive and sat their head on a shelf forcing them to watch infomercials all day.

Bottom line, I really have no excuse for why it took me SO long to read these. They are suited perfectly for me and should be at the top of any Urban Fantasy lovers list. Sandman Slim is the start of a series which is followed by Kill the Dead. The eighth installment, The Perdition Score, is out this June so I have plenty of catching up to do. I can’t wait to dive back into the gritty streets of L.A.

‘There’s only one problem with L.A.
It exists.
L.A. is what happens when a bunch of Lovecraftian elder gods and porn starlets spend a weekend locked up in the Chateau Marmont snorting lines of crank off Jim Morrison’s bones. If the Viagra and illegal Traci Lords videos don’t get you going, then the Japanese tentacle porn will.’

Divider

Book Tour Review – The Good Liar: A Novel by Nicholas Searle

March 4, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Book Tour, Read in 2016 3 Comments

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

Book Tour Review – The Good Liar: A Novel by Nicholas SearleThe Good Liar: A Novel by Nicholas Searle
Published by Harper on February 2nd 2016
Pages: 352
Genres: Mystery
Format: ARC
Source: TLC Book Tours
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads


two-half-stars

Spinning a page-turning story of literary suspense that begins in the present and unwinds back more than half a century, this unforgettable debut channels the haunting allure of Atonement as its masterfully woven web of lies, secrets, and betrayals unravels to a shocking conclusion

Veteran con artist Roy spots an obvious easy mark when he meets Betty, a wealthy widow, online. In no time at all, he’s moved into Betty’s lovely cottage and is preparing to accompany her on a romantic trip to Europe. Betty’s grandson disapproves of their blossoming relationship, but Roy is sure this scheme will be a success. He knows what he’s doing.

As this remarkable feat of storytelling weaves together Roy’s and Betty’s futures, it also unwinds their pasts. Dancing across almost a century, decades that encompass unthinkable cruelty, extraordinary resilience, and remarkable kindness, The Good Liar is an epic narrative of sin, salvation, and survival—and for Roy and Betty, there is a reckoning to be made when the endgame of Roy’s crooked plot plays out.

About Nicholas Searle

Nicholas Searle grew up in the southwest of England and studied languages at the University of Bath and the University of Göttingen, Germany. He spent more years than he cares to remember in public service, in the UK  and New Zealand, before deciding in  2011 to leave and begin writing fiction.  The Good Liar is his first novel. Nicholas lives in Yorkshire, in the north of England.

style-3 (2) review

‘He is not sure he believes in fate, or whether he believes in anything but the very present. Then again, life has treated him well generally.’

Roy is now in his 80s but is set on doing another con, after all it’s what he’s done his entire life. Betty is a widow of a similar age and has agreed to have a drink with a man named Roy whom she met on the Internet. The two develop a quick familiarity with one another and little to no time passes before they’ve agreed to something of a companionship and begin living together. It all seems very easy and Roy is already considering this con to be a slam dunk, however, Betty is more aware of what’s actually going on than he knows.

The story initially splits POV between Roy and Betty and their new life together before diving into the past where bit by bit Roy’s background is revealed. His past details are what make up the majority of this story and is ultimately where The Good Liar left me struggling to stay involved. Every aspect of his past is something that needs knowing for the most part, you just don’t realize it at the time because it’s something you need to know in order to understand the plot twist near the end. But while immersed in his past, it becomes extremely difficult to understand how it’s in any way relevant to the story. Roy is also one of those characters you have a hard time feeling anything for, being a rather unemotional guy himself, this left him somewhat uninteresting for the most part. He was your cardboard cutout con man whose real motivations in life didn’t narrow down to much. Once we’re fully in the know in regards to Roy, the author switches to Betty’s past. Much less time is spent on her background which was a real shame seeing as that portion of the story was its biggest strength. Betty’s troubled past is handled deftly and managed to finally draw me into the story, albeit near the end. The twist managed to be interesting yet still expected once all the facts were revealed.

The Good Liar is being marketed as a crime story yet it should be said its primarily a character study. The pacing of the story is at times exasperating but the author skillfully disperses small nuggets of import to keep you curious throughout. The mystery itself may have taken too long to unravel but this was nonetheless a finely written debut novel.

border24

This post was a part of The Good Liar’ blog tour.
Check out the other tour stops below!

Tuesday, February 2nd: From the TBR Pile
Wednesday, February 3rd: Priscilla and Her Books
Thursday, February 4th: I’m Shelf-ish
Monday, February 8th: Ageless Pages Reviews
Tuesday, February 9th: Vox Libris
Wednesday, February 10th: Curling Up by the Fire
Tuesday, February 16th: Book Journey
Thursday, February 18th: Kritters Ramblings
Monday, February 22nd: Jenn’s Bookshelves
Tuesday, February 23rd: Books and Bindings
Wednesday, February 24th: she treads softly
Thursday, February 25th: FictionZeal
Thursday, February 25th: A Bookworm’s World

tlc logoborder24

Divider

Book Review – Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho

January 15, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2016 3 Comments

Book Review – Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo CoelhoVeronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho
Published by HarperCollins on March 17, 2009
Pages: 191
Genres: Philosophy, Literary Fiction
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads


two-stars

Twenty-four-year-old Veronika seems to have everything -- youth and beauty, boyfriends and a loving family, a fulfilling job. But something is missing in her life. So, one cold November morning, she takes a handful of sleeping pills expecting never to wake up. But she does -- at a mental hospital where she is told that she has only days to live.

Inspired by events in Coelho's own life, Veronika Decides to Die questions the meaning of madness and celebrates individuals who do not fit into patterns society considers to be normal. Bold and illuminating, it is a dazzling portrait of a young woman at the crossroads of despair and liberation, and a poetic, exuberant appreciation of each day as a renewed opportunity.

style-3 (2) review

You know how there are just certain things in life that your brain simply cannot comprehend no matter how hard you try? For me, that’s philosophy. Philosophy seems like something that should totally work for me, but the bigger picture, that moment of clarity, of understanding, NEVER comes. I signed up for Philosophy 101 in University and I’m not sure if I had the worst teacher known to man but I walked out less than halfway through the first class. The sole exception to this has been The Tao of Pooh and The Te of Piglet. Say what you want, but that shit is legit. Veronika could take a lesson or two from Pooh Bear.

So, Veronika decides to die. That’s not a spoiler, clearly.

‘When she had achieved almost everything she wanted in life, she had reached the conclusion that her existence had no meaning, because every day was the same. And she had decided to die.’

She decides, over a period of months where she begins collecting sleeping pills, that there is essentially no more point to life because she’s already accomplished everything. So why continue to live it? Veronika takes the pills yet she’s discovered by an unknown individual and wakes to find herself in Villete, the infamous mental hospital. She’s devastated to find that she didn’t succeed in her task but is informed by the doctor that she damaged her heart irreparably and that she has less than a week to live. Initially, this book started off strong and it seemed as if it would be an interesting look into the workings of a mental illness but Paulo Coelho opted to go for a philosophical angle instead which flawed the whole point he was trying to make. Within these short 191 pages, we’re introduced to other individuals currently staying at Villete: a woman with acute anxiety and a man with schizophrenia which are all meant to be traits of Coelho himself who was institutionalized when he was young.

‘In a world where everyone struggles to survive whatever the cost, how could one judge those people who decide to die? No one can judge. Each person knows the extent of their own suffering, or the total absence of meaning in their lives.’

There is much confusion when it comes to the medical aspects of the novel and the even more ridiculous plot twist. In a nutshell, this story is about reveling in our differences, the fact that what society views as “insanity” isn’t necessarily so, and the necessity for finding the beauty in each new day of life. While I understand what Paulo Coelho was intending with this story, taking a serious subject like attempted suicide and giving it a picture perfect (and unrealistic) ending made it all so very contrived.

Divider

Audiobook Review – Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

January 7, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2016 1 Comment

Audiobook Review – Go Set a Watchman by Harper LeeGo Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
Narrator: Reese Witherspoon
Series: To Kill a Mockingbird
Published by Harper Audio on July 14th 2015
Length: 6 hours and 57 minutes
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: To Kill a Mockingbird

two-stars

From Harper Lee comes a landmark new novel set two decades after her beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird.

Maycomb, Alabama. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch--"Scout"--returns home from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise's homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town and the people dearest to her. Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt. Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman perfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in a painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past--a journey that can be guided only by one's conscience.

Written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman imparts a fuller, richer understanding and appreciation of Harper Lee. Here is an unforgettable novel of wisdom, humanity, passion, humor and effortless precision--a profoundly affecting work of art that is both wonderfully evocative of another era and relevant to our own times. It not only confirms the enduring brilliance of To Kill a Mockingbird, but also serves as its essential companion, adding depth, context and new meaning to an American classic.

To Kill a Mockingbird series

22907938

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee [Review]

style-3 (4) review

This book will be discussed in detail, so please do not read unless you wanted to be spoiled.

When Go Set a Watchman was announced and released in the summer of 2015, it had its fair share of controversy. It was heavily questioned initially whether Harper Lee had authorized the book’s release, or if she had even written it at all. But then the release came, and the outrage became even more substantial: Atticus Finch is racist. I couldn’t help but feel that the quotations that were shared were being taken out of context, but it was some pretty solid evidence that was hard to refute. Bottom line, my curiosity was great and I had to experience the truth myself.

Readers are mad, and rightly so in my opinion, that Atticus Finch’s character has been dramatically transposed from the interpretation we were given in To Kill A Mockingbird. But that’s just what it was, an interpretation. If you remember, the story was written entirely from the point of view of Scout, who was just six years old and at that young age, it is easy for parental idolatry to occur. Go Set a Watchman takes place years later, where Jean Louise Finch “Scout” is now twenty-six years old and coming home from New York to visit her aging father. She’s confronted with the fact that she’s understood her father to be of one frame of mind about the world, that she has modeled her own mindset after his, and her beliefs are now crumbling when she discovers him in a “citizens’ council” meeting hosting a racist preacher. When she has it out with him later, she finds out that her father is a card-carrying member of the KKK as well. Atticus was that one shining beacon of hope in a sea of racism and to find out he’s no different than the majority of individuals in this era caused a complete loss of innocence. And here we all thought that To Kill A Mockingbird was the coming-of-age tale.

I did a re-read of To Kill A Mockingbird just last year, so it was all still very clear in my mind. This is a direct line from my review which posted last March:

“Atticus Finch, by far my favorite character, is a man that saw everyone as his equal. He believed this wholeheartedly and was willing to put his very livelihood on the line to fight for those rights. He was able to accept the differences in all of us and see the true bottom line: regardless of race, color, gender or any of the multitudes of ways that not only make us who we are but also separates us from the rest, at the end of the day we are all the same; we’re all human beings. This world would be a far better place with a few more Atticus Finch’s in existence.”

Go Set a Watchman has definitely caused me to examine my own mindset, much like Scout. So other than our preconceived notions that Atticus was anything but racist, what do we know about him actually? He’s honest and fair, he’s a great father and a fantastic lawyer. He views his job less as a job but more as a personal pledge to upholding the law, regardless of race. And there’s the rub. Atticus chose to defend Tom Robinson solely because of his personal obligation to upholding justice because he felt that no one would properly defend him like Atticus would.

“I remember that rape case you defended, but I missed the point. You love justice, all right. Abstract justice written down item by item on a brief – nothing to do with that black boy, you just like a neat brief. His cause interfered with your orderly mind, and you had to work order out of disorder. It’s a compulsion with you, and now it’s coming home to you – “

He goes on to explain his membership to the KKK as a way of being aware of who is also a member and who holds those beliefs. Jean Louise’s love interest, Henry, is also a card-carrying member and he explains to her his presence in the citizen’s council meeting be saying it allows him to continue to be of use to the community. That he isn’t necessarily agreeing with their beliefs, but he’s not going against them because calling them out would cast him out and being a part of the norm is safe. In a nutshell. So, conform to the norm and don’t voice your differing opinions because that’s not safe, is the belief. Of course, this is an extremely accurate interpretation of the typical mindset during this period in history and having Atticus come out as having racist beliefs just makes more sense even if I’d prefer to stick with my illustrious views of him, rather than these dispiriting quotes:

“Have you ever considered that you can’t have a set of backward people living among people advanced in one kind of civilization and have a social Arcadia?”

“You realize that our Negro population is backward, don’t you? You will concede that? You realize the full implications of the word ‘backward’, don’t you?”

“You realize that the vast majority of them here in the South are unable to share fully in the responsibilities of citizenship, and why?”

“Do you want Negroes by the carload in our schools and churches and theaters? Do you want them in our world? […] Do you want your children going to school that’s been dragged down to accommodate Negro children?”

“…you do not seem to understand that the Negroes down here are still in their childhood as people.”

Jean Louise is naturally irate at what’s coming out of his mouth, but instead of voicing her dissension, explains her anger to him by asking him why he didn’t just raise her right.

“…I grew up right here in your house, and I never knew what was in your mind. I only heard what you said. You neglected to tell me that we were naturally better than the Negroes, bless their kinky heads, that they were able to go so far but so far only.”

Because if he had raised her to not be “colorblind”, as she says, and to be able to recognize the differences in the races then she wouldn’t be so conflicted because she’d be like-minded with everyone else in the town.

I loved To Kill a Mockingbird. I loved the hope it presented, but again, it was all being viewed from the point of view of a child so it had that sense of innocence. To Kill a Mockingbird has grown up, Scout has grown up, and that same world is now viewed with a devastating sense of realism that I think is a difficult thing to stomach. I have read many reviews that state even if this tarnishes Atticus for you, it is still a must-read because of how it views the world harshly but honestly. I have to disagree. For me, I think even if we enjoyed Scout’s innocent interpretation of the world, we’re all still fully aware of how the world truly is. We’re all aware of the masks that people can wear and the secrets that they hide from the public and even from those they love. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with continuing to hope that there was at least one good man in the South that was willing to stand up for his beliefs even if they didn’t manage to fit the norm.

‘I did not want my world disturbed, but I wanted to crush the man who’s trying to preserve it for me. I wanted to stamp out all the people like him. I guess it’s like an airplane: they’re the drag and we’re the thrust, together we make the thing fly. Too much of us and we’re nose-heavy, too much of them and we’re tail-heavy—it’s a matter of balance. I can’t beat him, and I can’t join him–’

Note on the Narration: I listened to Sissy Spacek’s narration of To Kill a Mockingbird and I couldn’t imagine Scout’s story being told any other way. But this book wouldn’t have been anything without the narration of Reese Witherspoon. Her southern accent is perfection and somebody has got to tell her she really must narrate more audiobooks. Listen below for a clip.

Divider

Waiting on Wednesday – The Everything Box: A Novel by Richard Kadrey

December 16, 2015 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 2 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – The Everything Box: A Novel by Richard KadreyThe Everything Box: A Novel by Richard Kadrey
Series: TBD, #1
Published by Harper Voyager on April 19th 2016
Pages: 384
Genres: Fantasy, Funny-ha-ha
Format: Hardcover
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Dead Set, Sandman Slim, The Everything Box, The Wrong Dead Guy

Reminiscent of the edgy, offbeat humor of Chris Moore and Matt Ruff, the first entry in a whimsical, fast-paced supernatural series from the New York Times bestselling author of the Sandman Slim novels-a dark and humorous story involving a doomsday gizmo, a horde of baddies determined to possess its power, and a clever thief who must steal it back . . . again and again

2000 B.C.
A beautiful, ambitious angel stands on a mountaintop, surveying the world and its little inhabitants below. He smiles because soon, the last of humanity who survived the great flood will meet its end, too. And he should know. He’s going to play a big part in it. Our angel usually doesn’t get to do field work, and if he does well, he’s certain he’ll be get a big promotion.
And now it’s time . . .
The angel reaches into his pocket for the instrument of humanity’s doom. Must be in the other pocket. Then he frantically begins to pat himself down. Dejected, he realizes he has lost the object. Looking over the Earth at all that could have been, the majestic angel utters a single word.
“Crap.”

2015
A thief named Coop-a specialist in purloining magic objects-steals and delivers a small box to the mysterious client who engaged his services. Coop doesn’t know that his latest job could be the end of him-and the rest of the world. Suddenly he finds himself in the company of the Department of Peculiar Science, a fearsome enforcement agency that polices the odd and strange. The box isn’t just a supernatural heirloom with quaint powers, they tell him.

It’s a doomsday device. They think. . .
And suddenly, everyone is out to get it.

About Richard Kadrey

Richard Kadrey is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. He is the author of dozens of stories, plus ten novels, including Sandman Slim, Kill the Dead,Aloha from Hell, Devil Said Bang, Kill City Blues,Metrophage and Butcher Bird. His Wired magazine cover story, Carbon Copy, was made into one of the worst movies of 2001. It starred Bridget Fonda. Sorry, Bridget.

He has been immortalized as an action figure. “Kadray [sic]: The Invincible Wizard” was a villain in an episode of the Blackstar animated TV series.

Kadrey created and wrote the Vertigo comics mini-series ACCELERATE, which was illustrated by the Pander Brothers. He plans to do more comic work in the near future.

He has written and spoken about art, culture and technology for Wired, The San Francisco Chronicle, Discovery Online, The Site, SXSW and Wired For Sexon the G4 cable network.

Richard has no qualifications for anything he does.

I’ve only read a single Richard Kadrey book  but found it extremely enjoyable. This sounds like a complete departure from his typical writing style but I’m all on board.. this sounds fantastic!

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

dvd-pearl

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine

Divider

National Book Award 2015 Finalist – Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

November 14, 2015 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2015, YA 3 Comments

National Book Award 2015 Finalist – Challenger Deep by Neal ShustermanChallenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
Illustrator: Brendan Shusterman
Published by HarperTeen on April 21st 2015
Pages: 320
Genres: Mental Illness, Realistic YA Fiction
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads


four-half-stars

Caden Bosch is on a ship that's headed for the deepest point on Earth: Challenger Deep, the southern part of the Marianas Trench.

Caden Bosch is a brilliant high school student whose friends are starting to notice his odd behavior.

Caden Bosch is designated the ship's artist in residence, to document the journey with images.

Caden Bosch pretends to join the school track team but spends his days walking for miles, absorbed by the thoughts in his head.

Caden Bosch is split between his allegiance to the captain and the allure of mutiny.

Caden Bosch is torn.

A captivating and powerful novel that lingers long beyond the last page, Challenger Deep is a heartfelt tour de force by one of today's most admired writers for teens.

‘Sometimes the darkness beyond is not glorious at all, it truly is an absolute absence of light. A clawing, needy tar that pulls you down. You drown but you don’t. It turns you to lead so you sink faster in its viscous embrace. It robs you of hope and even the memory of hope. It makes you think you’ve always felt like this, and there’s no place to go but down, where it slowly, ravenously digests your will, distilling it into the ebony crude of nightmares.’

Caden Bosch’s descent into schizophrenia takes readers on an unforgettable adventure that blurs the line between what’s real and what’s mere fantasy. Caden is a gifted artist at the age of fifteen years old yet he possesses an inner drive, a compulsion, that he can no longer keep quiet. His art becomes frenetic and he begins walking his town for hours based on a uncontrollable desire to fill the empty sidewalks with his presence. And sometimes his mind takes him elsewhere, where he’s a part of a crew on a galleon and their mission is to reach the deepest point of the Marianas Trench, a place called Challenger Deep.

‘The things I feel cannot be put into words, or if they can, the words are in no language anyone can understand. My emotions are talking in tongues.’

Ironically, this was my first read in my National Book Award experiment, yet it’s the last one I sat down to review. This was such a staggering read for me that it really took me some time to fully process Caden’s story and how it made me feel. I suppose the expected response is sadness and pity, but it was so authentically told that it transformed this story into something truly substantial for me. Despite the fantasy world that Caden lived in, his struggle becomes something real. We glimpse just enough of the outside world to realize how much his loved ones are also impacted and how they struggle to understand his inner turmoil. How his parents plead with him to change his behavior when it’s well past the point of his ability, so he’s placed in a mental institution when they don’t know what else to do for him. Almost in defiance of such a melancholy story, is the subtle (yet effective) humor that is laced throughout.

“If you continue making progress,” one of the nurses told me earlier today, “I see no reason why you shouldn’t be going home in a couple of weeks.” Then she added, “But don’t quote me on that.” Noncommittal is rampant among the committed.

Sprinkled throughout this story are various pieces of art which are original pieces from the authors son,
Brendan Shusterman. The story itself exists solely because of the experiences of Brendan who has personally struggled with mental illness, which makes sense as to why this story rang so true for me. Challenger Deep will certainly leave readers who haven’t suffered personally to gain more of an understanding and compassion for those that do.

Divider

National Book Award 2015 Finalist – Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

November 7, 2015 Bonnie Book Reviews, Graphic Novel, Read in 2015, YA 3 Comments

National Book Award 2015 Finalist – Nimona by Noelle StevensonNimona by Noelle Stevenson
Published by HarperTeen on May 12th 2015
Pages: 272
Genres: Fantasy, Funny-ha-ha
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads


three-stars

The full-color graphic novel debut from rising star Noelle Stevenson, based on her beloved and critically acclaimed web comic, which Slate awarded its Cartoonist Studio Prize, calling it “a deadpan epic”

Nimona is an impulsive young shape-shifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren’t the heroes everyone thinks they are.

But as small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realizes that Nimona’s powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. And her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit.

Nemeses! Dragons! Science! Symbolism!

All these and more await in this brilliantly subversive, sharply irreverent epic from Noelle Stevenson, based on the web comic Slate called “funny and vibrant, with wonderful energy in Stevenson’s illustrations and a wicked wit in her storytelling.”

Featuring an exclusive epilogue not seen in the web comic, along with bonus conceptual sketches and revised pages throughout, this gorgeous full-color graphic novel is perfect for the thousands of fans of the web comic and is sure to win Noelle many new ones.

Nimona is a shapeshifter. She’s also hilarious and set on world domination which is why she asked to join up with the designated villain of the kingdom, Lord Ballister Blackheart. The two set out to bring down the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics as well as Blackheart’s bitter rival (and ex-best friend) Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin. Behind Nimona’s fantastic sense of humor is a seemingly somber past that we only see a hint of. The former webcomic is now printed and bound and is sure to be loved.

Okay, so, despite my middle-of-the-road rating, I really did enjoy this. Nimona was hilarious and all over the place and the graphics were enjoyable as well. I wanted more character building though. The hints about Nimona’s past should have been more than just hints and the evil government was a bit too stereotypical. The board game scene had me absolutely dying because if I could breathe fire, that’s totally how it’d be like playing board games with me as well.

I picked this up though because it’s a part of my National Book Award Finalist experiment. It was fun. I enjoyed it. But being nominated for the National Book Award?

Not to be a party-pooper or anything. I love seeing a young author being nominated. I love seeing a graphic novel being nominated. But in my opinion, it shouldn’t have made the cut, and that’s what my experiment is all about. Setting all that aside though, this is one for all you graphic novel lovers looking for a good laugh.

Divider

Ominous October – The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

October 30, 2015 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Ominous October, Read in 2015 0 Comments

Ominous October – The Exorcist by William Peter BlattyThe Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
Narrator: Eliana Shaskan, William Peter Blatty
Published by Harper Audio on 1971
Length: 12 hours and 51 minutes
Genres: Classics, Demons, Horror
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads


three-stars

The phenomenal bestseller that inspired the classic motion picture, rereleased in this special 40th Anniversary Edition

Originally published in 1971, The Exorcist was not only a bestselling literary phenomenon, but one of the most frightening and controversial novels—and terrifying movies—ever created. Based on a documented case of demonic possession, it is the story of Regan, the twelve-year-old daughter of an accomplished actress who has become possessed by an ancient demon, and the Catholic priests—one elderly, the other conflicted—who will risk their faith and their souls to save her.

Four decades after its initial publication, William Peter Blatty's purposefully raw, profane, and utterly gripping novel remains a shocking and eerily believable literary experience. It is a powerful and frightening classic that continues to transfix and inspire fans worldwide.

“You don’t blame us for being here, do you? After all, we have no place to go. No home… Incidentally, what an excellent day for an exorcism…”

When Regan MacNeil, daughter of famous actress Chris MacNeil, becomes strangely ill, coming up with a reasonable explanation proves difficult. Chris’ original belief that this is caused by repressed anger over her divorce with Regan’s father because less likely as time progresses and Regan begins going through increasingly violent episodes and physical transformations as well. When modern medical treatments fail to provide any change in her daughter, Chris seeks out the help of a local priest by the name of Damien Karras. While Karras is also quick to disregard the notion that Regan could be possessed based on a personal crisis of faith, it becomes more and more clear that there’s nothing else it could possibly be. Blatty states that his idea for the novel came after reading an article which claims that a 14-year-old boy was successfully exorcised of the devil.

It might be obvious to say that this novel features heavy religious discussions and of the never-ending battle between good and evil. Even though I expected it, I felt it was done in a very maladroit way. Many horror novels I’ve read, and many of the classics I’ve recently read, tend to focus more on the actual horror. The Exorcist, I felt was attempting to be more literary and highbrow than was necessarily called for as well as overly excessive in terms of time spent instructing the reader in religious knowledge. For me, an air of mystery will cause more fright versus being explained the reasoning behind things in minute detail.

The actual horror of this novel was a lot more subdued than I anticipated. While I knew random bits of pop culture trivia even though I hadn’t seen the movie beforehand, the supposedly horrific aspects of this story were far more gross than scary. Particularly the scene where she vomits green stuff or where she does… bad things with a crucifix. Sure, it’s meant to be horrifying that she’s doing these actions unwillingly, and that it’s terrible it’s happening to a girl so young but it didn’t evoke any terror for me. Still, this was a definite “must-read” on the list of horror classics and I’ve successfully knocked it out. I should probably suck it up and watch the movie now. Knowing that her projectile green vomit was actually Andersen’s pea soup mixed with a little oatmeal will likely ease any potential terror. 🙂

Divider