Publisher: Harper

Waiting on Wednesday – Mercury Retrograde (Dark Alchemy #2) by Laura Bickle

August 26, 2015 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 4 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – Mercury Retrograde (Dark Alchemy #2) by Laura BickleMercury Retrograde by Laura Bickle
Series: Dark Alchemy
Published by Harper Voyager Impulse on October 27th 2015
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Western
Format: eBook
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Dark Alchemy, Nine of Stars, Witch Creek

Something venomous has come to Temperance …

It's been two months since Petra Dee and her coyote sidekick Sig faced off against Temperance's resident alchemist, but things are far from quiet. When an Internet video of a massive snake in the backcountry of Yellowstone goes viral, a chase for the mythical basilisk is on. Monster hunters swarm into the area, and never one to pass up the promise of discovery, Petra joins in the search.

Among the newcomers is a snake cult on wheels―the biker gang Sisters of Serpens. Unlike some, the Sisters don't want to kill the basilisk―they want to worship it. But things get complicated when the basilisk develops a taste for human flesh that rivals the Sisters' own murderous skills.

Meanwhile, the alchemical tree of life is dying, and the undead Hanged Men of Temperance who depend on it know the basilisk may be their last chance for survival.

With time running out for everyone around her, Petra will be forced to decide who survives and who she must leave behind in this action-packed sequel to Dark Alchemy.

About Laura Bickle

Laura Bickle grew up in rural Ohio, reading entirely too many comic books out loud to her favorite Wonder Woman doll. After graduating with an MA in Sociology – Criminology from Ohio State University and an MLIS in Library Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, she patrolled the stacks at the public library and worked with data systems in criminal justice. She now dreams up stories about the monsters under the stairs, also writing contemporary fantasy novels under the name Alayna Williams.

Her work has been included in the ALA’s Amelia Bloomer Project 2013 reading list and the State Library of Ohio’s Choose to Read Ohio reading list for 2015-2016.

Dark Alchemy Series

Book Review – Dark Alchemy by Laura Bickle

Dark Alchemy (Dark Alchemy #1) by Laura Bickle {Purchase – Only $0.99!}

I thoroughly enjoyed the intriguing Urban Fantasy meets Western  style of the first installment in this series, Dark Alchemy, and I can’t wait to see where this story continues. Dark Alchemy is actually only $0.99 right now so perfect time to catch up. ?

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 Tour Review – Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans

August 21, 2015 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Book Tour, Read in 2015, TLC Book Tours 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 – Crooked Heart by Lissa EvansCrooked Heart: A Novel by Lissa Evans
Published by Harper on July 28th 2015
Pages: 288
Genres: Historical Fiction, WWII
Format: ARC
Source: TLC Book Tours
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Old Baggage

four-half-stars

Paper Moon meets the Blitz in this original black comedy, set in World War II England, chronicling an unlikely alliance between a small time con artist and a young orphan evacuee.

When Noel Bostock—aged ten, no family—is evacuated from London to escape the Nazi bombardment, he lands in a suburb northwest of the city with Vera Sedge—a thirty-six-year old widow drowning in debts and dependents. Always desperate for money, she’s unscrupulous about how she gets it.

Noel’s mourning his godmother Mattie, a former suffragette. Wise beyond his years, raised with a disdain for authority and an eclectic attitude toward education, he has little in common with other children and even less with the impulsive Vee, who hurtles from one self-made crisis to the next. The war’s provided unprecedented opportunities for making money, but what Vee needs—and what she’s never had—is a cool head and the ability to make a plan.

On her own, she’s a disaster. With Noel, she’s a team.

Together, they cook up a scheme. Crisscrossing the bombed suburbs of London, Vee starts to make a profit and Noel begins to regain his interest in life. But there are plenty of other people making money out of the war—and some of them are dangerous. Noel may have been moved to safety, but he isn’t actually safe at all. . . .

Noel, a ten year old boy, has been raised by his eccentric, ex-suffragette godmother Mattie. In addition to his normal schooling, Mattie always took the time to give what she referred to as “proper schooling” which included discussions on the obscure and essay topics that gave you more reasons to think such as “What Is Freedom?” and “All Things are Difficult Before They Are Easy”. Mattie imbued in him her particular understanding of the world causing him to develop the most intriguing personality making him an immediate addition to my favorite quirky children in literature shelf. In addition to the impending war causing the residents of London and its outskirts to be constantly on their toes, Noel is attempting to handle the seriousness of Mattie’s decline into senile dementia. Instead of evacuating London with the rest of the children, he opts to stay with Mattie to take care of her knowing that soon she’s not going to be able to take care of him much longer let alone herself. The introduction of Noel and Mattie is fantastically succinct and encompasses the Prologue alone. It set an amazing tone and heightened expectations for the rest of the story. I’m so very pleased to say that it never disappointed and only continued to impress me.

‘The day after that, all the children disappeared, as if London had shrugged and the small people had fallen off the edge.’

On a particularly typical yet cold Winter night, Mattie decides to take a walk and doesn’t come back home. Noel is now forced into evacuating and he’s rounded up with several other children hoping to find families willing to take in another mouth to feed. Noel comes across as a shy, silent child but is actually in very deep mourning for the one person on this earth he truly loved.

‘Reading felt effortful. It was odd to think that for years he had sucked up print without thinking. Since leaving Mattie’s house, he hadn’t finished a book. He couldn’t follow a plot any more, the meaning seemed to bypass his brain, or else stuck to it briefly and then fell off when he turned the page, like an inadequately licked stamp.’

He finds himself taken in by a middle-aged woman named Vee, for the sole reason of the money she’s able to collect for taking him into her care. Right off the bat, her intentions aren’t honorable, but considering Noel is never mistreated or anything of the like, she’s easily forgiven. Vee’s son Donny has a heart problem and is unable to contribute financially and her mother is unable to speak following an incident where she collapsed and hit her head after Vee first told her she was pregnant (and un-wed). Drastic times call for drastic measures and Vee begins grasping for any possible way to earn enough money to help her household survive. This is how she comes up with the idea of going door to door for donations, except there is no charity awaiting her collected coin; it’s going straight into her own pocket. Noel, wrapped in the comfort of his mourning, regains a spark of life when he recognizes Vee’s actions for what they are subsequently intriguing him enough to offer to help. He comes up with a better plan and together, the unlikeliest of duos use the War as an opportunity to survive.

 I really paced myself with this one, knowing early on it was going to be hard to say goodbye to this vibrant and original cast of characters. For a book that I picked up simply because it was related to World War II, it had surprisingly little to do with the actual war. It was rather a behind the scenes type look on what you would expect to encounter during wartime but never quite earns its own story. I loved how the story delves into what’s morally right after the duo uncover a crime occurring where people’s belongings are being stolen after they are forced to evacuate. Even though they are collecting for a charity that doesn’t actually exist, these people are still giving willingly. Crooked Heart asks the question: is it better to take under false pretenses or to steal without their knowledge? Is one legally wrong and the other simply morally wrong?

Crooked Heart, while also delving into the seriousness of war without going as far as to take us to the battle lines, is also instilled with a dark humor that I feel is most appropriate for that day and age. Because even though there is sadness that is saturated into every nook and cranny and hangs over the city like a pall, there’s still some humor to be found and Evans characters use it as a coping mechanism to get through these trying times. Wonderful, wonderful novel, I’m so very glad I took the chance on this obscure little gem of a read.

dvd-pearl

This post was a part of ‘Crooked Heart’ blog tour.
Check out the other tour stops below!

Tuesday, July 28th: 100 Pages a Day … Stephanie’s Book Reviews
Wednesday, July 29th: BookNAround
Thursday, July 30th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Friday, July 31st: From the TBR Pile
Monday, August 3rd: Raven Haired Girl
Tuesday, August 4th: Savvy Verse & Wit
Wednesday, August 5th: A Bookworm’s World
Thursday, August 6th: Dwell in Possibility
Monday, August 10th: Cerebral Girl in a Redneck World
Wednesday, August 12th: Cold Read
Tuesday, August 18th: Kissin Blue Karen
Wednesday, August 19th: FictionZeal
Wednesday, August 19th: The Book Binder’s Daughter
Thursday, August 20th: Bilbiophiliac
Friday, August 21st: For the Love of Words
Monday, August 24th: Doing Dewey

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Book Review – Blindsighted (Grant County #1) by Karin Slaughter

July 24, 2015 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2015 1 Comment

Book Review – Blindsighted (Grant County #1) by Karin SlaughterBlindsighted by Karin Slaughter
Series: Grant County #1
Published by Harper on September 4, 2001
Pages: 464
Genres: Detective, Mystery, Thriller
Format: Paperback
Source: Gifted
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Pretty Girls

four-stars

A small Georgia town erupts in panic when a young college professor is found brutally mutilated in the local diner. But it's only when town pediatrician and coroner Sara Linton does the autopsy that the full extent of the killer's twisted work becomes clear.

Sara's ex-husband, police chief Jeffrey Tolliver, leads the investigation—a trail of terror that grows increasingly macabre when another local woman is found crucified a few days later. But he's got more than a sadistic serial killer on his hands, for the county's sole female detective, Lena Adams—the first victim's sister—want to serve her own justice.

But it is Sara who holds the key to finding the killer. A secret from her past could unmask the brilliantly malevolent psychopath .. or mean her death.

In a small town in Georgia, a tragic and horrific murder shakes its residents to the core. The murder took place in a bathroom of a diner, shortly after the lunch rush, and no one heard or suspected a thing. Sara Linton, the town’s coroner discovers the victim, Sibyl Adams, just barely hanging on to life, with a cross carved into her chest, but is unable to save her. Sara’s ex-husband, police chief Jeffrey Tolliver is investigating and discovers that another girl is now mysteriously missing only to have her body discovered on the hood of Sara’s car with the wounds of a recent crucifixion. The religious aspects of these crimes have Sara fearing that their deaths are actually related to something that happened in her past and wondering if she knows exactly who is committing these atrocities.

Blindsighted is Karin Slaughter’s debut novel, however, I’m clearly behind since she has a massive amount of books under her belt at this point. But holy. cow. Blindsighted is rife with intensity. The forensic detailing is meticulous, the crimes are horrendously intricate, and yet I couldn’t put this down for anything. What I loved the most about this one though was the characterization. Sara Linton is clearly the main character but didn’t completely take center stage, giving side characters like Jeffrey and Lina enough page time to build their stories as well. Sara Linton was written perfectly average with strong medical skills but her and her actions never gravitated towards the impossible making this story and all the horror that came with it all the more plausible.

I made a new shelf specifically for this book (and I anticipate the other books in this series to be future additions) called “super-sicko”. When I was a teen, thriller/suspense novels were my go-to reads and my mom always called them my sicko books. While I haven’t read too many of them in recent years, this one most definitely qualifies and managed to even horrify me at times.

Horrified Zombie Cat. #LolCat #Meme

I’m happy to say that my iron stomach is still sufficiently intact.

Much thanks to Wendy for recommending this to me years ago and finally sending me my own copy thus giving me the kick in the pants I needed to finally start this. You know me so well. 🙂

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Book Tour Review – Love May Fail by Matthew Quick

July 8, 2015 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Book Tour, Read in 2015, TLC Book Tours 2 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 – Love May Fail by Matthew QuickLove May Fail by Matthew Quick
Published by Harper on June 16th 2015
Pages: 416
Genres: Contemporary
Format: ARC
Source: TLC Book Tours
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads


two-half-stars

Portia Kane is having a meltdown. After escaping her ritzy Florida life and her cheating pornographer husband, she finds herself back in South Jersey, a place that remains largely unchanged from the years of her unhappy youth. Lost and alone, looking for the goodness she believes still exists in the world, Portia sets off on a quest to save the one man who always believed in her—and in all of his students: her beloved high school English teacher, Mr. Vernon, who has retired broken and alone after a traumatic classroom incident.

Will a sassy nun, an ex-heroin addict, a metalhead little boy, and her hoarder mother help or hurt Portia’s chances on this quest to resurrect a good man and find renewed hope in the human race? Love May Fail is a story of the great highs and lows of existence: the heartache and daring choices it takes to become the person you know (deep down) you are meant to be.

Portia Kane is a woman who used to have big dreams of being a published author but is currently experiencing something akin to a mid-life crisis. We’re first introduced to her character as she hides drunk in her bedroom closet with a handgun watching her porn-producer husband cheat on her with a much, much younger woman. As sad as it sounds, Quick made this introduction memorable and hilarious, as unlikely as that seems. Deciding that going to jail for shooting her husband and his lover she dubs “Khaleesi” just isn’t worth it so she hops on a plane to head back home to her simple-minded hoarder of a mother. She has a coincidental run-in with a nun she’s seated next to on the plane at which point Portia, still drunk, spills her guts to her even going so far as to describe just how endowed her soon to be ex-husband isn’t. Coincidentally the nun is actually the mother of her favorite English teacher that changed her whole outlook on life, who just so happens to be going through his own mid-life crisis as well.

Honestly, I could continue on with the various plots and coincidences (there are many of both in this tale). There are also several different POV changes: Portia of course, her English teacher Mr. Vernon, Chuck Bass (another individual left changed by Mr. Vernon and someone who has harbored a crush on Portia for the better part of two decades), and even a brief interlude to Mr. Vernon’s mother who we’re made informed by the letters she sent to her son. Portia, regardless of her protestations that “it wasn’t about the money” doesn’t ever come across as anything but a rich, privileged whiner. The flashbacks to her past and her childhood dreams should have been enough to make her a bit more tolerable, but unfortunately, she never did dredge up any sympathy from me. And her showing up at her favorite English teacher’s house was more creepy than gracious. I have a favorite teacher that I recall with absolute adoration, however, I still can’t say I would ever get the urge to show up at his house unannounced declaring that I was there to “save him”. Mr. Vernon’s character was the POV most explored and was the most interesting to read about. His mother’s POV could have been left out entirely, which would have left this book minus the two dozen or so mentions of “my husband, God” which made my eye twitch just about every time. There is also a very strange and intense focus on negative reviews (it specifically mentions a bad review a published book received via Kirkus) and ultimately the impact they have on an author. Not sure what Quick was trying to say with that little tirade but I find it more than a bit funny that Kirkus didn’t actually care for Love May Fail very much.

I’ve heard this is a common trend in Quick’s novels (this is my first Quick novel so I can’t speak for the rest), but faith and the belief that there’s always something to live for is the theme with this one. It’s about finding that spark in life that spurs you up over the next hurdle that life will inevitably throw your way. The idea was there with this one but the execution and the abundant coincidences left me feeling far from inspired.

dvd-pearl

This post was a part of ‘Love May Fail’ blog tour.
Check out the other tour stops below!

Tuesday, June 16th: Book Hooked Blog
Wednesday, June 17th: Novel Escapes
Thursday, June 18th: 5 Minutes For Books
Friday, June 19th: Jenn’s Bookshelves
Monday, June 22nd: Raven Haired Girl
Tuesday, June 23rd: A Bookworm’s World
Wednesday, June 24th: Bibliophiliac
Thursday, June 25th: Chronicles …
Monday, June 29th: she treads softly
Tuesday, June 30th: bookchickdi
Wednesday, July 1st: Into the Hall of Books
Thursday, July 2nd: Many Hats
Monday, July 6th: Bibliotica
Tuesday, July 7th: Becca Rowan
Wednesday, July 8th: For the Love of Words
Thursday, July 9th: Ageless Pages Reviews
Friday, July 10th: Snowdrop Dreams of Books

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Blog Tour + Review + Giveaway! The Deepest Poison (Clockwork Dagger Duology 0.5) by Beth Cato

April 24, 2015 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Book Tour, Early Review, Read in 2015 2 Comments

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.

Blog Tour + Review + Giveaway!  The Deepest Poison (Clockwork Dagger Duology 0.5) by Beth CatoThe Deepest Poison by Beth Cato
Published by Harper Voyager on April 28th 2015
Pages: 48
Genres: Steampunk
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon
Goodreads


three-half-stars

Octavia Leander, a young healer with incredible powers, has found her place among Miss Percival's medicians-in-training. Called to the frontlines of a never-ending war between Caskentia and the immoral Wasters, the two women must uncover the source of a devastating illness that is killing thousands of soldiers. But when Octavia's natural talents far outshine her teacher's, jealousy threatens to destroy their relationship—as time runs out to save the encampment.

 

Fans of Beth Cato's debut, The Clockwork Dagger, will love this journey into Octavia's past—as well as an exclusive excerpt from the sequel, The Clockwork Crown!

About Beth Cato

Beth Cato hails from Hanford, California, but currently writes and bakes cookies in a lair outside of Phoenix, Arizona. She shares the household with a hockey-loving husband, a number-obsessed son, and a cat the size of a canned ham.

‘Before I found Miss Leander, I had been the most powerful medician in Caskentia. My aptitude at a young age even enabled me to have an audience before the late King Kethan. Now it was as though I wore the customary headmistress title of Miss Percival simply because I had borne the name for so long, the way one wears shabby clothes because of sentimentality and good fit.’

The Deepest Poison is a short prequel story that introduces Octavia Leander, a young, powerful healer. Told from the point of view of her teacher, Miss Percival, it’s clear from the start that there is severe animosity between the two due to Miss Leander’s abundant powers. This story takes place at the front line of battle between Caskentia and the Wasters, the two healers must work together to uncover why soldiers are coming down with a deadly sickness.

To me, a good prequel story is a brief snippet that encourages your interest in a new series. While I’m sure that this prequel will reveal some future plotlines, it can be read before or after the full-length novels. I haven’t yet read The Clockwork Dagger so I went into this new world blind, however, my interest is definitely piqued. I loved the introduction to both main characters albeit short and sweet and the magical aspects of the story were most interesting and I look forward to them being delved into further.

‘The world of The Clockwork Dagger isn’t Earth, but it’s based on World War I and its aftermath. I made an effort to ground non-magical details in medical and military reality.’

What I loved most was discovering that this world and the ongoing war is built around the model of World War I. It’s always so fascinating to be in the know of what influenced an author to write such a story. The brief glimpse of this world is certainly intriguing and while your answers aren’t all answered, this was still a most satisfying prequel.

Winner will receive one copy of A Clockwork Dagger. US Only!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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This post was a part of ‘The Deepest Poison‘ blog tour.
Be sure to check out the other tour stops below!

Week One:
April 20 A Dream Within A Dream (Review)
April 21 Curling Up With A Good Book (Interview)
April 22 LuLo Fan Girl (Review)
April 23 iFandomsCollide (Guest Post)
April 24 For The Love of Words (Review)

Week Two:
April 27 Taking It One Book At A Time (Review)
April 28 Brooke Blogs (Guest Post)
April 29 Insane About Books (Spotlight)
April 30 Bibliophilia, Please (Review)
May 1 Goldilox and the Three Weres (Review)

Me, My Shelf & I

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Book Review – Dark Alchemy (Dark Alchemy #1) by Laura Bickle

March 27, 2015 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2015 6 Comments

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 – Dark Alchemy (Dark Alchemy #1) by Laura BickleDark Alchemy by Laura Bickle
Series: Dark Alchemy #1
Published by Harper Voyager Impulse on March 24th 2015
Pages: 271
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads

Also by this author: Nine of Stars, Witch Creek

three-half-stars

Stephen King's The Gunslinger meets Breaking Bad in Laura Bickle's novel Dark Alchemy.

Some secrets are better left buried …

Geologist Petra Dee arrives in Wyoming seeking clues to her father's disappearance years ago. What she finds instead is Temperance, a dying western town with a gold rush past and a meth-infested present. But under the dust and quiet, an old power is shifting. When bodies start turning up—desiccated and twisted skeletons that Petra can't scientifically explain—her investigations land her in the middle of a covert war between the town's most powerful interests. Petra's father wasn't the only one searching for the alchemical secrets of Temperance, and those still looking are now ready to kill. Armed with nothing but shaky alliances, a pair of antique guns, and a relic she doesn't understand, the only thing Petra knows for sure is that she and her coyote sidekick are going to have to move fast—or die next.

Petra Dee is a woman running from the past and all the memories that haunt her dreams. She seeks distraction in the form of small-town Temperance, Wyoming where her father was last heard of years past and she intends on searching for him. This small-town is far from ordinary and she quickly realizes that law enforcement has no hold on the town but instead local land owner Sal Rutherford seems to be the one in control. There’s another powerful man that goes by the name of The Alchemist who seems to aid in the areas drug habit. Petra quickly ends up right in the dangerous path of both Sal and The Alchemist when she uncovers a magical artifact that is somehow tied to both men and the mysterious story behind the origins of this mysterious small-town.

Alchemy is the reason surrounding this strange towns existence and involves a mysterious figure by the name of Lascaris that during the Gold Rush, as rumor has it, figured out how to transform simple rocks into gold. His experiments were conducted in secret and he was never questioned since he was the sole reason the town was thriving, so why question anything when it’s working so well? After his supposed death in a mysterious fire, new figures rose in hope to take his place. Sal Rutherford, who currently owns the land where The Lunaria, the Alchemical Tree of Life, resides (in addition to the undead ranch hands that call themselves The Hanged Men) and Stroud/The Alchemist, a man that can trace his lineage back to Lascaris himself. The aspects of alchemy were explained sufficiently and incorporated well into the story, however, as the story drew to a close it lacked a necessary conviction when it came time for solid answers.

This one generated a lot of discussion for me when all was said and done and there is much to love but also much that left me in confusion. First and foremost, Sig the coyote, Petra’s “animal familiar” was the true highlight of this story for me. Sig possessed more personality than some of the side characters without having to say a single word. He was her first ally in Temperance and he quickly took to her and became her self-appointed guardian before she even knew she needed help. He became incredibly docile by the end and as much as I loved his addition to the story it did seem incredibly unlikely. Still, this story would not have been the same without Sig. There were many other additional loose ends that I felt should have been addressed, most are spoilery so I’ll avoid going into detail. Whether this is because the author wanted to leave some things in the ‘unknown’ so as to maybe turn the story into a series I’m not sure but this being the start of a new series seems like a definite possibility.

Possessing an interesting blend of mystery and magic, Dark Alchemy is an eerie and most inventive tale that kept me completely spellbound.

American Elsewhere by Robert Jackson Bennett {Purchase}
Dreams and Shadows (Dreams & Shadows #1) by C. Robert Cargill {Purchase}
Mark of the Demon (Kara Gillian #1) by Diana Rowland {Purchase}

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Early Review – Positive by David Wellington

March 26, 2015 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2015 4 Comments

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.

Early Review – Positive by David WellingtonPositive by David Wellington
Published by Harper Voyager on April 21st 2015
Pages: 448
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic, Zombies
Format: ARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads


two-half-stars

In the bestselling vein of Guillermo Del Toro and Justin Cronin, the acclaimed author of Chimera and The Hydra Protocol delivers his spectacular breakout novel—an entertaining page-turning zombie epic that is sure to become a classic.

Anyone can be positive . . .

The tattooed plus sign on Finnegan's hand marks him as a Positive. At any time, the zombie virus could explode in his body, turning him from a rational human into a ravenous monster. His only chance of a normal life is to survive the last two years of the potential incubation period. If he reaches his twenty-first birthday without an incident, he'll be cleared.

Until then, Finn must go to a special facility for positives, segregated from society to keep the healthy population safe. But when the military caravan transporting him is attacked, Finn becomes separated. To make it to safety, he must embark on a perilous cross-country journey across an America transformed—a dark and dangerous land populated with heroes, villains, madmen, and hordes of zombies. And though the zombies are everywhere, Finn discovers that the real danger may be his fellow humans.

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome meets World War Z and I Am Legend in this thrilling tale that has it all: a compelling story, great characters, and explosive action, making Positive the ultimate zombie novel of our time.

‘It grows in the dark part of your head like a fungus. All the while eating holes in your brain until it’s a sponge full of virus […] That was what had happened to my mom. For twenty years, ever since the crisis, she’d been dying inside. A little more every day.

And maybe it had been happening to me, too.’

Finn has lived within the sheltered gates since he was born. The world outside is a complete mystery, yet the stories he’s heard has made him thankful for his safe and sheltered life. The safety is shattered when his mother spontaneously turns and he’s forced out into the mysterious world with a new tattoo; a plus sign on the top of his sign marking him as possibly infected. His only hope is to get to the military camp in Ohio where he can live out his final two years of incubation before he can be accepted back into safety. But two years is a very long time for someone who doesn’t know how the world truly is.

The way an author handles the scientific aspects of a post-apocalyptic novel is key. Some authors handle it head on and explain in minute detail and others leave their characters in the dark and simply focus on the survival side of living in the new world. Both work, but if you’re going to attempt to explain the scientific side of things, it best make sense. In this world, it’s been twenty years since the initial outbreak and no one has seen a zombie in fifteen years. Once infected with the zombie virus, the incubation period is apparently anything from twenty seconds to twenty years. So, you get bit, you might be good only for the next hour or you could be fine for the next twenty years, but nobody knows for sure. Since the outbreak happened twenty years ago, I’m not sure exactly how they’ve been able to successfully test that theory. It also isn’t explained how the outbreak happened to begin with, so the science of Positive was definitely lacking for me. One specific line about killing a zombie by stabbing him in the liver also had me baffled. Come on! Zombies don’t give a shit about their livers.

Also lacking, was the character development. Our narrator, Finn, is an extremely naive individual when we’re first introduced. Positive acts as his coming-of-age story in a world falling apart at the seams. He’s forced to figure out quickly how to survive and how to adapt his mind to the concept of how things truly work outside of the gates of New York City. In that regards, this story reminded me a lot of Ashfall with our young, male narrator forced to adapt to the new world around him. Obviously, all that was missing were the zombies. Similarly was the fact that both stories focused on the part where humans turn into a whole other type of monster as well. The issue with Finn was how quickly he managed to shed himself of his naivety. It could be said that the things he was forced to experience could speed along that process but it just didn’t feel like genuine progression.

The portrayal of female characters was pretty appalling as well. Positive has two main female characters for the most part; one played the role of enemy and the other was meek and submissive (there was one strong female that made a brief appearance but it wasn’t enough to satisfy me in regards to the way the rest of the females were portrayed). The submissive one, well, I suppose it could be argued that she was strong in her own way and got Finn and the rest of their party out of a few sticky situations. It could also be argued that being a victim of abuse led her to this mind frame and that it couldn’t be helped but… View Spoiler » Was it really so much to ask that we couldn’t get one strong female main character in this giant 450-page story?

Unfortunately, even setting aside the issues I personally had with Positive, what really lessened my enjoyment of this story was the fact that I have read so many stories in this same genre that were simply so much better. Positive didn’t manage to bring anything new to the genre and didn’t have much in the way of originality, but newcomers to post-apocalyptic stories will likely find more enjoyment than I did.

Ashfall (Ashfall #1) by Mike Mullin {Purchase – My Review}
The First Days (As the World Dies #1) by Rhiannon Frater {Purchase}
The Passage (The Passage #1) by Justin Cronin {Purchase}

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Book Tour Review – Fiercombe Manor by Kate Riordan

March 19, 2015 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Book Tour, Read in 2015, TLC Book Tours 1 Comment

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 – Fiercombe Manor by Kate RiordanFiercombe Manor by Kate Riordan
Published by Harper on February 17th 2015
Pages: 416
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: ARC
Source: TLC Book Tours
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads


three-stars

In this haunting and richly imagined dual-narrative tale that echoes the eerie mystery of Rebecca and The Little Stranger, two women of very different eras are united by the secrets hidden within the walls of an English manor house

In 1933, naive twenty-two year-old Alice—pregnant and unmarried—is in disgrace. Her mother banishes her from London to secluded Fiercombe Manor in rural Gloucestershire, where she can hide under the watchful eye of her mother’s old friend, the housekeeper Mrs. Jelphs. The manor’s owners, the Stantons, live abroad, and with her cover story of a recently-deceased husband Alice can have her baby there before giving it up for adoption and returning home. But as Alice endures the long, hot summer at Fiercombe awaiting the baby’s birth, she senses that something is amiss with the house and its absentee owners.

Thirty years earlier, pregnant Lady Elizabeth Stanton desperately hopes for the heir her husband desires. Tormented by the memory of what happened after the birth of her first child, a daughter, she grows increasingly terrified that history will repeat itself, with devastating consequences.

After meeting Tom, the young scion of the Stanton family, Alice becomes determined to uncover the clan’s tragic past and exorcise the ghosts of this idyllic, isolated house. But nothing can prepare Alice for what she uncovers. Soon it is her turn to fear: can she escape the tragic fate of the other women who have lived in the Fiercombe valley . . .

About Kate Riordan

Kate Riordan is a British writer and journalist who worked for the Guardian and Time Out London. She is also the author of Birdcage Walk and is already at work on her third novel. Born in London, she now lives in the Gloucestershire countryside.

‘Fiercombe is a place of secrets. They fret among the uppermost branches of the beech trees and brood at the cold bottom of the stream that cleaves the valley in two. The past has seeped into the soil here like spilt blood.’

In 1932, twenty-two-year-old Alice Eveleigh finds herself pregnant by a man she thought she loved but is already married to another. In an attempt to spare the family scandal, her mother sends her to stay with an old friend, Mrs. Jelphs, at Fiercombe Manor in the English countryside until the baby is born and they can give it up for adoption. With nothing to do to keep her occupied, Alice gets drawn into the curious history of the Stanton family and the previous residents of Fiercombe that seemingly disappeared without a trace. Discovering a diary kept by Elizabeth Stanton which details her pregnancy only increases her curiosity and the more she finds out about her, the more she fears she’s destined for the same fate.

‘Elizabeth. That was the first time I saw her name. What did I think, if anything? I’m sure I traced the letters with my finger; perhaps I even whispered it under my breath, the hiss of the second syllable, the sigh of the last. But that was all. My interest in her and the estate’s history was fleeting then – a faint glimmer of intrigue that glowed and then dimmed again, though not before it had lodged itself at the back of my mind, ready to be brought out later.’

This book had everything going for it: Gothic setting in the English countryside, the dual-narratives/timelines that inevitably collide with one another in the end, and even a creepy Rebecca-esque housekeeper. It was everything I should have loved, and I did, for the most part. The issue I have with most dual narratives is the fact that one is most generally always more interesting than the other, as is the case with Fiercombe. Elizabeth’s narrative set in the late 1800s centered around the common affliction that was terribly misunderstood of puerperal insanity, a form of postpartum depression. It’s always difficult reading about medical issues being misconstrued in the past resulting in far worse instances than should have occurred. But Elizabeth’s narrative was not only terribly sad but it was gripping and truly haunting. Alice’s narrative involved her trying to uncover information about Elizabeth, having formed something of a mental kinship to her from her diary since most of Elizabeth’s writings were during the time when she too was pregnant. The attempt to join the two narratives together wasn’t exactly convincing, and Alice’s fears were tame in comparison to Elizabeth’s genuine ones, although my interest in finding out what happened to both women never seemed to wane.

Fiercombe Manor kept me fully invested to the very end with atmospheric writing and a haunting past revealed piece by piece.

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton {PurchaseMy Review}
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier {Purchase}
The Last Camellia by Sarah Jio {PurchaseMy Review}

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This post was a part of ‘Fiercombe Manor‘ blog tour.
Click the button below for a complete list of tour stops.

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Classic Curiosity – To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

March 14, 2015 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Classic Curiosity, Read in 2015 1 Comment

Classic Curiosity – To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Narrator: Sissy Spacek
Published by Harper Audio on July 11th, 1960
Length: 12 hours and 17 minutes
Genres: Classics, Historical Fiction
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Go Set a Watchman

five-stars

Harper Lee's classic novel of a lawyer in the deep south defending a black man charged with the rape of a white girl

One of the best-loved stories of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird has earned many distinctions since its original publication in 1960. It won the Pulitzer Prize, has been translated into more than forty languages, sold more than thirty million copies worldwide, and been made into an enormously popular movie. Most recently, librarians across the country gave the book the highest of honors by voting it the best novel of the twentieth century.

 ‘You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.’

I recall reading this for the first time early on in school, in junior high possibly, and I can definitely say that the powerful message behind the book was completely lost on me at the time. As wonderful and inspirational as it is, it’s also much more complex and layered than my memory served. This is a book that teaches tolerance, morality and ethics, about the senselessness of violence and the differences between right and wrong. Doing what’s right meant something vastly different down South in the 1930s when Mockingbird was set and also in the 1960s when first published, however, even 50+ years later, it’s sad to see that we still deal with these issues to this day even if it may not necessarily be on the same large scale. This story still manages to retain significant meaning and teach us something about humanity regardless of time or place.

“They’re certainly entitled to think that, and they’re entitled to full respect for their opinions… but before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”

In addition to the various storylines that serve to teach an important lesson is the full cast of amazing characters that act out these life lessons. 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.

As simplistic as this story is delivered, it’s actually deceptively significant. It’s not a preachy how to guide on how to be a decent person but instead it’s the didactic story of one man’s fight for what’s right.

Notes on the narration: Sissy Spacek delivered an amazing narration with her authentic Southern accent that had me listening well past my bedtime. I couldn’t imagine Scout sounding any other way. Listen below for a clip to the audiobook.

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Review + Giveaway! The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

February 5, 2015 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Giveaways, Read in 2014, YA 10 Comments

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.

Review + Giveaway! The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia HandThe Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand
Published by HarperTeen on February 10th 2015
Pages: 400
Genres: Realistic YA Fiction
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Unearthly, Hallowed, Boundless

four-stars

There's death all around us.
We just don't pay attention.
Until we do.

The last time Lex was happy, it was before. When she had a family that was whole. A boyfriend she loved. Friends who didn't look at her like she might break down at any moment.

Now she's just the girl whose brother killed himself. And it feels like that's all she'll ever be.

As Lex starts to put her life back together, she tries to block out what happened the night Tyler died. But there's a secret she hasn't told anyone-a text Tyler sent, that could have changed everything.

Lex's brother is gone. But Lex is about to discover that a ghost doesn't have to be real to keep you from moving on.

From New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Hand, The Last Time We Say Goodbye is a gorgeous and heart-wrenching story of love, loss, and letting go.

‘Time passes. That’s the rule. No matter what happens, no matter how much it might feel like everything in your life has frozen around one particular moment, time marches on.’

Lexie is an unexceptionally smart student with big dreams of going to MIT. She has a boyfriend who loves her and a group of friends she can depend on. But that was life seven weeks ago. Now? Her grades are slipping, she’s broke up with her boyfriend and she won’t talk to any of her friends. Seven weeks ago her brother killed himself. But now she’s starting to his ghost. A series of journal entries reveal the facts behind Lexie’s grief (and guilt) and the heartbreak begins anew when we are exposed to the truth of her pain.

‘I didn’t know to savor that moment on the dance floor, to understand how beautiful and rare it was, how fragile, how ephemeral, when Ty was happy. When we were all happy, and we were together, and we were safe.
I didn’t know.
I didn’t know.’

Grief comes in many forms as we all handle it in different ways. Lexie’s path of grief led her to shut everyone out and while this storyline has certainly been done before, it still managed to resonate honestly and leave a strong impression. These days, death and grief have become most common in YA novels and while it can certainly come off as a morbid fascination, the existence of these types of novels can be vital for those who don’t quite know how to handle their grief. It can serve as proof to those who have also experienced grief that they are far from alone and that there are people that can help. It’s a sad fact of life that we must all learn how to cope, heal and continue living. The Last Time We Said Goodbye is more of a cautionary tale seeing as the story is told from the surviving sister and inevitably shows the repercussions of suicide and the effects of grief but manages to still leave the reader with a facet of hope to cling to. While this is a work of fiction, the author states that she had a younger brother that killed himself which only made this all the more poignant and truly from the heart.

The Last Time We Said Goodbye is a raw and brutally honest depiction of the various sides of grief. It’s an insightful and admirable story about acceptance and forgiveness that will no doubt leave you heartsick but is an incredibly worthy read.

I was fortunate enough to receive an early copy of this book from Harper Teen and now want to share this book with one of you! To be entered to win, please use the Rafflecopter widget below.

This is open to U.S. residents only! Sorry international followers.
Giveaway ends February 19th, 2015

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