Publisher: Knopf

Book Review – I Remember Nothing: and Other Reflections by Nora Ephron

January 5, 2018 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2018 0 Comments

Book Review – I Remember Nothing: and Other Reflections by Nora EphronI Remember Nothing: and Other Reflections by Nora Ephron
Published by Knopf on November 9th 2010
Pages: 137
Genres: Non-Fiction, Funny-ha-ha, Memoir
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
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Goodreads

Also by this author: Heartburn

four-stars

Nora Ephron returns with her first book since the astounding success of I Feel Bad About My Neck, taking a cool, hard, hilarious look at the past, the present, and the future, bemoaning the vicissitudes of modern life, and recalling with her signature clarity and wisdom everything she hasn’t (yet) forgotten.

Ephron writes about falling hard for a way of life (“Journalism: A Love Story”) and about breaking up even harder with the men in her life (“The D Word”); lists “Twenty-five Things People Have a Shocking Capacity to Be Surprised by Over and Over Again” (“There is no explaining the stock market but people try”; “You can never know the truth of anyone’s marriage, including your own”; “Cary Grant was Jewish”; “Men cheat”); reveals the alarming evolution, a decade after she wrote and directed You’ve Got Mail, of her relationship with her in-box (“The Six Stages of E-Mail”); and asks the age-old question, which came first, the chicken soup or the cold? All the while, she gives candid, edgy voice to everything women who have reached a certain age have been thinking . . . but rarely acknowledging.

Filled with insights and observations that instantly ring true—and could have come only from Nora Ephron—I Remember Nothing is pure joy.

“On some level, my life has been wasted on me. After all, if I can’t remember it, who can? The past is slipping away and the present is a constant affront.”

I Remember Nothing: and Other Reflections, Ephron’s last essay collection published before her death in 2012, touches on the tragedy of aging and is probably not something that I could fully appreciate only being in my 30s (but I still loved it). She discusses becoming forgetful, about physical changes, but she touches on stories from her life that she has managed to remember in vibrant detail. She also includes several recipes, in particular, one for ricotta pancakes in an essay about Teflon (which is far more riveting than it sounds at first glance.) She bemoans the discovery of the hazards of Teflon since her ricotta pancakes never come out quite the same in any other pan and in the recipe, instructs you to heat up a Teflon pan until carcinogenic gas is released into the air. I will always adore her wit though and her random stories that may seem inconsequential but are just anecdotes into the life of a pretty extraordinary sounding woman. Reading her discussion on the personal tragedy that led to her only fiction novel, Heartburn, was emotional.

“I mention all this so you will understand that this is part of the process: once you find out he’s cheated on you, you have to keep finding it out, over and over and over again, until you’ve degraded yourself so completely that there’s nothing left to do but walk out.”

You can tell when she writes that it’s old news, but it’s still something that managed to transform her into who she is today, leaving that unseen yet indelible impression.

“People always say that once it goes away, you forget the pain. It’s a cliché of childbirth: you forget the pain. I don’t happen to agree. I remember the pain. What you really forget is love.”

It will be a sad day when I no longer have any new Nora to read. The Most of Nora Ephron will be my last so I’m saving that one for a rainy day.

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Early Review – Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit

January 22, 2016 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, YA 1 Comment

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

Early Review – Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel SavitAnna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on January 26th 2016
Pages: 240
Genres: Historical Fiction, WWII
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
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three-stars

A stunning, literary, and wholly original debut novel set in Poland during the Second World War perfect for readers of The Book Thief.

Kraków, 1939. A million marching soldiers and a thousand barking dogs. This is no place to grow up. Anna Łania is just seven years old when the Germans take her father, a linguistics professor, during their purge of intellectuals in Poland. She’s alone.

And then Anna meets the Swallow Man. He is a mystery, strange and tall, a skilled deceiver with more than a little magic up his sleeve. And when the soldiers in the streets look at him, they see what he wants them to see.

The Swallow Man is not Anna’s father—she knows that very well—but she also knows that, like her father, he’s in danger of being taken, and like her father, he has a gift for languages: Polish, Russian, German, Yiddish, even Bird. When he summons a bright, beautiful swallow down to his hand to stop her from crying, Anna is entranced. She follows him into the wilderness.

Over the course of their travels together, Anna and the Swallow Man will dodge bombs, tame soldiers, and even, despite their better judgment, make a friend. But in a world gone mad, everything can prove dangerous. Even the Swallow Man.

Destined to become a classic, Gavriel Savit’s stunning debut reveals life’s hardest lessons while celebrating its miraculous possibilities.

style-3 (2) review

‘There is no labyrinth as treacherous as that with neither paths nor walls.’

When seven-year-old Anna is placed in the company of a neighbor while her father attends to some business, she never thought that would be the last she would see of him. The year is 1939 during the very beginning of World War II and the Germans are beginning their round up of scholars and Anna’s father is a professor at Jagiellonian University in Krakow. Unsure what to do, Anna turns to a mysterious stranger she names Swallow Man after he displays his proficiency with languages including the ability to speak to birds. Intrigued by this man, Anna begins to follow him and the two stay together, walking across Poland, for many years.

“A riverbank goes wherever the riverbank does. […] I’ll be the riverbank and you be the river.”

During this duo’s travels, the Swallow Man teaches Anna many lessons, cultivating her ability to survive with or without him. The two that bear repeating most: “To be found is to be gone forever,” and “One can’t be found as long as one keeps moving.” And keep hidden and moving they do. Within this short novel, years pass and it becomes more and more difficult to continue to survive in a world that has transformed around them, blanketing them in war. Throughout their time together, the Swallow Man persists in fascinating Anna with his perpetual crypticness and continues to keep the reader curious about the circumstances which brought him to this point.

‘It was very difficult for her to take her attention away from the thin man, even for a moment. Somewhere, tickling the back of her brain, she felt a certainty that if she wasn’t constantly watching this fellow, she would miss whole miracles, whole wonders – things that he let fall incidentally off himself as other men might shed dandruff.’

There was something supremely enchanting about this well-written story. It combined the heartrending historical aspects of The Book Thief with the magical realism of The Snow Child. Unfortunately, Savit built up a mesmerizing tale of survival only to lose steam and fizzle out at the end. The hazy inscrutability that is cast over this story leads to the magical feeling of mysteriousness but by the end, I was expecting that haze to clear and it never did. View Spoiler »

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Book Review – Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

December 12, 2015 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2015, YA 0 Comments

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

Book Review – Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman & Jay KristoffIlluminae by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
Series: The Illuminae Files #1
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on October 20th 2015
Pages: 608
Genres: Sci-fi
Format: ARC
Source: Netgalley
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Goodreads

Also by this author: Unearthed

three-half-stars

For fans of Marie Lu comes the first book in an epic series that bends the sci-fi genre into a new dimension.

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.
The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than a speck at the edge of the universe. Now with enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to evacuate with a hostile warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A plague has broken out and is mutating with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a web of data to find the truth, it’s clear the only person who can help her is the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.
Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, maps, files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

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 The day started off like any other day, except for the fact that Kady just broke up with her boyfriend Ezra. Oh, and also the fact that their planet was invaded that afternoon by corporate rival, BeiTech Industries, after it was discovered that they were operating an illegal mining colony. The frantic evacuation of their planet forces the duo back together temporarily as they flee from certain death. The residents succeed in launching three ships to get as many individuals to safety as possible, but the tension doesn’t relent as there’s a BeiTech dreadnought hot on their heels. To make matters worse, there’s a virus circulating quickly on board and issues with Alexander’s artificial intelligence system. Kady takes it upon herself to hack into the ships computer system in order to find out what’s going on because of the ongoing secrecy. What she finds out fails to inspire hope, but she’s willing to do what must be done in order to survive.

The first thing you need to know about Illuminae is that it’s told in epistolary form. Not just your basic journal entries à la Georgia Nicholson either, but is instead a full spectrum combination of all possible epistolary formats: emails, interview transcripts, memos, security footage, pseudo-Wikipedia pages, and most especially instant messages. With that kind of formatting, I am absolutely 100% the targeted reader and find this method of storytelling to be oh so much fun. The blend of multiple genres only increased the entertainment. Science Fiction, Romance, Horror, plus some form of rampant plague and ZOMBIES. Well. I would have thought it’d be too much, but it was fantastic. This is one page-turning thrill-ride that I did not want to get off of. There are twists and turns that were constantly throwing me for a loop, and oh man, my EMOTIONS. I’ll just leave this here and let you non-readers try to ponder the meaning.

There was an immense amount of hype surrounding this one, including starred reviews from both Publishers Weekly and Kirkus which immediately makes me impressed before I’ve even picked up the book. But admittedly, I was nervous. I find myself in the black sheep camp more often than not and my hopes were high with this one. I thoroughly enjoyed this one, with reservations, as the ending felt like an odd piece of the puzzle. View Spoiler » Even with my reservations, this was a thoroughly engrossing adventure and I will most definitely be picking up the next installment in hopes of getting some answers to my lingering questions.

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Book Review – M Train by Patti Smith

November 19, 2015 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2015 0 Comments

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

Book Review – M Train by Patti SmithM Train by Patti Smith
Published by Knopf on October 6th 2015
Pages: 272
Genres: Non-Fiction
Format: ARC
Source: Goodreads First Reads
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Goodreads

Also by this author: Just Kids

two-stars

From the National Book Award-winning author of Just Kids: an unforgettable odyssey into the mind of this legendary artist, told through the prism of cafés and haunts she has visited and worked in around the world.

M Train is a journey through eighteen "stations." It begins in the tiny Greenwich Village café where Smith goes every morning for black coffee, ruminates on the world as it is and the world as it was, and writes in her notebook. We then travel, through prose that shifts fluidly between dreams and reality, past and present, across a landscape of creative aspirations and inspirations: from Frida Kahlo's Casa Azul in Mexico, to a meeting of an Arctic explorer's society in Berlin; from the ramshackle seaside bungalow in New York's Far Rockaway that Smith buys just before Hurricane Sandy hits, to the graves of Genet, Plath, Rimbaud, and Mishima. Woven throughout are reflections on the writer's craft and on artistic creation, alongside signature memories including her life in Michigan with her husband, guitarist Fred Sonic Smith, whose untimely death was an irremediable loss. For it is loss, as well as the consolation we might salvage from it, that lies at the heart of this exquisitely told memoir, one augmented by stunning black-and-white Polaroids taken by Smith herself. M Train is a meditation on endings and on beginnings: a poetic tour de force by one of the most brilliant multiplatform artists at work today.

‘I’m sure I could write endlessly about nothing. If only I had nothing to say.’

Patti Smith carries us through her esoteric stories of the past and present in this short story/essay collection. M Train reads like an internal journey, a solo exploration. She recalls cafes visited all around the world, writing or simply sitting and reminiscing while drinking an insane amount of coffee that makes my own addiction to caffeine seem laughable. While Smith seems completely content with her own company and the adventures she undertakes alone, there’s still an underlying sadness when recollecting the loved ones she’s lost and the memories that still haunt her.

-What are you writing?
I looked up at her, somewhat surprised. I had absolutely no idea.

Ultimately, this accurately sums up this non-linear story collection. Random, non-cohesive thoughts that bounce around her lifetime from past to present with no indication of time. It is possible for randomness to possess interest and there is no doubt that Patti Smith has led a most interesting life, such as the descriptions of her trip to Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni in northwest French Guiana to visit the remains of a French penal colony where criminals were kept. Of all the places in the world to visit though, only Patti Smith would decide to visit an old abandoned prison at the end of the world. Nevertheless, it was interesting, but while it was all very informative and her writing is forever fluid, none of it ever felt as if it had much substance. Her descriptions of her trip to Germany to attend a conference with the Continental Drift Club, of which she is a member strangely enough, were fascinating but then she goes on to describe how on her return trip home she decided to stay in London to binge-watch some crime shows on the BBC. Fascinating and then… not.

Just Kids was stunning and poignant and her writing transported the reader back to a long past period of time. While her writing is still top-notch and her talent is undeniable, M Train was simply too meandering and tangential for my liking. The triviality of these stories are clearly meaningful to her since our experiences in life are what make us who we are today, but the importance is easily lost when not experienced firsthand but only recapped from memory.

‘I believe in life, which one day each of us shall lose. When we are young we think we won’t, that we are different. As a child I thought I would never grow up, that I could will it so. And then I realize, quite recently, that I had crossed some line, unconsciously cloaked in the truth of my chronology.’

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Book Review – The Circle by Dave Eggers

December 5, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 6 Comments

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

Book Review – The Circle by Dave EggersThe Circle by Dave Eggers
Published by Knopf on October 8th 2013
Pages: 508
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic, Sci-fi
Format: ARC
Source: Library Thing
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one-star

The Circle is the exhilarating new novel from Dave Eggers, best-selling author of A Hologram for the King, a finalist for the National Book Award.

When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users’ personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency. As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company’s modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO. Mae can’t believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in America—even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public. What begins as the captivating story of one woman’s ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.

In the world introduced in ‘The Circle’, individuals become completely transparent and are stripped of their anonymity even when performing menial tasks. Mae Holland has just secured a position with The Circle thanks to her friend Annie, a high-ranking employee at The Circle. Mae’s involvement in the company slowly begins overtaking everything and without stopping to consider, her entire life ends up being put on display for anyone willing to see.

‘TruYou changed the internet, in toto, within a year. Though some sites were resistant at first, and free-internet advocates shouted about the right to be anonymous online, the TruYou wave was tidal and crushed all meaninful opposition. It started with the commerce sites. Why would any non-porn site want anonymous users when they could know exactly who had come through the door? Overnight, all comment boards became civil, all posters held accountable. The trolls, who had more or less overtaken the internet, were driven back into the darkness.’

So essentially the only people that truly care about privacy in this world are trolls and people who view porn online. Everybody else is fully willing to give up their privacy. Right. Because that’s totally legit. And comment boards became civil overnight all because people’s real names were disclosed thus insinuating that the only thing encouraging people to state their opinions on the Internet was their anonymity? And I loved how the creation of the Unified Operating System, also known as TruYou, which basically took all user accounts and passwords and made them into one all encompassing login, revolutionized the Internet and prevented identity theft. You’d think if you only had one single password it’d be easier rather than more difficult to hack someones information but maybe we’re not supposed to think too hard on these technological creations of Eggers, especially considering his supposed lack of research on the subject. (“There were a handful of times when I looked something up, or asked the opinion of someone more tech-savvy than I am, but for the most part this was just a process of pure speculative fiction.”Source) His lack of research is abundantly clear with the naming of his main invention, Unified Operating System, which isn’t even an Operating System at all. Windows? OS X? Linux? Android? Those are Operating Systems. Computer software that manages the computers hardware.  For someone that decided to write a 504 page book dedicated to technology I would have expected him to know that at the very least.

It’s obvious that Eggers himself harbors a deep dislike of technology and the way the Internet is growing and expanding in society as that’s the way it was written, in a smug and dismissive manner. Each time Mae’s ex-boyfriend Mercer makes an appearance the opportunity is taken to preach his opinions about her job and what companies like ‘The Circle’ are doing to this world. It’s clear Eggers is the embodiment of Mercer and he used that character to push his agenda which is completely fine by me, but the opinions of technological advances were written as black and white where people are either completely for or completely against those advances. Personally, I found myself in a grey area and I’m doubtfully the only like-minded individual.

Setting all that aside I really have to mention the worst thing about this book: the sex scenes. Not only was there a completely unnecessary romance, but the embarrassingly graphic sex scenes told from the point of view of a female were awful (not to mention the scene where Mae walked in on her parents? Served absolutely no purpose to the advancement of the storyline.) Maybe it would’ve been better if the main character was a male and Eggers could have made it sound like he has a modicum of sense in regards to what goes on in the bedroom. The bothersome descriptive words makes me hope someone will steal that man’s thesaurus. Here a few cringe-worthy examples:

‘Then his eyes closed, and he went into paroxysms, emitting a brief squeal before grunting his arrival.’
Squeal? Grunting? ARRIVAL? No, no, no.

“Sometimes,” he said, and breathed fire into her ear.
My. That sounds painful.

‘She could think only of a campfire, one small log, all of it doused in milk.’
Okay, maybe this is a little out of context and hard to understand but there had just been an embarrassing sexual situation where the man was a bit too… quick with it. And Eggers uses a ‘small log’ and ‘milk’ as the descriptive terms. Good grief, NO.

The Circle is at times a bit of a satiric story on the technological advances in this day and age but does manage to bring up some points that would be worth discussing. If it was a non-biased written interpretation on the future possibilities of technology it could have been well received (by me) but as it stands it was written too much like The Circle was ‘Big Brother’ and everything associated with technology is inherently bad. The laughable ending which involves robot drones directed by social media hordes that essentially cause a murder only solidified my displeasure.

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Book Review – The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

October 5, 2013 Bonnie Book Reviews, Book-To-Film, Read in 2013, YA 3 Comments

Book Review – The Spectacular Now by Tim TharpThe Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on November 4th 2008
Pages: 306
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads


two-stars

SUTTER KEELY. HE’S the guy you want at your party. He’ll get everyone dancing. He’ ll get everyone in your parents’ pool. Okay, so he’s not exactly a shining academic star. He has no plans for college and will probably end up folding men’s shirts for a living. But there are plenty of ladies in town, and with the help of Dean Martin and Seagram’s V.O., life’s pretty fabuloso, actually.

Until the morning he wakes up on a random front lawn, and he meets Aimee. Aimee’s clueless. Aimee is a social disaster. Aimee needs help, and it’s up to the Sutterman to show Aimee a splendiferous time and then let her go forth and prosper. But Aimee’s not like other girls, and before long he’s in way over his head. For the first time in his life, he has the power to make a difference in someone else’s life—or ruin it forever.

‘Another spectacular afternoon. This weather is unbelievable. Of course, that probably means summer is going to be vicious again, but I’m not worried about that now. I was never big on the future. I admire people who are, but it just never was my thing.’

Sutter is spontaneous with a luring personality who lives life solely in the moment. Aimee is plagued by insecurity but has a mind that is saturated with dreams of the future. The two are an unlikely combination but Aimee is mesmerized by the lifestyle Sutter leads and Sutter is convinced he can do Aimee good by giving her the confidence she needs so badly.

“To hell with tomorrow. To hell with all problems and barriers. Nothing matters but the Spectacular Now.”

Oh, Sutter. His character is not portrayed solely as an addict or an alcoholic, instead he’s this extremely fun and charismatic person that everyone really can’t help but love… he just has a serious problem with alcohol. But that’s not his defining feature. There was a complete lack of character development in regards to Sutter; he simply maintained as he was first introduced. I definitely wished I had seen some alteration, even slight, especially since this is highly considered to be a coming of age tale and I require character development in order for that label to be fitting.

Considering this story is told from the point of view of Sutter, everything is glorified because that’s the mentality he projects on the world. Unfortunately, the same goes for his alcoholic tendencies. It’s reflected in such a glamorized and non-gritty light and I can’t help but take issue with that since this book is targeted towards children. Taken at face value I think it would be difficult for children to see past the facade and realize that Sutter has a serious issue. The ending sheds some light on the seriousness but not enough in my opinion. Sutter’s story is truly a tragedy, I can only hope that for those children that do read this have parents that are willing to sit down and discuss with them the ravaging effects of alcohol.

Despite his good intentions towards Aimee, their relationship is truly toxic. The effect Sutter had on her was initially beneficial, however, she ended up turning down the exact road as him as her grades began to slip and she began drinking (almost) as much as him. What astonished me most was the family members of both main characters and their complete absence in their lives. I understand being a parent myself and not being able to see issues all the time before they rear their ugly head but Sutter made the fact that he was on a downward spiral loud and clear.

My opinion is quite the unpopular one regarding this book. This was well written and an honest depiction of alcoholism, I just didn’t agree with the glamorized feel the book lent it, especially when you consider the target audience.

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Early Review – The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman

September 5, 2013 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2013, YA 9 Comments

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

Early Review – The Waking Dark by Robin WassermanThe Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on September 10th 2013
Pages: 464
Genres: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Girls on Fire

four-stars

A taut, haunting read, The Waking Dark is "a horror story worthy of Stephen King" (Booklist) and will appeal to the readers of Gillian Flynn and Rick Yancey.

They called it the killing day. Twelve people dead, all in the space of a few hours. Five murderers: neighbors, relatives, friends. All of them so normal. All of them seemingly harmless. All of them now dead by their own hand . . . except one. And that one has no answers to offer the shattered town. She doesn't even know why she killed—or whether she'll do it again.

Something is waking in the sleepy town of Oleander's, Kansas—something dark and hungry that lives in the flat earth and the open sky, in the vengeful hearts of upstanding citizens. As the town begins its descent into blood and madness, five survivors of the killing day are the only ones who can stop Oleander from destroying itself. Jule, the outsider at war with the world; West, the golden boy at war with himself; Daniel, desperate for a different life; Cass, who's not sure she deserves a life at all; and Ellie, who believes in sacrifice, fate, and in evil. Ellie, who always goes too far. They have nothing in common. They have nothing left to lose. And they have no way out. Which means they have no choice but to stand and fight, to face the darkness in their town—and in themselves.

The killing day.
The day the devil came to Oleander.
That day.

 Oleander, Kansas is a small, quiet town that was never cause for much attention… until the killing day. The day when twelve people were killed in a few short hours by the hands of their friends and neighbors. Once all surrounding them were dead they then killed themselves having outlived their purpose. One survived to tell her tale, but she remembers nothing of the horrors that she dealt out. When the town is placed under quarantine after a horrific storm does further damage to the town, a darkness wakes in the citizens. The deacon decides this is the perfect opportunity to cleanse the town and the remaining citizens begin to take the law into their own hands.

This book is insanity incarnate. It’s dark and distressing. It’s maddening and stupefying. It’s one of the most horrific books I’ve ever read. It was fantastic. I have never been left more shocked and appalled by a single chapter and that’s just what Robin Wasserman managed to do. The Waking Dark is horror, but it’s not exactly scary. The madness that consumes this small town is more vexing and mortifying than anything and showcases perfectly the mentality of a small town and what can happen when it all goes wrong.

The story is extremely character driven and is told from several different points of view with very distinct characters so it didn’t cause any confusion as its fantastically written. It’s a sordid tale told over the span of a few short weeks with enough violence to last a lifetime. The Waking Dark has drawn comparisons to Stephen King and Gillian Flynn, I believe for good reason. Having read both authors I feel that they both possess a subtle eeriness in their writing, a creepiness and unflinching details that sneaks up on you and takes you by surprise.

I feel it must be said that this is one of the most violent and mature YA books I’ve read and is definitely not meant for a younger crowd. It involves infant murders, detailed meth use, crucifixion and people being burned at the stake (and that’s not even half of the craziness that goes down in these pages). This is not for the faint of heart.

There is so much to say about this story, but so much that needs to be experienced firsthand. I have to say though, I was extremely pleased at how the violence was maintained throughout the story because I figured it would letup at some point, (nope) but I expected it to end in a manner as shocking as the first chapter but it was a bit too tidy of an ending for my liking. Nevertheless, I am most impressed with this author and will be seeking out her past works.

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Book Review – Inferno (Robert Langdon #4) by Dan Brown

June 22, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 4 Comments

Book Review – Inferno (Robert Langdon #4) by Dan BrownInferno by Dan Brown
Series: Robert Langdon #4
Published by Knopf Doubleday on May 14th 2013
Pages: 482
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads


one-star

In his international blockbusters The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons, and The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown masterfully fused history, art, codes, and symbols. In this riveting new thriller, Brown returns to his element and has crafted his highest-stakes novel to date.

In the heart of Italy, Harvard professor of symbology, Robert Langdon, is drawn into a harrowing world centered on one of history's most enduring and mysterious literary masterpieces...Dante's Inferno.

Against this backdrop, Langdon battles a chilling adversary and grapples with an ingenious riddle that pulls him into a landscape of classic art, secret passageways, and futuristic science. Drawing from Dante's dark epic poem, Langdon races to find answers and decide whom to trust...before the world is irrevocably altered.

Fans of this series have been waiting 4 years for the next installment. Yes, The Lost Symbol came out in 2009. Unfortunately, this does not read like he spent the full 4 years invested in making sure this was a masterpiece (he actually claims in an interview he spent 3 years researching this novel. *cough*bullshit*cough*). Inferno consists of a horribly muddled and dramatic plot, twists in the story that don’t even make sense and a whole slew of sections straight out of an encyclopedia.

This Dante tale is anything but Divine (but is a bit of a comedy) – pun intended. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am a fan. I know most people shun his works but I am admittedly a big fan of The Da Vinci Code. Looking back I can’t say for sure if I would still enjoy the novel today considering I read it ages ago and I’ve become much more of a critical reader, but I do keep picking up these books for some reason or another.

The main issue with Inferno is the fact that this book could easily be half in length if there wasn’t so much unnecessary detailing. He describes where they are in such vivid detail but it isn’t always relevant. With Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code, the descriptions were useful in finding their next clue, where they needed to go next to obtain the next piece of the puzzle. While the descriptions are interesting it detracts from the actual story and makes Langdon appear to be some crazed tour-guide while he’s supposed to be in the middle of running for his life. The overall smugness he has bestowed upon Robert Langdon is obnoxious and disrupting.

“…although as an architecture enthusiast, he found it almost unthinkable to rush a trip along the Grand Canal.”

DUDE. PEOPLE ARE TRYING TO KILL YOU. YOU’RE A FUCKING MORON. Yet despite his constant admiring of statuary and architecture he is constantly able to evade capture and certain death. DUN DUN DUN

The second issue was the strange, short chapters. They were always ended on some dramatic discovery that induced more eye-rolling than gasps of shock. The choice of position in breaks made it more melodramatic and annoying than a respite from the intensity of the story. And speaking of melodramatic and annoying, this book possesses one of the most absurd and histrionic endings I have ever had the misfortune of reading. I believe Mr. Brown had an intriguing concept for a story line, but he may have bit off more than he could chew because the execution of this story was truly abysmal.

I could write a full review based on what I like to consider the ‘lines-of-ridiculousness’. While I’ll spare you the majority of them, I couldn’t resist including a few. (I refuse to suffer alone.)

‘Normally, Langdon’s visits to the Palazzo Vecchio had begun here on the Piazza della Signoria, which, despite its overabundance of phalluses, had always been one of his favorite plazas in all of Europe.’

‘The statute before them depicted an obese, naked dwark straddling a giant turtle. The dwarf’s testicles were squashed against the turtle’s shell, and the turtle’s mouth was dribbling water, as if he were ill.’

And I’ll leave you with this fabulous Fifty Shades quip. Yes. You heard me right.

“Robert, we’re in book publishing. We don’t have access to private jets.”
“We both know you’re lying, my friend.”
Faukman sighed. “Okay, let me rephrase that. We don’t have access to private jets for authors of tomes about religious history. If you want to write Fifty Shades of Iconography, we can talk.”

So why is this #1 on the NYT bestseller’s list? Well, his past works while not of superior literary quality were still enjoyable enough so I’m assuming people just expected more (and expected him to maybe advance as a writer?) And of course, with the digs taken against the Vatican I’m sure it’s only a matter of time until they decide to ban this one too and spur even more sales.

I will occasionally recommend a particular drink that fits well with the book. In this case? I recommend ALL THE DRINKS. You’ll need them to get through this ridiculous disaster of a book.

 

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Early Review – Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O’Farrell

June 14, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2013 0 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 – Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O’FarrellInstructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O'Farrell
Published by Knopf on June 18th 2013
Pages: 304
Genres: Contemporary, Historical Fiction
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon
Goodreads


two-stars

A sweeping family drama, in which the disappearance of a family patriarch forces three adult siblings to gather together to find him and to confront what they really know about their father and themselves.

It's the summer of 1976 and London is in the grip of a record-breaking heat wave when Gretta Riordan discovers that her newly retired husband, Robert, has cleaned out his bank account and vanished. Now, Gretta's three children converge in their mother's home for the first time in years: Michael Francis, a history teacher whose marriage is failing; Monica, with two stepdaughters who despise her and an ugly secret that has driven a wedge between herself and the little sister she once adored; and Aoife, the youngest of the Riordans, now living in Manhattan, a smart, immensely resourceful young woman who has arranged her entire life to conceal her illiteracy.

As the siblings tease out clues about their father's whereabouts, they navigate rocky pasts and long-held secrets, until at last their search brings them to their ancestral village in Ireland, where the truth of their parents' lives--and their own--is suddenly revealed. Wise, lyrical, instantly engrossing, Instructions for a Heat Wave is a richly satisfying page-turner from a writer of exceptional intelligence and grace.

‘Odd that your life can contain such significant tripwires to your future and, even while you wander through them, you have no idea.’

The story itself starts off at a slow and leisurely pace that doesn’t ever quite pick up speed but the writing itself was quite gripping. The characters are also very drab and almost boring but they’re written so well that they somehow manage to be intriguing nonetheless. The three grown-up children (of the missing father) are the center of the story despite the fact that it was their father that went missing, their father that was initially the reason for this story. Him going missing was simply the catalyst to bringing these three children back together after many years of separation.

As the story progressed I became less and less interested in why their father disappeared and even with the odd assortment of drama every character managed to possess. The ongoing family drama seemed more stereotypical than interesting and while the characters themselves may have been intriguing at first That certainly didn’t last. You know those characters in stories that make idiotic choices or choose to withhold some vital information and you can’t help but scream, “Just TELL SOMEONE” yet they don’t and it just produces more drama and continues to cause problems? Well, that happened. And it was ridiculous and failed to garner any sympathy from me. Also, the ending was completely preposterous and was actually quite laughable. Hint: Your questions will likely not be answered.

Simply put, this “sweeping family drama” only managed to be mediocre due to the lackluster cast of characters and their completely avoidable drama. Yet another highly anticipated summer read that failed to meet any of my expectations.

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Early Review – Every Day by David Levithan

August 6, 2012 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2012, YA 0 Comments

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

Early Review – Every Day by David LevithanEvery Day by David Levithan
Series: Every Day #1
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on August 28th 2012
Pages: 338
Genres: Contemporary, Fantasy, Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Lover's Dictionary, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, The Lover's Dictionary

three-half-stars

Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.

There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.

It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.

‘Every day I am someone else. I am myself – I know I am myself – but I am also someone else.
It has always been like this.’

A is a new person every day. Boy, girl, straight, gay, white, African-American… it doesn’t matter. Each day A lives life through the eyes of someone new. A is something of a spirit and has no control over where he ends up the next day but it happens without fail each and every night. After being so many different people, A has made it a point to not change these people’s lives. He’s able to access memories in order to determine where they need to be on each particular day and to be able to interact with others in that person’s life but A tries to interact as little as possible because of the guilt from the intrusion. I found the whole concept of this storyline to be extremely interesting and original despite a few issues.

‘If you stare at the center of the universe, there is a coldness there. A blankness. Ultimately, the universe doesn’t care about us. Time doesn’t care about us.
That’s why we have to care about each other.’

First off, there was this one particular scene where A goes to a computer and accesses his personal e-mail account. To me, A seemed more like a spirit which inhabited a new person’s body on a daily basis and since this was never elaborated on then that’s the explanation I created. So, spirits with email accounts? Eh. Of course this played a huge part in the entire story, but it still threw me off for the rest of the book.

It had a wonderful message though, about loving someone for who they are inside and not for what they look like outside. The love story itself between A and Rhiannon I admit was a bit instantaneous but I ended up sold by the end pages. It was touching and incredibly sweet and I truly believed that she loved A and not because of an outside appearance as that changed daily. But…

‘If I were in a different body, this would be the time I would lean down and kiss her. If I were in a different body, that kiss could transform the night from off to on. If I were in a different body, she would see me inside. She would see what she wanted to see.
But now it’s awkward.’

Then A woke up in a 300 pound body. It was definitely disconcerting how A acted because of his appearance, how everyone treated him that day, and how it resulted in View Spoiler » Also, I found it to be a bit over the top when A and Rhiannon were struggling to see each other every day. A was always calling in sick or leaving school early just to meet up with her to see her and Rhiannon was doing the same. It seemed as if the majority of the story was finding rides and making excuses to get to see her and it got a little exhausting.

Despite my few issues, I still found this to be a fast and enjoyable read. This is only my second David Levithan book (first being The Lover’s Dictionary) but his writing continues to amaze. Definitely won’t be my last book of his.

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