Publisher: Random House

Waiting on Wednesday – The Mastermind: Drugs. Empire. Murder. Betrayal. by Evan Ratliff

November 28, 2018 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 9 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – The Mastermind: Drugs. Empire. Murder. Betrayal. by Evan RatliffThe Mastermind: Drugs. Empire. Murder. Betrayal. by Evan Ratliff
Published by Random House on March 5, 2019
Pages: 496
Genres: True Crime
Format: Hardcover
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The incredible true story of the decade-long quest to bring down Paul Le Roux—the creator of a frighteningly powerful Internet-enabled cartel who merged the ruthlessness of a drug lord with the technological savvy of a Silicon Valley entrepreneur

It all started as an online prescription drug network, supplying hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of painkillers to American customers. It would not stop there. Before long, the business had turned into a sprawling multinational conglomerate engaged in almost every conceivable aspect of criminal mayhem. Yachts carrying $100 million in cocaine. Safe houses in Hong Kong filled with gold bars. Shipments of methamphetamine from North Korea. Weapons deals with Iran. Mercenary armies in Somalia. Teams of hitmen in the Philippines. Encryption programs so advanced that the government could not break them.

The man behind it all, pulling the strings from a laptop in Manila, was Paul Calder Le Roux—a reclusive programmer turned criminal genius who could only exist in the networked world of the twenty-first century, and the kind of self-made crime boss that American law enforcement had never imagined.

For half a decade, DEA agents played a global game of cat-and-mouse with Le Roux as he left terror and chaos in his wake. Each time they came close, he would slip away. It would take relentless investigative work, and a shocking betrayal from within his organization, to catch him. And when he was finally caught, the story turned again, as Le Roux struck a deal to bring down his own organization and the people he had once employed.

Award-winning investigative journalist Evan Ratliff spent four years piecing together this intricate puzzle, chasing LeRoux's empire and his shadowy henchmen around the world, conducting hundreds of interviews and uncovering thousands of documents. The result is a riveting, unprecedented account of a crime boss built by and for the digital age.

“As directors, we spend countless hours imagining heightened plots and memorable characters that will leave a lasting impression on audiences. The true tale of obsession, genius, intrigue, and vengeance detailed in The Mastermind is as gripping and cinematic as anything we could endeavor to conjure up.”—Joe and Anthony Russo, directors of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War, and Avengers: Infinity War

About Evan Ratliff

Evan Ratliff is an award-winning journalist and the author of The Mastermind: Drugs, Empire, Murder, Betrayal, about the 21st century’s most ambitious criminal cartel and the programming genius behind it (coming in 2019 from Random House). The story is also being adapted into a television series by the Russo Brothers, Noah Hawley, and Skybound. His writing also appears in Wired, The New Yorker, and other magazines. Evan was previously the cofounder and editor in chief of Atavist and the The Atavist Magazine, acquired by Automattic in 2018. On the side, he cohosts the acclaimed Longform Podcast, and was the founding story editor of Pop-Up Magazine.

Sounds like a good time. 😂

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Waiting on Wednesday – The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

April 11, 2018 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 5 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – The Dreamers by Karen Thompson WalkerThe Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker
Published by Random House on January 15, 2019
Pages: 320
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
Format: Hardcover
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Age of Miracles

A mesmerizing novel about a college town transformed by a strange illness that locks victims in a perpetual sleep and triggers life-altering dreams—by the bestselling author of The Age of Miracles, for fans of Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven and Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go.

In an isolated college town in the hills of Southern California, a freshman girl stumbles into her dorm room, falls asleep—and doesn’t wake up. She sleeps through the morning, into the evening. Her roommate, Mei, cannot rouse her. Neither can the paramedics who carry her away, nor the perplexed doctors at the hospital. Then a second girl falls asleep, and then another, and panic takes hold of the college and spreads to the town. As the number of cases multiplies, classes are canceled, and stores begin to run out of supplies. A quarantine is established. The National Guard is summoned. Mei, an outsider in the cliquish hierarchy of dorm life, finds herself thrust together with an eccentric, idealistic classmate. Two visiting professors try to protect their newborn baby as the once-quiet streets descend into chaos. A father succumbs to the illness, leaving his daughters to fend for themselves. And at the hospital, a new life grows within a college girl, unbeknownst to her—even as she sleeps. A psychiatrist, summoned from Los Angeles, attempts to make sense of the illness as it spreads through the town. Those infected are displaying unusual levels of brain activity, more than has ever been recorded. They are dreaming heightened dreams—but of what? Written in gorgeous prose, The Dreamers is a breathtaking novel that startles and provokes, about the possibilities contained within a human life—in our waking days and, perhaps even more, in our dreams.

About Karen Thompson Walker

Karen Thompson Walker was born and raised in San Diego, California, where The Age of Miracles is set. She studied English and creative writing at UCLA, where she wrote for the UCLA Daily Bruin. After college, she worked as a newspaper reporter in the San Diego area before moving to New York City to attend the Columbia University MFA program.

A former book editor at Simon & Schuster, she wrote The Age of Miracles in the mornings before work—sometimes while riding the subway.

She is the recipient of the 2011 Sirenland Fellowship as well as a Bomb Magazine fiction prize. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband.

I apologize you guys, this doesn’t come out for ages (it’s not even on Amazon or Book Depository yet) but I’M SO EXCITED.

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Do you remember The Age of Miracles circa 2012? This is the long-awaited follow up! Sleeping disorders make me immediately think of Sleeping Beauties, however, this sounds even better.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Life’s Too Short – The Simplicity of Cider, Tess of the Road, Strange Fire

December 21, 2017 Bonnie Book Reviews, Life's Too Short 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.

Life’s Too Short – The Simplicity of Cider, Tess of the Road, Strange FireThe Simplicity of Cider by Amy E. Reichert
Published by Gallery Books on May 16th 2017
Pages: 336
Genres: Magical Realism
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Also by this author: The Coincidence of Coconut Cake

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Fall in love with The Simplicity of Cider, the charming new novel about a prickly but gifted cider-maker whose quiet life is interrupted by the arrival of a handsome man and his young son at her family’s careworn orchard by the author of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake and Luck, Love & Lemon Pie.

Focused and unassuming fifth generation cider-maker Sanna Lund has one desire: to live a simple, quiet life on her family’s apple orchard in Door County, Wisconsin. Although her business is struggling, Sanna remains fiercely devoted to the orchard, despite her brother’s attempts to convince their aging father to sell the land.

Single dad Isaac Banks has spent years trying to shield his son Sebastian from his troubled mother. Fleeing heartbreak at home, Isaac packed up their lives and the two headed out on an adventure, driving across the country. Chance—or fate—led them straight to Sanna’s orchard.

Isaac’s helping hands are much appreciated at the apple farm, even more when Sanna’s father is injured in an accident. As Sanna’s formerly simple life becomes increasingly complicated, she finds solace in unexpected places—friendship with young Sebastian and something more deliciously complex with Isaac—until an outside threat infiltrates the farm.

From the warm and funny Amy E. Reichert, The Simplicity of Cider is a charming love story with a touch of magic, perfect for fans of Sarah Addison Allen and Gayle Forman.

DNF @ 20%

I adore Magical Realism and I adored Reichert’s debut The Coincidence of Coconut Cake but this one just didn’t do it for me. I’ve had a rollercoaster of a reading year and being very much a mood reader it seemed like every time I picked this one up, it never felt like the right time. Alas, I’m making this my last attempt (my fifth attempt, for the record) and calling it quits. This book possessed a lovely, heartwarming feel to it as you learn about the orchard and see all these special touches of magic throughout but as the summary states, Sanna is most prickly indeed. Her character was so completely off-putting to me that it lessened my interest in everything else. Did she redeem herself in the end? Possibly. But if I’ve restarted a book five times in a single year and still can’t get through it, honestly, that was more time spent trying than should be necessary.

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.

Life’s Too Short – The Simplicity of Cider, Tess of the Road, Strange FireTess of the Road by Rachel Hartman
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers on February 27th 2018
Pages: 544
Genres: Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Also by this author: Seraphina

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Meet Tess, a brave new heroine from beloved epic fantasy author Rachel Hartman.

In the medieval kingdom of Goredd, women are expected to be ladies, men are their protectors, and dragons get to be whomever they want. Tess, stubbornly, is a troublemaker. You can’t make a scene at your sister’s wedding and break a relative’s nose with one punch (no matter how pompous he is) and not suffer the consequences. As her family plans to send her to a nunnery, Tess yanks on her boots and sets out on a journey across the Southlands, alone and pretending to be a boy.

Where Tess is headed is a mystery, even to her. So when she runs into an old friend, it’s a stroke of luck. This friend is a quigutl—a subspecies of dragon—who gives her both a purpose and protection on the road. But Tess is guarding a troubling secret. Her tumultuous past is a heavy burden to carry, and the memories she’s tried to forget threaten to expose her to the world in more ways than one.

Returning to the fascinating world she created in the award-winning and New York Times bestselling Seraphina, Rachel Hartman introduces readers to a new character and a new quest, pushing the boundaries of genre once again in this wholly original fantasy.

DNF @ 15%

Blogger Problem #74: Being blinded by the excitement surrounding an ARC that you accept it without completely thinking it through.

Seraphina was a real struggle for me to get through, especially when all my blogger friends were raving about it. Despite this, I still picked up Shadow Scale (Seraphina #2) and ended up DNF-ing. Even though Tess of the Road is not classified as Seraphina #3, it really is. It’s set in the same world, most of the same characters, just focusing on a different main character. Same series, spin-off series, either way… I really should have skipped over this one. Hartman’s world building is spectacular but I continue to struggle with the pacing of her stories.

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.

Life’s Too Short – The Simplicity of Cider, Tess of the Road, Strange FireStrange Fire by Tommy Wallach
Narrator: Julia Whelan, Joy Osmanski, Madeleine Maby, Corey Brill, Jacques Roy, Gibson Frazier
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on October 3rd 2017
Pages: 386
Length: 9 hours and 35 minutes
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
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Also by this author: We All Looked Up, Thanks for the Trouble

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It only takes a spark.

They said that the first generation of man was brought low by its appetites: for knowledge, for wealth, for power. They said mankind’s voracity was so great, the Lord sent his own Daughter to bring fire and devastation to the world.

The survivors were few, but over the course of centuries, they banded together to form a new civilization—the Descendancy—founded on the belief that the mistakes of the past must never be repeated.

Brothers Clive and Clover Hamill, the sons of a well-respected Descendant minister, have spent their lives spreading that gospel. But when their traveling ministry discovers a community intent on rediscovering the blasphemous technologies of the past, a chain of events will be set in motion that will pit city against city…and brother against brother.

Along with Gemma Poplin, Clive’s childhood sweetheart, and Paz Dedios, a revolutionary who dreams of overthrowing the Descendancy, Clive and Clover will each play a pivotal role in determining the outcome of this holy war, and the fate of humanity itself.

DNF @ 10%

I understand that the whole purpose of a blurb is to quickly encourage readers to pick it up, but when you do, and the blurb is nothing like it promised, that’s mighty disappointing. Oregon Trail meets Westworld was what hooked me and caused me so much excitement I admittedly didn’t even read the rest of the blurb (although this is a rampant problem for me.) If I had read the entire blurb I would have been immediately put off by the excessive religiousness and would’ve skipped this. But nooooo…. my 10-year-old brain started daydreaming of Oregon Trail instead.

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Strange Fire is told from the point of view of two brothers from a religious society that views technology to be the root of all evil. It’s less fantasy and more futuristic dystopian but possessed an essence of more popular dystopian novels (Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, Handmaid’s Tale, as well as the more recent Blood Red Road.) The writing was well done but the plot was slow to build which makes more sense when you consider it’s the start of a series. I tried to keep an open mind regarding the religious aspects but this ultimately just failed to capture my interest.

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Short & Sweet – Sleeping Giants + Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel

April 14, 2017 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2017, Short & Sweet Reviews 12 Comments

Short & Sweet – Sleeping Giants + Waking Gods by Sylvain NeuvelSleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
Narrator: Andy Secombe, Eric Meyers, Laurel Lefkow, Charlie Anson, Liza Ross, William Hope, Christoper Ragland, Katharine Mangold, Adna Sablyich
Series: Themis Files #1
Published by Random House Audio on April 26th 2016
Length: 8 hrs and 28 mins
Genres: Sci-fi
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
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four-half-stars

A page-turning debut in the tradition of Michael Crichton, World War Z, and The Martian, Sleeping Giants is a thriller fueled by an earthshaking mystery—and a fight to control a gargantuan power.

A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved—its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the provenance of the relic. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unraveling history’s most perplexing discovery—and figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result prove to be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?

Eleven-year-old Rose Franklin rides her new bicycle in Deadwood, South Dakota when she suddenly falls into a large hole. At the bottom of this hole was a twenty-foot-long metal hand which she had fallen directly into the palm. Seventeen years later, Rose Franklin is a brilliant physicist who has been brought in to study the mysterious hand that she fell into as a child to determine anything she can about it.

“I don’t really believe in fate,” she says, “but somehow ‘small world’ doesn’t begin to do this justice.”

Its origins and its chemical makeup defy logic; it weighs far less than would be expected based on its mass and its composition couldn’t have come from Earth. When Army helicopter pilots Kara Resnik and Ryan Mitchell crash somewhere in Syria, they find an extremely long, metal forearm that connects to the metal hand like a magnet when placed nearby. The search for the remaining pieces of this metal body continues across the globe to hopefully one day determine the purpose of this creation.

I absolutely adored this story. Sleeping Giants is a science fiction story that delves into the mysteries of space, the mysterious mythology uncovered about the origins of the metal giant, and delves into the scientific aspects of the giant’s metallurgy in an informative and detailed way. The mysteries go beyond the giant though, expanding to each and every character and no one is left to fall by the wayside. Who is the unnamed narrator that possesses so much power and authority, how coincidental is it that Rose Franklin remains involved with the hand years later, what was the purpose of this metal giant and where did it come from? The whole book reads like one massive conspiracy theory, much like an episode of the X-Files and we’re slowly fed answers but never to the bigger picture questions. Will we ever truly know?

The fact that this was Neuvel’s debut is absolutely mind-boggling. The concept and the execution both are fascinating and immensely entertaining. The execution will definitely divide readers seeing as he traded a traditional narrative for a more epistolary type storytelling, using interview transcripts, news articles, journal entries, etc. for the entirety of the tale. If you’re an audiobook fan, this is even more brilliant to listen to with its full cast narration. I don’t re-read stories often but I re-read this one in anticipation of Waking Gods. I think I loved it, even more, the second time around.

Short & Sweet – Sleeping Giants + Waking Gods by Sylvain NeuvelWaking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel
Narrator: Andy Secombe, Adna Sablyich, Laurel Lefkow, Eric Meyers, William Hope, Charlie Anson, Christoper Ragland, Karina Fernandez, Madeleine Rose, Roy McMillan, Olivia Dowd, Sarah Wells
Series: Themis Files #2
Published by Random House Audio on April 4th 2017
Length: 9 hrs and 2 mins
Genres: Sci-fi
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
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four-half-stars

In the gripping sequel to Sleeping Giants, which was hailed by Pierce Brown as “a luminous conspiracy yarn . . . reminiscent of The Martian and World War Z,” Sylvain Neuvel’s innovative series about human-alien contact takes another giant step forward.

As a child, Rose Franklin made an astonishing discovery: a giant metallic hand, buried deep within the earth. As an adult, she’s dedicated her brilliant scientific career to solving the mystery that began that fateful day: Why was a titanic robot of unknown origin buried in pieces around the world? Years of investigation have produced intriguing answers—and even more perplexing questions. But the truth is closer than ever before when a second robot, more massive than the first, materializes and lashes out with deadly force.

Now humankind faces a nightmare invasion scenario made real, as more colossal machines touch down across the globe. But Rose and her team at the Earth Defense Corps refuse to surrender. They can turn the tide if they can unlock the last secrets of an advanced alien technology. The greatest weapon humanity wields is knowledge in a do-or-die battle to inherit the Earth . . . and maybe even the stars.


“I came to realize that good and evil were out of my reach, that time was the only thing I had any control over. I could buy time, create intervals. I could not truly make the world a better place, but I could make part of it a better place for a short while.”

Waking Gods bolsters and expands upon the Sleeping Giants storyline by adding high levels of adrenaline and excitement in this highly anticipated follow-up. Ten years have passed since the end of Sleeping Giants when Rose and team completed the reconstruction of the metal giant they named Themis after the ancient Greek Titan-goddess. They were beginning to slowly piece together information surrounding the mystery of her origins and are only briefly grasping her full technological capabilities when another metal giant appears in the center of London. It stands immobile for weeks, but without provocation, it attacks one-day leaving thousands dead, but some miraculously survived. More giants appear around the globe and Rose and team are given the impossible task of determining how to stop these attacks and to find out the reason behind them before Earth’s population is exterminated.

No sophomore slump to be had here. Listening to Waking Gods felt akin to being on a high-speed roller coaster: you’re buckled in, the ride is moving, and the time to change your mind has long since passed. But damn, is it a crazy good time.

Waking Gods continues with the same interview style of storytelling, with a few new characters/voices to acquaint ourselves with. The plot was incredibly fast paced and read much like an action movie would just minus the visuals. Incredibly similar to The War of the Worlds in regards to the severity and devastation of the attacks but much less straightforward in terms of the reasoning behind the attacks themselves (and far more fascinatingly scientific View Spoiler ».) Neuvel imbues his alien invasion with a history and purpose essentially giving the human race a chance at survival. He also manages to add a level of humor (there’s something unequivocally humorous about two individuals trying to manhandle a giant robot, albeit clunkily, into battle) that somehow manages to meld harmoniously with such a somber narrative. There are twists and turns aplenty, one particular scene made me loudly gasp and another where my face started leaking, and the ending will leave you thunderstruck. Neuvel’s endings, while definitely worthy of the term ‘cliffhanger’, never feel cheap but rather an apt ending that will lead to a brilliant beginning of the next, and possibly last, installment.

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Short & Sweet – Little Women, Skipping Christmas, Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe

December 30, 2016 Bonnie Book Reviews, Classic Curiosity, Short & Sweet Reviews 2 Comments

Short & Sweet – Little Women, Skipping Christmas, Christmas at the Comfort Food CafeLittle Women by Louisa May Alcott
Published by Tally Hall Press on 1868
Pages: 635
Genres: Classics, Historical Fiction, Holiday - Christmas
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
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three-stars

Grown-up Meg, tomboyish Jo, timid Beth, and precocious Amy. The four March sisters couldn't be more different. But with their father away at war, and their mother working to support the family, they have to rely on one another. Whether they're putting on a play, forming a secret society, or celebrating Christmas, there's one thing they can't help wondering: Will Father return home safely?

“I want to do something splendid…something heroic or wonderful that won’t be forgotten after I’m dead. I don’t know what, but I’m on the watch for it and mean to astonish you all someday.”

Can you believe it? The last person on Earth has finally read Little Women! Okay, I’m kidding, I’m sure I wasn’t the last one to read it but sure feels like it. But yes, this was my very first time reading it and I’m glad I did even though it was a bit of a struggle because 18th century works of fictions and I don’t often get along real well. But despite my apprehension View Spoiler » this one really won me over in the end. I learned to appreciate it for what it’s meant to be: an old-fashioned yet authentic tale of a close knit family, and in particular four very different young women, struggling to find their place in a difficult time in history. It’s not a glamorous tale of silk gowns and ball rooms, but rather an accurate interpretation of how life really was for Louisa May Alcott and her three sisters, as well as all the other women coming of age in the 1800s. It makes you appreciate family, life itself, and presents under the Christmas tree. And NOW, I can finally watch the movie.

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Short & Sweet – Little Women, Skipping Christmas, Christmas at the Comfort Food CafeSkipping Christmas by John Grisham
Narrator: Dennis Boutsikaris
Published by Random House Audio on November 6th 2001
Length: 3 hrs and 42 mins
Genres: Holiday - Christmas
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
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five-stars

Imagine a year without Christmas. No crowded malls, no corny office parties, no fruitcakes, no unwanted presents. That’s just what Luther and Nora Krank have in mind when they decide that, just this once, they’ll skip the holiday altogether. Theirs will be the only house on Hemlock Street without a rooftop Frosty; they won’t be hosting their annual Christmas Eve bash; they aren’t even going to have a tree. They won’t need one, because come December 25 they’re setting sail on a Caribbean cruise. But, as this weary couple is about to discover, skipping Christmas brings enormous consequences–and isn’t half as easy as they’d imagined.

In my opinion, this is the Christmas book. Forget A Christmas Carol or anything else resembling wholesome Christmas stories, Skipping Christmas is a destined classic. What can I say, the concept of skipping Christmas entirely and going on a cruise instead just speaks to my Grinch-y soul.

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This year I opted to re-read the audiobook version which is narrated by Dennis Boutsikaris who portrays Luther Krank perfectly in all his deadpan humorous glory. When I first discovered this novel, many, many years ago… I almost glanced over it because “John Grisham? Isn’t that the guy that writes legal thrillers?” Yep, he sure is, but apparently he also has a humorous side. Many of you have likely seen the film adaptation Christmas with the Kranks which is all sorts of hilarious (especially with the book lacking that sidesplitting scene after Luther gets botox), but this short novel is an amusing way to spend a few hours surrounded by Christmas cheer as you contemplate an alternative to it all.

Short & Sweet – Little Women, Skipping Christmas, Christmas at the Comfort Food CafeChristmas at the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson
Series: Comfort Food Cafe #2
Published by HarperImpulse on September 23rd 2016
Pages: 209
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
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three-stars

Becca Fletcher has always hated Christmas but she has her reasons for being Little Miss Grinch. Now, though, she can’t avoid her version of ho-ho-hell – because she’s travelling to the Comfort Food Cafe to spend the festive season with her sister Laura and her family. She’s expecting mulled wine, 24-hour Christmas movie marathons and all kinds of very merry torture.

Little does Becca know that the Comfort Food Cafe is like no other place on earth. Perched on a snow-covered hill, it’s a place full of friendship where broken hearts can heal, new love can blossom and where Becca’s Christmas miracle really could happen – if only she can let it…

‘They are perfect together, and it’s only their pasts holding them back.
Which, I suppose, is a sentence that could be applied to all of us, in some way or another.’

Becca Fletcher has always been known as the wild child of the family: drugs, alcohol, one night stands, you name it. She’s turned over a new leaf after a tragedy strikes her sister’s family and she realizes that it’s time she became someone that can be depended on. And now that same sister is asking her to come visit her for Christmas. She hates Christmas, but she just can’t say no to her sister.

The little town of Budbury is a charming little seaside village where everyone is friendly and looks out for one another. It’s the kind of quaint place that is only found within the pages of a story, but it doesn’t stop you from wishing such a place really existed. This is a fun Christmas time read but admittedly the Christmas theme took a backseat to the romance. Becca’s sister has been trying to set her up with the cute Irish boy named Sam since this past summer and when she visits, they finally meet in person for the first time. I appreciated Becca’s honesty with her past problems and not wanting to jump into anything (like a bed) too quickly and was up front and honest with him about this. She didn’t beat around the bush and gloss over her problems or make any sort of excuses, so for him to continue to doggedly pursue her despite her insistence they take things slow was a bit problematic for me. Granted, this all works out like your typical storybook romance is supposed to and was undeniably cute once I got past my awkward feels about the whole thing.

Christmas + cutesy romance = two peas in a pod.

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Life’s Too Short: Feedback, A Promise of Fire, The Girls

December 17, 2016 Bonnie Book Reviews, Life's Too Short 12 Comments

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.

Life’s Too Short: Feedback, A Promise of Fire, The GirlsFeedback by Mira Grant
Series: Newsflesh #4
Published by Orbit on October 4th 2016
Pages: 496
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic, Zombies
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
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Also by this author: Feed, Deadline, Countdown: A Newsflesh Novella

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FEEDBACK is a full-length Newsflesh novel which overlaps the events of New York Times bestseller Mira Grant's classic Feed and follows a group of reporters covering the Democratic side of the Presidential campaign.

There are two sides to every story...

Mira Grant creates a chilling portrait of an America paralyzed with fear. No street is safe and entire swaths of the country have been abandoned. And only the brave, the determined, or the very stupid, venture out into the wild.Step inside a world a half-step from our own in this novel of geeks, zombies, politics and social media.

DNF @ 59%

For the record, I’m a massive Mira Grant fan and most importantly a HUGE Newsflesh fan. When I heard that there would be a fourth book coming, there was fully body tingling going on… I was that excited. So in a nutshell, having to DNF this makes me want to cry a fucking river.

Right off the bat, my first issue that had me cocking my head in confusion was the seemingly apparent duplication of the Feed storyline. Sure there were differences but it was the same story for the most part. Politics and conspiracies and of course zombies. There was a brand new set of characters that was meant to spice things up but it was the same sort of crew that consisted of a Newsie, Irwin, and Fictional. And yes, this was quite the diverse group but I even had issues with that. I want to read stories with diversity where it’s treated as a non-issue. Making Mat, a genderfluid character, a makeup/fashion blogger that also likes electronics didn’t do much for modernizing typecasts either. The various forms of diversity are not only not treated as a non-issue but are so incredibly contrived. It all felt like some ginormous lecture and while it may have been intended to be didactic, it was more preachy than anything. Too much focus was placed on characterization and I feel like that was intended to distract from the story itself and the fact that it’s a near replica of the Feed storyline just with different characters.

There were other random issues that only added to the domino effect that led to me quitting. A comment about Governor Kilburn being a secret Sailor Moon fan and that this could be a “girl-power campaign of celestial proportions.” When they visited Congresswoman Kirsten Wagman (an ex-stripper) at a strip club. She called everyone sugar and there was a joke about Ash proposing to her because of her “sexy” security measures. It was an eye-rolling good time. There were also the standard Mira Grant mid-chapter breaks where a quote or blog post is inserted, which those were included, but there were also sections from Audrey’s fictional stories that just didn’t add that much to the story. Even more so were the pages of makeup tutorials from Mat’s blog that really didn’t add anything. Sadly, this was just a massive disappointment and I’m sad it had to be that way.

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.

Life’s Too Short: Feedback, A Promise of Fire, The GirlsA Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet
Series: Kingmaker Chronicles #1
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on August 2nd 2016
Pages: 448
Genres: Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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dnf

Catalia "Cat" Fisa is a powerful clairvoyant known as the Kingmaker. This smart-mouthed soothsayer has no interest in her powers and would much rather fly under the radar, far from the clutches of her homicidal mother. But when an ambitious warlord captures her, she may not have a choice…

Griffin is intent on bringing peace to his newly conquered realm in the magic-deprived south. When he discovers Cat is the Kingmaker, he abducts her. But Cat will do everything in her power to avoid her dangerous destiny and battle her captor at every turn. Although up for the battle, Griffin would prefer for Cat to help his people willingly, and he's ready to do whatever it takes to coax her…even if that means falling in love with her.

DNF @ page 100

I loved the concept of this story, the magic, and the mythos, and I was dying to read more fantasy romance after adoring A Court of Mist and Fury so this read was a highly anticipated one. Unfortunately, it just didn’t work out.

The first major issue I had was with Griffin, the warlord that ends up kidnapping Cat once he discovers the power she possesses. Clearly, this guy is inevitably going to become the love interest and having him introduced as her kidnapper certainly didn’t warm me to the intended romance. Plus, at least for the amount I read, there wasn’t much chemistry going on between the two. He was just always giving her intense stares and she would complain about her “heart leaping wildly” and forgetting to breathe. No, thanks.

The second major issue I had and was what actually had me calling it quits was Cat herself. I loved her magical abilities even though it didn’t seem like there was anything she couldn’t do. She is known as the Kingmaker, able to detect any lie, but the random ability she had of being able to go invisible was a bit much. But mainly, my issue was with her temperament. She’s a twenty-three-year-old woman that is constantly whining (okay, yes, she has been kidnapped HOWEVER her complaints were done in such a way that made her sound childish and immature. This is a powerful woman that has been captured, even if she just so happens to be attracted to her kidnapper, maybe try being assertive rather than sniveling?) Her internal dialogue when she was continually blurting out random knowledge that she shouldn’t be revealing got to be tiresome as well.

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.

Life’s Too Short: Feedback, A Promise of Fire, The GirlsThe Girls by Emma Cline
Published by Random House on June 14th 2016
Pages: 355
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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dnf

Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence, and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong.

DNF @ 10%

I was so excited for this one. It sounded fascinating and it was popping up on “Best Of” lists before it was even published. I tried, I really did, but I didn’t even get as far as I normally force myself before I officially call it quits (about 25% is my normal quitting point) but I didn’t even make it past the first chapter. This was a bit too verbose for my liking and the purple prose simply got too much in the way of me actually following/enjoying the story.

‘But then there was Sasha’s voice, whining like a porno. High and curdled.’

‘I responded to her symbols, to the style of her hair and clothes and the smell of her perfume, like this was data that mattered, signs that reflected something of her inner self. I took her beauty personally.’

‘I unwrapped two cloudy sticks from their silver jackets.

Yeah, she’s referring to gum… in their silver jackets. For fucks sake.

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Audiobook Review – Heartburn by Nora Ephron

January 8, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2016 11 Comments

Audiobook Review – Heartburn by Nora EphronHeartburn by Nora Ephron
Narrator: Meryl Streep
Published by Random House Audio on March 12th 1983
Length: 5 hours and 30 minutes
Genres: Chick-Lit, Funny-ha-ha
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
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Also by this author: I Remember Nothing: and Other Reflections

four-half-stars

Is it possible to write a sidesplitting novel about the breakup of the perfect marriage? If the writer is Nora Ephron, the answer is a resounding yes. For in this inspired confection of adultery, revenge, group therapy, and pot roast, the creator of Sleepless in Seattle reminds us that comedy depends on anguish as surely as a proper gravy depends on flour and butter.

Seven months into her pregnancy, Rachel Samstat discovers that her husband, Mark, is in love with another woman. The fact that the other woman has "a neck as long as an arm and a nose as long as a thumb and you should see her legs" is no consolation. Food sometimes is, though, since Rachel writes cookbooks for a living. And in between trying to win Mark back and loudly wishing him dead, Ephron's irrepressible heroine offers some of her favorite recipes. Heartburn is a sinfully delicious novel, as soul-satisfying as mashed potatoes and as airy as a perfect soufflé.

style-3-whitebg review

‘I think I was so entranced with being a couple that I didn’t even notice that the person I thought I was a couple with thought he was a couple with someone else.’

Heartburn is Nora Ephron’s first and only novel, and this breaks my heart because I adored this story. Never did I think it so thoroughly possible to take a story about heartbreak and turn it into something so full of life and jest. Heartbreak is a devastating thing that we humans are forced to suffer through, but can you even imagine having to undergo it at 38 years old and 7 months pregnant? Rachel discovers a note from her husbands lover in a book of children’s songs, suggesting that he sing them to his son. Him and Rachel’s son. Written with such stunning clarity, it’s effortless to understand the rage (and embarrassment) that Rachel felt. But being pregnant and having a toddler left her with a precarious decision on whether to stay or go.

‘Maybe he’s missed me, I thought as we came around the corner. Maybe he’s come to his sense. Maybe he’s remembered he loves me. Maybe he’s full of remorse. There was a police car parked in front of the house. Maybe he’s dead, I thought. That wouldn’t solve everything, but it would solve a few things. He wasn’t, of course. They never are. When you want them to die, they never do.’

Rachel Samstat has such a wry and cynical sense of humor (the best type of humor) that manages to never tread into bitterness. I’m not sure if it’s because Meryl Streep herself played Rachel in the 1986 movie adaptation of Heartburn but she voiced Rachel impeccably (do yourself a favor and listen to the clip below). I spent half the time listening to this story laughing uproariously with tears in my eyes. She portrayed a perfect combination of indifference and restraint while handling a tough situation but opening up the dam of emotions when absolutely necessary. It encompassed everything about true heartbreak and just how calamitous it can be, but galvanizing as well. Infused within her tale of heartbreak are comfort food recipes such as Sour Cream Peach Pie, plain ol’ mashed potatoes, and of course Key Lime Pie; perfect for consuming or weaponizing, if ever the situation calls for it.


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Release Day Feature + Giveaway! Damage Done by Amanda Panitch

July 21, 2015 Bonnie Book Reviews, Book Tour, Giveaways, Read in 2015, Release Day Feature, YA 5 Comments

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.

Release Day Feature + Giveaway! Damage Done by Amanda PanitchDamage Done by Amanda Panitch
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers on July 21st 2015
Pages: 336
Genres: Mystery
Format: Hardcover
Source: the Publisher
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three-half-stars

22 minutes separate Julia Vann’s before and after.

Before: Julia had a twin brother, a boyfriend, and a best friend.

After: She has a new identity, a new hometown, and memories of those twenty-two minutes that refuse to come into focus. At least, that’s what she tells the police.

Now that she’s Lucy Black, she’s able to begin again. And her fresh start has attracted the attention of one of the hottest guys in school, a boy who will do anything to protect her. But when someone much more dangerous also takes notice, Lucy’s forced to confront the dark secrets she thought were safely left behind.

One thing is clear: The damage done can never be erased. It’s only just beginning….

In this deliciously twisted contemporary thriller, family can be a real killer. For fans of We Were Liars and readers who love unique multiple perspectives that leave clues like breadcrumbs until they reach the stunning conclusion.

About Amanda Panitch

Amanda Panitch grew up next to an amusement park in New Jersey and went to college next to the White House in Washington, DC. Amanda now resides in New York City where she works in book publishing by day, writes by night, and lives under constant threat of being crushed beneath giant stacks of books. You can follow her on Twitter @AmandaPanitch, and visit her online at www.amandapanitch.com

‘I only did what I did to protect myself. I didn’t have any other options.’

Julia Vann had the seemingly perfect life before the incident. She belonged to a happy family, had a twin brother she was incredibly close to, close friends, and a boyfriend she thinks she could love. The incident took that all away and left her and her family packing up their belongings to move to a new town with new names where nobody knows who they are. Lucy Black has a chance to start over, to start fresh, but her past proves to be a bit more inescapable than she thought.

Julia/Lucy was a very surprising character and her first-person narrative which carefully entwines the past and present was written extremely well. She was quite a distorted character that at first appears to be like any normal teenager, but the subtle glimpses that begin to leak through her façade tells a whole other story. Was it the incident that transformed her or does her past provide the real answers? The side characters weren’t as impressive: the dutiful boyfriend that comes over to make her homemade soup when she isn’t feeling well, the devoted best friend that asks no questions, and even the absent parents that we see very little of. The legal technicalities did manage to raise some eyebrows as well, however, despite these issues that could have brought down the whole story, Panitch still impressed me with an incredibly riveting tale.

Damage Done is quite the twisted mystery and the summary does little to prepare you for what’s in store. I think it’s best kept that way, seeing as the reveal was quite the impressive twist, even if it was foreshadowed early on. The first twist isn’t the only twist though and this is one engrossing mystery that will keep you speculating. Panitch has another YA psychological thriller coming up in 2016, Never Missing, Never Found that will most certainly be on my TBR.

Thanks to Random House Books for Young Readers, I have a copy of Damage Done to give away to one lucky reader! This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only.

Ends August 4th, 2015

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Audiobook Review – The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line (Veronica Mars #1) by Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham

June 26, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2014 4 Comments

Audiobook Review – The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line (Veronica Mars #1) by Rob Thomas & Jennifer GrahamThe Thousand-Dollar Tan Line by Jennifer Graham, Rob Thomas
Narrator: Kristen Bell
Series: Veronica Mars #1
Published by Random House Audio on March 25th 2014
Length: 8 hours and 42 minutes
Genres: Mystery
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
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three-half-stars

The first book in an original mystery series following popular television sleuth Veronica Mars, all grown up and back in action after the feature film funded by a record-breaking Kickstarter campaign.

Twenty-eight-year-old Veronica Mars is back in the game after the events of Veronica Mars: The Movie. With the help of old friends-Logan Echolls, Mac Mackenzie, Wallace Fennel, and even Dick Casablancas-Veronica is ready to take on Neptune's darkest cases with her trademark sass and smarts.

In The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line, (almost) the whole gang is back together again. Veronica has left her high paying job as an attorney in New York City to return to Neptune, CA to help her dad out with his PI business. Mac Mackenzie has left her fancy job as well to assist in the computer aspects of the job but they’re struggling to make ends meet. A huge case finally lands in their laps when the incompetence of the local sheriff department requires the Chamber of Commerce to hire help to find a missing girl that was visiting Neptune on spring break.

Veronica Mars is one of my all-time favorite shows that was canceled much too soon. When it was released that not only would there be a new movie to look forward but a book series as well I had a total fit. It looked something along the lines of this:

No exaggeration. Finding out that Kristen Bell narrates the audio of the first book was even better news. Kristen Bell perfectly narrated each and every character we’ve grown to know and love. The audio is definitely the way to go with this one. The story itself was ALMOST as good as I had hoped it could be. It was a slow build in the mystery bits and Veronica doesn’t even make an immediate appearance but that’s temporary. The mystery is interesting and has a few twists I didn’t see coming but it did still feel like it possessed the typical framework of many already been done before VMars investigations. Regardless, just being back in Neptune was the best thing ever.The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line is written in third person POV and for the most part, it worked. Would first-person have worked better? Most likely. But third-person does allow the reader the opportunity of a different perspective on Veronica and the investigation in order to formulate their own thoughts and opinions rather than seeing it solely through her eyes.

One of the things I loved about the show was the skillful combination of the mystery and the romance. This wasn’t the case here though as Logan has a minuscule part in the story, however, I am okay with this as I find myself a bit over Logan. Gasp. I know. I just wanted to something fresh and different for her I think. Here we have Veronica in her late 20s and yet she’s doing the same things she did in high school. She left a well-paying job in New York to go back to Neptune just to go back to the same job that makes it a struggle to pay the bills. While I understand this is an introductory novel back into the life of Veronica, I can only hope that we can expect bigger and better things for her. The ending definitely left open the opportunity for future VMars stories and I for one cannot wait.

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Early Review – The Quick: A Novel by Lauren Owen

May 22, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2014 6 Comments

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 – The Quick: A Novel by Lauren OwenThe Quick: A Novel by Lauren Owen
Published by Random House on June 17th 2014
Pages: 544
Genres: Gothic, Historical Fiction
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
Amazon
Goodreads


one-star

An astonishing debut, a novel of epic scope and suspense that conjures up all the magic and menace of Victorian London
 
London, 1892: James Norbury, a shy would-be poet newly down from Oxford, finds lodging with a charming young aristocrat. Through this new friendship, he is introduced to the drawing-rooms of high society, and finds love in an unexpected quarter. Then, suddenly, he vanishes without a trace. Unnerved, his sister, Charlotte, sets out from their crumbling country estate determined to find him. In the sinister, labyrinthine city that greets her, she uncovers a secret world at the margins populated by unforgettable characters: a female rope walker turned vigilante, a street urchin with a deadly secret, and the chilling “Doctor Knife.” But the answer to her brother’s disappearance ultimately lies within the doors of one of the country’s preeminent and mysterious institutions: The Aegolius Club, whose members include the most ambitious, and most dangerous, men in England.

In her first novel, Lauren Owen has created a fantastical world that is both beguiling and terrifying. The Quick will establish her as one of fiction’s most dazzling talents.

London, 1892: James Norbury, a shy would-be poet newly down from Oxford, finds lodging with a charming young aristocrat. Through this new friendship, he is introduced to the drawing-rooms of high society, and finds love in an unexpected quarter. Then, suddenly, he vanishes without a trace. Unnerved, his sister, Charlotte, sets out from their crumbling country estate determined to find him. In the sinister, labyrinthine city that greets her, she uncovers a secret world at the margins populated by unforgettable characters: a female rope walker turned vigilante, a street urchin with a deadly secret, and the chilling “Doctor Knife.” But the answer to her brother’s disappearance ultimately lies within the doors of one of the country’s preeminent and mysterious institutions: The Aegolius Club, whose members include the most ambitious, and most dangerous, men in England.

In her first novel, Lauren Owen has created a fantastical world that is both beguiling and terrifying. The Quick will establish her as one of fiction’s most dazzling talents.

There has been much hush-hush about the true reality of this novel but I think hiding this does it an injustice. The true genre of this story is the supposed ‘twist’ and it’s not much of a twist in all actuality. For those who wish to be kept in the dark, stop reading. Bottom line: The Quick is nothing more than an attempt to combine the enthralling historical fiction aspects of Sarah Waters’ writing and the Gothic mystery of a classic Anne Rice novel. Suffice it to say it was a failed attempt.

The main issue with The Quick is the pacing. The beginning part of the novel introduces the main character James and his sister Charlotte who separate when James moves to London to complete his schooling. James spends his time writing poetry and plays, falls in love and tragedy soon follows. I enjoyed this part of the novel and even the ‘twist’ but instead of cashing in on this heightened intrigue due to the shocking nature of what occurred, the author instead switches gears and changes to a completely new characters point-of-view.

The introduction of the new character, Augustus Mould, also brings a new writing style: epistolary. Normally I adore anything epistolary, however, this was not only dull but tedious and encompassed far too many pages. Once we return to James’ story and point-of-view I had officially lost any and all interest in what had happened to him. What follows is the introduction of several other characters that lacked a much needed differentiation but certainly wasn’t lacking in excessive detail or back story. Much of what we’re given in this novel regarding the back stories of individuals and the tedious details of their lives felt like a ridiculous amount of inconsequential filler by the time I had turned the final page.

Inevitably, this is indistinguishable from the mass of books that share genres. The attempt to create a mysterious element and keep the true genre secret did not make this novel surprising and did not make the ponderous pages that followed any more palatable.

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