Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio

Ominous October – Sleeping Beauties By Stephen King and Owen King

October 12, 2017 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2017 13 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.

Ominous October – Sleeping Beauties By Stephen King and Owen KingSleeping Beauties by Stephen King, Owen King
Narrator: Marin Ireland
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on September 26th 2017
Length: 25 hours and 20 minutes
Genres: Horror, Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
Amazon|B&N|Book Depository|Audible
Goodreads

Also by this author: Doctor Sleep, Cujo, Pet Sematary

two-stars

In this spectacular father-son collaboration, Stephen King and Owen King tell the highest of high-stakes stories: what might happen if women disappeared from the world of men?

In a future so real and near it might be now, something happens when women go to sleep; they become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze. If they are awakened, if the gauze wrapping their bodies is disturbed or violated, the women become feral and spectacularly violent; and while they sleep they go to another place. The men of our world are abandoned, left to their increasingly primal devices. One woman, however, the mysterious Evie, is immune to the blessing or curse of the sleeping disease. Is Evie a medical anomaly to be studied, or is she a demon who must be slain? Set in a small Appalachian town whose primary employer is a women’s prison, Sleeping Beauties is wildly provocative and gloriously absorbing.

“The elms made him think of brothers, of sisters, of husbands and wives—he was sure that, beneath the ground, their roots were mortally entwined.”

What would happen to the world if all the women fell asleep?

In rural Appalachia, the Aurora Sleeping Sickness only affects individuals with the XX chromosome. When women drift off to sleep they begin growing tendrils of webbing that cocoon their bodies completely and while they remain alive in this world they wake up in a different one entirely. In this world though, there’s one single woman named Eve Black that remains able to still sleep and wake up but she possesses mysterious powers and seems to be the reason why all other women are in the state they’re in.

This started off so incredibly fascinating and reminded me strongly of The Stand with this mysterious sickness slowly infecting the world. The Aurora Sleeping Sickness was chilling in its descriptions, affecting only women and the reverberations throughout the community that results from their absence was brilliant and no doubt made any woman reader leary about putting the book down and going to sleep. I especially loved the inclusion regarding the “Mother’s Instinct” described as such:

‘This phenomenon proved to be one of the most curious and most analyzed enigmas of Aurora – the so-called “Mother’s Instinct” or “Foster Reflex.” While reports of violent interactions between sleepers and other adults ultimately numbered in the millions, and unreported interactions millions more, few if any occurrences of aggression between a sleeper and her pre-adolescent child were ever confirmed. Sleepers handed over their male infants and toddlers to the closest person they could find, or simply put them out of doors. They then returned to their places of slumber.’

The story starts off unhurriedly as the authors build up the intensity but it ended up being my favorite part of the story (aside from the narration itself; Marin Ireland knocked this one out of the park. 5 stars.) The slow, steady pace building up this world where such a thing could possibly occur was all necessary to make this as credible as it could be. The most problematic bit was the vast array of characters that we were expected to keep track of. When reading stories that include far too many characters to keep straight, I’ll occasionally write myself little bullet point lists or draw family trees just to keep things straight. If I had even attempted something like that with this story my desk (and myself) would have ended up looking something like this:

One of the main female characters, Lila, resulted in some great passages from her point of view. Ironically though, her husband Clint ends up taking over as the main act in the final half of the book. Not only does he take over as the main character but he ends up playing an important role in the vast scheme of things and wait, wasn’t this supposed to be about the females? How come a dude once again gets to take center stage? I had worried about this possibility before I even picked this one up, but alas, the book is definitely less about what would happen to the females and more about what would happen to the men. They resort to violence and guns and explosions and everything in between, surprising no one. The authors also seem to miss making any solid point regarding why this happened and what was learned from the experience. Suffice it to say, the descriptions of the sickness and the infected were eerie and great to read but when it came down to breaking any gender stereotypes there’s certainly nothing new here.

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Better Late Than Never: The Dead Zone by Stephen King

May 26, 2017 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Better Late Than Never, Book Reviews, Read in 2017 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.

Better Late Than Never: The Dead Zone by Stephen KingThe Dead Zone by Stephen King
Narrator: James Franco
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on April 25th 2017
Length: 16 hours and 11 minutes
Genres: Horror
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
Amazon|B&N|Book Depository|Audible
Goodreads

Also by this author: Doctor Sleep, Cujo, Pet Sematary

three-half-stars

Never before on audio! A #1 national bestseller about a man who wakes up from a five-year coma able to see people’s futures and the terrible fate awaiting mankind in The Dead Zone—a “compulsive page-turner” (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution).

Johnny Smith awakens from a five-year coma after his car accident and discovers that he can see people’s futures and pasts when he touches them. Many consider his talent a gift; Johnny feels cursed. His fiancé married another man during his coma and people clamor for him to solve their problems.

When Johnny has a disturbing vision after he shakes the hand of an ambitious and amoral politician, he must decide if he should take drastic action to change the future. The Dead Zone is a “faultlessly paced…continuously engrossing” (Los Angeles Times) novel of second sight.

*First published in 1979, this is my first time reading The Dead Zone. Better late than never.

Johnny Smith has lived with physic abilities his entire life but it isn’t until the car accident in his 20s that they become an undeniable ability. He lay in a coma before waking to discover that his girlfriend at the time is now married, that he’s lost four years of his life, and that he now possesses the ability to witness the future of any individual (and sometimes even objects) he touches. Sometimes the future he sees is only a few minutes ahead of the present time but sometimes it’s years ahead. The truth of his abilities are revealed to the public after the highly publicized account of him waking after a four-year coma, and the limelight changes his life irrevocably. He sequesters himself from the public after the demands for his assistance in finding lost loved ones/missing persons, despite his mother, Vera Smith, and her insistence that he was brought back “to do God’s work.” When news of a high-profile serial killer hits his radar, he begins to feel morally obligated to at least try to help. And when he shakes the hand of an up and coming politician and foresees not just his future but the future of the human race, Johnny has to decide what is “right” and if he’s now duty-bound to changing the future so it never becomes our present.

“We all do what we can, and it has to be good enough, and if it isn’t good enough, it has to do.”

First published in 1979, The Dead Zone ended up being far more relevant to today’s time than I ever would have predicted. The future of the dirty politician that Johnny foresaw is a man by the name of Greg Stillson who started off as a nobody yet rose up in the ranks and quickly became the popular vote for the next President of the United States. His political platform and personal style were aimed towards the working class and he was prided on his honesty but had a definite lack of tact. He completely lacks any political knowledge, has big plans for America (albeit most of them beyond ludicrous), and is a devoutly religious man. Stillson is first introduced almost as a caricature of a real villain, someone that can’t possibly be taken seriously, but you slowly realize his influence on the vast population is something that cannot be brushed off as having little consequence. The ludicrousness didn’t last long after realization dawned. As I said… most relevant, right?

The Dead Zone is many stories in one. The beginning is a long drawn out section detailing Johnny’s recuperation in the hospital and the subsequent surgeries that were required for him to ever be able to walk again. Once he’s back on his feet, literally, the story switches focus to catching the serial killer, and you begin to think that that’s the plot except that story finds resolution and hundreds of pages remain. It came off slightly clunky, almost like we were being left out on parts of Johnny’s life that weren’t interesting enough for the page, but at least in this instance, James Franco’s narration gives these characters life. His acting skills are on full display to helpfully differentiate the characters, making Johnny a mellow smooth-talker, and giving Stillson a villainous voice that accurately matches his vile actions. Despite the definite lack of any type of horror (unless you count the potentially horrific reality of it all) and the obvious backpedaling done on that ending, The Dead Zone ended up being a vastly different King than I’ve come to expect but was still no doubt a thrilling story.

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Short & Sweet – All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, The Last Days of Jack Sparks, Bad Boy

December 23, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2016, Short & Sweet Reviews 10 Comments

Short & Sweet – All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, The Last Days of Jack Sparks, Bad BoyAll the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood
Published by Thomas Dunne Books on August 9th 2016
Pages: 346
Genres: Contemporary
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon|B&N|Book Depository|Audible
Goodreads


four-stars

A beautiful and provocative love story between two unlikely people and the hard-won relationship that elevates them above the Midwestern meth lab backdrop of their lives.

As the daughter of a drug dealer, Wavy knows not to trust people, not even her own parents. It's safer to keep her mouth shut and stay out of sight. Struggling to raise her little brother, Donal, eight-year-old Wavy is the only responsible adult around. Obsessed with the constellations, she finds peace in the starry night sky above the fields behind her house, until one night her star gazing causes an accident. After witnessing his motorcycle wreck, she forms an unusual friendship with one of her father's thugs, Kellen, a tattooed ex-con with a heart of gold.

By the time Wavy is a teenager, her relationship with Kellen is the only tender thing in a brutal world of addicts and debauchery. When tragedy rips Wavy's family apart, a well-meaning aunt steps in, and what is beautiful to Wavy looks ugly under the scrutiny of the outside world. A powerful novel you won’t soon forget, Bryn Greenwood's All the Ugly and Wonderful Things challenges all we know and believe about love.

We meet Wavonna “Wavy” Quinn when she’s only five years old and she’s already experienced far more than any five year old should. Her father Liam is a meth dealer and her mother Val is an addict. Val possesses more than a few neurosis about cleanliness (she tells her she has germs, sticks her fingers down her throat telling her food is dirty, occasionally even throws food out completely forcing Wavy and her younger brother Donal to dig from the trash for their dinners) and subsequently passes these same neurosis onto Wavy. She refuses to eat when others are looking, she doesn’t touch anyone, and refuses to be touched. Until Jesse Joe Kellen. Kellen is a drug runner for Liam but he begins the only one that takes care of Wavy and her brother. As Wavy grows up in her unstable environment, we’re told her story from her point-of-view and various others in her life and we see how her and Kellen’s relationship transforms into something, well, both ugly and wonderful.

I’ve read some questionable books in my time but the idea of romanticizing a relationship between an extremely  young girl (they met when she was just 5) with a twenty-something-year-old man had me saying

For good reason, but damn did Greenwood make it work. The story unfolds over the course of 15 years or so of Wavy’s life and through it all we see the trauma she underwent in her household and how her and Kellen’s relationship ultimately saved them both. I appreciated how much we got to see from Wavy’s point of view because it gave the reader the ability to develop some much needed tolerance. While it may be deemed wrong in the eyes of the law, Wavy had a complete understanding of their less than perfect romance. Setting aside the squick factor that I know is a definite issue, this was a beautiful tale of hard-fought love.

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.

Short & Sweet – All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, The Last Days of Jack Sparks, Bad BoyThe Last Days of Jack Sparks by Jason Arnopp
Published by Orbit on March 3rd 2016
Pages: 336
Genres: Horror
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon|B&N|Book Depository|Audible
Goodreads


four-stars

Jack Sparks died while writing this book. This is the account of his final days.
In 2014, Jack Sparks - the controversial pop culture journalist - died in mysterious circumstances.

To his fans, Jack was a fearless rebel; to his detractors, he was a talentless hack. Either way, his death came as a shock to everyone.

It was no secret that Jack had been researching the occult for his new book. He'd already triggered a furious Twitter storm by mocking an exorcism he witnessed in rural Italy.

Then there was that video: thirty-six seconds of chilling footage that Jack repeatedly claimed was not of his making, yet was posted from his own YouTube account.

Nobody knew what happened to Jack in the days that followed - until now. This book, compiled from the files found after his death, reveals the chilling details of Jack's final hours.

The Last Days of Jack Sparks is about, well, the last days of Jack Sparks. While researching the occult for his most recent book, he had some mysterious incidents that even he couldn’t explain away. See, even though he was researching the occult, he was actually a professed non-believer of it all and sought to discredit everyone. He attended an actual exorcism and laughed at the experience and then there was the mysterious video that was added onto his personal YouTube channel showing possible proof of an actual ghost. It was a bit downhill for him from there on out.

This story was, for the most part, a mystery and the horror would sneak up on you reminding you of its true genre, but there was quite a lot of humor to balance things out. For the record, I read a lot of horror and this story often left me with my jaw on the ground. Once things really got going and you’re dealing with various different storylines that were confusing yet still managed to make sense, then Arnopp hits you with the twist.

But like, in the best way.

The Last Days of Jack Sparks managed to both shock and impress me despite the loose ends that didn’t quite get resolved to my liking. If you enjoyed A Head Full of Ghosts but were wishing it was a bit more terrifying? This reads for you.

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.

Short & Sweet – All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, The Last Days of Jack Sparks, Bad BoyBad Boy by Elliot Wake
Narrator: Randal Marsh
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on December 6th 2016
Pages: 248
Length: 8 hrs and 29 mins
Genres: Contemporary
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
Amazon|B&N|Book Depository|Audible
Goodreads


two-half-stars

Vlog star Renard Grant has nothing to prove: he’s got a pretty face, chiseled body, and two million adoring video subscribers. Plus the scars on his chest and a prescription for testosterone. Because Ren is transgender: assigned female at birth, living now as male. He films his transition and shares it bravely with the world; his fans love his honesty and positivity.

But Ren has been living a double life.

Off-camera, he’s Cane, the muscle-bound enforcer for social justice vigilante group Black Iris. As Cane, he lets his dark side loose. Hurts those who prey on the disempowered. Indulges in the ugly side of masculinity. And his new partner, Tamsin Baylor, is a girl as rough and relentless as him. Together, they terrorize the trolls into silence.

But when a routine Black Iris job goes south, Ren is put in the crosshairs. Someone is out to ruin his life. He’s a bad boy, they say, guilty of what he punishes others for.

Just like every other guy: at heart, he’s a monster, too.

Now Ren’s got everything to prove. He has to clear his name, and show the world he’s a good man. But that requires facing demons he’s locked away for years. And it might mean discovering he’s not such a good guy after all.

Renard Grant is a popular transgender vlogger who is also a vigilante saving terrorized women in his spare time. If your immediate thought is “that’s a bit of a mouthful” you would be right. Grant’s story is a rousing tale of discovering your true identity; something that Wake can speak from the heart about because his emotions shown clearly through the delivery. The transformation process is discussed in much detail and it’s enlightening and informative, shedding light on something with many pre-conceived notions.

I adored Unteachable and while Black Iris and Cam Girl both had their fair share of flaws, there was still much to love and the writing style is something to behold. The issue I had with Bad Boy is there’s simply far too much going on in the few pages there are. There was already enough of a story recounting the experience of transitioning without adding in the concept of a masked vigilante group protecting women. It’s a great concept, the only problem is the transition story View Spoiler » was a far more compelling one and the superfluous addition only caused it to pale in comparison. On top of that, the combination of many of Wake’s previous characters from Black Iris and Cam Girl was overwhelming. Each of her characters can hold their own as the star of the show and having them all grouped together, battling for attention, felt like some sort of all-consuming motley (and not in the best way). Bad Boy is still no doubt well worth the read for the edifying aspect alone.

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Audiobook Review – I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid

December 10, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2016 4 Comments

Audiobook Review – I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain ReidI'm Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid
Narrator: Candace Thaxton
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on June 14th 2016
Pages: 5 hours and 22 minutes
Genres: Horror, Mystery
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Amazon|B&N|Book Depository|Audible
Goodreads


two-stars

In this deeply scary and intensely unnerving debut novel, Jake and a woman known only as “The Girlfriend” are on a drive to visit his parents at their secluded farm. But when Jake leaves “The Girlfriend” stranded at an abandoned high school, what follows is a twisted unraveling of the darkest unease, an exploration into psychological frailty, and an ending as suspenseful as The Usual Suspects and as haunting as Misery.

Deeply scary and intensely unnerving, Iain Reid’s debut novel is a tightening spiral of a story about a woman’s uncertainty of her relationship with her boyfriend, Jake. After an uncomfortable and confusing trip to meet Jake’s parents at their isolated farmhouse, reality unravels and events spin out of control when Jake and “The Girlfriend” make an unscheduled stop at an abandoned high school. Part murder mystery, part psychological thriller, I’m Thinking of Ending Things is about doubt, psychological fragility, and the lengths we’ll go to avoid the truth. Twisted as Shutter Island, as suspenseful as Under the Skin and as atmospheric as The Sisters Brothers, Reid’s breakout literary thriller is sure to keep readers guessing until the last page.

‘Sometimes a thought is closer to truth, to reality, than an action. You can say anything, you can do anything, but you can’t fake a thought.’

Jake and his girlfriend are traveling to visit his parents, whom she’s meeting for the first time, but on the way there she realizes that she’s thinking of ending things with Jake. Throughout the entirety of the trip, she contemplates her decision, wondering if she should truly go through with it. Her internal monologue remains ambivalent while describing their supposed rare and intense attachment. What exactly would make her suddenly think about ending things remains a mystery. She also touches on strange events from her childhood and a recent individual who has been leaving eerie voicemails that she isn’t sure how to handle. In addition to this are sections interspersed which imply that a crime took place but no clear answer is given. This rehashing of events is an unsettling build-up to a truly baffling finish.

what britney spears confused britney wut

This story had such diverging ratings that I HAD to try this, even if it turned out to be horrendous. Sometimes you just gotta see for yourself because you never really know. Well, my rating pretty much speaks for itself. I didn’t hate it but I clearly didn’t love it. The narration of this audiobook succeeded in making this one a manageable read and bumped up my rating from a mere 1 star. Her character voices were easily able to differentiate including Jack’s male voice. The individual that was leaving the eerie voicemails was described as having an effeminate voice and while the voicemails themselves were meant to spook the reader, Candace Thaxton’s production of these particular scenes were the most eerie part. (See below for an audio clip.) In terms of the “mystery”, it relies heavily on creating a build up of intrigue (and an immense amount of bait-and-switch tactics) to get you to the twist of an ending. Enough is revealed by our narrator via her stream of conscious depiction of events, but you can tell from early on that she’s not being exactly forthcoming in the details. Something is being omitted; there’s a missing piece of the puzzle. If you didn’t already detect the cryptic nature of our narrator, the fact that she isn’t ever identified, she remains nameless the entirety of the novel, should be a flashing warning sign.

‘Both fictions and memories are recalled and retold. They’re both forms of stories. Stories are the way we learn. Stories are how we understand each other.’

Admittedly, the beginning was fairly adequate even though there was that feeling of a forced air of mystery. As more is revealed, it’s hard to see what direction this story is headed in but it’s enough to still leave you curious. But then the weirdness sets in. She asks Jake questions which he ignores completely as if she never even spoke, he gives her a tour of the farm View Spoiler » instead of going immediately into the house to see his parents whom they traveled hours to see, his idea to stop at a Dairy Queen while there’s an ongoing blizzard outside, and most especially was his insistence that they detour down an unplowed road because he thinks there’s a school down there with most likely a trash can because he has to throw away his melting lemonade cup before the cup holders get sticky.

wtf confused huh jenna marbles what the fuck

This sudden lack of sense was an immediate disconnect from the mystery because I knew that something fishy was going on. Nothing seemed logical and clearly everything that was happening had to be questioned to the nth degree. Regardless of my confusion, the ending could have delivered a spectacular twist that had me praising the authors ingenuity… but not in this case. The ending clears up all questions without being thrown some curve ball twist you never saw coming. Thinking back over the entirety of this short novel, you can see hints at the reveal that was to come, but that doesn’t make it any more satisfying. In truth, the ending is a bit too orderly for how convoluted this novel is presented and while the introductory build-up had me immediately hooked, the end result was anticlimactic.

‘Maybe the end was written right from the beginning.’

1986 jeff goldblum geena davis the fly this is it

 

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Audiobook Review – Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

November 25, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Non-Fiction, Read in 2016 4 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.

Audiobook Review – Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna KendrickScrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick
Narrator: Anna Kendrick
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on November 15th 2016
Length: 6 hours
Genres: Memoir, Funny-ha-ha
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
Amazon|B&N|Book Depository|Audible
Goodreads


four-stars

A collection of humorous autobiographical essays by the Academy Award-nominated actress and star of Up in the Air and Pitch Perfect.

Even before she made a name for herself on the silver screen starring in films like Pitch Perfect, Up in the Air, Twilight, and Into the Woods, Anna Kendrick was unusually small, weird, and “10 percent defiant.”

At the ripe age of thirteen, she had already resolved to “keep the crazy inside my head where it belonged. Forever. But here’s the thing about crazy: It. Wants. Out.” In Scrappy Little Nobody, she invites readers inside her brain, sharing extraordinary and charmingly ordinary stories with candor and winningly wry observations.

With her razor-sharp wit, Anna recounts the absurdities she’s experienced on her way to and from the heart of pop culture as only she can—from her unusual path to the performing arts (Vanilla Ice and baggy neon pants may have played a role) to her double life as a middle-school student who also starred on Broadway to her initial “dating experiments” (including only liking boys who didn’t like her back) to reviewing a binder full of butt doubles to her struggle to live like an adult woman instead of a perpetual “man-child.”

Enter Anna’s world and follow her rise from “scrappy little nobody” to somebody who dazzles on the stage, the screen, and now the page—with an electric, singular voice, at once familiar and surprising, sharp and sweet, funny and serious (well, not that serious).

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While Anna Kendrick discovered a love for acting at an early age, this certainly didn’t help her popularity with the other kids. What middle schooler even knows what the hell Sundance is anyways? Scrappy Little Nobody is a collection of brilliantly amusing episodes of her life from the time she was in a community theater production of Annie (Annie is brought up frequently, for which she apologizes for), flashing forward to the time she was typically referred to as “Number 44” on the set of Twilight, and the time she was “high off her face” at the Spirit Awards. Interspersed between these anecdotes are stories of growing up as a normal (yet very small) child in Maine, struggling to make ends meet even after becoming “a star”, and her eternal love of sweatpants.

“I love rules and I love following them, unless that rule is stupid.”

I’ve read more celebrity memoirs in the past year than I have in my entire life. There was the gorgeously written Dear Mr. You (Mary-Louise Parker), the inspirational Year of Yes (Shonda Rhimes) and Yes, Please (Amy Poehler), and the hilarious The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo (Amy Schumer). There’s something unreasonably astonishing, yet still refreshing, about reading celebrity memoirs and finding yourself taken aback at what normal people they are. While it could be argued that they’re simply trying to appear like normal people, Anna Kendrick’s stories come off as very authentic and candid. While her witty sense of humor is flawless, having her read this only enhanced the story. Her narration showcases her distinctive voice and her cleverly written zingers are even more hilarious when read out loud. At a mere six hours of audiobook time, her intimate recap of her thirty-one years of life leaves you wishing for more of her comical tidbits.

“So now, when I’m standing in a patch of wet moss in open-toed shoes and a strapless chiffon sundress, watching my breath fog in front of my face, I think: You are a fucking Navy SEAL, Kendrick! You will get through this scene, you will say the stupid joke, and if you lose a nipple to frostbite in the process it will be for art!

related-reads-blue

For more hilarious memoirs…

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson [Review]
The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer [Review]
Yes Please by Amy Poehler

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Ominous October – Dead Souls by J. Lincoln Fenn

October 8, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Ominous October, Read in 2016 3 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.

Ominous October – Dead Souls by J. Lincoln FennDead Souls by J. Lincoln Fenn
Narrator: Julia Whelan
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on September 20th 2016
Length: 9 hours and 30 minutes
Genres: Horror
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
Amazon|B&N|Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Poe

four-stars

From the award-winning author of the acclaimed novel Poe comes an edgy and bone-chilling new novel.

When Fiona Dunn is approached in a bar by a man who claims he's the devil, she figures it's just some kind of postmodern-slash-ironic pickup line. But a few drinks in, he offers her a wish in exchange for her immortal soul, and in addition Fiona must perform a special favor for him whenever the time comes. Fiona finds the entire matter so absurd that she agrees. Bad idea. Not only does Fiona soon discover that she really was talking to the devil incarnate, but she's now been initiated into a bizarre support group of similar "dead souls" - those who have done the same thing as Fiona on a whim and who must spend their waking hours in absolute terror of that favor eventually being called in...and what exactly is required from each of them in order to give the devil his due.

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Imagine witnessing your boyfriend get into a taxi with another woman after he tells you he’s leaving town on a business trip. You head to the bar to get trashed only to end up unintentionally selling your soul to a man named Scratch, who also claims to be the devil, for a single wish. There’s also the matter of the future favor he’ll be calling in when you least expect it. Bad freaking night. Fiona Dunn is an atheist and doesn’t believe it’s at all impossible, but when clear evidence to the contrary rears its ugly head, she’s determined to find a way out of the deal. Once she discovers that there are far more “dead souls” than just her in Oakland, California, she winds up becoming a new member of a support group for all who continue to walk this Earth, minus a soul. But as time passes, the Devil starts calling in his favors, and they end up being far more horrifying than they ever would have anticipated.

Out of all the wishes Fiona could have made, she made the wish to be truly invisible, to be able to witness all the things she otherwise would have missed. In exchange, she gets a business card with the date she sold her soul burnt into it and a blank space below “Favor.” Once the Devil calls in his favor, instructions will appear and you won’t be able to say no. And this is the part where the otherwise mysterious tale turns dark and gruesome. Very, very dark and gruesome. It is suggested that the mass shootings and otherwise horrifyingly violent acts that have occurred in the past (and even hinting at current events) are nothing more than the Devil calling his favor, performing violent acts in his name. I specifically enjoyed how the author manages to make this story very much set in the real world yet incorporating the paranormal aspects in such a way to make it all seem scarily conceivable.

The story is written in first person which gives it that distressing sense of urgency as Fiona frantically tries to come up with a plan to give out of the disaster she finds herself in. The beginning of the story delves into Fiona’s career as a marketing executive and it’s not until later you realize how relevant it all is in the grand scheme of things. A marketing executive is akin to a salesman and Fiona is determined to sell her plan to the Devil, just as she were to sell an idea to a client, except this time her very soul is at stake.

More horrifying than terrifying, but still immensely satisfying. Fenn knocks it out of the park with this delightfully macabre tale of horror.

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Horns by Joe Hill [Purchase]
The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman [Purchase//Review]
A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay [Purchase//Review]

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Audiobook Review – The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer

September 8, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews 7 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.

Audiobook Review – The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy SchumerThe Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer
Narrator: Amy Schumer
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on August 16th 2016
Length: 8 hours and 6 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
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Goodreads


four-stars

The Emmy Award-winning comedian, actress, writer, and star of Inside Amy Schumer and the acclaimed film Trainwreck has taken the entertainment world by storm with her winning blend of smart, satirical humor. Now, Amy Schumer has written a refreshingly candid and uproariously funny collection of (extremely) personal and observational essays.

In The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, Amy mines her past for stories about her teenage years, her family, relationships, and sex and shares the experiences that have shaped who she is—a woman with the courage to bare her soul to stand up for what she believes in, all while making us laugh.

Ranging from the raucous to the romantic, the heartfelt to the harrowing, this highly entertaining and universally appealing collection is the literary equivalent of a night out with your best friend—an unforgettable and fun adventure that you wish could last forever. Whether she’s experiencing lust-at-first-sight while in the airport security line, sharing her own views on love and marriage, admitting to being an introvert, or discovering her cross-fit instructor’s secret bad habit, Amy Schumer proves to be a bighearted, brave, and thoughtful storyteller that will leave you nodding your head in recognition, laughing out loud, and sobbing uncontrollably—but only because it’s over.

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I didn’t quite know what to expect from this memoir. I knew very little about Amy Schumer prior to this memoir, only having seen some of her skits as well as her hosting the 2015 MTV Movie Awards, but I thought she was funny and I’m a complete sucker for memoirs narrated by the authors themselves. But after this book? I love her. She’s absolutely hysterical with her self-deprecating sense of humor while still managing to be completely empowering as well as her candid talks about her sex life which are totally amusing.

“I’m a real woman who digests her meals and breaks out and has sweet little pockets of cellulite on her upper thighs that she’s not apologizing for. Because guess what? We all have that shit. We’re all human beings.”

You can’t help but love that honesty. It’s straightforward and sincere and only helps to make us females lacking that “perfect body” feel a little bit better about ourselves. It is what it is, people. Move along.

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“I also want to clarify that this book has NO SELF-HELP INFO OR ADVICE FOR YOU […] I’m a flawed fuckup and I haven’t figured anything out, so I have no wisdom to offer you. But what I can help with is showing you my mistakes and my pain and my laughter […]”

While Schumer is widely known for being a Comedian, this book isn’t all fun and games. While I would have adored a book from her composed of nothing but sidesplitting humor, I can understand why she took the opportunity to voice her opinions and include a few more insightful notes. And while she does clarify at the very beginning that there is nothing self-help about this book, there are still many lessons that can be learned from her words. She discusses in depth the amount of time and energy she spent to build her career from the ground up, to always stand up for who you are and what you believe in, and to learn to roll with the punches life throws at you with the determination that you will eventually come out of this. The types of stories she shares though are widely varied going from hilarious recollections of her childhood stuffed animals that now look like something out of a nightmare to reading clips from her teenage diary entries (including present day footnotes). She speaks openly about being an introvert and these parts were like preaching to the choir.

‘I really don’t do well at parties or gatherings where I feel like I am obligated to be more “social.” Usually I will find a corner to hide in and immediately begin haunting it like the girl from The Ring, just hoping no one will want to come talk to me.’

But on the opposite end of the spectrum, she tells us tragic stories about the loss of her virginity, about her own personal story of domestic abuse, her terrifying stories of blacking out, and a very stirring statement on gun control that I at one point even said “Fuck yeah, Amy!” while listening. While those entries aren’t funny or entertaining to read about, it’s a part of what makes Amy, well, Amy and for that I appreciate her honesty. She knocked it out of the park with her narration and I do so hope she writes more in the future. I’ll leave you with this gem.

‘He walked down the aisle and I watched him, his arms bulging and his huge hands gripping his bag as he navigated his way between the seats. I was thinking, Maybe when he walks by I can pretend to sneeze … and fall on the floor in front of him … and he will trip and fall inside of me.

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Audiobook Review – End of Watch (Bill Hodges Trilogy #3) by Stephen King

June 16, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2016 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.

Audiobook Review – End of Watch (Bill Hodges Trilogy #3) by Stephen KingEnd of Watch by Stephen King
Narrator: Will Patton
Series: Bill Hodges Trilogy #3
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on June 7th 2016
Length: 12 hours and 54 minutes
Genres: Horror, Mystery
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
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Goodreads

Also by this author: Doctor Sleep, Cujo, Pet Sematary

four-stars

Brady Hartsfield, perpetrator of the Mercedes Massacre, where eight people were killed and many more were badly injured, has been in the Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic for five years, in a vegetative state. According to his doctors, anything approaching a complete recovery is unlikely. But behind the drool and stare, Brady is awake, and in possession of deadly new powers that allow him to wreak unimaginable havoc without ever leaving his hospital room.

Retired police detective Bill Hodges, the unlikely hero of Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers, now runs an investigation agency with his partner, Holly Gibney, who delivered the blow to Hartsfield's head that put him on the brain injury ward. Brady also remembers that. When Bill and Holly are called to a murder-suicide with ties to the Mercedes Massacre, they find themselves pulled into their most dangerous case yet, one that will put not only their lives at risk, but those of Hodges’s friend Jerome Robinson and his teenage sister, Barbara. Because Brady Hartsfield is back, and planning revenge not just on Bill Hodges and his friends, but on an entire city.

In End of Watch, Stephen King brings the Hodges trilogy to a sublimely terrifying conclusion, combining the detective fiction of Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers with the supernatural suspense that has been his trademark. The result is an unnerving look at human vulnerability and up-all-night entertainment.

Bill Hodges Trilogy

Mr. Mercedes (Bill Hodges Trilogy, #1) [PurchaseReview]
Finders Keepers (Bill Hodges Trilogy, #2) [Purchase]

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Seven years have passed since Brady Hartsfield drove a stolen Mercedes through a crowd of people, killing many, and paralyzing one survivor by the name of Martine Stover. Despite her disability, she still lives a peaceful life with her mother who is her primary caregiver. That is until the day the police are called to her residence in what appears to be a murder/suicide, but is in all actuality anything but. This crime has Brady Hartsfield written all over it, but he’s in a mostly vegetative state in the Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic, how could such a thing even be possible? But when more and more suicides begin popping up, the only thing that connects them is Brady and Bill Hodges just might be the only one that could believe such an impossibility.

“End of watch is what they call it, but Hodges himself has found it impossible to give up watching.”

The gang is all back together for one last hurrah: Hodges, Holly Gibney, and Jerome Robinson. Hodges and Holly were doing their fair share of investigating the strange evidence piling up around the recent increase of suicides, but it’s not until one of these attempted suicides hits close to home that the ante has been upped. Despite the impossibility of Brady being the backstage conductor, readers that have been with this series from the beginning will have been given a glimpse at where King was heading at the end of Finders Keepers. Mr. Mercedes, the first installment, seemed to at first be a bit of a departure from King’s typical style, going for your basic mystery/detective thriller, yet slowly but surely he deftly infused it with his trademark supernatural horror. Whether it’s due to the blow that Holly landed or the experimental drugs being delivered by his doctor, Brady has developed the ability to influence the minds of others. With his technological genius, he manages to find a way to increase the way he spreads his infectious thoughts so that he can finally commit the massive crime he was prevented from carrying out before.

Despite the fact that King doesn’t fully flesh out the supernatural aspects of the novel, it doesn’t take much suspension of disbelief for it to still work. The powerful effects of video games are evident in society even without the supernatural aspects involved and King uses this to bring that effectiveness to life in this novel of horror. Suffice it to say, the cover may have been intriguing before reading the story, but after? You won’t want to maintain eye contact for long. And this song is definitely ruined. So, King subsequently ruined the ice cream man and a Mickey Mouse song in one fell swoop with this series. A most impressive feat.

The initial working title for this book was The Suicide Prince and while I was disappointed when it was announced it would actually be End of Watch instead, it’s so much more fitting. King didn’t disappoint with this ending, not leaving us hanging with unresolved questions but not coating the ending in unlikely perfection. I may have started this trilogy skeptical that King could pull off a convincing mystery but by the end I’m hoping that he experiments with this genre more in the future.

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Audiobook Review – Different Seasons by Stephen King

June 3, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2016 1 Comment

Audiobook Review – Different Seasons by Stephen KingDifferent Seasons by Stephen King
Narrator: Frank Muller
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on August 27th 1982
Length: 19 hours and 49 minutes
Genres: Horror
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Amazon|B&N|Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Doctor Sleep, Cujo, Pet Sematary

four-stars

A “hypnotic” (The New York Times Book Review) collection of four novellas from Stephen King bound together by the changing of seasons, each taking on the theme of a journey with strikingly different tones and characters.

“The wondrous readability of his work, as well as the instant sense of communication with his characters, are what make Stephen King the consummate storyteller that he is,” hailed the Houston Chronicle about Different Seasons.

This gripping collection begins with “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption,” in which an unjustly imprisoned convict seeks a strange and startling revenge—the basis for the Best Picture Academy Award-nominee The Shawshank Redemption. Next is “Apt Pupil,” the inspiration for the film of the same name about top high school student Todd Bowden and his obsession with the dark and deadly past of an older man in town. In “The Body,” four rambunctious young boys plunge through the façade of a small town and come face-to-face with life, death, and intimations of their own mortality. This novella became the movie Stand By Me. Finally, a disgraced woman is determined to triumph over death in “The Breathing Method.”

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Different Seasons was King’s first Short Story publication which came out in the summer of 1982. In his Afterword, King gives us a brief glimpse into how this collection came about even though he originally never intended them to be published. All were written following the completion of a novel: The Body was written after Salem’s Lot, Apt Pupil was written after The Shining and he said he didn’t write again after that for 3 months, Shawshank Redemption was written after The Dead Zone, and The Breathing Method was written after Firestarter. Each story is clearly different than anything King had put out at that point, and it was just as his editor at the time feared. “First the telekinetic girl, then vampires, now the haunted hotel and the telepathic kid. You’re gonna get typed.” Typed as in, “horror writer”. It’s funny to think at this point in Stephen King’s career that he not only worried about being typed as nothing but a horror writer, but that he worried he wouldn’t be able to make a living writing horror. All four of these stories are between 25,000 and 35,000 words which is what King refers to as “a really terrible place, an anarchy-ridden literary banana republic called the ‘novella'”. Since these novellas weren’t his typical horror and were considered more mainstream, they weren’t exactly marketable, yet somehow King still managed to make it happen.

Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption (Hope Springs Eternal) tells the story of Andy Dufresne, a banker who in 1948 is wrongly convicted of killing his wife and her lover. It’s narrated by “Red” Ellis who is also in prison for life for killing his wife, except he wasn’t wrongly convicted. As the years pass, Andy’s story is relayed and despite everything he’s forced to suffer through, his resilience means his spirit won’t break. It’s a hopeful and unforgettable tale of perseverance that is most admirable, just as Kings subtitle suggests. This was by far my favorite of this series.

Apt Pupil (Summer of Corruption) is the story of thirteen-year-old Todd Bowden who, after becoming fixated on the horrifying details of World War II, discovers that his neighbor is fugitive Nazi war criminal who’s real name is Kurt Dussander. Todd forces him to divulge the stories of his involvement which subsequently drives them both mad from the horrors. The slowly spiraling mental state of both characters is truly terrifying to watch unfold. Who said there isn’t real horror in reality?

The Body (Fall From Innocence) recalls the events of a childhood adventure where a group of boys set out to see a dead body. Fall From Innocence is a fitting depiction for the transformation that these boys underwent by taking this journey, starting out simply innocent and curious. “He was a boy our age, he was dead, and I rejected the idea that anything about it could be natural; I pushed it away with horror.” It was a jarring realization of their own mortality and the loss of their adolescence. This was the most compelling tale of the collection that went beyond entertainment with its resonance of truth.

The Breathing Method (A Winter’s Tale) is certainly the closest to horror that King gets in this collection. Within the darkened walls of a private Manhattan club, ghost stories are told at Christmas. Sandra Stansfield is single and pregnant in the 1930s, yet despite the public snubs she receives, she’s determined to have the child no matter what. Her doctor, Dr. McCarron, teaches her what is now known as Lamaze even though it was frowned upon during that time period, and is what leads to the apex of this horrifying tale and completion of this collection.

Even though this collection of stories weren’t my favorite of King, I appreciated them for what they meant to show: another side to a typed horror author. While these weren’t true horror, elements of horror still manage to crop up in one-way shape or form in all of his tales, and that’s okay. King leaves us with a final note:

“I hope that you liked them, Reader; that they did for you what any good story should do—make you forget the real stuff weighing on your mind for a little while and take you away to a place you’ve never been. It’s the most amiable sort of magic I know.”

 They did, Mr. King. They definitely did.

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Audiobook Review – Thanks for the Trouble by Tommy Wallach

March 10, 2016 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2016, 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.

Audiobook Review – Thanks for the Trouble by Tommy WallachThanks for the Trouble by Tommy Wallach
Narrator: Francisco Pryor Garat
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on February 23rd 2016
Length: 6 hours and 24 minutes
Genres: Contemporary
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
Amazon|B&N|Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: We All Looked Up

four-stars

Tommy Wallach, the New York Times bestselling author of the “stunning debut” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) We All Looked Up, delivers a brilliant new novel about a young man who overcomes a crippling loss and finds the courage to live after meeting an enigmatic girl.
Tommy Wallach, the New York Times bestselling author of the “stunning debut” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) We All Looked Up, delivers a brilliant new novel about a young man who overcomes a crippling loss and finds the courage to live after meeting an enigmatic girl.

“Was this story written about me?”
I shrugged.
“Yes or no?”
I shrugged again, finally earning a little scowl, which somehow made the girl even more pretty.
“It’s very rude not to answer simple questions,” she said.
I gestured for my journal, but she still wouldn’t give it to me. So I took out my pen and wrote on my palm.
I can’t, I wrote. Then, in tiny letters below it: Now don’t you feel like a jerk?

Parker Santé hasn’t spoken a word in five years. While his classmates plan for bright futures, he skips school to hang out in hotels, killing time by watching the guests. But when he meets a silver-haired girl named Zelda Toth, a girl who claims to be quite a bit older than she looks, he’ll discover there just might be a few things left worth living for.

From the celebrated author of We All Looked Up comes a unique story of first and last loves.

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I’ve always liked that phrase, “kill time.” As if time were some kind of evil dragon that needed to be slain. Unfortunately, like everything else in the world, time dies of natural causes, year by year, hour by hour, second by second. It’s a veritable time massacre going on out here.

Parker Santé has been mute since his father died in a car accident they were both involved in. It’s been five years. He’s still a bit angry with his lot in life so he spends the majority of his time alone, killing time, frequenting hotels because he’s found its easy to steal from rich people there. After skipping school, he spends his day at San Francisco’s Palace Hotel where he meets a most intriguing girl by the name of Zelda Toth… after he tries to steal her money. Despite their rocky introduction, the two quickly form a solid yet palpable connection that develops through the power of storytelling. Parker’s talent for writing fictional stories and Zelda’s own personal story: that she’s far, far older than she actually looks.

This is my second Tommy Wallach story and most certainly won’t be my last. His stories have never fallen into the category I find myself typically reading, yet he manages to tactfully write the most authentic and captivating characters. Parker possesses a depth that goes beyond the typical story we’ve all read about where the kid loses a parent and subsequently removes himself from the normal world. He was unexpectedly hilarious in that sarcastic way I do love so much. What stands out from this already charming story are Parker’s short stories. At first, I found the idea of them to be somewhat of an ill-fitting piece of the puzzle and that they would essentially detract from the main story; at least I did until it returns to the main story and I suddenly wished to go back to his magical storytelling. They are captivating to say the least and Wallach’s ability to write multiple amazing stories within a single story is most notable. Zelda seemed to be the biggest issue for most readers, yet I found her to be well-written too. Instead of the manic pixie dream girl that at first glance seems like we’d be getting, there’s a depth to her as well, and a compelling background that makes her far from conventional.

Thanks for the Trouble is a contemporary story about experiencing life and learning to recognize the things we take for granted. It’s not completely contemporary though, with a magical realism flair that never gives you exact answers but instead leaves you contemplating. For the most part, contemplating what it would be like to live forever, and if it would be as fantastic as one would initially think. You never quite know what is real and what is make believe with this one but that is exactly what makes this such an enchanting read.

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