Source: Netgalley

Rapid Fire Reviews | The Shadows, The Hollow Ones, The Return

Posted November 12, 2020 by Bonnie in 2020, Adult, Book Reviews, Rapid Fire Reviews / 1 Comment

Sometimes review writing is hard. Sometimes you don’t have a lot to say. Sometimes you’re just lazy as fuck. These are Rapid Fire Reviews.

Rapid Reviews | The Shadows, The Hollow Ones, The Return, The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying VampiresThe Shadows by Alex North
Published by Celadon Books on July 7, 2020
Pages: 336
GenresHorror
FormateARC
Source: Netgalley
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Thoughts: North’s evocative writing turns this coming of age story into quite the haunting tale. The Shadows tells the tale of a group of boys who begin using lucid dreaming as a temporary way out of their every day lives, but when one of the boys thinks he’s uncovered the secret to making this dream world something much more permanent, things turn very dark. The story uses my favorite dual narrative, alternating between past and present and shooting forward in time by thirty-five years where one of the boys has moved back to the small town only to find that the things he thought he escaped still linger. As the story progresses, things feel a bit frayed with new characters showing up much too fashionably late and a twist at the end that may impress some but felt ill-fitting with where the story was going.

Verdict: Tagged as horror, I feel this definitely fits more in the realm of “psychological thriller”. I skipped out on North’s debut and while this wasn’t perfect I very much loved his writing style and will definitely be picking up The Whisper Man.

In a nutshell, GIF style:

GIF oooh scary spooky - animated GIF on GIFER - by Anatus

three-half-stars

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.

Rapid Reviews | The Shadows, The Hollow Ones, The Return, The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying VampiresThe Hollow Ones by Guillermo del ToroChuck Hogan
SeriesBlackwood Tapes #1
Published by Grand Central Publishing on August 4, 2020
Pages: 336
GenresHorror
FormateARC
Source: Netgalley
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Goodreads

Also by this author: The StrainThe Night EternalTrollhunters

Thoughts: I will forever be a fan of Guillermo del Toro. He’s created some of the most fascinating yet horrific worlds but I don’t think I can ever get past how every single one of his books seems to be written in the hopes of them someday being turned into a film. The summary of this gave me the idea it could be like an old X-Files episode: a young FBI agent investigating a terrible crime turns to a man of the occult after being unable to rationalize the supernatural aspects of the case. No, we’re not talking aliens, but the supernatural aspect actually reminded me far too much of another book which I had only recently read. I’m not sure the close comparisons were what ultimately left me unimpressed or if it was the considerable amounts of gratuitous violence and the fact that I didn’t realize this wasn’t a standalone novel until the final page.

Verdict: I just realized that every single Guillermo del Toro book I’ve read has been him paired up with someone else. Makes me want to give Hogan’s individually written books a shot. In regards to The Hollow Ones, while I can see where the authors plan to take this series, I’m not sure the first installment left me feeling invested enough to continue.

In a nutshell, GIF style:

Meh GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

three-stars

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.

The Return by Rachel Harrison
Published by Berkley on March 24, 2020
Pages: 304
Genres: Horror
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Goodreads

Thoughts: Oh, how I wanted to love this. The Return doesn’t start off creepy, just mysterious, and it builds the characterization of each and every character slowly. Possibly a little too slowly. The girls in this story are written so immaturely I kept having to remind myself of their non-high school ages. The horror elements finally start making themselves known in the final 50 pages of the story and to Harrison’s credit, she transforms the memory loss plot into something wholly unexpected and original. The concept as a whole wasn’t fully fleshed out and the supernatural elements were laid on extra-thick but it was still definitely unique.

Verdict: I liked it, but I didn’t. The supernatural aspects and the answer to the whole mystery was just a bit too odd-ball to wrap my head around. Harrison is going to stay on my radar, however, because this didn’t have the feel of a debut and definitely showcased her storytelling abilities.

In a nutshell, GIF style:

The Office - MIchael Scott -I Don't Know What The Fuck That Was on Make a GIF

two-stars

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.

 

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Rapid Reviews | The Lost Man, Ghoster, To Be Taught, If Fortunate Recipe for a Perfect Wife

Posted December 28, 2019 by Bonnie in 2019, Adult, Book Reviews, Rapid Fire Reviews / 5 Comments

Sometimes review writing is hard. Sometimes you don’t have a lot to say. Sometimes you’re just lazy as fuck. These are Rapid Fire Reviews.

Rapid Reviews | The Lost Man, Ghoster, To Be Taught, If Fortunate Recipe for a Perfect WifeThe Lost Man by Jane Harper
Published by Flatiron Books on February 5, 2019
Pages: 340
Genres: Mystery
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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four-half-stars

Short Summary: The Bright brothers run a large area of land in the Australian outback with hours separating each but when one of the brothers dies under mysterious circumstances, his death brings everyone together to question whether he decided his own fate or if someone else was responsible.

Thoughts: I think I’m finally beginning to understand what makes Jane Harper’s books so special: the setting. The Australian outback is so vibrantly written it becomes something of a character itself. It sounds beautiful and ethereal but I’m not sure you could pay me to venture into that deadly terrain.

Verdict: Harper’s stories always read like a breath of fresh air and it’s rare I continue to stay on top of subsequent releases from any particular author but I’m always eager for more from her.

In a nutshell, GIF style:

Image result for australia gif

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.

Rapid Reviews | The Lost Man, Ghoster, To Be Taught, If Fortunate Recipe for a Perfect WifeGhoster by Jason Arnopp
Published by Orbit on October 22, 2019
Pages: 496
Genres: Horror
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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three-stars

Short Summary: Kate is moving in with her boyfriend, Scott, but when she shows up in her moving van he’s gone, the house completely empty except for his cell phone. Determined to find him, wanting to know why he’d do this, she starts looking through his phone but the things she finds have her questioning everything.

Thoughts: I wasn’t anticipating the supernatural aspects but it sure did make for a suspenseful, gotta keep flipping the pages to figure out what the heck is going on, and unsettling read.

Verdict: Honestly, I was loving how entertained I was by this one, but the ending was super bizarre and Arnopp went a bit overkill on the “technology is evil message”.

In a nutshell, GIF style:

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.

Rapid Reviews | The Lost Man, Ghoster, To Be Taught, If Fortunate Recipe for a Perfect WifeTo Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers
Published by Harper Voyager on September 3, 2019
Pages: 153
Genres: Sci-fi
Source: Edelweiss
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two-stars

Short Summary: To Be Taught, If Fortunate is a tiny but mighty science fiction story about humans discovering the ability to transform themselves to live on other worlds and about a crew exploring the galaxy learning everything they can to send back home.

Thoughts: Considering this novella was meant to be a letter sent to Earth from the crew, there sure was a lot of rambling and a complete lack of a sense of urgency, and lol if they included the parts about how everyone is sleeping with each other. Honestly, I’m not sure I got it.

Verdict: Becky Chambers is a fantastic writer and her extreme research is evident, unfortunately, this focuses heavily on the scientific aspects of everything (that can be quite confusing at times) and far less so on the characters or even a plot and thus just wasn’t my style.

In a nutshell, GIF style:

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.

Rapid Reviews | The Lost Man, Ghoster, To Be Taught, If Fortunate Recipe for a Perfect WifeRecipe for a Perfect Wife by Karma Brown
Published by Dutton Books on December 31, 2019
Pages: 336
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

two-stars

Short Summary: When Alice and her husband leave New York City to live in the suburbs, she immerses herself in piecing together the life of the woman who lived there before from an old cookbook that was left behind.

Thoughts: The story is told from the viewpoint of Alice in the present day and Nellie, a housewife from the 1950s, but the similarities the author attempted to draw between the two characters were fairly baseless.

Verdict: This story ended up being shockingly dark and while I love a good ambiguous ending, this one leaves you with far more questions and fewer answers.

In a nutshell, GIF style: 

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.

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Life’s Too Short | The Honey-Don’t List, Follow Me to Ground, The Starless Sea

Posted December 26, 2019 by Bonnie in 2019, Book Reviews, Life's Too Short / 8 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 Honey-Don’t List, Follow Me to Ground, The Starless SeaThe Honey-Don't List by Christina Lauren
Narrator: Allan Corduner, Bahni Turpin, Dion Graham, Dominic Hoffman, Fiona Hardingham, Jorjeana Marie
Published by Gallery Books on March 24, 2020
Pages: 320
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Also by this author: My Favorite Half-Night Stand, Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating, Love and Other Words, The Unhoneymooners, Twice in a Blue Moon

dnf

Carey Douglas has worked for home remodeling and design gurus Melissa and Rusty Tripp for nearly a decade. A country girl at heart, Carey started in their first store at sixteen, and—more than anyone would suspect—has helped them build an empire. With a new show and a book about to launch, the Tripps are on the verge of superstardom. There’s only one problem: America’s favorite couple can’t stand each other.
James McCann, MIT graduate and engineering genius, was originally hired as a structural engineer, but the job isn’t all he thought it’d be. The last straw? Both he and Carey must go on book tour with the Tripps and keep the wheels from falling off the proverbial bus.
Unfortunately, neither of them is in any position to quit. Carey needs health insurance, and James has been promised the role of a lifetime if he can just keep the couple on track for a few more weeks. While road-tripping with the Tripps up the West Coast, Carey and James vow to work together to keep their bosses’ secrets hidden, and their own jobs secure. But if they stop playing along—and start playing for keeps—they may have the chance to build something beautiful together…
From the “hilariously zany and heartfelt” (Booklist) Christina Lauren comes a romantic comedy that proves if it’s broke, you might as well fix it.
From the New York Times bestselling author behind the “joyful, warm, touching” (Jasmine Guillory, New York Times bestselling author) The Unhoneymooners comes a delightfully charming love story about what happens when two assistants tasked with keeping a rocky relationship from explosion start to feel sparks of their own.

DNF @ 23%

I’ve read a ton of Christina Lauren books and my ratings have gone steadily down with each new release, however, this is my first official DNF. I just couldn’t do it. This one rubbed me the wrong way right from the beginning with how similar the plot was to Chip and Joanna Gaines and their home improvement show, Fixer Upper. In The Honey-Don’t List, they’re Rusty and Melissa, with their home improvement show and their perfect life… except it’s all a lie. I don’t know, for me, it felt like they were just taking something good and wholesome and ruining it. But I kept reading. Until I got to this quote which is referencing Rusty’s extra-marital affairs:

“I know her well enough to get that she doesn’t like my intrusion, but we’re all in this awkwardness together, and there’s no one to blame but Rusty. And to be fair, probably Melly, too.”

Oh, I’m sorry, what was that? We’re blaming Melissa for being the reason Rusty cheated on her?

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 Honey-Don’t List, Follow Me to Ground, The Starless SeaFollow Me to Ground by Sue Rainsford
Published by Scribner on January 21, 2020
Pages: 208
Genres: Magical Realism
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads


dnf

A haunted, surreal debut novel about an otherworldly young woman, her father, and her lover that culminates in a shocking moment of betrayal—one that upends our understanding of power, predation, and agency.
Ada and her father, touched by the power to heal illness, live on the edge of a village where they help sick locals—or “Cures”—by cracking open their damaged bodies or temporarily burying them in the reviving, dangerous Ground nearby. Ada, a being both more and less than human, is mostly uninterested in the Cures, until she meets a man named Samson. When they strike up an affair, to the displeasure of her father and Samson’s widowed, pregnant sister, Ada is torn between her old way of life and new possibilities with her lover—and eventually comes to a decision that will forever change Samson, the town, and the Ground itself.
Follow Me to Ground is fascinating and frightening, urgent and propulsive. In Ada, award-winning author Sue Rainsford has created an utterly bewitching heroine, one who challenges conventional ideas of womanhood and the secrets of the body. Slim but authoritative, Follow Me to Ground lingers long after its final page, pulling the reader into a dream between fairytale and nightmare, desire and delusion, folktale and warning.

DNF @ 29%

This is one of those books that’s going to be amazing for a certain kind of reader. I am not that certain kind of reader. This was magical realism with a dash of weirdness but the more you keep reading you realize that the lid must’ve come off and the whole bottle of weirdness ended up in there. The utter strangeness of this reminded me a lot of The Library at Mount Char, so if you were a fan of that, definitely pick this one up. (That one also didn’t work for me. lol) Here’s a quick summary of the weirdness: this girl and her father were both “born from the dirt” or something, her father transforms into a beast at night and eats the local wildlife, they take out the yucky stuff from people that causes them pain/sickness, etc. The writing is lyrical and the only reason I got to 29% but the story is extremely weird. Take this scene for instance:

“First time I tried to lie down with a boy, I didn’t know what I was doing. I lay down and he lay down over me and I held on tight. He went to put it in and there was nowhere for it to go and he got scared and bit me. […] By the time I took Samson inside, I’d grown myself an opening that I’d a dozen names for.”

Image result for the fuck just happened gif

Life’s Too Short | The Honey-Don’t List, Follow Me to Ground, The Starless SeaThe Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
Narrator: Dominic Hoffman, Dion Graham, Bahni Turpin, Allan Corduner, Fiona Hardingham, Jorjeana Marie
on November 5, 2019
Length: 18 hrs and 37 mins
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads


dnf

Far beneath the surface of the earth, upon the shores of the Starless Sea, there is a labyrinthine collection of tunnels and rooms filled with stories. The entryways that lead to this sanctuary are often hidden, sometimes on forest floors, sometimes in private homes, sometimes in plain sight. But those who seek will find. Their doors have been waiting for them.
Zachary Ezra Rawlins is searching for his door, though he does not know it. He follows a silent siren song, an inexplicable knowledge that he is meant for another place. When he discovers a mysterious book in the stacks of his campus library he begins to read, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, lost cities, and nameless acolytes. Suddenly a turn of the page brings Zachary to a story from his own childhood impossibly written in this book that is older than he is.
A bee, a key, and a sword emblazoned on the book lead Zachary to two people who will change the course of his life: Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired painter, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances. These strangers guide Zachary through masquerade party dances and whispered back room stories to the headquarters of a secret society where doorknobs hang from ribbons, and finally through a door conjured from paint to the place he has always yearned for. Amid twisting tunnels filled with books, gilded ballrooms, and wine-dark shores Zachary falls into an intoxicating world soaked in romance and mystery. But a battle is raging over the fate of this place and though there are those who would willingly sacrifice everything to protect it, there are just as many intent on its destruction. As Zachary, Mirabel, and Dorian venture deeper into the space and its histories and myths, searching for answers and each other, a timeless love story unspools, casting a spell of pirates, painters, lovers, liars, and ships that sail upon a Starless Sea.

DNF @ 30 minutes into the audio

I knew quickly that this one wasn’t going to work out for me. I know I didn’t really give it a chance, but I was completely lost and had no idea what was going on and there didn’t even seem to be a freaking plot. It was full of extremely beautiful writing that was always describing something in explicit detail and never actually amounting to much. Maybe this would be better in print but I’m not sure I’ll be giving it that opportunity. Truth is, I DNF’d The Night Circus in print AND in audio (I tried it in both ways just to make sure it wasn’t a format problem) and I’m just not sure Morgenstern is the author for me.

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Rapid Fire Reviews – Twice in a Blue Moon, Wanderers, The Unkindest Tide, Sapphire Flames

Posted October 4, 2019 by Bonnie in 2019, Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Rapid Fire Reviews / 12 Comments

Sometimes review writing is hard. Sometimes you don’t have a lot to say. Sometimes you’re just lazy as fuck. Sometimes you’re just trying to clean up the backlog of reviews because you’ve been a terrible blogger lately. These are Rapid Fire Reviews.

Rapid Reviews – Twice in a Blue Moon, Wanderers, The Unkindest Tide, Sapphire FlamesTwice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren
Published by Gallery Books on October 22, 2019
Pages: 368
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Goodreads

Short Summary: When eighteen-year-old Tate fell in love with Sam, she couldn’t foresee that he’d not only break her heart but her trust. Fourteen years later everything has changed but when Tate sees Sam for the first time since that day, she realizes that her heart never truly recovered and never truly got over him.

Thoughts: This story felt completely mediocre until the last 20%. Then it felt like I was sledding down a hill on a piece of cardboard and that fucker was deteriorating before I had even hit the bottom.

Verdict: This was not the standard of book I’ve come to expect from this duo. Between the lackluster side characters, the laughable subplots, the super “I don’t even buy this crap” type of romance, and the ridiculous ending, I’m just going to pretend like this didn’t happen.

In a nutshell, GIF style:

Image result for what the fuck was that gif

 

two-stars

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.

Rapid Reviews – Twice in a Blue Moon, Wanderers, The Unkindest Tide, Sapphire Flames

Wanderers by Chuck Wendig
Published by Del Rey Books on July 2, 2019
Pages: 800
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Goodreads

Short Summary: After a comet passes over the Earth, seemingly random individuals in a sleepwalk state begin walking as a group in the same direction towards an unknown destination.

Thoughts: This one had a lot of layers between the sleepwalkers, their loved ones following their progress across the United States, the religious nutters, the multitude of characters, and then the explanation of everything, but in all honesty the comparisons to The Stand were erroneous.

Verdict: Wanderers starts out very strong but between the unnecessarily long page count and a few curveballs in the plot that I found wholly unnecessary, this one essentially lost me when it was all said and done.

In a nutshell, GIF style:

Image result for disappointed gif

 

two-stars

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.

Rapid Reviews – Twice in a Blue Moon, Wanderers, The Unkindest Tide, Sapphire Flames

The Unkindest Tide by Seanan McGuire
Series: October Daye #13
Published by DAW Books on September 3, 2019
Pages: 368
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Short Summary: The Unkindest Tide, the thirteenth installment, when the Sea Witch decides it’s time for the Selkies to finally fulfill their promise and Toby must be there to help her bring the Roane back.

Thoughts: This installment was the most tedious since this series began and I’m not sure if it was my expectations of awesomeness, the plot, the marshmallow ending, or Toby’s proclamations like “Someone call for a hero? I asked, and punched her in the face, but reading this was like slogging through quicksand.

Verdict: This installment felt like a whole lot of filler and did little to nothing to progress the actual storyline. Or maybe not, maybe the small moves in this series will amount to something far greater later, but as it stands, I was simply expecting more from this.

In a nutshell, GIF style: 

Related image

 

three-stars

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.

Rapid Reviews – Twice in a Blue Moon, Wanderers, The Unkindest Tide, Sapphire Flames

Sapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews
Series: Hidden Legacy #4
Published by Avon on August 27, 2019
Pages: 393
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Goodreads

Short Summary: Catalina Baylor, the new Head of House Baylor, begins investigating a double murder that just so happens to involve her teenage crush Alessandro Sagredo.

Thoughts: The original Hidden Legacy series was filled with snarky humor, off the charts chemistry, and fascinating worldbuilding. This spinoff series is lacking everything but the latter.

Verdict: I absolutely adore this magical world that IA has created and while I’m pleased that they decided to continue writing stories set in this world, Catalina and Alessandro just aren’t Nevada and Rogan. I’m still satisfied with the story itself so it’s not a complete loss.

In a nutshell, GIF style: 

Image result for no chemistry gif

 

three-stars

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.

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Book Review | In ‘Wilder Girls’ the Horror is Somehow Beautiful

Posted July 9, 2019 by Bonnie in 2019, Book Reviews, Early Review, YA / 3 Comments

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

Book Review | In ‘Wilder Girls’ the Horror is Somehow BeautifulWilder Girls by Rory Power
Published by Delacorte Press on July 9, 2019
Pages: 368
Genres: Horror, Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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three-stars

It's been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty's life out from under her.

It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don't dare wander outside the school's fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.

But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there's more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.

The girls used to be normal. They used to number almost a hundred students at Raxter before the Tox came. Before everyone was transformed into something different.

‘It’s like that, with all of us here. Sick, strange, and we don’t know why. Things bursting out of us, bits missing and pieces sloughing off, and then we harden and smooth over.’

As time passed, the girls’ numbers dwindled but the ones that survived continued holding out hope for a cure that was promised.

Wilder Girls begins with an otherworldly air. A girl with a second spine, another with an eye that has fused shut with something growing underneath. It’s eerie and unsettling and their story only gets better (or worse, depending on how you look at it.) Much like the cover, the horrors within have their own sort of twisted beauty that is equal parts horrifying and mesmerizing. Horrific, yes, but at the heart of Wilder Girls though is a story of love and friendship. After Hetty’s best friend Byatt experiences a flare-up and is sent to the infirmary which many girls never return from, Hetty begins a dangerous search for answers. Her search quickly disturbs the delicate veil of secrecy that surrounded the school to keep the girls in the dark from what was truly happening to them.

The horrors of the island and the girls themselves were perfectly described and I found the comparisons to Annihilation to be apt. I wanted more questions answered about the island, the effect on the animals, and the irises, but I also wanted the resolutions we did get to still be rooted in that otherworldly horror. They were instead stripped of that mystery, made the answer far too simplistic, and made me wonder if any of the horror was truly real at all. Powers is a skilled horror writer and her debut proves this. I anticipate that Wilder Girls is just a dip in the pond of the horror stories she has in store for us.

‘I think I’d been looking for it all my life – a storm in my body to match the one in my head.’

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Book Review | “Daisy Jones & The Six”: the Rise and Fall of Fame

Posted March 14, 2019 by Bonnie in 2019, Adult, Book Reviews / 4 Comments

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

Book Review | “Daisy Jones & The Six”: the Rise and Fall of FameDaisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Published by Ballantine Books on March 5, 2019
Pages: 368
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Goodreads

Also by this author: Forever, Interrupted

three-stars

Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock and roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.

The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer who takes her work to a new level with Daisy Jones & The Six, brilliantly capturing a place and time in an utterly distinctive voice.

Daisy: Just how honest do we have to get here? I know I told you I’d tell you everything but how much “everything” do you really want to know?

Daisy Jones & The Six was one of the biggest rock bands of the 70s but following the end of their first tour, the band broke up without ever revealing why. In this documentary-style novel, Taylor Jenkins Reid brings to life a fictional band while revealing their rapid rise to fame and an even faster descent.

Does anyone remember VH1’s Behind the Music? Back in the day when the internet wasn’t nearly as impressive and your favorite bands definitely weren’t on social media, music fans had Behind the Music. These documentaries featured interviews with the band, friends/family, managers, and anyone else that had an interesting story to tell about the band. Daisy Jones & The Six reads exactly like an episode set in the 70s replete with band drama and rampant drug abuse. The story effectively strips away the veneer that gets built up around celebrities, exposing their vulnerability and weaknesses, and revealing them as being no different than anyone else. The songs they write were the soundtrack to their drama-filled lives, forcing them to experience it all again and again with each new performance. The entire novel is essentially one massive interview, with each individual giving their perspective on what occurred which didn’t always coincide with someone else’s account but considering all the drug use and the many decades that have passed, I suppose that’s understandable.

While I found the style of the story to be a nice change of pace, unfortunately, the style managed to undermine the story as a whole. The emphasis on the importance of their song-writing and the feelings that the verses cultivated was something I wanted to be able to feel through reading about it, but it didn’t translate well on page. There was a definite lack of connection and I simply never found a reason to be invested in the lives of these individuals. Their story was an unending loop of song-writing, performing, drama, and partying yet you know it’s all building up to something big and my curiosity had me flying through this novel. I realized when the big reveal came that a greater investment in the characters was vital to feeling anything other than letdown when it actually came. Still an interesting novel for anyone looking for a glimpse into the craziness of music in the 70s.

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Life’s Too Short – Courting Darkness, The Cassandra, The Wolf and the Watchman

Posted February 28, 2019 by Bonnie in 2019, Book Reviews, Life's Too Short / 5 Comments

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

Life’s Too Short – Courting Darkness, The Cassandra, The Wolf and the WatchmanCourting Darkness by Robin LaFevers
Series: Courting Darkness Duology #1
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on February 5, 2019
Pages: 512
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Also by this author: Grave Mercy, Dark Triumph, Mortal Heart

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Death wasn’t the end, it was only the beginning…

Sybella has always been the darkest of Death’s daughters, trained at the convent of Saint Mortain to serve as his justice. But she has a new mission now. In a desperate bid to keep her two youngest sisters safe from the family that nearly destroyed them all, she agrees to accompany the duchess to France, where they quickly find themselves surrounded by enemies. Their one ray of hope is Sybella’s fellow novitiates, disguised and hidden deep in the French court years ago by the convent—provided Sybella can find them.

Genevieve has been undercover for so many years, she struggles to remember who she is or what she’s supposed to be fighting for. Her only solace is a hidden prisoner who appears all but forgotten by his guards. When tragedy strikes, she has no choice but to take matters into her own hands—even if it means ignoring the long awaited orders from the convent.

As Sybella and Gen’s paths draw ever closer, the fate of everything they hold sacred rests on a knife’s edge. Will they find each other in time, or will their worlds collide, destroying everything they care about?

DNF @ 10%

Courting Darkness returns the focus to Sybella (originally from Dark Triumph) and her new mission in life. I adored the original trilogy and while it has been said that it’s not necessary to read them to appreciate the new duology, I found a definite lack of world-building and establishment of character in this installment. Whether or not it’s necessary, I would highly recommend reading them for the background knowledge alone since it does not appear to be given in Courting Darkness. And while it must be said that there isn’t anything necessarily wrong with this story (despite my obvious DNF) I realized shortly into this that while I was originally excited for more stories set in this world, I felt that the original trio’s stories had been told and nothing more was needed.

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

Life’s Too Short – Courting Darkness, The Cassandra, The Wolf and the WatchmanThe Cassandra by Sharma Shields
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on February 12, 2019
Pages: 304
Genres: Historical Fiction, Fairy-Tales/Retellings
Format: ARC
Source: Library Thing
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The Cassandra follows a woman who goes to work in a top secret research facility during WWII, only to be tormented by visions of what the mission will mean for humankind.

Mildred Groves is an unusual young woman. Gifted and cursed with the ability to see the future, Mildred runs away from home to take a secretary position at the Hanford Research Center in the early 1940s. Hanford, a massive construction camp on the banks of the Columbia River in remote South Central Washington, exists to test and manufacture a mysterious product that will aid the war effort. Only the top generals and scientists know that this product is processed plutonium, for use in the first atomic bombs.

Mildred is delighted, at first, to be part of something larger than herself after a lifetime spent as an outsider. But her new life takes a dark turn when she starts to have prophetic dreams about what will become of humankind if the project is successful. As the men she works for come closer to achieving their goals, her visions intensify to a nightmarish pitch, and she eventually risks everything to question those in power, putting her own physical and mental health in jeopardy. Inspired by the classic Greek myth, this 20th century reimagining of Cassandra's story is based on a real WWII compound that the author researched meticulously. A timely novel about patriarchy and militancy, The Cassandra uses both legend and history to look deep into man's capacity for destruction, and the resolve and compassion it takes to challenge the powerful.

DNF @ 21%

In Greek mythology, Cassandra was cursed to speak prophecies that no one would ever believe. Sharma Shields’ Cassandra is a woman who also possesses the ability to prophesize and when she goes to work for the research facility that created the atomic bomb during WWII, her protestations fall on deaf ears when she tries to warn everyone of what’s to come. The plot of this one sounded fascinating and I was anxiously awaiting my opportunity to read it but unfortunately, I found Cassandra’s character to be insufferable and the rest of the characters were completely depthless. Whether or not they were developed further on in the story is a moot point since I obviously did not finish this story, however, character development is not a better late than never sort of thing and should have been done in the very beginning. The bit of story I did read left a lot to be desired plot-wise as well. Cassandra’s story lacked fluidity and felt rather like she was simply checking off boxes on a list of what she knows she does in life. Considering she’s got the gift of prophecy it’s thoroughly possible that this could have been the reason, except, Cassandra never felt like an active participant in her own life and seemed much more likely that it was the author checking off boxes instead. It was at about the point I hit this quote that I decided this just wasn’t for me:

“I admired his stridency. I wanted to bake it, to eat it like a large meat loaf so that it would enter my bloodstream and become my own.”

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 – Courting Darkness, The Cassandra, The Wolf and the WatchmanThe Wolf and the Watchman by Niklas Natt och Dag
Published by Atria Books on March 5, 2019
Pages: 384
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
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In this breathtakingly bold, intricately constructed novel set in 18th century Stockholm, a dying man searches among the city’s teeming streets, dark corners, and intriguing inhabitants to unmask a ruthless murderer—perfect for fans of Perfume and The Alienist.

It is 1793. Four years after the storming of the Bastille in France and more than a year after the death of King Gustav III of Sweden, paranoia and whispered conspiracies are Stockholm’s daily bread. A promise of violence crackles in the air as ordinary citizens feel increasingly vulnerable to the whims of those in power.

When Mickel Cardell, a crippled ex-solider and former night watchman, finds a mutilated body floating in the city’s malodorous lake, he feels compelled to give the unidentifiable man a proper burial. For Cecil Winge, a brilliant lawyer turned consulting detective to the Stockholm police, a body with no arms, legs, or eyes is a formidable puzzle and one last chance to set things right before he loses his battle to consumption. Together, Winge and Cardell scour Stockholm to discover the body’s identity, encountering the sordid underbelly of the city’s elite. Meanwhile, Kristofer Blix—the handsome son of a farmer—leaves rural life for the alluring charms of the capital and ambitions of becoming a doctor. His letters to his sister chronicle his wild good times and terrible misfortunes, which lead him down a treacherous path.

In another corner of the city, a young woman—Anna-Stina—is consigned to the workhouse after she upsets her parish priest. Her unlikely escape plan takes on new urgency when a sadistic guard marks her as his next victim.

Over the course of the novel, these extraordinary characters cross paths and collide in shocking and unforgettable ways. Niklas Natt och Dag paints a deliciously dark portrait of late 18th century Stockholm, and the frightful yet fascinating reality lurking behind the powdered and painted veneer of the era.

DNF @ 20%

The Wolf and the Watchmen is a story set in 1793 involving the brutal murder of a man and the duo on the hunt for the perpetrator. This is quite a violent and graphic story but it paints a vivid portrait of 18th century Sweden. Did anyone watch the show Taboo with Tom Hardy? It reminded me a lot of that except Taboo has a facet of the supernatural and this story did not. While I don’t normally need supernatural additives in my historical fiction for them to suceed, it did make me realize that I felt like there was something missing to this story that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. This story is admittedly very well-written and I can see why it was awarded best debut novel by The Swedish Academy of Crime Writers, unfortunately, the bleakness of the story was absolute and I couldn’t find the motivation to finish.

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Book Review | In ‘Golden State’, Anything but the Truth is Illegal

Posted February 22, 2019 by Bonnie in 2019, Audiobooks, Book Reviews / 10 Comments

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

Book Review | In ‘Golden State’, Anything but the Truth is IllegalGolden State by Ben H. Winters
Narrator: Kiff VandenHeuvel
Published by Mulholland Books on January 22, 2019
Length: 10 hours and 26 minutes
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
Format: Audiobook
Source: Netgalley
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Also by this author: Countdown City, World of Trouble

three-stars

A shocking vision of our future that is one part Minority Report and one part Chinatown.

Lazlo Ratesic is 54, a 19-year veteran of the Speculative Service, from a family of law enforcement and in a strange alternate society that values law and truth above all else. This is how Laz must, by law, introduce himself, lest he fail to disclose his true purpose or nature, and by doing so, be guilty of a lie.

Laz is a resident of The Golden State, a nation resembling California, where like-minded Americans retreated after the erosion of truth and the spread of lies made public life, and governance, increasingly impossible. There, surrounded by the high walls of compulsory truth-telling, knowingly contradicting the truth--the Objectively So--is the greatest possible crime. Stopping those crimes, punishing them, is Laz's job. In its service, he is one of the few individuals permitted to harbor untruths--to "speculate" on what might have happened in the commission of a crime.

But the Golden State is far less a paradise than its name might suggest. To monitor, verify, and enforce the Objectively So requires a veritable panopticon of surveillance, recording, and record-keeping. And when those in control of the truth twist it for nefarious means, the Speculators may be the only ones with the power to fight back.

‘Each is an interesting fact, and each fact, each piece of truth, is valuable and precious in and of itself, every fact beloved in our good and golden world […]’

Golden State is set in a dystopian, and sovereign, California where cops possess the ability to detect lies and emitting falsehoods will earn you years in prison. Video cameras capture everything and it is all stored in the permanent record as a part of what is “Objectively So,” people greet one another with undeniable statements to vocalize their commitment to the truth, and at the end of each day, citizens are required to itemize their day in a journal (making sure to include any applicable receipts or documentation available). Laszlo Ratesic is a speculator in the Speculative Service and his job is to seek out lies which appear to him as a slight ripple; a dissonance in the air. His current case is investigating the irregularities surrounding the death of a construction worker that fell off a roof. Despite the seeming straightforwardness of the case, Laszlo’s investigation will lead him to the center of a grand conspiracy seeking to undermine the fundamentals of the Golden State.

‘[…] the preservation of reality’s integrity is the paramount duty of the good citizenry and of this government alike. Imagine what kind of mad society would be organized otherwise.’

Golden State reads like a blend of 1984Fahrenheit 451, and Minority Report but really played well on what Winters is becoming known for: well-written speculative futures + noir style mysteries that easily play on fears of possible futures to come. This plot is most definitely a play on the current administration’s continued insistence regarding “Fake News” and “alternative facts” and brings to life a world where the truth is absolute. Winters intent is obviously to show just how dangerous this concept is but for me, the plot got a little messy, the end goal really missed the mark, and the whole story strayed instead into predictable territory. What could have been a fascinating inside look at a corrupt government instead transformed into your standard corruption thriller.

‘…he has made his monstrous point about the rings of truth, about context and omission: he has illustrated that no matter how much we know, there are parts of the story that are missing.
There are elements unknown and unknowable, whether we know it or not.’

Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam #1) by Margaret Atwood [Purchase|Review]
The Last One by Alexandra Oliva [Purchase|Review]
The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker [Purchase|Review]

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Book Review | The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

Posted February 14, 2019 by Bonnie in 2019, Adult, Book Reviews / 13 Comments

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

Book Review | The Dreamers by Karen Thompson WalkerThe Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker
Published by Random House on January 15, 2019
Pages: 320
Genres: Sci-fi
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Also by this author: The Age of Miracles

four-stars

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?

‘…so much of this life will remain always beyond her understanding, as obscure as the landscapes of someone else’s dreams.’

In Southern California, a small town becomes the epicenter of a strange contagion that causes people to sleep indefinitely. Some won’t ever open their eyes again. There’s confusion and hysteria regarding how it’s spread, how to contain it, and meanwhile, more and more people fall victim to the seemingly unavoidable illness. But while it appears that these individuals are sleeping peacefully, inside, their minds are more active than any recorded human brain in history. But what exactly do they dream of, in this inescapable slumber? While they sleep, the waking ones are left to care for their bodies to ensure that one day it will be possible for them to wake again. As the day’s pass and questions remain unanswered, the dreamers begin to outnumber the ones that remain awake.

Karen Thompson Walker once again brings us a dystopian tale that is unsettling in its plausibility. The Dreamers shows us a glimpse at a multitude of individuals within this town without becoming overwhelming: the student that regrets leaving for college and hopes for a day when she’s able to go home, the parents with a newborn who fear falling victim and leaving their baby alone, the young girls that have always fended for themselves fine but now have no other choice when their father falls asleep. The focus on a variety of individuals manages to show the differences in how they react to the unknown by the different facets of their fear and builds on that frenzy of inner turmoil, not knowing what actions to take to avoid becoming the next victim. It’s when the reader is given a glimpse into the mind of a dreamer that you begin to wonder if these individuals are in fact “victims”.

I was a huge fan of Walker’s debut, The Age of Miracles, and I was thrilled to see her focus on another dystopian centered story. The Dreamers, however, takes a different route focusing on the philosophical aspects of the contagion rather the scientific reasoning behind it. This difference in focus, and Walker’s enchanting writing style, inevitably gives the story a dreamlike feel that pairs well with the feeling of disconnect these characters exude, quarantined within a town and simply waiting for the day that they too fall asleep and never wake. The Dreamers doesn’t necessarily end in ambiguity but it certainly lacks concrete answers that would normally be expected in novels of this ilk but are exactly what you’d expect in an actual dream. This story still manages to be incredibly satisfying as long as you’re willing to lose yourself in its slow, hypnotic rhythm.

The Fever by Megan Abbott [Purchase|Review]
Lock In (Lock In #1) by John Scalzi [Purchase]
Blindness by José Saramago [Purchase|Review]

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Life’s Too Short – Transcription, The Clockmaker’s Daughter, 99 Percent Mine

Posted January 31, 2019 by Bonnie in Book Reviews, Life's Too Short / 15 Comments

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

Life’s Too Short – Transcription, The Clockmaker’s Daughter, 99 Percent MineTranscription by Kate Atkinson
on September 25, 2018
Pages: 352
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Also by this author: Life After Life

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In 1940, eighteen-year old Juliet Armstrong is reluctantly recruited into the world of espionage. Sent to an obscure department of MI5 tasked with monitoring the comings and goings of British Fascist sympathizers, she discovers the work to be by turns both tedious and terrifying. But after the war has ended, she presumes the events of those years have been relegated to the past forever. Ten years later, now a radio producer at the BBC, Juliet is unexpectedly confronted by figures from her past. A different war is being fought now, on a different battleground, but Juliet finds herself once more under threat. A bill of reckoning is due, and she finally begins to realize that there is no action without consequence. Transcription is a work of rare depth and texture, a bravura modern novel of extraordinary power, wit and empathy. It is a triumphant work of fiction from one of the best writers of our time.

DNF @ 5%

I tried reading this in print twice. I even tried listening on audio thinking I’d have better luck. I never got past 5% on either occasion. I could very well blame it on my mood reading tendencies or even my impatience, however, it’s simple: this book never managed to hook me. WWII, mid-century London, espionage… this really should’ve worked for me but I think I was anticipating much more action than what was being delivered and it ended up being a similar case like Sweet Tooth. Life After Life was stunning yet A God in Ruins was another DNF. Atkinson is an incredible writer but alas, I’m not sure her stories are the best fit for me.

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 – Transcription, The Clockmaker’s Daughter, 99 Percent MineThe Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton
Published by Atria Books on October 9, 2018
Pages: 485
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Also by this author: The Secret Keeper, The House at Riverton

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My real name, no one remembers. The truth about that summer, no one else knows.

In the summer of 1862, a group of young artists led by the passionate and talented Edward Radcliffe descends upon Birchwood Manor on the banks of the Upper Thames. Their plan: to spend a secluded summer month in a haze of inspiration and creativity. But by the time their stay is over, one woman has been shot dead while another has disappeared; a priceless heirloom is missing; and Edward Radcliffe’s life is in ruins.

Over one hundred and fifty years later, Elodie Winslow, a young archivist in London, uncovers a leather satchel containing two seemingly unrelated items: a sepia photograph of an arresting-looking woman in Victorian clothing, and an artist’s sketchbook containing the drawing of a twin-gabled house on the bend of a river.

Why does Birchwood Manor feel so familiar to Elodie? And who is the beautiful woman in the photograph? Will she ever give up her secrets?

DNF @ 15%

My track record with Kate Morton isn’t great, The Secret Keeper-5 stars, The House at Riverton-3 stars, The Lake House-DNF, and now another DNF. I’m drawn to her stories because I’m a huge fan of the dual timelines, the English settings she favors, and this one apparently included a ghostie mystery! Unfortunately, I hadn’t even gotten to 10% before I was bored and confused because I think I had counted 5 different timelines and I was having to bust out my post-its to keep notes on who’s who. I’d still love to revisit Morton’s earlier works that everyone highly recommends (The Forgotten Garden and The Distant Hours) and hope that it comes close to the entertainment I found in The Secret Keeper.

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 – Transcription, The Clockmaker’s Daughter, 99 Percent Mine99 Percent Mine: A Novel by Sally Thorne
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on January 29, 2019
Pages: 368
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Also by this author: The Hating Game: A Novel

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Crush: a strong and often short-lived infatuation, particularly for someone beyond your reach…

Darcy Barrett has undertaken a global survey of men. She’s travelled the world, and can categorically say that no one measures up to Tom Valeska, whose only flaw is that Darcy’s twin brother Jamie saw him first and claimed him forever as his best friend. Despite Darcy’s best efforts, Tom’s off limits and loyal to her brother, 99%. That’s the problem with finding her dream man at age eight and peaking in her photography career at age twenty—ever since, she’s had to learn to settle for good enough.

When Darcy and Jamie inherit a tumble-down cottage from their grandmother, they’re left with strict instructions to bring it back to its former glory and sell the property. Darcy plans to be in an aisle seat halfway across the ocean as soon as the renovations start, but before she can cut and run, she finds a familiar face on her porch: house-flipper extraordinaire Tom’s arrived, he’s bearing power tools, and he’s single for the first time in almost a decade.

Suddenly Darcy’s considering sticking around to make sure her twin doesn’t ruin the cottage’s inherent magic with his penchant for grey and chrome. She’s definitely not staying because of her new business partner’s tight t-shirts, or that perfect face that's inspiring her to pick up her camera again. Soon sparks are flying—and it’s not the faulty wiring. It turns out one percent of Tom’s heart might not be enough for Darcy anymore. This time around, she’s switching things up. She’s going to make Tom Valeska 99 percent hers.

DNF @ 49%

I was one of the many that adored The Hating Game so admittedly, my expectations were through the roof. But unfortunately, this reads like her actual debut, and if this was the first Sally Thorne I picked up I’d be hard-pressed to pick up anything else of hers. It worked for me at first and I came close to finishing but clearly didn’t make it.

Darcy Barrett read like my kind of girl, at first. Badass bartender, take no shit from anyone, does anything and everything she wants… I don’t know, that’s some shit to aspire to. Enter the love interest that she’s apparently been in love with since she was eight. Yes, eight years old. Everything went downhill from there. She started acting excessively weird and was damn near intolerable and her obsession with the love interest is nothing more than just that and there was never any real rhyme or reason to it. Sure, she was attracted to him, she found him to be the most perfect human being, but there was never any real clarification why. Yes, I need at least some reasoning behind “the spark”. I’m not a romantic, you say? Yeah, so sue me. Between her ripping actual cabinets off the hinges mid-conversation (yes, they were in the middle of a remodel but still) and her actual purring when he touches her in a pretty platonic way, the weird behavior was just too much for me in the end.

“I know my eyes probably go black and crazy, but I press back into his palm and exhale a weird purr. His reaction is instant. I’m bumped away and my skin goes cold. He looks shocked, like I’ve just coughed up a furball.”

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