Source: Purchased

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

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

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

four-stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Rapid Fire Reviews – Artemis, Ink and Bone, Into the Drowning Deep, The Hazel Wood

December 29, 2017 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Rapid Fire Reviews, Read in 2017, YA 4 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.

Artemis by Andy Weir
Narrator: Rosario Dawson
Published by Audible on November 14th 2017
Length: 8 hours and 59 minutes
Genres: Sci-fi
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
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Short Summary: Jazz Bashara is a full-time resident (and smuggler) of Artemis, the only city on the moon, but when she’s offered a sum of money that would solve all of her problems she accepts, the only problem is this job is completely out of her comfort zone and causes her more problems than she had before.

Thoughts: This story wouldn’t have been nearly as fantastic if it wasn’t narrated by Rosario Dawson who transformed this oftentimes comical heist on the moon into an actual performance.

Verdict: I loved The Martian and I loved Artemis so Andy Weir can just keep those entertaining Sci-Fi stories coming.

four-stars

Rapid Fire Reviews – Artemis, Ink and Bone, Into the Drowning Deep, The Hazel Wood

Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine
Series: The Great Library #1
Published by Berkley on April 5th 2016
Pages: 374
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Source: Blogging for Books
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Short Summary: In an alternate universe where books are illegal to the public and the Library of Alexandria is still standing, a group of individuals train to enter into the service of the Library and realize that corruption reigns supreme from within.

Thoughts: Caine has created a fascinating alternate universe with hints of steampunk and while there seemed to be a little too much going on at times it was a captivating story with a full cast of characters and ends with a cliffhanger that leaves you no option but to continue.

Verdict: An intriguing first installment that gets the mild info-dumping necessary with any fantasy world out of the way in hopeful anticipation of a solid follow-up in Paper and Fire.

three-half-stars

Rapid Fire Reviews – Artemis, Ink and Bone, Into the Drowning Deep, The Hazel Wood

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant
Series: Rolling in the Deep #1
Published by Orbit on November 14th 2017
Pages: 440
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Hardcover
Source: the Publisher
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Short Summary: Everyone was presumed dead after the Atargatis was lost at sea, but a new crew is being assembled to go back to the Mariana Trench to search for the existence of mermaids, this time presumably taking better precautions.

Thoughts: Grant was a bit excessive with her use of prose and her oftentimes exhaustive detailing of characters; however, her much apparent research into marine biology was incredibly informative and the gory horror was a definite thrill.

Verdict: A good one for campy horror fans and science nerds alike, but there’s no denying this story is drowning in an unnecessary amount of pages.

three-stars

Rapid Fire Reviews – Artemis, Ink and Bone, Into the Drowning Deep, The Hazel Wood

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
Published by Flatiron Books on January 30th 2018
Pages: 368
Genres: Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Short Summary: Alice and her mother have spent their lives on the road, trying to evade Alice’s grandmother and the bad luck that shadows their every step, but when her mother is kidnapped and taken to the Hinterland (a supernatural world that her grandmother created in her fairy tales) Alice is forced to confront the fact that these fairy tales might be real.

Thoughts: The blend of dark fantasy/fairy tales in a contemporary world was so fascinating and Alice’s character is incredibly likable; however, the mystery (and the story itself) unraveled a bit at the end and wasn’t as coherent a closure as I would have liked.

Verdict: Interesting fairy tale world, solid opening, mediocre ending: still definitely worth a read.

three-stars

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Book Review – One Fell Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles #3) by Ilona Andrews

November 2, 2017 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2017 3 Comments

Book Review – One Fell Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles #3) by Ilona AndrewsOne Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews
Series: Innkeeper Chronicles #3
Published by NYLA on December 20th 2016
Pages: 340
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
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Also by this author: Magic Bites, Magic Rises, Burn for Me

five-stars

Dina DeMille may run the nicest Bed and Breakfast in Red Deer, Texas, but she caters to a very particular kind of guest… the kind that no one on Earth is supposed to know about. Guests like a former intergalactic tyrant with an impressive bounty on her head, the Lord Marshal of a powerful vampire clan, and a displaced-and-superhot werewolf; so don’t stand too close, or you may be collateral damage.

But what passes for Dina’s normal life is about to be thrown into chaos. First, she must rescue her long-distant older sister, Maud, who’s been exiled with her family to a planet that functions as the most lawless penal colony since Botany Bay. Then she agrees to help a guest whose last chance at saving his civilization could bring death and disaster to all Dina holds dear. Now Gertrude Hunt is under siege by a clan of assassins. To keep her guests safe and to find her missing parents, Dina will risk everything, even if she has to pay the ultimate price. Though Sean may have something to say about that!!

“Yes, the princess you were expecting put on her armor and left to kill the dragon. So sorry.”

Dina Demille is at it again and doing anything and everything it takes to save the guests staying at her inn, Gertrude Hunt, a Bed and Breakfast in Red Deer, Texas. Her guests are anything but ordinary individuals though, coming from a multitude of different universes that Earth’s inhabitants don’t even exist and Dina intends to keep it that way. Each story centers around this continued issue of saving her guests, but in One Fell Sweep, we get back to the major plot: Dina’s missing parents. The Hiru was an ancient alien race that flourished until the Draziri declared a holy war on them; few still remained in existence. When a Hiru visits Gertrude Hunt requesting Dina’s assistance with something in exchange for information on her parent’s whereabouts, she wants to say yes for her parent’s sake but knows that saying yes would also bring the Draziri down on all their heads. Naturally, she says yes.

I’ve been a book rut for many months and this was one of the first books to give me a glimmer of hope that maybe this rut isn’t going to last a lifetime. I can always count on Ilona Andrews for that but I’m almost running out of her books so I’m getting a bit nervous. One Fell Sweep was an absolute delight though, between the fascinating world-building, the epic battle scenes, the full-cast of characters that are so well written not a single one ever manages to feel like a secondary character, the subtle inclusion of humor despite the serious storyline:

“Will you take this seriously? The future of an entire species is at stake.”
“Yes, we’re going to save them with a fart gun.”

Oh and the romance. This romance will make even the hardest of hearts swoon.

“You taught me the meaning of loneliness, because when I don’t see you, I feel alone.”

I read this in its finished form (it was also available as a weekly serial released free to read on their website) but I was glad I was able to immerse myself from start to finish. We got to meet Maud, Dina’s sister (who is just as bad ass as her sister) and her daughter Helen who is more badass than both of them combined. Maud married a vampire so Helen is naturally a bit wild around the edges. And has fangs. And is only five-years-old. There’s one particular scene where she sees the Maine Coon that Dina had adopted for the first time that cracked me up to no end:

“He has fangs,” Helen said.
“That’s a kitty,” Maud said. “Be careful. They have sharp claws.”
“What’s his name?”
“He doesn’t have one,” I told her. I hadn’t gotten around to it. “I tell you what, you can name him.”
Helen’s eyes got almost as big as the cat’s. “I can?”
“Yes.”
“I’m going to name him Olasard, after he who hunts the evildoers and rips out their souls.”

I think I need a cat named Olasard too. 😂 I still think there’s something about Olasard, he who hunts evildoers and rip out their souls, that we don’t know yet. And what’s going to happen with Maud and Helen? And where are their parents? So many questions! Next book, please.

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Book Review – A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3) by Sarah J. Maas

May 19, 2017 Bonnie Book Reviews, New Adult, Read in 2017 5 Comments

Book Review – A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3) by Sarah J. MaasA Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #3
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on May 2nd 2017
Pages: 720
Genres: Fantasy
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
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Also by this author: Queen of Shadows, A Court of Thorns and Roses, A Court of Mist and Fury

three-half-stars

Looming war threatens all Feyre holds dear in the third volume of the #1 New York Times bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses series.

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit—and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.
As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords—and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.

A Court of Thorns and Roses series

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1) by Sarah J. Maas
A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2) by Sarah J. Maas

Well, it’s finally here.

I’m so exasperated and everyone and their mother has given this 5 stars at this point so I’m feeling like quite the outcast. I liked A Court of Thorns and Roses, adored A Court of Mist and Fury, and A Court of Wings and Ruin was quite possibly my most anticipated book of the year. I took the day off work to read this and while I can’t say that I regret doing so or that the book was bad, it just wasn’t what I was expecting. There were things I liked and things I didn’t like, so I’ll start with the good.

The best parts of this book were, surprisingly, the war scenes. We all knew a war was coming in this installment but I never quite expected it to be nearly as epic and for all the fae and their magical powers to be quite as badass as they were. Savage, brutal, and thrilling (and the war makes up a large chunk of this book). In terms of the best (non-violent) parts, Feyre getting to explore more that the Court of Dreams has to offer was lovely. Her depictions of the city were enough to form magical cities in my mind, but the library carved inside an actual mountain? The shelves built into the stone walls, the reading nooks, the low-burning lamps, the cozy chairs, and the fireplaces.

And lastly, I loved how she incorporates all of the lesser characters that seemed to have minor roles in the conclusion: the Suriel, the Weaver, the Bone Carver, and even a new terrifying beastie.

And now onto the bad.

I’ll do my best.

My first issue: the beginning. The story opens where the ending of Mist left off with Feyre returning to the Spring Court. She’s intent on gathering information about King Hybern and his armies but it turned into this long and drawn out affair that transformed Feyre into this cruel and vindictive person that I didn’t much care for. What she intended to achieve simply didn’t seem necessary to the story as a whole either. My second issue was actually with the writing itself. I’m not sure if less editing was done, or time constraints to get this done and published (or a combination of the two) but this read incredibly uneven. There’s so much to accomplish with a final book in a series and it felt like Maas had a checklist of things that needed to be answered, actions that the characters had to take to set up certain events, etc. and we bounced hurriedly onto the next task on her list just as soon as one was completed. The story lacked a grace and flow that was needed to draw these three stories together in order to give it the final farewell it deserved. And lastly, in terms of farewells, the ending caused the majority of my grumbles. Maas implied throughout the entire book of things impending that never came to fruition and things ended all nice and neat with a pretty little bow on top. Clearly, many (and I mean many) fans were perfectly content, I, unfortunately, was not. But as I said, it wasn’t a bad ending but it wasn’t the ending I expected.

Maas has already announced that there are two additional trilogies to come set in this same world and while I was originally excited, I’d really like to know the focus on those stories before committing to more. What started as a beauty and the beast retelling turned into a fascinating world full of magic and fae. While I don’t give this final installment the highest of marks, this was still a most engrossing trilogy.

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Short & Sweet (Beauty & the Beast Retellings) – A Court of Thorns and Roses, Hunted, Lost in a Book

April 28, 2017 Bonnie Book Reviews, New Adult, Read in 2017, Short & Sweet Reviews, YA 10 Comments

Short & Sweet (Beauty & the Beast Retellings) – A Court of Thorns and Roses, Hunted, Lost in a BookA Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Narrator: Jennifer Ikeda
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #1
Published by Recorded Books on May 5th 2015
Length: 16 hrs and 7 mins
Genres: Fantasy, Fairy-Tales/Retellings
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
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Also by this author: Queen of Shadows, A Court of Thorns and Roses, A Court of Mist and Fury

four-stars

Feyre's survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price ...

Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre's presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.

‘I was as unburdened as a piece of dandelion fluff, and he was the wind that stirred me about the world.’

Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite fairy tales and it’s always so fascinating to see how authors mold fairy tales into a unique story of their own. A Court of Thorns and Roses definitely veers off the standard path making “Beast/Tamlin” a member of the fae court, making “Belle/Feyre” a badass female hunter, and removing the animated furniture entirely. The story still revolves around the curse and the time ticking down before it’s too late, but Maas adds a magical element (and a deviant female villain) to this already magical fairytale that I absolutely adored. What I loved most was the incredibly dark turn she took the tale which gave the added opportunity of adding a new level of complexity and intrigue to Feyre’s character.

“Don’t feel bad for one moment about doing what brings you joy.”

Like spending time re-reading. I occasionally get hang-ups about “wasting” time re-reading when I should be spending my time reading stories that I haven’t yet experienced. But sometimes a re-read is necessary (like when you’re gearing up for the final installment of a beloved trilogy!!) and sometimes the second time is even better than the first. I read A Court of Thorns and Roses for the first time in June 2016 and it was far from love at first sight (mostly because I was never Team Tamlin) but during this re-read I was able to set aside my issues with the romance and focus more on the world building and the fascinating aspects of the story itself that I didn’t pay much attention to the first time. I also decided to splurge and bought the audiobook copies and guys, let me tell you, these are fantastic on audio with Jennifer Ikeda’s narration. I’m pretty devastated that she won’t be returning to narrate A Court of Wings and Ruin but it’s still well worth listening to her narrate the first two installments, I’ll just be reading the third one with my eyeballs instead. 🙂

Short & Sweet (Beauty & the Beast Retellings) – A Court of Thorns and Roses, Hunted, Lost in a BookHunted by Meagan Spooner
Published by HarperTeen on March 14th 2017
Pages: 384
Genres: Fantasy, Fairy-Tales/Retellings
Format: eBook
Source: Library
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Also by this author: Unearthed

three-half-stars

Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them.

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?


“She wept because she did not know what she wanted, and because she wanted everything.”

Yeva has never been comfortable living among the town aristocrats but instead dreams of the stories her father would tell her when she was younger; of the forest and the magic contained within. When her father loses his fortune and they are forced to move back to his lodge in the woods, Yeva could not be more content knowing she can spend her days familiarizing herself once again with the woods even though she knows it’s not a reasonable way for her to spend her life. Her father also begins spending his days and nights in the woods, mentioning hunting a beast and when he fails to come home after weeks of being gone, Yeva sets out to help him only to be captured by the beast that her father was hunting.

“She moves like beauty, she whispers to us of wind and forest—and she tells us stories, such stories that we wake in the night, dreaming dreams of a life long past. she reminds us of what we used to be.
She reminds us of what we could be.”

Hunted is told primarily from Yeva’s point of view but is interspersed with short snippets from the Beast, showing the constant battle between his animalistic side while he fights to retain a hold of his humanity. Yeva is kept in a cell for weeks on end, telling him stories of Ivan and the Firebird to the one on the other side of her cell door who brings her food every day, having no idea that he is also her captor. The Beast finally shows himself to her and reveals that he captured her for a purpose: she must train to be a more superior hunter than she already is because she’s the only one that can kill the creature responsible for cursing him.

Hunted is a combination of the classic Beauty and the Beast fairy tale with the Ivan, the Firebird, and the Gray Wolf Russian fairy tale and it’s a slow to unfold type of story. There’s also a disassociation from any sort of emotional connection that was key in my own connection with the story. I found it to be a beautiful story in essence of a young girl not knowing what to do with her life, wandering aimlessly, and I really wanted to feel her adversity but I never quite felt like there is much at stake for our young heroine. The significance behind the Firebird plays a huge role in this tale, as well as storytelling in general, and the romantic building blocks were left feeling incomplete in the attempts at focusing on the bigger picture. There is a note at the end Spooner includes regarding the origins of this story and the lengthy process it took to come to fruition was a heartwarming story. Her dedication to all of her readers was unbelievably touching and made me wish I had loved this story more than I did.

‘Male or female, young or old, if you’re reading this book, then you’re also that child reading by flashlight and dreaming of other worlds. Don’t be scared of her, that inner Beauty, or her dreams. Let her out. She’s you, and she’s me, and she’s magic.
There’s no such thing as living happily ever after — there’s only living. We make the choice to do it happily.’

Short & Sweet (Beauty & the Beast Retellings) – A Court of Thorns and Roses, Hunted, Lost in a BookBeauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book by Jennifer Donnelly
Published by Disney Press on January 31st 2017
Pages: 352
Genres: Fantasy, Fairy-Tales/Retellings
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
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two-stars

Smart, bookish Belle, a captive in the Beast’s castle, has become accustomed to her new home and has befriended its inhabitants. When she comes upon Nevermore, an enchanted book unlike anything else she has seen in the castle, Belle finds herself pulled into its pages and transported to a world of glamour and intrigue. The adventures Belle has always imagined, the dreams she was forced to give up when she became a prisoner, seem within reach again.

The charming and mysterious characters Belle meets within the pages of Nevermore offer her glamorous conversation, a life of dazzling Parisian luxury, and even a reunion she never thought possible. Here Belle can have everything she has ever wished for. But what about her friends in the Beast’s castle? Can Belle trust her new companions inside the pages of Nevermore? Is Nevermore’s world even real? Belle must uncover the truth about the book, before she loses herself in it forever.

“Isn’t that what a good story does? It pulls you in and never lets you go.”

DAMMIT, I WANTED THIS STORY TO PULL ME IN AND NEVER LET ME GO.

Lost in a Book replicates its Disney counterpart where Belle is a captive of the Beast in his castle that still includes Cogsworth, Lumiere, Mrs. Potts, Chip, and more. Beast reveals his library to Belle and she is awed, but instead of the bright shiny room of perfection we all have embedded in our minds:

Belle immediately realizes how much the library has fallen into disrepair and needs to be cleaned excessively. Within this library, she finds a room and within this room a special book which transports her to a world of adventure where anything is possible. She quickly becomes enamored with the book and the world it shows her, despite her understanding that it isn’t actually real, and is constantly sneaking away to be in this world. When she isn’t hiding in the book, she’s complaining ad nauseam about her provincial life.

Good gawd, we get it, you hate your life. Lost in a Book quickly becomes less about the Beast and all about Belle… more scenes from his point of view would have been welcome. Any scenes that showed the Beast’s feelings for Belle grow felt lacking any sort of emotion and instead felt like all it was was a last ditch effort to save his servants. Maybe those parts were left out with the understanding that we knew, based on the Disney production, how Beast actually felt, but I wanted to see it included in the story itself since there were so many changes I felt it should have been able to stand on its own. Especially in regards to the villain: Gaston was absent completely in exchange for a female villain: Death. Yes, Death. You see, the story actually starts with Death and her sister Love.

Indeed. See Death and Love made a bet that Belle wouldn’t be the one to break the spell (Death obviously bet against her) and when she began to realize that Love might actually win, she set out to make sure that didn’t happen. *yawn* This could have been a charming addition to Beauty and the Beast retellings but the story lacked any real substance and most definitely lacked the magic the original tale had.

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Short & Sweet – Everything Box + Wrong Dead Guy

March 23, 2017 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2017 2 Comments

Short & Sweet – Everything Box + Wrong Dead GuyThe Everything Box by Richard Kadrey
Series: Another Coop Heist #1
Published by Harper Voyager on April 19th 2016
Pages: 368
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Funny-ha-ha
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
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Also by this author: Dead Set, Sandman Slim

three-half-stars

Reminiscent of the edgy, offbeat humor of Chris Moore and Matt Ruff, the first entry in a whimsical, fast-paced supernatural series from the New York Times bestselling author of the Sandman Slim novels—a dark and humorous story involving a doomsday gizmo, a horde of baddies determined to possess its power, and a clever thief who must steal it back . . . again and again.

22000 B.C. A beautiful, ambitious angel stands on a mountaintop, surveying the world and its little inhabitants below. He smiles because soon, the last of humanity who survived the great flood will meet its end, too. And he should know. He’s going to play a big part in it. Our angel usually doesn’t get to do field work, and if he does well, he’s certain he’ll get a big promotion.

And now it’s time . . . .

The angel reaches into his pocket for the instrument of humanity’s doom. Must be in the other pocket. Then he frantically begins to pat himself down. Dejected, he realizes he has lost the object. Looking over the Earth at all that could have been, the majestic angel utters a single word.

“Crap.”

2015. A thief named Coop—a specialist in purloining magic objects—steals and delivers a small box to the mysterious client who engaged his services. Coop doesn’t know that his latest job could be the end of him—and the rest of the world. Suddenly he finds himself in the company of The Department of Peculiar Science, a fearsome enforcement agency that polices the odd and strange. The box isn’t just a supernatural heirloom with quaint powers, they tell him.

It’s a doomsday device. They think . . .

And suddenly, everyone is out to get it.

Thousands of years ago, God decided to destroy the Earth and all who resided on it. Fortunately, us pesky mortals are pretty good survivalists and we didn’t all perish as was intended. This time, God sends an angel named Qaphsiel to Earth with a special box that would take the rest of us out for good. Except all didn’t go as planned. Qaphsiel lost the box.

“So, you’re the angel of Death?” The angel shook his head, a little embarrassed. “I don’t have that honor. In Heaven, I’m the celestial who bears the great golden quills, the silver Chroma, the holy vellums upon which the Lord God inscribes the fate of the universe.” Tiras’s eyes narrowed. “You’re in charge of office supplies. You’re the angel of office supplies.”

Thousands of years after the box was lost, we’re introduced to Coop. Coop has had it a bit rough lately. He’s a thief who was hired to steal some documents because his natural aversion to magical booby traps made him the perfect man for the job… but things didn’t turn out so well and he was soon thrown in prison for an undetermined amount of time. An old friend pulled some strings to get him out but only because a man by the name of Mr. Babylon requires Coop for a job. A job to steal a mysterious box. But once he does steal it, he’s instructed to steal it back for a secret government group that goes by the name of the Department of Peculiar Science, or else it’s straight back to prison. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. Problem is, there are two doomsday cults trying to get the box so they can trigger the apocalypse, criminals who want to sell the box for money, a mysterious stranger that only brings destruction, and the original angel that misplaced the box in the first place trying to get it. Coop wants nothing to do with it but he’s soon embroiled in a world-ending conflict.

“I’m not sure I should smile at people anymore.”
“Yours is a little strained these days,” said Morty.
Sally came up with a drink in each hand. “Definitely don’t smile at people. You do look like you wonder what their liver tastes like.”

The pending apocalypse has never been more fun. Kadrey brings a bizarre sense of humor (and magic) to the end of the world and Coop is the hilariously witty spokesperson. The focus is less on worldbuilding and more on extending the hilarity for as long as possible (and sometimes beyond) but I can’t complain because this story made me laugh far more than I expected it to. The multiple storylines were handled well without getting too convoluted but again, the focus was on the humor at all times and the bit players were, for the most part, a ludicrous bunch and it wasn’t vital to keep a close track on exactly who was who. The Everything Box is a refreshing variation on the Urban Fantasy genre that feels much like a Men in Black/The Italian Job mashup in all the best ways.

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.

Short & Sweet – Everything Box + Wrong Dead GuyThe Wrong Dead Guy by Richard Kadrey
Series: Another Coop Heist #2
Published by Harper Voyager on February 28th 2017
Pages: 432
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Funny-ha-ha
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Also by this author: Dead Set, Sandman Slim

three-stars

In this fast paced sequel to The Everything Box—the second entry in Richard Kadrey’s comedic supernatural series—chaos ensues when Coop and the team at DOPS steal a not- quite-dead and very lovesick ancient Egyptian mummy wielding some terrifying magic

Coop, a master thief sort of gone legit, saved the world from an ancient doomsday device—heroism that earned him a gig working for the Department of Peculiar Science, a fearsome top secret government agency that polices the odd and strange. Now Woolrich, Coop’s boss at the DOPS, has Coop breaking into a traveling antiquities show to steal a sarcophagus containing the mummy of a powerful Egyptian wizard named Harkhuf. With the help of his pals Morty, Giselle, and a professor that’s half-cat, half-robotic octopus, Coop pulls off the heist without a hitch.

It’s not Coop’s fault that when DOPS opened the sarcophagus they didn’t find the mummy they were expecting. Well, it was the right mummy, but it wasn’t exactly dead—and now it’s escaped, using a type of magic the organization hasn’t encountered before. Being a boss, Woolrich blames his underling for the screw up and wants Coop to find the missing Harkhuf and make it right, pronto.

Digging into Harkhuf’s history, Coop thinks the mummy is hunting for an ancient magical manuscript that will help him bring his old lover back to life.
Which wouldn’t be so bad if she wasn’t a warrior sorceress hell-bent on conquering the world with her undead armies.

Coop would very much like to run from the oncoming chaos. It’s one thing to steal a mummy, but another to have to deal with head-hunting bureaucrats, down-on-their luck fortune tellers, undead mailroom clerks, and a rather unimpressed elephant. Unfortunately, there’s nowhere to run. If he wants the madness to stop, he’s going to have to suck it up and play hero one more time. But if Coop manages to save the world AGAIN, he’s definitely going to want a lot of answers. And a raise.

“Really, Cooper, you’re in good hands. We can’t afford any more employee homicides until the next fiscal quarter,” said Woolrich.
“If you try just a little harder, I think you can be even less reassuring.”

Coop is back! And this time, he’s left his days of thievery behind for a day job with the Department of Peculiar Science. He’s involved in yet another race against the clock to save the world just replace the box with a mummy and its undead army. When Coop and his team are instructed to steal a mummy from a museum, the plan, of course, does not go according to plan and Coop ends up being cursed by the newly awakened mummy, Harkhuf, they were supposed to steal. On the sidelines, Coop’s nemesis from the first installment, Nelson, is stirring up trouble at work by stealing office supplies and just being a general nuisance but is clearly leading up to something big.

The Wrong Dead Guy is yet another thrilling tale of humor and sarcasm, but it felt like the subdued version of the jokes already told in The Everything Box. Coop’s wit also proved to be infectious because every major and minor character seemed to sound exactly like him, making this wide cast a bit hard to differentiate at times. The one new bizarro character that proved to be quite a laugh was Dr. Lupinsky, the deceased Egyptologist that inhabited a robotic octopus and a cat that was constantly requiring new batteries. (Because that’s what happens when you mess with the wrong sort of magic.) Which brings me to what I love most about Kadrey’s stories: they all include these outrageously preposterous tidbits that make them so uniquely him. There isn’t very much room to breath, plot-wise, because of the non-stop action so take a big deep breath before diving into this one. You won’t want to put this one down till it’s all said and done.

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Short & Sweet (Fantasies) – A Local Habitation, Feverborn, Wildest Dreams

March 10, 2017 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2017, Short & Sweet Reviews 11 Comments

Short & Sweet (Fantasies) – A Local Habitation, Feverborn, Wildest DreamsA Local Habitation by Seanan McGuire
Series: October Daye #2
Published by DAW on March 2nd 2010
Pages: 390
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Fae
Format: eBook
Source: Library
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Also by this author: Indexing, Rosemary and Rue

three-half-stars

Now comes the second in the series-from a dynamic new fantasy talent!
Toby Daye-a half-human, half-fae changeling-has been an outsider from birth. After getting burned by both sides of her heritage, Toby has denied the fae world, retreating to a "normal" life. Unfortunately for her, the Faerie world had other ideas...

Now her liege, the Duke of the Shadowed Hills, has asked Toby to go to the Country of Tamed Lightening to make sure all is well with his niece,

Countess January O'Leary. It seems like a simple enough assignment-until Toby discovers that someone has begun murdering people close to January, and that if the killer isn't stopped, January may be the next victim.

“Jan built herself an ivory tower to keep the wolves out; she never dreamed they were already inside.”

Now that Toby Daye has her PI license back, things are looking up for her. After a girls night out that leads to Tybalt carrying her home (!!!), Toby wakes up to a request from Sylvester, the Duke of Shadowed Hills, that she can’t decline. Sylvester has been unable to reach his niece, the Countess January O’Leary, in the Country of Tamed Lightning. Several weeks have passed without word from her and he’s unable to personally check on her without inciting a political war, so he’s requesting that Toby go in his place. She arrives to find that no one has been able to call for help outside of Tamed Lightning, people have been dying, and the killer is still unknown even as more bodies pile up. Toby refuses to back down without figuring out what’s happening to January and her people.

While the storyline of A Local Habitation drug along at the pace of a snail, it’s the awesome characters that really make this series for me. I love Toby and I love Tybalt. Danny, the Bridge Troll taxi driver was, unfortunately, absent but we got to see her two hilarious cats briefly and the recent pet addition: Spike the rose goblin (who apparently looks like a cat made from a rosebush but I missed that in the original introduction so I just imagine it as this small, round rosebush that just bounces around.) The story itself reads like some campy horror film where individuals keep getting picked off, the others rush to see if they could catch the person, they never do, repeat ad nauseam. There are some pretty obvious clues that happen early on, Toby’s refusal to get out of danger was just stupid, and the mystery was drawn out for far too long. Regardless, the characters remain the big appeal to me and I’m still so glad I gave this series another shot.

Short & Sweet (Fantasies) – A Local Habitation, Feverborn, Wildest DreamsFeverborn by Karen Marie Moning
Series: Fever #8
Published by Delacorte Press on January 19th 2016
Pages: 512
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Fae
Format: eBook
Source: Library
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Also by this author: Beyond the Highland Mist, Iced, Burned

three-half-stars

In Karen Marie Moning’s latest installment of the epic #1 New York Times bestselling Fever series, the stakes have never been higher and the chemistry has never been hotter. Hurtling us into a realm of labyrinthine intrigue and consummate seduction, FEVERBORN is a riveting tale of ancient evil, lust, betrayal, forgiveness and the redemptive power of love.

When the immortal race of the Fae destroyed the ancient wall dividing the worlds of Man and Faery, the very fabric of the universe was damaged and now Earth is vanishing bit by bit. Only the long-lost Song of Making—a haunting, dangerous melody that is the source of all life itself—can save the planet.

But those who seek the mythic Song—Mac, Barrons, Ryodan and Jada—must contend with old wounds and new enemies, passions that burn hot and hunger for vengeance that runs deep. The challenges are many: The Keltar at war with nine immortals who’ve secretly ruled Dublin for eons, Mac and Jada hunted by the masses, the Seelie queen nowhere to be found, and the most powerful Unseelie prince in all creation determined to rule both Fae and Man. Now the task of solving the ancient riddle of the Song of Making falls to a band of deadly warriors divided among—and within—themselves.

Once a normal city possessing a touch of ancient magic, Dublin is now a treacherously magical city with only a touch of normal. And in those war-torn streets, Mac will come face to face with her most savage enemy yet: herself.

“What we achieve at our best moment doesn’t say much about who we are. It all boils down to what we become at our worst moment.”

Feverborn is the penultimate installment of the Fever series, but then again Moning tried ending it once before and we see how well that stuck. Finding out that Feversong was the last of the series prompted a renewed interest in finding out how it’s all going to get resolved (except, there is a tenth installment listed on Goodreads but apparently it’s not actually happening. WE’LL SEE.) Iced was a complete disaster, Burned was mildly better, but Feverborn actually started feeling like the series I’d always loved again.

Mac continues to be unsure of herself in regards to the Sinsar-Dubh, not able to tell whether or not she’s living a complete illusion created by the evil book. The entire city is at risk from Black Holes that consume anything and everything which the Hoar Frost King left behind from the absence of his power. And underneath the Abbey, Cruce is slowly trying to figure out a way to escape his prison and rule all Fae. In the opening pages, Mac is still invisible and I did an eye roll and reconsidered my decision to pick this up. If you remember, she was invisible the majority of Burned which got real fucking old, real fast. But craziness ensues and she finds herself fully visible once again for unknown reasons and while I would normally question the whys and such, I was just so damn pleased she was visible again so she could hopefully get back to business. And that she did.

The points of view alternated between Mac, Ryodan, Jada, Cruce, and Lor, which the latter felt completely out of place and unnecessary but I admit he did add some mild (yet highly sexualized) sense of humor to this dark tale. And of course Mac and Barrons continue to be mad for each other.

Every cell in my body comes to hard, frantic, sexual life when he’s near.’

There were a few serious issues plot-wise that really detracted from the more positive aspects of this installment. First, the scenes from the past between the Unseelie King and Seelie Queen that were supposed to hint at what’s been happening all along but just confused things even more. Second, which is a major spoiler View Spoiler » And lastly, that ending was just weird and random. View Spoiler » And of course, another cliffhanger! BECAUSE WHY NOT. I can’t say I’m excited for the final installment, but I’m definitely curious to see how this unintentional extension of this series ends up playing out.

Short & Sweet (Fantasies) – A Local Habitation, Feverborn, Wildest DreamsWildest Dreams by Kristen Ashley
Series: Fantasyland #1
Published by Self-Published on August 15th 2011
Pages: 563
Genres: Fantasy Romance
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
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Also by this author: The Golden Dynasty

four-stars

Seoafin "Finnie" Wilde was taught by her parents that life was meant to be lived, every breath was a treasure and to seek every adventure she could find. And she learns this lesson the hard way when they perish in a plane crash when she's fifteen. But she never forgets and when she discovers there is a parallel universe where every person has a twin, she finds a witch who can send her there so she can see her parents again and have the adventure of a lifetime.

But nearly upon arrival in the Winter Wonderland of Lunwyn, she realizes she's been played by her twin of the alternate universe and shortly finds herself walking down the aisle to be wed to The Drakkar.

Instantly thrown into inauspicious circumstances, with years of practice (she did, of course, survive that elephant stampede, if she could do that, she can do anything), Finnie bests the challenges and digs into her adventure. But as Frey Drakkar discovers the woman who is his new wife is not Princess Sjofn, a woman he dislikes (intensely) but instead, his Finnie, a free-spirit with a thirst for venture just like him (not to mention she is his destiny), without her knowledge he orders his new bride bound to his frozen world, everlasting.


I expected Wildest Dreams to remain on my TBR for a very long time, even after it was recommended to fans of A Court of Mist and Fury. It was $0.99 so I snagged it. I have a hard time saying no to most $0.99 books, even though I’m terrible about getting to the actual reading them part. It was hook, line, and sinker when I found out what this story (and series) was about — there is a parallel universe to our world where your twin resides. Finnie, wanting to find adventure, pays a witch to switch her with her twin so she could reside in this fantasy realm for at least a short time. Imagine her great surprise when she finds herself in this new world, minutes from marriage to an angry, brooding man that she’s never laid eyes on before.

First off, these books are long. But fun. And allllll kinds of romance-y. Finnie had some pretty cheesy dialogue that took me a while to get used to (she says cool and freaking entirely way too much) and there’s some serious alpha-male-ness going on, but when it all comes down to it the world-building was actually pretty awesome and the romance was all sorts of cute.

“You are, my wee Finnie, beyond my wildest dreams.”

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Short & Sweet – Beyond Shame, Beyond Control, Beyond Denial

February 9, 2017 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2017, Short & Sweet Reviews 4 Comments

Short & Sweet – Beyond Shame, Beyond Control, Beyond DenialBeyond Shame by Kit Rocha
Series: Beyond #1
Published by Kit Rocha on September 15th 2012
Pages: 354
Genres: Diiiirrrrrrttyyy, Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
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three-stars

All Noelle Cunningham has ever wanted is a life beyond–beyond the walls of Eden, where only the righteous are allowed to remain, and beyond her stiflingly restrictive existence as a councilman’s daughter. But only ruins lie outside the City, remnants of a society destroyed by solar storms decades earlier.

The sectors surrounding Eden house the corrupt, the criminal–men like Jasper McCray, bootlegger and cage fighter. Jas clawed his way up from nothing to stand at the right hand of Sector Four’s ruthless leader, and he’ll defend the O’Kane gang with his life. But no fight ever prepared him for the exiled City girl who falls at his feet.

Her innocence is undeniable, but so is their intense sexual attraction, and soon they’re crossing every boundary Noelle barely knew she had. But if she wants to belong to Jas, first she’ll have to open herself to the gang, to a dangerous world of sex, lust and violence. A world where passion is power, and freedom is found in submission.

“She’d been cast out of Eden and straight into Hell.”

Outside the walls of Eden is complete ruin after solar storms destroyed much of the Earth, but many have found ways to survive and even thrive. Noelle Cunningham, a councilman’s daughter, has lived her entire life behind the heavily regulated walls of Eden but after getting caught in various compromising acts she is thrown out into the Sectors to fend for herself. She hasn’t walked the Sectors long before she’s drugged and is being stalked through the streets when she is rescued by Jasper McCray, an O’Kane lieutenant of Sector Four. When his protective instinct arises, he decides to take her under his wing. The O’Kanes, led by Dallas O’Kane, are the most dangerous gang in all the Sectors and their money is made from distilling alcohol and smuggling it into Eden where alcohol is forbidden. Sector Four is led with an iron fist but for the most part, it’s a non-stop party where regulations are non-existent like they are in Eden. Alcohol and sex are enjoyed without shame and Noelle will be in for an eye-opening experience.

This book has been on my TBR for years because the genre combination of post-apocalyptic and erotica was too intriguing a concept to pass up. Except there were like two sentences that reference the reason the world is the way it is, a chapter or two about conflicts between Sectors, and the rest was basically one giant orgy.

Yes, I know, it’s erotica (or as I like to call it, word porn) so I shouldn’t be surprised at all but word porn can have a storyline too, so excuse me. Anyways, Jasper ends up putting Noelle in the hands of Lex who decides to teach her how it’s done out in the sectors. No, not like, how to work or earn her keep (although I guess it is?) anyways… it was basically, “Hey, I’m Lex, here are some clothes of mine you can borrow because you can’t wear that to the sex party. I’ll introduce you to people later. I’m going to give this guy a blowjob, you should watch carefully because you’re going to also get down here and practice. And later we’ll have dance lessons because you’re going to be a stripper. Welcome to Sector Four!”

Get a girl a drink first, ffs. So yes, this is definitely erotica, don’t be fooled as I was by the post-apocalyptic aspect thrown in for effect.

Jasper and Noelle of course get cozy super fast and out in the Sectors you don’t get wedding rings. You get collars. Yes, like a dog, oh except it’s tattooed on you. You get collared and you’re supposed to be submissive because you’re owned and… what in the fuck did I read? The one aspect of this story that smoothed all these jagged flaws out was the topic of consent. It wasn’t all about the women because men got “taken care of” way more than the women did but the need for consent was always being brought up. The women were never forced into doing a single thing that they didn’t want to do, which was appreciated, even though half the time I was like

But if they were cool with it, then you do you.

The actual legitimate issue I had with this story though was Noelle herself. Rules that heavily restrict society in general is bound to cause turmoil and some massive rebelling and that’s exactly what got kicked Noelle out of her home. She comes off as cute and innocent because that’s what Eden instructed her to be but she’s still got that rebellious streak and it comes out through her interest in sex. It seems like an understandable curiosity at first but this chick is either thinking about sex, talking about sex, or bemoaning how terrible she is for being the way she is. You discover not a damn thing about her character other than this. As Navessa put it ever so eloquently: “she’s basically a clit with legs”.

Despite my abundant issues, this was oddly unputdownable. I’m intrigued by the fact that each story in the series focuses on a different couple but I am hoping that the world-building and characterization is built on as well.

Short & Sweet – Beyond Shame, Beyond Control, Beyond DenialBeyond Control by Kit Rocha
Series: Beyond #2
Published by Kit Rocha on March 13th 2013
Pages: 400
Genres: Diiiirrrrrrttyyy, Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
Format: eBook
Source: Freebie
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three-stars

She refuses to be owned.

Alexa Parrino escaped a life of servitude and survived danger on the streets to become one of the most trusted, influential people in Sector Four, where the O’Kanes rule with a hedonistic but iron fist. Lex has been at the top for years, and there’s almost nothing she wouldn’t do for the gang…and for its leader. Lie, steal, kill—but she bows to no one, not even Dallas O’Kane.
He’ll settle for nothing less.

Dallas fought long and hard to carve a slice of order out of the chaos of the sectors. Dangers both large and small threaten his people, but it’s nothing he can’t handle. His liquor business is flourishing, and new opportunities fuel his ambition. Lex could help him expand his empire, something he wants almost as much as he wants her. And no one says no to the king of Sector Four.

Falling into bed is easy, but their sexual games are anything but casual. Attraction quickly turns to obsession, and their careful dance of heady dominance and sweet submission uncovers a need so deep, so strong, it could crush them both.

Beyond Control centers around the relationship between Lex and Dallas and holy shit, these two be crazy. We learn that Lex wasn’t always in Sector Four, she used to be owned and was something of a sex slave in another Sector so she has issues with submission (as can be expected). Her and Dallas have been something of a thing for years but he hasn’t made her an honest woman and collared her yet so she decides to force his hand one day and gets his name tattooed across her stomach. He responds as she expected and bestows a gorgeous temporary collar on her made of leather and chains. They finally seal the deal by having sex (without an audience either!) because even though they’ve been at it for years, Dallas wouldn’t sleep with her until she was officially collared.

Goddamn, this is some romantic shit.

As hoped, we do find out more about the state of the world (only a little though) and the politics between Sectors plays a much larger part. Overall though, this one was a bit of a rocky read for me. I never much cared for the dynamic between Lex and Dallas and his continued insistence that she wants to be owned touched a bit of a nerve when you consider her past. Once again, the consent train comes barreling in to the station to make all the crazy shit okay. I just didn’t super buy it this time. And whether it’s because of the lack of characterization or what, but I don’t actually like any of these characters. I didn’t like Noelle’s doe-eyed, innocent act, Jasper was this seemingly brainless brute that just wanted to protect the pretty lady, Lex has clearly got some mental hangups due to her past but goddamn she’s angsty, and Dallas is the king of brainless brutes. Their sex scenes were also not nearly as hot as in the prior book mostly because the domination factor was through the roof and that got old quick.

I continue to have many of the same issues with these stories but they leave me completely riveted. It almost must be said that they definitely don’t read like the self-published books that they are. I may not have any partiality when it comes to characters but I have enjoyed meeting new couples with each story… definitely keeps things interesting.

Short & Sweet – Beyond Shame, Beyond Control, Beyond DenialBeyond Denial by Kit Rocha
Series: Beyond #2.5
Published by Kit Rocha on March 22nd 2013
Pages: 15
Genres: Diiiirrrrrrttyyy, Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
Format: eBook
Source: Freebie
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three-stars

Caution: this story is not meant to stand alone.

The Beyond Happily Ever After stories are vignettes and outtakes showing the O'Kanes in their daily lives, in between the adventures and often after their happy endings. These stories were written exclusively for readers and fans of the series, and will probably not make very much sense to anyone not familiar with the characters.

The stories are also available for free at kitrocha.com.

lol Yeah, I’m still reading these.

Beyond Denial consists of just 15 pages, seeing as it’s actually a deleted scene from Beyond Control (so make sure to read that one first). Since each book focuses on a different couple, I was anticipating a book between Ace and Rachel, but this deleted scene is actually between Ace and Jared. And they aren’t having a chat.

I’m growing to appreciate the openness of sexuality in these stories. The things that go on may seem a little extreme and crazy but I find the general absence of labels, shame, and taboos that we constantly deal with in society to be quite refreshing. I wasn’t sure if I’d be continuing these stories because they’re really not my thing… but they’ve got their hooks in me.

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Short & Sweet – Half-Blood Prince, The Rose and the Dagger, The Lover’s Dictionary

January 6, 2017 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2016, Read in 2017, Short & Sweet Reviews 11 Comments

Short & Sweet – Half-Blood Prince, The Rose and the Dagger, The Lover’s DictionaryHarry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
Narrator: Jim Dale
Series: Harry Potter #6
Published by Pottermore from J.K. Rowling on November 20th 2015
Length: 18 hours and 55 minutes
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
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Also by this author: The Cuckoo's Calling, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 & 2, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

five-stars

"There it was, hanging in the sky above the school: the blazing green skull with a serpent tongue, the mark Death Eaters left behind whenever they had entered a building...wherever they had murdered...."

When Dumbledore arrives at Privet Drive one summer night to collect Harry Potter, his wand hand is blackened and shrivelled, but he does not reveal why. Secrets and suspicion are spreading through the wizarding world, and Hogwarts itself is not safe. Harry is convinced that Malfoy bears the Dark Mark: there is a Death Eater amongst them. Harry will need powerful magic and true friends as he explores Voldemort's darkest secrets, and Dumbledore prepares him to face his destiny....

“It is the unknown we fear when we look upon death and darkness, nothing more.”

Once upon a time, I considered Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix to be my favorite of the bunch. This re-read? This is quite possibly my new favorite for how well-paced and exciting the mystery was. There was a reason behind everything Rowling included and when the links become apparent it was nothing short of fantastic. These stories have been quite dark since Goblet of Fire, but this installment added many fascinating angles to it and finally gives us the relationship between Harry and Dumbedore that should have been in place years ago. Technically this is my very first time re-reading past Prisoner of Azkaban (#3) and it almost felt like I was reading them for the first time. Having read Cursed Child has also changed my perception on the story as well by being able to view the characters differently knowing not just how they turned out at the end of Deathly Hallows, but several decades later as adults too.

harry potter

While I haven’t re-read these as much as I should, I have seen the movies several times and those are what has been ingrained into my brain so it’s fantastic to recall the subtle/unsubtle changes that were made. Peeves continues to be absent and Tonks’ major part in this book is left out completely, the destruction of the Burrow didn’t happen at all in the story, a certain someones funeral gets left out, but most missed were many of the memories of Tom Riddle that Dumebledore shared with Harry. Those memories, to me, are what makes Voldemort most fascinating (in the worst of ways) and gives him a much needed complexity which takes him beyond your standard cardboard villain. But yes, I have a vastly different appreciation for this story now and am grateful I’ve finally made time to re-read this series in its entirety.

“Let us step into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure.”

Short & Sweet – Half-Blood Prince, The Rose and the Dagger, The Lover’s DictionaryThe Rose & the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn #2
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers on April 26th 2016
Pages: 416
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Format: eBook
Source: Library
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Also by this author: The Wrath and the Dawn

three-half-stars

The darker the sky, the brighter the stars.

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad is forced from the arms of her beloved husband, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once thought Khalid a monster—a merciless killer of wives, responsible for immeasurable heartache and pain—but as she unraveled his secrets, she found instead an extraordinary man and a love she could not deny. Still, a curse threatens to keep Shazi and Khalid apart forever.

Now she’s reunited with her family, who have found refuge in the desert, where a deadly force is gathering against Khalid—a force set on destroying his empire and commanded by Shazi’s spurned childhood sweetheart. Trapped between loyalties to those she loves, the only thing Shazi can do is act. Using the burgeoning magic within her as a guide, she strikes out on her own to end both this terrible curse and the brewing war once and for all. But to do it, she must evade enemies of her own to stay alive.
The saga that began with The Wrath and the Dawn takes its final turn as Shahrzad risks everything to find her way back to her one true love again.

“It was because they were two parts of a whole. He did not belong to her. And she did not belong to him. It was never about belonging to someone. It was about belonging together.”

Khalid spends his days keeping his identity secret as he helps to rebuild his demolished city and Shahrzad is doing all she possibly can to break the curse on Khalid so that they can live out their days together in peace. The Wrath and the Dawn only hinted at the presence of magic and I’m pleased to say that the magic is on full display in The Rose and the Dagger. There’s heartbreak and strife galore because is anything ever easy when it comes to love?

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It’s no secret that I absolutely adored the first book. Whether it’s because I loved the first so much and I didn’t expect the second to be able to live up to it or because of my poor track record in regards to final books in series’ but it took me forever to take the plunge and pick this one up. But better late than never, I finally did. This installment focuses less on the romance and more on the conspiracies and scheming going on in the background of the kingdom. Yes, the romance focus was definitely missed since I loved it so, however, there was a maturity to it this time around that was definitely absent from Wrath what with all the passion flying around. There were some intriguing mysteries involving Khalid’s rivals and Shahrzad’s father that I quite liked but one mystery in particular View Spoiler » left me feeling confused what with the unraveled ends that it was left with. While I was not nearly as enamored with this installment as I was with the prior, this still ended up being a most magical story inspired by A Thousand and One Nights.

Short & Sweet – Half-Blood Prince, The Rose and the Dagger, The Lover’s DictionaryThe Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan
Published by Picador on January 17th 2012
Pages: 224
Genres: Contemporary
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
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Also by this author: The Lover's Dictionary, Every Day

five-stars

How does one talk about love? Is it even possible to describe something at once utterly mundane and wholly transcendent, that has the power to consume our lives completely, while making us feel part of something infinitely larger than ourselves? Taking a unique approach to this age-old problem, the nameless narrator of David Levithan's The Lover's Dictionary constructs the story of a relationship as a dictionary. Through these sharp entries, he provides an intimate window into the great events and quotidian trifles of coupledom, giving us an indelible and deeply moving portrait of love in our time.

‘It scares me how hard it is to remember life before you. I can’t even make the comparisons anymore, because my memories of that time have all the depth of a photograph. It seems foolish to play games of better and worse. It’s simply a matter of is and is no longer.’

The Lover’s Dictionary is the antithesis of a love story. But it’s still a story of love. It’s the type that brings to light all the hairline fractures and imperfections of romance. It shows the wondrous, shining moments of first love and the gloomy, dispiriting moments when it comes to a close. It’s both tragic and comforting and it’s an astonishing piece of writing.

flux, n.

The natural state. Our moods change. Our lives change. Our feelings for each other change. Our bearings change. The song changes. The air changes. The temperature of the shower changes.

Accept this. We must accept this.

I read and reviewed this years ago but I recently purchased a copy for myself and have been wanting to re-read just to see if this retained all the same magic that I recalled it having. I quite possibly loved this even more, mainly because while I could appreciate the emotions behind the story the first read, the second read was like a mirror reflecting back all my current emotions. It made my heart ache quite fiercely at times, but reading something so sincere and genuine can be a breath of fresh air, even when it hurts.

abyss, n.

There are times when I doubt everything. When I regret everything you’ve taken from me, everything I’ve given you, and the waste of all the time I’ve spent on us.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas + cutesy romance = two peas in a pod.

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