Category: Book Reviews

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
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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
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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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Book Review | Betwixt (Betwixt & Between #1) by Darynda Jones

Posted February 28, 2020 by Bonnie in 2020, Adult, Book Reviews / 1 Comment

Book Review | Betwixt (Betwixt & Between #1) by Darynda JonesBetwixt by Darynda Jones
Series: Betwixt & Between #1
Published by Feather & Leaf LLC on February 18, 2020
Pages: 233
Genres: Funny-ha-ha, Paranormal, Witches
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: First Grave on the Right, For I Have Sinned, Second Grave on the Left

three-stars

A Paranormal Women's Fiction with a bit of class, and a lot of sass, for anyone who feels like age is just a number

Divorced, desperate, and destitute, former restaurateur Defiance Dayne finds out she has been bequeathed a house by a complete stranger. She is surprised, to say the least, and her curiosity gets the better of her. She leaves her beloved Phoenix and heads to one of the most infamous towns in America: Salem, Massachusetts.

She’s only there to find out why a woman she’s never met would leave her a house. A veritable castle that has seen better days. She couldn’t possibly accept it, but the lawyer assigned to the case practically begs her to take it off her hands, mostly because she’s scared of it. The house. The inanimate structure that, as far as Dephne can tell, has never hurt a fly.

Though it does come with some baggage. A pesky neighbor who wants her gone. A scruffy cat who’s a bit of a jerk. And a handyman bathed in ink who could moonlight as a supermodel for GQ.

She decides to give it three days, and not because of the model. She feels at home in Salem. Safe. But even that comes to a screeching halt when people begin knocking on her door day and night, begging for her help to locate their lost objects.

Come to find out, they think she’s a witch. And after a few mysterious mishaps, Dephne is beginning to wonder if they’re right.

I’ve been anxiously awaiting the release of A Bad Day for Sunshine (Darynda’s upcoming release following the end of her Charley Davidson series) so color me surprised when Amazon informs me that Darynda has another new book and it’s available now. And even though I make it a hobby to sign up for Kindle Unlimited and then promptly never use it, I downloaded Betwixt and started it. Same day.

Betwixt introduces us to forty-four-year-old Defiance Dayne who is still reeling from the recent brutal divorce that left her destitute. Drowning in uncertainty about her bleak future, she’s shocked to discover she’s been bestowed an old house in Salem, Massachusetts from an elderly lady she never met named Ruthie Goode. Deciding to take a chance and see this house for herself, she hops in her vintage mint green Volkswagen Beetle and leaves Arizona behind. She arrives to find not only has she been left a house that is named Percival but that the town seems to know more about Defiance than even she does, including the fact that she might just be magical.

You ever finish a story with a smile on your face, thinking about how great it was, how fun it was, when suddenly the critiques start invading your mind and you start realizing all the things that just didn’t work? I’ve often wondered if becoming a book reviewer lessens your enjoyment of a novel because of your natural inclination to analyze the details, sometimes overly so. But I feel that while overanalyzing can uncover the bad it can also help to highlight the good and this book did have both in almost equal measure.

What this book got right… It’s a charming and whimsical type of paranormal mystery with just a hint of a potentially steamy romance. Darynda’s writing style retains its standard ease making this entertaining story one you’ll fly through. It also happens to be overflowing with snark.

“This house is gorgeous, Nette. It’s ancient and dank and dusty, yet it has so much potential?”
“Like your vagina?”
“What’s strange is that, even though Mrs. Goode only passed away three days ago, it’s like no one has entered it in years.”
“Oh, then it’s exactly like your vagina.”

What this book didn’t get right… While I love her Charley Davidson series, the overabundance of parallels between that series and Betwixt cannot be ignored. The snarky meme type chapter headers could be dismissed as a style choice by the author but the characters are literally carbon copies of one another. There’s the super special snowflake lead character, her equally funny side-kick best friend, and the overly protective alpha male love interest who she has a connection to from when they were younger and she saved him as a child. There’s also the fact that the forty-four-year-old sounds nothing like any forty-four-year-old I know, but maybe I’m not hanging with the right crowd. Would these critiques have been such an issue if I hadn’t read Charley Davidson? Maybe not. But if I had read Betwixt first and then picked up her Charley Davidson series then I still would’ve been disappointed by the similarities. While those similarities were quite distracting at times, the witchy plot was enough to retain my interest and I’m still intrigued by the possibilities for where the story could go, I just wish I could view Defiance Dayne as her own character rather than Charley 2.0.

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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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Goodreads

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
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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
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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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Book Review | Memories Become Unreliable in ‘Recursion’

Posted November 12, 2019 by Bonnie in 2019, Adult, Book Reviews / 10 Comments

Book Review | Memories Become Unreliable in ‘Recursion’Recursion by Blake Crouch
Published by Crown Publishing Group (NY) on June 11, 2019
Pages: 336
Genres: Sci-fi, Time Travel
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
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four-half-stars

Memory makes reality.

That’s what New York City cop Barry Sutton is learning as he investigates the devastating phenomenon the media has dubbed False Memory Syndrome—a mysterious affliction that drives its victims mad with memories of a life they never lived.

That's what neuroscientist Helena Smith believes. It’s why she’s dedicated her life to creating a technology that will let us preserve our most precious memories. If she succeeds, anyone will be able to re-experience a first kiss, the birth of a child, the final moment with a dying parent. 

As Barry searches for the truth, he comes face-to-face with an opponent more terrifying than any disease—a force that attacks not just our minds but the very fabric of the past. And as its effects begin to unmake the world as we know it, only he and Helena, working together, will stand a chance at defeating it.

But how can they make a stand when reality itself is shifting and crumbling all around them?

re·cur·sion /rəˈkərZHən/: the determination of a succession of elements (such as numbers or functions) by operation on one or more preceding elements according to a rule or formula involving a finite number of steps

The year is 2018 and we’re introduced to an NYPD officer named Barry who is responding to a call of a potential suicide. The woman’s name is Ann Voss Peters and she says she has False Memory Syndrome. About a month ago, Ann was suddenly filled with memories from a different life where she had a husband and a son where they lived in Vermont. She remembers everything from their life in excruciating detail and it’s a life with everything she could possibly want but nothing she’ll ever have and it leaves her broken. Her death leaves Barry to contemplate the mystery behind Ann and the prevalence of False Memory Syndrome and he manages to uncover enough truth to believe it’s possible that the strange memories that flooded her brain at random are actually real.

The year is 2007 and we meet a scientist named Helena who is studying how a brain processes memories. Her mother suffers from Alzheimer’s and she hopes to create something to help her from the disease that’s destroying her mind. When one of the richest men in the world, Marcus Slade, makes an offer to fund her continued research she realizes she’ll never get a better opportunity. She spends years perfecting her research, but her own intent for the research becomes slowly overruled by Slade and by the dark direction he wishes to take things. Helena realizes far too late that the good thing that she tried to create has become a terrifying weapon with potentially horrifying ramifications.

“Because memory…is everything. Physically speaking, a memory is nothing but a specific combination of neurons firing together—a symphony of neural activity. But in actuality, it’s the filter between us and reality. You think you’re tasting this wine, hearing the words I’m saying, in the present, but there’s no such thing. The neural impulses from your taste buds and your ears get transmitted to your brain, which processes them and dumps them into working memory—so by the time you know you’re experiencing something, it’s already in the past. Already a memory.”

There’s something about time travel that sings to my soul. The concept of being able to go back (or forward) to a time you had only ever read about in history books (or knew that you’d never live to see) is fascinating. Of course, each iteration of time travel has its own set of rules, some don’t make sense and some do. Crouch’s approach to time travel is truly mind-boggling and I can only imagine that him trying to brainstorm this plot to make everything work looked something very close to this:

Image result for guy crazy whiteboard meme

Or maybe that’s just me, trying to figure out if his rules actually work. After a while, I stopped trying to contemplate the logistics and took a step back just to enjoy this truly imaginative and well-written story. Crouch very easily could have bitten off far more than he could chew but he somehow transformed this chaotic plot with multiple points of view and multiple timelines into something shockingly streamlined. But Recursion is more than just your standard time travel story. Rather than a story about time travel and how to scientifically make this happen, he takes it a step further and forces us to think responsibly, to think along the lines of the butterfly effect. Would you go back in time, knowing all that you know now, to change something that you’ve always wished you could change? Would you still do that if you knew your changes could have catastrophic consequences?

What makes this even better is his inspiration for this story, an article from The Smithsonian about scientists that figured out how to implant fake memories into a mouse. Incorporating the time travel aspect into that, essentially traveling back through memories instead of time, was pretty freaking brilliant. If you’re looking for more time travel goodness, make sure to watch Dark on Netflix. If Recursion’s time travel rules don’t blow your mind, Dark will help finish it off. I can’t wait to see what zany goodness Crouch comes up with next.

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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
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
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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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:

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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
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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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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: 

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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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Freaky Friday | The Brink (Awakened #2) by James S. Murray & Darren Wearmouth

Posted June 28, 2019 by Bonnie in 2019, Book Reviews, Freaky Friday / 2 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.

Freaky Friday | The Brink (Awakened #2) by James S. Murray & Darren WearmouthThe Brink by James S. Murray, Darren Wearmouth
Series: Awakened #2
Published by Harper Voyager on June 18, 2019
Pages: 240
Genres: Horror
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Also by this author: Awakened

two-stars

The sequel to the international bestseller (including #1 Sunday Times bestseller) Awakened, by one of the stars of TruTV’s Impractical Jokers and a bestselling science fiction author.

Former NYC Mayor Tom Cafferty has been haunted by the horror of a single day. The opening of the brand new Z-train subway line beneath the Hudson River—the supposed shining moment of his tenure. But the ribbon-cutting ceremony turned deadly when the train carrying Cafferty’s wife and other citizens was attacked by a horde of hyper intelligent, bloodthirsty creatures previously unknown to humanity.

Everything changed for Cafferty, ex-NYPD officer Sarah Bowcut, and tech-expert Diego Munoz that day. They had uncovered the deadly truth: the attack was no accident.

And now the creatures that wreaked havoc underneath New York have spread worldwide, and with a massive cover-up—and a secret organization holding nations hostage with the knowledge of how to kill them—Cafferty’s team must fight against impossible odds to save the entire planet from an apocalyptic scale disaster.

An explosive and thrilling international adventure, the stakes are even higher in the latest book from bestselling duo James S. Murray and Darren Wearmouth!

Awakened Series

Rapid Reviews – The Line That Held Us, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, Awakened

Awakened (Awakened #1) by James S. Murray & Darren Wearmouth [Review]

‘We stand on the edge of extinction. The brink, if you will.’

After surviving the subway attack in New York City, NYC Mayor Tom Cafferty and fellow survivors have teamed up to take on the Foundation for Human Advancement, the secret organization that maintains control of the creatures that could wipe out the planet. For decades, the Foundation has demanded funds from world leader’s in exchange for their continued survival but following the subway attack and information uncovered about the Foundation and its leader, Albert Van Ness, no one is willing to comply anymore.

The Brink picks up where the first installment, Awakened, left off with a race against time to stop a madman from destroying the world with bloodthirsty creatures that live beneath the Earth’s surface. Discovered during the end of WWII in Germany, Van Ness’ father discovered the way to control the creatures and has been using them as blackmail since. When Albert took over following his father’s death, he continued working towards achieving his dream of purifying humanity. Much like the second-half of Awakened, the story devotes much of its focus to the political drama and conspiracies rather than the actual creatures. Personally, I found the creatures to be of far more interest than anyone in this cast of one-dimensional characters. The creatures are only featured in a few scenes and they were horrific and thrilling but the authors placed much more focus on their laughably evil villain. It’s pretty disappointing when humans are more monstrous than the actual monsters.

The book is a very short read, however, I’m sad to say the dialogue is inept, the storyline is banal, and the ending was so ridiculous that it removed any interest I had in completing the trilogy. Disappointing that the exciting world these authors created with Alien-like creatures ended up being backseat drivers to a story about a Hitler-esque villain.

“My God,” Cafferty said.
“No, not God,” he replied. “Albert Van Ness.”

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Book Review | In ‘The Unhoneymooners’, Enemies Become Lovers

Posted May 7, 2019 by Bonnie in 2019, Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review / 4 Comments

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

Book Review | In ‘The Unhoneymooners’, Enemies Become LoversThe Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
Published by Gallery Books on May 14, 2019
Pages: 432
Genres: Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Also by this author: My Favorite Half-Night Stand, Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating, Love and Other Words, Twice in a Blue Moon, The Honey-Don't List

three-stars

Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Amy, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of... lucky.

Olive’s twin sister Ami just got married to a dudebro named Nate yet before the party was even over, everyone had become violently ill from the free seafood buffet Ami had won in a contest. Everyone except Olive (due to a fortunate shellfish allergy) and her new brother-in-law Ethan (because of a general aversion to buffet style eating). Being too sick to go on their free honeymoon (also won in a contest) Ami convinces Olive to go for her and Nate convinces Ethan to go for him. Ten days in Maui would be a complete dream, however, Olive and Ethan hate each other so it’s not expected to feel like paradise. Their plan to stay as far away from each other as possible goes awry when Olive runs into her new boss and quickly buries herself in the lie that she’s actually there for her honeymoon. Then Ethan runs into his ex who is there with her new fiancé and suddenly he’s telling her that he and Olive are there on their honeymoon too. Suddenly they find themselves spending far more time than planned together, only to keep up appearances, of course. It’s not like they’re enjoying each others company or anything.

Do you know how you showed someone in fifth grade that you had a crush on them? By being the rudest prick on the playground? Well, Olive and Ethan act like they never graduated to sixth grade. Their rudeness slowly begins to morph into playful banter and they finally started to leave their fifth-grade antics behind. The characters themselves weren’t the easiest to like (which made it hard to root for them) what with Olive’s continued insistence that she possesses the worst luck on Earth, convinced that everything she touches is going to end up going wrong somehow. She can’t even manage to enjoy her day at the spa while she’s being pampered in Maui.

‘This type of blissful, transcendent spa experience isn’t for me. I’m the one who gets a fungal infection from a pedicure in the Cities and a bikini wax burn at a spa in Duluth.’

It became tiresome, quickly. Ethan wasn’t much better with his strange attitude he has towards Olive that wasn’t explained away till the latter half of the story and not in the most explainable way either. The biggest flaw in this romance, and what makes this my least favorite Christina Lauren to date, is the overwhelming amount of drama. There are multiple sub-plots that are clearly meant to cause that “necessary” tension in a romance, but it felt like they had gone overboard with the unnecessary angst. Admittedly though, the authors turned my doubts around with some stellar character development that made these intolerable people actually likable. They manage to create such enviously romantic pairs (yet still never straying into far-fetched territory) that you can’t help but hope to find a love that makes you feel just as good.

“What are we doing tonight?” he asks […]
“Do we really want to push it?” I ask. “We’ve been together for…” I pick up his arm and glance at his watch. “Like eighty years straight. There are bruises, but no bloodshed yet. I say we quit while we’re ahead.”
“What does that entail?”
“I get the bedroom and Netflix, you wander the island to check on your hidden horcruxes.”

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Life’s Too Short – Polaris Rising, Sherwood, Old Baggage

Posted March 21, 2019 by Bonnie in 2019, Adult, Book Reviews, Life's Too Short, YA / 10 Comments

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

Life’s Too Short – Polaris Rising, Sherwood, Old BaggagePolaris Rising by Jessie Mihalik
Series: Consortium Rebellion #1
Published by Harper Voyager on February 5, 2019
Pages: 431
Genres: Sci-fi
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
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dnf

A space princess on the run and a notorious outlaw soldier become unlikely allies in this imaginative, sexy space opera adventure—the first in an exciting science fiction trilogy.

In the far distant future, the universe is officially ruled by the Royal Consortium, but the High Councillors, the heads of the three High Houses, wield the true power. As the fifth of six children, Ada von Hasenberg has no authority; her only value to her High House is as a pawn in a political marriage. When her father arranges for her to wed a noble from House Rockhurst, a man she neither wants nor loves, Ada seizes control of her own destiny. The spirited princess flees before the betrothal ceremony and disappears among the stars.

Ada eluded her father’s forces for two years, but now her luck has run out. To ensure she cannot escape again, the fiery princess is thrown into a prison cell with Marcus Loch. Known as the Devil of Fornax Zero, Loch is rumored to have killed his entire chain of command during the Fornax Rebellion, and the Consortium wants his head.

When the ship returning them to Earth is attacked by a battle cruiser from rival House Rockhurst, Ada realizes that if her jilted fiancé captures her, she’ll become a political prisoner and a liability to her House. Her only hope is to strike a deal with the dangerous fugitive: a fortune if he helps her escape.

But when you make a deal with an irresistibly attractive Devil, you may lose more than you bargained for . . .

DNF @ 33%

My hopes were high when I first saw this title for two reasons. 1. I’m always looking for my next Fortune’s Pawn (because that book was hands down amazing) and this one sounded like it had the potential to come close and 2. the amazing blurb on the front cover from my favorite duo: Ilona Andrews.

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Runaway space princess, badass and dangerous male lead, and of course, space. This really did have all the elements of a story I would normally love but there was something off about it for me, although, I attributed it to the impending book slump I felt creeping up on me. I got to about 1/3 read before I realized that it still wasn’t doing it for me and that despite having everything I should loveit felt too mechanical as if the story was following a tried and true formula that so many books before it have used and its heart just wasn’t in it.

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 – Polaris Rising, Sherwood, Old BaggageSherwood by Meagan Spooner
Published by HarperTeen on March 19, 2019
Pages: 480
Genres: Fairy-Tales/Retellings
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Also by this author: Hunted, Unearthed

dnf

Robin of Locksley is dead.

Maid Marian doesn’t know how she’ll go on, but the people of Locksley town, persecuted by the Sheriff of Nottingham, need a protector. And the dreadful Guy of Gisborne, the Sheriff’s right hand, wishes to step into Robin’s shoes as Lord of Locksley and Marian’s fiancé.

Who is there to stop them?

Marian never meant to tread in Robin’s footsteps—never intended to stand as a beacon of hope to those awaiting his triumphant return. But with a sweep of his green cloak and the flash of her sword, Marian makes the choice to become her own hero: Robin Hood.

DNF @ 20%

I’m a huuuuuge Robin Hood fan so I was thrilled to find out about this gender-bent version where Maid Marian takes up where Robin left off following his death. A badass Maid Marian, what could possibly go wrong? Oh wait, I spoke too soon.

Plotwise, practically nothing seems to transpire in the 20% I managed to read (and considering this book is a hefty 480 pages, that’s damn near 100 pages. Something should have happened.) And the highly anticipated badass Maid Marian? Instead of badass, she was just perfect at everything and we were constantly reminded how much better she was than even Robin. There’s confidence but then there’s just being a pompous ass and that’s exactly where Maid Marian ended up on the spectrum.

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 – Polaris Rising, Sherwood, Old BaggageOld Baggage by Lissa Evans
Published by Harper Perennial on April 16, 2019
Pages: 320
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: ARC
Source: Library Thing
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Also by this author: Crooked Heart: A Novel

dnf

The author of the acclaimed Crooked Heart returns with a comic, charming, and surprisingly timely portrait of a once pioneering suffragette trying to find her new passion in post-WWI era London.

1928. Riffling through a cupboard, Matilda Simpkin comes across a small wooden club—an old possession that she hasn’t seen for more than a decade. Immediately, memories come flooding back to Mattie—memories of a thrilling past, which only further serve to remind her of her chafingly uneventful present. During the Women's Suffrage Campaign, she was a militant who was jailed five times and never missed an opportunity to return to the fray. Now in middle age, the closest she gets to the excitement of her old life is the occasional lecture on the legacy of the militant movement.

After running into an old suffragette comrade who has committed herself to the wave of Fascism, Mattie realizes there is a new cause she needs to fight for and turns her focus to a new generation of women. Thus the Amazons are formed, a group created to give girls a place to not only exercise their bodies but their minds, and ignite in young women a much-needed interest in the world around them. But when a new girl joins the group, sending Mattie’s past crashing into her present, every principle Mattie has ever stood for is threatened.

Old Baggage is a funny and bittersweet portrait of a woman who has never given up the fight and the young women who are just discovering it.

 

DNF @ 10%

The story of an elderly suffragette who now leaves a comfortable life decides to leave that comfort behind and get out there and continue to make a difference. Maybe I didn’t give it long enough but such a powerful subject matter needed to be more engaging. The writing was well done and the historical research was evident but it was unfortunately a bit dry.

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