Posts Categorized: Early Review

Early Review – Unearthed (Unearthed #1) by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

January 6, 2018 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2018, YA 7 Comments

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

Early Review – Unearthed (Unearthed #1) by Amie Kaufman & Meagan SpoonerUnearthed by Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner
Series: Unearthed #1
on January 9th 2018
Pages: 336
Genres: Sci-fi
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
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Also by this author: Illuminae, Hunted

three-stars

When Earth intercepts a message from a long-extinct alien race, it seems like the solution the planet has been waiting for. The Undying's advanced technology has the potential to undo environmental damage and turn lives around, and Gaia, their former home planet, is a treasure trove waiting to be uncovered.

For Jules Addison and his fellow scholars, the discovery of an alien culture offers unprecedented opportunity for study... as long as scavengers like Amelia Radcliffe don't loot everything first. Mia and Jules' different reasons for smuggling themselves onto Gaia put them immediately at odds, but after escaping a dangerous confrontation with other scavvers, they form a fragile alliance.

In order to penetrate the Undying temple and reach the tech and information hidden within, the two must decode the ancient race's secrets and survive their traps. But the more they learn about the Undying, the more their presence in the temple seems to be part of a grand design that could spell the end of the human race...

“The worthy will rise into the stars . . .”

In a time when resources on Earth are limited, power grids are failing, and families are only allowed to have a single child, the discovery of an extinct alien race possessing the technology to make life a little less uncomplicated is a shining beacon of hope. Of course, traveling to a different galaxy to a planet named Gaia is the only requirement. Amelia Radcliffe is a scavenger, on Gaia illegally with the intent to obtain as much tech as she can to not only buy herself a ticket off the planet but to also buy her sister back from the servitude contract she’s locked in. Jules Addison is a scholar and is on Gaia with the hopes of decoding more of the alien language. His father, Dr. Elliott Addison, was the first to decode the message received from the alien race, and the first to realize that while their technology may benefit life on Earth, it may not be for the best in the long term. Jules seeks to find evidence that his father was right and to find out what dangers lie with the technology left by this race of mysterious beings. The two end up teaming up to work their way through the alien temple in hopes of uncovering a solution to both of their issues.

First things first, I read very little YA these days but there was something extremely fun about this book that I enjoyed right off the bat. I found positive and negative aspects both in this story but I felt they balanced each other out, still making this an entertaining tale. It was very Mission to Mars (2000) meets Indiana Jones and while there was a budding romance that built up quickly, it never overtook the plot like some YA romances tend to do. I honestly didn’t buy how quickly they reached the point that they do by the end of the novel, but for some reason, it didn’t lessen my enjoyment as a whole. The characterization was nicely balanced with snarky, badass Amelia and prim and proper Jules, although at times it was hard to differentiate between the two because each would tell the story from their point of view in alternating chapters. The inclusion of puzzles as the duo worked their way through the alien temple was a ton of fun, although it was often vaguely written and hard to visualize exactly what they were dealing with. There was a lot of internal dialogue that I felt could have been cut out a lot, resulting in more actual conversation, and towards the end, I felt like stuff started getting to be a bit repetitive and/or drawn out for no particular reason leading to that inevitable cliffhanger. My overall enjoyment certainly lessened by the time I finished but the cliffhanger ending was incredibly curious without that predictable reveal of “I knew that’s what was happening” sort of reveal.

Despite this being yet another typical “teenagers save the world” sort of story, this puzzle of a plot is enough to get a reader invested into sticking around for the second part of this novel that won’t be released until 2019.

related-reads-blue

Sleeping Giants (Themis Files #1) by Sylvain Neuvel [Review]
Fortune’s Pawn (Paradox #1) by Rachel Bach [Review]
Warcross (Warcross #1) by Marie Lu

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Early Review – White Hot (Hidden Legacy #2) by Ilona Andrews

April 27, 2017 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2017 12 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.

Early Review – White Hot (Hidden Legacy #2) by Ilona AndrewsWhite Hot by Ilona Andrews
Series: Hidden Legacy #2
Published by Avon on May 30th 2017
Pages: 384
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Also by this author: Magic Bites, Magic Rises, Burn for Me

four-half-stars

Nevada Baylor has a unique and secret skill—she knows when people are lying—and she's used that magic (along with plain, hard work) to keep her colorful and close-knit family's detective agency afloat. But her new case pits her against the shadowy forces that almost destroyed the city of Houston once before, bringing Nevada back into contact with Connor "Mad" Rogan.

Rogan is a billionaire Prime—the highest rank of magic user—and as unreadable as ever, despite Nevada's "talent." But there's no hiding the sparks between them. Now that the stakes are even higher, both professionally and personally, and their foes are unimaginably powerful, Rogan and Nevada will find that nothing burns like ice . . .

Hidden Legacy Series

Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy #1) by Ilona Andrews [Purchase|Review]

Nevada Baylor hasn’t spoken with Rogan in months and she’s slowly begun to move on with her life even though the maddening man (ha — see what I did there) is never far from her mind. She agrees to investigate the murder of Cornelius Harrison’s wife and Nevada not only finds herself in the middle of a massive conflict between multiple magical families (or “Houses”) but right back in the path of Rogan himself. This time around they realize that they simply get more done when they work together as allies.

‘Suddenly the past two months of normal life tore apart, like fragile paper, and I was right back next to Rogan, about to charge into a fight. And it felt right.’

The conflict between Houses puts the duo in serious danger when some of the most powerful members of the magical society become involved. When they’re not trying to keep one another from dying, they’re trying to work out what to do with the sparks flying between them.

“And now that I’m conveniently here, you decide to give it another shot. Is there a shortage of attractive women in your life, Connor?”
“There is a shortage of you in my life,” he said.

This is my 17th Ilona Andrews book and I feel I can safely declare myself a rabid fangirl. (I have yet to dive into her The Edge series but give me time.) Ilona Andrews stories are absolutely one of the reasons I remain as hardcore an Urban Fantasy fan as I am today and her Hidden Legacy series only helps solidify that. Their characterization is superb and no character is left without a role or sounding like a replica of another. Nevada is one awesome badass lady that can hold her own, Rogan is far more beyond being just a love interest placeholder and professional of zingy one-liners, and even the side characters (Nevada’s sniper mother, crazy sisters, and hilarious grandmother) are fantastic.

Grandma Frida burst through the door in her yellow rubber-ducky pajamas. 
“Grandma’s here,” I added.

What I love about this series is how developed her world-building is beyond “people have powers” — we meet some new players in the game: summoners, fulgurkinetics, elementalists, and even some magically created monsters not of this world. In lesser hands, these unique aspects would easily come across as cheesy and overwhelming but Andrews makes everything so fascinating. If I’m being real, the fantastic world-building is only an added bonus when it comes to the romance though and it’s rare that I say anything along those lines (worldbuilding is typically always first because if you don’t have worldbuilding… you’ve got yourself a bodice ripper, amirite?) Urban Fantasy typically always includes a romance in some shape or form but there’s some crazy sexual tension going on (and has since book 1) but View Spoiler » And also, some good news… the wait for book 3 is not long at all: Wildfire comes out July 25th, 2017. I’m already chomping at the bit and even contemplating reading both again because this series is that good (horrendously bad covers aside, but at least Rogan finally found a shirt by book 3.) 🙂

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Short & Sweet – Eleventh Grave in Moonlight, My Not So Perfect Life, Deathly Hallows

January 20, 2017 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2017, Short & Sweet Reviews 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.

Short & Sweet – Eleventh Grave in Moonlight, My Not So Perfect Life, Deathly HallowsEleventh Grave in Moonlight by Darynda Jones
Series: Charley Davidson #11
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on January 24th 2017
Pages: 352
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Also by this author: First Grave on the Right, For I Have Sinned, Second Grave on the Left

three-half-stars

A typical day in the life of Charley Davidson involves cheating husbands, missing people, errant wives, philandering business owners, and oh yeah...demons, hell hounds, evil gods, and dead people. Lots and lots of dead people. As a part time Private Investigator and full-time Grim Reaper, Charley has to balance the good, the bad, the undead, and those who want her dead. In this eleventh installment, Charley is learning to make peace with the fact that she is a goddess with all kinds of power and that her own daughter has been born to save the world from total destruction. But the forces of hell are determined to see Charley banished forever to the darkest corners of another dimension. With the son of Satan himself as her husband and world-rocking lover, maybe Charley can find a way to have her happily ever after after all.

*spoilers for previous installments*

“…I’m going to take over the world.”
“The whole thing?”
“Well, I’m going to try to take over the world.”
“And you feel you’re prepared for world domination?”
I lifted a noncommittal shoulder. “I’m taking a business class.”

Despite her new awareness of her God-like state, Charley Davidson strives to continue living as a normal human would. She’s taking a business class at the college (to help her out when she takes over the world), she has a new case which involves the son of the people that kidnapped Reyes when he was a child, and she’s helping the police sort out why and who could be sending Cookie’s daughter, Amber, threatening text messages.

Although I continue to profess my love for this series, it must be said that the plots of these later installments are getting weaker with each new one. I have always loved the incorporation of her day-to-day investigations mixed with the advancement of the Reaper storyline but if I’m being honest, more needs to happen with the Reaper storyline. It continues to be stretched to the limit and we’re given minuscule nibbles with each book which seems like nothing more than a way to continue to stretch the series past its expiration date. For the most part, there isn’t any actual advancement until the final 10% or so, and while it’s a most excellent 10%, it makes one definitely wish there was more to go around. And then as a cherry on top, we’re given a massive cliffhanger that will leave the reader groaning until the next installment.

The mysteries are great, the paranormal aspects are incredibly interesting, the sex scenes are off the charts, and Charley is always a source of amusement. But, Jones, you’re killing me with these cliffhangers.

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

Short & Sweet – Eleventh Grave in Moonlight, My Not So Perfect Life, Deathly HallowsMy Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella
Published by The Dial Press on February 7th 2017
Pages: 448
Genres: Chick-Lit
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Also by this author: Wedding Night, Surprise Me

three-half-stars

Part love story, part workplace dramedy, part witty critique of the false judgments we make in a social-media-obsessed world, this is New York Times bestselling author Sophie Kinsella’s most timely and sharply observed novel yet.

Everywhere Katie Brenner looks, someone else is living the life she longs for, particularly her boss, Demeter Farlowe. Demeter is brilliant and creative, lives with her perfect family in a posh townhouse, and wears the coolest clothes. Katie’s life, meanwhile, is a daily struggle—from her dismal rental to her oddball flatmates to the tense office politics she’s trying to negotiate. The final, demeaning straw comes when Demeter makes Katie dye her roots in the office. No wonder Katie takes refuge in not-quite-true Instagram posts, especially as she’s desperate to make her dad proud.

Then, just as she’s finding her feet—not to mention a possible new romance—the worst happens. Demeter fires Katie. Shattered but determined to stay positive, Katie retreats to her family’s farm in Somerset to help them set up a vacation business. London has never seemed so far away—until Demeter unexpectedly turns up as a guest. Secrets are spilled and relationships rejiggered, and as the stakes for Katie’s future get higher, she must question her own assumptions about what makes for a truly meaningful life.
Sophie Kinsella is celebrated for her vibrant, relatable characters and her great storytelling gifts. Now she returns with all of the wit, warmth, and wisdom that are the hallmarks of her bestsellers to spin this fresh, modern story about presenting the perfect life when the reality is far from the image.

Katie Brenner grew up in the English countryside and has always dreamed of living in the big city. At 26-years-old, she’s finally working her dream job at an ad agency, has a place of her own, and an Instagram account that showcases a life that anyone would envy. Despite her perfect outward appearance, everything is far from perfect. She’s not doing anything terribly creative at her job and is barely making ends meet, she has her own place but she has roommates and her room is tragically small so she keeps all her clothes piled in a hammock, and all those pictures she posts on Instagram is more how she wishes her life was vs. how it really is. When her life is abruptly upended and she finds herself living once again with her dad in the English countryside, she doesn’t think she’ll ever find her way back to London. A new family “glamping” business keeps her busy and her creative side honed, but some unexpected glampers from London have Katie realizing that London isn’t quite done with her.

Katie is an incredible character for many reasons but first and foremost: she’s so realistic. Don’t get me wrong, 95% of the time I love a good story to escape into so I can leave the real world behind but that straggler 5% loves a character that I can feel in tune with, a character that I can truly understand. This story gave me major Devil Wears Prada vibes but instead of the invisible girl that gets a haircut, loses some weight, and is bestowed a gorgeous wardrobe only to live happily ever after we get Katie. Katie didn’t get a haircut, lose weight, or get a new wardrobe. Nope. Katie loses her job, has to move back home with dad, and is often found in wellies because it’s just sensible in the countryside.

My Not So Perfect Life centers around Katie’s personal development and the realization that much like her own Instagram account, people hide beyond a persona that is not always the person they truly are. This is a laugh out loud adventure that despite its slightly unnecessary page length and unexpected lack of focus on the romance, this delightful story will no doubt charm new and old fans alike.

Short & Sweet – Eleventh Grave in Moonlight, My Not So Perfect Life, Deathly HallowsHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
Narrator: Jim Dale
Series: Harry Potter #7
on July 21st 2007
Length: 21 hrs and 36 mins
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 Half-Blood Prince

five-stars

As he climbs into the sidecar of Hagrid's motorbike and takes to the skies, leaving Privet Drive for the last time, Harry Potter knows that Lord Voldemort and the Death Eaters are not far behind. The protective charm that has kept Harry safe until now is broken, but he cannot keep hiding. The Dark Lord is breathing fear into everything Harry loves and to stop him Harry will have to find and destroy the remaining Horcruxes. The final battle must begin - Harry must stand and face his enemy....

*spoilers*


This is officially my very first time I’ve completely re-read this series and it’s quite possible that I love it even more than I did before. Reading all books back to back (I started the first one in October and finished the last one in January) only made it even more apparent what an incredible saga that Rowling gifted us. All the linked parts, the character development, and just how astonishing it was to see it all unfold. Somehow it still managed to leave me awed even knowing how it all ends. While my opinions of the series as a whole didn’t change (other than the fact that my favorite book is now officially Half-Blood Prince and I’ve gotten over my irritation with Dobby) there is one aspect in these stories that I paid a lot more attention to this go around: Dumbledore and Snape.

First and foremost, I’m team Snape (and a Slytherin if you were curious). Yes, I am fully aware that he was a horrible shithead to a bunch of children, primarily Harry, and the only reason was because he loved Harry’s mother and she didn’t love him. Boo-hoo. I’m also aware that he was a Death Eater doing terrible things on behalf of Voldemort before he joined up with Dumbeldore. I’m aware of all these things but I can still appreciate the bravery and risks he took in the name of love, even it was misguided. It doesn’t necessarily make him a hero in my eyes and his actions don’t make up for the wrong he did, but it is still worthy of mention. Don’t agree?

hahaha Kidding. But on to an even more controversial topic: Dumbledore was kind of a dick. Sure, at first he’s that kind, fatherly figure that Harry can’t help but look up to. But when year after year at Hogwarts passes and poor young Harry is dealing with shit that he can barely comprehend, does Dumbledore make it a point to educate him on the ways of the wizarding world? Nope. And when we finally realize what’s been going on this entire time? That he’s known from the very beginning that Harry was going to have to die for the “greater good”?!

Sure, if he had told Harry at an early age he could have lost his marbles at the prospect of an early death so I understand why he didn’t tell him but I definitely don’t agree with it because he didn’t treat Harry like a pawn; he treated him like he was someone special to him. Think of all the times that Harry was touting Dumbledore’s greatness while from the very beginning he’s known the endgame all along.

Leave an infant on a doorstep, don’t even ring the doorbell. They’ll find him in the morning. Know Harry’s living in a goddamn cupboard under the stairs, constantly abused by the Dursley’s–does nothing. Let Snape continue to mistreat him unnecessarily. Blames it on the fact he developed feelings for the reason why he’s lied to Harry his entire life… talk about emotional manipulation. Not letting Harry in on the secret of the horcruxes until after he was doomed to die because his dumbass, for personal advancement reasons, put it on because it was also a Hallow. Dick move, Dumbledore. /rant

Rowling really achieved greatness with this final installment. Each installment has progressively gotten darker as Harry and all other characters take step after step into adulthood. This world that Rowling has created is both horrible and mesmerizing in equal measure. A world where there are creatures that can suck out your very soul, but also wondrous creatures like unicorns and Hippogriffs. A world where you can be struck down with two simple words, but also where owls deliver your mail and paintings talk. But the most wondrous thing that Rowling accomplished with these stories is just how many lives she transformed, mine included. It’s enough to make anyone believe in magic.

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Early Review – The You I’ve Never Known by Ellen Hopkins

December 29, 2016 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2016, YA 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.

Early Review – The You I’ve Never Known by Ellen HopkinsThe You I've Never Known by Ellen Hopkins
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on January 24th 2017
Pages: 608
Genres: Contemporary, LGBTQIA, Verse
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Also by this author: Triangles, Crank, Burned

two-half-stars

How do you live your life if your past is based on a lie? A new novel in both verse and prose from #1 New York Times bestselling author, Ellen Hopkins.

Arielle’s life is a blur of new apartments, new schools, and new faces. Since her mother abandoned the family, Arielle has lived nomadically with her father as he moves from job to job. All she’s ever wanted is to stay in one place for an entire school year, and it looks like she might finally get her wish. With a real friend, Monica, who might be even more than a friend soon, things are starting to look up.

But Arielle’s life is upended—and not by her father, but by her mom, who reveals that she never left Arielle. Instead, Arielle’s father kidnapped her, and her mom has been left searching ever since. She wants to take Arielle away, but Arielle has no connection with her mother, and despite everything, still loves her father. How can she choose between the mother she’s been taught to mistrust and the father who sewed that suspicion?

Not one person
on this planet cares about you.

No one but Daddy, who loves you
more than anything in the whole wide
world, and would lay down his life
for you. You remember that, hear me?

I heard those words too often
in any number of combinations
Almost always they came floating
in a fog of alcohol and tobacco.

Arielle has only ever known her dad from an early age. Dependable yet temperamental, he’s taken care of her for years on his own. Bounced from house to house and different woman to woman, Arielle and her father have finally settled down long enough in a town for her to begin to get comfortable. She’s joined the girls basketball team, she’s made friends, and she’s discovered a side of her sexuality that she fears. She’s never had a mom because according to her dad, she left both of them for her lesbian lover. Coming out to her father as the same would be beyond reckless.

Maya has a difficult relationship with her mother. She ran her father out of the house and joined Scientology, expecting Maya to do the same. When her mother tells her they’ll be moving from Texas to Sea Org in Los Angeles, a Scientology organization, she concocts a way to avoid having to go: she gets pregnant. The father, Sergeant Jason Ritter, proposes to her and she feels relief at finally escaping her mother but she’s traded one bad situation for another.

Funny How the Brain
Manages damage control,
conveniently curtaining
windows that overlook
certain footpaths into the past.

I try to keep the shades drawn.

Anything by Ellen Hopkins is bound to pack a punch with the types of subjects she tackles and The You I’ve Never Known is no different. This time she deals with abandonment, sexuality, and abuse, but it felt much more passive than some of her past stories. I’m always incredibly fond of her dual storylines and trying to determine the connection before the big reveal. While her stories are always lengthy in page count, the time it took for that big reveal to happen seemed to be dragged out for longer than was necessary. Often with Hopkins’ writing style, you find yourself getting lost in the beauty of her words. She still used verse as her main writing style and her typical formatting is there but it was much less lyrical and much more dense with a lot of backstory that lacked the passion her stories usually have. The main issue was with how the parents are portrayed. Her villains come in many forms, but in this story, they were the parents of both Maya and Arielle. They were both written as manic and often terrifying people, with little to no redeeming qualities. It was all black, no white, and definitely no gray area, and this lack of complexity caused them to come off as caricatures and nothing more.

Hopkins has long been a favorite of mine and while I felt this one was lacking, her stories still manage to linger in my head long after finishing. She tackles the subjects that most often need to be brought to light, I only wish that she would also focus more on the poetic aspects that make these ugly subjects beautiful.

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Poetry Review – the princess saves herself in this one by Amanda Lovelace

December 16, 2016 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2016 1 Comment

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.

Poetry Review – the princess saves herself in this one by Amanda Lovelacethe princess saves herself in this one by Amanda Lovelace
Published by Andrews McMeel Publishing on February 14th 2017
Pages: 208
Genres: Poetry
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Goodreads


one-star

the princess saves herself in this one is a collection of poetry about resilience. It is about writing your own ending.

From Amanda Lovelace, a poetry collection in four parts: the princess, the damsel, the queen, and you. The first three sections piece together the life of the author while the final section serves as a note to the reader. This moving book explores love, loss, grief, healing, empowerment, and inspiration.

the princess saves herself in this one first caught my eye when it popped up on the Goodreads Choice Awards as a nominee for Poetry. It has a catchy title, the summary describes it as exploring “life & all of its love, loss, grief, healing, empowerment, & inspirations”, and a bunch of people were tagging it as feminism. And then it won! Honestly, I was just glad that Leav didn’t win with her bullshit excuse for poetry and Lovelace beat her by a landslide.

I was a bit skeptical though. 22 thousand votes… there aren’t even 4 thousand ratings for it on Goodreads. Clearly the majority of people were voting for it based on the title alone, because as I’ve admitted… it’s catchy. Plus, Poetry seems to be a dying art in this day and age. Because Lovelace and Leav both beat out Neruda, and come on… Neruda is a poetry god. Regardless, I was readying myself to shell out the $7.59 to get this on Kindle but halle-fucking-lujah it popped up on Netgalley as a Read Now and I didn’t have to later rage about wasted money. There is clearly an intended audience for this title, most likely individuals that don’t often read poetry, but this was not my cup of tea.

There is unmistakable emotion behind each of these… vignettes (as I feel they’re more appropriately termed) the problem is that from a readers perspective it lacks the intended emotional punch. They’re simple and direct but are lacking a much needed refinement and read overly angsty, much like how I feel about Leav’s collections that I’ve read (Love & Misadventure and The Universe of Us). Honestly though, is this an Andrews McMeel Publishing thing? There was the occasional one that wasn’t too awful, however, the majority of these seemed to rely on fancy formatting and excessive use of the enter key.

I’m sorry… but that is not a poem. It’s a fragment, a snippet, a random thought. This was undoubtedly the result of an outpouring of emotion from Lovelace and as much as I hate to bash something that someone has poured their heart and soul into, this was just not good.

Regardless of what is being written about, poetry should evoke emotion and leave you reveling in the beauty of language. If you love your angst, then this is for you but I’m going to go read some Cummings now.

On the Blue Shore of Silence: Poems of the Sea by Pablo Neruda
Selected Poems by E.E. Cummings
Crush by Richard Siken

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Early Review – Nine of Stars (Dark Alchemy #3) by Laura Bickle

December 3, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2016 5 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.

Early Review – Nine of Stars (Dark Alchemy #3) by Laura BickleNine of Stars by Laura Bickle
Series: Dark Alchemy #3
Published by Harper Voyager on December 27th 2016
Pages: 384
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Dark Alchemy

three-half-stars

Following on the heels of her critically acclaimed prequel novels Dark Alchemy and Mercury Retrograde comes the first installment in Laura Bickle’s dark contemporary fantasy series, Nine of Stars, a Wildlands Novel
Winter has always been a deadly season in Temperance, but this time, there’s more to fear than just the cold…

As the daughter of an alchemist, Petra Dee has faced all manner of occult horrors—especially since her arrival in the small town of Temperance, Wyoming. But she can’t explain the creature now stalking the backcountry of Yellowstone, butchering wolves and leaving only their skins behind in the snow. Rumors surface of the return of Skinflint Jack, a nineteenth-century wraith that kills in fulfillment of an ancient bargain.

The new sheriff in town, Owen Rutherford, isn’t helping matters. He’s a dangerously haunted man on the trail of both an unsolved case and a fresh kill—a bizarre murder leading him right to Petra’s partner Gabriel. And while Gabe once had little to fear from the mortal world, he’s all too human now. This time, when violence hits close to home, there are no magical solutions.
It’s up to Petra and her coyote sidekick Sig to get ahead of both Owen and the unnatural being hunting them all—before the trail turns deathly cold.

Dark Alchemy series

Dark Alchemy (Dark Alchemy, #1) by Laura Bickle [Review//Purchase]
Mercury Retrograde (Dark Alchemy, #2) by Laura Bickle [Purchase]

grey-review

*spoilers from the first two installments*

“There was a man, back in 1861. He came to be known as Skinflint Jack, the Jack of Harts.”

Petra Dee may be accustomed to the magical happenings in Temperance, Wyoming, but after the re-appearance of a man who was transformed through alchemy into a formidable creature in the 1800s, she knows she’s the only one that would be capable of overcoming him. Destroying an 18th-century monster isn’t the only thing troubling Petra these days though. Gabe is trying to both acclimate to being mortal once again and staying under the radar of the local authorities after Sal’s disappearance, Sal’s cousin being the sheriff and all. Petra is dealing with some health issues of her own which have her adjusting plans for her future. But when the wolves of Yellowstone are viciously attacked and Petra’s work colleague is left hospitalized after going to investigate, she knows that no one will have much of a future if this danger is left to roam.

“We all have our dark sides, I guess,” Gabe said, taking a swig of his beer.
“Yeah. And sometimes, the darkness finds us.”

Combining both ordinary and mystical mysteries, life is never dull for Petra Dee. I thoroughly enjoyed the complexity of the mystery behind the Luneria, the alchemical tree of life, but after its destruction in Mercury Retrograde, it seemed as if that storyline had finished. I was pleased to see it reintroduced in this installment, albeit in an extremely unsettling way. The death of Sal didn’t mean the end of the mysterious Rutherford family either. Temperance, Wyoming is, suffice it to say, a most enigmatic and peculiar town.

I’ve seen Nine of Stars marketed as both a brand new series and the third of the continued Dark Alchemy series. While I can see it working as a brand new start, the “prequel” novels as they’re being referred to, I feel, are an integral part of giving you the necessary context behind these characters. Whether you start here or with Dark Alchemy, Bickle still manages to properly introduce you to a world of magic and mystery which also incorporates Native American folklore that will appeal to any fantasy fan. There are no supernatural creatures in these stories, just by-products of alchemical experiments, the “magical process of transformation, creation, or combination,” a subject that has clearly been researched extensively by the author. Nine of Stars possessed an ending that was extremely abrupt that felt more like a chapter end than a story end but I am still eager for more Petra Dee.

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Early Review – Slipping: Stories, Essays, & Other Writing by Lauren Beukes

November 26, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2016 1 Comment

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

Early Review – Slipping: Stories, Essays, & Other Writing by Lauren BeukesSlipping: Stories, Essays, & Other Writing by Lauren Beukes
Published by Tachyon Publications on November 29th 2016
Pages: 288
Genres: Collections & Anthologies
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Shining Girls, Broken Monsters

four-stars

In her edgy, satiric debut collection, award-winning South African journalist and author Lauren Beukes (The Shining Girls, Moxyland) never holds back. Nothing is simple and everything is perilous when humans are involved: corruption, greed, and even love (of a sort).

A permanent corporate branding gives a young woman enhanced physical abilities and a nearly-constant highRecruits lifted out of poverty find a far worse fate collecting biohazardous plants on an inhospitable worldThe only adult survivor of the apocalypse decides he will be the savior of teenagers; the teenagers are not amused.

From Johannesburg to outer space, these previously uncollected tales are a compelling, dark, and slippery ride.

‘You don’t have to name something to understand it.’

In Slipping, Beukes takes the modern world and transforms it into something futuristic and near unrecognizable. The title story, Slipping, is about a girl who, following a severe accident, is transformed through technological advances into a racing machine. Smileys is a strange story about a soldier attempting to extort a woman who sells cooked sheep heads. Pop Tarts is a story about a reality star and the realization that it’s all nothing but scripted fiction. Unathi Battles the Black Hairballs is the story about a woman who must save Tokyo (and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the talking cat). Each of these stories is wildly authentic, vastly entertaining, and a constant focus on the darkness in this world.

‘Culture wants to be free. This is not my original thought. But who of us can claim to be truly original? Aren’t we all remixes of every influence we’ve ever come across?’

The wide variety of genres cause the stories to lack a certain cohesion like a typical short story anthology might, but it does this collection a disservice to think this is a negative. Instead, each of these stories acts as their own palette cleanser from one story to the next and it keeps the reader in a constant state of bewilderment not knowing what type of outlandishness to expect next. I was pleasantly surprised that my favorite part of this collection were the five Non-Fiction pieces included at the end. In these, she discusses personal topics such as how she got into journalism, about the research she conducted for her book Zoo City within the inner city of Johannesburg, and some additional insight into why she wrote The Shining Girls, my personal favorite of Beukes, which made me love it even more. She leaves us on a resolute note, with a letter to her five-year-old daughter about the meaning of true beauty.

I’ve read (and loved) a few of Beukes’ full-length novels and her writing prowess manages to be just as impressive in her short fiction. This obscure collection only proves that her talents are truly expansive and that we have much to look forward from her.

‘Every person I speak to gives me a new perspective, a different lens. It’s made my writing more than it would have ever been. And it’s still an excuse to go adventuring.’

related-reads-grey

Yellowcake by Margo Lanagan [Purchase]
The Beautiful Indifference: Stories by Sarah Hall [Purchase//Review]
Screwjack by Hunter S. Thompson [Purchase]

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Ominous October – Nightmares: A New Decade of Modern Horror by Ellen Datlow

October 31, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2016 0 Comments

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

Ominous October – Nightmares: A New Decade of Modern Horror by Ellen DatlowNightmares: A New Decade of Modern Horror by Ellen Datlow
Published by Tachyon Publications on November 1st 2016
Pages: 432
Genres: Horror
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
Goodreads

Unlucky thieves invade a house where Home Alone seems like a playground romp. An antique bookseller and a mob enforcer join forces to retrieve the Atlas of Hell. Postapocalyptic survivors cannot decide which is worse: demon women haunting the skies or maddened extremists patrolling the earth.

In this chilling twenty-first-century companion to the cult classic Darkness: Two Decades of Modern Horror, Ellen Datlow again proves herself the most masterful editor of the genre. She has mined the breadth and depth of ten years of terror, collecting superlative works of established masters and scene-stealing newcomers alike.

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Nightmares: A New Decade of Modern Horror is the newest addition to prolific editor Ellen Datlow’s catalog. This anthology combines a wide range of genres; everything from the every-day contemporary horror, paranormal horror, to end of the world horror. The variety manages to add depth to the collection as a whole and keeps the reader guessing in terms of what to expect next. There is easily something in here for everyone.

This collection is comprised of many big-name authors such as Margo Lanagan (Tender Morsels), Dan Chaon (Await Your Reply), Caitlin R. Kiernan (The Drowning Girl), Garth Nix (Sabriel), and Richard Kadrey (Sandman Slim). “The Goosle” by Margo Lanagan is a disturbing retelling of the Hansel and Gretel fairytale involving cannibalism, “How We Escaped Our Certain Fate” by Dan Chaon is a horror-light but is a bleak look at how our world could be if zombies rose, “Interstate Love Song (Murder Ballad No. 8)” by Caitlin R. Kiernan is the story of twins on a murderous rampage, “Shay Corsham Worsted” by Garth Nix is an interesting bit of contemporary paranormal that I wanted more of, and “Ambitious Boys Like You” by Richard Kadrey is the last and most terrifying story of the bunch. Other notable titles: “Our Turn Too Will One Day Come” by Brian Hodge is about the uncovering of horrifying family secrets, “That Tiny Flutter of the Heart I Used to Call Love” by Robert Shearman is a terrifying tale of dolls, and “Lonegan’s Luck” by Stephen Graham Jones is a tale of zombies and your luck running out.

Each of these short stories were hand-picked from anthologies from the last ten years in order to showcase a complete decade worth of horror. While the bulk of these stories were enjoyable in a horrifying way, there were a few that simply didn’t work as much as the others. All in all, this was a solid collection that certainly lived up to the title. These stories come off as fragmented, possessing a hazy, dream-like quality where it’s unclear what is real and what is mere fantasy. But isn’t that what nightmares are all about?

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Poetry Review – The Universe of Us by Lang Leav

September 3, 2016 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2016 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.

Poetry Review – The Universe of Us by Lang LeavThe Universe of Us by Lang Leav
Published by Andrews McMeel Publishing on October 4th 2016
Pages: 240
Genres: Romance, Poetry
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Love & Misadventure

two-stars

International best-selling author of Love & Misadventure, Lullabies (Goodreads Readers Choice Award), and Memories Lang Leav presents a completely new collection of poetry with a celestial theme in The Universe of Us.

Planets, stars, and constellations feature prominently in this beautiful, original poetry collection from Lang Leav. Inspired by the wonders of the universe, the best-selling poetess writes about love and loss, hope and hurt, being lost and found. Lang's poetry encompasses the breadth of emotions we all experience and evokes universal feelings with her skillfully crafted words.

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Lang Leav has become extremely popular with her poetry collections ever since her debut collection Love & Misadventure. Misadventure was voted second in the Goodreads Choice Awards in 2013 (beat out by Tolkien), Lullabies, her second poetry collection, actually won the 2014 Goodreads Choice Awards, and her third collection, Memories, was once again second place in the 2015 Awards. Clearly, she’s popular and she’s consistently hitting the mark with her targeted audience. Unfortunately, I am not a part of that audience, and I definitely do not see how her words manage to provoke such a euphoric state. I have admittedly only read Leav’s debut poetry collection, Love & Misadventure. The poems rhymed to an excessive degree, they weren’t particularly moving, and there was even one about flossing. FLOSSING. Yet, as I already stated, her popularity never faltered. I saw the upcoming release of The Universe of Us and thought that I really should give her another shot because I kept thinking it possible that she had gotten better and her writing could be something I’d be able to appreciate along with the masses.

Despite my preconceived notions, I still tried to go into this with an open mind. And at first, I think I was actually enjoying myself. Naturally, I thought I had a fever, but I figured there could be a possibility that it was a more evolved collection and that I wouldn’t have to read anything about flossing. The flossing one really bothered me, folks.

There were also several pieces of her artwork included for an added flair, except I really have no clue what the fuck is going on in this one. I think she’s setting the boat on fire with a magnifying glass? Honestly, I have no fucking clue. Regardless of the “meaning”, she does have some lovely pieces to admire. And there are actually some lovely poems as well, the only problem is they are few and far between. Leav consistently falls back on her excessive rhyming in order to drive the point that this is a poem, people, bask in its glory. Okay, she doesn’t actually say that but rhyming is not a prerequisite of poetry but it’s a common trend in her work. And then there are the ones that aren’t poetry, some are just declarative statements, and others are nothing more than a simple conversation.

To me, this just doesn’t strike me as anything unique or requiring any sort of special skill. It felt like nothing more than filler. While there were a few that even I could appreciate, the vast majority of these still failed to impress me and didn’t help me understand the reason for her ongoing popularity. I feel these poems are targeted to the type of individuals that have always said they don’t like poetry. Reading this and loving it won’t make you a fan of poetry though because while Leav may have some grasp on how to combine words to make something sound beautiful, there really isn’t any sort of depth. There’s nothing particularly profound or complex and if that manages to work for you, great, but I’m going to go read some Plath now.

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Early Review – Magic Binds (Kate Daniels #9) by Ilona Andrews

August 26, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2016 1 Comment

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.

Early Review – Magic Binds (Kate Daniels #9) by Ilona AndrewsMagic Binds by Ilona Andrews
Series: Kate Daniels #9
Published by Ace on September 20th 2016
Pages: 336
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Magic Bites, Magic Rises, Burn for Me

four-stars

The latest novel in the New York Times bestselling series that “stands apart.” (Library Journal)

Kate and the former Beast Lord Curran Lennart are finally making their relationship official. But there are some steep obstacles standing in the way of their walk to the altar…

Kate’s father, Roland, has kidnapped the demigod Saiman and is slowly bleeding him dry in his never-ending bid for power. A Witch Oracle has predicted that if Kate marries the man she loves, Atlanta will burn and she will lose him forever. And the only person Kate can ask for help is long dead.

The odds are impossible. The future is grim. But Kate Daniels has never been one to play by the rules…

Kate Daniels series

Magic Bites (Kate Daniels #1) [Review]
Magic Burns (Kate Daniels #2)
Magic Strikes (Kate Daniels #3)
Magic Bleeds (Kate Daniels #4)
Magic Slays (Kate Daniels #5)
Magic Rises (Kate Daniels #6) [Review]
Magic Breaks (Kate Daniels #7) [Review]
Magic Shifts (Kate Daniels #8)

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Kate is back!!

It pleases me to no end how fantastic and thrilling this installment was. Things got a little rocky for me in the Kate Daniels fan club with installments 6 and 7 so if any of you happen to feel the same, don’t give up hope. While the tenth installment will be the last, you heard me, Magic Binds is the PENULTIMATE installment, I’m still oh so very excited to see how the chips fall. But yes, very soon, Kate Daniels’ story will be coming to an end.

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This both breaks my heart and reinforces just how fast time flies. Kate Daniels was one of the very first Urban Fantasy series I read and I only discovered it after joining Goodreads (in 2011!) and making friends with people who recommended some excellent books. It will be most sad to see this come to an end because this is hands down one of the top five best Urban Fantasy series of all time. This series has elaborate world building bringing total fantasy to the real world, complex characters that make it easy to grow to love them over time, exciting storylines in every installment, and I can’t forget to mention the unbelievable chemistry between Kate and Curran. It’s some steamy shit, people. If any of these descriptions seem mildly entertaining to you, get on it. But I’m getting sidetracked, back to Magic Binds.

I already said this, but this was one action-packed and exciting installment. We’ve got wedding planning shenanigans, we get to see Kate and Curran work through their relationship drama (showing a lack of perfection which is always appreciated), an oracle that comes bearing quite a bit of bad news, Kate’s ongoing understanding of her vast powers and fighting against the lure of becoming exactly like her father, and the hilarious dynamic between Kate and her father, Roland. Sure, Roland is setting up a future war between him and Kate, but their banter back and forth is laugh out loud funny.

“Father, you are sending mixed signals. You dispatched a woman to murder me today and now you’re upset about my wedding reception?”

There’s additional amusing banter between Kate and… well, it’s a bit of a spoiler. But just be aware that there is much banter. And it’s oh so good. There’s also a Pegasus named Sugar that is QUITE a character.

‘At least I had stopped worrying about Sugar flying off and leaving me to fend for myself. She seemed to find me amusing and stuck around. I’d learned to sneak off before taking a bathroom break, however, because she decided that pawing at me with a hoof after I found a secluded spot to pee was the funniest thing ever.’

We’re given a bit of a cliffhanger which was honestly to be expected with the second to last installment but it left me feeling CONFLICTED.

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Both. Definitely both.

We’ll see how it all plays out… sometime in 2017. Until then, let’s all start hoping and wishing for a spin-off series.

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