Posts Categorized: Early Review

The Stars of Summer Blog Tour

April 30, 2015 Bonnie Book Reviews, Book Tour, Early Review, Middle Grade, Read in 2015 9 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.

The Stars of Summer Blog TourThe Stars of Summer by Tara Dairman
Series: All Four Stars #2
Published by Putnam Juvenile on May 5th 2015
Pages: 336
Genres: Contemporary, Foodie Fiction
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: All Four Stars

four-stars

It’s not easy being an undercover restaurant critic—especially when you’re only twelve years old!

With her first published review under her belt, Gladys Gatsby is looking forward to a quiet summer of cooking and reviewing. But her plans quickly go awry when her friend delivers Gladys’s birthday gift: a free summer at Camp Bentley. As Gladys feared, camp life is not easy: she struggles to pass her swim test and can’t keep the other campers happy while planning lunches. The worst part is she can’t seem to get away from the annoying new “celebrity” camper and sneak away for her latest assignment—finding the best hot dog in New York City. But when it turns out her hot dog assignment was a dirty trick by a jealous reviewer, Gladys’s reviewing career may be over forever.

About Tara Dairman

Tara Dairman is the author of ALL FOUR STARS, which was named an Amazon Best Book of the Month and a Mighty Girl Top Book of 2014 for Teens and Tweens. She is also a playwright and recovering world traveler. She grew up in New York and received a B.A. in Creative Writing from Dartmouth College. After surviving the world's longest honeymoon (two years, seventy-four countries!), she now lives in Colorado with her husband and their trusty waffle iron.

All Four Stars series

Early Review – All Four Stars by Tara Dairman

All Four Stars (All Four Stars #1) by Tara Dairman {PurchaseMy Four Star Review!}

“Find the best hot dog in New York City.

Leave no street corner unvisited, and no dog untasted!”

Gladys Gatsby is now twelve-years-old and there isn’t anything she’s more enthusiastic about than delicious foods. Since that incident with the blowtorch (it really was only a small fire), Gladys has convinced her parents to allow her more opportunities to improve her skills in the kitchen. Gladys also continues to review for the New York Standard even though it’s becoming increasingly difficult to come up with excuses to visit restaurants in the city. Her newest assignment seems to her to be a strange and difficult one: find the best hot dog in New York City. The situation becomes even more difficult when her friend Charissa gives her a summer pass to her parents day camp, Camp Bentley where she ends up in charge of the lunches which she finds to be both exciting and stressful. Will Gladys be able to continue juggling all the things she has going this summer and still manage to somehow the perfect hot dog?

Gladys is back and still just as adorable. The Stars of Summer has our heroine undertaking a monumental task with discovering the perfect hot dog. I thoroughly enjoyed the exploration through multiple cultures from Iceland to even South Africa. Hot dogs are shockingly common in far more places than just the United States! Her descriptions of the exotic foods she gets to sample will once again leave you wishing you could share in her adventure of the taste buds. And while her adventures did often feel a bit lacking in credibility (attending an awards show in New York City minus any parents? She is only twelve…) I admittedly found myself so completely lost in the cuteness of it all that it was easy enough to overlook and just sit back and enjoy. The friendships Gladys has developed since All Four Stars are incredibly touching and most notably was the inclusion of the two boy-girl friendships. With multiple secondary yet still well-developed characters, Dairman has managed to bring to life a full cast of characters this time around that will only enhance future installments in this series.

 The Stars of Summer is once again another addition to my well-loved list of foodie fiction stories. In addition to the most appetizing sounding foods, you’re treated to one of the most adorable children in fiction. In addition, there’s a light and charming sense of humor throughout. Most highly recommended.

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This post was a part of ‘The Stars of Summer‘ blog tour.
Be sure to check out the other tour stops below!

Monday, April 27: Katie/Bookish Illuminations
Tuesday, April 28: Aeicha/Word Spelunking and Emma/Awkwordly Emma
Wednesday, April 29: Sylvia/A Baked Creation
Thursday, April 30: Bonnie /For the Love of Words
Friday, May 1: Lisa/Fic Talk
Monday, May 4: Lucy/The Reading Date
Tuesday, May 5: LAUNCH DAY!
Wednesday, May 6: Dahlia/Daily Dahlia
Thursday, May 7: Karen/For What it’s Worth
Friday, May 8: Jen/Pop! Goes the Reader
Monday, May 11: Stephanie/Kitchen Frolic
Tuesday, May 12: Brenda/Log Cabin Library
Wednesday, May 13: Michael/Project Mayhem and Wendy/The Midnight Garden

Image Credits
Author Photo/Tiffany Crowder @ Crowded Studios
Blog Tour Button/Kristin Rae
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Early Review – Black Iris by Leah Raeder

April 25, 2015 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, New Adult, Read in 2015 4 Comments

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

Early Review – Black Iris by Leah RaederBlack Iris by Leah Raeder
Published by Atria Books on April 28th 2015
Pages: 368
Genres: Contemporary Romance, LGBTQIA
Format: ARC
Source: Goodreads First Reads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Cam Girl

four-stars

The next dark and sexy romantic suspense novel from the USA Today bestselling author of Unteachable.

It only took one moment of weakness for Laney Keating’s world to fall apart. One stupid gesture for a hopeless crush. Then the rumors began. Slut, they called her. Queer. Psycho. Mentally ill, messed up, so messed up even her own mother decided she wasn't worth sticking around for.

If Laney could erase that whole year, she would. College is her chance to start with a clean slate.

She's not looking for new friends, but they find her: charming, handsome Armin, the only guy patient enough to work through her thorny defenses—and fiery, filterless Blythe, the bad girl and partner in crime who has thorns of her own.

But Laney knows nothing good ever lasts. When a ghost from her past resurfaces—the bully who broke her down completely—she decides it's time to live up to her own legend. And Armin and Blythe are going to help.

Which was the plan all along.

Because the rumors are true. Every single one. And Laney is going to show them just how true.

She's going to show them all.

‘Scars tell a story. My whole life was written on my body. How are you supposed to leave the past behind when you carry it with you in your skin?’

Laney Keating is a troubled teen questioning her sexuality while battling bullies and a severe drug addiction. She just wants to successfully make it to college so that she can start completely over with a fresh slate. That’s the bottom line, however, that doesn’t even begin to touch the contorted sort of life she leads. Still reeling from her mother’s suicide, Laney becomes intensely close with two individuals: Armin and Blythe. After finding out the details of her sordid story, the two agree to help her get back at those that hurt her so she can finally get the revenge she’s been dying for for so long.

‘I am not the heroine of this story.
And I’m not trying to be cute. It’s the truth. I’m diagnosed borderline and seriously fucked-up. I hold grudges. I bottle my hate until it ferments into poison, and then I get high off the fumes.’

First and foremost, Black Iris is one seriously dark and twisted thrill-ride of a tale. With a sense of being on a rollercoaster whipping you to and fro, the story throws us back in the past and forward into the future with each alternating chapter, slowly uncovering the facts of what caused Laney to become the sort of person she is. It’s such a thoroughly absorbing and well-written tale that keeping your facts straight isn’t ever a chore. And speaking of well-written, this book is simply sublime. Leah Raeder sees this world from a different perspective than the rest of us mere mortals. She sees this world in vibrant colors and intense detail and has the poetic ability to bring it to life for the rest of us.

‘I don’t categorize people by who I’m allowed to like and who I’m allowed to love. Love doesn’t fit into boxes like that. It’s blurry, slippery, quantum. It’s only limited by our perceptions and before we slap a label on it and cram it into some category, everything is possible.’

This book touches on a lot of severely dark aspects of life such as excessive drug use, mental illnesses such as depression and mania and not only the personal effects but how it manages to affect everyone in your life. It also tackles bullying, self-denigration and learning to come to terms with your sexuality despite it not being ‘the norm’. Revenge is a central part of the story as well and I loved how unrepentant Laney is about taking it, regardless of any ramifications. Her actions might not have been the easiest to understand or even to stomach, but her raw brutality still managed to be profound.

Black Iris may not be for everyone because its crudely savage and Laney remains remorseless to the very end without your quintessential self-realization over all the wrong that was done. But that crudeness is what completely ensnared me, shocked me and by the end left me completely stupefied (in the best way possible).

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Blog Tour + Review + Giveaway! The Deepest Poison (Clockwork Dagger Duology 0.5) by Beth Cato

April 24, 2015 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Book Tour, Early Review, Read in 2015 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.

Blog Tour + Review + Giveaway!  The Deepest Poison (Clockwork Dagger Duology 0.5) by Beth CatoThe Deepest Poison by Beth Cato
Published by Harper Voyager on April 28th 2015
Pages: 48
Genres: Steampunk
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon
Goodreads


three-half-stars

Octavia Leander, a young healer with incredible powers, has found her place among Miss Percival's medicians-in-training. Called to the frontlines of a never-ending war between Caskentia and the immoral Wasters, the two women must uncover the source of a devastating illness that is killing thousands of soldiers. But when Octavia's natural talents far outshine her teacher's, jealousy threatens to destroy their relationship—as time runs out to save the encampment.

 

Fans of Beth Cato's debut, The Clockwork Dagger, will love this journey into Octavia's past—as well as an exclusive excerpt from the sequel, The Clockwork Crown!

About Beth Cato

Beth Cato hails from Hanford, California, but currently writes and bakes cookies in a lair outside of Phoenix, Arizona. She shares the household with a hockey-loving husband, a number-obsessed son, and a cat the size of a canned ham.

‘Before I found Miss Leander, I had been the most powerful medician in Caskentia. My aptitude at a young age even enabled me to have an audience before the late King Kethan. Now it was as though I wore the customary headmistress title of Miss Percival simply because I had borne the name for so long, the way one wears shabby clothes because of sentimentality and good fit.’

The Deepest Poison is a short prequel story that introduces Octavia Leander, a young, powerful healer. Told from the point of view of her teacher, Miss Percival, it’s clear from the start that there is severe animosity between the two due to Miss Leander’s abundant powers. This story takes place at the front line of battle between Caskentia and the Wasters, the two healers must work together to uncover why soldiers are coming down with a deadly sickness.

To me, a good prequel story is a brief snippet that encourages your interest in a new series. While I’m sure that this prequel will reveal some future plotlines, it can be read before or after the full-length novels. I haven’t yet read The Clockwork Dagger so I went into this new world blind, however, my interest is definitely piqued. I loved the introduction to both main characters albeit short and sweet and the magical aspects of the story were most interesting and I look forward to them being delved into further.

‘The world of The Clockwork Dagger isn’t Earth, but it’s based on World War I and its aftermath. I made an effort to ground non-magical details in medical and military reality.’

What I loved most was discovering that this world and the ongoing war is built around the model of World War I. It’s always so fascinating to be in the know of what influenced an author to write such a story. The brief glimpse of this world is certainly intriguing and while your answers aren’t all answered, this was still a most satisfying prequel.

Winner will receive one copy of A Clockwork Dagger. US Only!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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This post was a part of ‘The Deepest Poison‘ blog tour.
Be sure to check out the other tour stops below!

Week One:
April 20 A Dream Within A Dream (Review)
April 21 Curling Up With A Good Book (Interview)
April 22 LuLo Fan Girl (Review)
April 23 iFandomsCollide (Guest Post)
April 24 For The Love of Words (Review)

Week Two:
April 27 Taking It One Book At A Time (Review)
April 28 Brooke Blogs (Guest Post)
April 29 Insane About Books (Spotlight)
April 30 Bibliophilia, Please (Review)
May 1 Goldilox and the Three Weres (Review)

Me, My Shelf & I

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Book Review – When We Were Animals by Joshua Gaylord

April 23, 2015 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2015 4 Comments

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

Book Review – When We Were Animals by Joshua GaylordWhen We Were Animals by Joshua Gaylord
Published by Mulholland Books on April 21st 2015
Pages: 336
Genres: Coming-of-Age, Gothic, Horror
Format: ARC
Source: a Giveaway
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads


four-stars

A small, quiet Midwestern town, which is unremarkable save for one fact: when the teenagers reach a certain age, they run wild.

When Lumen Fowler looks back on her childhood, she wouldn't have guessed she would become a kind suburban wife, a devoted mother. In fact, she never thought she would escape her small and peculiar hometown. When We Were Animals is Lumen's confessional: as a well-behaved and over-achieving teenager, she fell beneath the sway of her community's darkest, strangest secret. For one year, beginning at puberty, every resident "breaches" during the full moon. On these nights, adolescents run wild, destroying everything in their path.

Lumen resists. Promising her father she will never breach, she investigates the mystery of her community's traditions and the stories erased from the town record. But the more we learn about the town's past, the more we realize that Lumen's memories are harboring secrets of their own.

A gothic coming-of-age tale for modern times, When We Were Animals is a dark, provocative journey into the American heartland.

‘We live our lives by measures of weeks, months, years, but the creatures we truly are, those are exposed in fractions of moments.’

Lumen Fowler recounts her childhood growing up in a small town in the Midwest that is anything but ordinary. Children in this town, once they hit puberty, they go through what is called “breaching” where they let go of all social constraints and literally run wild and naked in the streets at night when the moon is full. Lumen is a bit of a late bloomer and believes herself to be different from the other children until she inevitably succumbs with the need to feel the night air on her skin.

First and foremost, this is not a werewolf story despite how the summary seems to allude to it. There is no physical transformation that these children undergo, only a surrendering to the madness that we’ve all felt stirring inside us at one time or another. The fact that this all occurs beneath the light of the full moon seems to be pure happenstance. When We Were Animals brought to life the horrors of coming of age and learning to navigate the trickiness betwixt childhood and adulthood.

‘…she was some nightmarish inversion of the person who had played in the sprinklers with me years before. This girl was raw, viperous, glutted on nature and night. They all were. Like coyotes, they made mockery, with their bleating voices, of those who needed light in order to feel safe.
And yet they were all too human.’

This was one of the most exquisitely written books I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. Vibrant and completely full of (animalistic) life. It’s not a traditional horror story, however, it is a very simplistic horror that we’ve all suffered through in life. It details a savageness; a rawness. It was incredible. The plot itself is quite meandering, just as growing up seems to take forever to get through. Also, like a typical teenager that can’t wait to grow up and for life to finally happen (of which it never seems to meet your expectations), this story never amounted to anything. I kept anticipating something monumental that never came. Still, this story of growing up is well worth the effort.

‘In the daylight you scoff at the shadows you cowered from the night before.’

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Early Review – Local Girls: A Novel by Caroline

April 18, 2015 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2015 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.

Early Review – Local Girls: A Novel by CarolineLocal Girls: A Novel by Caroline Zancan
Published by Riverhead on June 30th 2015
Pages: 288
Genres: Contemporary
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads


three-stars

The first person to break your heart isn’t always your boyfriend. Sometimes it’s your best friend.

Maggie, Lindsey, and Nina have been friends for most of their lives. The girls grew up together in a dead-end Florida town on the outskirts of Orlando, and the love and loyalty they have for one another have been their only constants. Now nineteen and restless, the girls spend empty summer days bouncing between unfulfilling jobs, the beach, and their favorite local bar, The Shamrock. It’s there that a chance encounter with a movie star on the last night of his life changes everything.

Passing through Orlando, Sam Decker comes to The Shamrock seeking anonymity, but finds Maggie, Lindsey, and Nina instead. Obsessed with celebrity magazines that allow them a taste of the better lives they might have had, the girls revel in his company. But the appearance of Lila, the estranged former member of the girls’ group, turns the focus to their shared history, bringing all their old antagonisms to the surface—Lila’s defection to Orlando’s country club school when her father came into some money, and the strange, enchanting boy she brought into their circle, who fundamentally altered dynamics that had been in play for years. By the night’s end, the escalation of these long-buried issues forces them to see one another as the women they are now instead of the girls they used to be.

With an uncanny eye for the raw edges of what it means to be a girl and a heartfelt sense of the intensity of early friendship, Local Girls is a look at both the profound role celebrity plays in our culture, and how the people we know as girls end up changing the course of our lives.

‘We loved one another purely, without the complications teenage girls so often bring to everything. But I wouldn’t be telling it right if I didn’t also tell you that it felt, by that night, that a sense of uneasy anticipation filled any room the three of us were in.’

Local Girls centers around the lives of three girls that have become reluctantly resigned to a monotonous life in their small hometown that sits on the outskirts of Orlando, Florida. Their jobs are ultimately unsatisfying and are only kept as a necessity since the majority of their time is spent at the local bar named The Shamrock. When they walked into the bar Saturday night, a bar that smelled of cheap beer and salty ocean air, the last person they ever would have expected to see sitting at the bar was an actual celebrity by the name of Sam Decker. Sam Decker, a celebrity the trio knew everything about him there was to know from celebrity magazines, changed their perception of everything and they saw the life they had already resigned themselves to from a fresh set of eyes. His presence changed everything.

Zancan creates an impressive analysis of multiple characters, the intricacies of friendship and ultimately the void left when those friendships unravel. Maggie, Lindsey, and Nina have been best friends for as long as they can remember. They weren’t always just a trio; their group used to number five. The presence of celebrity Sam Decker and his awareness of the animosity between the trio and a new girl that arrived at the bar that Saturday night stirred up questions of the past and what ultimately caused the rift. As the girls begin to share bits and pieces of their story with him, they begin to reevaluate how the simplest of actions caused them to get to where they are now and as the story progresses they begin to realize that maybe they aren’t quite as resigned to how their lives ended up as they once thought they were.

‘Maybe I had reached the point of drunkenness where you talk just to hear yourself and reckless ideas take shape, but it suddenly occurred to me that if even a movie star joining our table couldn’t change the routines and settings of our Saturday night, maybe we were doomed to a life where nothing ever changes.’

The addition of the celebrity character, which ultimately caused them to dredge up their full story initially, still managed to feel like an irrelevant inclusion since I felt these characters were already on the path of self-reflection. And while I loved how crass and unrepentant the trio was, the story coalesced into something much less intense than I had foreseen. I hoped for more for these characters; that they would overcome their small-town mentality and their complete acceptance of what they saw as their fate. This story will leave you only a twinkle of hope for these girls but it seems as if that’s the best we can hope for.

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Early Review – Eight Hundred Grapes: A Novel by Laura Dave

April 17, 2015 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2015 2 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 – Eight Hundred Grapes: A Novel by Laura DaveEight Hundred Grapes: A Novel by Laura Dave
Published by Simon & Schuster on June 2nd 2015
Pages: 272
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads


four-stars

There are secrets you share, and secrets you hide…

Growing up on her family’s Sonoma vineyard, Georgia Ford learned some important secrets. The secret number of grapes it takes to make a bottle of wine: eight hundred. The secret ingredient in her mother’s lasagna: chocolate. The secret behind ending a fight: hold hands.

But just a week before her wedding, thirty-year-old Georgia discovers her beloved fiancé has been keeping a secret so explosive, it will change their lives forever.

Georgia does what she’s always done: she returns to the family vineyard, expecting the comfort of her long-married parents, and her brothers, and everything familiar. But it turns out her fiancé is not the only one who’s been keeping secrets…

Bestselling author Laura Dave has been dubbed “a wry observer of modern love” (USA TODAY), a “decadent storyteller” (Marie Claire), and “compulsively readable” (Woman’s Day). Set in the lush backdrop of Sonoma’s wine country, Eight Hundred Grapes is a heartbreaking, funny, and deeply evocative novel about love, marriage, family, wine, and the treacherous terrain in which they all intersect.

‘Synchronization. Systems operating with all their parts in synchrony, said to be synchronous, or in sync. The interrelationship of things that might normally exist separately.

In physics: It’s called simultaneity. In music: rhythm.

In your life: epic failure.’

A mere week before Georgia is set to marry, when she’s in the middle of her final dress fitting, she sees something on the street that leaves her questioning everything about life and relationship. Incapable of any rational thinking, she gets in her car still clad in her wedding gown and drives to her childhood home seeking solace. Unfortunately, her arrival is unexpected and she discovers things at home are also complicated making her feel yet again that she has no idea what has been going on around her and she has no idea how to even begin to handle it all.

Eight Hundred Grapes takes you straight into the heart of wine country: Sebastopol, CA in Sonoma County. Dave impeccably describes the rolling green hills, the winding roads and the foggy mornings before the sun breaks through. If you’ve ever been there personally, her detailed descriptions will successfully dredge up all of your memories of this beautiful place.

 The detailed descriptions also extend to the multi-faceted characters that grace these pages. Georgia was an incredible character that had an admirable relationship with her parents, especially her father, that was really quite touching. The way she managed to face a whole slew of personal drama was done in a way that can not only be understood but appreciated. Grapes might at first seem like your typical family drama but it has a definite quality and character to it that was most appealing with writing that did an incredible job in perfectly describing feelings that can so often be difficult to convey in words. This story really snuck up on me in terms of feeling and emotion; I wasn’t expecting to become as involved in the outcome of the characters as much as I did but Dave’s writing and sense of normalcy really pull you into the story.

‘Wasn’t that the gift of a home? You looked at it the same way, but then when you needed it to, it showed you all over again the many ways you’d been during the time that you had been living there. The many ways it had brought you back to yourself. The many ways it still brought you back to yourself.’

Eight Hundred Grapes is a poignant tale of learning to deal with the imperfections of life, about listening to your heart and the significance of having somewhere you can truly call home.

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Early Review – The Fair Fight: A Novel by Anna Freeman

April 11, 2015 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2015 1 Comment

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

Early Review – The Fair Fight: A Novel by Anna FreemanThe Fair Fight: A Novel by Anna Freeman
Published by Riverhead on April 14th 2015
Pages: 480
Format: eARC
Source: First to Read Program
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads


two-half-stars

The Crimson Petal and the White meets Fight Club: A page-turning novel set in the world of female pugilists and their patrons in late eighteenth-century England.
Moving from a filthy brothel to a fine manor house, from the world of street fighters to the world of champions, The Fair Fight is a vivid, propulsive historical novel announcing the arrival of a dynamic new talent.

Born in a brothel, Ruth doesn’t expect much for herself beyond abuse. While her sister’s beauty affords a certain degree of comfort, Ruth’s harsh looks set her on a path of drudgery. That is until she meets pugilist patron George Dryer and discovers her true calling—fighting bare knuckles in the prize rings of Bristol.

Manor-born Charlotte has a different cross to bear. Scarred by smallpox, stifled by her social and romantic options, and trapped in twisted power games with her wastrel brother, she is desperate for an escape.

After a disastrous, life-changing fight sidelines Ruth, the two women meet, and it alters the perspectives of both of them. When Charlotte presents Ruth with an extraordinary proposition, Ruth pushes dainty Charlotte to enter the ring herself and learn the power of her own strength.

A gripping, page-turning story about people struggling to transcend the circumstances into which they were born and fighting for their own places in society, The Fair Fight is a raucous, intoxicating tale of courage, reinvention, and fighting one’s way to the top.

“I’d like to say that my beginnings were humble, but they weren’t beginnings, because I never really left them but for a short while.”

The Fair Fight is told from three separate points of view that details the way of life for three very different individuals in diverse social classes in 18th century Bristol. We’re first given Ruth’s tale which starts this book off with a bang. Born in a brothel, Ruth never had any aspirations of ever rising her station until one day she’s seen fighting her sister and she’s suddenly being trained and thrust into a boxing ring. She becomes near unstoppable and becomes known everywhere as Miss Matchet from The Hatchet. Ruth was quite a compelling and gutsy woman with a gripping story told in lower-class slang and I would have gladly read this book told entirely from her point of view. In fact, I think I actually would have preferred it.

Next, we shift down a few gears and are taken inside the walls of an English boarding school where we are introduced to roommates and friends, George and Perry. Their tale was extremely long and sordid and went on for so long that I quickly lost interest after Ruth’s fascinating tale. We’re then given the story of Perry’s sister, Charlotte. Her story is one chock full of torment at the hands of her brother. After surviving the pox yet being left dreadfully scarred, her scars becomes the sole focus of Perry’s cruelty. It was a vast change from the Perry we see through the “rose-colored” eyes of George. The multiple storylines left things quite convoluted and excessively long and drawn out and none of them quite compared to the fascinating parts of the story centered around Ruth.

When a book is being called the “female Fight Club“, well, those are some mighty big boots to fill. Also, it’s a bit misleading since in all actuality very little of this story truly focused on female pugilists (I felt more focus actually ended up being given to the male fighters when it was all said and done). The majority of the story is comprised of nothing more than Victorian drama and of the way of life in the 18th century. It wasn’t that it was all terribly uninteresting because there were aspects that I did enjoy, the problem was that everything was all so long and drawn out. I understand the need to set the scene, explain everyone’s back-story, but it was so overdone that it threw off the pacing, caused me to get a bit lost in the detail and detracted from my ultimate enjoyment of the story itself. The writing was brilliant at times and I got definite Sarah Waters vibes but while there were parts of this that I thoroughly enjoyed, there were much more that I didn’t.

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Early Review – Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke (Prisoner of Night and Fog #2) by Anne Blankman

April 10, 2015 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2015, YA 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 – Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke (Prisoner of Night and Fog #2) by Anne BlankmanConspiracy of Blood and Smoke by Anne Blankman
Series: Prisoner of Night and Fog #2
Published by Balzer + Bray on April 21st 2015
Pages: 416
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance, WWII
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Prisoner of Night and Fog

three-half-stars

In this thrilling sequel to Prisoner of Night and Fog—perfect for fans of Code Name Verity—Gretchen and Daniel must uncover dark secrets and revisit old enemies to unravel a dangerous conspiracy.

In 1930s Oxford, the days are long and pleasant, the people simple and straightforward.

Except for one.

The girl known as Gretchen Whitestone has a secret: she used to be part of Adolf Hitler’s inner circle. More than a year after she made an enemy of her old family friend and fled Munich, she lives with a kindly English family, posing as an ordinary German immigrant, and is preparing to graduate from high school. Her love, Daniel Cohen, is a reporter in town. For the first time in her life, Gretchen is content.

But then Daniel gets a telegram that sends him back to Germany, and Gretchen’s world turns upside down. And when she receives word that Daniel is wanted for murder, she has to face the danger she thought she’d escaped—and return to her homeland.

Gretchen must do everything she can to avoid capture, even though saving Daniel will mean consorting with her former friends, the Nazi elite. And as they work to clear Daniel’s name, Gretchen and Daniel discover a deadly conspiracy stretching from the slums of Berlin to the Reichstag itself. Can they dig up the explosive truth and get out in time—or will Hitler discover them first?

Prisoner of Night and Fog series

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Prisoner of Night and Fog (Prisoner of Night and Fog #1) by Anne Blankman {PurchaseMy Review}

‘It was starting. What Hitler had always promised – the Party and Germany were becoming one. The union that she had once thought sounded so perfect. Now it terrified her.’

 The year is 1933. Gretchen and Daniel have managed to extricate themselves from the dangers of Germany and have been slowly rebuilding their lives in England. Their lives are far from perfect and they both miss their families, but they’re at least safe. When Daniel receives a telegram with terrible news about an incident involving his family he rushes back to Germany without a second thought. Gretchen, being unable to remain sitting in safety while constantly wracked with worry, packs her bags and follows him straight back into danger.

Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke centers around the mystery behind the factual Reichstag fire. Gretchen and Daniel feel that if they can expose the lies surrounding the fire that they can hopefully put a stop to Hitler’s rise to power. I actually knew very little about the fire prior to this read so a little investigation of my own was needed. It was shocking to learn just how important that fire became in establishing Nazi Germany because as a result of the fire, Hitler was able to get the Reichstag Fire Decree passed which subsequently suspended civil liberties of German citizens. This Decree remained in effect throughout WWII, technically legalizing many of Hitler’s actions according to German law. That time in history will never cease to shock me.

This second installment in the duology was a solid one with the inclusion of actual historical events adding some legitimacy to this tale. The characters seemed to be constantly placing themselves needlessly in danger but I can’t decide whether it was actually or the fact that we know the outcome of it all made it just seem like a lost cause. Akin to horror movies where people are constantly making the worst possible decisions and you’re screaming at them to stop, I was begging them to stop from the very start when Gretchen and Daniel both travel back to Germany and right into Hitler’s dangerous hands. But considering it from their point of view, they may have understood the danger as it was during that time, but they couldn’t even begin to understand just how terrible it would truly get.

Equally knowledgeable and thrilling, this is a must-read for historical fiction fans. What I loved most about this duology is how interesting it was to read a story that was set well before the war, just as Hitler was first gaining power. While we are all cognizant of the occurrences of WWII, it was still hard not to hope that Gretchen and Daniel would actually succeed.

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Early Review – The Sunlit Night by Rebecca Dinerstein

April 4, 2015 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2015 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.

Early Review – The Sunlit Night by Rebecca DinersteinThe Sunlit Night by Rebecca Dinerstein
Published by Bloomsbury USA on June 2nd 2015
Pages: 272
Genres: Contemporary
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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one-star

From an exhilarating new voice, a stunning debut novel—which Jonathan Safran Foer calls as "lyrical as a poem, psychologically rich as a thriller."

The story of two lives that intersect ninety-five miles above the Arctic Circle, The Sunlit Night is written in prose so nimble it skips lightly atop the surface of the constantly illuminated landscape while exploring the depth and complexity of the human condition.

Shortly after her college graduation, Frances flees a painful breakup and her claustrophobic childhood home in Manhattan, which has become more airless in the aftermath of two family announcements: her parents' divorce and her younger sister's engagement. She seeks refuge in an apprenticeship at an isolated Norwegian artists' colony, but finds only one painter living there: Nils, an enigmatic middle-aged descendant of the Sami reindeer hunters who specializes in the color yellow.

Yasha, an eighteen-year-old Russian immigrant raised in a bakery in Brighton Beach, is kneading bread in the shop's window when he sees his mother for the first time in a decade. As he gains a selfish and unreliable parent, he loses his beloved father. He must carry out his father's last wish to be buried "at the top of the world" and reconcile with the charismatic woman who abandoned them both.

Frances's and Yasha's unlikely connection and growing romance fortifies them against the turmoil of their distant homes. They discover that to be alone is not always to be lonely, and that however far they travel for independence, it is ultimately love that gives them their place in the world.

This is a very unhappy, very long review, full of my eye-twitching adventures through the pages of Sunlit Night. Oh, and just a warning for those of you that frown upon gif-filled reviews? Run. Run while you still can.

I don’t derive any sort of pleasure from reading a book I hate. I don’t like hating books in general, but alas, it does happen. My 11-year-old asked me just last night, “Do you ever read a book and really don’t like it?” I laughed and told him, “Of course, you can’t expect to like every single book you read. Sometimes it can be poorly written, sometimes it can have characters that you just can’t understand, but yes, there are books I’ve read that I have not liked and some I’ve even hated.” The book that flashed through my head when he mentioned hating a book? This book. What’s funny is for the longest time, The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls took the cake for book I hated the most. That book, which I renamed in seething tones ‘Horsey Camp’, became my reference point for one star ratings. “I didn’t like this at all, BUT… is it Horsey Camp bad?” Well, now I have a new reference point. I haven’t come up with a nickname yet. I’m taking suggestions.

So what is this strange little ridiculous book even about? We have two main characters, Frances and Yasha, and the story switches between both of their points-of-view. Frances is in her early twenties and she’s just been dumped by her college boyfriend. She returns to her childhood home where the house is in turmoil because her sister just got engaged and her parents basically hate the guy. There is talk of disowning her. Of not attending her wedding. Soap opera stuff. Frances decides to accept an apprenticeship at a Viking Museum in Lofoten, Norway. Her parents tell her good, because they’re also breaking up so she won’t have a home to live in. It’s all very dramatic. Frances also has thoughts of whether her parents are good kissers, but I’m getting ahead of myself. So Frances leaves to go find herself and to paint with some Vikings.

Nope. The Vikings weren’t badass like Ragnar or anything unfortunately.

Yasha is a seventeen-year-old kid that has a lot of angst. Him and his father immigrated from Russia, leaving his mother behind, and have been running a bakery in Brooklyn for the last decade. His mother shows up randomly one day telling Yasha that he needs to tell his father that she wants a divorce. You know, like an adult. Yasha’s father isn’t well and doesn’t think he’ll be able to handle the news so he refuses to be the one to tell him. His father announces a glorious adventure he has planned that involves them going back to Russia because he’s determined to get his wife back. Yeah, awkward. Yasha still doesn’t tell him and the two travel all the way to Russia with his father in denial about the fact that she isn’t even there anymore. His father finds out about the divorce anyways. As was expected, he doesn’t take it well… at all. Yasha becomes intent to honor his last wishes, to be buried “at the top of the world.” So Yasha travels to the land of the Vikings where our two main characters meet.

Yasha also has many, many inappropriate comments about his parents. Yes, I sense a theme as well. “What do you even consider ‘inappropriate’? You’re probably overreacting.” Well, since you asked.

‘I wanted to know if my father had been a good kisser. I wanted to know how many men had kissed my mother, and how well. I wanted to know if she planned on kissing new men now. I wanted to know if my mother was a good kisser.’

That lovely line was the first inappropriate comment (from Frances) of MANY you can expect. This was after her parents announced they’re splitting up. Because yes, my parents are divorcing, I shall sit here and contemplate whether it was their kissing skills that ultimately destroyed their love. Frances was the least inappropriate, thankfully, although there was a lot of thought given to her Viking roommate and his pooping habits (no, not kidding) but that wasn’t terribly inappropriate. Just weird. Very, very weird.

Brace yourself. Here comes the super awkward stuff.

‘Yasha imagined his mother’s panties. He imagined his mother wearing different panties for every day of the week. It’s Friday. It’s Saturday.’

“His mother, reclining on her rock, with her body unfurled, looked unquestionably like a woman. Yasha had in some sense never understood her this way – he didn’t know if she shaved her armpits or legs, what creams she kept by the mirror, whether she slept naked or in shorts […]”

‘He entertained the gross, exhilarating idea of his mother being a talented lover. Physically. He wanted to inherit some of her talent.’

I know. I’m terribly sorry to have to do that to you but I needed you to understand! Sunlit Night is the authors debut novel, however, she wrote poetry before and it is evident in a few small sections that I really enjoyed. The area in Norway that the novel is based in is where the sun never sets. Frances and her Viking roommate will often get in the car late at night and just drive and the descriptions of their car trips when the light was dimmest were lush and inviting.

‘These hours were characterized by a wildness of colors, the combined power of a sunset and sunrise. It was easy to watch the horizon for hours straight, the sun in perpetual motion, the sky turning orange and cranberry until at three it returned to blue, and I felt ready for bed.’

‘In every meadow grew white and yellow grasses. Waterfall veins streaked the mountains, and a little rain in the air prepared the sky for rainbows. We drove through a passing wink of colors, a natural hologram.’

Honestly, those lines did nothing but make me angry because those were literally the only lines that I enjoyed reading. Those lines show a potential this novel might have had but never came close to achieving. But who knows, I could be completely wrong. Publisher’s Weekly calls this novel captivating. They also called this novel a rich reading experience with lyrical and silky prose. Did I also mention they gave this a starred review? Kirkus called this a “deliciously melancholy debut”.

Not only was this an extraordinarily painful read, it was incredibly boring. Dinerstein might have her descriptive detail of landscapes down pat, but her characters are flat and one-dimensional. Their actions lack any sort of clarity and their emotions (if they even have any) are kept completely in the dark. Even when the requisite romance is introduced between our two characters, it comes completely out of nowhere.

‘I will not lose Yasha. Maybe his mother had lost him, maybe his father had lost him, Brooklyn had lost him – not me. It wasn’t a matter of somebody keeping him. It was a matter of my wanting him, wanting his face near my face.’

This is clearly a moment that was meant to be profound, however, because of the complete lack of chemistry between Frances and Yasha it lacks any sort of passion. When the two part ways they contemplate what could be between the two, yet there’s no evidence of where these thoughts even came from. The whole idea of both of them being lost and finding each other would work a whole lot better as to explaining their affections for one another if we actually witnessed said affection. It wasn’t even instalove, because while the love was instant, the author could describe it all she wanted but I never saw it. Less telling, more showing.

Reputable magazines can shout loudly from the rooftops about how amazing this one is, but I just didn’t see it. At all. I’ll leave you all with my favorite line of the bunch.

‘To Yasha, the word business meant bread or sex.’

Whatever the fuck that’s supposed to mean.

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Early Review – 99 Days by Katie Cotugno

March 28, 2015 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2015, YA 1 Comment

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 – 99 Days by Katie Cotugno99 Days by Katie Cotugno
Published by Balzer + Bray on April 21st 2015
Pages: 384
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
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Also by this author: How to Love

three-stars

Day 1: Julia Donnelly eggs my house my first night back in Star Lake, and that’s how I know everyone still remembers everything—how I destroyed my relationship with Patrick the night everything happened with his brother, Gabe. How I wrecked their whole family. Now I’m serving out my summer like a jail sentence: Just ninety-nine days till I can leave for college, and be done.

Day 4: A nasty note on my windshield makes it clear Julia isn’t finished. I’m expecting a fight when someone taps me on the shoulder, but it’s just Gabe, home from college and actually happy to see me. “For what it’s worth, Molly Barlow,” he says, “I’m really glad you’re back.”

Day 12: Gabe got me to come to this party, and I’m actually having fun. I think he’s about to kiss me—and that’s when I see Patrick. My Patrick, who’s supposed to be clear across the country. My Patrick, who’s never going to forgive me.

‘Patrick was my person, my other half. I never felt stuck or cut off or like there was other stuff I’d rather be doing, never felt like there was anyplace else I’d rather be.
At least, not until the moment it did.’

Molly Barlow has only 99 days before she can leave for college and those days can’t go by fast enough for her. Molly and Patrick were childhood friends turned first loves when they drifted apart just long enough for her to fall into the arms of Gabe, Patrick’s brother. This subsequently caused Julia, their sister and Molly’s best friend, to end their friendship completely. She also seems to be intent on making those 99 days some of the worst for her.

‘It’ll make a great story someday. She said that, she told me what was going to happen, so really there’s no earthly reason to still be so baffled after all this time that I told her the worst, most secret, most important thing in my life – and she wrote a best-selling book about it.’

The truth behind the indiscretion between Molly and Gabe had managed to stay hidden until her mother, an author, decided to take the story her daughter confided in her and use it as the inspiration for her new novel. But that’s all in the past, however, no one seems to have forgotten it in the year she’s been gone. The only one that actually seems happy to see her again is Gabe and slowly but surely she develops a relationship with the other brother. But forgetting about what her and Patrick once shared doesn’t seem to be as simple as she’d like.

This story was a complete train wreck to watch unfold. It’s one of those that you can’t in all honesty say you ‘enjoyed’ but the story still possessed a strong emotional resonance. And while Molly’s actions may not have been right, the brothers were just as much at fault yet it was Molly that took the full brunt of the blame and ostracizing. As a reader we have to watch Molly continue to recreate past wrongs, all the while knowing that not a single bit of good is going to come of it all. But as far as love triangles go, it was quite possibly one of the most realistic I’ve ever read. Forgetting your first love is never easy and becoming involved in their lives again can lead to some sticky situations. Even with Molly developing feelings for Gabe, seeing Patrick together with another girl caused a multitude of confusing emotions that she struggled to understand. Faced with a situation like that, her actions are almost understandable, but it still made it no less difficult a read.

Katie Cotugno continues to impress with her stories that push the envelope and while How to Love is still my favorite, there’s no denying that 99 Days is a smart, complex tale about emotions and the havoc they can wreak.

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