Posts Categorized: New Adult

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

May 19, 2017 Bonnie Book Reviews, New Adult, Read in 2017 4 Comments

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

three-half-stars

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

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

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

A Court of Thorns and Roses series

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

Well, it’s finally here.

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

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

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

And now onto the bad.

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I’ll do my best.

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

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

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

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

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

Also by this author: Queen of Shadows

four-stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 30, 2016 Bonnie Book Reviews, New Adult, Read in 2016 5 Comments

Book Review – A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2) by Sarah J. MaasA Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #2
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on May 3rd 2016
Pages: 640
Genres: Fantasy, Fairy-Tales/Retellings
Format: eBook
Source: Library
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Goodreads

Also by this author: Queen of Shadows

five-stars

Feyre survived Amarantha's clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can't forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin's people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas's masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.

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I’M SORRY. I CAN’T DISCUSS THIS WITHOUT SOME SPOILERS. BEWARE.

“I was not a pet, not a doll, not an animal.
I was a survivor, and I was strong.
I would not be weak, or helpless again
I would not, could not be broken. Tamed.”

Feyre and Tamlin have survived Amarantha and have returned home, but things are no longer the same after everything they suffered through. Tamlin has taken his protective instincts to a terrifying new high and Feyre is slowly wasting away from her guilt and the nightmares that haunt her even during her waking hours. She wishes to serve a purpose, to learn to fight so that she could defend herself if need be, and to learn the ins and outs of her newly gained powers. Tamlin refuses to allow her to do anything and day after day Feyre loses more and more of herself. When Rhysand shows up to call on the bargain they made with one another when she was near death Under the Mountain, the time spent away from the Spring Court begins to open her eyes once more.

Basically, everything about the first book was injected with steroids and made infinitely better. I talked about what a strong and capable character Feyre was, and she was, and sure she’s fae now so she’s all magical but what an incredible character build. Simply incredible. Maas spends a lot of time detailing the darkness and guilt that had penetrated her mind and that mental strain was so saddening to read. The fact that she suffered through those things to save the one she loved only to have him hinder her healing and actually make it worse because of his own lingering suffering. If I had actually liked Tamlin in the first book I’d probably feel bad for him but I didn’t so I don’t. I have to also applaud the slow and steady build of the grasp on her powers too. It’s always nice in fantasy stories to see the characters have to actual struggle and work at shit rather than waking up and being an ultimate badass out of nowhere. Maas did an equally impressive job with Celaena in her Throne of Glass series so hats off to her.

“He thinks he’ll be remembered as the villain in the story. But I forgot to tell him that the villain is usually the person who locks up the maiden and throws away the key. He was the one who let me out.”

I picked at her and Tamlin’s relationship as well in the first book, noting its lack of depth. Sure, they had some steamy scenes but that’s ultimately all it was: physical. Well, holy shit sticks. Feyre and Tamlin were a complete and utter farce compared to Feyre and Rhysand. The passion and desire… it was palpable and I got so emotional that I straight up burst into tears on the freaking bike at the gym during an especially lovey moment. I’m not a big crier, for the record. I’m really curious if Maas went into this series with a complete game plan in mind in terms of the romance because the second book did a bit of a 180° which I think would have been hard for Tamlin fans to understand. Feyre doesn’t immediately jump to a new relationship though, it’s slowly navigated through for over half of this 640 page story and over many months of mental healing (which Rhysand also helps her with in such a way that Tamlin never did). And then before they even got to the actual romance there was plenty of flirting that had me screaming OH MY GAWD JUST FUCKING KISS ALREADY. Either way, I am all on board the Feyre and Rhysand train. Toot toot. Fun side note: I had a good time imagining Rhysand as David Gandy because why not. 😂

“My friend through many dangers. My lover who had healed my broken and weary soul. My mate who had waited for me against all hope, despite all odds.”

I’ve found that most books that have some an immense focus on the romance tends to slack off on other aspects of the book. I may be talking a lot about the romance because it was truly off the charts amazing, but there are other facets of this book that are equally deserving of note. Most especially would be the descriptions and characterizations of other members of the Night Court. The inner circle: Amren, Azriel, Mor, Cassian. Such comprehensively written characters that never faded to the background. They became Feyre’s family and it was wonderful to see her come back to life not just because of a new, passionate romance with someone that truly appreciated her but because of new friends that became new family. I also enjoyed the exquisite descriptions of the Night Court but most especially of Velaris — the City of Starlight.

Honestly, it’s near impossible sometimes to rationally discuss books that you loved. For a book blogger, I consider myself to be pretty restrained in regards to how crazy I get about books I love. But with A Court of Mist and Fury, there were moments where I felt so overwhelmed at how unbelievably awesome this story was that I couldn’t take it anymore and I started to think I should either take a break or find a paper bag to breathe into just to be safe. I may not have loved A Court of Thorns and Roses but I adored this book. There was excitement and badassery and the most passionate love that managed to make me envious for a pair of fictional character in addition to some of the steamiest sex scenes I have ever read and yes I have read my fair share. Simply put, it was superb and it’s going to be one hell of a long wait for May 2017 when the next installment comes out. Until then, I’ll just be over here.

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Book Review – Cam Girl by Leah Raeder

December 3, 2015 Bonnie Book Reviews, New Adult, Read in 2015 1 Comment

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

Book Review – Cam Girl by Leah RaederCam Girl by Leah Raeder
Published by Atria Books on November 3rd 2015
Pages: 432
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Diiiirrrrrrttyyy
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon|B&N|Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Black Iris

four-stars

Vada Bergen is broke, the black sheep of her family, and moving a thousand miles away from home for grad school, but she’s got the two things she loves most: her art and her best friend—and sometimes more—Ellis Carraway. Ellis and Vada have a friendship so consuming it’s hard to tell where one girl ends and the other begins. It’s intense. It’s a little codependent. And nothing can tear them apart.

Until an accident on an icy winter road changes everything.

Vada is left deeply scarred, both emotionally and physically. Her once-promising art career is cut short. And Ellis pulls away, unwilling to talk about that night. Everything Vada loved is gone.

She’s got nothing left to lose.

So when she meets some smooth-talking entrepreneurs who offer to set her up as a cam girl, she can’t say no. All Vada has to do is spend a couple hours each night stripping on webcam, and the “tips” come pouring in.

It’s just a kinky escape from reality until a client gets serious. “Blue” is mysterious, alluring, and more interested in Vada’s life than her body. Online, they chat intimately. Blue helps her heal. And he pays well, but he wants her all to himself. No more cam shows. It’s an easy decision: she’s starting to fall for him. But the steamier it gets, the more she craves the real man behind the keyboard. So Vada pops the question:

Can we meet IRL?

Blue agrees, on one condition. A condition that brings back a ghost from her past. Now Vada must confront the devastating secrets she's been running from—those of others, and those she's been keeping from herself...

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‘We fell apart. Broke each other’s hearts and screwed up our friendship. Now I’m adrift, unmoored without her. I keep treading water, looking for land. All I can see is endless blue.’

After Vada Bergen and her best friend Ellis Carraway are in a car accident, Vada slips into a depression after being injured and left with the inability to do the art which gave her life. Vada and Ellis aren’t just best friends, their relationship goes beyond that, but Vada has always struggled to accept her feelings of love towards Ellis. Even so, their bond still can’t withstand the after effects of the crash either and they drift apart. Unable to go back to school since her injury will barely allow her to hold a pencil, Vada chances upon meeting a couple that introduces her to the world of being a cam-girl; performing sexual acts on camera for anonymous strangers for money. She renames herself Morgan and becomes the companies highest earner with her signature move: a silk tie wrapped around her neck.

Morgan performs for strangers with an unwavering emotional detachment, but then one of her clients begins asking for personal one-on-one chats and then finally to meet in real-life. Ellis comes back into her life as well only jumbling her thoughts and feelings further. Vada has to make the decision to take the chance on a man she knows nothing about, or to re-attempt to accept her perplexing feelings for Ellis.

‘This world is so thick with ghosts it’s a wonder anyone can breathe.’

Leah Raeder continues to amaze me with her powerful novels that tackle those difficult subjects that are too often just easier to ignore. In Cam Girl, she tackles depression, gender-identity, same-sex relationships, and she tackles the sex trade. At first glance, you would probably say that that’s likely to be a bit overwhelming, and you wouldn’t be wrong. Raeder manages to handle these various different topics and their multiple facets with ease though. Her lyrical writing style is once again present in all its glory, transforming an ugly subject matter into something beautiful.

The focus on not just same-sex relationships but the confusion Vada felt due to her mother’s insistence she wasn’t really feeling what she knew she was feeling was a tough pill to swallow. Also, the way the sex trade was presented is definitely a hot topic for conversation. It may be because I just read Tricks and Traffick so I struggle to see the sex trade in anything but a negative light, but Vada used her role as a cam girl as a way to regain her confidence in life. It can be argued that this is healthy or not, but I appreciated having a new spin on that topic.

For those who have yet to experience one of Raeder’s books, you should know they get quite dark and extremely graphic. Her characters all possess their own unique darkness which they spill across the pages for you to experience. It doesn’t make her novels easy to read, but they are honest, full of passion, and brings to light those dormant topics that we should all be discussing.

‘This is what they don’t tell you about losing someone: It doesn’t happen once. It happens every day, every moment they’re missing from. You lose them a hundred times between waking and sleep, and even sleep is no respite, because you lose them in your dreams, too.’

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Cam Girl satisfies the ‘New Adult’ bingo square!

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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 for 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|B&N|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 addition. 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 effect 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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Black Iris satisfies the ‘Bullying’ bingo square!

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Waiting on Wednesday – Black Iris by Leah Raeder

February 11, 2015 Bonnie New Adult, Waiting on Wednesday 2 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – Black Iris by Leah RaederBlack Iris by Leah Raeder
Published by Atria Books on April 28th 2015
Pages: 368
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance, Suspense
Format: Paperback
Amazon|B&N|Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Black Iris

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.

About Leah Raeder

I was born in the 80s, which means I have fantastic taste in music and atrocious taste in hair. I knew at eight years old that I wanted to be a published author when I grew up. Of course, when I was eight, “published author” was a glamorous daydream where I spent all day in bookstores, signing hardcovers and posing for photos with fans. In reality, authordom involves lots of bourbon-scented tears and neurotic self-doubt. At least there are fewer mullets.

As well as being a writer, I’m a voracious and omnivorous reader. Seriously. I read everything from contemporary Young Adult to dense, doorstop literary fiction. Some of my favorite writers are Vladimir Nabokov (Lolita), Virginia Woolf (Mrs. Dalloway), F. Scott Fitzgerald (Tender is the Night), and Jeanette Winterson (Written on the Body). I’m a total poetry geek, too—my two absolute favorites are Emily Dickinson and Sylvia Plath.

All the pretty colors on this website were made by me. In my non-bookish life, I’m a graphic designer.

I’m from Chicago and have lived all over the world, from NYC to LA to Tehran, Iran. I currently live in the Windy City with my partner, Alexander, who’s very understanding about all this girlsmut business.

Basically Unteachable was so utterly fantastic that I didn’t even bother reading the summary before adding this.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me a link to your post and I’ll be sure to stop by!

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine

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Book Review – Unravel by Calia Read

October 17, 2014 Bonnie Book Reviews, New Adult, Read in 2014 1 Comment

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

Book Review – Unravel by Calia ReadUnravel by Calia Read
Published by Ballantine Books on August 26th 2014
Pages: 324
Genres: Mental Illness, Mystery, Suspense
Format: Paperback
Source: Library Thing
Amazon|B&N|Book Depository
Goodreads


two-half-stars

Six months ago, I was happy. I was simply Naomi Carradine.

One month ago, I was admitted into a psych ward.

Yesterday, Lachlan visited me. Kissed me. And told me that I’m starting to lose my mind.

Hours later, Max haunted my thoughts, reminding me I’m not crazy and that he needs my help.

A few minutes ago, I drifted further from reality, trying to unravel the past.

And now...everyone thinks I’m insane. But, I know he's real, and I know he needs me.

Do you believe me?

‘Listen closely. Hang on to every word. But most of all, please believe me.’

It’s been a full month since Naomi Carradine was involuntarily admitted to Fairfax Mental Health Institute. She’s adamant that she’s fine, healthy and ready to go home but the doctors are also adamant that it’s going to require more time for her to be ready. Her memories of the past leave her baffled and confused as to why her parents would ever put her in a place like this. As part of her therapy she begins to tell her story, her full story, and slowly the painful pieces of her life begin to piece back together.

Unravel was incredibly captivating from the very start. The story transitions between her present life in the mental health institute and various pieces of her past. I was thoroughly engrossed and eager to find out how Naomi got in the position she was in and with each new bit of information it continued to be intriguing but all conclusions I came to were shrouded in a haze and nothing made sense. I spent the majority of this book in a haze, questioning everything and disliking the character because of her actions.

It wasn’t pleasant, however, it still made for quite the page turner. It feels wrong to complain about the confusion the story causes only to have it all answered in the end, but I can’t help it. There were various instances where I was close to quitting, but as I said, it does make sense when you have the resolution but getting there is half the problem.

My main issue from the very beginning was the semblance of a love triangle that was happening. Naomi has returned home for the summer from college but is staying with her friend Lana’s parents as her parents are traveling Europe. Naomi went off to college, leaving behind Lachlan after the two professed their love for each other. Upon Naomi’s return however, she meets Max and their tumultuous affair is sudden and instantaneous. It’s incredibly hot and super steamy but it came straight outta left field.

‘…if you listened very carefully, you would hear the sound of a faint tear. That was just the sound of my heart unraveling like a torn ribbon.
All from one touch.’

This is the 2nd time they’ve met.

‘The hunger I had for him was like an addiction. It controlled me. It took away the power I thought I had and controlled every single action I made.’

This is the 3rd time they’ve met.

It was an eye-rolling good time. In addition to their mad infatuation with one another right off the bat, Max was doing things for her that no new boyfriend would ever do, like get crazy angry when something bad happened to Naomi’s friend and subsequently helped her pay rent when she needed to move into her own place. Again, it all becomes justified in the end and makes much more sense in retrospect but there were sections that were so ill-fitting that it made it a tough pill to swallow overall.

Unravel is a New Adult novel that touches on the deep topic of mental illness. Having read books that featured similar storylines, I can’t say Unravel was my favorite or that it was even portrayed accurately. Not being a doctor, I could be completely off the mark but some things just didn’t seem logical. I did enjoy the psychological twists overall though because they were shocking and kept me guessing right up till the very end. Just a heads up, there is one, maybe two incredibly violent scenes of rape that were very hard to read about.

I’ve been very wary about branching out into New Adult because the subject matter never sounds like my cup of tea. Unravel seemed to be possess an originality that I would enjoy so I took a leap of faith. While I wasn’t completely disappointed, I did expect more.

Unravel satisfies the ‘Romance’ bingo square!

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Cover Reveal – Love, In English by Karina Halle

January 8, 2014 Bonnie Cover Reveal, New Adult 1 Comment

Cover Reveal – Love, In English by Karina HalleLove, In English by Karina Halle
Published by Metal Blonde Books on April 20th 2014
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Goodreads

Also by this author: Come Alive

He’s thirty-eight. I’m twenty-three.
He speaks Spanish. I speak English.
He lives in Spain. I live in Canada.
He dresses in thousand-dollar suits. I’m covered in tattoos.
He’s married and has a five-year old daughter.
I’m single and can’t commit to anyone or anything.
Until now.

Because when they say you can’t choose who you fall in love with, boy ain’t that the f*#king truth.

To a restless dreamer like Vera Miles, it sounded like the experience of a lifetime. Instead of spending her summer interning for her astronomy major, she would fly to Spain where she’d spend a few weeks teaching conversational English to businessmen and women, all while enjoying free room and board at an isolated resort. But while Vera expected to get a tan, meet new people and stuff herself with wine and paella, she never expected to fall in love.

Mateo is unlike anyone Vera has ever known, let alone anyone she’s usually attracted to. While Vera is a pierced and tatted free spirit with a love for music and freedom, Mateo Casales is a successful businessman from Madrid, all sharp suits and cocky Latino charm. Yet, as the weeks go on, the two grow increasingly close and their relationship changes from purely platonic to something…more.

Something that makes Vera feel alive for the first time.
Something that can never, ever be.
Or so she thinks.

About Karina Halle

Karina Halle is a former travel writer and music journalist and the USA Today Bestselling author of Love, in English, The Artists Trilogy, and other wild and romantic reads. She lives in a 1920s farmhouse on an island off the coast of British Columbia with her husband and her rescue pup, where she drinks a lot of wine, hikes a lot of trails and devours a lot of books.

The silence crackled above our heads like a live wire. I could feel Jorge’s eyes on us as he reluctantly placed Mateo’s drink on the table and walked away. Part of me wished for him to come back, to break up the tension and the startling intensity in Mateo’s eyes. The other part was selfishly glad Jorge was leaving us in peace. When he disappeared back into the restaurant, Mateo and I were the only ones on the patio.

I broke away from his eyes, focusing instead on his bottle of Aguila and the condensation that ran down the sides, looking blissfully cool in the sticky night air. Through all the weeks of joking, talking, the innocent physical contact, now I was astutely nervous about being alone with him. It wasn’t so much that I was afraid of him – I was afraid of me. Ever since that remark at dinner, I’d been afraid of what I’d do to him, how I’d break that moral code I promised for myself.

He’s married, he’s married, he’s married, I told myself, watching a drop of water race from the beer to the table. His wife is beautiful and lovely, his daughter is sweet and you aren’t either of those things.
But I could only tell myself that so many times.
“Vera,” he said thickly. “Vera, look at me.” His voice was commanding, reaching a depth I hadn’t heard before.

My eyes slowly slid over to him. I tried to speak but could only suck in my lip, probably taking all my lipstick off.

“Show me the stars again,” he said. His eyes speared me like nothing else, his face becoming dangerously handsome.

I looked up to the clear sky, to see the stars, but he reached out and grabbed my hand. His touch was hot, like his fingers were searing into my skin, that feeling of entering a hot tub on a cold night. I couldn’t help the shiver that ran gently down my spine.

“Not those stars,” he said huskily, leaning forward. His lips were wet and slightly open. “Your stars. Why I call you Estrella.”

I swallowed hard, my pulse burning along. I turned around in my chair so my back was to him and lifted up my hair, gathering it on the top of my head.

His chair scraped loudly on the ground as he got up, a sound that struck a new kind of fear in me.

No. Not fear.

Anticipation.

I heard him stop right behind me. I held my breath, wondering what he was going to do.
One rough finger pressed down against the back of my neck, right on the spine where the tattoo began. I closed my eyes to the feeling, the currents it caused, traveling all the way down, making me wet. Jesus, I needed to get a hold of myself.

“What star is this?” he asked, sounding like silk. I could wrap myself in his voice.

“Alpharatz,” I whispered, as if I was letting him in on a secret. Maybe I was.

His finger slid diagonally down, a trail of fire across the Pegasus line. “And this one?”

“Markab.”

“Why Pegasus?”

I paused, the truth on my lips. Fuck it. We’d been nothing but honest with each other. “Because I want to fly free. And there’s no place higher than the stars.”

He didn’t say anything for a few beats. I was tempted to turn around, to look at him, but I didn’t want him to take his finger off my neck. I was leaving in three days. He was going back to his family. This was all I had, his skin on my stars.

He leaned in, his hot breath at my neck. “Are you afraid that love will clip your wings?”

His words sank into me, making my blood buzz. Love. This was too hazardous a subject to discuss with him, not now. Not ever. With my breath shaking, I inched my neck away from his mouth and turned to face him.
“No,” I said, looking him straight in the eye. “I’m afraid that losing love will.”

His expression softened. He looked at my lips, his beautifully long eyelashes casting shadows on his tawny skin.

“Then that makes two of us,” he whispered softly and for a long second I thought he was going to get it over with and finally kiss me, put an end to this strain between us, the yearning that made me ache inside. But he straightened up, his gaze avoiding mine, and went to retrieve his beer from the table.

The author will be giving away one signed paperback ARC of Love, In English (winner will receive ARC in March)

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Book Review – Flat-Out Love (Flat-Out Love #1) by Jessica Park

September 28, 2011 Bonnie Book Reviews, New Adult, Read in 2011 0 Comments

Book Review – Flat-Out Love (Flat-Out Love #1) by Jessica ParkFlat-Out Love by Jessica Park
Published by Self-Published on May 18th 2011
Pages: 400
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon
Goodreads


five-stars

Flat-Out Love is a warm and witty novel of family love and dysfunction, deep heartache and raw vulnerability, with a bit of mystery and one whopping, knock-you-to-your-knees romance.

Something is seriously off in the Watkins home. And Julie Seagle, college freshman, small-town Ohio transplant, and the newest resident of this Boston house, is determined to get to the bottom of it.

When Julie's off-campus housing falls through, her mother's old college roommate, Erin Watkins, invites her to move in. The parents, Erin and Roger, are welcoming, but emotionally distant and academically driven to eccentric extremes. The middle child, Matt, is an MIT tech geek with a sweet side ... and the social skills of a spool of USB cable. The youngest, Celeste, is a frighteningly bright but freakishly fastidious 13-year-old who hauls around a life-sized cardboard cutout of her oldest brother almost everywhere she goes.

And there's that oldest brother, Finn: funny, gorgeous, smart, sensitive, almost emotionally available. Geographically? Definitely unavailable. That's because Finn is traveling the world and surfacing only for random Facebook chats, e-mails, and status updates. Before long, through late-night exchanges of disembodied text, he begins to stir something tender and silly and maybe even a little bit sexy in Julie's suddenly lonesome soul.

To Julie, the emotionally scrambled members of the Watkins family add up to something that ... well ... doesn't quite add up. Not until she forces a buried secret to the surface, eliciting a dramatic confrontation that threatens to tear the fragile Watkins family apart, does she get her answer.

Flat-Out Love comes complete with emails, Facebook status updates, and instant messages.

Oh my, I ended up loving this book far more than I thought I would. I don’t know about you, but when I think of ‘self-published’ I cringe and I generally tend to avoid reading them as my experience has led to the expectation of them generally being a waste of time (as the writing tends to resemble my youngest child’s book reports). After hearing such lovely, positive, statements regarding ‘Flat Out Love’ I figured it was worth a try to see what all the fuss was about.

So I’ve typed out my typical ‘Storyline’ paragraph quite a few times and every time I write it out I make the book sound ridiculously corny. For those of you who have read it, I’m sure you understand. For those of you who have read it, let me just put it to you this way. This book is one of a kind with a wonderfully original storyline to boot. This was an extremely well-written novel; no choppy 8 year old sentences here.

The characters literally came into existence right before your eyes and were so full of life that I often had to take a short break to absorb and really try and understand what I had read. I’m not saying this was a complex novel that required a lot of thought; however, there is so much feeling behind every word that it can leave you more than a little moved.

As much as the idea of crushing on a penpal or someone you’ve never met before sounds ridiculously silly … well Jessica Park makes this possible. I think I even fell in love with Finn to be honest here. All of the relationships that the characters develop with each other (Julie and Matt, Julie and Finn, Julie and Celeste) made me practically envious.

There was so much about this book that I absolutely loved: the uniqueness of it all, the simplistic yet complex storyline, the so very real characters, the many laughs and smiles that I got, and the Christmas decoration scene? It made my heart melt.

But that’s what love does to you. Gut-wrenching, overpowering, crushing, fulfilling, complex, bring-you-to-your-knees love. Highly recommended for those looking for a sweet, heartwarming book.

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