Posts Categorized: Read in 2014

Book Review – Revelations (The Elysium Chronicles #2) by J.A. Souders

January 24, 2014 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2014, YA 8 Comments

Book Review – Revelations (The Elysium Chronicles #2) by J.A. SoudersRevelations by J.A. Souders
Series: The Elysium Chronicles #2
Published by Tor Teen on November 5, 2013
Pages: 352
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic, Romance
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Renegade

three-stars

Six weeks after her arrival on the Surface, Evelyn Winters is no closer to unlocking the memories lost in her subconscious than she was when she first came. Isolated in a strange new society, Evie has only Gavin Hunter to remind her of who she once was.

But even with a clean slate, it’s easy to see that Evie doesn’t fit in on the Surface. And as her differences make her feel more and more alone, she can’t help but yearn for that place she doesn’t remember: the isolated city hidden in the depths of the ocean. Elysium. Home.

But she can’t exactly tell Gavin what she’s feeling. Not when he’s the one who helped her escape Elysium in the first place, and has the scars to prove it. Though the doctors say otherwise, Gavin believes that Evie just needs time. And if her memories don’t come back, well, maybe she’s better off not remembering her past.

But the decision may be out of their hands when Evie’s ever-elusive memories begin to collide with reality. People and images from her past appear in the most unlikely places, haunting her, provoking her…and making her seem not only strange but dangerous.

Evie and Gavin can’t wait around for her memories to return. They’ll have to journey across the Outlands of the Surface to find help, and in the end, their search may just lead them back to the place it all started…

The Elysium Chronicles

Renegade (The Elysium Chronicles #1) {My Review}

Six weeks have passed since Evelyn has left Elysium yet she remembers nothing of her previous life. Gavin is the only one that knew her but she can barely remember him. When she begins having nightmarish flashbacks that seem to be continuously triggered by something she can’t understand, the village doctor fears she needs to get more help than he’ll be able to give her. With the assistance of an old friend of Gavins, Asher, the three travel through the Outlands to the City in hopes that Evelyn can find the answers she’s searching for.

The truth is I never intended on reading this. I finished Renegade and enjoyed it but was expecting so much more and was left mildly disappointed. But I recently recommended this book to my ‘I have better things to do than read’ 13-year-old step-daughter and holy crap she loved it and immediately wanted me to pick up Revelations. And then she demanded I read it with her so she could talk to me about it. So, I succumbed to the pressure. 🙂

Revelations suffered from middle-book-syndrome and possessed a lot of filler. For almost the entire first half of the book was spent detailing Evelyn’s flashbacks and the expedition to the City. There were some moments of intrigue but for the most part it was incredibly uneventful in comparison to the thrilling nature of Renegade. When I think back on the book as a whole there was a lot that could have been condensed or eliminated (such as the romance drama) and a lot that could have been expanded on in more detail (like the science and origination of Elysium).

The romance was a huge issue for me in Renegade and continued to be an issue in this book. There are even hints of a love triangle but I’m pleased to announce it fizzles out by the end for hilarious reasons. The romance between Gavin and Evelyn grows quickly and I love you’s are being dished out. Gavin becomes excessively possessive in regards to Evelyn’s safety and it’s understandable to an extent. When Gavin decides to not inform her of issues regarding her own personal health and other issues that she should be deciding for herself is when I developed an issue with him. His treatment towards her felt extremely condescending and I realize Evelyn didn’t have any memories so he thought he was only helping but that doesn’t mean she lost her common sense as well.

After the unfortunate cliffhanger ending there’s no doubt I’ll be reading the final installment even without my kid bullying me into it. I can only hope that the drama is all out of the way, that Gavin can allow Evelyn to make her own decisions and that we can get more concrete details on the interesting world of Elysium.

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Audiobook Review – The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two (Fairyland #3) by Catherynne M. Valente

January 23, 2014 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Middle Grade, Read in 2014 7 Comments

Audiobook Review – The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two (Fairyland #3) by Catherynne M. ValenteThe Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two by Catherynne M. Valente
Series: Fairyland #3
Published by LLC on October 11, 2013
Length: 8 hours and 22 minutes
Genres: Fairy-Tales/Retellings, Fantasy
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There

three-half-stars

“One of the most extraordinary works of fantasy, for adults or children, published so far this century.”—Time magazine, on the Fairyland series

September misses Fairyland and her friends Ell, the Wyverary, and the boy Saturday. She longs to leave the routines of home and embark on a new adventure. Little does she know that this time, she will be spirited away to the moon, reunited with her friends, and find herself faced with saving Fairyland from a moon-Yeti with great and mysterious powers.

The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two is another rich, beautifully told, wisely humorous, and passionately layered book from New York Times–bestselling author Catherynne M. Valente.

“Just because it’s imaginary doesn’t mean it isn’t real.”

In The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two, September fears that now that she is 14 years old that she is much too old to be able to travel to Fairyland. Her fears become unwarranted as one afternoon she suddenly finds herself leaving her ordinary world once again. She’s joined again with her dear friends Saturday and A through L but instead of  journeying to Fairyland, she finds herself on an adventure to the very moon itself.

‘Shall I tell her? Shall I be a kind and merciful narrator and take our girl aside? Shall I touch her new, red heart and make her understand that she is no longer one of the tribe of heartless children, nor even the owner of the wild and infant heart of thirteen-year-old girls and boys? Oh, September!’

From the very beginning of the Fairyland series it has been said that are heartless and they have not yet grown a heart which is why they are able to do all the wonderful and amazing things one does when they are a child. The types of things that grown-ups with hearts frown upon and look on in fear. When children remain heartless they still retain their innocence. In this story, September finds herself in possession of a new, red heart and she’s not quite sure how to handle this. She fears that once she acknowledges its existence that the fun will all be over, that she will be forced home and will never be able to return to the wonderful world of Fairyland.

Having read the two previous Fairyland installments, I’ve grown used to (and grown to love) Valente’s florid use of words. Something seemed off with this one though. It was almost, dare I say, excessive? Her typical style of writing felt a tad overdone this time around and too ornate at times. While this installment may overuse the flowery writing, this entire series is a truly brilliant read. They are anything but simplistic and are actually extremely smart and sophisticated. The target audience may be middle graders and one might argue that they are much to complex for children of that age and they may be right. But technically there’s nothing wrong with a book that challenges a young reader. But personally, I think these stories serve as a tribute to those much loved children’s classics that Valente clearly draws deeply from such as Peter Pan, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and Alice in Wonderland. And more so, I feel that they’re intended as a catalyst for those readers that still remain heartless to ease their concerns that the adventure isn’t over just because you’re grown up.

While Valente’s stories draw deeply from those classic children’s novels, she incorporates an eclectic blend of mythology, folk tales and fairy tales that make them wholly unique. Her novels will forever be a wonderful adventure to find yourself on.

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Book Review – Shatter Me (Shatter Me #1) by Tahereh Mafi

January 18, 2014 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2014, YA 18 Comments

Book Review – Shatter Me (Shatter Me #1) by Tahereh MafiShatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Series: Shatter Me #1
Published by HarperTeen on November 15th 2011
Pages: 352
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic, Romance
Format: Hardcover
Source: a Giveaway
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Unravel Me, Fracture Me, Ignite Me

two-stars

Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

Shatter Me was one of those books that I put on my mental shelf titled ‘Nope nope nope’. I had been warned about the bad metaphors and the strange passages with strikethroughs. But eh, sometimes you just need to experience it for yourself and form your own opinion.

The listed genre for Shatter Me is dystopian, but that’s a big joke. The dystopian aspects of this novel were used solely as a backdrop for what is truly a romance novel. The romance completely overpowers this story and is not only insta-lovey but there’s a love triangle to boot. Juliette and Adam. Juliette and Warner. One big happy freaking family. Adam and Warner both are total stereotypes with their good guy bad guy routine, their tragic pasts and of course the fact that they are in love with the same girl. Oh and they’re completely freaking gorgeous. As is Juliette. Because gorgeous people run rampant in dystopian societies, of course. I’m hoping the complete lack of characterization for these two is expounded on more in future installments (although it’s pretty inane that this isn’t done right off the bat in the introductions to them but whatever). The lack of characterization makes Juliette’s complete infatuation with Adam pretty nonsensical. Infatuation is putting it mildly though. Juliette acted like she was rabid around Adam, because of his total gorgeous-ness.

‘Everything is on fire. My cheeks my hands the pit of my stomach and I’m drowning in waves of emotion and a storm of fresh rain and all I feel is the strength of his silhouette against mine and I never ever ever ever want to forget this moment. I want to stamp him into my skin and save him forever.’

‘His lips are so close to my ear I’m water and nothing and everything and melting into a wanting so desperate it burns as I swallow it down.’

‘He leaves less than a foot of space between us and I’m 10 inches away from spontaneous combustion.’

What made Shatter Me positively dreadful was the writing. Those metaphors you all warned me about? You were not freaking joking. Holy metaphors, batman. They truly did not make any sort of sense, they were excessive and made for a very awkward reading experience. The most entertaining were the metaphors, if taken literally, which had Juliette falling the fuck apart.. Obviously not literally. Maybe. I think.

‘Every organ in my body falls to the floor.’

‘His lips soften into a smile that cracks apart my spine.’

“He shifts and my eyes shatter into thousands of pieces …’

‘My jaw falls off.’

‘My mouth is sitting on my kneecaps.’

‘My jaw is dangling from my shoelace.’

I can appreciate the authors attempt at conveying things in a creative manner but it simply came across as confusing. Confusing and far too grandiose. Thankfully they seemed to ease up towards the end of the story, mainly I think because dialogue became more frequent and we weren’t ‘in’ Juliette’s head as much.

I don’t often continue a series after giving the very first installment a 2 star rating. But I’ll definitely be continuing the Shatter Me series. Why? Well, that’s a bit of a spoiler. I went into this novel knowing next to nothing about it, only the dreadful writing. I didn’t know there was insta-love, didn’t know there was a love triangle and wasn’t aware of the comparisons to other novels that had been made View Spoiler ». WELL. Being the huge nerd that I am if I had known that I would’ve jumped on this immediately. The hint of what’s to come that we’re given at the very end of Shatter Me is enough to pique my interest and give me hope for future installments. So fingers crossed.

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Release Day Feature + Giveaway! Mayhem by Sarah Pinborough

January 14, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Giveaways, Read in 2014, Release Day Feature 28 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.

Release Day Feature + Giveaway! Mayhem by Sarah PinboroughMayhem by Sarah Pinborough
Series: Mayhem #1
Published by Jo Fletcher Books on January 14th 2014
Pages: 400
Genres: Historical Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Murder, The Language of Dying, Behind Her Eyes

four-stars

A compulsively readable story that starts as a conventional murder mystery and morphs, by degrees, into a horrifying supernatural thriller,” The Guardian said of Mayhem.

A virtuoso fantasy writer, Sarah Pinborough has won numerous awards including the British Fantasy Award for Best Short Story. In Mayhem Pinborough turns her attention to one of the most baffling and notorious crime sprees in Victorian times. A new killer that newspapers have dubbed “The Torso Killer” is terrorizing the streets of London’s East End, his crimes obscured and overshadowed by the hysteria surrounding Jack the Ripper’s Whitechapel crimes. The victims are women too, but their dismembered bodies, wrapped in rags and tied up with string, are pulled out of the Thames–and the heads are missing. The murderer likes to keep them. Mayhem is a masterwork of narrative suspense: a supernatural thriller set in a shadowy, gaslit London, where killers stalk the cobbled streets and hide in plain sight.

About Sarah Pinborough

Sarah Pinborough is a critically acclaimed horror, thriller and YA author. In the UK she is published by both Gollancz and Jo Fletcher Books at Quercus and by Ace, Penguin and Titan in the US. Her short stories have appeared in several anthologies and she has a horror film Cracked currently in development and another original screenplay under option. She has recently branched out into television writing and has written for New Tricks on the BBC and has an original series in development with World Productions and ITV Global.

Sarah was the 2009 winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Short Story, and has three times been short-listed for Best Novel. She has also been short-listed for a World Fantasy Award. Her novella, The Language of Dying was short-listed for the Shirley Jackson Award and won the 2010 British Fantasy Award for Best Novella.

‘What I seek – the thing I seek – brings mayhem and wickedness in its wake, spreading it like this choking fog across the city. It runs in the water of the river and it will destroy men’s souls.”

It’s the late 1800’s and London is being terrorized by the murders by a man dubbed Jack the Ripper, although recent murders have succeeded in overshadowing even those horrific crimes. These new murders are gruesome and appalling. The victims are all women, they are all dismembered postmortem yet their heads are never found among the remains. Dr. Thomas Bond is a police surgeon but is unable to stop himself from seeking out evidence to uncover this killer. He succeeds in uncovering far more than he thought possible and it is more monstrous and nightmarish than any imagination could concoct.

Jack the Ripper has always been a subject matter of interest for me and just the thought of another killer overshadowing the work of Jack the Ripper was enough for me to pick up Mayhem. I had never heard of ‘the Torso Killer’ before but Sarah Pinborough successfully brought his macabre story to life. Frightfully disturbing, these murders are described in vivid detail and the slight addition of the supernatural aspects were added almost proficiently and were not overdone.

The story is told mainly from the point of view of Dr. Thomas Bond but we’re given an occasional glimpse through a few other side characters. Each character was alluring and were each integral to understanding the story as a whole. Dr. Bond himself was a perfectly imperfect character who frequented opium dens in order to deal with his bouts of insomnia. He’s such a flawed character yet made the story all the more real and satisfying.

I found this to be an extremely solid story with writing that was incredibly engaging. Mayhem is quite the page-turner with very little filler or sections that felt inconsequential. Mayhem is a well-written thriller that I would highly recommend for fans of mysteries, of historical fiction and for those who like just a little bit of horror.

Thanks to the publisher I’m able to offer up 3 copies of Mayhem for 3 lucky readers! I’m mixing things up and trying out my new WordPress giveaway plugin instead of Rafflecopter so all you need to do to enter is leave a comment!

Open to U.S. residents only!
Giveaway ends January 28th, 2014

Drum roll, please.

The 3 winners are:

Ang @ Ang Writes
Rachel @ Paper Cuts
Kara @ Great Imaginations

Congratulations you three! Thanks so much for entering everyone!

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Audiobook Review – Just Kids by Patti Smith

January 10, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2014 2 Comments

Audiobook Review – Just Kids by Patti SmithJust Kids by Patti Smith
Published by Harper Audio on July 26th 2011
Genres: Memoir, Non-Fiction
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Goodreads

Also by this author: M Train

five-stars

It was the summer Coltrane died, the summer of love and riots, and the summer when a chance encounter in Brooklyn led two young people on a path of art, devotion, and initiation.

Patti Smith would evolve as a poet and performer, and Robert Mapplethorpe would direct his highly provocative style toward photography. Bound in innocence and enthusiasm, they traversed the city from Coney Island to Forty-second Street, and eventually to the celebrated round table of Max's Kansas City, where the Andy Warhol contingent held court. In 1969, the pair set up camp at the Hotel Chelsea and soon entered a community of the famous and infamous—the influential artists of the day and the colorful fringe. It was a time of heightened awareness, when the worlds of poetry, rock and roll, art, and sexual politics were colliding and exploding. In this milieu, two kids made a pact to take care of each other. Scrappy, romantic, committed to create, and fueled by their mutual dreams and drives, they would prod and provide for one another during the hungry years.

Just Kids begins as a love story and ends as an elegy. It serves as a salute to New York City during the late sixties and seventies and to its rich and poor, its hustlers and hellions. A true fable, it is a portrait of two young artists' ascent, a prelude to fame.

“‘Nobody sees us as we do, Patti.’ . . . Whenever he said things like that, for a magical space of time, it was as if we were the only two people in the world.”

​Admittedly, I knew next to nothing about Patti Smith or Robert Mapplethorpe before picking up Just Kids. This didn’t prevent me from becoming immediately enthralled in their tale. Patti Smith lived with her parents and slept on a cot in the laundry room until she boarded a bus to New York City with a measly $32 in her pocket. The friends she had planned to stay with had moved but was more serendipitous than she knew because this is where she would first meet Robert Mapplethorpe. Their bond with each other had almost a preternatural feel and was truly extraordinary.

We were Hansel and Gretel and we ventured out into the black forest of the world.​ ​There were temptations and witches and demons we never dreamed of and there was splendor we only partially imagined. No one could speak for these two young people nor tell with any truth of their days and nights together. Only Robert and I could tell it. Our story, as he called it. And, having gone, he left the task to me to tell it to you.​​

​This is a poetic story about a time that I didn’t personally experience. It’s a time period that would be difficult to fathom yet Patti Smith writes with such crisp clarity that allowed her story to truly come to life. Listening to the audio version of this and hearing Patti Smith personally narrate this was a wonderful way to experience this book. (Listen to a clip here.) Just Kids is a poignant story that showcases the innocence of her life before she became​ ​well​ ​​known by the world. ​It’s a stunning yet haunting dirge to everything that once was and everything that was lost.

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Book Review – Legend (Legend #1) by Marie Lu

January 4, 2014 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2014, YA 5 Comments

Book Review – Legend (Legend #1) by Marie LuLegend by Marie Lu
Series: Legend #1
Published by Putnam Juvenile on November 29, 2011
Pages: 305
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic, Romance
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads


three-stars

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths - until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias's death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills.

June and Day lead two completely different lives. June is a Republic soldier and Day is the Republic’s most wanted criminal. After the death of Metias, June’s brother, their lives cross when Day becomes the prime suspect. Finding Day also leads to the exposure of government secrets that cause June to question everything.

Legend is told from the alternating POVs of June and Day. Naturally, they fall for each but unexpectedly I wasn’t too bothered by this predictable turn as Lu somehow manages to make this work. My only issue with the characterization was the lack of differentiation between their two voices. I caught on around halfway through that the sections in bold were Day’s, but based on the writing style alone it often took me several lines to understand who was who in each section.

Big boo in regards to worldbuilding since it was fairly non-existent. What we are given: based in a location known as the Republic, the enemy is another location known as The Colonies, both The Republic and The Colonies used to make up The United States, the poor/slums are dying from the plague and kids are sent to something known as the Trials in order to determine their futures in The Republic. All interesting pieces of the puzzle but lacked too many vital pieces in order to get the full picture. I have high hopes that this will be solved in subsequent books.

I didn’t find anything extremely original about Legend but it was a fairly thrilling and exciting read that I finished in a single day. The bits we do learn about this world do intrigue me and I look forward to finding out more. June is a strong and engaging character and I especially loved the parts of the story told from her POV. I will definitely be continuing this series since I’m forever a sucker for post-apocalyptic stories.

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