Posts Categorized: Read in 2014

Early Review – First Frost (Waverley Family #2) by Sarah Addison Allen

December 5, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2014 1 Comment

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

Early Review – First Frost (Waverley Family #2) by Sarah Addison AllenFirst Frost by Sarah Addison Allen
Series: Waverley Family #2
Published by St. Martin's Press on January 20th 2015
Pages: 304
Genres: Magical Realism
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Lost Lake, Garden Spells

three-half-stars

A magical new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Lost Lake, featuring characters from her beloved novel Garden Spells.

Featuring characters from her beloved novel, Garden Spells, Sarah Addison Allen's new novel picks up ten years after that eventful summer when Claire Waverly's wild half-sister Sydney returned to Bascom and Claire met her now-husband Tyler. Things have settled down and Claire finds she has slipped back into a place of tightly sequestered sameness. It's comfortable. She likes it. But when her father Russell shows up he brings with him information that Claire doesn't want to hear and that will challenge everything she thought she knew about herself. Filled with Sarah Addison Allen's characteristic magic and warmth, this novel will reveal how the people who come into your life may not be the ones you expect, but they're there for a reason. And they don't change your one true voice, they make it louder.

Waverley Family series

Garden Spells (Waverley Family #1) by Sarah Addison Allen {PurchaseMy Review}

‘First frost was always an unpredictable time, but this year it felt more … desperate than others.
Something was about to happen.’

First Frost marks the return to the beloved town of Bascom, North Carolina where the Waverley sisters reside. Claire has left her catering business behind after creating Waverley’s Candies. The business itself is lucrative and does extremely well, but the amount of time she must dedicate to the business leaves Claire with little time for her family or anything else. Sydney now owns her own business as well in Bascom, a hair salon that is equally successful, but her apparent inability to have more children is a painful reminder every day. Sydney’s daughter Bay is now in high school and because of her gift for knowing exactly where things belong she knows that she belongs with Josh Matteson, she just needs to convince him she’s right. First frost is an unpredictable time for the Waverley’s and it also heralds the arrival of an old man that brings a story that might change everything for these women.

I really, really enjoyed Garden Spells (the second time I read it at least) but the ending didn’t leave me anticipating that there would ever be a sequel so the announcement of First Frost was quite a surprise, but an exciting one for sure. First Frost centers around the two sisters but includes more of Bay and her struggles to understand her magical gift and coming to terms with it. It was wonderful to see her all grown up and matured, no longer the six-year-old girl that could spend all day in the backyard staring into the branches of the mystical apple tree. The inclusion of the mysterious old man that threw everything the family knew into question was an ill-fitting piece of the story. He was manipulative and conniving and even though he was a necessary piece in order to add drama to the plot, the motivations behind his actions lacked in logic. The majority of the story was spent explaining it to an extent and I would have much preferred to see that time spent telling more of Bay’s story which was my favorite part. While I felt the multiple storylines didn’t mesh together quite as well as they did in Garden Spells, it was still wonderful to be back in Bascom.

The magic of the Waverley’s is definitely back with the characters we all know and love, and even a few new faces. First Frost is an incredibly quick and entertaining read where the pages will fly as if by magic. It’ll be hard to say goodbye this time but personally, I’m now hoping for future Waverley stories to come.

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Book Review – Garden Spells (Waverley Family #1) by Sarah Addison Allen

December 4, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2014 4 Comments

Book Review – Garden Spells (Waverley Family #1) by Sarah Addison AllenGarden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
Series: Waverley Family #1
on August 28th 2007
Pages: 304
Genres: Magical Realism
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
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Also by this author: Lost Lake, First Frost

four-stars

In a garden surrounded by a tall fence, tucked away behind a small, quiet house in an even smaller town, is an apple tree that is rumored to bear a very special sort of fruit. In this luminous debut novel, Sarah Addison Allen tells the story of that enchanted tree, and the extraordinary people who tend it.…

The Waverleys have always been a curious family, endowed with peculiar gifts that make them outsiders even in their hometown of Bascom, North Carolina. Even their garden has a reputation, famous for its feisty apple tree that bears prophetic fruit, and its edible flowers, imbued with special powers. Generations of Waverleys tended this garden. Their history was in the soil. But so were their futures.

A successful caterer, Claire Waverley prepares dishes made with her mystical plants—from the nasturtiums that aid in keeping secrets and the pansies that make children thoughtful, to the snapdragons intended to discourage the attentions of her amorous neighbor. Meanwhile, her elderly cousin, Evanelle, is known for distributing unexpected gifts whose uses become uncannily clear. They are the last of the Waverleys—except for Claire’s rebellious sister, Sydney, who fled Bascom the moment she could, abandoning Claire, as their own mother had years before.

When Sydney suddenly returns home with a young daughter of her own, Claire’s quiet life is turned upside down—along with the protective boundary she has so carefully constructed around her heart. Together again in the house they grew up in, Sydney takes stock of all she left behind, as Claire struggles to heal the wounds of the past. And soon the sisters realize they must deal with their common legacy—if they are ever to feel at home in Bascom—or with each other.

Enchanting and heartfelt, this captivating novel is sure to cast a spell with a style all its own….

Garden Spells tells the story of two gifted sisters: Claire Waverley, a successful caterer in their hometown who has a decidedly magical touch with food, and Sydney, the younger sister who left town at an early age only to run into trouble forcing her to return to Bascom, North Carolina with her six year old daughter, Bay. Sydney left her hometown in an attempt to run from what it means to be a Waverley, and the magical gifts they have, as well as from the heartbreak caused by the breakup with her high school boyfriend. While Sydney bounced from city to city, Claire remained in their childhood home where their late grandmother lived and led a quiet life of solitude until Sydney came back into her life.

Garden Spells centers around the two Waverley sisters but manages to incorporate a full cast into a small amount of pages without overdoing it. My favorite character was Evanelle, a “second or third or fourteenth cousin” that also has her own unique gift: she would get sudden urges to gift individuals with certain items which they would inevitably need sooner or later. She was a complete hoot and added a distinct sense of humor to the tale. We’re also given passages told from the points of view of love interests, other townsfolk and six-year-old Bay who possesses the gift of knowing just exactly where things belong. Garden Spells is so heartwarming and realistic seeing two sisters who had grown apart over the years reintegrate one another into their lives. On top of the wonderful magical flairs, it’s also the perfect read for fans of what I like to call “foodie fiction”. Claire, being an owner of a catering business, is often cooking and her delicious sounding masterpieces are described in intricate detail.

‘Anise hyssop honey butter on toast, angelica candy, and cupcakes with crystallized pansies made children thought. Honeysuckle wine served on the Fourth of July gave you the ability to see in the dark. The nutty flavor of the dip made from hyacinth bulbs made you feel moody and think of the past, and the salads made with chicory and mint had you believing that something good was about to happen, whether it was true or not.’

Sarah Addison Allen is one of my favorite authors and I don’t say that lightly. I can always count on her books to have a whimsical tale that will put a smile on my face and lead me to hours of enjoyment. Oddly enough, I didn’t always have such a high opinion of her. Garden Spells was actually the first book of hers I read and I honestly didn’t care for it, but after going on to read all of her works and loving each and every one of them, I knew I had to revisit this and give it another shot through a different set of eyes. The second time around went much better and I enjoyed it greatly. Why the change? I remember the first time I kept comparing it to the movie/book Practical Magic without bothering to note the differences plus it was my first foray into magical realism so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. (I also read The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake around the same time and disliked it greatly so I’m thinking a re-read of that may be in order.) This is the first time I’ve gone back attempting to give a book I disliked another shot. In my mind, it always seems like a waste of time because if you disliked it the first time, why would it be different the second time? Well, if I take anything from this experience it’s that it won’t be the last time.

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Book Tour Review – Christmas at Tiffany’s by Karen Swan

November 20, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Book Tour, Read in 2014, TLC Book Tours 6 Comments

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

Book Tour Review – Christmas at Tiffany’s by Karen SwanChristmas at Tiffany's by Karen Swan
Published by William Morrow on October 28th 2014
Pages: 592
Genres: Chick-Lit, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Format: ARC
Source: TLC Book Tours
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Perfect Present

five-stars

In the wake of a heartbreaking betrayal, a young woman leaves the Scottish countryside to find her destiny in three of the most exciting cities in the world—New York, Paris, and London—in this funny and triumphant tale of fulfillment, friendship, and love.

Ten years ago, a young and naïve Cassie married her first serious boyfriend, believing he would be with her forever. Now, her marriage is in tatters and Cassie has no career or home of her own. Though she feels betrayed and confused, Cassie isn’t giving up. She’s going to take control of her life. But first she has to find out where she belongs . . . and who she wants to be.

Over the course of one year, Cassie leaves her sheltered life in rural Scotland to stay with her best friends living in the most glamorous cities in the world: New York, Paris, and London. Exchanging comfort food and mousy hair for a low-carb diet and a gorgeous new look, Cassie tries each city on for size as she searches for the life she’s meant to have . . . and the man she’s meant to love.

About Karen Swan

Karen Swan began her career in fashion journalism before giving it all up to raise her three children and an ADHD puppy, and to pursue her ambition of becoming a writer. She lives in the forest in Sussex, writing her books in a treehouse overlooking the Downs. Her first novel, Players, was published in 2010, followed by Prima Donna and Christmas at Tiffany’s in 2011.

Cassie married at an incredibly young age, at only twenty years old, to an older man and her first love. She never got to experience life or travel the world but she was content and satisfied with her life despite all that. After discovering that Gil, her husband of ten years, had betrayed her, Cassie leaves immediately and doesn’t look back. She devotes the next year of her life to doing what she never did before: discovering who she is and what she wants out of this life to make her truly happy.

I could go into some serious detail about this book but it’s all Spoiler-ville and it’s one of those stories that you definitely need to experience firsthand. And what a wonderful experience it was. I’ve been in dire need of satisfying this deep-seated craving for a fluffy read for months now (especially after the 13 horror novels in a row I read for October). Suffice it to say, Christmas at Tiffany’s satisfied my craving completely leaving me with the goofiest grin on my face, all sorts of feels and looking incredibly similar to Sally:

Christmas at Tiffany’s is primarily about Cassie and the dissolution of her marriage, however, even though she’s the main focus there was still the most amazing cast of characters with their own stories as well. Between her trips to New York, Paris and finally London she meets all sorts of new people that color her life and make her realize how much she’s been missing all this time. Cassie was my absolute favorite though and her story was one of heartbreak and I so loved to see her transform and overcome it all.

Don’t let its massive size put you off because this is one story you will not want to have end. Any book that can keep me completely wrapped up and absorbed for 580 pages, STILL leave me wanting more and even make me want to start it all over as soon as I read the final page is certainly impressive. Also, sure, it’s chicklit or contemporary romance or whatever you want to call it, so it was slightly predictable and cliché. (I mean seriously, I wish I had fancy rich friends I was just able to crash with for 4 months at a time in different glamorous cities around the world.) You know pretty much from the get-go who she’s going to end up with but the pages in-between that happening were far from being mere filler. This wasn’t just a story about finding love again, it was about living life and learning from your experiences. It was about finding new passions, about truly opening your eyes to everything and exploring this wonderful world we live in. It was all the things. *sigh* And I’ve just decided this gets the full 5 star rating from me. This was such an incredibly feel-good book that has left such a lasting impression on me I can’t seem to think of anything else. If you’re a fan of the genre, this is an absolute must read. I can’t recommend this one enough.

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This post was a part of the Christmas at Tiffany’s blog tour.
Click the button below for a complete list of tour stops.

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Book Review – Sinner (The Wolves of Mercy Falls #4) by Maggie Stiefvater

November 14, 2014 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2014, YA 2 Comments

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

Book Review – Sinner (The Wolves of Mercy Falls #4) by Maggie StiefvaterSinner by Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Wolves of Mercy Falls #4
Published by Scholastic Press on July 1st 2014
Pages: 373
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Werewolves
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Also by this author: Shiver, Forever, The Raven Boys

two-half-stars

A standalone companion book to the internationally bestselling Shiver Trilogy.

Sinner follows Cole St. Clair, a pivotal character from the #1 New York Times bestselling Shiver Trilogy. Everybody thinks they know Cole's story. Stardom. Addiction. Downfall. Disappearance. But only a few people know Cole's darkest secret -- his ability to shift into a wolf. One of these people is Isabel. At one point, they may have even loved each other. But that feels like a lifetime ago. Now Cole is back. Back in the spotlight. Back in the danger zone. Back in Isabel's life. Can this sinner be saved?

The Wolves of Mercy Falls series

Shiver (The Wolves of Mercy Falls #1) by Maggie Stiefvater {PurchaseReview}
Linger (The Wolves of Mercy Falls #2) by Maggie Stiefvater {Purchase}
Forever (The Wolves of Mercy Falls #3) by Maggie Stiefvater {PurchaseReview}

“I can’t change the way I’m made. I’m a performer, a singer, a werewolf, a sinner.”

In this new companion installment in the Wolves of Mercy Falls series, Cole St. Clair, the bad boy you can’t help but love, travels to Los Angeles to seek out Isabel for a fresh start and to jump-start his career with a new album. Cole signs on with an Internet reality TV producer (think TMZ) named Baby North who intends to tape his daily life in hopes of being able to get his anticipated relapse caught on tape.

‘It was the first time I’d really realized I’d lost my soul and that the beauty of not having a soul was that you couldn’t seem to care that you no longer had one.’

Sinner was a book that no one expected to ever exist. The Wolves of Mercy Falls series was completely and sufficiently wrapped up years ago, and if you’re of the same opinion as I, it never should have actually gone past book one. No installments following the first were anywhere close to the caliber of Shiver but they were still enjoyable enough and worth the read. Sinner is indeed a stand-alone/companion novel, and even though it has been years since I read the series I was able to quickly catch up following the brief backstory Stiefvater provides to get her readers up to speed. Cole and Isabel’s story and how it was left in Forever, while a bit open to interpretation and not given a concrete finish, didn’t exactly warrant an entire book. I believe the level of enjoyment of Sinner is going to be based solely on whether or not Cole and Isabel were personal favorites of yours from the series. Cole and Isabel’s story is finally given a solid conclusion, albeit a very neatly wrapped up one. Considering the two are quite a damaged duo, I wasn’t expecting that in the least. I also wasn’t expecting this story to involve more about the ‘hazards of fate’, what with Cole being on a reality show than about the romance between our two main characters. It was an interesting inclusion but not exactly a welcome one because it felt more superfluous than anything in an attempts to make this a full-length novel.

All in all, unfortunately, I think we could have done without this installment. I’ll always retain fond memories of Shiver though.

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Book Review – Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3) by Maggie Stiefvater

November 13, 2014 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2014, YA 2 Comments

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

Book Review – Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3) by Maggie StiefvaterBlue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle #3
Published by Scholastic Press on October 21st 2014
Pages: 400
Genres: Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Also by this author: Shiver, Forever, The Raven Boys

four-stars

There is danger in dreaming. But there is even more danger in waking up.

Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs.

The trick with found things though, is how easily they can be lost.

Friends can betray.
Mothers can disappear.
Visions can mislead.
Certainties can unravel.

The Raven Cycle series

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1) by Maggie Stiefvater {PurchaseMy Review}
The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2) by Maggie Stiefvater {PurchaseMy Review}

“…three sleepers –light, dark and in between. The knowledge that Artemus was underground. The certainty that no one was coming out of those caverns unless fetched. The realization that Blue and her friends were part of something huger, something vast and stretching and slowly waking — “

In Blue Lily, Lily Blue, the third in an anticipated four installments, things are beginning to culminate in the most unlikeliest of ways for Blue and the boys. Blue’s mother, Maura, has been gone for the last several months on a mysterious personal quest that she informed no one about, leaving behind a cryptic note which states far too simply “Glendower is underground. So am I.” In their continued search for Glendower, the three sleepers and now also for Blue’s mother, the group discovers that there won’t likely be an easy solution to this chaos they’ve immersed themselves in.

“Queens and kings
Kings and queens
Blue lily, lily blue
Crowns and birds
Swords and things
Blue lily, lily blue”

 This series continues to be truly amazing. I admit, I wasn’t sold on it at first because it was really quite strange and the concept of the story is not an easy one to wrap your head around. “So, basically, this ancient Welsh King managed to get himself buried in Virginia of all places because of this mysterious ley line that runs through the town and some prep school boys and their friend Blue are all trying to hunt him down because the one who wakens him gets a wish. Yeah, kind of like a genie, I guess.” Strange, right? I thought so. But wow, so incredibly original, utterly convincing, compulsively readable and possessing a most impressive depth to the whole magical tale. It’s a very convoluted series with various different storylines all playing at once but Maggie Stiefvater is an absolute pro at making everything clear and vivid. This entire series is such an intense experience, I’m so very anxious to see how all the pieces fall in the final installment.

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Duo Review – The Fever by Megan Abbott

November 7, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Dani's Reviews, Duo Review, Read in 2014 3 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.

Duo Review – The Fever by Megan AbbottThe Fever by Megan Abbott
Published by Little Brown and Company on June 17th 2014
Pages: 303
Genres: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Format: Hardcover
Source: the Publisher
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Goodreads

Also by this author: Dare Me

The panic unleashed by a mysterious contagion threatens the bonds of family and community in a seemingly idyllic suburban community.

The Nash family is close-knit. Tom is a popular teacher, father of two teens: Eli, a hockey star and girl magnet, and his sister Deenie, a diligent student. Their seeming stability, however, is thrown into chaos when Deenie's best friend is struck by a terrifying, unexplained seizure in class. Rumors of a hazardous outbreak spread through the family, school and community.

As hysteria and contagion swell, a series of tightly held secrets emerges, threatening to unravel friendships, families and the town's fragile idea of security.

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‘You spend a long time waiting for life to start–the past year or two filled with all these firsts, everything new and terrifying and significant–and then it does start and you realize it isn’t what you’d expected, or asked for.’

The Fever centers around the Nash family: 16-year-old Deenie, her 18-year-old brother Eli and their divorced dad, Tom, who is a science teacher at the two siblings high school. On a seemingly ordinary day, Deenie’s friend Lise falls from her school desk convulsing from a seizure. Their friend Gabby suffers a similar incident shortly after and the hysteria swells further when another girl at their high school succumbs to this strange sickness. The reasons range between environmental concerns to a recent vaccine all the girls received but the doctor’s all fail to provide any solution to the problem.

“It has to do with all of them. All of them. Don’t you see? It’s just begun.”

Dare Me made me an instant Abbott fan, primarily due to her most impressive skill of being able to accurately portray teenagers without cutting any corners or lessening the intensity and her skills are on display once again in The Fever. Abbott provides various points of view, separate from the teenagers, including that of  Tom who presents the ‘parental’ point of view of the story and allows us a glimpse firsthand the paranoia consuming the town because of these incidents. I found the mystery to be riveting and baffling (yet scarily plausible) but was ultimately left displeased by the perfunctory and almost ambiguous ending. That is until I found out that this story of hysteria in a small town is actually based on a real-life incident in Le Roy, New York. After reading up on a New York Times article detailing this event, Abbott’s story doesn’t stray far from the truth. (If you don’t want to be spoiled, I wouldn’t read up on Le Roy until you’ve finished The Fever.) Knowing that this story is based on truth, only makes it more fearful than it was originally.

Megan Abbott is a truly unique writer, portraying female adolescence in a way that we can all (frighteningly) understand. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

Bonnie’s Rating:
four-stars
 

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“We put them at risk just by having them. And the hazards never stop.”

The plot grabs you at the very beginning with a huge shocking “ka-pow” of an introduction. A mysterious illness is ravaging through all the girls of a small town high school. The story continues to be shrouded by false paths and deception. With all of the build-up, the resolution demands to be shocking and in your face. Instead, it could be summed up in three words: Girls are batshit.

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“Maybe you bring the darkness inside you. Maybe [she] has it inside her now.”

Fever is full of gorgeous writing that accurately captures so much of a teenage girl’s thoughts and emotions in her relationships and everyday life. Megan Abbott very convincingly describes small-town paranoia and mob mentality during chaos. I was ultimately concerned with my perception that the moral of the story was slut-shaming gone viral, literally. While this book left me feeling unsatisfied, I’m not put off from reading her other works – that’s how beautiful the writing is alone.

For great reads on pandemics, check out Blindness by José Saramago or The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton. Want to more of all the joy of snarky teenage girls, look for Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard (for the ultimate Mean Girls) or The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares (for the best friend forever experience).

Dani’s Rating:

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Nonfiction Review – The Bird Market of Paris: A Memoir by Nikki Moustaki

November 6, 2014 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Non-Fiction, Read in 2014 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.

Nonfiction Review – The Bird Market of Paris: A Memoir by Nikki MoustakiThe Bird Market of Paris: A Memoir by Nikki Moustaki
Published by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) on February 10th 2015
Pages: 256
Genres: Memoir, Non-Fiction
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads


four-half-stars

An avian expert and poet shares a true story of beloved birds, a remarkable grandfather, a bad-girl youth—and an astonishing redemption

Nikki Moustaki, author of The Bird Market of Paris, grew up in 1980s Miami, the only child of parents who worked, played, and traveled for luxury sports car dealerships. At home, her doting grandmother cooked for and fed her, but it was her grandfather—an evening-gown designer, riveting storyteller, and bird expert—who was her mentor and dearest companion.

Like her grandfather, Nikki fell hard for birds. "Birds filled my childhood," she writes, "as blue filled the sky." Her grandfather showed her how to hypnotize chickens, sneak up on pigeons, and handle baby birds. He gave her a white dove to release for luck on each birthday. And he urged her to, someday, visit the bird market of Paris.

But by the time Nikki graduated from college and moved to New York City, she was succumbing to alcohol and increasingly unable to care for her flock. When her grandfather died, guilt-ridden Nikki drank even more. In a last-ditch effort to honor her grandfather, she flew to France hoping to visit the bird market of Paris to release a white dove. Instead, something astonishing happened there that saved Nikki’s life.

​’Birds had filled my world the way blue filled sky, with a wholeness so natural that an existence without them seemed a perverse impossibility.’​

The Bird Market of Paris is a memoir detailing the author’s experience growing up in the 1980’s in Miami, Florida. Her parents traveled frequently for business so Nikki spent the majority of her time being raised by her grandparents. Her grandfather, whom she called Poppy, became a close companion to her at an early age and was the one that shared his lifelong accumulation of bird knowledge with her. He taught her how to properly care for them, how to identify them and most importantly how to appreciate them and love them. He also told her the most vibrant stories of his travels across the globe, but the one story that stood out most for her was his descriptions of the Bird Markets in Paris and she vowed to go there someday to experience it firsthand.

I adored the small stories within these pages. The story of how her Poppy would get her a dove every birthday and that they would release it thus ensuring another year of peace until the next birthday dove. The story of how Nikki obtained Bonk, a baby lovebird that caused her desire to care for all the featured creatures to grow. This part of the tale reminded me greatly of a favorite memoir of mine, Wesley the Owl, which details the tremendous bond that develops between bird and human. Other stories weren’t quite as ebullient though. The story of the devastating hurricane that ravaged her house causing her an all-consuming guilt over the deaths of many of her birds that never quite dissipated. And when she lost her grandfather and her alcoholism quickly earned the upper-hand. The stories themselves were compelling enough but it was the authors’ skillful writing that truly captivated me.

The Bird Market of Paris is an incredibly poignant memoir that explores Moustaki’s deep adoration for her grandfather, for birds and her unfortunate decline into alcoholism. The ravaging effects it had on her were thoughtful, raw and brutally depicted. Nikki Moustaki’s story is an intensely affecting and emotional tale that is quite unforgettable.

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Ominous October – Murder (Mayhem #2) by Sarah Pinborough

October 31, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Ominous October, Read in 2014 4 Comments

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

Ominous October – Murder (Mayhem #2) by Sarah PinboroughMurder by Sarah Pinborough
Series: Mayhem #2
Published by Jo Fletcher Books on January 6th 2015
Pages: 400
Genres: Historical Fiction, Horror, Mystery
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

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

four-stars

In this gripping sequel to the acclaimed Mayhem, author Sarah Pinborough continues the adventures of troubled Victorian forensics expert Dr. Thomas Bond. Haunted by the nerve-shattering events he endured during the Jack the Ripper and Thames Torso Killer investigations, Dr. Bond is trying to reestablish the normal routines of daily life. Aiding in his recovery is the growing possibility that his long-held affections for the recently widowed Juliana Harrington might finally be reciprocated. He begins to allow himself to dream of one day forming a family with her and her young boy.

Soon, however, a new suitor arrives in London, challenging the doctor's claims on Juliana's happiness. Worse, it seems the evil creature that Dr. Bond had wrestled with during the Ripper and Torso Killer investigations is back and stronger than ever. As the corpses of murdered children begin to turn up in the Thames, the police surgeon finds himself once again in a life-and-death struggle with an uncanny, inexorable foe.

Mayhem Series

Release Day Feature + Giveaway! Mayhem by Sarah Pinborough

Mayhem (Mayhem #1) by Sarah Pinborough {PurchaseMy Review}

*spoilers from Mayhem will follow*

‘I refused to allow my paranoias to root inside me; I knew I must allow them no room to grow during the long, dark nights.’

Six years have passed since James Harrington, the Thames Torso Murderer was finally caught and killed by Dr. Thomas Bond, a Police Surgeon in London. Bond is haunted with the knowledge behind the killings because Harrington was possessed by a violent parasite, the Upir, which drove him to violently murder all those women. Unfortunately, the death of Harrington did not kill the Upir, only left it temporarily without a host. Bond is seemingly moving past the nightmares of his past as he’s fallen in love with Juliana, Harrington’s widow, and plans to propose to her. His life is thrown into disarray when an old friend of Harrington comes to London with a packet of letters from Harrington which implicates him in crimes committed while in the throes of the parasite. In addition to the dredging up of these memories, Bond must also deal with new evidence which points to a new suspect being the famed ‘Jack the Ripper’.

Setting aside the horrific plot, the most amazing thing about both Mayhem and Murder is the vivid atmosphere deftly brought to life. Pinborough’s writing goes beyond creating a movie in our minds; it truly feels like you’re walking the streets of London, visualizing the slums and seedy individuals Bond encounters as he makes his way to the opium dens. The fact that she manages to blend historical fiction with the supernatural seamlessly is even more spectacular. The attention to detail only serves to make the horrors of this macabre story even more unnerving.

Mayhem stood alone as a solid story but Murder adds an extra facet to the tale that I wasn’t sure was necessary until I read it myself. The ending of Mayhem was, in retrospect, far too neatly completed; the mystery too cleanly wrapped up. Simply put, it was too good to be true. And Murder completely proves that to be true. If you thought Mayhem was terrifying and left your skin crawling, Murder completely outdoes its predecessor, ensnaring you in its grasp leaving you hopeless to stop reading until the undoubted heart-stopping ending. This was one superb and truly impressive duology. Bravo Sarah Pinborough.

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Classic Curiosity – Hallowe’en Party (Hercule Poirot Series #36) by Agatha Christie

October 30, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Classic Curiosity, Ominous October, Read in 2014 0 Comments

Classic Curiosity – Hallowe’en Party (Hercule Poirot Series #36) by Agatha ChristieHallowe'en Party by Agatha Christie
Series: Hercule Poirot Series #36
Published by HarperCollins on November 1969
Pages: 336
Genres: Classics, Mystery
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
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Also by this author: And Then There Were None

two-stars

A teenage murder witness is drowned in a tub of apples...At a Hallowe'en party, Joyce - a hostile thirteen-year-old - boasts that she once witnessed a murder. When no-one believes her, she storms off home. But within hours her body is found, still in the house, drowned in an apple-bobbing tub. That night, Hercule Poirot is called in to find the 'evil presence'. But first he must establish whether he is looking for a murderer or a double-murderer...

While preparing for the upcoming Hallowe’en Party, thirteen-year-old Joyce Reynolds begins boasting about a murder she claims to have been a witness to many years ago. The reason she gives for not coming forward sooner was she didn’t realize it was an actual murder until recently. For the most part, no one took much notice of her ramblings but someone apparently did. At the Hallowe’en Party, Joyce was found drowned in the apple-bobbing tub. The immediate reasoning for her own death seems to be the death that she witnessed.

Tis the season for a good murder mystery and what better than a murder mystery which occurs at a Halloween Party? This was my train of thought going into this one but that thought quickly derailed. This is my second Agatha Christie book (my first being And Then There Were None — it pains me to rate a Christie book so low after that one) and my first foray into the Hercule Poirot series and even though I’ve been told that they all manage well as stand alone’s, that you can jump right in at any point, Hallowe’en Party was clearly a poor starting point. I started reading this in print and was at first enjoying it but once Poirot began his investigation I kept wanting to put the book down in favor of more interesting things like laundry and vacuuming. I tried powering through but I failed when I began to think I was so out of it I was forgetting to turn the pages and was reading the same passages all over again because the many people he interviewed all had the same. exact. things to say about Joyce. Poirot’s investigation seemingly led no-where yet he was able to postulate exactly who the killer was with little to nothing to go on. Good for you, Poirot. I guess that’s why you’re the detective and I am not. It was all very wearisome though. I switched to listening to the audio after a bit so I could multitask and have exciting times in laundry folding as well.

Poirot was quite a character but I haven’t given up completely on him; I do still anticipate reading the earlier installments (Yes, Dani, like Murder on the Orient Express). He was like a quirky, French version of Sherlock. I’m at least thankful that Sherlock isn’t weird about his facial hair as Poirot clearly is.

‘There was only one thing about his own appearance which really pleased Hercule Poirot, and that was the profusion of his moustaches, and the way they responded to grooming and treatment and trimming. They were magnificent. He knew of nobody else who had any moustache half as good.’

I’m not sure I’d call it “magnificent” but it’s certainly something.

For those of you that are looking for a perfect theme read for Halloween night, alas this isn’t one I’d recommend. Not only because it’s one of the least interesting mysteries I’ve read as of late but even though the murder takes place on Halloween and the rest of the book centers around that, the actual “Halloween” aspects of it last only a few short pages.

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Ominous October – American Elsewhere by Robert Jackson Bennett

October 24, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Ominous October, Read in 2014 3 Comments

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

Ominous October – American Elsewhere by Robert Jackson BennettAmerican Elsewhere by Robert Jackson Bennett
Published by Orbit on February 12th 2013
Pages: 662
Genres: Fantasy, Horror, Sci-fi
Format: Paperback
Source: the Publisher
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Also by this author: Foundryside

four-stars

Some places are too good to be true.

Under a pink moon, there is a perfect little town not found on any map.

In that town, there are quiet streets lined with pretty houses, houses that conceal the strangest things.

After a couple years of hard traveling, ex-cop Mona Bright inherits her long-dead mother's home in Wink, New Mexico. And the closer Mona gets to her mother's past, the more she understands that the people of Wink are very, very different ...

From one of our most talented and original new literary voices comes the next great American supernatural novel: a work that explores the dark dimensions of the hometowns and the neighbors we thought we knew.

‘…it is always quiet near homes like this, and it is always ill-advised to venture out at night in Wink. Everyone knows that. Things could happen.’

After her estranged father suffers a stroke, Mona Bright uncovers documents revealing she inherited a house from her late mother in a town called Wink, New Mexico. Not having anywhere to call home she decides to set out to see this house in this strange town that she has never heard of. Wink becomes extremely hard to find, not being on any maps as Wink was a town built around an old research station that her mother apparently worked at which was shut down in the 1970s. Once Mona finally does discover the town it appears to be a picture-perfect little town, however as time passes she realizes that there is something about the Stepford Wives type of perfection that is extremely unsettling as well as the information she uncovers about her mother, Laura Alvarez. The memories Mona has of her mother are of an extremely troubled woman that one day took a shotgun into the bathroom with her and the discovery that her mother was actually a quantum psychist at the lab in the 70s is baffling to her.  Mona begins an investigation to uncover the mystery of her mother and her presence in the mysterious town of Wink.

‘Some places in Wink are more than one place. Some places take you places you never expected. Rooms within rooms, doors within doors, worlds hidden within a thimble or a teacup.
You just have to know where to look.’

While the initial mystery that drives Mona is the mystery of her mother, she slowly begins to be consumed with the complete enigma of the town and its inhabitants instead. The story is told primarily from the point of view of Mona, but we are also given snippets through the eyes of some of the townspeople where we can see firsthand just how incredibly strange it is to live in this picturesque little town. American Elsewhere contains extremely vivid characterization; it doesn’t matter how much time is spent focusing on the individual each one is unforgettable whether because of the imagery alone or the shockingly horrific stories that correlate with these people.

The build-up to the final resolution is exhilarating despite the daunting amount of pages you’re up against as a reader. While you may be able to pick up on some obvious hints as to what is truly going on in Wink, Bennett still manages to throw in some shocking twists that will definitely surprise you. Make no mistake, this is not some simple story of a strange suburban community; American Elsewhere is an amazing example of intricately structured plotlines and also the complete defiance of genre boundaries. I went into this book fairly blind (I definitely recommend this) and found the hefty dose of science fiction blended with a good amount of horror to be quite unexpected. American Elsewhere left me thoroughly impressed and will most assuredly be picking up more of Bennett’s works.

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