Posts Categorized: Read in 2014

Book Review – Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma

September 5, 2014 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2014, YA 5 Comments

Book Review – Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren SumaImaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma
Published by Dutton Children's on June 14th 2011
Pages: 355
Genres: Magical Realism, Mystery
Format: eBook
Source: Library
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Also by this author: The Walls Around Us

four-stars

Chloe’s older sister, Ruby, is the girl everyone looks to and longs for, who can’t be captured or caged. When a night with Ruby’s friends goes horribly wrong and Chloe discovers the dead body of her classmate London Hayes floating in the reservoir, Chloe is sent away from town and away from Ruby.

But Ruby will do anything to get her sister back, and when Chloe returns home two years later, a precarious and deadly balance waits. As Chloe flirts with the truth that Ruby has hidden deeply away, the fragile line between life and death is redrawn by the complex bonds of sisterhood.

Imaginary Girls is a masterfully distorted vision of family reminiscent of Shirley Jackson, laced with twists that beg for their secrets to be kept.

“…down in what was once Olive, you could still find the townspeople who never left. They looked up into their murky sky, waiting to catch sight of our boat bottoms and our fishing lines, counting our trespassing feet.”

Ruby and Chloe are sisters that live in upstate New York together. Their mother is forever absent and the two have learned to only rely on one another. The town they live in is located near a massive reservoir that is reported to have submerged a town called Olive, and older sister Ruby tells the story of the town as if the people are still down there living their daily lives. One night at a party taking place at the reservoir, Ruby boasts that her sister could swim across the reservoir and if so inclined even go down and get a souvenir from Olive. The only thing she brings back from her swim is a lone rowboat in the middle of the reservoir where the body of a dead girl lies.

After the rowboat incident, Chloe moves to Pennsylvania to live with her dad and step-mother, leaving Ruby behind. A random text every now and then is the only communication Chloe has with her sister, but two years go by and her sister has appeared suddenly in town to coerce her to return, insisting that things are back to normal. Chloe does return and finds that things are in fact back to the way they were, but they aren’t truly. Something eerie and mysterious is at work and Chloe knows that Ruby’s the reason for it all. The strange stories her sister tells about the town of Olive, and of the reservoir, and of the dead girl named London are all connected somehow and Chloe’s curiosity is overpowering. She trusts her sister implicitly despite the strangeness that her hometown now exudes.

Imaginary Girls is a mesmerizing tale that will leave you contemplating the magic that threads itself through this novel. It’s a strangely horrific tale with a subtle delivery causing the eeriness to come upon you slowly. The story of the town of Olive and the people that still live down there. Imagining their eyes following you as you swim in the reservoir. Ruby’s enthralling power and influence she holds over the town and its inhabitants is intriguing until she begins to take it too far.

Suma’s writing will captivate you with its skillful blend of magical realism but the focal point of the story, the unbreakable bond between two sisters, makes a powerful statement.


Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield {PurchaseMy Review}
Tighter by Adele Griffin {PurchaseReview}
Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen {Purchase}

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Book Review – The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupecoc

September 4, 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 – The Girl from the Well by Rin ChupecocThe Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on August 5th 2014
Pages: 272
Genres: Horror
Format: Hardcover
Source: Netgalley
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two-stars

I am where dead children go.

Okiku is a lonely soul. She has wandered the world for centuries, freeing the spirits of the murdered-dead. Once a victim herself, she now takes the lives of killers with the vengeance they're due. But releasing innocent ghosts from their ethereal tethers does not bring Okiku peace. Still she drifts on.

Such is her existence, until she meets Tark. Evil writhes beneath the moody teen's skin, trapped by a series of intricate tattoos. While his neighbors fear him, Okiku knows the boy is not a monster. Tark needs to be freed from the malevolence that clings to him. There's just one problem: if the demon dies, so does its host.

You want to get my attention? Compare a book to Dexter. Just, you know, make sure it lives up to that comparison. Unfortunately, it did not. The Girl from the Well is not scary. There are moments of creepy descriptiveness but that does not make a creepy story. Especially when they occur briefly and inconsistently. Like this sort of creepy goodness:

‘Something is rising out of the boy’s back–something with terrible, burning eyes, yet are not quite eyes at all, preserved behind a bloodless, decaying mask that hides its face from the world.’

But as I said, it was far too inconsistent and the rest of what the story contained didn’t make the wait worthwhile. Like the style of writing: First person and then 3rd person omniscient all in one paragraph? Talk about wordy whiplash. But seriously, pick one style of writing and stick with it. And if you were going to change it up, at least make it a different section so the reader doesn’t have to backtrack in order to figure out what the hell is going on. It was unnecessarily confusing. Even if the intent was to make the narrator seem all crazed seeming since she’s a deranged ghost, it still didn’t work for me.

Speaking of the deranged ghost. Not only is she deranged but she’s got an obsession with numbers and proceeds to spend the entire novel counting shit. Counting plates. And people. And seconds of silence. Girl needs to get herself a hobby.

‘I spend the rest of the day counting. There are two janitors roaming the school grounds. There are sixteen rooms in the building. There are thirty students in the tattooed boy’s class […]’

It wasn’t thrilling to read about I’ll tell you that much. And then we find out about her obvious dislike for a particular number.

‘Seven, eight. Nine. Nine. Nine bulbs, all bearing strange little fireflies. […] No nines. Not-nine. Never nine.’

So creepy chick doesn’t care for the number nine. Ten is totally cool and her absolute favorite but number nine makes her go all Limp Bizkit on shit. Honestly, since we have no idea the reasoning behind her dislike of the number nine those passages end up being funnier than I think was intended.

As far as other characters go, we’ve got Tark whose mother is in a mental institution after she tattooed him when he was a young child. Pretty nuts and I’d be more likely to feel bad for the guy if he wasn’t such a pretentious poser full o’ emo thoughts who goes around being snooty to everyone because he’s full of angsty goodness. He sees things too but naturally worries about being thrown in with dear old mom.

“And then my mom had to… well, she went bonkers, excuse the political correctness.”

This kid is 15. No 15 year old is going to mention political correctness, or even give a shit about it. He would say mature stuff like that and then turn around and act like a complete moron the next.

“What is it about me that she hates so much, that she can’t even stand the sight of me?”

Well, gee, let’s think about this. Your mother doesn’t get all crazy until she sees you, screaming to ‘get away from him’. So clearly she’s not talking to you. You know there’s this creepy girl in a mask that follows you, staring at you, that you can only see in a mirror. Golly, could she be seeing her too? By Jove! I think we’re on to something!

Bottom line: this could have been a creepy tale of ghosts that hunt down child murderers. It was unfortunately brought down by unnecessary side stories, a horribly jarring writing style, and terribly dull one-dimensional characters.

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna #1) by Kendare Blake {PurchaseMy Review}
Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill {Purchase}
The Woman In Black by Susan Hill {PurchaseMy Review}

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Book Review – Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer

August 30, 2014 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2014, YA 4 Comments

Book Review – Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa MeyerCinder by Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #1
Published by Feiwel & Friends on January 3rd 2012
Pages: 400
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic, Fairy-Tales/Retellings, Romance
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
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Also by this author: Scarlet, Cress, Fairest

four-stars

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. 

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

The Lunar Chronicles series

Glitches (The Lunar Chronicles, #0.5)  {Online Free Read}
The Little Android (The Lunar Chronicles, #0.6) {Online Free Read}

“Even in the Future the Story Begins with Once Upon a Time”

In New Beijing, humans, androids, and cyborgs live amongst each other in a world ravaged by a plague called letumosis. Cinder became a cyborg at an early age after surviving a car crash that killed both her parents and now works as a mechanic to earn money for her self-absorbed and hateful adoptive mother. When her sister becomes sick and Cinder is blamed, her mother volunteers her for a medical testing group for cyborgs where the survival rate is non-existent. She inevitably stumbles upon information about her past that she had been unable to remember and it manages to turn her entire life upside down.

A sci-fi retelling of Cinderella as a cyborg“. That blurb had me skeptical for years, avoiding this book and insisting it wasn’t going to be for me. And then I read Glitches, the short story prequel to Cinder and it convinced me to finally pick it up. Boy, am I glad I did. In retrospect, it still astounds me that a book with so many various genres still managed to work as well as it did. I mean it’s sci-fi, a retelling, sorta steampunk-ish, and even dystopian. AND Cinderella is a total badass and even a mechanic. It shouldn’t work in theory but it definitely does. The world was brilliantly drawn and I loved just how well the Cinderella story was incorporated.

Cinder’s perseverance made her an extremely likable heroine and the romance between her and Prince Kai was completely charming (plus no instalove here folks!). Her horrendous stepmother was par for the course for the original Cinderella tale but good grief, that woman was the very definition of awful. In Cinderella, the wicked stepmother made Cinderella stay home from the ball and clean the house. Oh, woe is her. But in Cinder, her wicked adoptive mother sold her to a medical testing group where not a single person has survived. Now THAT is wicked. Cinderella didn’t know how good she had it. Even though everyone knows the story of Cinderella, there were enough alterations done to this story to keep it suspenseful. The ending will leave you yearning for the next book, Scarlet, with the author tackling another well-known fairy tale: Little Red Riding Hood.

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Book Review – Boundless (Unearthly #3) by Cynthia Hand

August 29, 2014 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2014, YA 3 Comments

Book Review – Boundless (Unearthly #3) by Cynthia HandBoundless by Cynthia Hand
Series: Unearthly #3
Published by HarperTeen on January 22nd 2013
Pages: 448
Genres: Angels, Paranormal, Romance
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
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Also by this author: Unearthly, Hallowed, The Last Time We Say Goodbye

four-stars

The past few years have held more surprises than part-angel Clara Gardner could ever have anticipated. Yet from the dizzying highs of first love, to the agonizing low of losing someone close to her, the one thing she can no longer deny is that she was never meant to live a normal life.

Since discovering the special role she plays among the other angel-bloods, Clara has been determined to protect Tucker Avery from the evil that follows her . . . even if it means breaking both their hearts. Leaving town seems like the best option, so she’s headed back to California - and so is Christian Prescott, the irresistible boy from the vision that started her on this journey in the first place.

As Clara makes her way in a world that is frighteningly new, she discovers that the fallen angel who attacked her is watching her every move. And he’s not the only one. . . . With the battle against the Black Wings looming, Clara knows she must finally fulfill her destiny. But it won’t come without sacrifices and betrayal.

In the riveting finale of the Unearthly series, Clara must decide her fate once and for all.

Unearthly series

Unearthly (Unearthly, #1)  {PurchaseMy Review}
Hallowed (Unearthly, #2)  {PurchaseMy Review}
Radiant (Unearthly, #2.5)  {Purchase}

*There will be spoilers from the first two books!*

“I’m ready to stop saying good-bye to things. I’m going to start saying hello.”

After making the difficult decision to end things between Tucker because being part-angel means she was forever putting his life in danger, Clara packs up her life in order to start over in California at Stanford University. Coming with her is her friend Angela as well as Christian Prescott, the angel-blood that she’s destined to be with regardless of what her heart seems to be telling her. Shortly after their arrival in California, Clara realizes that she’s being watched again by the Black Wings and her current visions don’t foretell anything but trouble. Clara knows that being an angel-blood means she’ll never lead a normal life. Her life has been leading up to the point where she must fulfill her destiny, but she knows the time has finally come for her to do so.

The resolution was skillfully done (I say skillfully because love triangles can be tricky critters) and managed to not leave you with that ‘too’ perfect sense that most series enders give me. The thing I loved most was seeing Clara’s overall progression as a character. Despite the fantasy aspect of this series, Clara is a practical and sensible girl that I loved for her realism. The love triangle too was also surprisingly realistic and also didn’t overpower the fascinating story with the romance aspects. The storyline itself took a little bit of time to get into gear but once Clara’s vision actually started to play out it turned into quite the page turner. What was most surprising was just how surprising the twists and turns were. Definitely unexpected and far from foreseeable.

After reading Unearthly and Hollowed back to back, I’m shocked that it took me this long to pick up Boundless. It’s been the year I finish up all those series I’ve let fall by the wayside (my 11th finale of the year!) and I must say it’s one of the more impressive ones. I can see where people might say it was wrapped up too neatly but I was nonetheless left satisfied at the unexpected twist at the end that allowed all the puzzle pieces to fall into place. There were a few loose ends that left the reader wondering, but I could see it being turned into a spin-off series. Haven’t heard anything about that but who knows. Boundless is a solid conclusion to a memorable series. Highly recommended.

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Early Review – The Terror of the Southlands (The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #2) by Caroline Carlson

August 28, 2014 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Middle Grade, Read in 2014 2 Comments

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

Early Review – The Terror of the Southlands (The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #2) by Caroline CarlsonThe Terror of the Southlands by Caroline Carlson
Illustrator: Dave Phillips
Series: The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #2
Published by HarperCollins on September 9th 2014
Pages: 336
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Also by this author: Magic Marks the Spot

three-stars

Hilary Westfield is a pirate. In fact, she’s the Terror of the Southlands! She’s daring, brave, fearless, and . . . in a rut. Maybe she hasn’t found any treasure lately. And maybe she isn’t fighting off as many scallywags as she’d like. But does that mean she and her loyal crew (including a magical gargoyle) deserve to be kicked out of the ranks of the Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates?

There is only one thing to do—find a daring mission worthy of her fearless reputation. With the help of first mate Charlie, finishing-school friend Claire, and the self-proclaimed intrepid gargoyle, Hilary sets sail on a swashbuckling expedition that may or may not involve a kidnapped Enchantress, bumbling inspectors, a mysterious group called the Mutineers, and—the most terrifying thing of all—a High Society ball.

Caroline Carlson brings just as much rollicking fun, laughter, and action to this second book of the Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates as she did with the first, Magic Marks the Spot.

The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates series

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Magic Marks the Spot (The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #1) by Caroline Carlson [PurchaseReview]

Hilary Westfield has finally achieved her ultimate goal in life: she’s an official member of The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates. But life as a pirate has been, as of late, not exactly full of thrills. This has clearly not gone unnoticed as she’s just received her first warning from the Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates that her membership is about to be revoked if she doesn’t start acting more pirate-y. Hilary and her crew head off on a search to find the lost Enchantress and she can only hope that this mission helps her reputation as a pirate.

While reading this, the one thing I kept thinking was this would be one adorable Disney movie. We’ve got Hilary, the young girl who wants nothing more than to be a world renowned pirate. There’s her unlikely companion, a talking gargoyle rather than the much-expected parrot. Add to that is the goofy rather than dangerous pirates, the clueless police inspectors, the snobbish patricians that frown upon pirates and the all-together light-hearted storyline that is quite delightful indeed. Definitely a perfect storyline for a Disney movie.

More pirates, more adventures, more magic and of course more gargoyle make this an entertaining second installment in The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates series. There isn’t much in the way of advancement in overall plot but this is such a fun read that readers of this series aren’t likely to mind.

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Classic Curiosity – Light in August by William Faulkner

August 23, 2014 Bonnie Book Reviews, Classic Curiosity, Read in 2014 4 Comments

Classic Curiosity – Light in August by William FaulknerLight in August by William Faulkner
Published by Vintage on 1931
Pages: 507
Genres: Classics, Southern Gothic/Country Noir
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
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three-half-stars

“Read, read, read. Read everything—trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it is good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out the window.” —William Faulkner
 
Light in August, a novel about hopeful perseverance in the face of mortality, features some of Faulkner’s most memorable characters: guileless, dauntless Lena Grove, in search of the father of her unborn child; Reverend Gail Hightower, who is plagued by visions of Confederate horsemen; and Joe Christmas, a desperate, enigmatic drifter consumed by his mixed ancestry.

“…a fellow is more afraid of the trouble he might have than he ever is of the trouble he’s already got. He’ll cling to trouble he’s used to before he’ll risk a change. Yes. A man will talk about how he’d like to escape from living folks. But it’s the dead folks that do him the damage. It’s the dead ones that lay quiet in one place and don’t try to hold him, that he can’t escape from.”

Light in August, set in Faulkner’s oft used Yoknapatawpha County, follows three separate yet connected storylines that focus on race and violence in the deep South. The novel opens with a pregnant Lena Grove traveling the South on foot to find her baby’s father, a man she knows by the name of Lucas Burch but is actually named Joe Brown. She is led to a man named Byron Bunch who everyone thinks she must mean since no one they know is named Lucas Burch. He becomes quickly obsessed with Lena, wishes to marry her, and subsequently keeps her from the baby’s father. The second storyline focuses on Joe Christmas, a troubled man who is uncertain about his birth and believes himself to be half-black. He works at a local lumber mill but only in an attempt to disguise his illegal liquor business where he makes most of his money. He becomes partners with a man named Joe Brown. The third and final story to tie everything together is Gail Hightower, a local ex-minister after he became involved in a scandal that forever tarnished his name.

‘It is just dawn, daylight: that gray and lonely suspension filled with the peaceful and tentative waking of birds. The air, inbreathed, is like spring water. He breathes deep and slow, feeling with each breath himself diffuse in the neutral grayness, becoming one with loneliness and quiet that has never known fury or despair.’

The novel is richly written, exquisitely descriptive and often times complex as it alternates being multiple individuals and also between their pasts and their present. Each separate story continues on its own path yet they are all skillfully and slowly intertwining leaving the reader oblivious to the obvious connections until the pieces finally come together at the end. The histories of each person may seem of little consequence but it only seeks to show how one’s past is what forms their future, and how it will forever haunt you. Faulkner succeeds in not only bringing to life the small town mentality but of a Southern small town in the 1920s with all its judgmental prejudices. Light in August is a tragic tale but completely unforgettable due to its ending that won’t go easy on your nerves. This is my first Faulkner and while it certainly wasn’t an easy read, it won’t be my last.

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Book Review – Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions by Daniel Wallace

August 22, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2014 1 Comment

Book Review – Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions by Daniel WallaceBig Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions by Daniel Wallace
Published by Penguin Books on October 1st 1998
Pages: 208
Genres: Magical Realism
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
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four-stars

He could outrun anybody, and he never missed a day of school. He saved lives, tamed giants. Animals loved him. People loved him. Women loved hi (and he loved them back). And he knew more jokes than any man alive.

Now, as he lies dying, Edward Bloom can't seem to stop telling jokes -or the tall tales that have made him, in his son's eyes, an extraordinary man. Big Fish is the story of this man's life, told as a series of legends and myths inspired by the few facts his son, William, knows. Through these tales -hilarious and wrenching, tender and outrageous- William begins to understand his elusive father's great feats, and his great failings.

‘[…] I thought of him suddenly, and simply, as a boy, a child, a youth, with his whole life ahead of him, much as mine was ahead of me. I’d never done that before. And these images — the now and then of my father — converged, and at that moment he turned into a weird creature, wild, concurrently young and old, dying and newborn.
My father became a myth.’

Edward Bloom is an enigma of a man that has always told only the most elaborate yet unbelievable tales of his life. He is a traveling businessman that rarely comes home, even though he has a wife and a son forever waiting for him. Being home so little forces his son, William, to put these tall tales together in his mind in the hope that his father might become less of a mystery to him. When Edward comes home to stay because he’s dying, William seeks to learn as much as he can about his father before it’s too late.

‘Beneath one facade there’s another facade and then another, and beneath that the aching dark place, his life, something that neither of us understands.’

The tall tales of the man named Edward Bloom are the very definition of far-fetched, yet being the only stories he has ever told has transformed them into a type of myth thus transforming him into an inspiring hero of his own making. He’s encountered a giant and a two-headed Japanese geisha. He rode on the back of a giant catfish and explored an underwater town. There have been river-girls and all-seeing glass eyes and even a time when he saved a little girl from certain death by ripping out the very heart of a wild dog. Each piece of his life is told episodically but not always chronologically and serves only to heighten the mystery.

‘When a man’s stories are remembered, then he is immortal.’

William’s insistence on discovering the true nature of his father never amounts to much as Edward continues to shroud himself in his stories steeped in fantasy. But it ultimately becomes unnecessary anyway. Magical realism runs rampant in this tale, yet at the heart of the story, it’s simply about the unconditional love between a father and son.

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Book Review – The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan

August 21, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, 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.

Book Review – The Lifeboat by Charlotte RoganThe Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan
Published by Reagan Arthur Books on April 3rd 2012
Pages: 278
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Format: Hardcover
Source: the Publisher
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three-stars

Grace Winter, 22, is both a newlywed and a widow. She is also on trial for her life.

In the summer of 1914, the elegant ocean liner carrying her and her husband Henry across the Atlantic suffers a mysterious explosion. Setting aside his own safety, Henry secures Grace a place in a lifeboat, which the survivors quickly realize is over capacity. For any to live, some must die.

As the castaways battle the elements, and each other, Grace recollects the unorthodox way she and Henry met, and the new life of privilege she thought she'd found. Will she pay any price to keep it?

The Lifeboat is a page-turning novel of hard choices and survival, narrated by a woman as unforgettable and complex as the events she describes.

‘[…] the mind can work to suppress traumatic experiences, and I suppose that is true, but sometimes I think the failure to remember is not so much a pathological tendency as a natural consequence of necessity […]’

Grace Winter and her new husband Henry are traveling across the Atlantic to New York on the Empress Alexandra when a mysterious explosion sinks the ship. Grace manages to obtain a spot on a lifeboat but her husband was not and she presumes he is dead. The story begins though, with Grace no longer in the lifeboat, saved after 21 days at sea, but currently on trial for murder.

Being stranded in the middle of the Atlantic is a horrifying enough though but The Lifeboat’s extreme focus on the suffering and the change in mentality that the individuals undergo truly make you wonder if earning a spot on that lifeboat was actually a blessing. We learn the details of what occurred on the lifeboat from Grace directly, as she’s been instructed to do by her lawyer in an attempt to find some way of exonerating her. Grace is a deceptively simple woman that is actually far more manipulative than I think anyone gave her credit for. Her sense of self-preservation is strong and when rehashing the sequence of events which took place on the lifeboat, she always finds a way to reinterpret her actions so as to always come out ‘right’. As you learn more of her story, you’ll begin to start questioning her actions and realize how unreliable a narrator she has been the entire time.

“…was bluish-black and rolled past us like an unending herd of whales. The lifeboat alternately rose high on their broad backs and slid down into the deep depressions between them. Above, clouds hurtled through the sky before the wind…. I shivered, and for the first time since the day of the shipwreck, I felt profoundly afraid. We were doomed.”

The traumatic situation these individuals found themselves in was only made worse as time progressed and the rapid reduction of food and water quantities only succeeded in speeding up the hysteria. Fear begins warping mentalities and speculations arise creating more danger inside the boat than the sea itself. This story of survival is fascinating and appalling, but put in a similar situation who knows what lengths you would go to in order to ensure your own survival?

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Book Review – The Panopticon: A Novel by Jenni Fagan

August 16, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2014 7 Comments

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

Book Review – The Panopticon: A Novel by Jenni FaganThe Panopticon: A Novel by Jenni Fagan
Published by Hogarth on December 13th 2011
Pages: 320
Genres: Mystery, Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
Format: eARC
Source: Blogging for Books, the Publisher
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Goodreads

Also by this author: The Sunlight Pilgrims

four-half-stars

Named one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists

Anais Hendricks, fifteen, is in the back of a police car. She is headed for the Panopticon, a home for chronic young offenders. She can't remember what’s happened, but across town a policewoman lies in a coma and Anais is covered in blood. Raised in foster care from birth and moved through twenty-three placements before she even turned seven, Anais has been let down by just about every adult she has ever met. Now a counterculture outlaw, she knows that she can only rely on herself. And yet despite the parade of horrors visited upon her early life, she greets the world with the witty, fierce insight of a survivor. 
 
Anais finds a sense of belonging among the residents of the Panopticon—they form intense bonds, and she soon becomes part of an ad-hoc family. Together, they struggle against the adults that keep them confined. But when she looks up at the watchtower that looms over the residents, Anais realizes her fate: She is an anonymous part of an experiment, and she always was. Now it seems that the experiment is closing in.

‘The experiment are watching.
You can feel them, ay. In the quiet. In the room. Wherever you are-they’re there. That’s a given. Sometimes they’re right, sometimes a wee bit further away; when I want to hurt myself but I dinnae, I can always feel them then. They want me to hurt myself. They’re sick like that. What they really want is me dead.’

Anais, 15 years old, is suspected of assaulting a police officer and while the police complete their investigation she’s taken to The Panopticon for close monitoring. For being so young, Anais has led a shockingly violent life. She never met her birth mother and has been in the foster care system since she was born. Her foster mother was brutally murdered and Anais was the one to find her body. Drugs and alcohol have become par for the course with her and are the reason she can’t remember if she actually did assault that police officer. All she knows is, the tower in The Panopticon watches over everyone, always. Whether that’s simply a paranoid delusion or not remains to be seen.

‘The watchtower windows reflect the sun, and the big bug-eyes stare, and it’s totally obvious that watchtower doesnae even need staff in it; it just watches – all on its own.’

The Panopticon is a wild ride of pure insanity. A crazy combination of A Clockwork Orange, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Scottish style. The Scottish terms will seek to overwhelm you but Google is useful; use it. This story was shocking and heartbreaking, even more so when you find out it’s loosely based on the authors own personal experiences with the foster care system in Scotland. Anais may be a juvenile delinquent but she’s still got morals and that’s what makes her case so heartbreaking. She’s smart, full of wit and has hopes and dreams of living in Paris above a bakery where she’d wake up to the smell of fresh croissants. But since she doesn’t live above a bakery in Paris, she passes the time by playing the ‘Birthday Game’ where she uses her imagination to make up a different life than the one she’s currently leading.

Anais is a prime example of juvenile delinquency but she’s not the only misfit being kept at The Panopticon. There are the girls she befriends: Isla, the HIV-positive mother of twins that cuts herself to try to rid herself of the virus and Tash, her lover who works as a prostitute in order to save up for their own flat. There are lesser sad-cases as well such as the boy who is bullied by everyone including the staff after he is caught raping a dog and another who burned down a special-needs school. Bottom line, this is not a pretty story, but despite its ugliness, it tells the honest story of young people that are beaten down by the system that is intended to keep them safe.

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Book Review – Mr. Mercedes (Bill Hodges Trilogy #1) by Stephen King

August 15, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2014 11 Comments

Book Review – Mr. Mercedes (Bill Hodges Trilogy #1) by Stephen KingMr. Mercedes by Stephen King
Series: Bill Hodges Trilogy #1
Published by Scribner on June 3rd 2014
Pages: 436
Genres: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads

Also by this author: Doctor Sleep, Cujo, Pet Sematary

three-half-stars

In the frigid pre-dawn hours, in a distressed Midwestern city, hundreds of desperate unemployed folks are lined up for a spot at a job fair. Without warning, a lone driver plows through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes, running over the innocent, backing up, and charging again. Eight people are killed; fifteen are wounded. The killer escapes.

In another part of town, months later, a retired cop named Bill Hodges is still haunted by the unsolved crime. When he gets a crazed letter from someone who self-identifies as the "perk" and threatens an even more diabolical attack, Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, hell-bent on preventing another tragedy.

Brady Hartfield lives with his alcoholic mother in the house where he was born. He loved the feel of death under the wheels of the Mercedes, and he wants that rush again.

Only Bill Hodges, with a couple of highly unlikely allies, can apprehend the killer before he strikes again. And they have no time to lose, because Brady’s next mission, if it succeeds, will kill or maim thousands.

Mr. Mercedes is a war between good and evil, from the master of suspense whose insight into the mind of this obsessed, insane killer is chilling and unforgettable.

‘Life is a crap carnival with shit prizes.’

Bill Hodges is a retired detective that spends his days now sitting in front of his TV, stroking his gun and contemplating suicide. He remains haunted by the unsolved cases he left behind, most especially one where someone ran down a group of innocents waiting for a job fair to open. When Hodges receives a letter from the individual that supposedly committed the crime, it manages to revive his sense of purpose and gives him a new reason to live. This time he’s determined to prevent him from acting out his next heinous crime.

Mr. Mercedes isn’t exactly horror, but it’s certainly horrific. It’s best identified as a crime thriller and lacks the anticipated supernatural aspect that is usually key to King’s stories. It feels more akin to something James M. Cain, Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett would have written but Mr. Mercedes still manages to possess that certain something that is most definitely ‘King’.

What’s most impressive about this well-written bad guy is we’re given his identity from the very start and yet the story still manages to be full of surprises. The story occasionally has a scene from the point of view of Mr. Mercedes himself, Brady Hartfield, that will leave you unsettled, to say the least. This guy is one seriously twisted bastard that is not only murderous but is incredibly smart which is one distressing combination.

“Creepy as hell. You ever see that TV movie about the clown in the sewer?”

Even for those of you who have not read It (myself included, because, fuck you clowns) will still likely be able to recognize the references to the cult classic. Add to that is the ice cream truck on the back cover of the book that is parked in a puddle of blood while more blood rains down so you figure the ice cream truck is NOT a good thing even though everybody loves the ice cream man. Well, not anymore my friend. I actually heard the ice cream truck drive by my house while reading this, no joke, and I almost had a small aneurysm. So thanks, Stephen King, for ruining ice cream for me.

Mr. Mercedes may not be what most have come to expect from King, but who honestly knows what to expect from that man anyways? It’s no less thrilling and no less of an enthralling page turner. Highly recommended for fans of crime thrillers and for those that don’t love ice cream.

Night Film by Marisha Pessl {PurchaseMy Review}
The Cuckoo’s Calling (Cormoran Strike #1) by Robert Galbraith {PurchaseMy Review}
The Coffin Dancer (Lincoln Rhyme #2) by Jeffery Deaver {Purchase}

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