Posts Categorized: Read in 2014

Early Review – One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

June 28, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2014 7 Comments

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

Early Review – One Plus One by Jojo MoyesOne Plus One by Jojo Moyes
Published by Pamela Dorman Books on July 1st 2014
Pages: 384
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Funny-ha-ha
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Me Before You, The Girl You Left Behind, Still Me

five-stars

One single mom. One chaotic family. One quirky stranger. One irresistible love story from the New York Timesbestselling author of Me Before You
 
American audiences have fallen in love with Jojo Moyes. Ever since she debuted stateside, she has captivated readers and reviewers alike, and hit the New York Times bestseller list with the word-of-mouth sensation, Me Before You. Now, with One Plus One, she’s written another contemporary opposites-attract love story that reads like a modern-dayTwo for the Road.
 
Suppose your life sucks. A lot. Your husband has done a vanishing act, your teenage stepson is being bullied and your math whiz daughter has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you can’t afford to pay for. That’s Jess’s life in a nutshell—until an unexpected knight-in-shining-armor offers to rescue them. Only Jess’s knight turns out to be Geeky Ed, the obnoxious tech millionaire whose vacation home she happens to clean. But Ed has big problems of his own, and driving the dysfunctional family to the Math Olympiad feels like his first unselfish act in ages . . . maybe ever.
 
One Plus One is Jojo Moyes at her astounding best. You’ll laugh, you’ll weep, and when you flip the last page, you’ll want to start all over again.

Jess is a resolutely optimistic single mother who struggles with two jobs and two kids after her husband, seemingly suffering from depression, leaves them to move back in with his mother. When her daughter Tanzie gets the opportunity of a lifetime at a prestigious school, the only way the tuition can get paid is if Jess gets her to a Math Olympiad in Scotland. The only problem is, they don’t have a car nor the funds to get there. Ed, a tech millionaire who’s house Jess cleans, has gotten into a world of trouble involving being accused of insider trading and he needs to get out of town in hopes that his troubles blow over. Ed ends up offering to drive Jess, her two kids and they’re stinky dog Norman to Scotland in what ends up being one seriously stressful yet hilarious road trip.

In this hysterical and emotional tale of opposites attract, Jojo Moyes continues to solidify her spot as one of my favorite authors. Her portrayal of life as a single mom struggling to keep her kids fed was sobering but terribly relatable if anyone has ever struggled financially. Jojo Moyes also tackles the topic of economic differences, bullies and deadbeat dads with ease. Her characterization is unerring with each and every character well-written and detailed without managing to tread too far into predictable territory. Her stories have always managed to throw me with their unexpected twists and One Plus One is no different. The two main characters both possess enough wittiness and differences which cause their attraction to not be immediate. The romance is a slow, subtle build that even though you’re expecting you still won’t really see it coming.

One Plus One’s summary would suggest a typical, formulaic chick-lit story of opposites attract but culminates into a simple and pleasing page-turner that fans of the genre won’t want to miss.

The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella {Purchase}
Sweet Nothings by Janis Thomas {PurchaseReview}
Vanity Fare: A Novel of Lattes, Literature, and Love by Megan Caldwell {PurchaseReview}

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Audiobook Review – The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line (Veronica Mars #1) by Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham

June 26, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2014 4 Comments

Audiobook Review – The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line (Veronica Mars #1) by Rob Thomas & Jennifer GrahamThe Thousand-Dollar Tan Line by Jennifer Graham, Rob Thomas
Narrator: Kristen Bell
Series: Veronica Mars #1
Published by Random House Audio on March 25th 2014
Length: 8 hours and 42 minutes
Genres: Mystery
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads


three-half-stars

The first book in an original mystery series following popular television sleuth Veronica Mars, all grown up and back in action after the feature film funded by a record-breaking Kickstarter campaign.

Twenty-eight-year-old Veronica Mars is back in the game after the events of Veronica Mars: The Movie. With the help of old friends-Logan Echolls, Mac Mackenzie, Wallace Fennel, and even Dick Casablancas-Veronica is ready to take on Neptune's darkest cases with her trademark sass and smarts.

In The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line, (almost) the whole gang is back together again. Veronica has left her high paying job as an attorney in New York City to return to Neptune, CA to help her dad out with his PI business. Mac Mackenzie has left her fancy job as well to assist in the computer aspects of the job but they’re struggling to make ends meet. A huge case finally lands in their laps when the incompetence of the local sheriff department requires the Chamber of Commerce to hire help to find a missing girl that was visiting Neptune on spring break.

Veronica Mars is one of my all-time favorite shows that was canceled much too soon. When it was released that not only would there be a new movie to look forward but a book series as well I had a total fit. It looked something along the lines of this:

No exaggeration. Finding out that Kristen Bell narrates the audio of the first book was even better news. Kristen Bell perfectly narrated each and every character we’ve grown to know and love. The audio is definitely the way to go with this one. The story itself was ALMOST as good as I had hoped it could be. It was a slow build in the mystery bits and Veronica doesn’t even make an immediate appearance but that’s temporary. The mystery is interesting and has a few twists I didn’t see coming but it did still feel like it possessed the typical framework of many already been done before VMars investigations. Regardless, just being back in Neptune was the best thing ever.The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line is written in third person POV and for the most part, it worked. Would first-person have worked better? Most likely. But third-person does allow the reader the opportunity of a different perspective on Veronica and the investigation in order to formulate their own thoughts and opinions rather than seeing it solely through her eyes.

One of the things I loved about the show was the skillful combination of the mystery and the romance. This wasn’t the case here though as Logan has a minuscule part in the story, however, I am okay with this as I find myself a bit over Logan. Gasp. I know. I just wanted to something fresh and different for her I think. Here we have Veronica in her late 20s and yet she’s doing the same things she did in high school. She left a well-paying job in New York to go back to Neptune just to go back to the same job that makes it a struggle to pay the bills. While I understand this is an introductory novel back into the life of Veronica, I can only hope that we can expect bigger and better things for her. The ending definitely left open the opportunity for future VMars stories and I for one cannot wait.

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Audiobook Review – Casino Royale (James Bond (Original Series) #1) by Ian Fleming

June 24, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2014 8 Comments

Audiobook Review – Casino Royale (James Bond (Original Series) #1) by Ian FlemingCasino Royale by Ian Fleming
Narrator: Dan Stevens
Series: James Bond (Original Series) #1
on April 13th 1953
Length: 5 hours and 5 minutes
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads


three-half-stars

In the first of Ian Fleming's James Bond novels, 007 declares war on Le Chiffre, French communist and paymaster of the Soviet murder organization SMERSH.

The battle begins with a fifty-million-franc game of baccarat, gains momentum during Bond's fiery love affair with a sensuous lady spy, and reaches a chilling climax with fiendish torture at the hands of a master sadist. For incredible suspense, unexpected thrills, and extraordinary danger, nothing can beat James Bond in his inaugural adventure.

Casino Royale is the very beginning of the infamous James Bond stories by Ian Fleming. As a member of the secret service, James has been instructed to beat Le Chiffre, a Communist agent, at the baccarat tables in anticipation that the Soviet agency will execute him for misusing funds.

I’ve always loved the James Bond movies and have meant to read the actual book for ages. The movies are chock-full of action scenes so it was quite surprising that the book didn’t quite measure up in that regard. Much of Casino Royale is spent at the baccarat tables, explaining in detail hands dealt and the likelihood of being triumphant. It was interesting but not incredibly entertaining. The sole action scene was a horrible and unforgettable torture scene that made me wish for more action of a less painful sort.

Such as the films, James Bond is quite infatuated with his women. In Casino Royale, the woman is Vesper Lynd, a fellow agent who was sent to assist him in his mission. These books are decades old, Casino Royale being published in 1953, so it shouldn’t come as much surprise that the material feels incredibly dated. Most dated is the attitude towards females. While not excusable, unfortunately, the mentality is on par with how things were in that era so in that regard it’s fitting.

“These blithering women who thought they could do a man’s work. Why the hell couldn’t they stay at home and mind their pots and pans and stick to their frocks and gossip and leave men’s work to the men.”

It’s definitely not the easiest of things to overlook and I was cringing often, but surprisingly enough still managed to be of extreme entertainment and will be well-liked by long-time fans of James. The version of Casino Royale I read was the audiobook narrated by Dan Stevens who did a marvelous job.

 

The Spy Who Came In from the Cold (George Smiley #3) by John le Carré {Purchase}
Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan {PurchaseMy Review}

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Book Review – Pushing the Limits (Pushing the Limits #1) by Katie McGarry

June 21, 2014 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2014, YA 0 Comments

Book Review – Pushing the Limits (Pushing the Limits #1) by Katie McGarryPushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
Series: Pushing the Limits #1
Published by Harlequin Teen on May 1st 2013
Pages: 397
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon
Goodreads


three-stars

So wrong for each other…and yet so right.

No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with "freaky" scars on her arms. Even Echo can't remember the whole truth.

But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his surprising understanding, Echo's world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common.

Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can PUSH THE LIMITS and what she'll risk for the one guy who might teach her HOW TO LOVE AGAIN.

Pushing the Limits is a contemporary YA story about romance and friendship and dealing with loss. Echo was involved in an accident with her mother but the trauma was so strong that her mind has blocked it completely. All she wants to do is remember, but is she strong enough to handle the truth? Noah is still dealing with the loss of his parents in a house fire and is struggling to survive the foster care system. He was separated from his two younger brothers and all he wants to do is obtain custody of them so they can all be a happy family again. Echo and Noah have both suffered in life but are complete opposites of each other, yet they fall for one another just the same.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: YA contemporary is not my go-to genre. This book sat on my shelf for years because let’s be honest, that cover screams nothing but high school! romance! angst! drama! to me. I was surprised that while the romance (and yes, all the angst and drama one could ever hope for) is a major part, the story possessed a depth I was not expecting. Echo and Noah were individuals that had been forced into growing up sooner than necessary due to incidents in their life and Pushing the Limits is their coming of age story that treads the line between YA and NA and will be well-liked by fans of both.

Pushing the Limits was entertaining and I read it fairly quickly, however, it didn’t manage to generate much in the way of opinion. I was overall a bit indifferent about Echo and Noah’s story. While I appreciated the complex and separate side stories of both characters, it was all too melodramatic for me in the end. The romance was given some time to develop so instant love wasn’t a real factor, but once the romance started it, the seriousness between the two progressed at the speed of light. There were the obligatory ‘I love you’s’ thrown around and the constant use of ‘babe’. While the characters stories possessed depth I didn’t feel that their romance did. The story suffered in pacing during the second half and would have benefited from a trim in length as it only succeeded in adding more of the already abundant melodramatic flair. Excessively long yet still compulsively readable, it disappointed by ending too predictable. I seem to have nothing but negative things to say, yet I did enjoy the read overall. It’d be worth it to give the author another shot to see how she progresses as a writer.

How to Love by Katie Cotugno {PurchaseMy Review}
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta {Purchase}
A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley {Purchase}

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Book Review – Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield

June 20, 2014 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2014, YA 6 Comments

Book Review – Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat RosenfieldAmelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield
Published by Dutton Juvenile on July 5th 2012
Pages: 288
Genres: Mystery-Contemporary
Format: ARC
Source: a Giveaway
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads


four-half-stars

An arresting un-coming-of-age story, from a breathtaking talent

Becca has always longed to break free from her small, backwater hometown. But the discovery of an unidentified dead girl on the side of a dirt road sends the town--and Becca--into a tailspin. Unable to make sense of the violence of the outside world creeping into her backyard, Becca finds herself retreating inward, paralyzed from moving forward for the first time in her life. Short chapters detailing the last days of Amelia Anne Richardson's life are intercut with Becca's own summer as the parallel stories of two young women struggling with self-identity and relationships on the edge twist the reader closer and closer to the truth about Amelia's death.

“That girl, dead and gone, her spirit trapped forever just inside town limits—she’d come from someplace, was going somewhere. Until destiny had stepped into the road in front of her, stopped her forward motion, drawn a killing claw against the white, fluttering swell of her future. Whispering, ‘Oh no, you don’t.’

When you made plans, the saboteurs came out to play.”

The night of Becca’s high school graduation brings her one step closer to leaving small-town life forever. The following day brings dreadful news of a young girl that was found beaten to death on the side of the road. The death of this unknown girl stirs Becca’s doubts and causes her to become fearful of this outside world that she’s received her first glimpse of. Was this girl killed by an outsider or is the one to be feared someone from her own town?

I was warned that Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone isn’t a book for everyone. I was warned about the prose. I was warned about the excessive descriptions. But those warnings were clearly not meant for me. The intro line managed to grab me instantly. Hook, line, and sinker.

‘The night before Amelia Anne Richardson bled her life away on a parched dirt road outside of town, I bled out my dignity in the back of a pickup truck under a star-pricked sky.’

You couldn’t tear this book out of my hands after that. I worked reluctantly. I slept reluctantly. I couldn’t stop reading until I had completely devoured this book. The author is so adroit with the English language that I wish it wasn’t her debut so I had a full backlog of her work to go back and read. Rosenfield’s descriptions are excessive but felt completely necessary for this type of story. The additional wording added a heightened sense of what was truly happening, a heightened sense of dread. The continued investigation into this girls death never succeeded in actually getting any closer to solving but it did succeed in completely unraveling the town and each of its inhabitants.

Amelia Anne centers primarily around Becca who after having sex with her boyfriend James was unceremoniously dumped immediately after. The death of this anonymous girl and the effect that her death has on this small town is actually more of a side story. The story alternates between Amelia’s final days and Becca’s transformed days following the discovery of the mysterious body. As the story unfolds, the reader is shown the similarities between the girls despite their differences. The mystery in how the two came to be connected seemed to be an impossibility. Seeing the pieces of their stories slowly merge and form the bigger picture was a revelation as I managed to remain in the dark until the very end.

‘In a place so insulted, where lives are so small and gone about so quietly, violent death hangs in the air – tinting everything crimson, weaving itself into the shimmering heat that rises off the winding asphalt roads at noon.’

Certain details of this story really stood out for me. Firstly was Rosenfield’s portrayal of a mature teenage love in its genuine form with all its unnecessary complexity. Her descriptions of this small town and its inhabitants were completely on point. Not surprising, the author grew up in a small town in New York with a population of less than 3k people. And lastly, her ability to write such an intricate and alluring tale in less than 300 pages.

Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone is an exquisitely written debut novel that’s flawlessly layered and incredibly captivating.

Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn {Purchase}
The Night She Disappeared by April Henry {Purchase}
The Secret History by Donna Tartt {Purchase}

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Book Review – Prisoner of Night and Fog (Prisoner of Night and Fog #1) by Anne Blankman

June 19, 2014 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2014, YA 3 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.

Book Review – Prisoner of Night and Fog (Prisoner of Night and Fog #1) by Anne BlankmanPrisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman
Series: Prisoner of Night and Fog #1
Published by Balzer + Bray on April 22nd 2014
Pages: 401
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance
Format: Hardcover
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke

three-half-stars

In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her "uncle" Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf's, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.

Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler. And Gretchen follows his every command.

Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can't stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can't help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she's been taught to believe about Jews.

As Gretchen investigates the very people she's always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?

From debut author Anne Blankman comes this harrowing and evocative story about an ordinary girl faced with the extraordinary decision to give up everything she's ever believed . . . and to trust her own heart instead.

‘The box she had carefully constructed about herself would fall apart. And she didn’t know if she could bear standing out in the open, in the harsh wind, without the comforting warmth of those walls she had built to shut out everything she didn’t like or understand.’

In the early 1930’s, Hitler’s rise to power as the undisputed leader of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party continues. The country is in ruin after the financial crisis and the people were drawn to the promise of changes that Hitler vowed to make as soon as he’s elected Chancellor of Germany. He has up until now kept his true intentions for the Jewish people hidden under a thick coat of gloss, but the truth is starting to come out bit by bit. Gretchen Müller grew up knowing nothing but love for ‘Uncle Adolf’ after her father died preventing an assassination attack on Hitler. When new information is brought to her attention that her father’s death isn’t all as it appears, everything she has ever believed has to be reevaluated.

‘He had said his opponents were flung cross every corner of the city, barely discernible, like a spiderweb-until you tossed water on the gossamer net and there your opponents were, glistening like diamonds, brilliantly bright and unmistakable.’

Gretchen Müller’s beliefs in the National Socialist Party run deep, yet her father’s death hit her hard and she still misses him dearly. Her continued suffering over his loss manages to be the chink in her belief system and when a young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen approaches her about the possibility that his death was actually murder, everything in her life begins to crumble. The historical detailing was at times excessive but really manages to set the scene well. It’s clear that the time period was well-researched and it all felt authentic despite the obvious fictional additions. While I didn’t see the likelihood of a Jewish reporter taking the chance to approach Hitler’s ‘golden-girl’, I did feel that Gretchen’s change of mind as she uncovers more evidence of her father’s murder was genuine and believable.

The murder mystery was hands down the best part of this novel. There were scenes of gripping intensity when Gretchen and Daniel would creep through the shadows to uncover necessary information to expose her father’s murderer. The personal scenes between Gretchen and Hitler were chilling and while I have read many books regarding this time period, I had yet to read one where Hitler has a starring role, showing his disturbing nature clearly. Also frightening was Gretchen’s ghastly brother who shared many characteristics of Hitler himself. A warning to you animal lovers, there is a severely heartbreaking scene that I wish I was able to mentally prepare for.

My one disappointment was the romance. While I’m all for a good forbidden love story, and this one was certainly forbidden, I didn’t feel the feels, unfortunately. Their love isn’t instantaneous, however, I felt we learned much more about Gretchen and not enough about Daniel to get properly attached to his character. Gretchen’s feelings regarding Daniel felt clunky and while I would normally expect this considering her ingrained beliefs towards Jews, it felt like her change of heart came far too quickly.
View Spoiler »

The complete lack of interest in the romance managed to throw a wrench in the entire story for me but thankfully there was an incredibly interesting murder mystery for me to follow instead. Prisoner of Night and Fog is a fantastic look into the time period from the unaccustomed German perspective. Witnessing Hitler’s rise in power was especially disheartening as we all already know of what’s to come. The ending sets up the next book nicely and I’m interested to see how the author continues handling this historical time period.

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys {Purchase}
Code Name Verity (Code Name Verity #1) by Elizabeth Wein {PurchaseMy Review}
The Reader by Bernhard Schlink {PurchaseMy Review}

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Book Review – Memories of My Melancholy Whores by Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez

June 14, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2014 4 Comments

Book Review – Memories of My Melancholy Whores by Gabriel Garcí­a MárquezMemories of My Melancholy Whores by Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez
Published by Vintage on October 25th 2005
Pages: 128
Genres: Literary Fiction
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads


three-half-stars

On the eve of his ninetieth birthday a bachelor decides to give himself a wild night of love with a virgin. As is his habit-he has purchased hundreds of women-he asks a madam for her assistance. The fourteen-year-old girl who is procured for him is enchanting, but exhausted as she is from caring for siblings and her job sewing buttons, she can do little but sleep. Yet with this sleeping beauty at his side, it is he who awakens to a romance he has never known.

Tender, knowing, and slyly comic, Memories of My Melancholy Whores is an exquisite addition to the master's work.

‘Age isn’t how old you are but how old you feel.’

Memories of My Melancholy Whores opens with a most surprising statement from our unnamed narrator: “The year I turned 90, I wanted to give myself the gift of a night of wild love with an adolescent virgin.” While this might not inspire any sort of positive feelings towards this man, the truth is he has lived long enough to not really care because his lasciviousness is simply who this man is and has  always been. Introduced to love-making at an early age in a local brothel, he boastfully states that he has never gone to bed with a woman that he didn’t pay to do so. After a statement like that it comes as no surprise that he was also the twice crowned client of the year. He stopped keeping track of his sexual escapades at age 50 when he had reached 514 tallies.

Memories of My Melancholy Whores may not feature your typical grandfatherly figure but our narrator still manages to charm us in his liveliness even at such an advanced age. While sleeping with virgins won’t likely be on my bucket list when I reach 90, being in a healthy position to do so regardless is definitely something to aim for. Our unnamed narrators story stirs up comparisons to another older fellow who was fond of a young girl, one Humbert Humbert.

‘Seeing and touching her in the flesh, she seemed less real to me than in my memory.’

The way this story was written is also similar to Lolita in that it almost feels like an attempt to explain and defend his feelings for what happened between him and the 14 year old girl he names Delgadina. Instead, his actions would indicate that he has no reason to not be truthful and that his decision to call upon Rosa Cabarcas and ask for the girl was the first step towards doing what he should have done all along: look for love. Not unexpectedly, this is not your typical love story. Our unnamed narrator is smitten with the young girl, yet even he can see the ridiculousness of the situation he has found himself in, especially when his meets with the girl are always while she’s asleep. He reads her stories and strokes her body and while away from her he fantasizes of a life spent together with her.

‘…that was the beginning of a new life at an age when most mortals have already died.’

Memories of My Melancholy Whores is more than just an unlikely story of love. It is also about when reaching the point in your life and being able to look back on how you’ve spent yours causes you to change and transform into the person you had always intended to be. For one that spent his life never truly knowing love, it finally came to him when least expected.

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Audiobook Review – Deliverance by James Dickey

June 13, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2014 3 Comments

Audiobook Review – Deliverance by James DickeyDeliverance by James Dickey
Narrator: Will Patton
Published by Audible on 1970
Length: 7 hrs and 35 mins
Genres: Southern Gothic/Country Noir
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Amazon | Audible
Goodreads


three-stars

The setting is the Georgia wilderness, where the state's most remote white-water river awaits. In the thundering froth of that river, in its echoing stone canyons, four men on a canoe trip discover a freedom and exhilaration beyond compare. And then, in a moment of horror, the adventure turns into a struggle for survival as one man becomes a human hunter who is offered his own harrowing deliverance.

This classic tale is vividly read by movie and TV star and Audie Award-winning narrator Will Patton.

Deliverance
de·liv·er·ance [dih-liv-er-uhns]
noun
: the state of being saved from something dangerous or unpleasant

Deliverance is the deceptively simplistic story of four ordinary men from Atlanta that decide to go on a canoe trip in the Georgia wilderness. The river they plan to traverse is destined to disappear soon because of a new dam that will flood the area. Soon into their trip, they encounter two men who live in the nearby mountains and their weekend wilderness adventure quickly morphs into a struggle for their very survival.

‘The river was blank and mindless with beauty. It was the most glorious thing I have ever seen. But it was not seeing, really. For once it was not just seeing. It was beholding. I beheld the river in its icy pit of brightness, in its far-below sound and indifference, in its large coil and tiny points and flashes of the moon, in its long sinuous form, in its uncomprehending consequence.’

Unlike most who have either read this book or experienced the movie, I went into this story completely blind, oblivious of the horrors to come. Being a fan of southern gothic fiction though, it was essential I read the original classic that helped to generate the genre. Published in 1970, Deliverance was Dickey’s first novel and the one he went on to be most known for. In 1965, he won the National Book Award in Poetry and those poetic abilities showed through the darkness of Deliverance. The surprisingly beautiful poetic quality added a much-needed delicacy to this tale so as to make it a much more agreeable read.

“Here we go, out of the sleep of the mild people, into the wild rippling water.”

The river itself, the Cahulawassee River, has much more symbolism than one would initially recognize. The Cahulawassee River is being forced into modern times and will cease to exist in a matter of weeks. These four men are forced into changes as well due to the harsh situations they are involuntary put through. It changes their mindset and state of being and forces them to make choices they never expected to have to make. These changes necessitated the realization that while they felt like ordinary men in comparison to the abominations that they faced, they were more than able to transform similarly all in the name of survival.

Deliverance is a dark and dismal read but is permeated with skillfully beautiful writing that makes it a completely necessary read for any fans of the genre.

The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock {PurchaseMy Review}
Child of God by Cormac McCarthy {PurchaseMy Review}
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad {Purchase}

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Book Review – The Girl with All the Gifts (The Hungry Plague #1) by M.R. Carey

June 12, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2014 15 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 Girl with All the Gifts (The Hungry Plague #1) by M.R. CareyThe Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
Series: The Hungry Plague #1
Published by Orbit on June 10th 2014
Pages: 448
Genres: Horror
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Also by this author: Fellside, The Boy on the Bridge

five-stars

Melanie is a very special girl. Dr Caldwell calls her "our little genius."

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite, but they don't laugh.

Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children's cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she'll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn't know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.

“Pandora […] was a really amazing woman. All the gods had blessed her and given her gifts. That’s what her name means – ‘the girl with all the gifts’. So she was clever, and brave, and beautiful, and funny, and everything else you’d want to be. But she just had the one tiny fault, which was that she was very – and I mean very curious.”

Melanie is a curious little girl, much like Pandora was. She loves school, loves learning but loves her teacher Miss Justineau even more. She’s never seen the outside world, only her cell, the corridor, the shower room and the classroom which is located on an army base. Melanie is an incredibly intelligent little girl, capable of extremely high level classes for someone her age. Other than being near genius, she’s just a normal little girl, until she catches the scent of human flesh.

‘…the Breakdown, when the world filled with monsters who looked like people you knew and loved, and every living soul went scrambling and skittering for cover like mice when the cat wakes up…’

The normal hungries that roam the earth are your classic type zombie: they’re mindless and single-minded when it comes to obtaining their next meal. Melanie and her classmates are high-functioning zombies or “hungries” that are capable of speech and emotions, things the normal hungries are incapable of. These children have been captured for the sole purpose of experimentation, in hopes that they are the key to a possible cure for this terrible disease that has consumed the world.

There are many interesting aspects to this novel that I wouldn’t normally expect to find in a normal zombie-type book. First and foremost is the cognitive abilities of these children despite their undead status. It was an interesting aspect and leads to the next aspect: the ethics behind the experimenting on these coherent children even if it’s done for the good of the human race. The doctor conducting the experiments, Doctor Caldwell, has completely disconnected herself from the belief that what she is doing is wrong and successfully convinces you as a reader in the chapters told from her POV that it’s for the greater good. Switching to the chapters told from the POV of Miss Justineau offers you the opposite stance as she’s become attached to not only Melanie but the whole of her students even though she fully understands exactly what they are and the danger they represent. The perplexity of the situation their forced into isn’t simple nor straightforward.

The other aspect to this novel that is the main driving force is the relationship that develops between Melanie and Miss Justineau. Melanie has suffered through a life of solitary and Miss Justineau’s teachings are the shining beacon of hope that she always has to look forward to. In turn, Miss Justineau develops an affection for Melanie despite her best intentions to remain distant. The relationship was surprisingly heartfelt and touching.

Setting all the unexpected aspects aside, my favorite aspect of zombie novels is always the why and seeing what route each author takes. Zombie novels have become quite common these days and thus requires them to have an original aspect that hasn’t been done before. The Girl With All the Gifts does just that. The individuals in this novel are infected with Ophiocordyceps, a genus of fungi that actually exists in our world today but grows only on insects. I can’t express enough what a superb job M.R. Carey does at explaining the details of this fungus and how it came to be possible for it to infect humans. He goes into incredible detail yet explains it in such a skillful way as to avoid leaving us non-scientists completely clueless.

While The Girl With All the Gifts had many incredible facets to it, the ending was the most memorable. Shocking and unexpected yet such a fitting ending to this amazing story. Engaging, shocking and thrilling, The Girl With All the Gifts is one incredible read that thankfully manages to live up to all the hype.

Parasite (Parasitology #1) by Mira Grant {PurchaseMy Review}
The Host (The Host #1) by Stephenie Meyer {Purchase}
Raising Stony Mayhall by Daryl Gregory {PurchaseMy Review}

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Book Review – Odin’s Ravens (The Blackwell Pages #2) by K.L. Armstrong & M.A. Marr

June 7, 2014 Bonnie Book Reviews, Middle Grade, Read in 2014 2 Comments

Book Review – Odin’s Ravens (The Blackwell Pages #2) by K.L. Armstrong & M.A. MarrOdin's Ravens by K.L. Armstrong, M.A. Marr
Series: The Blackwell Pages #2
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers on May 13th 2014
Pages: 352
Genres: Fantasy, Norse Mythology
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Loki's Wolves

three-half-stars

Seven kids, Thor's hammer, and a whole lot of Valkyries are the only things standing against the end of the world.

When thirteen-year-old Matt Thorsen, a modern day descendant of the Norse god Thor, was chosen to represent Thor in an epic battle to prevent the apocalypse he thought he knew how things would play out. Gather the descendants standing in for gods like Loki and Odin, defeat a giant serpent, and save the world. No problem, right?

But the descendants' journey grinds to a halt when their friend and descendant Baldwin is poisoned and killed and Matt, Fen, and Laurie must travel to the Underworld in the hopes of saving him. But that's only their first stop on their journey to reunite the challengers, find Thor's hammer, and stop the apocalypse--a journey filled with enough tooth-and-nail battles and larger-than-life monsters to make Matt a legend in his own right.

Authors K.L. Armstrong and M.A. Marr return to Blackwell in the epic sequel to Loki's Wolveswith more explosive action, adventure and larger-than-life Norse legends.

The Blackwell Pages

11438693

Loki’s Wolves (The Blackwell Pages #1) by K.L. Armstrong & M.A. Marr {PurchaseMy Review}

​’…they were about to ride into battle with Valkyries, Berserkers, and… goats. It was pretty epic.’​​

Odin’s Ravens, the next installment following Loki’s Wolves, picks up right where the last left off with Matt and the gang setting out to save their deceased friend Baldwin from an eternity in Hel. This is no easy feat as along the way they encounter fire giants, Viking zombies, a seemingly innocuous river that turns out to be made up of acid, a cave bear, a Hel chicken, and Laurie and Fen’s Aunt Helen who rules Hel. Baldwin is the descendant of Balder and according to the mythos, his death was the start of Ragnarök. Saving him from Hel would change the myth and hopefully stop Ragnarök. But will that single act be enough to stop the end of the world?

The story of Odin’s Ravens is once again written as a shared point of view between the three main characters, Matt, Fen, and Laurie but we’re also introduced to a new character: Owen; the descendant of Odin. Odin was the All-Father and was said to be all-knowing of future events to come. Owen is blessed with this gift of prophecy as well as long as he wasn’t an active part of the mission so he has stayed away from the descendants in order to glean as much information as he can. Unfortunately, staying away from the other descendants has resulted in his capture by the wulfenkind. His two ravens, Thought (Huginn) and Memory (Muninn) are his sole companions until he’s able to escape so he sends them out into the world acting as his eyes and ears. It was incredibly interesting reading about the mythology behind Odin and remains one of my favorite aspects of these stories. The details of Norse mythology is incorporated into the story in a manner that makes it vastly interesting and educational yet still immensely entertaining.

In addition to the action and adventure of the story itself, the book also contains amazing black and white illustrations that truly bring the story to life. The interior illustrations were all done by Vivenne To.

Odin’s Ravens is a pleasing follow-up that will certainly leave readers of the series anticipating the final book in the trilogy. The action and adventure is intense, the humor is plentiful and the character development is well-done, although I can’t say I’m completely invested emotionally in these characters but their story is still very much intriguing and I’m eager to find out the result of their journey.

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1) by Rick Riordan {Purchase}
Gregor the Overlander (Underland Chronicles #1) by Suzanne Collins {Purchase}
Deadweather and Sunrise (The Chronicles of Egg #1) by Geoff Rodkey {PurchaseMy Review}

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