Posts Categorized: Read in 2016

Short & Sweet – Half-Blood Prince, The Rose and the Dagger, The Lover’s Dictionary

January 6, 2017 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2016, Read in 2017, Short & Sweet Reviews 11 Comments

Short & Sweet – Half-Blood Prince, The Rose and the Dagger, The Lover’s DictionaryHarry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
Narrator: Jim Dale
Series: Harry Potter #6
Published by Pottermore from J.K. Rowling on November 20th 2015
Length: 18 hours and 55 minutes
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Cuckoo's Calling, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 & 2, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

five-stars

"There it was, hanging in the sky above the school: the blazing green skull with a serpent tongue, the mark Death Eaters left behind whenever they had entered a building...wherever they had murdered...."

When Dumbledore arrives at Privet Drive one summer night to collect Harry Potter, his wand hand is blackened and shrivelled, but he does not reveal why. Secrets and suspicion are spreading through the wizarding world, and Hogwarts itself is not safe. Harry is convinced that Malfoy bears the Dark Mark: there is a Death Eater amongst them. Harry will need powerful magic and true friends as he explores Voldemort's darkest secrets, and Dumbledore prepares him to face his destiny....

“It is the unknown we fear when we look upon death and darkness, nothing more.”

Once upon a time, I considered Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix to be my favorite of the bunch. This re-read? This is quite possibly my new favorite for how well-paced and exciting the mystery was. There was a reason behind everything Rowling included and when the links become apparent it was nothing short of fantastic. These stories have been quite dark since Goblet of Fire, but this installment added many fascinating angles to it and finally gives us the relationship between Harry and Dumbedore that should have been in place years ago. Technically this is my very first time re-reading past Prisoner of Azkaban (#3) and it almost felt like I was reading them for the first time. Having read Cursed Child has also changed my perception on the story as well by being able to view the characters differently knowing not just how they turned out at the end of Deathly Hallows, but several decades later as adults too.

harry potter

While I haven’t re-read these as much as I should, I have seen the movies several times and those are what has been ingrained into my brain so it’s fantastic to recall the subtle/unsubtle changes that were made. Peeves continues to be absent and Tonks’ major part in this book is left out completely, the destruction of the Burrow didn’t happen at all in the story, a certain someones funeral gets left out, but most missed were many of the memories of Tom Riddle that Dumebledore shared with Harry. Those memories, to me, are what makes Voldemort most fascinating (in the worst of ways) and gives him a much needed complexity which takes him beyond your standard cardboard villain. But yes, I have a vastly different appreciation for this story now and am grateful I’ve finally made time to re-read this series in its entirety.

“Let us step into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure.”

Short & Sweet – Half-Blood Prince, The Rose and the Dagger, The Lover’s DictionaryThe Rose & the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn #2
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers on April 26th 2016
Pages: 416
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Wrath and the Dawn

three-half-stars

The darker the sky, the brighter the stars.

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad is forced from the arms of her beloved husband, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once thought Khalid a monster—a merciless killer of wives, responsible for immeasurable heartache and pain—but as she unraveled his secrets, she found instead an extraordinary man and a love she could not deny. Still, a curse threatens to keep Shazi and Khalid apart forever.

Now she’s reunited with her family, who have found refuge in the desert, where a deadly force is gathering against Khalid—a force set on destroying his empire and commanded by Shazi’s spurned childhood sweetheart. Trapped between loyalties to those she loves, the only thing Shazi can do is act. Using the burgeoning magic within her as a guide, she strikes out on her own to end both this terrible curse and the brewing war once and for all. But to do it, she must evade enemies of her own to stay alive.
The saga that began with The Wrath and the Dawn takes its final turn as Shahrzad risks everything to find her way back to her one true love again.

“It was because they were two parts of a whole. He did not belong to her. And she did not belong to him. It was never about belonging to someone. It was about belonging together.”

Khalid spends his days keeping his identity secret as he helps to rebuild his demolished city and Shahrzad is doing all she possibly can to break the curse on Khalid so that they can live out their days together in peace. The Wrath and the Dawn only hinted at the presence of magic and I’m pleased to say that the magic is on full display in The Rose and the Dagger. There’s heartbreak and strife galore because is anything ever easy when it comes to love?

Image result for aladdin gif

It’s no secret that I absolutely adored the first book. Whether it’s because I loved the first so much and I didn’t expect the second to be able to live up to it or because of my poor track record in regards to final books in series’ but it took me forever to take the plunge and pick this one up. But better late than never, I finally did. This installment focuses less on the romance and more on the conspiracies and scheming going on in the background of the kingdom. Yes, the romance focus was definitely missed since I loved it so, however, there was a maturity to it this time around that was definitely absent from Wrath what with all the passion flying around. There were some intriguing mysteries involving Khalid’s rivals and Shahrzad’s father that I quite liked but one mystery in particular View Spoiler » left me feeling confused what with the unraveled ends that it was left with. While I was not nearly as enamored with this installment as I was with the prior, this still ended up being a most magical story inspired by A Thousand and One Nights.

Short & Sweet – Half-Blood Prince, The Rose and the Dagger, The Lover’s DictionaryThe Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan
Published by Picador on January 17th 2012
Pages: 224
Genres: Contemporary
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Lover's Dictionary, Every Day

five-stars

How does one talk about love? Is it even possible to describe something at once utterly mundane and wholly transcendent, that has the power to consume our lives completely, while making us feel part of something infinitely larger than ourselves? Taking a unique approach to this age-old problem, the nameless narrator of David Levithan's The Lover's Dictionary constructs the story of a relationship as a dictionary. Through these sharp entries, he provides an intimate window into the great events and quotidian trifles of coupledom, giving us an indelible and deeply moving portrait of love in our time.

‘It scares me how hard it is to remember life before you. I can’t even make the comparisons anymore, because my memories of that time have all the depth of a photograph. It seems foolish to play games of better and worse. It’s simply a matter of is and is no longer.’

The Lover’s Dictionary is the antithesis of a love story. But it’s still a story of love. It’s the type that brings to light all the hairline fractures and imperfections of romance. It shows the wondrous, shining moments of first love and the gloomy, dispiriting moments when it comes to a close. It’s both tragic and comforting and it’s an astonishing piece of writing.

flux, n.

The natural state. Our moods change. Our lives change. Our feelings for each other change. Our bearings change. The song changes. The air changes. The temperature of the shower changes.

Accept this. We must accept this.

I read and reviewed this years ago but I recently purchased a copy for myself and have been wanting to re-read just to see if this retained all the same magic that I recalled it having. I quite possibly loved this even more, mainly because while I could appreciate the emotions behind the story the first read, the second read was like a mirror reflecting back all my current emotions. It made my heart ache quite fiercely at times, but reading something so sincere and genuine can be a breath of fresh air, even when it hurts.

abyss, n.

There are times when I doubt everything. When I regret everything you’ve taken from me, everything I’ve given you, and the waste of all the time I’ve spent on us.

Divider

Early Review – The You I’ve Never Known by Ellen Hopkins

December 29, 2016 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2016, YA 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 You I’ve Never Known by Ellen HopkinsThe You I've Never Known by Ellen Hopkins
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on January 24th 2017
Pages: 608
Genres: Contemporary, LGBTQIA, Verse
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Triangles, Crank, Burned

two-half-stars

How do you live your life if your past is based on a lie? A new novel in both verse and prose from #1 New York Times bestselling author, Ellen Hopkins.

Arielle’s life is a blur of new apartments, new schools, and new faces. Since her mother abandoned the family, Arielle has lived nomadically with her father as he moves from job to job. All she’s ever wanted is to stay in one place for an entire school year, and it looks like she might finally get her wish. With a real friend, Monica, who might be even more than a friend soon, things are starting to look up.

But Arielle’s life is upended—and not by her father, but by her mom, who reveals that she never left Arielle. Instead, Arielle’s father kidnapped her, and her mom has been left searching ever since. She wants to take Arielle away, but Arielle has no connection with her mother, and despite everything, still loves her father. How can she choose between the mother she’s been taught to mistrust and the father who sewed that suspicion?

Not one person
on this planet cares about you.

No one but Daddy, who loves you
more than anything in the whole wide
world, and would lay down his life
for you. You remember that, hear me?

I heard those words too often
in any number of combinations
Almost always they came floating
in a fog of alcohol and tobacco.

Arielle has only ever known her dad from an early age. Dependable yet temperamental, he’s taken care of her for years on his own. Bounced from house to house and different woman to woman, Arielle and her father have finally settled down long enough in a town for her to begin to get comfortable. She’s joined the girls basketball team, she’s made friends, and she’s discovered a side of her sexuality that she fears. She’s never had a mom because according to her dad, she left both of them for her lesbian lover. Coming out to her father as the same would be beyond reckless.

Maya has a difficult relationship with her mother. She ran her father out of the house and joined Scientology, expecting Maya to do the same. When her mother tells her they’ll be moving from Texas to Sea Org in Los Angeles, a Scientology organization, she concocts a way to avoid having to go: she gets pregnant. The father, Sergeant Jason Ritter, proposes to her and she feels relief at finally escaping her mother but she’s traded one bad situation for another.

Funny How the Brain
Manages damage control,
conveniently curtaining
windows that overlook
certain footpaths into the past.

I try to keep the shades drawn.

Anything by Ellen Hopkins is bound to pack a punch with the types of subjects she tackles and The You I’ve Never Known is no different. This time she deals with abandonment, sexuality, and abuse, but it felt much more passive than some of her past stories. I’m always incredibly fond of her dual storylines and trying to determine the connection before the big reveal. While her stories are always lengthy in page count, the time it took for that big reveal to happen seemed to be dragged out for longer than was necessary. Often with Hopkins’ writing style, you find yourself getting lost in the beauty of her words. She still used verse as her main writing style and her typical formatting is there but it was much less lyrical and much more dense with a lot of backstory that lacked the passion her stories usually have. The main issue was with how the parents are portrayed. Her villains come in many forms, but in this story, they were the parents of both Maya and Arielle. They were both written as manic and often terrifying people, with little to no redeeming qualities. It was all black, no white, and definitely no gray area, and this lack of complexity caused them to come off as caricatures and nothing more.

Hopkins has long been a favorite of mine and while I felt this one was lacking, her stories still manage to linger in my head long after finishing. She tackles the subjects that most often need to be brought to light, I only wish that she would also focus more on the poetic aspects that make these ugly subjects beautiful.

Divider

Short & Sweet – All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, The Last Days of Jack Sparks, Bad Boy

December 23, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2016, Short & Sweet Reviews 10 Comments

Short & Sweet – All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, The Last Days of Jack Sparks, Bad BoyAll the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood
Published by Thomas Dunne Books on August 9th 2016
Pages: 346
Genres: Contemporary
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads


four-stars

A beautiful and provocative love story between two unlikely people and the hard-won relationship that elevates them above the Midwestern meth lab backdrop of their lives.

As the daughter of a drug dealer, Wavy knows not to trust people, not even her own parents. It's safer to keep her mouth shut and stay out of sight. Struggling to raise her little brother, Donal, eight-year-old Wavy is the only responsible adult around. Obsessed with the constellations, she finds peace in the starry night sky above the fields behind her house, until one night her star gazing causes an accident. After witnessing his motorcycle wreck, she forms an unusual friendship with one of her father's thugs, Kellen, a tattooed ex-con with a heart of gold.

By the time Wavy is a teenager, her relationship with Kellen is the only tender thing in a brutal world of addicts and debauchery. When tragedy rips Wavy's family apart, a well-meaning aunt steps in, and what is beautiful to Wavy looks ugly under the scrutiny of the outside world. A powerful novel you won’t soon forget, Bryn Greenwood's All the Ugly and Wonderful Things challenges all we know and believe about love.

We meet Wavonna “Wavy” Quinn when she’s only five years old and she’s already experienced far more than any five year old should. Her father Liam is a meth dealer and her mother Val is an addict. Val possesses more than a few neurosis about cleanliness (she tells her she has germs, sticks her fingers down her throat telling her food is dirty, occasionally even throws food out completely forcing Wavy and her younger brother Donal to dig from the trash for their dinners) and subsequently passes these same neurosis onto Wavy. She refuses to eat when others are looking, she doesn’t touch anyone, and refuses to be touched. Until Jesse Joe Kellen. Kellen is a drug runner for Liam but he begins the only one that takes care of Wavy and her brother. As Wavy grows up in her unstable environment, we’re told her story from her point-of-view and various others in her life and we see how her and Kellen’s relationship transforms into something, well, both ugly and wonderful.

I’ve read some questionable books in my time but the idea of romanticizing a relationship between an extremely  young girl (they met when she was just 5) with a twenty-something-year-old man had me saying

For good reason, but damn did Greenwood make it work. The story unfolds over the course of 15 years or so of Wavy’s life and through it all we see the trauma she underwent in her household and how her and Kellen’s relationship ultimately saved them both. I appreciated how much we got to see from Wavy’s point of view because it gave the reader the ability to develop some much needed tolerance. While it may be deemed wrong in the eyes of the law, Wavy had a complete understanding of their less than perfect romance. Setting aside the squick factor that I know is a definite issue, this was a beautiful tale of hard-fought love.

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.

Short & Sweet – All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, The Last Days of Jack Sparks, Bad BoyThe Last Days of Jack Sparks by Jason Arnopp
Published by Orbit on March 3rd 2016
Pages: 336
Genres: Horror
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads


four-stars

Jack Sparks died while writing this book. This is the account of his final days.
In 2014, Jack Sparks - the controversial pop culture journalist - died in mysterious circumstances.

To his fans, Jack was a fearless rebel; to his detractors, he was a talentless hack. Either way, his death came as a shock to everyone.

It was no secret that Jack had been researching the occult for his new book. He'd already triggered a furious Twitter storm by mocking an exorcism he witnessed in rural Italy.

Then there was that video: thirty-six seconds of chilling footage that Jack repeatedly claimed was not of his making, yet was posted from his own YouTube account.

Nobody knew what happened to Jack in the days that followed - until now. This book, compiled from the files found after his death, reveals the chilling details of Jack's final hours.

The Last Days of Jack Sparks is about, well, the last days of Jack Sparks. While researching the occult for his most recent book, he had some mysterious incidents that even he couldn’t explain away. See, even though he was researching the occult, he was actually a professed non-believer of it all and sought to discredit everyone. He attended an actual exorcism and laughed at the experience and then there was the mysterious video that was added onto his personal YouTube channel showing possible proof of an actual ghost. It was a bit downhill for him from there on out.

This story was, for the most part, a mystery and the horror would sneak up on you reminding you of its true genre, but there was quite a lot of humor to balance things out. For the record, I read a lot of horror and this story often left me with my jaw on the ground. Once things really got going and you’re dealing with various different storylines that were confusing yet still managed to make sense, then Arnopp hits you with the twist.

But like, in the best way.

The Last Days of Jack Sparks managed to both shock and impress me despite the loose ends that didn’t quite get resolved to my liking. If you enjoyed A Head Full of Ghosts but were wishing it was a bit more terrifying? This reads for you.

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.

Short & Sweet – All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, The Last Days of Jack Sparks, Bad BoyBad Boy by Elliot Wake
Narrator: Randal Marsh
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on December 6th 2016
Pages: 248
Length: 8 hrs and 29 mins
Genres: Contemporary
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads


two-half-stars

Vlog star Renard Grant has nothing to prove: he’s got a pretty face, chiseled body, and two million adoring video subscribers. Plus the scars on his chest and a prescription for testosterone. Because Ren is transgender: assigned female at birth, living now as male. He films his transition and shares it bravely with the world; his fans love his honesty and positivity.

But Ren has been living a double life.

Off-camera, he’s Cane, the muscle-bound enforcer for social justice vigilante group Black Iris. As Cane, he lets his dark side loose. Hurts those who prey on the disempowered. Indulges in the ugly side of masculinity. And his new partner, Tamsin Baylor, is a girl as rough and relentless as him. Together, they terrorize the trolls into silence.

But when a routine Black Iris job goes south, Ren is put in the crosshairs. Someone is out to ruin his life. He’s a bad boy, they say, guilty of what he punishes others for.

Just like every other guy: at heart, he’s a monster, too.

Now Ren’s got everything to prove. He has to clear his name, and show the world he’s a good man. But that requires facing demons he’s locked away for years. And it might mean discovering he’s not such a good guy after all.

Renard Grant is a popular transgender vlogger who is also a vigilante saving terrorized women in his spare time. If your immediate thought is “that’s a bit of a mouthful” you would be right. Grant’s story is a rousing tale of discovering your true identity; something that Wake can speak from the heart about because his emotions shown clearly through the delivery. The transformation process is discussed in much detail and it’s enlightening and informative, shedding light on something with many pre-conceived notions.

I adored Unteachable and while Black Iris and Cam Girl both had their fair share of flaws, there was still much to love and the writing style is something to behold. The issue I had with Bad Boy is there’s simply far too much going on in the few pages there are. There was already enough of a story recounting the experience of transitioning without adding in the concept of a masked vigilante group protecting women. It’s a great concept, the only problem is the transition story View Spoiler » was a far more compelling one and the superfluous addition only caused it to pale in comparison. On top of that, the combination of many of Wake’s previous characters from Black Iris and Cam Girl was overwhelming. Each of her characters can hold their own as the star of the show and having them all grouped together, battling for attention, felt like some sort of all-consuming motley (and not in the best way). Bad Boy is still no doubt well worth the read for the edifying aspect alone.

Divider

Book Tour Review – The Fate of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling #3) by Erika Johansen

December 22, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2016 3 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 – The Fate of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling #3) by Erika JohansenThe Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
Series: The Queen of the Tearling, #3
Published by Harper on November 29th 2016
Pages: 496
Genres: Fantasy
Format: ARC
Source: TLC Book Tours
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Queen of the Tearling, The Invasion of the Tearling

three-half-stars

The thrilling conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Tearling trilogy.

In less than a year, Kelsea Glynn has transformed from a gawky teenager into a powerful monarch. As she has come into her own as the Queen of the Tearling, the headstrong, visionary leader has also transformed her realm. In her quest to end corruption and restore justice, she has made many enemies—including the evil Red Queen, her fiercest rival, who has set her armies against the Tear.

To protect her people from a devastating invasion, Kelsea did the unthinkable—she gave herself and her magical sapphires to her enemy—and named the Mace, the trusted head of her personal guards, Regent in her place. But the Mace will not rest until he and his men rescue their sovereign, imprisoned in Mortmesne.

Now, as the suspenseful endgame begins, the fate of Queen Kelsea—and the Tearling itself—will finally be revealed.

About Erika Johansen

Erika Johansen was educated at Swarthmore College and received an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She is the Author of The Invasion of the Tearling, and The Queen of the Tearling, the first two novels of The Queen of the Tearling Trilogy.

The Queen of the Tearling series

The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling #1) by Erika Johansen [Review]
The Invasion of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling #2) by Erika Johansen [Review]

“Hell? Hell is a fairytale for the gullible, for what punishment could be worse than that we inflict upon ourselves? We burn so badly in this life that there can be nothing left.”

The Fate of the Tearling opens where the last left off, with Queen Kelsea Glynn having sacrified herself, and her magical sapphires, to the Red Queen of Mortmesne in exchange for the safety of her people. Believing she was going to meet an immediate death, Kelsea is most curious when her time on earth continues with each passing day. Even more curious is the fact that her visions of the past continue even without the sapphires in her possession. Instead of seeing the past through Lily’s eyes, this time we see it through a girl named Katie, who just happens to be friends with a young Rowland Finn. The same Rowland Finn who is seemingly invincible, leaving death and destruction in his wake in the present time. As the past and present unfold, Kelsea continues struggling to uncover the truth of how this new knowledge of the past will be the key to fixing both present and future of the Tearling.

I am shocked beyond belief that I ended up enjoying this as much as I did. I’m feeling like a broken record but the first book was a massive disappointment and I really didn’t foresee this getting any better. But better it got, so much. The second book totally switched it up from the first and introduced a dual storyline that was set in the past. There were some technicality issues that I was often questioning but for the most part, the incorporation of the past and present was completely transfixing. I was upset that the story of the past seemed to have come to an end and that it wouldn’t be included in the final story but Johansen figured out a way to remedy that. The story from book two involving Lily was interesting considering how it informed the reader of a past that we weren’t previously aware of, but the story from this installment showed us the past of characters we already knew and gave them a new dimension to think on. The ending has left many readers conflicted but I for one was really impressed at the less than expected ending that Johansen dealt. Fantasy novels can often be concluded practically in a way that is much foreseeable and I applaud her for her boldness to be unexpected.

With this installment, after three years The Queen of the Tearling trilogy comes to a close. Granted, I read the entire trilogy over the course of the last six weeks but I’m incredibly thankful that I did that for a couple of reasons. 1. The first book didn’t go quite so well and if I didn’t have all three to already binge, I might not have gotten around to it and 2. There are so many characters and so many details that taking any sort of break from this trilogy would likely lead to much being forgotten. There’s not much in the way of a recap so I would highly recommend reading both recaps for The Queen of the Tearling and The Invasion of the Tearling just to refresh yourself. Johansen managed to completely win me over with this trilogy and I now not only can’t wait to see the film adaptation but can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

bonnie blog signature

This post was a part of ‘the Tearling trilogy’ blog tour.
Check out this post for a complete list of tour stops!

tlc logo

Divider

Poetry Review – the princess saves herself in this one by Amanda Lovelace

December 16, 2016 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2016 3 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.

Poetry Review – the princess saves herself in this one by Amanda Lovelacethe princess saves herself in this one by Amanda Lovelace
Published by Andrews McMeel Publishing on February 14th 2017
Pages: 208
Genres: Poetry
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads


one-star

the princess saves herself in this one is a collection of poetry about resilience. It is about writing your own ending.

From Amanda Lovelace, a poetry collection in four parts: the princess, the damsel, the queen, and you. The first three sections piece together the life of the author while the final section serves as a note to the reader. This moving book explores love, loss, grief, healing, empowerment, and inspiration.

the princess saves herself in this one first caught my eye when it popped up on the Goodreads Choice Awards as a nominee for Poetry. It has a catchy title, the summary describes it as exploring “life & all of its love, loss, grief, healing, empowerment, & inspirations”, and a bunch of people were tagging it as feminism. And then it won! Honestly, I was just glad that Leav didn’t win with her bullshit excuse for poetry and Lovelace beat her by a landslide.

I was a bit skeptical though. 22 thousand votes… there aren’t even 4 thousand ratings for it on Goodreads. Clearly the majority of people were voting for it based on the title alone, because as I’ve admitted… it’s catchy. Plus, Poetry seems to be a dying art in this day and age. Because Lovelace and Leav both beat out Neruda, and come on… Neruda is a poetry god. Regardless, I was readying myself to shell out the $7.59 to get this on Kindle but halle-fucking-lujah it popped up on Netgalley as a Read Now and I didn’t have to later rage about wasted money. There is clearly an intended audience for this title, most likely individuals that don’t often read poetry, but this was not my cup of tea.

There is unmistakable emotion behind each of these… vignettes (as I feel they’re more appropriately termed) the problem is that from a readers perspective it lacks the intended emotional punch. They’re simple and direct but are lacking a much needed refinement and read overly angsty, much like how I feel about Leav’s collections that I’ve read (Love & Misadventure and The Universe of Us). Honestly though, is this an Andrews McMeel Publishing thing? There was the occasional one that wasn’t too awful, however, the majority of these seemed to rely on fancy formatting and excessive use of the enter key.

I’m sorry… but that is not a poem. It’s a fragment, a snippet, a random thought. This was undoubtedly the result of an outpouring of emotion from Lovelace and as much as I hate to bash something that someone has poured their heart and soul into, this was just not good.

Regardless of what is being written about, poetry should evoke emotion and leave you reveling in the beauty of language. If you love your angst, then this is for you but I’m going to go read some Cummings now.

On the Blue Shore of Silence: Poems of the Sea by Pablo Neruda
Selected Poems by E.E. Cummings
Crush by Richard Siken

Divider

Audiobook Review – I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid

December 10, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2016 4 Comments

Audiobook Review – I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain ReidI'm Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid
Narrator: Candace Thaxton
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on June 14th 2016
Pages: 5 hours and 22 minutes
Genres: Horror, Mystery
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads


two-stars

In this deeply scary and intensely unnerving debut novel, Jake and a woman known only as “The Girlfriend” are on a drive to visit his parents at their secluded farm. But when Jake leaves “The Girlfriend” stranded at an abandoned high school, what follows is a twisted unraveling of the darkest unease, an exploration into psychological frailty, and an ending as suspenseful as The Usual Suspects and as haunting as Misery.

Deeply scary and intensely unnerving, Iain Reid’s debut novel is a tightening spiral of a story about a woman’s uncertainty of her relationship with her boyfriend, Jake. After an uncomfortable and confusing trip to meet Jake’s parents at their isolated farmhouse, reality unravels and events spin out of control when Jake and “The Girlfriend” make an unscheduled stop at an abandoned high school. Part murder mystery, part psychological thriller, I’m Thinking of Ending Things is about doubt, psychological fragility, and the lengths we’ll go to avoid the truth. Twisted as Shutter Island, as suspenseful as Under the Skin and as atmospheric as The Sisters Brothers, Reid’s breakout literary thriller is sure to keep readers guessing until the last page.

‘Sometimes a thought is closer to truth, to reality, than an action. You can say anything, you can do anything, but you can’t fake a thought.’

Jake and his girlfriend are traveling to visit his parents, whom she’s meeting for the first time, but on the way there she realizes that she’s thinking of ending things with Jake. Throughout the entirety of the trip, she contemplates her decision, wondering if she should truly go through with it. Her internal monologue remains ambivalent while describing their supposed rare and intense attachment. What exactly would make her suddenly think about ending things remains a mystery. She also touches on strange events from her childhood and a recent individual who has been leaving eerie voicemails that she isn’t sure how to handle. In addition to this are sections interspersed which imply that a crime took place but no clear answer is given. This rehashing of events is an unsettling build-up to a truly baffling finish.

what britney spears confused britney wut

This story had such diverging ratings that I HAD to try this, even if it turned out to be horrendous. Sometimes you just gotta see for yourself because you never really know. Well, my rating pretty much speaks for itself. I didn’t hate it but I clearly didn’t love it. The narration of this audiobook succeeded in making this one a manageable read and bumped up my rating from a mere 1 star. Her character voices were easily able to differentiate including Jack’s male voice. The individual that was leaving the eerie voicemails was described as having an effeminate voice and while the voicemails themselves were meant to spook the reader, Candace Thaxton’s production of these particular scenes were the most eerie part. (See below for an audio clip.) In terms of the “mystery”, it relies heavily on creating a build up of intrigue (and an immense amount of bait-and-switch tactics) to get you to the twist of an ending. Enough is revealed by our narrator via her stream of conscious depiction of events, but you can tell from early on that she’s not being exactly forthcoming in the details. Something is being omitted; there’s a missing piece of the puzzle. If you didn’t already detect the cryptic nature of our narrator, the fact that she isn’t ever identified, she remains nameless the entirety of the novel, should be a flashing warning sign.

‘Both fictions and memories are recalled and retold. They’re both forms of stories. Stories are the way we learn. Stories are how we understand each other.’

Admittedly, the beginning was fairly adequate even though there was that feeling of a forced air of mystery. As more is revealed, it’s hard to see what direction this story is headed in but it’s enough to still leave you curious. But then the weirdness sets in. She asks Jake questions which he ignores completely as if she never even spoke, he gives her a tour of the farm View Spoiler » instead of going immediately into the house to see his parents whom they traveled hours to see, his idea to stop at a Dairy Queen while there’s an ongoing blizzard outside, and most especially was his insistence that they detour down an unplowed road because he thinks there’s a school down there with most likely a trash can because he has to throw away his melting lemonade cup before the cup holders get sticky.

wtf confused huh jenna marbles what the fuck

This sudden lack of sense was an immediate disconnect from the mystery because I knew that something fishy was going on. Nothing seemed logical and clearly everything that was happening had to be questioned to the nth degree. Regardless of my confusion, the ending could have delivered a spectacular twist that had me praising the authors ingenuity… but not in this case. The ending clears up all questions without being thrown some curve ball twist you never saw coming. Thinking back over the entirety of this short novel, you can see hints at the reveal that was to come, but that doesn’t make it any more satisfying. In truth, the ending is a bit too orderly for how convoluted this novel is presented and while the introductory build-up had me immediately hooked, the end result was anticlimactic.

‘Maybe the end was written right from the beginning.’

1986 jeff goldblum geena davis the fly this is it

 

Divider

Book Tour Review – The Invasion of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling #2) by Erika Johansen

December 8, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Book Tour, Read in 2016 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 – The Invasion of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling #2) by Erika JohansenThe Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
Series: The Queen of the Tearling #2
Published by Harper on June 9th 2015
Pages: 528
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Source: TLC Book Tours
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Queen of the Tearling, The Fate of the Tearling

three-half-stars

With each passing day, Kelsea Glynn is growing into her new responsibilities as Queen of the Tearling. By stopping the shipments of slaves to the neighboring kingdom of Mortmesne, she crossed the Red Queen, a brutal ruler whose power derives from dark magic, who is sending her fearsome army into the Tearling to take what is hers. And nothing can stop the invasion.

But as the Mort army draws ever closer, Kelsea develops a mysterious connection to a time before the Crossing, and she finds herself relying on a strange and possibly dangerous ally: a woman named Lily, fighting for her life in a world where being female can feel like a crime. The fate of the Tearling —and that of Kelsea’s own soul—may rest with Lily and her story, but Kelsea may not have enough time to find out.

About Erika Johansen

Erika Johansen was educated at Swarthmore College and received an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She is the Author of The Invasion of the Tearling, and The Queen of the Tearling, the first two novels of The Queen of the Tearling Trilogy.

The Queen of the Tearling series

Book Tour Review – The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling #1) by Erika Johansen

The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling #1) by Erika Johansen [Purchase//Review]

grey-review

“Fortune favors the bold, history tells us. Therefore, it behooves us to be as bold as possible.”

The Invasion of the Tearling, the second installment of the trilogy, opens with Queen Kelsea struggling to devise a way to save the Tear from the incoming Mort invasion. As if an impending invasion wasn’t bad enough, Kelsea is also dealing with executions, romantic dalliances, her sapphires which have fallen silent magically speaking but are subtly changing her physical appearance for reasons unknown to her, and also the visions she’s having of a woman named Lily Mayhew from pre-Crossing America. The story roughly splits the time spent between both women, showcasing the differences between the time periods, but these visions aren’t happening without reason. Could learning about the past possibly help her secure the future for her people?

“The wrongs of the past are not less significant, they’re just harder to fix. And the longer you ignore them in favor of more pressing issues, the worse the harm, until the problems of the past actually create the problems of the future.”

If I felt like The Queen of the Tearling was lacking in complexity, The Invasion of the Tearling made up for that in spades. There were a great many tiny things going on and yet Johansen maintained a steady handle on everything and kept it from getting too complex. There was Kelsea’s changed appearance as well as her obsession with her appearance, her desire for romance (she is 19 after all), the Mort invasion, her strange fireplace visitor, uncovering the mysteries of the Mort Queen, the visions of Lily and determining what they could possibly mean, the peculiar conflict with the Church, and Kelsea’s struggle to reign in the darkness inside her that craves violence (it’s very Gollum-like).

Honestly, this strange world managed to completely enthrall me this time around even if it was terribly violent and exceptionally difficult to read at times. In the pre-Crossing world, women are treated as nothing more than incubators and the sole property of their husbands. Lily’s husband Greg was a loathsome individual that brutalized Lily often for no reason at all. She was under constant surveillance in her own home and wasn’t allowed to go anywhere without an escort. It felt very much like The Handmaid’s Tale: a horrifying train wreck that you can’t look away from. I’m not sure if this bird’s-eye view of the past was intended to inform us of how terrible the world could be, and that it’s not out of the question for it to go back to that way in time, or if there was some other lesson there. I don’t think we’ll be returning to Lily’s story though. It served its purpose by educating the reader on this “pre-Crossing America” that was previously only referenced briefly. Considering the amount of questions I had regarding the serious lack of world-building, I was pleased to finally get some answers.

“There’s a better world out there, so close we can almost touch it.”

I had a lot of issues with the first installment and I can’t say for sure if I would have continued reading if I hadn’t already committed to a complete binge read. Even with my concerns for the entirety of the plot and my mountain of unanswered questions, I was still always intrigued enough to keep reading. Whenever I have similar issues with books there’s always this voice in the back of my head that wonders whether or not it will get better and all be worth it in the end. Primary reason why I have such difficulty DNF-ing anything; that possibility, no matter how minuscule, that it would all pay off if I just had some patience and kept at it. I never would have expected to go from disliking The Queen of the Tearling to be completely absorbed in The Invasion of the Tearling. Sophomore slump? No such thing here. Granted, my mountain of unanswered questions has only been slightly diminished, however, the biggest issue which was dealt with is the issue with the past and present. We’re given a curious glimpse at the pre-Crossing world and what led to the world becoming how it is in Kelsea’s time. It transforms this straight fantasy/medieval story into something out of a dystopian novel and I am incredibly intrigued to see how everything ends up playing out in the final installment.

bonnie blog signature

This post was a part of ‘the Tearling trilogy’ blog tour.
Check out this post for a complete list of tour stops!

tlc logo

Divider

Early Review – Nine of Stars (Dark Alchemy #3) by Laura Bickle

December 3, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2016 6 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 – Nine of Stars (Dark Alchemy #3) by Laura BickleNine of Stars by Laura Bickle
Series: Dark Alchemy #3
Published by Harper Voyager on December 27th 2016
Pages: 384
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Dark Alchemy, Witch Creek

three-half-stars

Following on the heels of her critically acclaimed prequel novels Dark Alchemy and Mercury Retrograde comes the first installment in Laura Bickle’s dark contemporary fantasy series, Nine of Stars, a Wildlands Novel
Winter has always been a deadly season in Temperance, but this time, there’s more to fear than just the cold…

As the daughter of an alchemist, Petra Dee has faced all manner of occult horrors—especially since her arrival in the small town of Temperance, Wyoming. But she can’t explain the creature now stalking the backcountry of Yellowstone, butchering wolves and leaving only their skins behind in the snow. Rumors surface of the return of Skinflint Jack, a nineteenth-century wraith that kills in fulfillment of an ancient bargain.

The new sheriff in town, Owen Rutherford, isn’t helping matters. He’s a dangerously haunted man on the trail of both an unsolved case and a fresh kill—a bizarre murder leading him right to Petra’s partner Gabriel. And while Gabe once had little to fear from the mortal world, he’s all too human now. This time, when violence hits close to home, there are no magical solutions.
It’s up to Petra and her coyote sidekick Sig to get ahead of both Owen and the unnatural being hunting them all—before the trail turns deathly cold.

Dark Alchemy series

Dark Alchemy (Dark Alchemy, #1) by Laura Bickle [Review//Purchase]
Mercury Retrograde (Dark Alchemy, #2) by Laura Bickle [Purchase]

grey-review

*spoilers from the first two installments*

“There was a man, back in 1861. He came to be known as Skinflint Jack, the Jack of Harts.”

Petra Dee may be accustomed to the magical happenings in Temperance, Wyoming, but after the re-appearance of a man who was transformed through alchemy into a formidable creature in the 1800s, she knows she’s the only one that would be capable of overcoming him. Destroying an 18th-century monster isn’t the only thing troubling Petra these days though. Gabe is trying to both acclimate to being mortal once again and staying under the radar of the local authorities after Sal’s disappearance, Sal’s cousin being the sheriff and all. Petra is dealing with some health issues of her own which have her adjusting plans for her future. But when the wolves of Yellowstone are viciously attacked and Petra’s work colleague is left hospitalized after going to investigate, she knows that no one will have much of a future if this danger is left to roam.

“We all have our dark sides, I guess,” Gabe said, taking a swig of his beer.
“Yeah. And sometimes, the darkness finds us.”

Combining both ordinary and mystical mysteries, life is never dull for Petra Dee. I thoroughly enjoyed the complexity of the mystery behind the Luneria, the alchemical tree of life, but after its destruction in Mercury Retrograde, it seemed as if that storyline had finished. I was pleased to see it reintroduced in this installment, albeit in an extremely unsettling way. The death of Sal didn’t mean the end of the mysterious Rutherford family either. Temperance, Wyoming is, suffice it to say, a most enigmatic and peculiar town.

I’ve seen Nine of Stars marketed as both a brand new series and the third of the continued Dark Alchemy series. While I can see it working as a brand new start, the “prequel” novels as they’re being referred to, I feel, are an integral part of giving you the necessary context behind these characters. Whether you start here or with Dark Alchemy, Bickle still manages to properly introduce you to a world of magic and mystery which also incorporates Native American folklore that will appeal to any fantasy fan. There are no supernatural creatures in these stories, just by-products of alchemical experiments, the “magical process of transformation, creation, or combination,” a subject that has clearly been researched extensively by the author. Nine of Stars possessed an ending that was extremely abrupt that felt more like a chapter end than a story end but I am still eager for more Petra Dee.

bonnie blog signature

Divider

Book Review – The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

November 29, 2016 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2016, YA 0 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 Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola YoonThe Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Published by Delacorte Press on November 1st 2016
Pages: 384
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Also by this author: Everything, Everything

four-stars

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.
The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

style-3 (3) review

“What a difference a day makes.”

Natasha possesses a scientific and mathematical mind that believes in finding solutions. Her current problem that requires one: her family are undocumented immigrants from Jamaica and she’s being forced to return to the country of her birth that night. Daniel is a poet and believes wholeheartedly in fate. His Korean immigrant parents expect him to attend an Ivy League school, become a doctor, and marry a nice Korean girl. Neither Natasha nor Daniel like the looks of the futures that have been mapped out for them. When the two cross paths and end up spending what Natasha believes to be their last day together (which Daniel is unaware of), their chemistry is undeniable. Whether it’s because of Daniel’s belief in fate or Natasha’s belief in chance, their budding romance is certain. But with only a guarantee of a single day, is a happy ending even possible?

‘We’re kindling amid lightning strikes. A lit match and dry wood. Fire Danger signs and a forest waiting to be burned.’

This story belongs to more than just Natasha and Daniel, although they are the stars of the show. We’re given a behind the scenes look at all the puzzle pieces that had to fall in to place in order for everything to happen just as it did. Not just what happens to Natasha and Daniel, but how their presence impacted the others that they crossed paths with. We see how the guard, Irene, causes Natasha to miss an important appointment but inevitably ends up saving Irene. We see how a near miss with a drunk driver results in changed circumstances for another. We see how a broken down train sets Daniel on a path he otherwise wouldn’t have found himself on. Whether or not this is a vote towards the possibility of fate, that’s certainly up for the reader to decide.

“I didn’t know you this morning, and now I don’t remember not knowing you.”

Yoon has said that while this story isn’t autobiographical, it’s definitely inspired by her own personal love story which must be why this story seems to possess so much sentiment. While I’m not typically a fan of anything closely resembling insta-love, The Sun is Also a Star possesses a type of insta-love that I can get behind. These two characters somehow manage to build a meaningful relationship with one another that was not only believable but something to aspire to, albeit in approximately 12 hours. Suspending your disbelief may be a slight requirement but it’s well worth it for romantics and cynics alike.

“Maybe he was just saying that we should live in the moment. As if today is all we have.”

related-reads-khaki

Just One Day (Just One Day #1) by Gayle Forman [Purchase//Review]
A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall [Purchase//Review]
The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett [Purchase//Review]

bonnie blog signature

Divider

Early Review – Slipping: Stories, Essays, & Other Writing by Lauren Beukes

November 26, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2016 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 – Slipping: Stories, Essays, & Other Writing by Lauren BeukesSlipping: Stories, Essays, & Other Writing by Lauren Beukes
Published by Tachyon Publications on November 29th 2016
Pages: 288
Genres: Collections & Anthologies
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Shining Girls, Broken Monsters

four-stars

In her edgy, satiric debut collection, award-winning South African journalist and author Lauren Beukes (The Shining Girls, Moxyland) never holds back. Nothing is simple and everything is perilous when humans are involved: corruption, greed, and even love (of a sort).

A permanent corporate branding gives a young woman enhanced physical abilities and a nearly-constant highRecruits lifted out of poverty find a far worse fate collecting biohazardous plants on an inhospitable worldThe only adult survivor of the apocalypse decides he will be the savior of teenagers; the teenagers are not amused.

From Johannesburg to outer space, these previously uncollected tales are a compelling, dark, and slippery ride.

‘You don’t have to name something to understand it.’

In Slipping, Beukes takes the modern world and transforms it into something futuristic and near unrecognizable. The title story, Slipping, is about a girl who, following a severe accident, is transformed through technological advances into a racing machine. Smileys is a strange story about a soldier attempting to extort a woman who sells cooked sheep heads. Pop Tarts is a story about a reality star and the realization that it’s all nothing but scripted fiction. Unathi Battles the Black Hairballs is the story about a woman who must save Tokyo (and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the talking cat). Each of these stories is wildly authentic, vastly entertaining, and a constant focus on the darkness in this world.

‘Culture wants to be free. This is not my original thought. But who of us can claim to be truly original? Aren’t we all remixes of every influence we’ve ever come across?’

The wide variety of genres cause the stories to lack a certain cohesion like a typical short story anthology might, but it does this collection a disservice to think this is a negative. Instead, each of these stories acts as their own palette cleanser from one story to the next and it keeps the reader in a constant state of bewilderment not knowing what type of outlandishness to expect next. I was pleasantly surprised that my favorite part of this collection were the five Non-Fiction pieces included at the end. In these, she discusses personal topics such as how she got into journalism, about the research she conducted for her book Zoo City within the inner city of Johannesburg, and some additional insight into why she wrote The Shining Girls, my personal favorite of Beukes, which made me love it even more. She leaves us on a resolute note, with a letter to her five-year-old daughter about the meaning of true beauty.

I’ve read (and loved) a few of Beukes’ full-length novels and her writing prowess manages to be just as impressive in her short fiction. This obscure collection only proves that her talents are truly expansive and that we have much to look forward from her.

‘Every person I speak to gives me a new perspective, a different lens. It’s made my writing more than it would have ever been. And it’s still an excuse to go adventuring.’

related-reads-grey

Yellowcake by Margo Lanagan [Purchase]
The Beautiful Indifference: Stories by Sarah Hall [Purchase//Review]
Screwjack by Hunter S. Thompson [Purchase]

bonnie blog signature

Divider