Recommended Reading 101: New Orleans

March 4, 2017 Bonnie Recommended Reading 101 6 Comments

Taking classes and getting excited for the assigned reading was always my favorite part of school. Using that same concept and turning different genres, locations, and subjects into a course of their own, you could come up with your own assigned reading. These would be my picks for recommended reading, what would yours be?

New Orleans 101

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11178225If you’re looking for a historical mystery set in the 1950s…

Out of the Easy is the story of a young girl, the daughter of a brothel prostitute, struggling to make a new name for herself. Recent secrets have been dug up that involve her mother and she gets embroiled in the mystery proving that New Orleans isn’t done with her yet. Septys never disappoints with her tales of young girls in the past.


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If you’re looking for a post-apocalyptic tale (without any romance)…

After the Gulf Coast is ravaged by hurricanes and an outbreak causes a mass quaratine, (New) Orleans is irrevocably changed. Post-apocalyptic stories became a massive hit and this one remains vastly underrated for reasons unknown. I’ve read dozens upon dozens and Orleans remains one of my favorite stories of survival.


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If you’re looking for a classic vampire tale…

Interview with the Vampire is the book about New Orleans. Well, and vampires too, of course. The first introduction to her recurring character Lestat, this novel was written in 1976 and it still reigns popular with good reason.


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Short & Sweet – Talking as Fast as I Can, The Princess Diarist, Seriously… I’m Kidding

March 3, 2017 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2017, Short & Sweet Reviews 2 Comments

Short & Sweet – Talking as Fast as I Can, The Princess Diarist, Seriously… I’m KiddingTalking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, and Everything in Between by Lauren Graham
Published by Ballantine Books on November 29th 2016
Pages: 224
Genres: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Format: Hardcover
Source: Gifted
Amazon|B&N|Book Depository|Audible
Goodreads


three-stars

In this collection of personal essays, the beloved star of Gilmore Girls and Parenthood reveals stories about life, love, and working as a woman in Hollywood—along with behind-the-scenes dispatches from the set of the new Gilmore Girls, where she plays the fast-talking Lorelai Gilmore once again.

In Talking as Fast as I Can, Lauren Graham hits pause for a moment and looks back on her life, sharing laugh-out-loud stories about growing up, starting out as an actress, and, years later, sitting in her trailer on the Parenthood set and asking herself, “Did you, um, make it?” She opens up about the challenges of being single in Hollywood (“Strangers were worried about me; that’s how long I was single!”), the time she was asked to audition her butt for a role, and her experience being a judge on Project Runway (“It’s like I had a fashion-induced blackout”).

In “What It Was Like, Part One,” Graham sits down for an epic Gilmore Girls marathon and reflects on being cast as the fast-talking Lorelai Gilmore. The essay “What It Was Like, Part Two” reveals how it felt to pick up the role again nine years later, and what doing so has meant to her.

Some more things you will learn about Lauren: She once tried to go vegan just to bond with Ellen DeGeneres, she’s aware that meeting guys at awards shows has its pitfalls (“If you’re meeting someone for the first time after three hours of hair, makeup, and styling, you’ve already set the bar too high”), and she’s a card-carrying REI shopper (“My bungee cords now earn points!”).

Including photos and excerpts from the diary Graham kept during the filming of the recent Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, this book is like a cozy night in, catching up with your best friend, laughing and swapping stories, and—of course—talking as fast as you can.

“Life doesn’t often spell things out for you or give you what you want exactly when you want it, otherwise it wouldn’t be called life, it would be called a vending machine.”

My lovely friend got me this for Christmas but I waited to pick it up because I had heard that there were mild spoilers from the new season of Gilmore Girls. And then I finally watched the first episode. And I didn’t like it.

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BLASPHEMY. I know, I know. I’m just as distraught as you. There was just something terribly forced about Lorelai’s sense of humor this go around and Rory’s poor boyfriend Paul View Spoiler » that she literally keeps overlooking (like when she leaves the diner completely forgetting that he had just gone to the bathroom real quick?) It’s a running joke that she’s been meaning to break up with him but she just keeps forgetting. Good grief, that’s not funny, that’s just wretched.

I understand this is supposed to be a review of the book, not the show, it’s just my opinion of the show definitely tarnishes my thoughts on the book because this is all about her glorious reprisal to the role of Lorelai Gilmore. She discusses in depth just how wonderful it was to be back in Stars Hollow alongside everyone once again and I wanted to happily reminiscence with her but I’m still full of self-loathing that I couldn’t love the new season.

Discussions related to Gilmore Girls took up the vast majority of this short book, but as indicated by the sub-title ‘From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, and Everything in Between‘ Graham included various other anecdotes about her childhood and other assorted roles that make up her career. The non-Gilmore Girls additions left the story feeling slightly uneven and I almost felt this would have been best left as a long recollection of all things Gilmore Girls. In retrospect, I also felt that her recollections from the original seasons were a bit sloppy. She didn’t keep a journal of this time in her life, which is fine, but she describes how she sat down to actually watch the original seasons (for the first time ever) and took a bunch of notes when things jogged her memory. The more I discuss, the more it seems I didn’t like anything about this book, but that’s not exactly true because even if Lorelai didn’t possess much in the way of humor, Graham’s humor shines through even on page. And there’s always the original seasons for me to fondly remember.

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Short & Sweet – Talking as Fast as I Can, The Princess Diarist, Seriously… I’m KiddingThe Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher
Narrator: Carrie Fisher, Billie Lourd
Published by Penguin Audio on November 22nd 2016
Length: 5 hrs and 10 mins
Genres: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Amazon|B&N|Book Depository|Audible
Goodreads


four-stars

The Princess Diarist is Carrie Fisher’s intimate, hilarious and revealing recollection of what happened behind the scenes on one of the most famous film sets of all time, the first Star Wars movie. Named a PEOPLE Magazine Best Book of Fall 2016.

When Carrie Fisher recently discovered the journals she kept during the filming of the first Star Wars movie, she was astonished to see what they had preserved—plaintive love poems, unbridled musings with youthful naiveté, and a vulnerability that she barely recognized. Today, her fame as an author, actress, and pop-culture icon is indisputable, but in 1977, Carrie Fisher was just a teenager with an all-consuming crush on her costar, Harrison Ford.

With these excerpts from her handwritten notebooks, The Princess Diarist is Fisher’s intimate and revealing recollection of what happened on one of the most famous film sets of all time—and what developed behind the scenes. And today, as she reprises her most iconic role for the latest Star Wars trilogy, Fisher also ponders the joys and insanity of celebrity, and the absurdity of a life spawned by Hollywood royalty, only to be surpassed by her own outer-space royalty. Laugh-out-loud hilarious and endlessly quotable, The Princess Diarist brims with the candor and introspection of a diary while offering shrewd insight into the type of stardom that few will ever experience.

“I liked being Princess Leia. Or Princess Leia’s being me. Over time I thought that we’d melded into one. I don’t think you could think of Leia without my lurking in that thought somewhere.”

Carrie Fisher played the role of Princess Leia at just nineteen years old and it went on to define her entire life. The diary that she kept at this age is retold in snippets (narrated by her daughter, Billie Lourd) and showcases her delightful way with words. It feels invasive to be shown this time of her life, while her affair with Harrison Ford was going on, and it’s effortless to understand the intense adolescent love that she had for him. The Princess Diarist even goes beyond the retold tales of Fisher’s time on the Star Wars set and sets out to describe just how much playing Princess Leia came to be a part of her own personal identity. She describes how jarring stepping into the limelight was for her despite her belief that it was something she understood already, having grown up the daughter of Debbie Reynolds.

“The crew was mostly men. That’s how it was and that’s pretty much how it still is. It’s a man’s world & show business is a man’s meal with women generously sprinkled through it like over-qualified spice.”

Fisher was always outspoken about the mental health and addiction problems that she dealt with for most of her life but The Princess Diarist doesn’t delve into that aspect of her as much. Nonetheless, this was an unexpectedly emotional read for me even though I was a fan of Fisher’s.  She would make occasional references to when she passes as well as a mention of how her obituary would look like (with a picture of her as Princess Leia complete with buns) and it was a bit of a punch to the gut. Her sardonic sense of humor lightened the heartbreak but it was clear that Fisher believed she still had a lot of life to live. Listening to her raspy voice tell her final story was a treat and I can only hope that she got to say all that she wanted in the time she was given.

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Short & Sweet – Talking as Fast as I Can, The Princess Diarist, Seriously… I’m KiddingSeriously...I'm Kidding by Ellen DeGeneres
Narrator: Ellen DeGeneres
Published by Hachette Audio on October 4th, 2011
Length: 3 hours and 7 minutes
Genres: Non-Fiction, Memoir, Funny-ha-ha
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Amazon|B&N|Book Depository|Audible
Goodreads


four-stars

I've experienced a whole lot the last few years and I have a lot to share. So I hope that you'll take a moment to sit back, relax and enjoy the words I've put together for you in this book. I think you'll find I've left no stone unturned, no door unopened, no window unbroken, no rug unvacuumed, no ivories untickled. What I'm saying is, let us begin, shall we?


“So be who you really are. Embrace who you are. Literally. Hug yourself. Accept who you are. Unless you’re a serial killer.”

I was having a pretty bad day when I started this. There was a lot of driving involved that I wasn’t looking forward to and an unexpected blizzard to boot. I always like a good audiobook to keep me company I just didn’t think anything was going to be able to get me out of the funk I was in — but I underestimated Ellen.

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I’m Kidding…Seriously aims at being a light-hearted advice manual with the main goal of just making you smile. She takes digs at her fellow celebrities and their hilarious lifestyles but becomes quickly somber when discussing the importance of being true to yourself and accepting who you are as a person. This isn’t your typical inspirational celebrity memoir on how to make it big in Hollywood but rather reads like an internal monologue with the author herself. If you’re an audiobook lover, do yourself a favor and listen to this one because Ellen’s tone and delivery make this all the more enjoyable an experience. If you’re a fan of her stand-up comedy routines, you’ll find much to laugh about in this. I know I did.

‘I feel bad for people December birthdays […] It’s not fair and I have a message for parents out there. Don’t do that to your kids. Plan your love. I’m not great at baby math, so I’m just gonna say in the early part of the year, maybe January until March, stay away from each other. It’s not gonna be easy. Those are winter months and you’re going to want to stay warm. But unfortunately one of you is going to have to sleep in a tent in the backyard.’

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Monthly Rundown: February 2017

March 2, 2017 Bonnie Monthly Rundown 5 Comments

Books Read = 18

I felt like I got a bit lazy in February (and I started headed towards a mild slump that I managed to shrug off, thankfully) but I still managed to beat my books read from the prior month (17 in January!) so that was awesome. I super let my review books gather dust but I’m hoping I can do some catch-up in March.

Posted Reviews

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Unreviewed Reads

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40084Best of the Month: I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts On Being a Woman by Nora Ephron ★★★★★
I read and adored Heartburn last year and my wonderful mum sent me this one and I Remember Nothing. I picked this one up when nothing else sounded good and it was the perfect balm to the slump I was heading towards.
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Least Favorite: Erotic Poems by E.E. Cummings ★★
hahahaha This one was so bad. I mean honestly, that’s all I can say about this one. Bad poems. Even worse doodles.

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Biggest Surprise(s): Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng ★★★★½
I picked this up way back when the Ford Audiobook Club was still a thing (so like 3 years ago) and it sat unread for ages. I was convinced this family drama wasn’t something I would ever enjoy but boy was I wrong.

Short & Sweet – Everything I Never Told You, Big Little Lies

Biggest Disappointment: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty ★★½
Liane Moriarty is a name that has been tossed around for years with much love attached to it. I finally decided to pick this one up after enjoying the premise of the first episode of the new show. I definitely enjoy the show more and I’m not super sure I’ll be trying anymore by Moriarty.

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Waiting on Wednesday – The River of Kings by Taylor Brown

March 1, 2017 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 6 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – The River of Kings by Taylor BrownThe River of Kings by Taylor Brown
Published by St. Martin's Press on March 21st 2017
Pages: 336
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: Hardcover
Amazon|B&N|Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Fallen Land

“The most exciting literary adventure fiction I've read since Deliverance.” –Howard Frank Mosher, author of God's Kingdom

Two brothers travel a storied river’s past and present in search of the truth about their father’s death in the second novel by the acclaimed author of Fallen Land.

The Altamaha River, Georgia’s “Little Amazon,” has been named one of the 75 “Last Great Places in the World.” Crossed by roads only five times in its 137-mile length, the blackwater river is home to thousand-year-old virgin cypress, descendants of 18th-century Highland warriors, and a motley cast of rare and endangered species. The Altamaha has even been rumored to harbor its own river monster, as well as traces of the most ancient European fort in North America.

Brothers Hunter and Lawton Loggins set off to kayak the river, bearing their father’s ashes toward the sea. Hunter is a college student, Lawton a Navy SEAL on leave; both young men were raised by an angry, enigmatic shrimper who loved the river, and whose death remains a mystery that his sons hope to resolve. As the brothers proceed downriver, their story is interwoven with that of Jacques Le Moyne, an artist who accompanied the 1564 expedition to found a French settlement at the river’s mouth, which began as a search for riches and ended in a bloody confrontation with Spanish conquistadors and native tribes, leaving the fort in ruins and a few survivors fleeing for their lives.

In The River of Kings, SIBA-bestselling author Taylor Brown artfully weaves three narrative strands—the brothers’ journey, their father’s past, and the dramatic history of the river’s earliest people—to evoke a legendary place and its powerful hold on the human imagination.

About Taylor Brown

Taylor Brown is a recipient of the Montana Prize in Fiction, and he's been a finalist for the Press 53 Open Awards, Machigonne Fiction Contest, and Doris Betts Fiction Prize. He is the author of In the Season of Blood and Gold (Press 53, 2014),Fallen Land (St. Martin's, 2016), and The River of Kings. He lives in Wilmington, North Carolina, where he is the founder and editor of BikeBound, a custom motorcycle blog.

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Brown’s debut, Fallen Land, was an impressive read and this one sounds even more fascinating. And could his covers be any more gorgeous??

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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The End of Your Life Book Club

February 28, 2017 Bonnie Discussion Post 10 Comments

Book lovers are constantly adding to a TBR that they won’t likely ever finished. Read it Forward recently released a TBR calculator which takes the number of books on your TBR, the number of books you read last year, and your current age and calculates approximately how long it would take for you to finish  photo tbr time resutls_zpsejzyud6y.jpgthem all. It said it would take me 4 years and 4 months to read all 739 books on my TBR which sounds fairly doable… until you take into account the number of new books that I’m constantly adding to it. It’s a never-ending battle to read all the books you want to read.

In a perfect world, my schedule for how I prioritize my reads typically centers around my review books and their order of publication. These days though my picks have been super random and I’ve been all about the mood reading. Here’s the part where this discussion post turns a tad bit morbid. Imagine, like the individual in The End of Your Life Book Club, you’re given a time frame on how long you’re expected to survive. Will Schwalbe’s mother was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer where patients are typically only given six months to live. What would you do with your precious remaining days left on Earth? Everyone has a bucket list of things they wish to experience in their life whether it’s visiting some far off place or achieving something amazing.

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Inspired by the concept of an end of your life book club, I decided to make a list to see which stories I’d want to spend that precious time on. I am 100% a reader at heart and I know that I’d be completely content and wouldn’t regret a single second if I spent my last remaining days in a comfortable chair surrounded by books. But which ones do you choose? Do you revisit old favorites, secure in your choice that you wouldn’t be wasting any time with anything that you didn’t already know was amazing? Or do you finally tackle those books that make you say “Why didn’t I ever make time for you?” For me, I can understand the lure between both choices, wanting to return to a book that feels like a best friend but on the other hand wanting to experience something fresh, new, and potentially exciting.

As I said, my reading picks lately have been a bit all over the place. This concept of prioritizing the books you choose to spend your time on (even if you haven’t been given a deadline on life) is a fairly enlightening concept even if it seems like a no-brainer. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “I’ve been wanting to read this FOREVER! I really need to make the time for it.” Well, what’s stopping me? Why not now?

Glancing through my TBR, I notice just how many I’ve said that about and still they sit unread. I declare myself to be a massive Sherlock Holmes fan, and yet I haven’t even finished all of Doyle’s stories. The Collector by John Fowles, And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, and The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock are all recent favorites of mine that I gushed over incessantly, yet I never made time for the other books those authors have written. And Stephen King. I’ve read so many but keep going round and round about starting The Dark Tower series. Honestly, what am I waiting for?

In terms of re-reads, I’d choose: to be mesmerized all over again by Mary-Louise Parker’s beautifully written Dear Mr. You, to revisit the magical world of Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle trilogy, to remember exactly why I fell in love originally with Rainbow Rowell with Attachments, to laugh until my belly ached in Jenny Lawson’s Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, and to experience the beauty of friendship in Harry Potter.

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This exercise has definitely inspired me to take a more conscious look at the books I choose to spend my time with. I hope that I can limit my excuse making and dive in head first, finally tackling those books that have sat on my shelf for far too long.

What books would you prioritize reading if you knew you only had a set time to read?

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Something To Look Forward To – Week of February 27th, 2017

February 27, 2017 Bonnie Something To Look Forward To 3 Comments

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Here’s what’s releasing this week: a blend of YA, Adult and the occasional Middle Grade. Something for everyone to look forward to! All book purchase links go to their respective Amazon page.
Help support this blog and use the purchase links to get your copy!

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Week of February 27th, 2017

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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas [Purchase]
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by Balzer + Bray

Rebels Like Us by Liz Reinhardt [Purchase]
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by Harlequin Teen

The Free by Lauren McLaughlin [Purchase]
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by Soho Teen

Sad Perfect by Stephanie Elliot [Purchase]
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

One Blood Ruby (Seven Black Diamonds #2) by Melissa Marr [Purchase]
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by HarperCollins

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Off the Ice (Juniper Falls #1) by Julie Cross [Purchase]
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by Entangled: Teen

Lifeblood (Everlife #2) by Gena Showalter [Purchase]
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by Harlequin Teen

Freedom’s Slave (Dark Caravan Cycle #3) by Heather Demetrios [Purchase]
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by Balzer + Bray

Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller [Purchase]
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by Feiwel & Friends

The Beast Is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale [Purchase]
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by Margaret K. McElderry Books

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A Good Idea by Cristina Moracho [Purchase]
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by Viking Books for Young Readers

Camp So-And-So by Mary McCoy [Purchase]
Expected publication: March 1st 2017 by Carolrhoda Books

A Lie for a Lie by Robin Merrow MacCready [Purchase]
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)

Splinter by Sasha Dawn [Purchase]
Expected publication: March 1st 2017 by Carolrhoda Books

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The Many Reflections of Miss Jane Deming by J. Anderson Coats [Purchase]
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson [Purchase]
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by Scholastic Press

See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng [Purchase]
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by Dial Books

Well, That Was Awkward by Rachel Vail [Purchase]
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by Viking Books for Young Readers

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Thunderbird (Miriam Black #4) by Chuck Wendig [Purchase]
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by Saga Press

Into the Fire (Night Prince #4) by Jeaniene Frost [Purchase]
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by Avon

Game of Shadows by Erika Lewis [Purchase]
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by Tor Books

The Wrong Dead Guy (Another Coop Heist #2) by Richard Kadrey [Purchase]
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by Harper Voyager

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Revenger by Alastair Reynolds [Purchase]
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by Orbit

Bane and Shadow (Empire of Storms #2) by Jon Skovron [Purchase]
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by Orbit

Agents of Dreamland by Caitlín R. Kiernan [Purchase]
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by Tor.com

Worldshaker (The Grudgebearer Trilogy #3) by J.F. Lewis [Purchase]
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by Pyr

Live Echoes (Sim War #5) by Henry V. O’Neil [Purchase]
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by Harper Voyager Impulse

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Bone Box (Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus #24) by Faye Kellerman [Purchase]
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by William Morrow

The Housekeeper by Suellen Dainty [Purchase]
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by Washington Square Press

No Darker Place (Shades of Death #1) by Debra Webb [Purchase]
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by Mira Books

Marked for Revenge (Jana Berzelius #2) by Emelie Schepp [Purchase]
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by Mira Books

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The Fifth Element (Odd Singsaker #3) by Jørgen Brekke [Purchase]
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by Minotaur Books

The Lost Book of the Grail by Charlie Lovett [Purchase]
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by Viking

An Almond for a Parrot by Wray Delaney [Purchase]
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by Mira Books

In Farleigh Field: A Novel of World War II by Rhys Bowen [Purchase]
Expected publication: March 1st 2017 by Lake Union Publishing

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The Typewriter’s Tale by Michiel Heyns [Purchase]
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by St. Martin’s Press

Miss Treadway and the Field of Stars: A Novel by Miranda Emmerson [Purchase]
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by Harper

No Other World: A Novel by Rahul Mehta [Purchase]
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by Harper

If I Could Tell You by Elizabeth Wilhide [Purchase]
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by Penguin Books

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Till Death by Jennifer L. Armentrout [Purchase]
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by William Morrow

A Million Little Things (Mischief Bay #3) by Susan Mallery [Purchase]
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by Mira Books

Everything Belongs to Us by Yoojin Grace Wuertz [Purchase]
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by Random House

Windy City Blues by Renee Rosen [Purchase]
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by Berkley Books

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My Fair Duchess (Dukes Behaving Badly #5) by Megan Frampton [Purchase]
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by Avon

Sinful Scottish Laird (Highland Grooms #2) by Julia London [Purchase]
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by Harlequin Books

Windswept (Wales #2) by Deborah Martin [Purchase]
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by Pocket Books

A Lady’s Code of Misconduct (Rules for the Reckless #5) by Meredith Duran [Purchase]
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by Pocket Books

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Stacking the Shelves (164)

February 26, 2017 Bonnie Sunday Book Haul 7 Comments

Recent Posts

New Books

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For Review
The Space Between the Stars by Anne Corlett [Purchase]

Library
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty [Purchase]
The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe [Purchase]

Purchased

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(New books in the right stack) I visited the bookstore for the first time in forever! I had just recently done a shelf cleanup and had some books to trade and I ended up coming home with four bright shiny new ones! My Libba Bray and Rachel Bach series are officially complete! I also picked up the newest Sarah Waters book and the only one that I didn’t have yet!

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters [Purchase]
Honor’s Knight (Paradox #2) by Rachel Bach [Purchase]
Heaven’s Queen (Paradox #3) by Rachel Bach [Purchase]
A Great and Terrible Beauty (Gemma Doyle #1) by Libba Bray [Purchase]

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Recommended Reading 101: Aussie YA

February 25, 2017 Bonnie Recommended Reading 101 4 Comments

Taking classes and getting excited for the assigned reading was always my favorite part of school. Using that same concept and turning different genres, locations, and subjects into a course of their own, you could come up with your own assigned reading. These would be my picks for recommended reading, what would yours be?

Aussie YA 101


Book Tour Review – Fury by Shirley MarrIf you’re looking for a Aussie murder mystery…

Fury was such a thrilling debut read that made it impossible to put this down (I stayed up till 2am to finish it). Hands down one of the best YA mysteries I’ve ever read. A bit hard to get a hold of this but well worth it.


Early Review – Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

If you’re looking for something compelling and realistic…

Graffiti Moon remains one of my all-time favorites in realistic YA. Cath Crowley is a most amazing writer and this story of love, humor, and amazing characterization is completely unforgettable.


Book Review – Stolen: A Letter to My Captor by Lucy Christopher

If you’re looking for an emotionally complex whirlwind…

Stolen was not a story that I anticipated to love so much that I’m still bringing it up five years later. Stockholm Syndrome is a delicate subject matter to tackle but I believe it was handled incredibly well.


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Short & Sweet – Everything I Never Told You, Big Little Lies

February 24, 2017 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Short & Sweet Reviews 8 Comments

Short & Sweet – Everything I Never Told You, Big Little LiesEverything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
Narrator: Cassandra Campbell
Published by Blackstone Audio on June 26th 2014
Length: 10 hrs and 1 min
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery
Format: Audiobook
Source: Freebie
Amazon|B&N|Book Depository|Audible
Goodreads


four-half-stars

A haunting debut novel about a mixed-race family living in 1970s Ohio and the tragedy that will either be their undoing or their salvation.

Lydia is dead. But they don't know this yet....

So begins the story in this exquisite debut novel about a Chinese American family living in a small town in 1970s Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee; their middle daughter, a girl who inherited her mother's bright blue eyes and her father's jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue - in Marilyn's case that her daughter become a doctor rather than a homemaker, in James' case that Lydia be popular at school, a girl with a busy social life and the center of every party.

When Lydia's body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together tumbles into chaos, forcing them to confront the long-kept secrets that have been slowly pulling them apart. James, consumed by guilt, sets out on a reckless path that may destroy his marriage. Marilyn, devastated and vengeful, is determined to find a responsible party, no matter what the cost. Lydia's older brother, Nathan, is certain the neighborhood bad boy Jack is somehow involved. But it's the youngest of the family, Hannah, who observes far more than anyone realizes - and who may be the only one who knows the truth about what happened.

A profoundly moving story of family, history, and the meaning of home, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping pause-resister and a sensitive family portrait, exploring the divisions between cultures and the rifts within a family and uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.

‘Before that she hadn’t realized how fragile happiness was, how if you were careless, you could knock it over and shatter it.’

Lydia is the third child of Marilyn and James Lee and is undeniably their favorite. Her absence from breakfast one morning arouses suspicion but never would they have imagined that her body would be found at the bottom of the lake near their house. Lydia’s death, while tragic, ends up being the catalyst for unveiling the multitude of issues within the Lee household. The year is 1970 and the steps that led to this tragedy began over a decade ago when Marilyn, a white woman from Virginia, and James, a first-generation Chinese-American, married despite the ill opinions on their interracial relationship. When Marilyn gets pregnant, she gives up her dream of becoming a doctor and instead devotes her time and energy to Lydia so that one day she can become what Marilyn could not, never stopping to consider what Lydia actually desired. James, after a difficult life of always being the outsider, he constantly pushes his children to fit in and be social so they never have to experience what it’s like to be an outsider. We may know from the very first sentence that Lydia is dead, but the path that brought her to this point remains a mystery. Ng rewinds to the very beginning and allows Lydia’s story to finally reveal the truth that she never dared speak aloud.

‘It would disappear forever from her memory of Lydia, the way memories of a lost loved one always smooth and simplify themselves, shedding complexities like scales.’

I have had this book on my shelf for an obscenely long time simply because family dramas usually possess suburban type spectacles that I’d rather do without. But this book had depth, it had the most well-written characters that I have read in recent memory, it had a captivating storyline, and it completely broke my heart. Ng gracefully unmasks the secrets kept by the Lee’s and their two surviving children, Nathan and Hannah, through multiple storylines without it once getting convoluted. Marilyn and James’ lifetime of broken dreams and of the racism that they faced is egregious, but it’s their complete lack of familiarity and understanding with one another and their own children that was truly terrible. The emotional intricacy of this superbly written tale and the devastating ending will resonate with me for a long time to come.

Short & Sweet – Everything I Never Told You, Big Little LiesBig Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Published by Berkley on July 29th 2014
Pages: 460
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon|B&N|Book Depository|Audible
Goodreads


two-half-stars

Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?).
And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body.

But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.
New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.

“Did anyone really know their child? Your child was a little stranger, constantly changing, disappearing and reintroducing himself to you. New personality traits could appear overnight.”

In the coastal seaside town of Pirriwee, everything and everyone is covered in a thin veneer of gloss, though it only does so much to hide the imperfections underneath. And the fact that someone is dead after Trivia Night at the local school goes terribly wrong. But who it is and how it happened remains a mystery… or so it seems.

Madeleine’s youngest child is entering kindergarten, but so is her ex-husband’s daughter. The ex-husband that left her and their baby girl to survive on their own fifteen years prior. Celeste, a stay at home mom, and her husband Perry, a hedge fund manager, are the parents of twin boys and they live in a palatial house on the beach. Things definitely look perfect from the outside but Perry has an uncontrollable anger problem that is only getting worse. Jane is a single mom who’s little boy Ziggy was the product of a one-night stand; a one-night stand that left her mentally scarred and unable to heal. The adults all have their fair share of drama going on but to make matters worse there is a terrible ongoing situation of bullying happening at the kids’ school and the truth is far from easy to ascertain. Family drama, infidelity, domestic abuse, and bullying are all adequate plot points on their own but Big Little Lies combines them all for an intense story about the imperfections that many endeavor to hide from the world.

“They say it’s good to let your grudges go, but I don’t know, I’m quite fond of my grudge. I tend it like a little pet.”

This is my first Moriarty book and I’m still struggling to establish whether I actually liked it. The mystery and the anticipated big reveal was all that kept me going because the writing style felt very haphazard and slightly sloppy, written in a flippant and emotionally disjointed way. I would understand that demeanor for some of her characters, but everyone is written in such a way. The story starts off with a Quentin Tarantino type hook: someone is dead but you don’t know who it is and you don’t know what led up to this point. Now, let’s rewind it to six months before the death and go back through everything with a fine-tooth comb. Let’s also intersperse it with gossiping mothers (and the occasional father) who are all convinced it has something to do with a shocking affair, or it was because of some fight that happened between a couple of mothers months back on the playground, or maybe it was when one of the kids handed out birthday invitations to all but one child, or maybe it was Madeleine’s Erotic Book Club. Absolutely no one has any clue what’s actually going on.

idk chris pratt middle finger i dont care who cares

Okay, so basically if you didn’t guess, I gave zero fucks about their petty squabbles. But still, I zoomed through these 460 pages (honestly, that many pages were completely unnecessary). While the mom drama is pretty horrifying in the heavy doses we’re given, it’s despairingly accurate, I know because I have had to personally refuse to participate in that shit (fuck the PTA, honestly). There is also this constant veil of humor over everything, despite the seriousness of a few of the storylines, and I can’t say that I liked it, especially when the domestic abuse storyline had me breathing like I needed a paper bag. Moriarty’s stand against domestic violence isn’t handled poorly (although it could have been handled better), I just felt that the inclusion of comic relief in the story to lessen the seriousness only ended up leaving a bad taste in my mouth. View Spoiler » Many readers may be pleased to have this comic relief to lighten the seriousness of domestic abuse, bullying, and infidelity, but I for one could have done without it. All it managed to do was lessen the depth and seriousness of these grim issues.

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The Coffee Book Tag

February 23, 2017 Bonnie Book Tag 4 Comments

I am a coffee addict.

coffee

So this book tag totally spoke to me. 🙂

Found this post thanks to Jessie and Dani @ Ageless Pages Reviews and Lindsey @ Bring My Books.

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Lord of the Rings immediately comes to mind. I’ve decided this is the year I’ll finally conquer it though! Wish me luck. lol

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For years I’ve noticed people come out in droves to read Little Women. I always said that when I finally got around to reading it that I’d save it for Christmas. I’m happy to say I finally made that happen this past year.

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Juniper by Monica Furlong. I went through all my books that were boxed up recently and found this in there. I only have fond memories of this one.

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Book Review – Fortune’s Pawn (Paradox #1) by Rachel Bach

Fortune’s Pawn felt like a shot of adrenaline that I absolutely could not put down. SO GOOD, PEOPLE.

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Written in Red (The Others #1) by Anne Bishop

Everyone is reading this series (I blame Christina). I have no idea why I haven’t but I’m determined to start this year.

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Darkhouse was one of the first Indie books I took a chance on and it paid off. Halle’s Experiment in Terror series remains one of my all-time favorites.

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Life’s Too Short: Feedback, A Promise of Fire, The Girls

Most disappointing in recent memory is definitely Feedback. I’m just pretending it never existed, it’s better that way.

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The Sweet Far Thing (Gemma Doyle #3) by Libba Bray

Everyone loves to hate on the ending for these (because it certainly isn’t a happily ever after) but it’s one that has stuck with me for years. I can’t remember things from last week but I vividly remember the ending to this trilogy that I read over a decade ago. That’s saying something I think.

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Book Review – Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light by Amy Thomas

I know it’s cliché to want to visit Paris, but it’s truly a beautiful city that I really do wish I’ll be able to see someday. Paris, My Sweet was such a fun (and delicious!) read that made me want to make it a reality that much more.

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Audiobook Review – One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

“Classic” is such a broad term. Is a book from 1962 a classic? If so, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. This book broke my heart but damn, what a story.

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The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. The story itself is magical but the real magic is Ivey’s writing. Goals.

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