Genre: Alternate Reality

Short & Sweet – River of Teeth Duology

Posted September 22, 2017 by Bonnie in Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2017 / 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.

Short & Sweet – River of Teeth DuologyRiver of Teeth by Sarah Gailey
Published by Tantor Audio on August 22nd 2017
Length: 4 hours and 1 minute
Genres: Alternate Reality, Fantasy
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible


In the early 20th Century, the United States government concocted a plan to import hippopotamuses into the marshlands of Louisiana to be bred and slaughtered as an alternative meat source. This is true.

Other true things about hippos: they are savage, they are fast, and their jaws can snap a man in two.

This was a terrible plan.

Contained within this volume is an 1890s America that might have been: a bayou overrun by feral hippos and mercenary hippo wranglers from around the globe. It is the story of Winslow Houndstooth and his crew. It is the story of their fortunes. It is the story of his revenge.

In 1909, Robert F. Broussard, a congressman from Louisiana introduced a bill for $250,000 in funding to deal with the invasive Water Hyacinth that was clogging the Louisiana waterways by introducing hippos into the wild to eat them. True story. The bill failed to pass but Sarah Gailey’s novella portrays a world where the opposite happened and the hippopotami have quickly become a bigger problem than the Water Hyacinth ever thought to be. Winslow Remington Houndstooth was a former hippo rancher who lost his ranch after it was razed to the ground by an enemy. He’s been hired by the government to herd the feral hippo population into the Gulf because they’re currently wreaking havoc on the trading route potential the Harriet area boasts. He puts together a crew of hippo-riding “hoppers” consisting of Regina “Archie” Archambault, a con artist, Cal Hotchkiss, a dangerous sharpshooter, Hero Schackleby, a demolition expert, and contract killer Adelia Reyes. Nothing good can come of a group of such people.

“It’s not a caper,” Houndstooth replied, sounding irritated. “It’s an operation. All aboveboard.”

This novella was honestly a ton of fun. It was very much an Oceans 11 style caper, excuse me, operation, with revenge, murder, and treachery aplenty. I don’t care what kind of genre you typically read, hearing that a book is about man-eating hippos should entice just about anyone. The lively team is quickly assembled and the mission plan is immediately put into effect which definitely limited the time spent on these interesting people but Sarah Gailey still did a fantastic job in bringing their personalities to life. The mission itself is full of twists and turns and a level of excitement that only made me want more of everything in terms of length and detail that could have been possible with this story. The narrator Peter Berkrot was a pleasure to listen to despite the various accents and French ladies he was forced to attempt. ‘A’ for effort and for making this spirited story that much more fun to listen to.

“I regret nothing: it was worth it for the hats alone.”

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 – River of Teeth DuologyTaste of Marrow by Sarah Gailey
Published by Tantor Audio on September 12th 2017
Length: 4 hrs and 15 mins
Genres: Alternate Reality, Fantasy
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible


A few months ago, Winslow Houndstooth put together the damnedest crew of outlaws, assassins, cons, and saboteurs on either side of the Harriet for a history-changing caper. Together they conspired to blow the damn that choked the Mississippi and funnel the hordes of feral hippos contained within downriver, to finally give America back its greatest waterway.

Songs are sung of their exploits, many with a haunting refrain: "And not a soul escaped alive."

In the aftermath of the Harriet catastrophe, that crew has scattered to the winds. Some hunt the missing lovers they refuse to believe have died. Others band together to protect a precious infant and a peaceful future. All of them struggle with who they've become after a long life of theft, murder, deception, and general disinterest in the strictures of the law.

“And not a soul escaped alive, and not a soul escaped alive, hi-ho hop-whoa! And everybody died.”
Not everybody, asshole, she thought tartly.

The devastation may have been severe, but our ragtag bunch of hoppers did, in fact, survive despite the songs now sung about the Harriet catastrophe. The only problem is, they’ve been split up and remain uncertain about who survived and where they could possibly be. Houndstooth and Adelia remain together and are both searching for lost loves. Archie and Hero have remained together despite Archie’s attempt on Hero’s life. But the explosion at the Harriet changed much more than the situation of the hippo population, it changed the surviving individuals too and their emotional advancement is the primary focus in Taste of Marrow.

‘Alone and lonely ain’t the same thing at all,’ Hero said, shaking their head.”

Taste of Marrow certainly lacked the focus of its predecessor, since its focus was on a group of individuals that had lost their own focus in life. Emotions were all over the place and it often felt like a bit of a scatterbrained read. The heart of this alternate history, the hippo population, took a bit of a back seat to focus more on the hoppers themselves. Also missing was the excitement of the caper/operation. While I felt this was definitely lacking when compared to River of Teeth, it still had its own individual charm and was a satisfying conclusion to the stories of these colorful individuals. Sarah Gailey is definitely one to keep an eye out for.

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Early Review – Plus One by Elizabeth Fama

Posted February 21, 2014 by Bonnie in Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2014, YA / 9 Comments

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

Early Review – Plus One by Elizabeth FamaPlus One by Elizabeth Fama
Published by Farrar Straus and Giroux (BYR) on April 8, 2014
Pages: 384
Genres: Alternate Reality, Political Drama, Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley


Divided by day and night and on the run from authorities, star-crossed young lovers unearth a sinister conspiracy in this compelling romantic thriller.

Seventeen-year-old Soleil Le Coeur is a Smudge—a night dweller prohibited by law from going out during the day. When she fakes an injury in order to get access to and kidnap her newborn niece—a day dweller, or Ray—she sets in motion a fast-paced adventure that will bring her into conflict with the powerful lawmakers who order her world, and draw her together with the boy she was destined to fall in love with, but who is also a Ray.

Set in a vivid alternate reality and peopled with complex, deeply human characters on both sides of the day-night divide, Plus One is a brilliantly imagined drama of individual liberty and civil rights, and a fast-paced romantic adventure story.

In an alternate reality following the 1918 flu pandemic, Soleil Le Coeur concocts a desperate plan to kidnap her newborn niece so that her grandfather is able to hold her one last time before he dies. Her plan goes foul when she finds herself embroiled in a political feud between opposing Night and Day groups.

When the 1918 flu epidemic began wreaking havoc on the population, the President divided the medical teams into day and night to keep up with the work required. The results were so positive that this divide between day and night was applied to the rest of society. Because the amount of people awake during the day were cut in half, public transportation was less crowded and ended up decelerating the spread of the disease. The divide continued even after the flu epidemic had been dealt with. I really loved the setting of this world because while it was simple it was explained well and felt incredibly realistic.

Plus One is told from the point of view of Soleil, a fantastic character that I loved from the very first page. She’s impulsive and snarky and will do anything for her Poppu, the only family she has left. It’s commendable, even with the ridiculous scheme she comes up with. We’re given flashback scenes throughout the novel that tells the tale of her past and how she’s come to be alone with her grandfather and that makes her actions all the more poignant.

“I didn’t mind going straight to nothing a few days earlier, so that Poppu could hold his great-granddaughter before he died.”

I understood her intentions, but I felt the kidnapping of the baby was completely nonsensical. It was also too flimsy of a storyline to be the entirety of the plot. Her ability to steal the baby initially and her continued evasion of the government was pretty implausible as well. This ended up being much more of a political drama/soap-opera than I anticipated and was very disappointed by this.

It’s kind of funny but I find myself typically complaining about the romances in stories and how they seem to overtake the plot. With Plus One it happens to be the complete opposite where I’m complaining about the lack of romance/swoons but I think this is because I went into this story expecting a ‘star-crossed‘ love, plus just look at the cover I mean come on. Soleil and D’Arcy dislike each other at first and use nicknames to identify one another (She is Plus One and he is Day Boy) which quickly became tiresome. It’s a case of opposites attract but the actual romance doesn’t happen until very late in the book. The two possess a connection (that isn’t realized until later) which prevents their romance from veering too far into insta-love territory but that connection still failed to generate the swoons I was looking for. Their relationship does get serious fairly quickly though and there were a few lines that caused much consternation.

‘D’Arcy was like a planet to my meteor. The gravitational pull was similar to a hurtling sensation. My body needed to collide with his. And, the universe be praised, this planet welcomed the impact.’

‘He drank from it and handed it back. I rested my lips on the rim of the bottle before I drank, trying to differentiate between the warm wetness of the water and the warm wetness of his mouth, disappointed that I couldn’t.’

There was one particularly violent scene that had me completely flummoxed as to it’s reason for being a part of the story. I suppose violence doesn’t always have to possess a meaning but it felt out of place and gratuitous in regards to the rest of the story. Overall this was a very mature YA read and I was shocked yet impressed to see sex portrayed so openly.

Admittedly, the cover is the sole reason I read this. That gorgeous cover promised swoons and all the feels yet the book itself never lived up to it. The ending is left open-ended but possesses an impressive and unexpected resolution that was my favorite aspect of the novel. Plus One was an enjoyable read for the most part but I was definitely expecting more.