Genre: Time Travel

Book Review – Written in My Own Heart’s Blood (Outlander #8) by Diana Gabaldon

September 11, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2014 2 Comments

Book Review – Written in My Own Heart’s Blood (Outlander #8) by Diana GabaldonWritten in My Own Heart's Blood by Diana Gabaldon
Series: Outlander #8
Published by Delacorte Press on June 10th 2014
Pages: 848
Genres: Historical Fiction, Time Travel
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Exile: An Outlander Graphic Novel

three-stars

In her now classic novel Outlander, Diana Gabaldon told the story of Claire Randall, an English ex-combat nurse who walks through a stone circle in the Scottish Highlands in 1946, and disappears . . . into 1743. The story unfolded from there in seven bestselling novels, and CNN has called it “a grand adventure written on a canvas that probes the heart, weighs the soul and measures the human spirit across [centuries].” Now the story continues in Written in My Own Heart’s Blood.

1778: France declares war on Great Britain, the British army leaves Philadelphia, and George Washington’s troops leave Valley Forge in pursuit. At this moment, Jamie Fraser returns from a presumed watery grave to discover that his best friend has married his wife, his illegitimate son has discovered (to his horror) who his father really is, and his beloved nephew, Ian, wants to marry a Quaker. Meanwhile, Jamie’s wife, Claire, and his sister, Jenny, are busy picking up the pieces.

The Frasers can only be thankful that their daughter Brianna and her family are safe in twentieth-century Scotland. Or not. In fact, Brianna is  searching for her own son, who was kidnapped by a man determined to learn her family’s secrets. Her husband, Roger, has ventured into the past in search of the missing boy . . . never suspecting that the object of his quest has not left the present. Now, with Roger out of the way, the kidnapper can focus on his true target: Brianna herself.

Written in My Own Heart’s Blood is the brilliant next chapter in a masterpiece of the imagination unlike any other.

Outlander series

Outlander (Outlander #1) {Purchase}
Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander #2) {Purchase}
Voyager (Outlander #3) {Purchase}
Drums of Autumn (Outlander #4) {Purchase}
The Fiery Cross (Outlander #5) {Purchase}
A Breath of Snow and Ashes (Outlander #6) {Purchase}
An Echo in the Bone (Outlander #7) {Purchase}
The Outlander Series 7-Book Bundle on Kindle {Purchase}

After the dramatic conclusion in An Echo in the Bone and the five years it took for this installment to come out, I was expecting to swallow this whole as soon as I was afforded the opportunity. Instead? It took me upwards of almost THREE MONTHS to finish which is practically unheard of for me. When I finally read the last page, I ran joyously through the house a la Liz Lemon style.

But let’s back up and discuss what actually goes down in this book. There will be spoilers for previous installments.

So, there was drama. A lot of it. Written picks right up where Echo left off in 1778 with Claire discovering Jamie is, in fact, alive and kicking and her marriage (and consummation) to Lord John poses some mighty intense drama. Then there’s William who just recently discovered that Lord John is not actually his father, Jamie is, but raised him since Jamie was unable to. He proceeds to throw a tantrum about said drama for pretty much the full extent of the book making his chapters pretty interminable. We’ve got Ian and his dog Rollo, who have decidedly less drama but since he has become engaged to Rachel and just so happens to be well-liked by William, well there’s your drama for that storyline too. There are various other side stories too that are, you guessed it, full of drama. Oh, and we can’t forget about the fact that the American Revolutionary War is going on in the background of all this. Meanwhile, in 1980, Bree is frantic to find her son Jem whom she fears has been taken through the stones and back in time by an enemy who discovered that Jem knows the location of a priceless buried treasure. Roger has set off to follow them through the stones to get him back but his leaving brings more trouble for Bree back home.

Bree and Roger’s sections were my most favorite but were, unfortunately, the smallest part of the book as a whole. I’d say they got roughly 20% while the remaining 80% was spent in 1778. All of Gabaldon’s books have been large in size, Written clocking in at 848 pages of extremely tiny print, but this one honestly felt too long. An extreme amount of detail was placed on Claire’s methods for healing with the rudimentary tools available to her and some were extremely graphic and completely unnecessary for the storyline as a whole. There were several chapters spent on her saving Lord John’s brother from an asthma attack, the medical cases from various individuals that were injured in battle, an amputation, Lord John Grey’s eye injury which she heals with her fingers and honey and the worst of them all: the surgery she performs on a slave girl to fix her rectovaginal fistula. FYI? Don’t Google that. It was all super detailed and somewhat interesting for the most part but I wanted more actual story.

Yes, I did give this 3 stars so clearly there was some good to this. Again, like I said, Bree and Roger’s chapters were the best and I loved where their stories took them in this massive puzzle Gabaldon is masterminding. There were some terribly emotional scenes that managed to draw me back into the story: Ian and his dog Rollo, Henri Christian (Fergus’ son) and Jane’s whole sad story. I found the unrelenting drama too much but mainly because it didn’t manage to work my emotions like the other books always seemed to. Even though this one is most definitely my least favorite of the series there is no doubt that I’ll be continuing this series. I anxiously await the next installment (in a half dozen years or so if we’re lucky), especially after everything, got set up in the conclusion (but thankfully there wasn’t a dramatic cliffhanger).

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Book Review – In the Time of Kings by N. Gemini Sasson

June 6, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2014 0 Comments

Book Review – In the Time of Kings by N. Gemini SassonIn the Time of Kings by N. Gemini Sasson
Published by Cader Idris Press on September 14th 2013
Pages: 306
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance, Time Travel
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon
Goodreads


two-stars

What if you could remember another life? What if you could re-live it and find love again? 

Professor Ross Sinclair has everything he could ever want. Reunited with childhood sweetheart Claire Forbes, Ross can finally begin to heal the pain of his childhood and live in the present. A honeymoon in Scotland is the perfect beginning.

But when tragedy threatens Claire's life, Ross's dreams come to a crashing halt. He must now face the possibility of a future without her. Then, in one unfortunate moment, he's hurled back to another time and confronted with even bigger problems.

Suddenly, it isn't 2013 anymore. It's 1333. The English have laid siege to Berwick, Ross has a wife he barely knows, more enemies than friends, and a past that brands him as a heretic.

“We all have a past. Some people just can’t let go of it.”

Ross and Claire are newlyweds, honeymooning in Scotland when tragedy strikes. Shortly before the two are due to leave for home, Claire becomes ill and ends up in a coma in the hospital. Ross becomes completely overcome with grief, unable to come to terms with what is happening and ends up in an accident and blacks out. He wakes up in the year 1333.

‘I marvel at the fact that I haven’t broken out in hives. Apparently, not only has my eyesight improved, but my allergy to horses hasn’t transferred to this time period, either.’

I blame Outlander on my time-travel obsession. I also blame Outlander for my high expectations when it comes to time-travel. I’m able to count on one hand the number of time-travel books that managed to work for me. Unfortunately, this was not one of them. There weren’t any special stones or portals that sent Ross back in time, instead, he was run off the road while riding his bicycle by a semi and tumbled down a hill. He woke up in another time in completely different clothes with renewed eyesight and a curious lack of his typical allergies. Instead of going back in time as himself, he went back in time and took over the life of one of his ancestors (à la Assassin’s Creed, just replacing the Animus with a grassy hill). It worked yet it didn’t and was cause for some serious confusion later as the story develops.

The historical aspects of this novel were well-done and felt very authentic but the incorporation of time-travel bits and a modern man in a medieval world felt clunky and strange. The biggest issue I had was with Ross, the main character, and his complete lack of a spine throughout the entirety of the novel.

‘I’d signed up for a fencing class during my freshman year of college, but during the first session my impulse whenever my opponent thrust his rapier at me was to roll up in a ball on the floor and cover my head with my hands. I quickly switched to bowling class.’

He improved somewhat as the novel progressed, but he was an irritating character from the beginning which made it difficult considering the entire story was told from his point of view. We’re given past glimpses into his childhood that were clearly meant to provide a reason behind his meek and submissive personality but it still didn’t work for me. The time period did succeed in maturing him and turning him into a ‘manly man’ but even then there were passages that were clearly meant to show his character development that was slightly ridiculous.

‘Somewhere a lamb, trapped in the ruins, bleats. I slow, keening my ears, and finally see it, its pink nose pressed between the bars of a wooden fence that has been pushed over. The small building next to it is still on fire. Adam sees it, too. He glances at me, shrugs in pity and goes on. A gap opens up between us and I dark after him, the lamb forgotten.’

If this was intended to show his growing manliness it was a big fail. The character was a total coward, completely spineless and while he was a little less cowardly by the end he failed to generate any sympathy from me and his plights.

The romance(s) were a big hot mess. We’re first introduced to Ross and Claire who are on their honeymoon yet Claire is constantly making fun of him, all in the name of playful teasing of course, and their spark couldn’t light a campfire if their life depended on it. When Claire becomes ill, Ross is distraught while contemplating life without her but it felt more like he was distraught about just being alone and didn’t have anything specifically to do with Claire. He wakes up in 1333, already resigned to the fact that he’s going to lose Claire and it immediately became oh! I have a wife here and another chance to love. The icing on the cake is the simple justification at the end, explaining everything with a pretty bow on top. It was a bit too perfect for my liking.

In the Time of Kings is a historical fiction romance with a time-travel twist but was lacking in both characterization and romance. The historical fiction bits strongly showcased the author’s abilities and will appeal to fans of the genre.

The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer {PurchaseMy Review}
Mariana by Susanna Kearsley {Purchase}
Outlander (Outlander #1) by Diana Gabaldon {Purchase}

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Book Review – All Our Yesterdays (All Our Yesterdays #1) by Cristin Terrill

October 11, 2013 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2013, YA 4 Comments

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

Book Review – All Our Yesterdays (All Our Yesterdays #1) by Cristin TerrillAll Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill
Series: All Our Yesterdays #1
Published by Disney Hyperion on September 3rd 2013
Pages: 368
Genres: Sci-fi, Time Travel
Format: ARC
Amazon
Goodreads


three-half-stars

"You have to kill him."

Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain.

Only Em can complete the final instruction. She's tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present-imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside.

Marina has loved her best friend James since they were children. A gorgeous, introverted science prodigy from one of America's most famous families, James finally seems to be seeing Marina in a new way, too. But on one disastrous night, James's life crumbles apart, and with it, Marina's hopes for their future. Marina will protect James, no matter what. Even if it means opening her eyes to a truth so terrible that she may not survive it. At least not as the girl she once was. Em and Marina are in a race against time that only one of them can win.

All Our Yesterdays is a wrenching, brilliantly plotted story of fierce love, unthinkable sacrifice, and the infinite implications of our every choice.

“Time travel isn’t a wonder; it’s an abomination.”

Em and Finn are the only two that can stop the creation of a time machine; a machine that will destroy the world. They’ve succeeded in traveling back in time fourteen times but those trips have only resulted in failure. This is their fifteenth trip and Em has finally realized exactly what is required to stop it for good. The note she finds written in her own handwriting tells her: “You have to kill him.”

This was a breathless thrill-ride with a few twists I didn’t see coming. The alternating points of view between the present-day Em and her past self, Marina, was my favorite part of this novel and I loved being able to see the vast differences between the two and how the harsh realities of the world transformed her and those close to her. The two storylines were slightly hard to follow until they came together in the end but was still a delight.

The characters themselves felt like cardboard cutouts at times and I thought it was a bit far-fetched the things they were capable of (geniuses creating time machines and all that). My main gripe is Em though. She wakes up in a prison and is tortured for information each and every day. She finds the note that she wrote herself the last time she traveled back in time and knows what she has to do to right all the wrongs and to keep her and Finn both from winding back up in a prison cell. She has to kill him. But she wastes several opportunities she had to kill him and I realize that she cares about this person she’s supposed to kill but it just seemed reckless. Obviously if she’s gone back in time 14 times and hasn’t been able to change things any of the other times, she’s gotta do what she’s gotta do.

The time travel concept was definitely interesting and seemed to be fairly unique however I couldn’t help but have issue with a few possible holes in the concept. Foremost is that Em and Finn continued to go back in time yet it never seemed that their actions were having any sort of impact on the past (and at the same time the future). When they kept going back in time trying to correct past wrongs and they failed to succeed they inevitably seemed to go back to the same future as if everything they had done was etch-a-sketched out. That seemed entirely implausible especially considering the note. In each instance that Em went back in time she would write herself an update letting her know what she had planned to do so that she would know what not to do the next time in case she failed. I understand that time travel isn’t a concrete science but the concept did provoke a bit of disbelief.

I really loved the idea of the concept but there were a few holes that I couldn’t overlook. If you’re able to read this without over-analyzing things I can imagine this would be vastly more enjoyable. Setting all issues aside, this was a fun read and was definitely thrilling. I have absolutely no idea how a sequel will work considering how things ended but I’m still interested enough to read and see.

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Banned Books Week – A Wrinkle in Time (The Time Quintet #1) by Madeleine L’Engle

September 27, 2013 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Book-To-Film, Read in 2013, YA 0 Comments

Banned Books Week – A Wrinkle in Time (The Time Quintet #1) by Madeleine L’EngleA Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Narrator: Hope Davis
Series: The Time Quintet #1
Published by Listening Library on January 1st 1962
Length: 6 hours and 8 minutes
Genres: Classics, Fantasy, Middle Grade, Sci-fi, Time Travel
Format: Audiobook
Amazon
Goodreads


four-stars

It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger.

"Wild nights are my glory," the unearthly stranger told them. "I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me sit down for a moment, and then I'll be on my way. Speaking of ways, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract."

A tesseract (in case the reader doesn't know) is a wrinkle in time. To tell more would rob the reader of the enjoyment of Miss L'Engle's unusual book. A Wrinkle in Time, winner of the Newbery Medal in 1963, is the story of the adventures in space and time of Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin O'Keefe (athlete, student, and one of the most popular boys in high school). They are in search of Meg's father, a scientist who disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government on the tesseract problem.

A Wrinkle in Time is the winner of the 1963 Newbery Medal.

‘Challenged at the Polk City, Fla. Elementary School (1985) by a parent who believed that the story promotes witchcraft, crystal balls, and demons. Challenged in the Anniston Ala. schools (1990). The complainant objected to the book’s listing the name of Jesus Christ together with the names of great artists, philosophers, scientists, and religious leaders when referring to those who defend earth against evil.’ -Source

‘We look not at the things which are what you would call seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporal. But the things which are not seen are eternal.’

A Wrinkle in Time is a story of three children and their travels through the universe to find a young girl’s lost father. Meg Murry is a self-conscious child who is constantly critical of herself. Charles Wallace is Meg’s younger brother and is a genius but does whatever he can to keep a low profile. Calvin O’Keefe is the complete opposite of the siblings but crosses paths and quickly becomes a vital link to their exploits.

The setting of A Wrinkle in Time is a strange mixture of genres and isn’t easily categorized. It’s about fantasy and adventure but religion and the battle between good and evil play a major part which is what has led to this book being challenged throughout the years. In A Wrinkle in Time Charles Wallace requests that Calvin read him a bedtime story from The Book of Genesis, Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which are all three described as being guardian angels and messengers of God, and several bible quotes are strewn throughout. Yet fundamentalist Christians have an issue with the New Age elements, the blending of religion and science and how the book never comes out truly as a religious text but is left open to interpretation as to how literal the Biblical aspects truly are.

While a Wrinkle in Time is listed as a children’s book, it’s heavy with literary allusions that children won’t likely understand completely. Heck, I’m still contemplating it. Not only are there philosophical references and historical figures mentioned aplenty but the interpretation of how time works, the explanation of a tesseract, The Black Thing and IT and Camazotz is not simple to understand. But that lack of understanding and a slight obliviousness may be what makes this ultimately enjoyable for children. This is the first time I have read this having missed out on this as a child, and while I did enjoy this and will likely pick up the remaining installments this definitely left me contemplating how there are some things that simply can’t be rationalized or made complete sense of.

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Book Review – The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer

August 3, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 3 Comments

Book Review – The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean GreerThe Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer
Published by Ecco on June 25th 2013
Pages: 304
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance, Time Travel
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads


four-stars

1985. After the death of her beloved twin brother, Felix, and the break up with her long-time lover, Nathan, Greta Wells embarks on a radical psychiatric treatment to alleviate her suffocating depression. But the treatment has unexpected effects, and Greta finds herself transported to the lives she might have had if she'd been born in a different era.

During the course of her treatment, Greta cycles between her own time and her alternate lives in 1918, as a bohemian adulteress, and 1941, as a devoted mother and wife. Separated by time and social mores, Greta's three lives are achingly similar, fraught with familiar tensions and difficult choices. Each reality has its own losses, its own rewards, and each extracts a different price. And the modern Greta learns that her alternate selves are unpredictable, driven by their own desires and needs.

As her final treatment looms, questions arise. What will happen once each Greta learns how to stay in one of the other worlds? Who will choose to remain in which life?

Magically atmospheric, achingly romantic, The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells beautifully imagines "what if" and wondrously wrestles with the impossibility of what could be.

‘The impossible happens once to each of us.’

Greta Wells is devastated after losing her twin brother Felix to AIDS and after her long term partner Nathan also leaves her. Burdened by a deep depression that is slowly getting the better of her, she takes the advice of her Aunt Ruth and visists a doctor who recommends electroconvulsive therapy. Ironically, right before her first session she considers, “How I longed to live in any time but this one. It seemed cursed with sorrow and death.”

The night following her first session she goes to sleep in 1985 and arises the next day in 1918. She wakes up as herself just under slightly different circumstances: her brother is alive and she is married to Nathan but is in love with a younger man named Leo. She discovers that her 1918 self is also undergoing electroconvulsive therapy and again, the night following her session she arises the next day in another time; this time in 1941. The cycle continues: 1985, 1918, 1941 and so on for 25 treatments.

“You’re all the same, you’re all Greta. You’re all trying to make things better, whatever that means to you. For you, it’s Felix you want to save. For another, it’s Nathan. For this one, it’s Leo she wants to resurrect. I understand. Don’t we all have someone we’d like to save from the wreckage?”

This is a time travel story, yet it’s not really. It touches on the possibilities of past lives and how your actions resonate to future lives and reincarnations of a sort. Because while 1985 Greta is traveling to her past selves, these individuals she’s ‘taking over’ for are also on the same adventure and they’re all trying to correct past mistakes and secure their own happiness.

“Is there any greater pain to know what could be, and yet be powerless to make it be?”

The heart of the story is of course Greta, her lives, and the individuals she loves in these lives. It’s a tale of romance and how each Greta found (and loved) Nathan but after experiencing each of these lives a wrench gets thrown into the works as she is forced to consider the possibility that he is not her one true love, that she’s been blinded into repetition and is only resorting to what she knows.

While each life could easily showcase the historical detailing of the time, this is glazed over. In 1918, we have the flu epidemic and World War I is ending. In 1941, World War II is beginning. In 1985, we have the AIDS epidemic. While living in these time periods, Greta maintains a certain absence as if she’s truly just a visitor and isn’t quite experiencing the moments around her. For someone who said, “…not all lives are equal, that the time we live in affects the person we are, more than I had ever though” I really wished to see the transformation of her character due to her environment and the impacts her surroundings had on her as a person.

The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells is treated as a serious tale of time travel yet is rife with flaws in its design. A definite suspension of disbelief is required because of how truly ‘Impossible’ the story is. Despite this (and the crazy unraveling that occurred at the end), it all managed to still work. It would be easy to nitpick it to death but in all actuality, time travel is not an exact science and different variations are definitely possible and this was quite an original interpretation of it. The story of Greta Wells is an imaginative tale about past lives and the implausible impossibility of “what if”.

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Early Review – The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

May 7, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2013 19 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 – The Shining Girls by Lauren BeukesThe Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
Published by Mulholland Books on June 4th 2013
Pages: 384
Genres: Horror, Mystery, Thriller, Time Travel
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Broken Monsters, Slipping: Stories, Essays, & Other Writing

five-stars

The girl who wouldn’t die. Hunting a killer who shouldn’t exist.

Chicago 1931. Violent drifter Harper Curtis stumbles upon a house that hides a secret as shocking as his own twisted nature: it opens onto other times.

Harper uses it to stalk his ‘shining girls’ across decades – and cut the fire out of them.

He’s the perfect killer. Unstoppable. Untraceable. Until one of his victims survives and turns the hunt around.

Chicago, 1992. Kirby Mazrachi’s determination to find the man who tried to kill her has taken over her life.

The cops no longer return her calls. Her mother copes by writing morbid children’s books. Her only ally is Dan, the burnt-out ex-homicide reporter who covered her case.

As Kirby closes in on her would-be killer, what she finds is ... impossible. Murders scattered across the decades along with evidence that makes no sense. Meanwhile, Harper is closing in on her, too.

‘Everything happens for a reason. He should be grateful. It’s because he is forced to leave that he finds the House. It is because he took the coat that he has the key.’

Harper stalks his Shining Girls through time and the House helps him. He visits the girls when they are children, takes mementos from them and tells them he’ll be back for them when it’s time. When that time comes, he leaves their bodies with a new memento, one taken from a different Shining Girl. His goal is to kill them all, all who Shine, and his mission is complete. Except one survived. And now she’s the one looking for him.

The writing style is extremely explicit. The murders are terribly graphic and incredibly detailed so if you can’t stomach ‘Dexter’ you’re definitely not going to be able to manage this one. I have quite the stomach for gruesome tales but even this one came close to pushing my boundaries. Added to the gruesome details is the heartbreaking bits. There’s this one scene in particular where one of the women is trying to stop the killer and in the process is telling him about her kids and how she has to be there for them because they’re going to be waking up soon… I’m not much of a softie for sad times but even that got to me pretty bad. Plus, I think it should be mentioned there’s also a gruesome scene involving a dog that may or may not have caused a tear or two.

‘He only has to think of a time and it will open onto it, although he can’t always tell if his thoughts are his own or if the House is deciding for him.’

Much like what karen says in her review of The Shining Girls, this book reminds me very much of Life After Life despite it’s obvious differences. Life After Life isn’t technically time-travel but the transitions through time are quite similar, also both novels lack the scientific backing to support the time-traveling, it’s either believable or it’s not. Both novels had similar writing styles with bouncing back and forth to different times. It shouldn’t make sense and it should be terribly confusing and hard to follow but somehow it manages to make complete and utter sense. Lauren Beukes writes with such confidence though that it really leaves no room for questioning. I never had a doubt.

‘It’s the same tug in his stomach that brought him to the House. That jolt of recognition when he walks into someplace he’s meant to be. He knows it when he sees the tokens that match the ones in the room. It is a game. It’s a destiny he’s writing for them. Inevitably, they’re waiting for him.’

This book blew my mind. I finished it late one night and ended up unable to fall asleep because I simply could not stop thinking about it. There were a few questions that went unanswered that I wish had been but my overall opinion of the book remained bright and shiny. (ha, pun intended) The two things I had issue with her major spoilers but I had to include them. Please do not click if you have any intention of reading this!
View Spoiler »
View Spoiler »

The Shining Girls is a horrid and nightmarish tale but so completely intense and unforgettable that it’s certain to leave a lasting impression. It’s a story possessing such vehemence you practically need a good, strong drink to aid you through it. In honor of the drink the House never failed to provide I recommend a whisky straight-up, no ice.

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Early Review – The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway

April 18, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2013 5 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.

Early Review – The River of No Return by Bee RidgwayThe River of No Return by Bee Ridgway
Published by Dutton Adult on April 23rd 2013
Pages: 452
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Romance, Sci-fi, Time Travel
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
Amazon
Goodreads


two-half-stars

In Bee Ridgway’s wonderfully imaginative debut novel, a man and a woman travel through time in a quest to bring down a secret society that controls the past and, thus, the future.

“You are now a member of the Guild. There is no return.” Two hundred years after he was about to die on a Napoleonic battlefield, Nick Falcott, soldier and aristocrat, wakes up in a hospital bed in modern London. The Guild, an entity that controls time travel, showers him with life's advantages. But Nick yearns for home and for one brown-eyed girl, lost now down the centuries. Then the Guild asks him to break its own rule. It needs Nick to go back to 1815 to fight the Guild’s enemies and to find something called the Talisman.

In 1815, Julia Percy mourns the death of her beloved grandfather, an earl who could play with time. On his deathbed he whispers in her ear: “Pretend!” Pretend what? When Nick returns home as if from the dead, older than he should be and battle scarred, Julia begins to suspect that her very life depends upon the secrets Grandfather never told her. Soon enough Julia and Nick are caught up in an adventure that stretches up and down the river of time. As their knowledge of the Guild and their feelings for each other grow, the fate of the future itself is hanging in the balance.

Time travel is a tricky subject. It has to make at least a modicum of sense no matter how outlandish you wish the concept to be. River of No Return handled this aspect of the story quite well and managed to create a different form of time travel that I had not personally encountered in novels before. While I believe it to of been managed well it was still one of the more unbelievable versions with resonant emotions linking individuals to the past allowing them to access those moments in time… I’m not sure I was really sold on the whole concept.

The story definitely went on far longer than necessary. I can’t help but think I would have enjoyed it far more if it was condensed down because parts of the story felt long and drawn out. The story had a slow but steady build-up in the beginning but still took forever to really ‘get going’. I read about 1/3 of this novel before setting it aside for a short time and then coming back to it… all in all it took me about a month to read which is pretty much unheard of for me.

It definitely had a distinct ‘Outlander’ feel to it and it was also reminiscent of ‘A Discovery of Witches’ minus the supernatural creatures, and despite the fact that I love both of those books I just failed to connect with this one. The characters were well-drawn but didn’t generate any interest for me. Add to that, the characters in the past didn’t act like characters in the past should. Julia was extremely modern sounding and certainly didn’t act like a normal woman of her time, despite how progressive she may be.

I was under the impression that this was a stand-alone novel (yay for that extremely rare beastie), however, it appears that this is only the first installment of a new series (trilogy? not sure.) While I enjoyed parts of this I’m not sure I’m interested enough to continue. I’ll definitely keep an eye out for additional works by this author as it’s obvious she’s quite talented, this story and I just weren’t meant to be unfortunately.

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Graphic Novel Review – The Exile (Outlander #1.5) by Diana Gabaldon

February 4, 2012 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2012 2 Comments

Graphic Novel Review – The Exile (Outlander #1.5) by Diana GabaldonThe Exile: An Outlander Graphic Novel by Diana Gabaldon
Series: Outlander #1.5
Published by Del Rey on September 21st 2010
Pages: 224
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance, Time Travel
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Written in My Own Heart's Blood

three-stars

Diana Gabaldon’s brilliant storytelling has captivated millions of readers in her bestselling and award-winning Outlander saga. Now, in her first-ever graphic novel, Gabaldon gives readers a fresh look at the events of the original Outlander: Jamie Fraser’s side of the story, gorgeously rendered by artist Hoang Nguyen.

After too long an absence, Jamie Fraser is coming home to Scotland—but not without great trepidation. Though his beloved godfather, Murtagh, promised Jamie’s late parents he’d watch over their brash son, making good on that vow will be no easy task. There’s already a fat bounty on the young exile’s head, courtesy of Captain Black Jack Randall, the sadistic British officer who’s crossed paths—and swords—with Jamie in the past. And in the court of the mighty MacKenzie clan, Jamie is a pawn in the power struggle between his uncles: aging chieftain Colum, who demands his nephew’s loyalty—or his life—and Dougal, war chieftain of Clan MacKenzie, who’d sooner see Jamie put to the sword than anointed Colum’s heir.

And then there is Claire Randall—mysterious, beautiful, and strong-willed, who appears in Jamie’s life to stir his compassion . . . and arouse his desire.

But even as Jamie’s heart draws him to Claire, Murtagh is certain she’s been sent by the Old Ones, and Captain Randall accuses her of being a spy. Claire clearly has something to hide, though Jamie can’t believe she could pose him any danger. Still, he knows she is torn between two choices—a life with him, and whatever it is that draws her thoughts so often elsewhere.

Step into the captivating, passionate, and suspenseful world of The Exile, and experience the storytelling magic of Diana Gabaldon as never before.

A shortened and condensed graphic novel version of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander novel told from the perspective of Jamie. I’ve been having some Outlander withdrawals lately and the book has been on my mind a lot. Before I resorted to going back and simply re-reading the series again (which I’m seriously contemplating doing now, especially after this little refresher) I decided to pick this up. I was left satisfied but wasn’t completely blown away by this. Considering the fact that Outlander is over 600 pages and The Exile: An Outlander Graphic Novel is a mere 200 there were some definite goodies left out.

I enjoyed the illustrations despite a few problems I had. Firstly? The character renditions were nothing like I had pictured this for some long in my head. And second, why did all of the woman have ENORMOUS boobs? Seriously. I felt like I had picked up Playboy a time or two. Was it a fun read though? Sure. But I was definitely left wanting the complete story.

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Book Review – Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine #1) by Ransom Riggs

July 16, 2011 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2011, YA 0 Comments

Book Review – Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine #1) by Ransom RiggsMiss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Series: Miss Peregrine #1
Published by Quirk Books on June 7, 2011
Pages: 386
Genres: Fantasy, Mystery, Time Travel
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads


three-half-stars

As a kid, Jacob formed a special bond with his grandfather over his bizarre tales and photos of levitating girls and invisible boys. Now at 16, he is reeling from the old man's unexpected death. Then Jacob is given a mysterious letter that propels him on a journey to the remote Welsh island where his grandfather grew up. There, he finds the children from the photographs--alive and well--despite the islanders’ assertion that all were killed decades ago. As Jacob begins to unravel more about his grandfather’s childhood, he suspects he is being trailed by a monster only he can see. A haunting and out-of-the-ordinary read, debut author Ransom Rigg’s first-person narration is convincing and absorbing, and every detail he draws our eye to is deftly woven into an unforgettable whole. Interspersed with photos throughout, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is a truly atmospheric novel with plot twists, turns, and surprises that will delight readers of any age.

‘I used to dream about escaping my ordinary life, but my life was never ordinary. I had simply failed to notice how extraordinary it was.’

Going into this book I had the impression that it would be this scary, ‘Shutter Island’ type novel. I also thought it was Adult Fiction. I was wrong on both counts; but was still not disappointed, the story was quite interesting.

‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children’ is the story of sixteen-year-old Jacob who has grown up listening to his grandfather’s tales of his younger years living in an orphanage with ‘Peculiar Children’ on an island off the coast of Wales. Jacob stopped believing his grandfather many years ago, but when his grandfather is attacked and dies mysteriously Jacob begins to wonder if his stories weren’t true after all. His grandfather’s dying words cause him to go in search of this mysterious island and to find the abandoned orphanage even though those children can’t still be alive… or can they?

I loved how the author incorporated all the old photographs into the story. Having something visual to relate the story to, made it much more interesting. I thought that the storyline was extremely original. It reminded me of those people that performed at the circus with the extraordinary powers, except these were children with extraordinary and they were all kept in an orphanage/school all Harry Potter/X-Men style. I also had no idea that this book was the start of a new series…the ending left me anxious in anticipation of what would happen next.

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Book Review – The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley

July 16, 2011 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2011 0 Comments

Book Review – The Rose Garden by Susanna KearsleyThe Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley
Published by Sourcebooks Landmark on May 1, 2011
Pages: 448
Genres: Contemporary, Historical Fiction, Romance, Time Travel
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Shadowy Horses

four-stars

"Whatever time we have," he said, "it will be time enough."

Eva Ward returns to the only place she truly belongs, the old house on the Cornish coast, seeking happiness in memories of childhood summers. There she finds mysterious voices and hidden pathways that sweep her not only into the past, but also into the arms of a man who is not of her time.

But Eva must confront her own ghosts, as well as those of long ago. As she begins to question her place in the present, she comes to realize that she too must decide where she really belongs.

From Susanna Kearsley, author of the New York Times bestseller The Winter Sea and a voice acclaimed by fans of Gabaldon, du Maurier, and Niffenegger alike, The Rose Garden is a haunting exploration of love, family, the true meaning of home, and the ties that bind us together.

This is the second Susanna Kearsley book I’ve read and she’s quickly becoming a favorite of mine. Her writing style is simply beautiful and has a definite talent for writing fascinating stories. I’m not usually a fan of wordy books but she does such an amazing job of describing the simplest of things you can’t help but love it.

One of my favorites:

“And at the window of the room the cold November rains slid down the glass and cast their shifting shadows in a room that could no longer hold the light.”

Rose Garden tells the story of Eva and her struggles to cope with the death of her sister Katrina. Katrina had requested to be cremated and have her ashes scattered; Eva decides it would be most fitting for her to scatter them where the two of them once belonged: Cornwall, England. She travels there and stays with her two childhood friends Mark and Susan. During her first night there, she wakes to the sound of two men having a conversation only to find there weren’t any men in the house. She then begins to see things that others cannot and is unable to explain it. When she finds herself thrown back in time, she meets Daniel Butler, a man who was a part of the Jacobite Uprising. Knowing what she does about the outcome of said event, she finds it difficult to not disclose information to him that could essentially change the future. The more time spent with Daniel, the closer she becomes to him, as she finds herself bonding with him as two people who have both lost loved ones. Eva’s only concern is for her inability to control when she goes back in time and how the two of them can ever have a life together based on this instability.

Lovely novel. I’ll definitely be picking up more of her books in the future.

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