Publisher: Ballantine Books

Can’t Wait Wednesday | One Night on the Island by Josie Silver

Posted September 29, 2021 by Bonnie in Waiting on Wednesday / 6 Comments

Can’t Wait Wednesday | One Night on the Island by Josie SilverOne Night on the Island by Josie Silver
Published by Ballantine Books on February 15th 2022
Pages: 368
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: Paperback
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From the New York Times bestselling author of One Day in December...When a solitary one-bedroom cabin is accidentally double-booked, the two lodgers find that although company was the last thing either of them wanted, it may be just the thing they both needed.

Spending her thirtieth birthday alone is the last thing that dating columnist Cleo wanted, but she is going on a self-coupling quasi-sabbatical--at the insistence of her boss--in the name of re-energizing herself and adding a new perspective to her column. The remote Irish island she's booked is a far cry from London, but at least it's a chance to hunker down in a luxury cabin and indulge in some quiet, solitary self-care while she figures out her next steps in her love life and her career.

Mac is also looking forward to some time to himself. With his life in Boston deteriorating in ways he can't bring himself to acknowledge, his soul searching has brought him to the same Irish island in search of his roots and some clarity. Unfortunately, a mix-up with the bookings means both solitude seekers have reserved the same one-bedroom hideaway on exactly the same dates.

Instantly at odds with each other, Cleo and Mac don't know how they're going to manage until the next weekly ferry arrives. But as the days go by, they no longer seem to mind each other's company quite as much as they thought they would...

Written with Josie Silver's signature warmth, charm and insights into the human heart, One Night on the Island explores the meaning of home, the joys of escape and how the things we think we want are never the things we really need.

About Josie Silver

Josie Silver is an unashamed romantic who met her husband when she stepped on his foot on his twenty-first birthday. She lives with him, her two young sons, and their cats in a little midlands town in England.

After adoring One Day in December and The Two Lives of Lydia Bird (both got 5 stars from me and let me tell you, that’s RARE) Josie Silver is a definite a new favorite. Can’t wait for more of her lovely stories. <3

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Short & Sweet | Summer 2021 Mystery Trio

Posted August 26, 2021 by Bonnie in Book Reviews, Short & Sweet Reviews / 2 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.

Short & Sweet | Summer 2021 Mystery TrioThe Other Me by Sarah Zachrich Jeng
Published by Berkley Books on August 10th 2021
Pages: 352
Genres: Mystery
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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two-half-stars

Two lives. The one you wanted. The one that wanted you.

Her birthday should be like any other night.

One minute Kelly’s a free-spirited artist in Chicago going to her best friend’s art show. The next, she opens a door and mysteriously emerges in her Michigan hometown. Suddenly her life is unrecognizable: She's got twelve years of the wrong memories in her head and she's married to Eric, a man she barely knew in high school.

Racing to get back to her old life, Kelly's search leads only to more questions. In this life, she loves Eric and wants to trust him, but everything she discovers about him—including a connection to a mysterious tech startup—tells her she shouldn't. And strange things keep happening. The tattoos she had when she was an artist briefly reappear on her skin, she remembers fights with Eric that he says never happened, and her relationships with loved ones both new and familiar seem to change without warning.

But the closer Kelly gets to putting the pieces together, the more her reality seems to shift. And if she can't figure out what happened on her birthday, the next change could cost her everything...

“This life, I didn’t choose. It was chosen for me. But would it be so bad if I had to stay here?”

Is readbait a thing? Well, comparing this as Russian Doll meets Black Mirror is major readbait for me.

Kelly is attending her best friend’s art show in Chicago when she opens the bathroom door and steps into another life. Her hair is long, her tattoos have disappeared, and she’s married to a guy she barely remembers from high school. Kelly possesses all of the memories from her Chicago life but they’re now overlayed with memories of a life, a good life, but a life she doesn’t remember actually living. Desperate to get back to her old life but having no clue how to make that happen, she’s confronted with the possibility that she might be stuck in this life, but would that be the worst thing?

“[…]I remembered, eventually, everything that had happened to me in both lives. How they’re both still there, uneasily coexisting in my head.”

Jeng handled the various similarities and differences between the timelines well and the scenes where Kelly’s world began to “glitch” (her tattoos would reappear on her arm only to disappear again) really heightened the intensity of the story. I do feel though it would have been even more intense (and engaging) if Kelly had been glitching out of one life and the other, but alas, she did not. What really failed for me was the backstory behind why this was happening and who was responsible. If I was glitched out of one life and put into another that I didn’t choose, I doubt my nutshell response would be “it’s okay, they meant well.”

Best Nuh Uh GIFs | Gfycat


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

Short & Sweet | Summer 2021 Mystery TrioThe Quiet Boy by Ben H. Winters
Published by Mulholland Books on May 18th 2021
Pages: 448
Genres: Mystery, Sci-fi
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Also by this author: Countdown City, World of Trouble, Golden State

three-stars

From the bestselling author of Underground Airlines and Golden State,

a sweeping legal thriller about a sixteen-year-old who suffers from a neurological condition that has frozen him in time, and the team of lawyers, doctors, and detectives who are desperate to wake him up.

Wesley Keener lies in bed: not dead, not alive, not in a coma or vegetative state, but simply frozen at an unchanging 16 years old, the forward course of his existence having simply stopped midway through sophomore year. His condition is the result of something called Syndrome J, an extraordinarily rare neurological event, at least according to the brilliant young neurologist Anna Pileggi.

When Wes was first hospitalized, his parents Beth and David Keener hired acclaimed PI Jay Shenk to help find answers about the illness that befell their beloved son. Now, years later, when David is accused of murdering the brilliant young doctor who served as expert witness in the hospital case, Shenk and his son Ruben discover that this standard malpractice suit is part of something more sinister than anyone imagined. An alternate explanation, brought forth by a mysterious older man, suggests an inter-dimensional entity wrecking havoc on the community. The child is not a prisoner, this stranger insists, he is a prison.

Told from alternating perspectives, The Quiet Boy explores the tensions between justice and compassion, in heart-pounding prose. With clever plotting, and a knack for character, Winters expertly weaves a group of misfits together in a race to save themselves, and an innocent life.

In 2008, a boy named Wesley Keener suffered a traumatic head injury at school. Following his brain surgery, he begins pacing the small confines of his hospital room without reprieve. He doesn’t stop to eat or sleep. And as time unfolds, the careful observations of the boy reveal that his hair doesn’t ever seem to get any longer and he never seems to get any older. Personal injury attorney Jay Shenk rushes to the hospital after getting word about this case, intending on trying to pick up a medical malpractice case that seems like a slam dunk but he ends up with something far more on his hands.

This is my fifth book by Winters and I’m pretty sure if it was my first it would’ve been a DNF. The Quiet Boy is a very slow-to-build story and at first glance, it’s a bit deceiving. It comes across as nothing more than a courtroom legal thriller but it’s definitely more than meets the eye and deserves a little patience. It’s a dense yet captivating story that will keep you guessing till the very ambiguous ending where you’ll have to just keep on guessing. I appreciated the subtle hint at answers, the suggestion that nothing is ever just black and white, that nothing has just a single interpretation, that it’s all based on your own perception… but I wanted (or needed) less ambiguity and more transparency.


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

Short & Sweet | Summer 2021 Mystery TrioJust One Look by Lindsay Cameron
Published by Ballantine Books on July 27th 2021
Pages: 304
Genres: Mystery
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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two-half-stars

A young woman's escalating obsession with a seemingly perfect man leads her down a dangerous path in this novel of suspense brimming with envy, desire, and deception.

Cassie Woodson is adrift. After suffering an epic tumble down the corporate ladder, Cassie finds the only way she can pay her bills is to take a thankless temp job reviewing correspondence for a large-scale fraud suit. The daily drudgery amplifies all that her life is lacking--love, friends, stability--and leaves her with too much time on her hands, which she spends fixating on the mistakes that brought her to this point.

While sorting through a relentless deluge of emails, something catches her eye: the tender (and totally private) exchanges between a partner at the firm, Forest Watts, and his enchanting wife, Annabelle. Cassie knows she shouldn't read them. But it's just one look. And once that door opens, she finds she can't look away.

Every day, twenty floors below Forest's corner office, Cassie dissects their emails from her dingy workstation. A few clicks of her mouse and she can see every adoring word they write to each other. By peeking into their apparently perfect life, Cassie finds renewed purpose and happiness, reveling in their penchant for vintage wines, morning juice presses, and lavish dinner parties thrown in their stately Westchester home. There are no secrets from her. Or so she thinks.

Her admiration quickly escalates into all-out mimicry, because she wants this life more than anything. Maybe if she plays make-believe long enough, it will become real for her. But when Cassie orchestrates a "chance" meeting with Forest in the real world and sees something that throws the state of his marriage into question, the fantasy she's been carefully cultivating shatters. Suddenly, she doesn't simply admire Annabelle--she wants to take her place. And she's armed with the tools to make that happen.

“Eyes aren’t the windows to the soul. Emails are.”

Cassie Woodson had a promising legal career until a breakup with her boyfriend led to some workplace violence that went viral. The incident got her fired and blacklisted and the only job she could get was a temp job reviewing documents where she sat in a windowless room with scheduled bathroom breaks. Her sudden and disastrous fall from grace has transformed her into an angry individual with a drinking problem but when she stumbles upon some personal correspondence between a husband and wife in her work documents, she develops a mild obsession with the couple. The mild obsession only grows and Cassie is no longer satisfied with simply reading about their lives: she wants it for herself.

As can be determined based on my review, this wasn’t a home run for me. I give this book enormous credit for pulling me out of the reading rut I found myself in when I decided to pick this up though. The beginning of this is entertaining as shit and Cassie and all her crazy actually reminded me a lot of good ol’ Joe from You. It was basically like watching a train wreck because you know nothing is going to end well so you might as well grab the popcorn.

The ending quite literally fell apart for me, thus my low rating. Oddly enough, still entertaining and I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for what’s next from this debut author.

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Audiobook Review | When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McLain

Posted August 5, 2021 by Bonnie in 2021, Audiobooks, Book Reviews / 2 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.

Audiobook Review | When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McLainWhen the Stars Go Dark by Paula McLain
Published by Ballantine Books on April 13, 2021
Length: 11 hours and 29 minutes
Genres: Mystery, Crime
Format: Audiobook
Source: Netgalley
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four-stars

Anna Hart is a seasoned missing persons detective in San Francisco with far too much knowledge of the darkest side of human nature. When tragedy strikes her personal life, Anna, desperate and numb, flees to the Northern California village of Mendocino to grieve. She lived there as a child with her beloved foster parents, and now, she believes it might be the only place left for her. Yet, the day she arrives, she learns that a local teenage girl has gone missing.

The crime feels frighteningly reminiscent of the most crucial time in Anna’s childhood, when the unsolved murder of a young girl touched Mendocino and changed the community forever. As past and present collide, Anna realizes that she has been led to this moment. The most difficult lessons of her life have given her insight into how victims come into contact with violent predators. As Anna becomes obsessed with saving the missing girl, she must accept that true courage means getting out of her own way and learning to let others in.

Weaving together actual cases of missing persons, trauma theory, and a hint of the metaphysical, this propulsive and deeply affecting novel tells a story of fate, necessary redemption, and what it takes, when the worst happens, to reclaim our lives - and our faith in one another.

“Because everyone wants to be looked for, whether they realize it or not.”

After being placed on administrative leave following a personal tragedy, Detective Anna Hart finds herself drawn back to her hometown of Mendocino, California. She quickly becomes enmeshed in a missing girl case, recognizing too the horrifying similarities to the disappearance and subsequent murder of a childhood friend back in 1972. The investigation into the missing girl, Cameron Curtis, speaks to Hart on a personal level when she discovers that they had both been foster care kids and had sustained abuse at a young age. When other girls turn up missing, Hart begins to see a potential connection between the victims and even more connections to her murdered friend.

While When the Stars Go Dark was quite a dark novel, vividly exploring the effects of early childhood trauma, it was still a very refreshing take on the literary crime novel. Detective Anna Hart’s constant empathy and dogged determination to bring the missing girls home was authentic due to her own similar childhood tragedies. The line between fiction and true crime became blurred when McLain decided to incorporate the true story of Polly Klaas, a 12-year-old girl that was abducted in her house during a slumber party but found dead 2 months later. At first, I didn’t feel that including Polly in this story was necessary but the author’s note at the end of the story changed my mind about that.

“The profound suffering of the victims and their families crept into my dreams — and onto the page,” she explains in the author’s note. “It began to feel imperative that I tell their stories as bluntly and factually as possible, as a way to honor their lives and dignify their deaths and disappearances. Saying their names became for me a sacred act. A kind of prayer.”

I particularly enjoyed the setting of the novel, Mendocino, California, seeing as I grew up in Mendocino County. Seeing the reference to Mendocino in the book summary was one of the primary reasons I picked this book up and I’m so very glad I did. I opted for the audiobook version because Marin Ireland is quickly earning a top place in my must-listen narrators, and she knocked this performance out of the park. When the Stars Go Dark is a somber yet sophisticated mystery that manages to end on a hopeful note.

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Rapid Fire Reviews | Hail Mary, The Soulmate Equation, The Halloween Tree, You Love Me

Posted July 31, 2021 by Bonnie in Book Reviews, Rapid Fire Reviews / 2 Comments

Sometimes review writing is hard. Sometimes you don’t have a lot to say. Sometimes you’re just lazy as fuck. These are Rapid Fire Reviews.

Rapid Fire Reviews | Hail Mary, The Soulmate Equation, The Halloween Tree, You Love MeProject Hail Mary by Andy Weir
Published by Ballantine Books on May 4, 2021
Pages: 476
Genres: Sci-fi
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Also by this author: The MartianArtemis

Thoughts: I don’t give out five stars too often, but this one was one spectacular book. I was a bit apprehensive at first: the plot centers around an astronaut that wakes up alone on a spaceship with no memory of where he is, or even who he is. Rather than being provided a backstory, we’d suddenly get these bursts of memory, but they were written kind of sloppily I felt. He’d be doing something on the spaceship, have some memory, and realize oh! That’s because I was a science teacher, or whatever. It was really off-putting and happened frequently in the first several hundred pages. The rest of the book was so amazing that I was able to overlook the issues I had with that.

Verdict: The major aspect of this book is actually a huge spoiler and it is 100% better to experience it firsthand, so, I’m going to do my part and not even try to allude to it. Well worth a read.

In a nutshell, GIF style:

Gif space loop 5 » GIF Images Download

five-stars

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.

Rapid Fire Reviews | Hail Mary, The Soulmate Equation, The Halloween Tree, You Love MeThe Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren
Published by Gallery Books on May 18, 2021
Pages: 368
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Also by this author: My Favorite Half-Night StandJosh and Hazel’s Guide to Not DatingLove and Other WordsThe UnhoneymoonersTwice in a Blue Moon

Thoughts: I’m always on board for new CL, and I was completely in love with this plot when I read the blurb. Not only do we have some fun science shit, but we’ve got an enemies-to-lovers thing going on (which I l-o-v-e). Unfortunately, there’s usually a lot more sizzle between a pair when they realize that they don’t actually hate one another as much as they thought. The sizzle fizzled instead, and we were left with a whole lot of talk of soulmates but not much showing.

Verdict: Being able to find your soulmate through a scientific experiment is quite an intriguing concept: too bad the soulmates in this story have practically no chemistry.

In a nutshell, GIF style:

Soulmates GIF | Gfycat

three-half-stars

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

Rapid Fire Reviews | Hail Mary, The Soulmate Equation, The Halloween Tree, You Love MeThe Halloween Moon by Joseph Fink
Published by Quill Tree Books on July 20, 2021
Pages: 288
Genres: Horror
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Thoughts: The Halloween Queen has frozen time in Esther’s small town and it’s up to her and a few friends to break the curse. The premise of this was really creepy and perfect for Goosebumps fans, young and old alike, but Fink tried to do a little too much within these pages. I appreciated the thought he put into the diversity of the characters and the progress of Esther’s coming-of-age story, however, it definitely detracted from reaching peak horror. ​Being chased through town by a guy throwing razor blade-filled apples was quite creepy but there was so much other stuff going on it was hard to determine whether or not there was actually any threat.

Verdict: I’m not actually sure if this would have just been better suited to the targeted age group, but either way, it was still a thrilling little Halloween in July sort of tale.

In a nutshell, GIF style:

Top 30 Poison Apple GIFs | Find the best GIF on Gfycat

three-stars

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.

Rapid Fire Reviews | Hail Mary, The Soulmate Equation, The Halloween Tree, You Love MeYou Love Me (You, #3) by Caroline Kepnes
Published by Random House on April 6, 2021
Pages: 385
Genres: Thriller
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Also by this author: Hidden Bodies

Thoughts: Joe and his stalker romantic tendencies are still going strong. He’s moved to a new town, has a new job at the library, and has a new woman to become weirdly obsessed over for no particular reason. Honestly, despite the occasional curve balls that kept this installment slightly interesting, You Love Me just felt like a recycled version of what’s been told twice before now. The only difference was the excessive use of “lemonhead” and “Murakami”. 🤢

Verdict: I believe this is one of the rare cases where the show is actually better than the book so I’ll be sticking with that from this point on.

In a nutshell, GIF style:

The Office Ugh GIF by Romy - Find &amp; Share on GIPHY

two-stars

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.

 

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Can’t Wait Wednesday | The Paradox Hotel by Rob Hart

Posted June 23, 2021 by Bonnie in Waiting on Wednesday / 4 Comments

Can’t Wait Wednesday | The Paradox Hotel by Rob HartThe Paradox Hotel by Rob Hart
Published by Ballantine Books on February 22, 2022
Pages: 336
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic, Sci-fi
Format: Hardcover
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A locked-room murder mystery set at a hotel for time travelers—in which a detective must solve an impossible crime even as her own sanity crumbles—from the author of The Warehouse.

For someone with January Cole’s background, running security at a fancy hotel shouldn’t be much of a challenge.

Except the Paradox is no ordinary hotel. Here, the ultra-wealthy guests are costumed for a dozen different time periods, all anxiously waiting to catch their “flights” to the past. And proximity to the timeport makes for an interesting stay. The clocks run backwards on occasion—and, rumor has it, ghosts stroll the halls.
Now, January’s job is about to get a whole lot harder. Because the U.S. government is getting ready to privatize time-travel technology—and a handful of trillionaires have just arrived to put down their bids.

Meanwhile there’s a blizzard rolling in, and the timestream’s acting strange. Which means nobody’s leaving until further notice.
And there’s a murderer on the loose.

Or at least, that’s what January suspects. Except the corpse in question is one that somehow only she can see. And the accidents stalking their prestigious guests…well, the only way a killer could engineer those is by operating invisibly and in plain sight, all at once. Which is surely impossible.

There’s a reason January can glimpse what others can’t. But her ability is also destroying her grip on reality—and forcing her to confront secrets of her own.
Because here at the Paradox Hotel, the past is waiting around every corner.

At once a dazzlingly time-twisting murder mystery and a story about grief, memory, and what it means to—literally—come face to face with our ghosts, The Paradox Hotel is another unforgettable speculative thrill-ride from acclaimed author Rob Hart.

About Rob Hart

Rob Hart is the author of THE WAREHOUSE, which has been sold in more than 20 countries and been optioned for film by Ron Howard. He also wrote the Ash McKenna crime series, the short story collection TAKE-OUT, and SCOTT FREE with James Patterson. He’s worked as a political reporter, the communications director for a politician, and a commissioner for the city of New York. He is the former publisher at MysteriousPress.com and the current class director at LitReactor. He lives in Staten Island.

I never did get around to reading The Warehouse but this upcoming title sounds craaaaaazy. In the best way.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Waiting on Wednesday – Forget Me Not : A Novel

Posted September 16, 2020 by Bonnie in Waiting on Wednesday / 2 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – Forget Me Not : A NovelForget Me Not : A Novel by Alexandra Oliva
Published by Ballantine Books on March 2, 2021
Pages: 352
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
Format: Hardcover
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Also by this author: The Last One: A Novel

She was born for all the wrong reasons. But her search for the truth reveals answers she wishes she could forget in this suspenseful and deeply moving novel from the author of The Last One.

What if your past wasn’t what you thought?

As a child, Linda Russell was left to raise herself in a 20-acre walled-off property in rural Washington. The woods were her home, and for twelve years she lived oblivious to a stark and terrible truth: Her mother had birthed her only to replace another daughter who died in a tragic accident years before.
And then one day Linda witnesses something she wasn’t meant to see. Terrified and alone, she climbs the wall and abandons her home, but her escape becomes a different kind of trap when she is thrust into the modern world—a world for which she is not only entirely unprepared, but which is unprepared to accept her.
And you couldn’t see a future for yourself?

Years later, Linda is living in Seattle and immersed in technology intended to connect, but she has never felt more alone. Social media continually brings her past back to haunt her, and she is hounded by the society she is now forced to inhabit. But when Linda meets a fascinating new neighbor who introduces her to the potential and escapism of virtual reality, she begins to allow herself to hope for more.

What would it take to reclaim your life?

Then an unexplained fire at her infamous childhood home prompts Linda to return to the property for the first time since she was a girl, unleashing a chain of events that will not only endanger her life but challenge her understanding of family, memory, and the world itself.

About Alexandra Oliva

Alexandra Oliva grew up in a small town deep in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York. A graduate of Yale University, she also earned an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School University and undertook intensive wilderness survival training while researching The Last One. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and their brindled pup, Codex. The Last One is her first novel.

Though she is not active on Goodreads, Alexandra can be easily reached via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and her website.

Alexandra Oliva’s debut The Last One was one of those unforgettable books for me. I’ve been so eager to see what she comes out with next.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Book Review | “Daisy Jones & The Six”: the Rise and Fall of Fame

Posted March 14, 2019 by Bonnie in 2019, Adult, Book Reviews / 4 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.

Book Review | “Daisy Jones & The Six”: the Rise and Fall of FameDaisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Published by Ballantine Books on March 5, 2019
Pages: 368
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Also by this author: Forever, Interrupted

three-stars

Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock and roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.

The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer who takes her work to a new level with Daisy Jones & The Six, brilliantly capturing a place and time in an utterly distinctive voice.

Daisy: Just how honest do we have to get here? I know I told you I’d tell you everything but how much “everything” do you really want to know?

Daisy Jones & The Six was one of the biggest rock bands of the 70s but following the end of their first tour, the band broke up without ever revealing why. In this documentary-style novel, Taylor Jenkins Reid brings to life a fictional band while revealing their rapid rise to fame and an even faster descent.

Does anyone remember VH1’s Behind the Music? Back in the day when the internet wasn’t nearly as impressive and your favorite bands definitely weren’t on social media, music fans had Behind the Music. These documentaries featured interviews with the band, friends/family, managers, and anyone else that had an interesting story to tell about the band. Daisy Jones & The Six reads exactly like an episode set in the 70s replete with band drama and rampant drug abuse. The story effectively strips away the veneer that gets built up around celebrities, exposing their vulnerability and weaknesses, and revealing them as being no different than anyone else. The songs they write were the soundtrack to their drama-filled lives, forcing them to experience it all again and again with each new performance. The entire novel is essentially one massive interview, with each individual giving their perspective on what occurred which didn’t always coincide with someone else’s account but considering all the drug use and the many decades that have passed, I suppose that’s understandable.

While I found the style of the story to be a nice change of pace, unfortunately, the style managed to undermine the story as a whole. The emphasis on the importance of their song-writing and the feelings that the verses cultivated was something I wanted to be able to feel through reading about it, but it didn’t translate well on page. There was a definite lack of connection and I simply never found a reason to be invested in the lives of these individuals. Their story was an unending loop of song-writing, performing, drama, and partying yet you know it’s all building up to something big and my curiosity had me flying through this novel. I realized when the big reveal came that a greater investment in the characters was vital to feeling anything other than letdown when it actually came. Still an interesting novel for anyone looking for a glimpse into the craziness of music in the 70s.

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Life’s Too Short – If We Were Villains, Ill Will, Yesternight

Posted June 2, 2017 by Bonnie in Adult, Book Reviews, Life's Too Short, YA / 8 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.

Life’s Too Short – If We Were Villains, Ill Will, YesternightIf We Were Villains by M.L. Rio
Published by Flatiron Books on April 11th 2017
Pages: 352
Genres: Mystery
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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dnf

Enter the players. There were seven of us then, seven bright young things with wide precious futures ahead of us. Until that year, we saw no further than the books in front of our faces.

On the day Oliver Marks is released from jail, the man who put him there is waiting at the door. Detective Colborne wants to know the truth, and after ten years, Oliver is finally ready to tell it.

Ten years ago: Oliver is one of seven young Shakespearean actors at Dellecher Classical Conservatory, a place of keen ambition and fierce competition. In this secluded world of firelight and leather-bound books, Oliver and his friends play the same roles onstage and off: hero, villain, tyrant, temptress, ingénue, extra. But in their fourth and final year, the balance of power begins to shift, good-natured rivalries turn ugly, and on opening night real violence invades the students’ world of make believe. In the morning, the fourth-years find themselves facing their very own tragedy, and their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, each other, and themselves that they are innocent.

Part coming-of-age story, part confession, If We Were Villains explores the magical and dangerous boundary between art and life. In this tale of loyalty and betrayal, madness and ecstasy, the players must choose what roles to play before the curtain falls.

DNF @ 10%

I overlooked the Shakespearean focus of this novel in favor of the comparisons to The Secret History. My mistake. Shakespeare has just never, and I’m resigned to believe will never, be my thing. The opening gives the reader a glimpse at the future, of one of the main characters being released for jail for an unknown crime, and it’s a hook that works. But then we’re introduced to seven characters: Richard, Meredith, Filippa, Alexander, Wren, James, and Oliver. Every single one of these characters, regardless of gender, all blended together without any helpful differentiation to keep track of who was who. The theater kid stereotypes were excessive in my opinion and you practically had to be a theater kid to understand and/or appreciate most of it.

“That was ruthless,” I said, sotto voce.

The author holds a Masters in Shakespeare studies so, being as far from a theater kid as one can get, I can only assume she knows what she’s talking about. Constantly quoting Shakespeare in conversation got old, fast, and by 10% I put on my hipster glasses and called it quits.

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.

Life’s Too Short – If We Were Villains, Ill Will, YesternightIll Will by Dan Chaon
Published by Ballantine Books on March 7th 2017
Pages: 480
Genres: Mystery
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Two sensational unsolved crimes—one in the past, another in the present—are linked by one man’s memory and self-deception in this chilling novel of literary suspense from National Book Award finalist Dan Chaon.

“We are always telling a story to ourselves, about ourselves,” Dustin Tillman likes to say. It’s one of the little mantras he shares with his patients, and it’s meant to be reassuring. But what if that story is a lie?

A psychologist in suburban Cleveland, Dustin is drifting through his forties when he hears the news: His adopted brother, Rusty, is being released from prison. Thirty years ago, Rusty received a life sentence for the massacre of Dustin’s parents, aunt, and uncle. The trial came to symbolize the 1980s hysteria over Satanic cults; despite the lack of physical evidence, the jury believed the outlandish accusations Dustin and his cousin made against Rusty. Now, after DNA analysis has overturned the conviction, Dustin braces for a reckoning.

Meanwhile, one of Dustin’s patients gets him deeply engaged in a string of drowning deaths involving drunk college boys. At first Dustin dismisses talk of a serial killer as paranoid thinking, but as he gets wrapped up in their amateur investigation, Dustin starts to believe that there’s more to the deaths than coincidence. Soon he becomes obsessed, crossing all professional boundaries—and putting his own family in harm’s way.
From one of today’s most renowned practitioners of literary suspense, Ill Will is an intimate thriller about the failures of memory and the perils of self-deception. In Dan Chaon’s nimble, chilling prose, the past looms over the present, turning each into a haunted place.

DNF @ 25%

Dan Chaon is one of those literary writers everyone raves about. Ill Will has received many spectacular reviews but I’ve realized that he has a style that is very eclectic and definitely isn’t for everyone and that unique writing style is what ultimately did me in. I understand the reason for writing it this way (bouncing between narrators and time) because it caused a sense of disorientation regarding the mystery already surrounding the crime (when Dustin was a teen, his mother, father, aunt, and uncle were murdered and he accused his adopted older brother). Not only did the story bounce rapidly between narrators and between time but often there were sentences left incomplete and particular chapters where text was written in columns and you had to flip back and forth between pages to finish the one column before starting the next which was very difficult on Kindle. I’m not sure if Chaon was going for some House of Leaves-esque formatting or what but it left me so confused in trying to figure out how to read it that I failed to get lost in the story itself.

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

Life’s Too Short – If We Were Villains, Ill Will, YesternightYesternight by Cat Winters
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on October 4th 2016
Pages: 374
Genres: Mystery, Historical Fiction
Format: ARC
Source: Library Thing
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Also by this author: In the Shadow of Blackbirds, The Cure for Dreaming, The Uninvited: A Novel

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From the author of The Uninvited comes a haunting historical novel with a compelling mystery at its core.  A young child psychologist steps off a train, her destination a foggy seaside town. There, she begins a journey causing her to question everything she believes about life, death, memories, and reincarnation.

In 1925, Alice Lind steps off a train in the rain-soaked coastal hamlet of Gordon Bay, Oregon. There, she expects to do nothing more difficult than administer IQ tests to a group of rural schoolchildren. A trained psychologist, Alice believes mysteries of the mind can be unlocked scientifically, but now her views are about to be challenged by one curious child.

Seven-year-old Janie O’Daire is a mathematical genius, which is surprising. But what is disturbing are the stories she tells: that her name was once Violet, she grew up in Kansas decades earlier, and she drowned at age nineteen. Alice delves into these stories, at first believing they’re no more than the product of the girl’s vast imagination.  But, slowly, Alice comes to the realization that Janie might indeed be telling a strange truth.
Alice knows the investigation may endanger her already shaky professional reputation, and as a woman in a field dominated by men she has no room for mistakes. But she is unprepared for the ways it will illuminate terrifying mysteries within her own past, and in the process, irrevocably change her life.

DNF @ 10%

I’d say that I simply picked this up at the wrong time, mood-wise, except I tried to read this book a handful of times on different occasions and never got past 10%. The pacing was the hardest for me because from the very beginning it’s a slow-build and simply didn’t grab my attention in that 10% enough that I felt the need to keep going. The main character, Alice, was also strangely distant and she never quite captured my interest. Cat Winters is typically a favorite of mine but this one just didn’t do it for me.

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

Posted March 3, 2017 by Bonnie in Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2017, Short & Sweet Reviews / 3 Comments

Short & Sweet (Celebrity Memoirs) – 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
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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.

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.

Short & Sweet (Celebrity Memoirs) – 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
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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 (Celebrity Memoirs) – 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
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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.

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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Waiting on Wednesday – Ill Will: A Novel by Dan Chaon

Posted November 23, 2016 by Bonnie in Waiting on Wednesday / 1 Comment

Waiting on Wednesday – Ill Will: A Novel by Dan ChaonIll Will by Dan Chaon
Published by Ballantine Books on March 7th 2017
Pages: 480
Genres: Mystery
Format: Hardcover
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Also by this author: Ill Will

A psychologist is unwillingly embroiled in two spectacular unsolved murders, one past and one present, in this haunting suspense novel.

In 1983, Dustin Tillman’s family—his parents and his aunt and uncle—were murdered in a shocking massacre. His foster brother, Rusty, was convicted of the crime, in a trial that was steeped in the “Satanic Cult” paranoia of the 1980s.

Thirty years later, Rusty’s conviction is overturned, and suddenly Dustin, now a psychologist, must question whether his testimony that imprisoned his brother was accurate. When one of his patients, an ex-cop, gets him deeply involved in a series of unsolved murders, Dustin’s happy suburban life starts to unravel, as his uncertainties about his past and present life begin to merge.

About Dan Chaon

Dan Chaon is the author of Among the Missing, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and You Remind Me of Me, which was named one of the best books of the year by The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, The Christian Science Monitor, and Entertainment Weekly, among other publications. Chaon’s fiction has appeared in many journals and anthologies, including Best American Short Stories, The Pushcart Prize, and The O. Henry Prize Stories. He has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award in Fiction, and he was the recipient of the 2006 Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Chaon lives in Cleveland, Ohio, and teaches at Oberlin College, where he is the Pauline M. Delaney Professor of Creative Writing. His new novel, Await Your Reply, will be published in late August 2009.

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I have yet to read any of Chaon’s more well known books (Await Your Reply, Stay Awake), although I did have the opportunity to read one of his short stories in the Nightmares anthology that I quite enjoyed. Ill Will sounds like an exciting psychological thriller that I’m excited to get my hands on.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine

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