Publisher: Balzer + Bray

National Book Award 2015 Finalist – Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

November 6, 2015 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2015, YA 1 Comment

National Book Award 2015 Finalist – Bone Gap by Laura RubyBone Gap by Laura Ruby
Published by Balzer + Bray on March 3rd 2015
Pages: 368
Genres: Magical Realism, Mystery
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
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four-stars

From acclaimed author Laura Ruby comes a fascinating, powerful, and wholly original novel about a beautiful young woman, a haunted young man, and a secretive Midwestern town.

Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps—gaps to trip you up, gaps to slide through so you can disappear forever. So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised. After all, it wasn’t the first time that someone had slipped away and left Finn and Sean O’Sullivan on their own. Just a few years ago, their mother hightailed it to Oregon for a brand-new guy, a brand-new life. That’s just how things go, the people said. Who are you going to blame?

Finn knows that’s not what happened with Roza. He knows she was kidnapped, ripped from the cornfields by a dangerous man whose face he cannot remember. But the searches turn up nothing, and no one believes him anymore. Not even Sean, who has more reason to find Roza than anyone and every reason to blame Finn for letting her go.

As we follow the stories of Finn, Roza, and the people of Bone Gap—their melancholy pasts, their terrifying presents, their uncertain futures—Laura Ruby weaves a heartbreaking tale of love and loss, magic and mystery, regret and forgiveness—a story about how the face the world sees is never the sum of who we are.

‘Because we don’t have your typical gaps around here. Not gaps made of rocks or mountains. We have gaps in the world. In the space of things. So many places to lose yourself, if you believe that they’re there. You can slip into the gap and never find your way out. Or maybe you don’t want to find your way out.’

Finn O’Sullivan was the only witness to the kidnapping of Roza, his brother Sean’s girlfriend. But when he wrestles with his memories trying to recall the face of the man that took her, he also remembers that she didn’t really put up a fight. So maybe she wanted to leave? It only seemed natural, after their mother left Finn and Sean as well so it would make sense for Roza to do the same. No one in the town believes his story, especially since the only way he can describe the man who took her is that he “moves like a cornstalk in the wind.

Return of Persephone by Frederick Leighton (1891)

Bone Gap, at first glance, appears to be your typical small-town in America where everyone knows everyone’s business no matter how private you strive to keep it. There’s the local brothers that go around bullying people, there’s the rumor spreading and gossip mongering, but then there’s an offhand note about the corn that whispers softly to Finn. The basis of this story stems from the abduction of Persephone myth, which when I realized this made it all the more fascinating. It’s quite evident once you realize this even if it’s only loosely inspired. Pomegranates still manage to make an appearance, there’s the subtle reference to the garden that stopped flourishing as soon as she was gone, and the corns presence in the story becomes much less Children of the Corn when you take into account the connection between it and Persephone’s return.

There are so many enigmatic facets to this story that I could discuss but it likely wouldn’t make much sense to someone who hadn’t already experienced this story. Because an experience is exactly what this story is. Its world-building is obscure, cryptic, and vague. But it’s also fanciful and unconventional and that’s what I loved most about this. Trying to nail this story down to a single genre is a troublesome endeavor, but just know that it’s part mythology, part romance, with large parts of magical realism that is so relentless it often veers into straight fantasy. One of the most innovative stories I’ve read this year.

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Early Review – Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke (Prisoner of Night and Fog #2) by Anne Blankman

April 10, 2015 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2015, YA 5 Comments

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

Early Review – Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke (Prisoner of Night and Fog #2) by Anne BlankmanConspiracy of Blood and Smoke by Anne Blankman
Series: Prisoner of Night and Fog #2
Published by Balzer + Bray on April 21st 2015
Pages: 416
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance, WWII
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
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Also by this author: Prisoner of Night and Fog

three-half-stars

In this thrilling sequel to Prisoner of Night and Fog—perfect for fans of Code Name Verity—Gretchen and Daniel must uncover dark secrets and revisit old enemies to unravel a dangerous conspiracy.

In 1930s Oxford, the days are long and pleasant, the people simple and straightforward.

Except for one.

The girl known as Gretchen Whitestone has a secret: she used to be part of Adolf Hitler’s inner circle. More than a year after she made an enemy of her old family friend and fled Munich, she lives with a kindly English family, posing as an ordinary German immigrant, and is preparing to graduate from high school. Her love, Daniel Cohen, is a reporter in town. For the first time in her life, Gretchen is content.

But then Daniel gets a telegram that sends him back to Germany, and Gretchen’s world turns upside down. And when she receives word that Daniel is wanted for murder, she has to face the danger she thought she’d escaped—and return to her homeland.

Gretchen must do everything she can to avoid capture, even though saving Daniel will mean consorting with her former friends, the Nazi elite. And as they work to clear Daniel’s name, Gretchen and Daniel discover a deadly conspiracy stretching from the slums of Berlin to the Reichstag itself. Can they dig up the explosive truth and get out in time—or will Hitler discover them first?

Prisoner of Night and Fog series

17668473

Prisoner of Night and Fog (Prisoner of Night and Fog #1) by Anne Blankman {PurchaseMy Review}

‘It was starting. What Hitler had always promised – the Party and Germany were becoming one. The union that she had once thought sounded so perfect. Now it terrified her.’

 The year is 1933. Gretchen and Daniel have managed to extricate themselves from the dangers of Germany and have been slowly rebuilding their lives in England. Their lives are far from perfect and they both miss their families, but they’re at least safe. When Daniel receives a telegram with terrible news about an incident involving his family he rushes back to Germany without a second thought. Gretchen, being unable to remain sitting in safety while constantly wracked with worry, packs her bags and follows him straight back into danger.

Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke centers around the mystery behind the factual Reichstag fire. Gretchen and Daniel feel that if they can expose the lies surrounding the fire that they can hopefully put a stop to Hitler’s rise to power. I actually knew very little about the fire prior to this read so a little investigation of my own was needed. It was shocking to learn just how important that fire became in establishing Nazi Germany because as a result of the fire, Hitler was able to get the Reichstag Fire Decree passed which subsequently suspended civil liberties of German citizens. This Decree remained in effect throughout WWII, technically legalizing many of Hitler’s actions according to German law. That time in history will never cease to shock me.

This second installment in the duology was a solid one with the inclusion of actual historical events adding some legitimacy to this tale. The characters seemed to be constantly placing themselves needlessly in danger but I can’t decide whether it was actually or the fact that we know the outcome of it all made it just seem like a lost cause. Akin to horror movies where people are constantly making the worst possible decisions and you’re screaming at them to stop, I was begging them to stop from the very start when Gretchen and Daniel both travel back to Germany and right into Hitler’s dangerous hands. But considering it from their point of view, they may have understood the danger as it was during that time, but they couldn’t even begin to understand just how terrible it would truly get.

Equally knowledgeable and thrilling, this is a must-read for historical fiction fans. What I loved most about this duology is how interesting it was to read a story that was set well before the war, just as Hitler was first gaining power. While we are all cognizant of the occurrences of WWII, it was still hard not to hope that Gretchen and Daniel would actually succeed.

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Early Review – 99 Days by Katie Cotugno

March 28, 2015 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2015, YA 1 Comment

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

Early Review – 99 Days by Katie Cotugno99 Days by Katie Cotugno
Published by Balzer + Bray on April 21st 2015
Pages: 384
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: How to Love

three-stars

Day 1: Julia Donnelly eggs my house my first night back in Star Lake, and that’s how I know everyone still remembers everything—how I destroyed my relationship with Patrick the night everything happened with his brother, Gabe. How I wrecked their whole family. Now I’m serving out my summer like a jail sentence: Just ninety-nine days till I can leave for college, and be done.

Day 4: A nasty note on my windshield makes it clear Julia isn’t finished. I’m expecting a fight when someone taps me on the shoulder, but it’s just Gabe, home from college and actually happy to see me. “For what it’s worth, Molly Barlow,” he says, “I’m really glad you’re back.”

Day 12: Gabe got me to come to this party, and I’m actually having fun. I think he’s about to kiss me—and that’s when I see Patrick. My Patrick, who’s supposed to be clear across the country. My Patrick, who’s never going to forgive me.

‘Patrick was my person, my other half. I never felt stuck or cut off or like there was other stuff I’d rather be doing, never felt like there was anyplace else I’d rather be.
At least, not until the moment it did.’

Molly Barlow has only 99 days before she can leave for college and those days can’t go by fast enough for her. Molly and Patrick were childhood friends turned first loves when they drifted apart just long enough for her to fall into the arms of Gabe, Patrick’s brother. This subsequently caused Julia, their sister and Molly’s best friend, to end their friendship completely. She also seems to be intent on making those 99 days some of the worst for her.

‘It’ll make a great story someday. She said that, she told me what was going to happen, so really there’s no earthly reason to still be so baffled after all this time that I told her the worst, most secret, most important thing in my life – and she wrote a best-selling book about it.’

The truth behind the indiscretion between Molly and Gabe had managed to stay hidden until her mother, an author, decided to take the story her daughter confided in her and use it as the inspiration for her new novel. But that’s all in the past, however, no one seems to have forgotten it in the year she’s been gone. The only one that actually seems happy to see her again is Gabe and slowly but surely she develops a relationship with the other brother. But forgetting about what her and Patrick once shared doesn’t seem to be as simple as she’d like.

This story was a complete train wreck to watch unfold. It’s one of those that you can’t in all honesty say you ‘enjoyed’ but the story still possessed a strong emotional resonance. And while Molly’s actions may not have been right, the brothers were just as much at fault yet it was Molly that took the full brunt of the blame and ostracizing. As a reader we have to watch Molly continue to recreate past wrongs, all the while knowing that not a single bit of good is going to come of it all. But as far as love triangles go, it was quite possibly one of the most realistic I’ve ever read. Forgetting your first love is never easy and becoming involved in their lives again can lead to some sticky situations. Even with Molly developing feelings for Gabe, seeing Patrick together with another girl caused a multitude of confusing emotions that she struggled to understand. Faced with a situation like that, her actions are almost understandable, but it still made it no less difficult a read.

Katie Cotugno continues to impress with her stories that push the envelope and while How to Love is still my favorite, there’s no denying that 99 Days is a smart, complex tale about emotions and the havoc they can wreak.

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Book Review – Prisoner of Night and Fog (Prisoner of Night and Fog #1) by Anne Blankman

June 19, 2014 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2014, YA 3 Comments

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

Book Review – Prisoner of Night and Fog (Prisoner of Night and Fog #1) by Anne BlankmanPrisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman
Series: Prisoner of Night and Fog #1
Published by Balzer + Bray on April 22nd 2014
Pages: 401
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance
Format: Hardcover
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke

three-half-stars

In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her "uncle" Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf's, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.

Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler. And Gretchen follows his every command.

Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can't stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can't help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she's been taught to believe about Jews.

As Gretchen investigates the very people she's always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?

From debut author Anne Blankman comes this harrowing and evocative story about an ordinary girl faced with the extraordinary decision to give up everything she's ever believed . . . and to trust her own heart instead.

‘The box she had carefully constructed about herself would fall apart. And she didn’t know if she could bear standing out in the open, in the harsh wind, without the comforting warmth of those walls she had built to shut out everything she didn’t like or understand.’

In the early 1930’s, Hitler’s rise to power as the undisputed leader of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party continues. The country is in ruin after the financial crisis and the people were drawn to the promise of changes that Hitler vowed to make as soon as he’s elected Chancellor of Germany. He has up until now kept his true intentions for the Jewish people hidden under a thick coat of gloss, but the truth is starting to come out bit by bit. Gretchen Müller grew up knowing nothing but love for ‘Uncle Adolf’ after her father died preventing an assassination attack on Hitler. When new information is brought to her attention that her father’s death isn’t all as it appears, everything she has ever believed has to be reevaluated.

‘He had said his opponents were flung cross every corner of the city, barely discernible, like a spiderweb-until you tossed water on the gossamer net and there your opponents were, glistening like diamonds, brilliantly bright and unmistakable.’

Gretchen Müller’s beliefs in the National Socialist Party run deep, yet her father’s death hit her hard and she still misses him dearly. Her continued suffering over his loss manages to be the chink in her belief system and when a young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen approaches her about the possibility that his death was actually murder, everything in her life begins to crumble. The historical detailing was at times excessive but really manages to set the scene well. It’s clear that the time period was well-researched and it all felt authentic despite the obvious fictional additions. While I didn’t see the likelihood of a Jewish reporter taking the chance to approach Hitler’s ‘golden-girl’, I did feel that Gretchen’s change of mind as she uncovers more evidence of her father’s murder was genuine and believable.

The murder mystery was hands down the best part of this novel. There were scenes of gripping intensity when Gretchen and Daniel would creep through the shadows to uncover necessary information to expose her father’s murderer. The personal scenes between Gretchen and Hitler were chilling and while I have read many books regarding this time period, I had yet to read one where Hitler has a starring role, showing his disturbing nature clearly. Also frightening was Gretchen’s ghastly brother who shared many characteristics of Hitler himself. A warning to you animal lovers, there is a severely heartbreaking scene that I wish I was able to mentally prepare for.

My one disappointment was the romance. While I’m all for a good forbidden love story, and this one was certainly forbidden, I didn’t feel the feels, unfortunately. Their love isn’t instantaneous, however, I felt we learned much more about Gretchen and not enough about Daniel to get properly attached to his character. Gretchen’s feelings regarding Daniel felt clunky and while I would normally expect this considering her ingrained beliefs towards Jews, it felt like her change of heart came far too quickly.
View Spoiler »

The complete lack of interest in the romance managed to throw a wrench in the entire story for me but thankfully there was an incredibly interesting murder mystery for me to follow instead. Prisoner of Night and Fog is a fantastic look into the time period from the unaccustomed German perspective. Witnessing Hitler’s rise in power was especially disheartening as we all already know of what’s to come. The ending sets up the next book nicely and I’m interested to see how the author continues handling this historical time period.

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys {Purchase}
Code Name Verity (Code Name Verity #1) by Elizabeth Wein {PurchaseMy Review}
The Reader by Bernhard Schlink {PurchaseMy Review}

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Book Review – How to Love by Katie Cotugno

October 12, 2013 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2013, YA 6 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 – How to Love by Katie CotugnoHow to Love by Katie Cotugno
Published by Balzer + Bray on October 1st 2013
Pages: 389
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: ARC
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: 99 Days

five-stars

Before: Reena Montero has loved Sawyer LeGrande for as long as she can remember: as natural as breathing, as endless as time. But he’s never seemed to notice that Reena even exists…until one day, impossibly, he does. Reena and Sawyer fall in messy, complicated love. But then Sawyer disappears from their humid Florida town without a word, leaving a devastated—and pregnant—Reena behind.

After: Almost three years have passed, and there’s a new love in Reena’s life: her daughter, Hannah. Reena’s gotten used to being without Sawyer, and she’s finally getting the hang of this strange, unexpected life. But just as swiftly and suddenly as he disappeared, Sawyer turns up again. Reena doesn’t want anything to do with him, though she’d be lying if she said Sawyer’s being back wasn’t stirring something in her. After everything that’s happened, can Reena really let herself love Sawyer LeGrande again?

In this breathtaking debut, Katie Cotugno weaves together the story of one couple falling in love—twice.

Reena Montero is brilliant and full of substantial dreams for her future. Sawyer Le Grande is charismatic yet hindered by terrible addictions. Reena has been in love with Sawyer for as long as she can remember. The day he finally notices her was the day both of their lives were forever transformed. By the time Reena realizes she’s pregnant, Sawyer has disappeared without a trace and she’s left to suffer the consequences. How to Love alternates between Before chapters, when Reena and Sawyer are together, and After chapters, when Reena is a struggling single-mother before her 17th birthday.

Oh my gosh, this book. I went into this with the preconceived notion that it’d just be a mediocre read because honestly, YA contemporary romances are not my thing. I’ve always found the majority of the romances are typically shallow and superficial, lacking any honest or true love. But this? This book managed to elicit such profound feelings from me that I was left feeling utterly bewildered at how impeccably Reena and Sawyer’s story managed to speak to me.

*sigh* Sawyer. He reminded me so much of another character that I read recently, Sutter from The Spectacular Now, and how self-destructive he was yet so charismatic and charming. (Although admittedly Sawyer was a far more redeeming character.) Sure he made some really jerk moves in the Before bits, but I couldn’t help thinking his heart was in the right place. He’s a highly dysfunctional character and it’s easy to place the blame because of his addictions but once you get to that point that he’s at, choosing not to do it is not as easy as saying yes or no because it’s become a part of who he is. It’s clear that the struggle to slay the demons within him is ongoing, but his love for Reena was forever evident even when he chose to leave without a word.

‘I think of how it felt to lose him, slow and painful and confusing, and how it felt to wonder if I’d ever really had him at all.’

I heard all the negative things about Sawyer before going into this book and how he dragged Reena into his reckless behavior but I was somehow able to completely look past that and understand him and his situation a bit more than I was entirely comfortable with. I’ve been in a relationship much like theirs and yes, it’s a destructive type. Going to the parties when I’d rather be home. Going because it’s the only way to ensure that he stays somewhat safe. Knowing that you being his rock, his stability, is the only thing you can do for him as the demons within cannot be slayed. When you love a person, you’re willing to stand with them through thick and thin and help them the only way you can think to.

Sawyer may not have shown any visible progress in becoming a better person but Reena was the only thing in his life that helped him become the redeeming character we see in the After chapters. He came back into Reena’s life intent on earning her love back. He was truthful and forthcoming with the issues he had and how he needed to leave to fix them. He was repentant but never actually apologized I believe because no sorry could ever fix what was done, only him being the support that Reena needed would change that. It was clear that he battled with the guilt of his actions.

This was a hard review to write and I’m still not convinced I’m discussing everything I want to. This book left me with the worst bookish hangover I can remember in recent history. It managed to evoke a shocking amount of emotion from me and left me contemplating for days.

How To Love is a beautiful and powerfully written story of love ingraining itself onto your very being.

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Early Review – Hideous Love by Stephanie Hemphill

July 20, 2013 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2013, YA 5 Comments

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

Early Review – Hideous Love by Stephanie HemphillHideous Love by Stephanie Hemphill
Published by Balzer + Bray on October 1st 2013
Pages: 320
Genres: Fairy-Tales/Retellings, Historical Fiction, Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon
Goodreads


one-star

From award-winning author Stephanie Hemphill comes the fascinating story of Mary Shelley, a brilliant teenager who wrote one of the greatest literary masterpieces of all time: Frankenstein.

An all-consuming love affair.

A family torn apart by scandal.

A young author on the brink of greatness.

Hideous Love is the fascinating story of Gothic novelist Mary Shelley, who as a teen girl fled her restrictive home only to find herself in the shadow of a brilliant but moody boyfriend, famed poet Percy Shelley. It is the story of the mastermind behind one of the most iconic figures in all of literature: a monster constructed out of dead bodies and brought to life by the tragic Dr. Frankenstein.

Mary wrote Frankenstein at the age of nineteen, but inspiration for the monster came from her life-the atmospheric European settings she visited, the dramas swirling around her, and the stimulating philosophical discussions with the greatest minds of the period, like her close friend, Lord Byron.

This luminous verse novel from award-winning author Stephanie Hemphill reveals how Mary Shelley became one of the most celebrated authors in history.

‘November brightens my spirit
as I let go my fears
and agree to travel
to London to be with my Shelley.
I visit Skinner Street
and the Hunts.
Also History of a Six Weeks Tour,
my first book, appears this month,
again with an anonymous author.’

*snore*…

I didn’t go into this surprised that this was verse and immediately discount it. I adore novels written in verse (well, as long as they’re well done.) When done right, novels written in verse have the ability to evoke such beautiful emotion, flawlessly. Verse is essentially narrative poetry: beautiful words that flow, words that can hold you captive in their power, but words that also tell a tale.

I understand that verse is the next big writing style, but verse writing requires a certain finesse. You’re not just telling a tale and you can’t take your sentences, chop them up into tiny bits and format them to appear as poetry and call it verse. To me, this is exactly what happened with Hideous Love. The writing was choppy and stilted and didn’t allow me to connect with the story. It also lacked any sort of emotion, which is the most vital and important part of a verse novel. There were no beautiful descriptive passages, it was simply a long line of ‘this happened, then this happened, then this, and now that.’

Suffice it to say, I was extremely disappointed. I think choosing to write this novel in verse was a huge decision and definitely the wrong one. Unfortunately, I don’t recommend this one at all.

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Early Review + Giveaway! Everbound (Everneath #2) by Brodi Ashton

January 15, 2013 Bonnie Early Review, Giveaways, Read in 2013, YA 0 Comments

I received this book free from a Giveaway, 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 + Giveaway! Everbound (Everneath #2) by Brodi AshtonEverbound by Brodi Ashton
Series: Everneath #2
Published by Balzer + Bray on January 22nd 2013
Pages: 358
Genres: Fantasy, Greek Mythology, Romance
Format: ARC
Source: a Giveaway, the Publisher
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Everneath

three-stars

Nikki Beckett could only watch as her boyfriend, Jack, sacrificed himself to save her, taking her place in the Tunnels of the Everneath for eternity — a debt that should’ve been hers. She’s living a borrowed life, and she doesn’t know what to do with the guilt. And every night Jack appears in her dreams, lost and confused and wasting away.

Desperate for answers, Nikki turns to Cole, the immortal bad boy who wants to make her his queen — and the one person least likely to help. But his heart has been touched by everything about Nikki, and he agrees to assist her in the only way he can: by taking her to the Everneath himself.

Nikki and Cole descend into the Everneath, only to discover that their journey will be more difficult than they’d anticipated — and more deadly. But Nikki vows to stop at nothing to save Jack — even if it means making an incredible sacrifice of her own.

In this enthralling sequel to Everneath, Brodi Ashton tests the bonds of destiny and explores the lengths we’ll go to for the ones we love.

Everneath series

Everneath (Everneath, #1)Neverfall (Everneath, #1.5)

Everneath (Everneath #1)
Neverfall (Everneath #1.5)

**Spoilers to follow for those of you who have not yet read Everneath!**

Everbound was quite the adventure! I wasn’t the hugest fan of the first installment was this one was fun, entertaining, and even a bit exciting. Everbound picks up where the last left off with Nikki desperately trying to come up with a plan to rescue Jack. Once she realizes that she requires Cole’s help for this to ever be possible, she also realizes she has to put more trust in him than she ever has before. He’s never given her a reason to trust him but she’s not left with much choice if she ever wants to see Jack again.

Over 100 of the first pages is wasted on Nikki and her planning on how to save Jack. I understand the need for developing but I can’t help but feel some of it could have been cut out because once the action really started, it was quite the interesting story. Everbound took bits from several mythological stories: Persephone and Hades (Greek), Orpheus and Eurydice (Greek), Inanna and her descent into the underworld (Sumerian), Daedalus’ labyrinth (Greek), and Dante’s Inferno (Italian). The entire plot of the story was heavily based on these myths and it was interesting to see how these myths were altered to suit the story.

Everbound put major focus on the development of Cole and Nikki’s relationship which continued building that love triangle that I knew was inevitably coming. Considering I was a bigger fan of Cole than Jack, this wasn’t too big of a gripe for me. It’s a sure bet readers will end up liking Cole a lot more as the story progresses, as he shows a noble and honest side to him that wasn’t evident previously.

This was an extremely close to a 4 star read for me… until the end. The ending really ruined any fun I had over the course of the previous 350+ pages and made me confused and irritable and other related adjectives. I know I will now have to read the final installment in the trilogy and hope that all the time I spent on this series ends up being worth it. As it stands right now though I’m not impressed and I’m crossing my fingers for a big finish at the very least.

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Book Review – Everneath (Everneath #1) by Brodi Ashton

January 12, 2013 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2013, YA 0 Comments

Book Review – Everneath (Everneath #1) by Brodi AshtonEverneath by Brodi Ashton
Series: Everneath #1
Published by Balzer + Bray on January 24th 2012
Pages: 384
Genres: Fantasy, Greek Mythology, Romance
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads


two-half-stars

Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she’s returned—to her old life, her family, her friends—before being banished back to the underworld... this time forever.

She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can’t find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Nikki longs to spend these months reconnecting with her boyfriend, Jack, the one person she loves more than anything. But there’s a problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who first enticed her to the Everneath, has followed Nikki to the mortal world. And he’ll do whatever it takes to bring her back- this time as his queen.

As Nikki’s time grows short and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she’s forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole’s...

“Remembering is easy. It’s forgetting that’s hard.”

Nikki wants to forget. She wants to forget that the man responsible for her mothers death has been set free. She wants to forget about the girl she saw walking out of her boyfriends dorm room. She just wants to forget and to stop hurting. And Cole is the answer to her problems because he’s an Everliving. She stays with Cole in the Everneath as his Forfeit. He Fed on her energy for 100 years before she was empty and he was fully satisfied, but she didn’t die. She was able to Return to the living and her life and say the final goodbyes she wasn’t able to say the first time before she has to return to the Everneath for good.

I must say I was completely intrigued by the mythology aspects of this book and was the big reason I finally read this (well that and I ended up with an ARC of Everbound). But there was quite a difference between this and the original Hades and Persephone myth. There were also bits of Egyptian hieroglyphics/mythology that were thrown in which didn’t appear to have much connection to the original story and didn’t make much sense period. But I found the storyline to be strikingly similar to the Matrix. Weird statement, I know, but hear me out.

“After the Feed, the Forfeits are used to power the Everneath. They supply thew hole place with energy. Cole calls it a battery. One little cog in a giant generator.”

Human beings are harvested for their heat and small amount of electricity they produce which is then used to power the Matrix. With the Everneath, it seems as if emotions are harvested for energy but both concepts struck me as eerily similar. Especially since ultimately humans are being used as a power source.

The beginning of the story had a bit of a rough start. The Everneath and the entire Feeding process was poorly explained and left a lot of questions. But my big issue was the fact that Nikki reappears after being gone for 6 months (even though 100 years passed in the Everneath) but everyone brushes it off as her having simply ran away. From what knowledge we’re given about her character she was a good kid that didn’t act out or get into a lot of trouble but everyone is under the assumption that she had ran off and ended up going into rehab. And her father didn’t appear shocked at all and there was no reference to him even looking for her. Considering her father is the Mayor I would have expected there would’ve been a bit more attention given to her disappearance.

Nikki’s whole reason for returning was to give her loved ones a proper goodbye but once she does she barely talks to anyone and acts like she wants nothing to do with Jack especially. She only had a certain amount of time before she had to return and she was wasting it. It really made me wonder why she went back at all. That whole bit didn’t make a lot of sense to me.

Again, her whole reason for Returning was to say goodbye. She didn’t have any flicker of hope that she would be able to remain on earth, but as soon as she did she began to frantically come up with a plan. She decided to involve Jack on everything she had been through and his complete acceptance of everything including the bits about Cole feeding off her for 100 years was so completely unrealistic it was ridiculous. To use another Matrix reference, even Neo lost his shit and puked all over the place when he found the gruesome truth and he was a straight badass.

I must say though, despite the major issues I may have had with this novel, for some reason it still ended up being a super entertaining read. There wasn’t any instalove or even very much of a love triangle, although there are two male love interests. I have a feeling though that there’s more potential for a love triangle developing in future installments. The super fantastic ending wasn’t that super fantastic, however, it did manage to tug at my heart strings a bit. I’ll still be continuing this series despite my low rating because I feel that it still holds some potential. *fingers crossed*

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Early Review – The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd

January 11, 2013 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Giveaways, Read in 2013, YA 27 Comments

I received this book free from a Giveaway, 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 Madman’s Daughter by Megan ShepherdThe Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd
Series: The Madman's Daughter #1
Published by Balzer + Bray on January 29th 2013
Pages: 432
Genres: Fairy-Tales/Retellings, Gothic, Horror
Format: ARC
Source: a Giveaway, the Publisher
Amazon
Goodreads


two-half-stars

In the darkest places, even love is deadly.

Sixteen-year-old Juliet Moreau has built a life for herself in London—working as a maid, attending church on Sundays, and trying not to think about the scandal that ruined her life. After all, no one ever proved the rumors about her father's gruesome experiments. But when she learns he is alive and continuing his work on a remote tropical island, she is determined to find out if the accusations are true.

Accompanied by her father's handsome young assistant, Montgomery, and an enigmatic castaway, Edward—both of whom she is deeply drawn to—Juliet travels to the island, only to discover the depths of her father's madness: He has experimented on animals so that they resemble, speak, and behave as humans. And worse, one of the creatures has turned violent and is killing the island's inhabitants. Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father's dangerous experiments and escape her jungle prison before it's too late. Yet as the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father's genius—and madness—in her own blood.

Inspired by H. G. Wells's classic The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Madman's Daughter is a dark and breathless Gothic thriller about the secrets we'll do anything to know and the truths we'll go to any lengths to protect.

‘Dead flesh and sharpened scalpels didn’t bother me. I was my father’s daughter, after all. My nightmares were made of darker things.’

I feel the need to start off by saying I didn’t dislike this book but obviously considering my rating I have some explaining to do. There was creepiness, there was a decent story line, but the pacing was so incredibly slow that it had an adverse effect on my overall opinion on this gothic retelling.

Let me tell you guys, the beginning of this story had so much creepy going on it was amazing. I remember starting this book, finishing the first couple of chapters, stopping for a second and saying to myself, “This is going to be so awesome.” Juliet seemed to be a very promising main character and I couldn’t wait to hear her story. But the gothic thriller aspect seemed to be put on the back burner and definitely became less of a focus. What did it end up focusing on? Romance, of course.

There was so much emphasis put on the romance and her being torn between two men, her swooning and constant need to fan herself that I would go so far as to consider this ‘historical-romance-lite’. If not for the creepy and exceptionally gruesome bits in this story I don’t believe I would have finished this. As it was though, the romance didn’t feel fitting in this type of story, like an irregular puzzle piece.

I had been forewarned that the middle dawdled but that the ending was a big shocker so that gave me hope. The pacing was definitely off for the vast majority of the middle portion and didn’t actually start picking up until almost the very end of the book. The big reveal happened and it was definitely the most interesting aspect of the entire story but it happened a little too late for me. There wasn’t a slow build-up to the grand finale which would have made this immensely better. Instead we received a storyline that plodded along, lacking in intensity, never quite gaining enough steam, and then we’re hit with the big ending. The middle section certainly required something more for me to still be invested enough in the story to be excited for when the big conclusion finally did happen.

Oh, and there’s a cliffhanger. Naturally. I think my response to that final page was something along the lines of, “Dude. For real?” Considering I was more than a bit bored through the majority of this story I was at least hoping we’d get some answers. I had still considered giving #2 a shot since sometimes it takes the first book to build the story (in a series) and book 2 is where we can finally get to the meat of the story. But my understanding was that this was a retelling of the Island of Dr. Moreau, however, the summary for book 2 states it was written: with inspiration from Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘THE STRANGE CASE OF DR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE’ and I’m not sure I feel about the mixing of multiple retellings.

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