Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons

Waiting on Wednesday – Journey’s End by Rachel Hawkins

Posted August 17, 2016 by Bonnie in Waiting on Wednesday / 1 Comment

Waiting on Wednesday – Journey’s End by Rachel HawkinsJourney's End by Rachel Hawkins
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers on October 25th 2016
Pages: 304
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Hardcover
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Also by this author: Hex Hall, Demonglass, Spell Bound

The town of Journey's End may not literally be at the end of the world, but it sure feels like it to Nolie Stanhope. Spending the summer with her scientist father in the tiny Scottish village isn't exactly Nolie's idea of a good time, but she soon finds a friend: native Journey's Ender Bel McKissick.

While Nolie's father came to Journey's End to study the Boundary--a mysterious fog bank offshore--Bel's family can’t afford to consider it a threat. The McKissick’s livelihood depends on the tourists drawn by legends of a curse. Still, whether you believe in magic or science, going into the Boundary means you'll never come back.

…Unless you do. Albert Etheridge, a boy who disappeared into the Boundary in 1914, suddenly returns--without having aged a day and with no memory of the past hundred years. Then the Boundary starts creeping closer to the town, threatening to consume everyone within.

While Nolie's father wants to have the village evacuated, Bel's parents lead the charge to stay in Journey's End. Meanwhile, Albert and the girls look for ways to stop the encroaching boundary, coming across an ancient Scottish spell that requires magic, a quest, and a sacrifice.

About Rachel Hawkins

Rachel Hawkins is the author of Rebel Belle and theNew York Times bestselling series Hex Hall. Born in Virginia and raised in Alabama, Rachel taught high school English for three years before becoming a full-time writer.

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Rachel Hawkins. Middle grade adventure. Magic. Scotland. Yes, to all of the above!

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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Waiting on Wednesday – Pasadena by Sherri L. Smith

Posted May 25, 2016 by Bonnie in Waiting on Wednesday / 3 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – Pasadena by Sherri L. SmithPasadena by Sherri L. Smith
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers on September 13th 2016
Pages: 240
Genres: Mystery
Format: Hardcover
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Also by this author: Orleans, Pasadena

Award-winning author Sherri L. Smith returns with a riveting, noir-style thriller, perfect for fans of E. Lockhart

Bad things happen everywhere. Even in the land of sun and roses.

When Jude’s best friend is found dead in a swimming pool, her family calls it an accident. Her friends call it suicide. But Jude calls it what it is: murder. And someone has to pay.

Now everyone is a suspect—family and friends alike. And Jude is digging up the past like bones from a shallow grave. Anything to get closer to the truth. But that’s the thing about secrets. Once they start turning up, nothing is sacred. And Jude’s got a few skeletons of her own.

In a homage to the great noir stories of Los Angeles, award-winning author Sherri L. Smith’s Pasadena is a tale of love, damage and salvation set against the backdrop of California’s City of Roses.

About Sherri L. Smith

Sherri L. Smith is the award-winning author of YA novels LUCY THE GIANT, SPARROW, HOT SOUR SALTY SWEET, FLYGIRL and ORLEANS. In October 2015, she makes her middle grade debut with THE TOYMAKER’S APPRENTICE from G.P. Putnam and Sons for Penguin Random House.

Sherri has worked in film, animation, comic books and construction. Her books have been listed as Amelia Bloomer, American Library Association Best Books for Young People, and Junior Library Guild Selections. FLYGIRL was the 2009 California Book Awards Gold Medalist.

She loves her family, travel, chocolate chip cookies, reading, and and a really good cup of tea.

While the comparison to We Were Liars is definitely off-putting (I was a black sheep with that one), I adored Orleans by this author enough to still be excited for this one.

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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Book Review – Blood and Salt (Blood and Salt #1) by Kim Liggett

Posted September 24, 2015 by Bonnie in Book Reviews, Read in 2015, YA / 4 Comments

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

Book Review – Blood and Salt (Blood and Salt #1) by Kim LiggettBlood and Salt by Kim Liggett
Series: Blood and Salt #1
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons on September 22nd 2015
Pages: 352
Genres: Horror, Romance
Format: eARC
Source: First to Read Program
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one-star

Romeo and Juliet meets Children of the Corn in this one-of-a-kind romantic horror

“When you fall in love, you will carve out your heart and throw it into the deepest ocean. You will be all in—blood and salt.”

These are the last words Ash Larkin hears before her mother returns to the spiritual commune she escaped long ago. But when Ash follows her to Quivira, Kansas, something sinister and ancient waits among the rustling cornstalks of this village lost to time.

Ash is plagued by memories of her ancestor, Katia, which harken back to the town’s history of unrequited love and murder, alchemy and immortality. Charming traditions soon give way to a string of gruesome deaths, and Ash feels drawn to Dane, a forbidden boy with secrets of his own.

As the community prepares for a ceremony five hundred years in the making, Ash must fight not only to save her mother, but herself—and discover the truth about Quivira before it’s too late. Before she’s all in—blood and salt.

Blood and Salt was easily my most anticipated YA horror of the year. Alas, I’m slowly losing faith that I’ll ever find something that is worthwhile. This isn’t to say that there isn’t enjoyment to be found, I’m just clearly not the targeted reader. Considering horror is one of my favorite genres you would think there wouldn’t be a difference but the way the YA versions always seem to be written just doesn’t do it for me. I was leery about this one from the get go, because honestly? Romeo and Juliet meets Children of the Corn?

There’s something I find thoroughly compelling about cults. How did they begin? How were people allured into this following? I read another cult-ish YA novel earlier this year that did a superb job at illustrating it all and at the same time leaving you completely unsettled; reading about cults should leave you feeling like that. Alas, the cult in Blood and Salt lacked the unsettling feeling, but rather had so many plot holes in the logistics of it all that I was more or less just confused.

Ashlyn and her twin brother Rhys have been raised by their mother who grew up in a cult in the middle of the corn fields in Kansas. The cult centers around the belief that their ancestor, Katia, has been waiting for centuries to be reunited with her lover who was murdered. The only thing she is waiting for are appropriate “vessels” for her and her lovers’ souls to be able to use to finally be together. The rest of the followers believe that once this happens, Katia will share her immortality with them. When Ashlyn and Rhys find their mother has disappeared one day, they think that she was meant to be Katia’s vessel, and they set off to the corn fields of Kansas to save her. Immortality, a hint of alchemy, and cannibalistic corn (or cornnibalism as Dani so eloquently put it) could have been a most excellent story but I felt that too many aspects of this story were left tragically unexplained.

From the very start, this book requires quite a bit of suspension of disbelief. Ash and Rhys have both grown up in the modern day, but Ash is always seeing this random dead girl that hangs from a rope by her ankles and who coincidentally seems to look exactly like her. There’s little to no explanation for this, but her mother knows and occasionally gives her a new tattoo that is meant to protect her. When Ashlyn receives the voicemail from her mother saying that she’s gone to “walk the corn” one final time, the twins set out to Kansas immediately, driving the twenty hours straight to get there. Ash’s immediate acceptance of this cult and their belief systems was a bit far fetched and upon their arrival begins having visions of Katia that only succeed in confusing the story even more. There’s also her immediate attraction (by his scent, no less) to an individual that she’s immediately told she can’t be with, that he’s of mixed bloodlines and that sort of thing just isn’t allowed. So naturally she’s obsessed with him. Because apparently he smells that good.

Of course he’s gorgeous too.

‘…he was the kind of beautiful that made me think I might still be hallucinating.’

Followed shortly by:

‘I’d never felt such a strong physical attraction to anyone.
Even if it was just for a fleeting moment, he seemed to make all my problems disappear. I wanted to bottle that feeling and carry it around in my pocket. The thought of kidnapping him crossed my mind.’

I really should have called it a day.

It only continued.

‘He coaxed the bottle away from me and took a deep swig. […]
I snatched it back and took another drink, not because I wanted more, but because his lips had just touched the bottle.’

‘Firelight was kind to just about everyone, but what it did to Dane’s face was… criminal.’

‘For a moment, I wondered if I’d imagined our kiss last night, but he glanced down at my lips like he owned them.’

While all this is going on, she’s practically forgotten all about her prior concerns for her mother, the memory flashes continue to complicate everything, and she continues to fall deeply in love within the span of about 3 days. The out of nowhere plot development for her brothers side of the story didn’t help anything either. Given the fact that this is the first in a series, I would have hoped for a bit more character development and definitely more relationship development, but the lack of both left this one a most befuddling read for me. The ending lacked real resolution, just ending with the intent to bring readers back for the next installment but unfortunately the first installment didn’t hook me enough to be invested in seeking out the sequel.

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Early Review – Bull Mountain by Brian Panowich

Posted July 4, 2015 by Bonnie in Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2015 / 2 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 – Bull Mountain by Brian PanowichBull Mountain by Brian Panowich
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons on July 7th 2015
Pages: 304
Genres: Southern Gothic/Country Noir
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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five-stars

From a remarkable new voice in Southern fiction, a multigenerational saga of crime, family, and vengeance.

Clayton Burroughs comes from a long line of outlaws.  For generations, the Burroughs clan has made its home on Bull Mountain in North Georgia, running shine, pot, and meth over six state lines, virtually untouched by the rule of law. To distance himself from his family’s criminal empire, Clayton took the job of sheriff in a neighboring community to keep what peace he can.  But when a federal agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms shows up at Clayton’s office with a plan to shut down the mountain, his hidden agenda will pit brother against brother, test loyalties, and could lead Clayton down a path to self-destruction.

In a sweeping narrative spanning decades and told from alternating points of view, the novel brilliantly evokes the atmosphere of the mountain and its inhabitants: forbidding, loyal, gritty, and ruthless. A story of family—the lengths men will go to protect it, honor it, or in some cases destroy it—Bull Mountain is an incredibly assured debut that heralds a major new talent in fiction.

‘Cooper Burroughs sat and chewed tobacco while he watched his nine-year-old son dig his first grave. There was more lesson in that than in killin’ any eight-point buck.’

Bull Mountain is located in the backwoods of Northern Georgia where for decades the Burroughs family has successfully evaded the law while making their living running moonshine, pot and eventually meth. Halford Burroughs is currently the man in charge of Bull Mountain while his younger brother and family outcast Clayton is the sheriff of the county. The two have managed to form a precarious truce yet fractures form when Special Agent Simon Holly arrives with the revelation that he’s there to put a stop to the Burroughs family enterprise on Bull Mountain.

‘Clayton knew he would always be welcome, but the badge had no business here at all. If a thing existed up here, it was because it belonged here. And if it didn’t belong, the people who lived here made damn sure it didn’t stay.’

Bull Mountain centers around two brothers, Halford and Clayton, but actions of their father, Gareth, from decades past, is responsible for setting in motion the current catastrophe. When Gareth Burroughs made the transition from moonshine to pot and then to meth, the need to secure his growing empire became more and more apparent. Allying himself with gun producers in Florida is the first step he takes in the wrong direction seeing as the Burroughs have always kept their business on the mountain, never asking for outside help. The alliance continues when Halford takes over, but the Feds have discovered the dealings down in Florida and have successfully traced it back to Bull Mountain. Clayton is the only one with the chance to convince his brother to sell out who he’s working with in order to avoid prosecution and to avoid the firestorm set to descend upon the land.

Hot damn. Every once in a while a book will come along that leaves you completely dumbstruck in how utterly impressive it is. Bull Mountain is one of those books for me. Even more so impressive is the fact that this is the author’s debut novel.

Not only was the labyrinthine plot that ricocheted back and forth in time and between a slew of characters handled skillfully but the brilliance of the twist that managed to alter the entire story was utterly superb. Bull Mountain is a dysfunctional saga about a family that prides themselves on loyalty that begins to be warped by the long line of violence and bloodshed. It’s a story where the line between good and bad is significantly blurred to the point of no recognition. Where even the characters can no longer see how their actions have transformed them.

According to this interview, there’s already a second book set in McFalls County and a possible third to come as well. I couldn’t be more pleased.

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