Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)

Book Review – Texts from Jane Eyre: And Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters by Mallory Ortberg

November 21, 2014 Dani Dani's Reviews 1 Comment

Book Review – Texts from Jane Eyre: And Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters by Mallory OrtbergTexts from Jane Eyre: And Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters by Mallory Ortberg
Published by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) on November 4th 2014
Pages: 240
Genres: Books-About-Books, Classics, Funny-ha-ha
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
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Also by this author: Texts from Jane Eyre: And Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters

four-stars

Hilariously imagined text conversations—the passive aggressive, the clever, and the strange—from classic and modern literary figures, from Scarlett O’Hara to Jessica Wakefield.

Mallory Ortberg, the co-creator of the cult-favorite website The Toast, presents this whimsical collection of hysterical text conversations from your favorite literary characters. Everyone knows that if Scarlett O’Hara had an unlimited text-and-data plan, she’d constantly try to tempt Ashley away from Melanie with suggestive messages. If Mr. Rochester could text Jane Eyre, his ardent missives would obviously be in all-caps. And Daisy Buchanan would not only text while driving, she’d text you to pick her up after she totaled her car. Based on the popular web-feature, Texts from Jane Eyre is a witty, irreverent mashup that brings the characters from your favorite books into the twenty-first century.

PLATO: okay Glaucon so
i want you to picture a cave full of prisoners
who have been in the cave their whole lives
and they’re all shackled up in a line facing the back wall

GLAUCON: my god
what a nightmare
those poor people

ok no

Texts from Jane Eyre is a compilation of Mallory Ortberg’s regular contribution to The-Toast.net. Ortberg reimagines famous literary characters’ conversations via text, from classic figures like Medea and Don Quixote, to more contemporary ones like Harry Potter and Katniss Everdeen. Ortberg’s writing is witty and smart, yet remarkably still holds true to the original works the texts reference.

 

KING LEAR: okay who wants a kingdom

GONERIL: me
me I do

how much do you love me

oh my god
how much DON’T I love you is a better question
i love you like i love eyes
or outer space
or standing up
or even this question
ahhhh that’s so much haha

After Emily Dickinson, some of my favorites in this collection were King Lear and Hamlet. As a Shakespeare buff, these made me bust up laughing. Ortberg strips the story down to the nitty-gritty in a way that is like nothing I have ever read – think No Fear Shakespeare but ruthlessly bitchy. She is the snarky classmate I never had, blatantly calling Hamlet a little shit, and Plato and William Blake psychopathic monsters (which they totally are).

 

LORD BYRON: uuuuuuuughhh
nothing’s any good

what’s the matter

EVERYTHING
do you realize i’m never going to be able to have sex with the rain

i didn’t know you wanted to have sex with the rain

of course i want to have sex with the rain
how can you even say that
i feel like you don’t even know me

Beware! I suspect this book is only hilarious if you have a working knowledge of the classic and modern tales Ortberg pulls from. While I knew the bulk of the stories, the last time I read a few was more than a decade ago; some of the more recent books I have never read, like Sweet Valley High or The Babysitter’s Club. I didn’t read or reread anything, because yikes, but I did hit the highlights on the internet for more LOLs – and it was totally worth it.

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Nonfiction Review – The Bird Market of Paris: A Memoir by Nikki Moustaki

November 6, 2014 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Non-Fiction, Read in 2014 2 Comments

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

Nonfiction Review – The Bird Market of Paris: A Memoir by Nikki MoustakiThe Bird Market of Paris: A Memoir by Nikki Moustaki
Published by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) on February 10th 2015
Pages: 256
Genres: Memoir, Non-Fiction
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
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four-half-stars

An avian expert and poet shares a true story of beloved birds, a remarkable grandfather, a bad-girl youth—and an astonishing redemption

Nikki Moustaki, author of The Bird Market of Paris, grew up in 1980s Miami, the only child of parents who worked, played, and traveled for luxury sports car dealerships. At home, her doting grandmother cooked for and fed her, but it was her grandfather—an evening-gown designer, riveting storyteller, and bird expert—who was her mentor and dearest companion.

Like her grandfather, Nikki fell hard for birds. "Birds filled my childhood," she writes, "as blue filled the sky." Her grandfather showed her how to hypnotize chickens, sneak up on pigeons, and handle baby birds. He gave her a white dove to release for luck on each birthday. And he urged her to, someday, visit the bird market of Paris.

But by the time Nikki graduated from college and moved to New York City, she was succumbing to alcohol and increasingly unable to care for her flock. When her grandfather died, guilt-ridden Nikki drank even more. In a last-ditch effort to honor her grandfather, she flew to France hoping to visit the bird market of Paris to release a white dove. Instead, something astonishing happened there that saved Nikki’s life.

​’Birds had filled my world the way blue filled sky, with a wholeness so natural that an existence without them seemed a perverse impossibility.’​

The Bird Market of Paris is a memoir detailing the author’s experience growing up in the 1980’s in Miami, Florida. Her parents traveled frequently for business so Nikki spent the majority of her time being raised by her grandparents. Her grandfather, whom she called Poppy, became a close companion to her at an early age and was the one that shared his lifelong accumulation of bird knowledge with her. He taught her how to properly care for them, how to identify them and most importantly how to appreciate them and love them. He also told her the most vibrant stories of his travels across the globe, but the one story that stood out most for her was his descriptions of the Bird Markets in Paris and she vowed to go there someday to experience it firsthand.

I adored the small stories within these pages. The story of how her Poppy would get her a dove every birthday and that they would release it thus ensuring another year of peace until the next birthday dove. The story of how Nikki obtained Bonk, a baby lovebird that caused her desire to care for all the featured creatures to grow. This part of the tale reminded me greatly of a favorite memoir of mine, Wesley the Owl, which details the tremendous bond that develops between bird and human. Other stories weren’t quite as ebullient though. The story of the devastating hurricane that ravaged her house causing her an all-consuming guilt over the deaths of many of her birds that never quite dissipated. And when she lost her grandfather and her alcoholism quickly earned the upper-hand. The stories themselves were compelling enough but it was the authors’ skillful writing that truly captivated me.

The Bird Market of Paris is an incredibly poignant memoir that explores Moustaki’s deep adoration for her grandfather, for birds and her unfortunate decline into alcoholism. The ravaging effects it had on her were thoughtful, raw and brutally depicted. Nikki Moustaki’s story is an intensely affecting and emotional tale that is quite unforgettable.

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Early Review – The Ploughmen: A Novel by Kim Zupan

September 19, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2014 3 Comments

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.

Early Review – The Ploughmen: A Novel by Kim ZupanThe Ploughmen: A Novel by Kim Zupan
Published by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) on September 30th 2014
Pages: 272
Genres: Western
Format: ARC
Source: Library Thing
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four-stars

A young sheriff and a hardened killer form an uneasy and complicated bond in this mesmerizing first novel set on the plains of Montana.

Steeped in a lonesome Montana landscape as unyielding and raw as it is beautiful, Kim Zupan's The Ploughmen is a new classic in the literature of the American West.

At the center of this searing, fever dream of a novel are two men—a killer awaiting trial, and a troubled young deputy—sitting across from each other in the dark, talking through the bars of a county jail cell: John Gload, so brutally adept at his craft that only now, at the age of 77, has he faced the prospect of long-term incarceration and Valentine Millimaki, low man in the Copper County sheriff’s department, who draws the overnight shift after Gload’s arrest. With a disintegrating marriage further collapsing under the strain of his night duty, Millimaki finds himself seeking counsel from a man whose troubled past shares something essential with his own. Their uneasy friendship takes a startling turn with a brazen act of violence that yokes together two haunted souls by the secrets they share, and by the rugged country that keeps them.

 ​”One thing I always did, Val, was to live my life. It wasn’t a particularly interesting life but it was on my terms. Now in here I’m just living it out. […] Now it’s just waiting. It’s only a life technically because you’re breathing in and out. Putting in the time until you clock out.”

The Ploughmen is a meandering tale that switches point of view between two men: John Gload, a 77 year old that has spent his life as a contract killer but is inevitably caught and his jailer, Valentine Millimaki who is a quiet and introspective man with a painful past and difficult personal issues he’s currently dealing with between him and his wife. These two men strike up a surprisingly quick bond between one another during Millimaki’s graveyard shifts at the jail, reminiscing on their lives, connecting in twilight over their shared bouts of insomnia.

​​​’Then he corrected himself, said no, that’s not quite exactly right, it wasn’t tricking himself but tricking the insomnia, which he imagined as a palpable thing, a kind of shade or haunt that bent over him in his repose, passing rattling hand bones in the air above him to ward off the visitation of sweet slumber.​’

There is violence but little action, mostly reflection, between the pages of this small yet potent novel. The Ploughmen is a somber story about life and hardships and learning to simply survive them. It’s written in such a way without a clear sequence of events, which I attributed to Millimaki’s continued sleepless days and nights, but doesn’t leave the reader feeling groggy but instead with that dreamy weightless feel.

​​’Perhaps she’d stood gazing uncomprehendingly at the emerging stars, in their milky light superimposing the enormous order wheeling overhead onto the map that seemed to hold her life in its obtuse loops and lines.’

Even if the story is not one you would typically read, the skillful writing style that Zupan possesses makes it completely worthwhile just for the experience alone. Stark yet completely stunning, the incredibly descriptive passages tell a story all on their own. The Ploughmen is an incredibly impressive debut and I can only hope that it’s not the last we’ve seen of this talented author.

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Early Review – The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry

May 16, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2013 4 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 – The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April HenryThe Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry
Published by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) on June 11th 2013
Pages: 224
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Also by this author: The Night She Disappeared

three-stars

“Take her out back and finish her off.”

She doesn’t know who she is. She doesn’t know where she is, or why. All she knows when she comes to in a ransacked cabin is that there are two men arguing over whether or not to kill her.

And that she must run.

In her riveting style, April Henry crafts a nail-biting thriller involving murder, identity theft, and biological warfare. Follow Cady and Ty (her accidental savior turned companion), as they race against the clock to stay alive.

‘[…]my mind shut down. Went blank. Went someplace where I wouldn’t have to remember.’

What would you do if you woke up to find you had been kidnapped? What would you do if you somehow manage to escape but realize you have no idea where you were? What would you do if you didn’t have any idea who you were? The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die is a riveting thriller of a girl who has to piece together the past so she can live to see the future.

I’ve read April Henry’s ‘The Night She Disappeared’ and it’s an incredibly short yet fast-paced mystery which I really enjoyed. To me, ‘The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die’ is also short and fast-paced yet more complex and required more pages in order to properly flush out the mystery. The pieces of the puzzle don’t start coming together until near the very end and once the pieces started forming they left me with an unnaturally rushed feeling that I felt could have been avoided with more explanation/pages.

There were a few issues I had in particular:
The ‘bad guys’ were inherently bad and lacked any sort of complexity thus making them quite a bore. Plus, it always makes me giggle when the bad guys completely reveal all their plans right before they intent on killing you.
Also, there was a strange and unnecessary reference to a gay character.
‘His voice swoops up and down. He sounds more gay than before. I wonder if he’s doing it deliberately – to make them think there would be no reason for him to give a girl shelter.’
Which… makes zero sense. Because he’s a gay man he couldn’t possibly have any ‘girl’ friends? Or even possible care about their well-being? That passage just struck me as completely irrelevant.

Also, there wasn’t a love-interest exactly but there was a male character that became involved in her drama trouble. After meeting him while trying to hide from the ‘bad guys’ he realizes she’s in dire need of help and assists in getting her past them. In my opinion, that should have been the end of their relationship but instead this guy basically risks the possible destruction of any future he may have for this girl he doesn’t know. It just wasn’t plausible. There was a slight explanation given for his ‘need’ to help her and it kind of make sense but still didn’t completely work for me in way of explanation.

Despite my issues, I did still mostly enjoy The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die. It is fast-paced, exciting, and definitely suspenseful.

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Book Review – The Night She Disappeared by April Henry

March 6, 2012 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2012, YA 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.

Book Review – The Night She Disappeared by April HenryThe Night She Disappeared by April Henry
Published by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) on March 13th 2012
Pages: 256
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die

three-stars

Gabie drives a Mini Cooper. She also works part time as a delivery girl at Pete’s Pizza. One night, Kayla—another delivery girl—goes missing. To her horror, Gabie learns that the supposed kidnapper had asked if the girl in the Mini Cooper was working that night. Gabie can’t move beyond the fact that Kayla’s fate was really meant for her, and she becomes obsessed with finding Kayla. She teams up with Drew, who also works at Pete’s. Together, they set out to prove that Kayla isn’t dead—and to find her before she is.

‘The Night She Disappeared’ was a rousing thriller that I really enjoyed. It had me on the edge of my seat with no idea what the possible outcome might be… the pages were flying. Lovers of this genre: you will be missing out if you pass this one up. I’m a big of mysteries/thrillers and this book made me realize I haven’t read a really enjoyable one in a long time.

When Drew sends Kayla out to deliver a pizza order, he has no idea that it may have just been the last time he’ll ever see her again. Her car is later found abandoned and Kayla is nowhere to be found. Gabie blames herself for what happened to Kayla; after all, ‘John Robertson’ asked about her specifically when he called in his pizza order. She blames herself for what happened all the while scared that he’ll still come for her eventually. Feeling as if Kayla is still alive, Gabie confides in Drew and they form a friendship that didn’t exist between them prior to the kidnapping.

The way ‘The Night She Disappeared’ was written was incredibly interesting. I really enjoyed how the story was told from a vast array of different perspectives such as Drew, Kayla, Gabie, 911 transcripts, police interview transcripts, and even ‘pictures’ of bits of evidence obtained. The author did such a great job at relaying information to the reader that she really built a complete picture which made the story truly realistic. Typically, I find stories written from multiple POVs to be convoluted and a big hot mess but this ended up being the complete opposite. There was also an interesting ‘psychic-connection’ between Gabie and Kayla that was added to the mix. Gabie kept having particularly strong feelings that Kayla was indeed alive, despite evidence to the contrary. The author didn’t go overboard with this idea, so it ended up being a nice subtle touch.

Overall, I was quite surprised at how strong a story it was. It may have been slightly predictable; however, it was so enjoyable throughout the whole story that I hardly noticed. I’m definitely interested in checking out more from this author!

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Book Review – Hold Me Closer, Necromancer (Necromancer #1) by Lish McBride

August 30, 2011 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2011, YA 0 Comments

Book Review – Hold Me Closer, Necromancer (Necromancer #1) by Lish McBrideHold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride
Series: Necromancer #1
Published by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) on October 12, 2010
Pages: 352
Genres: Fantasy, Funny-ha-ha, Paranormal
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon
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four-stars

Sam leads a pretty normal life. He may not have the most exciting job in the world, but he’s doing all right—until a fast food prank brings him to the attention of Douglas, a creepy guy with an intense violent streak.

Turns out Douglas is a necromancer who raises the dead for cash and sees potential in Sam. Then Sam discovers he’s a necromancer too, but with strangely latent powers. And his worst nightmare wants to join forces . . . or else.

With only a week to figure things out, Sam needs all the help he can get. Luckily he lives in Seattle, which has nearly as many paranormal types as it does coffee places. But even with newfound friends, will Sam be able to save his skin?

This book was great, highly enjoyable, and extremely funny. And it had EVERYTHING! Usually when an author throws in an odd assortment of paranormal creatures it tends to get a little messy and slightly corny; however, Lish McBride totally made it work. I mean we’ve got some necromancers, werewolves, zombie pandas, lawn gnomes came to life and poked people with tiny shovels, there was a tiny flying dragon, and even a talking severed head. As Sam states so eloquently, “Once a severed head talks, life’s possibilities seem endless.”

This was a thrill ride and highly addictive read… it may have taken me forever and a day to finish this but only because of my current schedule so don’t let that deter you. The best part about this book were the characters… these were people that you totally wanted to personally befriend. Brooke was my favorite because she was a total smart ass and full of spirit. The main character, Sam, was awesome and very realistic as far as paranormal stories go. This story was really about him finding himself and who he is (after feeling lost for so long). His is a great story.

This book doesn’t have any cliffhanger or anything even though this is the first book in a planned series. The next book comes out May 2012 so mark your calendars! (And get this one read ahead of time). 🙂

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