Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Life’s Too Short – Courting Darkness, The Cassandra, The Wolf and the Watchman

February 28, 2019 Bonnie 2019, Book Reviews, Life's Too Short 5 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 – Courting Darkness, The Cassandra, The Wolf and the WatchmanCourting Darkness by Robin LaFevers
Series: Courting Darkness Duology #1
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on February 5, 2019
Pages: 512
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Also by this author: Grave Mercy, Dark Triumph, Mortal Heart

dnf

Death wasn’t the end, it was only the beginning…

Sybella has always been the darkest of Death’s daughters, trained at the convent of Saint Mortain to serve as his justice. But she has a new mission now. In a desperate bid to keep her two youngest sisters safe from the family that nearly destroyed them all, she agrees to accompany the duchess to France, where they quickly find themselves surrounded by enemies. Their one ray of hope is Sybella’s fellow novitiates, disguised and hidden deep in the French court years ago by the convent—provided Sybella can find them.

Genevieve has been undercover for so many years, she struggles to remember who she is or what she’s supposed to be fighting for. Her only solace is a hidden prisoner who appears all but forgotten by his guards. When tragedy strikes, she has no choice but to take matters into her own hands—even if it means ignoring the long awaited orders from the convent.

As Sybella and Gen’s paths draw ever closer, the fate of everything they hold sacred rests on a knife’s edge. Will they find each other in time, or will their worlds collide, destroying everything they care about?

DNF @ 10%

Courting Darkness returns the focus to Sybella (originally from Dark Triumph) and her new mission in life. I adored the original trilogy and while it has been said that it’s not necessary to read them to appreciate the new duology, I found a definite lack of world-building and establishment of character in this installment. Whether or not it’s necessary, I would highly recommend reading them for the background knowledge alone since it does not appear to be given in Courting Darkness. And while it must be said that there isn’t anything necessarily wrong with this story (despite my obvious DNF) I realized shortly into this that while I was originally excited for more stories set in this world, I felt that the original trio’s stories had been told and nothing more was needed.

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 – Courting Darkness, The Cassandra, The Wolf and the WatchmanThe Cassandra by Sharma Shields
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on February 12, 2019
Pages: 304
Genres: Historical Fiction, Fairy-Tales/Retellings
Format: ARC
Source: Library Thing
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dnf

The Cassandra follows a woman who goes to work in a top secret research facility during WWII, only to be tormented by visions of what the mission will mean for humankind.

Mildred Groves is an unusual young woman. Gifted and cursed with the ability to see the future, Mildred runs away from home to take a secretary position at the Hanford Research Center in the early 1940s. Hanford, a massive construction camp on the banks of the Columbia River in remote South Central Washington, exists to test and manufacture a mysterious product that will aid the war effort. Only the top generals and scientists know that this product is processed plutonium, for use in the first atomic bombs.

Mildred is delighted, at first, to be part of something larger than herself after a lifetime spent as an outsider. But her new life takes a dark turn when she starts to have prophetic dreams about what will become of humankind if the project is successful. As the men she works for come closer to achieving their goals, her visions intensify to a nightmarish pitch, and she eventually risks everything to question those in power, putting her own physical and mental health in jeopardy. Inspired by the classic Greek myth, this 20th century reimagining of Cassandra's story is based on a real WWII compound that the author researched meticulously. A timely novel about patriarchy and militancy, The Cassandra uses both legend and history to look deep into man's capacity for destruction, and the resolve and compassion it takes to challenge the powerful.

DNF @ 21%

In Greek mythology, Cassandra was cursed to speak prophecies that no one would ever believe. Sharma Shields’ Cassandra is a woman who also possesses the ability to prophesize and when she goes to work for the research facility that created the atomic bomb during WWII, her protestations fall on deaf ears when she tries to warn everyone of what’s to come. The plot of this one sounded fascinating and I was anxiously awaiting my opportunity to read it but unfortunately, I found Cassandra’s character to be insufferable and the rest of the characters were completely depthless. Whether or not they were developed further on in the story is a moot point since I obviously did not finish this story, however, character development is not a better late than never sort of thing and should have been done in the very beginning. The bit of story I did read left a lot to be desired plot-wise as well. Cassandra’s story lacked fluidity and felt rather like she was simply checking off boxes on a list of what she knows she does in life. Considering she’s got the gift of prophecy it’s thoroughly possible that this could have been the reason, except, Cassandra never felt like an active participant in her own life and seemed much more likely that it was the author checking off boxes instead. It was at about the point I hit this quote that I decided this just wasn’t for me:

“I admired his stridency. I wanted to bake it, to eat it like a large meat loaf so that it would enter my bloodstream and become my own.”

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.

Life’s Too Short – Courting Darkness, The Cassandra, The Wolf and the WatchmanThe Wolf and the Watchman by Niklas Natt och Dag
Published by Atria Books on March 5, 2019
Pages: 384
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
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dnf

In this breathtakingly bold, intricately constructed novel set in 18th century Stockholm, a dying man searches among the city’s teeming streets, dark corners, and intriguing inhabitants to unmask a ruthless murderer—perfect for fans of Perfume and The Alienist.

It is 1793. Four years after the storming of the Bastille in France and more than a year after the death of King Gustav III of Sweden, paranoia and whispered conspiracies are Stockholm’s daily bread. A promise of violence crackles in the air as ordinary citizens feel increasingly vulnerable to the whims of those in power.

When Mickel Cardell, a crippled ex-solider and former night watchman, finds a mutilated body floating in the city’s malodorous lake, he feels compelled to give the unidentifiable man a proper burial. For Cecil Winge, a brilliant lawyer turned consulting detective to the Stockholm police, a body with no arms, legs, or eyes is a formidable puzzle and one last chance to set things right before he loses his battle to consumption. Together, Winge and Cardell scour Stockholm to discover the body’s identity, encountering the sordid underbelly of the city’s elite. Meanwhile, Kristofer Blix—the handsome son of a farmer—leaves rural life for the alluring charms of the capital and ambitions of becoming a doctor. His letters to his sister chronicle his wild good times and terrible misfortunes, which lead him down a treacherous path.

In another corner of the city, a young woman—Anna-Stina—is consigned to the workhouse after she upsets her parish priest. Her unlikely escape plan takes on new urgency when a sadistic guard marks her as his next victim.

Over the course of the novel, these extraordinary characters cross paths and collide in shocking and unforgettable ways. Niklas Natt och Dag paints a deliciously dark portrait of late 18th century Stockholm, and the frightful yet fascinating reality lurking behind the powdered and painted veneer of the era.

DNF @ 20%

The Wolf and the Watchmen is a story set in 1793 involving the brutal murder of a man and the duo on the hunt for the perpetrator. This is quite a violent and graphic story but it paints a vivid portrait of 18th century Sweden. Did anyone watch the show Taboo with Tom Hardy? It reminded me a lot of that except Taboo has a facet of the supernatural and this story did not. While I don’t normally need supernatural additives in my historical fiction for them to suceed, it did make me realize that I felt like there was something missing to this story that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. This story is admittedly very well-written and I can see why it was awarded best debut novel by The Swedish Academy of Crime Writers, unfortunately, the bleakness of the story was absolute and I couldn’t find the motivation to finish.

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Release Day Feature + Giveaway! Lady Cop Makes Trouble by Amy Stewart

September 6, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Book Tour, Giveaways, Read in 2016 7 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.

Release Day Feature + Giveaway! Lady Cop Makes Trouble by Amy StewartLady Cop Makes Trouble by Amy Stewart
Series: Kopp Sisters #2
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on September 6th 2016
Pages: 320
Genres: Mystery, Historical Fiction
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
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Also by this author: Girl Waits with Gun, Miss Kopp's Midnight Confessions, Miss Kopp Just Won't Quit

four-stars

After besting (and arresting) a ruthless silk factory owner and his gang of thugs in Girl Waits with Gun, Constance Kopp became one of the nation’s first deputy sheriffs. She's proven that she can’t be deterred, evaded, or outrun. But when the wiles of a German-speaking con man threaten her position and her hopes for this new life, and endanger the honorable Sheriff Heath, Constance may not be able to make things right.

Lady Cop Makes Trouble sets Constance loose on the streets of New York City and New Jersey--tracking down victims, trailing leads, and making friends with girl reporters and lawyers at a hotel for women. Cheering her on, and goading her, are her sisters Norma and Fleurette--that is, when they aren't training pigeons for the war effort or fanning dreams of a life on the stage.

Based on a true story, Girl Waits with Gun introduced Constance Kopp and her charming and steadfast sisters to an army of enthusiastic readers. Those readers will be thrilled by this second installment--also ripped from the headlines--in the romping, wildly readable life of a woman forging her own path, tackling crime and nefarious criminals along the way.

Kopp Sisters Series

Release Day Feature + Giveaway! Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart

Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart [Review//Purchase]

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“‘Lady Cop Makes Trouble.’ That’s our headline.”
“Am I making trouble for the sheriff or the criminals?” I asked.
“Both, at the moment. You’ll be famous either way.”

The year is 1915 and Constance Kopp couldn’t be more pleased with her new role as the first female deputy in Bergen County, New Jersey. Her happiness comes to a crashing halt when Sheriff Heath advises her that the law allowing women to be police officers doesn’t necessarily apply to women deputies and that there must be a legal precedent in order for her to keep her job. Until that precedent can be found (or until Sheriff Heath decides to set his own precedent) Constance is given the role of jail matron in charge of the female prisoners. To make matters worse, a prisoner escapes from her watch and not only is she facing serious trouble but due to a law of the time, the Sheriff may actually be jailed in the escaped prisoner’s place. Constance admits full blame for her error but instead of wallowing in the loss of the future she dreamed for herself, she decides to get out there and find the prisoner and right a wrong.

Lady Cop Makes Trouble was yet another captivating and enticing story and Constance is even more of a charismatic character. Fascinating and incredibly memorable, Constance Amelie Kopp was a real woman in history that was credited as being one of America’s first female deputy sheriffs. The story has been embellished making this a work of fiction, however much of it still remains true. She really did go after an escaped prisoner by the name of Dr. von Matthesius, she was responsible for a major arrest during the investigation, and the three boys which brought Dr. von Matthesius to the attention of the authorities were also real individuals from history. The blending of both fact and fiction emphasizes what a thorough amount of historical research was conducted to bring such an enigmatic character to life.

What was most enticing about this installment was how realistic the story portrays detective work. It showed the long nights standing on cold streets waiting for suspects to make an appearance, the time spent waiting for trial, and running out of leads and being unsure of what to do next. Sure, that may seem boring and tedious especially when it comes to having to actually read about it, but it was all just so refreshingly genuine feeling compared to mysteries where everything goes perfectly. I for one had many childhood aspirations of someday being a detective and solving crimes (this can be mostly blamed on Nancy Drew and X-Files) and while Nancy Drew and Dana Scully are perfectly acceptable role models, Constance Kopp is the real deal. I anxiously await future adventures from the inspirational Constance Kopp.

Thanks to the wonderful individuals over at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, I have a copy to share with one lucky reader! Leave a comment expressing your interest in this story to enter!

This giveaway is open to US and Canada residents and will end on September 20th, 2016.

Good luck!

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Book Review – Good as Gone by Amy Gentry

August 11, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2016 0 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.

Book Review – Good as Gone by Amy GentryGood as Gone by Amy Gentry
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on July 26th 2016
Pages: 288
Genres: Mystery
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
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three-half-stars

Thirteen-year-old Julie Whitaker was kidnapped from her bedroom in the middle of the night, witnessed only by her younger sister. Her family was shattered, but managed to stick together, hoping against hope that Julie is still alive. And then one night: the doorbell rings. A young woman who appears to be Julie is finally, miraculously, home safe. The family is ecstatic—but Anna, Julie’s mother, has whispers of doubts. She hates to face them. She cannot avoid them. When she is contacted by a former detective turned private eye, she begins a torturous search for the truth about the woman she desperately hopes is her daughter.

Propulsive and suspenseful, Good as Gone will appeal to fans of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, and keep readers guessing until the final pages.

style-3 review

‘It’s so easy to forget how terrible the world is. Tragedy reminds us. It is purifying in that way. But when it starts to fade, you have to return to the source, over and over.’

When Julie Whitaker was just 13 years old, she was walked silently out of her house by knifepoint. The last person to see her alive was her 10 year old sister, Jane. Eight years have gone by and the time for hope, hope that Julie could ever be found, has long since passed. A knock on their door one night just may prove that there is always a reason to keep hoping: Julie finally found her way home. …or did she? The girl at the front door is about the same age as Julie would be and looks like how they imagine she would, but after 8 years, how do you really know? She tells stories of being held captive, of being raped, of being kept at a drug lords compound in Mexico. But something about her entire story rings false and as the story continues unfolding, more suspicions arise. If this isn’t Julie, who is it and what could she possibly gain from pretending to be someone she’s not?

‘If there is something missing—if I am afraid to love her quite as much as before—it is only because the potential for love feels so big and so intense that I fear I will disappear in the expression of it, that it will blow my skin away like clouds and I will be nothing.’

It’s clear that the inspiration for this story came from Elizabeth Smart’s tragic story, but Gentry’s debut novel impressively builds off inspiration and stands strong on its own merits. To me, the definition of a good mystery is one that continues to keep you riveted while also keeps you guessing. Good as Gone seems to reveal far more than it should early on, however, nothing is simple and straight forward about this mystery. Gentry throws continuous curve balls, introducing many girls all with heartbreaking stories like Julie’s. Of the experiences they endured just to survive and how those experiences altered their very being making it near impossible to remember a time before. Before their lives were irrevocably obliterated.

Good as Gone was a surprising read that stood out in a sea of mediocre mysteries with an abundant amount of effectively written plot twists, keeping the reader hypothesizing. The ending felt mildly flat only because there were so many diversions, I was on the edge of my seat expecting a final one to end it on a shocker. Good as Gone is a tangled family drama with an outstanding mystery from a promising debut author.

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Waiting on Wednesday – The Poison Artist by Jonathan Moore

October 7, 2015 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 2 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – The Poison Artist by Jonathan MooreThe Poison Artist by Jonathan Moore
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on January 26th 2016
Pages: 288
Format: Hardcover
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A tale of desire, obsession, and deadly mystery, with echoes of Vertigo

Dr. Caleb Maddox is a San Francisco toxicologist studying the chemical effects of pain. After a bruising breakup with his girlfriend, he is drinking whiskey at the speakeasy House of Shields when a hauntingly seductive woman appears by his side. Emmeline whispers to Caleb over absinthe, gets his blood on her fingers, and then brushes his ear with her lips as she says goodbye. He must find her.

As his search begins, Caleb becomes entangled in a serial murder investigation. The police are fishing men from the bay, and the postmortems are inconclusive. One man vanished from House of Shields the night Caleb met Emmeline. When questioned, Caleb can't offer any information. But he is secretly helping the city’s medical examiner, an old friend, understand the chemical evidence on the victims’ remains. Caleb’s search for the killer soon entwines with his hunt for Emmeline, and the closer he gets to each, the more dangerous his world becomes.

The Poison Artist is a gripping literary thriller about obsession and damage, about a man unmoored by an unspeakable past and an irresistible woman who offers the ultimate escape.

About Jonathan Moore

JONATHAN MOORE is an attorney with the Honolulu firm of Kobayashi, Sugita & Goda. Before completing law school in New Orleans, he was an English teacher, the owner of Taiwan's first Mexican restaurant, and an investigator for a criminal defense attorney in Washington D.C. He is the author of two previous novels, Close Reach and Redheads, which was short-listed for the Bram Stoker Award

Anything that Stephen King considers terrifying is a must-read for me.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me a link to your post and I’ll be sure to stop by!

dvd-pearl

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine

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Early Review – We’ll Never Be Apart by Emiko Jean

September 17, 2015 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2015, YA 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 – We’ll Never Be Apart by Emiko JeanWe'll Never Be Apart by Emiko Jean
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on October 6th 2015
Pages: 288
Genres: Mental Illness, Mystery
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
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two-stars

Murder.

Fire.

Revenge.

That’s all seventeen-year-old Alice Monroe thinks about. Committed to a mental ward at Savage Isle, Alice is haunted by memories of the fire that killed her boyfriend, Jason. A blaze her twin sister Cellie set. But when Chase, a mysterious, charismatic patient, agrees to help her seek vengeance, Alice begins to rethink everything. Writing out the story of her troubled past in a journal, she must confront hidden truths.

Is the one person she trusts only telling her half the story? Nothing is as it seems in this edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller from the debut author Emiko Jean.

‘So where does a story that ends in fire and death begin? It begins in the snow on the coldest day of the coldest winter of the last fifty years, with two girls on their sixth birthday in silent house. It begins with a body.’

Alice and Celia are twins who have had an arduous life, but fortunately they’ve had each other to get through it. After their grandfather died when they were six, they’ve bounced around to various different foster care homes, some worse than others. When Alice is seventeen years old, Celia intentionally sets a fire  that almost kills her but does kill her boyfriend, Jason. She wakes in a mental health hospital called Savage Isle to find herself recovering from burns and a definite lack of memory surrounding the incident. All Alice knows is Celia killed Jason and revenge begins to consume her thoughts.

Honestly, the summary gives it all away and if you didn’t bother to read the summary then the prologue definitely will. Sometimes there’s nothing wrong with a mystery that’s predictable because the story itself can make it all worth it, but I have a hard time becoming sympathetic towards characters and their plights when I know more than they do. Their mental stumbling, trying to uncover obvious clues becomes more obnoxious than tragic.

We’ll Never Be Apart could have been saved with some tension but I never felt a sense of urgency from Alice to uncover the mystery. She finds herself in a mental hospital being charged with a crime that she knows in her heart she didn’t commit, yet instead of attempting to work through her memories she becomes resigned to her plight and instead focuses her attention on her crush. Nevermind that her boyfriend of several years just died in a fire a few weeks ago. Becoming resigned to the situation she finds herself in would have been one thing, because can you imagine waking up in a mental hospital being blamed for something you didn’t do and being force-fed medication? That would be terrifying and I think we’d all mentally shut down to some extent, but the focus on the boy was what really ruined it for me. And all the security card stealing so that the two can carouse the halls of the hospital at night. Because that’s totally legit.

I kept reading, hoping for a twist that I maybe hadn’t foreseen. Alas, the end came, and it was less twisty and suspenseful than I had been hoping for. The resolution was also far more tidy than I would have expected given the topic. All in all, this one is far from being a terrible read, but I’ve read too many books that touch on the same topic that have just been done better.

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Release Day Feature + Giveaway! Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart

September 1, 2015 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Giveaways, Read in 2015, Release Day Feature 35 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.

Release Day Feature + Giveaway! Girl Waits with Gun by Amy StewartGirl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on September 1st 2015
Pages: 416
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
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Also by this author: Lady Cop Makes Trouble, Miss Kopp's Midnight Confessions, Miss Kopp Just Won't Quit

three-half-stars

From the New York Times best-selling author of The Drunken Botanist comes an enthralling novel based on the forgotten true story of one of the nation’s first female deputy sheriffs.

Constance Kopp doesn’t quite fit the mold. She towers over most men, has no interest in marriage or domestic affairs, and has been isolated from the world since a family secret sent her and her sisters into hiding fifteen years ago. One day a belligerent and powerful silk factory owner runs down their buggy, and a dispute over damages turns into a war of bricks, bullets, and threats as he unleashes his gang on their family farm. When the sheriff enlists her help in convicting the men, Constance is forced to confront her past and defend her family — and she does it in a way that few women of 1914 would have dared.

About Amy Stewart

Amy Stewart is the author of seven books. Her latest, Girl Waits With Gun, is a novel based on a true story. She has also written six nonfiction books on the perils and pleasures of the natural world, including four New York Times bestsellers: The Drunken Botanist, Wicked Bugs, Wicked Plants, and Flower Confidential. She lives in Eureka, California, with her husband Scott Brown, who is a rare book dealer. They own a bookstore called Eureka Books. The store is housed in a classic nineteenth-century Victorian building that Amy very much hopes is haunted.

He looked up and said, in a loud, plain voice, “She’s not a regular lady.”

Indeed, Constance Kopp was quite a woman for her time. Constance Amelie Kopp was born in 1878 and as an adult was recorded as being six feet tall. Yes, Constance Kopp was a real-life woman and is credited as being one of America’s first female deputy sheriffs. Little is known of the women but what is known paints a most interesting picture. Amy Stewart gathered as much information as she could and the necessary enrichment truly brought her and the people associated with her to being. Girl Waits With a Gun starts off Constance’s story with a buggy accident involving her and her sisters, Norma and Fleurette, in 1914. The individual responsible for causing the damage and irreversibly damaging their mode of transportation, was one Henry Kaufman, a wealthy silk factory owner. Constance sends him repeated notices of the amount of damage he is responsible for, $50, and when he fails to respond to her goes to collect from him personally. This sets off a long year of harrassment from Kaufman and his associates where they suffer through having bricks thrown through their windows at night to letters threatening to kidnap their youngest sister Fleurette and sell her into white slavery. Not willing to lay down and accept this, Constance goes to the police with the hope that she can put her trust in them to put a stop to the menace in their lives.

Girl Waits With a Gun was an unexpected delight for me but was much more slower paced than I would have figured. I went into this expecting some sort of crime fiction with a historical flair being that it’s set in 1914. This was decidedly less focused on the crime itself but of Constance and of the story behind her becoming a deputy sheriff, and how it was nothing but a complete accident. This story leaned more towards  historical-fiction/cozy mystery territory but is unmistakably the smartest story of the genre I’ve read. It took me a solid week to read this and while I had to pace myself, I never lost any interest in this charming tale.

Constance-KoppConstance was a fantastic character and imaginably a remarkable individual in her own right. On Amy Stewart’s website she lists a quote from Constance where she said: “Some women prefer to stay at home and take care of the house. Let them. There are plenty who like that kind of work enough to do it. Others want something to do that will take them out among people and affairs. A woman should have the right to do any sort of work she wants to, provided she can do it.” That was the kind of woman she was, one who refused to fall into typical social expectations of the time. In her earlier years she expressed an interest in pursuing a career, as a lawyer or a nurse, but her mother inevitably discouraged that and kept her at home. The story touches briefly and only occasionally on her past when she was around eighteen years old and what truly molded her into the woman she is today. While I loved her take no crap attitude in her mature years, I really loved seeing this younger part of her that was still coming into her own and learning the ways of the world. The situations she found herself in for that time may have been irreversible and life-changing but not only was she strong-willed but she had a supportive family to back her up. She was quite an inspiring individual and I do hope we haven’t seen the last of Constance Kopp.

“…if I could give her one silent gift […] – it would be this: the realization that we have to be a part of the world we live in. We don’t scurry away when we’re in trouble, or when someone else is. We don’t run and hide.”

Thanks to the wonderful individuals over at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, I have a copy to share with one lucky reader! I’ve decided to move away from Rafflecopter again and am opting to keep it simple: leave a comment expressing your interest in this story to enter!

This giveaway is open to US and Canada residents and will end on September 15th, 2015.

Good luck!

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Waiting on Wednesday – We’ll Never Be Apart by Emiko Jean

June 3, 2015 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 5 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – We’ll Never Be Apart by Emiko JeanWe'll Never Be Apart by Emiko Jean
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on October 6th 2015
Pages: 288
Genres: Mental Illness, Mystery, Thriller
Format: Hardcover
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: We'll Never Be Apart

Murder.

Fire.

Revenge.

That’s all seventeen-year-old Alice Monroe thinks about. Committed to a mental ward at Savage Isle, Alice is haunted by memories of the fire that killed her boyfriend, Jason. A blaze her twin sister Cellie set. But when Chase, a mysterious, charismatic patient, agrees to help her seek vengeance, Alice begins to rethink everything. Writing out the story of her troubled past in a journal, she must confront hidden truths.

Is the one person she trusts only telling her half the story? Nothing is as it seems in this edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller from the debut author Emiko Jean.

About Emiko Jean

Emiko Jean is the author of the forthcoming YA psychological suspense novel WE’LL NEVER BE APART (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s), which was inspired by her work with children in the foster care system. Aside from reading, writing, and teaching math to elementary school students, Emiko is passionate about bugs. She can often be found in the remote forests of the Pacific Northwest, where she lives with her husband, hunting giant moths and cataloguing rare insect colonies.

I’ve found so few YA psychological thrillers that really impress but I have yet to give up yet on the genre. This sounds like it certainly has serious potential though and I can’t wait to see for myself!

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me a link to your post and I’ll be sure to stop by!

dvd-pearl

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine

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Blog Tour – Undertow by Michael Buckley

May 4, 2015 Bonnie Book Reviews, Book Tour, Early Review, Giveaways, Read in 2015 3 Comments

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

Blog Tour – Undertow by Michael BuckleyUndertow by Michael Buckley
Series: Undertow #1
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on May 5th 2015
Pages: 384
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
Format: eARC
Source: Rockstar Book Tours
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
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four-stars
*Amazon Purchase links are Affiliate links*

For fans of Rick Yancey and Marie Lu, Undertow is book one in this much-anticipated, genre-breaking, breath-catching new trilogy for teens from New York Times bestselling author Michael Buckley in which a 16-year-old girl is caught in an epic clash of civilizations when a society of undersea warriors march out of the ocean into modern-day Coney Island.

First, we feared them. Then we fought them. Now they might be our only hope.
Sixteen-year-old Lyric Walker’s life is forever changed when she witnesses the arrival of 30,000 Alpha, a five-nation race of ocean-dwelling warriors, on her beach in Coney Island. The world’s initial wonder and awe over the Alpha quickly turns ugly and paranoid and violent, and Lyric’s small town transforms into a military zone with humans on one side and Alpha on the other. When Lyric is recruited to help the crown prince, a boy named Fathom, assimilate, she begins to fall for him. But their love is a dangerous one, and there are forces on both sides working to keep them apart. Only, what if the Alpha are not actually the enemy? What if they are in fact humanity’s best chance for survival? Because the real enemy is coming. And it’s more terrifying than anything the world has ever seen.

Action, suspense, and romance whirlpool dangerously in this cinematic saga!

About Michael Buckley

New York Times bestselling author Michael Buckley was born in Akron, Ohio. He tried his hand as a stand-up comic and lead singer for a punk rock back before attending Ohio University. After graduating with honors he moved to New York City to be an intern on the Late Show with David Letterman which led to stints developing programming for Discovery Networks, MTV, MTV Animation and Klasky Csupo (producers of Nickelodeon’s Rugrats). Today he lives in Brooklyn, New York with his wife, Alison, and their son Finn.

‘All of them were in a state of metamorphosis. Tails became legs. Fins sank into flesh. Gills vanished, causing their owners to choke on their first breaths of air. There were elderly creatures, babies, teenagers, and families, all climbing onto the beach, eyeing us with wide-eyed wonder. At first they numbered in the hundreds, then thousands, until eventually I could no longer see the sand for all the bodies.’

Three years ago, a mysterious species of ocean-dwellers emerged from the depths of the sea to take their place on land. Since those three years, the creatures that call themselves the Alpha have set up camp on the beaches of Coney Island leaving the humans in the dark as to their intentions. In an attempt to integrate the Alphas into society and to hopefully suppress the ongoing intolerance they face, the government has negotiated that some of their children attend public schools. Lyric Walker has a secret which has caused her to keep a low profile in an attempt to avoid close scrutiny. The disclosure of this secret could mean her death yet when she’s assigned to personally work with the prince of the Alphas she becomes fearful that her secret won’t be secret for very long.

Undertow is strongly reminiscent of one of my favorite movies, District 9where a race of aliens arrives on Earth in an attempt to find refuge. It’s nothing like you would expect since it focuses less on the invasion itself and more on the prejudices and hatred that these different species face. The injustices that they suffer. Undertow takes a similar route with these creatures that are immediately forced to undergo an intolerance that no species should ever have to endure. It was also reminiscent of the racial desegregation during the American Civil Rights Movement when black students became allowed to attend “white schools”, just with another species of course. Regardless of who the “foreigner” is though it showcased just how rampant xenophobia can become in our narrow-minded society.

‘Its skin is swamp brown and highlighted in eggplant purple; its mouth is a huge gaping hole. Teeth lean in all directions like tombstones in an abandoned cemetery. Its empty eyes are calm and black, offering little evidence of life or intelligence, and a long, wormlike appendage dangles from the top of its head to its bottom lip, ending in a bright, glowing bulb. It grunts and clicks and barks at us.’

The most interesting aspect of this tale was the descriptions and detailing of the sea creatures which only added to their alluring mystery. There are various different clans among the Alphas which are basically different forms of the same species and they’re all interesting (and sometimes terrifying) in their own way. The Alphas were fierce and ferocious creatures and the mystery surrounding their appearance on land remains a mystery for the greater part of the novel. That mystery possessed an interesting twist that I thoroughly enjoyed and can’t wait to see how it pans out in the next installment.

Undertow is more than some science fiction invasion story. It’s a story about family and honor, of respect and deference.  And about overcoming prejudices and not standing for intolerance. Undertow was a most appealing tale and a tenacious start to this trilogy.

5 winners will receive a prize pack that contains an Undertow beach towel, beach bag, bookmark, a finished book. US Only.

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This post was a part of the ‘Undertow’ blog tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours.
Be sure to check out the other tour stops below!

Week One:

4/27/2015- Melissa’s Eclectic Bookshelf– Interview
4/28/2015- Mom With A Kindle– Interview
4/29/2015- Moonlight Gleam Reviews– Book Trailer Post
4/30/2015- Word Spelunking– Review
5/1/2015- Bewitched Bookworms– Book Excerpt

Week Two:

5/4/2015– For the Love of Words– Review
5/5/2015– Novel Novice – Guest Post
5/6/2015– The O.W.L.– Review
5/7/2015Library of a Book Witch– Review
5/8/2015– Literary Meanderings  – Sneak Peek of Book 2 Post

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Early Review – Sisters of Shiloh by Kathy Hepinstall & Becky Hepinstall Hilliker

February 19, 2015 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2015 3 Comments

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

Early Review – Sisters of Shiloh by Kathy Hepinstall & Becky Hepinstall HillikerSisters of Shiloh by Becky Hepinstall Hilliker, Kathy Hepinstall
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on March 3rd 2015
Pages: 256
Genres: Civil War, Historical Fiction
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads


four-stars

A best-selling novelist enlists her own sister to bring us the story of two Southern sisters, disguised as men, who join the Confederate Army—one seeking vengeance on the battlefield, the other finding love.

In a war pitting brother against brother, two sisters choose their own battle.

Joseph and Thomas are fresh recruits for the Confederate Army, daring to join the wild fray that has become the seemingly endless Civil War, sharing everything with their fellow soldiers—except the secret that would mean their undoing: they are sisters.

Before the war, Joseph and Thomas were Josephine and Libby. But that bloodiest battle, Antietam, leaves Libby to find her husband, Arden, dead. She vows vengeance, dons Arden’s clothes, and sneaks off to enlist with the Stonewall Brigade, swearing to kill one Yankee for every year of his too-short life. Desperate to protect her grief-crazed sister, Josephine insists on joining her. Surrounded by flying bullets, deprivation, and illness, the sisters are found by other dangers: Libby is hurtling toward madness, haunted and urged on by her husband’s ghost; Josephine is falling in love with a fellow soldier. She lives in fear both of revealing their disguise and of losing her first love before she can make her heart known to him.

In her trademark “vibrant” (Washington Post Book World) and “luscious” (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) prose, Kathy Hepinstall joins with her sister Becky to show us the hopes of love and war, the impossible-to-sever bonds of sisterhood, and how what matters most can both hurt us and heal us.

‘Twenty-one. The number of men who would pay for his death. As a woman she loved the poetry in that equation; as a man she loved the rage.’

Libby and Arden are newlyweds but a mere month into their lives together, the Civil War breaks out and Arden leaves to join the ranks of the Confederate army. When Libby hears that a massive battle took place nearby involving Arden’s unit she sets out to verify his survival. Her older sister Josephine travels with her and after they split up to search is the one that finds Arden with a massive hole in his stomach, dying slowly. By the time Libby finds them, Arden is still warm but long gone. Filled with a foreign rage, Libby cuts off her hair intent on joining the Confederates. She swears to take twenty-one Yankee lives for the twenty-one years that Arden was on this earth. Josephine, finding out her intentions, resolves herself to go with her if only to protect her from her dangerous plan.

The writing team for this novel is two sisters; one is a bestselling novelist and the other possesses a history degree. The result is a fluid story that is not just poignant but leaves you feeling well-informed of this time period. Sisters of Shiloh is written primarily from the point of view of Libby and Josephine who become Thomas and Joseph when they enlist. It reflects their struggles from being simple teenage girls to adapting to life as a soldier not only with the constant fear of dying but of keeping the secret of their gender safe. Josephine only joined the army to protect her sister and has no intentions of doing harm to anyone if she can help it. She’s a simple girl who has never been in love but slowly finds herself falling for Wesley Abeline (and he begins falling for “her” although his feelings remain conflicted as he’s not aware of her true gender). Libby’s mindset becomes darker as the book progresses with her hearing Arden’s voice in her head, urging her in the battle to kill again and again. She eventually begins to actually see him as well, with his stomach still bleeding and flies that cover the wound. At first, it was hard to differentiate the sister’s voices but by the end, they had developed their own separate identities so much that each section was clearly definable. Josephine remained sorrowful at her inability to save her sister from her own mind and Libby remained in conflict with her true nature and the impressionable effects of her husband even after death.

‘Arden, though, was more than a name. He was a presence, an exhortation, the heaving breaths of his spirit keeping up with her, his voice shouting that unearthly Rebel yell right along with her.’

Women that conceal themselves as men and join the war effort (typically in the Civil War) seems to be a new trend in literature these days as this is the second release I’ve read recently. I Shall Be Near to You was the previous one I read and is told from the point of view of a woman that joins the Union army, rather than the Confederates. Both books succeed in presenting a side of the war that was apparently quite common but vastly absent from the history books. Reading about these women that sacrificed their safety and voluntarily went into battle (even when they weren’t allowed to) was shocking and impressive even if it wasn’t exactly smart. Libby and Josephine went into the war not knowing how to shoot a gun yet they persevered and lasted a whole eight months in the war when some men didn’t last a few weeks. This may be considered an ‘unconventional’ side of wartime but it’s a side that is truly admirable that I’d love to see more of. Other related reads I intend on picking up include Neverhome by Laird Hunt, Liar, Temptress, Soldier Spy by Karen Abbott and This Side of the River by Jeffrey Stayton.

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Book Review – Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin #3) by Robin LaFevers

December 6, 2014 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2014, YA 1 Comment

Book Review – Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin #3) by Robin LaFeversMortal Heart by Robin LaFevers
Series: His Fair Assassin #3
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on November 4th 2014
Pages: 444
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Grave Mercy, Dark Triumph, Courting Darkness

three-half-stars
In the powerful conclusion to Robin LaFever's New York Times bestselling His Fair Assassins trilogy, Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own.
She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind, doesn’t mean she has.

His Fair Assassin Trilogy

Early Review – Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1) by R.L. LaFeversEarly Review – Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin #2) by R.L. LaFevers

Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1) by Robin LaFevers {PurchaseMy Review}
Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin #2) by Robin LaFevers {PurchaseMy Review}

‘We are all of us, gods and mortals, made up of many pieces, some of them broken, some of them scarred, but none of them the total sum of who we are.’

The final installment in His Fair Assassin trilogy introduces Annith who anxiously awaits the day when she’s sent out into the world to serve Mortain. She excels at all she does and can’t comprehend why she still remains at the convent until the day she overhears the abbess proclaim that Annith is to be trained to be the next Seeress. Refusing to be subjected to the role which would keep her locked within the convent until her dying day, Annith decides to take matters into her own hands and serve Mortain in her own way.

So. Mortal Heart. It was easily one of my most anticipated releases of the year because of how much I adored Grave Mercy and Dark Triumph both. The only accurate way I can describe how I felt about Mortal Heart is to pull a Kevin Sorbo and throw my head back and howl my disappointment.

It must be said though, that LaFevers writing remains spectacular and the historically relevant details are incorporated wonderfully into this tale of fiction and make for an interesting and informative tale. I mostly had an issue with Annith herself and found her to be far too impulsive in her decisions despite the fact that I knew where she was coming from in her decision to leave the convent. Almost the entire first half of the book was spent in first person with the intent to get to know Annith and her mindset but I had a dreadfully hard time staying interested. Once she finally does take the leap of faith to leave the convent to venture out on her own, it does pick up but the seemingly requisite male that these females must meet is introduced and as much as I liked the originality of this love interest he was still described as “breathtakingly handsome in a dark, almost broken way”. Queue the eye rolls. I was fine with Ismae and Sybella’s stories and their meeting of their men but I guess by the third time of the same sort of tale it was getting a little old. If any of these girls tales could have done without a romance I think it would have been Annith. I would have much preferred a story centered around her need to flee the convent and grow in character as a strong and independent female making a life for her own.

Setting aside my opinions on Annith, my primary issue with Mortal Heart is the slow and meandering plot that unfortunately never ends up amounting to much. It took me two weeks to read this and while I love a book you can read slowly and savor, it was instead a definite struggle to finish. Its two predecessors were packed to the gills with action and it was sorely missing in this installment. Add to that, the unexpected and decidedly picturesque ending missed the mark completely for me. View Spoiler »

As much as I hate to call this the worst installment, it’s still a trilogy I would highly recommend for the first two installments alone. If you’re a fan of action-packed historical novels with a cast of incredible women, do check this out.

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