Posts Categorized: Book Reviews

Book Review | Memories Become Unreliable in ‘Recursion’

November 12, 2019 Bonnie 2019, Adult, Book Reviews 8 Comments

Book Review | Memories Become Unreliable in ‘Recursion’Recursion by Blake Crouch
Published by Crown Publishing Group (NY) on June 11, 2019
Pages: 336
Genres: Sci-fi, Time Travel
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads


four-half-stars

Memory makes reality.

That’s what New York City cop Barry Sutton is learning as he investigates the devastating phenomenon the media has dubbed False Memory Syndrome—a mysterious affliction that drives its victims mad with memories of a life they never lived.

That's what neuroscientist Helena Smith believes. It’s why she’s dedicated her life to creating a technology that will let us preserve our most precious memories. If she succeeds, anyone will be able to re-experience a first kiss, the birth of a child, the final moment with a dying parent. 

As Barry searches for the truth, he comes face-to-face with an opponent more terrifying than any disease—a force that attacks not just our minds but the very fabric of the past. And as its effects begin to unmake the world as we know it, only he and Helena, working together, will stand a chance at defeating it.

But how can they make a stand when reality itself is shifting and crumbling all around them?

re·cur·sion /rəˈkərZHən/: the determination of a succession of elements (such as numbers or functions) by operation on one or more preceding elements according to a rule or formula involving a finite number of steps

The year is 2018 and we’re introduced to an NYPD officer named Barry who is responding to a call of a potential suicide. The woman’s name is Ann Voss Peters and she says she has False Memory Syndrome. About a month ago, Ann was suddenly filled with memories from a different life where she had a husband and a son where they lived in Vermont. She remembers everything from their life in excruciating detail and it’s a life with everything she could possibly want but nothing she’ll ever have and it leaves her broken. Her death leaves Barry to contemplate the mystery behind Ann and the prevalence of False Memory Syndrome and he manages to uncover enough truth to believe it’s possible that the strange memories that flooded her brain at random are actually real.

The year is 2007 and we meet a scientist named Helena who is studying how a brain processes memories. Her mother suffers from Alzheimer’s and she hopes to create something to help her from the disease that’s destroying her mind. When one of the richest men in the world, Marcus Slade, makes an offer to fund her continued research she realizes she’ll never get a better opportunity. She spends years perfecting her research, but her own intent for the research becomes slowly overruled by Slade and by the dark direction he wishes to take things. Helena realizes far too late that the good thing that she tried to create has become a terrifying weapon with potentially horrifying ramifications.

“Because memory…is everything. Physically speaking, a memory is nothing but a specific combination of neurons firing together—a symphony of neural activity. But in actuality, it’s the filter between us and reality. You think you’re tasting this wine, hearing the words I’m saying, in the present, but there’s no such thing. The neural impulses from your taste buds and your ears get transmitted to your brain, which processes them and dumps them into working memory—so by the time you know you’re experiencing something, it’s already in the past. Already a memory.”

There’s something about time travel that sings to my soul. The concept of being able to go back (or forward) to a time you had only ever read about in history books (or knew that you’d never live to see) is fascinating. Of course, each iteration of time travel has its own set of rules, some don’t make sense and some do. Crouch’s approach to time travel is truly mind-boggling and I can only imagine that him trying to brainstorm this plot to make everything work looked something very close to this:

Image result for guy crazy whiteboard meme

Or maybe that’s just me, trying to figure out if his rules actually work. After a while, I stopped trying to contemplate the logistics and took a step back just to enjoy this truly imaginative and well-written story. Crouch very easily could have bitten off far more than he could chew but he somehow transformed this chaotic plot with multiple points of view and multiple timelines into something shockingly streamlined. But Recursion is more than just your standard time travel story. Rather than a story about time travel and how to scientifically make this happen, he takes it a step further and forces us to think responsibly, to think along the lines of the butterfly effect. Would you go back in time, knowing all that you know now, to change something that you’ve always wished you could change? Would you still do that if you knew your changes could have catastrophic consequences?

What makes this even better is his inspiration for this story, an article from The Smithsonian about scientists that figured out how to implant fake memories into a mouse. Incorporating the time travel aspect into that, essentially traveling back through memories instead of time, was pretty freaking brilliant. If you’re looking for more time travel goodness, make sure to watch Dark on Netflix. If Recursion’s time travel rules don’t blow your mind, Dark will help finish it off. I can’t wait to see what zany goodness Crouch comes up with next.

Divider

Rapid Fire Reviews – Twice in a Blue Moon, Wanderers, The Unkindest Tide, Sapphire Flames

October 4, 2019 Bonnie 2019, Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Rapid Fire Reviews 12 Comments

Sometimes review writing is hard. Sometimes you don’t have a lot to say. Sometimes you’re just lazy as fuck. Sometimes you’re just trying to clean up the backlog of reviews because you’ve been a terrible blogger lately. These are Rapid Fire Reviews.

Rapid Reviews – Twice in a Blue Moon, Wanderers, The Unkindest Tide, Sapphire FlamesTwice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren
Published by Gallery Books on October 22, 2019
Pages: 368
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Short Summary: When eighteen-year-old Tate fell in love with Sam, she couldn’t foresee that he’d not only break her heart but her trust. Fourteen years later everything has changed but when Tate sees Sam for the first time since that day, she realizes that her heart never truly recovered and never truly got over him.

Thoughts: This story felt completely mediocre until the last 20%. Then it felt like I was sledding down a hill on a piece of cardboard and that fucker was deteriorating before I had even hit the bottom.

Verdict: This was not the standard of book I’ve come to expect from this duo. Between the lackluster side characters, the laughable subplots, the super “I don’t even buy this crap” type of romance, and the ridiculous ending, I’m just going to pretend like this didn’t happen.

In a nutshell, GIF style:

Image result for what the fuck was that gif

 

two-stars

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

Rapid Reviews – Twice in a Blue Moon, Wanderers, The Unkindest Tide, Sapphire Flames

Wanderers by Chuck Wendig
Published by Del Rey Books on July 2, 2019
Pages: 800
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Short Summary: After a comet passes over the Earth, seemingly random individuals in a sleepwalk state begin walking as a group in the same direction towards an unknown destination.

Thoughts: This one had a lot of layers between the sleepwalkers, their loved ones following their progress across the United States, the religious nutters, the multitude of characters, and then the explanation of everything, but in all honesty the comparisons to The Stand were erroneous.

Verdict: Wanderers starts out very strong but between the unnecessarily long page count and a few curveballs in the plot that I found wholly unnecessary, this one essentially lost me when it was all said and done.

In a nutshell, GIF style:

Image result for disappointed gif

 

two-stars

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

Rapid Reviews – Twice in a Blue Moon, Wanderers, The Unkindest Tide, Sapphire Flames

The Unkindest Tide by Seanan McGuire
Series: October Daye #13
Published by DAW Books on September 3, 2019
Pages: 368
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Short Summary: The Unkindest Tide, the thirteenth installment, when the Sea Witch decides it’s time for the Selkies to finally fulfill their promise and Toby must be there to help her bring the Roane back.

Thoughts: This installment was the most tedious since this series began and I’m not sure if it was my expectations of awesomeness, the plot, the marshmallow ending, or Toby’s proclamations like “Someone call for a hero? I asked, and punched her in the face, but reading this was like slogging through quicksand.

Verdict: This installment felt like a whole lot of filler and did little to nothing to progress the actual storyline. Or maybe not, maybe the small moves in this series will amount to something far greater later, but as it stands, I was simply expecting more from this.

In a nutshell, GIF style: 

Related image

 

three-stars

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

Rapid Reviews – Twice in a Blue Moon, Wanderers, The Unkindest Tide, Sapphire Flames

Sapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews
Series: Hidden Legacy #4
Published by Avon on August 27, 2019
Pages: 393
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Short Summary: Catalina Baylor, the new Head of House Baylor, begins investigating a double murder that just so happens to involve her teenage crush Alessandro Sagredo.

Thoughts: The original Hidden Legacy series was filled with snarky humor, off the charts chemistry, and fascinating worldbuilding. This spinoff series is lacking everything but the latter.

Verdict: I absolutely adore this magical world that IA has created and while I’m pleased that they decided to continue writing stories set in this world, Catalina and Alessandro just aren’t Nevada and Rogan. I’m still satisfied with the story itself so it’s not a complete loss.

In a nutshell, GIF style: 

Image result for no chemistry gif

 

three-stars

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

bonnie blog signature

Divider

Book Review | In ‘Wilder Girls’ the Horror is Somehow Beautiful

July 9, 2019 Bonnie 2019, Book Reviews, Early Review, YA 3 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 | In ‘Wilder Girls’ the Horror is Somehow BeautifulWilder Girls by Rory Power
Published by Delacorte Press on July 9, 2019
Pages: 368
Genres: Horror, Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads


three-stars

It's been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty's life out from under her.

It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don't dare wander outside the school's fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.

But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there's more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.

The girls used to be normal. They used to number almost a hundred students at Raxter before the Tox came. Before everyone was transformed into something different.

‘It’s like that, with all of us here. Sick, strange, and we don’t know why. Things bursting out of us, bits missing and pieces sloughing off, and then we harden and smooth over.’

As time passed, the girls’ numbers dwindled but the ones that survived continued holding out hope for a cure that was promised.

Wilder Girls begins with an otherworldly air. A girl with a second spine, another with an eye that has fused shut with something growing underneath. It’s eerie and unsettling and their story only gets better (or worse, depending on how you look at it.) Much like the cover, the horrors within have their own sort of twisted beauty that is equal parts horrifying and mesmerizing. Horrific, yes, but at the heart of Wilder Girls though is a story of love and friendship. After Hetty’s best friend Byatt experiences a flare-up and is sent to the infirmary which many girls never return from, Hetty begins a dangerous search for answers. Her search quickly disturbs the delicate veil of secrecy that surrounded the school to keep the girls in the dark from what was truly happening to them.

The horrors of the island and the girls themselves were perfectly described and I found the comparisons to Annihilation to be apt. I wanted more questions answered about the island, the effect on the animals, and the irises, but I also wanted the resolutions we did get to still be rooted in that otherworldly horror. They were instead stripped of that mystery, made the answer far too simplistic, and made me wonder if any of the horror was truly real at all. Powers is a skilled horror writer and her debut proves this. I anticipate that Wilder Girls is just a dip in the pond of the horror stories she has in store for us.

‘I think I’d been looking for it all my life – a storm in my body to match the one in my head.’

Divider

Freaky Friday | The Brink (Awakened #2) by James S. Murray & Darren Wearmouth

June 28, 2019 Bonnie 2019, Book Reviews, Freaky Friday 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.

Freaky Friday | The Brink (Awakened #2) by James S. Murray & Darren WearmouthThe Brink by James S. Murray, Darren Wearmouth
Series: Awakened #2
Published by Harper Voyager on June 18, 2019
Pages: 240
Genres: Horror
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Also by this author: Awakened

two-stars

The sequel to the international bestseller (including #1 Sunday Times bestseller) Awakened, by one of the stars of TruTV’s Impractical Jokers and a bestselling science fiction author.

Former NYC Mayor Tom Cafferty has been haunted by the horror of a single day. The opening of the brand new Z-train subway line beneath the Hudson River—the supposed shining moment of his tenure. But the ribbon-cutting ceremony turned deadly when the train carrying Cafferty’s wife and other citizens was attacked by a horde of hyper intelligent, bloodthirsty creatures previously unknown to humanity.

Everything changed for Cafferty, ex-NYPD officer Sarah Bowcut, and tech-expert Diego Munoz that day. They had uncovered the deadly truth: the attack was no accident.

And now the creatures that wreaked havoc underneath New York have spread worldwide, and with a massive cover-up—and a secret organization holding nations hostage with the knowledge of how to kill them—Cafferty’s team must fight against impossible odds to save the entire planet from an apocalyptic scale disaster.

An explosive and thrilling international adventure, the stakes are even higher in the latest book from bestselling duo James S. Murray and Darren Wearmouth!

Awakened Series

Rapid Reviews – The Line That Held Us, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, Awakened

Awakened (Awakened #1) by James S. Murray & Darren Wearmouth [Review]

‘We stand on the edge of extinction. The brink, if you will.’

After surviving the subway attack in New York City, NYC Mayor Tom Cafferty and fellow survivors have teamed up to take on the Foundation for Human Advancement, the secret organization that maintains control of the creatures that could wipe out the planet. For decades, the Foundation has demanded funds from world leader’s in exchange for their continued survival but following the subway attack and information uncovered about the Foundation and its leader, Albert Van Ness, no one is willing to comply anymore.

The Brink picks up where the first installment, Awakened, left off with a race against time to stop a madman from destroying the world with bloodthirsty creatures that live beneath the Earth’s surface. Discovered during the end of WWII in Germany, Van Ness’ father discovered the way to control the creatures and has been using them as blackmail since. When Albert took over following his father’s death, he continued working towards achieving his dream of purifying humanity. Much like the second-half of Awakened, the story devotes much of its focus to the political drama and conspiracies rather than the actual creatures. Personally, I found the creatures to be of far more interest than anyone in this cast of one-dimensional characters. The creatures are only featured in a few scenes and they were horrific and thrilling but the authors placed much more focus on their laughably evil villain. It’s pretty disappointing when humans are more monstrous than the actual monsters.

The book is a very short read, however, I’m sad to say the dialogue is inept, the storyline is banal, and the ending was so ridiculous that it removed any interest I had in completing the trilogy. Disappointing that the exciting world these authors created with Alien-like creatures ended up being backseat drivers to a story about a Hitler-esque villain.

“My God,” Cafferty said.
“No, not God,” he replied. “Albert Van Ness.”

Divider

Book Review | In ‘The Unhoneymooners’, Enemies Become Lovers

May 7, 2019 Bonnie 2019, Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review 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.

Book Review | In ‘The Unhoneymooners’, Enemies Become LoversThe Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
Published by Gallery Books on May 14, 2019
Pages: 432
Genres: Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Also by this author: My Favorite Half-Night Stand, Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating, Love and Other Words, Twice in a Blue Moon

three-stars

Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Amy, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of... lucky.

Olive’s twin sister Ami just got married to a dudebro named Nate yet before the party was even over, everyone had become violently ill from the free seafood buffet Ami had won in a contest. Everyone except Olive (due to a fortunate shellfish allergy) and her new brother-in-law Ethan (because of a general aversion to buffet style eating). Being too sick to go on their free honeymoon (also won in a contest) Ami convinces Olive to go for her and Nate convinces Ethan to go for him. Ten days in Maui would be a complete dream, however, Olive and Ethan hate each other so it’s not expected to feel like paradise. Their plan to stay as far away from each other as possible goes awry when Olive runs into her new boss and quickly buries herself in the lie that she’s actually there for her honeymoon. Then Ethan runs into his ex who is there with her new fiancé and suddenly he’s telling her that he and Olive are there on their honeymoon too. Suddenly they find themselves spending far more time than planned together, only to keep up appearances, of course. It’s not like they’re enjoying each others company or anything.

Do you know how you showed someone in fifth grade that you had a crush on them? By being the rudest prick on the playground? Well, Olive and Ethan act like they never graduated to sixth grade. Their rudeness slowly begins to morph into playful banter and they finally started to leave their fifth-grade antics behind. The characters themselves weren’t the easiest to like (which made it hard to root for them) what with Olive’s continued insistence that she possesses the worst luck on Earth, convinced that everything she touches is going to end up going wrong somehow. She can’t even manage to enjoy her day at the spa while she’s being pampered in Maui.

‘This type of blissful, transcendent spa experience isn’t for me. I’m the one who gets a fungal infection from a pedicure in the Cities and a bikini wax burn at a spa in Duluth.’

It became tiresome, quickly. Ethan wasn’t much better with his strange attitude he has towards Olive that wasn’t explained away till the latter half of the story and not in the most explainable way either. The biggest flaw in this romance, and what makes this my least favorite Christina Lauren to date, is the overwhelming amount of drama. There are multiple sub-plots that are clearly meant to cause that “necessary” tension in a romance, but it felt like they had gone overboard with the unnecessary angst. Admittedly though, the authors turned my doubts around with some stellar character development that made these intolerable people actually likable. They manage to create such enviously romantic pairs (yet still never straying into far-fetched territory) that you can’t help but hope to find a love that makes you feel just as good.

“What are we doing tonight?” he asks […]
“Do we really want to push it?” I ask. “We’ve been together for…” I pick up his arm and glance at his watch. “Like eighty years straight. There are bruises, but no bloodshed yet. I say we quit while we’re ahead.”
“What does that entail?”
“I get the bedroom and Netflix, you wander the island to check on your hidden horcruxes.”

Divider

Life’s Too Short – Polaris Rising, Sherwood, Old Baggage

March 21, 2019 Bonnie 2019, Adult, Book Reviews, Life's Too Short, YA 10 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.

Life’s Too Short – Polaris Rising, Sherwood, Old BaggagePolaris Rising by Jessie Mihalik
Series: Consortium Rebellion #1
Published by Harper Voyager on February 5, 2019
Pages: 431
Genres: Sci-fi
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads


dnf

A space princess on the run and a notorious outlaw soldier become unlikely allies in this imaginative, sexy space opera adventure—the first in an exciting science fiction trilogy.

In the far distant future, the universe is officially ruled by the Royal Consortium, but the High Councillors, the heads of the three High Houses, wield the true power. As the fifth of six children, Ada von Hasenberg has no authority; her only value to her High House is as a pawn in a political marriage. When her father arranges for her to wed a noble from House Rockhurst, a man she neither wants nor loves, Ada seizes control of her own destiny. The spirited princess flees before the betrothal ceremony and disappears among the stars.

Ada eluded her father’s forces for two years, but now her luck has run out. To ensure she cannot escape again, the fiery princess is thrown into a prison cell with Marcus Loch. Known as the Devil of Fornax Zero, Loch is rumored to have killed his entire chain of command during the Fornax Rebellion, and the Consortium wants his head.

When the ship returning them to Earth is attacked by a battle cruiser from rival House Rockhurst, Ada realizes that if her jilted fiancé captures her, she’ll become a political prisoner and a liability to her House. Her only hope is to strike a deal with the dangerous fugitive: a fortune if he helps her escape.

But when you make a deal with an irresistibly attractive Devil, you may lose more than you bargained for . . .

DNF @ 33%

My hopes were high when I first saw this title for two reasons. 1. I’m always looking for my next Fortune’s Pawn (because that book was hands down amazing) and this one sounded like it had the potential to come close and 2. the amazing blurb on the front cover from my favorite duo: Ilona Andrews.

Image result for whaaaat gif

Runaway space princess, badass and dangerous male lead, and of course, space. This really did have all the elements of a story I would normally love but there was something off about it for me, although, I attributed it to the impending book slump I felt creeping up on me. I got to about 1/3 read before I realized that it still wasn’t doing it for me and that despite having everything I should loveit felt too mechanical as if the story was following a tried and true formula that so many books before it have used and its heart just wasn’t in it.

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.

Life’s Too Short – Polaris Rising, Sherwood, Old BaggageSherwood by Meagan Spooner
Published by HarperTeen on March 19, 2019
Pages: 480
Genres: Fairy-Tales/Retellings
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Also by this author: Hunted, Unearthed

dnf

Robin of Locksley is dead.

Maid Marian doesn’t know how she’ll go on, but the people of Locksley town, persecuted by the Sheriff of Nottingham, need a protector. And the dreadful Guy of Gisborne, the Sheriff’s right hand, wishes to step into Robin’s shoes as Lord of Locksley and Marian’s fiancé.

Who is there to stop them?

Marian never meant to tread in Robin’s footsteps—never intended to stand as a beacon of hope to those awaiting his triumphant return. But with a sweep of his green cloak and the flash of her sword, Marian makes the choice to become her own hero: Robin Hood.

DNF @ 20%

I’m a huuuuuge Robin Hood fan so I was thrilled to find out about this gender-bent version where Maid Marian takes up where Robin left off following his death. A badass Maid Marian, what could possibly go wrong? Oh wait, I spoke too soon.

Plotwise, practically nothing seems to transpire in the 20% I managed to read (and considering this book is a hefty 480 pages, that’s damn near 100 pages. Something should have happened.) And the highly anticipated badass Maid Marian? Instead of badass, she was just perfect at everything and we were constantly reminded how much better she was than even Robin. There’s confidence but then there’s just being a pompous ass and that’s exactly where Maid Marian ended up on the spectrum.

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 – Polaris Rising, Sherwood, Old BaggageOld Baggage by Lissa Evans
Published by Harper Perennial on April 16, 2019
Pages: 320
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: ARC
Source: Library Thing
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Also by this author: Crooked Heart: A Novel

dnf

The author of the acclaimed Crooked Heart returns with a comic, charming, and surprisingly timely portrait of a once pioneering suffragette trying to find her new passion in post-WWI era London.

1928. Riffling through a cupboard, Matilda Simpkin comes across a small wooden club—an old possession that she hasn’t seen for more than a decade. Immediately, memories come flooding back to Mattie—memories of a thrilling past, which only further serve to remind her of her chafingly uneventful present. During the Women's Suffrage Campaign, she was a militant who was jailed five times and never missed an opportunity to return to the fray. Now in middle age, the closest she gets to the excitement of her old life is the occasional lecture on the legacy of the militant movement.

After running into an old suffragette comrade who has committed herself to the wave of Fascism, Mattie realizes there is a new cause she needs to fight for and turns her focus to a new generation of women. Thus the Amazons are formed, a group created to give girls a place to not only exercise their bodies but their minds, and ignite in young women a much-needed interest in the world around them. But when a new girl joins the group, sending Mattie’s past crashing into her present, every principle Mattie has ever stood for is threatened.

Old Baggage is a funny and bittersweet portrait of a woman who has never given up the fight and the young women who are just discovering it.

 

DNF @ 10%

The story of an elderly suffragette who now leaves a comfortable life decides to leave that comfort behind and get out there and continue to make a difference. Maybe I didn’t give it long enough but such a powerful subject matter needed to be more engaging. The writing was well done and the historical research was evident but it was unfortunately a bit dry.

Divider

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

March 14, 2019 Bonnie 2019, Adult, Book Reviews 4 Comments

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

Book Review | “Daisy Jones & The Six”: the Rise and Fall of FameDaisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Published by Ballantine Books on March 5, 2019
Pages: 368
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Also by this author: Forever, Interrupted

three-stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Divider

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
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

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
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads


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
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads


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.

Divider

Book Review | In ‘Golden State’, Anything but the Truth is Illegal

February 22, 2019 Bonnie 2019, Audiobooks, Book Reviews 10 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 | In ‘Golden State’, Anything but the Truth is IllegalGolden State by Ben H. Winters
Narrator: Kiff VandenHeuvel
Published by Mulholland Books on January 22, 2019
Length: 10 hours and 26 minutes
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
Format: Audiobook
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Also by this author: Countdown City, World of Trouble

three-stars

A shocking vision of our future that is one part Minority Report and one part Chinatown.

Lazlo Ratesic is 54, a 19-year veteran of the Speculative Service, from a family of law enforcement and in a strange alternate society that values law and truth above all else. This is how Laz must, by law, introduce himself, lest he fail to disclose his true purpose or nature, and by doing so, be guilty of a lie.

Laz is a resident of The Golden State, a nation resembling California, where like-minded Americans retreated after the erosion of truth and the spread of lies made public life, and governance, increasingly impossible. There, surrounded by the high walls of compulsory truth-telling, knowingly contradicting the truth--the Objectively So--is the greatest possible crime. Stopping those crimes, punishing them, is Laz's job. In its service, he is one of the few individuals permitted to harbor untruths--to "speculate" on what might have happened in the commission of a crime.

But the Golden State is far less a paradise than its name might suggest. To monitor, verify, and enforce the Objectively So requires a veritable panopticon of surveillance, recording, and record-keeping. And when those in control of the truth twist it for nefarious means, the Speculators may be the only ones with the power to fight back.

‘Each is an interesting fact, and each fact, each piece of truth, is valuable and precious in and of itself, every fact beloved in our good and golden world […]’

Golden State is set in a dystopian, and sovereign, California where cops possess the ability to detect lies and emitting falsehoods will earn you years in prison. Video cameras capture everything and it is all stored in the permanent record as a part of what is “Objectively So,” people greet one another with undeniable statements to vocalize their commitment to the truth, and at the end of each day, citizens are required to itemize their day in a journal (making sure to include any applicable receipts or documentation available). Laszlo Ratesic is a speculator in the Speculative Service and his job is to seek out lies which appear to him as a slight ripple; a dissonance in the air. His current case is investigating the irregularities surrounding the death of a construction worker that fell off a roof. Despite the seeming straightforwardness of the case, Laszlo’s investigation will lead him to the center of a grand conspiracy seeking to undermine the fundamentals of the Golden State.

‘[…] the preservation of reality’s integrity is the paramount duty of the good citizenry and of this government alike. Imagine what kind of mad society would be organized otherwise.’

Golden State reads like a blend of 1984Fahrenheit 451, and Minority Report but really played well on what Winters is becoming known for: well-written speculative futures + noir style mysteries that easily play on fears of possible futures to come. This plot is most definitely a play on the current administration’s continued insistence regarding “Fake News” and “alternative facts” and brings to life a world where the truth is absolute. Winters intent is obviously to show just how dangerous this concept is but for me, the plot got a little messy, the end goal really missed the mark, and the whole story strayed instead into predictable territory. What could have been a fascinating inside look at a corrupt government instead transformed into your standard corruption thriller.

‘…he has made his monstrous point about the rings of truth, about context and omission: he has illustrated that no matter how much we know, there are parts of the story that are missing.
There are elements unknown and unknowable, whether we know it or not.’

Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam #1) by Margaret Atwood [Purchase|Review]
The Last One by Alexandra Oliva [Purchase|Review]
The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker [Purchase|Review]

Divider

Book Review | The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

February 14, 2019 Bonnie 2019, Adult, Book Reviews 12 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 Dreamers by Karen Thompson WalkerThe Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker
Published by Random House on January 15, 2019
Pages: 320
Genres: Sci-fi
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Age of Miracles

four-stars

In an isolated college town in the hills of Southern California, a freshman girl stumbles into her dorm room, falls asleep—and doesn’t wake up. She sleeps through the morning, into the evening. Her roommate, Mei, cannot rouse her. Neither can the paramedics who carry her away, nor the perplexed doctors at the hospital. Then a second girl falls asleep, and then another, and panic takes hold of the college and spreads to the town. As the number of cases multiplies, classes are canceled, and stores begin to run out of supplies. A quarantine is established. The National Guard is summoned.

Mei, an outsider in the cliquish hierarchy of dorm life, finds herself thrust together with an eccentric, idealistic classmate. Two visiting professors try to protect their newborn baby as the once-quiet streets descend into chaos. A father succumbs to the illness, leaving his daughters to fend for themselves. And at the hospital, a new life grows within a college girl, unbeknownst to her—even as she sleeps. A psychiatrist, summoned from Los Angeles, attempts to make sense of the illness as it spreads through the town. Those infected are displaying unusual levels of brain activity, more than has ever been recorded. They are dreaming heightened dreams—but of what?

‘…so much of this life will remain always beyond her understanding, as obscure as the landscapes of someone else’s dreams.’

In Southern California, a small town becomes the epicenter of a strange contagion that causes people to sleep indefinitely. Some won’t ever open their eyes again. There’s confusion and hysteria regarding how it’s spread, how to contain it, and meanwhile, more and more people fall victim to the seemingly unavoidable illness. But while it appears that these individuals are sleeping peacefully, inside, their minds are more active than any recorded human brain in history. But what exactly do they dream of, in this inescapable slumber? While they sleep, the waking ones are left to care for their bodies to ensure that one day it will be possible for them to wake again. As the day’s pass and questions remain unanswered, the dreamers begin to outnumber the ones that remain awake.

Karen Thompson Walker once again brings us a dystopian tale that is unsettling in its plausibility. The Dreamers shows us a glimpse at a multitude of individuals within this town without becoming overwhelming: the student that regrets leaving for college and hopes for a day when she’s able to go home, the parents with a newborn who fear falling victim and leaving their baby alone, the young girls that have always fended for themselves fine but now have no other choice when their father falls asleep. The focus on a variety of individuals manages to show the differences in how they react to the unknown by the different facets of their fear and builds on that frenzy of inner turmoil, not knowing what actions to take to avoid becoming the next victim. It’s when the reader is given a glimpse into the mind of a dreamer that you begin to wonder if these individuals are in fact “victims”.

I was a huge fan of Walker’s debut, The Age of Miracles, and I was thrilled to see her focus on another dystopian centered story. The Dreamers, however, takes a different route focusing on the philosophical aspects of the contagion rather the scientific reasoning behind it. This difference in focus, and Walker’s enchanting writing style, inevitably gives the story a dreamlike feel that pairs well with the feeling of disconnect these characters exude, quarantined within a town and simply waiting for the day that they too fall asleep and never wake. The Dreamers doesn’t necessarily end in ambiguity but it certainly lacks concrete answers that would normally be expected in novels of this ilk but are exactly what you’d expect in an actual dream. This story still manages to be incredibly satisfying as long as you’re willing to lose yourself in its slow, hypnotic rhythm.

The Fever by Megan Abbott [Purchase|Review]
Lock In (Lock In #1) by John Scalzi [Purchase]
Blindness by José Saramago [Purchase|Review]

Divider