Category: Book Reviews

Ominous October – Nightmares: A New Decade of Modern Horror by Ellen Datlow

Posted October 31, 2016 by Bonnie in Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, 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.

Ominous October – Nightmares: A New Decade of Modern Horror by Ellen DatlowNightmares: A New Decade of Modern Horror by Ellen Datlow
Published by Tachyon Publications on November 1st 2016
Pages: 432
Genres: Horror
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Unlucky thieves invade a house where Home Alone seems like a playground romp. An antique bookseller and a mob enforcer join forces to retrieve the Atlas of Hell. Postapocalyptic survivors cannot decide which is worse: demon women haunting the skies or maddened extremists patrolling the earth.

In this chilling twenty-first-century companion to the cult classic Darkness: Two Decades of Modern Horror, Ellen Datlow again proves herself the most masterful editor of the genre. She has mined the breadth and depth of ten years of terror, collecting superlative works of established masters and scene-stealing newcomers alike.

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Nightmares: A New Decade of Modern Horror is the newest addition to prolific editor Ellen Datlow’s catalog. This anthology combines a wide range of genres; everything from the every-day contemporary horror, paranormal horror, to end of the world horror. The variety manages to add depth to the collection as a whole and keeps the reader guessing in terms of what to expect next. There is easily something in here for everyone.

This collection is comprised of many big-name authors such as Margo Lanagan (Tender Morsels), Dan Chaon (Await Your Reply), Caitlin R. Kiernan (The Drowning Girl), Garth Nix (Sabriel), and Richard Kadrey (Sandman Slim). “The Goosle” by Margo Lanagan is a disturbing retelling of the Hansel and Gretel fairytale involving cannibalism, “How We Escaped Our Certain Fate” by Dan Chaon is a horror-light but is a bleak look at how our world could be if zombies rose, “Interstate Love Song (Murder Ballad No. 8)” by Caitlin R. Kiernan is the story of twins on a murderous rampage, “Shay Corsham Worsted” by Garth Nix is an interesting bit of contemporary paranormal that I wanted more of, and “Ambitious Boys Like You” by Richard Kadrey is the last and most terrifying story of the bunch. Other notable titles: “Our Turn Too Will One Day Come” by Brian Hodge is about the uncovering of horrifying family secrets, “That Tiny Flutter of the Heart I Used to Call Love” by Robert Shearman is a terrifying tale of dolls, and “Lonegan’s Luck” by Stephen Graham Jones is a tale of zombies and your luck running out.

Each of these short stories were hand-picked from anthologies from the last ten years in order to showcase a complete decade worth of horror. While the bulk of these stories were enjoyable in a horrifying way, there were a few that simply didn’t work as much as the others. All in all, this was a solid collection that certainly lived up to the title. These stories come off as fragmented, possessing a hazy, dream-like quality where it’s unclear what is real and what is mere fantasy. But isn’t that what nightmares are all about?

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Ominous October + #Giveaway! The Creeping Shadow (Lockwood & Co. #4) by Jonathan Stroud

Posted October 28, 2016 by Bonnie in Book Reviews, Giveaways, Read in 2016, YA / 8 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.

Ominous October + #Giveaway! The Creeping Shadow (Lockwood & Co. #4) by Jonathan StroudThe Creeping Shadow by Jonathan Stroud
Series: Lockwood & Co., #4
on September 13th 2016
Pages: 464
Genres: Horror
Format: Hardcover
Source: the Publisher
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Screaming Staircase, The Whispering Skull, The Hollow Boy

four-stars

After leaving Lockwood & Co. at the end of The Hollow Boy, Lucy is a freelance operative, hiring herself out to agencies that value her ever-improving skills. One day she is pleasantly surprised by a visit from Lockwood, who tells her he needs a good Listener for a tough assignment. Penelope Fittes, the leader of the giant Fittes Agency wants them--and only them--to locate and remove the Source for the legendary Brixton Cannibal. They succeed in their very dangerous task, but tensions remain high between Lucy and the other agents. Even the skull in the jar talks to her like a jilted lover. What will it take to reunite the team? Black marketeers, an informant ghost, a Spirit Cape that transports the wearer, and mysteries involving Steve Rotwell and Penelope Fittes just may do the trick. But, in a shocking cliffhanger ending, the team learns that someone has been manipulating them all along. . . .

About Jonathan Stroud

Jonathan Anthony Stroud is an author of fantasy books, mainly for children and youths.

Jonathan grew up in St Albans where he enjoyed reading books, drawing pictures, and writing stories. Between the ages seven and nine he was often ill, so he spent most of his days in the hospital or in his bed at home. To escape boredom he would occupy himself with books and stories. After he completed his studies of English literature at the University of York, he worked in London as an editor for the Walker Books store. He worked with different types of books there and this soon led to the writing of his own books. During the 1990s, he started publishing his own works and quickly gained success.

Jonathan is the author of the bestselling Bartimaeus Trilogy as well as Lockwood & Co. from Disney-Hyperion.

Lockwood & Co. Series

The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co. #1) by Jonathan Stroud [Purchase//Review]
The Whispering Skull (Lockwood & Co. #2) by Jonathan Stroud [Purchase//Review]
The Hollow Boy (Lockwood & Co. #3) by Jonathan Stroud [Purchase//Review/

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After an ominous glimpse at the future, Lucy decided it was best to part ways with Lockwood & Co. She transformed herself practically overnight into a successful freelance agent (with the help of the talking skull in a jar that she carries around with her) that have many vying for her services. When a knock on her door early one morning brings Lockwood back into her life, requesting her services in a most important job, she struggles to decide which is the right path for her.  Lucy begins to realize though that the premonition she foresaw for Lockwood just might happen with or without her presence. The jobs the group takes on though continue to increase in the risk involved and Lucy realizes she’d be hard-pressed to say no to the opportunity to work alongside him and the group once again.

‘It was a bit annoying not being able to sleep, but it was a change being kept up by moral conundrums rather than Wraiths and Specters. Doubts, like ghosts, gain strength in darkness; even with the dawn I wasn’t sure I’d done the right thing.’

While Lucy’s apprehension about re-joining the group, albeit temporarily, was understandable, I sure did love to see the gang all back together. Lucy, Lockwood, and George always had a fantastic team dynamic and the addition of Holly in The Hollow Boy did cause things to go somewhat askew but fortunately that wasn’t for good. Holly has become a full-fledged, active member of the team, her and Lucy have repaired their personal rift, and she even briefly shows a bit of her badass side much to my satisfaction. Skull still manages to keep his spot secured as my favorite character of the bunch though, despite his partial absence in this tale. His snarky commentary is so very comical.

You’ve got a good thing going here,” the skull said. “It’s called independence. Don’t throw it away. And, speaking of throwing things away – your dress. Too tight.
“You think so? It looks all right to me.”
You’re only looking at the front, love.
An altercation ensued here.

What with Skull’s partial absence, George stepped in as a suitable replacement for the time being.

“George.”
“What?”
“We’ve got to destroy the circle. That monster flare of yours. Now might be just the time for it.”
“What? Big Brenda?”
“You’ve given it a name?”
“I’ve grown kind of attached to her.”

When the group begins investigating why someone could be stealing powerful sources, this leads them to convoluted conspiracies, ghostly experiments, and all sorts of danger. Stroud still manages to deliver on the creepy too. Extremely unnerving lines that’ll make your eyes widen from unseen horrors. I loved seeing Lucy operating successfully solo but it was such a joy to see her back with the team again. Stroud leaves us with yet another stunner of a cliffhanger that will leave fans of this series both anxious and nervous for future dangers in store for the team.

‘There are many new questions to answer, and our investigations have only just begun.’

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Thanks to the wonderful individuals over at Disney-Hyperion, I have a most excellent prize pack to giveaway! One winner will receive the Lockwood & Co. series. (all 4 books!) and a pumpkin-carving kit to get into the Halloween spirit!

Leave a comment expressing your interest in this story to enter!

This giveaway is open to US residents only and will end on November 11th, 2016.

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Ominous October – The Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics

Posted October 22, 2016 by Bonnie in Book Reviews, Ominous October, Read in 2016, YA / 0 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.

Ominous October – The Women in the Walls by Amy LukavicsThe Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics
Published by Harlequin Teen on September 27th 2016
Pages: 304
Genres: Horror
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads


two-stars

Lucy Acosta's mother died when she was three. Growing up in a Victorian mansion in the middle of the woods with her cold, distant father, she explored the dark hallways of the estate with her cousin, Margaret. They're inseparable—a family.

When her aunt Penelope, the only mother she's ever known, tragically disappears while walking in the woods surrounding their estate, Lucy finds herself devastated and alone. Margaret has been spending a lot of time in the attic. She claims she can hear her dead mother's voice whispering from the walls. Emotionally shut out by her father, Lucy watches helplessly as her cousin's sanity slowly unravels. But when she begins hearing voices herself, Lucy finds herself confronting an ancient and deadly legacy that has marked the women in her family for generations.

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“The girl lives in a beautiful dollhouse made of stone, […] But underneath her shining plastic smile, there are only screams.”

Lucy Acosta lives in her family’s estate, home-schooled, with only her cousin Margaret for company. Her father is a constant absence but her Aunt Penelope is their main caretaker. After Walter, the cook, commits suicide, her Aunt Penelope walks into the woods and disappears without a trace, and Margaret says she’s hearing voices in the walls, Lucy has no one to turn to. Lucy’s hold on her mental stability is fragile and her answer to hardship is to sequester herself in her room with a razor. She begins to realize though that no one else seems to grasp the seriousness of the issues going on and that it’s up to her alone to battle whatever evil resides within her home.

With a blurb essentially guaranteeing you sleepless nights, the story unfortunately felt lifeless, causing the intended terror to be nothing more than a distant mirage. The characters appear as mere caricatures without any solid background development to help the reader feel sympathetic to their plight. The lack of backstory is an enormous issue too with a complete lack of “connecting dots” that are clearly meant to be make this story more mysterious but ends up just not making sense half the time. What seemed to be a Gothic Victorian period piece ended up being the modern equivalent when the slang being used (“That promise sure lasted a hot minute.”) and the random sprinkling of curse words  were taken into account. I really wish I had more nice things to say about this because I was genuinely excited for this story, alas, I wasn’t impressed by much until the very end and by then it was merely too little, too late.

Combining the uncertainty of your own sanity (The Yellow Wallpaper) with a gothic mansion and paranormal entities (The Haunting of Hill House), The Women in the Walls had potential to terrify but fell short of hitting the mark.

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The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co. #1) by Jonathan Stroud [Purchase//Review]
Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna #1) by Kendare Blake [Purchase//Review]
Long Lankin (Long Lankin #1) by Lindsey Barraclough [Purchase//Review]

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Ominous October – Dead Souls by J. Lincoln Fenn

Posted October 8, 2016 by Bonnie in Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Ominous October, Read in 2016 / 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.

Ominous October – Dead Souls by J. Lincoln FennDead Souls by J. Lincoln Fenn
Narrator: Julia Whelan
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on September 20th 2016
Length: 9 hours and 30 minutes
Genres: Horror
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Poe

four-stars

From the award-winning author of the acclaimed novel Poe comes an edgy and bone-chilling new novel.

When Fiona Dunn is approached in a bar by a man who claims he's the devil, she figures it's just some kind of postmodern-slash-ironic pickup line. But a few drinks in, he offers her a wish in exchange for her immortal soul, and in addition Fiona must perform a special favor for him whenever the time comes. Fiona finds the entire matter so absurd that she agrees. Bad idea. Not only does Fiona soon discover that she really was talking to the devil incarnate, but she's now been initiated into a bizarre support group of similar "dead souls" - those who have done the same thing as Fiona on a whim and who must spend their waking hours in absolute terror of that favor eventually being called in...and what exactly is required from each of them in order to give the devil his due.

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Imagine witnessing your boyfriend get into a taxi with another woman after he tells you he’s leaving town on a business trip. You head to the bar to get trashed only to end up unintentionally selling your soul to a man named Scratch, who also claims to be the devil, for a single wish. There’s also the matter of the future favor he’ll be calling in when you least expect it. Bad freaking night. Fiona Dunn is an atheist and doesn’t believe it’s at all impossible, but when clear evidence to the contrary rears its ugly head, she’s determined to find a way out of the deal. Once she discovers that there are far more “dead souls” than just her in Oakland, California, she winds up becoming a new member of a support group for all who continue to walk this Earth, minus a soul. But as time passes, the Devil starts calling in his favors, and they end up being far more horrifying than they ever would have anticipated.

Out of all the wishes Fiona could have made, she made the wish to be truly invisible, to be able to witness all the things she otherwise would have missed. In exchange, she gets a business card with the date she sold her soul burnt into it and a blank space below “Favor.” Once the Devil calls in his favor, instructions will appear and you won’t be able to say no. And this is the part where the otherwise mysterious tale turns dark and gruesome. Very, very dark and gruesome. It is suggested that the mass shootings and otherwise horrifyingly violent acts that have occurred in the past (and even hinting at current events) are nothing more than the Devil calling his favor, performing violent acts in his name. I specifically enjoyed how the author manages to make this story very much set in the real world yet incorporating the paranormal aspects in such a way to make it all seem scarily conceivable.

The story is written in first person which gives it that distressing sense of urgency as Fiona frantically tries to come up with a plan to give out of the disaster she finds herself in. The beginning of the story delves into Fiona’s career as a marketing executive and it’s not until later you realize how relevant it all is in the grand scheme of things. A marketing executive is akin to a salesman and Fiona is determined to sell her plan to the Devil, just as she were to sell an idea to a client, except this time her very soul is at stake.

More horrifying than terrifying, but still immensely satisfying. Fenn knocks it out of the park with this delightfully macabre tale of horror.

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Horns by Joe Hill [Purchase]
The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman [Purchase//Review]
A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay [Purchase//Review]

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Book Review – The Wolf Road: A Novel by Beth Lewis

Posted September 24, 2016 by Bonnie in Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2016 / 1 Comment

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 Wolf Road: A Novel by Beth LewisThe Wolf Road: A Novel by Beth Lewis
Published by Crown on July 5th 2016
Pages: 352
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads


three-stars

True Grit meets The Road in this postapocalyptic psychological thriller--narrated by a young girl who has just learned that her adopted father may be a serial killer, and that she may be his next victim.

In the remote wilds of a ravaged land, Elka has been raised by a man who isn't her father. Since finding her wandering in the woods when she was seven, he has taught her how to hunt, shoot, set snares and start fires--everything she needs to survive. All she knows of the world outside is gleaned from whispers of a cataclysmic event that turned the clock back on civilization by a hundred and fifty years and reduced governments and technology to shambles, leaving men at the mercy of the elements--and each other.

Everything changes when Elka learns that the man she has been calling father is harboring a terrible secret. Armed with nothing but her knife and her wiles, she decides to escape his clutches and sets out on a long journey to the frozen north in the hope of finding her long-lost parents.

But as the trail of blood and bodies grows in her path, Elka realizes that daddy won't be letting his little girl go without a fight. If she's going to survive, she'll have to turn and confront not just him, but the truth about what he's turned her into.

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‘One a’ them rules is don’t go trusting another man’s path…People do it, they do what their mommies and daddies did, they make them same mistakes, they have them same joys and hurts, they just repeating. Trees don’t grow exactly where their momma is; ain’t no room…I weren’t following no one up through life.’

Deep in the woods of what was once called British Columbia, 17-year-old Elka is struggling to survive on her own. After what she refers to as the “Big Damn Stupid”, the two wars that demolished the world that we know, this post-apocalyptic wasteland isn’t for the weak-willed. When she was only 7-years-old, Elka was caught in a massive storm and lost her grandmother but was taken in by a man she called “Trapper”, a man that taught her everything she needed to know about surviving and became the closest thing she could call family. When Elka discovers that “Trapper” a.k.a Kreager Hallet is wanted by the law for the deaths of many, she disappears thinking that she must be next. Her plan is to finally set off to find her long lost parents who left her with her grandmother to go in search of wealth, but her days traversing the woods alone get her mind racing as to the reasons why Kreager Hallet kept her alive all these years.

Her journey takes her north for many months. Seasons change but she continues to walk towards some unseen destination. Things aren’t easy and she constantly encounters obstacles but nothing she’s not able to find her way around, even with the law that is also searching for her assuming that she’s an accomplish for the murders. She even befriends a Wolf who undertakes the journey alongside her. Elka was an extraordinary character and one that isn’t seen often enough. Resilient, resourceful, with an indomitable spirit, she constantly proved herself to be immensely capable of dealing with any situation presented to her. When she’s forced to deal with other people and society, it was baffling to her that all women wouldn’t be just like her: able to take care of themselves in this harsh world.

‘I seen women take this kind a’ help from a man with a look a’ relief on their faces. I wondered if these women knew how much easier their lives would be if they did all this stuff for themselves.’

The comparisons between The Road and True Grit are apt. The world is a desolate place lacking in any redeemable qualities and has reverted to a Western style. Considering this was once British Columbia, it makes sense that individuals still speak French but to ones like Elka that have spent their life away from the company of people, she’s developed her own dialect that is decidedly Western. The language itself is fortunately effortless to read unlike other books I’ve read where new dialects have been created. The writing itself is fluid and promising for a debut author. There was unfortunately one lapse that ultimately changed the entire story for me: it’s told in past-tense and the essence of the ending is revealed in the introduction. For me, too much was revealed and the element of surprise was spent. Yes, there were additional details to add to the ending that weren’t disclosed until the true end of the story, however, I felt that the initial reveal was wholly unnecessary and the entire story would have been far more effective and enticing at keeping the reader interested if left out completely. Nonetheless, this post-apocalyptic western proves to be an auspicious start for debut author Beth Lewis.

‘Memories ain’t no one’s friend. They show you all the good things you had, all the good things you lost, and don’t let you forget all the bad shit in between.’

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Blog Tour Review + Giveaway! Pasadena by Sherri L. Smith

Posted September 16, 2016 by Bonnie in Book Reviews, Book Tour, Giveaways, Read in 2016 / 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.

Blog Tour Review + Giveaway! Pasadena by Sherri L. SmithPasadena by Sherri L. Smith
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers on September 13th 2016
Pages: 240
Genres: Coming-of-Age
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Orleans

four-stars

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

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

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

About Sherri L. Smith

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

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

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

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Jude is visiting her estranged father on the East Coast when she receives the call about Maggie. They tell her she committed suicide. That she was found floating in her pool with a belly full of drugs. But that simply doesn’t make sense, because everyone loved Maggie Kim’s vivacious and charismatic attitude; she was a girl who truly had everything to live for. Jude flies back home immersing herself in the mystery surround her death, convinced that it wasn’t suicide and that she’s going to discover the person truly responsible for her death.

‘Maggie Kim was the sun in our universe. We all circle her. Never the other way around. And now that she’s gone, we’re shifting orbits.’

Maggie was Jude’s best friend, however, once her absence becomes all the more apparent, she begins to recognize that Jude wasn’t necessarily Maggie’s best friend. Her group of friends are a diverse bunch that come together to celebrate her life but clash constantly with one another. Maggie was the bond that linked everyone and now that she’s gone, there’s nothing left to keep the friendships from surviving. As Jude begins looking beneath the glossy veneer of Maggie Kim’s life, she starts to realize that there was a reason for it: to cover all those fine cracks hidden just below the surface. All the unexpected secrets slowly being uncovered that Jude would have expected a best friend to confide to her. We’re frequently shown flashbacks of time spent with Maggie, and with all the new knowledge she’s exposed, Jude reflects on these encounters with her best friend in a different light.

While the mystery itself was appealing on its own merits, the coming-of-age type story and self-reflection it causes Jude to go through is a surprisingly heavy yet affecting facet. The story uncovers Jude’s own past, the inner demons which she is constantly struggling with, and forces her to finally bring them to the light. The glitzy L.A. backdrop is vivid, describing the stifling heat and the wildfires that constantly consume the hillsides surrounding the city. Each aspect of this story is written with a startling intensity that manages to be completely captivating. Pasadena is just my second read by this author, Orleans being my first, and I continue to be riveted by each story she’s told, regardless of genre.

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Thanks to the wonderful individuals over at Penguin Books, I have a finished copy to share with one lucky reader! Leave a comment expressing your interest in this story to enter.

This giveaway is open to US residents only and will end on September 30th, 2016.

Good luck!

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Pasadena Blog Tour

Wednesday, September 7 – Teen Librarian Toolbox (guest post)
Thursday, September 8 – The Book Smugglers (guest post)
Monday, September 12 – I Read Banned Books (guest post)
Wednesday, September 14 – Finding Wonderland (interview)
Thursday, September 15 – Portrait of a Book (review)
Monday, September 19 – In Wonderland (interview)
Tuesday, September 20 – The Forest of Words and Pages (review)
Wednesday, September 21 – Here’s to Happy Endings (review)
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Book Review – The Peculiar Night of the Blue Heart by Lauren DeStefano

Posted September 15, 2016 by Bonnie in Book Reviews, Middle Grade, Read in 2016 / 1 Comment

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 – The Peculiar Night of the Blue Heart by Lauren DeStefanoThe Peculiar Night of the Blue Heart by Lauren DeStefano
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on September 13th 2016
Pages: 208
Genres: Fantasy
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Wither, Perfect Ruin, Burning Kingdoms

three-stars

Lionel is a wild boy, who doesn’t much like to be around other people. He’d rather be a purring cat or a wolf stalking the woods.

Marybeth is a nice girl. She doesn’t need to be told to comb her hair or brush her teeth, and she’s kind to everyone at the orphanage . . . Lionel most of all.

Different though they are, Lionel and Marybeth are best friends in a world that has forgotten about them. So when a mysterious blue spirit possesses Marybeth—and starts to take control—they know they must stop it before the real Marybeth fades away forever.

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‘Lionel already understood. He could make the chickens lay eggs and he could reason with the most stubborn of foxes. But he had learned years ago that humans were more dangerous than the things that stalked about the wilderness.’

Lionel may be a wild boy and Marybeth may be a nice girl, but these two 9-year-olds are one another’s only friends in a world where they have no one else. Lionel and Marybeth, along with six other orphans, live in the care of widowed Mrs. Mannerd who more than has her hands full. Much of their free time is spent traversing the woods surrounding the house where Lionel especially feels most at home due to the fact that he himself feels more animal than human. He likes to feed the wild animals from his hand and refuses to eat at the dinner time, preferring instead to eat beneath it. Marybeth is a perfectly normal little girl that manages to soothe the rougher edges of Lionel’s wildness. During one of their excursions in the wilderness, Lionel tells Marybeth of a blue fox that he’s currently trying to get to trust him, but to no avail. When Marybeth spots the blue creature from her bedroom window one night, she rushes to get a look at it only to find that it’s not a fox at all but something that ends up possessing and changing Marybeth.

This was such an endearing tale of friendship that will touch hearts of all ages. Lionel and Marybeth are the unlikeliest of duos, however, their friendship becomes vital to both of them. Their friendship helps Lionel to reacquaint himself with his emotions and come to terms with his loneliness at the orphanage which Marybeth also deals with similar feelings of isolation. When Marybeth is no longer Marybeth, having been inhabited by the ghost, it’s up to Lionel to take charge like he’s never had to before in order to help his friend solve the mystery of who this ghost is. The mystery and paranormal aspects were curious yet left me with more than a few questions (unlikely to be a problem with the appropriate age group) but the real story here is the friendship and the lesson in mortality.

The Peculiar Night of the Blue Heart is yet another unexpectedly sinister Middle grade adventure from DeStefano. The bleak undertones are paired well with a message of hope and a mystery that will keep any reader in this age group speculating. Lauren DeStefano has definitely found her niche in the Middle Grade genre.

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The Cats of Tanglewood Forest by Charles de Lint [Purchase//Review]
The Thief of Always by Clive Barker [Purchase]
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman [Purchase]

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Audiobook Review – The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer

Posted September 8, 2016 by Bonnie in Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews / 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.

Audiobook Review – The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy SchumerThe Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer
Narrator: Amy Schumer
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on August 16th 2016
Length: 8 hours and 6 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads


four-stars

The Emmy Award-winning comedian, actress, writer, and star of Inside Amy Schumer and the acclaimed film Trainwreck has taken the entertainment world by storm with her winning blend of smart, satirical humor. Now, Amy Schumer has written a refreshingly candid and uproariously funny collection of (extremely) personal and observational essays.

In The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, Amy mines her past for stories about her teenage years, her family, relationships, and sex and shares the experiences that have shaped who she is—a woman with the courage to bare her soul to stand up for what she believes in, all while making us laugh.

Ranging from the raucous to the romantic, the heartfelt to the harrowing, this highly entertaining and universally appealing collection is the literary equivalent of a night out with your best friend—an unforgettable and fun adventure that you wish could last forever. Whether she’s experiencing lust-at-first-sight while in the airport security line, sharing her own views on love and marriage, admitting to being an introvert, or discovering her cross-fit instructor’s secret bad habit, Amy Schumer proves to be a bighearted, brave, and thoughtful storyteller that will leave you nodding your head in recognition, laughing out loud, and sobbing uncontrollably—but only because it’s over.

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I didn’t quite know what to expect from this memoir. I knew very little about Amy Schumer prior to this memoir, only having seen some of her skits as well as her hosting the 2015 MTV Movie Awards, but I thought she was funny and I’m a complete sucker for memoirs narrated by the authors themselves. But after this book? I love her. She’s absolutely hysterical with her self-deprecating sense of humor while still managing to be completely empowering as well as her candid talks about her sex life which are totally amusing.

“I’m a real woman who digests her meals and breaks out and has sweet little pockets of cellulite on her upper thighs that she’s not apologizing for. Because guess what? We all have that shit. We’re all human beings.”

You can’t help but love that honesty. It’s straightforward and sincere and only helps to make us females lacking that “perfect body” feel a little bit better about ourselves. It is what it is, people. Move along.

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“I also want to clarify that this book has NO SELF-HELP INFO OR ADVICE FOR YOU […] I’m a flawed fuckup and I haven’t figured anything out, so I have no wisdom to offer you. But what I can help with is showing you my mistakes and my pain and my laughter […]”

While Schumer is widely known for being a Comedian, this book isn’t all fun and games. While I would have adored a book from her composed of nothing but sidesplitting humor, I can understand why she took the opportunity to voice her opinions and include a few more insightful notes. And while she does clarify at the very beginning that there is nothing self-help about this book, there are still many lessons that can be learned from her words. She discusses in depth the amount of time and energy she spent to build her career from the ground up, to always stand up for who you are and what you believe in, and to learn to roll with the punches life throws at you with the determination that you will eventually come out of this. The types of stories she shares though are widely varied going from hilarious recollections of her childhood stuffed animals that now look like something out of a nightmare to reading clips from her teenage diary entries (including present day footnotes). She speaks openly about being an introvert and these parts were like preaching to the choir.

‘I really don’t do well at parties or gatherings where I feel like I am obligated to be more “social.” Usually I will find a corner to hide in and immediately begin haunting it like the girl from The Ring, just hoping no one will want to come talk to me.’

But on the opposite end of the spectrum, she tells us tragic stories about the loss of her virginity, about her own personal story of domestic abuse, her terrifying stories of blacking out, and a very stirring statement on gun control that I at one point even said “Fuck yeah, Amy!” while listening. While those entries aren’t funny or entertaining to read about, it’s a part of what makes Amy, well, Amy and for that I appreciate her honesty. She knocked it out of the park with her narration and I do so hope she writes more in the future. I’ll leave you with this gem.

‘He walked down the aisle and I watched him, his arms bulging and his huge hands gripping his bag as he navigated his way between the seats. I was thinking, Maybe when he walks by I can pretend to sneeze … and fall on the floor in front of him … and he will trip and fall inside of me.

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

Posted September 6, 2016 by Bonnie in 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
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

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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Poetry Review – The Universe of Us by Lang Leav

Posted September 3, 2016 by Bonnie in Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2016 / 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.

Poetry Review – The Universe of Us by Lang LeavThe Universe of Us by Lang Leav
Published by Andrews McMeel Publishing on October 4th 2016
Pages: 240
Genres: Romance, Poetry
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Love & Misadventure

two-stars

International best-selling author of Love & Misadventure, Lullabies (Goodreads Readers Choice Award), and Memories Lang Leav presents a completely new collection of poetry with a celestial theme in The Universe of Us.

Planets, stars, and constellations feature prominently in this beautiful, original poetry collection from Lang Leav. Inspired by the wonders of the universe, the best-selling poetess writes about love and loss, hope and hurt, being lost and found. Lang's poetry encompasses the breadth of emotions we all experience and evokes universal feelings with her skillfully crafted words.

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Lang Leav has become extremely popular with her poetry collections ever since her debut collection Love & Misadventure. Misadventure was voted second in the Goodreads Choice Awards in 2013 (beat out by Tolkien), Lullabies, her second poetry collection, actually won the 2014 Goodreads Choice Awards, and her third collection, Memories, was once again second place in the 2015 Awards. Clearly, she’s popular and she’s consistently hitting the mark with her targeted audience. Unfortunately, I am not a part of that audience, and I definitely do not see how her words manage to provoke such a euphoric state. I have admittedly only read Leav’s debut poetry collection, Love & Misadventure. The poems rhymed to an excessive degree, they weren’t particularly moving, and there was even one about flossing. FLOSSING. Yet, as I already stated, her popularity never faltered. I saw the upcoming release of The Universe of Us and thought that I really should give her another shot because I kept thinking it possible that she had gotten better and her writing could be something I’d be able to appreciate along with the masses.

Despite my preconceived notions, I still tried to go into this with an open mind. And at first, I think I was actually enjoying myself. Naturally, I thought I had a fever, but I figured there could be a possibility that it was a more evolved collection and that I wouldn’t have to read anything about flossing. The flossing one really bothered me, folks.

There were also several pieces of her artwork included for an added flair, except I really have no clue what the fuck is going on in this one. I think she’s setting the boat on fire with a magnifying glass? Honestly, I have no fucking clue. Regardless of the “meaning”, she does have some lovely pieces to admire. And there are actually some lovely poems as well, the only problem is they are few and far between. Leav consistently falls back on her excessive rhyming in order to drive the point that this is a poem, people, bask in its glory. Okay, she doesn’t actually say that but rhyming is not a prerequisite of poetry but it’s a common trend in her work. And then there are the ones that aren’t poetry, some are just declarative statements, and others are nothing more than a simple conversation.

To me, this just doesn’t strike me as anything unique or requiring any sort of special skill. It felt like nothing more than filler. While there were a few that even I could appreciate, the vast majority of these still failed to impress me and didn’t help me understand the reason for her ongoing popularity. I feel these poems are targeted to the type of individuals that have always said they don’t like poetry. Reading this and loving it won’t make you a fan of poetry though because while Leav may have some grasp on how to combine words to make something sound beautiful, there really isn’t any sort of depth. There’s nothing particularly profound or complex and if that manages to work for you, great, but I’m going to go read some Plath now.

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