Posts Categorized: Book Reviews

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

September 24, 2016 Bonnie 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.

grey-review

‘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.’

bonnie blog signature

Divider

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

September 16, 2016 Bonnie 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.

style-3 (2) review

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.

style-3-2-giveaway

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!

border24

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)
border24

bonnie blog signature

Divider

Book Review – The Peculiar Night of the Blue Heart by Lauren DeStefano

September 15, 2016 Bonnie 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.

style-3 (3) review

‘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.

style-2-whitebg-2

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]

bonnie blog signature

Divider

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

September 8, 2016 Bonnie 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.

grey-review

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.

Image result for amy schumer gif

“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.

bonnie blog signature
Divider

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

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

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

Release Day Feature + Giveaway! Lady Cop Makes Trouble by Amy StewartLady Cop Makes Trouble by Amy Stewart
Series: Kopp Sisters #2
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on September 6th 2016
Pages: 320
Genres: Mystery, Historical Fiction
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
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]

style-3 review

“‘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!

 bonnie blog signature

Divider

Poetry Review – The Universe of Us by Lang Leav

September 3, 2016 Bonnie 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.

style-3 review

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.

bonnie blog signature

Divider

Book Review – The Steep & Thorny Way by Cat Winters

September 2, 2016 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2016, YA 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.

Book Review – The Steep & Thorny Way by Cat WintersThe Steep & Thorny Way by Cat Winters
Published by Amulet Books on March 8th 2016
Pages: 352
Genres: Historical Fiction, Fairy-Tales/Retellings
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: In the Shadow of Blackbirds, The Cure for Dreaming, The Uninvited: A Novel

two-stars

Prohibition, the KKK, and Hamlet collide in this richly imagined historical mystery by Morris Award finalist Cat Winters

A thrilling reimagining of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, The Steep and Thorny Way tells the story of a murder most foul and the mighty power of love and acceptance in a state gone terribly rotten.

1920s Oregon is not a welcoming place for Hanalee Denney, the daughter of a white woman and an African-American man. She has almost no rights by law, and the Ku Klux Klan breeds fear and hatred in even Hanalee’s oldest friendships. Plus, her father, Hank Denney, died a year ago, hit by a drunk-driving teenager. Now her father’s killer is out of jail and back in town, and he claims that Hanalee’s father wasn’t killed by the accident at all but, instead, was poisoned by the doctor who looked after him—who happens to be Hanalee’s new stepfather.

The only way for Hanalee to get the answers she needs is to ask Hank himself, a “haint” wandering the roads at night.

style-3 (3) review

 The year is 1923 and in a small town in Oregon, hate spreads like wildfire. Life is challenging for Hanalee Denney, the daughter of a black man and a white woman, but she has learned to persevere. When her father is killed by a drunk driver, she’s devastated by his absence from her life, especially after her mother quickly remarries. The boy responsible for his death, Joe Adder, is released from prison a mere seventeen months after being sentenced and once Hanalee finds out she takes her anger and a loaded gun to pay him a visit. After speaking with Joe, she leaves with her entire perception changed after hearing a vastly different story about what happened the night her dad died: he didn’t die from an automobile accident and that the man her mom remarried is the one truly responsible for his death.

I’ve read every Cat Winters book at this point but they seem to be hit or miss for me. I loved both In the Shadow of Blackbirds and The Uninvited, but felt The Cure for Dreaming was slightly mediocre in comparison. The Steep & Thorny Way falls in the latter category. Much like Dreaming, I felt that the subject matter was something I would normally welcome, however, overall it ended up feeling incredibly flat and listless. Cat Winters signature style has always been a fusion of stories with historical importance and a flair of paranormal, and it’s something that she does quite well. With, Thorny though, the Hamlet retelling comparisons as well as the paranormal aspects were elements which could have been left out entirely without affecting the story. A story about a half black/half white girl living during the rise of the Ku Klux Klan and a homosexual boy that is struggling to survive in a time where the study of eugenics has many thinking the issue of homosexuality is something that can be “fixed” is absolutely a strong enough story on its own.

I always appreciate the lesser known periods of history being given a spotlight and it’s interesting to see a story focus on the influence of the Ku Klux Klan extending far past the deep South, clear into Oregon. Tackling both race and sexuality prejudices in addition to touching on the topic of eugenics was edifying without feeling overwhelming, except I kept feeling off and on as if these characters were simplistic versions of their true potential. I suppose what it all boils down to though is Winters definitely demonstrates the ugliness of the times, yet it’s covered in a glossy veneer that hides the true grotesqueness doing the seriousness of the story somewhat of a disservice.

bonnie blog signature

Divider

Early Review – Magic Binds (Kate Daniels #9) by Ilona Andrews

August 26, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, 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.

Early Review – Magic Binds (Kate Daniels #9) by Ilona AndrewsMagic Binds by Ilona Andrews
Series: Kate Daniels #9
Published by Ace on September 20th 2016
Pages: 336
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Magic Bites, Magic Rises, Burn for Me

four-stars

The latest novel in the New York Times bestselling series that “stands apart.” (Library Journal)

Kate and the former Beast Lord Curran Lennart are finally making their relationship official. But there are some steep obstacles standing in the way of their walk to the altar…

Kate’s father, Roland, has kidnapped the demigod Saiman and is slowly bleeding him dry in his never-ending bid for power. A Witch Oracle has predicted that if Kate marries the man she loves, Atlanta will burn and she will lose him forever. And the only person Kate can ask for help is long dead.

The odds are impossible. The future is grim. But Kate Daniels has never been one to play by the rules…

Kate Daniels series

Magic Bites (Kate Daniels #1) [Review]
Magic Burns (Kate Daniels #2)
Magic Strikes (Kate Daniels #3)
Magic Bleeds (Kate Daniels #4)
Magic Slays (Kate Daniels #5)
Magic Rises (Kate Daniels #6) [Review]
Magic Breaks (Kate Daniels #7) [Review]
Magic Shifts (Kate Daniels #8)

style-3 (3) review

Kate is back!!

It pleases me to no end how fantastic and thrilling this installment was. Things got a little rocky for me in the Kate Daniels fan club with installments 6 and 7 so if any of you happen to feel the same, don’t give up hope. While the tenth installment will be the last, you heard me, Magic Binds is the PENULTIMATE installment, I’m still oh so very excited to see how the chips fall. But yes, very soon, Kate Daniels’ story will be coming to an end.

Image result for crying gif

This both breaks my heart and reinforces just how fast time flies. Kate Daniels was one of the very first Urban Fantasy series I read and I only discovered it after joining Goodreads (in 2011!) and making friends with people who recommended some excellent books. It will be most sad to see this come to an end because this is hands down one of the top five best Urban Fantasy series of all time. This series has elaborate world building bringing total fantasy to the real world, complex characters that make it easy to grow to love them over time, exciting storylines in every installment, and I can’t forget to mention the unbelievable chemistry between Kate and Curran. It’s some steamy shit, people. If any of these descriptions seem mildly entertaining to you, get on it. But I’m getting sidetracked, back to Magic Binds.

I already said this, but this was one action-packed and exciting installment. We’ve got wedding planning shenanigans, we get to see Kate and Curran work through their relationship drama (showing a lack of perfection which is always appreciated), an oracle that comes bearing quite a bit of bad news, Kate’s ongoing understanding of her vast powers and fighting against the lure of becoming exactly like her father, and the hilarious dynamic between Kate and her father, Roland. Sure, Roland is setting up a future war between him and Kate, but their banter back and forth is laugh out loud funny.

“Father, you are sending mixed signals. You dispatched a woman to murder me today and now you’re upset about my wedding reception?”

There’s additional amusing banter between Kate and… well, it’s a bit of a spoiler. But just be aware that there is much banter. And it’s oh so good. There’s also a Pegasus named Sugar that is QUITE a character.

‘At least I had stopped worrying about Sugar flying off and leaving me to fend for myself. She seemed to find me amusing and stuck around. I’d learned to sneak off before taking a bathroom break, however, because she decided that pawing at me with a hoof after I found a secluded spot to pee was the funniest thing ever.’

We’re given a bit of a cliffhanger which was honestly to be expected with the second to last installment but it left me feeling CONFLICTED.

Image result for nervous or excited gif

Both. Definitely both.

We’ll see how it all plays out… sometime in 2017. Until then, let’s all start hoping and wishing for a spin-off series.

bonnie blog signature

Divider

Book Review – The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan

August 19, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2016 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 – The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni FaganThe Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan
Published by Hogarth on July 19th 2016
Pages: 288
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic, Magical Realism, LGBTQIA
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Panopticon: A Novel

four-stars

The stunning new novel from the highly-acclaimed author of The Panopticon

It's November of 2020, and the world is freezing over. Each day colder than the last. There's snow in Israel, the Thames is overflowing, and an iceberg separated from the Fjords in Norway is expected to drift just off the coast of Scotland. As ice water melts into the Atlantic, frenzied London residents evacuate by the thousands for warmer temperatures down south. But not Dylan. Grieving and ready to build life anew, he heads north to bury his mother's and grandmother's ashes on the Scottish islands where they once lived.

Hundreds of miles away, twelve-year-old Estella and her survivalist mother, Constance, scrape by in the snowy, mountainous Highlands, preparing for a record-breaking winter. Living out of a caravan, they spend their days digging through landfills, searching for anything with restorative and trading value. When Dylan arrives in their caravan park in the middle of the night, life changes course for Estella and Constance. Though the weather worsens, his presence brings a new light to daily life, and when the ultimate disaster finally strikes, they'll all be ready.

Written in incandescent, dazzling prose, The Sunlight Pilgrims is a visionary story of courage and resilience in the midst of nature's most violent hour; by turns an homage to the portentous beauty of our natural world, and to just how strong we can be, if the will and the hope is there, to survive its worst.

style-3 review

‘The North Atlantic Drift is cooling and Dylan MacRae has just arrived in Clachan Fells caravan park and there are three suns in the sky.
That’s how it all begins.’

The North Atlantic Drift is a wind driven current of warm water that is responsible for the warmer climates in Europe. The ongoing thaw of the polar ice caps result in massive amounts of fresh water being released in the oceans, vastly changing its salinity. Changes in salinity have the potential to unsettle ocean currents and thus our weather. A decrease in salinity would cause the North Atlantic Drift to slacken, subsequently changing Europe’s climate slowly over time. We’re experiencing this subtle climate change now and have been for many years, but in The Sunlight Pilgrims, Fagan brings us to the year 2020 where the worst case scenario has finally become a reality. It’s November, before true winter has even arrived and the weather outside is -6°F. By the end of January temperatures will have dropped to -38° and a small village in Scotland is struggling to endure.

‘Dark is following them. It’s coming to cloak everything. Each day it will eat a little more light until they will wake up one morning to find the sun won’t rise again.’

The alarming Ice Age chronicled in these pages never quite becomes the focal point for this story. It’s the aura surrounding the true story. The dire circumstances help to establish the characters and showcases their most base natures, but at center stage is twelve year old Stella Fairbairn, who thirteen months ago used to be referred to as ‘he’.

‘Cael Fairbairn has ceased to exist. Thirteen months ago the girl that wore his body got up and told everyone to quit calling her by the wrong pronoun.’

Stella has finally found some form of peace after no longer having to show the world one person when the person she feels she is on the inside is completely different. She’s headstrong and determined to find her new place in the world amidst all the appalling bullying she’s forced to deal with from her classmates who she used to call friends. She resorts to finding people with similar stories on the internet to make her feel less alone and to find people that will accept her for how she is. Meanwhile, her and everyone else fights to stay alive in the rapidly changing climate. And at heart, that’s what this story is all about: surviving. Whether it’s surviving growing up in a society that refuses to accept you for who you are or whether it’s surviving in a harsh and unforgiving climate, it’s all the same.

Stella isn’t the only enticing character in the book; its chock-full of them. Constance, Stella’s free-spirited, survivalist mother, Dylan, the giant of a man who arrives in the village carrying the ashes of his mother and grandmother, and their neighbors which include a porn star, lesbian school teachers, some Satan worshipers, and a guy determined to prove the existence of aliens. While their descriptions alone would seem to guarantee a most quirky read, The Sunlight Pilgrims was a surprisingly subdued and almost peaceful read about the possible end of the world as we know it. Fagan has once again placed the spotlight on individuals that would typically be relegated to darkened corners. The Panopticon gave juvenile offenders the spotlight and now The Sunlight Pilgrims displays the marginalization of individuals undergoing a gender transition. Between the doctors that suggested anti-depressants to her instead of the hormone blockers she requested and the majority of the community that looks on her with nothing but disdain. All while this is happening, the Ice Age is still coming on slowly but surely. It all seems so insignificant that these individuals are still able to maintain their scorn and self-righteousness while there are more important things going on outside; like the world ending.

Fagan’s writing is almost restrained yet still remains vibrant and descriptively lush. She aptly describes icicles growing to the size of narwhal tusks, “…the long bony finger of winter herself.” While the world around them is being encased in ice, there is still a remarkable beauty to be found.

‘Sun spirals down through treetops showing up sediments of silver and amber dust. A frozen pond. Curls of ice make a frost flower on a fallen bough. Each iced petal is perfectly curled and see-through. Winter has been hand-carving them overnight. Placing them here.’

‘A flock of birds fly low overhead.
Mossy greens and purples and red-golds have faded to brown.
Sleet billows off the mountain.
Treetops disappear in one blink as the white owerblaw races over the mountaintop and drifts down thicker and faster, painting everything white until within seconds the whole landscape is utterly changed.’

While the mere concept of negative double digit temperatures is horrifying, Fagan manages to make it a poetic experience. There’s even a pinch of magical realism added to this most realistic world, when Dylan first sets eyes on Constance, “…she reaches up a pale arm up into the sky and polishes the moon.” It was a frivolous addition to the story, however, it added a touch of magic to the existing beauty and I loved it.

When I sat down to write this review tonight, I was distressed because I didn’t have any idea what to say about this story or if I’d even be able to successfully explain what made it so special. I spent over an hour researching salinity and the North Atlantic Drift so that I could understand just how something like what happened in this story could actually happen. My research took me right back to how this story made me feel: aghast yet somehow sanguine. Survival is always a possibility, no matter the circumstances.

bonnie blog signature

Divider

Early Review – Bury the Living (The Revolutionary Series #1) by Jodi McIsaac

August 13, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, 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.

Early Review – Bury the Living (The Revolutionary Series #1) by Jodi McIsaacBury the Living by Jodi McIsaac
Series: The Revolutionary Series #1
Published by 47North on September 6th 2016
Pages: 302
Genres: Time Travel
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads


one-half-stars

Rebellion has always been in the O’Reilly family’s blood. So when faced with the tragic death of her brother during Northern Ireland’s infamous Troubles, a teenage Nora joined the IRA to fight for her country’s freedom. Now, more than a decade later, Nora is haunted by both her past and vivid dreams of a man she has never met.

When she is given a relic belonging to Brigid of Kildare, patron saint of Ireland, the mystical artifact transports her back eighty years—to the height of Ireland’s brutal civil war. There she meets the alluring stranger from her dreams, who has his own secrets—and agenda. Taken out of her own time, Nora has the chance to alter the fortunes of Ireland and maybe even save the ones she loves. In this captivating and adventurous novel from Jodi McIsaac, history belongs to those with the courage to change it.

style-3 (1) review

*spoilers are hidden in spoiler tags*

In 1990, Nora O’Reilly is fifteen years old with an unruly temper that gets her into far more trouble than would be otherwise necessary. Being angry at the poor situation her family finds itself in, a murdered father, a mother that can’t put down the bottle, and a brother that is the sole breadwinner, Nora takes it upon herself to start selling pills in order to make some side cash. Cash that will hopefully one day get her family out of Ireland and away from the ongoing war for freedom. The only thing it does it get her into more trouble than her temper ever did and before long, she’s signed up to be a member of the Irish Republican Army, and won’t manage to leave Ireland for another 10 years. Flash forward to the year 2004, Nora is now thirty years old and has been spending the last several years of her life as a relief worker in various foreign countries. She’s been having strange dreams for many months which feature the same man who never actually says anything to her yet leaves her with a sense of urgency that has her puzzled. When she dreams of him one night and he actually speaks, asking her to go to a town in Ireland because he needs her help, she brushes it off as nothing but a dream but she can’t completely shake off the pull to follow through on his request. When she does as the man in her dream requested, she ends up on an adventure through time itself, ending up in the year 1923.

Bury the Living was initially tempting to me because it’s a time travel adventure and marketed to fans of Outlander. It’s an understandable similarity, yet, Living falls undeniably short of living up to the comparison. The writing was enjoyable and kept me reading till the end but the characters themselves really blurred together after a point, except for the main character who seemed to have never grown out of her teenage temper. There’s an extensive focus on the historical detailing of the time as well as a romance, but the confusing aspects of the time travel itself, the inclusion of some puzzling fantasy aspects, and the lack of a logical plot made any positive aspects of this story fall by the wayside.

The historical detailing: This was the best part of the story. This is all information I had to take at face value because I knew little to nothing about the history of Ireland and the wars and strife they went through for decades. It was terrible yet fascinating but quite clear that the author did a lot of research for this book.

The romance: There isn’t a Claire and Jamie type of love, although, they’re truly incomparable. The building blocks were established for the romance in this first installment of the planned series, but I can’t say I felt any sort of chemistry between our two supposed love birds. I expect that will come later.

The time travel: After Nora’s dreams send her to a church in Kildare to find ‘Brigid’, a nun there is prepped and ready because she also had been having dreams warning her of Nora’s impending arrival. With the help of an ancient relic View Spoiler » from Saint Brigid herself, Nora is sent back to the year 1923. I don’t know, it was all just a little too methodical for my liking.

The fantasy aspects/Plot: The majority of this is quite spoilery so I’ll just include these bits in spoiler tags. View Spoiler »

Bury the Living is an informative time travel adventure through the arduous 1920s of Ireland. It’s evident this is the first installment of a planned series and the ending definitely leaves you hanging whether Nora will ever manage to accomplish her goal of changing the future. Unfortunately, I doubt I’ll be picking up the next book to find out.

bonnie blog signature

Divider