Posts Categorized: Book Reviews

Book Tour Review – The Invasion of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling #2) by Erika Johansen

December 8, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Book Tour, Read in 2016 6 Comments

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

Book Tour Review – The Invasion of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling #2) by Erika JohansenThe Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
Series: The Queen of the Tearling #2
Published by Harper on June 9th 2015
Pages: 528
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Source: TLC Book Tours
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Queen of the Tearling, The Fate of the Tearling

three-half-stars

With each passing day, Kelsea Glynn is growing into her new responsibilities as Queen of the Tearling. By stopping the shipments of slaves to the neighboring kingdom of Mortmesne, she crossed the Red Queen, a brutal ruler whose power derives from dark magic, who is sending her fearsome army into the Tearling to take what is hers. And nothing can stop the invasion.

But as the Mort army draws ever closer, Kelsea develops a mysterious connection to a time before the Crossing, and she finds herself relying on a strange and possibly dangerous ally: a woman named Lily, fighting for her life in a world where being female can feel like a crime. The fate of the Tearling —and that of Kelsea’s own soul—may rest with Lily and her story, but Kelsea may not have enough time to find out.

About Erika Johansen

Erika Johansen was educated at Swarthmore College and received an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She is the Author of The Invasion of the Tearling, and The Queen of the Tearling, the first two novels of The Queen of the Tearling Trilogy.

The Queen of the Tearling series

Book Tour Review – The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling #1) by Erika Johansen

The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling #1) by Erika Johansen [Purchase//Review]

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“Fortune favors the bold, history tells us. Therefore, it behooves us to be as bold as possible.”

The Invasion of the Tearling, the second installment of the trilogy, opens with Queen Kelsea struggling to devise a way to save the Tear from the incoming Mort invasion. As if an impending invasion wasn’t bad enough, Kelsea is also dealing with executions, romantic dalliances, her sapphires which have fallen silent magically speaking but are subtly changing her physical appearance for reasons unknown to her, and also the visions she’s having of a woman named Lily Mayhew from pre-Crossing America. The story roughly splits the time spent between both women, showcasing the differences between the time periods, but these visions aren’t happening without reason. Could learning about the past possibly help her secure the future for her people?

“The wrongs of the past are not less significant, they’re just harder to fix. And the longer you ignore them in favor of more pressing issues, the worse the harm, until the problems of the past actually create the problems of the future.”

If I felt like The Queen of the Tearling was lacking in complexity, The Invasion of the Tearling made up for that in spades. There were a great many tiny things going on and yet Johansen maintained a steady handle on everything and kept it from getting too complex. There was Kelsea’s changed appearance as well as her obsession with her appearance, her desire for romance (she is 19 after all), the Mort invasion, her strange fireplace visitor, uncovering the mysteries of the Mort Queen, the visions of Lily and determining what they could possibly mean, the peculiar conflict with the Church, and Kelsea’s struggle to reign in the darkness inside her that craves violence (it’s very Gollum-like).

Honestly, this strange world managed to completely enthrall me this time around even if it was terribly violent and exceptionally difficult to read at times. In the pre-Crossing world, women are treated as nothing more than incubators and the sole property of their husbands. Lily’s husband Greg was a loathsome individual that brutalized Lily often for no reason at all. She was under constant surveillance in her own home and wasn’t allowed to go anywhere without an escort. It felt very much like The Handmaid’s Tale: a horrifying train wreck that you can’t look away from. I’m not sure if this bird’s-eye view of the past was intended to inform us of how terrible the world could be, and that it’s not out of the question for it to go back to that way in time, or if there was some other lesson there. I don’t think we’ll be returning to Lily’s story though. It served its purpose by educating the reader on this “pre-Crossing America” that was previously only referenced briefly. Considering the amount of questions I had regarding the serious lack of world-building, I was pleased to finally get some answers.

“There’s a better world out there, so close we can almost touch it.”

I had a lot of issues with the first installment and I can’t say for sure if I would have continued reading if I hadn’t already committed to a complete binge read. Even with my concerns for the entirety of the plot and my mountain of unanswered questions, I was still always intrigued enough to keep reading. Whenever I have similar issues with books there’s always this voice in the back of my head that wonders whether or not it will get better and all be worth it in the end. Primary reason why I have such difficulty DNF-ing anything; that possibility, no matter how minuscule, that it would all pay off if I just had some patience and kept at it. I never would have expected to go from disliking The Queen of the Tearling to be completely absorbed in The Invasion of the Tearling. Sophomore slump? No such thing here. Granted, my mountain of unanswered questions has only been slightly diminished, however, the biggest issue which was dealt with is the issue with the past and present. We’re given a curious glimpse at the pre-Crossing world and what led to the world becoming how it is in Kelsea’s time. It transforms this straight fantasy/medieval story into something out of a dystopian novel and I am incredibly intrigued to see how everything ends up playing out in the final installment.

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This post was a part of ‘the Tearling trilogy’ blog tour.
Check out this post for a complete list of tour stops!

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Early Review – Nine of Stars (Dark Alchemy #3) by Laura Bickle

December 3, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2016 6 Comments

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

Early Review – Nine of Stars (Dark Alchemy #3) by Laura BickleNine of Stars by Laura Bickle
Series: Dark Alchemy #3
Published by Harper Voyager on December 27th 2016
Pages: 384
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Dark Alchemy, Witch Creek

three-half-stars

Following on the heels of her critically acclaimed prequel novels Dark Alchemy and Mercury Retrograde comes the first installment in Laura Bickle’s dark contemporary fantasy series, Nine of Stars, a Wildlands Novel
Winter has always been a deadly season in Temperance, but this time, there’s more to fear than just the cold…

As the daughter of an alchemist, Petra Dee has faced all manner of occult horrors—especially since her arrival in the small town of Temperance, Wyoming. But she can’t explain the creature now stalking the backcountry of Yellowstone, butchering wolves and leaving only their skins behind in the snow. Rumors surface of the return of Skinflint Jack, a nineteenth-century wraith that kills in fulfillment of an ancient bargain.

The new sheriff in town, Owen Rutherford, isn’t helping matters. He’s a dangerously haunted man on the trail of both an unsolved case and a fresh kill—a bizarre murder leading him right to Petra’s partner Gabriel. And while Gabe once had little to fear from the mortal world, he’s all too human now. This time, when violence hits close to home, there are no magical solutions.
It’s up to Petra and her coyote sidekick Sig to get ahead of both Owen and the unnatural being hunting them all—before the trail turns deathly cold.

Dark Alchemy series

Dark Alchemy (Dark Alchemy, #1) by Laura Bickle [Review//Purchase]
Mercury Retrograde (Dark Alchemy, #2) by Laura Bickle [Purchase]

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*spoilers from the first two installments*

“There was a man, back in 1861. He came to be known as Skinflint Jack, the Jack of Harts.”

Petra Dee may be accustomed to the magical happenings in Temperance, Wyoming, but after the re-appearance of a man who was transformed through alchemy into a formidable creature in the 1800s, she knows she’s the only one that would be capable of overcoming him. Destroying an 18th-century monster isn’t the only thing troubling Petra these days though. Gabe is trying to both acclimate to being mortal once again and staying under the radar of the local authorities after Sal’s disappearance, Sal’s cousin being the sheriff and all. Petra is dealing with some health issues of her own which have her adjusting plans for her future. But when the wolves of Yellowstone are viciously attacked and Petra’s work colleague is left hospitalized after going to investigate, she knows that no one will have much of a future if this danger is left to roam.

“We all have our dark sides, I guess,” Gabe said, taking a swig of his beer.
“Yeah. And sometimes, the darkness finds us.”

Combining both ordinary and mystical mysteries, life is never dull for Petra Dee. I thoroughly enjoyed the complexity of the mystery behind the Luneria, the alchemical tree of life, but after its destruction in Mercury Retrograde, it seemed as if that storyline had finished. I was pleased to see it reintroduced in this installment, albeit in an extremely unsettling way. The death of Sal didn’t mean the end of the mysterious Rutherford family either. Temperance, Wyoming is, suffice it to say, a most enigmatic and peculiar town.

I’ve seen Nine of Stars marketed as both a brand new series and the third of the continued Dark Alchemy series. While I can see it working as a brand new start, the “prequel” novels as they’re being referred to, I feel, are an integral part of giving you the necessary context behind these characters. Whether you start here or with Dark Alchemy, Bickle still manages to properly introduce you to a world of magic and mystery which also incorporates Native American folklore that will appeal to any fantasy fan. There are no supernatural creatures in these stories, just by-products of alchemical experiments, the “magical process of transformation, creation, or combination,” a subject that has clearly been researched extensively by the author. Nine of Stars possessed an ending that was extremely abrupt that felt more like a chapter end than a story end but I am still eager for more Petra Dee.

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Book Review – The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

November 29, 2016 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2016, YA 0 Comments

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

Book Review – The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola YoonThe Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Published by Delacorte Press on November 1st 2016
Pages: 384
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Also by this author: Everything, Everything

four-stars

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.
The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

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“What a difference a day makes.”

Natasha possesses a scientific and mathematical mind that believes in finding solutions. Her current problem that requires one: her family are undocumented immigrants from Jamaica and she’s being forced to return to the country of her birth that night. Daniel is a poet and believes wholeheartedly in fate. His Korean immigrant parents expect him to attend an Ivy League school, become a doctor, and marry a nice Korean girl. Neither Natasha nor Daniel like the looks of the futures that have been mapped out for them. When the two cross paths and end up spending what Natasha believes to be their last day together (which Daniel is unaware of), their chemistry is undeniable. Whether it’s because of Daniel’s belief in fate or Natasha’s belief in chance, their budding romance is certain. But with only a guarantee of a single day, is a happy ending even possible?

‘We’re kindling amid lightning strikes. A lit match and dry wood. Fire Danger signs and a forest waiting to be burned.’

This story belongs to more than just Natasha and Daniel, although they are the stars of the show. We’re given a behind the scenes look at all the puzzle pieces that had to fall in to place in order for everything to happen just as it did. Not just what happens to Natasha and Daniel, but how their presence impacted the others that they crossed paths with. We see how the guard, Irene, causes Natasha to miss an important appointment but inevitably ends up saving Irene. We see how a near miss with a drunk driver results in changed circumstances for another. We see how a broken down train sets Daniel on a path he otherwise wouldn’t have found himself on. Whether or not this is a vote towards the possibility of fate, that’s certainly up for the reader to decide.

“I didn’t know you this morning, and now I don’t remember not knowing you.”

Yoon has said that while this story isn’t autobiographical, it’s definitely inspired by her own personal love story which must be why this story seems to possess so much sentiment. While I’m not typically a fan of anything closely resembling insta-love, The Sun is Also a Star possesses a type of insta-love that I can get behind. These two characters somehow manage to build a meaningful relationship with one another that was not only believable but something to aspire to, albeit in approximately 12 hours. Suspending your disbelief may be a slight requirement but it’s well worth it for romantics and cynics alike.

“Maybe he was just saying that we should live in the moment. As if today is all we have.”

related-reads-khaki

Just One Day (Just One Day #1) by Gayle Forman [Purchase//Review]
A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall [Purchase//Review]
The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett [Purchase//Review]

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Early Review – Slipping: Stories, Essays, & Other Writing by Lauren Beukes

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

Early Review – Slipping: Stories, Essays, & Other Writing by Lauren BeukesSlipping: Stories, Essays, & Other Writing by Lauren Beukes
Published by Tachyon Publications on November 29th 2016
Pages: 288
Genres: Collections & Anthologies
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Shining Girls, Broken Monsters

four-stars

In her edgy, satiric debut collection, award-winning South African journalist and author Lauren Beukes (The Shining Girls, Moxyland) never holds back. Nothing is simple and everything is perilous when humans are involved: corruption, greed, and even love (of a sort).

A permanent corporate branding gives a young woman enhanced physical abilities and a nearly-constant highRecruits lifted out of poverty find a far worse fate collecting biohazardous plants on an inhospitable worldThe only adult survivor of the apocalypse decides he will be the savior of teenagers; the teenagers are not amused.

From Johannesburg to outer space, these previously uncollected tales are a compelling, dark, and slippery ride.

‘You don’t have to name something to understand it.’

In Slipping, Beukes takes the modern world and transforms it into something futuristic and near unrecognizable. The title story, Slipping, is about a girl who, following a severe accident, is transformed through technological advances into a racing machine. Smileys is a strange story about a soldier attempting to extort a woman who sells cooked sheep heads. Pop Tarts is a story about a reality star and the realization that it’s all nothing but scripted fiction. Unathi Battles the Black Hairballs is the story about a woman who must save Tokyo (and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the talking cat). Each of these stories is wildly authentic, vastly entertaining, and a constant focus on the darkness in this world.

‘Culture wants to be free. This is not my original thought. But who of us can claim to be truly original? Aren’t we all remixes of every influence we’ve ever come across?’

The wide variety of genres cause the stories to lack a certain cohesion like a typical short story anthology might, but it does this collection a disservice to think this is a negative. Instead, each of these stories acts as their own palette cleanser from one story to the next and it keeps the reader in a constant state of bewilderment not knowing what type of outlandishness to expect next. I was pleasantly surprised that my favorite part of this collection were the five Non-Fiction pieces included at the end. In these, she discusses personal topics such as how she got into journalism, about the research she conducted for her book Zoo City within the inner city of Johannesburg, and some additional insight into why she wrote The Shining Girls, my personal favorite of Beukes, which made me love it even more. She leaves us on a resolute note, with a letter to her five-year-old daughter about the meaning of true beauty.

I’ve read (and loved) a few of Beukes’ full-length novels and her writing prowess manages to be just as impressive in her short fiction. This obscure collection only proves that her talents are truly expansive and that we have much to look forward from her.

‘Every person I speak to gives me a new perspective, a different lens. It’s made my writing more than it would have ever been. And it’s still an excuse to go adventuring.’

related-reads-grey

Yellowcake by Margo Lanagan [Purchase]
The Beautiful Indifference: Stories by Sarah Hall [Purchase//Review]
Screwjack by Hunter S. Thompson [Purchase]

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Audiobook Review – Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

November 25, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Non-Fiction, Read in 2016 4 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 – Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna KendrickScrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick
Narrator: Anna Kendrick
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on November 15th 2016
Length: 6 hours
Genres: Memoir, Funny-ha-ha
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads


four-stars

A collection of humorous autobiographical essays by the Academy Award-nominated actress and star of Up in the Air and Pitch Perfect.

Even before she made a name for herself on the silver screen starring in films like Pitch Perfect, Up in the Air, Twilight, and Into the Woods, Anna Kendrick was unusually small, weird, and “10 percent defiant.”

At the ripe age of thirteen, she had already resolved to “keep the crazy inside my head where it belonged. Forever. But here’s the thing about crazy: It. Wants. Out.” In Scrappy Little Nobody, she invites readers inside her brain, sharing extraordinary and charmingly ordinary stories with candor and winningly wry observations.

With her razor-sharp wit, Anna recounts the absurdities she’s experienced on her way to and from the heart of pop culture as only she can—from her unusual path to the performing arts (Vanilla Ice and baggy neon pants may have played a role) to her double life as a middle-school student who also starred on Broadway to her initial “dating experiments” (including only liking boys who didn’t like her back) to reviewing a binder full of butt doubles to her struggle to live like an adult woman instead of a perpetual “man-child.”

Enter Anna’s world and follow her rise from “scrappy little nobody” to somebody who dazzles on the stage, the screen, and now the page—with an electric, singular voice, at once familiar and surprising, sharp and sweet, funny and serious (well, not that serious).

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While Anna Kendrick discovered a love for acting at an early age, this certainly didn’t help her popularity with the other kids. What middle schooler even knows what the hell Sundance is anyways? Scrappy Little Nobody is a collection of brilliantly amusing episodes of her life from the time she was in a community theater production of Annie (Annie is brought up frequently, for which she apologizes for), flashing forward to the time she was typically referred to as “Number 44” on the set of Twilight, and the time she was “high off her face” at the Spirit Awards. Interspersed between these anecdotes are stories of growing up as a normal (yet very small) child in Maine, struggling to make ends meet even after becoming “a star”, and her eternal love of sweatpants.

“I love rules and I love following them, unless that rule is stupid.”

I’ve read more celebrity memoirs in the past year than I have in my entire life. There was the gorgeously written Dear Mr. You (Mary-Louise Parker), the inspirational Year of Yes (Shonda Rhimes) and Yes, Please (Amy Poehler), and the hilarious The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo (Amy Schumer). There’s something unreasonably astonishing, yet still refreshing, about reading celebrity memoirs and finding yourself taken aback at what normal people they are. While it could be argued that they’re simply trying to appear like normal people, Anna Kendrick’s stories come off as very authentic and candid. While her witty sense of humor is flawless, having her read this only enhanced the story. Her narration showcases her distinctive voice and her cleverly written zingers are even more hilarious when read out loud. At a mere six hours of audiobook time, her intimate recap of her thirty-one years of life leaves you wishing for more of her comical tidbits.

“So now, when I’m standing in a patch of wet moss in open-toed shoes and a strapless chiffon sundress, watching my breath fog in front of my face, I think: You are a fucking Navy SEAL, Kendrick! You will get through this scene, you will say the stupid joke, and if you lose a nipple to frostbite in the process it will be for art!

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For more hilarious memoirs…

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson [Review]
The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer [Review]
Yes Please by Amy Poehler

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Book Review – Dodgers: A Novel by Bill Beverly

November 19, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2016 1 Comment

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

Book Review – Dodgers: A Novel by Bill BeverlyDodgers: A Novel by Bill Beverly
Published by Crown on April 5th 2016
Pages: 304
Genres: Coming-of-Age, Crime
Source: Library Thing
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads


three-stars

In this stunning debut, author Bill Beverly delivers a story unlike anything else in fiction: a dark, haunting, literary crime novel that is also a powerful coming-of-age narrative, and one that will be sure to appeal to fans of Richard Price or The Wire.

.Dodgers. is the story of a young man named East who works for an LA drug gang, sent by his uncle along with some other teenage boys—including East’s hotheaded younger brother—to kill a witness connected to a major case, who is hiding out in Wisconsin. The journey takes East out of a city he’s never left and into an America that is entirely alien to him, and over the course of his journey the book brings in elements from a diverse array of genres, ranging from crime fiction to road narrative to coming-of-age novel. Written in stark and unforgettable prose and featuring an array of surprising and memorable characters rendered with empathy and wit, .Dodgers heralds the arrival of a major new voice in American fiction.

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‘Every road had a number and joined up a hundred times with other roads. He saw how they would go. This was like the mazes they use to do in school while the teacher slept. What they said in school was: Don’t worry. Keep looking at it. You can always get there.’

At only fifteen-years-old, East has been working as a lookout for two years at a Los Angeles drug house in a place known as the Boxes. He’s a tough young man and does his job well but when the established system fails and the house falls to the authorities, East is concerned he won’t be trusted any longer. His uncle, Fin, the drug lord he works for, has a new job for him though: a road trip with a crew of boys to kill a witness before he can testify in rural Wisconsin. While the murder is the objective, this road trip becomes much more a coming-of-age tale (regardless of the fact that these boys are mature beyond their years) when they get a glimpse of a world outside of Los Angeles that they have never seen before.

‘Flight, they called it. One part fear, one part the blindest excitement you’d ever known. It freed you from time, from who you were or the matter of what you’d done. You darted, like a fish away from a net, like a dog outrunning a dogcatcher.’

East has street smarts, there’s no doubt about that, but thrown into a world far different from his own causes him to almost regress and become more childlike and naive than the young man we were first introduced to. He adapts and does so quickly, with his determination to survive anything kicking into gear. In addition to East is Walter who has big dreams with a love of science, Michael Wilson who helps aid the drug runs at UCLA, and East’s thirteen-year-old brother Ty who has quickly become callous and hardhearted from the life he leads. None of the boys get along with one another, not even East and his brother, so they not only have to contend with learning how to navigate a world they’ve never been a part of but curb their conflicts with one another so they can make it there in one piece in order to finish the job. Things don’t exactly go to plan, despite the clear-cut path laid out for them.

Bill Beverly manages to successfully portray a calamitous way of life in an undisclosed time period. The research he conducted on criminal fugitives for his non-fiction book, On the Lam, clearly was utilized in this fictional tale. The aspect of this story that really shined for me were the descriptions of the surroundings and how these boys visualized the simplest of things them through their naiveté. This is not an action-packed story of street crime but is rather a haunting, character driven tale that succeeded in balancing despair and hope in equal measure.

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Book Review – The Hating Game: A Novel by Sally Thorne

November 17, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2016 8 Comments

Book Review – The Hating Game: A Novel by Sally ThorneThe Hating Game: A Novel by Sally Thorne
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on August 9th 2016
Pages: 384
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: 99 Percent Mine: A Novel

five-stars

Debut author Sally Thorne bursts on the scene with a hilarious and sexy workplace comedy all about that thin, fine line between hate and love.

Nemesis (n.) 1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome. 2) A person’s undoing 3) Joshua Templeman

Lucy Hutton has always been certain that the nice girl can get the corner office. She’s charming and accommodating and prides herself on being loved by everyone at Bexley & Gamin. Everyone except for coldly efficient, impeccably attired, physically intimidating Joshua Templeman. And the feeling is mutual.
Trapped in a shared office together 40 (OK, 50 or 60) hours a week, they’ve become entrenched in an addictive, ridiculous never-ending game of one-upmanship. There’s the Staring Game. The Mirror Game. The HR Game. Lucy can’t let Joshua beat her at anything—especially when a huge new promotion goes up for the taking.
If Lucy wins this game, she’ll be Joshua’s boss. If she loses, she’ll resign. So why is she suddenly having steamy dreams about Joshua, and dressing for work like she’s got a hot date? After a perfectly innocent elevator ride ends with an earth shattering kiss, Lucy starts to wonder whether she’s got Joshua Templeman all wrong.
Maybe Lucy Hutton doesn’t hate Joshua Templeman. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.

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After the corporate merger between Bexley and Gamin Publishing, complete opposites Lucy and Josh are forced into sharing an office subsequently fueling the beginnings of the hate game. IHATEJOSHUA4EV@ becomes Lucy’s computer password, The Staring Game becomes a daily occurrence, and it’s a constant battle to outdo anything and everything he does. It’s easy to admit that she absolutely despises the man, but can’t help but notice his strange fixation with wearing his shirts in a set order (White, off-white stripe, cream, pale yellow, mustard, baby blue, robin’s egg blue, etc) and the fact that he’s really quite cute, albeit an ass. When a huge promotion becomes available and Lucy and Josh are both in line for it, their games get taken to a whole new level.

‘Both love and hate are mirror versions of the same game – and you have to win. Why? Your heart and your ego. Trust me, I should know.’

Do you remember playing childish games with your crush that usually involved being terribly mean to them which was meant to declare your undying love for them? Did you ever have that guy in middle school that teased you incessantly and then years later he’s asking you to prom? The Hating Game is exactly like that. But adults. In an office setting. Absolutely hilarious and completely steamy. Elevators will never be viewed the same again.

Opposites attract is quite the predictable storyline because it’s expected that they’re going to end up together, but Thorne makes the adventure to the inescapable conclusion refreshing and delightful. I do not read this genre on a regular basis but every once in a while even my cold, cynical heart needs some fluff. I spent the majority of this novel either admiring the chemistry between these two characters (*cough* holy hotness *cough*) or laughing at the hysterical bantering between them.

“If we leave my car here, Helene will know. She’ll see it.”
“Should we hide it under some branches in a forest?”

Every once in a while, you read a book and you adore it. You don’t want the story to end and when it inevitably does you want to immediately start over. It was everything you were looking for and you can’t wait to dive into the authors other books. But wait, what is this? There are none?! This was a debut!?!

Fortunately, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Until then, I foresee a re-read in my future.

related-reads-yellow

Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie, Bob Mayer [Purchase]
I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella [Purchase]
One Plus One by Jojo Moyes [Purchase]

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Book Tour Review – The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling #1) by Erika Johansen

November 10, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Book Tour, Read in 2016 5 Comments

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

Book Tour Review – The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling #1) by Erika JohansenThe Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
Series: The Queen of the Tearling, #1
Published by Harper Paperbacks on July 8th 2014
Pages: 464
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Source: TLC Book Tours
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Invasion of the Tearling, The Fate of the Tearling

two-half-stars

Young Kelsea Raleigh was raised in hiding after the death of her mother, Queen Elyssa and knows little of her kingdom’s haunted past . . . or that its fate will soon rest in her hands.

Long ago, Kelsea’s forefathers established a new land free of modern technology. Three hundred years later, this feudal society has divided into three fearful nations who pay duties to a fourth: the powerful Mortmesne, ruled by the cunning Red Queen. Now, on Kelsea’s nineteenth birthday, the tattered remnants of the Queen’s Guard have appeared to escort the princess on a perilous journey to the capital to ascend to her rightful place as the new Queen of the Tearling. Though born of royal blood and in possession of the Tear sapphire, a jewel of immense power and magic, Kelsea has never felt more uncertain of her ability to rule. But the shocking evil she discovers in her realm will precipitate an act of immense daring, throwing the entire kingdom into turmoil—and unleashing the Red Queen’s vengeance.

Kelsea’s quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun. Riddled with mysteries, betrayals, and treacherous battles, Kelsea’s journey is a trial by fire that will either forge a legend . . . or destroy her.

About Erika Johansen

Erika Johansen was educated at Swarthmore College and received an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She is the Author of The Invasion of the Tearling, and The Queen of the Tearling, the first two novels of The Queen of the Tearling Trilogy.

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‘The future was only disasters of the past, waiting to happen anew.’

Princess Kelsey Raleigh Glynn has known from an early age that as soon as she turned nineteen, when she officially came of age, that she would ascend the throne as The Queen of the Tearling. Smuggled from the kingdom  in an effort to protect her from would-be assassins, she is raised by her foster parents Barty and Carlin and theirs are the only two individuals she interacts with her entire life. Her mother, long dead, had left her kingdom in the hands of her brother, Thomas Raleigh, and Kelsea’s arrival to court certainly throws a wrench in his continued plan to rule. The policies put in place by her mother and upheld by her Uncle don’t sit well with Kelsea and she sets out to make things better so her people are truly protected but this is only the start of her journey.

‘The Queen held up her hands for silence. At that moment, Javel knew for certain that she truly was the Queen, though he never knew why or how he knew.’

Regardless of all the talk of thrones and kingdoms and courts, this story is not set in some medieval past but rather a distant future where an unexplained catastrophe has managed to bring about a dark age. No technology exists, books are not commonly owned with most individuals not even possessing the ability to read, violence is rampant, and slave ownership is customary. This story definitely would have worked far better if it was a true fantasy (which it is not, even though it is marketed as such) rather than a future based on our current reality, especially with the lack of explanation regarding how we as a society could have possibly gotten to that point. It could almost be called a dystopian, but even that doesn’t completely fit. Honestly, it’s better just to go in with the belief this is nothing more than a fantasy because if you attempt to rationalize the world-building you’ll be at it for days. In terms of this being viewed as a fantasy story though, this has been billed as an exciting new entry into the fantasy and alas I believe this to be anything but. Simply put, this fantasy and historical fiction mash-up will appeal to fans of the genre even if it doesn’t necessarily bring anything unique to the table.

Game of Thrones meets Hunger Games has been the standard comparison and while there are aspects that fit with both stories, it unfortunately only sets the reader up for failure if going in with that comparison in mind. The Game of Thrones comparison is shown in the medieval aspects, the political strife, and the inner turmoil of the court. Everyone is either good or evil though, Kelsey is something of a Mother Teresa and the villain of this tale is a mass murderer so it’s completely black and white. And speaking of color, there is a decided lack of diversity and that is something that I admittedly fail to notice in most cases, but apparently not this one. While there may be some form of diversity present in some way shape or form, it’s never referenced. The Hunger Games comparison is mostly in regards to the the heroine, but Kelsey is certainly no Katniss. Our character definitely had appealing qualities but we got off to a rocky start. Here’s a girl that has had no interaction with the outside world and her only knowledge consists of what she is told and what she has read in books. As soon as she has begun her journey to her kingdom, she transforms into this individual completely lacking in self-doubt (minus the strange fixation she has on her plainness and of others beauty or lack of), holds herself and comports herself as a Queen would be expected to. And while I loved this aspect of her because she was a force to be reckoned with, it just didn’t fit with our initial introduction to her. I did thoroughly enjoy the magical aspects of this tale, the sapphire necklaces that she wears, and the power that she learns to wield.

 While I did not adore this as many have mainly due to my hopes for additional world-building explanations, this world still managed to sufficiently intrigue me. The Queen of the Tearling is the start of a trilogy and I have hope that Johansen will be able to build further on the foundation she’s laid.

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This post was a part of ‘the Tearling trilogy’ blog tour.
Check out this post for a complete list of tour stops!

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Release Day Feature + #Giveaway! Heartless by Marissa Meyer

November 8, 2016 Bonnie Book Reviews, Giveaways, Read in 2016, Release Day Feature 12 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! Heartless by Marissa MeyerHeartless by Marissa Meyer
Published by Feiwel & Friends on November 8th 2016
Pages: 464
Genres: Fantasy, Fairy-Tales/Retellings
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Cinder, Scarlet, Cress

four-stars

Long before she was the terror of Wonderland — the infamous Queen of Hearts — she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the yet-unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend and supply the Kingdom of Hearts with delectable pastries and confections. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next Queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the king's marriage proposal, she meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship.

Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

grey-review

‘She would be queen, and queens… queens did not open bakeries with their best friends. Queens did not gossip with half-invisible cats. Queens did not have dreams of yellow-eyed boys and wake up with lemon trees over their beds.’

Catherine, the Queen of Hearts, before she became the crazed monarch of Wonderland,

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was a girl with hopes and dreams of living a quiet life, making delicious foods, and happily loving someone that loves her just as much. Being the daughter of a Marquess though, the life she envisions for herself is far from what is expected of her. When the King of Hearts begins showing an interest in obtaining her hand, Catherine fears that she won’t be able to say no even if saying yes will banish her hopes and dreams permanently. But when the man with the yellow eyes from her dreams makes an appearance in her waking hours, she dares to hope for that unattainable future once again.

‘It had been a hazy, beautiful dream, and in it there had been a hazy, beautiful boy. He was dressed all in black and standing in an orchard of lemon trees, and she had the distinct sensation that he had something that belonged to her.’

We’re first introduced to this jubilant girl with a zest for life which is such a stark contrast to how we know her character turns out in the end. While we all know the inevitable outcome, I was most interested to see how she came to be. My initial concern with this story was simple: that she became this bitter, enraged woman solely because of a broken heart. I needed the reasoning behind her considerable transformation to have a little bit more substance. While there were some lagging sections near the middle of the story and some obscure mysteries that didn’t fully make sense until the end, I was actually quite pleased with the end result and felt that her drastic alteration in character ended up flowing well and wasn’t quite as drastic at first glance. The outcome, while expected, still made for an enticing story just to see how all the pieces fell into place.

Before this happens though, we’re taken through her tumultuous roller coaster of emotions where she’s discovering her growing love for one man whilst being forced into the marriage of another. It was all fairly devastating to witness and very Romeo & Juliet. She continuously found tranquility through her baking and the joy she had for her delicious concoctions was infectious and will leave you with many a craving.

‘This was why she enjoyed baking. A good dessert could make her feel like she’d created joy at the tips of her fingers. Suddenly, the people around the table were no longer strangers. They were friends and confidantes, and she was sharing with them her magic.’

The obstacle with retellings is that everyone knows the story yet you’re tasked with trying to come up with your own unique interpretation. Change things too much though and you’re no longer being faithful to the original tale. It’s a fine line between the two, but Meyer had the benefit of being able to create a backstory for this character from scratch. I can say with complete aplomb that her imaginative backstory felt authentic and suitable not just to the Queen of Hearts character but to the entire Wonderland world.

One to be a murderer, the other to be martyred,
One to be a monarch, the other to go mad.

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I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy of this story from Feiwel & Friends and now would like to share it with one of my readers!

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

This giveaway is open to US residents only and will end on November 22nd, 2016.

Good luck!

 

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Book Review – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, John Tiffany

November 5, 2016 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2016, YA 6 Comments

Book Review – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, John TiffanyHarry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 & 2 by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, John Tiffany
Series: Harry Potter #8
Published by Arthur A. Levine Books on July 31st 2016
Pages: 320
Genres: Fantasy
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Cuckoo's Calling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

five-stars

The Eighth Story. Nineteen Years Later.

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

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*some spoilers to follow*

If I’m being honest, I never originally intended on reading this story. I adore Harry Potter, I just felt that the story was better left as is after the epilogue of the Deathly Hallows. But then my book bestie morphed into the pushiest book pusher that ever pushed and suddenly I found myself having already finished and wondering how I ever thought I could not read this. Setting aside all the vast amounts of criticism this has received (i.e. this isn’t written by Rowling, it reads like fan-fic, it’s not even a book but a screenplay) it ended up being more than I could have ever hoped for.

“Hogwarts will be the making of you, Albus. I promise you, there is nothing to be frightened of there.”

Taking us right back to the epilogue of the Deathly Hallows, we get to see Albus getting on his first train to Hogwarts. And his discussion with Harry regarding the possibility of him being placed in Slytherin. We’re not given the detailed account of his time spent at Hogwarts, but rather the generalized impression that Hogwarts isn’t quite the sanctuary for him that it was for his father. The comprehensive details of the world are also missing from the screenplay but for those of us who have already read the first seven books, that world is emblazoned upon our minds and no rehashing of details are necessary for us to fully comprehend each and every scene.

Cursed Child manages to smoothly connect many major plot points from the original novels: the infiltration of the Ministry of Magic by Harry, Ron, and Hermione (Deathly Hallows, book 7), the Tri-Wizard tournament and Cedric’s death (Goblet of Fire, book 4), time turners (Prisoner of Azkaban, book 3), the perpetual battle between good and evil, and the important father-son relationships that have been a focal point of this series from the beginning. It also makes a less than obvious point of showing how seemingly inconsequential deaths end up having a much larger impact in the grand scheme of things. With the help of a time turner, we’re shown snippets of how the world could have been with the simplest of changes. The variation of possibilities was both shocking and horrifying. What I most enjoyed was how this wasn’t simply a new set of adventures with a new set of characters but rather recognition of the fact that the actions of the past was not a given end to that story, but that they inevitably had an effect on the future of their own children.

Harry: “How do I protect my son, Dumbledore?”
Dumbledore: “You ask me, of all people, how to protect a boy in terrible danger? We cannot protect the young from harm. Pain must and will come.”

While we do see the original characters and what they have become 19 years later, the focal point is on their children, primarily Albus and Scorpius who become immediate friends on the Hogwarts Express. Albus has a severely strained relationship with his father, Harry, and has difficulty living up to not just the enormous importance of his father, of the great men he was named after, and because of the fact that he was in fact placed in Slytherin rather than his father’s house, Gryffindor. It’s easy to see from the original stories how understandable it would be for Harry to not be the perfect father, considering his own lack of a permanent father figure. He does what he feels is best even when it is quite clearly not best, and the scenes between the two are often painful and heartbreaking. Scorpius, son of Draco Malfoy, also suffers from a poor relationship with his father due the actions of his past as well as Draco’s own relationship with his father, Lucius.

In October of this year I decided to do an impromptu re-read of the Harry Potter series on audio. I have re-read books 1-3 numerous times but I tend to run out of steam and have never been able to re-read books 4-7. Well, I finally overcame my hangups and completed my first re-read of Goblet of Fire. Due to the majority of this story centering around the storyline from The Goblet of Fire I chose to do my second re-read of the year (ha) of Cursed Child since the storyline was still so fresh in my mind. It works extremely well if you treat it as a #4.5 book as well, granted, it’s vital to know the outcome of the series as a whole in order to fully appreciate how it ties everything together and illustrates the growth of these characters.

“Perfection is beyond the reach of humankind, beyond the reach of magic. In every shining moment of happiness is that drop of poison: the knowledge that pain will come again. Be honest to those you love, show your pain. To suffer is as human as to breathe.”

Yes, perfection is an impossibility, and while there were many things I would have personally changed, this still managed to hit all my Harry Potter feels as perfectly as possible. Cursed Child reinforced my love of both the original stories and characters by growing them in legitimate ways, it gave me new characters to love (primarily Scorpius <3), and it removed the stereotype associated with Slytherin house by showing that not all associated are necessarily evil. #slytherinpride

I got: Slytherin!! So true. Can We Guess Your Hogwarts House By Asking Random Questions?

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