Posts Categorized: Book Reviews

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.

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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.

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

October 31, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2016 0 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 28, 2016 Bonnie Book Reviews, Giveaways, Read in 2016, YA 8 Comments

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

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

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

four-stars

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

About Jonathan Stroud

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

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

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

Lockwood & Co. Series

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

prizepack

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Ominous October – The Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics

October 22, 2016 Bonnie Book Reviews, Ominous October, Read in 2016, YA 0 Comments

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

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


two-stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ominous October – Dead Souls by J. Lincoln Fenn

October 8, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Ominous October, Read in 2016 3 Comments

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

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

Also by this author: Poe

four-stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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