Category: Early Review

Early Review | The Ex Hex (Ex Hex #1) by Erin Sterling

Posted September 2, 2021 by Bonnie in 2021, Book Reviews, Early Review / 2 Comments

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

Early Review | The Ex Hex (Ex Hex #1) by Erin SterlingThe Ex Hex by Erin Sterling, Rachel Hawkins
Series: Ex Hex #1
Published by Avon on September 28, 2021
Pages: 320
Genres: Fantasy, Witches
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Also by this author: Hex Hall, Demonglass, Spell Bound

four-stars

New York Times bestselling author Rachel Hawkins, writing as Erin Sterling, casts a spell with a spine-tingling romance full of wishes, witches, and hexes gone wrong.

Nine years ago, Vivienne Jones nursed her broken heart like any young witch would: vodka, weepy music, bubble baths…and a curse on the horrible boyfriend. Sure, Vivi knows she shouldn’t use her magic this way, but with only an “orchard hayride” scented candle on hand, she isn’t worried it will cause him anything more than a bad hair day or two.

That is until Rhys Penhallow, descendent of the town’s ancestors, breaker of hearts, and annoyingly just as gorgeous as he always was, returns to Graves Glen, Georgia. What should be a quick trip to recharge the town’s ley lines and make an appearance at the annual fall festival turns disastrously wrong. With one calamity after another striking Rhys, Vivi realizes her silly little Ex Hex may not have been so harmless after all.

Suddenly, Graves Glen is under attack from murderous wind-up toys, a pissed off ghost, and a talking cat with some interesting things to say. Vivi and Rhys have to ignore their off the charts chemistry to work together to save the town and find a way to break the break-up curse before it’s too late.

“Never mix vodka and witchcraft.”

Valuable advice, but advice that Vivi fails to heed. Nine years ago, after falling hard for Rhys Penhallow only to find out too late of his betrothal, Vivi shouts frivolous curses into the night not realizing there was actual magic behind them. When Rhys returns to town for the first time since that fateful night his luck is exceptionally bad and he has no idea why until he finds out the truth behind his misfortune. Vivi, feeling most apologetic for her role in this debacle, decides to set aside past grievances to find out how to reverse the curse especially when they discover the curse is going to destroy the very town itself. It doesn’t help matters when she realizes Rhys Penhallow is just as distracting as he was when she fell in love with him nine years ago.

The Hex Hall series and the spin-off novel School Spirits are some of my favorite YA books so discovering that Erin Sterling (a.k.a. Rachel Hawkins) was writing a witchy adult novel had me thrilledI found this story to be extremely delightful overall (and well worth the read) but there were some aspects that I wish had been better. There’s plastic skulls that come to life, a talking cat that won’t stop asking for treats, and even a ghost that haunts a library. The magical bits were absolutely, well, magical, but considering this has been pitched as “Hocus Pocus but they fuck” (hahaha…) I wanted, and rather anticipated, this book to be straight imbued with magic. The romance was far from lacking in chemistry but I expected more tension between the two since Vivi had been pining over Rhys for the entire nine years but they acted almost as if their issues never happened.

I adored the family aspects of this though (it felt very much like Practical Magic) and the light humor was on point. Apparently this is the first in an anticipated series and I am here for it. Bottom Line: this was an incredibly cute, delightfully whimsical, and overall perfect read for the Halloween season (or when you need a little magic with your romance.)

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Release Day Feature | The Kindred Spirits Supper Club by Amy E. Reichert

Posted April 20, 2021 by Bonnie in Book Reviews, Early Review, Release Day Feature / 3 Comments

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

Release Day Feature | The Kindred Spirits Supper Club by Amy E. ReichertThe Kindred Spirits Supper Club by Amy E. Reichert
Published by Berkley on April 20, 2021
Pages: 336
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Ghosties
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Also by this author: The Coincidence of Coconut Cake, The Simplicity of Cider

three-stars

Jobless and forced home to Wisconsin, journalist Sabrina Monroe can tolerate reunions with frenemies and kisses from old boyfriends, but not the literal ghosts that greet her in this heartwarming tale of the power of love and connection from acclaimed author Amy E. Reichert.

For Sabrina Monroe, moving back home to the Wisconsin Dells–the self-described Waterpark Capital of the World–means returning to the Monroe family curse: the women in her family can see spirits who come to them for help with unfinished business. But Sabrina’s always redirected the needy spirits to her mom, who’s much better suited for the job. The one exception has always been Molly, a bubbly rom-com loving ghost, who stuck by Sabrina’s side all through her lonely childhood.

Her personal life starts looking up when Ray, the new local restaurateur, invites Sabrina to his supper club, where he flirts with her over his famous Brandy Old-Fashioneds. He’s charming and handsome, but Sabrina tells herself she doesn’t have time for romance–she needs to focus on finding a job. Except the longer she’s in the Dells, the harder it is to resist her feelings for Ray. Who can turn down a cute guy with a fondness for rescue dogs and an obsession with perfecting his fried cheese curds recipe?

When the Dells starts to feel like home for the first time and with Ray in her corner, Sabrina begins to realize that she can make a difference and help others wherever she is.

About Amy E. Reichert

Amy Reichert earned her MA in Literature from Marquette University, and honed her writing and editing skills as a technical writer (which is exactly as exciting as it sounds). As a newly minted member of the local library board, she loves helping readers find new books to love. She’s a life-long Wisconsin resident with (allegedly) a very noticeable accent, a patient husband, and two too-smart-for-their-own-good kids. When time allows, she loves to read, collect more cookbooks than she could possibly use, and test the limits of her DVR.

“Two days, twenty-three hours, and thirty-two minutes. Almost three full days since Sabrina Monroe had last spoken to someone who wasn’t a relative.”

Introvert extraordinaire, Sabrina’s goal in life is simple: avoid human interaction as much as possible. Her evasion tactics have succeeded up until the point when she finds herself in the middle of a fight at the water park covered in strawberry margarita slush. It’s there that she meets a human named Ray that she actually wants to speak to, but her severe anxiety and her insistence that her stay in Wisconsin is only temporary keep her from thinking that there could actually be something between them. Sabrina’s need to leave Wisconsin and to get back to her real-life centers around her inability to be a part of what makes the females in her family special: they can see spirits. And Ray has moved back to Wisconsin to uncover a long-buried family secret and Sabrina and her abilities may be able to finally bring them to light.

Even though that seems like enough plot for an entire novel, there were (too?) many other facets to this story. Ray has his own complete backstory surrounding the aforementioned family secret, Sabrina has a bully from her school days that still terrorizes her and is the root cause of her debilitating anxiety, and Molly, one of the spirits that Sabrina sees which has become something of a best friend to her, has her own backstory as well. As a result, the plot felt a little busy at times and turned this potentially light-hearted and quirky tale into something unexpectedly heavy. One of my favorite aspects of Reichert’s novels is her delicious depictions of the most mouth-watering sounding foods. Cheese curds took center stage in Kindred Spirits.

‘In a line, he had the curds, flour, and a beer batter – a simple mixture of Spotted Cow beer, flour, salt, pepper, and a dash of cayenne – each in its own tray.”

Reichert posted a cheese curd recipe inspired by the delicious ones mentioned in the novel and if you’re the drinking type, there’s a recipe for a Wisconsin-Style Brandy Old-Fashioned. Both recipes sound to die for.

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

Posted October 4, 2019 by Bonnie in 2019, Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Rapid Fire Reviews / 12 Comments

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

Rapid Reviews – Twice in a Blue Moon, Wanderers, The Unkindest Tide, Sapphire FlamesTwice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren
Published by Gallery Books on October 22, 2019
Pages: 368
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Short Summary: When eighteen-year-old Tate fell in love with Sam, she couldn’t foresee that he’d not only break her heart but her trust. Fourteen years later everything has changed but when Tate sees Sam for the first time since that day, she realizes that her heart never truly recovered and never truly got over him.

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

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

In a nutshell, GIF style:

Image result for what the fuck was that gif

 

two-stars

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

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

Wanderers by Chuck Wendig
Published by Del Rey Books on July 2, 2019
Pages: 800
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Goodreads

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

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

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

In a nutshell, GIF style:

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two-stars

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

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

The Unkindest Tide by Seanan McGuire
Series: October Daye #13
Published by DAW Books on September 3, 2019
Pages: 368
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Short Summary: The Unkindest Tide, the thirteenth installment, when the Sea Witch decides it’s time for the Selkies to finally fulfill their promise and Toby must be there to help her bring the Roane back.

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

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

In a nutshell, GIF style: 

Related image

 

three-stars

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

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

Sapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews
Series: Hidden Legacy #4
Published by Avon on August 27, 2019
Pages: 393
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Goodreads

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

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

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

In a nutshell, GIF style: 

Image result for no chemistry gif

 

three-stars

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

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

Posted July 9, 2019 by Bonnie in 2019, Book Reviews, Early Review, YA / 3 Comments

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

Book Review | In ‘Wilder Girls’ the Horror is Somehow BeautifulWilder Girls by Rory Power
Published by Delacorte Press on July 9, 2019
Pages: 368
Genres: Horror, Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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three-stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted May 7, 2019 by Bonnie in 2019, Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review / 5 Comments

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

Book Review | In ‘The Unhoneymooners’, Enemies Become LoversThe Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
Published by Gallery Books on May 14, 2019
Pages: 432
Genres: Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Also by this author: My Favorite Half-Night Stand, Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating, Love and Other Words, Twice in a Blue Moon, The Honey-Don't List

three-stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Early Review – An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

Posted November 29, 2018 by Bonnie in Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2018 / 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.

Early Review – An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks &  Sarah PekkanenAn Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen
Published by St. Martin's Press on January 8, 2019
Pages: 384
Genres: Mystery
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
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three-stars

The next novel of psychological suspense and obsession from the authors of the blockbuster bestseller The Wife Between Us

Seeking women ages 18–32 to participate in a study on ethics and morality. Generous compensation. Anonymity guaranteed.

When Jessica Farris signs up for a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr. Shields, she thinks all she’ll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money, and leave. But as the questions grow more and more intense and invasive and the sessions become outings where Jess is told what to wear and how to act, she begins to feel as though Dr. Shields may know what she’s thinking…and what she’s hiding. As Jess’s paranoia grows, it becomes clear that she can no longer trust what in her life is real, and what is one of Dr. Shields’ manipulative experiments. Caught in a web of deceit and jealousy, Jess quickly learns that some obsessions can be deadly.

From the authors of the blockbuster bestseller The Wife Between Us comes an electrifying new novel about doubt, passion, and just how much you can trust someone.

“We all have reasons for our actions. Even if we hide the reason from those who think they know us best. Even if the reasons are so deeply buried we can’t recognize them ourselves.”

Jessica Farris is a makeup artist in New York City and when she overhears information about a psychological study for some quick cash she finds a way to get into it. Sitting in an empty room she answers questions on a computer on ethics and morality. She’s prompted to be as honest as possible and she is; she has no reason not to be. This is an anonymous study after all where she is referred to only as Subject 52. She’s generously paid and when the individual in charge of the study, Dr. Shields, dangles the carrot of further payment if she continues the study outside of the classroom she accepts. The things Jess is asked to do are slightly unnerving and confusing, unsure how it has anything to do with ethics and morality, but the desire to help her struggling family out is more than enough incentive to quiet the discontent in her mind. The more studies she completes though, the more the discontent grows.

Most mysteries these days tend to count on unreliable narrators to keep the reader guessing. In the end, you’re thrown a curveball of an answer that causes you to question the hundreds of pages you’ve just consumed. It can be just as fun to work your way back through the story, reevaluating everything you assumed but now with a new understanding. That’s what I enjoyed most about An Anonymous Girl, you think you know exactly what’s going on, and you might be right, but there’s just enough uncertainty that you can’t be sure, so you keep reading. Alas, the lead up was great, but the ending wasn’t quite the shocker that I had anticipated and felt a little too ‘easy’ of a conclusion when compared to the chaos that led up to it. I sometimes feel that by reading too many mysteries that I’m dulling any future enjoyment, that I become too adept at deciphering what’s truly going on. Or maybe this was simply a mediocre mystery.

For more unreliable narrators…

Night Film by Marisha Pessl [Purchased|Review]
The Panopticon by Jenni Fagan [Purchased|Review]
Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough [Purchased|Review]

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Rapid Fire Reviews – The Dry, Strange Weather, Witch Creek, The Wolves of Winter

Posted February 22, 2018 by Bonnie in Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2018 / 7 Comments

Sometimes review writing is hard. Sometimes you don’t have a lot to say. Sometimes you’re just lazy as fuck. These are Rapid Fire Reviews.

Rapid Fire Reviews – The Dry, Strange Weather, Witch Creek, The Wolves of WinterThe Dry by Jane Harper
Series: Aaron Falk #1
Published by Flatiron Books on January 10th 2017
Pages: 336
Genres: Mystery
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Short Summary: Federal Agent Aaron Falk returns to his small hometown for the funeral of his childhood friend who is accused of murdering his family and then committing suicide, but this small town is full of terrible secrets and shocking surprises.

Thoughts: This mystery is one of the most impressive debuts that I’ve read in a very long time, intertwining a past vs. present story, a captivating writing style, and a tangled mystery that was most thrilling when all is revealed.

Verdict: Whether or not this needed to be the start of a series, Jane Harper impressed me so much I’ll be reading anything and everything she writes.

four-stars

Rapid Fire Reviews – The Dry, Strange Weather, Witch Creek, The Wolves of WinterStrange Weather by Joe Hill
Published by William Morrow on October 24th 2017
Pages: 432
Genres: HorrorFantasy
Format: ARC
Source: Library Thing
Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Also by this author: NOS4A2Twittering from the Circus of the DeadThe Fireman: A Novel

Short Summary: A camera that slowly eats your soul with each picture, a mall security guard is believed to have prevented a mass shooting, a man on his first skydiving adventure lands on a seemingly sentient cloud, and a sudden apocalyptic event in Boulder, Colorado causes the clouds to rain deadly nails.

Thoughts: Strange Weather is an indelible collection of four short stories about vastly different topics that relate in some way to weather but all leave you with that unsettled feeling that Hill is oh so good at.

Verdict: While this was an impressive collection, it wasn’t consistent and I hoped for a little more from certain tales; however, it is apparent that Hill is just as talented in short story form as he is in novels.

four-stars

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.

Rapid Fire Reviews – The Dry, Strange Weather, Witch Creek, The Wolves of WinterWitch Creek by Laura Bickle
Series: Wildlands #4
Published by Harper Voyager on February 27th 2018
Pages: 384
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Dark AlchemyNine of Stars

Short Summary: Petra Dee won’t let a little thing like cancer stop her from finding her husband who she fears is lost to the darkness that lies under her town, but the Tree of Life is growing strong again and the power behind it won’t be stopped.

Thoughts: Petra’s perseverance to find her husband was admirable, but quitting chemo halfway through to go in search of him was fairly asinine and this installment, the weakest so far, could and should have been more about her search for Gabriel.

Verdict: I love this magical series and despite this weak installment, the cliffhanger means there are more installments to come and I’m still definitely on board for more Petra (and 100% more of her coyote side-kick Sig.)

three-stars

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

Rapid Fire Reviews – The Dry, Strange Weather, Witch Creek, The Wolves of WinterThe Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson
Narrator: Jayme Mattler
on January 2nd 2018
Length: 8 hrs and 53 mins
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Short Summary: After a nuclear war and a devastating pandemic, Lynn McBride and her family are surviving in the wilds of Canada, but secrets her parents kept hidden are suddenly seeing the light of day and those secrets endanger everyone.

Thoughts: This can easily be compared to all the big names: The Road, The Passage, Ashfall, etc. because despite my continued love for the genre, it’s been done to death; however, Johnson manages to still make this a worthwhile tale (especially with the added help of narrator Jayme Mattler).

Verdict: As a debut author, Johnson’s pick of genre may be overdone but his writing skills shine with possibility for future novels.

three-stars

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.

 

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Early Review – Unearthed (Unearthed #1) by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

Posted January 6, 2018 by Bonnie in Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2018, YA / 7 Comments

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

Early Review – Unearthed (Unearthed #1) by Amie Kaufman & Meagan SpoonerUnearthed by Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner
Series: Unearthed #1
on January 9th 2018
Pages: 336
Genres: Sci-fi
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Also by this author: Illuminae, Hunted, Sherwood

three-stars

When Earth intercepts a message from a long-extinct alien race, it seems like the solution the planet has been waiting for. The Undying's advanced technology has the potential to undo environmental damage and turn lives around, and Gaia, their former home planet, is a treasure trove waiting to be uncovered.

For Jules Addison and his fellow scholars, the discovery of an alien culture offers unprecedented opportunity for study... as long as scavengers like Amelia Radcliffe don't loot everything first. Mia and Jules' different reasons for smuggling themselves onto Gaia put them immediately at odds, but after escaping a dangerous confrontation with other scavvers, they form a fragile alliance.

In order to penetrate the Undying temple and reach the tech and information hidden within, the two must decode the ancient race's secrets and survive their traps. But the more they learn about the Undying, the more their presence in the temple seems to be part of a grand design that could spell the end of the human race...

“The worthy will rise into the stars . . .”

In a time when resources on Earth are limited, power grids are failing, and families are only allowed to have a single child, the discovery of an extinct alien race possessing the technology to make life a little less uncomplicated is a shining beacon of hope. Of course, traveling to a different galaxy to a planet named Gaia is the only requirement. Amelia Radcliffe is a scavenger, on Gaia illegally with the intent to obtain as much tech as she can to not only buy herself a ticket off the planet but to also buy her sister back from the servitude contract she’s locked in. Jules Addison is a scholar and is on Gaia with the hopes of decoding more of the alien language. His father, Dr. Elliott Addison, was the first to decode the message received from the alien race, and the first to realize that while their technology may benefit life on Earth, it may not be for the best in the long term. Jules seeks to find evidence that his father was right and to find out what dangers lie with the technology left by this race of mysterious beings. The two end up teaming up to work their way through the alien temple in hopes of uncovering a solution to both of their issues.

First things first, I read very little YA these days but there was something extremely fun about this book that I enjoyed right off the bat. I found positive and negative aspects both in this story but I felt they balanced each other out, still making this an entertaining tale. It was very Mission to Mars (2000) meets Indiana Jones and while there was a budding romance that built up quickly, it never overtook the plot like some YA romances tend to do. I honestly didn’t buy how quickly they reached the point that they do by the end of the novel, but for some reason, it didn’t lessen my enjoyment as a whole. The characterization was nicely balanced with snarky, badass Amelia and prim and proper Jules, although at times it was hard to differentiate between the two because each would tell the story from their point of view in alternating chapters. The inclusion of puzzles as the duo worked their way through the alien temple was a ton of fun, although it was often vaguely written and hard to visualize exactly what they were dealing with. There was a lot of internal dialogue that I felt could have been cut out a lot, resulting in more actual conversation, and towards the end, I felt like stuff started getting to be a bit repetitive and/or drawn out for no particular reason leading to that inevitable cliffhanger. My overall enjoyment certainly lessened by the time I finished but the cliffhanger ending was incredibly curious without that predictable reveal of “I knew that’s what was happening” sort of reveal.

Despite this being yet another typical “teenagers save the world” sort of story, this puzzle of a plot is enough to get a reader invested into sticking around for the second part of this novel that won’t be released until 2019.

related-reads-blue

Sleeping Giants (Themis Files #1) by Sylvain Neuvel [Review]
Fortune’s Pawn (Paradox #1) by Rachel Bach [Review]
Warcross (Warcross #1) by Marie Lu

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Early Review – White Hot (Hidden Legacy #2) by Ilona Andrews

Posted April 27, 2017 by Bonnie in Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2017 / 12 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 – White Hot (Hidden Legacy #2) by Ilona AndrewsWhite Hot by Ilona Andrews
Series: Hidden Legacy #2
Published by Avon on May 30th 2017
Pages: 384
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Format: eARC
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Also by this author: Magic Bites, Magic Rises, Burn for Me

four-half-stars

Nevada Baylor has a unique and secret skill—she knows when people are lying—and she's used that magic (along with plain, hard work) to keep her colorful and close-knit family's detective agency afloat. But her new case pits her against the shadowy forces that almost destroyed the city of Houston once before, bringing Nevada back into contact with Connor "Mad" Rogan.

Rogan is a billionaire Prime—the highest rank of magic user—and as unreadable as ever, despite Nevada's "talent." But there's no hiding the sparks between them. Now that the stakes are even higher, both professionally and personally, and their foes are unimaginably powerful, Rogan and Nevada will find that nothing burns like ice . . .

Hidden Legacy Series

Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy #1) by Ilona Andrews [Purchase|Review]

Nevada Baylor hasn’t spoken with Rogan in months and she’s slowly begun to move on with her life even though the maddening man (ha — see what I did there) is never far from her mind. She agrees to investigate the murder of Cornelius Harrison’s wife and Nevada not only finds herself in the middle of a massive conflict between multiple magical families (or “Houses”) but right back in the path of Rogan himself. This time around they realize that they simply get more done when they work together as allies.

‘Suddenly the past two months of normal life tore apart, like fragile paper, and I was right back next to Rogan, about to charge into a fight. And it felt right.’

The conflict between Houses puts the duo in serious danger when some of the most powerful members of the magical society become involved. When they’re not trying to keep one another from dying, they’re trying to work out what to do with the sparks flying between them.

“And now that I’m conveniently here, you decide to give it another shot. Is there a shortage of attractive women in your life, Connor?”
“There is a shortage of you in my life,” he said.

This is my 17th Ilona Andrews book and I feel I can safely declare myself a rabid fangirl. (I have yet to dive into her The Edge series but give me time.) Ilona Andrews stories are absolutely one of the reasons I remain as hardcore an Urban Fantasy fan as I am today and her Hidden Legacy series only helps solidify that. Their characterization is superb and no character is left without a role or sounding like a replica of another. Nevada is one awesome badass lady that can hold her own, Rogan is far more beyond being just a love interest placeholder and professional of zingy one-liners, and even the side characters (Nevada’s sniper mother, crazy sisters, and hilarious grandmother) are fantastic.

Grandma Frida burst through the door in her yellow rubber-ducky pajamas. 
“Grandma’s here,” I added.

What I love about this series is how developed her world-building is beyond “people have powers” — we meet some new players in the game: summoners, fulgurkinetics, elementalists, and even some magically created monsters not of this world. In lesser hands, these unique aspects would easily come across as cheesy and overwhelming but Andrews makes everything so fascinating. If I’m being real, the fantastic world-building is only an added bonus when it comes to the romance though and it’s rare that I say anything along those lines (worldbuilding is typically always first because if you don’t have worldbuilding… you’ve got yourself a bodice ripper, amirite?) Urban Fantasy typically always includes a romance in some shape or form but there’s some crazy sexual tension going on (and has since book 1) but View Spoiler » And also, some good news… the wait for book 3 is not long at all: Wildfire comes out July 25th, 2017. I’m already chomping at the bit and even contemplating reading both again because this series is that good (horrendously bad covers aside, but at least Rogan finally found a shirt by book 3.) 🙂

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Short & Sweet – Eleventh Grave in Moonlight, My Not So Perfect Life, Deathly Hallows

Posted January 20, 2017 by Bonnie in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2017, Short & Sweet Reviews / 3 Comments

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

Short & Sweet – Eleventh Grave in Moonlight, My Not So Perfect Life, Deathly HallowsEleventh Grave in Moonlight by Darynda Jones
Series: Charley Davidson #11
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on January 24th 2017
Pages: 352
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Also by this author: First Grave on the Right, For I Have Sinned, Second Grave on the Left

three-half-stars

A typical day in the life of Charley Davidson involves cheating husbands, missing people, errant wives, philandering business owners, and oh yeah...demons, hell hounds, evil gods, and dead people. Lots and lots of dead people. As a part time Private Investigator and full-time Grim Reaper, Charley has to balance the good, the bad, the undead, and those who want her dead. In this eleventh installment, Charley is learning to make peace with the fact that she is a goddess with all kinds of power and that her own daughter has been born to save the world from total destruction. But the forces of hell are determined to see Charley banished forever to the darkest corners of another dimension. With the son of Satan himself as her husband and world-rocking lover, maybe Charley can find a way to have her happily ever after after all.

*spoilers for previous installments*

“…I’m going to take over the world.”
“The whole thing?”
“Well, I’m going to try to take over the world.”
“And you feel you’re prepared for world domination?”
I lifted a noncommittal shoulder. “I’m taking a business class.”

Despite her new awareness of her God-like state, Charley Davidson strives to continue living as a normal human would. She’s taking a business class at the college (to help her out when she takes over the world), she has a new case which involves the son of the people that kidnapped Reyes when he was a child, and she’s helping the police sort out why and who could be sending Cookie’s daughter, Amber, threatening text messages.

Although I continue to profess my love for this series, it must be said that the plots of these later installments are getting weaker with each new one. I have always loved the incorporation of her day-to-day investigations mixed with the advancement of the Reaper storyline but if I’m being honest, more needs to happen with the Reaper storyline. It continues to be stretched to the limit and we’re given minuscule nibbles with each book which seems like nothing more than a way to continue to stretch the series past its expiration date. For the most part, there isn’t any actual advancement until the final 10% or so, and while it’s a most excellent 10%, it makes one definitely wish there was more to go around. And then as a cherry on top, we’re given a massive cliffhanger that will leave the reader groaning until the next installment.

The mysteries are great, the paranormal aspects are incredibly interesting, the sex scenes are off the charts, and Charley is always a source of amusement. But, Jones, you’re killing me with these cliffhangers.

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.

Short & Sweet – Eleventh Grave in Moonlight, My Not So Perfect Life, Deathly HallowsMy Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella
Published by The Dial Press on February 7th 2017
Pages: 448
Genres: Chick-Lit
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Also by this author: Wedding Night, Surprise Me, Love Your Life

three-half-stars

Part love story, part workplace dramedy, part witty critique of the false judgments we make in a social-media-obsessed world, this is New York Times bestselling author Sophie Kinsella’s most timely and sharply observed novel yet.

Everywhere Katie Brenner looks, someone else is living the life she longs for, particularly her boss, Demeter Farlowe. Demeter is brilliant and creative, lives with her perfect family in a posh townhouse, and wears the coolest clothes. Katie’s life, meanwhile, is a daily struggle—from her dismal rental to her oddball flatmates to the tense office politics she’s trying to negotiate. The final, demeaning straw comes when Demeter makes Katie dye her roots in the office. No wonder Katie takes refuge in not-quite-true Instagram posts, especially as she’s desperate to make her dad proud.

Then, just as she’s finding her feet—not to mention a possible new romance—the worst happens. Demeter fires Katie. Shattered but determined to stay positive, Katie retreats to her family’s farm in Somerset to help them set up a vacation business. London has never seemed so far away—until Demeter unexpectedly turns up as a guest. Secrets are spilled and relationships rejiggered, and as the stakes for Katie’s future get higher, she must question her own assumptions about what makes for a truly meaningful life.
Sophie Kinsella is celebrated for her vibrant, relatable characters and her great storytelling gifts. Now she returns with all of the wit, warmth, and wisdom that are the hallmarks of her bestsellers to spin this fresh, modern story about presenting the perfect life when the reality is far from the image.

Katie Brenner grew up in the English countryside and has always dreamed of living in the big city. At 26-years-old, she’s finally working her dream job at an ad agency, has a place of her own, and an Instagram account that showcases a life that anyone would envy. Despite her perfect outward appearance, everything is far from perfect. She’s not doing anything terribly creative at her job and is barely making ends meet, she has her own place but she has roommates and her room is tragically small so she keeps all her clothes piled in a hammock, and all those pictures she posts on Instagram is more how she wishes her life was vs. how it really is. When her life is abruptly upended and she finds herself living once again with her dad in the English countryside, she doesn’t think she’ll ever find her way back to London. A new family “glamping” business keeps her busy and her creative side honed, but some unexpected glampers from London have Katie realizing that London isn’t quite done with her.

Katie is an incredible character for many reasons but first and foremost: she’s so realistic. Don’t get me wrong, 95% of the time I love a good story to escape into so I can leave the real world behind but that straggler 5% loves a character that I can feel in tune with, a character that I can truly understand. This story gave me major Devil Wears Prada vibes but instead of the invisible girl that gets a haircut, loses some weight, and is bestowed a gorgeous wardrobe only to live happily ever after we get Katie. Katie didn’t get a haircut, lose weight, or get a new wardrobe. Nope. Katie loses her job, has to move back home with dad, and is often found in wellies because it’s just sensible in the countryside.

My Not So Perfect Life centers around Katie’s personal development and the realization that much like her own Instagram account, people hide beyond a persona that is not always the person they truly are. This is a laugh out loud adventure that despite its slightly unnecessary page length and unexpected lack of focus on the romance, this delightful story will no doubt charm new and old fans alike.

Short & Sweet – Eleventh Grave in Moonlight, My Not So Perfect Life, Deathly HallowsHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
Narrator: Jim Dale
Series: Harry Potter #7
on July 21st 2007
Length: 21 hrs and 36 mins
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
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Also by this author: The Cuckoo's Calling, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 & 2, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

five-stars

As he climbs into the sidecar of Hagrid's motorbike and takes to the skies, leaving Privet Drive for the last time, Harry Potter knows that Lord Voldemort and the Death Eaters are not far behind. The protective charm that has kept Harry safe until now is broken, but he cannot keep hiding. The Dark Lord is breathing fear into everything Harry loves and to stop him Harry will have to find and destroy the remaining Horcruxes. The final battle must begin - Harry must stand and face his enemy....

*spoilers*


This is officially my very first time I’ve completely re-read this series and it’s quite possible that I love it even more than I did before. Reading all books back to back (I started the first one in October and finished the last one in January) only made it even more apparent what an incredible saga that Rowling gifted us. All the linked parts, the character development, and just how astonishing it was to see it all unfold. Somehow it still managed to leave me awed even knowing how it all ends. While my opinions of the series as a whole didn’t change (other than the fact that my favorite book is now officially Half-Blood Prince and I’ve gotten over my irritation with Dobby) there is one aspect in these stories that I paid a lot more attention to this go around: Dumbledore and Snape.

First and foremost, I’m team Snape (and a Slytherin if you were curious). Yes, I am fully aware that he was a horrible shithead to a bunch of children, primarily Harry, and the only reason was because he loved Harry’s mother and she didn’t love him. Boo-hoo. I’m also aware that he was a Death Eater doing terrible things on behalf of Voldemort before he joined up with Dumbeldore. I’m aware of all these things but I can still appreciate the bravery and risks he took in the name of love, even it was misguided. It doesn’t necessarily make him a hero in my eyes and his actions don’t make up for the wrong he did, but it is still worthy of mention. Don’t agree?

hahaha Kidding. But on to an even more controversial topic: Dumbledore was kind of a dick. Sure, at first he’s that kind, fatherly figure that Harry can’t help but look up to. But when year after year at Hogwarts passes and poor young Harry is dealing with shit that he can barely comprehend, does Dumbledore make it a point to educate him on the ways of the wizarding world? Nope. And when we finally realize what’s been going on this entire time? That he’s known from the very beginning that Harry was going to have to die for the “greater good”?!

Sure, if he had told Harry at an early age he could have lost his marbles at the prospect of an early death so I understand why he didn’t tell him but I definitely don’t agree with it because he didn’t treat Harry like a pawn; he treated him like he was someone special to him. Think of all the times that Harry was touting Dumbledore’s greatness while from the very beginning he’s known the endgame all along.

Leave an infant on a doorstep, don’t even ring the doorbell. They’ll find him in the morning. Know Harry’s living in a goddamn cupboard under the stairs, constantly abused by the Dursley’s–does nothing. Let Snape continue to mistreat him unnecessarily. Blames it on the fact he developed feelings for the reason why he’s lied to Harry his entire life… talk about emotional manipulation. Not letting Harry in on the secret of the horcruxes until after he was doomed to die because his dumbass, for personal advancement reasons, put it on because it was also a Hallow. Dick move, Dumbledore. /rant

Rowling really achieved greatness with this final installment. Each installment has progressively gotten darker as Harry and all other characters take step after step into adulthood. This world that Rowling has created is both horrible and mesmerizing in equal measure. A world where there are creatures that can suck out your very soul, but also wondrous creatures like unicorns and Hippogriffs. A world where you can be struck down with two simple words, but also where owls deliver your mail and paintings talk. But the most wondrous thing that Rowling accomplished with these stories is just how many lives she transformed, mine included. It’s enough to make anyone believe in magic.

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