Posts Categorized: Read in 2013

Graphic Novel Review – House of Gold & Bones by Corey Taylor

December 7, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Graphic Novel, Read in 2013 2 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.

Graphic Novel Review – House of Gold & Bones by Corey TaylorHouse of Gold & Bones by Corey Taylor
Published by Dark Horse on December 10th 2013
Pages: 104
Genres: Fantasy, Horror
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Seven Deadly Sins: Settling the Argument Between Born Bad and Damaged Good, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Heaven, You're Making Me Hate You: A Cantankerous Look at the Common Misconception That Humans Have Any Common Sense Left

three-stars

In a nightmarish world, the Human finds himself at a crossroads as wild adventure ensues and he's thrust into a morphing landscape of rolling hills, dense forest, and an ominous Crimson City. Chased by a crazed mob and mysterious characters neither friend nor foe, the Human takes an unexpected journey that will lead to his salvation... or damnation. Stone Sour/Slipknot singer Corey Taylor has written this graphic novel to accompany the narrative of Stone Sour's two House of Gold & Bones albums!

Image result for House of Gold & Bones part 1

House of Gold & Bones is the complete collection of the four-volume comics that coincided with the release of Stone Sour’s double disc release of the same name. It tells the tale of a Human that finds himself in a world of horror with no clear way out.

Being a huge fan of both of Corey Taylor’s non-fiction novels and of  Stone Sour’s House of Gold & Bones albums it was too intriguing a concept to pass up. The majority of the illustrations had a raw and unpolished feel and the story itself was a world of fantasy and horror. I loved the creativity behind this and his vision as a whole and would love to see what other concepts he comes up with. A definite for fans of Corey Taylor and Stone Sour.

Divider

Book Review – Dreams and Shadows (Dreams & Shadows #1) by C. Robert Cargill

December 6, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 13 Comments

Book Review – Dreams and Shadows (Dreams & Shadows #1) by C. Robert CargillDreams and Shadows by C. Robert Cargill
Series: Dreams and Shadows #1
Published by Harper Voyager on February 26th 2013
Pages: 448
Genres: Horror, Urban Fantasy
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Queen of the Dark Things, We Are Where the Nightmares Go and Other Stories, Sea of Rust

four-half-stars

A brilliantly crafted modern tale from acclaimed film critic and screenwriter C. Robert Cargill—part Neil Gaiman, part Guillermo Del Toro, part William S. Burroughs—that charts the lives of two boys from their star-crossed childhood in the realm of magic and mystery to their anguished adulthoods

There is another world than our own—one no closer than a kiss and one no further than our nightmares—where all the stuff of which dreams are made is real and magic is just a step away. But once you see that world, you will never be the same.

Dreams and Shadows takes us beyond this veil. Once bold explorers and youthful denizens of this magical realm, Ewan is now an Austin musician who just met his dream girl, and Colby, meanwhile, cannot escape the consequences of an innocent wish. But while Ewan and Colby left the Limestone Kingdom as children, it has never forgotten them. And in a world where angels relax on rooftops, whiskey-swilling genies argue metaphysics with foul-mouthed wizards, and monsters in the shadows feed on fear, you can never outrun your fate.

Dreams and Shadows is a stunning and evocative debut about the magic and monsters in our world and in our self.

‘If you remember one thing, even above remembering me, remember that there is not a monster dreamt that hasn’t walked withing the soul of man.’

Dreams and Shadows tells the tale of two young boys: Ewan, who was stolen from his family by fairies when he was a baby, and Colby, who befriended a djinn that granted wishes which changed his life forever. The fates of both become entwined the second they meet and a battle between magical forces ensues.

This could have honestly been a disastrous affair what with the strange mixture of fairies and changelings, angels and the Devil, sorcerers and genies, and the list goes on. But it’s far from a disaster. This was an absolute delight and the exact type of fantasy that I yearn for. I have to make note that despite the inclusion of angels and the Devil this is far from religious and never digs in deep to that aspect; they were just supporting characters of a sort. The characters were fictitious and fanciful but managed to be extremely well-crafted and developed. The male characters were at the very least. It didn’t occur to me until later that the female characters all seemed to be incredibly weak and only described in terms of their looks with the one exception to that statement being Ewan’s scary-as-hell mother. All in all, it’s easy to overlook because of the thrilling plot.

My least favorite aspect of the book ended up being my favorite. In addition to the story being told from three separate points of view, there are excerpts from a book titled ‘A Chronicle of the Dreamfolk’ by a Dr. Thaddeus Ray, Ph.D. They are surprisingly informative pieces on the factual aspects of this fantasy world but it’s initially unclear as to why they’re included. It’s a vital piece of the puzzle that becomes clear late in the novel so don’t skip these sections.

Dreams and Shadows is a story full of magic and mystery and outlandish horror. I so enjoyed the rawness and twisted darkness of this tale and the unique and unusual world-building that fortunately isn’t lacking in detail. Dreams and Shadows possessed a plot with room to grow and is one instance where I’m thankful for it being a series. Queen of the Dark Things is the next installment which is due out in mid-2014. I cannot wait.

Divider

Book Review – The Circle by Dave Eggers

December 5, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 6 Comments

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 – The Circle by Dave EggersThe Circle by Dave Eggers
Published by Knopf on October 8th 2013
Pages: 508
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic, Sci-fi
Format: ARC
Source: Library Thing
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads


one-star

The Circle is the exhilarating new novel from Dave Eggers, best-selling author of A Hologram for the King, a finalist for the National Book Award.

When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users’ personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency. As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company’s modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO. Mae can’t believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in America—even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public. What begins as the captivating story of one woman’s ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.

In the world introduced in ‘The Circle’, individuals become completely transparent and are stripped of their anonymity even when performing menial tasks. Mae Holland has just secured a position with The Circle thanks to her friend Annie, a high-ranking employee at The Circle. Mae’s involvement in the company slowly begins overtaking everything and without stopping to consider, her entire life ends up being put on display for anyone willing to see.

‘TruYou changed the internet, in toto, within a year. Though some sites were resistant at first, and free-internet advocates shouted about the right to be anonymous online, the TruYou wave was tidal and crushed all meaninful opposition. It started with the commerce sites. Why would any non-porn site want anonymous users when they could know exactly who had come through the door? Overnight, all comment boards became civil, all posters held accountable. The trolls, who had more or less overtaken the internet, were driven back into the darkness.’

So essentially the only people that truly care about privacy in this world are trolls and people who view porn online. Everybody else is fully willing to give up their privacy. Right. Because that’s totally legit. And comment boards became civil overnight all because people’s real names were disclosed thus insinuating that the only thing encouraging people to state their opinions on the Internet was their anonymity? And I loved how the creation of the Unified Operating System, also known as TruYou, which basically took all user accounts and passwords and made them into one all encompassing login, revolutionized the Internet and prevented identity theft. You’d think if you only had one single password it’d be easier rather than more difficult to hack someones information but maybe we’re not supposed to think too hard on these technological creations of Eggers, especially considering his supposed lack of research on the subject. (“There were a handful of times when I looked something up, or asked the opinion of someone more tech-savvy than I am, but for the most part this was just a process of pure speculative fiction.”Source) His lack of research is abundantly clear with the naming of his main invention, Unified Operating System, which isn’t even an Operating System at all. Windows? OS X? Linux? Android? Those are Operating Systems. Computer software that manages the computers hardware.  For someone that decided to write a 504 page book dedicated to technology I would have expected him to know that at the very least.

It’s obvious that Eggers himself harbors a deep dislike of technology and the way the Internet is growing and expanding in society as that’s the way it was written, in a smug and dismissive manner. Each time Mae’s ex-boyfriend Mercer makes an appearance the opportunity is taken to preach his opinions about her job and what companies like ‘The Circle’ are doing to this world. It’s clear Eggers is the embodiment of Mercer and he used that character to push his agenda which is completely fine by me, but the opinions of technological advances were written as black and white where people are either completely for or completely against those advances. Personally, I found myself in a grey area and I’m doubtfully the only like-minded individual.

Setting all that aside I really have to mention the worst thing about this book: the sex scenes. Not only was there a completely unnecessary romance, but the embarrassingly graphic sex scenes told from the point of view of a female were awful (not to mention the scene where Mae walked in on her parents? Served absolutely no purpose to the advancement of the storyline.) Maybe it would’ve been better if the main character was a male and Eggers could have made it sound like he has a modicum of sense in regards to what goes on in the bedroom. The bothersome descriptive words makes me hope someone will steal that man’s thesaurus. Here a few cringe-worthy examples:

‘Then his eyes closed, and he went into paroxysms, emitting a brief squeal before grunting his arrival.’
Squeal? Grunting? ARRIVAL? No, no, no.

“Sometimes,” he said, and breathed fire into her ear.
My. That sounds painful.

‘She could think only of a campfire, one small log, all of it doused in milk.’
Okay, maybe this is a little out of context and hard to understand but there had just been an embarrassing sexual situation where the man was a bit too… quick with it. And Eggers uses a ‘small log’ and ‘milk’ as the descriptive terms. Good grief, NO.

The Circle is at times a bit of a satiric story on the technological advances in this day and age but does manage to bring up some points that would be worth discussing. If it was a non-biased written interpretation on the future possibilities of technology it could have been well received (by me) but as it stands it was written too much like The Circle was ‘Big Brother’ and everything associated with technology is inherently bad. The laughable ending which involves robot drones directed by social media hordes that essentially cause a murder only solidified my displeasure.

Divider

Book Review – The Cuckoo’s Calling (Cormoran Strike #1) by Robert Galbraith

October 26, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 6 Comments

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

Book Review – The Cuckoo’s Calling (Cormoran Strike #1) by Robert GalbraithThe Cuckoo's Calling by J.K. Rowling, Robert Galbraith
Series: Cormoran Strike #1
Published by Mulholland Books on April 30th 2013
Pages: 465
Genres: Detective, Mystery-Contemporary
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads

Also by this author: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 & 2, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

two-stars

A brilliant debut mystery in a classic vein: Detective Cormoran Strike investigates a supermodel's suicide. After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office.

Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.

You may think you know detectives, but you've never met one quite like Strike. You may think you know about the wealthy and famous, but you've never seen them under an investigation like this.


Detective Cormoran Strike life has seen better days. He recently broke up with his girlfriend and is sleeping on a camp bed in his office, he’s got a single client that isn’t paying their bill and a whole slew of creditors that are demanding money yesterday. He’s fortunately hired to investigate the much publicized death of Lula Landry, a supermodel who fell to her death from her penthouse balcony. Her brother, John Bristow, is convinced that someone is to blame.

Okay, so the whole world knows by now that this is the work of J.K. Rowling. She first delved into Contemporary Adult Fiction last year with ‘The Casual Vacancy’. I had several of the same issues with TCV (which I put on hold about halfway through and have yet to make it back to it.) Even setting aside your ‘Harry Potter’ sized expectations, there really isn’t anything spectacular about The Cuckoo’s Calling. I applaud J.K. Rowling for having the gumption to take a leap into adult fiction because it’s such a far cry from what we’ve come to expect from her. Unfortunately, her Contemporary novels are just not my cup of tea.

Cormoran Strike has been praised in publications for his intriguing personality but I found him to be no different than any other detective/cop/investigator and he clearly dreamed about being Sherlock when he was a kid. Yes, he was a war veteran and he lost his leg and there’s a whole backstory there that is delved into but still didn’t manage to add anything super intriguing to the mix. Publications have also commented on the ‘brilliant mystery’ but honestly? It’s been done before and I didn’t find myself gasping in shock when the big reveal happens. It felt very much like a Sherlock Holmes tale where he’s about to piece together evidence from seemingly nothing and it’s all eluded to until the very end when he reveals all to the bad guy. It was all very yawn-inducing and worthy of a few eye-rolls to be quite honest.

In addition to the mediocre storyline and characters, the writing style is what ultimately caused my massive disappointment over this novel (and this is another issue I had with The Casual Vacancy). There are some truly fabulous lines that showcase her brilliance, but more often than not she tries far too hard to make it even more evident that THIS IS AN ADULT NOVEL. As if we weren’t aware of that fact already. Towards the end of the novel there was a line which caused the cringe of a lifetime:

‘She looked away from him, drawing hard on her Rothman’s; when her mouth puckered into hard little lines around the cigarette, it looked like a cat’s anus.’

Disgusting and totally unnecessary. Bottom line, her writing is just too crude and unrefined for my liking. I doubt I’ll give up on future novels of Rowling, but I won’t likely be continuing this particular series. I would so love to see more fantasy from her though.

Divider

Audiobook Review – The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

October 25, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 4 Comments

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

Audiobook Review – The Bone Season by Samantha ShannonThe Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
Series: The Bone Season #1
Published by Bloomsbury USA on August 20th 2013
Pages: 466
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library, the Publisher
Amazon
Goodreads


two-stars

It is the year 2059. Several major world cities are under the control of a security force called Scion. Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London, part of a secret cell known as the Seven Seals. The work she does is unusual: scouting for information by breaking into others’ minds. Paige is a dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant, and in this world, the voyants commit treason simply by breathing.

But when Paige is captured and arrested, she encounters a power more sinister even than Scion. The voyant prison is a separate city—Oxford, erased from the map two centuries ago and now controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. These creatures, the Rephaim, value the voyants highly—as soldiers in their army.

Paige is assigned to a Rephaite keeper, Warden, who will be in charge of her care and training. He is her master. Her natural enemy. But if she wants to regain her freedom, Paige will have to learn something of his mind and his own mysterious motives.

The Bone Season introduces a compelling heroine—a young woman learning to harness her powers in a world where everything has been taken from her. It also introduces an extraordinary young writer, with huge ambition and a teeming imagination. Samantha Shannon has created a bold new reality in this riveting debut.

Hype: to promote or publicize extravagantly

Bone Season is the very definition of hype. The Marketing team was working overtime to promote the first installment in a proposed seven-book series. Not only was the story itself hyped up but the author herself, being promoted as the next J.K. Rowling. Considering who J.K. Rowling is, that is not a term to be throwing around lightly. The rights to the film have already been purchased as well. Unfortunately, I think in the long run the Marketing team did this book a disservice because I was honestly expecting a masterpiece and while The Bone Season was a magical and imaginative world, it wasn’t as original as it was made out to be.

The premise is not easily to summarize. The main character is Paige Mahoney, a dreamwalker, a rare type of clairvoyant. In the world she lives in, clairvoyants must hide their gifts to survive because the security force Scion forbids their existence. When Paige is captured she believes it was Scion but she finds herself in the lost city of Oxford and that it’s being controlled by the Rephaim, an otherworldly race that enslaves voyants so they can utilize their gifts.

I can’t even begin to explain my disappointment because of how excited I was for this book. I struggled to finish this. I first started reading this in print and had an awful time absorbing the details of the world-building. It’s a serious info-dump and while many people urged me to continue because it got easier to understand, it just never really did for me. In addition to the info-dump style of explaining this vast world, to add further confusion it felt like there was an entire language created for this story. There are 10 full pages of glossary in the back describing these terms and you will need to reference the glossary if you have any hope of this story making any bit of sense. Flatches? That’s money. Bunter? A young woman. Threnody? A series of words used to banish spirits. You get the picture.

Setting aside my vast confusion was my irritation at the writing style and how it’s written in short, choppy sentences. That was one of the main reasons I switched to audio because I was seeing. far. too. many. freaking. periods.The audio still possessed that jerky feel and while the writing itself and the words utilized were fine it lacked a much needed refinement. A few examples:

My vision turned black. I’d just possessed David. Only for a heartbeat, but I’d moved his arm. I had finally possessed a human. David put his hands to his head. I hadn’t been gentle.
and
Maybe I should do it. This was my chance to get rid of him. I’d killed before. I could do it again.”
and
I don’t know. I just want you with me. I had never said those words aloud. Now that I could taste my freedom I wanted him to share it with me. But he couldn’t change his life for me. And I couldn’t sacrifice my life to be with him.

The characters were pretty unremarkable and when a few of them died I was fairly shocked to realize that I couldn’t have cared less. The only backstory given was on the main character, Paige, and while we’re clearly meant to care about several other characters that played a large part I apparently failed to do so. I must give points though, Paige was an appropriately realistic character which isn’t often found in fantasy type stories like this. Most main characters are either extremely stupid or incredibly badass and I found Paige to be an acceptable mix of the two because she was smart yet made mistakes and badass yet was scared when appropriate. She didn’t win any awards as a favorite character of mine but I blame that solely on the unnecessary and ridiculous romance that had to be thrown in the mix.

The Warden. Dun dun dun. The Warden is Paige’s keeper and is responsible for her training in order to become of use to the Rephaim. He’s naturally extremely handsome and he puts himself in situations that forces Paige to save his life and… I’m fairly certain you could guess the outcome. The Warden reminded me GREATLY of The Darkling in Shadow and Bone and once I became set on that thought I realized that the majority of this book felt extremely similar. It can be argued that Bone Season is vastly more detailed but it’s excessively detailed and while I would typically say that I prefer more detail than not enough that is not the case with this story.

This book already has a whole slew of fans so I’m clearly in the minority but this story was unnecessarily busy and overly complicated for my liking. This is the first book in a series and the ending definitely sets the scene for the next installment, but unfortunately I won’t be joining in on that bit of fun once it’s released.

Divider

Book Review – Indexing by Seanan McGuire

October 24, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 14 Comments

Book Review – Indexing by Seanan McGuireIndexing by Seanan McGuire
Published by 47North on May 21st 2013
Pages: 347
Genres: Fairy-Tales/Retellings, Fantasy
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Rosemary and Rue, A Local Habitation, Night and Silence

two-half-stars

“Never underestimate the power of a good story.”

Good advice...especially when a story can kill you.

For most people, the story of their lives is just that: the accumulation of time, encounters, and actions into a cohesive whole. But for an unfortunate few, that day-to-day existence is affected—perhaps infected is a better word—by memetic incursion: where fairy tale narratives become reality, often with disastrous results.

That's where the ATI Management Bureau steps in, an organization tasked with protecting the world from fairy tales, even while most of their agents are struggling to keep their own fantastic archetypes from taking over their lives. When you're dealing with storybook narratives in the real world, it doesn't matter if you're Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, or the Wicked Queen: no one gets a happily ever after.

Indexing is New York Times bestselling author Seanan McGuire’s new urban fantasy where everything you thought you knew about fairy tales gets turned on its head.

Indexing was first released as a Kindle Serial and was a bi-weekly mini-party every Tuesday considering how eagerly I awaited the latest installment. The first episode is epic and I can’t even begin to express my love for it. The introduction to this fairy-tale world was perfection. It got a full 5 stars from me and set the bar extremely high for the subsequent stories. This fairy tale world was extremely similar in scope to the graphic novel series ‘Fables’ but in comparison I found the characters were more vibrant and witty and infinitely entertaining. Each Kindle serial, for the most part, managed as a stand-alone and didn’t leave you too exasperated with having to wait another two weeks for more. I say ‘for the most part’ because something happened around episode 8 (out of a total of 12) that took the series into a total nosedive, but I’ll get into that more in a minute.

The ATI (Aarne-Thompson Index) Management Bureau is a covert government agency that monitors fairy tale manifestations and prevents them from getting out of control. According to Wiki, “The Aarne–Thompson tale type index is a multivolume listing designed to help folklorists identify recurring plot patterns in the narrative structures of traditional folktales, so that folklorists can organize, classify, and analyze the folktales they research.” This index system is used as the basis for classifying manifestations that happen in the real world, where children are born predisposed to being a Sleeping Beauty or a Snow White or even a Pied Piper. If unleashed, their fairy tale influence could wreak havoc on the world. All manner of fairy tales are covered: Peter Pans and Cinderellas, Donkeyskins and Beautiful Vassilisas, a Mother Goose, Wicked Stepsisters, Billy Goats Gruff, The Showmaker and the Elves, etc.

So what worked well? Personally I loved the combination of fairy tales and urban fantasy that ultimately made up this story. It was imaginative and creative and really enjoyed the details that went into this. Each individual was given a bit of back story although I believe this could have been further expounded on to showcase their growth. While I didn’t end up preferring one character over another, they all as a whole really added life and charm to this story.

In the end though, I was left ultimately disappointed. When thinking back on the story as a whole, I think it was easy to overlook the choppy feel of the writing since we’re only given bits and pieces at a time. If read as a whole I think it would have been far more obvious and apparent that the story lacked a fully fleshed out plot and was really rather feeble. It didn’t feel as if it was planned as a full novel and was instead planned out as each episode was written. Ultimately, the ending felt strange and disconnected from where it seemed like the story was going and left me with far more unanswered questions than I like.

Divider

Audiobook Review – The Neil Gaiman Audio Collection

October 19, 2013 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Middle Grade, Read in 2013, Short Stories 5 Comments

Audiobook Review – The Neil Gaiman Audio CollectionThe Neil Gaiman Audio Collection by Neil Gaiman
Narrator: Neil Gaiman
Published by Harper Audio on August 31st 2004
Length: 48 mins
Genres: Fantasy, Kiddie Books
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads


four-stars

Four of beloved author Neil Gaiman's delightfully scary, strange, and hilarious children's tales read by the author, now available unabridged. This collection includes: The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish: An unforgettable story that will take readers on a journey into the murky mind of a young boy and the perils of striking a bargain. The Wolves in the Walls: Lucy is sure there are wolves living in the walls of their house -- and, as everybody says, if the wolves come out of the walls, it's all over. Her family doesn't believe her. Then one day, the wolves come out. Cinnamon: This charming fable of an exotic princess who refuses to speak currently exists only on Neil's official website and has never been published in print or any other format. Crazy Hair: Bonnie tries to comb the narrator's crazy hair -- where gorillas leap and tigers stalk -- and is in for a surprise in this delightful rhyming tale.

The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish
*3 stars*

The unnamed narrator, who is only a child, finds himself in a world of trouble when he trades his dad to his friend Nathan for two goldfish. They were marvelous goldfish, and his dad was wasn’t very exciting anyways, but his mother took issue and sent him off to get his dad back. Once he gets to Nathan’s house he finds that Nathan also thought his dad uninteresting and didn’t actually have him anymore because he had been traded to another friend for an electric guitar. The pattern continued.

A very odd story at face-value but is essentially a sententious story of the hazards of trading and I suppose a lesson in ownership. Will children be able to understand this? I suppose it depends on the age but if it was one of my children reading this, my guess would be their brains would quickly begin to concoct ways on how they could trade me for some goldfish.

Capture

 

 
The Wolves in the Walls
*3.5 stars*

When Lucy started hearing noises in the walls that hustled and bustled, crinkled and crackled and knew that there were most certainly wolves inside the walls. Her mother tried to silence her fears by telling her it was more than likely just mice because it certainly couldn’t be wolves because once the wolves come out, it’s all over. But Lucy knew it couldn’t possibly be mice.

Once the wolves come out it’s up to Lucy to save her family. ‘The Wolves in the Walls’ is a tale I believe kids would identify with because of the ‘Boy Who Cried Wolf’ nature of it all and the adults dismissal of her beliefs as simply a case of an overactive imagination. Despite the obvious embellishments to enhance the entertainment of the story I found this to be a cute lesson for kids on learning how to trust your instincts and face your fears.

Capture

 

Cinnamon
*4 stars*

Cinnamon was a princess and was not only blind but did not speak. Her father’s concern increases until he offers many riches to anyone who could get his daughter to finally speak. Many come and many fail but when a man-eating tiger arrives at the palace no one believes he would be of any help to Cinnamon, other than a help to his appetite.

The night the tiger had with Cinnamon was spent telling her of the land outside of the palace and inevitably spurred her interest and curiosity. Rich in symbolism yet simple in scope, Cinnamon is a perfect lesson in seeing past riches, experiencing new things and finding the true value of life itself.

Capture

 

crazy hair
Crazy Hair
*3 stars*

Bonnie’s encounters a stranger that has hair that is so incredibly crazy that there is a honest-to-goodness jungle inside of it. Bonnie insists that it’s definitely manageable and just needs a good brushing. As she begins to brush, something entirely unexpected occurs.

Neil Gaiman clearly wrote this story about himself. Crazy Hair is a bizarre imagining of what takes place within hair that is crazy and beyond control. The rhyming rhythm puts a smile on your face and would likely be a fantastic read-aloud to any child.

 

Capture

 

All four of these stories were the whimsical sort of tales full of symbolism and life lessons that I’ve come to expect from Gaiman. I enjoyed Crazy Hair the most because of the wonderful rhyming style but Cinnamon was the best overall for it’s fantastic message. Would love to check all of these out someday to be able to appreciate the artwork of Dave McKean.

Divider

Audiobook Review – Doctor Sleep (The Shining #2) by Stephen King

October 18, 2013 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 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.

Audiobook Review – Doctor Sleep (The Shining #2) by Stephen KingDoctor Sleep by Stephen King
Narrator: Will Patton
Series: The Shining #2
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on September 24th 2013
Length: 18 hrs and 35 mins
Genres: Horror, Paranormal
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Cujo, Pet Sematary, Mr. Mercedes

three-stars

Stephen King returns to the characters and territory of one of his most popular novels ever, The Shining, in this instantly riveting novel about the now middle-aged Dan Torrance (the boy protagonist of The Shining) and the very special twelve-year-old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals.

On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless—mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and spunky twelve-year-old Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the “steam” that children with the “shining” produce when they are slowly tortured to death.

Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father’s legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him, and a job at a nursing home where his remnant “shining” power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes “Doctor Sleep.”

Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival. This is an epic war between good and evil, a gory, glorious story that will thrill the millions of devoted readers of The Shining and satisfy anyone new to the territory of this icon in the King canon.

I’m a total Stephen King newbie, so when I first decided to dive into his book of works I started at the very beginning with Carrie and was an immediate fan. Next up was Salem’s Lot and then finally The Shining which became an instant favorite. His books in print already have that creepy effect that manages to latch on to your insides, but listening to the audiobook really took the terror to the next level for me. Since it was a recent read, I was fairly shocked to hear about a sequel coming out especially when you consider The Shining was originally released in 1977. Albeit, I was on board and full of anticipation.

Doctor Sleep picks up shortly after The Shining’s explosive (literally) ending with Danny and his mother residing in warm and sunny Florida desperately trying to overcome the trauma they endured in Colorado. Danny is still haunted by the rotting corpse-like ghosts of the Overlook and essentially compels him to enlist the help of Dick Hallorann, the chef from the Overlook. He gives him the only knowledge he has of controlling his psychic gifts, but Danny’s has always been strong so it only does so much.

The book flashes forward in time to feature a middle-aged Dan Torrance who has followed the path of his father and is an alcoholic for the sole reason that it dulls the shine. An incident causes him to hit a rock bottom of sorts and we flash forward again by three years to find Dan working at a hospice, using  his gifts to aid patients in the transition between life and death. They call him Doctor Sleep.

Next, we’re introduced to Abra Stone, a young girl who’s psychic abilities make Dan’s look like a parlor trick. We’re also introduced to a group of individuals that go by the name of the True Knot who travel the country in RV’s searching out children with gifts like Abra’s. They torture and kill the children so as to fully harvest the ‘steam’ that escapes their bodies upon their deaths. Abra is the strongest child they’ve yet encountered and she’s next on their list.

Phew. That summary may have been long, but so was the book itself and had far more pages than was actually required. The middle lagged and the build-up to the ‘epic’ showdown between good and evil was fairly unsurprising. As highly anticipated as Doctor Sleep was for me, I can’t help but feel in the end that leaving The Shining as a stand-alone would have been far wiser.

What worked well for The Shining was the true horror aspects. The isolation of The Overlook, the claustrophobic effects of the encompassing storm and the transformation of a loved one into a terrifying monster. (The rotting corpse in the bathtub definitely helped as well.) Doctor Sleep leans more towards the supernatural and fantasy aspects making it less real and giving it a very fabricated feel. I greatly disliked the vast array of pop culture references strewn throughout the novel. They served no obvious purpose and should have been edited out. Game of Thrones, Twilight, Sons of Anarchy and Hunger Games were among the few I caught. I did enjoy the references to characters from his son Joe Hill’s novel NOS4A2 though.

While I was clearly left unimpressed, there were a few facets that I really enjoyed. I absolutely loved the beginning; it not only held promise but felt like a true sequel to The Shining. (The rest of the story veered a bit too far off track for my liking.) I loved the inclusion of Halloran and how we got to see the events following The Overlook without immediately jumping to Danny being middle-aged. It was fantastic to see the effects of The Overlook on Danny and how he grew up to be (and the almost inevitable fact that him and his Father ultimately took the same path). Tony also plays a part in the story as well as the original site of the Overlook is included. It was fantastic and I loved returning to those aspects of its predecessor, at least until the story took a side street into Strangeville.

Despite my issues with the book as a whole, the beginning bits were totally worth it. I listened to this on audio and narrator Will Patton did a fantastic job. Listen to a clip below to see for yourself.

Divider

Release Day Feature + Giveaway! Bold Tricks (The Artists Trilogy #3) by Karina Halle

October 15, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Giveaways, Read in 2013, Release Day Feature 11 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley, 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! Bold Tricks (The Artists Trilogy #3) by Karina HalleBold Tricks by Karina Halle
Series: The Artists Trilogy #3
Published by Forever on October 15th 2013
Pages: 226
Genres: Contemporary, Diiiirrrrrrttyyy, Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley, the Publisher
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Come Alive, Shooting Scars, Ashes to Ashes

three-stars

The Faster They Live, the Harder They Fall . . .

Raised by con artists, Ellie Watt has a lot of crazy childhood memories-but none crazier than being scarred with acid by the demented crime boss Travis Raines. Now Ellie is a full-grown woman who lives for revenge, and Travis is a full-blown drug lord who kills for pleasure. The sadistic bastard has kidnapped her good friend Gus as well as her mother, whom he's been holding as prized possessions in his heavily guarded lair. And Ellie has only one chance in hell of getting them out alive-using two dangerous men who love her to death . . .

One is Camden McQueen, a talented tattoo artist who's made a permanent mark on Ellie's heart. The other is Javier Bernal, her fiery ex-lover who's busted more than a few heads in his time. From the crime-ridden streets of Mexico City to the predatory jungles of Honduras, this unlikely trio forms an uneasy alliance in the deadliest game of all-a gun-blazing battle to the finish that will pit enemy against enemy and lover against lover. And Ellie must choose the right man to trust . . . or die.

About Karina Halle

Karina Halle is a former travel writer and music journalist and the USA Today Bestselling author of Love, in English, The Artists Trilogy, and other wild and romantic reads. She lives in a 1920s farmhouse on an island off the coast of British Columbia with her husband and her rescue pup, where she drinks a lot of wine, hikes a lot of trails and devours a lot of books.

The Artists Trilogy
On Every Street (The Artists Trilogy, #0.5)Sins & Needles (The Artists Trilogy, #1)Shooting Scars (The Artists Trilogy, #2)
 

Following the disastrous outcome of the events in Shooting Scars, Javier, Ellie and Camden are forced to team up to right the wrongs. Having the three thrown together forces Ellie to finally choose between the two men that stole her heart.

Bold Tricks is the final installment of The Artists Trilogy where we finally get to see how everything culminates. Told from the sole point of view of Ellie, Bold Tricks maintains the violent and thrilling complexity we’ve come to expect. All loose ends are tied up sufficiently but without that picture perfect ending because that’s the least you could expect with a cast of characters like this. Is there a happily ever after? Well… I suppose that depends on which Team you’re on. I will say I was a bit disappointed at the portrayal of a certain character though, but won’t reveal who. My guess is it was a way of making Ellie’s choice a bit easier but that person’s actions seemed too out of character and didn’t fit as well with what we’ve come to expect.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this is not my normal genre and if I didn’t adore Karina Halle’s writing from her Experiment in Terror series then I likely would have never picked this up. Contemporary Romance is not my go-to genre, but the fascinating cast of characters is what truly makes this series shine. They may be written in such a way that makes them incredibly realistic, but they are in no way average nor predictable. I’m incredibly sad to see this series come to an end and despite my slight disappointment, Bold Tricks is still a satisfying enough end and a fantastic trilogy overall.

1  WINNER: iPad mini pre-loaded with all three digital Artist Trilogy books (SINS & NEEDELES, SHOOTING SCARS, & BOLD TRICKS) preloaded, and ON EVERY STREET novella included!
5 WINNERS: A signed print Artist Trilogy (SINS & NEEDLES, SHOOTING SCARS, BOLD TRICKS) prize pack!
 
Divider

Book Review – How to Love by Katie Cotugno

October 12, 2013 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2013, YA 6 Comments

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

Book Review – How to Love by Katie CotugnoHow to Love by Katie Cotugno
Published by Balzer + Bray on October 1st 2013
Pages: 389
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: ARC
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: 99 Days

five-stars

Before: Reena Montero has loved Sawyer LeGrande for as long as she can remember: as natural as breathing, as endless as time. But he’s never seemed to notice that Reena even exists…until one day, impossibly, he does. Reena and Sawyer fall in messy, complicated love. But then Sawyer disappears from their humid Florida town without a word, leaving a devastated—and pregnant—Reena behind.

After: Almost three years have passed, and there’s a new love in Reena’s life: her daughter, Hannah. Reena’s gotten used to being without Sawyer, and she’s finally getting the hang of this strange, unexpected life. But just as swiftly and suddenly as he disappeared, Sawyer turns up again. Reena doesn’t want anything to do with him, though she’d be lying if she said Sawyer’s being back wasn’t stirring something in her. After everything that’s happened, can Reena really let herself love Sawyer LeGrande again?

In this breathtaking debut, Katie Cotugno weaves together the story of one couple falling in love—twice.

Reena Montero is brilliant and full of substantial dreams for her future. Sawyer Le Grande is charismatic yet hindered by terrible addictions. Reena has been in love with Sawyer for as long as she can remember. The day he finally notices her was the day both of their lives were forever transformed. By the time Reena realizes she’s pregnant, Sawyer has disappeared without a trace and she’s left to suffer the consequences. How to Love alternates between Before chapters, when Reena and Sawyer are together, and After chapters, when Reena is a struggling single-mother before her 17th birthday.

Oh my gosh, this book. I went into this with the preconceived notion that it’d just be a mediocre read because honestly, YA contemporary romances are not my thing. I’ve always found the majority of the romances are typically shallow and superficial, lacking any honest or true love. But this? This book managed to elicit such profound feelings from me that I was left feeling utterly bewildered at how impeccably Reena and Sawyer’s story managed to speak to me.

*sigh* Sawyer. He reminded me so much of another character that I read recently, Sutter from The Spectacular Now, and how self-destructive he was yet so charismatic and charming. (Although admittedly Sawyer was a far more redeeming character.) Sure he made some really jerk moves in the Before bits, but I couldn’t help thinking his heart was in the right place. He’s a highly dysfunctional character and it’s easy to place the blame because of his addictions but once you get to that point that he’s at, choosing not to do it is not as easy as saying yes or no because it’s become a part of who he is. It’s clear that the struggle to slay the demons within him is ongoing, but his love for Reena was forever evident even when he chose to leave without a word.

‘I think of how it felt to lose him, slow and painful and confusing, and how it felt to wonder if I’d ever really had him at all.’

I heard all the negative things about Sawyer before going into this book and how he dragged Reena into his reckless behavior but I was somehow able to completely look past that and understand him and his situation a bit more than I was entirely comfortable with. I’ve been in a relationship much like theirs and yes, it’s a destructive type. Going to the parties when I’d rather be home. Going because it’s the only way to ensure that he stays somewhat safe. Knowing that you being his rock, his stability, is the only thing you can do for him as the demons within cannot be slayed. When you love a person, you’re willing to stand with them through thick and thin and help them the only way you can think to.

Sawyer may not have shown any visible progress in becoming a better person but Reena was the only thing in his life that helped him become the redeeming character we see in the After chapters. He came back into Reena’s life intent on earning her love back. He was truthful and forthcoming with the issues he had and how he needed to leave to fix them. He was repentant but never actually apologized I believe because no sorry could ever fix what was done, only him being the support that Reena needed would change that. It was clear that he battled with the guilt of his actions.

This was a hard review to write and I’m still not convinced I’m discussing everything I want to. This book left me with the worst bookish hangover I can remember in recent history. It managed to evoke a shocking amount of emotion from me and left me contemplating for days.

How To Love is a beautiful and powerfully written story of love ingraining itself onto your very being.

Divider