Posts Categorized: Read in 2013

Audiobook Review – The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

September 21, 2013 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Book-To-Film, Read in 2013, YA 5 Comments

Audiobook Review – The Book Thief by Markus ZusakThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Narrator: Allan Corduner
Published by Listening Library on September 26th 2006
Length: 13 hrs and 56 mins
Genres: Historical Fiction, WWII
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads


four-stars

The extraordinary #1 New York Times bestseller that will be in movie theaters on November 15, 2013, Markus Zusak's unforgettable story is about the ability of books to feed the soul.

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak, author of I Am the Messenger, has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.

The Book Thief tells the tale of Liesel Meminger, a girl who loses one family only to gain another. How she becomes dubbed The Book Thief. How she slowly gains an understanding of Germany and the Nazis and the wrongness of it all. How her family comes to hide a Jewish man, Max, in their basement despite all risks. And how Max transformed her life completely and defined her in a whole new light. It’s a tale of sorrow and joy, of friendship and love, of bravery and acceptance.

‘I witness the ones that are left behind, crumbled among the jigsaw puzzles of realization, despair, and surprise. They have punctured hearts. They have beaten lungs.’

The Book Thief’s use of Death as the narrator is not only thoroughly alluring in concept alone but it serves to utilizes dark humor to lighten the saddest of situations. Death is not the cold and emotionless specter you would expect him to be though. He’s unintentionally humorous, and has a fascination for humans despite his awareness of his need to remain impartial. He seeks meaning in his work and becomes mesmerized by the interesting and courageous humans, Liesel being one of them.

“…to prove to myself that you, and your human existence, are worth it.”

The symbolism is rife within these pages. Most importantly is Liesel and her book thieving. She remains blissfully naive of what is truly going on in the world until April 20, 1940 when a book burning was organized in the town square to celebrate Hitler’s birthday. She discovers things that greatly impact her and change her outlook on what has happened in her life up till that point and swiftly regards Hitler as her enemy. She steals a book from the pyre to mark the occasion. The book thieving continued after that but it wasn’t just a bad childish habit, it became a symbol for her resistance to the Nazi regime and specifically to Hitler and all he had done. Each book stolen became a symbol of hope for a better future in the post-Holocaust world.

I’ve only recently become drawn to stories of war, the majority of those I’ve read have been based around WWII, and The Book Thief is absolutely one of the very best. I loved that it was told from the point of view of a German sympathetic to the Jews which made it immediately different than any of the others I had read. Possessing richly drawn characters is what makes this story absolutely unforgettable. Liesel and Rudy, Hans and Rosa, and of course Max…their cumulative story will forever live on in my mind.

The Book Thief is an emotional tale regarding the power of words and how that power can be used for good or bad, depending on how you choose to use them.

Last quick note… It must be said that I initially started reading this in print form and while it’s still a beautiful tale, it really shined through audio. The narrator is fantastic and does an excellent Death. See for yourself in this clip.

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Book Review – The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2) by Maggie Stiefvater

September 20, 2013 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2013, YA 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.

Book Review – The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2) by Maggie StiefvaterThe Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle #2
Published by Scholastic Press on September 17th 2013
Pages: 416
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Shiver, Forever, The Raven Boys

four-stars

The second installment in the all-new series from the masterful, #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater!

If you could steal things from dreams, what would you take?

Ronan Lynch has secrets. Some he keeps from others. Some he keeps from himself.

One secret: Ronan can bring things out of his dreams.

And sometimes he's not the only one who wants those things.

Ronan is one of the raven boys - a group of friends, practically brothers, searching for a dead king named Glendower, who they think is hidden somewhere in the hills by their elite private school, Aglionby Academy. The path to Glendower has long lived as an undercurrent beneath town. But now, like Ronan's secrets, it is beginning to rise to the surface - changing everything in its wake.

The Raven Cycle series

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, #1) {My Review}

The Dream Thieves is the story of a boy with the ability to make his dreams a reality, of a continued quest to uncover the lost Welsh King and the realization that time may be running out.

I loved The Raven Boys, however, I found the ending to be far too abrupt and introduced a fascinating storyline that just didn’t give me enough. It felt like a pilot episode and left me eager for more but also left me disappointed. The Dream Thieves definitely solved that and then some. When I started this book I noticed a lack of a refresher and I struggled to recall particular details from The Raven Boys. I actually found a fabulous recap written by Maggie Stiefvater herself (here if you’re interested) but oddly enough I ultimately didn’t need it. While TDT is a continuation and second installment of a series it felt separate and completely new from the storyline that was previously established.

What I loved most about this story was it took an even bigger leap into the fantasy and magical aspects whereas The Raven Boys merely trod the line. While fantasy is not my go-to genre, this type of fantasy is done in such a conventional way that blends well with the contemporary background the story is set in; it doesn’t ever seem clunky and out of place. It’s such a wonderfully inventive type of magic too. The ability to draw items from your dreams and have them become a reality? I love it.

One thing which was done differently in TDT was that so much focus was placed on Ronan and Adam that the other characters became secondary characters and were oftentimes unessential. Blue’s mother Maura and her fellow psychics had more of a place in the story than Blue herself and Noah was practically nonexistent (except for one incredibly unforgettable scene *sniff*). While I missed the shared distribution of characters, I did enjoy this in-depth look into Ronan and finding out what makes him tick. Two new adversarial characters share a bit of the spotlight though: a fellow Aglionby student, Joseph Kavinsky, a ticking time bomb that is unknowingly affecting their search for Cabeswater and The Grey Man who is searching for the same thing.

With a double dose of fantasy in a contemporary world and a hint of romance and eternal friendship, The Dream Thieves is an exciting follow-up to a spectacular series. It is a gorgeously written story with such a fresh and unique feel to it and of course sets the scene perfectly for the next book which I am already anticipating.

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Book Review – Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

September 19, 2013 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2013, YA 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 – Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth WeinRose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
Series: Code Name Verity #2
Published by Disney Hyperion on September 10th 2013
Pages: 483
Genres: Historical Fiction, WWII
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Code Name Verity

four-stars

While flying an Allied fighter plane from Paris to England, American ATA pilot and amateur poet, Rose Justice, is captured by the Nazis and sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious women's concentration camp. Trapped in horrific circumstances, Rose finds hope in the impossible through the loyalty, bravery and friendship of her fellow prisoners. But will that be enough to endure the fate that’s in store for her?

Elizabeth Wein, author of the critically-acclaimed and best-selling Code Name Verity, delivers another stunning WWII thriller. The unforgettable story of Rose Justice is forged from heart-wrenching courage, resolve, and the slim, bright chance of survival.

Code Name Verity series

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein {My Review}

‘Hope is the most treacherous thing in the world. It lifts you and lets you plummet. But as long as you’re being lifted, you don’t worry about plummeting.’

Rose Under Fire tells the story of Rose Justice, an American pilot who is captured and sent to the concentration camp Ravensbrück which held primarily women and children. The beginning of the story is a short, day to day accounting in epistolary (journal) form of her duties as a pilot. After, she transcribes everything she remembers from her experiences in Ravensbrück and how she managed to be one of the few who lived to tell the tale.

The horrors that Rose and the thousands of other women suffered through at Ravensbrück will break your heart. There isn’t a lack of detailing either, the story is vividly retold making it disturbingly palpable. It also doesn’t help to know that while the story is fictional, Elizabeth Wein’s story is based on fact and is a slight retelling of actual survivors from Ravensbrück.

Over a six year period between 1939 and 1945 over 130,000 women and children resided at the camp; some were transported to other camps, some survived till the end of the war and most died within those walls. Out of that inconceivable number only a reported 15,000-32,000 managed to survive. The most horrid aspect of what went on at this camp are the details of the medical experimentation that was done on a reported 86 women that were known from then on as ‘Rabbits’. I will avoid detailing this as you’ll receive enough within the book itself, but the fact that even a single one of those women were able to survive is astounding.

Rose Under Fire is a companion novel to Code Name Verity. It’s not necessary to have read CNV prior, but I would definitely recommend it. Code Name Verity came close to being a DNF for me only because it was overly focused on the mechanical aspects of piloting but Julie was an amazing character. Rose Under Fire is a much more prevalent and typical tale of a WWII survivor; an incredible character possessing a perseverance that was truly admirable.

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Book Review – Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

September 14, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 16 Comments

Book Review – Attachments by Rainbow RowellAttachments by Rainbow Rowell
Published by Dutton Adult on April 14th 2011
Length: 336
Genres: Chick-Lit, Contemporary Romance
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Landline, Eleanor & Park

five-stars

"Hi, I'm the guy who reads your e-mail, and also, I love you . . . "

Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that somebody is monitoring their work e-mail. (Everybody in the newsroom knows. It's company policy.) But they can't quite bring themselves to take it seriously. They go on sending each other endless and endlessly hilarious e-mails, discussing every aspect of their personal lives.

Meanwhile, Lincoln O'Neill can't believe this is his job now- reading other people's e-mail. When he applied to be "internet security officer," he pictured himself building firewalls and crushing hackers- not writing up a report every time a sports reporter forwards a dirty joke.

When Lincoln comes across Beth's and Jennifer's messages, he knows he should turn them in. But he can't help being entertained-and captivated-by their stories.

By the time Lincoln realizes he's falling for Beth, it's way too late to introduce himself.

What would he say . . . ?

This is not a genre that I typically jump for but I was in dire need of some serious fluff since I had finished The Book Thief and Rose Under Fire in the same day. Plus, I haven’t heard anything other than amazing things about Rainbow Rowell.

Attachments was an absolute treat and I really loved it. The chapters alternate between Jennifer and Beth’s conversations over e-mail which are written in the form of almost instant messages and then normally written chapters from the point of view of Lincoln. Lincoln was a charming character but Jennifer and Beth were the absolute frosting on the cake. Extremely witty and entertaining, Jennifer and Beth were two girls that I would love to be friends with. Jennifer is married and currently having issues dealing with a husband that wants to start having children while she’s still not sure. Beth is in a long-term relationship with a guitarist in an up and coming band and wants to settle down but she doesn’t think he’ll ever want to. Their conversations were constantly cracking me up. Here’s an example of how Jennifer and Beth’s chapters appear and a little snippet of the humor.

Jennifer to Beth
Now that I think about, we’ve known each other six years, and I’ve never seen you in a bathing suit. Or a tank top.
Beth to Jennifer
Not a coincidence, my friend. Iv’e got the arms of a Sicilian grandmother. Arms for picking olives and stirring hearty tomato sauces. Shoulders for carrying buckets of water from the stream to the farmhouse.
Jennifer to Beth
Has Chris seen your shoulders?
Beth to Jennifer
He’s seen them. But he hasn’t seen them.
Jennifer to Beth
I get it, but I don’t get it.
Beth to Jennifer
No sleeveless negligees. No direct sunlight. Sometimes when I’m getting out of the shower, I shout, “Hey, look, a bobcat!”
Jennifer to Beth
I bet he falls for that every time.
Beth to Jennifer
It’s Chris. So recreational drugs are a factor.

And my favorite, because I’m a total Jennifer.

Jennifer to Beth
Even construction workers don’t whistle at me.
Beth to Jennifer
That’s because you ooze preemptive leave-me-alone death rays.

Lincoln was an interesting main character since I can’t recall the last Chick-Lit type novel I read that featured a male character. It was a success though. Lincoln is in his late 20’s and has just graduated (again) from college and has moved back home to live with his mom. He plays Dungeons & Dragons on the weekend, doesn’t like to go out to bars and is terrible at connecting with females. He stumbles upon Jennifer and Beth’s emails in the course of his daily job duties and while they were clearly violating the personal email rule he never reported them. Instead, he continued reading about their lives that interested him in a way he couldn’t understand. While I was anxious to find out what happens when the two finally do meet, the ending was a bit overly mushy and leaned a bit too much towards ‘perfect’.

Attachments is a charming and adorable tale of finding love in the least expected ways and a touching story of female friendship.

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Early Review – Simon’s Cat vs. the World (Simon’s Cat #4) by Simon Tofield

September 13, 2013 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2013 0 Comments

I received this book free from Library Thing, 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 – Simon’s Cat vs. the World (Simon’s Cat #4) by Simon TofieldSimon's Cat vs. the World by Simon Tofield
Series: Simon's Cat #4
Published by Akashic Books on October 1st 2013
Pages: 96
Genres: Funny-ha-ha
Format: ARC
Source: Library Thing, the Publisher
Amazon
Goodreads


four-stars

Simon's Cat proved his authority in the house. He returned victorious from his adventures beyond the garden fence. He prevailed after the chaotic arrival of a new kitten. Now he takes on the world! Illustrated in glorious full color, this volume explodes from the page with mesmerizing levels of detail. Simon's Cat films have over 280 million YouTube views!

Simon Tofield is an award-winning illustrator, animator, and director at Tandem Films in London. At the age of nine, Simon received his first kitten, a stray rescued from a farmer's barn. He has had cats ever since. When not attending to his cats' needs, Simon likes painting, reading history books, and spending time in the great British countryside. His Simon's Cat short films have garnered hundreds of millions of views, and the book versions have been international bestsellers.

Simon’s Cat began as a series of YouTube videos and quickly turned popular for their hilariousness and how accurate the depictions were of how cat’s truly are. The first Simon’s Cat video was uploaded over 5 years ago, on March 4, 2008. It’s one of my all-time favorites.

While the books aren’t nearly as hilarious as the videos, they are still entertaining and fun to flip through for a good laugh. Simon’s Cat vs. the World are single page illustions detailing various encounters from visits to the Vet, holiday outifts, discovering the vividness of HD TV and even fireworks.


In addition to that, there was also a short section in the back that details how to draw a few of the animals that feature in his books.

And my favorite part? A whole page of adorable stickers.

The best thing about these books is just how realistically the illustrations showcase the shenanigans of cats and what cat owner’s constantly have to deal with. Simon’s Cat is highly amusing and a source of good quick fun. Recommended for any cat lover and anyone who just enjoys a good laugh.

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Book Review – Raven Girl by Audrey Niffenegger

September 12, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 6 Comments

Book Review – Raven Girl by Audrey NiffeneggerRaven Girl by Audrey Niffenegger
Published by Harry N. Abrams on May 7th 2013
Pages: 80
Genres: Fairy-Tales/Retellings, Romance
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads


three-stars

Once there was a Postman who fell in love with a Raven.

So begins the tale of a postman who encounters a fledgling raven while on the edge of his route and decides to bring her home. The unlikely couple falls in love and conceives a child — an extraordinary raven girl trapped in a human body. The raven girl feels imprisoned by her arms and legs and covets wings and the ability to fly. Betwixt and between, she reluctantly grows into a young woman, until one day she meets an unorthodox doctor who is willing to change her.

One of the world’s most beloved storytellers has crafted a dark fairy tale full of wonderment and longing. Complete with Audrey Niffenegger’s bewitching etchings and paintings, Raven Girl explores the bounds of transformation and possibility.

“Today we are going to talk about where the human race may be headed. We have the power to improve ourselves, if we wish to do so. We can become anything we wish to be.”

After the postman fell in love with a raven they had a child, a child that looked like a normal human being except for the fact that she could not speak (only caw) and she had an extreme longing to fly. She traverses life as easily as any normal girl but she’s constantly living a life that is lacking. When a doctor, a Dr. Moreau type, tells her that he has the ability to give her the wings she’s always dreamed of she feels the stirrings of hope.

This story actually came to be after Audrey was asked to collaborate with the Royal ballet in order to a dark fairytale type story to life on the stage. With it’s haunting subject, dream-like qualities and gothic undertones I can definitely see this being a beautiful stage production.

Raven Girl attempted flight
 

The artwork was gorgeous and the creation process of the illustrations was far more complex than I would have normally guessed. Using a procedure called aquatint, it’s a process that was intended to imitate watercolors but it’s an extremely time-consuming process. To learn more about aquatinting, Audrey discusses it in detail in this video on youtube.

The Raven Girl is an obscure tale of a metamorphosis of sorts. She underwent an artistic transformation because after living with knowing she was different for so long she finally became who she was always meant to be.

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Audiobook Review – The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

September 7, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 8 Comments

Audiobook Review – The Metamorphosis by Franz KafkaThe Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
Narrator: Benedict Cumberbatch
on 1915
Length: 2 hours and 15 minutes
Genres: Classics, Literary Fiction, Philosophy
Format: Audiobook
Source: BBC Radio 4 Extra
Amazon
Goodreads


four-half-stars

"One morning, as Gregor Samsa was waking up from anxious dreams, he discovered that in bed he had been changed into a monstrous verminous bug."

With this startling, bizarre, yet surprisingly funny first sentence, Kafka begins his masterpiece, The Metamorphosis. It is the story of a young traveling salesman who, transformed overnight into a giant, beetle-like insect, becomes an object of disgrace to his family, an outsider in his own home, a quintessentially alienated man. Rather than being surprised at the transformation, the members of his family despise it as an impending burden upon themselves.

A harrowing–though absurdly comic–meditation on human feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and isolation, The Metamorphosis has taken its place as one of the most widely read and influential works of twentieth-century fiction. As W. H. Auden wrote, ”Kafka is important to us because his predicament is the predicament of modern man.”

 

‘I cannot make you understand. I cannot make anyone understand what is happening inside me. I cannot even explain it to myself.’

Imagine you go to bed one night with nothing out of the ordinary occurring only to wake up to find you have transformed into a monstrous insect overnight. Your family can no longer communicate with you, they no longer can even stand to look at you. You’ve become repulsive and abhorrent for seemingly no apparent reason. What do you do?

Everyone has heard of The Metamorphosis, Kafka’s literary masterpiece, a book that is obviously more than meets the eye. The story possessed a dream-like quality where nothing is ever considered appropriately, as Gregor accepted his transformation into insect form a lot more readily than one might normally. Many have attempted to form their own interpretations of the story but I personally can’t see it being anything other than a metaphor. While there are bound to be several different opinions on this, this is what I came up with:

Up until that life altering morning Gregor led an uneventful life where he worked constantly to support his family and in turn they steadily grew unproductive the more they began to depend on him. Gregor travels so often for work that communication between him and his family begins to cease and most importantly his family stops being appreciative of all he does for them and instead begins to simply expect it. That fateful morning he woke and began to contemplate his job and how terrible he finds it and if he didn’t have his parents to worry about he would have “given in my notice a long time ago, I’d have gone up to the boss and told him just what I think, tell him everything I would, let him know just what I feel.” The more and more he dwells on this the more he realizes what he does for them, what they don’t do and how his work ethic in order to support his family has in turn alienated them from him. By becoming the sole breadwinner of the family he transformed himself into an outsider, the transformation only becoming a physical interpretation when he realizes that himself.

I’ve never read Kafka before having always found myself intimidated by his works. When I discovered that the BBC Radio had produced a recording of this being read by Benedict Cumberbatch I jumped on the opportunity and I am so glad I did. I had listened to a clip of the audiobook that was released by Blackstone Audio and narrated by Ralph Cosham… that audiobook sat on my phone for so long I forgot about it because it sounded dreadfully dull. Benedict Cumberbatch truly brought this story to life and made this a real treat for me.

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Audiobook Review – Pronto (Raylan Givens #1) by Elmore Leonard

September 6, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 4 Comments

Audiobook Review – Pronto (Raylan Givens #1) by Elmore LeonardPronto by Elmore Leonard
Narrator: Alexander Adams
Series: Raylan Givens #1
Published by Harper Audio on October 5th 2010 (first published 1993)
Length: 5 hours and 57 minutes
Genres: Detective, Mystery-Contemporary
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads


three-stars

The feds want Miami bookmaker Harry Arno to squeal on his wiseguy boss. So they're putting word out on the street that Arno's skimming profits from "Jimmy Cap" Capotorto--which he is, but everybody does it. He was planning to retire to Italy someday anyway, so Harry figures now's a good time to get lost. U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens knows Harry's tricky--the bookie ditched him once in an airport while in the marshal's custody--but not careful. So Raylan's determined to find the fugitive's Italian hideaway before a cold-blooded Sicilian "Zip" does and whacks Arno for fun. After all, it's a "pride thing..".and it might even put Raylan in good stead with Harry's sexy ex-stripper girlfriend Joyce.

Pronto tells the story of Harry Arno: he’s a Miami bookie, is dating a topless dancer named Joyce and plans to retire to a villa in Italy within the next year. Harry has been skimming profits from his boss Jimmy ‘Cap’ for years but has so far remained undetected until the Feds decide to set him up in order to get to Jimmy thus forcing him to move up his retirement date and has him fleeing town immediately.

I decided to pick Pronto as my first Elmore Leonard novel because of the fact that I love ‘Justified’ so much. While my love of the show centers around the character Raylan Givens (or, if I’m being quite honest, mainly because of Timothy Olyphant) he doesn’t play the leading character as I would have expected. Pronto is a dialogue driven narrative with a large cast of engaging characters that are all given their share of the spotlight in this story. The mob bosses are hysterical and their simple mindedness is portrayed well and with good humor. Raylan Givens is a small-town cowboy that is much smarter than his persona would imply. Harry is a thief who uses and abuses anyone that can be a benefit to him but still manages to still be a character you care about. Pronto is an entertaining blend of western and crime fiction with a subtle dash of humor.

This was enjoyable on audio with narrator Alexander Adams capable of using a multitude of different voices and even managed to make the occasional Italian dialogue sound authentic. Now that I’ve had my first experience reading an Elmore Leonard book I can safely say it won’t be my last.

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Early Review – The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman

September 5, 2013 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2013, YA 8 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.

Early Review – The Waking Dark by Robin WassermanThe Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on September 10th 2013
Pages: 464
Genres: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Girls on Fire

four-stars

A taut, haunting read, The Waking Dark is "a horror story worthy of Stephen King" (Booklist) and will appeal to the readers of Gillian Flynn and Rick Yancey.

They called it the killing day. Twelve people dead, all in the space of a few hours. Five murderers: neighbors, relatives, friends. All of them so normal. All of them seemingly harmless. All of them now dead by their own hand . . . except one. And that one has no answers to offer the shattered town. She doesn't even know why she killed—or whether she'll do it again.

Something is waking in the sleepy town of Oleander's, Kansas—something dark and hungry that lives in the flat earth and the open sky, in the vengeful hearts of upstanding citizens. As the town begins its descent into blood and madness, five survivors of the killing day are the only ones who can stop Oleander from destroying itself. Jule, the outsider at war with the world; West, the golden boy at war with himself; Daniel, desperate for a different life; Cass, who's not sure she deserves a life at all; and Ellie, who believes in sacrifice, fate, and in evil. Ellie, who always goes too far. They have nothing in common. They have nothing left to lose. And they have no way out. Which means they have no choice but to stand and fight, to face the darkness in their town—and in themselves.

The killing day.
The day the devil came to Oleander.
That day.

 Oleander, Kansas is a small, quiet town that was never cause for much attention… until the killing day. The day when twelve people were killed in a few short hours by the hands of their friends and neighbors. Once all surrounding them were dead they then killed themselves having outlived their purpose. One survived to tell her tale, but she remembers nothing of the horrors that she dealt out. When the town is placed under quarantine after a horrific storm does further damage to the town, a darkness wakes in the citizens. The deacon decides this is the perfect opportunity to cleanse the town and the remaining citizens begin to take the law into their own hands.

This book is insanity incarnate. It’s dark and distressing. It’s maddening and stupefying. It’s one of the most horrific books I’ve ever read. It was fantastic. I have never been left more shocked and appalled by a single chapter and that’s just what Robin Wasserman managed to do. The Waking Dark is horror, but it’s not exactly scary. The madness that consumes this small town is more vexing and mortifying than anything and showcases perfectly the mentality of a small town and what can happen when it all goes wrong.

The story is extremely character driven and is told from several different points of view with very distinct characters so it didn’t cause any confusion as its fantastically written. It’s a sordid tale told over the span of a few short weeks with enough violence to last a lifetime. The Waking Dark has drawn comparisons to Stephen King and Gillian Flynn, I believe for good reason. Having read both authors I feel that they both possess a subtle eeriness in their writing, a creepiness and unflinching details that sneaks up on you and takes you by surprise.

I feel it must be said that this is one of the most violent and mature YA books I’ve read and is definitely not meant for a younger crowd. It involves infant murders, detailed meth use, crucifixion and people being burned at the stake (and that’s not even half of the craziness that goes down in these pages). This is not for the faint of heart.

There is so much to say about this story, but so much that needs to be experienced firsthand. I have to say though, I was extremely pleased at how the violence was maintained throughout the story because I figured it would letup at some point, (nope) but I expected it to end in a manner as shocking as the first chapter but it was a bit too tidy of an ending for my liking. Nevertheless, I am most impressed with this author and will be seeking out her past works.

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Book Review + Giveaway! The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

August 31, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Giveaways, 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.

Book Review + Giveaway! The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo MoyesThe Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes
Published by Pamela Dorman Books on August 20th 2013
Pages: 384
Genres: Contemporary, Historical Fiction, Romance
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Me Before You, One Plus One, Still Me

three-half-stars

What happened to the girl you left behind?

In 1916, French artist Edouard Lefevre leaves his wife Sophie to fight at the Front. When her town falls into German hands, his portrait of Sophie stirs the heart of the local Kommandant and causes her to risk everything - her family, reputation and life - in the hope of seeing her true love one last time.

Nearly a century later and Sophie's portrait is given to Liv by her young husband shortly before his sudden death. Its beauty speaks of their short life together, but when the painting's dark and passion-torn history is revealed, Liv discovers that the first spark of love she has felt since she lost him is threatened...

In The Girl You Left Behind two young women, separated by a century, are united in their determination to fight for the thing they love most - whatever the cost.

“Once it is done, it cannot be undone.”

1916
In the midst of WWI, a small French town is overtaken by the Germans and Sophie and her sister Helene are forced to make the soldiers extravagant meals every night. When the portrait of Sophie that her husband painted of her catches the attention of the Kommandant, he begins showing her a kindness not afforded to any others. Sophie decides to take advantage of that kindness in hopes that she will be able to help free her husband from the ravages of the prison camp. For his help though, it will come at a steep cost.

‘Sometimes life is a series of obstacles, a matter of putting one foot in front of the other. Sometimes […] it is simply a matter of blind faith.’

2006
Liv is still grieving for the husband she lost unexpectedly 4 years prior. She meets a man that she feels she could actually move on and be happy with only to find that he’s been searching for a long lost painting that Liv’s husband gave to her while on their honeymoon. He was hired to recover the painting when the descendants came forward when she was discovered as being stolen from the family during WWI. Liv begins researching information on the girl in the portrait in hopes to uncover the truth behind it’s origins.

I’m a huge fan of dual narrative stories, especially when you have a wonderful mix of old with the new. This is perfect for fans of historical fiction and/or contemporary because you get both genres intertwined. I personally was a bigger fan of the 1916 storyline and all the aspects of WWI, plus I felt Sophie’s story was simply a better written and riveting tale. Sophie’s story was heartrending as war tales typically are. Liv’s story was equally distressing but lacked a clear understanding why she was so adamant about keeping the portrait.

I picked up this story after being thoroughly enchanted by ‘Me Before You’ however, this is a vastly different type of tale with much more focus on the historical aspects. I would recommend this read to fans of Sarah Jio and Susanna Kearsley as both typically focus on dual narratives and/or the blending of past and present.

The Girl You Left Behind is the tale of two women, both surviving trying times, joined through decades by a remarkable portrait. A portrait that brings to light what’s right and wrong and how there is oftentimes a middle ground, a grey area.

This is for my personal (ARC) copy of The Girl You Left Behind.
Open to U.S. addresses only. Sorry international followers!

Giveaway ends September 14th, 2013!

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