Posts Categorized: Read in 2014

Review + Giveaway! The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

February 5, 2015 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Giveaways, Read in 2014, YA 10 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.

Review + Giveaway! The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia HandThe Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand
Published by HarperTeen on February 10th 2015
Pages: 400
Genres: Realistic YA Fiction
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Also by this author: Unearthly, Hallowed, Boundless

four-stars

There's death all around us.
We just don't pay attention.
Until we do.

The last time Lex was happy, it was before. When she had a family that was whole. A boyfriend she loved. Friends who didn't look at her like she might break down at any moment.

Now she's just the girl whose brother killed himself. And it feels like that's all she'll ever be.

As Lex starts to put her life back together, she tries to block out what happened the night Tyler died. But there's a secret she hasn't told anyone-a text Tyler sent, that could have changed everything.

Lex's brother is gone. But Lex is about to discover that a ghost doesn't have to be real to keep you from moving on.

From New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Hand, The Last Time We Say Goodbye is a gorgeous and heart-wrenching story of love, loss, and letting go.

‘Time passes. That’s the rule. No matter what happens, no matter how much it might feel like everything in your life has frozen around one particular moment, time marches on.’

Lexie is an unexceptionally smart student with big dreams of going to MIT. She has a boyfriend who loves her and a group of friends she can depend on. But that was life seven weeks ago. Now? Her grades are slipping, she’s broke up with her boyfriend and she won’t talk to any of her friends. Seven weeks ago her brother killed himself. But now she’s starting to his ghost. A series of journal entries reveal the facts behind Lexie’s grief (and guilt) and the heartbreak begins anew when we are exposed to the truth of her pain.

‘I didn’t know to savor that moment on the dance floor, to understand how beautiful and rare it was, how fragile, how ephemeral, when Ty was happy. When we were all happy, and we were together, and we were safe.
I didn’t know.
I didn’t know.’

Grief comes in many forms as we all handle it in different ways. Lexie’s path of grief led her to shut everyone out and while this storyline has certainly been done before, it still managed to resonate honestly and leave a strong impression. These days, death and grief have become most common in YA novels and while it can certainly come off as a morbid fascination, the existence of these types of novels can be vital for those who don’t quite know how to handle their grief. It can serve as proof to those who have also experienced grief that they are far from alone and that there are people that can help. It’s a sad fact of life that we must all learn how to cope, heal and continue living. The Last Time We Said Goodbye is more of a cautionary tale seeing as the story is told from the surviving sister and inevitably shows the repercussions of suicide and the effects of grief but manages to still leave the reader with a facet of hope to cling to. While this is a work of fiction, the author states that she had a younger brother that killed himself which only made this all the more poignant and truly from the heart.

The Last Time We Said Goodbye is a raw and brutally honest depiction of the various sides of grief. It’s an insightful and admirable story about acceptance and forgiveness that will no doubt leave you heartsick but is an incredibly worthy read.

I was fortunate enough to receive an early copy of this book from Harper Teen and now want to share this book with one of you! To be entered to win, please use the Rafflecopter widget below.

This is open to U.S. residents only! Sorry international followers.
Giveaway ends February 19th, 2015

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Book Review – The Last Mission of the Living (The Last Bastion #2) by Rhiannon Frater

December 30, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2014 1 Comment

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

Book Review – The Last Mission of the Living (The Last Bastion #2) by Rhiannon FraterThe Last Mission of the Living by Rhiannon Frater
Series: The Last Bastion #2
Published by Self-Published on August 28th 2014
Pages: 382
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic, Zombies
Format: eARC
Source: the Author
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Also by this author: The First Days, Fighting to Survive, Siege

three-half-stars

Vanguard Lindsay Rooney has faced the undead hordes of Inferi Scourge and lived to tell the tale, but she has also suffered horrible losses. Like millions of other civilians, she had hoped that The Bastion would recover after a team of modified soldiers eradicated the undead hordes of Inferi Scourge that infested their valley. Yet the city still crumbles around them, along with any chance of survival.

Lindsey’s growing friendship with Torran MacDonald, an officer with the Science Warfare division, is her only solace as the decline of the city continues. When food riots fill the streets, martial law is enacted, and the upper echelons of government battle for control of the city, Lindsey is conscripted by her superiors to embark on a dangerous mission into the dead world beyond The Bastion. To add even more complications, Torran and the SWD join the squad.

Soon, Lindsey realizes that her mission is more than what it seems, and there are secrets that could both destroy The Bastion and take her life.

About Rhiannon Frater

Rhiannon Frater is the award-winning author of over a dozen books, including the As the World Dies zombie trilogy (Tor), as well as independent works such as The Last Bastion of the Living (declared the #1 Zombie Release of 2012 by Explorations Fantasy Blog and the #1 Zombie Novel of the Decade by B&N Book Blog), and other horror novels. She was born and raised a Texan and presently lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and furry children (a.k.a pets). She loves scary movies, sci-fi and horror shows, playing video games, cooking, dyeing her hair weird colors, and shopping for Betsey Johnson purses and shoes.

The Last Bastion series

Blog Tour Stop + Giveaway! The Last Bastion of the Living by Rhiannon Frater

The Last Bastion of the Living (The Last Bastion #1) by Rhiannon Frater {PurchaseMy Review}

The Last Mission of the Living is the unexpected surprise second installment following the thrilling futuristic zombie novel The Last Bastion of the Living. This installment switches points of view from Maria Martinez to her best friend Lindsay Rooney and is fortunately no less intense than we’ve all come to expect from any Rhiannon Frater tale. The Last Mission is a definitely longer tale but is no less worth the time.

In The Last Bastion, the stronghold and the last group of people that have survived the undead creatures known as Inferi Scourge, a team of soldiers were chosen to be ‘modified’ in order to fight the undead with a higher percent chance of success. That group of soldiers became the last chance for the Bastion to survive but the mission failed and the city is still enduring the threat of the undead that swarms the borders. The political conspiracies and the constant double-dealing going on in the background of the Bastion are focused on more in this installment and it was an interesting switch-up. There was less zombie/Inferi Scourge action as The Last Bastion, however, this is still a solid follow-up and a fantastic expansion to this fascinating world.

In addition to the political tidbits, there is still a worthy romance to swoon over. Lindsay and Torran, who is a part of the Science Warfare division, are on opposite sides of the game at play. When the two are put on a team with a mission to seek out food to bring back to the Bastion, a friendship develops which slowly transforms into something more. Torran had his own secret mission though and it involves bringing Lindsay’s best friend Maria back to the Bastion for experimentation. The ongoing tension between the two was fantastically written.

The Last Mission of the Living is a fabulous follow-up with exciting twists and turns that expand on Frater’s created world nicely. The action is less than the first installment, however, the world-building is on point and will leave you hoping a surprise third installment is a possibility. Would work well as a 2nd installment or even as a stand-alone but of course I still highly recommend The Last Bastion.

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Book Review – The Perfect Present by Karen Swan

December 25, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2014 1 Comment

Book Review – The Perfect Present by Karen SwanThe Perfect Present by Karen Swan
Published by Pan on November 8th 2012
Pages: 531
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
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Also by this author: Christmas at Tiffany's

four-stars

Haunted by a past she can’t escape, Laura Cunningham desires nothing more than to keep her world small and precise - her quiet relationship and growing jewellery business are all she needs to get by. Until the December day when Rob Blake walks into her studio and commissions a necklace that will tell his enigmatic wife Cat’s life in charms.

As Laura interviews Cat’s family, friends and former lovers, she steps out of her world and into theirs – a charmed world where weekends are spent in Verbier and the air is lavender-scented, where friends are wild, extravagant and jealous, and a big love has to compete with grand passions.

Hearts are opened, secrets revealed and as the necklace begins to fill up with trinkets, Cat’s intoxicating life envelops Laura’s own. By the time she has to identify the final charm, Laura’s metamorphosis is almost complete. But the last story left to tell has the power to change all of their lives forever, and Laura is forced to choose between who she really is and who it is she wants to be.

Laura Cunningham is a jewelry maker specializing in beautiful charms, lives with her long-term boyfriend Jack and has a secret side to herself that she’s desperate to keep contained. When she’s commissioned to create a personalized charm bracelet for Rob Blake’s wife Cat, Laura ends up immersed in their lives and subsequently awakens a part of herself that she’s struggled to keep dormant.

So the not so great. The enigma of Laura’s past took up the vast majority of The Perfect Present and made it less straight forward than you would think. It was engaging at first and gave her an air of intrigue but this was such a long story that the desire to learn her secret became a need rather than a desire after a certain point. The mystery unfolded near to the very end of the story and could have definitely been given more page time in order to fully explain everything so as to make Laura’s actions throughout the story much more plausible.

Now the good. Karen Swan has managed to create a multi-layered character in Laura Cunningham. She remained a complete mystery throughout the entire tale (which is both good and bad as you’ll see below) which was infinitely important in a 500+ page story. In addition to Laura’s character, there is a full cast of characters which Laura has to interview in order to complete the commissioned job and each of them were given a solid back-story. Kitty was by far my favorite and was the most realistic and likable one of the bunch. The men were all the brooding sort but it was never taken too overboard. I also loved that this was a far from perfect tale and there wasn’t technically a happy ending, or at least not the type of happy ending that you would have gone in expecting.

After reading Christmas at Tiffany’s I was desperate to get my hands on more of Karen Swan’s work. Tiffany’s was A+ and one of my most favorite stories of the year. Perfect Present wasn’t an enthralling but was still enjoyable and was far from your typical chicklit type tale which I appreciated. Taking place throughout the month of December including Christmas day so this was the perfect time to read this story. This is now my second read of hers and I will either need to have more of her stories shipped from the UK or hope that US publishers pick up her stories… or both would work too. 🙂bonnie blog signature

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Book Review – Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor (Friday Harbor #1) by Lisa Kleypas

December 24, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2014 0 Comments

Book Review – Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor (Friday Harbor #1) by Lisa KleypasChristmas Eve at Friday Harbor by Lisa Kleypas
Series: Friday Harbor #1
Published by St. Martin's Press on October 26th 2010
Pages: 211
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas
Format: Hardcover
Source: Gifted
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three-stars

ONE LITTLE GIRL NEEDS A FAMILY
One rain-slicked night, six-year-old Holly lost the only parent she knew, her beloved mother Victoria. And since that night, she has never again spoken a word.

ONE SINGLE MAN NEEDS A WIFE
The last thing Mark Nolan needs is a six-year-old girl in his life. But he soon realizes that he will do everything he can to make her life whole again. His sister’s will gives him the instructions: There’s no other choice but you. Just start by loving her. The rest will follow.

SOMETIMES, IT TAKES A LITTLE MAGIC…
Maggie Collins doesn’t dare believe in love again, after losing her husband of one year. But she does believe in the magic of imagination. As the owner of a toy shop, she lives what she loves. And when she meets Holly Nolan, she sees a little girl in desperate need of a little magic.

…TO MAKE DREAMS COME TRUE
Three lonely people. Three lives at the crossroads. Three people who are about to discover that Christmas is the time of year when anything is possible, and when wishes have a way of finding the path home…

When six-year-old Holly’s mother dies in a car accident, her Uncle Mark is named her guardian. Holly is devastated and hasn’t spoken in the six months that she’s lived with him. To top it off, Mark just found Holly’s letter to Santa where she was asking for a new mommy. Wandering the local shops in town, the two go into a toy store where the store owner Maggie gets Holly to finally come out of the shell she’s created around herself which sets in motion an attraction between Mark and Maggie.

The story felt incredibly rushed with only 224 pages and extremely large font but it was nonetheless still a quick and entertaining Christmas read. I would have loved for the story to have more detail and back-story and I especially wanted more build-up as far as the romance went though. The connection between Mark and Maggie was instantaneous which wouldn’t have been as problematic if Mark wasn’t already involved in someone. I would have been able to enjoy this short and sweet tale if we weren’t dealing with the dramatic aspects of the love triangle. Having Mark be a single guy connecting with a very motherly character would have sufficed.

Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor reads much like a story that should be included in a Christmas anthology but it’s the start of Kleypas’ ‘Friday Harbor’ series. I enjoyed it enough to continue the series but hope those future installments are further fleshed out. Definitely, a worthy Christmas read for those looking for a sentimental albeit predictable story to get quickly absorbed in. (And there’s also a Lifetime movie adaptation of this to check out!)

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Book Review – Symbiont (Parasitology #2) by Mira Grant

December 20, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2014 2 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 – Symbiont (Parasitology #2) by Mira GrantSymbiont by Mira Grant
Series: Parasitology #2
Published by Orbit on November 25th 2014
Pages: 528
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic, Sci-fi, Zombies
Format: Hardcover
Source: the Publisher
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Also by this author: Feed, Deadline, Countdown: A Newsflesh Novella

two-stars

THE ENEMY IS INSIDE US.

The SymboGen designed tapeworms were created to relieve humanity of disease and sickness. But the implants in the majority of the world's population began attacking their hosts turning them into a ravenous horde.

Now those who do not appear to be afflicted are being gathered for quarantine as panic spreads, but Sal and her companions must discover how the tapeworms are taking over their hosts, what their eventual goal is, and how they can be stopped.

Parasitology series

Early Review – Parasite (Parasitology #1) by Mira Grant

Parasite (Parasitology #1) by Mira Grant {PurchaseMy Review}

Yep. I gave a Mira Grant book 2 stars.

It pains me to do so, it really does, but this series, in general, has not impressed me at all. Parasite/Symbiont was intended originally to be a duology but it has now transformed into a trilogy with Symbiont becoming nothing more than a seriously massive tome of filler. It was a huge undertaking to get through this (a total of 23 days which is fairly unheard of for me) but there’s no denying that it definitely lacked direction.

By now we’ve had our fair share of romances between humans and well, non-humans. All members of the supernatural (vampires, werewolves, fairies and even zombies) and while I’m all for diversity in romances, I’m not sure human and tapeworm were ever on my wishlist. When news of this series first came to light, I was definitely intrigued. A tapeworm named The Intestinal Bodyguard is the answer to anything from allergies to colds, yet it does much more than anticipated when the tapeworms learn how to overtake their human bodies and claim them as their own. The transformation process went differently for some. Sal, a chimera, developed a personality and even formed a romance with Nathan, the son of Dr. Shanti Cale the co-creator of the original tapeworm. Others weren’t so fortunate and now infect the streets of San Francisco in search of sustenance (basically a zombie, but they’re called sleepwalkers). The inclusion of the romance angle was a bit far-fetched and I felt that there were enough interesting aspects of this story going on that it didn’t need to be included. Plus, it’s kind of gross, but who am I to judge I guess.

One of the main issues I had with Parasite were some various plot holes that could have swallowed a building. Most specifically was Sal’s fear of cars that supposedly developed after her car accident, however, she was still human at the time of the accident. Her tapeworm didn’t take over her brain until following the accident. It never quite made sense that she took on her same phobia yet none of her memories or anything else. There was a clumsy attempt to backtrack and explain this, basically, the phobia was ingrained into her during counseling sessions when she was still at SymboGen, and while this would explain it it was far from a sufficient justification because huh? Why would the scientists trouble themselves with making sure Sal remained scared of cars? Baffling.

The conclusion of Parasite left off with Sal just barely escaping SymboGen, but unfortunately, her ‘tapeworm sister’ Tansy was captured in the process. A chunk of the novel is spent on finding her location and concocting a dangerous rescue mission just to get her back. The rest of the novel involves other dangerous acts that constantly put the characters in unnecessary danger in a failed attempt to generate an enticing intensity. First, there was the foray back to the horde infected streets of San Francisco because, whoops, we left the dogs at home! Then there’s the medical condition of Sal’s that naturally can’t be treated in the lab so another trip into the city is required. Then Sal gets kidnapped a few times by various individuals. There’s a lot happening within these 500+ pages but it’s all inconsequential stuff that doesn’t need to be happening if that makes sense. It was all entirely too tedious for my liking. I’ll likely pick up the final installment Chimera since I’m already so invested, but my expectations are near rock bottom at this point.

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Book Tour Review – Moriarty (Sherlock Holmes #2) by Anthony Horowitz

December 19, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Book Tour, Read in 2014, TLC Book Tours 2 Comments

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

Book Tour Review – Moriarty (Sherlock Holmes #2) by Anthony HorowitzMoriarty by Anthony Horowitz
Series: Sherlock Holmes #2
Published by Harper on December 9th 2014
Pages: 304
Genres: Detective, Mystery
Format: ARC
Source: TLC Book Tours
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
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Also by this author: The House of Silk: A Sherlock Holmes Novel

three-stars

The game is once again afoot in this thrilling mystery from the bestselling author of The House of Silk, sanctioned by the Conan Doyle estate, which explores what really happened when Sherlock Holmes and his arch nemesis Professor Moriarty tumbled to their doom at the Reichenbach Falls.

Internationally bestselling author Anthony Horowitz's nail-biting new novel plunges us back into the dark and complex world of detective Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty--dubbed the Napoleon of crime" by Holmes--in the aftermath of their fateful struggle at the Reichenbach Falls.

Days after the encounter at the Swiss waterfall, Pinkerton detective agent Frederick Chase arrives in Europe from New York. Moriarty's death has left an immediate, poisonous vacuum in the criminal underworld, and there is no shortage of candidates to take his place--including one particularly fiendish criminal mastermind.

Chase and Scotland Yard Inspector Athelney Jones, a devoted student of Holmes's methods of investigation and deduction originally introduced by Conan Doyle in "The Sign of Four," must forge a path through the darkest corners of England's capital--from the elegant squares of Mayfair to the shadowy wharfs and alleyways of the London Docks--in pursuit of this sinister figure, a man much feared but seldom seen, who is determined to stake his claim as Moriarty's successor.

A riveting, deeply atmospheric tale of murder and menace from the only writer to earn the seal of approval from Conan Doyle's estate, Moriarty breathes life into Holmes's dark and fascinating world.

Sherlock Holmes Series

The House of Silk (Sherlock Holmes #1) by Anthony Horowitz {Purchase – My Review}

About Anthony Horowitz

Anthony Horowitz is the author of the international bestseller The House of Silk and the New York Times number one bestselling Alex Rider series for Young Adults. As a television screenwriter he created both Midsomer Murders and the BAFTA-winning Foyle’s War, both of which were featured on PBS’s Masterpiece Mystery. He regularly contributes to a wide variety of national newspapers and magazines, and in January 2014 was awarded an OBE for his services to literature. He lives in London.

“But the man had hereditary tendencies of the most diabolical kind. A criminal strain ran in his blood.”

Professor Moriarty is a criminal mastermind and nemesis of the brilliant detective Sherlock Holmes. Moriarty brings to life occurrences following the disappearance of the duo after they vanished into the mist of Reichenbach Falls, Switzerland. Picking up the narrative of this story is Pinkerton agent Frederick Chase who has traveled to Europe intent on following the trail of an American criminal by the name of Clarence Devereux who supposedly intends on taking over Moriarty’s criminal activity now that he’s gone. When the trail leads Chase to Reichenbach Falls where Inspector Athelney Jones of Scotland Yard is investigating the incident, the two inevitably team up to assist one another.

Leaving Switzerland, Chase and Jones travel back to London intent on determining the identity of Devereux but shortly into their investigation, the brutality begins. Their first key witness is brutally murdered as well as his entire household with no apparent reasoning behind the extravagant violence. Unfortunately, this ends up being only a sneak peak as to what’s in store for the rest of their investigation.  Dark and dangerous, the longer the search continues the more mysterious things begin to appear. The mystery felt very jerky and was missing a cohesive flow in comparison to Silk. The evidence that Jones would find which inevitably took them to the next location to search for more clues felt like they were being pulled out of thin air rather than when Holmes would discover evidence and would then rationalize how he came to that conclusion it always led to an a-ha! moment that lacked perfect sense once explained. Jones modeled his life and habits after Holmes and made a decent attempt at learning his tricks of the trade and while he might have transformed himself into a clever copy he was still highly identifiable as far from the real thing.

Watson played narrator in Silk and did a superb job, but in Moriarty, we’re given Frederick Chase and suffice it to say I definitely missed Watson. It’s easy enough to compare the two books (Silk definitely comes out on top) however, the two are so vastly different in several regards that it’s a disservice to do so. When comparing Moriarty to the original canon, it’s bound to disappoint, however, judging on its own merits it’s a fairly solid mystery with an incredibly shocking twist that makes you rethink everything that came before. I had my suspicions that all was not as it appeared, and I was right, but my guesses were still far from the truth.

It’s not necessary to enjoy this story even if you haven’t read all of the Holmes classics, however, I would definitely recommend you’re at least familiar with The Sign of the Four and especially the short story The Final Problem. Moriarty definitely felt less authentic as a pastiche than Silk did but for Holmes fans looking for anything to scratch that itch, this will satisfy it albeit temporarily.

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This post was a part of the Moriarty blog tour.
Click the button below for a complete list of tour stops.

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Book Review – The House of Silk: A Sherlock Holmes Novel (Sherlock Holmes #1) by Anthony Horowitz

December 18, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2014 3 Comments

Book Review – The House of Silk: A Sherlock Holmes Novel (Sherlock Holmes #1) by Anthony HorowitzThe House of Silk: A Sherlock Holmes Novel by Anthony Horowitz
Series: Sherlock Holmes #1
Published by Mulholland Books on November 1, 2011
Pages: 304
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Sherlock
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Moriarty

four-half-stars

For the first time in its one-hundred-and-twenty-five-year history, the Arthur Conan Doyle Estate has authorized a new Sherlock Holmes novel.

Once again, THE GAME'S AFOOT...

London, 1890. 221B Baker St. A fine art dealer named Edmund Carstairs visits Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson to beg for their help. He is being menaced by a strange man in a flat cap - a wanted criminal who seems to have followed him all the way from America. In the days that follow, his home is robbed, his family is threatened. And then the first murder takes place.

Almost unwillingly, Holmes and Watson find themselves being drawn ever deeper into an international conspiracy connected to the teeming criminal underworld of Boston, the gaslit streets of London, opium dens and much, much more. And as they dig, they begin to hear the whispered phrase-the House of Silk-a mysterious entity that connects the highest levels of government to the deepest depths of criminality. Holmes begins to fear that he has uncovered a conspiracy that threatens to tear apart the very fabric of society.

The Arthur Conan Doyle Estate chose the celebrated, #1 New York Times bestselling author Anthony Horowitz to write The House of Silk because of his proven ability to tell a transfixing story and for his passion for all things Holmes. Destined to become an instant classic, The House of Silk brings Sherlock Holmes back with all the nuance, pacing, and almost superhuman powers of analysis and deduction that made him the world's greatest detective, in a case depicting events too shocking, too monstrous to ever appear in print...until now.

‘Show Holmes a drop of water and he would deduce the existence of the Atlantic. Show it to me and I would look for a tap. That was the difference between us.’

In London, during the Autumn of 1890, Holmes and Watson are investigating a seemingly ordinary crime involving rare art and of course murder. Their investigation manages to take them far from the beaten path and propels them straight into a most horrific ongoing crime involving The House of Silk. They hit a brick wall being unable to find any useful information about it but both Holmes and Watson are unable to stop investigating, of course, even with the obvious danger they are putting themselves in by continuing to do so. Watson narrates the tale wonderfully, giving us insight into the quirks of Sherlock and the sheer brilliance of his mind. There are mysteries within mysteries in this story and the inevitable unraveling is truly the best part.

The House of Silk is the first installment in a new Holmes series written by Anthony Horowitz that has been sanctioned and commissioned by the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Horowitz definitely has some big shoes to fill but his writing skills shine and Holmes and Watson feel as if they were never gone. I’m a huge fan of the original Conan Doyle stories and have always been leery of picking up the various pastiches out there; I’d much rather just read the originals. I took the risk once with The Beekeeper’s Apprentice and it quickly became one of my all-time favorites. The House of Silk was my second foray into Holmes pastiches and my luck continued. This was a fantastically faithful representation of everything I love about the originals, yet managed to add a level of excitement that I feel is sometimes missing from the classics. Horowitz did an honorable job of continuing the Sherlock legacy and these are well worth the read to all you Sherlock fans out there.

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Book Review – The Skin Collector (Lincoln Rhyme #11) by Jeffery Deaver

December 13, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2014 2 Comments

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

Book Review – The Skin Collector (Lincoln Rhyme #11) by Jeffery DeaverThe Skin Collector by Jeffery Deaver
Series: Lincoln Rhyme #11
Published by Grand Cen­tral Publishing on May 13th 2014
Pages: 448
Genres: Detective, Mystery, Thriller
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: A Textbook Case, The Kill Room, The October List

two-half-stars

A new type of serial killer is stalking the streets of New York – one more devious and disturbing than ever before.

They call this butcher The Skin Collector: a tattooist with a chamber of torture hidden deep underground. But instead of using ink to create each masterpiece, the artist uses a lethal poison which will render targets dead before they can even entertain the prospect of escape . . .

Drafted in to investigate, NYPD detective Lincoln Rhyme and his associate Amelia Sachs have little to go on but a series of cryptic messages left etched into the skin of the deceased. As the pair struggle to discover the meaning behind the designs, they are led down a treacherous and twisting path where nothing is as it seems. And with the clock rapidly ticking before the killer strikes again, they must untangle the twisted web of clues before more victims – or they themselves – are next.

A woman is discovered dead in an underground passage after being tattooed by poison with only a partial message “The Second”. Is this the second victim or is it only a partial message meaning that more deaths are in the works? The killer, known as Billy Haven, is seemingly killing at random and is constantly two steps ahead of the brilliant NYPD detective Lincoln Rhyme. It’s discovered that the killer has not only been researching Rhyme and Saches and their past cases together but one case, in particular, receives the most attention; the one where it all began: The Bone Collector. The two killers modus operandi seem entirely different and the detective is left grasping at straws in an attempt to collect clues for one of his most difficult cases to date.

I do so hate to criticize a lifelong favorite of mine but we all have our off days, right? I’ve been reading the tales of Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs for well over a decade but this mystery was completely lacking in more ways than one. I found the killer tattooing people with poison to be definitely crazy and creepy and it kept me guessing for sure but there was a second storyline that was actually ongoing from a previous installment in the series where the man that Rhyme caught had just recently died in prison. It was completely unnecessary and forced setups that we all could have done without. The tattoo killer mystery keeps you completely in the dark for the majority of the story only to give you an ‘ending’, but oh wait! Just kidding. Forgot that pesky second storyline… okay, let’s just combine the two stories even though neither seems to have a single bit to do with one another. And then we’ll have the requisite bad guy at the end tell all to make it all seem super legit. I had a similar reaction to another longtime favorite of mine I read last year and it makes me wonder if I’ve simply read too many of these authors works and at this point, I’ve become bored with their tried and true formulas or if they’ve just lost their spunk.

Are there more installments to come? No doubt after that ending. Will I be picking it up? I’m a sucker for continuing a series after this damn long. I’d love to see Deaver get back to his roots where the bad guys were sick and twisted and the mysteries weren’t so bizarre and outlandish that they ended up falling apart at the end. The Coffin Dancer, The Empty Chair, and The Stone Monkey are the best of this series and I’d love to see more installments along those lines.

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Book Review – Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer

December 12, 2014 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2014, YA 4 Comments

Book Review – Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa MeyerScarlet by Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #2
Published by Feiwel & Friends on February 5th 2013
Pages: 452
Genres: Fairy-Tales/Retellings, Romance, Steampunk
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Cinder, Cress, Fairest

four-stars

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of Marissa Meyer's bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She's trying to break out of prison--even though if she succeeds, she'll be the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit's grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn't know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother's whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

The Lunar Chronicles series

Glitches (The Lunar Chronicles, #0.5) by Marissa Meyer {Online Free Read}
The Little Android (The Lunar Chronicles, #0.6) by Marissa Meyer {Online Free Read}
Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1) by Marissa Meyer {PurchaseMy Review}

From Cinder as cyborg Cinderella to Scarlet as Little Red Riding Hood (or hoodie, rather). Cinder has joined up with fellow inmate Thorne to bust out of prison in order to escape the wrath of Queen Levana. Scarlet is in search of her grandmother who has been missing for two weeks and the only one that seems to know anything is a guy who only goes by the name of “Wolf”.

I’ve always been a huge fan of fairytale retellings but the idea of steampunk/sci-fi/fairy tales blended together never inspired me to pick up these books and as more and more installments released the surer I was that these weren’t books I would ever enjoy. Not only do those same elements continue but the incorporation of multiple fairy tales all in one universe sounded like a big hot mess. I finally caved and read Cinder just to try to see what all the fuss was about… so. much. fun. I loved Cinder’s Cinderella story and all of the steampunk and sci-fi elements were done so, so well. But then came the end of Cinder’s tale and I was under the impression that the next story focused on an entirely different character which bummed me out so I didn’t end up picking it up immediately. Don’t make the same mistake I did because I was pleasantly surprised to find that Cinder gets plenty of page time. But also don’t be surprised if you manage to like Scarlet just as much if not more (serious, the girl even packs a gun for protection). That is hands down the best thing about these books and the main characters are that each of these female leads is imbued with some serious badass-ness that you can’t help but love.

The time spent on both Scarlet and Cinder’s stories was well-balanced and inevitably blended together rather seamlessly. The thing with fairy-tales and their re-tellings is you can’t help but not be surprised at the typical turn of events because we already know what’s going to happen. Meyer has managed to inject The Lunar Chronicles with an entertaining level of originality that continues to keep those pages turning. I have sky high expectations at this point and I won’t be wasting any time before picking up Cress.

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Book Review – Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin #3) by Robin LaFevers

December 6, 2014 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2014, YA 1 Comment

Book Review – Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin #3) by Robin LaFeversMortal Heart by Robin LaFevers
Series: His Fair Assassin #3
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on November 4th 2014
Pages: 444
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Grave Mercy, Dark Triumph, Courting Darkness

three-half-stars
In the powerful conclusion to Robin LaFever's New York Times bestselling His Fair Assassins trilogy, Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own.
She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind, doesn’t mean she has.

His Fair Assassin Trilogy

Early Review – Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1) by R.L. LaFeversEarly Review – Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin #2) by R.L. LaFevers

Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1) by Robin LaFevers {PurchaseMy Review}
Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin #2) by Robin LaFevers {PurchaseMy Review}

‘We are all of us, gods and mortals, made up of many pieces, some of them broken, some of them scarred, but none of them the total sum of who we are.’

The final installment in His Fair Assassin trilogy introduces Annith who anxiously awaits the day when she’s sent out into the world to serve Mortain. She excels at all she does and can’t comprehend why she still remains at the convent until the day she overhears the abbess proclaim that Annith is to be trained to be the next Seeress. Refusing to be subjected to the role which would keep her locked within the convent until her dying day, Annith decides to take matters into her own hands and serve Mortain in her own way.

So. Mortal Heart. It was easily one of my most anticipated releases of the year because of how much I adored Grave Mercy and Dark Triumph both. The only accurate way I can describe how I felt about Mortal Heart is to pull a Kevin Sorbo and throw my head back and howl my disappointment.

It must be said though, that LaFevers writing remains spectacular and the historically relevant details are incorporated wonderfully into this tale of fiction and make for an interesting and informative tale. I mostly had an issue with Annith herself and found her to be far too impulsive in her decisions despite the fact that I knew where she was coming from in her decision to leave the convent. Almost the entire first half of the book was spent in first person with the intent to get to know Annith and her mindset but I had a dreadfully hard time staying interested. Once she finally does take the leap of faith to leave the convent to venture out on her own, it does pick up but the seemingly requisite male that these females must meet is introduced and as much as I liked the originality of this love interest he was still described as “breathtakingly handsome in a dark, almost broken way”. Queue the eye rolls. I was fine with Ismae and Sybella’s stories and their meeting of their men but I guess by the third time of the same sort of tale it was getting a little old. If any of these girls tales could have done without a romance I think it would have been Annith. I would have much preferred a story centered around her need to flee the convent and grow in character as a strong and independent female making a life for her own.

Setting aside my opinions on Annith, my primary issue with Mortal Heart is the slow and meandering plot that unfortunately never ends up amounting to much. It took me two weeks to read this and while I love a book you can read slowly and savor, it was instead a definite struggle to finish. Its two predecessors were packed to the gills with action and it was sorely missing in this installment. Add to that, the unexpected and decidedly picturesque ending missed the mark completely for me. View Spoiler »

As much as I hate to call this the worst installment, it’s still a trilogy I would highly recommend for the first two installments alone. If you’re a fan of action-packed historical novels with a cast of incredible women, do check this out.

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