Bonfire by Krysten Ritter

Should you ever go back?

It has been ten years since Abby Williams left home and scrubbed away all visible evidence of her small town roots. Now working as an environmental lawyer in Chicago, she has a thriving career, a modern apartment, and her pick of meaningless one-night stands.

But when a new case takes her back home to Barrens, Indiana, the life Abby painstakingly created begins to crack. Tasked with investigating Optimal Plastics, the town’s most high-profile company and economic heart, Abby begins to find strange connections to Barrens’ biggest scandal from more than a decade ago involving the popular Kaycee Mitchell and her closest friends—just before Kaycee disappeared for good.

Abby knows the key to solving any case lies in the weak spots, the unanswered questions. But as Abby tries to find out what really happened to Kaycee, she unearths an even more disturbing secret—a ritual called “The Game,” which will threaten the reputations, and lives, of the community and risk exposing a darkness that may consume her.

With tantalizing twists, slow-burning suspense, and a remote, rural town of just five claustrophobic miles, Bonfire is a dark exploration of the question: can you ever outrun your past?

Disclaimer: I received an ARC from Book Con 2017 so I can’t say how this differs from the final printed version.
My friend borrowed my ARC and read it first. She’s a fan of Krysten’s acting work but was disappointed in her first novel. She said there was too much environmental stuff. She just wanted the hometown story.
That lowered my expectations about the novel. I thought I would be bored with environmental jargon.  I felt the opposite.  Abby leaves most of the environmental research to her team, and 3/4 of the way through they go back to Chicago to continue investigating there. Abby becomes more and more obsessed with what happened to her friend, Kaycee, ten years ago, and the scholarship conspiracy at Optimal.
**Minor spoilers below**

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Delicious! by Ruth Reichl

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Includes an exclusive conversation between Ruth Reichl and Emily Giffin

Ruth Reichl is a born storyteller. Through her restaurant reviews, where she celebrated the pleasures of a well-made meal, and her bestselling memoirs that address our universal feelings of love and loss, Reichl has achieved a special place in the hearts of hundreds of thousands of readers. Now, with this magical debut novel, she has created a sumptuous, wholly realized world that will enchant you.

Billie Breslin has traveled far from her home in California to take a job at Delicious!, New York’s most iconic food magazine. Away from her family, particularly her older sister, Genie, Billie feels like a fish out of water—until she is welcomed by the magazine’s colorful staff. She is also seduced by the vibrant downtown food scene, especially by Fontanari’s, the famous Italian food shop where she works on weekends. Then Delicious! is abruptly shut down, but Billie agrees to stay on in the empty office, maintaining the hotline for reader complaints in order to pay her bills.

To Billie’s surprise, the lonely job becomes the portal to a miraculous discovery. In a hidden room in the magazine’s library, Billie finds a cache of letters written during World War II by Lulu Swan, a plucky twelve-year-old, to the legendary chef James Beard. Lulu’s letters provide Billie with a richer understanding of history, and a feeling of deep connection to the young writer whose courage in the face of hardship inspires Billie to comes to terms with her fears, her big sister and her ability to open her heart to love.

 

I picked this up at Book Con 2015.

I loved this story. I wish it came with some of the meals mentioned. Instead of scratch and sniff stickers I want read and eat books. It’s also a good history lesson, learning about the food during World War II, with the rationing. I loved the way Lulu was so resourceful using pumpkin leaves, growing a garden, and finding milkweed in the wild.

It wasn’t just the talk of food that I loved. The hidden room in the library is a dream of mine. I was so engulfed in the mystery of the letters from Lulu, as well as the scavenger hunt on the index cards that Bertie created.

I also loved the group of friends that became Billie’s family. I became attached to them. No surprise here, I especially loved the Italians: the Fontanari and the Cappuzzelli families. Those names are so much fun to say.

Another thing I thought was an important part was the subject of how during WWII there was such a deep prejudice against anything Italian that, in some parts of the U.S., spaghetti, lasagna, and other pastas were considered “enemy food”.
Your loss, prejudice jerks. Italians have the best food in the world. I am not being bias.

(I need to read more WWII historical fiction books that focus on Italy and Italian Americans.)

I liked the way it ended. I don’t want to spoil it so I’ll be very cryptic, I felt the way it left off with a certain character was realistic, and there is still a chance for Billie to write her book, one day when she is an older woman.

My one critique is that in the real world the publication would have transferred Billie to an office to deal with the Delicious! Guarantee. Or it would have been the responsibility of the customer service department at another publication. But then that would defeat the whole point of finding the secret room and reading the letters while alone in that big mansion. Which was cool and mysterious because the mansion had it’s own history and story.

I am glad that some recipes are included (maybe I’ll try to make them, though that gingerbread cake sounds complicated!), as well as a conversation between Ruth Reichl and Emily Giffin, and a reader’s guide.

4.5 out of 5 Gingerbread Cakes.

 

 

Book Con: Sunday, June 4, 2017

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I’ll Take Audiobooks for $400, Please!: an Audience vs. Author Game Show I’ll Take Audiobooks for $400, Please!: an Audience vs. Author Game Show

Jun 04, 2017, 11:15 AM – 12:15 PM, Room 1E10

Test your bookish knowledge, competing head-to-head with Sarah Dessen (Once and For All), Nicola Yoon (Everything, Everything), VE Schwab (A Conjuring of Light), and Kami Garcia (The Lovely Reckless) in categories like “Whose Voice Is It, Anyway?,” “Fantasy Worlds” and “Spotted at BookCon” and more, using audio clips from a wide variety of popular audiobooks. Are you a bigger book nerd than your favorite authors? Four lucky audience members will be recruited to join the fun onstage, hosted by Holly Black (The Cruel Prince). All attendees will receive a pair of earbuds and three free audiobook downloads!

This was a fun panel. It wasn’t really the authors verses the audience. More like an author teamed up with a member of the audience. They were chosen by being the first to answer a question about the author correctly.

The rest of the game was played much like Jeopardy!, and they even had to answer in the form a question.
Many of the clues were easy as they were from current and/or popular books, and the narrators sampled were some famous voices.

The blone girl who was on Kami Garcia’s team was exceptionally good. She had a extensive knowledge about books and authors. She was also really fast at buzzing in.

Authors Left to right: Nicola Yoon, VE Schwab, Kami Garcia,  Sarah Dessen, and Holly Black.

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After the panel my sister and I had lunch. Then we met up with Jenn from Australia. We roamed the Exhibit Hall.
There was madness at the Random House booth. There was a ticket giveaway for Leigh Bardugo, who wrote a book about Wonder Woman.

We saw a giant, disorganized crowd surrounding the booth and they had their hands in the air. We later found out that they started giving out the tickets randomly. People who had been waiting on a queue were livid, as they waited for quite a while only to miss out on a ticket to a random selection process.

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Book Con: Saturday, June 3, 2017

My sister and I got on the queue at Random House to get our Underlined goodies. We are signed up to Underlined and got an email saying we could skip the line (yea right!) and get prizes.

This is our swag. We each got a tote, a beach towel, an accessory pouch, a phone charger, a book mark, and two books. I got The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman and A Short History of the Girl Next Door by Jared Reck. Sis got The Golden Compass and The Breathless by Tara Goedjen.

Mayim Bialik Autographing
Jun 03, 2017, 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM, Booth 1921

I bought Mayim’s book, Girling Up: How to Be Strong, Smart and Spectacular so I could get her autograph ticket. It was the only book I bought all weekend.

I started reading it while on the queue. It’s a great read for a girl just starting puberty and I would have loved it when I was 10 or 11. It will be a quick read and will finish the rest in a day, soon.

(While I was on the queue my sister picked up the give away for The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner.)

When I got up to talk to Mayim I told her that Bette Middler should play her mom on The Big Bang Theory. (Beaches reunion!) Mayim said that is a great idea and maybe when she is done with Broadway. (Bette is currently staring in Hello Dolly!)

I think with Sheldon proposing to Amy and there being a possible wedding soon, it’s a perfect opportunity.

After taking a photo with me and my sister she asked, “Sisters?” and we said yes.

Below the cut: Stephen Chbosky and Nicola Yoon.

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My Imaginary Book Con Itinerary.

This Saturday is Book Con, but it is in Chicago. I wish they would rotate cities throughout the year. May can be New York City’s month. I hope it’s back in NYC next year.

Also, as my luck would have it, the year I can’t attend is the same year a few of my favorite authors will be there. That just made me make a mock schedule of my imaginary day at Book Con:

8:00 AM -10:00 AM – Queue up for wristbands in the Autographing Area.
Definitely get wristbands for Pierce Brown and Nicola Yoon. After I have those try for Scott Sigler and David Levithan.

11:15 AM – 12:15 PM – Unwritten: Stories You Haven’t Read (Yet)

Authors write more stories than they ever get published… and even more remain in their heads, unwritten. How do Authors choose one idea from the many? What makes a story worth telling, and what deserves to be cut? Learn this and more from bestselling Authors Pierce Brown (The Red Rising Trilogy), Justin Cronin (The Passage Trilogy), Naomi Novik (Temeraire series, Uprooted) and Scott Sigler (The Generations Trilogy). Moderated by editor at Del Rey Books, Michael Braff.

Speakers:
Justin Cronin, Scott Sigler, Pierce Brown, Naomi Novik, Michael Braff.

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The Aeronaut’s Windlass (The Cinder Spires #1) by Jim Butcher

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Jim Butcher, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Dresden Files and the Codex Alera novels, conjures up a new series set in a fantastic world of noble families, steam-powered technology, and magic-wielding warriors…

Since time immemorial, the Spires have sheltered humanity, towering for miles over the mist-shrouded surface of the world. Within their halls, aristocratic houses have ruled for generations, developing scientific marvels, fostering trade alliances, and building fleets of airships to keep the peace.

Captain Grimm commands the merchant ship, Predator. Fiercely loyal to Spire Albion, he has taken their side in the cold war with Spire Aurora, disrupting the enemy’s shipping lines by attacking their cargo vessels. But when the Predator is severely damaged in combat, leaving captain and crew grounded, Grimm is offered a proposition from the Spirearch of Albion—to join a team of agents on a vital mission in exchange for fully restoring Predator to its fighting glory.

And even as Grimm undertakes this dangerous task, he will learn that the conflict between the Spires is merely a premonition of things to come. Humanity’s ancient enemy, silent for more than ten thousand years, has begun to stir once more. And death will follow in its wake…

I read the Advanced Reader’s Copy that I picked up from Book Con. The final edition was released September 29, 2015.

My plan was to finish the ARC before that date, but things happened.
This novel also took me more time to read than I would have liked (October 18 to December 04, 2015), but ugh… responsibilities taking away my free time. It was also killing my back to commute with such a large book (630 pages) so after a while I left it home to read a single chapter before bed about twice a week.

Moving onward. I enjoyed the story. There is a lot of action both on the ground and in the sky. There is also world building, although, I did have some difficulty understanding what the setting looked like. Specifically the construction and layout of the spires. However, it’s a good start and I would like to know more history of their world and the backstories of the characters.

I was very happy that the story was told from several of the characters’ perspectives. I liked their interactions as well as the development of the old and new relationships. I’m going to pick my two favorite characters: the well mannered Captain Grimm and the sassy Cat, Rowl. (The Cats’ behaviors and attitudes were so on point.) I loved Rowl’s name for Bridget, “Little Mouse” because that was my sister’s childhood nickname.

The enemy exhibited ruthless behavior but I wish we had more insight into their motives. I suppose that is something to discover as the series goes on.

I don’t think I will be running out to get the next book, but I would like to read it at some point, either from the library or an ARC.

3.5 out 5 Airships.

 

The Drafter (The Peri Reed Chronicles, #1) by Kim Harrison

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Detroit 2030. Double-crossed by the person she loved and betrayed by the covert government organization that trained her to use her body as a weapon, Peri Reed is a renegade on the run.

Don’t forgive and never forget has always been Peri’s creed. But her day job makes it difficult: she is a drafter, possessed of a rare, invaluable skill for altering time, yet destined to forget both the history she changed and the history she rewrote.

When Peri discovers her name on a list of corrupt operatives, she realizes that her own life has been manipulated by the agency. She joins forces with a mysterious rogue soldier in a deadly race to piece together the truth about her final task, unable to trust even herself.

This is one of the ARC’s I picked up at Book Con.

I started this book on August 27th. As of today, October 18, I give up. I only got halfway through and am so unmotivated to finish.

I feel bad saying this because the story sounds like it should be awesome. I was thinking it would be like a female protaganist Jason Bourne thriller.

Unfortunately I was bored. Everything moves so slow and not much of the plot develops. It is very repetitive and the action is not very enticing.

Even though I have been very busy lately (a vacation, work, NYCC, getting over a cold) a thriller like this should have me stay up at night turning the page and saying, “just one more chapter.” Instead whenever I had some downtime to read I would grunt in agony that I was still not finished.

1 out of 5 TL;DR