Social Media Icons

Thursday, November 9, 2017

#allthebookreviews: Bonfire by Krysten Ritter @krystenritter @crownpublishing @bnunionsquareny

by Krysten Ritter
Crown Archetype


Hello my reader friends! It seems not everyone realizes this author is also the actress from Breaking Bad, Jessica Jones, etc.  Here is her debut novel, Bonfire.  Scroll below for a synopsis, my experience at her book signing event last night and Jessica and I's reviews.  Huge thank you to Crown for our copies!

Stay tuned for a Giveaway!!!

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.

One of the greatest things about living in NYC is the abundance of events that are available for anyone to attend.  When I saw that Krysten (yes, I'm totally on a first name basis with her now) would be in Union Square, I just knew I HAD to go!  The event required you to purchase a copy of her book, once paid you would receive a wrist band that would allow you into the event.  Apparently they don't allow you to purchase two books to get two wrist bands.. WHY BARNES AND NOBLE?? WHY????   I mean, I get it... but I don't... but I do.. but.....  anyhoooooooooo, since a second wrist band wasn't acquired for me (thanks for trying, you know who you are 💖), I decided when I got out of work at 5:45, I'd take off straight to B&N to get the book and get in for the event.  The only reason I was panicking is because at other events I've been to, if you're late, YOU DON'T GET IN.  So I'm all packed and ready to go and at 5:45, I clock out and hit the streets... or I try to anyway. 

The universe (which I actually don't believe the "universe" does or does not do shit for you by the way) decided to play a little trick on me and I got stuck in an elevator for 45 minutes.  45 MINUTES!  I only panicked for the first 10 minutes as the call button I hit would get a person on the line but it was like trying to talk to Charlie Brown's teacher... and not knowing if they can hear you back.  So I just kept pressing the button and was basically doing the insane thing of continuing the same action with the same results.   Finally I hear a voice through the non-moving doors.  "Hello.. can you hear me?"  "Yes!"  "Ok, I need you to press the faoijoaw ijfa;wje"  "You need me to press the WHAT?"  *sigh* "The OPEN DOOR button. Press it."  **presses button.. nothing happening**  "Yeah, I'm pressing it, it's not working...."  "Ok, don't panic, the fire department is on the way."  Insert jeopardy music here.  Then Anton gets on the walkie talkie and talks to me via the speaker.  "Hey - you ok in there?"  "Yeah, I'm fine now that I know people are trying to get me out."  "Ok, you're not alone.  I'm here." 😂 **opens book and reads** "Thanks Anton!" "We're going to be best friends after this." "Ok Anton, I'm good, I have my book!"  A few more rounds of basically the same conversation and me being reassured I'm "not alone" and then the elevator starts moving up... "Uh, Anton...." *knock knock (like this helps anything)*... "The elevator is moving!"  Takes me back up 41 floors and then lets me out.  Where I (reluctantly) get on a different elevator to go back down to the lobby.  Meet Anton in person.  Leave my name and then tell them I have to go - I have a book signing to go to!

Long story short (which if you have to say this means it's already a long story), I make it to the event! After a cute introduction, she comes out.  This tiny and beautiful creature.  Very endearing and bubbly.  She answers a few short questions.  Gives advice - from small town to something big - you can do it if you just try hard enough!  (Standard, but true, answer).  She also stated that if Abby and Jessica met, they'd surely drink a LOT together.  (I believe it!)  Keeping it short and sweet, she then sat and they were good in going row by row for people to get their books, and any other paraphernalia signed (which from what I saw mostly consisted of Jessica Jones funkos).  Probably my favorite thing was the sandwich she devoured in between - I get it girl, when you need to eat, you EAT!

This is her signing my galley and finished copies while someone takes my bags so they won't be in the picture.

This is when I tell her that I had just finished her book that day - LOOK HOW HAPPY SHE IS ABOUT IT.  😂

Clearly we're having a moment here 💕

As I didn't get to the event until close to start time, I ended up in the very back row and had to wait almost two hours before I was up for the signing.  Worth it? I'd say so! Now, on to the reviews!

My Thoughts:

"There's evil in this world, Abby.  You remember that.  You look for it.  You look so it can't look for you."

What can't Krysten Ritter do?  We certainly know her from her pivotal role in Breaking Bad and as the whiskey drinking, leather jacket wearing, bad ass from Jessica Jones.  She also does much more than that and one more thing she's accomplished is writing this debut novel.  

There's two stories here - the environmental case is very reminiscent of Erin Brockovich but the REAL story is regarding the disappearance of Kaycee - the lead mean girl from Abby's high school.  What Ritter does well here is get us to really know Abby's character.   From past to present, we understand why it's difficult for her to be back in the town where the memories that she has are not great ones... yet somehow she feels a responsibility to it.  You can leave the town, but the town won't leave you.  

This is a solid debut novel, without a doubt.  I thoroughly enjoyed learning about Abby and empathized with her character.  Themes of bullying, environmental issues, sexual deviance... etc. etc. are portrayed and the feel of a small town where everyone seems to know your business before you do was presented clearly and coherently.  Was this perfect?  Definitely not.  However, she pulls the entire story together towards the end and while I felt the ending was <i>slightly</i> underwhelming, I was happy to see where it landed.  I would certainly pick up more books by Ritter.

If you like the slow burn of a small town mystery with a slight twist and the characterization of a strong female protagonist who will NOT back down, then you will enjoy this tale of Barren, Indiana.  I know I did.

4 Stars

Jessica's Thoughts:
The synopsis and cover instantly grabbed my attention when picking up BONFIRE by Krysten Ritter. This was a mix of two different storylines that both connected to the main character, Abby Williams. A small town with mysteries and secrets and no one wants them disturbed.
Abby Williams hasn't been back to her hometown of Barrens, Indiana for almost a decade. She left for Chicago and has her thriving career as a lawyer, but a case will bring her back home. She is in charge of investigating Optimal Plastics - the town's most high-profile and important companies. She knows that her presence there will cause unease because most of the town is employed there. The more she investigates the more she begins to realize that there seems to be a connection to a missing person's case from a decade ago. Kaycee Mitchell, one of her friends and the most popular girl in school at the time, had become very ill and then vanished for good. 

Abby continues to search for answers she begins to uncover a web of blackmail, sexual deviance, and a disturbing ritual called The Game. With most of the town involved and their reputations threatened, Abby must tread carefully. She can't help but become consumed by her memories of the torture she endured at the hands of Kaycee (and her other friends) in high school. Can you ever truly escape your past?

BONFIRE is a great and solid debut for Krysten Ritter! This book was incredibly atmospheric. Ritter does a great job pulling the reader into Barrens and making you feel just as claustrophobic as Abby feels.Then the development of Abby was gradual and the reader can really connect with her. Who doesn't love a strong, female lead? There were some very prevalent topics addressed in this novel, mainly the bullying that Abby endured. Seeing the last effects they've had on her and how she copes made her feel even more human. I enjoyed the slow burning mystery and the little twist in the novel. The ending felt a tad flat compared to the build up, but everything got pulled together nicely! 

Overall, if you like a slow building mystery then you'll love BONFIRE. Fans of Erin Brockovich will love this book. I definitely will look for more from Ritter in the future!

I give this a solid 4/5 stars!


  1. from now on, I'll comment on a desktop ;)

    Great review, Chandra!!! So cool that you got to meet her. I can't believe you got stuck in an elevator! I would've had a panic attack!

    1. Haha! Thanks Dennis!! I only panicked for about 10 minutes. Once help was on the way I just started reading and playing candy crush. Hahaha :D

  2. My favorite part of this is your interaction with Anton...haha thank you for sharing that! Also thank god for always having a book on hand. Great review!

    1. Hahaha - I'm glad you enjoyed that encounter - Anton was such a sweetheart! :)