Monthly Archives: June 2014

Review: The Fiery Cross and A Breath of Snow and Ashes

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ImageThe Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon

Roger Mac certainly finds himself in a lot of trouble, and this novel is no exception. This book is filled with all of the things I have come to love from Diana Gabaldon. A good deal of historical research and attention to detail, as well as scandal, interesting family values and so much more.

This was not my favourite in the series but I appreciate how much was brought up. I loved learning more about Highland customs, even when they’re in a foreign land, as I navigated the world with Claire, Jamie, Roger and Brianna.

This novel brings to mind things i was taught about in school, of early settlers, or tilling new land and hoping that there would be flourishing crop as opposed to famine. The character development in this novels is absolutely wonderful, especially when it comes to the characters of Claire and Roger as they learn about this brave new world they’ve found themselves in, just a little more. And then learning how to deal with loss.

 

a breath of snow and ashesA Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon

This book might very well overthrow the first book as my favourite. The characters grow further, from the amusing moments with wee Jem and Roger still trying to learn how to provide for his family and Fergus’ struggle also with doing so.

This novel in particular is rife with scandal of the highest order. The beginning of a new paper. The deceit of a character and the final fall of a true villain I found myself flipping page by page willing the characters to make it through the book, to make it together and perhaps one day have a happily ever after.

The clear, present historical research is still here and there’s no complaints here from me about that. There was some moments where I did wish to rush ahead but only because I can’t get enough of these books. In some ways I can’t believe I ever took this long to pick them up. But now that I have, I don’t think I’ll rest till I’m caught up.

I also was quite happy to see the end of certain treacherous characters in this novel.

 

 

002: Out, In and On The Way

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OUT

Books I’ve read recently: 

hot sixHot Six by Janet Evanovich.

My thoughts: I read this book for one reason and one reason only. Because I cannot give up a series once I’ve begun it. That being said it was what I’ve come to expect from Janet Evanovich. A few funny one liners, situations that are a bit like car crashes (sometimes they are actual car crashes) and frustration with some of the main characters. This is my go to light reading, I’m not expecting anything epic from it but in a way it’s comforting to come back to this series every so often.

fiery crossThe Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon

My thoughts: This series. This series. Oh my god this series. I know that sometimes they’re too long. I know that there are scenes which could probably be removed for ease of pacing and reading but it’s not going to stop me from reading it. I was an Outlander virgin until this year. I had no notion of Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser. No notion of Jamie Fraser. Of Roger Mac or Brianna.

My sister mentioned these casually to me previously but I didn’t really feel like it. But then a coworker mentioned them to me, and now I’m just all over it. I’ve read them so much, and return to the previous books to remind myself of scenes I love.

a breath of snow and ashesAnd along with the Fiery Cross I just finished A Breath of Snow and Ashes and am quite eager to get along with the rest of the series.

I will be completing full length reviews of both of these books later. Because these books deserve all the praise they can get even if some of the language is a little bit problematic and I’m still almost entirely sure I will never be able to speak Gaelic. Ever.

leaving the beachI also read Leaving the Beach by Mary Rowen and in the process I’ve met two of the most dislikable characters I’ve ever had the displeasure to meet but yet the book left me with fond feelings due to its soundtrack. It’s soundtrack is pretty much the reason to keep reading. Longer review to follow.

In

The books I’m already reading

the blind sideThe Blind Side by Michael Lewis.

I actually don’t like football all that much, but my sister adores it. And I was told by a friend that this was one of the books he’d ever read, so with that in mind I am trying to expand my horizons.

the girl in the roadThe Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne

This was a book I got for free, in exchange for an honest review and so far it has actually blown me away.

It is once again, me stepping outside of my comfort zone, into a futuristic fantasy in a land I’ve never been to.

ON THE WAY

An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon

The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin

Review: The Waiting Game by J.L. Flynn

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the waiting gameI received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book isn’t perfect. Let’s start with that, but keep in mind that it was clearly written with love as you read it. And perhaps that’s what made me love it.

It delved into characters who had only been passing moments in the previous novel and novella. It was rich with emotion, and it was oh so enjoyable.

It evoked several emotions in me as I was reading, from apprehension in the beginning, as it didn’t quite grab me as the previous ones had, to excitement. Characters appeared who had been written about before and I rejoiced in the moments in which they joined this novel. There were moments where I nibbled on my thumb in worry, concerned for the characters though I already knew their end.

While not as fun as the previous two books, it is still good. After all, the tone of this novel could’t very well be a very happy one throughout, all things considered but the pacing and tone are wonderfully used to conduct the movements of the character and the threads of the story.

I would recommend this to anyone who likes a good romance, who likes happy and unhappy endings and just likes to be taken on a quick ride through someone else’s life.

Reading Things: My Book Tin

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IMG_0099_2Take a tin, or something you like the look of. A jar, a bowl, or something pretty, or something ugly, whatever happens to float your boat. I went for this, because…it’s Canadian? It’s easily sealed? I don’t know. But I liked the look of it.

I then proceeded to fill it with my reading list, mind you my reading list, I decided was only going to contain books I owned, whether an eReader version or those books that have been sitting on my shelves for ages. This was in an effort to keep from buying more books (it didn’t work but I tried.)

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And then I put in the tin different colours of paper, green for supernatural, pink for mystery/romance/contemporary, and this little damask print for non-fiction/biography/historical fiction/classical literature.

IMG_0101_2And now each time I need a book, but I don’t want to go to the bookstore for something new, or I can’t quite decide what I’m going to read I pull out a slip of paper and enjoy something I bought, or have read before, but loved the thought of so much that it earned a place on my shelf.

No this was not my idea originally, I originally saw this idea here. I thought it was a great one so I adopted it promptly.

Review: Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

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pillars of the earthThis was one of those books which I had picked up before and never really got into.

It was the next book title pulled out of my book tin, and I dove in with an intent to finish it. I then proceeded to tear through the book in 5 days.

This isn’t so abnormal for me, but what was abnormal was the genre. Historical fiction is not normally my thing though I’m finding now that my tastes are changing.

I think what drew me into this novel, and was so well researched was that this was a history I was familiar with. But what kept me in this novel was the characters.

The world build, made out of one which already existed was fascinating and great. But it was the characters who were so fulfilling, so alternately, good, evil and in the middle that made me care about what was happening in this book. I turned every page wanting Phillip, wanting Jack to triumph while sneering at the thought of those like Alfred, or William making it anywhere in the world. I shook my head at Tom Builder’s ignorance. and found myself smiling the slightest bit at the mentions of Thomas Beckett, having been to the martyrdom in Canterbury Cathedral myself.

I felt the emotions of the character, mourned with them, felt scorned by some and felt the triumph of others.

This book is amazing, and that’s all there is to it.

Review: The Secret History by Donna Tartt

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the secret historyThis book is rich. Rich with vivid details, language and characters who are as flawed as people as they are wonderfully written.

It is not all beauty however, as this book contains quite a bit of substance. It is a cautionary tale, about not using your intellect for evil doing, and it’s taught in a way that is horrific for all involved.

Few of the characters in this novel were likeable, and maybe that’s what I liked about them. The narrator is self-important and a bit pompous, though very much lost in a world that at first he, and we do not understand .

Donna Tartt was able to draw me in, and make me enraptured with the story, with the details of this world, so familiar to my own but in some ways so completely foreign.

This book would be great for anyone who loves mystery, or a good lesson, or plain old good writing.

Confessions of a Book Addict: Will Make Grilled Cheese for Books

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It’s crunch time. You’re in between pay cheques and the latest book is out, you’ve read about it, dreamt about it, you can practically feel the pages beneath your fingertips and it’s the next in a series.

But money has become an issue.

And books, unfortunately are not free.

But there are ways to get them, some of them nefarious, and some of them not.

Okay, none of them are really nefarious but they are a little…odd…

1) Sandwiches. For books.

I once told one of my friends that I would make her grilled cheese sandwiches every day if she allowed me access to her library.

My grilled cheese sandwiches are legendary. They are worth their weight, or at least calorie count, in books.

2) Points, for books.

Do you collect Air Miles? Aeroplan? IHG points? Points of any kind? Points that you would normally spend on groceries, on travel? But could instead be spent on gift card. To obtain books.

These books will allow you to travel to places you’ve never imagined. Walk beside the Gunslinger, take a trip into Narnia.

3) Babysitting

Who cares if you’re a single 20-something who works full time and you’re the only one who doesn’t have kids in your group of friends.

You could always borrow a kid and give someone a day off! In exchange for books!

4) eBooks for free

Don’t have an eReader but you’re desperate to read? No problem! Most of the eReaders out there have desktop apps, or smart phone apps or iPads or whatever. And guess what? They have free and/or really cheap books on there!

Most of them offer the classics for free, so why don’t you check out something you’ve always wanted to check out? It’s a great opportunity for you.

And while we’re at it, Project Gutenberg is a magnificent thing!

There is BookShout and BookBub for this but Kobo has a pretty good selection too!

5) Is it snowing where you are?

I live in Canada. It started snowing in December, and it was still snowing in April. I have neighbours. Neighbours who really don’t like shovelling snow.

There was a book I wanted that, with taxes, cost me $14.95. So when they asked me how much I would do it for, I said $15 bucks for two days snow removal.

Two days of shovelling, countless days spent enjoying a new book and lots of hot chocolate.

Heck, some of my neighbours just pay me in books nowadays and I’m as happy as can be.

6) There’s this thing called a library…

Where they give the books away…for free.

It’s amazing. Now this might not help you with the newest, hottest book, because that will be on hold for a couple months.

But ask a librarian for help and you’ll find a wealth of knowledge.

Just return the books on time, because let me tell, library fines can be a fierce thing to pay off.

7) Your bookshelves are your friends.

And the books on your shelves might remind you of old friends, might remind you of old lovers, family members.

Revisit a series you loved as a child, as a teen, last year. Read it out of order. Read it back to front.

Read something you couldn’t get through before but held onto just in case, maybe this will be your time to conquer it.

After all, no one knows what you like better than you, and you kept those books for a reason. Didn’t you?

 

Review: The Short Game by J.L Flynn

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18680390**Received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review**

I tore through this novella like I was worried the words were going to disappear right off the page. I had wanted to learn more about Jimmy Boy after reading the first book and boy did I.

Here he become a more complex, fleshed out character with numerous flaws and an apparent heart of gold. It was such a quick, well paced read and filled with mystery.

It is the perfect bridge into the next book, I feel, which I really can’t wait to read because I have a feeling world’s will really collide.

The pacing was quick, as you would expect from a novella, but there is nothing lost in the brevity of this work at all. In fact, I think the fact that it’s so brief has in fact made it better because it really does leave the reader grasping for more and loving the characters.

Review: The Long Game by J.L. Flynn

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18603661I was given an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. I have no personal connection to the writer and/or publisher.

Smooth talking. Ambitious. Loyal. Twenty-year-old Shay Reilly has proven himself to his Irish-American Gypsy clan on small-scale cons, but now the clan leader has a bigger mission for him: playing the long game. To rake in the big score he’s after, he needs to con co-ed Spencer into falling in love with him. He knows he should see Spencer as a mere means to an end, but that’s easier said than done when there’s a witty, attractive girl in your arms. Now the only thing that can keep them apart is the thing that brought them together: Shay’s plans of revenge against someone who wronged his clan and family years before-Spencer’s father.

Characters

I don’t really know what I expected the characters in this novel to be like so imagine my surprise when they ended up actually being quite while rounded. While not all of the characters are necessarily good people they are pretty solid characters, whether you like them or hate them.

In the character of Shay I was reminded of two other characters, for some reason. The well loved Shawn Hunter from Boy Meets World, as well as one of the characters from the short lived show The Riches. Let me make one thing clear though, the plot does not in any way, end up like either of those shows. It was just a little niggling feeling in the back of my head as I read through the novel.

The main lead is well rounded, without being too flaw free, a pet peeve of mine, and he does show admirable growth throughout the novel which is always something to be considered an accomplishment.

The female lead, again, is a good girl without seeming too Mary-Sueish or TOO good, with her own flaws and ideals.

The background characters too, should be something the authors are proud of as they are also fleshed out and enjoyable, though some more than others.

Plot

There was a familiarity to the plot when I was reading, I will admit, but not something that I found overly daunting or dislikable. I actually really enjoyed it, and found myself whipping through the last couple of chapters in an effort to find out what was going to happen.

Sometimes the pacing raced on, with small vignettes it seemed being used as a nod to things which had happened which we might not have seen. I can see where this might not be the best for some people but I actually quite enjoyed it, as I am not a fan of those who insist on revealing every little detail of their characters lives. Sometimes you really do just want them to get on with it already, and this book does not disappoint.

While the plot is not perfect, it is an easy read, and detailed enough to capture a reader’s attention.

Overall Thoughts

I really, really, really, enjoyed this book. Though the first person narrative threw me for a loop at first I soon found myself sinking into the novel, and the world of the characters in it. It was clearly researched, which I appreciate and I find myself so excited to continue onward.

Good for?
Those who loved Shawn Hunter and The Riches? No?
People who grew up with novels as delightful and knowing as The Outsiders.
People who like contemporary young adult romances with a little bit of action thrown in.