Friday, March 21, 2014

Book List: 2014 January & February Edition

I've been something of a reading fiend this year, already. If I'm honest, I've been going through some challenging personal things, and though I'm always attached to some book or another, I read more when I have things I need to figure out. There is just something about being in a fantasy world that relieves a lot of stress and takes the pressure off for awhile. So, here's what I've been reading:

1. Outlander, Diana Gabaldon; Well, I loved this novel. I loved it so much that I'm busy devouring the series. Please don't mind me as I hide in my apartment for the next few months. OK, it's not *quite* that bad but I am definitely hiding in Starbucks and staying up late to read these novels.

2. American Savage, Dan Savage; I feel kinda bad saying this, but I don't like this one. I mean, nothing is wrong with it. I generally agree with most things Dan Savage says, but I bought this book after watching a lot of Dan Savage YouTube videos, and well, it's the same stuff. It's worth a read if you haven't really read or watched Dan Savage before {he's a sex advice columnist with some interesting opinions on sex and monogamy}, but there wasn't anything prolific inhere. Check it out from the library.

3. Dragonfly in Amber, Diana Gabaldon; The first novel in this series follows Jamie and Claire. This one follows Claire who is looking for evidence of people she knew at the time she came back from the past, and to a much lesser extent, her daughter Brianna. She discovers that Jamie survived the battle at Culloden, and goes back to find him. We're privy to the details of the search, the marriage Claire had with Frank, and  Claire's final decision to go find her love. A wonderful sequel!

4. Voyager, Diana Gabaldon; Out of the four novels I have read in this series, this is my least favorite. Claire goes back to find Jamie, and they end up sailing all over the place, getting caught up in smuggling and other sketchy ventures, witchcraft in Jamaica, etc. I still loved the characters, it was still a fast-paced novel, but it seemed out-of-place for some reason. Jamie is such an earthy figure that it seemed really odd for him to be sailing around and running into trouble. I enjoyed the next book much more.

5. The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin; I reviewed this book here, and I wasn't sold. It had some nice ideas, but I thought the author was whiny.

6. The First Sinners, Kate Pearce; Just a run-of-the-mill erotic novel. This one is the prequel to a new series by Kate Pearce called The Sinners Club. Based on this book, the series should be interesting, though this particular novel didn't have a lot in the way of plot.

7. Sleeping in Paris, Juliette Sobanet; Where to begin? The idea behind this novel was great: an American moves to Paris and starts a new life after she finds out her fiance is cheating. I don't like the main character's attitude towards men, but I think that's part of the growth of this character and there are the requisite happy endings by the conclusion of the novel.

8.  Weak at the Knees, Jo Kessel; I had mixed feelings about this one, and most of them are due to the attitude of the main character and infidelity. You can read my review here.

9. The Shoemaker's Wife; Adriana Trigiani; Oh, how I adored this book! It is everything I love in a historical fiction novel: well-written, great characters, a sentimental story. Yes, it has it all! We follow two characters who originally meet when they are young in Italy, but independently emigrate to the United States. It's a rich, complicated story that made it tough to put down. I definitely recommend this novel.

10. The White Princess; Philippa Gregory; Honestly? This one wasn't her best work. The story line works, but I felt myself growing annoyed with the characters. It reminds me of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenox.  You know how everyone grew impatient with it because Harry was angsty and whiny all the time? Yeah, that was my issue with this book, as well.

11. One Night For Love; Mary Balough; Before I read this novel, I read it's sequel, A Summer to Remember. Both are great {even the second one can stand alone} and follow the usual historical romance plotline: lost love, someone wants to marry someone who is not their social equal, etc. Both novels are cute and easy to read. Solid choices if you read historical romance.

12. The Magpie Lord; KJ Charles; This is one of those novels that combines a whole lot of things into one. There's historical romance and fantasy {witchcraft and magic and the like} and intrigue and mystery. It moves pretty quickly {I read it in a day} and there are a few surprises along the way which keeps things interesting. A word of warning: this is a m/m novel, meaning that the pairing is of two men. So, skip it if that's not your thing.

13. 1984; George Orwell: Believe it or not, I did not have to read this in high school, and we didn't even touch it in my Science Fiction Literature class in college. Weird, I know. A lot of folks herald this as a prolific, well-written novel. I don't necessarily think it was an excellent novel, but I do think it is a powerful essay on information control and trusting our government. I happen to live somewhere that the media is state-owned, and you can definitely see the difference in the way information is disseminated. There is also a stark difference in how people regard the government and the things I know about their country that they simply do not.

14. Drums in Autumn; Diana Gabaldon: I loved this one! Claire and Jamie have settled in the new world and try to decide whether to stay with Jamie's aunt on her plantation or to start their own homestead with tenant farmers. They end up choosing the later and we follow their progress on that front. In a {sort of} parallel timeline, Claire's daughter, Brianna, travels into the past to find her mother. She is followed by her beau, Roger. This eventually creates a big mess, and the plot line gets very exciting. It was worth the last novel to get to this one. Jamie is back in nature, and it's really fun to watch how the characters progress.

So, what have you been reading lately?

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