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Monthly Wrap-up

Hey guys. I don’t know about you, but March was not a great reading month for me. I spent more time catching up on series and gaming than reading in the beginning of the month, and that kind of threw my reading plans completely out of the window. I still did relatively good though, and I finished 7 books for the month.

The total amount of pages read is 2 625, which is significantly less than I read in January and February, but even so I’m happy with it. I mean I finished Drums of Autumn, which I was dreading just because I couldn’t get my mind around the length! 880 pages is a bit excessive! I listened to Mr. Mercedes on audiobook, which was narrated by Will Patton… you can read my review to hear what I thought of that particular experience…

I didn’t have any 5 Star books this month, which isn’t that strange as I like to reserve my 5 star reviews for special reads that I feel really deserve it. Having said that I’d have to say Drums of Autumn and The Promise Girls were my stand-out reads for the month. Even though the length of her books are insane, Diana Gabaldon just knows how to weave a story! Marie Bostwick is a new-to-me author, and I’m so glad to have discovered her. I actually got my copy of The Promise Girls from Netgalley, so I have them to thank! She’s got a series centered around Quilting that I’m super interested in checking out.

You might notice that there’s a Stephen King up there that didn’t make my top reads. I know… SHOCKER! As I mentioned in my review though, while I’m a huge SK fan, I’m not blind to his faults and Bill Hodges just didn’t do it for me. However! I saw the trailer for the new IT remake and my insides are squirming with excitement! He also has a collaboration with his son, Owen King, being released later this year which I can’t wait to get my hands on!

In this spectacular father/son collaboration, Stephen King and Owen King tell the highest of high-stakes stories: what might happen if women disappeared from the world of men?

In a future so real and near it might be now, something happens when women go to sleep; they become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze. If they are awakened, if the gauze wrapping their bodies is disturbed or violated, the women become feral and spectacularly violent; and while they sleep they go to another place… The men of our world are abandoned, left to their increasingly primal devices. One woman, however, the mysterious Evie, is immune to the blessing or curse of the sleeping disease. Is Evie a medical anomaly to be studied? Or is she a demon who must be slain? Set in a small Appalachian town whose primary employer is a women’s prison, Sleeping Beauties is a wildly provocative, gloriously absorbing father/son collaboration between Stephen King and Owen King

I mean come on! That sound like an amazing story! It’s only out in September though, so there’s still a long wait. It is also only coming out in September, so I guess I’ve got that month booked up already.

My Goodreads Challenge is looking good though. I’m 5 books ahead of schedule so far, so if I keep it up, I’m hoping that I can clear another couple of books from my neverending to-read list.

Goodreads Challenge

And that’s it! Here’s to hoping April will be a bit better than this one. I’ve got a couple of Netgalley books that needs reviewing, and I also want to finish the Bill Hodges trilogy. I’ve got a couple of series that I want to read this year though, so I might decide to start another series instead… although I have enough faith in SK to give Hodges another chance to grow on me…

Happy Reading!

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Book Review

Book Review: Drums of Autumn

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Rating: 4 Stars
Date Started: 29 February
Date Finished: 29 March
Format: Ebook
Pages: 880
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

It’s been about 3 years since I read the last book in the series, and I honestly have no idea why I waited so long to continue! I just finished watching the 2 seasons of Outlander that deals with the first two books, so that’s what prompted me to pick where I left off… but I honestly couldn’t remember a single thing about the 3rd book except that it involved pirates and they washed up on the shores of America… even after reading the wiki for book 3 I still had trouble remembering, though I’m 100% sure I read it and enjoyed it! Luckily the wiki reminded me enough to not be completely lost, and there were also a couple of references and reminders in DoA, so at least I don’t feel like I have to re-read it to know what’s going on… not that re-reading it would be a bad thing, but my Reading Challenge would suffer immeasurably.

DG is a brilliant storyteller and has such a way with words that you don’t even notice the pages flying past. Even though this was another monster sized book, I didn’t feel like it was that long. Not a lot of huge exciting stuff happened, though at the same time, a lot of exciting things happened in a normal run-of-the-mill daily life in the 1700’s kind of way…

Drums of Autumn picks up after Jamie and Claire wash up on American shores, and chronicles their years there. You’ve got slaves, Red Indians, Immigrants… and all the drama that goes along with it. It’s another fascinating look at the history of a place, and this was very close to the beginning years of modern America. Generally it’s a well known history, so it’s nothing that you didn’t really know, but DG goes into much more detail for a closer look at customs etc.

The characters are still lovable and it felt like catching up with old friends. Jamie is still his hard-headed self and Claire is still feisty. We’re also seeing much more of Brianna and Roger this time around, while other characters like Fergus fades into the background. That’s the one thing that GB does that I don’t really like — she spends a lot of time building characters, and then she discards them. I guess I can live with that as long as Jamie stays front and center ❤

There was a lot happening in this book, and I’m guessing that I’ll probably forget a lot of it over time as I did with Voyager. There were scenes that made me cry and Jamie made me laugh more than once. The part where Jamie meets Bree for the first time was so well done that the tears were rolling down my cheeks while I was laughing at the same time and my heart filled with emotion. I wasn’t that worried during the “stressful” bits because you kind of know that nobody’s life is really in danger, but still… I actually really want to read the next book and find out what happens with Ian and his situation. Ian and Rollo has definitely grown on me and I hope to see more of them in the next book.

On the other hand, we have Lord John who I never really liked, though I don’t actively dislike him either. I think he’s a cool enough dude though, and his actions during this book did endear him to me a bit. He’s definitely a more complex character than can be addressed in Jamie and Claire’s books, though I’ve read a couple of the Lord John stories and they weren’t great tbh…

Jamie Fraser is still my favorite book-boyfriend, and although I usually don’t like the female characters, I find myself really liking Claire. Even Bree is pretty cool. I think what makes them so likable is the fact that they are flawed. Jamie is high-handed and stubborn and I would sometimes like to kick him in the shins. Claire is hot-headed and doesn’t think before talking or acting, and sometimes you just feel like shaking her. But at the end of the day you love them, and the love they share feels more real than many other “romances” out there. I would really recommend this series to pretty much everyone, though I wish DG would cut out some of the excessive stuff. It really doesn’t need to be these huge long books, and most of the time they can probably be split into various other books! Still though… read it!

Book Review

Review: Revolution

Revolution
Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book. I was a bit leery at first because I tend to avoid YA – I just can’t deal with all the misplaced and overblown angst – but I’m really glad I stuck with this one. It’s definitely super angsty, and sometimes you just wanted to grab Andi and shake her – not to mention her friends – but it also brought back my own teen years and I remember how everything was absolute and anything could bring on end-of-the-world freak outs… good times -_-

Jennifer Donnelly is an absolutely amazing writer and I adore her prose. She has a gift of drawing you in and then grabbing you and carrying you along more effortlessly than Gaston picked up those French chicks…

The history was fascinating, especially because I dropped the subject in high school and never knew anything about the French revolution except from what I gleaned from the movies Marie Antoinette and Les Mis (no, I didn’t read the book)… Also, there was that one Doctor Who episode, but I believe that was before the revolution so doesn’t in fact count… Anyway, back to the point. I came away from this book with more knowledge and understanding than when I started, and if a book can do that for you, teach you something genuine and interesting and real, that deserves 5 stars in my opinion.

There was a lot going on, and some of it was unnecessary and maybe a bit over the top, but the characters were well rounded and became real in my head, enough so that I could imagine them and feel for them and with them, which is always a good thing. The story was flawless and flowed easy, and by the last page I felt like the story had served it’s purpose and served it well.

View all my reviews

Audiobook Review

Audiobook Review: The Handmaid’s Tale

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The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ok so this book made me soooo mad! I actually had to distance myself a bit to get through it, because I was starting to smoke from my ears…

It’s set in a totalitarian distopian world, where woman are basically cattle, but worth less. I think for the time it was written and compared to it still being relevant now is just a sign of how screwed up this world is. I mean we’re making great progress with the Feminist movement, but even there you have people who completely misrepresents, which is not helpful at all because they make it a men vs women issue where it should be men = women… but anyway, I digress.

The story follows Offred, who has been beaten down and her spirit has been pretty much crushed. What hasn’t been broken she tries her best to tamp down, because any show of individualism could get her killed. I couldn’t even begin to try and imagine how I would have acted in her stead, because it is just so horrific… I’m pretty sure I would have been dead because I would kill if anyone touched my child… and I guess it would explain her actions when it comes to Nick and the Commander, although she really didn’t have a choice with the commander… but the recklessness to be with Nick, who can blame her for doing whatever it takes to feel even slightly human again… even though she judges herself harshly for exactly that…

You don’t get all the information at once, and it’s set in present time with occasional flashbacks that offer some backstory of how you ended up in the beginning. I don’t think the delivery really matches with the very end of the book ((view spoiler)
Clare Danes was an awesome narrator, and I’m actually really glad that I listened to this on audio instead of reading it myself, because the writing was made to be read aloud and appreciated for it’s beauty and cadence… I’m not Margaret Atwood so I can’t even really describe it, but it was almost like seeing it and feeling it instead of just hearing…

The ending was ambiguous, but I think it was perfect. Something like this shouldn’t have a clear-cut, quick and easy ending. Because why should there be an ending when it hasn’t yet ended?


ARE THERE ANY QUESTIONS?

Audiobook Review, Stephen King

Audiobook Review: Mr. Mercedes

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3 Stars

First of all can I just say that I’m so done with listening to older guys getting way too into awkward sex scenes when narrating audiobooks… I wasn’t that great of a fan of the narrator in the first place and after that it just got really painful. Will Patton drawled his way through this and while it was okay most of the time, sometimes he just completely lost the plot and irritated me with the way he portrayed certain characters. I’m also sure that the book was 100% longer than it needed to be because he insisted on maintaining a snail’s pace… but that’s up for debate.

Moving on… I’m a big King fan, but I’m not blind to his faults. Hey, everyone has them, so who am I to judge right? I know he’s a great writer and most of the time I absolutely adore his work, but honestly this isn’t the first time I didn’t love something he did. I’m not sure if this is true, because even though I’m a fan I haven’t read all his work, but I think this is the first time he’s tackled the crime thriller genre; and yeah I’m going to vote that he gives it up and sticks to horror… although I’m willing to stick it out for the rest of this series.

The characters felt recycled and thin, trying too hard to be either liked or hated. Hodges is supposed to be one of the best detectives his county had, but throughout this book he does the stupidest things and flagrantly disregards the law in multiple instances. Yet he’s kind of forced down your throat as the good guy, the one you’re rooting for. I mean if he was just any other old Joe who was flirting with thoughts of ending it after retiring and realizing that he created his whole existence around his work and is now nothing without it… so yeah okay maybe he needed this “case” to save himself. But I still don’t think his actions were corresponding to the person we’re told he is…

Brady Hartfield is your run of the mill “bad guy”. He’s impossibly hateful and mostly insane, but also super smart and lucky. He blames everyone but himself for his actions as well as the repercussions and his mommy issues are sometimes cringeworthy but mostly it’s recycled psycho stuff. Said mommy probably had a lot to do with how he turned out though, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she also had a nest of snakes in her brain because damn she was screwed up…

In the supporting cast nobody felt genuine or even original (except maybe Holly… she was refreshingly crazy). The plot itself was patchy and needed too many excuses to be even a little bit believable. Most of the time Hodges takes things for granted, doesn’t make obvious connections and just generally mucks things up even more than they already are. Honestly, without his “supporting characters” he probably wouldn’t have gotten far at all and Brady would have gotten his wish…

Having said all that, this was still enjoyable enough to keep me listening, and King’s writing is always uniquely riveting. I’ll give the series another chance and pick up Finders Keepers next, although I don’t have much hope of character improvement…

Book Review

Book Review: The Asylum of Dr. Caligari

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3 1/2 Stars

So apparently this book was based on an old school movie, and I must say I could really get that whole vibe. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no old school movie expert. The oldest movie I’ve seen is probably Casablanca or Gone with the Wind, and while I loved both, they are timeless classics. I’ve never heard of the mad Dr. Caligari and his asylum… though I must say that I’m intrigued and wouldn’t be opposed to a viewing if it was still available somewhere.

I’m not even quite sure how I really feel about this book to be honest. On the one hand, it was a quick and fun read. On the other, it made absolutely no sense and I felt no real connection to the story and the characters. I expect that’s due to the length of the book as well as the way it’s written. Most of the time I was reading this with a slight frown on my face. But I also quite enjoyed it, so at the end of the day I would settle for a 3 1/2 star here…

Book Review

Book Review: The Rebel Queen by Michelle Moran

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★★★

“Rebel Queen recounts the story of Sita, a beautiful young woman from a remote village in nineteenth century India, who is granted a rare opportunity to serve in Queen Lakshmi’s elite all-female army, the Durga Dal. Leaving behind her widowed father and young sister, Sita travels to the Kingdom of Jhansi and begins a new life of opulence and excitement, all while saving money for her sister’s dowry. Her good luck is short-lived, however, as the British army gains a stronghold in India and threatens to take over Queen Lakshmi’s throne. Intrigue, deception, murder, and culture clashes ensue, but the queen does not give up her kingdom without a fight. Sita, ever faithful to her queen, pledges her allegiance to the kingdom, even though it means she must sacrifice her beloved family and a way of life that can never be reclaimed.”

It seems to me that a lot of wars could have been prevented if the British hadn’t had such an inflated idea about themselves and just stopped trying to take over everywhere they went. I mean come on man… couldn’t you just have traded and enjoyed the hospitality shown to you by these countries? No… of course not… you had to conquer it all… it kind of reminds me of my son not wanting to share his toys… but also wanting his friends’ toys at the same time!

I’ll admit my ignorance when it comes to the history of India, so while this book was very informative, it wasn’t quite as exciting or good as I think it could have been. I guess those are the limitations when writing historical fiction and trying to stick to the facts as much as possible? Either way, I think the author didn’t do herself a lot of favors by skimming over the action-y scenes, as it would have lent a bit more oomph to an otherwise just okay book.

The characters were generally well developed, with a few misses here and there. Sometimes they seemed deep and sincere, and at other times they were superficial and unreal. Especially Anu didn’t ring true in the end, although I guess what she went through could change someone as completely as it did her… thank God I don’t know, and I sincerely hope I never find out.

If nothing else, I found myself googling India and Jhansi and the palace, so at least I’m better informed now than before I read this book. And while I respect other cultures and think it’s wrong to wage war to force them to conform to your own culture and religion as has been and still is the case… I am so grateful that I was not born a woman in India! Purdah sounds like the worst kind of punishment devised, and I find it so hard to try and understand why!? And these poor women don’t even know what they’re missing… as Sita says in the book… that’s just the way things were, and they didn’t know there was any other options.