Audiobook Review

Audiobook Review: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

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Rating: 5 Stars
Date Started: 30 October 2017
Date Finished: 31 October 2017
Pages: 513  |   Duration: 10:45:48
Genre: Historical Fiction, Adventure, Romance, M/M

That moment when you enjoy a m/m romance about 1000 times more than you ever thought you would…

This book will definitely be going on my favorites of the year list! I listened to the audio version and I think that was the absolute best decision I could have made. The narrator was brilliant and of course I’m putty in your hands if you have a British accent. Naturally I had to find out more (stalk) him, and it turns out he’s the actor who played Tom Riddle in Harry Potter 2… also he’s gorgeous!

Other than the narrator though, I loved the writing and the flow of the book. If I had to use one word to describe it, it would be FUN! I lost count of the times I had to pause because I was giggling too much… I got a fair amount of weird looks for laughing at nothing too!

I realize that at least 60% of the things happening in this book is unrealistic and would have played out a whole different way if it had happened in real life, but I don’t think the point of this book was to be historically accurate or taken too seriously. I’d even say the whole plot was only slightly better than “meh”… I took it as a fun adventure that touched on some touchy subjects, but was mainly focused on the characters and the relationships in the book.

Talking about characters, I loved them all. Monty was a selfish and pompous ass, but OMG he was funny and witty and… vibrant. Percy was caring and sweet and you can completely understand why Monty falls in love with him, even though they’re polar opposites and besides the fact that he thinks he’s gorgeous. Felicity is a badass bitch that refuses to let society put out her flame. I mean I’m pretty sure [book:The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy|35430702] is going to be her adventure, that’s how awesome she is. She’s flawless and Monty would be completely dead without her. Honestly he really is a bit useless… but maybe just because he’s been told that so much that he started believing it? He’s fabulous though.

The other characters were also different degrees of lovable and interesting, with the pirates and Captain Scipio being my favorites… I’ve always had a fascination with pirates (even before Pirates of the Caribbean) and I really hope they feature prominently in the next book! Considering the title I think it’s a safe bet 😁

 

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Audiobook Review

Audiobook Review: The Orphan’s Tale

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4 Stars

This book is going to break some people’s hearts… the story itself was bittersweet and so reminiscent of the time it’s set in. I wasn’t alive back then, but I’ve read enough WWII stories to get a feel for the era, and it seems to me that all the death and despair was interspersed with hope and life. People just trying to live and find happiness… yet so scared to grasp it because everything was so fragile.

Noa stole my heart. She’s the kind of quiet and unassuming character that creeps up on you and before you know it you’re invested in her happiness. Sure, she had her flaws, but she felt more real for them. And her greatness completely outshone them anyway. For all her youth, she had more courage and conviction than most anyone else. Definitely more than Astrid.

I disliked Astrid from the start as a hypocrite and a bitch, and honestly, even after everything I still think that of her. She set such high standards for others, but who the hell was she anyway to demand such things? She was judgemental of Noa from the start without bothering to try and look further, and yet she still expected complete honesty and respect from her without deserving it in the least. She wasn’t even the strong woman the author tried to make her out to be! Her whole life revolved around other people, and as soon as she was left alone she crumbled… Whereas when the same happened to Noa, her star shone brighter than ever.

And then there was Herr Neuhoff. A background character that didn’t get the attention he deserved. In fact, I’d say he’s slightly more of a hero than Noa. His courage and selflessness was disappointingly shunted to a post script. He never asked for anything while giving everything, and while people were maybe thankful, I still don’t think a big enough deal was made of him. Among all the hate and scorn of the time, it always brings me hope to know that there were really people like Herr Neuhoff, who risked it all by doing what they knew were right.

I think I’m upset at the ending of the book, so I won’t say more about that because it would probably give away the plot without me having to say anything. I will say this though, life (even in fiction) doesn’t always make sense, and people don’t always get what they deserve.

Book Review

Book Review: Kindred

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Rating: 4 1/5 Stars
Date Started: 9 June 2017
Date Finished: 12 June 2017
Pages: 306
Genre: Historical Fiction

This is one of those books that aren’t quite 5 stars, but which will stay with you for a long time…

It’s difficult to gather my thoughts to write a coherent review for Kindred, which usually happens when I come across a book that is as jarring as this. There were scenes of abuse so heart rending that I can’t even begin to try and articulate how I feel about it. Suffice it to say that I’m so grateful that I didn’t live in that era. Not because I wouldn’t want to see that happening (which I seriously don’t), but because I’m scared that like the characters in this book, I’d get used to it and it would just be a part of everyday life after a while.

I never realized how easily people could be trained to accept slavery.

This line in particular is one that will haunt me for a long time to come. And I think that’s good. I think it’s important to remember, because there are all kinds of slavery. Coming from an abusive household, I recognized a lot of the mental games that were part and parcel of slavery. And I also recognized it in today’s society with the news and politicians and wars getting progressively worse and desensitizing us to the atrocities that happen on a regular basis.

There were a lot of plot holes, and most of it didn’t make sense even in the context of the story, but that just underlines the irrationality of it all. At the end of the book, there was this essay, and one of the lines caught my eye and explains why these things don’t detract from the story:

“Kindred, one could say, is no more rational, no more comfortably explicable than the history of slavery itself.”

Dana was an extremely relatable heroine. She didn’t have special powers or knowledge that helped her defeat the baddies. She was just a regular person that extraordinary things happened to, and she had to deal as best she could. She was definitely brave, though after a while (desensitization) she got used to being a slave and her bravery faded into the background. And you can’t fault her because as you read along, you’re right there… you’re her. You experience her pain and the after effects and you can’t help but implore her to just go along with it to avoid more pain. And that’s how they kept the slaves in line.

Kevin was a bit more of a mystery, but ultimately I liked him. We don’t really get to know him as intimately as we do Dana, but by his actions and what he tells Dana he did during his own journey, you can kind of get the measure of him. His life was infinitely better than Dana’s when it came to their trip back, but it must also have been difficult for him on a different level than it was difficult for Dana. The 1800’s weren’t very kind to sympathizers and abolitionists…

And then we have Rufus. I didn’t like him at all and while I understand Dana’s reasons for saving him all the time, I still think that she forgave him and let him get away with more than she should have. I get that he’s a product of his time and his upbringing, but damnit, he had the potential to be better! And I guess that’s the ultimate tragedy. It’s easier to swim with the current and believe and act like everyone else tells you to than to stand up against something that’s dangerous to oppose.

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

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.