Book #82: Dragonfly in Amber

Diana Gabaldon, Dragonfly in Amber, 2001, 743p

Hello giant beastly huge book with a giant beastly huge Scotsman! Hubba.

This one took me A LOOOOONG time to read.

a) Because of said mentioned beastly length
b) Because this one was harder to get into than Outlander. Like seriously, it took me like 300 pages to be like ‘okay, this is aight’

I get it. I get it. We sort of need all the historical backstory to get to the spoilery ending. But, my new Outlander motto is: MORE JAMIE, LESS ERRRYTHING ELSE.

We met Claire again in present day – well as present day as 1968 is – with her fire-haired daughter Brianna (hmmm…I wonder where she gets that from…) as they head back to Scotland. Claire plans to reveal to Brianna once and for all the unfathomable details about her heritage. Told through present day Revelations and beautiful, Highlander-filled flashbacks, we learn more about Claire and Jamie’s quest to change history and where it led them.

The cliffhanger ending somewhat made up for the slow start. I have yet to pick up Voyager, cause I’m worried it will be much the same. I feel like this a series that is going to take me a decade to read, but I’ll slog through it one giant tome at a time.

Cause Jamie.

Book #49: The White Queen

Philippa Gregory, The White Queen, 2009, 529p

Sometimes picking books to read in a book club is extremely difficult. Yes, I know. Poor me. It’s such a ROUGH situation to be in. For the book club I help with at work, it’s been running for a super long time and we have limited book club kits on our hands. Sometimes the ones you choose are ones that people have already read or don’t want to read (I really thought Fast Food Nation would be a hit!). In other cases, you are stuck with selections that you would never read and haunt you – I’m looking at you Shake Hands with the Devil! Yikers!

I am putting my reading choices square in the hands of a group of people who I hardly know – which scares me. I’m so picky with what I read. I have a hard time even THINKING about liking a book that someone else picks out for me – ask my partner, he gets the brunt of it.

So, long story long, that’s how I end up reading The White Queen. Clearly I’m not against historical fiction – I read my fair share of it. But, this one I was not looking forward too. There wasn’t even any steamy bodice ripping. Le sigh.

The White Queen follows young widow, Elizabeth as she meets and falls in love with the young king Edward. She marries him in secret and chaos ensues. The book follows Elizabeth through their marriage, children, and many battles for the throne.

This is going to sound incredibly petty of me, considering it’s historical fiction that is TRULY based on historical events – but seriously they all had the same names! I lost track of how many Elizabeth’s, Edward’s, Richard’s, and George’s there really were. Gregory clearly put a lot of research into this book – but I prefer my historical to be more fiction than historical.

2015 Reading Challenge: a book with a colour in the title.

Book #44: Outlander

Diana Gabaldon, Outlander, (1991), 627p

So. I fell of the face of the planet. I’m behind on blogging about THREE books. I’m a horrible blogger, I apologize, and let’s move on. 🙂 Kidding. I feel like the only person I am disappointing is myself.

Way back when, when being a few weeks ago after I came back from Mexico, the bronchitis bug visited me. Which sucks. If you’ve ever met me, you will know a) that I have a horrible immune system and b) I easily go stir-crazy. With nearly 4 days of bronch-induced bed rest ahead of me, I knew I would go batty without undertaking a huge challenge. Which is where Outlander comes in.

I’ve always wanted to read this series, but come on – these books are each like a zillion pages. Luckily, I downloaded the eBook version to save my itty bitty wrists. I dove in head first and came out alive on the other side. Alive, and super happy.

Here’s Outlander in a nutshell: Claire and her hubby, Frank, reconnect after being separated during WWII, and reunite for their second honeymoon in the Scottish Highlands. While there, Claire stumbles upon and stumbles through a circle of stones which transports her 200 years into the past – and into the arms of a hot Scot. Claire is forced to marry Jamie, a clansman, to protect her from Frank’s horrible relative, Jack Randall. This results in sexiness, danger, and bloodshed.

Okay – Jamie is adorbs. Rough and tough. I know I’m going to get sucked into the rest of the series – and the television series as well – because of him. Claire is just what I like in a heroine – stubborn, intelligent, and silly.

But yeah – I dug this book. I dug the characters. Read it. Watch it. Enjoy it.

2015 Reading Challenge: A book with more than 500 pages

Book #12: Longbourn

Jo Baker, Longbourn, (2013), 332p

I am in a small book club with three lovely ladies I went to library school with. I say book club, because… well, we do read books together, but I feel like it is a loose definition of a book club. We do each take turns picking books and we do meet up to discuss said books. These meet ups typically are 15 minutes of talking about the book and an hour or more gossiping, catching up, drinking beer, and eating food. This is my ideal book club. It introduces me to books I might not normally pick and gives me an excuse to see these gals. This month’s pick was Longbourn.

I find historical fiction to be either hit or miss for me. I also typically find the retelling of classic novels to be completely unnecessary. I refused to pickup Pride & Prejudice & Zombies or any of those ridiculous retellings. Longbourn, on the other hand, intrigued me. Mostly because of my all consuming love for Downton Abbey.

Longbourn is essentially a parallel read to Pride & Prejudice told from the perspective of the Bennet’s servants. I don’t want to say its a retelling, because really it’s not. The house staff has their own story lines, their own history. Things get shuffled up in the servants quarters when a new footman, James, mysteriously arrives. Sarah, the housemaid, has her interests peaked; Mrs. Hill, the head of the house, is very protective; and Polly, the servant, has a new playmate. Sprinkled with Bingley, Darcy, and Wickham for good measure, Longbourn is a tale of love, secret affairs, and mysterious pasts.

I enjoyed this read. It took me a little while to get into it, but I am happy I stuck it out. I really liked that they didn’t simply retell P&P, but gave a voice and life to the characters tucked in the kitchen. I fell in love with James – he was so sweet and damaged. It was a pleasant read but could anything ever hold a candle to the original? Of course not.

Happy reading –
Laurie 🙂

Book #1: Frog Music

Emma Donoghue, Frog Music, (2014), 405p

I discovered Ms. Donoghue shortly after Room hit the shelves. My partner surprised me with the book for Christmas a few years ago. I LOVED Room. LOVED IT! Devoured it in a couple days, neglected-my-life-to-just-keep-reading-it type of loved it. Such a blindingly horrible situation laid out in beautiful prose told through the eyes of a child. Like many others, when I heard she was releasing her first novel since Room this year, I let out a squeal of excitement; then I immediately placed a hold on it from the library.

What I found with Frog Music was not what I was expecting. Donoghue takes us on a gritty, burlesque-filled ride through plague invested, heat wave ridden 1870’s San Francisco. Dancing, sex, murder, women in men’s clothes, forgotten babies, and frogs legs. (Something for everyone?) Frog Music told through two timelines: both before and after a brutal, cold blooded murder. It follows Blanche, a former Parisian equestrian turned leg dancer; Blanche’s lover, Arthur, and his partner, Ernest, both slimy, scheming, well-dressed French immigrants; and Jenny, a pant wearing, frog catching, bicycle riding American woman so far beyond her time.

Throughout most of the book, I honestly gave zero shits about Blanche. Yes, she worked hard (literally on her back), owned her entire apartment building, and supported her lovers – but I kind of hated her. She annoyed me. She was so self serving, vain, and pathetic. But, Jenny on the other hand, I loved. Quirky, brash, out place. She stole the show for me. Her blunt honesty, unabashed indignation, and comfort in her own skin made her one of my favourite characters to come from recent literature.

In the afterword, Donoghue reveals all of this is based on a real murder case and real people, which realistically led me to love Jenny even more. Donoghue did her research and even gives shout-outs to libraries and library staff which warms my little library assistant heart.

Overall I like this read. It’s so hard for me NOT to compare to an author’s previous work, especially when it holds such a special place in my heart and on my bookshelf. As a stand alone story, it’s entertaining and thought provoking, but doesn’t hold a candle to Room.

Happy reading –
Laurie 🙂