Category Archives: Reading

Books and Inspiration

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I have read, or listened to, a couple books this year that have inspired other things. A television series and another book. I have read Poldark by Winston Graham, inspired a show on PBS, and Jane Steele by Lindsay Faye, inspired by Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I didn’t realize until now but I have opinions. I’m going to deal with both separately because both are different.

 

PBS has done a fantastic job on taking Graham’s book and turning it into a series. The first book, the only one I have read and there’s 12 total, is the first half of the first season. Why is everyone so good looking and have great hair in that show? I had a friend that saw I was reading and watching this on Instagram and asked me how I felt about it. I told her you had to like post-revolutionary war England and want to know about miners. That’s when I wasn’t feeling season one and only part way through the book. She watched the show, both seasons that are out, and loved it. I ended up loving the second season and we fan girled just a little bit together. I don’t have many people to do that with but that’s how good this gets. I think that the overall story is slow. But there’s details you have to know and characters you need to get to love or hate. It’s so easy with film to change what happens in a story in exchange for time. But it’s PBS so they do a pretty good job.

 

Lindsay Faye, what can I say? You did something. Now, forgive me if I’m a little harsh because Jane Eyre is one of my favorite books ever. The book is structured like Charlotte Bronte novel, exactly like Jane Eyre in fact. She goes so far as to have Jane Steele compare herself heavily to Jane Eyre.  It starts with a child living with cruel relations, goes to school and eventually goes to be a governess in a house with secrets. Mr. Thornfield? HONESTLY? Yes, the homage to the original novel is great. I also know that you cannot write a book word for word because that would be plagiarism and that would end Faye’s career. But could there be a better last name for the guy? I guess it’s cheeky and isn’t so bad. There were historical elements I had to look up. Steele seemed to lose some of her edge when she turned a governess. Maybe because she ended up loving the people and she felt at home. She was not as cold. A part of me wants to say he turned into a woman who almost didn’t know what to with herself. Jane Eyre always made up her mind and knew who she was. Couple other things. Clark just leaves which blows my mind. Steele saves her life and then Clark was just out of there. Yes, it’s more complicated but still Clark. Get your life together. I listened to this and every time the narrator said reader, I heard Rita. There were a few times where I was doing something while listening and I would stop and ask myself who Rita was before I realized she said reader.

 

It’s interesting to see differences and similarities in works of inspirations and they’re offspring. It’s always a good discussion for a book club. You can always find inspirations. Shakespeare’s works has been turned into so many different movies and inspired different works. You could have a whole book club on Shakespeare inspirations and have a lot of material. The problem is, there’s so much out there that you have to go through or weed out the crappy stuff. Then if what you’re reading or watching is a recommendation, you have to be careful about who you take a recommendation from because they might not understand you and your tastes and if you take the recommendation and you hate it, you have to be careful with that person next time you see them. Sorry for that horrible sentence. But I’m not taking it back.

 

Life and Book Update.

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I apologize. I haven’t blogged in quite some time. I was gone longer than I should have. And it isn’t because I haven’t read. Because I have. I mean I read A Little Life and didn’t blog about it. If I were going to blog about any book in the last few months, it would be that one. December was one heck of the month. We had several snow storms and I was waiting for a storm since I came back from Hungary but the snow can stop now. I got stranded in town for three days and it wasn’t fun. And I might have to stay in town for the next few days again cause of the wind and snow.

I feel like it has been very common knowledge that I have had my demons since I have been back from Hungary. Depression and anxiety, though not officially diagnosed. And I do have to point out that my experience is not as bad as others. I know I have it pretty good. I just have to get through my own head. I know. And I do feel like what I’m feeling is not as intense as it was when I first came back. The anxiety is just an annoying hum in the background and I have to learn how to deal with it.

But let me talk about the books I have read recently.

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. So much better than I thought it was going to be. I did this on Audible and it’s 33 hours long. It’s a good thing that I got a dog to walk so I can listen to this. Oh yeah, I got a dog. Named Florence. I went into it expecting that the hype made it out more than it was going to be. No, it was legitimately good.

Jackaby by William Ritter. Not as good as I was hoping it would be. It’s very young Sherlock Holmes and yeah. Not a fan.

A Man called Ove by Fredric Backman. This wasn’t so bad. I didn’t love it, but it had it’s moments that it was charming. I have his other book trying to read but I have a hard time getting into and staying in the story.

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. I was nervous about this one. I have had it on my TBR for a while but then I hyped it up in my own head. It was good. I love the ending.

The Work of Wolves by Kent Meyers. I got this book when I made a trip to South Dakota and it’s by a South Dakota author. I couldn’t do it. I’m sure some people love this book but I couldn’t finish it. Nope.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. I feel like I have read this plot before. It is definitely not my favorite YA.

The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan. The second in a series. I’ve said this before about Riordan and I’ll say it again, he has the same voice in every book. I like it cause of the sarcasm but find a new voice for a main character.

Once We Were Brothers by Ronald H. Balsom. I liked part of this book. I liked the flashbacks and I like the elderly man but I hated the relationship between the P.I. and the lawyer. They didn’t have to hook up but they did. Could have been better written.

Rosemary by Kate Clifford Larson. Confession: I was sick during listening to this book and fell asleep during part of it. It was good though. I thought.

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien. It’s about time I read this. I actually listened to it. It as good. It’s a book I do better listening to rather than reading. It sinks in better. It does give me flashbacks of watching the last Hobbit movie in Hungary. I fell asleep during that movie. I didn’t fall asleep during the book.

A Christmas Carol, The Chimes, and the Cricket on the Hearth by Charles Dickens. It was timely. I really liked the Carol and I skimmed the other two. The Carol is probably my favorite Dickens.

Ballad of the Whiskey Robber by Julien Rubinstein. Oh Hungary. I love Hungary. I love learning about what happened in Hungary. I think it was well written and it was enjoyable for me cause I recognize names and places in the book. I think this book isn’t for everyone but it definitely good.

I will try to keep up with blogging this year. I will not guarantee it.

Winter Garden Review

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First a personal update. I got a dog. I went to my 10 year high school reunion. I realized that I can’t handle people’s struggle as well as I thought I was starting to do again. I know I have my issues, it just sucks when my issues get in the way of a friendship. I can’t go back now. All I can do is learn from my mistakes. I could write posts upon posts on how I have made a lot of mistakes in the past few years with relationships and how not to make these mistakes. But this is a book review blog.

If you’ve followed my blog for any time, you probably have figured out that I’m a sucker for historical novels. It blends my English degree and my history minor. And because I have a weird fascination with war and I did my senior paper in college on this war, World War II is my weakness. And I have this little spot in my heart about families that try to connect again. Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah hit a lot of those spots.

This book is a about a family that has their issues and the mother tells her girls her story without really telling them it’s about her. They have to figure it out. Which is nice to bring them together. It’s nice how that works out. They all open up and get closer in this book. I really don’t know how to feel about the parents’ relationship. Do they really love each other? Did they grow to love each other? How did she really feel about marrying an American soldier? Are they participating in polygamy? The first guy was alive the whole damn time. I’m sure they learned to love each other. He was way more open to loving but I don’t blame her for closing up. I close up a lot for more petty reasons. I mean she did learn to love him, she had to with how she reacted after he died. I do appreciate how she told her story. I like she told it as a fairy tale and I like how they started in regular print and then have a break in a sentence and go into italics. It helped me pay attention because when I know that there’s a story within a story, I space out usually.

I think the girls are way younger than what they really are. Especially with the nicknames. My siblings and I had names we called each other but we haven’t used those names in years. And the girls are in their 40/50’s? What’s the deal? Are they reverting to their childhood?

I get the relationship that these women have. Mainly because I shut down when something happens just like these women do. But I’m glad that they broke down their walls and became close again. There’s hope for me yet. I also like that there was a journey from being told that you are like your mother and hating it to thinking that a pleasure. I also relate to the girls because they’re close to their father. I have always considered myself closer to my dad. And that ending with the real Anya. It makes me happy. The world is right again. It makes me happy they found each other but upset that the mother didn’t find her true love until a year after he died. That’s lame. They should have found each other and then oops, I married another man. But I get what was going on.

I love the writing. Other than the reverting to the childhood. Definitely a go back to book.

Empire of Storms Review

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So until today I thought I was wasting my time. Wasting my time with the Throne of Glass series. It’s not that I hate Sarah J. Maas. I like her. I don’t understand her cause she pushes out books like poop. (I work at a nursing home. If someone takes three days to poop, we worry. And Maas has a lot coming out. Hence the reference) But today, after a short 2 day stint of having anxiety about life, I finished Empire of Storms. I loved it. Or wait. Love is a strong word. Strongly like is better and I’m more comfortable saying it.

So I have reviewed this book on Litsy and GoodReads by summing up by saying everyone hooked up and kind of made friends. It’s true. And it’s about time some of these people hooked up. And I suppose rivalries were strengthened. This book grabbed me like the past two haven’t. The last two were decent but this one was like, hey let’s get back into the swing of things and make you emotionally invested before I end the series. I don’t even know where to start. I guess with the questions.

I do have questions. What’s with the cover? Pants in the front and dress in the back? Is it a mullet? Someone explain that to me. When did I start liking Manon? Who saw what she did coming? When did Aelin start being decent again? What’s the real deal with Aedion? What was with the ending and how do I process it? When will Chaol be back in my life? Why must you Lorcan? Why must Rowan and Aelin’s marriage not be shown? I do understand that question and appreciate that. Those are questions off the top of my head. Just think what I could do with some time.

Let’s take it by couple by couple.

Aelin and Rowan. I love them together. I know I was team Chaol for a long time and I still am and I want him around but Rowan is better for Aelin. I’ve known that for a long time but I was in denial. I love that they’re married and the realization that they should have always been together. And you go get your woman Rowan. You’ve waited way too long for this.

Manon and Dorian are all sorts of yes. When Dorian’s other girl was murdered, I was like ‘oh no you didn’t’ and now it’s okay. They can be feisty together. I like that Dorian is coming more into his own and knowing more about who he is. And Manon. Well look what she’s done with herself in this book. That is all sorts of good and I love her now. I didn’t understand what the witches were for when they first appeared in the series but now it all makes sense now. I find myself not predicting author intentions as well as I used to. But I do say that I like this relationship.

Lorcan and Elide. This is another relationship I love. It’s the relationship that has a hate that turns into love. She seems so innocent for him and they joined a circus. They did that in the last book I read too. There’s a theme here. It means I should grow a beard and join the circus as the bearded lady. They’re another couple that do so well together.

Nehemia and the queen. Need I say more? I said a lot of what the hell with them and their plot line.

If I had to complain about this book, it’s that the couples fit way too nicely together. I do like what Maas did at the end and am really excited for the next book and let’s face it: it’ll probably be out in the next year and a half. How does this woman have time to do book tours and juggle two series? Diana Gabaldon goes years between books and Sarah J. Maas busts them out like nothing. Yes, I realize that Gabaldon has more research to do but they both have intense world building skills. Anyway, go read it. I mean, if it’s your kind of book.

Blood Infernal Review

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Recently I found a site called Book Outlet and they have super cheap books. I recently got my first order from them and with that I got Blood Infernal by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell. This is the last book of the Order of the Sanguines trilogy. The cover says series which generally means more than 3 books but with how this book ended, there can’t be more. Historically I have loved James Rollins. (I haven’t read any of Rebecca Cantrell so I don’t know.) And also have loved this series. This book did not disappoint. It’s my favorite. The only thing that I have against this book is that it’s taller than the other copies I have of this series.

So before I talk about the ending because that’s all I want to talk about, let’s start with the authors and writing. First of all, they need to write more together. Then at the beginning, Rollins dedicates the book to Cantrell and she dedicates the book to her husband and son. I’m guessing her husband isn’t James Rollins. So that could be awkward. Wondered how that happened. Then they were talking about writing groups. What the hell is a wring group? I mean I can take an educated guess at what it is but someone needs to actually sit down and tell me for sure. Here’s the other question I have. In the acknowledgments, Cantrell mentions this weird thing about a cat. What? Is that an inside joke or is it something about the lion in the book? I don’t know. Maybe I shouldn’t be looking so much into the acknowledgments. The writing in this book is fantastic. I like the crossover from other Rollins books that brought the time and date and pictures. It makes me more engaged. For me the only time that I could see which author was which writing was during the intimate parts with Erin and Jordan. Rollins isn’t that good at romance. He’s awesome at thrillers, not much experience with the romance. I did wonder how they split up the writing. Chapter by chapter or they did a detailed plan and split it up? It would be interesting to find out.

In my notes, I made a comment that everything is connected. In the book it says everything is connected to Bernard. I think nothing happens without a reason. This book is planned out so that everything does connect and come to an end. And since I brought up Bernard, let’s talk about him. He does know like everything. He is the reason for Rhun’s thing at the end that made me yell in my notes. Yes, I keep notes so I can blog. Don’t judge. If I didn’t, the blog would be less interesting. Also Bernard was cray with the legion. But so was Leopold. At the end, I really didn’t like Bernard. I wanted him to redeem himself but he didn’t. He got worse. Not like Legion possessed worse but I want to punch you worse. I wrote in my notes several times how he was sly. I mean I saw it coming but I was in denial at the same time. I mean, he’s from the crusades. He has to be sly right?

We also need to talk about Rhun and Elizabeth. They are what I am drawn to. Starting with the last book, I love Elizabeth. And I am using the “English” version of her name. The last book she became more motherly and feminine which countered Rhun. In my head, Rhun is super manly in a different way than Jordan. He’s the strong silent type. (he’s like that because of Bernard. All comes back to Bernard.) But there were many times in the book where I thought how much they loved each other. It took centuries for them to get really together. It surprised me when Elizabeth joined the church. It just hasn’t been her style up to that point and then it was okay, I want to survive so I’ll do it. Whatever. I guess it was noble. But their ending was perfect. Tommy was healed so they could get together because Elizabeth wasn’t distracted. (I did get concerned about what was going to happen with Tommy at the end but they got it.) And of course the thing with Rhun’s arm. Like of course it grows back. Why wouldn’t it? Why would I even question it? Elizabeth did talk about trading one curse for another, immortality for getting older. Looking at it and working at a nursing home, I get the getting older. Older people hate getting older. Immortality would get old too.

Let’s move to Erin and Jordan. I don’t have much to say on them because I saw their ending coming. But I did kind of bring up in my head that what are the chances that those two get together in real life? It’s one thing in literature, another in real life.

Other things that came to my mind. How many times do they really have to die in this book? It’s like they’re all cats. Does them dying so many times shorten their actual lifespan? It did get a little old how many times they all died and came back. The Faust house was amazing. I loved that scene and the scene where Erin talked to Lazarus. At the end when Christian sacrificed himself, I did cry out no. It made me sad. This ending made me feel things. And I’m a little bitter about it. Xao was creepy from the get-go. Hugh was different like a hippy but Xao you could tell that there was something weird about him. And then he goes crazy. There was another point that was made in the book that being ignorant hasn’t been a service to the church. Which is true. I can talk a long time about that. And it works to be said in this situation. But being ignorant isn’t a service to anyone in any situation.

Obviously, I loved this book. It was a great ending. I’m a fan.

Things I randomly wrote down:

TOMMY! Don’t trust that Priest!

It does make me sad when they talk about Europe places I’ve been.

Sophia=nun (I forgot a lot)

I want a pet lion.

Hugh is a cult.

Rhun’s leaving! Rhun’s leaving! Because Bernard is a sly fox!

The Nightingale Review

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“In love we find out who we want to be. In war we find out who we are.” (first sentences) I read The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. It was the Budapest book club’s February read. I got the hardcover copy of it because it is a relatively new book. (It came out last year. It’s still weird to say 2015 was last year) If you haven’t looked at that book, you should. It’s beautiful. I was impartial when I first saw it but the more I look at it, the more I love you. I might actually love the inside covers more with that map. Okay, now that I’ve talked to the appearance, let’s start with the actual book. There will be spoilers. I can’t help it. I liked this book way too much.

Let’s start talking about the family. The girls couldn’t start out more different and I liked that. It reminds me of a lot of real life relationships.  Isabelle was so much more radical than Vianne. They are both very flawed, both stubborn. Especially Isabelle. But I think that’s because she was a lot younger than Vianne. Vianne did become a rebel in her own way. She also saved people’s lives. At one point I wrote that I had gained respect for Isabelle and lost some for Vianne. But I think I regained respect and respected both of them equally at the end. But I really like the flaws.

Then you add the father element into the story. Crap. That man was something else. First, I hated him because he pretty much abandoned his daughters and drank himself silly. At one point, I wondered if he were a horrible person that got there after time or a horrible person due to circumstances of war and losing his wife. Then he started working with the Nazis. Which made my opinion of him go down but then shit man. He turns into a good man. He not only is like a double agent kind of guy, he dies for his daughter. I mean, way to bring yourself back into my good graces.

I did get confused for a while because I didn’t know French so I didn’t know that the German and French word for aunt are spelled the same. Sophie would say Tante Isabelle and I wondered why she was using the German word she should be using the French word but she was using the French word. But I looked it up. They’re spelled the same, I just don’t know how to pronounce the French word. Something I feel like I missed was what exactly happened with Isabelle? Did she die so that she didn’t end up with what’s his face at the end? It might have said it at some place but I may have missed it. If you’ve read it and you caught it, let me know.

I did have a few oh crap moments. First was when their name actually means Nightingale. Everything ties in. When Ari was taken away at the end it got to me because he was a little kid and was being well taken cared for and loved why take him away, and then when he came up to Vianne at the end of the book. At first I thought they had changed Ari’s name again and were calling him Julian and that’s the son Vianne was talking to. Nope. I loved that Ari found her at the end of the book. That whole last section was amazing. I could not have loved it more. And then when Vianne had to turn in Rachel. I may have mentally yelled at my book at that point. P.S. So much respect for Rachel because she lost a child. I haven’t experienced that but I know it can’t be easy. Then she barely survives the concentration camp. Sad. Tore my heart

We should talk about Captain Beck. If he would have lived, what would have really happened? Would he have been Julian’s real father? She legitimately liked him and you thought that they would get together. I feel like with Captain Beck around, Vianne was sketchier about things. He let her communicate with her husband, or made it happen. I think it was him trying to even out all the bad things that were happening on the accord of his government/leader. After the murder, you feel how scared they are, you feel it several times throughout the book, but there stood out to me. The aftermath felt real to me. I didn’t hate Captain Beck and I think that was the point. I wanted to hate him because he was a Nazi and they took the house from Vianne but he was decent. He was trying to be decent. But I did hate the next guy.

I think we should talk about how people dealt with war. There was the keep your head down and let’s do something mentality represented by each sister. You understand on each part because Isabelle is young and a go getter and Vianne is a mother and wants to protect her daughter. I feel like Vianne struggled more with what’s right and what’s wrong. Both women, and in actual war, you have to deal with what your idea of patriotism is. And both women did. I also like that at one point in this book they talked about how a generation was lost in the war and it’s true. So many died that a generation was pretty much lost. Even those who were affected mentally. The father in this book was a perfect example of that. He came back and wasn’t really fully there until the end of the book.

If you couldn’t tell, I loved this book. I whizzed through it. It kept my attention. I felt it was well written and the story was well woven. I also like that the love element in this book was not romantic love it was a familial love. I would have still been okay with the book if it had a romantic love but I would have rolled my eyes.

Things I wrote down or liked:

Men always think war is about them (pg. 146)

We remember the missing as much as the lost, don’t we? (page 265)

Humiliated men could be dangerous. (page 288)

She was so tired of begging people to love her (page 302)

“She killed a man? WHAT!?!?!” said by me.

“She killed Kenny.” Said by me. I don’t know why. I don’t even watch South Park.

 

Most Liked/Least Liked of 2015

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I know in the past I’ve done this so I thought I’d do it again. It’s the books I liked and didn’t like of the year. It’s a good way to reflect and it should be easy-ish since I read 50 books this year. I will do the top five (in no order) of each.

LIKED.

The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer. It was the first book that took place in Hungary after I came back from Hungary. I love it. Even if I hadn’t gone to Hungary I would have loved this book. It made me feel. Or if I were to talk like a teenage girl, it made me feel the feels.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. It’s a Beauty and the Beast retelling and I love Beauty and the Beast. This is my first Maas book and it was really good.

The Order of the Sanguines first 2 books of the trilogy because I haven’t read the last book yet by James Rollins. I just love James Rollins. I didn’t like the second book as much but they’re both excellent books.

Spelled by Betsy Schow. Another retelling. If you remember the review on this you know that there was a little annoyance of the humor but it’s still really funny and I do appreciate the humor.

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. I liked what it was about. I didn’t necessarily love all the characters. But that’s what happens in books.

DISLIKED

Love You More by Lisa Gardner I just didn’t like how it was handled and I consistently had to remind myself that the narrator wasn’t male because of her name.

Someone to Watch Over Me by Judith McNaught. Cheesy title, stereotypical plot, felt like there was some details missing at points with too many at others. Just couldn’t win with this book.

The Bachelor Club by a bunch of different authors. It’s 4 novellas in 1 book and each author took a book and it was typical Christian romances super condensed. This was the first book that I read after a major separation from a friend and maybe that contributed to my not liking it but it was overly simple. I’m getting rid of some books that I won’t be reading again or ever and this is one of them.

A Simple Plan by Scott Smith. UGH! How is this book actually sold? Well I can’t really talk because I got this at a library book sale. It sounds interesting. On the other hand, the book sucks. I faced palmed a lot during this book. The characters are so condescending/stupid/every bad thing under the sun.

Full of Grace by Dorthea Benton Frank. I just wanted it to be better. I felt like I wanted more after this book. Like I was missing something. It wasn’t bad but still disappointing.

Now that it’s New Years Eve and I don’t work until tomorrow, what are my plans? I’m going to go grocery shop and then go home and maybe clean a little and then watch movies and drink a little wine. Just like I did last year. Happy New Years.