Monday, April 7, 2014

What have I read lately? Goblin Kings, Witches, Lords & Virtues

Happy Monday! How's everyone? I've had an unscheduled week off from blogging, but here I am again. I've been busy for the past couple of months and my reading and concentration are shot. There's a bit of "reader's block" going on and I'm having trouble choosing and/or finishing books at the moment, although I've finished a few.

What have I read? Last week I read Shadow Spell (Cousins O'Dwyer #2) by Nora Roberts which turned out to be a pretty average, predictable read for me, as opposed to The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison which was excellent! I will review this book soon, but people, this fantasy is a must read! Maia, Maia, Maia . . . While that was a great reading experience, we all know what happens after we finish an excellent book. Nothing satisfies. I ended up rereading What I Did for a Duke by Julie Anne Long, a historical romance I loved, to see if maybe that would boost my interest in romance? In historical romance? But. . .

What am I reading now? Nothing. Instead I am anxiously awaiting for books due to release on April 8th!

How was my March reading? Well, not fantastic as you'll see below. It is pretty much a list of popular hyped up books of which a couple worked for me. My top reads of the month were Outlander by Diana Gabaldon and Murder of Crows, The Others Book #2 by Anne Bishop, but my FAVORITE was really my reread of Voyager by Diana Gabaldon. I still love that book!

I also ventured into some dystopian YA by reading Divergent by Veronica Roth. That was a really quick read that I found entertaining. I really liked dystopian Chicago as the setting, and the premise along with the young characters kept me interested until the end. I was particularly taken with the idea that a society would come to the conclusion that the best way to function would be to split into factions depending on "virtues" (mind you, only ONE virtue, as if humans would ever be able to eradicate the rest from themselves!)-- intelligence (Erudite), bravery (Dauntless), selflessness (Abnegation), honesty (Candor), and those who believe in peace (Amity). Of course the young protagonist, Beatrice or Tris is a Divergent, someone who possesses more than one virtue (imagine that) and therefore a danger to society as is. I wasn't quite sure what to make of a dystopian world-building where no real back story is given in the first novel of the trilogy about what happened to get society to that point. Who the heck came up with this brilliant idea? How or why did society end that way? I suppose the details are given later in the trilogy, and even though the story is kind of romantic/cute in an extremely violent sort of way, I'm not sure I'm interested enough to find out by reading the other books. I heard the movie was good. :)

Also, following my Gabaldon read and reread last week, I read Lord John and the Private Matter. Lord John Grey is an interesting character to me since he is the one gay character that Gabaldon portrays in sort of a positive light in her Outlander novels -- he is honorable and as straight forward as he can be given the times, laws, and dangers that a homosexual man faced during those times. This book is a sort of military mystery that Lord John solves with help from his brand new valet Tom Byrd and a few military comrades. There are details about Lavender House, an underground club where homosexual men gather, but there is also blackmail, murder, and dangerous liaisons. This is not as great a book as Gabaldon can write. The facts and details are there, but it is missing emotional impact. So this was a good, but not great read for me.
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Total books read: 7
 Contemporary: 2
 Historical Fiction/Romance: 3
 Urban Fantasy: 1
 Fantasy: 1



Top Reads of the Month:
Outlander (Outlander #1) by Diana Gabaldon: B+
Murder of Crows: A Novel of the Others (Book #2) by Anne Bishop: B+
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes: B-
Divergent by Veronica Roth: B-
Lord John and the Private Matter (Lord John Novel) by Diana Gabaldon: C

Re-read:
Voyager (Outlander #3) by Diana Gabaldon

Upcoming Review:
Satisfaction by Sarah Mayberry

4 comments:

  1. I love Lord John -- he's one of my favorite characters in the series. However, I've not really enjoyed his books as much. I think it's because they have more of a mystery focus, which is really not my favorite genre. Nevertheless, I do think that the LJG books are an important adjunct to the original series. In one of the books -- well, I think it's a short story -- we see a really significant altercation between John and Jamie. In the next book (also a short story, I think), we see John come to the realization of exactly why Jamie had reacted the way he had in that altercation. We see his dismay and his horror that Jamie, of all people, had experienced what he had. We also see John come to a place of peace about his love for Jamie. He accepts that, for him, it's just enough for HIM to love Jamie; he doesn't need Jamie to love him in return.

    Scottish Prisoner is an ESPECIALLY important book to read. Jamie is a primary character in this novel, and it's in this book that we see his and John's relationship go from enmity to amity. If you recall from reading Voyager, we don't really see that in the pages of the third book. They have a cautiously friendly relationship, then a contentious/adversarial one, then by the time they're in Jamaica, they are friendly once more. But how? How did they move from enmity to amity? Scottish Prisoner answers that question.

    Also, Scottish Prisoner introduces the character of John's brother, Hal (Duke of Pardloe). Sure, we've met Hal before -- in Voyager, he's the "Lord Melton" who frees Jamie from the crofter's hut and allows him to escape after Culloden. He does so in repayment of the fact that Jamie had not killed John in Dragonfly. So anyway, if you've been reading the excerpts ("Daily Lines") that Gabaldon has been posting on her Facebook page, you'll have noticed that Hal is mentioned in a lot of them. So it's worth reading Scottish Prisoner in part to get that context on Hal.

    I definitely don't love the Lord John books. I don't even particularly LIKE them, and I skim frequently. But DG asserts that they are part of the series, and it seems that this is especially the case recently. They're worth the read (or the skim) for the context and missing pieces that they provide.

    A couple other good off-shoots to read would be the short stories "A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows" which tells the story of Roger's parents...with a significant piece that make you suck in a breath of surprise...and also "The Space Between" which features Jamie's nephew Michael and Jamie's step-daughter Joan, but also brings back a character from Dragonfly.

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  2. Thanks for the heads up Nifty and all that great information. I have all the LJG books in my TBR, including The Scottish Prisoner, but began with Lord John and the Private Matter because it's slated as the #1 book in the series. That book, I think, gives a good idea of who he is . . . etc., but did not impress? I had to hold back and not read The Scottish Prisoner first, however, and am going to try and read the books in order. I'm glad you told me about A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows and The Space Between, I don't have those two books but will get them.

    I haven't read Echo in the Bone yet, but want to catch up with everything before the latest book releases in June. I do know by some of the spoilerish reviews I've read that LJG plays a big role. I really loved him in Voyager, so yeah… I'll read all his books. :)

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  3. Oh! Well, it's good, then, that you've read Private Matter because a character from that book -- I think it's that book -- appears as a surprise secondary character in Echo. His presence is not welcome to John. I had read Private Matter so long ago that I only vaguely remembered the character...and then, of course, I have that bad habit of skimming John's books, so I didn't recall the character (or the context of his relationship with John) in great detail.

    Gabaldon recently published another short story called Virgins, which tells the story of young Jamie and Ian (the Elder) in France as mercenaries. I haven't read it yet. From the excerpts, I'm surmising that the story explains the mystery about a young girl Jamie regrets, whom he mentions to Claire in Voyager, I think.

    So yeah...Gabaldon is sneaky about spilling the main story over into some of her ancillary works.

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    Replies
    1. Nifty, I'm taking notes! I'm planning on reading Echo in May. I figure by then I'll be done with all the LJG books and will also be ready for book 8. I love Ian (the Elder), so I will definitely place Virgins on my wish list.

      I'm glad I read Private Matter now, all the characters are fresh and I tend to highlight a lot. Thank you!

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