September 30, 2016

What I've Been Reading... September, 2016

Guys. I read FIVE books this month! I can't even believe it. 

I have such a hunger to read lately. I don't know what it is, but I want to listen to audiobooks all the time, and read a paperback book during almost every lunch break. There is a good mix of the two this month, with 3 audiobooks and 2 paperbacks. 

Side note - does anyone else listen to audiobooks faster than they are naturally read? I usually listen at 1.5 speed, but right now I am listening to one at 1.75 speed because it seems like they speak SO slowly.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon ★★★
The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of Our Lord...1743. Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life, and shatter her heart. For here James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire—and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.
I loved this book. It has the perfect combination of action, romance, fantasy/sci-fi, and history. I just added all the rest of this series to my Goodreads "to-read" list. I can't wait to read more about how the characters develop, and how the plot moves forward. 

If you are a fan of Game of Thrones, you would like this. It is a little bit less violent, and told from a female POV, and very well written.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard ★★★
This is a world divided by blood – red or silver. The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change. That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power. Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime. But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart.
Caroline and I listened to this when she visited. My mom and I met in between Pittsburgh and Rochester, which meant a 2ish hour drive. Care and I listened to this both ways she was in the car with me, and while we drove around the city. The best part is that my girl is now hooked on audio books too!

This is young adult fiction, and it reminds me a LOT of Divergent. The plot was very fantastical, and I thought it moved a little bit too fast. That type of plot is kind of becoming run of the mill, and I have honestly no desire to read any of the sequels.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling ★★★
It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children. While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.
Not what I expected. I knew going in that it is written as a play, but one of my friends explained it perfectly when she called it "glorified fanfiction." I thought there was way too much involved in the plot for such a short book. It could have been a full-length sequal, or two seperate shorter stories, and have had much more detail and character development. 

Another thing was, I can't imagine how all of these effects would be able to possibly take place on stage. Though that is my background/career speaking.

I feel that if you like Harry Potter, you'll like this book. But if you are a die-hard HP lover, you probably won't.

The Girl from the Paradise Ballroom by Allison Love ★★★
The first meeting between Antonio and Olivia at the Paradise Ballroom is brief, but electric. Years later, on the dawn of World War II, when struggling Italian singer Antonio meets the wife of his wealthy new patron, he recognizes her instantly: it is Olivia, the captivating dance hostess he once encountered in the seedy Paradise Ballroom. Olivia fears Antonio will betray the secrets of her past, but little by little they are drawn together, outsiders in a glittering world to which they do not belong. At last, with conflict looming across Europe, the attraction between them becomes impossible to resist--but when Italy declares war on England, the impact threatens to separate them forever.
I read this book in one weekend. I really liked that the plot moved through time, and it was quite believable. I thought it added a lot to have the story set during WWII, because the nationalism that was felt in Europe during that time added a lot to the plot. 

One of my favorite characters was Philomena, and I was rooting for her the whole time. It was so nice to see her storyline wrap up the way it did.

One thing that I did notice was sometimes there were phrases that didn't seem like correct grammar. I don't know if this book was translated, but there were a few times that I got that impression.

*This book was provided for my review for Blogging for Books.

Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter ★★★
More than twenty years ago, Claire and Lydia's teenaged sister Julia vanished without a trace. The two women have not spoken since, and now their lives could not be more different. Claire is the glamorous trophy wife of an Atlanta millionaire. Lydia, a single mother, dates an ex-con and struggles to make ends meet. But neither has recovered from the horror and heartbreak of their shared loss—a devastating wound that's cruelly ripped open when Claire's husband is killed. The disappearance of a teenage girl and the murder of a middle-aged man, almost a quarter-century apart: what could connect them? Forming a wary truce, the surviving sisters look to the past to find the truth, unearthing the secrets that destroyed their family all those years ago . . . and uncovering the possibility of redemption, and revenge, where they least expect it.
This is really good, and it sort of reminded me of Gone, Girl. However, it is EXTREMELY graphic. I listened to this audiobook (with headphones, obvs) on my commute, and I was a little bit afraid that someone might hear the messed up shit I was listening to. I think that some of the graphic details almost were too much--they didn't add to the story. 

Overall I liked the plot though, and enjoyed how it switched points of view. 

I'm currently reading Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth, and listening to Jennifer duBois' Cartwheel. The prior was lent to Dave by one of our friends (Hi Katie!), but I decided to commandeer it. I am working on Cartwheel for my first book club meeting here in Pittsburgh! Happy Friday, friends, and as usual I'm linking up with Puppies and Pretties.

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