Outlander – Diana Gabaldon

Outlander (Outlander #1) by Diana Gabaldon
Published  August 10th 1998

Claire Randall is leading a double life. She has a husband in one century, and a lover in another…In 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon–when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone 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’s destiny in soon inextricably intertwined with Clan MacKenzie and the forbidden Castle Leoch. She is catapulted without warning 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 passion so fierce and a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire…and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.


Almost 900 pages, and almost a month of reading/listening and I’ve finally completed this new favorite. This book GAVE ME LIFE. It completely tore me apart and then just picked up all the pieces and put me back together. I can’t believe I not only finished Outlander but that it took me this long to even dive in. I’m so proud of myself for getting through this monstrosity after a massive hiatus of reading.

I absolutely have to give credit to the way Gabaldon writes. It’s so descriptive and entrancing, I felt like I was there with everyone as everything was happening. Which kept me going, and all honesty made it hard for me to put this book down so I could feed my son or pay attention to what my husband was saying. I don’t think I’ve had a book do that to me in quite some time. I do think I had an advantage to others though because I watched the show first. And so a lot of the Scottish words were familiar, and to be quite honest, the show follows the book so closely, I was very impressed. I remembered so much happening in the show, just as it did in the book which made me very happy.

There’s just so many layers to this book, from the slow burn romance that very much picks up to a steamy romance, the battles, horse rides, witches, fairies, political intrigue. It’s all there and it makes almost 900 pages seem to fly by. With so many characters you don’t get quite bored because although Jamie and Claire are most definitely the center of all of this, you do get invested into other characters (personally, I do enjoy Murtagh quite a bit). But I have to say, I am SO SO SO impressed with Gabaldon being able to bring such a filthy and awful villain to life in Randall. “Black Jack” Randall, is the most vile human being I’ve ever read about and literally turned my stomach every time I had to read about him. And that means she did such a great job writing him.

I just can’t stop thinking about how much I now love this book. Claire being such a great main character, and Jamie *swoon* (oh my dear Jamie) as well. I can’t believe that she wrote Outlander with the intention of it being a practice book for whatever book series she was actually planning on publishing. So, although I made Outlander my main mission in life to finish it and fall in love with it like I have, I don’t think I’ll be reading book two right away. I think I need to let Outlander just settle in my bones while I read other books and come back for Dragonfly In Amber.

5/5 Stars

Review: Becoming Bonnie by Jenni L. Walsh

29743029Becoming Bonnie by Jenni L. Walsh

Published May 9th 2017

From debut historical novelist Jenni L. Walsh, Becoming Bonnie is the untold story of how wholesome Bonnelyn Parker became half of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde duo!

The summer of 1927 might be the height of the Roaring Twenties, but Bonnelyn Parker is more likely to belt out a church hymn than sling drinks at an illicit juice joint. She’s a sharp girl with plans to overcome her family’s poverty, provide for herself, and maybe someday marry her boyfriend, Roy Thornton. But when Roy springs a proposal on her and financial woes jeopardize her ambitions, Bonnelyn finds salvation in an unlikely place: Dallas’s newest speakeasy, Doc’s.

Living the life of a moll at night, Bonnie remains a wholesome girl by day, engaged to Roy, attending school and working toward a steady future. When Roy discovers her secret life, and embraces it—perhaps too much, especially when it comes to booze and gambling—Bonnie tries to make the pieces fit. Maybe she can have it all: the American Dream, the husband, and the intoxicating allure of jazz music. What she doesn’t know is that her life—like her country—is headed for a crash.

She’s about to meet Clyde Barrow.

Few details are known about Bonnie’s life prior to meeting her infamous partner. In Becoming Bonnie, Jenni L. Walsh shows a young woman promised the American dream and given the Great Depression, and offers a compelling account of why she fell so hard for a convicted felon—and turned to crime herself.

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I was sent a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

When I started this book, I was deep in a reading slump and I was having a really hard time finishing books and even finding the incentive to read. Becoming Bonnie got me out of my slump and I never wanted to put it down.
I’ve always liked the story of Bonnie and Clyde so this book was right up my alley. I had pretty high hopes when I started this book and I was pleasantly surprised how Becoming Bonnie not only lived up to my hopes but surpassed them as well. I loved this book so much more than I was expecting.
Bonnie’s character development was awesome. The author did a great job of showing how Bonnie went from someone who would never step foot in a speakeasy to a girl who helped break her boyfriend out of jail.
I thought Jenni did a great job of merging history with fiction and creating such a fun, engaging book.
Overall, I loved this book and I can see myself rereading it in the future. I really enjoyed everything about this book and I cannot wait for the next book.

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Blog Tour + Giveaway: Alex and Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz

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Alex and Eliza: A Love Story by Melissa de la Cruz

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Witches of East End and The Descendants comes the love story of young Alexander Hamilton and Eliza Schuyler.

1777. Albany, New York.

As battle cries of the American Revolution echo in the distance, servants flutter about preparing for one of New York society’s biggest events: the Schuylers’ grand ball. Descended from two of the oldest and most distinguished bloodlines in New York, the Schuylers are proud to be one of their fledgling country’s founding families, and even prouder still of their three daughters—Angelica, with her razor-sharp wit; Peggy, with her dazzling looks; and Eliza, whose beauty and charm rival that of both her sisters, though she’d rather be aiding the colonists’ cause than dressing up for some silly ball.

Still, she can barely contain her excitement when she hears of the arrival of one Alexander Hamilton, a mysterious, rakish young colonel and General George Washington’s right-hand man. Though Alex has arrived as the bearer of bad news for the Schuylers, he can’t believe his luck—as an orphan, and a bastard one at that—to be in such esteemed company. And when Alex and Eliza meet that fateful night, so begins an epic love story that would forever change the course of American history.

In the pages of Alex and Eliza, #1 New York Times bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz brings to life the romance of young Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler.

Expected publication: April 11th 2017

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Review

I might be a little biased because I love the Hamilton musical so much but I really enjoyed Alex and Eliza. Musical aside, I thought this was such a fun historical fiction and you don’t have to be a fan of the Hamilton musical to enjoy this book.
I wasn’t sure what to expect with Alex and Eliza but this book was actually way better than I thought it would be. I haven’t been a big fan of the Melissa de la Cruz books I’ve read in the past but this was the best book I’ve read from her by far.
I wasn’t totally sold on the love story aspect of the story. It was fine but I was actually way more interested in pretty much everything else that was going on. I know it’s supposed to be focused on the love story aspect but I think it could have been more engaging.
There was a few places that I found a bit slow and boring but I think that goes back to the fact I wasn’t sold on the love story.
I did love the overall concept and the characters. I really loved seeing different side of the characters compared to the musical. This book is different from the musical and is just inspired by it so if you go into this book thinking they’re one in the same, like I did, you might be disappointed.

Overall, I really enjoyed Alex and Eliza. I think it could have better written but considering I’m usually not a fan of the author’s writing style, it was 10x better than I expected. This is one of the better historical fiction books that I’ve read and I think it’s worth reading.

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Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Enter for a chance to win one (1) of five (5) copies of Alex & Eliza: A Love Story by Melissa de la Cruz (ARV: $17.99 each).
 
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on March 27, 2017 and 12:00 AM on April 24, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about April 26, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

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Pre-order Alex & Eliza to get a custom Alex & Eliza enamel pin and a bookplate signed by Melissa de la Cruz!

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About Melissa de la Cruz

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Melissa de la Cruz is the New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times and Publishers Weekly internationally bestselling author of many critically acclaimed novels. Her Blue Bloods series has sold over three million copies, and the Witches of East End series became an hour-long television drama on the Lifetime network.

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Review: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

29983711Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Published February 7th 2017

Pachinko follows one Korean family through the generations, beginning in early 1900s Korea with Sunja, the prized daughter of a poor yet proud family, whose unplanned pregnancy threatens to shame them all. Deserted by her lover, Sunja is saved when a young tubercular minister offers to marry and bring her to Japan.

So begins a sweeping saga of an exceptional family in exile from its homeland and caught in the indifferent arc of history. Through desperate struggles and hard-won triumphs, its members are bound together by deep roots as they face enduring questions of faith, family, and identity.

 

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This book is very different from a lot of books I normally pick up but I was really excited to read it. Pachinko sounded amazing and I loved the assurance given from the synopsis for rich culture through out this book.
I really enjoyed the first half of this book a lot more than the last half. I really liked pace of the first half but it did start to slow down and drag at times. This is book is on the larger side, almost 500 pages, so the length didn’t help the slower pace. It wasn’t necessarily boring but compared to the first 200 or so pages, it was much slower.
I did love the culture in Pachinko. That was actually my favorite part about the book. It was so interesting and I loved seeing a new perspective. I really learned a lot and that was pretty cool.

Overall, if you’re looking for an interesting, diverse historical fiction, Pachinko is definitely a book to pick up. But if you want something fast paced, you might want to skip this one.

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Review: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys12913325
Published: March 22 , 2011

It’s 1941 and fifteen-year-old artist Lina Vilkas is on Stalin’s extermination list. Deported to a prison camp in Siberia, Lina fights for her life, fearless, risking everything to save her family. It’s a long and harrowing journey and it is only their incredible strength, love, and hope that pull Lina and her family through each day. But will love be enough to keep them alive?


I never thought I’d pick up Shades of Gray and enjoy it as much as I did. I’m the kind of reader who absolutely loves high fantasy and such. Basically nothing close to historical fiction. I was insanely surprised by this!

I have never read a Ruta Sepetys book before. And I’m so glad that I did because I am now a HUGE fan! Her writing is so flawless and beautiful and keeps me wanting more, more and more. I don’t think I’ve ever picked up a historical fiction novel and if I have it’s been a REALLY long time. I had to slow my pace down for this book because I didn’t want it to end.

Between Shades of Gray is about a family, Lina, her brother Jonas and her parents and how they get separated from their father on the way from Lithuania to Siberia to work in desolate farm. Her family was taken in the dead of night by the NKVD (from what I understand they eventually become the KGB) for crimes they have not committed and crimes they don’t understand are being charged against them and the whole Lithuanian race.

I absolutely loved the strength in this book. There was so much of it seeing these people go through so much pain, turmoil, and just hard times. The way that they kept hope and life alive among them, it was absolutely stunning. I cannot believe the power and just the sure will in all of these characters. Even ones you don’t think are strong as others, are incredibly strong.

Although I don’t know must about the historical aspects of this book, you could tell Ruta Sepetys did a very VERY good job of researching and accuracies. But this book was very moving, informative, powerful, heart breakingly beautiful and all in all one of the most amazing reads of my year.

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