book series

Book Review: Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon

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4.5 stars right off the top! I got hooked on the Outlander series last year when I read the first book in this series by Diana Gabaldon. I knew I wanted to try another one, and now that I’ve devoured the second novel, Dragonfly in Amber, in this historical fiction and fantasy series, I have added the rest and even started watching the television drama. I’m a major fan, especially because followers on my blog selected this as my ‘Book Bucket List’ read for May 2018. I’m so glad they pushed me to take on this ~950 behemoth despite everything else on my TBR. Now I’m trying to add in the next one in June… and to think these were written nearly 30 years ago in the early 1990s.

dragonfly

Where do I begin? My normal review format won’t do as I really just want to gush about the book, as my friend Noriko would say. Yes, there’s the time travel, the Scottish setting, and Jamie / Claire, but it’s so much more. The sheer brilliance in the relationships, complexities in the plot, and historical facts and embellishments (in a good way) is phenomenal. It’s like I’m absorbed into a life I wish I could live for a few hours… no different than when I read Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter or Pillars of the Earth. I adore these giant tomes because of the author’s ability to build realistic worlds with just a touch of disbelief to give me something to deeply ponder.

Gabaldon’s attention to details is quite strong. I’m a history buff and love learning about new characters, then looking up to see if they’re based on real people. All the clans of Scotland shine through. I was especially pleased when they visited the Kilmarnock villages, as my ancestors lived there in the early 1800s before emigrating to America. I can’t wait to visit the town to see how it compares to the novel, family stories and everything in between. This is a true genealogy lover’s book because it combines all the analytical and historical aspects of discovering your past and your supposed family. Then learning the wicked secrets, and oh, are they wicked.

The only things I’d say that stopped me from giving this 5 stars fall into two categories. There are some sections that are overly detailed to the point you begin skimming a paragraph here and there. When that happens, the action and plot (usually my most important element in a book) feels pushed to the side. It happened once every 100 pages or so… not for more than a page or two, but enough that maybe it needed to be a ~900 page book instead of a ~950 page book. Ha! The other area was something that felt a bit different from Outlander. It’s almost as if Gabaldon took a few too many “pun” liberties in this one, covering bathing or bathroom habits all too frequently. I love when it’s brought up in books, but it was done in a too-humorous way which forced me to step out of the book instead of stay connected to true 18th century life. Even in the 1940s which is where Claire is from before she time travels, they still lacked some of the things we consider necessary today. I like when it’s brought up once or twice, but not for pages where she laughs about it and then says “but it is what it is” essentially.

All that said, the plot is smart and charming. The introduction of a good side to one of the formerly bad characters is interesting, but I know it’s long from over. The travel between France and Scotland is compelling. I just finished Follett’s Column of Fire and saw a strong and tight connection here. If you love a touch of fantasy and historical fiction, and don’t mind strong sexual content, then you need to give this a chance, even if the entire series is around 8k pages at this point. I’ll be in a book daze all week long, so I’m gonna have to select something very different to draw me out of it.

Thanks for picking this book, This Is My Truth Now voters. New poll to be setup today for June’s Book Bucket List read.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

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Review: O is for Outlaw

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O is for OutlawBook Review
4 out of 5 stars for O is for Outlaw, the 15th book in the “Kinsey Millhone” mystery series, written in 1999 by Sue Grafton. What an amazing treat for longtime fans of this series with the “O” alphabet book. We’ve known Kinsey for a long time, but very little about her life before the books began. We met the ex-husband(s), heard a snippet here and there, but we never actually got a lot of details about this wonderful heroine. Well now we do… and more than we’d hoped. When she buys a box of belongings, she finds a letter that she should have received years ago, completely changing (possibly) her relationship with her first ex-husband. Well… how often do you get a chance to explore the past again. Kinsey’s core is certainly shocked, but she is a trooper and does what she needs to figure out exactly what happened and what she needs to do now. A rare and introspective look at her past is what she needs, and as a reader, I’m glad to have the opportunity to learn more.



About Me


For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

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Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

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Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsBook Review
4+ out of 5 stars to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh and supposedly final book in 2007 by J.K. Rowling. But then “Cursed Child” came out last year… so is a series really over? Not in our hearts and minds, my friends… this neither shall this one be… and although I considered spending a huge part of today drafting a very thorough review of Harry Potter, my instincts kicked in and told me not to do so… instead, let’s meet up and talk about it somewhere if you want to get into the details. I literally don’t have the ability to write everything I am thinking about when it comes to these books… and I wrote my first novel in less than 3 months with not a stitch of writer’s block.

Sometimes things just flow out of your creativity and into the world’s waiting and willing hands. And that’s exactly what’s happened with the HP book series. It’s the kind of book where you can read it at any age and feel a deep connection. You can re-read it and watch the movie all in the same day and never be bored or feel the need to do anything else. When HP movies are running on TV back-to-back over a weekend, I always catch a few of them.

These characters are wonderful. The plot is just brilliant. And in this last book, when all the surprises burst from within our own little goblet of fire, we find true nirvana in a set of books unlike any other. From drama to shock, sadness to beauty, Deathly Hallows re-invents the construct of an emotional roller-coaster. Whether you read the whole series or just picked up the last one, you feel the power inside the text… especially when you consider it all started with an innocent and scared little boy who lived under the stairs at 4 Privet Drive.

We are all Harry Potter at one point in our lives or during the course of his life. Could be when you were a child searching for someone to love you, or it may be now as an adult looking back on the differences you faced in the eyes of good versus evil. Whatever the connection is, you’ll feel it until you are no more… and while this may seem like an exaggeration or a rather ethereal point of view… one thing I know is true:

We all make the exact same face when we hear or think of anything to do with his amazing story: there’s a brief pause, our lips curl, our eyes roll back a little as we shut out lids, our breath thins out towards the back of our throat, and our hearts all decide it’s OK to stop beating for just that 1 second. And in our collective sigh of “I love Harry Potter” exclamations, we are all for once, connected by a shared intense feeling that might be strong enough to fuel the world’s future.



About Me


For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

View all my reviews

Review: The Main Corpse

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The Main Corpse Book Review
4 of 5 stars to The Main Corpse, the 6th of 17 books in the “Goldy Bear Shultz Culinary” cozy mystery series, written in 1996 by Diane Mott Davidson. In this release, Goldy must protect her best friend Marla from a potential financial scheme and possible murder. They say “money is the root of all evil,” and sometimes, it is true. I’m not sure where that saying originated (perhaps something to research!), but it’s definitely accurate in this delectable cozy mystery. Marla, Goldy’s best friend, who has inherited and made a significant amount of money over the years, is looking to invest it in something new. When Marla mixes business with pleasure, Goldy warns her to be careful, but it ends up too late. Marla is accused of causing her boyfriend’s disappearance and then additional murders. Goldy uses her culinary skills to try and solve the case (by baking delicious meals for the financial firm, of course), hoping to clear Marla and make some money herself… Though I love these books, and I totally understand why not, wouldn’t it just be easier if Marla gave Goldy some money and they focused only on cooking — and not trying to pay the bills and track criminals? But then where would we be…

I enjoy cozy mysteries and this particular one is an example of why. It’s well-rounded, has some fun crimes to solve, delicious recipes and memorable characters. When I need a few hours of respite, away from work or the other stresses of life, curling up on the couch or in bed with some down-home, friendly people, putting my brain to a little bit of a welcome challenge, and immersing myself in someone else’s world, things somehow look rosier when I’m done. And this is one of those series that although there are a few weak books, for the most part a good 85% of them are either good or great stories. Certainly not a thriller or suspense series by any nature, but still a good mystery with several criminals and a few fun side stories with interesting characters.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Review: Cream Puff Murder

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Cream Puff Murder 3 of 5 stars to the eleventh book, Cream Puff Murder, in the “Hannah Swensen” cozy mystery series by Joanne Fluke. And yes, it was hard to read without wanting a cream puff the entire time!

Why This Book
I’ve been reading the Joanne Fluke series for several years and had asked for a few of her books for my birthday last month. One was Cream Puff Murder, and once I finished a rather difficult book just before this one, I needed something light and fluffy to shock me back to normalcy. Lake Eden’s Hannah Swensen fit the bill, and I started it two days ago, reading through a third each night up ’til now – review time.

Overview of Story
Hannah’s mother is throwing a book launch party for her new regency novel, and Hannah needs to fit into a dress despite having put on a few pounds. Her sister Andrea steps in to help, and even though Hannah despises exercising, she agrees to spend an hour every morning before work at the gym, focusing on her body. Shortly afterwards, Ronni Ward, fitness instructor extraordinaire, is found murdered in the jacuzzi. Since she’d been dating several men, and annoyed several women, Hannah suspects it’s someone at the gym or in one Ronni’s fitness classes. But Mike and Bill are put on temporary leave, as they may be too close to the crime, since Ronni was working part-time at the police station to make some extra money, and possibly dating Mike on the side. Hannah steps up her work-out time to a few hours a day to attend all Ronni’s classes with with the new instructor to see if she can find out more details, especially when her family and some-time boyfriend aren’t able to work the case. As she begins to narrow down the clues, and her own waistline, Hannah finds herself smack in the middle of disaster again when she steps right into trouble with the culprit. But along the path, she’s determined that she can no longer keep bouncing back and forth between Mike and Norman, appearing ready to finally make a choice for her suitor and potential future husband.

Approach & Style
The book is told in third-person from an omniscient narrator, but the point of view is consistently with Hannah as the main protagonist. Every few chapters, the author throws in some sweet recipes based on whatever Hannah’s cooking up in The Cookie Jar that day. Cream Puffs are this books’ flavor of the month.

It’s a very lighthearted cozy, casual and simple in both setting, dialogue and tone. An easy breezy read in under 4 hours, given the paperback book’s about 350 pages, inclusive of at least 100 focused on recipes.

Strengths
1. Hannah is consistent. Her sisters, mother, friends and boyfriends are all good people and I really enjoy reading about them. It’s comfortable and makes you feel warm and cozy.

2. The town is quite lovely, as is the history you learn with each successive book. It feels like a place you’d love to call home — when you’re done livin’ on the edge in your younger days.

3. Fluke’s got a solid formula that works time and time again, assuming the story is interesting and the cast of characters rotates just enough.

Open Questions & Concerns
1. I probably didn’t need 20% of the book dedicated to figuring what Moishe (the cat) was doing with his new automatic food dispensing unit. Seriously… we kept reading about “where is Moishe putting all that food? He’s not gaining any weight, so he can’t be eating it.” It actually got a little bit annoying. I love the antics and banter with the cat and Hannah, but this was a little too much!

2. Normally, a cozy reveals the murder about 15% into the book; however, it didn’t happen until almost 30% this time. It was a little too much, and I felt at times like I was reading someone’s journal about daily goings-on. I already do that for myself… don’t need this one, too!

3. Mike takes a darker turn and we get a much-needed push in the “Choose Mike or Norman” story line. He does something unexpected, tho, in my opinion… and while I welcomed the direction change, it didn’t feel natural.

4. The mystery was not very strong. It was pretty clear from about 50% in, it was 1 of 2 people; and I knew very little about them, so it didn’t matter which one it was to me. I think it needed a few extra plot points to make this a stronger book.

Author & Other Similar Books
Diane Mott Davidson’s “Goldy Bear Shultz Culinary” mystery series is a good comparison.

Final Thoughts
This was Book 11 out of a series with about 20 so far. I’ve a little over half-way done, still enjoying Hannah and her family, but if she doesn’t make a choice for sure in the next book… I will probably take a break for a while. I won’t give it up, as I love the townspeople and the background setting; but I’d like a little less of the romance and a tad more of the mystery. Still an enjoyable read tho!

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Review: Cruel & Unusual

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Cruel & UnusualMy rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review
Cruel & Unusual by Patricia Cornwell, the fourth in the “Kay Scarpetta” series was a solid book with a little more edge than some of the others, hence the 4 rating. Two key parts of this one that appealed to me:

1. Scarpetta learns more about the prison system, in particular how a newly killed inmate’s finger prints could show up on a dead body several days after the inmate died. The “gimmick” has been used before, but Cornwell keeps it tightly wound until the end of the book. It’s a page turner, for sure. You think you’ve figured it out, but more details come out. And it gets very scientific, which really helps push you closer to the edge of not wanting to stop reading it. That said, the technology is almost 25+ years old compared to today’s standards, so it’s nothing earth-shattering at this point. It was something to read in the 90s to truly get the best impact. Still a good read today, I’m sure.

2. Kay and her niece, Lucy, continue to play the game of mouse and cat, so to speak. I’m not sure who is the mouse and who is the cat anymore. But what’s fun here is that Lucy ends up helping on the case, despite the risks. And it call comes down to computers, which again, are much more advanced in the last ~30 years. Reading how people thought back then, how they interpreted and stored files, is amusing for someone in the technology field. I read this shortly after it came out but I was still very close to technology way back then.

The series is still solid at this point. And I’d recommend this read for someone who isn’t too particular about tools and techniques in the fields of investigation, criminology, computers and DNA changing significantly over the years. Enjoy this for the puzzle it was at the time, not the slightly slower path it would be today. All in all, as much as she annoys you, Scarpetta is one of those people I wish I knew in real life. A bit too brilliant in some ways tho!

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Review: B is for Burglar

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B is for BurglarReview
3.5 of 5 stars but I’m going to round down (since I sometimes round up for this author, and I suppose this makes it balance out a bit!) for the second book in the “Kinsey Millhone” [cozy] mystery series by Sue Grafton. In B is for Burglar, we get to know Kinsey more, figuring out what she likes and doesn’t like. And apparently she is a bit picky when it comes to client. First, she doesn’t want to take the case as it is too simple and sounds like a waste of her time. But when she digs a bit deeper, something strange is going on with a missing woman. Nothing adds up.

It’ s a good mystery in your head, and I think it might be better than the first book in some ways… but not enough to rate it higher. I liked the investigate and research style in this one. It’s a missing person’s case, so you really know as little as she does. You feel like you’re playing along more on this one. But at the same time, I didn’t have a strong connection until the middle of the book with the “victim.”

I found myself getting a little caught up in it being 1982 in the books, but it was published several years later, and I was reading it in 2000. I kept forgetting the time period, which is important in cases like these, given the available tools.

If you’re going to read the whole series take the time in these first few books to really synchronize with the time period, so you are not out of your element.

But Kinsey is a great main character. She’s got flaws. She’s got spirit. You root for her, get annoyed with her. All signs of good character development. But after 26… it might get a bit old!

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

View all my reviews