Thursday, May 28, 2015

May 2015 Wrap-Up

Looks like another month has come and gone in what feels like the blink of an eye. Usually I like to post these wrap-ups on the last day of the month to give me optimal last minute reading time, but I will be otherwise occupied that day. Sunday I officially graduate from college!!!

It's so exciting and scary all at once, but I am so ready to be done with college assignments and last minute essay writing. I can even get back to full time fun reading again, that is when I'm not working at my summer job. Oh adulthood. Anyway here are the books that I managed to finish during May when I was super busy with classes, my internship, starting a new job, and senior events.

  • Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

TBR list? What TBR list? After I published my May TBR post and made the conscious decision to pick up Kiss of Deception, I decided to just read a chapter of Outlander on a whim. Cue me finishing the entire book in the span of a day, which is a pretty impressive feat, particularly when I should have been reading for my independent study course. I feel like everybody and their mother has been talking about this book now that it has been adapted into a popular Starz television show. I decided to start the book without really any knowledge about the plot, which worked out in the end because I usually shy away from overly romantic adult novels. For those who are curious about the plot, the book centers around Claire a former combat nurse during World War II. Now that the war is over, she and her husband are together again and they decide to go on a so called second honeymoon in Scotland in order to reconnect, while her husband looks into his ancestry. Through the magic of the stones at Craigh na Dun, Claire is transported back in time where she meets James (Jaime) Fraser. I think that's enough summary to get you interested.

If you'd ask me to describe this book, I would say that it's a very upscale, well-researched, and well-written version of a harlequin romance novel. It reads like a guilty pleasure book, but one you wouldn't be hesitant to talk about, or at least I'm not anyway. My one major critique is that the book is really a bit too long. Some scenes just dragged on and there are only so many times I can read about Jamie saving Clare.

I'm curious about what happens in the rest of the series, so I'll probably pick up and finish the second book at some point. I did also start to watch the television show and I have to say that it's remarkably faithful to the book, right down to moments of dialogue. My only real complaint about the show is that there is so much nudity and it's all primarily female nudity. No, I'm not a prude and I get that there are plenty of sex scenes in the book, but I don't think the audience needs numerous detailed scenes of Claire changing clothes, acts which in no way relate to the story-line. Oh well, at least this show proves that more people should consider making books into mini-series and not movies.

  • The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson


Next I decided to actually stick with my TBR list and I picked up The Kiss of Deception. I went into the reading experience with almost no expectations, which turned out to work in my favor. You can't feel let down if you didn't expect anything in the first place. I have a serious question. Why do people like this book? I'm interested to find out. Again I'm writing this review right after I finished this book, which is probably a bad idea. All I can think about is the amount of my life that I wasted reading this book. I could rant for ages, but I always feel terrible after it, so I'll keep my critique to three main points: the horrible narration/perspective set-up, the lack of world building, and the love triangle.

When you read the synopsis of the book, there is a usually an indication about the narrative structure. In the case of this book, the story is about Princess Lia, who flees from her home to escape her forthcoming marriage to the prince of another kingdom. What really frustrated me was the fact that the entire story was told from the first person perspective, but not just from Lia's perspective. The story also features first person narration from the assassin sent to kill her, and from her jilted prince. Funny thing is, you can't tell the difference between any of the narrations unless you keep careful attention to the chapter labels. I know this is a bit pompous and judge-y for me to say, but if the writing is distinct enough, you shouldn't even need chapter headers. Not to mention the first person narration made everything read stilted and awkward. If the author wanted the perspectives of all three characters, then why not just use third person.

While the book seems to have a pretty interesting setting, I honestly felt like it was nonexistent. There is supposed to be all of these kingdoms, which aren't fully explicated. There is also all of this folklore and religion that completely went over my head. It all honestly felt like a cheap background just to hide the fact that the entirety of the story is a love triangle. Yep, you read correctly. The title of the book...take that literally. The whole book centers on the love triangle between Lia, the assassin, and the prince. I'm still trying to figure out whether this was intentional or not, but I couldn't tell which male character was the prince and which was the assassin. The characters in this book lacked so much depth that I couldn't figure out what made each male character unique. Everybody in the story felt so one dimensional that I couldn't connect with them as a reader. Sadly, this book is just another forgettable piece of work in a sea of ya fiction. As you can probably tell, I won't be continuing on with the series.


  • Grace's Guide: The Art of Pretending to Be a Grown-up by Grace Helbig

In an effort to continually avoid my TBR list, I apparently decided to keep reading different books. Lately it seems like every YouTuber is releasing a new book, which I don't have a problem with except when they neglect to actually write the book themselves...but that is a completely different rant about ghost writers that I don't want to get into. I've been a longtime viewer of Grace Helbig and I was interested to see what kind of guidebook she would write. I haven't really enjoyed the so called self-help books that celebrities have been releasing, so I was a little apprehensive about this one.

At the end though, all I could say was "Meh." It wasn't a bad book, but it wasn't that great either. I was hoping for a lot of great comedic moments about life, but I felt like the book length was padded with loads of pictures of Grace, The first few were interesting, but the rest felt like a bit of a cop out. Also I really think the title should be Grace's Guide: A Billion Short Numbered Lists on the Art of Pretending to Be A Grown-up. I guess that wouldn't fit on the book cover though. Sad days. For those interested in reading Grace's Guide, I would suggest borrowing a copy from a friend or the library because it might not be worth buying outright. It does make for a nice light 2 hour read, if that's what you're looking for.

  • Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole


I finally decided to get back to reading from my TBR list and I figured with all of my work and college commitments this would be the easiest book to finish. That assumption was of course completely true. While I gave Letters from Skye a generous three star rating on Goodreads, here I can't help but rate it 2.5 stars. In all honesty this book is exactly what you would expect, albeit a little over hyped in the book synopsis. As I've said many times before, I'm a sucker for books with different narrative formats and this one is written in a series of letters. The first group of letters is a correspondence between Elspeth, a Scottish poet, and David, an American fan of her work. They fall in love. This is not a spoiler because anyone who has picked up a nominal number of books could make an educated guess about that. While the characters differed in construction, the story is the same group of cliches as any number of the usually lambasted chick lit novels. The second group of letters revolves around Elspeth's daughter trying to find her now missing mother, a process sparingly revealed to her new husband, Paul. The ending was as picture perfect as you would expect and didn't leave much of a lasting impression. If you're looking for an average, romantic, fluffy read, this is the book for you.

While I didn't get a chance to finish all of the books on my May TBR list, I think I got quite a bit of reading done. Much more that I expected really. Don't forget to return sometime in the next couple of days to see what books I'd like to read during June!