Friday, December 17, 2010

Book Lurve

There's a new blog in town from a long time blogger! I've been following Sarah's various blog incarnations for several years and I'm excited she's back! To get her blog started off with a bang, she's  giving away a $20 gift card in a Twitter contest. Here are the rules:

Follow @thebooklurve on twitter and tweet this message out to your followers:
Check out and enter in the Twitter contest for a $20 gift card to your choice of Amazon or Barnes & Noble. #Booklurve
Be sure to use the hashtag #Booklurve — Then, visit her blog, comment on this post along with a link to your tweet about the contest and you’ll be entered. If you do a blog post about this contest then leave that link as well and you’ll be entered twice. This contest is going to go through 12/23/2010. All gift cards will be sent via email to the email address that is given upon contact with the winner.

Be sure to stop by Bool Lurve and give her a warm welcome back!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Holiday Book Fairy

Angie of Angieville recently posted about her Holiday Reading & Giving and asked what books we're giving to others this holiday season. I love this idea and thought instead of just posting in her comments I would share what books I've bought for people. This year I've bought less books than I have in the past. I ALWAYS try to give at least one book to anyone I buy gifts for. Luckily, I have lots of friends and family who are voracious readers and are ecstatic to receive books as gifts.

I usually buy books for my mom that I haven't read yet but have been getting a lot of buzz in the blog-o-sphere. That way I can borrow them when she's finished! Thank you all for your fabulous book pimping skill because of all the books I've bought her, that I haven't read, she's loved! So thank you! I haven't read either of these but they sound excellent and I'm sure my mom will enjoy them:

For my dad I thought he would enjoy this book, which I also have not read but intend to borrow when he's finished!

I told one of friends about the Downside series because I thought it was something she would enjoy but she hadn't bought the first book yet so I did it for her. Also thought she would enjoy the Beautiful Creatures series as well!

My other friend loves J.R. Ward but hadn't picked up the second book in her Fallen Angels series so I got that for her.
So, as Angie asked, what books are you giving this year?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Review: Mind Game by Carolyn Crane


Justine Jones has a secret. A hardcore hypochondriac, she’s convinced a blood vessel is about to burst in her brain. Then, out of the blue, a startlingly handsome man named Packard peers into Justine’s soul and invites her to join his private crime-fighting team. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime deal. With a little of Packard’s hands-on training, Justine can weaponize her neurosis, turning it outward on Midcity’s worst criminals, and finally get the freedom from fear she’s always craved. End of problem.

Or is it? In Midcity, a dashing police chief is fighting a unique breed of outlaw with more than human powers. And while Justine’s first missions, including one against a nymphomaniac husband-killer, are thrilling successes, there is more to Packard than meets the eye. Soon, while battling her attraction to two very different men, Justine is plunging deeper into a world of wizardry, eroticism, and cosmic secrets. With Packard’s help, Justine has freed herself from her madness—only to discover a reality more frightening than anyone’s worst fears.
I picked this up for my Mom at the Romantic Times Booklover's Convention earlier this year.(I even got it signed by Ms. Crane!) I've been waiting for my Mom to finish it so I could borrow it and I'm so glad I finally got to read it!

I love that Carolyn Crane has created a world with various shades of gray. Her characters' hidden agendas mixed with their special talents make for very unreliable characters. As a reader, I love stories that don't necessarily have clear cut heroes or villains. The world we live in is not black and white and, while I often read to escape the "real world", I love finding authors whose unique, complicated characters challenge me as a reader.

Even Justine questions the morality of the work she does for Packard. Are they providing a service the public by disillusioning criminals or playing god with their special brand of vigilantism? She's torn between believing in Packard and her own instincts about her most recent target Otto Sanchez, Midcity's golden boy Police Chief.

I love this this type of ambiguity and conflict in a storyline. It gives us readers a lot of fodder for coming to our own conclusions. Crane puts her characters in compromising situations, making questionable decisions and, in the end when the mystery is unraveled, we're still left with the sense that there are no easy answers, just shades of gray.

I loved Justine for the same reason I loved Chess in Stacia Kane's Downside series. Even though these characters are deeply flawed, they're unique, engaging, and their otherness challenges me as a reader. It's a talented author that can make a neurotic hypochondriac and a druggie ghost hunter unlikely heroines! Bravo, ladies.

As for Packard,I felt he had a bit of a Barrons-esque quality to him. Is he a good guy? Is he bad? For those of you reading Karen Marie Moning's Fever series,the mystery that is Jericho Barrons remains, however Packard's secrets are revealed only to remind us readers that he is neither a hero nor a villain but falls on the spectrum somewhere in between.

Possible Spoiler alert (highlight to read):

I'm gonna go ahead and officially say I'm team Packard. Even though Otto turns out NOT to be a psychotic killer, I don't care for him as Justine's love interest. In this world of gray, Otto is firm in the belief of right and wrong, black and white. With the kind of work Justine does I don't see this thing working out between them. I'm totally a Packard girl. The end.

I'm anxious to get a hold of Double Cross and read about the (mis)adventures of Justine and her fellow Disillusionists. I'm sure there aren't many of you out there, but if you haven't read Mind Games, what are you waiting for? It totally lives up to the hype!


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Library Loot: December 8 - 14

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted alternatively by Marg and Claire that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky (at Claire's this week) any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!
It's been awhile since I posted my library finds! I haven't been reading or reviewing much and haven't gone to the library much at all. But I did get some good books this week:
Jenny really enjoyed this one and it's a paranormal....without vamps!
Yes! So burned out on the whole YA vamp scene.
I've heard great things about this book and can't wait to read it!
I'd forgotten about this book until recently. I'd meant to pick it up when it came out but totally forgot! Oops.

I'm trying to return a lot of my library books because I know I won't get to them all. However, I'm having a hard time parting with some of them... I MIGHT get to them soon...yea...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Lightening Reviews

I had some things I wanted to say about the following books but not enough to come up with two whole posts, so I figured they were good candidates for another round of Lightening Reviews!

Lover Eternal by J.R. Ward

As most of you know I'm "re-reading" the Black Dagger Brotherhood via audio books. I've always enjoyed Rhage in other books he's sexy and a smartass, I love it! But listening to his book I realized how little we saw of his funny personality. Since we get his POV we see that there's more to the brother than just snarky one liners and a never ending supply of movie quotes. But what I didn't like about Lover Eternal was the complete lack of his personality at all. I don't remember noticing that before but he nary made a wisecrack or joke the whole book. I know he didn't have a lot to joke about what with the curse and his ill human mate and all but I'd liked to have seen a bit more of his humor. I also loved how Mary deals with both Rhage and his beast. Taming the thing when no one else dared, even the other brothers. Mary's kind of a bad ass! ;)

As usual, I love Ward's books because of the multiple story lines. We're introduced to John Matthew in Lover Eternal, we also get more of Z and Bella as we're set up for their story in Lover Awakened. While Lover Eternal isn't my favorite BDB book, (that's a tie between Lover Awakened and Lover Mine) I did enjoy it this second time around!


Abandon the Night by Joss Ware

This third installment of Ware's post-apocalyptic series is, I'm sad to say, my least favorite so far. Which is a shame because I really loved the interactions between Quent and Zoe in the previous books. Quent's frustration with Zoe's actions mirrored my own. I like that she's such a strong kick ass heroine but her constant abandonment of Quent grated on my nerves.

I felt really bad for Quent in this book. Zoe bolted every chance she could get, even when she was doing what she thought was right, she really showed a lack of trust and faith in Quent and I felt it got pretty old. However, I continue to enjoy the series for Ware's world building. This series reminds me a lot of The Walking Dead, which I'm also loving! All in all a good addition to the series, even if it wasn't my favorite.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Reading Recap: November 2010

Well this certainly won't be a very long post since I haven't been reading or reviewing much this month! Here is my sad list for November:

Dark Lover by J.R. Ward (audio book) - 4 Chocolate Covered Strawberries
Lover Eternal by J.R Ward (audio book) - 4 Chocolate Covered Strawberries
All I Ever Wanted by Kristan Higgins - 3 Chocolate Covered Strawberries
Abandon the Night by Joss Ware - 3 Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Currently reading:

Mind Games by Carolyn Crane
Night Betrayed by Joss Ware

With winter finally settling in here in Ohio, I'm hoping I'll feel more like curling up with a book and will get more read next month! Although with the holidays, reading time may be scarce yet again!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Review: All I Ever Wanted by Kristan Higgins

One Happily-Ever-After Rocking Chair…
and no sign of any forthcoming babies to rock in ol' Georgebury, Vermont. For Callie Grey, turning thirty means coming to grips with the fact that her boss (and five-week fling) is way overdue in his marriage proposal. And way off track because Mark has suddenly announced his engagement to the company's new Miss Perfect. If that isn't bad enough, her mom decides to throw her a three-oh birthday bash in the family funeral home.
Bad goes to worse when she stirs up a crazy relationship with the town's not so warm and fuzzy veterinarian, Ian McFarland, in order to flag Mark's attention. So Ian is more comfortable with animals…. So he's formal, orderly and just a bit tense. The ever-friendly, fun-loving and spontaneous Callie decides it's time for Ian to get a personality makeover. But dang, if he doesn't shock the heck out of her, she might actually fall for Vermont's unlikeliest eligible bachelor….
Callie who, convinced she was in love with her boss, Mark, after a brief fling, is crushed to learn he’s involved with another woman, Muriel.  Callie now has to face the lovebirds daily as Muriel has been hired on only because the client is her Daddy and he demands her presence, despite her complete lack of experience.
Throw in a 30th birthday bash at a funeral home, a handsome yet aloof veterinarian, and an elderly roommate with a missing lower limb and you’ve got all the ingredients for Callie’s  absurd existence and the makings for a humorous, romantic story! I can always count on Kristen Higgins for an enjoyable, light-hearted read and All I Ever Wanted does not disappoint! I loved Callie and Ian’s ill-fated meetings at the most inopportune times; they made for hilarious interactions. This story is truly an “opposites attract” situation!
After having read several of Higgins’ books I have to say that although I enjoy their humor and all the great secondary characters, I’m always left slightly unsatisfied due to the limited point of view (POV). Higgins’ books are all written in first person and I really find that, when I read romance, I always enjoy getting both the hero and heroine’s points of view.
I don’t mind first person POV in other genres such as teen or urban fantasy but I really enjoy romance more when I have both POV’s. It’s for this reason only that I don’t rate her books higher. But if you’re in the mood for a humorous read with quirky characters you should definitely give this one a try!

Disclosure: I received this as a digital ARC through NetGalley. I did not receive any compensation for this review.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Hello! I'm alive, I swear. I haven't been around much because I a) haven't been reading much b) have been super busy at work and in my personal life. I've been keeping up with everyone via my Goolge Reader, but I haven't been commenting as much either. But rest assured I'm still keeping tabs on you all! Even if I am slacking in the blogging department!

When I say I haven't read much, I'm not kidding. After struggling through The Replacement I lost my reading mojo. I hadn't read anything since then, until this weekend on my journey to and from Chicago, I started Joss Ware's Abandon the Night. I also finished All I Ever Wanted by Kristan Higgins in the last couple of days. I did finish Lover Eternal on audio and have moved on to Lover Awakened (my fav!). So I guess it's not too terrible, it's not like I haven't read anything at all but it's definitely not my usual pace!

I was in Chicago for my 28th birthday. My mom and aunt are identical twins and they've been taking their "retail therapy" trips to Chicago for over 20 years. They said one day my cousin and I (who also happens to be my roommate) would be allowed to join them. With my cousin turning 30 this year they decided we were ready to accompany them! It was a lot of fun hanging out with The Moms, as we refer to them. We did A LOT, and I mean A LOT, of shopping. I also have a bunch of college friends that live in Chicago so we met up with them on Saturday night for dinner then went to a martini new favorite martini is a Sinickerdoodle martini, yes it is as scrumptious as it sounds! I was bummed I didn't have anytime to schedule a quick meet up with Stacy, but maybe next time!

So that's what I've been up to. Hopefully, over the Thanksgiving break I'll get some stuff read! I won't be blogging much over the break either because I'll be at my parents and they're living in the friggin' stone internet! Gah!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Audiobites: Dark Lover by J.R.Ward

In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there's a deadly turf war going on between vampires and their slayers. There exists a secret band of brothers like no other-six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Yet none of them relishes killing more than Wrath, the leader of The Black Dagger Brotherhood.

The only purebred vampire left on earth, Wrath has a score to settle with the slayers who murdered his parents centuries ago. But, when one of his most trusted fighters is killed-leaving his half-breed daughter unaware of his existence or her fate-Wrath must usher her into the world of the undead-a world of sensuality beyond her wildest dreams.
After I finished Lover Mine, I wanted more of the brothers so I picked up The Insider's Guide. That just whet my appetite for even more and made me want to re-read the series. However, I always feel so guilty re-reading books when I have such a monstrous TBR pile. After some discussion on Twitter with @mamakitty729 and @andrea_desherb about the audio versions of the books. I decided to "re-read" the series by listening to the audio books.

I checked Dark Lover out from the library and popped the first disc into my car stereo. After the first two sentences of the narrator, I immediately said, "Nope" and ejected the cd. It was a knee jerk reaction to not liking the narrator's voice. It wasn't what I had in mind for any of the brother's and I wasn't sure I wanted to listen any more.

I'm pretty picky when it comes to the audio books I choose. So I hopped back on Twitter and told @mamakitty729 that I wasn't sure I liked the narrator. Both Mamakitty and Andrea assured me that while he's not the best narrator ever, that I should stick with it and I would likely enjoy it. So, I gave it another go. I listened a little longer and before I knew it, I was so engrossed in Ward's world that I didn't even realize I'd gone through several discs!

It's been years since I first read Dark Lover and I've never re-read any of the books. There was soo much I'd forgotten! In my review of Lover Mine I mentioned how I was so sad that JM's story was over because we'd been waiting for it since we met him in Dark Lover. Well, we didn't actually meet him in Dark Lover, it wasn't until Lover Eternal that we were introduced to JM.

Also, something that bothered me this time around, that I don't recall bothering me during my first reading of Dark Lover, was Beth's willingness to hope into bed with Wrath after having been sexually assaulted the day before. Something about that just grated on me. But it didn't hamper my overall enjoyment of the novel. It was just one of those things that annoyed me and I don't recall having been annoyed by it before.

Since I'd read the series before I actually skipped any of the sections that were from the lesser's points of view. I really didn't care for them the first time around and since I've read it before, I decided to completely skip these sections!

Even though my initial reaction to Jim Frangione's voice was not positive, after I gave him a chance, I really did get sucked into the story and barely even noticed his voice. However, he does a good growly voice that totally fits the Brothers! I wasn't even bothered by hearing the naughty bits read aloud. I've generally steered clear of romance audio books because I always felt a little pervy hearing the naughty bits but, yea, not so much when it comes to the Brothers! Rawr!

I'm already over halfway done with Rhage's book, Lover Eternal. Then I get to start, what is still one of my favorite books in the series, Lover Awakened! I'm finding more and more reasons to drive around, as I'm only listening to the audio books in the car. Lots of little trips I probably don't really need to take... :)


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Library Loot: November 3 - 9

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted alternatively by Marg and Claire that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky (at Marg's this week) any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!
I have to share some amazing library news! My library, the Columbus Metropolitan Library, had a levy on the ballot on Tuesday and it PASSED! The final results were  588 of 619 precincts reporting 65% in favor of the levy! That's awesome and I'm so excited! In January they'll be returning to their old hours which they had to cut in 2009 due to state budget cuts.

I'm so excited, although I kind of want to punch in the face the 35% that voted "no"! But the levy passed and I'm pumped for my public librarian friends and for the people of Columbus! I'm so proud of CML, they were named Library Journal's 2010 Library of the Year and are consistently ranked as one of the top libraries in the nation!

On with the loot-
With no cable I've been going to the library a lot for movies!

This was a fun, goofy 80's movie. I'd never seen it before and enjoyed it!

I'd never seen Deliverance but had been wanting to. Aside from Burt's impractial leather, zip up vest on a hunting trip, I thougth this movie stood the test of time pretty well. It was thrilling and suspenseful. Glad I finally got to see this classic!

This was a weird, quirky movie. I enjoyed it for the most part. There was a weird, dark side plot with Zach Galifianakis as a homeless man who is basically harassing our main character played by Paul Dano from Little Miss Sunshine. Really it was kind of a strange movie but I loved the budding relationship between Paul and Zooey. I also loved the family dynamics in the movie. 

I picked this one up because my Mom mentioned it when we were discussing The Hunger Games. The movie is set an a futuristic society where the number one television show in the world is The Running Man. Contestants are usually "criminals" (basically people that have somehow pissed off those in authority) who are thrown into a rigged set up where they are stalked and killed. I thought it was pretty good, definitely dated and some of the one liners were cheese-tastic. But overall a pretty good flick!

It's been several years since I've seen this movie and I saw it on the shelf. I love me some Paul Newman!

I can't wait to watch this one! Colin Firth, need I say more?!

I love the Predators and Alien franchise. And it has Adrian Brody!

Note: I don't have all those movies currently checked out. My library allows 5 DVDs to be checked out at a time. I've already watched and returned: Better Off Dead, Gigantic, and The Running Man. Just finished Deliverance last night !

I loved, loved, loved Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist. I started this one last night and was hooked from the first paragraph!
Both my parents read this series and have been hounding me to start it so I better get on it!

I tried to read this in high school but had to stop because it gave me nightmares!
But I want to give it another go!
It's getting chilly and I wanted some good, slow cooker recipes!
BDB, 'nuff said. "Re-reading" the series via audio books!
Have heard great things and am still in the mood for scary stuff!


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Reading Recap: October 2010

  1. If I Stay by Gayle Forman - 5 Chocolate Covered Strawberries
  2. Lover Mine by J.R. Ward - 5 Chocolate Covered Strawberries
  3. The Black Dagger Brotherhood: An Insider's Guide by J.R. Ward - 5 Chocolate Covered Strawberries
  4. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher - 4 Chocolate Covered Strawberries
  5. Nothing Like You by Lauren Strasnick - 4 Chocolate Covered Strawberries
  6. The Exile: An Outlander Graphic Novel by Diana Gabaldon & Hoang Nguyen - 3 Chocolate Covered Strawberries
  7. The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff - DNF
Grrr! Only seven books this month. My goal is to get 10 books read in a month. I might have gotten there this month but I spent over a week struggling through The Replacement. I'm  almost finished with the audio version of Dark Lover. My review of that should be up later this week! My favorites from this month are hands down, Lover Mine and If I Stay. Two completely different books books but I loved them both! I can't wait for the next BDB book and I'm looking forward to the sequel to If I Stay, Where She Went. Both books aren't out until the spring! *pouts*

How was your October?!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Review: The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

Mackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to survive in the human world.

Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass or spend time with his crush, Tate. But when Tate's baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs.
It is a rare occassion for me when I can't finish a book. There have been very few books where I simply can't go on. More often than not, if I have a did not finish (DNF), it is because I'm just not in the mood for a particular genre and I will eventually go back and re-read a book when I'm in the right mood. In the case of The Replacement, I've been struggling through this book, according to my Goodreads updates, since October 19th. I read the first twenty-two chapters. However, I'm throwing in the towel. I've got too many other books to read and while there are some things I like about the book. I'm not going to be able to finish it.

Normally, if I have a DNF I don't review it, not because I don't want write a negative review, but because for the most part it's usually not the book's fault. It's usually my mood. However, I picked up The Replacement as part of my Debut Author Challenge so I felt the need to go ahead and post why this was a DNF for me.

I actually really liked the premise behind the novel. Changeling, faeries, creatures of the night, what have you that require a sacrifice from the local community every seven years in exchange for keeping the town generally happy and safe. Very pagan, very interesting. I think Yovanoff did a really good job of creating a creepy atmosphere. Her descriptions were very good and I definitely enjoyed the ambiance of the book.

What didn't work for me were the characters. I really felt no connection to any of the characters including our main character, Mackie Doyle. I kind of felt sorry for him, but only slightly so. I think his relationship with his sister, Emma, and his best friend, Roswell, could have been engaging. I wanted to know more about them. But, in the end, I just couldn't connect, I didn't feel ANYTHING toward the characters. I can't feel apathetic towards characters. Give me a character to love, or even hate but I have to feel something for the characters. I'm really bummed I didn't like this better because it had such potential!

If you're looking for a good creepy read, this may be just for you. If you're looking for a well written, character driven story. . .  you might want to pass.

Whew, now that I've let go and decided not to finish the book, I totally feel like a weight has been lifted. How do you all deal with books that aren't working for you? Do you tough it out? Do you move on? I'm kind of frustrated that I waited this long to give up on the book. I could have read at least two other books in the time I've been struggling through this one. Sigh.



Here are some other perspectives on the book:
Melissa (i swim for oceans)
Smash Attack Reads
Steph Su Reads
Supernatural Snark

Friday, October 22, 2010

Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeen-year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck...

A sophisticated, layered, and heartachingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make—and the ultimate choice Mia commands.

Wow. I was completely blown away by If I Stay. This slim, wisp of a novel packs quite an emotional punch. Forman effortlessly balances humor, love, and loss in this unique twist on the traditional "teen death book". There are currently a lot of YA books out dealing with death; the loss of a parent, sibling, boyfriend, girlfriend or friend however, Forman has a unique twist on the topic.

In a dramatic twist of fate, the main character, Mia, has been in a car accident with her parents and younger brother. She is the lone survivor, barley holding on to a life she's not sure she can face without her family. With her physical body comatose, Mia is on the cusp of the afterlife. She's in a state of limbo with an impending life or death decision.

Through alternating flashbacks of her life and her present state, we learn about her relationships with those closest to her: her parents, brother, boyfriend, and best friend. We learn about her budding career as a cellist with a bright future at Julliard. We want her to choose to stay, to fight, to live. Our hearts break for her monumental loss and sympathize with her fear of a future without her family.

If I Stay is quite possibly one of the most touching stories about family, love, loss, and the resilience of the human spirit that I've ever read. My review is sparse and, I feel, inadequately conveys the emotional response that the book elicited from me. So I'll simply say that I would highly recommend this book!


One additional comment. I saw the paperback cover of If I Stay at Barnes and Noble and noticed that they quoted USA Today as : "Will appeal to fans of Stephanie Meyer's Twilight."

Um....okay?! This seriously irks me. While yes, I'm sure that many a Twilight fan would enjoy this novel, I don't really understand how, or why, the connection to Twilight was made. I don't think this comparison is fair to either book or to the possible readers. Why, oh why does every YA have to be in context to fucking Twilight?! Sigh. Anyway I just thought that was interesting. It gave me serious pause when I saw it!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Library Loot: October 20 - 26

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted alternatively by Marg and Claire that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky (at Marg's this week) any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!
Since I had massive amounts of books last week, I have practically nothing on my reserve list. This is good, I can try to get all caught up. (Like that's going to happnen!) But I did get some great books this time:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Unnatural Selections: The Exile: An Outlander Grapic Novel by Diana Gabaladon and Hoang Nguyen

Unnatural Selections will be an irregular feature where I read and review books outside of my comfort zone. I'm always open to trying new genres and expanding my reading palate but I tend to stick to what I know I enjoy. However, it's always nice to step out of your comfort zone every once in awhile!

The Exile fits this bill because it is a graphic novel. However, it is related to Outlander, so in that respect it's not completely outside of my comfort zone. I'm willing to give anything a try if it involves Jamie Fraser!

The Exile gives readers an alternative point of view to Outlander, which is told from Claire's perspective. The Exile covers only the first third of the Outlander novel, ending with Claire's big decision to either stay with Jamie or try to return through the stones to her old life.

I have to say that reading a graphic novel is definitely a different reading experience. I struggled for the first half of the book. I had to "re-read" sections but about halfway through the book I was able to get into the groove of reading a graphic novel.

At first I was apprehensive about the renderings of Jamie, Claire, and other characters. As readers we each have our own mental images of the characters we love so; I was afraid the artists representations would not match up with my own personal images. However, I was pleasntly surprised by Hoang Nguyen's character sketches. Especially Jamie, which, as we all know is the sole reason most of us are head over heals in love with this series. Claire isn't quite what I had imagined but, all in all, I think the representations of the characters were accurate.

One thing about Gabaldon's novels is they're very descriptive and detailed, and with each book clocking in at over 800+ pages, it stands to reason that there was a lot cut out of The Exile. While I think die hard Outlander fans will read this simply because it's another piece of the Outlander story, I think they'll find it somewhat lacking. There's no way to get the kind of character and plot development in one slim graphic novel that we saw in Outlander. It's just not possible for the medium. I think those new to the Outlander story, might be able to enjoy this condensed, visual representation more than long time Outlander fans.

Lastly, for those of you that have read Outlander and The Exile...was the Kenneth character in Outlander? It's been so long since I've read Outlander but I don't recall this character. In The Exile, he came back through the stones as well. Was this a unique element to The Exile story or do I just have that bad of a memory?!

I'm glad I gave The Exile I chance. It was my first experience reading a graphic novel and I'm always happy to see my favorite Outlander characters. I'm not sure I'll purchase the book, but I might, eventually, to add to my Outlander collection. If you're on the fence, I'd check to see if your local library has a copy!

For those interested, Scribd has The Making of The Exile which gives readers an insight on how Diana Gabaldon and the artist, Hoang Nguyen, collaborated on The Exile.

Here are a few pages from The Exile, enjoy!
Claire has a run in with Jack Black Randall.

Jamie on the run!

Last, but ceratanly not least, is this orginal drawing of the wedding night as posted on Diana's website. This was deemed a bit too explicit and the final image has a blanket covering Jamie's arse!


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