About sokorra

A thirty-something Graphic Designer and writer who likes to blog about books, movies and History.

Bookit #20: Outlander

Title: Outlander (Part 1 of the Outlander Series)
Author:  Diana Gabaldon
Publication:  2004 (ebook) 1991 (original Publication)
Medium:  Kindle eBook
Grade: A

NOTE:  Some minor spoilers for the TV show and a trigger warning for rape.
Many months ago a good friend of mine told me I should read Outlander. It did in fact seem right up my ally as far as books I like to read (History, science fiction, mystery and romance), but I kept pushing it off.  But I finally watched the first season of Outlander last month and decided to read the book.

Usually I read the book first, then watch the TV show/Movie based on it.  However, this time I did not.  It did allow me to appreciate some of the narrative changes the TV writers made.  The show is relatively close to the events of the book up till the last few episodes, although they expand on things in some places and leave out others.

I am not a big fan of first person, as Outlander is (from Claire’s POV).  There are some exceptions though (such as the Hunger Games) and Outlander has ended up being one of them despite the fact that I wish some of it was in Jamie’s pov.  The story is about Claire Beachamp-Randall, a combat nurse from WWII.  She’s visiting Scotland with her husband in an effort to reconnect after the war when she is accidentally whisked from her time (1945) to another (1743).  She finds it difficult to adjust to live 202 years before what she knew, and it causes a few adventures.

Writing wise, it’s not the best novel I ever read, but it kept me interested.  As I said, some of the narrative changes in the early episodes of the show made sense to fill in some of the gaps in the book.  It smoothed things out as it were,  However, later changes made less sense.

I’m also not sure how historically accurate this book is, but it kept me interested enough that I didn’t really need to know – though I did look some of the outside characters like the Duke of Sandringham (Not a real guy) and Lord Lovat, Jamie’s Grandfather (actually a real guy).  A lot of the characters are interesting, even if they are fairly minor.   Black Jack Randall is creepy in all his scenes (which makes me feel sorry for his great-great so forth grandson Frank), and Dougal I can’t get a hold on whether he is someone I shouldn’t mind or someone I should place in the enemy column (Both in the TV show and the book.  More so the TV series).

I know that the next book takes place in France but I will miss the lovely characters of Castle Leoch and the Scottish Highlands.

My only real issue with the book is that rape is used a bit too often as a cause for drama.  Some of it makes sense with the characters used (mainly Black Jack Randall) but other times it just seems repative and even more uncomfortable it is by default.

I am glad my friend convinced me to read this, and I’m looking forward to reviewing Dragonfly in Amber (book 2) soon.  I feel this is also a book that once I finish the series I’ll be back to re-read and connect some of the dots I missed the first time around.

As a final note, the book is not nearly as R rated as the TV-show (since it is on STARZ) ended up being.  There is a lot more fade to black.  Still, it is an adult romance novel, so I would probably not let your younger kids read it yet.

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Bookit Review 19: Beautiful Player

Title:  Beautiful Player (Book 3 of the Beautiful Bastard Series)
Author: Christina Lauren
Genre: Romance/Adult
Publication Date: May 29, 2018  (reissued – original date is 2013)
My Grade: B
Format: Paperback

I was pleasantly surprised by this novel.  It uses the Friends to lovers trope, but feels natural and not awkward in its pacing. It was a nice change from some of the romance novels I’ve been reading this year that have really awkward pacing or decide to forego a natural feeling plot for more sex scenes.

This book is adult, and has descriptive love scenes so I don’t recommend this for younger readers.   However I don’t feel the love scenes override the character development and plot progression (what little plot there actually is) which as I said I’ve been finding happening a lot in this genre.  The minor characters aren’t really developed well, but I found out afterwards this is part of a book series so perhaps its assumed that we are aware of the characters already.  I feel a little development would have been nice since this series is built on being interconnected novels that you can read individually and not as a series. I’m a bit weary having found out the first book is a revitalized Twilight fanfic (those haven’t turned out to be good reads for me because I never liked Twilight that much to begin with) but I’m willing to give it a chance.

This is the third book in the series, so I might read the other ones since I found this one enjoyable and not overdone.    I did find the summary given in some of the advertising was a bit much. The whole “My Fair Lady” comparison is a little thing. I think I might have enjoyed more of the main couple without a focus on each other but then again this is in fact a romance novel so it goes with the genre.  My perfect book however would blend a good plot with good romance.

My final grade is a B-.  I enjoyed it, but it could be better.  Again, it is descriptive so it’s not for younger readers.  I may or may not read the other books in the series to get a better sense of Christina Lauren’s writing.  I’ll probably skip the first book though.  I also feel it could have used a more supportive backlot to frame the romance part of it.

Movie Review: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Title: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (Second in Jurassic World Trilogy; fifth in Jurassic series all together)
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Action/Adventure, Superhero, Comedy
Release Date: June 22, 2018  (Seen July 4th)
Director: J.A. Bayona
Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall,  Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda, Isabella Sermon, James Cromwell, BD Wong, and Jeff Goldblum.

My friends and I went to see Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom on July 4th in a desperate need for air conditioning, but we all were fans of the Jurassic Park Movies.   I loved Jurassic World and its two main characters.  Unlike the original trilogy, these films are more interconnected.  In this sequel ot the 2015 film, we find Claire and Owen on opposite paths.  he’s building a cabin in the wilderness, quite happy never to see a dinosaur again while Claire is actively working to save the animals.  Isla Nublar has a secret volcano that is about to erupt, and Benjamin Lockwood, a former associate of John Hammond has decided to use one of his islands as a sanctuary for the dinosaurs if Claire can get them transported.  Eli Mills, his personal assistant asks her to bring in Owen, who she hasn’t seen in an unknown amount of time.

Henry Wu makes another appearance, apparently having cracked since what happened on Jurassic Park (the first film) and is now just creating because he can create.  He’s made another hybrid, and Mills is willing to sell it to make millions.

On one hand the movie does deal with some well done tropes within the series, but it also has an interesting take on them.  For example, we get a greater look at what it would be like to be a vet for dinosaurs.

Jeff Goldblum returns as Dr. Ian Malcolm, warning Congress about the dangers they are going to face. I have to admit I was surprised about how little time he is actually in the movie, but thematically it worked very well.  It also makes me hope the third film (due sometime in 3ish years) will incorporate more of the characters from the original trilogy.

I also like the development of Owen and Claire as characters.  While they aren’t together in this film, their characters aren’t reset.  Their relationship is different, with three years behind them.   I enjoy their development as individuals and as a couple.  I also enjoy the introduction of Franklin and Zia.  I will be happy to see them again in the next film.

The only real issue I had with the movie is that there is a lot of foreshadowing (or appearance of foreshadowing) for something that didn’t seem realised.  Its hard to really explain that without giving a good amount of the plot away.  Since this is a new release and is in fact still in theaters I’m trying not to do that.

As an added bonus the film finally brings about what is implied from the end of Jurassic Park III.

My final grade is A-.

Women of History: Jeanette MacDonald

Author’s Note:  This was originally meant for two weeks ago but I had trouble writing it.  I’m still not very happy with the outcome, but it is complete.  I may revisit Jeanette in the future and rewrite this better.

In the United States, we celebrate our Independence Day on July 4th.  This month’s theme is going to be American women of history.    While Canada also celebrates Canada Day in the month of July, I’ll be doing Canadian women of history another month.

Our first WHO is Jeanette MacDonald.  Jeanette MacDonald is an American Actress from the 1930s.  About a decade ago, my grandmother and I, who liked to watch old classic films together, started watching operettas, in particular the ones done by Jeanette and her frequent Co-star Nelson Eddy.  We collected movies, stills and other things relating to Jeanette and Nelson.

Jeannette Anna MacDonald was born on June 18th in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  The year of her birth is somewhat of a mystery as different records say different things.  According to a baptismal record, the year of her birth was in 1903.  However, later in life Jeanette would change her name (dropping an n), and her year of birth (Saying it was 1907).  Even her gravestone lists the 1907 date, and her widower, Gene Raymond, would continue to insist it was 1907.  However, several sources now list the 1903 date as accurate. Continue reading

Bookit Review # 18: My Best Friend’s Ex

Title: My Best Friend’s Ex
Author: Hazel Kelly
Publication Date: June 8, 2018
Format: Ebook (Kindle Unlimited)
Grade: C

This book was not horrible, but it was pretty underwhelming.  There was very little plot, most of which sets up a possible series.  None of the characters were particularly developed past the main two, and some significant parts of the back story were never really brought closure.  Perhaps that will happen in the books that follow.    I’m assuming this is the start of a series as it is listed as “Beta Brothers #1”.

The premise of the book is that Zoey and Logan are adopted siblings.  Their parents have adopted several children over the years (and continue to adopt).  Logan was adopted as a sixteen year old while Zoey was much younger when she was adopted.  Therefore she feels more like they are her parents while he sees them as parent-figures.  Oddly enough this is not their awkward obstacle.

Apparently for them, it’s the fact that Logan dated Zoey’s life-long best friend.  There is a back story there but it’s unevenly reveled and the two main characters never really directly talk about it.  They don’t really let it affect them long either.  The romance is pretty much developed pre-story.  This story is just how they ended up actually hooking up.

I feel this is one of those books that perhaps will be better once a sequel is out.  Perhaps things were left vague to be developed in another segment.  I’m not sure if I will read the next book or not.  I tend to prefer plot and development over simple hook up stories.  However if you like uncomplicated (despite the background) love stories it might appeal to you.

As I said, it was not horrible, but I feel like It could have used more space devoted to developing the characters and the background story then to the love scenes.  It reads more as an early dating to their first time story rather than a romance.  For being their big “obstacle” Piper doesn’t show up very often and is underdeveloped as a character.  This feels like a rough draft to a longer story and I hope the rest of the series helps develop the background characters and setting.

Bookit #17: Kenzie & The Guy Next Door

Title: Kenzie and the Guy Next Door (Scandelous #4)
Author: R. Linda
Publication Date: May 29, 2018
Format:  Ebook (Kindle Unlimited)
Grade: B.

In the fourth book of the Scandalous series (Find them at Book One Book Two or Book Three), we are focused on Kenzie, the twin sister of Ryder from Book One.  She is now 23, and her son Cole is five.  She lives on her own in a apartment near her mother and Brother, and is going to school to become a nurse.  However her life gets pushed a bit off the rails when Chace, the bad guy from Book One, shows up once again.   Chace wants to see his son, which would be alright if he wasn’t doing it creeper Stalker style.

In the last book we were introduced to Harper’s brother Jeremy, who has recently gotten out of prison after he accidently ran over a child when he was 17.   This story explores more the backstory of Harper and Jeremy’s childhood and what happened the night Jeremy went to prison.  Jeremy also gets to act like the white knight for Kenzie when Chace goes too far.

This romance seems a little fast, but it also moves the background plots further.  It has some interesting aspects that I did not expect.  However listing them here would be rather spoilery so I won’t.

Not the strongest in the series (I still feel that might have been book one), but still an enjoyable read.  I do find the publication schedule a little interesting.  She seems to publishing a book every two months or so, less then between book 3 and this one.  In fact according to GOodreads (which is where I get my data from) its only been a month.  Which makes me wonder if we will see book #5 sometime this month. The next book is about Brody and Audrey, minor characters in the last three books.   According to a recent Q&A the author is working on book #6.  I hope the fast pace won’t make the quality suffer.

Camp Nano Mid-way Update

The halfway mark for Camp Nano: July 2018 edition has arrived.  Word count wise I’m doing good, with an expected (according to them) end date of the 26th.  However, in actually accomplished projects I’m not doing as well.  I’ve been writing my blog posts which accounts for much of my word count, as well as some shorter stories that have come to mind.  However I had two projects I wanted to complete this month that have yet to be completed.

One is a multi-chapter fanfiction that I’ve been working on several years now (2012) and its starting to get a little ridiculous that I haven’t finished it yet.  Especially as I have several chapters mostly written.    However on the other hand its been one of my more popular works in fanfiction so perhaps the long time working on it paid off.

I also had a project from April where I had 30 songs that I was going to translate into writing prompts.  I have yet to work on this at all.

Mostly I think it’s an issue of time management, which I’m apparently bad at, but also inspiration.  There are some days where just nothing will come out (which ends up being the days I get more work done on my essay series for this blog.

I’m hoping that when I give my end of month update I’ll have a lot better news to share.  I plan on trying to manage my time a little bit better and getting the stories done I wanted to get done.  I also plan on finishing some of the essays that I have that are left incomplete – including one WOH essay that was meant to be posted over a week ago.

I’ll be posting the end-of-Nano post on the 30th.  Not actually the last day (as July has 31 days) but it’s the last posting day for this blog for July.