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.

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.

Bookit #16: Harper & The One Night Stand

Title:  Harper and the One Night Stand
Author:  R. Linda
Publication Date: April 10, 2018
Format:  Ebook (Kindle Unlimited)
Grade: B-

This is the third review of the books in R. Linda’s Scandalous series.  (Book One and Two are reviewed previously).  In this book we get the point of views of Nate and Harper.  Nate is the older brother of Book 2’s leading lady, Indie.  Harper was a guest at the wedding, and Kenzie (sister of Book 1’s Ryder)’s best friend.  She also happens to be the ex-girlfriend of Nate’s cousin Brody.

Nate & Harper have a one-night stand at the wedding, and then for three months keep showing up at each other’s houses, having a string of one-night-stands.  Harper finally ends it when she realises that they are perhaps not as stringless as they had begun.

I have to admit I found Brody’s part in this story puzzling.  In this book he is written as being still a bit in love with Harper, yet in the previous book he was pretty much brushing the relationship off as something in the past and that they were just friends.  So it seems a little weird that in the six months that seemed to have passed since Book 2 that Brody suddenly is persuing her again.

Like the others I enjoyed this as a light and fluffy romance.  The angst was there, but almost brushed over.  I wouldn’t call this book very deep or meaty, but it was a fun way to wile the afternoon away.

I do like that this book has carried over some of the background plot points of the previous books.  Johnny and Julie, the two restaurant owners who helped Ryder when he needed it are woven through the book as they are Harper’s Aunt and Uncle.  The other two couples from Book 1 & 2 are developed more in these books as they return from college.

The couples tend to prefer having odd nicknames for each other.  I felt that the use of Friend here just seemed a bit weird.  I can’t say exactly why, so maybe its just a personal preference.

Bookit #15: Indie & The Brother’s Best Friend

Title:  Indie & The Brother’s Best Friend (Scandalous # 2)
Author:  R Linda
Publication Date: January 30, 2018
Format:  EBook (Kindle Unlimited)
Grade:  B-

This is the second in a series by R.Linda called The Scandalous series (although I’m not entirely sure how any of these stories are particularly scandalous…).  The first book was about Bailey during her last year in high school.  In the second book, the author turns to Bailey’s best friend Indie as she deals with her long abiding crush on her brother’s best friend.

The author also takes a POV turn, this time deciding to do it from both the POV of Indie, but also Lincoln, her love interest.  In Bailey’s book (which I reviewed here) it was solely in Bailey’s POV.  The characters are also aged up 3 years and are in their final year of college.

I found this book just as enjoyable as the first one.  The author seems to slip more into Australian terms more oftne in this book, but unlike the first book she never mentions the setting country so Its easier to just assume its in Australia.

I will admit that I found Jack’s play acting a bit much at times.  I find the “Oh, don’t worry, he’s gay” plot a bit overused.  At least in this story Jack remains gay, unlike a book I read a few years ago that had a surprise twist that somehow the supposedly gay best friend had fallen for the main girl (The novel was a bit of a train wreck to be honest and I can’t remember the title).

There is also a bit where the happily ever after came (which I’m all for) but I found it less satisfying because there were issues the two had that they never seemed to discuss and seemed automatically resolved because they were suddenly together.

This story does incorperate more of the minor characters of the first book, even though The POV has changed.  Kenzie, Ryder’s sister returns, as does Indie’s brother Nate.  I’ve read both of them and shall be reviewing them soon.

I think it has a bit of the idealism of the first book, which may or may not be a good thing going forward.

Bookit #14: Bailey & The Bad Boy

Title: Bailey & The Bad Boy (Scandalous Series #1)
Author: R. Linda
Publication Date: November 7, 2017
Format: Ebook (Kindle Unlimited)

Grade: B

I enjoyed this book.  It was a bit cliché in some ways but it didn’t make me want to throw it out the window.  It was cute, and the characters were developed enough that I cared to find out what happened.

The main plot is that Bailey, a 17-year-old high school student, has recently been dumped by her seemingly perfect boyfriend.  During a road trip planned before the breakup, she finds her boyfriend making out with her seemingly perfect best friend.  Obviously Chace & Christina were not as perfect as Bailey thought.

Along comes Ryder, a boy who used to be Chace’s best friend.  He offers to be her fake boyfriend to piss her ex off.  She eventually accepts, and finds herself re-evaluating a lot of people in her life, including herself.   As always, hijinks and drama ensue.

My main issues with this novel were the setting inconsistencies.  At one point it is mentioned that it is based in California.  However, the main characters have a 2 month “summer” vacation over Christmas.  Given the Author is in fact from Australia, it makes more sense to pretend I just never saw the mention of California.  I also don’t see how teenagers can just disappear from school as much as these kids seem to.  Cutting out of their classes with seemingly no consequences for that.  The one character leaves for a month.  At my high school, you’d be risking being held back and repeating the grade.

I also think that is a bit idealistic, but that’s okay.  I plan on reading the next book, Indie & The brothers Best Friend next.  We will see if it continues to be enjoyable.  I did not have that experience with the Holiday HIgh series I started to read/review earlier this year (hence why only one got reviewed in the end).