Bookit Review: #22 Voyager

Title:  Voyager (Outlander #3)
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Publication Date: October 2004 (Originally 1993
Genre:  Historical Romance/Science Fiction/Time Travel
My Final Grade:A

So far, Voyager is my favorite of the Outlander books.  This is for several reasons.  One, it has multiple point of views, even though Claire’s POV is still told in first person while everyone else is told in third person which can be a bit awkward at times.  It gives us a better sense of how Jamie views things, as well as Roger and Brianna who play major roles in this story, and even more so in the next book, Drums of Autumn.  It also varies away from some of the troublesome aspects of the first two books, although not completely.

Voyager begins in the 1960s with Brianna, Roger and Claire searching for the truth about Jamie.  They found out he survived Culloden, and follow the trail down to finding him as a printer under an alias.  As they search, we get to see the story from Jamie’s point of view of the missing years.   We also wrap up a few lingering questions from the first book, and get a few flashbacks to Claire’s life with Frank and Brianna over the last 20 years.

Brianna eventually convinces her mother to go back, and the bulk of the book is Claire’s adventures in the mid 1760s, including traveling from Edinburgh, to Lallybroch to eventually Jamaica and the American Colonies.  This book also explores several different types of relationships.  It brings back Lord John Grey, who was featured as a teenager in Dragonfly but now is a Major in the British Army. He is in love with Jamie (as it appears most of the characters are – another criticism I have of this series), but unlike the previous two homosexual characters isn’t portrayed as a horrible person.

I was slightly uncomfortable with the portrayal of Yi Tien Cho, in a related notion.  I couldn’t tell if it was the character himself or the fact that it was a portrayal of the first major minority character for the series (outside of Joe Abernathy who is barely seen).  However, from what I have found out, he is loosely based on a real person and perhaps some of that comes from that.  Still, I wasn’t sure if the portrayal was fair or not.

The relationships in this book that are explored are the several different types of family.  It explores the idea of adoption/step-parenting (Jamie & Claire with Fergus, Frank with Brianna,  Jamie with the McKimmie girls. Roger Wakefield & his great-Uncle, John Grey & Willie), Multigenerational (Jenny, Ian and the Murrys), separation (Jamie & Brianna as well as Jamie & Willie) amongst some.  It also takes into consideration the aftereffects on Claire’s relationships outside Jamie – like with Jenny and Geillis.

While this book is still full of misadventures, and Jamie & Claire are rarely in a moment of calm, it does seem to be happier (outside of Ian) and some issues are addressed instead of either of the main characters pushing it aside like has happened in previous books.  It also has a decrease in the amount of sexual violence that seemed to be prevalent in the previous two books.  There is one scene towards the end with Yi Tien Cho that was concerning in regards to sexual violence but in comparison to the other novels this book is quite an improvement.

My final grade is A.

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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 Review: Blue-Eyed Devil

Title: Blue-Eyed Devil (Travis series #2)
Bookit #8
Author: Lisa Kleypas
Release Date:  2008
Medium: Kindle E-book

WARNING:  This novel covers topics that may cause triggering effects on those who suffered from physical or mental abuse.

Blue-eyed Devil is the second novel in the Travis Series by Liza Kleypas.  I was looking forward to this book, because Hardy had been one of my favorite characters in the first book I read, Brown-Eyed Girl, and he is the hero in this novel after being the one who lost in book 1, Sugar Daddy.

The main character in this novel is Haven Travis, the youngest sibling of the Travis Clan.  It starts soon after the closing of Sugar Daddy in that they are attending Liberty and Gage (the couple from book 1)’s wedding.  It is there she meets Hardy, and it leaves a lasting impression on her.

This book is a little different from romance novels that I have seen in the past, because it involves a couple who faced domestic abuse.  It also deals with the problems children who have faced domestic abuse might have as adults.  I was glad to see that for the most part Haven ends up saving herself, rather than her love interest.  Often times I have seen this written as a ploy to get the two main characters together, and in this novel it’s not.  She is also allowed to get help when she needs it, and not having it forced on her or denied her like some narratives are prone to do.

In fact, their romance, baring the moment at the wedding, doesn’t even start till after Haven removes herself from the abusive relationship.  It also doesn’t look down on therapy, and has really good sibling relationships.  One of the stronger themes in this series is the relationships between the main character (always female) and her siblings.  Book one was about Liberty and her sister Carrington.  This is about Haven and her relationship with her brothers.  Brown-Eyed Girl (book 4) is about Avery and her half-sister Sophia.

This series also has a good record in showing mixed families.  Not everyone’s family is perfect, and not every perfect family is a bad family.  There are single parents, distant parents, parents who were both there, and parents who realised they couldn’t care for their children so they gave them up for adoption.

I also found this relatable because I have dealt with people who are narcissistic in nature, and I have seen the problems they cause for the people around them. I’m not sure I believe the therapist in this story who says abusers are always narcissistic.

Overall, I give this a A, because it had good pacing, the main character manages to save herself half the time, and people deal with their issues instead of having instant cures. However, this book has references to domestic abuse, both physical and mental, as well as rape.  Therefore I suggest you avoid this one if any of those subjects might be triggering for you.

Bookit Review: Sugar Daddy

​​Title: Sugar Daddy (Travis Series #1)
Bookit #7
Author: Lisa Kleypas
Release Date:  2007
Medium: Kindle E-book

A few weeks ago I reviewed a book called Brown Eyed Girl.  I found out later that the novel was in fact the last book in a four book series about the Travis Siblings.  The first book in the series was Sugar Daddy and was focused on Liberty Jones, a woman who grew up poor and ended up having to raise her baby sister.  She gets torn between her first love – Hardy Cates, and the man she has started falling for – Gage Travis.

I like this book better than Brown-Eyed Girl because it seems to have more details and more consistent pacing. Liberty’s story has a strong backstory.  I had to admit I found the fact that Gage didn’t show up till about 2/3 thorugh the story odd for a romance, but it put more emphasis on it being Liberty’s story.  She’s the narrator (and its in first person) and the story is more about her moving on.  Given the information in the ‘description’ I thought both Gage and Hardy would have showed up more then they did.

Reading this novel was helpful in improving my thoughts on Brown-Eyed Girl simply because some of the information I found lacking in that novel gets explained in this one (and the two others).  So while each book can stand its own, its a good idea to read the series in order to get the full story.

Final Grade:  B+