Friday, January 30

Book Review: Outlander

Title: Outlander

Author: Diana Gabaldon

Pages: 850

Summary: The year is 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon - when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dote the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach - an “outlander” - in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of Our Lord . . . 1743.

Hunted back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life . . . and shatter her heart. For here Jams Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire . . . and two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

My Rating: 6/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The book had it's up and downs for me, while I liked elements of the book, I disliked a lot of other, and found there were chunks I hated, and found that there was a lot in the book that wasn't exactly necessary to the plot, or at least, could have been toned down.

From a historical fiction side of things, the book was fantastic. I liked the history of Scotland, the clans and the daily life of the people there. I think the author painted a lovely, beautiful picture on this aspect of the book.

I liked the idea behind the time travel aspect, but didn't like how it was executed. Perhaps more will be detail will be given later, but I think there needed to be at least something else in the book highlighting the possibly of time travel, myths, perhaps? What bothered me the most, was just how quickly, and calmly Claire came to the conclusion of time travel. I felt it was unrealistic how fast she came to the conclusion she time traveled, and even more realistic was how calm she was about the whole incident. In fact, her reactions, how quickly she adapted to the time period was unrealistic. It was almost instant, and I felt it didn't work well. The characters were okay. Some I like more than others, some of the clans men, were well written, and I enjoyed them a bit, but I'm not a fan of either Jamie or Claire. Both characters felt like Mary-Sues to me. The book and plot felt it was forced to make their love work properly. I also think their relationship was forced, and didn't buy into their undying love for them, and I really hated how their romance took over the book. I knew the book had a large amount of romance and love themes, but I wasn't expecting it to take over the book. It felt like, the lovebirds, became more like rabbits, if you catch my hint, and it became boring very quickly.

By the end of the book, I was glad to get there. While I loved the historical fiction side of it, and a few twists and turns in the book, I didn't like this one nearly as much as I thought I would. I'm on the fence about continuing with the series, while I want to know a few details that were revealed in this book, I also don't want to have to endure all the aspects of I disliked again, which I know will be in the other books of the series.

Would I recommend it to read: If you like Historical Romances I would. If you're looking for a good time travel story or a solid historical fiction, where the romance plays second fiddle to the rest of the book, you may want to veer away. Despite what some reviews I've read say, claiming this is a combination of genres, it's historical romance, which isn't a favourite genre of mine.

What to read next: Dragonfly in Amber

Challenges: 100+ Challenge, 2015 Category Challenge, Chunkster Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge, New Author Challenge, Read Scotland Challenge

Sunday, January 18

Book Review: All My Puny Sorrows

Title: All My Puny Sorrows

Author: Miriam Toews

Pages: EBook 236

Summary: You won’t forget Elf and Yoli, two smart and loving sisters. Elfrieda, a world-renowned pianist, glamorous, wealthy, happily married: she wants to die. Yolandi, divorced, broke, sleeping with the wrong men as she tries to find true love: she desperately wants to keep her older sister alive. Yoli is a beguiling mess, wickedly funny even as she stumbles through life struggling to keep her teenage kids and mother happy, her exes from hating her, her sister from killing herself and her own heart from breaking.

But Elf’s latest suicide attempt is a shock: she is three weeks away from the opening of her highly anticipated international tour. Her long-time agent has been calling and neither Yoli nor Elf’s loving husband knows what to tell him. Can she be nursed back to “health” in time? Does it matter? As the situation becomes ever more complicated, Yoli faces the most terrifying decision of her life.

My Rating: 6.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: While I enjoyed the overall story of the book, and at times thought it to be a good book, which highlighted a person's struggle with mental illness beautifully, there was also large aspects of the book I didn't like - and those parts overpowered the good. The story was fairly well written and well told, while I'm not a fan of the author's writing style - the lack of punctuation and distinction between when and which characters were speaking, but that didn't bother me as much as other aspects of the book, which were some of the characters, particularly Yoli. Her character irritated me, I felt she lacked in development, was immature and her humour, which I think was intended to be comic relief, felt awkward force and took away from the importance of the topic of the story.

I also felt the that story was disjointed, as it was jumping back to memories versus the present, which didn't work as well as it could have. The focus on mental illness and Elf's character were wonderfully done, emotional, and very well written. She was a believable character, her story was well written and her struggles were incredibly well done. The author did a fantastic job there, but I felt other aspects of the book pull away from Elf and her struggles, and in the end, they took away from the importance and focus of her story.

Would I recommend it to read: I would. While I didn't enjoy the book as much, I do think a lot of readers would enjoy it.

What to read next: Bone and Bread

Challenges: 100+ Books Challenge, 2015 Category Challenge, 8th Annual Canadian Books Challenge, 2015 EBook Challenge, Ultimate Canadian Reading Challenge

Book Review: Dead Ever After

Title: Dead Ever After

Author: Charlaine Harris

Pages: EBook 254

Summary: There are secrets in the town of Bon Temps, ones that threaten those closest to Sookie—and could destroy her heart.... Sookie Stackhouse finds it easy to turn down the request of former barmaid Arlene when she wants her job back at Merlotte’s. After all, Arlene tried to have Sookie killed. But her relationship with Eric Northman is not so clearcut. He and his vampires are keeping their distance…and a cold silence. And when Sookie learns the reason why, she is devastated.

Then a shocking murder rocks Bon Temps, and Sookie is arrested for the crime.

But the evidence against Sookie is weak, and she makes bail. Investigating the killing, she’ll learn that what passes for truth in Bon Temps is only a convenient lie. What passes for justice is more spilled blood. And what passes for love is never enough…

My Rating: 8.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I really enjoyed this final book in the series. It tied up everything nicely, but not to picture perfect. While a few questions were left open ended, I still think the way the author chose to end the series was perfectly done. I enjoyed this one a lot, especially how the book began, it was different than her previous books and it caught my interest right away, especially compared to some of the other books.

A lot happens in this book, there is less filler in it, and the pace of the book was also well done, especially compared to some of the other books. There were a few things, I was surprised in the direction they went, I would have thought certain aspects wouldn't be they way they were, but I think it worked for Sookie and her development. The ending, and her status, was perfect in my books. I know a lot of people were outraged by this, but I think how the book left Sookie and her life couldn't have been better. I think it works for the character and how far she's come since the first book.

Overall an excellent book, to a good series.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, I'd recommend the whole series in fact. It may have had it's up and downs, but the series as a whole a good one. This particular book was fantastic, I think the author ended it perfectly.

What to read next: Women of the Otherworld Series, Alpha Omega series.

This book didn't qualify for any challenges, as I started it in 2014.

Thursday, January 1

2014 - A Year in Review

2014 is done, and it has been quite the year. Honestly, I'm not sure how it happened. It feels like it was just the summer, then somehow Christmas came and now the year is over?!. So much has happened this year, which caused me to go into a major reading slump, which was hard to get out of. A lot of the reading slump had to do with stress - a lot of stress. While reading is usually one of my distress methods, most of the time I was to exhausted so falling asleep in front of the tv usually one.

One of the things that happened, which I mentioned earlier in the year, my computer died in January, which explains part of my disappearance, re-loading everything and organizing the computer took a long time. Other stress was related to both good, great, bad and very bad things. The Great - I got engaged! (YAY) - but now I have to plan a wedding - and let me tell you, even having a small, simple basic wedding, is a full of stress and hair pulling fun!

The Good - One of the good things that distracted me from reading was NaNoWriMo! I participated and I won! This year will also be the year of revision, as I'm happy with the rough manuscript I have

Some bad things happened, which although didn't affect me directly, still has had a small affect on my life. While now I'm good, it did cause some anxiety for a while. And very bad things, although not official, appears that it may have a very significant affect on me and my fiancé's life.

So, reading has taken a big hit this year, and I wish it hadn't. While not finishing the challenges as never been a concern of mine, I always join more than I should, and usually only complete a few, it's the lack of reading that has bugged me. The getting backlogged on reviews didn't help either. I just caught up on my reviews, writing reviews for August in December, was bad. Because I was backlogged on reviews, reading got backlogged. So, it's been a memorable 2014, I have to say.

On the plus side, since I read less this year, my year wrap up should take less time to write up - there's one good thing! As usual, below are all the fun stats and details of my reading year - cheers!

The Books

1) The Perils of Morning Coffee - Alexander McCall Smith - 6.5/10
2) Cataract City - Craig Davidson - 6.75/10
3) What Becomes - A. L. Kennedy - 8.5/10
4) The Unfinished Child - Theresa Shea - 5/10
5) Tiger - Tash Aw - Did not review
6) The Blind Assassin - Margaret Atwood - 9.5/10
7) As Birds Bring Forth the Sun and Other Stories - Alistair MacLeod - 9/10
8) Naked Heat - Richard Castle - 8/10
9) Revolt - Qaisra Shahraz - 6/10
10) Cockroach - Rawi Hage - 7/10
11) Before I go to Sleep - S. J. Watson - 7.25/10
12) Lilac Bus - Maeve Binchy - 7.75/10
13) The Colour of Space - H. P. Lovecraft - 9/10
14) Tide Road - Valerie Campton - 7/10
15) Good Morning, Midnight - Jean Rhys - 7.5/10
16) Oryx and Crake - Margaret Atwood - 10/10 (re-read)
17) The Last of the Crazy People - Timothy Findley - 8/10
18) Accusation - Catherine Bush - 6/10
19) The Orenda - Joseph Boyden - 4/10
20) Miranda's Vines - Kimberly Kafka - 5/10
21) Cry Wolf - Patricia Briggs - 7.25/10
22) Annihilation - Jeff VanderMeer - 8.25/10
23) Chronicle of a Death Foretold - Gabriel García Márquez - 7/10
24) The Blue Guitar - Anne Ireland - 7.75/10
25) Black and Blue - Ian Rankin - 7.75/10
26) The Heart Goes Last - Margaret Atwood - 8.5/10
27) Silver Linings Play Book - Matthew Quick - 8/10
28) Afterlands - Steven Heighton - 9/10
29) Letters from Chicago - Cathy Kelly - 7/10
30) On the Prowl - Patricia Briggs, Eileen Wilks, Karen Chance, Sunny - 7.5/10
31) The Death of Bees - Lisa O'Donnell - 7.25/10
32) The 100-year-old Man who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared - Jonas Jonasson 7.75/10
33) Ethan Frome - Edith Wharton - 6.75/10
34) Fifth Businesss - Roberson Davies - 7.5/10
35) Cold Hearts - Gunner Staalesen - 7.25/10
36) The Enchanted - Rene Denfield - 8/10
37) From Dead to Worse - Charlaine Harris - 7/10
38) The River - Cheryl Kaye Tardif - 3.5/10
39) Reap the Wild Wind - Julie Czerneda - 9/10
40) The Rosie Project - Graeme Simsion - 7.75/10
41) Two Roads - Geonn Cannon - 7.25/10
42) Riders of the Storm - Julie Czerneda - 8/10
43) Going After Cacciato - Tim O'Brien - 8.5/10
44) The Secrets of A Fire King  - Kim Edwards - 8/10
45) Dead and Gone - Charlaine Harris - 7.5/10
46) Matadora - Elizabeth Ruth - 9.25/10
47) Baggage - Jill Sooley - 3.5/10
48) Frog Music - Emma Donoghue - 7.25/10
49) Waiting for the Man - Arjun Basu - 9/10
50) Omens - Kelley Armstrong -8/10
51) Tell - Francis Itani - 7/10
52) The Betrayers - David Bezmozgis - 6.75/10
53) Dead in the Family - Charliane Harris - 7.5/10
54) Stone Mattress - Margaret Atwood - 10/10
55) Docherty - William McIvanney - 9.5/10
56) A Song of Stone - Iain M. Banks - 7.5/10
57) Dead Reckoning - Charline Harris - 8.5/10
58) Deadlocked - Charlaine Harris - 8.5/10

Break Down of Ratings

Rating Category
Amount of Books
1 - 2.75
3 - 3.75
4 - 4.75
5 -5.75

Top Ten Favourite Books

 I won't include Oryx and Crake in this one, as it was a re-read, but here's a list in alphabetical order (by author) of my favourite books of 2014.

The Blind Assassin - Margaret Atwood
Stone Mattress - Margaret Atwood
Waiting for the Man - Arjun Basu
Reap the Wild Wind - Julie Czerneda
Afterlands - Steven Heighton
The Colour of Space - H. P. Lovecraft
What Becomes - A. L. Kennedy
As Birds Bring Forth the Sun and Other Stories - Alistair MacLeod
Docherty - William McIvanney
Matadora - Elizabeth Ruth

My favourite of the year was Stone Mattress. Although Docherty is also well worth mentioning, and if you love Science fiction, read Reap the Wild Wind!

General Stats and Other Fun Facts

I read a lot more Ebooks this year than print, as I usually read on the commute to work and on my lunch, and I find it easy to bring an e-reader with me, than to lug a book around. Also buying myself a new Kobo this year helped a lot. While I didn't read any library books, I did take a lot out, I just never read them and the librarians get mad, when you don't return the books (I should know, I am one, well Library Tech, but same thing).

General Stats
Number of Books
Books Read
Pages Read
14, 719

Format of Books


Where it Came From


I had a fairly good balance this year for short stories vs novels. For 2015, I plan on reading some poetry.

Type of Book
Number of Books
Short Story Collection
Short Story Individual

I'm liking the numbers for this year. Almost half the books I read were written by a Canadian author, or took place in Canada. In 2015 I plan on continuing exploring Canadian Lit, as well as expand my reading in mystery thrillers fiction. And of course more Speculative, because you can never get enough of that!

Other Random Facts
Number of Books
New to Me Canadian Authors
New to Me Authors
Women Writers
Speculative Fiction
1001 Books

The Challenges

This year I participated in 15 challenges and completed 4 of them. If I hadn't hit such a reading slump almost all of these would have been completed by now. The only two I don't think I would have made it would have been the category challenge and War Through the Generations Challenge.  I was close to  completing the Series challenge, but ran out of time. Oddly enough, I have one book left for each of the three series I'd hoped to finish. Overall, because of the reading slump, I'm happy to have completed the amount I did.

Challenge Name
Challenge Starts
Challenge Ends
Challenge Completed
100 Books in 2014
57/100 Books
January 1, 2014
December 31, 2014
2014 Category Challenge
57/140 Books
January 1, 2014
December 31, 2014
2014 GoodReads Reading Challenge
January 1, 2014
December 31, 2014
50 Book Pledge
January 1, 2014
December 21, 2014
7th Annual Canada Book Challenge
54/13 Books
July 1, 2013
June 30, 2014
September 27, 2013 (13 books)
8th Annual Canada Book Challenge
July 1, 2014
June 30, 2015
Alphabet Reading Challenge
January 1, 2014
December 31, 2014
Chunkster Challenge
5/5 Books
January 1, 2014
December 31, 2014
October 12, 2014
Ebook Reading Challenge
32/50 Books
January 1, 2014
December 31, 2014
Finish the Series Challenge
0/3 Series
7/10 Books
January 1, 2014
December 31, 2014
Mental Illness Reading Challenge
January 1, 2014
December 31, 2014
Mount TBR Challenge
27/60 Books
January 1, 2014
December 31, 2014
New Author Reading Challenge
25/25 Books
January 1, 2014
December 31, 2014
July 24, 2014
Read Scotland Reading Challenge
6/6 Books
January 1, 2014
December 31, 2014
December 22, 2014
War Reading Challenge - With a Twist
1/6 Books
January 1, 2014
December 31, 2014

Countries Visited
This year I visited 15 different countries. Canada and the USA were visited the most during my reading adventures, closely followed by Scotland.

Outlook on 2015

Okay, so reading and not getting behind on reviews, or at least not six months worth of books behind is one goal. I've bought some notebooks, to jot down things so if I do get behind on reviews, I have a good source to look back to. I'm participating in far less challenges this year. I love challenges still,  but some challenges just aren't the same any more. Of course I will still sign up for more than I should, but I do plan on being selective on which ones. I hope to comment more, less challenges will likely help with that, especially when more challenges, are in one place, and not multiple different links.  Most of all, continue to read the books I love.