Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Hey, bibliophiles!

A few days ago I finished re-reading Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, which not only satisfies my reading needs, but also satisfies one of my Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge 2016 categories: a book you’ve already read at least once. Lolita is one of my all-time favorite books so I’m super excited to share my feelings about it with you guys! But first, a quick summary for anyone who doesn’t already know what the book is about:

Awe and exhiliration–along with heartbreak and mordant wit–abound in Lolita, Nabokov’s most famous and controversial novel, which tells the story of the aging Humbert Humbert’s obsessive, devouring, and doomed passion for the nymphet Dolores Haze. Lolita is also the story of a hypercivilized European colliding with the cheerful barbarism of postwar America. Most of all, it is a meditation on love–love as outrage and hallucination, madness and transformation.

I know, I know. That didn’t tell you much, but that’s really all that the book is about: love, in all its sick, twisted forms. The narrator, Humbert, is a self-proclaimed pedophile who falls madly in love with underage Dolores Haze (aka Lolita) and conspires to live happily ever after with her.


First and foremost, this is one of the most beautiful books ever written. The prose is honest and the story is straightforward, but the narration is a journey. Humbert, who ironically is a writer in the novel, coalesces his thoughts into spectacular description. Through his eyes, you see the Lolita he sees and it’s almost as though you begin to understand his attraction, as horrific as it is. Furthermore, he addresses the reader in a confidential, but cheeky way that sucks you in. For example, he says, “As greater authors than I have put it: “Let readers imagine” etc. On second thought, I may as well give those imaginations a kick in the pants.” It’s humorous and captivating.


Moreover, as the story unfolds, it’s like the car crash that you can’t look away from. You’re speeding along down the highway right beside Humbert and Lolita as they embark on their journey. You want to see what happens, how Lolita fares, how Humbert degenerates mentally. You need to figure out who the mystery character is that begins to become involved in their lives.

I will say that the novel might be a tad confusing on the first read through. As Humbert’s mind begins to unravel, his thoughts grow less lucid, thus corrupting the story. Is the mystery character who Humbert believes him to be? “No, that’s unrealistic,” you say to yourself. It must be who Lolita says it is. Or is it? It just takes a little thinking, which I love!

The 1997 film Lolita is pretty good too! So go out read the novel and then watch the movie! I COMMAND IT! Go forth…

To wrap up, here are some notable quotes (and just know I really held myself back from listing too many because it’s such a poetic novel):

“Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.”

“Look at this tangle of thorns.”

“But somewhere behind the raging bliss, bewildered shadows conferred….”

“…I still dwelled deep in my elected paradise – a paradise whose skies were the color of hell-flames – but still a paradise.”

Until next time, bibliophiles….

Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon

Bibliophiles! It is time again for the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon! I just finished reading Drums of Autumn, which is the fourth book in the series. I won’t include any spoilers for this novel, but the post may include spoilers if you aren’t up to this point in the series.


First, a quick summary, courtesy of

DRUMS OF AUTUMN is the fourth book in the OUTLANDER series, following VOYAGER.  Here Claire and Jamie, with Jamie’s nephew Young Ian, seek to find a place for themselves in the colony of North Carolina, treading a dangerous line between Governor Tryon’s patronage and Claire’s knowledge of the brewing revolution in America, between the help of Jamie’s Aunt Jocasta, last of his MacKenzie kin (“MacKenzies are charming as larks in the field–but sly as foxes with it.”) and the unwanted obligations of her slave-run plantation.  As they find mountain land and begin to build their first cabin, their newfound life is bittersweet, with the thought Brianna–the daughter Claire has left behind, the daughter Jamie will never see–always near.

Brianna is thinking of her parents, too.   And she’s discovered something dangerous in the historical record; a notice of a fatal fire on Fraser’s Ridge.   The time-traveler’s ultimate dilemma raises its head once again:  can the past be changed?   If it can…what’s the price?

Roger MacKenzie has found the same newspaper notice–and after some soul-searching, has decided not to tell Brianna about it, not wanting her to risk her life for what may be impossible.   She doesn’t tell him, either–and his first inkling that she’s found that notice is a shipment of boxes from Brianna, containing her family memorabilia and a note reading, “Everybody needs a history.   This is mine.  Please look after it ’til I come back.”

Roger follows Brianna into the past, where she has gone on a quest to save her parents’ lives, and upon discovering that she has sailed for America, he takes ship himself…with a Captain Bonnet.

How does time-travel work?  Who can pass the stones, and how?  What are the risks?  And what would make those risks worth taking?   Only love.

I have some mixed feelings about this novel. One, it was a much slower-to-start book than its counterparts in the series. It just drug on for a bit. I wasn’t sure where the story was even going to go. But at the same time, I loved the change of scenery! How cool to feel like you’re part of taming the American wilderness! It also kept the story from being too repetitive. No more England vs. Scotland focus. Instead, Jaime and Claire had a chance to rediscover each other and re-build their relationship. They had space and time and an opportunity to define their lives. But of course, there was still plenty of struggle in the book to keep the reading exciting! There were Native Americans, political intrigue, and of course, the natural elements!

Following this series, I figured at some point Brianna would time-travel as well, and it was exciting to finally witness her journey in this novel. I felt pain for her sufferings (which I will not currently expose), but I also admired her strength of will and sense of independence. Also, I appreciated how there were parallels between the Brianna-Roger relationship and the Claire-Jaime relationship, without it being overbearing and tedious.


One of my favorite things about this entire series has been the idea of testing true love. After all the trials and hardships these characters have endured, it’s amazing that they still find solace and comfort in each other. I think it’s uplifting and I enjoy reading their stories for it.

Finally, a couple of my favorite quotes from Drums of Autumn:

“By blood and by choice, we make our ghosts; we haunt ourselves.”

“…a witness that enduring love was possible, a love strong enough to withstand separation and hardship, strong enough to outlast time.”

Until next time, bibliophiles….

After You by Jojo Moyes

Happy Sunday (or whatever day you’re reading this on), bibliophiles!

I finished listening to After You by Jojo Moyes awhile back, but needed to let it simmer in my mind for a bit before writing. For anyone who may not know, After You is the sequel to Me Before You, which I reviewed here. There may be slight spoilers if you haven’t yet read Me Before You.


First, a quick summary, courtesy of Amazon:

“You’re going to feel uncomfortable in your new world for a bit. But I hope you feel a bit exhilarated too. Live boldly. Push yourself. Don’t settle. Just live well. Just live. Love, Will.”
How do you move on after losing the person you loved? How do you build a life worth living?

Louisa Clark is no longer just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life. After the transformative six months spent with Will Traynor, she is struggling without him. When an extraordinary accident forces Lou to return home to her family, she can’t help but feel she’s right back where she started.

Her body heals, but Lou herself knows that she needs to be kick-started back to life. Which is how she ends up in a church basement with the members of the Moving On support group, who share insights, laughter, frustrations, and terrible cookies. They will also lead her to the strong, capable Sam Fielding—the paramedic, whose business is life and death, and the one man who might be able to understand her. Then a figure from Will’s past appears and hijacks all her plans, propelling her into a very different future. . . .

For Lou Clark, life after Will Traynor means learning to fall in love again, with all the risks that brings. But here Jojo Moyes gives us two families, as real as our own, whose joys and sorrows will touch you deeply, and where both changes and surprises await.

This novel was surprising, which in and of itself was…surprising. Without giving anything away, the “extraordinary accident” that falls upon Lou had me holding my breath! I was like, “No freakin’ way is this happening!” So not only did the novel immediately establish an emotional death grip on my attention, but it also courted my heart. Ultimately, this was a story about grief and growth, something all readers can relate to.

Many people have mentioned that they’re afraid to read this for fear of ruining the magic of Me Before You, but I think it adds more depth and warmth to the overall story. I empathized with Lou’s suffering, self-doubt, and feelings of regret. While Me Before You felt like a magical and amazing story, this felt like a slap of reality that was somehow equally heart-warming.


I loved it and I would recommend it, but to each their own!!

Until next time, bibliophiles….

The Murder House by James Patterson and David Ellis

Hi again, bibliophiles!

Hope everyone has been enjoying a beautiful and warm summer! The Murder House by James Patterson and David Ellis is definitely a summer read so it should fit right in with the season. Definitely a beach read. Here’s a quick synopsis:

It has an ocean-front view, a private beach–and a deadly secret that won’t stay buried.

No. 7 Ocean Drive is a gorgeous, multi-million-dollar beachfront estate in the Hamptons, where money and privilege know no bounds. But its beautiful gothic exterior hides a horrific past: it was the scene of a series of depraved killings that have never been solved. Neglected, empty, and rumored to be cursed, it’s known as the Murder House, and locals keep their distance.

Detective Jenna Murphy used to consider herself a local, but she hasn’t been back since she was a girl. Trying to escape her troubled past and rehabilitate a career on the rocks, the former New York City cop hardly expects her lush and wealthy surroundings to be a hotbed of grisly depravity. But when a Hollywood power broker and his mistress are found dead in the abandoned Murder House, the gruesome crime scene rivals anything Jenna experienced in Manhattan. And what at first seems like an open and shut case turns out to have as many shocking secrets as the Murder House itself, as Jenna quickly realizes that the mansion’s history is much darker than even the town’s most salacious gossips could have imagined. As more bodies surface, and the secret that Jenna has tried desperately to escape closes in on her, she must risk her own life to expose the truth–before the Murder House claims another victim.

A page-turner? Definitely.
A gruesome thriller? Absolutely.
A twist ending? Kinda, but about two-thirds of the way through, I caught on and saw it coming.

This novel was by no means a 5-star, spectacular read. It’s not worth running out and buying, BUT if you know someone that can lend you a copy or if you’d like to grab it from the library, it is worth the reading time. OR if you’re looking for a quick read with minimal mental investment required, this is for you!

That’s about all I have for this on. Until next time, bibliophiles….

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Good afternoon dear bibliophiles!

This past week I’ve flown through Me Before You by Jojo Moyes on audiobook! This has been a much-talked about novel and I’m sure many of you are familiar with it, but for those of you who aren’t, allow me to explain what it’s about. But first, although I typically shy away from spoilers, but I’m going to include a little one below in this post so beware! Nothing ground-breaking and no peeking at the ending of the novel if you’re very worried about that!


The premise of the novel is that Louisa Clark needs a job desperately and accepts one as a caregiver for Will Traynor, a quadriplegic man. She quickly discovers that he intends to die via assisted suicide in Sweden and sets about trying to change his mind. Of course, she begins to have all sorts of romantic feelings for him as they spend day after day together. Okay, not too spoiler-y! That’s all done with.

Obviously, this is an emotional read. I mean I had to choke back tears as I listened to it. In fact, my husband and I were sitting in Panera Bread when I decided, “Hey, I can’t wait any longer. I need to keep listening to this.” BAD MOVE! It was a real close call. I’m sure I looked like I was in pain or like I had just chopped about fifty onions.

More than just the top layer of emotion, feeling empathy for Will, frustration for Louisa, and heartbreak at their circumstances, this book greatly affected me personally. I was a caregiver for several years to a man with ALS. Firsthand, I watched his ailment take over his life, steal his independence, and limit the activities he could do with his family. This man (name withheld for privacy) was one of the funniest, smartest, kindest people I’ve ever known. He had more dignity and humor than I could ever explain. I was graciously absorbed into their family and still visit occasionally. I worked for them until he decided to turn off his ventilator, thus ending his life, but also his suffering. Caring for him was a defining experience for me, much like it was for Lousia Clark in this novel.



Overall, this book is well worth any spilled tears, and trust me, there will be many. It was beautifully written, amazingly narrated, and carefully crafted. It evoked laughter, grief, and thoughtfulness. It’s message was clear: LIVE LIFE! And I certainly mean to.

Until next time, bibliophiles….



City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg

Hiya, bibliophiles!

I recently finished listening to City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg. Let’s just launch right into it. Here’s a synopsis from Amazon:

New York City, 1976. Meet Regan and William Hamilton-Sweeney, estranged heirs to one of the city’s great fortunes; Keith and Mercer, the men who, for better or worse, love them; Charlie and Samantha, two suburban teenagers seduced by downtown’s punk scene; an obsessive magazine reporter and his idealistic neighbor—and the detective trying to figure out what any of them have to do with a shooting in Central Park on New Year’s Eve.

The mystery, as it reverberates through families, friendships, and the corridors of power, will open up even the loneliest-seeming corners of the crowded city. And when the blackout of July 13, 1977, plunges this world into darkness, each of these lives will be changed forever.

City on Fire is an unforgettable novel about love and betrayal and forgiveness, about art and truth and rock ’n’ roll: about what people need from each other in order to live . . . and about what makes the living worth doing in the first place.

I thought this novel was, for the most part, interesting and engaging. In particular, I loved how the different story lines intertwined together. That’s one of my favorite “types” of books: starting out with separate perspectives or characters and watching as they grow towards each other. I’m also a big fan of exploring complex, dysfunctional families, so listening to the dirty deeds and stuffy struggles of the Hamilton-Sweeneys was right up my alley.


HOWEVER, City on Fire didn’t suck me right into the story. It felt very “written”, rather than a natural flow of thoughts (if that makes any sense). The writing could be a bit stiff and forced at times. Plus, I had a hard time getting into the punk scene. I don’t love punk rock and was not familiar with a lot of the bands the author insisted on mentioning over and over. I think it would have been more meaningful if the author had quoted lyrics or described how the music made the characters feel more than just name-dropping.

Overall, City on Fire was intriguing, but I didn’t connect much with any of the main characters. I found it hard to settle into the setting of the story and sometimes the writing was too formal, bringing me out of the story and making me think more of the author than the characters. It wasn’t a bad novel and I didn’t dislike it, but I don’t think I’ll be recommending it anytime soon, especially given that it was almost a 40-hour read.

Until next time, bibliophiles….

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman


Hey again, bibliophiles!

I’m going to warn you now, this post might get a bit emotional! I finished listening to A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. This novel is not only a new favorite of mine, but it is a tear-jerker, which was a struggle because since I listened to the audiobook, I had to fight back tears while driving most of the time. Still, even if you don’t usually reach for emotional reads, this book may just be worth it is totally worth it! I’ll include a short synopsis below, but let me sum it up this way: it’s Pixar’s Up but for adults and with a bit of a darker side. Oh, plus, grouchy old man humor.

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon—the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.


This is a fast, quick read! It will keep its hooks in you until the very end, and then some. I don’t typically listen to my audiobooks outside of driving or doing chores, but I couldn’t turn this one off. The writing is amazing: detailed, funny, satirical, surprising, and engaging all at once. Here are some of my favorite quotes:

“People said Ove saw the world in black and white. But she was color. All the color he had.”

“We always think there’s enough time to do things with other people. Time to say things to them. And then something happens and then we stand there holding on to words like ‘if’.”

“Ove had never been asked how he lived before he met her. But if anyone had asked him, he would have answered that he didn’t.”

I highly, highly recommend this book to all! BUT, be prepared for the feels my friends!

Until next time, bibliophiles…


The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff

Hello bibliophiles!

Recently I finished reading The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff, a book that’s been on my TBR not nearly as long as others, but it was really calling to me! It’s a medium sized novel, ringing in at 270 pages that reads at a consistent, quick pace. The premise is inspired by the true story of Einar Wegener, a Danish painter who underwent one of the first sex reassignment surgeries in the 1920s. (Check out the image down below; the real Einar Wegener and post-transformation into Lili Elbe.) The novel follows not only Einar’s discovery of and transformation into Lili, but also the metamorphosis of his relationship with his wife, Greta.

The novel was an enthralling read. I have my degree in Psychology, so being able to get a peek (even fictional) into Einar’s head was intriguing. I also adore books centered around changing relationships in a family, so I was sucked in pretty immediately. In fact, the book doesn’t suffer from a long build-up; it jumps right into it. The only thing that was a bit off for me was the number of characters, and there really weren’t that many, but a few were similar in nature. I had to flip back sometimes to remind myself who was who. That could be my fault, because I did have stretches of a couple days here and there that I didn’t pick up the book to read (not because I didn’t want to!).


Beyond the crazy, endearing love story that is forefront, this novel comes with multitudes of opportunities for a bit of tough introspection. It poses the question: what do you do when someone you love wants to change? At what point is the change too much? At what point does it release you from your original bond together? Is it okay for them to expect you to change as well? No matter what type of relationship you’re in, these questions apply. It doesn’t have to be within a LGBTQ context. That’s what I really loved about this novel. It exposes readers to something that they probably aren’t familiar with, but it transcends the differences and speaks to all.

I highly recommend to readers that love drama, relationships, and new, interesting POVs.

Until next time, bibliophiles…

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

Hello again (so soon, I know), bibliophiles!

My book club read this month was Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. Part chick lit, part historical fiction, and part drama, the premise of the novel is based on true events, although the characters are not, as far as I know. The title really sums it up; orphans, usually immigrants, in the 1920’s New York world are transported by train to the west to find foster/adoptive parents. While babies typically found loving homes, older children were essentially collected to be used as free labor.

wanted children.jpg

The story flashes between two perspectives: that of Molly, a modern day (2011) foster child completing 50 hours of community service by helping an old woman clean out her attic as punishment for stealing a library book and that of Niamh, an orphan aboard the train in 1929. Both girls are strong-willed, but face unfortunate circumstances. The parallels between the two stories is extremely strong and the symbolism is meaningful.

This is one of those books that has emotional meaning, but you don’t have to dig deep down to find it. It doesn’t take years of analysis to understand the themes of family, resilience, and loneliness in this novel. Ultimately, the story was fairly predictable, but it was still quite touching. In all honesty, after putting it down, I was like, “Hmmm…maybe it’s time to become a foster mom!” Doubtful for now, but maybe someday….

My favorite quote from the novel:
“Time constricts and flows, you know. It’s not evenly weighted. Certain moments linger in the mind and others disappear.”

All told, I enjoyed the Orphan Train and would recommend it to women of all ages. It’s one more book to cross off my TBR list and I loved being able to share thoughts and discussion at my book club.

Paris: A Novel by Edward Rutherfurd

Well bibliophiles,

I’m a couple days behind. One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to write a blog post as soon as I finished a novel (or maybe the next day if I stayed up late to finish). Anyways, let’s hope this was just a brief jump from the track. I recently finished Paris: A Novel by Edward Rutherfurd, a 38 hour long audiobook. Here’s a quick sort-of synopsis from Amazon:

From Edward Rutherfurd, the grand master of the historical novel, comes a dazzling epic about the magnificent city of Paris. Moving back and forth in time, the story unfolds through intimate and thrilling tales of self-discovery, divided loyalty, and long-kept secrets. As various characters come of age, seek their fortunes, and fall in and out of love, the novel follows nobles who claim descent from the hero of the celebrated poem The Song of Roland; a humble family that embodies the ideals of the French Revolution; a pair of brothers from the slums behind Montmartre, one of whom works on the Eiffel Tower as the other joins the underworld near the Moulin Rouge; and merchants who lose everything during the reign of Louis XV, rise again in the age of Napoleon, and help establish Paris as the great center of art and culture that it is today. With Rutherfurd’s unrivaled blend of impeccable research and narrative verve, this bold novel brings the sights, scents, and tastes of the City of Light to brilliant life.

Okay, you should know I’m really torn about this book. Let’s start with the positives. This was a journey, an amazing, detailed, literary journey. There was amazing character development, titillating plot twists, and mind-blowing set description. It truly made me want to travel to Paris, like ASAP, which is nearly impossible currently (but someday maybe). The historical fiction bit was pleasant and the narrator did an amazing job, pronunciation and all. In fact, for quite a while I didn’t realize they were talking about the Eiffel Tower because it is pronounced so differently from how I naturally pronounce it. Little experiences like that were what really kept me hooked.


On the other side, this was a journey, a confusing, jump-around-y, literary journey. (You see what I did there? See how I set up that parallel?) For the life of me, I could not keep the different families that the story followed straight. Part of that was the audiobook format itself, I think. When I don’t see names, it’s harder to hold them in my head; it’s just part of being a visual learner. Another piece to it was that there were SO MANY characters. Character overload, many referred to similarly since they shared last names (family names) and sometimes the same title as well. Finally, the book jumped around in time, seemingly randomly, making it even harder to keep track of the characters. I don’t know how to impress upon you guys that it was really difficult to keep everyone straight; who was in what family, who was who’s parents, who married who. I even looked up the family trees to see if it would help…it didn’t really. Probably about half-way through (which is a long time for a 38-hour book) I was catching on to the family members. But even then, the novel would throw me for a loop when it would jump back a hundred years and then forward several years and so on.



Overall, I would recommend this to historical fiction buffs or readers who love literary journeys, but are capable of letting go of specific details, and won’t stress about remembering every character. I honestly, couldn’t tell you what exactly happened in this book big picture-wise, but for the most part, I really enjoyed listening to it. This has probably been one of the most ambivalent reading/listening experiences for me to date.

Until next time, bibliophiles…