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Fates And Furies

A Book by Lauren Groff
This is one of those books that you see everywhere. You don’t know what it is about, but you know you should be reading it. Your point is proven for you when you go to check it out from the library, and it has the longest hold time of any other book you’ve put on hold in the past five months. When you’re finally allowed to bring it home and you start reading it, you realize why all the hype.

The allure of Fates and Furies is something that I can’t put my finger on. The writing is breezy and quick. Its cadence reminded me (for some weird reason) of Matilda. Each sentence, each scene is so matter of fact. Large swaths of time are left out, but you don’t need them. You get the full picture in the small anecdotes and moments in time.

Fates and Furies is about a marriage. Period. There’s no making it more interesting or riveting than that. But in my opinion, its magneticism comes from the prose and not the plot.

Read it. Quickly. Because that’s the only way the book allows you to read it.

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Outlander

A Book By Diana Gabaldon
My good friend, Andrea, and I have been engaged in an exclusive, message-only book club over the last few months. Basically, we tell each other what book we are reading and then demand the other go read it because it is soooooo good–via text, Facebook, or Hangouts. I take it one step further and verbally abuse her for recommending such good books that I become obsessive. The latest in that series of obsessions is Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.

This is a time-travel, historical fiction, action-adventure, romance novel. And I’ve been voraciously consuming every word of it for two weeks. Claire Randall steps through magical stones in the Scottish Highlands in post-war 1945. Through the stones, she finds herself in 1743 and in the literal middle of a fight between English redcoats and Scottish clansmen. She is taken in by the clan MacKenzie where she nurses the castle inhabitants with a combination of modern techniques and antiquated potions; deals with the injustices of doled out in a rogue time; and begins to fall in love with a hunky, smar, tender, ginger Scottish warrior. This book has plenty of sex, fighting, intimacy, and intrigue. Many a nights, I went to sleep with my heart racing after putting down the book. And there were quite a few moments where my jaw literally dropped and stayed that way for the rest of the chapter.

The book was published in 1991, but its television iteration has been on Starz since 2014. I knew I had vaguely heard of it when Andrea introduced me to it. Like so many things that pulse a low hum in the background until one recognizes it is there, mentions and articles regarding the series have catapulted to the forefront of awareness. Vulture had a piece this week calling Outlander’s sex the best on television. In the piece, it mentioned a previous post on Jezebel regarding how apparent the female gaze is in the series. It also cites a recap written by (my beloved) Roxane Gay. There is rarely a topic on which I dissent from her. Of course she thought the particular episode she recapped was perfect. It blends some of her favorite things: feminism and literary guilty pleasures. There’s no way to currently watch Outlander without having Starz. I will wait. And it will be worth it. Meanwhile, there are seven other books in the series I can devour.

All the Birds in the Sky

A Book by Charlie Jane Anders
A genre-bending cross between scifi and fantasy, this book was a lovely surprise I found in the midst of my rss feed. I hadn’t seen it on any must-read lists, and I hadn’t heard anyone speak of it. To my surprise the library had a copy and knew how popular is was going to be because they only let me check it out for two weeks instead of the normal three. Two weeks not needed! I could tell from the first chapter that I would enjoy this book. I can’t tell you how many times I squealed with delight as I read.

All the Birds in the Sky is about the conflicting worlds of scientists and witches—in the form of best friends who navigate a relationship that ebbs and flows through the years. It is unique and lovely and of-the-moment. There’s a two-second time machine and an Asheville mention and an iPad-like device that guides people in the book to the person they are meant to be with.

I think I had a permanent smile on my face the entire time I read it—even as the relationship  ebbed. Highly recommended. To everyone I come in contact with.

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