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review 2018-05-08 16:18
Dragonfly in Amber / Diana Gabaldon
Dragonfly in Amber - Diana Gabaldon

For twenty years Claire Randall has kept her secrets. But now she is returning with her grown daughter to Scotland's majestic mist-shrouded hills. Here Claire plans to reveal a truth as stunning as the events that gave it birth: about the mystery of an ancient circle of standing stones ...about a love that transcends the boundaries of time ...and about James Fraser, a Scottish warrior whose gallantry once drew a young Claire from the security of her century to the dangers of his ....

Now a legacy of blood and desire will test her beautiful copper-haired daughter, Brianna, as Claire's spellbinding journey of self-discovery continues in the intrigue-ridden Paris court of Charles Stuart ...in a race to thwart a doomed Highlands uprising ...and in a desperate fight to save both the child and the man she loves....

 

Not a bad historical fantasy, but I have some issues with it. I kept putting off my reading until close to its due date at the library. Even when I got started and the deadline was approaching, I kept looking longingly at other books on my library book pile and had to force myself to keep reading this one.

First, the book starts with Claire returning to Scotland (in the 20th century) with her grown-up daughter Brianna. They meet a charming young Scotsman, Roger MacKenzie, and sparks fly between Brianna and Roger. Well & good, I am interested in this new plot line. But does Gabadon stick with it? No, everything takes an abrupt left turn, back into the past and we’re back in time with Claire & Jamie. And there are HUNDREDS of pages between appearances of Roger & Brianna.

The historical fantasy isn’t bad, as historical fantasies go, it just wasn’t what I was interested in. Claire & Jamie, blah blah, blah, Bonnie Prince Charlie, blah, blah, blah, Battle of Culloden, more blather. The manuscript is padded with all kinds of vignettes which do absolutely nothing to move the action along and only bogged me down (when Claire & Jaime discover the cave paintings, anyone?)

And this is going to sound very pedantic, but she mentions birds in the course of the book four times and only gets it right once. In the very beginning, chickadees are referenced. Well, there aren’t any chickadees in Scotland—they have related birds, the tits. If Claire had seen/heard Blue Tits or Coal Tits, that would be accurate, but not chickadees. At another point, Claire is woken by a mockingbird. No dice, there aren’t mockingbirds in France. Claire hears a meadowlark—impossible! Maybe a Skylark, but there aren’t meadowlarks in Europe. At least when Jamie feeds crumbs to some sparrows, she just leaves them as generic sparrows and doesn’t assign a species. I even hauled out my Birds of Europe with North Africa and the Middle East just to check that I hadn’t lost my mind, but it backed me up. If you want accurate historical fiction, you can’t just go sticking North American birds into a novel set in Scotland and France!

Okay, bird rant over. I can tell how un-involved I was in the story that I’d be counting and evaluating the appearances of birds in the text.

One thing I did enjoy was the prominence of genealogical research in the plot line. Turns out that Claire’s 20th century husband, Frank, fortuitously counted some of the characters in this narrative in his family tree and had made a big enough deal of it that Claire was aware of these details. She spends a fair bit of time convincing the 18th century husband, Jamie, not to kill these relatives too soon, to ensure that Frank will be born. There’s more talk of the paradox of time travel in this novel, and I enjoyed those speculations.

Book number 283 in my Science Fiction and Fantasy Reading Project.

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text 2018-04-26 14:57
TBR Thursday
The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver
Dragonfly in Amber - Diana Gabaldon
The Magic of Recluce - L.E. Modesitt Jr.
Stations of the Tide - Michael Swanwick
A Curious Beginning - Deanna Raybourn
A Plague of Giants - Kevin Hearne
Robots vs. Fairies - Sarah Gailey,Lila Bowen,Alyssa Wong,Jim C. Hines,Maria Dahvana Headley,Linda Howard,Seanan McGuire,Mary Robinette Kowal,Madeline Ashby,Ken Liu,Lavie Tidhar,Annalee Newitz,William Ewart Gladstone,Jeffrey Ford,Catherynne M. Valente,Jonathan Maberry,John Sca
Small Favor - Jim Butcher

It is Thursday, isn't it?  Today is my final day in my old office.  The movers do their magic tomorrow, IT does theirs on Saturday, and theoretically I unpack in the new office on Monday.  I haven't slept well for weeks and I think I'm getting an eye infection.  Blah!

 

I haven't had as much time for reading lately--spring has finally arrived in Calgary and my friends are emerging from hibernation and wanting to go do things.  I have more coffee, brunch and theatre dates than I can shake a stick at for the month of May.

 

Actually, I go this evening to see Lady Windermere's Fan.  On May's agenda:  Julius Caesar, The Secret Garden, and Much Ado About Nothing.  I shall be cultured by month's end.

 

I'm also longing to get out birding and I need to go visit an 87 year old aunt who is in hospital in my home town.  There's lots to do.

 

Happy reading, everyone!

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text 2018-04-19 15:22
TBR Thursday
The Lie Tree - Frances Hardinge
The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver
The Warded Man - Peter V. Brett
Dragonfly in Amber - Diana Gabaldon
The Magic of Recluce - L.E. Modesitt Jr.
Stations of the Tide - Michael Swanwick

I'm currently reading Smilla's Sense of Snow and The Good Women of China.  Once I've finished them, it's time to move on to these books.

 

My real life book club meets soon, and our May choice is The Lie Tree.  This is our year of reading exclusively young-adult literature and this book was highly recommended to me.

 

I've got three books for my Science Fiction and Fantasy reading project:  Dragonfly in Amber, The Magic of Recluce, and Stations of the Tide.  There's a hold on Dragonfly and the other two are interlibrary loans, so they can't be renewed. 

 

I'm also reading with an eye to my August conference.  Peter Brett will be a guest of honour and I'm going to read his The Warded Man to get an idea of what his work is about.

 

Years ago, for RL Book club, I read Barbara Kingsolver's The Bean Trees.  Now I intend to see what The Poisonwood Bible is like.

 

Saturday I'm headed to an art show where one of my friends is exhibiting and Sunday I'm doing brunch & a movie with another friend.  The movie is a filming of a Shakespearean production, Timon of Athens, a play that I have never seen performed. 

 

Happy reading, friends!

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review 2017-11-05 22:36
Review of Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon
Dragonfly in Amber - Diana Gabaldon

The last two hundred pages of this book saved it from being a two star read for me.  I know this book and this series has incredibly high ratings, but I am not feeling it after two books.  This novel was a nine hundred page book that could have told the story in less than half of that.  There were far too many stretches in the book that simply dragged and did not add very much to the story.  I enjoyed the history and the writing is solid, but it just took too long to get to the best parts of the plot.  

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review 2016-12-08 00:00
Dragonfly in Amber
Dragonfly in Amber - Diana Gabaldon When I finished it I wanted a bibliography to explore some of the obvious research.

Clare goes back to Scotland with her grown daughter and tells her the next part of the story and Diana Gabaldon shows the reader all the research she has done on the period. Interesting but didn't grasp me and occasionally I found it a bit of a slog.
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