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review 2017-07-03 00:00
Virgins: An Outlander Novella (Kindle Single)
Virgins: An Outlander Novella (Kindle Single) - Diana Gabaldon I love JAMMF, and I love a good bromance. This short has both. It's a look at Jamie and Ian before everything that has happened in the Outlander universe. Of course the author throws in plenty of historical events to keep things interesting also.
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review 2017-03-30 13:36
Book Review: Drums of Autumn
Drums of Autumn - Diana Gabaldon

It's been about 3 years since I read the last book in the series, and I honestly have no idea why I waited so long to continue! I just finished watching the 2 seasons of Outlander that deals with the first two books, so that's what prompted me to pick where I left off... but I honestly couldn't remember a single thing about the 3rd book except that it involved pirates and they washed up on the shores of America... even after reading the wiki for book 3 I still had trouble remembering, though I'm 100% sure I read it and enjoyed it! Luckily the wiki reminded me enough to not be completely lost, and there were also a couple of references and reminders in DoA, so at least I don't feel like I have to re-read it to know what's going on... not that re-reading it would be a bad thing, but my Reading Challenge would suffer immeasurably.

DG is a brilliant storyteller and has such a way with words that you don't even notice the pages flying past. Even though this was another monster sized book, I didn't feel like it was that long. Not a lot of huge exciting stuff happened, though at the same time, a lot of exciting things happened in a normal run-of-the-mill daily life in the 1700's kind of way...

Drums of Autumn picks up after Jamie and Claire wash up on American shores, and chronicles their years there. You've got slaves, Red Indians, Immigrants... and all the drama that goes along with it. It's another fascinating look at the history of a place, and this was very close to the beginning years of modern America. Generally it's a well known history, so it's nothing that you didn't really know, but DG goes into much more detail for a closer look at customs etc.

The characters are still lovable and it felt like catching up with old friends. Jamie is still his hard-headed self and Claire is still feisty. We're also seeing much more of Brianna and Roger this time around, while other characters like Fergus fades into the background. That's the one thing that GB does that I don't really like -- she spends a lot of time building characters, and then she discards them. I guess I can live with that as long as Jamie stays front and center <3

There was a lot happening in this book, and I'm guessing that I'll probably forget a lot of it over time as I did with Voyager. There were scenes that made me cry and Jamie made me laugh more than once. The part where (view spoiler) was so well done that the tears were rolling down my cheeks while I was laughing and my heart filled with emotion. I wasn't that worried during the "stressful" bits because you kind of know that nobody is really in life danger, but still... I actually really want to read the next book and find out what happens with Ian and his situation. Ian and Rollo has definitely grown on me and I hope to see more of them in the next book.

On the other hand, we have Lord John who I never really liked, though I don't actively dislike him either. I think he's a cool dude though, and his actions during this book did endear him to me quite a bit. He's definitely a more complex character than can be addressed in Jamie and Claire's books, though I've read a couple of the Lord John stories, but they weren't great tbh...

Jamie Fraser is still my favorite book-boyfriend, and although I usually don't like the female characters, I find myself really liking Claire. Even Bree is pretty cool. I think what makes them so likeable is the fact that they are flawed. Jamie is high-handed and stubborn and I would sometimes like to kick him in the shins. Claire is hot-headed and doesn't think before talking or acting, and sometimes you just feel like shaking her. But at the end of the day you love them, and the love they share feels more real than many other "romances" out there.

I would really recommend this series to pretty much everyone, though I wish DG would cut out some of the excessive stuff. It really doesn't need to be these huge long books, and most of the time they can probably be split into various other books! Still though... read it!

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review 2017-03-03 13:28
The Exile ★★☆☆☆
The Exile: An Outlander Graphic Novel - Diana Gabaldon,Hoang Nguyen

I’m really not familiar enough with the graphic novel format to judge it on its merits as such, so I’m only going to remark on how well I enjoyed it, or more accurately, did not enjoy it.

Although the story is told primarily from Murtaugh’s POV rather than Claire’s, it seems very much like the story I remember from reading Outlander many years ago. Of course, we get how much Murtaugh distrusts her and disapproves of Jamie’s relationship with her, but we already knew that. There’s also a new character added, who doesn’t seem to add much to the story. I didn’t find the artwork very impressive. At least, it didn’t especially help me to connect with the characters or the story. Overall, the book was okay. I’m not sure how someone who isn’t already familiar with the story would have enjoyed it.

I read this for the 2017 Romance Bingo. It would fit several of the squares:
Insta-love: Jamie desperately wants Claire and is willing to risk death to be with her within a few hours of meeting her.
Blown Away: The characters on the cover are certainly windblown, and in several of the panels the characters appear to be battling a high wind, although that just may be how the artist portays action.
Key to My Heart: If I’m interpreting this square correctly, Jamie and Claire are soul-mates, and their love enables them to share dreadful secrets that they hold very close.
Man in a Kilt: Every freakin’ panel has plaid or kilts, although there is a disappointing lack of hairy dude-knees
Eyeshadow and Heaving Bosoms: Claire’s boobs seem to swell and shrink throughout the book, but at times she could give Dolly Parton a run for her money. The artwork also seems to have gifted them with their own independent motion. They might even be sentient, they’re so lively.
Virgin Best First Time: This time, it’s the guy who’s the virgin, and the panel of them mid-coitus is hilariously captioned with a white thought-bubble over Jamie’s head, “Holy God!”
Wedding Bells: The whole plot revolves around the forced marriage trope
Historical Romance: Time-travel to the 1700s

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review 2017-02-04 02:43
A Plague of Zombies (Lord John Grey #3.5, Audiobook)
A Plague of Zombies: An Outlander Novella - Recorded Books LLC,Diana Gabaldon,Jeff Woodman

Look, I don't like zombies. I always thought the whole concept was rather silly and could never take them seriously. Even Buffy couldn't make zombies work, though that episode is responsible for the single greatest Giles quote ever:

 

 

Supernatural did a good zombie episode in season two, and Grimm did a great season finale cliffhanger that I still remember as being uber creepy, but that's about it for me and satisfying zombie stories. (Oh, if only these two shows had stayed good. *sigh*)

 

But Gabaldon, while she deals with the mystical and timey whimey stuff in Outlander, keeps Lord John firmly set in reality, which means the zombies he encounters are the legit thing. And it's creepy as hell. Like, I didn't even know this was a for real thing until I read this because I never bothered to research it or pay any attention to it, and the idea that someone can just zombify you and you'll spend the rest of your days an animated vegetable is just disturbing, to say the least. Yes, it's super cliche, tropey and stereotypical of Jamaica and I don't care. It works. Mostly because Gabaldon is so great at writing fully realized three-dimensional characters.

 

John has his work cut out for him in Jamaica trying to squash a slave rebellion. (Let them rebel. Damn you, white oppressors!) Tom's mostly worried about the giant cockroaches and snakes. John has to deal with figuring out what started the supposed rebellion and why. It's not all as it seems, of course, because that would make John's life too easy. 

 

I somehow remembered this being longer, so the abrupt ending was kind of jarring, and I wanted to see more of Gellie. I'll just have to await her appearance in Voyager for that. It did however jog my memory about the connections between Gellie and Dr. Abernathy though, which I had also forgotten.

 

It was fun rereading/listening to these in chronological order along with Voyager. If anyone else feels compelled to do the same, the order is:

 

Voyager Ch 1-14

LJ & The Hellfire Club

LJ & The Private Matter

LJ & The Succubus

Voyager Ch 15

LJ & The Brotherhood of the Blade

LJ & The Haunted Soldier

A Custom of the Army

The Scottish Prisoner

A Plague of Zombies

Voyager Ch 16-end

 

It does make some minor continuity errors between Voyager and the LJ series (which were written much later) pretty glaring, but overall, it was fun to make all these side trips to see what John was up to during that time. (And I was totally right in my review of Custom of the Army. In the afterward to this book, Gabaldon wrote that she just looked up events going on in any given year and sent John off to them to write these stories. Vindication!)

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text 2016-12-30 18:01
2016 Wrap Up
A Monster Calls - Patrick Ness,Jim Kay
Cocaine Blues - Kerry Greenwood
Médicis Daughter: A Novel of Marguerite de Valois - Sophie Perinot
The Martian - Andy Weir
The Hourglass Factory - Lucy Ribchester
The Moon in the Palace (The Empress of Bright Moon Duology) - Weina Dai Randel
Outlander - Diana Gabaldon

It is a good thing I started 2016 with a bang because I am ending it with a whimper. Well, maybe not quite a whimper, more like less of a bang. Like one of those champagne poppers versus the full Fourth of July fireworks. I had all kinds of grand reading plans for 2016. I discovered reading challenge groups on Goodreads and it was like the universe magically expanded. Then I went out and got one of those adult full time job things. Good bye grand plans. One of the wonderful things about my adult job is that it is at a school which means I have been on break for the last week. This gives me time to review my year of reading.

 

Top 5 Reads 

 

1.) A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

-This is a middle grade novel. I devoured it in an hour. At the end of that hour I was an emotional wreck. This book should be required reading for any child (or even adult) who is grieving a loved one. The illustrations were gorgeous. If nothing else, pick this book up for the pictures. This book is being made into a movie for wide release in 2017 (currently it is limited release), featuring Liam Neeson as the Monster. As much as I love Liam Neeson, I think this movie will disappoint me as much as any book ever made into a movie. 

 

2.) Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood

-Phryne Fisher just might be my new favorite fictional female. She is brilliant. The best part about these novels going forward, they are short. I tried an episode of the television series. I think the actress cast to play Phryne is brilliant but the story line veered too far from the books to keep my interest. I might have to come back to it once I have worked my way through all the books.

 

3.) Medicis' Daughter by Sophie Perinot

-How is it possible everybody and their mother has written a book about the Tudors but there is so little about their counterparts across the Channel? The French royals are just as scandal filled as any of the Tudor monarchs. Marguerite de Valios is a tragic figure and the bride at the original Red Wedding. To me the sign of good historical fiction is when I find myself desperately wishing for history to change just to save characters from their known fate. This book had me crying like a baby, begging for Margot to be saved from her impending fate. 

 

4.) The Martian by Andy Weir

-I stepped well outside my bubble for this book. I am not a big reader of science fiction. I have minimal interest in space travel. While picking up this book is not likely to encourage me to read more science fiction, I'm not disappointed that I read this novel. Mark Watney had me in stitches. The other adult in my house was so curious to see what I was giggling about that he took the book from me as soon as I was done. 

 

5.) Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton 

- I knew nothing about Margaret Cavendish, the first woman to be invited to the Royal Society of London. This book didn't really provide me with a great deal of information about the Duchess but it was enchanting none the less. The words just floated along on the pages. Their was such a lyrical air surrounding me while I was reading that it was hard not to be disappointed when things came to an end after only 176 pages.

 

Worst 5 Reads

 

1.) The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

-Yet another over hyped bestseller that reminded me why I stay away from over hyped bestsellers. I couldn't even bother to finish the last part of the book. I looked up the ending on Wikipedia. 

 

2.) The Visitors by Sally Beauman

-What should have been a fascinating thriller about the discovery of King Tut's tomb, was nothing more than a hot mess that should have been buried in a tomb. 

 

3.) The Hammer of Thor (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard 2) by Rick Riordan

-At this point it is pretty obvious Riordan is only writing because Disney has already paid him. It's the same story with different characters (well, mostly different). The shots he took at police officers in this books was particularly deplorable. 

 

4.) Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Parts 1 and 2) by J.K. Rowling

-I don't even want to talk about this. The disappointment is still too raw.

 

5.) Bohemian Gosepl by Dana Chamblee Carpenter

-Another highly recommended book that turned into an utter disappointment. 

 

Pleasant Surprises

 

1.) The Hourglass Factor by Lucy Ribchester

-I have little to no interest in the women's suffrage movement in England (despite being a woman who is grateful to all those women did for me and my daughters) so this book was not on my radar. It was a featured book at my local library. The cover was so amazing that I had to pick it up. One of the few times where judging a book by its cover works.

 

2.) The Moon in the Palace- Weina Dai Randel

-A beautiful novel about a time and woman history often ignores. 

 

3.) Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

-A rare, over-hyped bestseller that I found myself in love with. I immediately went out and bought the next four books. 

 

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