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review 2018-09-04 19:07
Voyager / Diana Gabaldon
Voyager - Diana Gabaldon

Claire Randall discovers that Jamie Fraser survived the Battle of Culloden and must choose between returning to him or staying in the life she has made for herself in her own time.

 

Well thank goodness that Voyager is now in my rear-view mirror! Not that it’s a terrible book, just it’s not the right book for me, especially right now when I’m looking forward to diving into my fall reading list. But my hold was fulfilled at the public library sooner than I anticipated and then I found there were 25 people waiting patiently behind me in line for it, so there would be no renewal allowed. Le Sigh!

I’m interested in the basic plot of the story, but Gabaldon bludgeons the reader with detail. I persist in thinking that a more ruthless editor would improve these books by orders of magnitude. Apparently this is an argument that the author has heard before, as Jamie & Major John Grey have a discussion about the length of books when Jamie is in the prison which Grey is overseeing. They are discussing Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded, by Samuel Richardson which is another kitten-squisher of a book and they come to the conclusion that some books just need more details to capture a life. Obviously, I don’t agree, but it’s a valid argument in some cases.

And of course I can’t review Gabaldon without my ritual bird-rant. This time around, it’s about a pelican, caught by the Chinese character and used to bring in fish. This method of using a bird to do the fishing is a real thing, done in China, but with cormorants. I’m unaware if pelicans have ever been trained in this way, but I suppose it is possible. There are certainly lots of cormorant species at sea that could have been chosen for the book. I’m not sure which species of pelican is referred to here, but I assume it’s a Brown Pelican (and Gabaldon, with her poor bird track record, thankfully doesn’t specify species). I suspect that she chose the pelican over the cormorant because it is a larger bird, providing some protection for its new master.

Having just recently finished Dr. No, by Ian Fleming, also set in Jamaica, I was struck by the shared details between the two books. Descriptions of mangroves and of the guano industry, for instance. Fleming references the bird guano industry, Gabaldon specifies bat guano. I assume that there are insectivorous bats in the Caribbean and caves large enough to house them and collect guano? I definitely know that Fleming’s bird colonies are dead accurate. ***I just found a reference to Jamaica bat guano on Amazon, of all places.  So Caribbean bat guano is a thing.***

One thing that I did appreciate in this volume was the lovely portrayal of middle-aged lovers. Jamie & Claire have still got it going on. I also thought that their hesitance when they are first reunited was right on the money—a 20 year gap is almost like starting over with a new person, after all.

I’m pleased to report that it looks like at least a year will pass before I will pick up the next book in this series. Hopefully, I’ll be feeling less time pressure at that point and can read at a more leisurely pace, which would dampen my resentment of all the unnecessary padding in these books.

Book number 293 in my Science Fiction & Fantasy Reading Project.

 

This was the cover of the version that I read, and I have to say that I love it!  That lichen covered rock, reminiscent of something in a stone henge, with Claire and Jamie on either side of it.

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review 2018-09-01 05:29
Invictus - audiobook
Invictus - Ryan Graudin

Audience: Young Adult

 

Farway is part of a crack team that travels back in time to liberate priceless artifacts before they are destroyed or lost to disaster. On an expedition to the Titanic, another time traveler (Eliot) takes the piece they were there to retrieve. Eliot says all she wants is to be part of their team, but can they trust her?

 

I loved this book. The characters are likable and relatable, including typical human flaws. The world-building is fantastic, both the future time and the pasts they travel to. The twist at the end is surprising, but not completely unexpected. 

 

The narration is very well done. I never wanted to stop listening.

 

Recommended to: Fans of sci-fi stories with non-stop action and snarky humor.

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text 2018-08-31 19:15
Reading progress update: I've read 334 out of 870 pages.
Voyager - Diana Gabaldon

 

I am disappointed to report no birds in this volume thus far.

 

The positive:  its a great depiction of middle-aged lovers.

 

Summary of the first third of the book?  Claire, Brianna, and Roger do a lot of research, while pretty much everyone Jaime meets in Scotland wants to sleep with him.  All right, that's a BIT of an exaggeration, but really.  *rolls eyes*

 

And I'm having the same problem that I always do with Gabaldon's work, I read along fine for a while, but when I set the book down, its really hard to pick it back up.

 

I have seven more days until its due.....

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review 2018-08-29 22:48
The Phantom Tree
The Phantom Tree - Nicola Cornick

In present day Wiltshire, England Alison Bannister sees a portrait that catches her eye.  The portrait has been recently authenticated to be of Anne Boleyn, however Alison knows better.  It is of her friend, Mary Seymour and the portrait contains precious clues that Mary left for Alison in order to find her son.  Mary and Alison grew up together, castoffs of Wolf Hall under the care of their cousin Edward.  After becoming pregnant and being forced to give up her child, Alison runs away with plans to set up a home and bring Arthur there.  Though, the place Alison has found is a portal into the future and for 10 years she has not been able to find out how to return to her own time. 


Exciting and engaging with strokes of magic and fantasy, Nicola Cornick's The Phantom Tree reimagines the little known life of Katherine Parr's daughter, Mary Seymour and gives her an enchanted but tragic life with a time-traveling best friend.  From the time Alison sees Mary's portrait, I was hooked on the mystery surrounding her life.  The point of view shifts back and forth between Alison and Mary's life in the 16th century and Alison's life in the present.  I was amazed at how well Alison was able to adapt as well as intrigued by the series of clues left for her by Mary.  Alison and Mary's characters are painted as opposites, Alison is wild, resourceful and cunning, Mary is careful and quiet in order to keep the secret that she sees visions of the future.  Between the the women, there is a full picture of what life was like for a woman in the 16th century who did not have a male figure to provide for them.  The writing easily transported me to both centuries and I could envision Wolf Hall and Middlecote as well as Alison's modern flat and the portrait of Mary.  Historical fiction rolled up with fantasy, romance and time travel provides for a well-rounded, fast-paced entrancing read.  I'll definitely be looking for more from this author.


This book was received for free in return for an honest review.

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text 2018-08-28 21:22
Halloween Bingo 2018 - headstart selection - CREEPY CARNIVALS
Carousel - Barbara Baldwin

This is one of those Kindle freebies I've had sitting in my files since forever.  It has been republished as Spinning through Time.  (Current cover below.)  How much textual difference there is between the edition I have and the current one, I don't know.  The formatting has been improved - mine has block paragraphs with no extra space between them; the revision has indented paragraphs.

 

I may check my Amazon account to see if there was a notice that the revised/retitled edition was available to purchasers.

 

I'm only a few pages in, and while it's mildly entertaining, I'm already finding some details that pull me out of the story.  I'll save those for a formal status report.

 

 

 

 

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