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review 2018-06-13 04:06
Drums of Autumn (Outlander #4) (Audiobook)
Drums of Autumn - Geraldine James,Diana Gabaldon

As I mentioned in my review for Outlander, I started this series with the fourth book by accident. I was just out of high school, my mom was having health issues and I was the one who was driving her around to her various appointments and spending a lot of time in waiting rooms. So when I saw this book sitting on the new releases shelf in the bookstore, the only thing I cared about what that it looked interesting and it was thick. It would give me hours and hours and hours of reading time. So I got it, started reading, and got to around a quarter of the way through when I realized this was part of an ongoing series. I kept reading though and enjoyed it. It provided exactly what I needed at the time and even got me to go back and read the first three books.

 

Now, twenty plus years later ... this got annoying. It starts off really slow and rambling. All the books in this series ramble, but it gets worse the longer the series goes on. The first three books at least have obvious plots right off the bat. This one takes over 500 pages to get around to it's main conflict, and up till then it's basically just the four main characters doing stuff. I still really enjoy Claire and Jamie's relationship, but I couldn't give two figs about Briana and Roger's courtship, especially when Roger gets all caveman about it. 

 

I was never a fan of Briana, but wow. For someone so smart, she can be really stupid. Roger's kind of a jerk but he's tolerable. Neither one is prepared for 18th century living, despite both of them being history majors. They not only lie to each other about crucial things, but they make one reckless decision after another. How in the world they survived is beyond me. 

 

Actually, the main conflict isn't exactly what I would call contrived. Considering what Bree's been through and that she just barely met her father, her decisions make sense, even if they're illogical. Given what Lizzy thinks she knows, and what she tells Ian and Jamie, their actions also make sense. What doesn't make sense is

Claire not telling Jamie what Briana told her. She could've done that and kept Bonnet's name out of it.

Also, if you're looking for someone, a physical description usually helps.

Also, both Claire and Briana went by different last names when they went through the stones, so it makes zero sense they wouldn't consider Roger doing the same.

Also, Jamie would've killed Roger based on the info Lizzy told him. But of course he couldn't because the reader - and Bree - wouldn't be able to forgive him if he had.

(spoiler show)

The Big Misunderstanding required these characters who are usually extremely good with communication to be really bad at it.  

 

And it's just a little ridiculous that these characters are all encountering the same villain no matter where they are in the world. 

 

But once I got through all that nonsense and the characters all started to act like their intelligent, rational selves again, it got way better. The last third of the book is definitely the strongest.

 

Not enough Lord John though. 

I hate that he sleeps with one of the slaves. It's not on page, but it's implied. I guess I can have a smidgeon of consolation that John wouldn't have forced himself on anyone unwilling, and he's a pretty perceptive fellow, so he could probably tell if someone was just pretending to be willing. But still. Don't sleep with slaves, John.

(spoiler show)

 

Edit: Oh, and I forgot to mention the narration. Davina Porter does her usual stellar job, but she doesn't even attempt an American accent for Briana. I guess she's the UK's answer to Kevin Costner. ;) But since I'd rather listen to a pleasant British accent than a terrible American (much less Bostonian) one, I wasn't bothered by it too much.

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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 2018-04-06 21:16
Scotts, Scotland and History: aren't these enough reasons to read it?
Outlander - Diana Gabaldon

I discovered this book thanks to the tv show spot: a young woman was thrown back to 1700s Scotland because of this weird stones and I just thought "hey, that seems interesting".

Long story short: it became one of my favorites books. 

The book begins with Claire, the protagonist, who comes back to Scotland with her husband to rebound but while exploring the land she goes through a time travelling of some sort. 

At first, obviously, she is totally caught off guard by what happens to her but Claire is a very strong, independent and charismatic woman that isn't put off by a mere accident and faces the events with her head held high. She uses her knowledge and mind to survive this unexpeted adventure that happens to her.

 

Above everything else I liked particularly how Diana Gabaldon built the character of Claire: it is described as a person that I would like to meet in person. 

She is stubborn, of course, but she has this amazing personality, great sense of humor, a very smart person, open minded and well, easygoing. 

 

The other main character is Jamie, a ginger Scottsman with such a great personality who at first you just like but then, oh man, you will fell in love with him. I can assure you this: maybe you will not like the book but you WILL love Jamie. 

 

 

At first, one could think that a 1700s man has a different view of life from a 1900s woman but that is why I enjoyed so much the relationship between him and Claire: they are different but they are influenced by one another, he is open to learn from her and improve himlself and she is willing to learn from him and understand his reasons.

 

It should be noted how Diana Gabaldon writes about Scotland, it becomes one of the main characters of the book: its landscape, its culture, its history. 

The writer did an amazing job at researching and the book is full of true facts and Gaelic words. For me all of this meant a great curiosity towars this country and desire to visit it (Scotland's Office of Tourism should definitely hire Diana Gabaldon).

 

If you like history but more of that, if you like stories of love, adventure, hope and fate you should read this book and I can assure you, you will not be disappointed. 

 

Thank you for reading :)

 

 

 

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