An Echo in the Bone (Outlander #7) – Diana Gabaldon
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an echo in the boneI am not cool with this book. I could maybe learn to be OK with leaving the Claire and Jamie chapters to see Bree and Roger in the 80s and living at Lallybroch once in a while, but…I do NOT care about William and his long ramblings about military engagements, and I’m not OK with Lord John Gray invading my main series books with his boring sleuthing.

I actually don’t have much else to say about it, really. What a terrible “review” this is.

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A Breath of Snow and Ashes (Outlander #6) – Diana Gabaldon
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a breath of snow and ashes***Spoilers all over the place up in here!***

Well, things definitely happen in this book, evenm though most of it felt like long, unedited, random filler at the time.

Fergus is finally around more than the past few books but still not enough, and all he (and his whole family) really does is wander around singing Allouette, which is, I can only assume, the only French song that Gabaldon knows (it’s definitely the only one I know).

Ugh. I still am loving these books, but I think I’m ready for them to be over. I just…I love me a wordy, enormous series, but this is just getting extreme. I think what I don’t like is that all the books kind of run together and aren’t self-contained and neatly wrapped up. Things just drag on and on through books and books.. Like, Steven Bonnet was first introduced 2 books ago, and he’s still kind of lurking around the edges and popping up occasionally (that storyline FINALLY does get some resolution though). The gold at Jocasta’s is still a thing. Ian’s finally revealed his secret about why he left the Indians, but it’s been so long that I so don’t even care anymore (and also it ended up being kind of lame).

Everyone is extremely worried that Claire will get pregnant. But um…by my (possibly wrong) calculations, Claire is about 55 years old at this time. Isn’t she supposed to be a doctor and like…know how unlikely that is?

Claire’s got her own little doctor-slave in Malva Christie. Halfway through the book I had written this whole thing about how I think that Malva is going turn turn all Single White Female and try to steal Claire’s life and her doctoring skills and her Jamie and then…well, it happened.

Claire’s not doing much better, with her using the neighborhood kids as guinea pigs for her ether tests, and getting excited when she has a chance to use it (which means getting excited when she performs dirty 18th-century surgeries on children).

Roger has decided to be a minister and it’s incredibly boring, and he wanders around the a lot of the book quoting scripture and whining about how his voice doesn’t work. Also…of course Roger has a Mini Cooper. Of course. He’s such a dork. I bet he would wear a bluetooth headset everywhere if he lived in present times.

Bree is suddenly a mad scientist, making paper, matches, designing guns, and running water to the house.

Jamie doesn’t do too much at all except have long philosophical talks with Claire about the nature of war and his FEELINGS. He does rescue Claire a couple of times though, which is more like the Original Jamie I fell in love with, so it’s cool.

Lizzie, who has always been a superfluous character, suddenly gets a weird storyline of her own. I need to type this all out because I want to see if it looks as ridiculous as it sounds in my head: she starts sleeping with BOTH of the (also superfluous) Beardsly twins, can’t tell them apart and refuses to choose between them, marries them both and is now happily living in a filthy cabin (why is the horrible stench of the place always mentioned?) with both of her twin husbands and her baby.

Stephen Bonnet is still lurking around the edges, popping up occasionally, but no one really seems to care until the end when he kidnaps Brianna again. Yawn.

Arch Bug being a criminal mastermind and stealing all Jocasta’s gold and threatening her and having been important enough 30 years ago to take possession of Louis’s gold…seems like a last minute addition. Not in character and I hate it.

I’ve come to realize that Diana Gabaldon is incredibly good at making extremely boring things not seem terrible. I mean, a half hour description of Bree digging a hole or Jamie fishing or Claire stitching up someone’s foot – these are things that should bore me, but they don’t. But I like weird things sometimes, so I feel like at some point there should’ve been an editor to be like “hey, maybe we don’t need 5 pages of you lancing a boil.” Is there an editor for these books? I’m seriously starting to wonder, because the disjointedness, the rambling…is there no one left to reign in Diana Gabaldon?? I feel like GRRM should call her up and set her straight, but he’s probably too busy getting drunk with fans and not finishing ASoIaF. She’s also REALLY good at writing scenes that are juuuuuust disturbing enough to make me squirm, but not bad enough to make me put the book down. It’s like an art for her.

With each book after number two, I find myself having to mention in my review that “I still love Jamie and Claire, BUT…”, and…I’m starting to get sick of even Jamie and Claire, really. I…enjoyed the book, I really did! But…I just want it to end.

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Zone One by Colson Whitehead
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This onezone one was SO almost a DNF. (Actually, I probably would have been happier if it had been!) It took me weeks to get through and completely obliterated my chances of meeting my Goodreads goal this year and it’s only June. Zone One was not exciting. It was not profound. It was not interesting. It was not even really unique since walking dead stories seem to have exploded onto the book scene in the way vampire novels did a few years back.

This is the story of a guy, who claims to be remarkable only in his mediocrity, selected to join a team of pseudo-soldiers clearing out New York City for repopulation after the zombie apocalypse occurs.

The prose was dense, and although the writing was lovely at times, I found I really had to be focused to even get into the story. I guess it felt like the whole darn book was pretentious and the author was trying too hard to show off his oh-so-eloquent vocabulary. I mean, I get that this is both literary fiction as well as a zombie genre novel, but it just didn’t seem to work. (Embrace one or the other, Mr. Whitehead, and I’m sure you could do it well, but this…well, let’s not do this!)

It’s true. I loved the descriptions of stragglers who got lost in their former lives, endlessly cycling through day after day of clearing paper jams in the workroom copy machine and the one vivid line about the squelchy sound a person’s head makes after it hits every step going down 38 floors in a body bag, but for what purpose? To make some grand statement about how our routines become who we are or that the end times will be brutal and inhumane? Bleh.

And, as for the apocalyptic part, who cares? We got three days Spitz’s stream-of-consciousness tale that went absolutely nowhere. No breakthroughs came along to save the people from the death plague, no last minute removals to a sanctuary occurred, and really, our main character seems no better or worse off than how he began. Sure, there are new crises, stories about friends lost, but overall, so what? SKIP IT.

 

Posted in Contemporary, Dystopian, Fiction, I Want My Money Back!, Paranormal, WTF? | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Fiery Cross (Outlander #5) – Diana Gabaldon
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fiery crossUgh. I just…I don’t know what to say about these books anymore. It’s so difficult to review these since they’re SO FREAKING HUGE and they don’t necessarily have a theme. So much stuff happens that things that happened in the beginning of the book 1) I’ve forgotten about by now, and 2) aren’t even important anymore. And it really doesn’t help that the books are becoming more and more scattered and random feeling and…unedited. Like, in the second book you knew that they were struggling toward Colloden. Even though we had to sit through the France parts first, you knew they’d eventually get to Colloden because the book was ABOUT Colloden. This book (and the past few books) doesn’t really have a theme.

So I want to say, as I so often feel like I have to, that even though I’m about to complain about stuff, I am still really enjoying the series as a whole. This book is kind of bugging me but I need to know about Claire and Jamie so badly that I’m willing to sit through very long internal monologues about their FEELINGS, terrible and superfluous sex scenes, and descriptions of every little thing they do that has nothing to do with anything. And I’m basically enjoying it greatly. I do wish Roger would die, though. And Brianna too. Claire can keep the kid if she changes his name, because “Jem” is dumb.

SO. Roger and Brianna. They’re so BORING. The only thing Brianna is adding to the story is the Steven Bonnet angle, and she’s not even needed for that anymore.

Not enough Jamie and Claire. And there hasn’t been enough Fergus for several books. And Claire seems to be a terrible, terrible doctor. OK, she makes penicillin. But then…she doesn’t bother to make any more and her not having any almost kills someone.

Some things are just getting…ridiculous. In this book, Claire and Jamie get struck by lightning, Roger survives being HANGED for an HOUR, Brianna rigs up a hypodermic needle out of a snake fang (well OK, that part was kind of cool), and Claire goes around killing people/almost killing people with her incompetence. Oh and like I said  she makes penicillin, which seems…unlikely.

Really though, can we get a plague or something to take out Brianna and Roger?

Audiobook notes: Brianna’s voice annoys me. In addition to Southern accents, I don’t think that Davina Porter does very good American accents either. She’s so damn good at everything else though. I love that she has kept up distinct separate voices for the main characters throughout all of these books. Like, a new chapter starts and I can instantly tell which of the 4 main characters the POV is following. That’s good narrating right there.

 

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Drums of Autumn (Outlander #4) – Diana Gabaldon
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drums of autumnDrums of Autumn picks up 2 months after the end of Voyager, with Claire and Jamie in America. There’s the most boring and un-dangerous pirate robbery EVER, where Claire decides to A) ignore Jamie being in danger and worry about an injured dog instead, and B) do something EXTREMELY STUPID that endangers Jamie even more and then not care at all. They spend some time with Jamie’s Aunt Jocasta, who never seems to mind that Jamie killed her brother, and who seems to be getting set up to be an evil manipulator, but nothing ever really comes of it. There’s a bunch of slave stuff that has no bearing on the rest of the books. Then they decide to live on a mountain and there’s lots of stuff about building a log cabin and hunting and preserving food and making friends with Indians.

This is all interspersed with super boring present-day POVs by Roger Wakefield. Blah. And, I mean, we all know what’s going to happen there, right? There’s NO REASON for them to stay in the present.

I still love Jamie and Claire and I feel like the best thing about these books is them and their character development, but the plots are starting to slow down for me. They have adventures but they seem to be so random and don’t have anything to do with anything.

I have to mention the ridiculous scene where Dr. Claire PERFORMS SURGERY (in the 1700s, remember) FOR THE AMUSEMENT OF A DINNER PARTY and it doesn’t even occur to her that people will think she’s a witch or anything. Or that maybe she shouldn’t have a bunch of dirty people gawking at her cutting open this guy’s balls. It is…well, ridiculous.

Drums of Autumn starts this new thing where Gabaldon sort of leaves plotlines hanging for a while. I guess it’s to build suspense, but I don’t like it. Example: Jamie and Claire get some visitors, some people get very ill, end chapter. Then you have to go spend a long time with Boring Roger in the present, and when you see Jamie and Clare again…the visitors are unexplainedly gone and the sickness is, I guess, all better now, even though it was a pretty serious illness. It’s very strange and happens more than once in this book. It’s like she forgot to finish the chapter and just went with it.

Also I kind of hate Bree. The whole “fiery woman whose spirit simply cannot be contained” trope is just…ugh. It usually just translates to “woman who yells at people at the drop of a hat and insists on doing stupid, reckless things because of her “spirit.”” Claire has some of that, but not usually enough to be annoying.

Audiobook notes: I have realized that while I love the accents of the narrator, one that she doesn’t do well is southern. The slaves that have speaking parts are just…really, really bad.

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Little Women series by Louisa May Alcott
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LittleWomen4

So, I loved this as a little girl, and decided it was time to try it as an adult. I was shocked to find that apparently I’d never actually read the original and instead had just read a VERY abridged child’s version. I mean, I always wanted more to the story, but didn’t really know WHY. (I guess even as a kid I hated abridged anything…I don’t like when people keep secrets from me, especially in books!) I guess I SHOULD have known, because the little pocketsized version I have is 236 pages and every other page is a drawing, so we really only have roughly 100 tiny pages of text, but still, the full version was such a surprise.

What a revelation to find out that THE MAJOR shocking moments I never was able to get over when reading it as a kid  (think dramatic moments with Beth, with Amy & Laurie, etc.) are actually not even a part of the original book! They were part of a sequel to Little Women called Good Wives and were later (and more commonly) published together with it as one standalone novel.

And all I can say now, is WTH, LMA??? What the total hell are you doing to me? I mean, in the adult version, I can clearly see that Beth has to die because she is too good and perfect to be real and has no role other than to function as a sort of angelic figure. She just hangs out in the house taking care of folks and HAS NO OTHER PERSONALITY. To heck with Good Wives, if I just read the original Little Women, sure there is a lot of moralizing, but I can leave Beth weak but alive (and under the care of a doctor, dammit) and leave Jo and Laurie comfortably flirting since they’re clearly meant to be together. NO. I just will not buy pampered but pretty Amy as a love interest when there is a firebrand with a brain, our dear Jo, around.

Anyway, I was shocked when the original Little Women ended with Beth whole but tired, Meg waiting patiently to marry John Brooke once he gains some money, and the rest just doing more of what they had been, albeit with Mr. March at home. And that is SUCH a disappointing ending! It is no wonder they combined the next part in with the original, but I still prefer my Little Women to be FOUR girls, thankyouverymuch, so I will get over the ending and just pretend that Good Wives never happened.

good wives

Good Wives: (Or Little Women Part Two)…So I have major complaints about this one (and I HOPE that it isn’t that the previously serialized Little Women got too much editing from her publisher). Mostly, I am annoyed that while they call the damn doctor when Beth has scarlet fever in the first section, apparently they do not for a daughter that has just made up her mind to die. I mean, not once, no doctor is called in, not for this EVER. BETH JUST DECIDES SHE IS GOING TO DIE BECAUSE HER NEEDLE IS TOO HEAVY AND THEY ALL JUST LET HER. She isn’t even DIAGNOSED with anything. Does she have cancer? Consumption? Apathy? What the heck does Beth even die of, Mrs. Alcott? Do you even know?

little men 2

Little Men: I never read this one as a kid, so my feelings are strong and current. I have to say, I did like that this sequel to LW allowed us to see more of Jo, but I didn’t feel like it was a satisfying story for where the March girls would end up. I didn’t want Jo to be with old Mr. Bhaer so the whole book feels wrong. I also don’t see spirited writer Jo giving up on her dreams to take care of a houseful of boys who are not her own in the house she inherited from old Aunt March (who always liked Amy better anyway). That’s too much like our Beth, and frankly, Jo is too selfish and angry for it. I mean, what happened to her weakness of being impatient and impulsive? This just doesn’t seem to fit.

So once I get past that, I get annoyed because the other characters aren’t featured much. Okay, so Beth is dead, but where is Marmee? She was so much a part of the girls’ lives, she lives just down the road, and now we never see her! And why do John and Meg let their twins come live at a school for abandoned boys? THEY have a home and parents who love them! This does not make sense. I could see them visiting often, as Bess does, but what the actual hell are you doing here, LMA? Meg wouldn’t just give up her babies to Jo because Josie was born! No way. AAAAAND then we get another mysterious death like Beth’s. John Brooke just up and keels. For no mentioned reason. And he’s apparently a beloved uncle and patron of the school, even though WE DON’T EVER SEE HIM. Really? Just no.

 

jo's boys

Jo’s Boys: I’d never read Jo’s Boys, so I guess I was expecting something ELSE. This short book took me three weeks to read because I just disliked it so much. There was entirely too much moralizing that creeps in too much in Good Wives and Little Men and the rest was just stories about the random boys Jo took in that I just couldn’t much care about. Jo’s Boys takes place ten years after Little Men and shows the Bhaer and Laurence clans the founders of a college on the site of Plumfield. Of course, most of what goes on in this book is a bunch of marriages and shocking diatribes on how to impress and deserve a “good” mate. I KNOW this is a classic and that much of the views on people’s appropriate actions will thus seem outdated. But where is Jo’s fiery nature and rebellious streak, Meg’s jealousy over other people’s money, and Amy’s selfish vanity? They’re all prim and proper housewives now and far too perfect to be believed. You’ve taken all the believable March-ness out of our dear girls and instead made them into nothing more than paper cutouts critical of bluestockings and self-made men. Not cool, LMA, not cool. Not a fan.

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The Lord John series – Diana Gabaldon
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hand of devilsThese all seem to be mysteries, which is not generally a genre I’m drawn to. I don’t entirely understand why there are so many books about Lord John, who I always considered to be a rather boring character, but Gabaldon seems to love the dude, so here we go.

It’s so weird. The storylines on these books don’t really matter to me. I can’t figure out what exactly I like about the stories themselves, since the mysteries tend to always be lacking in my opinion. But I still really, really enjoy them. The plots are so…convoluted. By the end I’m a little lost and bored and when the Big Bad is revealed I don’t even really know who he is.

Anyway, I guess all these stories are able to be read as standalone, apart from the Outlander series, but they fill the several-year gap in Voyager – there’s a point in Voyager where what we know of Jamie’s story kind of ends and is picked back up when Claire returns, and these books cover that time period. This is the recommended reading order from Gabaldon’s site, to be started after Voyager, book 3 of Outlander:

  1. Lord John and the Hellfire Club** (novella)
  2. Lord John and the Private Matter (shorter novel)
  3. Lord John and the Succubus** (novella)
  4. Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade (shorter novel)
  5. Lord John and the Haunted Soldier** (novella)
  6. The Custom of the Army (novella)***
  7. The Scottish Prisoner (novel)
  8. Plague of Zombies (novella)***

** included in the collection Lord John and the Hand of Devils
*** included in the collection A Trail of Fire, along with 2 other stories not involving Lord John and with no particular reading order

private matterLord John and the Hellfire Club: Set after the closing of Ardsmuir, this extremely short story involves the murder of a cousin of Harry Quarry, the guy that Lord John took over from as governor of Ardsmuir. The murder seems to be related to a gay/magic/murder club that exists in London at the time, and Quarry and Lord John seek to unravel the mystery. The story feels rushed and there’s no real…depth. The ending isn’t shocking or relieving because there’s just not enough time to get invested in any of these characters.

Lord John and the Private Matter: Ohhhhh yeah, this is definitely an english mystery, all right. There’s lots of amateur investigations of slums and whorehouses and Irish people, and Lord John running around postulating on things and saying “ergo…!” There’s a side mystery about a guy who’s engaged to Lord John’s cousin possibly having syphilis, and so Lord John kind of hilariously plots throughout the whole book to try to get a better look at his penis to be sure of the disease. The conclusion of the mystery was kind of lame and confusing and I didn’t really care by then.

scottish prisonerLord John and the Succubus: Lord John’s off on campaign fighting the French, and there’s a succubus loose in the camp, killing soldiers! This one seems much longer and more fleshed out than The Hellfire Club. Lord John’s falling into a pattern though, of thinking over the mystery to himself constantly: “But if blah, then blah. But then, why did blah? Of course, then blah would blah. But then we must assume blah did blah!” Pages upon pages of that. It’s getting tiring.

brotherhood of the bladeLord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade: So, I really like the dry Englishness of these stories, mostly because of the historical context. While what Lord John does might be a tad boring, I enjoy the soothing accent of the narrator, and the little tidbits here and there, a historical term that I don’t know that when looking it up gives me a little bit of interesting information, etc. However. The mysteries themselves are the most boring things ever. Example: Gray was just informed that he’s got to investigate “a sodomite conspiracy to undermine the government by assassination of selected ministers.” Ugh. I don’t even know why I should care about that. So now there’s a “company of sodomites” that Lord John must uncover, presumably roaming London in bright makeup and flashy dresses and lisp-ily calling each other Mary (no really, that seriously happened in Lord John and the Private Matter). ANYWAY, aside from the roving band of murderous sodomites, John has got a new gay step brother, and he’s very happy about it.

Lord John and the Haunted Soldier: Lord John’s under investigation because of the cannon that blew up in Brotherhood of the Blade. And it’s complete crap. I really, really hated this one. Actually I seem to not really like any the novellas in this series, but this one was just really awful. Just, so many random people thrown at me, none of whom I cared about, a pointless but coincidentally related side story about a missing baby, basically NOTHING about the haunting, and UGH. I didn’t even care who the criminal mastermind was by the end. By the way, this is about as long as both other novellas combined.

custom of the armyThe Custom of the Army: I originally forgot about this one and started reading The Scottish Prisoner, and when I realized I was missing some stuff they kept talking about I went back and started this one. So. Lord John’s sent to Canada after a scandalous duel, and there are indians. Gay ones, of course. Lord John sure does coincidentally meet an awful lot of random gay people. Really short and nothing really happens. It seems to be just a setup for The Scottish Prisoner, really.

The Scottish Prisoner: Oooooh, this one’s got alternating viewpoints from Jamie and Lord John, that’s new! This was the best of them all for me. It wasn’t so much mystery and conspiracies by old English guys I don’t care about, but more character-building between Jamie and Lord John. There was some weird mystical/magic stuff involving ancient god spirits which kind of came out of nowhere and had no bearing on the story, though.

plague of zombies

Audiobook notes: Narrator: Jeff Woodman.  He. Is. Awesome. One of the best narrators I’ve ever listened to. He does a really good job of making each character’s voice distinct (John’s cousin Olivia comes to mind, I could almost believe it was actually a woman’s voice), and he also does great on inflections. So many narrators tend to just…read the text aloud, but you can kind of tell that Jeff Woodman has read ahead and concentrated on how each line should be read, with feeling. It’s wonderful, and he’s got a bunch of other stuff that I’d like to read, like Life of Pi and several JOHN GREEN books.

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Voyager (Outlander #3) – Diana Gabaldon
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Voyager Diana GabaldonSo at the end of the last book, Dragonfly in Amber, Claire realizes that Jamie didn’t die after Colloden and so he could still be alive in the past, 20 years later. Well, I don’t really think I’m giving too much away when I say that of COURSE he’s alive or there wouldn’t be 8 books in this series!

So. It’s kind of cool that in the beginning, the story is told in alternating POVs – you get Jamie describing what happened to him after Colloden, then Claire showing what happened to her at the same time, interspersed with Roger and Claire and Brianna in the present trying to find the next clue to what Jaime’s up to. And I’m super happy to see their reunion and all, but Jamie’s kind of a jerk when they meet up again. He’s doing some boring things and then the two of them embark on a Thrilling Mystery. Except not really.

Voyager was OK. I really love C&J together, but that’s kind of the best thing about the book. The rest of it…well, it sort of falls into generic mystery territory. Not “awesome story of love and historical fiction.” It’s not bad, but it’s the weakest so far, for me. There’s a part where Jamie is tricked into deflowering a virgin in order to further the plot, and you’re just left thinking about how contrived the whole thing was. Also the Geillis Duncan and Mr. Willoughby parts were just…no.

There were lots of ships and slaves and Geillie Duncan and black magic and ships and ships and ships and a betrayer. Blah.

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Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander #2) – Diana Gabaldon
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Dragonfly in Amber Diana GabaldonSo this is an enormous series of books, and it’s got all kinds of novellas and short stories, so the author actually has a chronology on her website, which is really helpful. And for Dragonfly in Amber, she writes:

“It doesn’t start where you think it’s going to. And it doesn’t end how you think it’s going to, either. Just keep reading; it’ll be fine.”

And…yeah. There are several chapters of boringness and confusion in the beginning that you just have to get through before you get to the good stuff (Michelle couldn’t handle it, I powered through). But then…more Jamie and Claire, yay!

Basically, after the aforementioned boringness, we pick up right where we left off at the end of the last book, and follow Jamie and Claire through trying to change the past so that Colloden never happens. Except that they’re kind of bad at it. They’re in France, going to parties and meddling in politics, and it’s all very “what a scandalous red dress Claire is wearing!” and “Monsieur bslkdhfsl might secretly be friends with Duke sdjfsdkf who might be involved in magic and is secretly dating Madame dkfsldfkj who is definitely doing magic,” and I immediately forget all the French names and it’s just all very BLAH. It picks up again after they leave France though, when the war starts.

I love watching Claire and Jamie’s story continue, but the main plot of this book is largely boring. And there are a LOT of french people with unpronounceable names that I get all mixed up.

Also, this is pretty accurate for this book:

48566174Audiobook notes:
Narrator: Davina Porter, who also narrated a bunch of the Jane Austen books I read last year. Very good, very expressive. I do feel that her voice is perhaps a little bit too reedy and aged-sounding for Claire, but she does an extremely good job. She also does great accents – English, Scottish, Irish, French, German, whatever, they’re all here and they’re all good.

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Two Dorks, One Book: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
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two dorks one book

Michelle says:

So this is an enormous book in a ginormous series and I really wasn’t sure I was going to like it. Unfortunately, I was also afraid it would take me a long time to get through, so I started WAY early for book club and now, two months later, I can barely remember enough interesting things to say about it in this review. (I’ve GOT to start doing my reviews right away because I always think I’ll remember and I don’t and I suck.) So, apologies and all of that.

I’d heard SO much about this series and was sort of afraid to believe the hype. Also, it seemed too romancy and period-piecey and dammit, it has to be said, overlong. However, once I got into Outlander just a bit, I found I liked Claire…she’s a flawed heroine for sure, and I enjoy that. I don’t want to lose myself in a story about a perfect person or I’ll get bored. That’s why I like Claire; she’s not completely in love with her husband, not completely saintly in her rather altruistic job as a nurse, and not completely naive in that she traipses into her time travel by accident or anything. She is curious and adventurous and stubborn and it’s wartime, so I buy that.

I also like when necessary magic is interwoven into a book without distracting me. I mean, when I’m reading, I don’t want to be hit over the head with time vortexes and space anomalies because that will pull me out of the story. And when I’m reading, the story has to become REAL…so I don’t want the magic to intrude, you know? So, other than the initial vibrating Stonehengey rocks that pull Claire into the past, there is no magical nonsense to pull me away from the narrative. That’s a win.

At first, I was also unconvinced about Jaime as a love interest. He seemed too young and dunderheaded (You just don’t go throwing yourself into battles when already wounded, you idiot!) to be an acceptable lover for a modernish woman like Claire. He unabashedly wears a kilt, which is kinda quirky and appropriate given his background, but still! And then, I guess I begin liking him against my will (maybe it was the sex scenes that suited my own personal quirks perfectly…ahem) and then all is well and I am suddenly okay with him.

My only complaint is that the whole outlaw laird thing seems a bit convenient. OF COURSE he’s a landed gentleman who is disgraced because Claire would surely not stay in the past without hot showers or cold drinks for some nobody. And of course, even though he’s wanted, he has to go back to visit/save his land right in the middle of the Jacobite rebellions (which I really liked reading about in Susanna Kearsley, outlanderbtw). But then, once there, he is teased by his sister (which I adore) and he goes out to fix waterwheels for his people in his undies, so bravo. And when he has to hold his breath and hide under the river and then takes in a little abused boy as an apprentice, he seems like such a decent lord to his folks and a good brother and all, so I forgive him and completely start to like him after all. Darn. And I tried so hard not to because he’s just so NOT my typical leading man material.

(I would recommend this since I enjoyed it so much, although I tried immediately to read the sequel and there was no Jaime or Claire and the storyline seemed off, so I gave up.)

Kelley says:

This book is SO DAMN HUGE that I don’t even know what to say about it except that I loved it. Historical fiction with a smattering of English monarchy history…um, yeah, this is my kind of book. I could do without the sex scenes, which always prejudice me against a book and make me think of it as pure trash. That has a place, but not in my favorite literature.

Somehow, somewhere, before starting Outlander, I’d heard that Claire hooks up with her husband’s ancestor in the past. It took me about half the book to realize that Randall was NOT the hero and that I was in no danger of having to throw the damn book (my kindle) across the room when she left Jamie for him. Sometimes I am not smart.

I do want to talk about Claire’s second marriage. Claire doesn’t seem to like her husband all that much, and when she steps back in time she immediately (and inexplicably) starts insisting that her husband is dead. After only a half-hearted token protest, she marries Jaime. And wears both wedding rings. And it seems like Gabaldon knows that it’s complete bullshit, since after not really mentioning it again for the entire book, she brings in a priest at the end to absolve Claire of any wrongdoing in marrying someone else when SHE IS ALREADY MARRIED.

And now, on to the next insanely long Outlander book, Dragonfly in Amber.

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