Posts Tagged ‘outlander’

Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon is the fourth in the time travelling historical fiction series following our protagonists Claire and Jamie Fraser as they attempt to start a new life in the American Colonies.

Weighing in at nearly 900 pages, or 44 hrs and 54 mins of audiobook, this is a real behemoth of a book.  It’s also the book on my shelf that’s taken me the longest to read.  GoodReads tells me that I finished the previous book in the series, Voyager, back in April 2015, and I started Drums of Autumn around that time.  This means that Drums of Autumn has taken me almost a year to finish.

I read it in chunks.  I would read a large section – usually when the Outlander TV series piqued my interest again – and then struggle to continue and put it aside for other books.  It’s not that I didn’t enjoy it; I simply struggled to maintain my interest to read 800+ pages over a short period.  

What I liked

The characters.  I love the characters in the book, particularly Claire and Jamie and their unconventional romance.  Gabaldon has said that she wanted to show a mature relationship – one in which the partners have been together for many years – and she certainly achieves that with Claire and Jamie.  Brianna and Roger also take centre stage in this book and that was wonderful to read.

The Jamie/Brianna relationship.  For me, this was one of the highlights of the book.  I adored the interactions between Jamie and his daughter.  They are both stubborn Frasers, with differing views of morality due to their different upbringings in different centuries and both have red headed tempers.  it was clear that things were never going to go smoothly for them.  I loved that Claire was stuck in the middle and was uncertain if she should physically separate them or let them fight it out.  What was particularly beautifully written was the way in which Jamie’s and Brianna’s past experiences created a real bond and connection between them.

What I didn’t like

Repetition.  I must admit, earlier parts of the book are rather foggy in my memory having been read almost a year ago, but I seem to remember there was a distinct pattern of Jamie and/or Claire getting into some kind of situation in which they are in mortal danger and then they are rescued.  Rinse and repeat.  Given that this is the fourth in a (likely) ten book series, there was absolutely no dramatic tension at all.  There was no way either of our two main protagonists was not going to survive.  I imagine this was intended to provide colour to show how dangerous their environment was, and perhaps to develop their relationship, but I must admit I found it a little tedious after a while.

All in all I really enjoyed Drums of Autumn and gave it four stars out of five.

four-stars

Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon – Review was originally published on Canadian eReader

The next few weeks are relatively quiet in terms of upcoming book releases about which I’m excited.  I’m thinking therefore that this could be a good opportunity to catch up on my TBR pile, specifically in terms of catching up with series with which I have fallen behind.  Generally, I like variety in my reading so it’s unusual for me to marathon a whole series, even if I enjoy it immensely.  So, without further ado, here are some of the series I really should catch up on.  (NB, these are series which are not necessarily complete, but for which I’ve not read up to the latest published book.)  It goes without saying that I’m up to date on Game of Thrones and am eagerly awaiting Winds of Winter.

The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne.

This series is about an ancient Druid, Atticus O’Sullivan and his Irish Wolfhound, Oberon, who live in modern times.  Each of the novels – currently seven, with an eighth due out next year – is relatively self contained, and tells of a new adventure, but builds up the world of the Druid and its inhabitants.  I have listened to books one to three, and this is one series I definitely choose to experience in audio format.  The audiobooks are narrated by Luke Daniels who does an awesome job of bringing the characters to life.  Recently I was looking for a quick listen to get me through the last few hours of a long shift at work, and picked up Two Tales of the Iron Druid Chronicles.  Listening to this reminded me of just how much fun this series is, and that I need to get onto the rest of it ASAP.  

The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

Another series I enjoy in audiobook format is Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files.  These centre on Chicago’s first “consulting magician” Harry Dresden and his adventures.  The books are narrated by James Marsters and is one of the best narrator-character matches I’ve come across so far. Marsters IS Dresden to me.  I have listened to five out of the fifteen books, so I have a lot yet to go.  Each book builds upon the previous ones.  A few months ago, Amazon had a great sale on this series so I picked up the next few books.  Yep, this is another one I must get onto.

The Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer

Yet another series I want to experience audioly.  Nathaniel Parker is wonderful with all the different characters and their voices/accents.  So far I’ve read five of the eight books in the series.  My problem is, these books are just so laugh out loud funny that I want to keep saving them as a pick-me-up for days when the world seems a blue and scary place.  That doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy them any other time though!  Another lot for the TBR list.

Shatter Me Series by Tahereh Mafi

This YA dystopian series is one that, I admit, took me several attempts to get into.  It is written in a slightly unusual style which I found both intriguing and off-putting.  Once I got into it and began to bond with the characters, I couldn’t put it down.  At this point, I’ve only read book one.  I’m hearing that Mafi does some really great things with character development and the love triangle in the two subsequent books and novellas and I really should get reading the continuation of Juliette’s adventures.

Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon

To date I’ve read three and a half books in the series and my interest was rejuvenated by Starz’ fantastic television series.  As an aside; no Emmy nominations for Caitriona, Sam or Tobias?  Seriously?!?  Did they not watch the Wentworth Prison and To Ransom a Man’s Soul episodes?  Anyway, I digress.  I started the series several years ago, and loved it, but hit a brick wall right in the middle of book three, Voyager.  My issue was that I felt that Claire and Jamie’s adventures had come to a natural stopping point and really struggled to get past that.  I’ve got past that now, and am enjoying their adventures; I have just got distracted by other books.  But dammit, I want to know about Jamie’s ghost from book one!  

A.N.G.E. by Anne Robillard

This is a series in French by Quebecoise Anne Robillard.  It’s kind of X-Files meets the apocalypse.  There are ten books in the series of which I’ve read seven.  Robillard’s strength as a writer is her wonderful characters – you can’t help but root for them; they feel so real and human (even if they’re not, in fact, human.}  The reason I’ve not continued with the series thus far is that where I’ve stopped, the series arc is at its lowest point for our characters.  Everything they touch just seems to turn to merde, and the world is falling apart, literally, around them.  Think the end of Empire Strikes Back.  I found it a little too depressing to continue.  I really should finish it. 

Chaoswar Saga by Raymond E. Feist

Shadow of a Dark Queen was the very first book I ever bought on my Kindle, and I credit Feist with rekindling my love of reading.  He really is a master storyteller.  The Chaoswar Saga is the final three books in his Midkemia series and I’ve not yet read them, shame on me.  I suppose what’s holding me back is a reluctance to say goodbye to Pug and all the other characters I’ve grown to love.  That’s not really an excuse though.

Are any of these series on your TBR list?  Which of these should I tackle first?  Let me know in the comments!

This week I have been continuing with Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series which I’m reading as a mixture of Kindle ebook and Audible audiobook.  Have I mentioned before how much I love Whispersync for Voice?  The ability to switch between the two media without having to worry about finding your place is pure awesomeness.  Anyway, I digress.  I finished Outlander this week and have moved onto Dragonfly in Amber.  I have to say, my rereading of the series is enhanced by the Starz series.  When reading about Claire and Jamie’s adventures it’s great to be able to imagine Catriona Balfe and the deliciously edible Sam Heughan in the roles.  It might even be able to get me past that point in Voyager where I lost interest in the series.

This week I’m back on nightshift for a week to cover a coworker’s vacation.  I fully expect to spend my time monitoring servers in the company of Jamie, Claire and the others of Clans Fraser and McKenzie.

In other news, I’ll be going on blog hiatus for the month of November, so this will be my last entry for a while.  I have decided to take part in NaNoWriMo.  For those of you unfamiliar with this project, it’s short for National Novel Writing Month.  The idea is that you challenge yourself to write a 50,000 page novel during the month of November.  I have set myself that challenge.  I won’t be able to do both reading/blogging and writing a novel, so my reviews will be on the back burner.  I have not yet decided if I’ll share my work in progress on my blog – it’s likely to be quite rough!  I’m thinking along the lines of Bridget Jones meets Lord of the Rings.  I have a few ideas brewing so we’ll see how they turn out.  This is my first attempt at NaNoWriMo, so wish me luck!

Added to my library this week/next week

I realised I didn’t have the audiobook to go with Dragonfly in Amber and came across a bit of a hitch.  Even though I had the Kindle book in my library and it said WhisperSync for Voice enabled, it still wanted to charge me full price for the audiobook.  A quick MayDay call to Amazon’s customer support soon had it fixed and I was happily listening to both.  

This week an audiobook I’d put on hold at my local library became available – it was The Long Way Home by Louise Penny.  From what I can gather it’s a mystery series set in my home province of Quebec.  I’ve not listened to it yet, but should be fun.

For the other books I’m expecting to hit my Kindle/Audible libraries in the next week I’ll just direct you to my September 26th reading roundup

That’s all for this week folks.  I’ll see you at the other end of NaNoWriMo!

This week I have been reading shorter books so I feel I have been making excellent progress compared to the epic fantasy behemoths I’ve been reading lately.  I finished the cutesy contemporary romance Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins.  I will be doing a full review next week, so I won’t say too much now.

I have also been dipping in and out of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander.  OK, at 640 pages or 33 hours audiobook, that’s not exactly short…  I’ve been listening mainly to Davina Porter’s excellent audiobook narration.  As I am Scottish born, I appreciate her rendition of the Scots accent.  I was reading the series, but I became stuck in the middle of book three.  The major TV adaption by Starz has inspired me to start rereading.  I’ll probably just keep dipping in and out rather than reading it in a block.

Since I’m talking about the series, I would just like to say how much I’m enjoying it.  We in Canada are a couple of weeks behind our US cousins.  I knew the series was in safe hands with Ronald D. Moore who helmed the wonderful Battlestar Galactica.  He is very skilled at creating worlds while retaining the human core of a story.  The casting is pitch perfect.  Catriona Balfe is amazing as Claire Randall and Sam Heughan – phwar.  Not only is he exceptionally easy on the eye to say the least, he has the acting chops to bring out Jamie’s personality.  Where do I get my Heughligans tee-shirt again?  I’d only seen Tobias Menzies as the milksop Edmure Tully in Game of Thrones, but he is doing a fantastic job of distinguishing between the dual roles of sweet and studious Frank Randall and the dastardly Black Jack Randall.

My one gripe about the series is Claire’s voiceover.  That is so annoying.  The script and the actors are perfectly capable of portraying what’s going on and the characters’ emotional reactions, thank you very much, without having to listen to a voiceover.  It seems to have lessened the further on in the series we go, which is a relief.  I’m happy to hear Starz has already renewed it for a second season – yay!

Added to my library this week

The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black.  I didn’t know much about this book before I bought it – I purchased it purely on the names of the authors, whose work I like very much.  I’ve started reading it and so far my opinion is that it is a poor man’s Harry Potter.  We’ll see if my opinion remains the same.  Look for my review next week.  I bought The Iron Trial in both Kindle and Audible formats.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel has been on my radar for a little while now.  This seemed an interesting concept.  An actor’s death links several characters and we follow them through civilisation’s collapse in the wake of a devastating pandemic.  I read the Kindle sample and found it intriguing and well written.  I picked this up from Audible.

Do you listen to audiobooks?  Which ones are you listening to right now?  Let me know in the comments.

With the movie coming out soon, I decided it was time to pick up James Dashner’s The Maze Runner.  I wasn’t too sure if I would enjoy it so I picked it up in eBook from the library.  

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I’m glad I didn’t purchase it because I found it was not really my cup of tea.  It reminded me in some ways of Lost – more questions being asked than answered.  It was particularly frustrating when characters refused to share information when it would have been in the interest of the larger group to have done so.  The worldbuilding was otherwise excellent and there is no fault I could point to in the writing.  It just didn’t appeal to me personally, and I am unlikely to be continuing with the rest of the series.

I gave The Maze Runner three stars out of five.

One of the TV series I’m looking forward to most this year is Starz adaptation of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander.  For those of you unfamiliar with this book, it’s about a WWII nurse, Claire Beauchamp, who finds herself transported back in time to 18th century Scotland and falls in love with a handsome red-haired Scot, Jamie Fraser.  The project is being helmed by Ron D. Moore of Battlestar Galactica fame and the novelist, Diana Gabaldon, has considerable input.  

Outlander is a fantastic story with wonderful characters and memorable scenes.  Battlestar Galactica is one of my favourite dramas, based as it is on human drama as much as sci-fi which is why I am so excited about Moore’s leading this project – I think he’ll do a great job of bringing Gabaldon’s characters and story to life.  The trailer looks amazing – go check it out and tell me if you’re not excited.

Upcoming releases in March

There are a few releases coming up next month about which I am excited.

Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson.  This is the second book in Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive epic fantasy series.  It’s been a long wait for this book as Sanderson was busy completing the Wheel of Time, so it’s been a while since I read The Way of Kings.  I’ve been relying on Tor.com’s Wheel of Time reread and Where We Left Our Heroes summary as I doubt I will have time to reread the 1009 pages of The Way of Kings before Words of Radiance is released on the fourth of March.  I have pre-ordered WoR in both Kindle and Audible formats.

Night Broken by Patricia Briggs.  This is the next in the Mercy Thompson series of books.  I’m not entirely certain Mercy’s story hasn’t run out of steam several books ago, but I trust Briggs as an author so I will certainly check it out.  I picked up Night Broken in Kindle format.

William Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back by Ian Doescher.  This is the second in Doescher’s Star Wars in the style of Shakespeare series.  I adored his version of Star Wars – do yourself a favour and pick it up on Audible because it’s awesome.  The Empire Doth Strike Back is not yet available for preorder on Audible, but I do have it on Kindle preorder.

Added to my library this week

Dear Mr Knightley.  This was on special this week for $1.99 on Amazon.  it seemed intriguing: the premise is as follows:

Samantha Moore has always hidden behind the words of others—namely, her favorite characters in literature. Now, she will learn to write her own story—by giving that story to a complete stranger.

Sam is, to say the least, bookish. An English major of the highest order, her diet has always been Austen, Dickens, and Shakespeare. The problem is, both her prose and conversation tend to be more Elizabeth Bennet than Samantha Moore.

But life for the twenty-three-year-old orphan is about to get stranger than fiction. An anonymous, Dickensian benefactor (calling himself Mr. Knightley) offers to put Sam through Northwestern University’s prestigious Medill School of Journalism. There is only one catch: Sam must write frequent letters to the mysterious donor, detailing her progress.

As Sam’s dark memory mingles with that of eligible novelist Alex Powell, her letters to Mr. Knightley become increasingly confessional. While Alex draws Sam into a world of warmth and literature that feels like it’s straight out of a book, old secrets are drawn to light. And as Sam learns to love and trust Alex and herself, she learns once again how quickly trust can be broken.

If any of you have read it, let me know what you think.

From Netgalley I picked up The Here and Now by Ann Brashares.  This is not yet on general release but the premise seems really fun – a young adult time travel romance with strict time travel rules.  I’m looking forward to this one and I shall of course give you review.