5 of 5 stars to ‘Written in my own heart’s blood’ by Diana Gabaldon

WIMOHB

So invested

James Fraser has come back, presumably from the dead, to find that his wife has married his best friend. William has discovered that he is really the illegitimate son of General James Fraser. Oh, and did I forget to mention that they’re in the middle of the American revolution? But at least they know their only daughter is safe, back in the twentieth century…or is she?

If there was ever a cliffhanger in the Outlander series, ‘An echo in the bone’ was it. I’ve been dying to find out what happens to Jamie and Claire. The story picks up right in the thick of the action, and the blunders, misunderstandings and consequences make for entertaining reading. Once again, I found the war and camp scenes tedious at times, but that really just made it more authentic.

The storyline with Roger was fun, but I’m not sure it really added much to the story. The plot with Brianna was understated. I was a little surprised by this, as Gabaldon is not one to shy away from what could have been a seriously thrilling encounter. It was a little too vague for my liking.

I enjoyed seeing a more ‘human’ side to Claire in this installment. She’s been through so much and always appears so strong and put together. Sometimes she can come across as hard because of her efficiency, so this softer side was endearing.

I’ve never before stuck with a series for so long. Usually by book four, I find the story begins to repeat and the characters start to annoy me, but I can honestly say that I’ve never been more invested in a set of characters as I have been – and continue to be – with the Frasers. Another pearl from Gabaldon!

3 of 5 stars to ‘Lost Highlander’ by Cassidy Cayman

Lost highlander

Slow but entertaining

When Piper calls Evelyn from Scotland, frazzled, incoherent and desperate, Evelyn doesn’t think twice. She hops on a plane to Scotland to help her friend. Upon arrival, she finds that her best friend has inherited a huge estate – and a few other things too, including a time traveling highlander from the 18th century and a serial killer. There’s one major plus though, in the form of Piper’s dreamy Scottish friend Sam…

This book had two of my favorite things: Scots and time-travel. Evelyn was also a fun and quirky character. Yet, I struggled with this story. The first half of the book was extremely slow – everything happened only after the halfway mark. The point of view left me puzzled for most of the story. There were essentially two love stories in this novel, and I felt that the story of Piper and Lachlan was underplayed and essentially lost beneath that of Evelyn and Sam due to the fact that the story was told mostly from Evelyn’s point of view.

The second half of the book was more exciting. I think it would have been a great novel if the starting point had been the fifty percent mark, but it was still entertaining.

5 of 5 stars for ‘The Fiery Cross’ by Diana Gabaldon

The fiery cross

More danger, romance and intrigue

It’s 1771, and Claire and Jamie Fraser know that war is coming. Once, years ago, they had to walk the fine line of politics between the Brits and Scots. Now, they must walk that line again in this new land they have chosen to call home. The stakes are high. Jamie is now responsible for an entire settlement of families, not to mention that of his own blood. Will Jamie and Claire ever find the peace they crave?

Once again, Diana Gabaldon has excelled. Her diverse storytelling skills have enabled her to successfully span months and years in the lives of Claire and Jamie in each novel. Now, Diana slows the story down, focusing on a shorter timespan and delving deeper into the relationships and politics of the characters and times.

The beginning of this novel was funny in a way the other novels haven’t been. Usually, there is so much drama, and very little light-heartedness, so it was a nice change to have a bit of humor in this one. There were two distinct parts where I felt the story had taken a Sherlock Holmes twist and I have to say, that it felt a little forced, unlike Gabaldon’s usually, flowing style. But then I fell into the story again and it didn’t seem to matter. There were the usual, heart-warming moments, some nail-biting twists and dramatic climaxes. I don’t know where Ms Gabaldon finds the inspiration for some of these incidents, but I LOVE reading about them!

This series is possibly one of my favorite of all time. I am addicted to the characters of Claire and Jamie and have loved following them through their adventurous, traumatic lives. Yet I find myself at a crossroads. Carry on the series? It’s never even been a question in my mind – until now. I’m not sure I want to see Jamie Fraser grow old. I think I like the idea of the strong, fierce, Scottish warrior. While I have grown to like Brianna and Roger, I’m not sure I’m invested enough in their story to continue it.

So, I need some good advice from those of you who may have read “A breath of snow and ashes”. Should I continue?

5 of 5 stars to ‘Drums of Autumn’ by Diana Gabaldon

Drums of Autumn

Another sterling installment 

Claire Randall is happily living her life alongside her husband Jamie Fraser two hundred years ago – or so Brianna thinks, until she discovers a newspaper clipping from the past. Now she must choose between staying with the man she loves, or risking everything to change the past.

I’ve got to admit that every time I start another book in the Outlander series, I’m expecting the worst. I keep thinking: what more could happen and how could Ms Gabaldon possibly hold my attention through another couple of hundred pages after the thousands I’ve already read? Yet without fail, when I read the last sentence of each novel, I’m left holding my breath, wanting more.

This installment focuses greatly on one of the most interesting issues raised by the series – the question of whether it is possible to change the past, whether doing so is morally correct, what effects changing the past has on the future and whether the fates are truly fated. This issue is of particular importance with the character of Bonnet and it is fascinating and heart-breaking to watch the Frasers reap the consequences of their timeline interferences.

The relationship between mother, daughter and father is heart-warming. Each character is so human and the dynamics between them are so realistic and yet so right for the time period. In a time when women were married and became mothers in their early teens, I particularly enjoyed the freedom and maturity of interaction between Brianna and her mother. Claire is always there for her daughter, but she allows her to experience her own life and reap the consequences of her own actions.

What I found really interesting, is the way in which Ms Gabaldon created a relationship between two characters who never meet – James and Frank. The effect each one has on the other through the characters of Claire, Rodger and Brianna is fascinating to behold.

The historical setting is once again unique, realistic and rustic. Ms Gabaldon’s descriptions of untamed America are sweeping, beautiful, wild and fresh. I’m astounded by the ease with which she can switch settings from Scotland to France, Jamaica to America and can only assume that she has done her research well and travelled too!

This is still one of the best series I’ve ever read!

5 of 5 stars to ‘Dragonfly in Amber’ by Diana Gabaldon

Dragonfly in amber

Epic tale

Claire Randall has a secret to tell her daughter. Twenty years after she mysteriously re-appeared at the stones of Craigh na dun, she returns with her grown daughter to Scotland to reveal the stunning truth behind her disappearance.

Diana Gabaldon is a firm contender for the very top spot on my favorite authors list. The tale of Claire and James Fraser has everything you could wish for in a story: honor, romance, war, death, intrigue, magic, deception, history and more.

I feel as though I have been dragged into seventeenth century Scotland, and the accuracy with which Diana describes life in these times, makes me confident that I might survive it together with Claire Fraser. The emotion and graphic scenes are so well written, it’s impossible not to rise with Claire on the wings of hope, and sink with the Scots to the depths of despair.

Diana’s use of different point of views to segregate time was particularly effective in this novel. Although I love her first person point of view for Claire, the use of the third person POV at certain points in the story definitely helped me to identify the cut in timelines, provided a breath from the intense emotional roller-coaster of Claire’s adventures and gave a deeper insight into some of the peripheral characters that I feel certain will play a larger role in books to follow.

As a history lover, I couldn’t have asked for a more down to earth, graphic depiction of the Jacobite rising. As a romantic, I don’t think I’ve ever read a more stirring account of true love that transcends not only centuries, but the day to day hardships and monotony of life and loss.

Rare is the author who can maintain pace and interest in such a thick, epic tale, but Gabaldon does it with ease. I am completely, utterly in love with this sweeping series and can’t wait to get my hands on Voyager!

James Fraser quote

5 of 5 stars to ‘Outlander’ by Diana Gabaldon – EPIC!

Outlander

Timeless addiction

When I first read the blurb on this book, I thought it would be too similar to Karen Marie Moning’s Highlander series, which is one of my favorite ever. I was loathe to read another series like it because I didn’t think anything could live up to the bar Moning had set. When the TV series began, one of my friends fell in love with it and recommended the books, so I gave in. And now I’m positively addicted! While the two authors have followed the same premise, their writing is so different, it’s nearly impossible to compare the two.

Gabaldon’s characters are strong and yet human. Claire Beecham’s strength get’s her through amazing trials and ensures some passionate head-butting with her equally strong-willed Scottish partner. Yet, underpinning her strength is a vulnerability and impulsiveness that often gets her into trouble and endears her to readers and Scots alike.

Jamie, on the other hand is a conundrum of innocence and wisdom. His experiences growing up in the brutish Scottish highlands have sharpened his senses and wit. There are times when the words out of his mouth seem to come from a hundred year old soul. Then there are times when his uncensored words give away his youth and innocence – especially when he is alone with Claire. This combination of traits ensures that Jamie perfectly fulfills the idea of the Scottish hero – fierce protector and gentle lover – without perpetuating the stereotype.

Gabaldon’s authentic depiction of the seventeenth century Scottish Highlands is one of the main attractions of this novel. While the characters may be romantic, their environment is not. Gabaldon has so wonderfully captured the tension between the Scottish and British, the rustic realities of life without technology, the dangers of traveling in such times, the superstitions of our ancestors and the role of women in earlier society. Claire’s strong-willed nature, in a time where women were often considered nothing more than property, throws the contrast between the now and then into sharp relief. The character of Captain Randall and Claire’s continuous comparison of him to his descendant, strengthens the contrast between the times, and also heightens the moral dilemma Claire faces in her attempts to reconcile the two halves of her life.

There is so much that has been packed into this novel and so many wonderful and frightening experiences that each of the characters have lived through, I feel as though I have lived an entire lifetime alongside them. It is a rare and amazing talent for an author to be able to draw a reader so deeply into the lives of her characters as Ms Gabaldon has done.

This novel is pure addiction. You’d be a fool not to read it!

Outlander 2014Jamie Fraser quote