WWW Wednesdays

The weekly meme at shouldbereading.wordpress.com asks 3 questions every Wednesday. This is where I’m at in my reading these days:

What are you currently reading? I’m continuing my reading of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series with The Fiery Cross.

from amazon

What did you recently finish reading? A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness; I will be posting my review of this book for Bookish Thursdays tomorrow.

from goodreads

What do you think you’ll read next? The next book in the All Souls Trilogy is on hold at the library as I write.

from ew.com

Wanna participate? Go to MizB’s blog via links above or leave comments below.

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Bookish Thursdays: Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon

Summary from GoodreadsIn this breathtaking novel—rich in history and adventure—The New York Times bestselling author Diana Gabaldon continues the story of Claire Randall and Jamie Fraser that began with the now-classic novel Outlander and continued in Dragonfly in Amber and Voyager. Once again spanning continents and centuries, Diana Gabaldon has created a work of sheer passion and brilliance…. It began at an ancient Scottish stone circle. There, a doorway, open to a select few, leads into the past—or the grave. Dr. Claire Randall survived the extraordinary passage, not once but twice. Her first trip swept her into the arms of Jamie Fraser, an eighteenth-century Scot whose love for her became a legend—a tale of tragic passion that ended with her return to the present to bear his child. Her second journey, two decades later, brought them together again in the American colonies. But Claire had left someone behind in the twentieth century—their daughter, Brianna…. Now Brianna has made a disturbing discovery that sends her to the circle of stones and a terrifying leap into the unknown. In search of her mother and the father she has never met, she is risking her own future to try to change history … and to save their lives. But as Brianna plunges into an uncharted wilderness, a heartbreaking encounter may strand her forever in the past … or root her in the place she should be, where her heart and soul belong….

I loved Drums of Autumn. Almost as much as I loved Outlander. Almost. Even though I didn’t love Voyager, I read Drums of Autumn because it was there and I felt compelled to keep reading Claire and Jamie’s story. I’m glad I did. Drums of Autumn restored my faith in the series and I am now quickly moving through The Fiery Cross.

Once again, Gabaldon delivers a strong novel about love, relationships and family.

This time the Frasers are in America – the new world. And what a fierce world it is. Claire and Jamie battle the political landscape, wilderness, poverty, and the knowledge that war will once again find them with ferocious courage and determination to make a good life for themselves.

Any romantic notions about time travel are quickly dissolved in this novel. Gabaldon paints a picture of a very hard life. The struggle to survive is the focus of each day. The constant preparation for long winters is exhausting. I wouldn’t last a month.

I loved Brianna’s journey in this book – both literal and metaphorical – and absolutely loved when she finally finds her parents and meets Jamie. The adventures in this book are vast and full of unexpected turns. My mouth fell wide open with shock at certain points and I just could not put the book down.

I thought Gabaldon did a nice job of developing Jamie and Brianna’s father/daughter relationship.  They disagree on most things; their views on life and gender are completely alien to one another due to being from wildly different centuries. Yet, the love they have for each other helps them to bridge the abyss no matter how unforgivable their actions may seem.

This book highlights new characters and conflicts that Jamie and Claire bravely face together. It also manages to maintain the deep love and romance between Jamie and Claire without being redundant or overly dramatic. I really loved the growth in Brianna’s character as well.

Drums of Autum was so much fun read. It was entertaining and had just enough romance, intrigue, violence and adventure to leave one fully satisfied and ready to read the next installment upon closing the book.

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WWW Wednesdays

shouldbereading.wordpress.com asks three questions every week for WWW Wednesdays.  Check out the blog for MizB’s responses.  I think it’s a good, quick way to keep readers updated on what’s going on in my reading world.  Here are my answers:

What are you currently reading? I’m on page 140 of 259 of The Lightbearers by Nora M. Garcia 

What did you recently finish?  Voyager by Diana Gabaldon – read review here.

What do you think you’ll read next? I hope to continue with Allegiant by Veronica Roth and so continue my Fall TBR.  

Wanna play along?  Send me your answers to these questions or answer them at shouldbereading.wordpress.com

Voyager by Diana Gabaldon

Almost done...

From Goodreads

Summary from Goodreads:  From the author of the breathtaking bestsellers Outlander and Dragonfly in Amber, the extraordinary saga continues.  Their passionate encounter happened long ago by whatever measurement Claire Randall took. Two decades before, she had traveled back in time and into the arms of a gallant eighteenth-century Scot named Jamie Fraser. Then she returned to her own century to bear his child, believing him dead in the tragic battle of Culloden. Yet his memory has never lessened its hold on her… and her body still cries out for him in her dreams.  Then Claire discovers that Jamie survived. Torn between returning to him and staying with their daughter in her own era, Claire must choose her destiny. And as time and space come full circle, she must find the courage to face the passion and pain awaiting her…the deadly intrigues raging in a divided Scotland… and the daring voyage into the dark unknown that can reunite or forever doom her timeless love.

I like Gabaldon’s books.  I don’t love them.  When I am in the mood for adventure, outrageous coincidences and a male protagonist who is, well, perfect, Gabaldon’s books work. When not, I have to admit, they feel a little like torture.  At least Voyager did.

In Voyager, Claire returns to the past to find Jamie.  Over twenty years have passed – Claire and Jamie are middle-aged and still madly in love with each other.  It’s sweet.  They have a romantic reunion, followed closely by dangerous and crazy circumstances that only Claire and Jamie can manage to create.

I find it very difficult to relate to Claire.  I almost see her as an ignorant tourist.  You know the ones who go to other countries and expect to find all the luxuries and conveniences they left at home; those who become irate when they can’t find said conveniences and get angry when others do not speak their language?

This description is a bit unfair to Claire because she has a good understanding of the century to which she travels and knows what to expect.  However, she also brings with her many of her beliefs from the 20th century about women, education, and people of different races – and though I can’t blame her anger in the face of sexism, classism and racism, what does she expect? To change the people around her because she knows more?

I need a good long break from Claire and Jamie – I’ve read the first three books of the series consecutively, so perhaps I judge harshly due to fatigue from the same scenarios over and over.  Claire and Jamie cannot live without each other.  Claire discovers secrets about Jamie’s past.  Jamie deals with said secrets like a knowledgeable self-help guru of the 21st century.  They encounter danger – Claire is headstrong and dives into impossible situations from which Jamie must always save her (on a few instances, she does save herself).  Blah blah blah…Yes, I definitely need a break. 

I also find the books needlessly long.  There are SO MANY scenes and entire chapters in Voyager that could’ve been dropped from the novel and the plot would’ve remained intact.  I flipped through 10-12 pages at a time out of boredom without compromising my knowledge of the plot and characters.

I know it sounds like I dislike Gabaldon’s series; but I honestly don’t!  I was very happy with the resolution to Voyager and am actually looking forward to reading book 4, Drums of Autumn which has Claire and Jamie’s daughter, Brianna, making the trip back in time.  She will (hopefully) be a refreshing change and I am sure her reunion with her father will be a touching one.

Anyway, I won’t read about that for a while because there are other books on my list to tackle.

Have you read Voyager? What did you think?  

Have you come across books in your reading life that you liked, but skipped scenes and chapters along the way?

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Outlander and Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon

Courtesy Ashley Dzama

The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon–when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach–an “outlander”–in a Scotland torn by war and raiding Highland clans in the year of Our Lord…1743. (Summary from: Goodreads)

I found the book started a little slow – as per the summary, I knew the premise.  Claire Randall time travels – and, for me, it took too long for that to happen.  Once it did, I kept trying to guess where the plot was going – who was the man she would fall in love with? Would it be the first man she encounters, her husband’s ancestor, Jack Randall? Or, the red-haired Scot, Jamie,  whose shoulder she pops back in and whose life she saves?

But, then Gabaldon’s writing swiftly turned me away from the guessing game of who Claire’s lover would be and brought her journey into focus.  Claire is clever, sharp and keeps her wits about her in a way that one would expect a strong heroine would.

Of course, she’s an incredible field nurse in 1945 who happens to be married to an historian. So her vast medical knowledge and the snippets she remembers from her husband’s ramblings aid her in 1743.  I found this a little too convenient, but I was reading a novel about time travel… I had to get over it.

Once I made my peace with the main female character, I found myself hooked.  The relationship between Claire and Jamie was so gradual that I no longer expected it.  Suddenly, they were married and their adventure began.

Outlander relies heavily on the deep, sweeping love that develops between Claire and Jamie.  I tired of Claire’s constant need to assert herself and inadvertently end up in life threatening situations from which Jamie saves her.  Nonetheless, I did enjoy reading Gabaldon’s portrait of Victorian Scotland and her colourful characters.

I was extremely disturbed by Jamie’s horrific ordeal at the hands of Jack Randall near the end of the novel.  I understand that “these things happened”, I understand that the episode is almost necessary to truly solidify Jamie and Claire’s relationship when she saves his life – physically, emotionally, and spiritually – but, I was horrified by the sheer evil that one human being can inflict upon another, and didn’t really need it all described.

Unless you enjoy historical fiction, or fantasy/time travel books this might not be the book for you.  However, if you enjoy a really good romance that truly captures the beauty of a loving, honest relationship – you may decide to overlook the whole time travel thing and let yourself be taken in.

From Wikimedia

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. (Summary from Goodreads)

I finished Outlander and immediately began Dragonfly in Amber because I had to know if Claire would thwart the Bonnie Prince, Charles Stuart, and change the entire course of Scottish and English history. How would Gabaldon handle this?

As with Outlander, I didn’t get to answer my questions quickly.  I had to read through a lot of stuff with new characters that I really didn’t care all that much about.

It is twenty years later – yes, twenty. Claire is a successful doctor and surgeon.  She is in the present time trying to find clues about Jamie’s life and outcome.  The clues are discovered, told and re-told too many times to count.  Until eventually, with the help of a young, astute historian, Claire can almost pinpoint Jamie’s location in history.  

In between these searches, we are taken back to 1743 and follow Jamie and Claire on their trip to Paris where Claire enhances her Victorian medical knowledge and also manages to have sex with the French King.  The trials and challenges continue until the pair find themselves back in Scotland, forced to follow and support Bonnie Prince Charlie in a rebellion against the English.  Historically, after some success, the Scots fail miserably and the clans are essentially annihilated.  Jamie and Claire are pushed to the limit, until they must part.  Jamie forces Claire to return to the future and to Frank (her husband in 1948 -it’s been three years since she time traveled) because Claire is pregnant and Jamie will not condemn his unborn child, nor his wife.  It is a heart wrenching decision and scene as the two are literally torn apart.

I enjoyed the past more so than the present in this novel.  The present repeated the same scene in different words over and over – Claire revealing bits about her past, Roger on the hunt for Claire’s secrets and finding little tidbits, Brianna dealing with the knowledge that Frank was not her father, but some guy from the 1740’s named Jamie Fraser!

Although Dragonfly in Amber can stand on its own and you don’t really have to read the first novel to understand the second novel, I got through book 2 because of how much I liked Outlander.  I felt like Dragonfly in Amber was a book I had to get through, I was rooting for it the whole time; whereas in Outlander I really wanted to know what happened to the characters.

I’m currently reading book #3 in the series, Voyager and although interested – I’m not really taken by it yet.

Have you encountered a series where the subsequent books were not as good as the first?