Title: Drums of Autumn (Outlander #4)
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Genre: Romance/Sci-Fi Fantasy
Published: December 30th 1996 (1088 pages)
Title: Voyager (Outlander #3)
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Publication Date: October 2004 (Originally 1993
Genre: Historical Romance/Science Fiction/Time Travel
My Final Grade:A
So far, Voyager is my favorite of the Outlander books. This is for several reasons. One, it has multiple point of views, even though Claire’s POV is still told in first person while everyone else is told in third person which can be a bit awkward at times. It gives us a better sense of how Jamie views things, as well as Roger and Brianna who play major roles in this story, and even more so in the next book, Drums of Autumn. It also varies away from some of the troublesome aspects of the first two books, although not completely.
Voyager begins in the 1960s with Brianna, Roger and Claire searching for the truth about Jamie. They found out he survived Culloden, and follow the trail down to finding him as a printer under an alias. As they search, we get to see the story from Jamie’s point of view of the missing years. We also wrap up a few lingering questions from the first book, and get a few flashbacks to Claire’s life with Frank and Brianna over the last 20 years.
Brianna eventually convinces her mother to go back, and the bulk of the book is Claire’s adventures in the mid 1760s, including traveling from Edinburgh, to Lallybroch to eventually Jamaica and the American Colonies. This book also explores several different types of relationships. It brings back Lord John Grey, who was featured as a teenager in Dragonfly but now is a Major in the British Army. He is in love with Jamie (as it appears most of the characters are – another criticism I have of this series), but unlike the previous two homosexual characters isn’t portrayed as a horrible person.
I was slightly uncomfortable with the portrayal of Yi Tien Cho, in a related notion. I couldn’t tell if it was the character himself or the fact that it was a portrayal of the first major minority character for the series (outside of Joe Abernathy who is barely seen). However, from what I have found out, he is loosely based on a real person and perhaps some of that comes from that. Still, I wasn’t sure if the portrayal was fair or not.
The relationships in this book that are explored are the several different types of family. It explores the idea of adoption/step-parenting (Jamie & Claire with Fergus, Frank with Brianna, Jamie with the McKimmie girls. Roger Wakefield & his great-Uncle, John Grey & Willie), Multigenerational (Jenny, Ian and the Murrys), separation (Jamie & Brianna as well as Jamie & Willie) amongst some. It also takes into consideration the aftereffects on Claire’s relationships outside Jamie – like with Jenny and Geillis.
While this book is still full of misadventures, and Jamie & Claire are rarely in a moment of calm, it does seem to be happier (outside of Ian) and some issues are addressed instead of either of the main characters pushing it aside like has happened in previous books. It also has a decrease in the amount of sexual violence that seemed to be prevalent in the previous two books. There is one scene towards the end with Yi Tien Cho that was concerning in regards to sexual violence but in comparison to the other novels this book is quite an improvement.
My final grade is A.
Title: Dragonfly in Amber
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Published: October 2004 (current edition) (original Print in 1992)
Genre: Romance/Sci-fi & Fantasy/Historical
My grade: B
Title: Outlander (Part 1 of the Outlander Series)
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Publication: 2004 (ebook) 1991 (original Publication)
Medium: Kindle eBook
NOTE: Some minor spoilers for the TV show and a trigger warning for rape.
Many months ago a good friend of mine told me I should read Outlander. It did in fact seem right up my ally as far as books I like to read (History, science fiction, mystery and romance), but I kept pushing it off. But I finally watched the first season of Outlander last month and decided to read the book.
Usually I read the book first, then watch the TV show/Movie based on it. However, this time I did not. It did allow me to appreciate some of the narrative changes the TV writers made. The show is relatively close to the events of the book up till the last few episodes, although they expand on things in some places and leave out others.
I am not a big fan of first person, as Outlander is (from Claire’s POV). There are some exceptions though (such as the Hunger Games) and Outlander has ended up being one of them despite the fact that I wish some of it was in Jamie’s pov. The story is about Claire Beachamp-Randall, a combat nurse from WWII. She’s visiting Scotland with her husband in an effort to reconnect after the war when she is accidentally whisked from her time (1945) to another (1743). She finds it difficult to adjust to live 202 years before what she knew, and it causes a few adventures.
Writing wise, it’s not the best novel I ever read, but it kept me interested. As I said, some of the narrative changes in the early episodes of the show made sense to fill in some of the gaps in the book. It smoothed things out as it were, However, later changes made less sense.
I’m also not sure how historically accurate this book is, but it kept me interested enough that I didn’t really need to know – though I did look some of the outside characters like the Duke of Sandringham (Not a real guy) and Lord Lovat, Jamie’s Grandfather (actually a real guy). A lot of the characters are interesting, even if they are fairly minor. Black Jack Randall is creepy in all his scenes (which makes me feel sorry for his great-great so forth grandson Frank), and Dougal I can’t get a hold on whether he is someone I shouldn’t mind or someone I should place in the enemy column (Both in the TV show and the book. More so the TV series).
I know that the next book takes place in France but I will miss the lovely characters of Castle Leoch and the Scottish Highlands.
My only real issue with the book is that rape is used a bit too often as a cause for drama. Some of it makes sense with the characters used (mainly Black Jack Randall) but other times it just seems repative and even more uncomfortable it is by default.
I am glad my friend convinced me to read this, and I’m looking forward to reviewing Dragonfly in Amber (book 2) soon. I feel this is also a book that once I finish the series I’ll be back to re-read and connect some of the dots I missed the first time around.
As a final note, the book is not nearly as R rated as the TV-show (since it is on STARZ) ended up being. There is a lot more fade to black. Still, it is an adult romance novel, so I would probably not let your younger kids read it yet.
Title: The Wedding Chapel (book 2 of the Wedding series)
Author: Rachel Hauck
My grade: A
I picked this book up at a discount item store the other day, not realising it was the second book in a series. However it seems that the books are connected by theme rather than storyline so I think I’ve done alright.
This book has four point of views (done third person) including Collette, Taylor, Jimmy and Jack. It is about a family and finding out some hard truths. At the start of the book, we are introduced to Jimmy, who is an 83-year-old football coach who built a wedding chapel for his girlfriend back in the 50s. It ended up not working out and he’s finally deciding to sell after interest spikes in the property.
Taylor is a photographer sent by a magazine that heard about the chapel and wanted to photograph it. She happened to grow up in the same home town as Couch Jimmy, and is amazed by the chapel. She later finds out the chapel was made for her Great-Aunt Collette. So Taylor stays around to find out what is going to happen to the chapel as well as deal with her grandmother’s belongings. It brings out a lot of secrets the family has kept for decades.
In the end, the two couples in the story – Jimmy & Collette; Jack & Taylor – have to figure out how to get over what has happened to them in the past and make new beginnings.
I enjoyed the story, although sometimes the timeline was hard to follow. It took place mainly in 2015, with flashbacks to when Jimmy & Collette were younger. I do admit I wish that Peg had been a point of view, but that might have given away the ending too soon. I also liked the references to other novels that Rachel Hauck has written, although I only knew they were references because I saw a list of her books one day when searching for the publishing info on this novel.
I’m reading the first book in the series now, called The Wedding Dress. Its most likely going to be the next book in my book reviews.
Title: Falling for the Highlander (Book #4 in the Highlander series)
Author: Lynsay Sands
Publication Date: January 2017
My grade: C
I found this book to be a bit underwhelming. It over all had the best potential for the background mystery, but it failed to really go there. I understand it’s a romance novel, but I was actually disappointed by the amount of time spent on the romance versus the plot. Maybe it was because the main characters, Murine and Dougall are not really compelling characters in this book. They were actually more interesting as secondary characters in the previous books.
I’m wondering why this series, unlike the Argeneau series, has failed to really grab me. I enjoy the books, but I don’t find them particularly worth talking about. I can recommend as a light read for a day you don’t want anything too heavy. It has a happy ending, too, which I appreciate right now. But it’s not something I can say “Oh, you must read this!” like some of Sands’ other books.
THe basic premise of the novel is that Murine’s older half-brother tries to sell her off as a mistress to pay to keep his image as a country gentlemen by having a horse. Dougall, the older brother of Saidh, is disgusted by the offer and leaves. Murine, unwilling to stay after that happens takes off on a cow to see if she could make it to one of her friends homes and find a way out of her brother’s care. She runs into Dougall and his brothers, who decide to help her to Scotland. On the way there, the brothers all claim they will marry her, which Dougall finds annoying as he has started to be interested in her.
There is alot of time spent on Dougall trying his best not to be her lover till they are married and on Murine’s fainting problems. I don’t particularly feel that Dougall’s interest in Murine really develops much. It has one of those “Oh, it must be love because we are nearing the end of the book” type of realizations. I’m hoping that the next book, which takes on the last lady from book #2, Edith and another Buchanan named Niels.
Previous in the series:
Title: A Highlander takes a Bride (book 3 in the Highlander series)
Author: Lynsay Sands
This book was a harder read for me then the last two. Mostly because I had to keep looking up terms I was unfamiliar with, like Applemoyse (An apple dessert) and tincture (a medication dissolvable in alcohol apparently). There were also a few names I had to google for pronunciation. This is medieval Scotland, so its well before the unification of Britain. However, they keep it quite vague as to who is King of Scotland, or England. Just that they exist. So the exact time period is a little vague.
In this book, we follow Joan’s new friend Siadh, who after visiting Joan while she gave birth to her son Bearnard, goes to visit a cousin named Fenalla, who has lost her fourth husband in suspicious circumstances. Saidh isn’t sure what to think as her cousin did in fact kill her first husband. And the book keeps you guessing if the woman had in fact killed her husband, or if it was someone else. Someone who is now after Saidh. The result of that mystery is actually quite surprising when you get to it.
The romance end of it is Saidh catches the eye of Greer MacDonnell. He’s the new Laird, having inherited the position after his cousin Allen’s death. He immediately is fascinated with her, and she with him. It’s not long before he decides they should be married (abit more because he wants to have sex with her but she’s a noble lady so no sex till the ring is on). Which introduces us to the vast amount of brothers Saidh has, all who play a role with the story, and the next two according to the summaries. I found the brothers, and Alpin who is Greer’s squire, to be interesting. The romance was bit quick in my mind, but considering it is a romance novel, and you only have so many pages to develop a relationship and solve a mystery its understandable.
I did think the injuries were a bit much, especially when they seem to switch from major to something minor later on. In one scene Saidh is hit with an arrow through her upper chest that ends up being pushed through to the other side, but within a day or so seems to be alright to carry around the castle and have a love scene with her husband. Alpin’s illness is never really explained, only that he is ill, but I suppose his minor character status would allow for that. And I have to feel sorry for Milly, who gets used by Greer pretty much (and apparently turns into a bitter person for it in the next book when she’s mentioned.)
Still not a bad read, so I gave it an C+ Great characters, but I feel it was bit too much about the sex that it took away some of plot.
Title: To Marry a Scottish Laird (Second in Highlander series)
Author: Lynsay Sands
Publication Date: June 2014
In this book, we take a different path than most romance serials. Usually the main character of the next book is a character mentioned in the first (An English Bride in Scotland), perhaps a friend of the main character or a sibling. In this case, the main characters are Joan and Campbell, neither of which appear in the first book. However, that is not to say it is not connected. Annabel, her husband Ross and their three children appear in this story. Campbell, for one, is a Sinclair, which happens to be the neighboring family. He comes across Joan, dressed as a boy (which fools him for a day or two) trying to make her way from England to the MacKay family with a message from her mother. They fall in lust with each other, and maybe a little in love as they travel to the MacKay Keep.
Once there, Joan finds out she is the daughter of Annabel’s sister Kate, and her stable boy husband Grant. The woman she thought was her mother was a midwife who delivered her, and then adopted her after Kate’s death. Once again we are reminded on how horrible the Abbess and Annabel’s parents were in this novel as neither agree to look in on the now orphan. However, the midwife Maggie does, and raises her as her own. SHe never tells Joan the truth about her parentage during her lifetime, instead sends her on a deathbed request to take a letter exposing the information to Annabel Mackay.
The second part of the book holds the mystery, as someone is trying to kill Joan to get her out-of-the-way. She and Cam have to figure out which of the brides Cam’s mother had been preparing to suggest to him prior to his elopement with Joan is the culprit. We are introduced to 3 ladies who will take on the roles of the next 3 books and a few others. I have to admit, this book was good at keeping you guessing at who it was.
This book was a nice easy day read, and I think a bit better than the first as she now seems to get into the new universe she’s created. You don’t have to read the first book to read this one, though it would help for the back story about Kate & Grant, Joan’s biological parents, as well as the horrible grandparents.
Title: An English Bride in Scotland (Part 1 of the “Annabel” Highland series – Series title my own creation)
Author: Lynsay Sands
Publication Date: June 2013 (Kindle Edition)
I should start this out by saying I’m a huge fan of Lynsay Sands, so reading this was no hardship. My sister had read them and suggested that I start to read her historical novels set in Scotland since both of us have been huge fans of her Argeneau series for years. (possibly even more than a decade now, ) So I bought the book on my Kindle and settled down to read.
This book is not one of her best, but it was still enjoyable. The issue is mainly that there are so many straight-out unlikable characters that you spend most of your time not really invested in the romance but just feeling sorry for the main character, Annabel. The book starts out with Annabel as a novice awaiting to take her vows as a nun. She is stunned however when her mother, who had basically shoved her away in the convent when she was quite small, shows up to tell her she’s coming home. It appears Annabel’s older sister, Kate, has run off with the stable boy and now they must have their only other daughter fulfil a marriage contract with a Scottish Laird. So Annabel remains quite baffled as she goes from one abusive home (I don’t understand how this Mother Superior managed to make it to being a nun) to another (her parents perpetually comment on how she is not what they wanted, ugly, fat etc. NOt like her sister, so her to be husband might just run). So the first couple chapters is just wishing Annabel could just get to somewhere where people won’t pick on her.
And she does, as Ross MacKay’s home in Scotland is full of interesting characters who really want the best for Annabel. However, things seem to follow Annabel around. She is attacked by a mysterious man in a kilt several times, and then her sister arrives hoping Annabel will take her in, having been abandoned by her stable boy. Or so she says. Annabel isn’t sure what to believe.
This wasn’t a terrible read, but I really didn’t feel any connection with the characters other than sympathy for Annabel, and later Grant, Kate’s Scottish husband. The minor characters were interesting, and since this series has four more books at least (well, 3 with one coming in January), I hope to see a few of them again. It was just the pacing and depth of character that I expect from Lynsay Sands wasn’t completely there with this novel.
I gave the book a A- because as I said she’s a favorite author of mine, the book was enjoyable though not great, and I didn’t find anything that particularly annoyed me or made me want to throw the book out the window.