Outlander Returns!

If you’re an Outlander fan like me, then you undoubtedly jumped for joy, and maybe even cried a little bit when the fantabulous Season 3 premiered on Starz last week.

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And what a premier it was! Honestly, I think it might have been Sam Heughan’s best performance to date, and the dude pretty much just laid on his back throughout the entirety of the show. But my God did he do it well.

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I’m also so unbelievably grateful that they’ve found a way to incorporate more of Frank’s character into the TV show. Let’s face it, prominent scenes featuring Frank in the later books within the series are almost non-existent, so I really do enjoy seeing how they’re able to creatively incorporate his character into the show. I mean, the onscreen chemistry between Tobias Menzies and Caitriona Balfe is absolute perfection. I completely understand why they’d want to keep him around for as long as possible!

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An amazing start to the series for sure. And yes, I was ugly crying for a large portion of the show. When I told my sister and mom they were like, “Oh, you cried? Which part?” Ummm, the barn scene? Are you kidding me??? Gosh, even thinking about it now….give me a moment.

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Unfortunately I also found out another Outlander detail last Sunday that almost brought tears to my eyes, and not in a good way. About a year ago, I finally finished what I thought was the last main book in the series, Written in My Own Heart’s Blood. Not gonna lie you guys, I was not a fan of the last few books of this series. Starting with about book 5, each novel was a massive tome of about 1000 pages or more, and there was so much needless historical detail that had little to do with the plot I couldn’t help but be bored. But I trudged through it and finally finished them all…OR SO I THOUGHT!

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Lo and behold, last Sunday I discover that Diana Gabaldon is writing a ninth book, Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone. Whyyyyyy?????

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Look, book 8 ended on a fine note, can’t we just leave the damn bees where they are and call it a day? I’m sure this is a dream come true for a lot of Outlander fans who can’t wait to read more about Jamie and Claire. And most of them probably already knew this ninth book was a thing, and I’m just laughingly late to the party. I just keep thinking about how this signals another 5 months or so of my life reading about daily life and hygiene in the 18th century. And why do I think this book will be a continuation of the boredom I experienced in books 5-8? Well, let’s see what Diana Gabaldon herself has to say about the upcoming release, shall we?

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“My books are huge”. “2-3 years…to write and research and publish”. I love the dedication to the craft, but what if the books were…less huge? Please?

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Now don’t get me wrong. I’m gonna read this book when it releases. I’ve come this far, I’m not gonna back down now. I’ll try and go in with an open mind, but it’s going to be hard considering how much of the last few books I just skimmed through because I wanted to get to the actual story already. Here’s to hoping that book 9 will be just as good as this Season 3 premier was! Or that the TV show will still be up and running, and just as fantabulous as ever by the time book 9 actually releases!!

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A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon

WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO THIS SERIES?!?!?! Seriously, I want to know how it’s possible that something which started out so strong could fall so far from its original excellence. It’s almost like a completely different author has taken control of the last 2 books I’ve read.

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After I finished reading the previous book in this series, The Fiery Cross, I put a plea out to the blogosphere for someone to assure me that the series would get better. Book 5 was so ridiculously slow and boring, with an unnecessary amount of historical detail which was completely irrelevant to the overall plot, and I wanted to know that it was simply an anomaly. I now understand why nobody replied to that inquiry. Astonishingly, I think things have actually gotten worse.

Firstly, the book is simply too long. There is no rhyme, reason, explanation or justification that this book was over 1000 pages. Here is a general note to authors everywhere: if your book can be sold in both an abridged and unabridged version, that means it’s too long! When someone can literally cut your book length in half without losing any of the storyline, you have a big problem.

Nothing of any importance happens for so much of this thing! I had to ask myself numerous times what the actual plot was, and for the most part I never had an answer. I think my most common outburst throughout the book was, “What does this have to do with anything?!?!” If something of mild interest did happen, it was either never fully explored, or we’d skip ahead 3 months in the story as if it never happened at all. I felt that there were a lot of issues which remained unresolved when all was said and done. It wasn’t until almost 3/4 of the way through the book that we have some form of a distinguishable plot with actual direction. The action comes on so quickly though, seemingly from out of nowhere, and then the book ends just as abruptly. It’s supposed to end on a “Oh no they didn’t!” kind of moment, but I think I just yelled out, “I don’t care!!”.

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This was the first audiobook I ever listened to, and it took me about 4 months to finish. The reason I chose to listen to this book instead of read it is because book 5 was so mind-numbingly dull that I figured I’d finish this one quicker if I could listen to it. Towards the middle of the book I was getting ridiculously frustrated because the story wasn’t going anywhere, and I had the urge to start skimming. But how do you skim an audiobook? Simple! You just increase the listening speed. Sure, it took some getting used to, but after a while I acclimated to listening to it at twice it’s normal speed.

I had been listening to this book for a while when the second half of the Outlander TV series started up again on Starz. It was so weird to get really excited for Saturday nights to come around so I could lose myself in the wonderfulness of the TV show, and then dread having to listen to the book again on my walks to work. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced so much emotional whiplash in my life.

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Overall this book left me feeling frustrated, disappointed, and seriously questioning why I even bother putting up with the series anymore. I only have 2 more books left, but I just am not looking forward to putting myself through the torture of another one. These last two books have been such a drain on my soul, that I feel like it’ll probably take a whole year before I can pump myself up enough to reach for that next book. Yet oddly enough, I still consider myself to be an Outlander fan. I loved the first 4 books, and the first season of the TV series has blown my mind. I’m just having a hell of a time making it to the end of this series.

Outlander Mini-Reviews: Books 2-5

The Outlander TV series on Starz is on break until April of 2015, which means I’m not just a sad panda, but a freakin’ depressed one. I honestly don’t understand what the hell they were thinking taking such a long break. You’ve got a great product that people are starting to get obsessed with, and you decide to have a mid-season finale that is almost a year long! I can’t even right now. Anyway, I’ve already posted a review of the first Outlander book, and decided that to honor the break of the show (ha!), I’d do some spoiler-free mini-reviews of the other books in the Outlander series that I’ve read up to this point. Why mini ones you ask? Simple! I’ve read books 2-5 over the past several years, and considering that each book is about 800+ pages in length, details have started running together. If I were to write a full-length review for each book, not only would it take forever, but I wouldn’t be able to put as much detail into each review.

dragonflyDragonfly in Amber: Book 2

Honestly, when I first started reading this book I had to stop and re-read the last 30 pages of the first Outlander book. The first chapter is so unbelievably confusing that I had to double-check I was actually reading the second book in the series. Turns out I was, and the author just wanted to screw with my mind. Now, I’m not going to say why I was confused, because to say “spoiler alert” would probably be the biggest understatement I’ve ever made. Well, this month anyway. Although this novel was good overall, compared to the first Outlander book it was pretty disappointing. Firstly, Claire and Jamie don’t play as many rounds of hide the broad-sword in this novel, and when they do, we are only privy to the build-up of it before the author either ends the chapter, or switches to something else. I mean come on! Why do you think I read this stuff? I’m not just brushing up on my Scottish war history over here. Secondly, the plot itself was kind of all over the place. We’ve got flashbacks, flash-forwards, and we are again introduced to a countless slew of new people, re-introduced to some we already met, and I just could not follow the multiple family trees we’ve got going on in this thing. The main redeeming quality of this book was the ending. There is a scene between Claire and Jamie that is so emotional I just couldn’t handle it! Even though I read this book over 5 years ago I still remember that scene, and it’s one of my favorites in all of the Outlander books.

voyagerVoyager: Book 3

I actually don’t remember much of the first half of this book, but damn did I love the second half. Now, normally this wouldn’t be a big deal, but considering the first half of this book consists of over 400 pages, that’s saying something significant. Again, we are dealt a significant amount of flashbacks, but not as many as book 2. It’s kind of tricky to talk about this book without giving too much away, but let’s just say the relationship between Jamie and Claire is just as strong as ever. We are also introduced to a new character in this book, and whereas new characters tended to give me a headache of name remembrance in the previous novels, the character of Fergus is quite memorable as he basically becomes part of the Fraser family. Looking back, this was probably my second-favorite Outlander book because Jamie and Claire have such a romantic relationship full of passion that is just amazing. The one thing I didn’t really care for about this book was the ending. Jamie and Claire travel to America, which is just weird because I can’t picture Jamie outside of his native Scotland. Although thanks to the TV series I can now picture him out of his kilt just fine 🙂

Drums in AutumnDrums of Autumn: Book 4

This book had such potential with a great beginning, strong storyline throughout, but the ending just pissed me off. Let’s just say that one of the characters (not Claire) has some questions relating to her baby-daddy, and I was not happy about that! Completely unnecessary!! Who would have thought you’d need Jerry Springer in the 1700s. We do get to see more of Jamie’s nephew, Ian, in this book, and he was a fun strapping young lad. I felt like there wasn’t as much of a focus on Jamie and Claire though in this novel, which was kind of disappointing. Also, they are starting to get up there in age, and picturing them doing the horizontal mambo is a bit disturbing. I mean, heck, if you can still do that without the need for Viagra, then by all means have at it. But you can’t deny that by that point in life things start turning grey, and other things start to sag. We are introduced to a new young romance between another couple, but you simply can’t compare it to the great love affair between Jamie and Claire in the first Outlander book.

the fiery crossThe Fiery Cross: Book 5

Ok, here’s what I need. I need someone who has read further on in the Outlander series to tell me that the next book gets better. Not only has Book 5 been the worst of the Outlander books so far, but in my opinion it was one of the most boring books I’ve ever read in my life. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING of significance happens until 50% into the book. Trust me, I looked at my Kindle meter because I wanted to remember when something noteworthy actually happened! There is only one scene in this entire book which blew my mind, and it was absolutely incredible. However, other than that I think Diana Gabaldon just got so caught up in the historical details of the 1770s that she floods the book with facts about everyday life, and I honestly don’t care. Living in the middle of nowhere during that time was tough, I get it. Now move on with something called a plot already. This is going to sound terrible, but by the end of the book I actually started skimming through the pages because I was so bored and just wanted the book to end. Needless to say, I’m finding it difficult to pick up book 6 because I was so utterly disappointed with this one. Someone out there tell me it gets better!

Looking back over these reviews, you’ll notice a common theme: I constantly compared each book to the first one, and found them all lacking. I realize that’s probably unfair, but when you write a series following the same two characters throughout, it’s pretty difficult not to consider everything in relation to how their story began. Do I regret starting this series? Absolutely not! I just regret continuing on with book 2. You see, if you start the second book, you will immediately be drawn into the third and so on. They are also way too looooong. Altogether in the first 5 books of this series I have read a total of 4636 pages of Jamie and Claire. Trust me, I used a calculator. Although overall I have enjoyed the books in this series so far (excluding book 5 of course), I realize now in hindsight that book one will always be the best, and I should have just stopped there. There was no cliffhanger, and everything was tied up in a nice little bow. And then I had to go and rip that bow to pieces. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Outlander, both the book and the TV show, and I will finish this series. It just might take me a few more years.

Get the series on Amazon: Click Here

Outlander Throwback Thursday

Consider this my first kind of throwback Thursday post. That’s a thing, right? It relates to actor Sam Heughan, who plays Jamie in Outlander, the new series on Starz based on the book by Diana Gabaldon. I shared this little throwback tidbit with my roommate the other day, and we both had quite a giggle over it, so I thought I might as well share it with all of you wonderful people 🙂 If you aren’t familiar with the plot of Outlander, or the recent Starz premier, then for God’s sake please crawl out from the rock you’ve been living under and join us in the real world. It’s nice out here, I promise. We have ice cream.

Believe it or not, I am straying away from my romance novel theme for this post, and focusing solely on the new TV show, specifically the actors involved. As I mentioned, they have adapted the story of Outlander for the big screen, and it is something I personally have been waiting over seven years for them to do. And they have cast a sexy man of an actor for the role of Jamie. His name is Sam Heughan. Below is his glorious photo.

sam_heughanWell, hello there. In the show they have given him longer red hair. And a kilt. Observe:

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Oh my. That’s nice, isn’t it? He’s definitely got that whole smolder look thing going on. Now, when I first heard that they had cast Mr. Heughan as the most important role of Jamie, I was honestly a little concerned. The reason for this is because I had already seen him in a movie. Enter throwback. The movie was called A Princess for Christmas, and it premiered on the Hallmark channel in 2011. That’s right, the freakin’ Hallmark Channel! It also happened to be one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen in my life. No joke. Now get ready ladies, and maybe even a few gentlemen, this is what Mr. Heughan looked like in that film:

a-princess-for-christmas10Will you look at that. Look at it! The hair! Whatever the heck he’s doing with his hand! He hadn’t quite gotten the smolder look down yet. Let’s do a side-by-side comparison shall we?

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Mr. Heughan, you have definitely improved with age. So have your acting skills. I’m happy to say that his performance as Jamie in Outlander is fabulous. He’s also got a lovely Scottish accent that is just yummy. Well, I hope you enjoyed this wonderful little throwback to 2011 and the world of Hallmark. I shall leave you with what I consider to be the worst scene from the movie, A Princess for Christmas. It’s a pretty short clip, only 3:15, but if you want to shorten the terribleness, just skip ahead to 2:10. In this particular scene, Mr. Heughan gets down and funky with his hip-hop dancing skills. Warning, once you watch it, you can’t un-see it. It might make you cry from laughing so hard though. Enjoy!