Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Breath of Snow And Ashes

Title: A Breath of Snow and Ashes
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Series: Outlander, book 6
Genre: Historical fiction
Published: 2005

Rating: 7.5/10
Recommendation: Anyone who got this far in the series will enjoy the book.

Summary: The revolution approaches and Jamie & Claire cannot ignore it any longer. They prepare for the oncoming conflict as well as fight plenty of battles closer to home. And the time at which their death was reported is looming closer and closer.

Reactions: So far this month continues to be all about Diana Gabaldon. I immediately started reading A Breath of Snow and Ashes after The Fiery Cross and I finished it within 10 days. The speed with which I completed the book is entirely representative of what I thought of the plot: it was fast paced, enjoyable, and gripped me until the end.

I cannot say that the book is formed as one big solid plot arch, but rather a number of smaller events. Yet, compared to the previous book in the series, the plot stayed much more on track. We got to see a resolution to a whole lot of conflicts started in earlier books: Stephen Bonnet, the relationship between Roger and Brianna, Malva's apprenticeship with Claire, Mrs. Cameron's gold, and the death notice in the newspaper. I was quite satisfied with the ending and while I will definitely be reading the latest book in the series, An Echo in the Bone, I don't feel the need to start on it immediately.

In some ways this book is educational for me as well. I know only a bare minimum about the American revolution and I feel the book is giving me insight into the period in a much more entertaining way than a history textbook would have. I just hope the facts are not completely inaccurate, but I suspect a lot of research has gone into this book to make it believable even to those who know more about the revolution than I do.

Overall, it was a very pleasing experience to get back to the characters, follow their lives once again, and continue with their adventures. The main characters are the reason I keep coming back to the book and I will be looking forward to their future adventures.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Fiery Cross

Title: The Fiery Cross
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Series: Outlander, book 5
Genre: Historical romance
Published: 2001

Recommendation: If you got to book 5, no reason to stop now.
Rating: 7/10

Summary: Claire and Jamie continue building a settlement on the Ridge. Bree and Roger are planning to marry. But nothing runs smoothly. The war is coming and early conflicts are beginning already. And Jamie is starting to look around for Captain Bonnet to seek vengeance.

Reactions: I picked up The Fiery Cross to continue with Claire and Jaimie's story and it didn't disappoint. Plenty of adventures, descriptions of life on the Ridge, family intrigues, and so forth. I enjoy Diana Gabaldon's writing and her setting the mood of people living in wilderness, struggling to do various things with primitive tools, and waging war. In particular, it's interesting to follow Claire's progress in growing penicillin on stale bread and practicing medicine in general.

Even though it took me almost a month to read through this 1400 page tome, I stayed drawn into the story throughout. Yet, at the same time, at the end I felt there was no good overarching plot to the novel. I would describe the book as a number of disconnected stories set consecutively.

Still, having finished the book, I feel ready for more of Claire and Jamie adventures. And I think everyone who got to this point would not leave the series now.

On a related note, I went to listen to Diana Gabaldon talk at a local book store yesterday. She was an engaging speaker and had a very appreciative audience that was 99% female with a mean age of about 55. Diana spoke about becoming a published writer and her writing process. In particular, she described writing various scenes for a book independently and then pulling them together. Somehow that didn't surprise me.

I now have signed copies of A Breath of Snow and Ashes and her recently released An Echo in the Bone. So it seems there will be plenty more Outlander hours in store for me.

Of course I couldn't spend two hours at the bookstore without picking up several other books as well. So a couple of Robert J. Sawyer books join my reading stack since I've been hearing a lot about this Canadian science fiction writer and on a whim I also picked up the next book in Kitty series as well. So now I am well-stocked for my fall reading...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

September Recap

Well, the spirit of the new school year didn't stick with me for very long. I did remember how to procrastinate quite well ;) and sat on a book review for almost 3 weeks after book completion. Even now this wrap up post is coming several days late. It's hard to feel bad though after a thoroughly enjoyable camping trip so I won't.

Books Read: 2
  1. Blue Diablo by Ann Aguirre
  2. Kitty Goes to Washington by Carrie Vaughn
Favorite book: Kitty Goes to Washington by Carrie Vaughn

Male: 0
Female: 2

Posts: 3

I actually spent most of this month reading The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon which took me weeks to finish since it's over 1400 pages (paperback edition). Review for The Fiery Cross is forthcoming, but meanwhile I am planning to meet Diana Gabaldon since she is going to be passing by on her new book tour.