Category: Reviews



One Golden SummerOne Golden Summer by Clare Lydon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was one of those beach-read type of books. Done in a couple of hours. It was fun for the most part. It felt very like the male-female romance books in the part I hate them ost about romance. Jealousy. And lack of communication. But it was cute and a quick read, so great to pass the time.

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PersistPersist by Elizabeth Warren
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I picked this audiobook up on Libby. For a non-fiction memoir, it was a quick ‘read.” I think it was a couple of sessions. Elizabeth Warren read her book, which made it even better. She is so enthusiastic and thorough. I love her take on the world. I wish I felt as optimistic as she is that all this could work. But I’m all for trying.

Ms. Warren brought up every issue facing women. She also gave ideas on how to handle the bigotry in the world. Her voice and energy are contagious. I enjoyed the stories of her life. I highly recommend this book.

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How To Write a Beloved (and Bestselling) Memoir (Creative Catalyst Series)How To Write a Beloved (and Bestselling) Memoir by Laura Bradbury
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I started this short read when I couldn’t sleep one night and finished before I knew it. It was very informative.

Laura Bradbury, the author, kept the information accessible and alive. Though I read this via Kindle Unlimited on text-to-speech, I am thinking about buying this as a paper book for reference.

If you are writing a memoir or autobiography like I am, this is a great book to help you along. I’m still at the “Messy” part of vomiting the story out. But as I get to the following stages, I want to check in and see what Ms. Bradbury has to say about it. She even covers editing and publishing. I love that she aims to help you write it with a creative bent.

Because it was so inspiring, I picked up her first memoir in her Grape series, My Grape Year. I can’t wait to dive in.

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Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter, #4)Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another reread. I needed something while waiting for my next Outlander read. I figured with all the stress of my cataract surgery, I needed something in the fantasy realm.

I did enjoy the book, but I kept remembering the ending and hated reliving it. I don’t think I would have been a good candidate to read this as a kid.

Besides the ending, I had a hard time with this whole series is the lack of good fleshed-out female characters. Hermoine was okay, but there weren’t enough good girls or women. It was very male-heavy.

I may be reading the next one and making it to the series’ end, but it will not be soon.

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Written in My Own Heart's Blood (Outlander, #8)Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Yes, I reread it. And I still say the same things about it being my favorite Outlander so far. Do you want to know why? Okay, beyond Diana Gabaldon’s writing and research and Davina Porter’s voice acting, this character and scenes list goes beyond the first review I wrote below.

Characters: Jamie Fraser, Brianna Randall, Roger MacKenzie, Jeremiah MacKenzie, Fergus Fraser, Marsali Fraser, Germain Fraser, Ian Murray, Lord John Grey, Benedict Arnold, Claire Randall Fraser, Jonathan Randall, Dougal MacKenzie, Geillis Duncan, Jenny Murray, Young Ian Murray, William Ransom, Rachel Hunter, Denzell Hunter, William Buccleigh MacKenzie, Amanda MacKenzie, Harold, Duke of Pardloe, Henri-Christian Fraser, Brian Fraser, Jane Pocock, Frances Pocock, Dorothea Grey, Jerry MacKenzie, George Washington.

Settings: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1778 (United States)
Lallybroch, Scotland, 1980 (United Kingdom)
Lallybroch, Scotland, 1739 (United Kingdom)
Savannah, Georgia, 1779 (United States)
North Carolina, 1779 (United States)
Fraser’s Ridge, North Carolina, 1779 (United States)

***

I thought that book 7, Echo In The Bone, was my favorite of the Outlander books. Nope. Written in My Own Heart’s Blood wins. It was fantastic!

Regardless of the time the characters land in, they all grow and help us learn the rules of Gabaldon’s Time Travel.

What can I tell you that won’t spoil it for you?

As usual, there is a lot of research evident in the reading, and as one supposes, there are instances of poetic license, which Diana Gabaldon admits she has it framed on her wall.

The most exciting part of the book is as Breanna talks about Doctor Who in a chapter called, Thank You For The Fish. (Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy). Now I really wish I had a TARDIS so that I could play in all three universes.

And I wish I could move on to book 9, but my Audible credits don’t come until the middle of the month. A quick note about why I read by Audible most often now: actual reading is impossible for my eyes. It seems to be a tracking issue. So I use a lot of Kindle Text-to-Speech. Though TTS works well for most books, I want to hear the words pronounced correctly when there are other languages involved. Davina Porter is able to range the language barriers and character ages and sexes with apparent ease. I love listening to her.

If you get the chance, the books are as good if not better than the shows, and the Audible versions are the best of all the worlds. Enjoy!

***
By the way, since the first reading and the need for Audible, I have had cataract surgery and hope that soon I can read paper books. But for books like this with many foreign languages I don’t know how to pronounce, I’ll stick with Audible.

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Anansi BoysAnansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

NARRATOR OF Anansi Boys

Lenny Henry, narrator made this one of the most fun books I’ve read (listened to) in a long time. There were so many quotes that I wanted to put into my blog. But that would be spoilers. Go to GoodReads and look them up once you’ve read this book. I would be doing my diamond painting and then suddenly I’d have to stop because I would be laughing out loud. I’d have to calm down before trying to place the little gem into the picture.

What can I say about Neil Gaiman that hasn’t been said? His writing and imagination is fantastic.

This is considered book 2 of the American Gods. But I don’t know if you need to read that first. I did read AG a bit ago and loved it, too. But it isn’t necessary to enjoy this shorty but goody. Okay, maybe it isn’t so short. But after the tomes of Outlander this was a nice break.

I only decided to read this because Whoopi Goldberg is going to star in the theatrical version. Now I can hardly wait to see it!

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An Echo in the Bone (Outlander, #7)An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Below is my first review of this Audio version of the book. Nothing has changed. This is still my favorite Outlander book. It was great to read it as this season of Outlander streams. In fact, the scene from a couple of weeks ago I had just read the same day. Claire got sick. I’ll write no more about that without spoilers.

I took longer to read (listen) this time. Instead of knitting, I spend the listening time on Diamond Painting a series of dragons. I can only devote an hour or so to that endeavor. So with the before-bed read and creative pursuits, I couldn’t read straight through. I am already set up to read book 8. It’s like I can’t remember what happened next, yet I kind of remember and can’t wait to revisit it all.

***
This book may be my favorite of all the Outlanders. Maybe because of how I chose to read it nearly 24/7. After all, I had reached the skinny-mini underbelly of all streamings–teens or young people who look like Barbie Dolls going through the samo-samo life issues. Give me some older adults, women of all shapes and colors, real people, not Hollywood mothers, whores, or weaklings. Not enough streaming of strong women holding up half the world. So back to reading the only way I could. Audible.

Also, I was making scrubbies and washcloths while listening. That helped me ‘hear’ better.

By constant reading, I could stay in the story better. And family members came and listened with me on occasion. So it wasn’t a lonely process.

At any rate, I loved watching the cast of the characters struggle with life and time travel issues and historical moments. I especially loved the parts about Brianna and Roger at Lallybroch recovering letters from Claire and Jamie. And though I used to find Willy obnoxious, I think I clicked with him this time. And I grew more in love with John Grey. How nice to see good, honest, quality men portrayed.

I tried to find something else to read last night as my bedtime read but couldn’t resist looking for more Outlander. Now I am listening to book 8, Written In My Own Heart’s Blood.

Time to lower my reading goal as I seem stuck in tome reading. I love it! I hope you get the chance to read these. Oh, and Davina Porter does so many voices so well. I still wish for more actual actors, for sometimes Bri and Claire sound the same, and all the children sound the same, and Roger, even with his sore throat, sounds like other men. Still, for one person covering so many people, Davina is fantastic!

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A Breath of Snow and AshesA Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Below is the review from the last time I read/listened to this book. I have re-rated this and given it five stars. I think this reading corresponds with the newest episodes on the show. The last episode I watched was exactly what I had just listened to that day. I love following both the book and the show and seeing how they translate the written word, especially a long book like this, into a show excellently done.

Though I stay with the thought that the narrator, as excellent as she is, for the most part, had a hard time helping the listener to know who’s point of view she was portraying. Still, I followed better this time than the last read.

I highly recommend these books. Like last time, I have already started book 7. Yay, William as a grown-up!

***

Wow! Am I finally finished with this book? It is the longest book I think I have ever read. I don’t think it needs to be that long, either.

Look. Don’t get me wrong. I still love the story, the characters, and the time travel element concept. I just found the length unbearable with the thousands of books on my TBR shelf.

It is fun to explore the early days in America with the characters. I have to admit that I loved the time in Scotland the most, so this book is missing that aspect.

The other problem with this book is that our magical narrator, Divina Porter, couldn’t handle all the characters. Now that Brea is an adult, she sounds like Clair. Now that Roger is an adult, he sounds like Jamie. All the children sound the same. Maybe if I could read simultaneously as listening, I could sort them out. But that is not possible for me and my eyes.

The last thing I need to point out, in case it counts for your reading the book is that I am already reading book 7, so…

It is worth the read. Stay with it. There are rewards in the story. And in this crazy world, a sweet time-travel romance can calm the worries that like to strike at bedtime.

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Embrace Your Weird: Face Your Fears and Unleash CreativityEmbrace Your Weird: Face Your Fears and Unleash Creativity by Felicia Day
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This has been on my Currently Reading list for a year! It wasn’t that I was struggling to read it. It was digesting and doing the homework. I highly suggest doing it the way a friend and I did it. We held each other accountable as we worked through all the tasks, well, most of them. We often thought about bringing other people on board but realized adding anyone else would make it harder to stay on task.

Both my friend and I found many of our creative issues met through Ms. Day’s carefully set up agenda toward creativity.

Felicia kept us going, her sense of humor lightening some old personal issues of social anxiety and performance anxiety, worries if our art is good enough, and seeing us through those walls we had built up for ourselves. Ms. Day told us about her own issues and helped us see from another point of view. And though her problems were from a young mother’s perspective, we could relate, having been through her issues, and could apply the precepts to our seniors years. We all feel insecure about our soul searching writing and artwork.

Whether or not you use the book in the buddy system or solo, I think you will find depths in your own abilities if you take your time and work on the tasks.

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The Fiery Cross (Outlander, #5)The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The new season on television prompted a reread of what I hoped was the equivalent of the book series. Except for a couple of scenes, this book was the more the season before. Still, this read raised my rating from four stars to five.

The narrator, Davina Porter, is terrific as she is reading Diana Gabaldon’s outstanding writing. In fact, I have decided that Ms. Gabaldon is one of my favorite authors. And Ms. Porter may be my favorite narrator. I love living in the Outlander world. I not only read at night before sleep, which proves hard to leave the book for but while Diamond Painting or knitting.

I found the same issue with figuring out when the voice is Claire’s or Bree’s, or Jamie’s or Roger’s, but it was easier this time knowing the story from the TV show and having read this before. I have already picked up the next book, A Breath of Snow and Ash. Now I am nearly caught up with the television series. I just wanted to see how the Revolution progressed in the books.

I highly recommend this series and its TV counterpart.

Below is my earlier review.

These are such great books. The story continues. And now I can watch the current series on TV. But…

Until this book, Divina Porter, the narrator of all the Outlander books, was able to change the voices of most of the characters enough that a listener could tell who was talking. With Bree, Roger, and Ian grown, they all sound like Clair and Jamie. If my eyes could handle the tracking, I would try to have the book or Kindle version open to track who is speaking. Instead, I have to back up a bit to see if I can find out. Or I just keep listening, and finally, context will indicate who had just been the speaker. That throws me out of the story.

Is it me, or is this book a little less exciting? I know with Covid19 all around and the stress that has caused us all, it may be playing a part in my attention levels. I may have to reread the series later when life returns us to quieter minds. So I will try not to affect my rating on this issue. I still loved it and have already downloaded the next book. I can’t wait to see how Jamie and his men adjust to the American Revolution. What if you were on the wrong side of history and knew it but couldn’t do much about it as no one but you had access to future history? Yeah. What a conundrum! Excellent writing, Diana Gabaldon!

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