Tag Archive: historical-fiction



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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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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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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Drums of Autumn (Outlander, #4)Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I just finished this second read of the fourth book. I wanted to be ready for the new season on television. I didn’t need to read the whole series, though I watched the whole show from season 1 again. I really love the music by Bear McCreary. I just wanted to refresh myself of the memory of what happens to the Frasers and the rest once they are in America.

I loved the story written, narrated, or acted. Though a little different in each case, it is a fun ride.

Davina Porter narrates with such a varied voice that one always knows whose viewpoint we are hearing. Every now and then, I get confused with Bree and Clair or Roger and Jamie. But it doesn’t take long before a person can know who they are hearing.

I have already started book five as it has more about the American Revolution through the Frasers’ eyes. I can’t wait to see how they do it on the show. I love all the time travel. I love visiting other countries and hearing histories brought forth by Diana Gabaldon, whose research and knowledge as portrayed in the books and show.
***
The following was from my first reading/listen from March 2020.

Oops! I nearly forgot to review this one. I just moved into the next read (a library book).

I really wish I had read this before the series on television. I liked the rhythm of the story better. I like the viewpoints presented here as Clair’s rather than Bree’s as the television series has it. It is different not having the information about the daughter making the voyage back in time and back to America.

I think we got into Roger’s head a little more, too. It doesn’t take away from the show. Interestingly, the directors and actors took the storyline without losing the story.

No spoilers here. Just glad I read (listened to the Audible) it and can’t wait to get into the next one!

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Apsara by Pearl Whitfield

Apsara by Pearl Whitfield

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I don’t often share the blurb, but since it isn’t on GoodReads, this is the one I found on Amazon:

“Apsara is the story of a young girl in a remote village in 12th century Cambodia who loves to dance. She is chosen to train as an Apsara for King Jayavarman VII. Apsaras dance to bring heaven to earth, blessing the land with prosperity. Bopha walks from her home to Angkor Wat, and begins a life she could never have imagined.”

I was so happy to pick this book up on Kindle Unlimited. That way, I could listen to the story in text-to-speech. As the author was writing it, I heard parts of the story. I often missed the chance to listen to more. That broke my heart. Still, I could hear the author’s voice in my head as I listened to the British representative of TTS. I would love to have this story on Audible so that the pronunciations of non-English words and names would be proper.

The story itself is so riveting. I had a hard time putting it down when it was time to sleep. Ms. Whitfield managed to keep the story interesting while throwing in the history, culture, language, religion, and dance of the people of 12th century Cambodia. I loved the main character, Bopha, and wish there was more. I’d love to know more about the teen twins and the daughter.



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A Passage in Time (A Thief in Time #7)A Passage in Time by Cidney Swanson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

How do you prove that your time machine works? Prove something exists, then vanish it by changing events. Then hand over proof. It’s more complicated than it sounds. In this case, no Disneyland is proof the time machine is working.

I love time travel books. They always make you think. Could this work, and what if it could? What would happen if…? This book fulfilled and kept my curiosity going. Because of the Disney monopoly, I had mixed feelings about reading a book about Walt and the beginnings. At the same time, though broke most of my life, our family did have some fun times at Disneyland. I would cry at the end of every Mickey Mouse Club and Wonderful World of Disney as a girl. So Disney impacted my life. Without those memories, how would I know if I didn’t have them? Maybe other memories would be as sweet?

And this book continues the adventures set up in previous A Thief In Time books. So you get to see how old friends are doing.

I highly recommend this and all Cidney Swanson series.

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Ashes in the Snow (Movie Tie-In)Ashes in the Snow by Ruta Sepetys
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Though gruesome in content, this was a beautiful book. I love how the author portrayed the main characters and historical content. I must admit to not knowing this part of history at all. This story gave me a better understanding of what happened.

Emily Klein narrated the story flawlessly. She varied the voices enough I knew who was who.

This story is a movie. I plan to watch it soon. Meanwhile, I won’t soon forget this family’s struggle, and no doubt thousands of others went through it. And the messages of what could happen to people when life gets to the point where neighbors are not trusting neighbors. When bigotry gets power, it isn’t good for anyone. And when love is involved, you see that life can be a bit better even in the worst situations.

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Yellow CrocusYellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I finished listening to this a few nights ago. I still feel warm and fuzzy from the experience. No, it isn’t all a cozy read. But the author went into the characters’ psychology in a way that women. mothers could feel. Most of us haven’t had to experience this kind of life. But it doesn’t take a lot to feel how it might affect us. And how it could mess up the children.

Bahni Turpin (Narrator) was marvelous. I could listen to her voice all day, especially when she would sing lullabies. She expressed emotions fully. And get ready to be angry, and make sure to bring the Kleenex.

This is a beautiful read. I was able to hear the Audible version. But I could have read the Kindle version as I had it for quite a while.

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Les MisérablesLes Misérables by Victor Hugo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Frederick Davidson (Narrator) made this an easier ‘read’ than my last try, the unabridged paperback copy in the 80s. He made the French words sound proper, though I wouldn’t know if they were true French; still, it was far better than my inner voice trying to pronounce them out. He did a great job with different male characters. On the other hand, he did children and female characters appallingly. This book could have used two narrators, a female actress for the children and women, and, sure, Frederick Davidson for the men.

The first time I read it was my intro to all things Les Miserables. I have since learned to play and sing all the music and have watched every version of the story possible. So this listen brought with it layers of meanings and music. At one point, I even put on Pandora on the Les Miserable channel. But it was distracting because it was out of order.

This read also brought a world perspective far different from the 80s. A pandemic and financial life that seems to rival any Victor Hugo had seen and portrayed makes this far less sad. Not everyone has it bad in the book, and the same now. Those with money don’t do so badly, but the majority work hard for low wages and low respect. And we have an illness that threatens the lives of everyone, especially the poor.

Still, I think everyone should read this. Someday I would like to have actual French literacy and a true understanding of France post-Napoleon.

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