28 December 2015

Outlander - Book Review

Title: Outlander (Outlander #1)
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4 Stars
Dates Read: 09 October to 15 October

I started reading this book the day after I left Scotland. For someone that had only done library research and had not been to Scotland yet, Diana Gabaldon was pretty accurate in her world building. Of course the landscapes and spirit of Scotland were fresh in my mind as I was reading - Invergordon (just outside of Inverness) and Edinburgh were the two Scottish ports on my British Isles cruise.

Outlander is the first book in the Outlander series. Claire Beauchamp Randall, a WWII nurse and plant-lover, travels with her historian husband Frank Randall to the Scottish highlands so he can do research on one of his family members. While Claire is exploring some of the local flora at a henge, she ends up in 1743, where she is face-to-face with Jack Randall, the very person Frank was researching. Claire escapes Jack, who shares her husband's face but not his temperament, and is captured by a clan of Scots that is also fleeing from Jack. After mending the wounded in her captor's party, she is taken back to Castle Leoch, where she becomes that castle's healer. It is also where she develops a relationship with one of the men that captured her, Jamie Fraser.

Although there is a lot of romance in the story (and let's be honest, a lot of sex), the story is so much more than that. I was instantly hooked (of course as I was reading I was imagining myself back in Scotland, traveling the highlands) and wanted to read more. Honestly I did not like Claire very much. She whined too much and was kind of a brat. I am also skeptical of her relationship to both Frank and Jamie. But I did not come for the romance, I came for the adventure, and the story does have that.

Although the book was long (almost 700 pages), the story was so well written and compelling that it was easy to continue reading. After the way the book ended, I cannot wait to read more of the story.

And hopefully another trip to Scotland is in my future as well.

16 December 2015

The Beginning of Everything - Book Review

Title: The Beginning of Everything
Author: Robyn Schneider
Rating: 2.5 Stars
Dates Read: 17 November to 20 November

As I was reading The Beginning of Everything, I felt like I was reading Looking for Alaska, and as the book progressed, a dash of Paper Towns. I hate comparing this to John Green, but the story does follow a similar arc, albeit more generic and completely predictable. I did not relate to any of the characters and did not really care about them at all (except maybe Toby, but barely). I guessed what Cassidy's "tragedy" was long before the big reveal, and with how many times coyotes were mentioned in the book, I was just waiting for that particular scene to happen. (On a side note, that scene was tragic because I am an animal lover and because a few days ago a coyote that was missing one paw was walking down my street in broad daylight and I was thankful my 12-lb terrier Puffy was safely in the house). The only reason why I finished the book is because I just kept hoping that it would get better, that I would be wrong and the ending would completely blow my mind. I wanted it to be better. Oh well, it was a quick read and now I can move on to other books.

What I do find interesting is that the book has an alternate title: Severed Heads, Broken Hearts. I think I prefer that title, because The Beginning of Everything set my expectations very high. And so much of the story goes back to the severed head, I was more interested in that and in Toby's story than Ezra's story. But neither title really does the story justice, because even though the severed head is mentioned so many times, it was not enough to carry the plot, to mark the "beginning" of how Ezra's story developed.