Book Review

Book Review: Voyager (Outlander #3) by Diana Gabaldon

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Historical fiction romance
Length: 870 pages
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Publisher: Delta
Release Date: December 1st, 1993
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Their passionate encounter happened long ago by whatever measurement Claire Randall took. Two decades before, she had traveled back in time and into the arms of a gallant eighteenth-century Scot named Jamie Fraser. Then she returned to her own century to bear his child, believing him dead in the tragic battle of Culloden. Yet his memory has never lessened its hold on her… and her body still cries out for him in her dreams.

Then Claire discovers that Jamie survived. Torn between returning to him and staying with their daughter in her own era, Claire must choose her destiny. And as time and space come full circle, she must find the courage to face the passion and pain awaiting her…the deadly intrigues raging in a divided Scotland… and the daring voyage into the dark unknown that can reunite or forever doom her timeless love.

BEST ONE [YET].

Ahhhhhh.

It’s official.

I’m involved.

Like, REAL involved in Claire and Jamie.

It’s fine. I’m fine. BUT CAN WE JUST GET SOME HAPPY MOMENTS FOR THEM? Goodness, my heart is in my throat every chapter wondering who’s jumping out next with a knife and a gun. Okay okay, I do admit there’s plenty of good moments too, but wow, do they live a life of danger.

I just loved how this story unfolded. I hated waiting for that reunion, but FLIPPIN’ LOVED how it went down. That’s how you reunite lost loves. Claire and Jamie treat each other with such love, respect, and fire. FIRE. I appreciate that there’s nothing held back. They have their conversations out there in the open, and come what may, they continue to love each other body and soul.

Not to mention that Jame purely angered MY soul with his shenanigans. Yes yes, explained away well, doesn’t mean I can’t have my feelings over it. I thought it was a good twist and definitely amped up the story as a whole. Also my sweet babe Fergus, all grown up! He’s one of my favorite side characters. Which makes me think that his ending is going to be make me sob, so let’s hope that doesn’t happen. I’ve got quite a few books to go.

With 870 pages, you’d think I’d have A LOOOOT to say. And I do, but I don’t. It’s one of those big books you sink into. Reading it takes as long as it does, but you’re not even noticing because the story has you wrapped up. That’s one of my favorite things about big sagas. I’m allowed to wholly immerse myself in the world and characters and feel the depth of the story.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical fiction romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: kisses / make-outs; a few love scenes ranging in detail from little to quite a bit
  • Violence: poison, swords, pirate attacks, ship wrecks, physical, murder, knives
  • Trigger warnings: sexual assault on a minor; sexual assault; intense depictions of slavery (specifically in the West Indies)

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Historical fiction + romance
Length: 320 pages
Author: Chanel Cleeton
Publisher: Berkley Books
Release Date: June 16th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

In 1935 three women are forever changed when one of the most powerful hurricanes in history barrels toward the Florida Keys in New York Times bestselling author Chanel Cleeton’s captivating new novel.

Everyone journeys to Key West searching for something. For the tourists traveling on Henry Flagler’s legendary Overseas Railroad, Labor Day weekend is an opportunity to forget the economic depression gripping the nation. But one person’s paradise can be another’s prison, and Key West-native Helen Berner yearns to escape.

The Cuban Revolution of 1933 left Mirta Perez’s family in a precarious position. After an arranged wedding in Havana, Mirta arrives in the Keys on her honeymoon. While she can’t deny the growing attraction to the stranger she’s married, her new husband’s illicit business interests may threaten not only her relationship, but her life.

Elizabeth Preston’s trip from New York to Key West is a chance to save her once-wealthy family from their troubles as a result of the Wall Street crash. Her quest takes her to the camps occupied by veterans of the Great War and pairs her with an unlikely ally on a treacherous hunt of his own.

Over the course of the holiday weekend, the women’s paths cross unexpectedly, and the danger swirling around them is matched only by the terrifying force of the deadly storm threatening the Keys.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the eARC. All opinions are my own!

FOREVER A CLEETON FAN.

This is the third historical fiction book I’ve read of Cleeton’s and I am HOOKED. I love the story set-up and strength of the women in her books. It’s all captivating and I have a hard time putting them down.

I initially wasn’t sure where this book was going with the length + three different women’s stories together. While I still felt like a direct plot was missing, the three women’s stories moved me each in their own way.

What’s incredible impressive to me is how easy I fall for the romance plot lines in Cleeton’s works. Her writing makes the love story seem magical and real all together. This book literally happens over 3 days (with some increased time differences towards the end) and I was shipping every single couple with all that I was worth. I wanted their happiness, and their choices to matter. I wanted Helen, Mirta and Elizabeth to get the ending they wanted and it was delivered.

I love the way each women’s story also had connections between them. It’s an interesting thought to consider how small interactions with those around us may influence and effect our entire lives. I was also smitten with the men of this book too. How could I not mention them? I just love how each character stood out. I was never confused as to what chapter I was reading and who was speaking. Everything flowed and wove together beautifully and I will sit here and impatiently wait for Cleeton’s next book.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical fiction + romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: kisses, some closed door scenes with little detail
  • Violence: guns, murder, hurricane, physical
  • Trigger warnings: a physically abusive husband, an incredibly destructive hurricane, attempted assault and robbery, brief mentions of a characters two family members committing suicide

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Book Review

Book Review: Outlander (Outlander #1) by Diana Gabaldon

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Historical fiction romance
Length: 630 pages
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Publisher: Dell Publishing Company
Release Date: June 1st, 1991
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of Our Lord…1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life, and shatter her heart. For here James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire—and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

WHERE DO I BEGIN?

One of my closest friendships began over a discussion of Outlander. I wasn’t super open to trying it out, she was a huge fan. Thus, worlds collided. After some great discussion (and the fact she got this book for me for my birthday), I can now say, I’m a fan.

This book can be a lot for others and I know it has turned away a lot of people. It’s definitely not for the feint of heart because it discusses many hard subjects and in a different time period. If you are okay with reading about difficult topics (see Trigger Warnings for a full list) I would recommend this book because the story itself is only beginning. I will also say (as I was warned) you must give this book 200 pages. It takes that long to set-up the story and give you the necessary background to start to understand the history. Once I made it there things really picked up and I was swept up in the romance between Jamie and Claire.

I think Claire has got to be one of the most level-headed people to be dropped into a different time period and to just go with the flow so well was awe-inspiring. I loved her personality, practicality and stubbornness. She is such a match for Jamie. Speaking of Jamie, my sweet soul, he took awhile to grow on me. I struggled with some of his scenes, but the further I got to know him [and understand the time period] the more things made sense. He’s a strong character with so many good qualities. Gabaldon doesn’t shy away from hard conversations and takes the times to explain them out through the characters.

The setting caught my attention too. I have not read any books set in the Scottish Highlands of 1743. What a time to choose. This has made me really interested in looking up more information about the time period too. The rolling hills and castles, soldiers and kilts, it’s all has an air of romanticism with a reality dose of war. The villain in this story with have your blood boiling and angry at everything. I was surprised at the amount of animosity I felt towards him. I do love when a book can bring out a wide range of emotions.

I am completely caught up in where this will go next. I loved the progression of Jamie and Claire’s love story and can’t wait to get more of them. There’s plenty of action, politics, romance [of course] and backstabbing to make you keep flipping pages. It’s a hardy book, but worthy of the time.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical fiction romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: many love scenes that are more descriptive (but only a little explicit) in nature
  • Violence: skirmishes, guns, knives, words, poison, torture, animal attacks, physical
  • Trigger warnings: rape, attempted rape, suicide, suicide ideation, sexual assault, domestic abuse (I apologize if I missed any, there are a lot so please research before reading this!)

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Where the Lost Wander by Amy Harmon

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Historical fiction romance
Length: 348 pages
Author: Amy Harmon
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Release Date: April 28th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

In this epic and haunting love story set on the Oregon Trail, a family and their unlikely protector find their way through peril, uncertainty, and loss.

The Overland Trail, 1853: Naomi May never expected to be widowed at twenty. Eager to leave her grief behind, she sets off with her family for a life out West. On the trail, she forms an instant connection with John Lowry, a half-Pawnee man straddling two worlds and a stranger in both.

But life in a wagon train is fraught with hardship, fear, and death. Even as John and Naomi are drawn to each other, the trials of the journey and their disparate pasts work to keep them apart. John’s heritage gains them safe passage through hostile territory only to come between them as they seek to build a life together.

When a horrific tragedy strikes, decimating Naomi’s family and separating her from John, the promises they made are all they have left. Ripped apart, they can’t turn back, they can’t go on, and they can’t let go. Both will have to make terrible sacrifices to find each other, save each other, and eventually…make peace with who they are.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an eARC. All opinions are my own!

LOVE ON THE TRAIL.

I am in awe of Harmon’s writing and how amazing this love story was. And on the Oregon Trail! What a unique setting y’all. I was incredibly impressed with the flow and build of this book. The writing is beautiful and well-paced. I am reminded with each of her books how much I love this author.

This romance comes off a bit more fast paced than I typically love, but the historical setting and writing really made me fall in love with Naomi and John as they fell in love. Naomi is strong, brave and a widow at 20. Her singular goal is helping her family cross the nation to a hopefully brighter future in California. I enjoyed her personality and mindset. She knew exactly what she wanted and made those wishes known. John was stoic and quiet. The perfect contrast to Naomi. He was searching for a place to belong and found his home with her.

While this is mostly a romance I was enthralled by everything else happening around them. My heart continually leaped and panicked throughout this book because Harmon doesn’t shy away from history. She has clearly well researched this time period to bring this story to life. Naomi and John (+Naomi’s family) definitely do not have it easy and it was hard to pull out all the good things that did happen to them. This was a hard read, especially when you stop to appreciate all the travelers and Native Americans went through as their world began to change through exploration.

It’s difficult to fully express my love for Harmon’s writing and her ability to weave together an ending that always makes me tear up. There’s learning moments, powerful connections, undeniable bonds and a faith in the characters that you can deeply feel. Where the Lost Wander isn’t a sugarcoated romantic tale. It’s raw, poignant, and utterly wonderful in all of its lows and its highs.

I also took a chance to read the Author’s Note at the end and loved it as well. I like to read these (especially for historical fiction) to see what artistic choices the author chose as well as what inspired the story. This one in particular was inspired by some of Harmon’s husband’s ancestors. It really brought home how deeply she felt for these characters (some being based on real people) and how much she wanted to write a story involving them.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical fiction romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: kisses, make outs, a few very little detail fade out scenes
  • Violence: physical, guns, arrows
  • Trigger warnings: some racist remarks about Native Americans, sexual assault, rape (ch. 17 – a few paragraphs with little detail)

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