Last month (or maybe it was this month, I really can't remember) two of my favorite bloggers (Amber and Kels) introduced two different reading collaborations and link ups (Collaboreads & Bookish Side of Life, respectively) where we as bloggers and book lovers can join together and talk about the books we love, the ones we didn't love so much, and our reading goals. Right up my alley!!
For #collaboreads, each month a certain 'criterea' is chosen and at the end of the month we'll review it using the R.E.A.D.S. system created by Amber and Rachel. The criteria this month was that the book chosen needed to be on the NYT best-seller list at the time you started reading. Well, a month ago, I was reading Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon, which is the second installment of the Outlander book series. If you follow me on Instagram (if you don't, what the heck??) then you'll know that I'm going through this series at record speed, for me. I'm currently reading The Fiery Cross, which is the fifth book in the series, so rather than choosing just the one book, I'm kind of going to talk about the series as a whole, because lets be honest, I really can't remember where one book ended and the next began.
You guys. I never, never, thought I'd find another book series I could love as much as I loved Harry Potter. Now, the books and the stories are completely different from each other, and really the only comparison is that its a 7+ installment series where each book is 1000+ pages, but still. So, so good.
A brief synopsys: the series follows Claire Randall, who travels through a standing stone circle (think something like Stonehenge) in Scotland in the year 1947, back to the year 1743, during the historical Jacobite revolution in Scotland. Now, if you're anything like me, the whole "time travel" part of the book may make you a little reluctant to pick it up, thinking it may be some type of weirt sci-fi thriller, but it isn't! I described it to a good friend as a mix between a great historical fiction story and Fifty Shades of Grey. Except only like three shades of gray, because it isn't nearly as raunchy.
Now for the R.E.A.D.S. review - warning there are SPOILERS ahead!
Like I said, the story involves a little bit of time travel, but the way it's written makes it totally believable. I couldn't tear myself away from the story line in it's entirety. Claire is a sassy Sassenach (an "outlander" or "foreigner" to the Scots) and her character is completely relatable with her forward thinking, independent, and slightly stubborn mindset. Her marriage to Jaime starts off as an obligation and a means to save her own neck, but definitely turns in to something more. The second novel focuses on their time in France, attempting to change the course of history by preventing the Jacobite uprising and eventual slaughter at the Battle of Culloden.
As I said, Claire was easily the most relatable character in the series for me. Being what I consider a fairly independent and strong-minded (okay, we'll go ahead and say "stubborn") person myself, I could easily see myself reacting in the same ways as Claire when confronted with some of the practices and ideations of women of the 1700's. As far as plot twists, the biggest twist, to me, was the book starting back in the 1900's. 1967, specifically, with Claire and her 20 year old daughter, Brianna. When it started, I was so angry! What happened to Jamie? Where did this daughter come from? Where is Frank (Claire's first husband, married in the 1930s)? When did she go back through the stones? Was it even real?? But then all those questions were answered (and more) throughout the rest of Dragonfly in Amber.
This book doesn't remind me specifically of any other book or story, but I've read many historical fiction books, being that it's one of my most favorite genres, so this on was no different. I especially liked that it had a somewhat modern theme in addition to the historical fiction part.
I actually did judge this book by it's cover - and not nicely. I am an eReader gal myself, but I actually purchased the hard copy of the first book, because it was staring me in the face on the best seller list in Books-A-Million and I had heard good things. My copy actually has a photo of the TV Series characters on it, but I hadn't watched the series at that time. I generally hate buying those copys, and prefer the original cover art, but I couldn't find it.
Five stars all the way - I would recommend this series to anyone who had the time and drive to read through over eight thousand pages of love story. Addendum: these books are not for the faint of heart, they are long heavy reading and require full concentration!! My goal is still to finish the series by the end of summer but I think I'm going to need to read some light, fun, shorter novels first!
So tell me, have you read any of these books? Do you enjoy long novels or the shorter, fast-paced ones? Answer in the comments below!