Insta-Reaction: Outlander, Season 4, Episode 3

Season 4 is here! My intention is to write an “Insta-Reaction” post for each episode soon after viewing, to share some initial thoughts, questions, reactions — you name it.

Warning:

Spoilers

I may be talking about events from this episode, other episodes, and/or the book series… so if you’d rather not know, now’s your chance to walk away!

Outlander, episode 403: “The False Bride”

The official synopsis (via Starz):

Jamie and Claire search for a place to call home. Meanwhile, in the 20th century, Brianna and Roger’s romance heats up and then fizzles during a road trip that winds up highlighting their differences.

My take:

Major plot points:

  • Jamie and Claire leave River Run to set out for the mountains, planning to settle in a town there and start a new life.
  • A thunderstorm strands them in the woods, where Claire discovers a strange skull.
  • They find a beautiful location and decide to settle there.
  • In 1970, Roger and Brianna go to a Scottish festival in North Carolina.
  • Roger proposes to Brianna, but she’s not ready for marriage.
  • This seems to be the end of their relationship. *sniff*

Insta-reaction:

Episode 403, “The False Bride”, is not particularly action-packed, but it does present some iconic moments and emblems near and dear to book-readers’ hearts, and sets the tone for both Claire and Jamie’s new life as well as the 20th century story involving Brianna and Roger.

Jocasta blames Claire for denying Jamie a good life as a landowner, a chance to become the laird he was meant to be, but Claire holds her own. Jocasta is one tough cookie, but Claire’s spine is just as strong. Meanwhile, Ian asserts himself to Jamie and makes Jamie see that Ian isn’t a “lad” to have all his decisions made for him anymore. Jamie graciously concedes that Ian is man enough to make up his own mind now, and Ian chooses to stay in America with Jamie and Auntie Claire. Luckily for all concerned, there aren’t any telephones, so they won’t be on the receiving end of some choice words from Jenny when she finally finds out that her boy isn’t coming home to her after all.

And we meet yet another important four-legged Outlander character: Clarence the mule! I admit it — I giggled when he was introduced. Clarence, like Rollo, is a part of the story and a member of the Fraser family.

Claire and Jamie get some quality time together in the woods, riding, talking, and camping under the stars. Jamie worries that he has nothing to offer Claire, but as she makes clear, all she really wants and has dreamed of is the chance to finally create a home with him. Just think of it — all these years, all these adventures, and yet Claire and Jamie have never truly had a home together. They also discuss Brianna’s future and her lack of career plans. For Jamie, it’s unheard of for a young adult to be trying to find their direction in life — either they have a calling, such as Claire being born to be a healer, or they go into their family’s trade. No such thing as being “undeclared” in the 18th century!

The discovery of the skull and Claire’s vision of the Native American ghost is pretty much straight from the book. Hate to say it, but the bit with her shoes comes off a bit silly on the screen, but that’s okay — I don’t suppose it’s any sillier than touching a big stone and traveling 200 years, is it?

There are key discoveries on the trip — a patch of strawberries, the opal, the silver fillings on the skull. I love how the show keeps to the important visuals that really call back to the source material, yet feel organic as presented. The view of Fraser’s Ridge is just absolutely lovely. It’s easy to see how Jamie and Claire could be swept away by the sight, and feel so strong a connection to this place, enough to want to make it their own.

Meanwhile, I was really charmed by the 20th century storyline. As always, the show does a great job of setting the tone through the clothing, music, cars, and even fast-food choices that surround the characters. It was so nice to see Brianna and Roger again, and the juxtaposition of a Highland fair in the North Carolina hills with Jamie and Claire’s travels through the same land worked really well. The festival was perfect, and I loved seeing Brianna and Roger enjoying themselves together, especially in a setting where Brianna could feel connected to her Scottish roots.

Ah, and let’s not forget the silver bracelet! Another book element, nicely done.

It all falls apart, of course. Roger is in love with Brianna, and while she’s ready to sleep with him, he only wants her sexually in the context of committing to a life together. He is a bit much in this scene, although with the best of intentions and the biggest heart. Still, he’s not doing a great job of reading Brianna — the more he gushes on about getting married, having a home, having a bunch of kids, the more freaked out Brianna gets. It’s not just that she’s young, still in college, still trying to figure out what she wants in life. She’s also haunted by not knowing what’s become of her mother. Did she make it back to Jamie? Are they together? Are they safe? What’s more, Brianna is well aware of her mother’s own history, having fallen in love at a young age and gotten married, then finding that her heart belonged elsewhere. Brianna is worried that it’s too soon for her to make a big decision like marriage, but Roger takes this as rejection.

I can relate to Brianna’s reaction, absolutely — it does feel quick, and so much in her life is up in the air. She has feelings for Roger, but she’s not ready to decide her whole life at the moment. Sigh. An ongoing refrain for so many fans while reading the books is “Poor Roger!” — Diana Gabaldon just isn’t kind to his character. Sadly, the end of this episode is the first “Poor Roger” moment, but it won’t be the last.

(Poor Roger!)

Insta-reaction wrap-up:

This was a slower episode, in many ways, yet I loved it. The focus here is on the characters and their relationships, and I felt like this episode gave the two couples room to talk, to relate, and to plan. Sadly for Roger and Brianna, things are bumpy, but of course this is just the beginning of their story. Meanwhile, Jamie and Claire have a mostly peaceful ride together, and it’s just right and sweet and deserved for these two to have time to be happy and safe in one another’s company.

And furthermore…

I know this season was filmed in Scotland, but damn! They’re making fake North Carolina look so, so beautiful!

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Insta-Reaction: Outlander, Season 4, Episode 2

Season 4 is here! My intention is to write an “Insta-Reaction” post for each episode soon after viewing, to share some initial thoughts, questions, reactions — you name it.

Warning:

Spoilers

I may be talking about events from this episode, other episodes, and/or the book series… so if you’d rather not know, now’s your chance to walk away!

Outlander, episode 402: “Do No Harm”

The official synopsis (via Starz):

Claire and Jamie visit his Aunt Jocasta at her plantation, River Run. When tragedy strikes at the plantation, Jamie and Claire find themselves caught between what’s right and the law of the land.

My take:

Major plot points:

Picking up on the river:

  • Jamie, Claire, and Ian arrive at River Run, Jamie’s Aunt Jocasta’s prosperous plantation.
  • Claire makes her feelings about slavery very clear.
  • Jocasta announces that she’s named Jamie her heir and manager of her business — meaning he (and Claire) will be de facto slave owners.
  • A slave named Rufus injures an overseer. Claire saves him from a gruesome death, only to discover that the law is not on her side.
  • The neighboring plantation owners and overseers demand that Jamie hand over Rufus, or they’ll attack River Run.
  • Claire and Jamie face an impossible choice — turn Rufus over, where he’ll be tortured and killed, or give him a painless death themselves.

Oh, and Ian learns about that fearsome North American mammal, the skunk.

Insta-reaction:

Episode 402, “Do No Harm” does not mince words when it comes to making clear what an awful chapter of American history Jamie and Claire find themselves in. The show tackles slavery head-on, and despite wanting to do good, Jamie and Claire are pretty much slapped in the face by how powerless they are to make any difference.

First, though, we have the aftermath of the attack on the river. Jamie blames himself, of course, both for trusting Stephen Bonnet in the first place, and then for failing to protect the people under his protection. Poor Lesley has been buried on the riverbank. Now that Bonnet has stolen all their money and gemstones, Jamie and Claire arrive at Jocasta’s as poor relations, with basically nothing to their names but the clothes on their backs.

Auntie Jocasta, played by the amazing Maria Kennedy Doyle, is glorious. She’s self-assured and regal, and it’s not until Ian tries to present her with flowers that the Frasers realize that she’s blind. Aided by her right-hand man, the house slave Ulysses, Jocasta is always in control. Jamie is fond of her, especially as she reminds him so much of his mother (her sister), but Jocasta and Claire butt heads pretty quickly, as Claire expresses just how wrong she thinks slavery is.

Jocasta invites all her neighbors to a party welcoming Jamie and Claire, and makes the surprise announcement that Jamie will be both her heir and her business representative, effective immediately. As Jamie points out, it’s quite the Mackenzie move — by announcing it publicly, she basically backs Jamie into a corner and doesn’t leave him any room to decline.

Jamie immediately jumps in with his intent to free all the slaves once he’s in control and pay the men and women a wage for their work. His idealistic views are quickly shut down by Jocasta and her trusted friend Farquard Campbell. The law of North Carolina places so many obstacles in the way that even with the best of intentions, Jamie could not possibly hope to afford the amount that would be necessary to pay as bond for all of Jocasta’s slaves, not to mention being able to prove that each freed slave had earned their freedom through meritorious service — saving a life.

Jamie and Claire are never not in trouble for very long. When word comes that an overseer has been attacked by a slave, Jamie and Claire rush to the scene. The slave, Rufus, is being strung up on a tree by a hook through his belly. Claire has him cut down and brought back to the main house, where she proceeds to perform surgery on him right on Jocasta’s dining room table. Claire’s amazing, so of course she’s successful, and Rufus stands a good chance at recovering…

… but that sucks too, because the overseers are demanding blood. They want Rufus, or they’ll attack River Run and take him. A deal is struck — Jamie will hand him over at midnight. Ulysses points out to Claire that it would have been better for her to let the boy die. At least, it would have been relatively quick. Now with the furious overseers demanding “justice”, he’ll be ripped apart.

Jamie points out to Claire that perhaps her oath to “do no harm” might mean in this case that she give poor Rufus an easier death than the one that awaits him at the hands of the mob. In tears, Claire agrees, giving Rufus a tea laced with aconite, then talking quietly with him and holding his hands as he dies. As the clock strikes midnight, Jamie carries Rufus’s body outside, where the angry mob drags him through the dirt and strings him up from a tree.

Welcome to the South, Claire. Maybe North Carolina isn’t the best place for the Frasers to settle down after all.

Further musings:

We meet a favorite book character in this episode, John Quincy Myers, a mountain man who will interact with the Frasers in their future adventures. He and Ian share a very cute scene in which they treat Rollo after his encounter with a skunk and talk about Myers’s experiences with Indian women. Ian seems to be finding a lot to admire about Myers. It’s pretty much the only light scene in the episode, which may be why I enjoyed it so much.

I assume since we just saw Claire doing surgery on the dining room table, we won’t get the book scene of Claire doing surgery in the same location on John Quincy Myers’s… um… private parts… during a dinner party, with a crowd of onlookers. But damn, that would have been funny.

Other key book characters introduced include Phaedre, Farquard Campbell, and Lieutenant Wolff. These are all characters we see a lot of in the books, but I suppose it’ll depend on how much emphasis and screen time River Run gets in the TV version whether we see much more of them.

And one more thing:

Claire is gorgeous in red — reminded me of those bad old days at Versailles! She looks lovely in Jocasta’s white dress too. I really liked the scene of Jocasta deciding how Claire should look, even though she can’t actually see her. Jocasta is no one to be trifled with.

Insta-reaction wrap-up:

Another strong episode, although the romantic in me missed having any Jamie/Claire intimacy this episode. Oh, get your minds out of the gutters! It’s not about the sex, but I missed seeing them having any deeply connected moments. (I know, it wouldn’t have fit at all in the mood of the episode… but I just love them together, always.)

And furthermore…

It was good to see that Jamie and Claire are on the same page when it comes to this chapter of history. In their earlier days together, Claire was often at odds with Jamie, who struggled to understand her point of view and often ended up explaining traditions and customs of the times to Claire. Here, they’re both strangers in a strange land, figuring it out together, and they’re a united team. Despite the painful subject matter and the no-win situation they’re in in regard to Jamie being Jocasta’s heir, it’s clear that Jamie is on the same side as Claire when it comes to slavery and the impossibility of them accepting the status quo or being a part of it in any way.

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Insta-Reaction: Outlander, Season 4, Episode 1

Season 4 has begun! My intention is to write an “Insta-Reaction” post for each episode soon after viewing, to share some initial thoughts, questions, reactions — you name it.

Warning:

Spoilers

I may be talking about events from this episode, other episodes, and/or the book series… so if you’d rather not know, now’s your chance to walk away!

Outlander, episode 401: “America the Beautiful”

The official synopsis (via Starz):

Claire and Jamie cross paths with Stephen Bonnet, a pirate and smuggler who enlists their help. Claire illuminates Jamie on some of America’s history, leading him to wonder if it’s possible for them to lay down some roots.

My take:

Major plot points:

Aaaaaand we’re back! It’s 1767, in North Carolina:

  • Jamie’s friend Gavin Hayes, who was imprisoned with him at Ardsmuir and came on the journey last season to find Ian, has been sentenced to death for killing a man. While Jamie had an escape attempt planned, Gavin feels he deserves to pay for his crime and asks for the rescue attempt to be cancelled.
  • Gavin is hanged, but other prisoners escape.
  • Jamie and Claire plan to sail back to Scotland as soon as they can sell some gemstones in order to afford the voyage. First, they need to bury Gavin, and take his body to a cemetery.
  • They find one of the escaped prisoners hiding in their wagon, a man named Stephen Bonnet, who describes himself as a smuggler and a pirate, and asks for help in escaping. Because he claims to have been a friend of Gavin’s, Jamie agrees to help.
  • Jamie and Claire, along with Ian and Lindsay, sail upriver. They’re heading toward River Run, the plantation owned by Jamie’s aunt Jocasta.
  • On the river, they’re attacked by a band led by Stephen Bonnet. He kills Lesley, beats Jamie, and steals their gemstones and one of Claire’s wedding rings.

Insta-reaction:

Season 4 opens rather quietly, all things considered. It feels like the start of a new chapter — which it really is. Jamie and Claire are together, Culloden and the Rising are long in the past, and they have an opportunity to start a new life in a new country.

Of course, if life went smoothly, it wouldn’t be Outlander. What would Jamie and Claire do with peace and quiet?

The episode begins with a scene from 2000 BC, somewhere in North America, as a primitive tribe constructs and dances around and through a circle of stones**. Claire’s voice-over muses on the meaning of circles and the importance people attach to them as symbols… and we cut to the hangman’s noose, shortly before the execution in 1767. Jamie, being Jamie, can’t stand the idea of letting one of his men die (although he did actually kill a man, in self-defense) — but Gavin doesn’t want any thrilling heroics. He just wants to meet his end while seeing the face of a friend, and Jamie agrees.

**Sorry, I thought the dancing at the stones scene was a little silly. I suppose the show needed to demonstrate that there are stone circles everywhere, so when they stumble across one later on, it won’t be completely out of the blue… but really, 2000 BC? It came off a bit silly. (It also reminded me of the First Slayer from Buffy, but I digress.)

Anyhoo…

There’s a lovely moment later in a tavern, after Gavin is already dead, when first Lesley and then the entire group begin singing a Gailigh song in Gavin’s honor. Quite beautiful. (Of course, book people will be shaking their heads a bit, since book-Jamie is utterly tone deaf, can’t recognize songs, and certainly never sings.)

The priest has denied burial to the hanged man, so Jamie determines that he and the gang will take Gavin’s body to consecrated ground under cover of night and give him a decent burial. While driving the cart, Jamie and Claire discuss their gemstones and the plan to sell the stones so they’ll have enough money for all of them to book passage back to Scotland. Little did they know that a living man was snuggled up with the corpse in the back of the wagon… listening to every word.

At the cemetery, Jamie and Ian dig a grave. Ian has a flashback to Geillis (season 3) and freaks out, and Jamie has to talk him down. Ian describes being forced to have sex with Geillis, even though he didn’t want to, and asks Jamie if he’s ever lain with someone against his will. Yes, he has, Uncle Jamie tells Ian, and he offers him words of wisdom for getting past it. It’s a touching scene, showing Jamie at his paternal best, being strong for someone who needs him.

Stephen Bonnet turns up in the back of the wagon, and turns on his charm. He speaks fondly of Gavin, and asks Jamie to give him the chance to escape. He doesn’t seem particularly dangerous. Jamie and Claire agree to drive him in the cart into the woods and to a meeting point near the river, where he’ll find a way back to his friends. Despite a close encounter with a redcoat roadblock, they make it and say good-bye to Bonnet. Jamie and Claire settle in for some sexy cuddles and a night of camping in the woods, then wake to appreciate the beauty of the land all around them.

Back in town, Jamie and Claire prepare for a fancy dinner where they expect to meet a man who’s known for collecting expensive things, including gems. The governor of North Carolina will also be there. At the dinner, Claire wears a beautiful ruby around her neck, which definitely catches eyes as intended. Meanwhile, Jamie has caught the governor’s eye. He offers Jamie the chance to settle on his own piece of land and start a community of his own in the mountains of North Carolina. It’s a tempting offer. Claire reminds Jamie that the American Revolution is only a few years away, and they don’t want to be caught on the wrong side of history. Jamie thinks about Brianna growing up in the United States, and sees this as an opportunity to help create a country that will be a home for his daughter in the future.

Ian wants to stay with Jamie and Claire, but Jamie wants to send him home to his mother. Fergus and Marsali will stay in town, since she’s pregnant and not up to traveling. Yet another lovely bit, when everyone celebrates Marsali’s pregnancy. I love the look on Claire’s face — last season, Marsali and Claire first broke the hostility between them when Marsali asked Claire for advice on birth control. Guess she didn’t stick with the plan for very long! In any case, all are happy, and since this is Outlander, it’s actually a rare treat to see a group of happy people all at once.

And one of the most eagerly awaited moments happens this episode:

ROLLO!! Ian won a beautiful dog named Rollo in a dicing game. Awwwwww, Rollo! This is the start of a beautiful relationship. Rollo is the best.

So, things go south, as they tend to do for the Frasers. After a lovely day on a river barge on the way to visit Aunt Jocasta at River Run, near Cape Fear, the boat is tied up for the night. Stephen Bonnet turns up — because no good deed goes unpunished — and he and his men attack the Frasers’ company, beating Jamie fiercely, stealing the gemstones, slitting Lesley’s throat, and being super mean to Claire! Bonnet tries to take Claire’s rings from her. Thinking fast, she tries to swallow them, but he forces a finger into her mouth (gross, and also super intimidating) and gets the silver ring — Jamie’s ring!! — away from her.

And the episode ends, with America the Beautiful playing over the horrible scene.

Further musings:

Claire’s knowledge of the future is coming in handy once again. With the Revolutionary War on the way, America might not be the safest choice for a new home, and Jamie doesn’t want to fight any more wars — so it’s touching that he wants to help make a home for Brianna. At the same time, with the current state of affairs in 1767, sides aren’t neatly drawn, and Jamie has sworn an oath of loyalty to the King. But as Claire points out, they know the outcome of the coming war already. This time, they need to be on the right side of history.

We’ve had two scenes this episode of Claire asserting her 20th century view of the 18th century. First, when Claire describes a future US that will stretch all the way to the Pacific, Jamie asks about the people who already live there. Bad things, Claire explains. We’ll see how the show handles the upcoming encounters with native tribes. Later, Claire tries to criticize the boat captain’s treatment of his slave, only to find out that the man is free, working for a wage. Slavery will be an ongoing issue — Claire and Jamie’s next stop is Jocasta’s plantation. And yes, as you’d expect on a tobacco-growing plantation in the south, Jocasta is a slave owner.

And one more thing:

Spoilery bit ahoy: In the book, Stephen Bonnet takes Claire’s gold ring (she manages to swallow the silver ring.) Later, it’s that gold ring that catches a certain someone’s eye and leads to all sorts of trouble –and that always bothered me, because really, it’s just a plain gold band. How could someone recognize it as Claire’s while seeing it in passing in a crowded tavern, completely out of context, and with no idea that Claire’s ring had actually been stolen? So yeah, this way is much better. I’d wager all my gemstones that Claire is the only person in North American (or possibly the world at that time) with a silver ring made from a key — definitely recognizable as something quite distinct and unusual. So in my mind, the changing of the rings is big improvement. Yay, show.

Insta-reaction wrap-up:

Such a great new beginning, promising new adventures in a new land. I love the changes to the theme song, as it now sounds more like an American folk song. Lovely, lovely version.

As I said earlier, this episode mostly feels a bit quiet, but that’s okay. It has to reintroduce us into the lives of the characters, establish their new circumstances, and set out their goals and challenges. The Frasers are at a crossroads, living in the colonies but aiming to return to Scotland. Their lives are in a lull as they prepare, but they seem to mostly be enjoying their rather peaceful times together as a family. The peace and quiet don’t last, of course — the last few minutes of the episode make clear that the new land has its own dangers in store for the Frasers. Still, Jamie and Claire are obviously still very much in love, Fergus and Marsali are happy and beginning a new chapter in their own lives, and Ian is… well, Ian is precious and wonderful, as always. So this episode can be excused for feeling like a family reunion at times — it’s nice for us to get a chance to appreciate some smiles and happiness before diving back into the drama and life-threatening peril around every turn.

And furthermore…

Once again, the start of a new season makes me happy all over again that so much care has been devoted to turning our beloved books into a beautiful TV series. Kudos to the cast and crew for making it lovely and special. It’s obvious how much love goes into each and every episode.

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The Monday agenda

Not a lofty, ambitious to-be-read list consisting of 100+ book titles. Just a simple plan for the upcoming week — what I’m reading now, what I plan to read next, and what I’m hoping to squeeze in among the nooks and crannies.

So what’s on the reading agenda this week?

From last week:

Ashen Winter by Mike Mullin: Done! My review is here.

The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin: Quit after reading 150 pages. I just couldn’t get into it, despite having enjoyed the first book in the series.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins: Done! My review is here.

Beta by Rachel Cohn: Returning to the library unread. I was about to start this one, then discovered from the dust jacket that this book is first in a new series… and I’m trying to swear off new series for a while.

So far, no new books for my kiddo and me. We haven’t settled on our next read-aloud yet, and had a couple of false starts this week with books that neither of us ended up enjoying. Soldiering on! We still have a few more to try, and I’m hoping that one of the ones that I most want to read will also appeal to this opinionated 10-year-old.

Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon: Done! The group re-read has finally come to an end. We’ll be starting the next in the series, The Fiery Cross, in January. And if you happen to be an Outlander fan and want to join the fun, just let me know and I’ll get you connected.

And this week’s new agenda:

I hereby declare: It’s Graphic Novel Week!

I’ve been accumulating a stack of graphic novels over the past few weeks, and I think I’ll dive in and devote my reading week to catching up. So exciting! On the list are:

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, season 9 volume 2: On Your Own: If you thought Buffy’s story ended when the TV show went off the air, and you’ve been missing her ever since, check out the continuing story in graphic novel form.

Angel and Faith: Daddy Issues: Excellent Buffy spin-off.

Soulless manga, volume 2: The manga version of Changeless by Gail Carriger.

A Wrinkle In Time graphic novel: My Hanukkah gift from my daughter. See me gushing with joy about this here.

Fairest, volume 1: A new spin-off from Bill Willingham’s Fables series, which I love madly and deeply.

Werewolves of the Heartland: A Fables stand-alone, centered on my absolutely favorite character from the Fables world. Can’t wait!

Locke & Key: Clockworks: Volume 5 in the superbly creepy series by horror master Joe Hill.

Other than graphic novels, I plan — quite cautiously and with some trepidation — to add in Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm by Philip Pullman. Given the fact that I am just a terrible reader of short stories and find it impossible to maintain interest long enough to get through an entire book of stories, even if they’re by an author whom I love (as is the case here), I’m setting myself the rather mild goal of reading this collection of fairy tales bit by bit. I’ll aim for two stories a week — that should let me enjoy the stories without feeling my usual frustration at not reading a “real” novel.

So many book, so little time…

That’s my agenda. What’s yours? Add your comments to share your bookish agenda for the week.

The Monday agenda

Not a lofty, ambitious to-be-read list consisting of 100+ book titles. Just a simple plan for the upcoming week — what I’m reading now, what I plan to read next, and what I’m hoping to squeeze in among the nooks and crannies.

Right down to business: What books are brewing this week?

From last week:

Because It Is My Blood by Gabrielle Zevin: Done! My review is here, but the bottom line is: If you read the first book in the Birthright series, you’ll want to pick this one up.

Ashen Winter by Mike Mullin: Just started, hard to put down.

Magic By The Lake by Edward Eager: My most recent out-loud read with my son, finally finished, and not entirely successful. Neither of us loved it, unfortunately.

And, as always, still going strong with the group re-read of Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon.

And this week’s new agenda:

It’ll take me a few days to finish Ashen Winter, unless I continue staying up past midnight because I just have to see what happens next. After that, I plan to read The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin. Still on my library pile: Beta by Rachel Cohn and Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins.

And then I plan to shift gears and take a break from young adult fiction for a bit.

In children’s books, my kiddo and I are undecided. I presented him with a big stack of books, but he’s not ready to commit. Me, I’m pulling for A Wrinkle In Time, but that may be a tad too intense for him at bedtime. We shall see.

Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon: Chapters 70 and 71 this week… then one more chapter next week, and we’re done!

So many book, so little time…

That’s my agenda. What’s yours? Add your comments to share your bookish agenda for the week.

The Monday agenda

Not a lofty, ambitious to-be-read list consisting of 100+ book titles. Just a simple plan for the upcoming week — what I’m reading now, what I plan to read next, and what I’m hoping to squeeze in among the nooks and crannies.

And a very happy Monday morning to one and all! So what’s cooking, reading-wise?

From last week:

Doc by Mary Doria Russell: Just finished last night. I’ll probably need a day or two to digest a bit before writing a review. The short version is: LOVED it. I’m really looking forward to our book group discussion of Doc at the end of this week.

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And that’s it! I didn’t have nearly as much time for reading this week as I would have liked (isn’t that always the case?). Here’s hoping the coming week contains extra minutes each day, by some magical stretch of the time-space continuum.

In ongoing reading, my son and I continued with Magic By The Lake by Edward Eager, and may even be ready for something new before this week is done..

Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon (group re-read): Back on track!

And this week’s new agenda:

Whew! I just finished Doc, and it’s hard to think about moving on to a different world and a different book. Maybe I should just spend the week watching DVDs of Tombstone and Wyatt Earp?

No? Okay, I’ll admit that it’s impossible that I won’t start a new book today.

I’ve still got a big stack of library books to get through before the library starts sending collection agents after me. I’ll probably start with Because It Is My Blood by Gabrielle Zevin and then move on to The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin or Ashen Winter by Mike Mullin.

Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon: Chapters 68 and 69 this week. Another couple of weeks and we’ll be done.

So many book, so little time…

That’s my agenda. What’s yours? Add your comments to share your bookish agenda for the week.

The Monday agenda

Not a lofty, ambitious to-be-read list consisting of 100+ book titles. Just a simple plan for the upcoming week — what I’m reading now, what I plan to read next, and what I’m hoping to squeeze in among the nooks and crannies.

What do you mean it’s Monday? Already? These long holiday weekends make it so hard to return to reality.  Although, when your reality centers around reading, I suppose any day of the week is a good one.

Onward! What’s on the agenda this week?

From last week:

Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead: Done! My review is here.

Dare Me by Megan Abbott: Just finished this one over the weekend. See my thoughts here.

My son and I are enjoying Magic By The Lake by Edward Eager, although based on the first few chapters, it’s not quite as captivating as Half Magic.

Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon (group re-read): No chapters this week — the group took time off from the re-read to focus on family time and Thanksgiving celebrations. No, not for shopping (although I’m sure a bit of that happened too).

And this week’s new agenda:

Last week I swore that I’d start reading Doc by Mary Doria Russell by the end of Thanksgiving weekend, and I made it in under the wire! Doc will be my focus all week — it’s a finely detailed, meticulously researched piece of historical fiction, with a huge cast of characters. I think this one will take a lot of concentration, but seeing as it’s written by one of my very favorite authors, I’m sure it’ll be well worth the time and effort.

And if, by some chance, I finish Doc this week, then I’ll resubmerge myself in the big pile of YA novels borrowed from the library. I have a mix of sequels and stand-alones waiting to be read, so I should be able to find something that strikes my fancy. Most likely, I’ll start with Because It Is My Blood by Gabrielle Zevin and then see which way the winds blow. Very unlikely that I’ll read much besides Doc this week, however.

Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon: Diving back in with chapters 66 and 67 this week.

So many book, so little time…

That’s my agenda. What’s yours? Add your comments to share your bookish agenda for the week.

The Monday agenda

Not a lofty, ambitious to-be-read list consisting of 100+ book titles. Just a simple plan for the upcoming week — what I’m reading now, what I plan to read next, and what I’m hoping to squeeze in among the nooks and crannies.

The head cold that had been bouncing around my house earlier this week finally caught up with me and did serious damage to my scheduled reading time. Mostly better now, so it’s time to dive back in. What’s on the agenda for this week?

From last week:

Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt: Such a lovely book. My review is here.

The Red House by Mark Haddon: I just couldn’t finish it, despite giving it my best college try. Find out why here.

A Trail of Fire by Diana Gabaldon: Joy! Bliss! A new Diana Gabaldon book! My reaction is here.

The kiddo and I finished Half Magic by Edward Eager, always a delight. Somehow I missed out on this one during my own childhood, but have now had the pleasure of enjoying it with two of my children.

Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon (group re-read): Going strong, getting close to the end.

And this week’s new agenda:

I’m about half-way through with Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead, which is quite a fun read.

Next up: I must make some serious headway on the stack of new YA novels I’ve borrowed from the library. I’m planning to start with a sequel: Because It Is My Blood by Gabrielle Zevin, book two in the Birthright series. I’ve enjoyed a few of her books previously, including the first Birthright book, All These Things I’ve Done. I’m looking forward to this one. If I have time for one more book, then I’ll start Dare Me by Megan Abbott, which was one of my recent Wishlist Wednesday picks.

I am absolutely committing myself to starting Doc by Mary Doria Russell by the end of Thanksgiving weekend, so I’ll have enough time to read, digest (the book, not my Thanksgiving meal — although perhaps that too), and come up with some thoughtful observations before my book group meets to discuss it in early December.

My son and I have just started Magic By The Lake by Edward Eager, a follow-up to Half Magic. So much fun!

Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon: Chapters 66 and 67 this week, I think. I’d better check the group reading calendar — for all I know, we may be on hiatus for Thanksgiving.

Let’s give thanks for all the wonderful books out there just waiting to be read!

So many book, so little time…

That’s my agenda. What’s yours? Add your comments to share your bookish agenda for the week.

The Monday agenda

Not a lofty, ambitious to-be-read list consisting of 100+ book titles. Just a simple plan for the upcoming week — what I’m reading now, what I plan to read next, and what I’m hoping to squeeze in among the nooks and crannies.

So what’s on the agenda for this week?

From last week:

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater: I finished this one early in the week. Sadly, not all that impressed. (You can find out why here.)

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple: Done! Loved it. My review is here.

Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon (group re-read): Two more engaging chapters. Almost done.

And this week’s new agenda:

I’m about 2/3 of the way through Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. What a lovely, poignant story. I’ll finish and have a review up in the next few days.

Next, from my library pile, I plan to start either The Red House by Mark Haddon or Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead.

Tiny aside: One of the benefits of having a school-aged child is learning all sorts of useful acronyms. At my son’s school (and probably lots of others), they have DEAR time — Drop Everything And Read — in which everyone stops all other work, picks a book, and reads without interruption for 15 – 20 minutes. When my older kids were that age, it was called Silent Sustained Reading (very cute to hear a 1st-grader say this, by the way).

How is this relevant to the Monday agenda? I expect to have a DEAR moment myself in the next day or two. In my case, this means that I’ll be dropping whatever else I’m reading or planning to read as soon as my copy of A Trail of Fire by Diana Gabaldon arrives. I’ll write more about this book, and why it’s a big deal, when my copy finally gets here… which should be tomorrow (fingers crossed).

My son and I are about half-way (!) through Half Magic by Edward Eager. I was pleasantly surprised when I offered him a stack of eight or nine books and he picked out this children’s classic. It’s been many years since I last read it, but it’s still thoroughly delightful.

Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon: Chapters 64 and 65 this week. Emotional high points. The end is in sight.

So many book, so little time…

That’s my agenda. What’s yours? Add your comments to share your bookish agenda for the week.

The Monday agenda

Not a lofty, ambitious to-be-read list consisting of 100+ book titles. Just a simple plan for the upcoming week — what I’m reading now, what I plan to read next, and what I’m hoping to squeeze in among the nooks and crannies.

Hurray for a sun-filled weekend, perfect for sitting on the back porch with a book firmly in hand. So what’s on the agenda for this week?

From last week:

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn: Done! Wow, what a wild ride that was. My review is here.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater: Just started this one yesterday… reserving judgement for now.

Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon (group re-read): Great chapters, with summaries written by yours truly. It’s a nice bit of validation when one’s chapter summaries provoke a good discussion. Yet another reason why I love my online book group.

And this week’s new agenda:

I should be done with The Raven Boys in the next day or two.

I managed to come home with a fresh stack of library books again this weekend. Why do I always feel like I’m playing catch-up? Or maybe it’s more like Beat the Clock — can I read all of these books before time runs out?

Next up will be either Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple or Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt.

My son and I have made great progress on the book we started last week, and should be ready for something new in the next couple of days. I’m thinking Ella Enchanted or From The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler — but he may have a different opinion entirely.

Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon: Chapters 62 and 63 this week. We’re within 100 pages of the end!

So many book, so little time…

That’s my agenda. What’s yours? Add your comments to share your bookish agenda for the week.