Top Ten Tuesday: Popular Books that Lived Up to the Hype

TTT summer

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Popular Books that Lived Up to the Hype.

I’ll start my list with the book I’m reading right now:

1) The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas: This book got ALL the buzz, but I haven’t been reading as much YA lately and decided to pass. Then I saw the movie trailer a few weeks ago, and realized just how much I was missing out on. I picked up the book yesterday, and have read about 350 pages so far. I can’t put it down — it’s that good!

2) Outlander by Diana Gabaldon: Yes, a ton of people have jumped on the bandwagon ever since the TV show premiered. But it so lives up to all the hype, and remains my favorite books and series.

3) Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (review): Such a sweet, adorable love story! And I thought the movie was terrific too.

4) Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (review): I actually hadn’t heard that much about this book before I read it… but once I did and fell in love with the characters, I started to see people gushing over the story everywhere.

5) Cinder by Marissa Meyer (review): Somehow, just based on the cover, I decided this book wasn’t for me, and I resisted reading it for a really long time. I don’t know what finally convinced me to read it, but I was immediately hooked once I did. And I guess it’s a good thing that I held off as long as I did, because I was able to read the first three books straight through once I started!

6) The Martian by Andy Weir (review): Here’s one that I just knew I had to read once I heard about it! A true word-of-mouth success story — and absolutely worth all the buzz.

7) Me Before You by Jojo Moyes (review): Everyone said that this one would bring on the tears. Everyone was right.

8) Newsflesh trilogy by Mira Grant (review): I wasted a lot of breath telling people that I just wasn’t interested in these books. Silly me. I LOVED the entire series, and just wish there were more books set in this world.

9) Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (review): Another one leading to buckets of tears. Just breathtaking. And I cry every time I read it.

10) A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (review): This book was everywhere… and was just delightful, exactly as promised!

 

What are the best hyped, buzzy books that you’ve read recently? Please share your TTT links!

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The Monday Check-In ~ 12/11/2017

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

Life.

My husband is traveling for a few weeks, so I’m single-parenting. Geez, it’s tiring! I guess I’m usually super spoiled, because my hubby is the family cook and all-around food person. Having to do the food shopping and make dinner after a day of work is exhausting! (I’m very challenged when it comes to the kitchen, which is why my meal-related chores are usually limited to washing the dishes.) Okay, I’ll stop whining now!

What did I read last week?

Far From the Tree by Robin Benway: Moving and powerful. My review is here.

The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza: My book group’s December book. I listened to the audiobook, and was surprised by how much fun it was. Check out my review, here.

The Girl in the Tower by Katherin Arden: An engaging follow-up to the beautiful The Bear and the Nightingale. My review is here.

Lord John and the Private Matter by Diana Gabaldon: Also in book group updates, we finished this installment of our Lord John readalong. It was a great experience, and I’m looking forward to our next book in January!

Outlander !!

That’s a wrap — season 3 has come to an end. What will I do now?

My reaction post for episode 313, “Eye of the Storm”, is here.

Here’s a little peek at the episode:

Elsewhere in pop culture:

Anyone else watching The Crown? I’m so excited for season 2!

Fresh Catch:

New books!

Other new stuff:

My friend gave me a SLOTH BOOKMARK and it is the best thing ever!

 

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:
 

The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond: Good and ominous so far!

Now playing via audiobook:

The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim DeFede: Non-fiction, telling the story of the amazing experiences in Gander, Newfoundland when planes diverted due to 9/11 stranded passengers from all over the world in this remote town.

Ongoing reads:

Book group reads:

  • Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott: My book group’s classic read! We’re reading and discussing two chapters per week.
  • Lord John and the Succubus by Diana Gabaldon: We’ll be starting our group read of the novella Lord John & the Succubus in January — contact me if you’d like to join in.

So many books, so little time…

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Insta-Reaction: Outlander, Season 3, Episode 13 (season finale)

Season 3 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 313: “Eye of the Storm”

The official synopsis (via Starz):

Claire is forced to play a game of cat and mouse with an old adversary as she searches for Young Ian. The Frasers race through the jungles of Jamaica to prevent the unthinkable.

My take:

It’s the season finale! Where has the time gone?

Major plot points:

  • Captain Leonard’s arrest of Jamie is quickly foiled by Lord John, who declares the arrest invalid without a warrant or witness affidavit and sets Jamie free.
  • Claire pursues Ian to Rose Hall, where she’s found wandering the slave quarters and is brought to Geillis.
  • Geillis confronts Claire and accuses her of plotting against her. Claire is finally able to convince Geillis that she’s been in the future for the past 20 years by showing her photographs of Brianna.
  • Claire is locked up, but is freed by Jamie, and together they chase Ian’s trail, first encountering a voodoo circle, Mr. Willoughby, and Margaret Campbell.
  • They follow Geillis to the cave Abandawe, where she’s preparing a ritual aimed at going back through the time portal so she can kill Brianna and fulfill the prophecy to bring about Scottish independence. She’s preparing to sacrifice Ian as a blood ritual to travel through time.
  • Claire and Jamie arrive in time. Claire kills Geillis, and they escape with Ian.
  • Claire and Jamie enjoy a romantic interlude on board the Artemis before a hurricane strikes.
  • After Claire almost drowns, the two wash up on shore and discover that they’ve landed in America.

Insta-reaction:

What an action-packed final episode to the season! Once again, kudos to the production team and the cast for their amazing work in such a physically demanding set of scenes.

The episode really never lets up, with chase scenes and high drama and life-or-death confrontations. Claire’s meeting with Geillis is powerful, as Geillis invokes their friendship and the fact that she sacrificed herself at the witch trial in order to save Claire’s life. When Claire finally convinces Geillis that she’s been back in the 20th century by showing her the photos of Brianna, it’s like all the pieces come together in Geillis’s mind. She remembers meeting Brianna at the White Roses rally back at the university in 1968, and realizes that the strange prophecy (about a 200-year-old baby dying in order to bring about the next Scottish king) must be about the daughter of Claire and Jamie. The fanatical look on Geillis’s face is crazy scary. Heck, this is a woman who killed her husband to move her plans forward (one of many, it turns out) — Claire is fully aware that Geillis won’t hesitate to kill Brianna if she can find her.

The voodoo scene is well-done, and I loved the call-back to the first season, as Claire flashes back to her first glimpse of the dancers on Craigh na Dun so many years earlier.

It appears that Margaret Campbell and Mr. Willoughby will have a happy ending of sorts, as she breaks free from her scummy brother (who’s ultimately killed by Mr. W.). The two seem to have connected, Margaret seems comparatively sane relative to the previous times we’ve seen her (apart from getting all spooky-eerie-creepy when she takes on Brianna’s voice to talk to Jamie and Claire), and the pair plan to run off to Martinique to start a new life.

In the cave, Claire can full the hum of the portal, and tells Jamie that if she gets pulled through, she may not be able to come back. They kiss. They both know that if Geillis manages to travel, Claire will have to follow to try to keep her from harming Brianna. Geillis is preparing a ritual involving gemstones, Brianna’s photo, and murdering Ian — but she’s stopped as Claire swings a machete at her, slicing her throat open. Claire remembers the skull Joe Abernathy had shown her back in Boston, and realizes that it was Geillis’s.

Jamie embraces Claire and Ian, as this dangerous chapter draws to an end. But they’re not out of the woods yet!

Jamie and Claire enjoy a very steamy romantic encounter on board the Artemis. Their plan is to return to Scotland and deliver Ian safely back to Jenny at Lallybroch. The gods of weather don’t seem to like this plan, as a hurricane hits. The entire ship seems about to sink, and Claire is swept overboard. Jamie saves her, and the two wash up on shore. A local family finds them and informs them that the other survivors from the ship are just down the coast… and tells them that they’re in Georgia.

And we pan out to see a lovely view of the land, as the series closes one chapter and sets the stage for what’s to come. From here on out, Claire and Jamie will be starting a new life in the American Colonies.

Insta-reaction wrap-up:

Visually, this was quite the impressive episode. You can just tell watching it that the cast and crew gave it their all. From the scenes of running through the jungle, to the dancing by the fire, to the fight in the cave, and then to the storm at sea, it was one magnificent set-piece after another.

The episode hit all the major beats that it needed to, from the relief at finding and rescuing Ian to Jamie and Claire’s lovemaking on board the ship to the devastation of the hurricane. It’s a lot, but it works. This episode marks the end of the story from Voyager, book #3, and is the turning point toward a new adventure as the Fraser family begins building a new home for themselves in America.

I loved the cinematography of the final scenes, as Jamie and Claire are bathed in sunshine. It’s bright and beautiful, and full of promise of a new day. They’ve survived the storm, and they’re together. It’s a moment full of hope and love, and the swooping shot of the Georgia landscape is a perfect ending, balancing out the gorgeous shots of green Scottish landscapes from the season 1 title sequence.

 

Wrapping it all up…

I’m so sad to see season 3 come to an end! Overall, it’s been a phenomenal season. It’s hard to think back and realize just how much has happened over these 13 episodes — Culloden, Claire’s life in Boston, the years apart, the search for Jamie, the reunion, the ocean voyage… it’s a huge amount of plot to get through, but the show has done an admirable job of condensing the story without losing the emotional connections at the heart of it all.

It’s been a beautiful, moving, exciting ride. And now, we’re back to Droughtlander! Let’s raise our glasses and drink a wee dram in honor of the wonders of season 3 — and now we can start counting the months, weeks, and days until season 4!

The Monday Check-In ~ 12/4/2017

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

What did I read last week?

Odd & True by Cat Winters: Another fascinating book from an amazing author! My review is here.

Here’s Negan! by Robert Kirkman et al: The Walking Dead‘s super-villain gets a backstory. This is a quick read, and I liked it! I’ve seen some grumbling (and honestly, if I’d paid for it instead of reading a library book, I might be grumbling too) — but I thought it was pretty fascinating to see Negan’s transition from asshole gym teacher to most dangerous guy post-zombie-apocalypse. TWD fans should check it out!

Geekerella by Ashley Poston: Amazingly cute and fun! My review is here.

In audiobooks, I finished listening to The Bear and the Nightingale, and loved it all over again! The audiobook narrator is wonderful. And now I’m ready for the sequel!

Outlander !!

My reaction post for episode 312, “The Bakra”, is here.

Here’s a little peek at the episode:

Fresh Catch:

Cyber Monday included a deal on books, so I bought myself volumes 2, 3, and 4 in the Finishing School series by Gail Carriger. Yes, I’ve read them all… but now I actually have a complete set for my shelves!

Also as part of my Black Friday/Cyber Monday binge, I took advantage of a buy one, get one free offer on shirts from Out of Print (and if you haven’t heard of them, check out their fabulous bookish goodies here.)

(PS – In case it’s not obvious, the shirt on the left is Romeo and Juliet!)

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:
 

I have two books in my hands right now:

  • Far From the Tree by Robin Benway: A YA contemporary read; and
  • The Girl in the Tower by Katherin Arden: Book #2 in the Winternight trilogy, which starts with the beautiful The Bear and the Nightingale.
Now playing via audiobook:

The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza: My book group’s December book — just getting started.

Ongoing reads:

Book group reads:

  • Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott: My book group’s classic read! We’re reading and discussing two chapters per week.
  • Lord John and the Private Matter by Diana Gabaldon: Our group read of Private Matter ends this week! We’ll be moving on to Lord John & the Succubus in January — contact me if you’d like to join in.

So many books, so little time…

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Insta-Reaction: Outlander, Season 3, Episode 12

Season 3 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 312: “The Bakra”

The official synopsis (via Starz):

The Artemis finally reaches Jamaica bringing Jamie and Claire much closer to their goal. During a ball on the island, the Frasers encounter old allies, as well as former adversaries who threaten to derail their mission.

My take:

Major plot points:

  • We learn more about Ian’s fate: After his kidnapping from Selkie Island, Ian is held captive on board the Bruja, then thrown into a prison cell in Jamaica.
  • He’s brought to see “the Bakra” — who turns out to be Geillis Duncan, alive and well and seemingly a wee bit deranged.
  • Claire and Jamie arrive in Jamaica and begin their search for Ian.
  • They go to the Governor’s reception in hope of getting more information, and discover that the Governor is Lord John Grey.
  • Captain Leonard from the Porpoise arrives, and although Jamie and Claire flee, the captain and his soldiers catch up and arrest Jamie for murder and sedition.

Insta-reaction:

Well, Outlander is certainly putting its South African sets to good use! We spend the entire episode on the (artificial) Jamaica created on the Starz sets in South Africa, and it definitely looks lush and tropical. Kudos, Outlander!

The opening scenes with Ian are disturbing, to say the least. Ian is kidnapped, forcibly taken across the sea, and thrown into a cell with other young male prisoners, who report that other boys had been there too, but then were taken to the Bakra and never seen again.

Finally, it’s Ian’s turn. He’s taken to an island plantation and shown into a beautiful room — where we see first a leg and then the rest of a naked woman’s body emerge from a bath of blood. It’s Geillis Duncan, alive and well! She says that bathing in blood (don’t worry, it’s not human, she assures Ian) keeps her skin young and fresh. Way to explain not aging your actress, show!

Geillis drugs Ian’s tea with truth serum. Apparently, the chest of jewels from Selkie Island was supposed to contain three sapphires, but when Geillis got it, there were only two. Geillis demands that Ian tell her where the 3rd is. Ian blurts out that maybe his uncle, James Fraser, has it. Geillis is VERY interested to hear that Jamie could be involved.

Apparently she needs the jewels for a mystical purpose. She’s hired Margaret and Archibald Campbell, the fortune-tellers we met several episodes ago, to find the truth behind a prophecy given by the Brahan Seer regarding the future king of Scotland, and the prophecy will only work with all three sapphires. (How does Geillis know this? Why these particular sapphires? No idea.)

Geillis also has need of young male virgins. She’s quite scary and creepy as she rubs her feet and other body parts all over poor young Ian, who doesn’t know whether to be terrified or turned on. He’s not a virgin, he tells Geillis… but she doesn’t appear to mind after all.

Okay, all that, and that’s only the before-the-credits stuff!

Jamie and Claire arrive in Jamaica and go searching for Ian. Claire, being Claire, pretty much immediately causes a public scene in the slave market. Way to stay incognito, Claire. Anyway, Jamie has to make amends to the slave owners, and he does this by buying the slave whose treatment caused Claire to snap. Claire is now a slave owner, and she is not pleased. (Later, we get a brief history lesson, as she lets Jamie know how many more years slavery will last in the British Empire and in America.)

The Frasers, along with the younger Fraser couple, Fergus and Marsali, attend a reception for the new governor in hopes of continuing their quest for Ian, planning to ask around and see if they can pick up any clues. Fergus and Marsali are giddy and adorable, and can’t seem to keep their hands off one another. As Jamie and Claire reach the front of the receiving line, Jamie is shocked to discover that John is the governor! John is flabbergasted and delighted and so totally awkward when he sees Jamie. Not exactly playing it cool, this guy. He takes Jamie and Claire into a private room, where he gives Jamie a quick update on Willie’s well-being. Claire keeps eyeing John in a knowing sort of way. The guy really is not hiding his delight over Jamie one tiny bit.

Later, Claire sees a familiar face and rushes after her, finding Geillis out in the garden. Geillis explains that she avoided her own execution (after the witch trial in season 1) with Dougal’s help, and eventually ended up marrying a plantation owner, now deceased, and moving to Jamaica. She is now known as Mrs. Abernathy.

Geillis manages to get hold of the 3rd sapphire (John is wearing it — a token to remind him of Jamie!), and has Margaret Campbell do a reading. Margaret’s words sound like gobbledy-gook, but seem to say that a baby that is born already 200 years old will have something to do with the future of Scottish independence. Hmmm, 200 years? Very interesting!

Claire and Jamie make a hasty exit when they see Captain Leonard arrive with armed men. As they flee, they learn that the slaves at the governor’s estate report seeing a young Scottish boy being taken to Rose Hall — the home of Mrs. Abernathy, aka Geillis! Captain Leonard catches up to them, and Jamie is dragged away, shouting instructions to Claire to go find Iam.

Insta-reaction wrap-up:

Huh. I’m not usually a stickler for faithfulness to the text, but this episode had some major departures from the book, and I’m not sure I like all of them. First of all, Geillis. It’s kind of too early for Claire to discover Geillis, and in the books by the time they meet, Claire already knows that Mrs. Abernathy is responsible for Ian (and other boys) being kidnapped. Also, Geillis has definitely aged and is suffering from syphilis, so there’s that as well.

The blood bath scene is dramatic and very impressive visually… but, well, I guess I’ll just leave it there. Was it necessary? Not really. But it sure does show a bit of Geillis’s crazy (and lets the show get away with yet another character being 20 years older than when last seen, but looking fresh as a daisy.)

Also, the John business. How much did Jamie tell Claire about John? Apparently he’s filled her in on Geneva and Willie, and how John married Geneva’s sister and raised Willie all these years. But did Jamie tell Claire that John was (is) in love with him? If he didn’t, she certainly picked up on something here. John was not exactly subtle. I’m actually fine with this version, since in the book Claire sees John and Jamie together and assumes (crazily) that Jamie has feelings for John, or perhaps was in a relationship with him. Anyway, as for the episode — I don’t know, it just felt like something was a bit off in the John/Jamie/Claire scenes. I can’t quite put my finger on why I felt this way, but it’s like the show is straddling two different stories. Either Claire knows everything (which is implied here), or she doesn’t, but it felt a bit muddled to me.

I did like the use of costuming to show the passage of time. Claire and Jamie are both wearing their old clothes from Paris, altered slightly and looking a bit less fresh. It makes sense — where would these people suddenly get fancy clothes from after sailing across the ocean for months? Luckily, Fergus brought them the clothes they’d stored at Lallybroch, so there’s some good continuity here. I like that Marsali was dressed up in one of Claire’s old gowns as well. It’s a nice touch, and seems to imply more of a warming up between Claire and Marsali. (Plus, Marsali and Fergus are quite adorable together, all dressed up and giddy with the excitement of it all.) Even Mr. Willoughby gets some fancy clothes to wear and looks smashing.

Wrapping it all up…

I thought this episode was just okay. Visually, it was quite impressive, from the Geillis-covered-with-blood scene to the tropical setting to the fancy party clothes (and Jamie in a wig!). Still, something about the pacing and the plot felt a bit off to me. I know there’s still a lot of ground to cover, but there was perhaps a bit too much exposition in this episode for my taste.

And suddenly, we’re only a week away from the season finale! Overall, I do feel that this has been a stellar season. It’s strange to think back and see how far we’ve come — from the battlefield at Culloden and Claire’s 20th century life in Boston, all the way to this moment of high drama in Jamaica! It feels more like several seasons worth of plot, rather than simply 12 consecutive episodes with one to go.

Cast and crew are doing a phenomenal job, and I’ve loved the show so much this season.

Trying not to cry when I think of saying good-bye after next week… it’ll be a long Droughtlander again until season 4!

The Monday Check-In ~ 11/27/2017

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

Life.

Home sweet home! I had a great week visiting East Coast family — but it’s lovely to be back, sleeping in my cozy bed!

What did I read last week?

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant: Finished last weekend and thought it was brilliant! I just posted a review this past week — check it out here.

Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny: My book group’s November read. It was entertaining, but didn’t actually make much of an impression. Skippable.

The Café by the Sea by Jenny Colgan: Nice, sweet romance. My review is here. I read this book all in one gulp while flying home from Thanksgiving week, and it was a great choice for travel reading!

Outlander !!

My reaction post for episode 311, “Uncharted”, is here.

Here’s a little peek at the episode:

Yup, that’s a snake slithering across Claire. Yikes!

Fresh Catch:

I received an unexpected credit from Amazon, so immediately bought myself a treat! I’ve been re-reading Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials recently, and realized that I’d never read this version — so happy early Hanukkah to me!

And even more exciting — I’d been saving up a few giftcards, and finally splurged on a brand new Kindle Oasis! After years of dedicated service, my Kindle Keyboard is about ready for retirement.

My preciousssssssss…

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:
 

Odd & True by Cat Winters: I had planned to read this book a couple of weeks ago, but got sidetracked by killer mermaids (Into the Drowning Deep!) and my various holiday commitments of the past week — but now I’m back on track! I’ve loved everything by Cat Winters so far, so I’m excited to finally devote myself to her newest.

Now playing via audiobook:

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden: I read this book at the beginning of 2017 (review), and loved it. I’m doing an audiobook re-read now before diving into the sequel, but really didn’t get much time to listen this past week. I should be finishing up by next weekend.

Ongoing reads:

Book group reads:

  • Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott: My book group’s classic read! We’re reading and discussing two chapters per week.
  • Lord John and the Private Matter by Diana Gabaldon: Our group read of Private Matter is almost done — just three chapters to go! We’ll be moving on to Lord John & the Succubus in January — contact me if you’d like to join in.

So many books, so little time…

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Insta-Reaction: Outlander, Season 3, Episode 11

Season 3 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 311: “Uncharted”

The official synopsis (via Starz):

After making a leap of faith, Claire washes up on an island where survival is her only option. Navigating treacherous waters crippled the Artemis, so Jamie devises a joyful moment for his crew in the midst of setbacks.

My take:

Major plot points:

  • After drifting at sea all night, Claire washes up on an island, but has no idea where she is.
  • She sets off through the jungle in search of water and — hopefully — a town.
  • At the point of exhaustion, Claire ends up at the jungle home of Father Fogden, a somewhat deranged but kind-hearted disgraced priest, who offers her assistance and shelter.
  • Meanwhile, the Artemis was damaged in a storm and Jamie and the surviving crew members have come ashore to repair the mast and sails.
  • Claire and Jamie are reunited!
  • Marsali and Fergus are married on the beach by Father Fogden.
  • Claire drinks some delicious turtle soup (laced with A LOT of sherry), gives herself a penicillin injection to combat a fever from infection, and then she and Jamie have some hot and steamy reunion sex.

Insta-reaction:

Now THAT’s an episode! Action, drama, humor, and some sexytimes. What more could an Outlander fan want?

Claire is one hell of a woman. There’s just no debate about that. After finding herself alive but alone on the island, Claire starts her trek through the jungle. She’s swarmed by ants (ick!) and wakes up the next day with a humongous snake sliding across her (aaaack!). But does that stop Claire? Not a chance. She needs water to survive, and needs to find a way to find Jamie, and she is just not going to stop!

Kudos to Caitriona Balfe and the Outlander make-up team — they went all in with her sunburned, disheveled, bug-bitten look. (And of course, she still looked beautiful!)

Father Fogden was just as nutty as expected, and Mamecita was appropriately menacing, even while washing Claire’s clothes and treating her bites and scrapes. I loved the conversations with Coco the coconut — good for Claire for figuring out how to convince Father Fogden to help her.

Back on the beach on the other side of the island, Jamie and the men from the Artemis are busy making repairs. As they talk, we learn that they sailed through a gale, which damaged the ship and led to several deaths, including Captain Raines. Apparently, Jamie is now the senior man and therefore the captain.

Claire sees the ship offshore and is able to signal to Jamie just in the nick of time before the ship leaves. A dramatic reunion takes place on the beach, as Jamie and Claire run towards each other through the surf. It’s very, very romantic.

Claire has suffered a gashed arm while running through the jungle, and Mr. Willoughby stitches her up. Jamie remarks that the crew needs something to lift their spirits, and suggests a wedding. He’s given Marsali and Fergus permission to wed.

Claire and Marsali have a sex talk — and you just know that a sex talk from Claire has to be good! Marsali is looking forward to finally getting to sleep with Fergus, and asks Claire for advice on how to do it without getting pregnant. She wants to enjoy it first before starting to think about babies. Smart girl. She even admits that perhaps Claire isn’t such a devil after all.

Fergus and Marsali get married on the beach in a somewhat comical ceremony, with Father Fogden officiating. Favorite lines from the book are preserved, including the priest asking whether the groom has a c*ck, since you can’t get married without one. So silly and adorable. Fergus has no last name to give, until Jamie steps forward and says that Fergus’s full name is Fergus Claudel Fraser. (Don’t mind me, that’s just dust in my eyes…)(*sob*)

The ship sets sail, with Jamie and Claire sharing the captain’s quarters. Claire is getting drunk from the turtle soup and is feverish from the wound on her arm which has become infected — but she’s also feeling very amorous, and Jamie doesn’t resist for long. They’re funny and sexy having turtle soup sex (Jamie remarks that this must be what it feels like to have sex in hell), and the episode ends on that happy note.

Insta-reaction wrap-up:

Getting Claire and Jamie back together is a very, very good thing! This episode was a great antidote to the misery of the last one. Jamie and Claire are together, are in love, and are happy — at least for now. Being Outlander, we know this can’t last for long, but right now, it’s awesome.

I’m happy to see Marsali thawing toward Claire. The wedding was funny and sweet, and I loved Jamie’s naming of Fergus.

Although it almost seemed like Claire’s trekking through the jungle would go on forever, she found refuge just before it might have started to feel like too much. Oh, how that woman suffers for Jamie! I bet when she was back in Boston, considering all the pros and cons of going back, she never factored ant bites and snakes into the equation!

Of course, the Artemis is now bound for Jamaica so Claire and Jamie can continue their search for Young Ian — and where presumably there are British law enforcement men waiting to arrest Jamie. Can these people ever catch a break?

Wrapping it all up…

I loved this episode. The production team made excellent use of their South Africa filming location to give us some truly beautiful scenery. The first half of the episode felt like an adventure tale, and I thought the production did a fantastic job of showing Claire’s courage and determination.

The Jamie and Claire moments were wonderful, and thank goodness they included the turtle soup! There might have been a fan riot otherwise.

Yes, handfuls of details from the book were omitted, but nothing that couldn’t be spared. Frankly, this is the section of the book that feels overstuffed and too reliant on coincidence for my taste, so I’m glad to see the show paring it down to essentials, for the most part. (Still, what are the odds that Claire and Jamie would both end up on the same island? Let’s not worry about that too much, and just be glad that they did!)

Only two episodes left in the season! It’s really been stellar so far. I can’t wait to see how it all wraps up, although I’ll be devastated when it’s time for the next Droughtlander.

Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to seeing Claire and Jamie all fancied up (and Jamie in a wig!!!) next week.

The Monday Check-In ~ 11/20/2017

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

Life.

Greetings from Connecticut! I’m on the East Coast spending Thanksgiving with family. Wishing everyone a peaceful and joyful turkey day! My blogging will be minimal this week, but I hope to read lots and lots.

What did I read last week?

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant: If mermaid horror isn’t already its own genre, this book should change that! Absolutely loved it. Review to follow.

Outlander !!

My reaction post for episode 310, “Heaven and Earth” is here. Not the best episode of the season, but hey — all Outlander is good Outlander.

Here’s a little peek at the episode:

Fresh Catch:

No new books this past week! Although I did indulge a bit when it comes to Kindle daily deals.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:
 

Odd & True by Cat Winters: So excited to finally be reading the newest release from Cat Winters!

Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny: A book club read for November — seems like a lot of fun.

Now playing via audiobook:

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden: I read this book at the beginning of 2017 (review), and loved it. I’m doing an audiobook re-read now before diving into the sequel — although my listening will be pretty limited while on vacation this week.

Ongoing reads:

Book group reads:

  • Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott: My book group’s classic read! We’re reading and discussing two chapters per week.
  • Lord John and the Private Matter by Diana Gabaldon: Our group read of Private Matter is almost done — just three chapters to go! We’ll be moving on to Lord John & the Succubus in January — contact me if you’d like to join in.

So many books, so little time…

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Insta-Reaction: Outlander, Season 3, Episode 10

Season 3 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 310: “Heaven and Earth”

The official synopsis (via Starz):

Claire races to discover the source of an epidemic aboard a disease-stricken ship before hundreds of sailors die. And as Jamie locks horns with Captain Raines, Fergus finds himself torn between loyalty and love.

My take:

Major plot points:

  • Claire and Jamie are separated once again — Claire on board the Porpoise, and Jamie left behind on the Artemis.
  • Claire gets down to business tending the sick. Jamie? Loses his sh*t completely, attempting a mutiny to get the captain to pursue the Porpoise and get Claire back.
  • Jamie is thrown in the brig. Fergus brings him food and water, but refuses Jamie’s command to steal the keys and free him so they can take the ship.
  • Meanwhile, Claire leads a valiant effort to stem the epidemic on the Porpoise and begins to see success once she traces the source of contamination to a cook’s helper.
  • Unfortunately, Claire also discovers that there’s a witness to Jamie’s crimes in Edinburgh on board the ship — the man who ended up burning down the print shop — and he’s informed the captain of the Porpoise that Jamie is wanted for sedition and murder. (The body in the cask of creme de menthe has been found after all).
  • Claire needs to find a way to warn Jamie, but the captain won’t give her the opportunity. A kind woman tending goats on the ship helps Claire escape.
  • As the episode ends, Claire jumps overboard, with hopes of drifting to the nearby island and finding a way to reach Jamie before he arrives in Jamaica, where he’ll be arrested.
  • Cutting back to Jamie, he’s released from the brig finally in order to help with navigation, after finally seeing Fergus’s point of view. He gives Fergus and Marsali his blessing to marry, but says they must wait and be married by a priest.

Insta-reaction:

This is going to be a short one, as I’m traveling this week and I’m viewing and writing on my laptop here in a little guestroom, without a whole lot of time to devote to getting this done.

Jamie and Claire had some brief moments of happiness last week, so of course this week they’re kept apart and are each dealing with a hellish situation.

Claire is amazing at dealing with the typhoid fever. She’s in her glory, giving orders and having them carried out, under the full authority of the captain. Claire’s knowledge of germs and diseases leads to some resistance and nastiness from certain of the men, especially after she orders the grog rations cut in half so that the rum can be distilled into pure alcohol. They men look at Claire as if she’s crazy, but all that dipping of hands in alcohol and her other cleanliness measure pay off, as by episode’s end, the epidemic seems finally to be under control.

Poor sweet Elias Pound! Elias is a 14-year-old on the ship, assigned to help Claire, and he’s sweet and oddly authoritative as he acts as her right-hand man. Sadly, just as most of the men seem to be healthier, even singing sea shanties in their hammocks. poor Elias is struck down by the disease. Like so many others, he’s buried at sea.

I wasn’t a great fan of the Jamie storyline. Jamie’s demands of Captain Raines aren’t reasonable, IMHO. He’s demanding that the Captain sail the Artemis at full speed in order to catch up with the Porpoise, which is a much bigger ship already at full sail. It’s just not possible, and the captain seems sincere in saying that what Jamie wants him to do isn’t safe. Jamie just doesn’t seem rationale, and his demands of Fergus aren’t particular fair or logical. Fergus is right to refuse — there’s the strongest likelihood that their attempted mutiny would lead to their deaths, dooming Marsali and Claire as well. Fergus’s decision not to obey Jamie is a huge step for him, and while Jamie thinks that only someone who understands love would move “heaven and earth” to rescue the woman he loves, Fergus’s reasoning about what’s best for Marsali is just as valid a demonstration of strong, true love. I’m glad Jamie finally gives in and offers his blessing.

Here’s where we get into parts of the story that never much appealed to me in the book, and which I hope will be resolved with less fuss in the show. The accusations against Jamie in the captain’s log on the Porpoise and the appearance of the witness against him seem like unnececessary plot complications at this point. The captains of the two ships were in agreement that they’d meet up in Jamaica, and Claire and Jamie could reunite then. But now, with Jamie at risk of arrest and possibly hanging, Claire is desperate enough to reach Jamie that she jumps overboard! What exactly the plan is once she floats ashore, I couldn’t tell. Annika (who helps Claire) gives her money — to buy passage on another ship? How does she expect to reach Jamie? Find a ship willing to intercept the Artemis for her? I’ve read the book several times, and I still don’t see the sense in what’s going on.

Insta-reaction wrap-up:

I have a pretty mixed reaction to this episode. On the one hand, I do love seeing Claire in doctor mode. She’s so calm and authoritative and knowledgeable, and doesn’t back down no matter what opposition she faces. She may have been upset initially at being hijacked against her will, but she buckles down immediately and is determined to fight and stop the disease, and frankly, she seems to be right in her element, finally getting to act as a medical professional with the backing and support of the people around her.

On the other hand, Jamie threatening a mutiny seems far-fetched and unnecessary. He knows he’s headed in the same direction as Claire, and I understand he’d be upset, but he goes too far. Fergus is sweet, but also shows backbone in this episode. He reveres Jamie and would do anything for him, but he actually draws a line and defies his wishes here. That must have taken incredible bravery. Good for Fergus.

I try not to dwell too much on comparison between the book and the show, but in this case, what I really missed from the book was Claire’s shipboard encounter with Lord John — not knowing who he was other than the new Governor en route to Jamaica, each ignorant of their signficance in Jamie’s life, but connecting over the moment of peace and quiet, and the desperation of being responsible for men’s lives. It’s a lovely little moment, and could have been a nice addition to the episode.

Wrapping it all up…

Based on the previews, it looks like the Claire/Jamie separation will drag on a while longer. These two just never catch a break. I wonder how they would ever fare if they had a solid month to just live peacefully somewhere, with no kidnappings or smuggling plots or spies or charges of sedition. Would they even know what to do with themselves?

Maybe that’s another reason Claire’s marriage to Frank was doomed to fail — not enough brushes with the law, political manipulation, or hiding from excisemen!

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The Monday Check-In ~ 11/13/2017

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

Life… and a programming note.

I’ll be away for Thanksgiving week, and may not be keeping up with my regular blogging activities. We shall see. Meanwhile, I’m enthusiastically building piles of paperbacks to throw into my suitcase!

What did I read last week?

The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay: My review is here.

Artemis by Andy Weir: My review is here.

Romancing the Werewolf by Gail Carriger: A sweet, sexy novella. My review is here.

In audiobooks:

Indexing: Reflections by Seanan McGuire: Wow, what a great listen! My thoughts are here.

I also did a quick listen to Once Upon A Time in the North by Philip Pullman, a novella that’s a prequel to the events of His Dark Materials. Excellent, as are all of the audiobooks in the series. The full-cast recordings are just amazing, with terrific narration by the author himself and some very talented voice actors in the cast.

And in graphic novels…

The Adventures of John Blake: Mystery of the Ghost Ship by Philip Pullman: A fun, quick graphic novel aimed at middle grade to young teen readers — an adventure story involving time travel, a mysterious ship, and bad guys set on world domination. I’ve been on a Pullman roll lately, so I just had to check this one out.

The Walking Dead, volume 28: A Certain Doom: Well, I binge-read and binge-watched The Walking Dead this year, so I just had to read the newest volume as soon as my library got it in stock.

Outlander !!

My reaction post for episode 309, “The Doldrums” is here. Great episode!

Here’s a little peek at “Doldrums”:

And in case you missed them, here are my reaction posts for the previous two episodes:

Fresh Catch:

First, I received a copy of Paperbacks From Hell by Grady Hendrix, courtesy of the lovely folks at Quirk:

And just yesterday, a special treat (from me to me) arrived in the mail — a signed copy of the 25th anniversary edition of Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon!

BTW, did you know that you can get signed copies of pretty much all of Diana Gabaldon’s books from the Poisoned Pen bookstore in Phoenix? Check out their web info, here.

Last but not least, a delivery of a book I’m so looking forward to reading — Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant, a full-length novel that’s a follow-up to the excellent novella Rolling in the Deep.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:
 

Odd & True by Cat Winters: So excited to finally be reading the newest release from Cat Winters! I’ve loved every single thing she’s written so far, and this one is off to a great start.

Now playing via audiobook:

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden: I read this book at the beginning of 2017 (review), and loved it. I’m doing an audiobook re-read now before diving into the sequel!

Ongoing reads:

Book group reads:

  • Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott: My book group’s classic read! We’re reading and discussing two chapters per week.
  • Lord John and the Private Matter by Diana Gabaldon: Outlander Book Club is doing a Lord John readalong — we’ll be reading all of the Lord John novels and stories in story chronology. Let me know if you’d like to participate! All are welcome.

So many books, so little time…

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