Let me take you back nearly 20 years. I was an avid reader and had been from as early as I can remember. Every time I got paid I would buy one (or more books) and then the next week I would have read those so would have to go back for more. I couldn't get enough of reading. From a very young age, if I was sent to clean up my room I would invariably end up reading a book. Reading was something that bought me happiness, it was my escape, it fed my soul.
After returning to Australia, getting rid of the ex (or perhaps I should say breaking up - it sounds less sinister), my sister asked me why wasn't I starting to read books again. I am not sure that she doesn't regret that suggestion because these days she is more likely to tell me that I spend far too much time reading and talking/blogging about reading.
One year she gave me a copy of Cross Stitch (which is the name that Outlander was published under here) by Diana Gabaldon for my birthday. She is not much of a reader, but her former house mate had recommended it. I said thank you very much and left it on the bookshelf for months and months. I had started to slowly read again, and one weekend I was looking around my house and saw Cross Stitch sitting there neglected and unread, so I picked it up, not realising what impact that small decision was going to make on my life.
Cross Stitch was by no means the first book I read in coming back to reading, but it was the first time in years that I devoured a book, and I do mean devoured. Each of the Outlander books is about 800-1000 pages or more long depending on the format. I think I read that first book in a weekend. I promptly went to the bookstore and bought the second book, Dragonfly in Amber, and I read that in the next few days, meaning that I was reading until the early hours of the morning and going into work looking like a zombie. My poor child was probably 3 or 4 at the time and ended up having cheese sandwiches for dinner that first weekend (and yes, he would have had to make at least one of those sandwiches himself), and it wasn't much different the weekend after when I read the third book, Voyager, which is still one of my favourite in the series.
I quickly realised that I couldn't buy the next book on a weekday because otherwise I wouldn't get enough sleep, and so on the Friday night I would go and buy the next book and spend the whole of the weekend reading it and this pattern continued until I had finished The Fiery Cross. But then suddenly there were no more of these books to read.
That decision to pick up the first book in this series, reignited my love of reading. Yes, they weren't the first book I read when I started again, but they were the first books that made me realise how hungry I was to read! Since that time, I haven't really stopped, and meeting with like minded readers online, many of whom have become important friends in my life, and who have led me onto some of my other favourite authors. I first heard about Paullina Simons' fabulous Bronze Horseman trilogy from fans of Diana Gabaldon, and I similarly devoured the first two books in that trilogy. Other authors that I first heard about whilst talking to DG fans - Sharon Kay Penman and Sara Donati. From reading Sharon Kay Penman I found about Elizabeth Chadwick, and so on.
Even after all these years, the Outlander books are right up there with the books that I talk to random people about most. I have pimped the books to people I work with, people I catch the train with, my ex boss, anyone who will listen really. Just today I was reading on the train, and ended up striking up a conversation with the lady who was sitting across from me about the books, about Jamie, and if we happen to sit near each other again we have agreed to have further conversation about lots of other book recommendations.
After reading The Fiery Cross, things came to a screaming halt though because suddenly instead of being able to rush out and buy the next book in the series, I had to wait for as long as it took for the next book to come out. I often wonder if those books were already written and if I had of just kept on reading straight through the series, would my reaction be different to what it is now.
In both A Breath of Snow and Ashes and now An Echo in the Bone, I really think that there is a lot of filler material in the book that doesn't really need to be there, and that was something that I mentioned in my review of A Breath of Snow and Ashes a few years ago. At this stage, I also worry about how exactly Diana Gabaldon is going to be able to finish the series off, and how long away that is, not that I want to see the end as such, but just because there has to come a point when Jamie is too old to fight, and Jamie and Clare are too old to get it on!
That may sound a little cynical, and it is, but in between all the unnecessary plot twists, fights, medical procedures, there are moments that are pure magic, and it is really for those moments that I will continue to read this series. Sometimes they are big moments, and other times they are just small moments but when I read them, I react emotionally, and often out loud. For example, here is just a small moment between Roger and Brianna:
He didn't look up, but kept his eyes fixed in the dark labyrinth of her curls. "I couldn't risk my own kids losing their father." His voice had nearly disappeared; he felt his vocal cords grinding like gears to force the words out.Then there are the heart stopping scenes, like the print shop scene in Voyager being my absolute favourite scene! Or the scene....well, actually I can't share all of the scenes that have me reacting. You will need to discover those for yourself.
"It's too important. You don't forget having a dad."
Bree's eyes slid sideways, the blue of them no more than a spark in the firelight.
"I thought... you were so young. You do remember your father?"
Roger shook his head, the chambers of his heart clenching hard, grasping emptiness.
"No," he said softly, and bent his head, breathing in the scent of his daughter's hair. "I remember yours."
The blog tour that this post is part of is being run by TLC Tours in celebration of the fact that An Echo in the Bone is being released in trade paperback in the US. For more stops on the tour, check out the following link
Jenn’s Bookshelves (An Echo in the Bone)
Wednesday, August 4th: The Literate Housewife Review (Voyager)
Monday, August 9th: Musings of an All Purpose Monkey (Outlander)
Wednesday, August 11th: Starting Fresh (An Echo in the Bone)
Thursday, August 12th: Under the Boardwalk (An Echo in the Bone)
Monday, August 16th: Planet Books (Outlander)
Thursday, August 19th: Rundpinne (An Echo in the Bone)
Wednesday, August 25th: MoonCat Farms Meanderings (An Echo in the Bone)
Monday, August 30th: Hey, Lady! Whatcha Readin’? (Outlander)
Tuesday, August 31st: The Brain Lair (Outlander)
Wednesday, September 1st: My Two Blessings (Outlander)
Thursday, September 2nd: Life in the Thumb (An Echo in the Bone)
Tuesday, September 7th: That’s What She Read (Dragonfly in Amber)
Monday, September 13th: Suko’s Notebook (Outlander)
Tuesday, September 14th: Luxury Reading (Outlander)
Wednesday, September 15th: The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader (An Echo in the Bone)
Thursday, September 16th: Pop Culture Junkie (Outlander)
Friday, September 17th: Devourer of Books (Outlander)