Voyager by Diana Gabaldon

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I am so sad to be finished with this book. It is definitely one of the best novels I have read in a long time. I love the Outlander series in the first place but this addition to the series blew me away.

First of all, I love reading about the Scottish Highlands. They sound beautiful and I love seeing them in the show. This books went everywhere though! The setting starts off in Scotland in the 1960’s then goes back to the 1700’s. They are in and out of Edinburgh and Lallybroch though. The story then switches to an almost piratical setting. They set sail to the Caribbean in search of “wee Ian.” In the end they end up in the New World! You literally go all over the place!

The next thing I loved was the characters. Mr. Willoughby made the novel! Well maybe not by himself, but I really enjoyed his parents. He added that comic relief, but was also an unlikely hero. He added something different to the story and it was interesting to learn some new things about the Chinese culture back then. He trained a freaking pelican to bring him food and to be his pet! Loved it! I do feel as if I did not completely understand his part in the end. He mentioned how in the Chinese culture they are afraid of ghosts but he realized through his experiences that he is the ghost? I’m still a little confused on that.

I won’t tell you who, but there is another surprise guest from the first few books. They come back from the dead it seems at first. I was wondering when they were going to make some sort of appearance or have some explanation as to what the hell happened to them. This person also seemed a little bit more sinister than what I had them pegged for in the first book. I was a little disappointed as to how much I wound up hating them by the end of this book.

I was also a tad shocked to as how much I started disliking Jamie in this one as well. I usually like him way more than Claire. She has always seemed borderline pretentious to me and he was also just so honest and naive I guess. It made him refreshing. But man! Galbaldon pulled out all the stops for this one. More like she threw curve balls at you the entire story. I could forgive him once for straying with Geneva because she basically blackmailed him into it and then she was no longer in the picture for obvious reasons. But Laoghaire! What in the world! That threw me off something fierce. How could he!? And he basically adopted her two daughters! I was practically yelling at the book at Claire for her to leave him when her and her daughters barged in on them! And Jenny! I always liked Jenny in the books but then she seemed kind of conniving and passive aggressive. I didn’t like it one bit.

This book gave the readers lots of answers to questions left dangling just out of reach to us after the other books though. Like what happened to Murtagh! It was driving me crazy. He was just always there and then he wasn’t after Culloden. You gather that he was killed there but Jamie never really reflected on it or anything. You finally get some answers to that in this book.

You also get more insight on Frank and Claire’s married life for so many years. I think that’s what finally made me warm up to her as well. It was sad. And lonely for both of them. Frank still sucked the most though.

As to where Gabaldon may be taking the story in the next book… I have no idea. I’m guessing it will mostly be set in America but I hear that Breanna ends up traveling to the past. I wonder if she will be able to find them? I can’t wait to get it!

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Influenza at it’s Finest

I have missed 3 days of work this week, and I am missing my kiddos field trip tomorrow :/ I have been sick off and on for a little over a month now. What started off as allergies led to a bad sinus infection  to a full fledged flu. I was tested for Strep and the flu the other day at the doctor. Those came back negative so then they did some chest X-rays for pneumonia. Those came back negative as well, other than my lungs having lots of congestion in them. However, I was having HORRIBLE body aches Sunday evening and Monday. The doctor ran some more tests and wanted me to do a blood count test and concluded that I had a strain of flu that they did not have a vaccine for. Great! So for the past two days I’ve been at home taking a conglomerate of different flu, cough, antibiotics, and fever reducing pills. My throat and ears are feeling better but I can’t keep the high fever away. It goes back and forth between 100-103. I thought in between naps I could catch up on some reading but I’ve been way too drowsy and groggy.

So now I am missing Teachers Appreciation week, our field trip tomorrow, and 3 days of work. I am still a pretty new teacher (I started my long term sub position back in late December) and the sub plans are probably not as great as they should be! I write them out and I feel like I have made them too wordy or confusing so then I shorten them. But when I shorten them I feel like they aren’t detailed enough! The struggle!

I’m really starting to miss my kids and I so over being sick. My wedding is in 24 days and I haven’t been able to do much prep or workout. There’s no time to be sick! Ugh. I’m ready to beat this flu already.

Book Tag Survey :)

  • What is your favorite book?

There’s so many! All of the Harry Potter books, A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray, and all of Rick Riordan’s mythology books.

  • Who is your favorite author?

Libba Bray. I love her witty way with words. Susan Ee comes a close second because she makes me laugh!

  • What genre do you prefer?

Fantasy, Fantasy,FANTASY!

  • What is your favorite book series?

HARRY POTTER! Isn’t it everyones?

  • What books did you hate reading in school?

Ethan Frome

The Scarlett Letter

The Stranger

 

  • What is the first book you remember reading as a child?

I loved all of Judy Blume’s books as a kid about Fudge.

  • Bookstores or libraries?

Bookstores definitely. If I love a book I read I have to have it on my own bookshelf.

  • How many books do you own?

A ton! I don’t have enough bookshelf space so now some of them are being used as home décor.

  • Do you read before bed?

Sometimes. Just depends on how tired I am. Once I get started it’s hard to stop!

  • What is your most comfortable reading position?

Laying on my big overstuffed chair with my legs thrown over one of the arms.

  • What is the most recent book you read?

I recently finished The DUFF by Kody Keplinger. I am currently reading Voyager by Diana Gabaldon.

  • What quote from any book will you never forget? Why is it significant?

“We create illusions we need to go on. And one day, when they no longer dazzle or comfort, we tear them down, brick by glittering brick, until we are left with nothing but the bright light of honesty. The light is liberating. Necessary. Terrifying. We stand naked and emptied before it. And when it is too much for our eyes to take, we build a new illusion to shield us from its relentless truth.” – Libba Bray

I have always been the type to avoid problems. And for years I did this in middle school and high school when there was some tough stuff going on at home. I read this book during that time period and it really stuck with me. I still think about it a lot. It made me realize that avoiding things or covering them up didn’t solve the problem.

  • Science fiction or fantasy?

Fantasy! I am very picky about sci-fi. I feel like it’s one of those genres that is hard to do well enough to where people can relate to it. To where it doesn’t seem cheesy.

  • What books do you regret reading?

I wasted several days on Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. Awful, awful book. I can’t get those few days back of my life. That’s when I stopped finishing books just because I had started them. It was too ridiculous.

  • On average, how many books do you read per year?

Between 40-50. I’m trying to surpass that this year.

  • What book can you read hundreds of times and never get tired of?

Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, The Legend trilogy by Marie Lu, Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Mortal Instruments, Wildwood Dancing, and a few more.

  • Do you like to read outside?

Yes! When the weather is nice or early in the morning. Or by the pool/beach.

  • What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from a book?

How hard life can be for some people. I learned that after reading several Ellen Hopkins books but it really resonated with me with Tricks and Impulse.

  • Of the past year, what is the greatest book you’ve read?

I love the Rick Yancey books The 5th Wave and The Infinite Sea. They are the first alien books I have ever enjoyed. And probably Susan Ee’s books Angelfall and World After. These books turned out to be way more darker than I anticipated but also very witty. I liked how the author combined the two and how it worked in her writing.

Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon

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Down 2, 6 to go. Dragonfly in Amber is much like the other novels in the Outlander series. There’s still the ever gross and cold mannered Captain Black Jack Randall, though he does play a much smaller part and you see a new side to him in this book. His brother is also in it, Alex. You see that Randall does, in fact have a heart buried deep down in that dark soul of his.

Jamie and Claire throughout the book are preparing for the battle at Culloden, where all of the Jacobites are destined to be slaughtered. Can they change fate or is it meant to be? You’ll have to read to find out! 🙂

Two other main characters are surprisingly killed off in this novel as well. I guess Gabaldon was feeling Martin-esque. Although I wasn’t too sad to see them go.

I really enjoyed Claire and Jamie’s adventures in France. It was something new and different from them being in Scotland. They were in the city in the middle of all of the famous socialites of that time. Jamie had agreed to take over his cousin Jared’s wine business while he did business elsewhere. It set a new tone for the Outlander story.

The end was somewhat gut wrenching. Claire ended up having to force herself through the standing stones and Jamie was left without her. At first I wasn’t the biggest fan of the switches between the 1700’s and the 1960’s. It seemed odd that Gabaldon started this novel about 20 years in the future. Even if Claire and Brianna go back now at some point Claire and Jamie will have aged 20 some odd years! That’s so much time they have missed together! I almost stopped reading 3 chapters in. But Gabaldon drew me back in. She’s very talented at keeping the little details interesting. It could have been very boring but she is great at throwing the reader back and forth and toying with their emotions.

I started Voyager a few days ago and it has also been eye opening. I am about 225 pages in, and so far the reader is getting more information of Claire and Frank’s marriage and how their resentment built up after she returned from 1743. It sounds like they had a pretty depressing life together and it makes you feel for Claire. You see how reserved and lonely she became after Jamie, but she holds onto Brianna very tightly because she reminds her of her father.

Teach Like a Pirate!

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Last Friday we had Teach Like a Pirate! at our school. Essentially you put together an over the top lesson showcasing what you can do. I am a second grade teacher and some of the lessons the other teachers did were:

MATH: Creating a pirate ship using construction paper tiles on butcher paper and then having the students figure out the area and perimeter of their ships.

SCIENCE: Discovering different animal adaptions such as blubber to keep warm (with Crisco filled baggies in ice chest) and     animal camouflaging by creating an animal that adapts to their environment. (They used different scrapbook paper as                 the environment and the kids had to camouflage their animal with construction paper and designs. Also, they tested                   different kinds of birds beaks by picking up candy with various utensils such as tweezers, tongs, and spoons to see                   which worked best.

WRITING: My class! 🙂 I sent up “Camp Write-A-Long” in my class. We did acrostic poems with the words CAMPFIRE,         FIREWOOD, and FIREFLIES. We had a story writing station where they could buddy write and then type their stories to               take home. And lastly, we did a sensory writing station with S’Mores! We had them describe all of the ingredients with                 their senses (they did the taste sense last). They loved it! It was so much fun! And so many of the kids enjoyed writing!               As a lover of words and a teacher, this made my heart so happy!

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The DUFF by Kody Keplinger

The Duff

I have no idea when the last time was that I read a contemporary book. I used to love teen romance and contemporary novels in middle school and freshman year of high school. I was all about The Princess Diaries books and anything having to do with girls going off to boarding school in foreign places. I used to really love the Ellen Hopkins book as well. I still do in a nostalgic way but I grew out of the angst eventually.

I decided to take a break from the Outlander books after I finished Dragonfly in Amber. I love love love those novels but they are so long. So long. I am probably not going to reach my Reading Challenge goal on Goodreads because I spend so much time trying to get through those books. I kept seeing commercials for The DUFF on tv and it looked witty, and funny so I picked it up. I really enjoyed it. It was a refreshing break from my usual high fantasy/sci-fi/historical fiction books I normally gravitate to. The main character Bianca is hilarious. She’s such a hot mess! She kind of reminded me of Jenna Hamilton from the MTV show Awkward. She’s very bitter and cynical but you can tell she’s very loyal and loves her screwed up parents for all their faults and appreciates her friends for putting up with her angsty, screwed up drama. She was a little selfish there for awhile and wasn’t a great friend to Casey but we won’t hold it against her! I can imagine finding out your parents are divorcing when you’re in high school, while your mother is always absent and your father is a struggling alcoholic would be somewhat traumatizing. I forgive her.

And I love Wesley. He’s such a sweet hearted douche bag. (Yeah I know, I just said that.) But he is! You can tell right off that he hides behind his womanizer, over-inflated ego. He’s lonely just like her and that’s what makes them perfect for each other.

I thought Toby Tucker’s character was very beneficial to the plot as well. And very relatable. Who hasn’t been on a date with the guy who was too nice? I dated a guy like that in high school for awhile and try as I might, I could never build up romantic feelings for him, And he was so perfect! He would come hang out with me at home when I was sick, he brought me flowers after my plays in theatre, my parents loved him, he got me to go to church in high school, and the list goes on. We’re still friends but it was like I was bored with how perfect he was. That probably says a lot about my taste. Haha!

Anyway, my best friend read the book before I did and she saw the movie as well. Apparently they are nothing alike but equally as funny. I can’t wait to see it! I’m just waiting for it to hit Redbox! This is definitely a good, quick read if you are looking for a good in-betweener or a fabulous stand alone novel if you like witty, angsty teen novels!