Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year 1743.

Claire struggles to acclimatize in a world she only knows from history books, but soon finds support in Jamie Fraser. Because of his unconditional love for her, she finds herself torn between infidelity and desire. Eventually, she’ll have to face a tough decision. Does she return to her husband in 1945 or does she stay with Jamie in the 18th century?

Even Diana Gabaldon seems to have trouble describing her novels. Is it romance? Historical fiction? Or Fantasy perhaps? Whatever it is, I think it is fair to say that the majority of her fanbase is feminine. It is also true that the Outlander series isn’t seldom described as (enjoyable) trash. While I get the point, I do believe that this view isn’t doing the books justice. So far I can’t speak for the rest of the series, but looking at Outlander I see a nicely plotted story full of conflict, with strong characters and a vivid writing style.

I won’t lie, I did approach it with a mixture of excitement and nervousness. A story of no less than 850 pages, crammed on thin paper in a tiny font, turns out to be quite intimidating. Given that I’m a slow reader I honestly believed it would take me years to finish it. In reality it took me a few months, which was frankly still more than long enough. Great book or not, after a while, you long for a shiny new story to delve into.

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The Man Booker Prize Longlist 2017: A Sneak Peek for the Occasional Literary Fiction Reader

Just before midnight the Man Booker Prize Longlist 2017 was announced.

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Credits: The Man Booker Prize

Now, if you’re a big fan of literary fiction and find yourself reading barely anything else, chances are you won’t find what you’re looking for on this blog. My interests lie primarily with children’s books and crime fiction. However, I do enjoy the occasional fantasy or literary novel.

That is why I like following literary prizes such as The Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and the Man Booker Prize. Whatever your genre preferences may be, there’s no denying that the Man Booker comes closest to being the Oscars for books. I don’t expect to see a fantasy novel win, like Lord of the Rings did at The Academy Awards in 2004, but given that a crime novel was shortlisted last year, there’s hope that the Man Booker Prize is at least willing to look at other genres.

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First Draft Hacks: How To Get The Words Down

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Credits: Elliot Hyland

Most professional writers will agree that being a storyteller is the best job in the world. Even as a hobby it’s got so much going for it. Writing sparks your imagination, feeds your creative soul, keeps your brain active and maybe most importantly makes you happy. But I won’t lie: writing can be the cause of frustration as well. Some writers will dread the editing process, others would like to avoid plotting. I, for one, dislike first drafting. While I love opening a new document or notebook and starting a new story, it won’t take long for me to realise that the idea sounded so much better when it was just in my head. During my first drafts I’m constantly accompanied by my pet devil who loves to screech incessantly ‘it’s complete rubbish!’. Consequently, first drafts have become an afrodisiac for procrastination.

Over the years I’ve acquired a few tricks to silence the wee devil. I’m still trying to get him to move to Antarctica, but in the mean time I consider myself a lucky man when I manage to lock him up for a few hours.

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My Bucketlist

In a few days it’s that joyous time of year again when I get presents to celebrate new wrinkles. Hurray!
Birthdays are also a great moment to look back at what has been and more importantly at what is to come, or what we hope is to come.

This year, the last one in my twenties – don’t cry, don’t cry – , I wanted to make myself a bucketlist. For those of you who don’t know what a bucketlist is; it’s basically a list with activities or goals you wish to do or achieve before you die.

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Credits: Bol.com

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A Touch of France #TravelFromTheCouch

With July well on its way, the time has come for many of us to pack their bags for a nice holiday break. Some might have left already, others are still vigorously planning their departure to get the most out of their trip.

For those of you who are in preparation mode or have no holiday planned, I’ll be doing a little blog series that I’ve baptised rather lamely “Travel From The Couch”. The aim is to provide some books, music and TV series/movies from your (desired) holiday destination, which will hopefully either make you familiar with the country you’re travelling to or be a sweet consolation when you haven’t got a vacation planned.

First stop on our virtual journey around the world …

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