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Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

postheadericon Bluer Skies, Cleaner Air, and Greener Pastures

Spring Fever has hit us in a much, much different way this year and it all has to do with bluer skies and such. It has been more of an ending to our “winter of discontent” and a beginning to a whole new chapter in our lives. Hubby and I have been plotting and pondering a move for several years now and we are pulling the trigger on it, finally! This will soon become a regular view for us:

Lake Coeur D'Alene bluer skies at Red Barn Blue Skies

Bluer Skies

Hubby and I were born in California and grew up here. We were both also privileged to have spent time elsewhere in our great US of A. He served in the military in Alaska and I lived in Ohio for many years.

Because I worked for an airline I was able to see a lot of our country, both from the air and due to my inherited  love of road trips (inherited from Mom, definitely NOT Dad). Before hubby and I met, we had each returned to California to be near our families and friends again, but found that it wasn’t the same place or atmosphere we had left.

We had seen that green grass on the other side of the fence(s) and wanted to be there!

Bluer Skies at Red Barn Blue Skies Idaho

Cleaner Air

While we’ve talked extensively about different places we’d visited over the years, it wasn’t until we lost my beloved uncle that we found THE DESTINATION.

After a long life in Orange County, he and my aunt had unexpectedly and quickly, moved to Idaho when they retired. We all laughed and gave them 3 months before they’d be back – my aunt had always complained about any temperature below 70 degrees. How wrong we were!

They became firmly entrenched in their new home and community and you couldn’t have budged them with a crowbar.  Even with the unexpected loss of my uncle, my aunt is transplanted and will remain so. Imagine our surprise (as well as hers, I think) to find that she thrives in the wide range of temperatures.

Coeur D'Alene Lake from Arrowpoint Resort. with bluer skies

I fell in love with Idaho when I took my Dad up there for my uncle’s funeral. The super clean air, slower pace and sheer beauty was overwhelming. Hubby had to stay home to work and take care of the animals and ranch in general.

A second, unexpected trip came about a year later when my sister and I took a road trip to visit my aunt. Each time I came home, my discontent grew. Hubby put up with my moping around and complaining about using my inhaler as soon as my plane had landed back in our heavily polluted valley.


Bluer Skies Greener Pastures Idaho Red Barn Blue Skies

Greener Pastures

It wasn’t until last month that the Hubster finally got to understand and feel the pull of the great North for himself. He was in desperate need of a vacation and we had a nice little unexpected windfall land in our laps.

We put together a sight-seeing trek that took us from Portland, Oregon to the Coeur D’Alene, Idaho area. We rented a car at PDX (Portland’s awesome airport) and spent the next five days cruising through Oregon, Washington and Idaho. Hubby admitted that he now understands why I was so miserable coming back to California after each trip up north.

So what this all leads up to is the fact that we have had our bid accepted on a home in Idaho and will be making the move in the next few months to the land of bluer skies, cleaner air, and greener pastures. We can’t wait for this new chapter of our lives to begin.

Boise Idaho Red Barn Blue Skies Bluer Skies

postheadericon TLC Tours – Diana Gabaldon’s An Echo in the Bone Giveaway and Review

Red Barn Blue Skies welcomes TLC Tours and Diana Gabaldon for An Echo in the Bone Giveaway and Review.
Diana Gabaldon An Echo in the Bone Giveaway at Red Barn Blue Skies
 
Welcome to those of you new to Red Barn Blue Skies and welcome back to old friends. I hope you all enjoy my review of this wonderful book and be sure to enter the giveaway that Ms. Gabaldon and her publisher have generously offered one lucky reader.
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon at Red Barn Blue Skies
 
I am extremely honored to have been chosen to participate in this book tour celebrating the paperback reprint of Diana Gabaldon’s latest addition to the Outlander series, An Echo in the Bone.  I have been a fan of hers since she first starting putting excerpts on the Lit Forum of Compuserve way back in the very early nineties.  I fell in love with her “Red Jamie” then and still have a mad passion for him and his love story with wife Claire.  My husband and I even used a variation of their wedding vows in ours!
An Echo in the Bone:  Jamie Fraser is an eighteenth-century Highlander, an ex-Jacobite traitor, and a reluctant rebel in the American Revolution.  His wife, Claire Randall Fraser, is a surgeon – from the twentieth century.  What she knows of the future compels him to fight.  What she doesn’t know may kill them both.
 
With one foot in America and one foot in Scotland, Jamie and Claire’s adventure spans the Revolution, from sea battles to printshops, as their paths cross with historical figures from Benjamin Franklin to Benedict Arnold.
 
Meanwhile, in the relative safety of the twentieth century, their daughter, Brianna, and her husband experience the unfolding drama of the Revolutionary War through Claire’s letters.  But the letters can’ warn them of the threat that’s rising out of the past to overshadow their family.
 
Diana Gabaldon’s sweeping Outlander saga reaches new heights in An Echo in the Bone.

My Thoughts:

*I am trying to do a thorough review without accidentally dropping any spoilers for those readers new to the Outlander series.  I apologize if I do give something away, it’s not intentional as I want newcomers to meet Jamie and Claire fresh, as I did those many years ago.
 
An Echo in the Bone is the 7th book in the extremely popular Outlander series.  The saga chronicles the life and adventures of Claire Randall Fraser and Jamie Fraser.  When we were initially introduced to Jamie and Claire in the first book, Outlander, they were both in their early twenties.  In this latest book, some thirty years later, they are starting to acknowledge their age and that time is creeping up on them.  Jamie is still quite the hero and Claire is still getting into scrapes that he must rescue her from, it just takes them a bit longer to get over the aftermath of their escapades.
 
I really enjoyed An Echo in the Bone.  Ms. Gabaldon has remained true to form with superior character development and fabulous settings.  By the end of the book (each of the books, actually), the reader feels that they really know these people personally and that this is more of a diary than a fictional novel.  Her characters come to life and make you feel what they’re feeling.  You worry for them just as you would your own family member and cheer their victories.

 Historical Accuracy

The historical facts are painstakingly researched for accuracy while still allowing the author room to interweave the fictional Jamie and Claire into the timeline.  First, we accompanied them during the Jacobite uprising and the ’45 and we’re now traipsing through the American Revolution along with them.  We need to stay sharp as there are chance meetings with Dr. Franklin (yes, Benjamin Franklin) and other notable figures in the history of America’s bid for independence.
 
One of the author’s methods of delivering vital information in this book was through letters from Claire in the late 1700s to her & Jamie’s daughter Brianna, in the 1980s.  I won’t get into how they are in different eras as it will give too much away.  The way the letters both give the reader needed details as well as pave the way for current events, is extremely effective and useful.  The sentimental and homesick feelings it stirs up in both Brianna and her husband, Roger carries over to the reader as well.
 
I’m not going to go any further with my details of the book.  This is one of my favorite books of the year and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves romance, history, fiction and any combination of the three.  There are some sexual situations in the novel, but they are tastefully done.   Being that this is set during a war, violence also comes into play at times.  I have to admit that I pretty much didn’t do anything but read this amazing book over a weekend.  I’m fortunate that my husband is also a big fan of this series, so he took care of the household so I could immerse myself in Claire and Jamie’s world.

Any one of these outstanding books can be read as a highly entertaining, stand-alone novel, but I suggest you start with Outlander and read them in order. Each successive book leaves you with a deeper knowledge of Claire and Jamie’s history and story.

Diana Gabaldon at the Red Barn Blue Skies

If you would like to read more about the author, check out Diana’s website or find her on Facebook.  She has a graphic novel coming out this fall that is the retelling of Outlander, from Jamie’s point of view.  I can’t wait!
 
There is also more coming out about Lord John Grey, a then minor character we first met in the second book, Dragonfly in Amber.  His own storyline has developed into a secondary, stand-alone series that is equally excellent.
 

 

Thank you to Lisa at TLC Book Tours for including me on this great tour.

An Echo in the Bone Giveaway

 
Diana Gabaldon An Echo in the Bone Giveaway at Red Barn Blue SkiesNow, I’d like to thank Diana Gabaldon and her publisher for providing a copy of An Echo in the Bone for one of you lucky, lucky readers.  The contest closes at midnight, PST on Wednesday, September 1st.  I will draw one winner who will have 48 hours to respond.  Another winner will be drawn if I don’t hear from them.
 
The drawing is open to followers of this blog who are residents of the United States and Canada only.  No PO boxes please.  Just comment on this post and tell us if you’ve read or heard of Diana Gabaldon and Outlander before and what you think.  That’s it!  Good luck 🙂

~ If you don’t want to wait to get started, you can click on the cover of any of the books above to be taken to the corresponding page on Amazon.com.

Disclaimer:  I received this book from TLC Tours for purposes of a review.  I received no monetary compensation and all words/thoughts/opinions are 100% my own.  I am an Amazon.com affiliate and may receive a small percentage from any sales made through my affiliate links.