Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Pink Carnation: Comic Book Version

Calling all fans of Lauren Willig's The Secret History of the Pink Carnation series! Lauren has just revealed that there will be a contest for a limited amount of signed and numbered editions of an illustrated comic book version of some of the adventures from her series! She has teamed up with illustrator Joanne Renaud to create this fun addition to the Pink Carnation series for her readers.

Click here to go to Lauren Willig's website to learn more information about the contest and see more of this illustrated Pink Carnation edition.

I'd love one of these!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Exile by Diana Gabaldon - First Impressions

"Diana Gabaldon's brilliant storytelling has captivated millions of readers in her bestselling and award-winning Outlander saga. Now, in her first-ever graphic novel, Gabaldon gives readers a fresh look at the events of the original Outlander: Jamie Frasier's side of the story, gorgeously rendered by artist Hoang Nguyen."

my thoughts:

First of all, let me begin by saying how exciting it is as a fan of Diana Gabaldon to experience a new facet of her Outlander story! Although a graphic novel is by no means the best way to truly enjoy Gabaldon's writing talent, her creative spin on the original plot was an interesting and unexpected treat.

In the original , the story is told from Claire's point of view, and the reader "sees" and "experiences" the events through Claire's eyes and thoughts. In The Exile, the reader now gets the opportunity to learn about new events through the POV of Jamie and Murtagh.


The key to The Exile surprise is that Claire was observed arriving through the stones....and since I read the original Outlander story countless times, a passage from the original book jumped out at me:

from Outlander, Chapter 11, p. 155 (Claire's thoughts)

"What would have happened, I wondered, had anyone been present on the hill of
Craigh na Dun when I made my abrupt appearance? I supposed it might depend on
the time one enetered. Here, had a cottar encountered me under such
cirumstances, I would doubtless have been thought a witch or a fairy. More
likely fairy, popping into existence on that particular hill, with its

Leave it to Diana to pick up a thread that she wrote years ago and bring new life to a passage!

There were enough surprises in the graphic novel that made me go, "Hmmmmmmmm" (sometimes in surprise, and sometimes out of confusion). As I was cruising though The Exile on the first reading, I found myself scratching my head over Kenneth.....Kenneth? Did I miss something in one of the books? Am I supposed to know who Kenneth is? It took me a bit, but I eventually figured out a little about who/what he is, but he DID throw me for a loop.

The artwork by Hoang Nguyen was quite lovely, though a bit inconsistent, and I think it's safe to say that everyone is going to say, "That's not my Jamie and Claire!" Of course not, as we each have our own vision that is uniquely ours. It is interesting, however, to at last get a glimpse of Diana's vision of the characters as this was a collaborative effort between the author and the artist. It's not meant to be an exact representation, but merely an artistic approximation. It could just be that I was whipping through paying more attention to the content rather than the artwork, but I did at times have trouble telling apart some of the male characters as the story progressed.

My favorite images (besides the glorious rear view of Jamie as he arrives back in Scotland!) are the frame with Jamie in all his Highland finery on his wedding day (where Claire thinks, "Oh. My. God.") and the full page wedding kiss.(awwwwww) Lovely.

I also enjoyed the insights into Murtagh's thoughts and feelings....totally shocked by Murtagh's *almost* violent actions at Claire's bedside, and softened toward him as the last frame in the graphic novel is particularly poignant regarding Murtagh's love of Ellen.

This is not the complete Outlander story, unfortunately. This graphic novel only covers about one-third of the original plot, so fans must wait for future graphic novels to pick up the storyline when Claire and Jamie arrive at Lallybroch.

Although I enjoyed this addition to the Outlander world (there were some really funny moments), I think it is necessary to have an understanding of the books in order to fully appreciate and comprehend most of the graphic novel....this is not the best way for a newcomer to Outlander to experience the story. Start with the novel, and then add the graphic novel as an interesting twist to the plot, and that would be the perfect combination.

I definitely need to go back and read through it again to absorb the details I missed on the first quick reading....and give more thoughtful attention to the artwork. Thanks again, Diana, for another Outlander treasure!

What are your impressions?

4.5/5 stars

Title: The Exile
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Artist:Hoang Nguyen
Del Rey Books
graphic novel

Friday, September 24, 2010

Cut to the Quick by Kate Ross

"To the ranks of great sleuths of ages past, add a new candidate - Julian Kestrel - a detective as historically authentic as Brother Cadfael and as dashing as Lord Peter Wimsey. Kestrel is the reigning dandy of London in the 1820s, famous for his elegant clothes and his unflappable sangfroid. One night he rescues a young aristocrat named Hugh Fontclair from a gambling house, and in gratitude Hugh invites him to be best man at his wedding. But when Kestrel goes to stay with the Fontclairs at their sumptuous country house, he is caught in the crossfire of the bride's and groom's warring families. Soon, discord erupts into murder. In a world without fingerprinting, chemical analysis, or even police, murder poses a baffling challenge. Undaunted, Kestrel sets out to solve the crime. With the help of his Cockney manservant, Dipper a (mostly) reformed pickpocket, Kestrel delves beneath the Fontclairs' respectable surface. What he finds is a trail of crime, deception, and forbidden lust that leads him at last to the killer. The combination of a new author, a charming new sleuth, and a strikingly original setting adds up to a smashing mystery that moves with force and intelligence - and expert suspense - from beginning to end." (from Goodreads)

My thoughts:

A well-crafted, good old-fashioned murder mystery featuring Regency era dandy, Julian Kestrel -- fans of Anne Perry's Victorian mysteries and the Georgette Heyer mysteries will enjoy the puzzle of whodunit in Cut to the Quick. Family secrets and scandals, an unidentified murdered body, and lots of twists and turns in the plot made this a promising beginning for the series.

Title: Cut to the Quick
Author: Kate Ross
Felony & Mayhem Press
genre: mystery; Regency era

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Treasure Trove of Autumn Reading

Let me set the stage for you.....

A cozy fire is casting a warm glow over the shabby but comfortable furniture in the's best furry friend is gently snoring, stretched out in utter bliss at the feet of his beloved owner....a cup of hot chocolate is near to hand as the chilled autumn evening winds rattle the windows....(I can dream, can't I? It's still in the 90's here and the a/c is the only thing rattling!)

Sounds like the perfect setting for curling up with a book, doesn't it? Well, I've collected a treasure trove of fantastic gothics, Regency mysteries, and Victorian mysteries to read this autumn, and I'm planning on spending quite a bit of time with my nose buried in a good old-fashioned thriller next to a roaring fire.

Here's a sneak peek at three authors that I highly recommend for those who enjoy authentic period details along with mystery, suspense, and a bit of the supernatural.

Susanna Kearsley

Susanna Kearsley is the author of wonderful romantic suspense novels in the tradition of Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart, and Daphne du Maurier. Click on the book title to read more about a few of her novels that are on my reading list.

The Shadowy Horses

The Winter Sea

You can also read my review of Mariana here.

Barbara Michaels

Barbara Michaels, also known as Elizabeth Peters and the creator of the famous Amelia Peabody Victorian mysteries, is considered by many to be the queen of the gothic ghost story. She's also been mentioned as a favorite of some authors that I admire such as Lauren Willig, Deanna Raybourn, and Tasha Alexander. I recently purchased a collection of Barbara Michael's books from e-bay, so I literally have a box full of gothic treasures! Here's a look at a few goodies:

Houses of Stone - It was a career-making discovery for English professor Karen Holloway: a battered, faded manuscript, the "lost masterpiece" of a 19th century poet named Ismene. Almost obsessively, Karen delves into her research to unmask the woman behind the mysterious name. But the clues she seeks are hidden in the poet's own words--as a ghost story unfolds before her, a tormented voice from the past...

Ammie, Come Home - A seance goes from party game to pure fright when mysteries of yesterday's passions rise up to claim new players.

Kate Ross

If the Regency era is more your thing, give the four-book mystery series by Kate Ross a try. I just completed Cut to the Quick and plan on reading the entire series.

What books are you looking forward to reading this fall?

Favorite Period Dramas

Mount TBR

Joanne's to-read book montage

On a Highland Shore
A Light on the Veranda
The Queen's Vow: A Novel Of Isabella Of Castile
The Edwardians
Maisie Dobbs
Howards End
Lady's Maid
Instruments Of Darkness
When Maidens Mourn
Where Shadows Dance
What Remains of Heaven
Where Serpents Sleep
Why Mermaids Sing
When Gods Die
Before Ever After
The Sugar Queen
Garden Spells
After the Night

Joanne's favorite books »