Outlander

Outlander DVDOutlander BookReview by Stephanie Bragg

Outlander TV series based on the book series Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Scotland is a land filled with a rich history, traditions, and magic. Claire and Frank are on their second honeymoon in 1945 in the Scottish Highlands after being kept apart by WWII. Out by herself Claire steps through a cleft in the stones atop Craigh Na Dun and finds herself 200 years in the past. The year is now 1743 and Claire is a woman alone in the woods and confronted by a man that looks just like her husband. But this man isn’t Frank, he’s Frank’s ancestor Jack Randall a vicious Red Coat Captain. Claire is rescued from the grips of Black Jack Randall by one of the Scottish clans and meets host of interesting characters, including the dashing and swoon worthy James Fraser. Follow Claire though adjusting to her new daily life, romance, and the most important decision she may ever make.

Diana Gabaldon creates a vivid glimpse into life in the Scottish Highlands in 1743 and the dangers of being a single woman during this time. Her writing style is simple and clear. I found this book to be an easy read but that doesn’t mean the story or her characters are simple. Jamie and Claire rich characters with many sides, as are the supporting characters.

Outlander is now a series on Starz. The first season spans the entire first book. If you aren’t aware, Outlander is also a series with eight books. I actually watched the series before reading the book and loved every second. There’s real danger for Claire in this new world and she must rely on the few she trusts to help her navigate. Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan were made for these roles.

The thing that struck me most about the series as I was reading the book was how seamlessly the writers used original book dialogue on the show. It’s not easy to take text from a book and make it organic in a series or movie.

Book or Series… Series or Book. You can’t go wrong.

Check availability on Outlander Season One Volume One

Check availability on Outlander Season One Volume Two

Check availability on the Outlander book series by Diana Gabaldon:

Outlander
Dragonfly in Amber
Voyager
The Drums of Autumn
The Fiery Cross
A Breath of Snow and Ashes
An Echo in the Bone
Written in My Own Heart’s Blood

About the reviewer: Reference staff member is an avid Comic Con attendee, Doctor Who fan & mom to Stormageddeon, Dark Lord of All: aka Nolan.

The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta

The LeftoversReview by Pam Blittersdorf 

In The Leftovers, Tom Perrotta uses a startling premise to produce a realist portrait of the fault lines that fracture modern society.  The story is set in a small suburban town somewhere on the east coast.  It is a few years after the Sudden Departure, when millions of people, instantly and without explanation, vanished from the Earth.  Was it the Rapture spoken of in the Bible?  But then, many who vanished were not Christians.  Mr. Perrotta leaves that question to hang, while he explores the effects of the traumatic event on a town full of ordinary people.

This isn’t a book with a lot of plot twists.  People move through their lives. Some try to keep things normal while others form cult movements.  A messianic figure may have a genuine gift or he may be a charlatan; his unborn child may or may not be the savior of mankind.  Some funny stuff happens in between the darker moments.  One memorable character  is the woman who lost her husband and two kids. She watches Sponge Bob Squarepants because it was the show her vanished children liked. She is obsessive, but organized about it. At first, she goes through a marathon of cartoon watching, but soon begins to ration the number of daily episodes to keep them fresh. Her attempts to rebuild a social life are the ungainly efforts of any recently divorced person, writ large. It is safer to retreat but hard to be alone, even if all you can do is have a guy watch cartoons with you.

Perrotta has been called the Balzac of the suburbs, a Cheever for our times, and a lot of other heavy titles that reviewers like to hang on authors, as if to see whether they can bear the weight.  I haven’t read his other books, though I gather The Leftovers is something of a departure for him.  But the book conveys humor and affection for people, even while it shows them as deeply flawed. The author gives us the common threads that we share with his characters, which is what makes the book so readable.

Now an HBO TV series entering its 2nd season.

Check availability on The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta

About the reviewer: Pam Blittersdorf is the former head of reference at Tredyffrin Public Library who now calls Massachusetts home. Pam is an avid bike rider.

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries

Miss FisherReview by Kate Boyle

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries is a visually stunning series with high production value.  Based on the Phryne Fisher (pronounced Fry-knee) mystery series by Kerry Greenwood (up to 20 adventures as of Murder and Mendelssohn in 2014), this series follows the Honorable Miss Fisher and her companion Dot from mystery to mystery. Phryne is a wild character: a flapper-style, brazen, forward-thinking, wealthy eccentric. She returns to Australia after the Great War, having risen from poor beginnings to being a titled lady of leisure.  The disappearance of her sister Janey when she was a child, along with a penchant for tripping (sometimes literally) over dead bodies, spurs Miss Fisher to try her hand at being a lady detective, much to the chagrin of Detective Inspector Jack Robinson.

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Sherlock (2010) BBC Series

Sherlock Season 1Review by Stephanie Bragg

This series is a modern update on the classic cases of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) and Dr. Watson (played by Martin Freeman).  Creator Steven Moffat has re-imagined a fast-paced, thrilling and witty version of the greatest literary sleuth and his companion as they use their powers of deduction to help the London police solve mysteries. The address is the same, but the detectives are just a little different.

Having already been a fan of Steven Moffat’s work through Doctor Who, I thought I would give Sherlock a try.  I had heard good things through the internet and my sister, but was intimidated by the length of the episodes.  At about 90 minutes, I wasn’t sure a television show could hold my attention, but it wasn’t a problem at all!  The mysteries are engrossing and Holmes and Watson are a dynamic duo.  Moffat uses interesting visuals to allow the viewer a look into the deductive process.  I could easily see why the internet fans are so intense.  There are three seasons so far and each season only has three episodes.  This makes each episode feel like a little movie!

Jump into the mind of this famous detective by borrowing a season on DVD!

Sherlock Season One
Sherlock Season Two
Sherlock Season Three

Stephanie Bragg is a member of the reference staff at Tredyffrin Public Library and new mom to a little boy.  She loves Disney, Doctor Who, and books (when she can get the time!)