Thursday, December 14, 2017

Are You Ready for Another Jamie and Claire Adventure?

How many of you are enjoying Outlander on Starz?  I am currently waiting on pins and needles to get the third season when it is released to Amazon.  I wonder if the series on television might all the way to the seventh book in the series An Echo In The Bone by Diana Gabaldon?  Are you ready to join me on this journey on another Claire and Jamie adventure?


There are three parts to this story which include Jamie and Claire, Roger and Brianna, and then Lord John and his ward William Ransom.   The first part is the safe passage of Brianna and Roger’s family back to the present.  Their struggle to get medical help for Amanda (their daughter), and establish themselves in the present.   A gift was left for Brianna and Roger by Jamie and Claire.  They gave them a box that includes letter and books. How could this possibly go awry in the present?

The second part of the story is that of William Ransom and Lord John Grey.  William is now a British soldier fighting in the British army during the American Revolution.  Lord John Grey wants him assigned to General Howl’s staff which would move him away from his biological father Jamie Fraser.  William is excited about this proposal and to become a spy during the war.   What happens when he unknowingly meets up with his cousin Ian Murray?  What path will William take once he knows the truth about his past?

The third part of this story is Jamie and Claire’s adventures in the American Revolution.  Jamie, Claire, and their nephew Ian’s plan are to head to Scotland to pick up his printing press and visit with Ian’s parents.  Plans go awry when the smuggling ship that they take gets boarded by the British navy.  Their new course puts them back in the military where Jamie serves as a Colonel in the North Carolina militia at Fort Ticonderoga.  Claire works as a physician when allowed by her colleagues.  Will they survive the battle ahead?  Will they make it to Scotland to get Jamie’s printing press?

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed this book!  I was not a fan of the last book A Breath of Snow and Ashes.  I had high hopes because Jamie and Claire would be involved with the American Revolution in the next book in the series.   I felt that plot line was getting old because of how many different ways could Claire be kidnapped. The story was better but suffered from pacing issue, in the middle.  It made me glad that I listened to it as opposed to trying to sit down, and read the book.  The plot of this book while slow in some spots finished on a high note.  I am very much looking forward to reading Written in My Own Heart’s Blood.  I don’t want to give too much away.  I will continue to consult the audiobook versions and listen to Davina Porter’s narration.  She is the best British narrator that I have ever heard perform.



To purchase a copy of  An Echo In The Bone here.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Ready For Some Holiday Fun with Maggie McConnon?

Today we welcome Maggie McConnon to Writer's Corner. She is sharing her latest book Bel, BOOK AND SCANDAL, an excerpt. Fans of the Belfast McGrath series will love this latest novel. Just in time for the holidays!


I was wet, cold, and tired, but

despite the fact that she was ready to kill me with her bare hands for staying out all night, my mother addressed all three of my immediate needs before saying anything else.

A towel to dry my hair.

Clean clothes in the form of a pair of jeans, a T- shirt, and

a pair of socks. An Irish sweater, the most uncomfortable item of clothing ever made—a hair shirt, really— but welcomed, and probably deserved, at that moment.

A bologna sandwich. It would be the last time I would eat bologna, for many reasons, the most significant being that the smell would forever after remind me of Amy. And how she had disappeared the night before and would always be gone.

Mom was worrying a rosary in one hand, the other securely placed in one of my father’s meaty ones. She turned and looked at me, asking me a question she had already asked and would continue to ask, along with everyone else even vaguely connected to Foster’s Landing. “Where is she?”

I didn’t know. I didn’t think I would never know.

My brother Cargan, the closest to me in age and the one who had found me beside the Foster’s Landing River, was across the room, looking out the window, his violin strapped to his back; he had a lesson later that morning and wouldn’t miss it for anything, even if Amy Mitchell was missing and never to be seen again. No, he was gearing up for a big competition in Ireland and nothing stopped him from his lessons or his practicing. Although the mood was somber in the police station, I wouldn’t have been surprised if he had whipped the instrument out right then and there and started playing a tune, a sad one, the type I had grown up listening to.

My other brothers were out and about in town now. They, too, had come running when Cargan first discovered me but were less concerned about me now but had joined the hunt for Amy. It was another night for Bel, one said. She was going to be in a lot of trouble, said another. They were both right: It had been another typical night and now I was in a lot of trouble, the last to have seen Amy alive with nothing to tell that might lead to her whereabouts. They were a self-protective bunch, caring little as to why I would be hauled into the police station, happy that, for once, they were not the ones in trouble. Feeney, especially. He was always in trouble. Derry and Arney, not as much, but both had a way of finding their way into situations that were beyond their control. Feeney was a much more calculated and deliberate hooligan.

Next to Mom, Dad let out a barely audible sob, the kind that told me that he was, first and foremost, a father and one who felt the pain of a missing child. He looked over at me, almost as if he wanted to confirm that I was still there, and reached out the hand that didn’t hold Mom’s, patting me awkwardly on the thigh.

“Ah, Belfast,” he said. “Ah, girl.”

“It’s okay, Dad,” I said. “They’ll find her. They’ll bring her back.” I thought about those words a lot over the years, wondering where that confidence came from. Youth, I eventually decided. When you’re young and nothing bad has ever happened, you think everything will always be better, every wrong will be righted. It’s only with age that I realized that that wouldn’t always be the case and that disappointments would stack up, like the layers of my famous mille-feuille cake, the one with seemingly a thousand layers of goodness that cracked upon the first dip of the fork. But even then, in my heart, I had a feeling it wasn’t going to turn out the way we all wanted, something I couldn’t give voice to at that moment.

Lieutenant D’Amato came out of the conference room at the Foster’s Landing police station and looked at me, frowning. Behind me the door opened, and his expression suddenly lightened, the sight of his only child, his daughter, coming through the doors with a cup of coffee in one hand and a bag of something delicious in the other, the greasy stain at the bottom indicating that it was probably a Danish from the local bagel store. It smelled better than my bologna sandwich, which I wrapped up in the wax paper that Mom had put it in and stuffed under my thigh.

Mary Ann handed her father the food and then turned to me, tears in her eyes. “Oh, Bel,” she said, and ran toward me, enveloping me in a hug. She smelled good, not like river water and stale beer like I did, but more like the soft grass that I felt beneath my feet when I ran from my house down the steep hill toward the river. Beside me, my mother’s silent reproach hung over me like a fetid cloud.

Why can’t you be more like Mary Ann D’Amato?

I had heard it more than once in my seventeen years and hoped eventually it would die a natural death as I got older and more accomplished, setting off to take the culinary world by storm, another thing that left a distinct distaste in my mother’s mouth. I was supposed to be a nurse. A teacher. A wife, mother. Not a chef.

It was your idea to open a catering hall, I wanted to say. Your idea to have me in the kitchen every moment I wasn’t studying or swimming on the varsity team. Your idea to ask me how the potatoes tasted, if the carrots needed another minute. Your idea to let my brothers learn the traditional Irish tunes and put me in an invisible, yet highly important, role— that of sous chef to you and a myriad of other cooks who had come through the doors of Shamrock Manor, only to discover that yes, our family was crazy, and no, they didn’t really care all that much about haute cuisine.

Mary Ann was going to nursing school; of course she was. She was the daughter that my parents never had and she would make everyone in this town proud.

Years later, in what could only be from the “you can’t make this stuff up” files, Mary Ann would marry Kevin Hanson—my Kevin Hanson— and I would cook the food for their wedding. We would all be friends and we would laugh together and eat together and have a generally good time in one another’s company. Before, I felt the lesser, but in the future, the now, I would be equal, the one who had gone away and come back, realizing that my heart was in this little village, at least for a time. But back then, Amy was still missing and everyone thought I had the key.

“Where is she?” Mary Ann whispered into my curly hair.

“I don’t know,” I said. And I didn’t. Amy Mitchell was my best friend, my confidante, my sister from another mother, and she hadn’t said a word about where she would go after a night on Eden Island. My last words to her, an angry sentence (You’ll be sorry. . . . ), burned in my gray matter. I don’t know where she is, I wanted to scream. It had been just fun and games until I had seen her kissing my boyfriend, Kevin Hanson. We had been celebrating our waning days at FLHS, and it was the best night we had ever had up until that point.

I don’t know why she wouldn’t tell me where she was going, but maybe I did.

Maybe of everyone here in the police station, she wanted me to be the last to know.

About the Author:

Maggie McConnon grew up in New York immersed in Irish culture and tradition. A former Irish stepdancer, she was surrounded by a family of Irish musicians who still play at family gatherings. She credits her Irish grandparents with providing the stories of their homeland and their extended families as the basis for the stories she tells in her Belfast McGrath novels, beginning with Wedding Bel Blues.

Maggie is available by Facebook.

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