(Review) Outlander, Book One by Diana Gabaldon

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Publisher and Publication Date: Delacorte/Random House. 1991.
Genre: Historical fiction. 1st in a series. Scotland.
Pages: 627.
Source: Library.
Rating: Okay.
Audience: Readers of Scotland’s 18th century history in fiction.

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I’ve tried to read this book before. I even have it on Audible. I’ve watched most of the first season on Starz. This time I borrowed the hardcover edition from the public library and persevered till the last page.

Outlander is the first book in a long series about Claire Randall and time travel, and two lives with two husbands. The story begins in late 1945. Claire and husband Frank are in the Highland’s of Scotland. They are on a second honeymoon after being apart during the war years. They are both English. Frank will soon start work as a professor of history at Oxford. Claire had been a combat nurse during the war. While in Scotland Frank is researching genealogy.  Frank and Claire are happy to be together and are deeply in love. Claire is transported back to 1743 Scotland after touching an ancient stone. This is the beginning of her adventure with a Scottish clan, and a new life with James Fraser. The nemesis is Black Jack Randall. He is a horrible, despicable, vile man. He is an officer in the English army, he abuses the Scottish people.

Until I had the book in my hand and looked at the date of publication, I had no idea the book was published in 1991. I’d heard about the story when it was picked up to be a series on Starz.

Spoilers in the review. Why? Because it’s the only way to express how I feel about the entirety of the book. This might be the first time I’ve written information about a book giving away spoilers!

What I like about Outlander:
•The setting is Scotland. I love Scotland. And, I enjoyed reading about the terrain and scenery of the land. This reason includes the history, culture, and language of the people during the 18th century.
•I love the time period of World War II and afterwards. The roles Claire and Frank had during the war was of interest to me.
•The relationship Frank and Claire have is a mature love. They’ve endured and stayed together. I love it that they are passionate for one another. They enjoy being together. They have a deep and mature love for one another.
•The story has strong and defined characters. There are good people and bad people, and I know who is which. There is no guessing with who fits in each spot.
•Claire’s nurse training is used in the book. I enjoyed reading about how she medically treated people during 1743 Scotland.
•It is a vivid and sweeping dramatic story.

What I did not like about Outlander:
•When the story begins Claire is a woman who is independent, knows her mind, has matured because of the experiences of war, educated, a world traveler, and is within a few years of approaching the age of 30. I consider her a renaissance woman. However, Claire’s character has a transformation after she is transported back in time to 1743 (especially after marrying James.) Some of the strong personality she held softens. I don’t see that her personality strengths changed in a good way. She’d been a person of principle, but settled for what was expected. I will expand on this later.
•I have heard authors elaborate on writing a story. They’ve said characters just emerge on their own and become what they will. I say pooh. An author writes a story. An author has control over their characters and storyline. What am I getting at? I’m a victim of sexual abuse. I was a kid. The people in Outlander are adults. There is a difference between making love and sexual abuse. When people have sex and there are cuts, scratches, bumps, bruises, and people have an inability to walk afterwards it is abuse. Claire is 27. She is not a young girl or innocent/naïve to sex. At the end of the book, Claire uses an, I’m looking for the right word, exercise or “cure” for James following his abuse. What the heck?
•I love a sensual element in a story. I don’t need all the steps in lovemaking. It’s just not necessary. I have a mind and imagination. Outlander is an ultra descriptive story, this includes sex scenes. When so many steps are included in sex scenes “it can” become like a car manual. Component one goes into component two, etc.
Outlander is a masculine-physical-aggressive story. Whether it is a combat scene, or abuse in prison, or abuse by the local Scottish people, or language, or sex. The people are not timid, shy, or contemplative. In a story it helps to have resting places, it is hard to find these in Outlander. And, the aggression made for a one-sided type story, with the exception of Frank, but he’s only seen in the first part of the book. It’s possible Gabaldon wanted to show how the people were during this period-their culture.
•Claire’s experiences in war most likely gave her PTSD. The experiences in 1743 Scotland also would have given her PTSD. She too, was abused by those who hated her and the one who supposedly loves her. I did not see PTSD symptoms in her character. I guess it’s possible the breakdown or diminishing of her personality is a symptom. That gritty side of her became passive.
•Claire as the sex partner who has knowledge and experience, and also at her age, has the opportunity to teach her partner what she likes and doesn’t like. She failed at this. Further, as older women, we have learned what we like and don’t like and are able to communicate this.
•Can one woman love two men? Sure. But the person loves them differently. The relationship she has with James is physical, virile, exciting. He is younger. The relationship she has with Frank is physical, but they have a deep bond of intimacy. They have a love that has grown and stood the test of time with maturity. I have empathy for Frank. I want their relationship to work. I like James, but I’m team Frank.

I believe that love, real love not lust or infatuation, grows over a period of time. It deepens and the bond of intimacy grows.

I wonder, if I’d read this book back in 1991 or 1992 would I feel differently? Possibly. When reading a story, especially one like Outlander, I bring my feelings, life experiences, and the perspective/maturity of age. So at age 55, I feel differently than at age 25 or 26.

Will I read further books in this series? Maybe, but it would be in order to answer a curiosity about the progression or transformation of the characters and writing style.

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(Review) Boundaries For Your Soul: How to Turn Your Overwhelming Thoughts and Feelings into Your Greatest Allies by Alison Cook, PhD, and Kimberly Miller, MTh, LMFT

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Publisher and Publication Date: Thomas Nelson. June 26, 2018.
Genre: Christian nonfiction. Psychology. Boundaries. Emotions.
Pages: 256.
Source: Self-purchase.
Rating: Very Good.
Audience: Readers needing help with boundaries surrounding emotions.

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Boundaries For Your Soul has been written to help people have boundaries for their emotions and thinking. This speaks to the inner part or heart of a person. The thoughts running through the mind is often negative, and this book helps us to face those negative thoughts and have the Spirit of God work in them.

The book is divided into three parts holding 14 chapters:
Part One: Reimagining Your Soul
Part Two: The Five Steps of Taking a You-Turn
Part Three: Working With Challenging Emotions 

The later part of the book holds further helps:
Map of the Soul
Exercises: The Five Steps 
Glossary

I’ve read the book Boundaries by Henry Cloud twice.  Boundaries For Your Soul refers to the book by Cloud in their introduction. The authors of Boundaries For Your Soul wanted to write a book with the focus on inner thought boundaries. And, they refer to the Scripture Paul wrote in Romans 7:15, “For that which I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.” NASB. All humans wrestle with inner thoughts, but how do we win the war within? Cook and Miller in Boundaries For Your Soul teach that we must have God’s Spirit rebuild the inner place in our hearts that need help.

What I liked about the book:
•I’m encouraged to “embrace” the part of me that needs help. This does not mean to “embrace” a sin. We are to “turn towards” that area that needs help without criticism and rejection.
•Helpful and practical advice. For example: “The Five Steps of a U-Turn.” Page 42.
•Burdens. The negative thoughts that probably began as a child that have become apart of our thoughts patterns. For example: “I have to be responsible for everyone around me.” Page 96. This is a great chapter, because it helps with ways to combat those thoughts that have been with us since childhood.
•The anger problem. “Anger feels empowering in the moment but leads to feelings of guilt.” To befriend anger means we set a boundary around it and express it in a healthy way. Anger can be displayed without hurting someone.
•Practical ways to place boundaries around shame and guilt.
•Illustrations of people are given that address certain boundary issues like shame, anxiety, or sadness.

(Review) Deep Mentoring: Guiding Others on Their Leadership Journey by Randy D. Reese and Robert Loane

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Publisher and Publication Date: InterVarsity Press. September 17, 2012.
Genre: Christian nonfiction.
Pages: 240.
Source: Self-purchase.
Rating: Very Good.
Audience: Christian readers who want to develop leadership skills.

Part One: Noticing Already-Present Action
Part Two: Learning from Those Who Have Come Before Us
Part Three: Guiding the Formation of Others

In Deep Mentoring, I learned how God shapes me through a Christian leader who walks beside me; and, God works to develop maturity through life events that is unique to my story, and to develop me in to a leader who is prepared to mentor another.
In brief, Deep Mentoring explains: “This book, however is about leadership formation.” Page 21.

I bought this book several years ago. It sat on a shelf forgotten. This summer I’ve been pulling books off the shelves, dusting them off, and trying to read a few. Deep Mentoring is the first book read from that old to be read stack.

This book is not for everyone looking to read a book on mentoring another Christian, because the book requires a disciplined approach that starts with self. Self is the first point to address before walking alongside another person in their Christian growth.
Another reason this book may not be for all readers is this book requires homework. Several questions are dispersed in the chapters and at the close of the chapters. These questions are to help us reflect on our lives. The reader will need a notebook to answer them.

The best of part one is learning about the significance, and how to create a timeline, of our story. It’s a timeline or study of our lives. We are to analyze our lives in respect to how God has been at work. And, some of the questions to ask: How is God growing me up in that life? What is my response to God’s work?

We are challenged to be like a detective. “Detective work is a slow process requiring focused attention;” Page 46.

Do you look at your life as a preparation for God’s Work?
How is God preparing you to serve Him?

As an example, the story of Mother Teresa is given, and how God prepared her for a life of mission work.

Five signs are given as examples that God is readying our lives. For example, “An increased yearning for intimacy with God.” “A Growing recognition of the importance of holiness.” Page 104.

Deep Mentoring takes us through problems we will encounter during the development of our service. In addition, faithfulness, dependence on God, character formation, legacy, boundaries, and a time of testing.

The last part of the book is on the formation of others: our mentoring of another person. Mentoring means to walk alongside another person. Examples of those in the Bible who mentored another, like Elijah who mentored Elisha. And, how Jesus mentored others. This last point is taught in chapter seven.

When I began reading this book I thought its emphasis was mentoring others. I love it that it began by how leadership is crafted in me!