Wednesday, August 25, 2010

TLC Tours - Diana Gabaldon's An Echo in the Bone - Review & Giveaway

Welcome to those of you new to MoonCat Farms 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 here at MoonCat Farms Meanderings.

Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander, Book 2)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.

Voyager (Outlander)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.

Drums of Autumn   [DRUMS OF AUTUMN] [Paperback]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.

The Fiery Cross (Outlander)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.

A Breath of Snow and Ashes (Outlander)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.

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.

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

Now, 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

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 affiliate and may receive a small percentage from any sales made through my affiliate links.

Monday, August 23, 2010

I Married the Chicken Whisperer

Sorry I've been off the grid for a bit.  I've been reading and reviewing up a storm over at One Book Shy as well as doing a lot of varied stuff around here.  Some of that includes watching the hubby's baby chooks grow up FAST!  (Notice they are now HIS - it's a love affair.)  The girls are doubling and tripling in size every week it seems.  Except for Midge, I think she is either a Banty/Bantam or just a runt.  Either way she is a tiny terror.  She beats up and bullies the bigger girls.  They all seem to tolerate the little tyrant.  She also has a thing for pecking at my toenails....

Midge (r) next to the "normal" sized girls
Now that the chickens have full use and access to the entire chicken run, it was getting a bit interesting trying to get them all into the coop at night.  It was a 2 person job until the middle of last week.  Something finally clicked and they all figured out that nighttime = bedtime!  We ~ usually HE ~ just have to go out now and close the little trap door & they're all snug in the coop until morning.  Yay!

These are some of the photos Mr. MoonCat, aka "The Chicken Whisperer" took for us yesterday evening.  Can you believe how much they've grown in a week? BTW, the hubby has HUGE hands so for reference, it takes me two hands to hold the hens that are posing for his photos..

Messy eaters
Henrietta Hen
Stella the "Chicken Whisperer's" favorite girl
Do I sound jealous?
ALWAYS eating..
Nap time

Monday, August 16, 2010

CSN Stores Giveaway Winner

Thank you all for participating in the giveaway from the great folks at CSN Stores.  You know I'm a major fan of theirs! I'm also hoping that you will all stick around as we have a lot more coming up here at MoonCat Farms in the near future. So on to the drawing....

Our lucky winner is:

I want the Alpen Outdoor 20X50 mini spotting scope

Congratulations Stephanie!  I'm sure this scope will come in handy in your outdoor adventures. 
And no, I've never had a rattlesnake poop on me :)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Friday the 13th Woes and A Recipe

Friday the 13th has not usually been a day of bad happenings for me.  Or if it was, I  just didn't put my troubles and the date together..

This one was completely different.  I was in the middle of my shower, head full of shampoo..when the water quit.  As in, there was no more.  AT ALL!  I was so ticked.  I was already running late to get Dad to a doctor's appointment but I managed to get most of the suds out of my hair, not all.  The Scottish-Irish temper overflowed in a hurry that morning..To make an extremely long story short, we had no water ALL DAY as the pump company had to come out to drop the pump another 100 feet.  Lovely!

Since I had been dealing all week with the fact that the well WENT DRY at the ranch last week, I was not in the mood to mess with it here as well.  Mr MoonCat dealt with them quite nicely so we did have water by Friday night. 

~~They're starting to drill a new well at the ranch tomorrow to the tune of about $10,000 that we don't have laying around BTW!  Thank goodness for wonderful neighbors and friends.  My dad's closest neighbor Adolph had his well go out about 6 years ago.  Dad had him hook up to our well until they could get his new well drilled (took them 2 months due to the rainy season).  So when Adolph found out what happened, he immediately grabbed Dad and told him he WOULD be hooking up to his well until it was taken care of.  We are so grateful to him.  If he hadn't have stepped up, we have been hauling water in several times a day for all of the horses and cattle, etc.  Good neighbors are more precious than gold!

The absolute worst part of Friday was that when hubby went out that afternoon to help the pump guys, he found one of our little Barred Rock babies dead.  She was laying outside of the chicken run area near the garden.  We never have figured out how she got out as the entire area is fenced and covered.  Personally, I think she may have squeezed through the ONE section that has chain link with no chicken wire and couldn't find her way back in.  We are remedying that now, but I was so sad and upset.  I have grown way too attached to the little feathered fiends.

About the only good thing we DID have on Friday was this for dinner:
Can we all say YUMMMM?
This was so easy and quick. Did I also say DELICIOUS??? I pigged out. The tomatoes, basil, and chives are from my garden. It took me about 5 minutes to prepare (the cheese was already sliced). I don't recall what it is called as I had it scribbled down on an old receipt. But here goes:

  • 1 lb fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 4 large ripe tomatoes
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped chives
  • Sea salt to taste
  • White pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup virgin olive oil
Slice the mozzarella and tomatoes into 1/4" slices. Alternate the cheese, tomato, and basil in a circular pattern around the side of a serving platter (or a quiche dish works very well!). Sprinkle the chives, salt and pepper over the top. Just before you are ready to serve, drizzle the olive oil over the top of the dish. Serves 8.

While not required, I served this with fresh French bread - still warm. It was outstanding. Try it!

Don't forget the CSN Stores $50 GC drawing ends today!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Shutterfly Winners!

Sorry for the delay in getting our winners posted.  Without further ado, your winners:

Congratulations:   #4 - Cindy and #2 - Sandra

I will be sending you emails shortly!

Don't forget to enter the CSN Giveaway - it ends in 5 days :)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

A Sweet Award from a Lovely Lady

Thank you so much to Nydia for giving me this very nice blog award.  I really appreciate you thinking of me and including me in such a great group of bloggers.

OK, the rules:

1. Thank the one who sent it your way.   Love ya lots Nydia, thank you for the recognition!

2. Sum up your blogging motivation, philosophy, and experience using 5 words.  (This is a tough one - you all know I have and use lots of words...)  How about:

Sharing, connecting, therapeutic, enjoyment, creativity?

3. Pass it on to 5 others who blogs who you feel have real substance.   This is the really hard one as I enjoy and get a lot from so many great bloggers.  Also, don't worry if you don't accept awards - I just want you to know that I think highly of you :)

In no particular order, my 5 nominees are:

Darlene at SewCalGal, you show us beauty in fabric and life

Birgit of Swapping Howdies, you brighten my day and the world around us

Nancy the Lemon Verbena Lady, you inspire and amaze me

Jen of Rue and Hyssop, you write from the heart and share it with us all

Sandra at Thistle Cove Farm, you center us and bring us home

Thank you ladies for sharing of yourselves and making our world a better place!

**I have decided to start an awards page to show the goodies my fellow bloggers have shared with me.  You can click on the link or the tab at the top of the page to check them out.  It is still under construction, so bear with me :)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

What I See Wednesday

Your regularly scheduled "What I See Wednesday" has been pre-empted..or is it hijacked?  Instead of the garden and other photos you're eagerly awaiting - today you will see CHICKENS!!!

Stella - The Ringleader - Ms. Attitude
Midge (on right) & her Poultry Posse
HeartyGirl aka #19 aka Trauma Chicken
Thelma or Louise - The Spies
More of Stella's Minions
Stella - rallying the troops
from the TOP of the pen
Training on the gangplank
Sgt Stella shows them the correct way
The coop - Headquarters
Stella biting (pecking) the hand that feeds her - mine
Can you believe how much these little ones have grown in just under 2 weeks?  Except for Midge, they've pretty much doubled if not tripled in size.  Most of them are flying for short little bits, it's hard to keep them in their little pen anymore.  HeartyGirl has done quite well following her ordeal; she's still a bit smaller than some of the others, but she'll catch up. 

Stella is quite the comedienne and definitely rules the roost.  She'll fly right to either of us and land on our hands or arms.  Goofy bird likes to be petted and is one of the nosiest critters I've ever had.  She has a real thing for Mr. MoonCat ~ maybe that's why she's always trying to get my wedding ring?

In spite of Dad and everyone else making fun of us, we'll continue naming the little feathered fiends as we go.  We'll also keep you updated on their progress and our fall from sanity...

Monday, August 2, 2010

CSN Stores Gift Certificate Giveaway

Giveaway is now CLOSED

Did I mention that I need - OK want,  some new luggage?  I've been wanting to get a pretty set of my own that would be easy to spy on the airport conveyor belt thing or might hold up when the ramp rats are throwing all of the suitcases around before stowing them in the plane.  Look at what I've come up with so far:

Adolfo 5800-3 in Amethyst
or possibly this one

 CalPak Hardside LKB1020 in Purple
or, maybe even this one from the King Kong of luggage ~ Samsonite:

Samsonite Oyster Hardside in Purple
My old duffels just aren't cutting it! So what's a girl to do?  How about enter a drawing for a:

$50 Gift Certificate to

What a great idea! How fabulous...  But alas, I can't enter this drawing.   But YOU can.
Do I hear applause??? Thank you.. 

Well anyway, today is the start of the big giveaway I had been hinting about for a few weeks!  As a Preferred Blogger for CSN Stores, I am one being given the chance to share my love of CSN Stores with one lucky MoonCat Farms follower.   

It is very, very easy to enter.  Just click on over to CSN Stores and check out their HUMONGOUS inventory of just about everything under the sun.  Then come back and leave a comment to let us all know what you found there that really tickles your fancy and you might want to get with that shiny new gift certificate ~ if you're chosen by Mr.  I will close the drawing on Sunday, August 15th and we'll find out just who the lucky winner is!

The only requirements are that you must be a follower of this blog, you must comment as explained above,  and that it is only open to the US and Canada.  I will notify the winner and once they're verified, I will forward the info to my pal Jamie at CSN Stores.

So what kind of good thing do you think you'll choose if  you are the lucky one?  My nosy mind wants to know..  Could it be purple luggage for yours truly??

Good Luck my friends and thank you so much to Jamie and CSN Stores for sponsoring this generous giveaway.

The gift certificate for 1 winner is being provided by  I received no compensation for hosting this giveaway.  All opinions and comments are 100% my own.