The Stockholm Octavo by Karen Engelmann

Emil Larsson is a man about town in Stockholm in the 1790s, however, his rising government career is threatened though by his failure to marry. A fortune-telling friend offers to lay a special spread of cards called an Octavo after she sees a vision of him on a golden road to love. He doesn’t truly believe in visions and reading cards but he figures it might help him find a suitable wife. What is revealed instead puts Larsson in the middle of political intrigue and an assassination plot.

I picked this book up because it fit nicely into my Around the World in 80 Books needs. It is a hard book to describe. There is gambling and magic, the language of fans and Swedish politics, attempted seduction and herbal medication. I was drawn in immediately but it got slow about halfway in. I put it down for a while and then forced myself to finish. The ending is sort of anti-climatic but true to actual historic events. I enjoyed the epilogue that explained what happened to most of the characters in the book.


Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

It is 1945 when Claire steps through the ring of stones in Scotland and 1743 when she emerges in the path of a raid. Armed with only the knowledge of medicine that she gained from working as a nurse in World War II, she must make her way in a world where neither the English nor the Scots trust her motives. Will she ever be able to find her way back?

I’d heard about this series forever and one day I downloaded this first book from Amazon when it was free. Then I never read it. I tried a few times but I found it jarring. I think that whenever I thought of it before I always assumed it was a fantasy book. I mean, there is time travel and Outlander sounds like Highlander so it must be like that, right? I wasn’t expecting a book that is more like a romance novel.

I’ve been reading it a piece at a time for a while. I was interested in Claire’s adaptation to life in the past. My major complaint though is all the sex. I’m hardly a prude but I just kept thinking that there was no need for this to be a 500 page book if we had just stuck to the plot. Am I the only person who gets terribly bored with sex scenes? I read along and then am like, “Again? Aren’t you people on the run or something? Shouldn’t you be running? Can’t we just assume that you spent the night enraptured with each other and move on to where people are trying to kill you?” I fast forward through sex scenes in movies too if possible because they are so boring. Am I weird?

There are a bunch of sequels to this book. Has anyone read them? Are they worth looking into?