Book Review | Outlander by Diana Gabaldon


To be honest I mainly started reading this book because I was secretly hoping to get a job at the used bookstore where I bought it. I always think it’d be fun to work in a bookstore. Especially in a used book store. The increasingly antiquated space seems to be a huge draw for like-minded bookies like moi-self, and so I hang out in them often…for extended period of time. I drag friends in with me who inevitably get bored long before I’m done touching every book.

As I was browsing, the owner (“future Kat,” I think to myself) nudges me toward Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander. “This is the first book in The Outlander Series,” she tells me. “They just started shooting the pilot!”, she tells me. “Destined to be the next Game of Thrones,” she tells me.

She wanted me to read this book. Badly. I aim to please, people. But then, the moment I pulled out the old Mastercard at the cash register she leans in and whispers, “And there’s some pretty spicy scenes in it, too.” If it were possible to wink using only your vocal chords, she had just accomplished it.

So! I read it. All eight-hundred-fifty-some-odd pages within four days. That is a sign of a good read, I’d say. My only regret was that I didn’t document some sort of reaction video. Though I dragged myself through the first one hundred pages (this is my “minimum read” page number), I was soon totally caught up in all of its sprawling-historical-fiction glory. Set in the Highlands, it was exciting, interesting, well written, and had a great, sexy romance–really, it’s all that you could want from a genre book.

And then it happened. And if you haven’t read it, I’m not going to spoil it for you. But be warned: Don’t let this book lull you into a false sense of security. Oh boy. Oh. Boy. Yikes. YIKES. Ah. AH.

If you have read this, you may know what I’m referring to. Without revealing anything, I will just say that I didn’t think that I would ever recover, as a human, from what happens. Yikes.

I will definitely read the next book in the series, Dragonfly in Amber, and I can’t wait. I am going to read something else in the meantime (suggestions are always welcome). Maybe I’ll get it over the holiday season, or more pointedly: Whenever I have four full days to spare.

I hope you enjoyed this review, and let me know if you’re thinking about reading it! I may even lend you my copy of Outlander. But not until I re-read all the Jamie/Claire scenes. *insert dreamy sigh*

365 project, day 27


done and done. sunday mornings were invented for finishing books. today i am matt’s brewer’s assistant. we are working on making belgian beers but the specifics for today’s brew are yet to be determined and largely contingent on what kind of malt we have in stock. fun. brewing. ashtanga. more coffee. that’s it that’s all. ah, sunday. xx kc

et cetera

i haven’t written in a while, but it’s not surprise given how fast time moves. it’s the least i can do to quickly edit a photo and slap it onto my blog once in a while.

the days here in the big smoke are downright cold and if you are also experiencing the arctic air mass, then my advice is to bundle up, lay off the cotton, make soup, and tack an extra glass of wine into your evening détente. in my case, i slink around my house in the evenings wearing wool socks and wool sweaters and feeling very little inclination to do anything that involves leaving the house. inevitably i go to sleep and wake up only to have to go to work in the morning.

but actually the air feels a little warmer so i’d say the worst of it is behind us, and just in time for the weekend. who’s excited.

here is what has been keeping my company these last few days.


 the days of the commune by bertold brecht.

brecht’s last play ever written; he didn’t live to see its first production and so it was the berliner ensemble that brought the thing to the stage. for most of my adult life i’ve been obsessed with the idea of a commune. that is, the romanticised image of a late-19th century commune. pacifism and conviction and hope, and oh, maybe a little young love. i’ve been obsessed with digging up information about the paris commune, specifically, and so i dip my toes into these waters for inspiration. i also have john leighton’s paris under the commune, available free through project gutenberg, loaded on the ol’ ereader. though, i think i want to unearth a real-life, print copy because of the pictures. if you see one somewhere, buy it for me? sorry – i meant: buy it for me.


breakfast of champions by kurt vonnegut.

i love vonnegut and slowly make my way through his books at a rate of about one vonnegut per year. i didn’t initially like breakfast of champions. i thought vonnegut had gone off the deep end. he was having too much fun being vonnegut. it was like reading a strange inside joke he had with himself. but then i was hooked. as usual, a strange chain of events begins to unfold around a group of unusual characters (one of the main characters calls to mind an ignatius j. reilly-esque buffoon). now, the two main characters are circling around each other and it is like two warheads are about to collide.


the returned by jason mott.

you probably haven’t caught wind of this one as it’s not being published until september 2013. this is one of the many perks of working for a publishing company. harlequin bought this book, and not long after brad pitt’s production company, plan b, optioned it for a series. abc has now green-lighted the pilot so i’m curious how they will take this commercial-literary book and turn it into a supernatural drama. the concept is that people’s deceased loved begin to show up on their doorsteps, all around the world. they show up perfectly alive and preserved, as if their deaths had never happened. it is haunting and sweet and taps into very human reactions around this subject. it doesn’t feel at all paranormal. it is more of a long rumination on the question, “what if…?”


my nights are largely filled with cruising netflix for old degrassi (circa 1980s) episodes or starting a movie that i dont finish, and knitting a bulky infinity scarf. oftentimes, i’ll do this while craddling a glass of wine. i’ve been very inspired to do more knitting and sewing lately, and this impulse was further egged on when i read a blog post from sewing guru, the coletterie. i suppose it’s no surprise that this impulse to see and to want and to buy continues long after the holidays have come and gone, and i’m always looking for helpful ways to combat that impulse. i really appreciate the idea of simply re-routing the reaction we have to certain image; to distil from the image a creative idea–a point of inspiration–and to then pursue it in a way that you find gratifying. perhaps it’s photography, or sewing, or writing.

so there you have it, friends. a shortlist of the things that have been taking up my mindspace this week. and that is all i wanted to share with you today. the work is piling up, my coffee cup is empty, and i forgot to eat breakfast.

happy thursday to you, and vive la commune.

xx kc lea