January 29, 2015

The Suffragette Scandal by Courtney Milan: Review

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suffragette scandalThe Suffragette Scandal is the last in the Brothers Sinister series. The connection to the brothers themselves is pretty slim, since the plot revolves around the sister of one of the brothers, Frederica “Free” Marshall.

Having received a generous inheritance from her novelist aunt, Free becomes “owner and editrix-in-chief” of the newspaper, Women’s Free Press. The paper reports on issues important to  women, of all classes, including suffrage. Free isn’t afraid to get down in the dirt to get a story. She’s posed as a prostitute to gain access to a government run hospital for an expose. She’s a force of nature.

Edward Clark, if that’s his real name (it’s not), has returned to England to save a friend and settle a score. The Women’s Free Press is a part of his plan. He convinces Free, through blackmail, to help him foil the schemes of James Delacey, the man responsible for feeding her own writers’ stories to other newspapers. It’s a convoluted plan. I’ve read this part twice now and still don’t know why he came up with this particular idea.

Free isn’t just going to let Edward do whatever he wants, especially if her business is involved. She gets right in the middle of things, always a step ahead to make sure he doesn’t double cross her.

Of course, Edward falls head over heels for this strong willed woman who knows exactly what she wants. Of course, she falls for him too, in spite of the fact he keeps telling her he’s a bad, bad man. Edward protests too much. He says he’s a bad guy, while doing everything that proves the contrary. He’s got a past, and some issues to work out before they can live happily-ever-after.

Even though I couldn’t follow what Edward was planning to do to protect his old friend and get revenge, I still found the story entertaining. Free is a capable heroine, but she isn’t dirty enough to take on Delacey. That’s what she needs Edward for. He can shake out a mole and blackmail someone into doing just about anything. Free is still imprisoned by her place in society as a woman.

Free’s experiences as a woman in the media then aren’t much different from some of the experiences of women working in media today. Free is sent threatening letters. Some men want her to shut up. It’s obvious that Milan is drawing parallels to our own world.

I liked Edward as a hero too, though I thought the obstacle in the way of their happiness was a bit of a stretch. In the end, it wasn’t that big of a deal. There is a subplot with one of Free’s lady writers and the secretary of Free’s sister-in-law. It’s doesn’t take up much room in the novel, which is good because I had a hard time following the main plot. It was a sweet little distraction though.

I thought the previous books were stronger plotwise, though I enjoyed the characters in The Suffragette Scandal more. I’m glad the Brothers Sinister series is finished. It’s time. I was just thinking that I want to take a break from historical romances, when I learn that Milan has a new contemporary out: Trade Me. I’ve already bought it!

If you have a better attention span than I do, enjoy strong heroines, and good “bad boys,” you’ll like The Suffragette Scandal.

January 26, 2015

Media Madness Monday: Gone Girl Galavant

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I'm a media junkie, not just books, but TV, movies, music, podcasts, and internet nonsense. Every Monday I discuss something that's caught my interest this past week.

On the TV

galavant promo

If you haven’t seen Galavant, you really should give it at least a look- while you can. When I first heard of it, I thought it sounded weird…but intriguing. Galavant is a knight who becomes a ne’er do well when his girlfriend dumps him for King Richard. He’s tricked into thinking she wants him back and sets out on a quest to “rescue” her with a little help from these two. 


Galavant is part comedy, part musical. I’m not a fan of musicals (I gave up on Glee after the first season) but the songs are funny and tongue in cheek. The show fully embraces silliness- Galavant’s rival is a knight named Jean Hamm. The land of Galavant is bright and cheerful like the world of Pushing Daisies. It’s smart and filled with great cameos; Ricky Gervais played a potion pushing wizard named Xanax in one episode.

Galavant is fun and different. It was in Sundays on ABC. The finale was just yesterday. From what I read, the chances of it coming back are slim. So enjoy it on Hulu or whatever it is you use to watch TV shows now.

And then there’s this.

galavant 2


Big Screen

gone girl poster

I finally got around to seeing Gone Girl. I was dying to see it in theatres but that never happened. I couldn’t wait for my husband to see it so we could talk about it.

Nick discovers his wife of five years, Amy, is missing. Once the police get involved, things quickly turn from a missing person case to murder. Nick is the prime suspect.

First things first, can I be Rosamond Pike? Hot damn! And she is so good in this. Not at first. In the beginning, she’s as boring as dirt, but as things get weird she really turns that performance into something. Ben Affleck is okay as the clueless Nick. He is swarmy enough.

gone girl

The storyline sticks close to the novel, even the famous “Cool Girl” speech gets plugged in there. Thankfully, the ending wasn’t changed either. I know it wasn’t to everyone’s taste.

So , that’s my last edition of Media Madness Monday. What have you been watching?

January 25, 2015

Lazy Sunday Thoughts: Forty Is Pretty Great Actually

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I’ve been forty for eleven months now and I’ll be recommending it to all my friends. Come to forty. It’s fun!

When I was 38, I had a sort of meltdown, a WHAT AM I EVEN DOING! moment that freaked me out. Where had all that time I thought I had gone? “Forty is coming,” I thought. I’ve heard a lot of people say they felt that way about turning thirty, but I can’t remember that happening to me. I’ve always been a late bloomer. Forty was my thirty. Then my fortieth birthday came and it was like a weight had been lifted. I made it! The world did not end!

Today I read this article Age 40: Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That and felt that much of it applied to me. Amanda Clayman lists all the ways that being forty has improved her life. I love this and recommend you read it. I have a few things to add to my own list.

- I appreciate my health. Good health is often out of our hands- genetics, injuries, economics, etc all play into whether we have it or not. I’ve been lucky so far. I’m aware that I do have some responsibility to keep myself as healthy as I can. Osteoporosis runs in my family. I started exercising to combat it. I’m going to enjoy my good health for as long as I can.

- I feel more confident. I’m not afraid to speak up or say when I don’t know something. I don’t care if my question seems stupid to others.

- I’m not afraid to try new things, even if I have to do them on my own. If I waited for someone else to join me on a new project, I’d be waiting a long time. I took up weight lifting on my own, because no one I knew was interested in coming with me. I do not regret it. I’m working on being able to lift a man over my head.

- I wear what I want. Do you know how many articles there are out there written about what women shouldn’t wear over a “certain age”? Too many! Wear what you want. If I like it, it fits on my body, and I can afford it, I’m going to wear it. I was discussing this with a friend who said that in our mothers’ day there were limited choices. Forty meant frumpy. Women have a lot of fashion role models in their forties now too.

- I’m not going to cut my hair either. For some reason once you get past a certain age, you’re supposed to cut your hair short. Nope. My mother’s hair thinned over time so I’m hanging onto mine for as long as possible. Long hair, don’t care!

long hair

- I want to do all the things! There are so many things I want to do. I want to do them all right now.

- …But I can’t do them all right now. I have responsibilities. I must be an adult, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t do them someday. I’ve got to look forward to something!

Of course, I don’t have it all figured out. I’m a work in progress. I’d like to care less what others think (it’s coming along). The physical signs of aging suck too. Maybe by the time I’m eighty I will give no bothers. I don’t think you have to wait to be forty to reap the benefits of forty. Maybe you’re there at 20, 30, or maybe it takes you until you’re 50, 60, 70, 80. Whatever, you do you!

For myself, I’m working on becoming Sally O’Malley by the time I’m fifty.


January 21, 2015

Pinterest Interests: Pumpkin Granola

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Skinnytaste Pumpkin Granola

Since it’s the season for healthy eating, I’ve been collecting pins of healthy recipes. This Pumpkin Granola from Skinnytaste is simple and really good! Pumpkin Spice isn’t just for lattes.

This granola has cranberries, pecans, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, flax seed, honey, pumpkin puree, and pumpkin spice. There’s 1/4 cup of pumpkin puree in it. The cans I’ve bought are huge, but you could freeze the remainder.

The amount of granola the recipe produced filled two Mason jars. I’ve been adding it to my yogurt. It’s a crunchy and tasty addition. I highly recommend it.

Last month, I signed up for a business Pinterest account for the blog so that I could see the analytics. It’s interesting to see what people are repinning. Here’s what people were into the last 30 days.

pinterest stats

The How To Remove Lip Stain pin is very popular for whatever reason. I originally pinned it a year ago. Why it’s suddenly so interesting, I have no idea.

January 20, 2015

Chris Reads Moby: These Are the People in Your Neighbourhood

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I know it’s been some time but let’s get back to Moby Dick.

colbert on moby dick

While Ishmael and Queequeg were having adventures, they were also looking for a whaling ship. During this time, they met a few other people.

Father Mapple. Ishmael, like Queequeg, decides to get spiritual help before the whaling trip. Mapple is quite verbose, and somewhat predictably his sermon is Jonah and the Whale.

Mrs Hussey. I mention Mrs Hussey because I have the feeling she’ll be the only woman we’ll meet.* She’s the landlady of the inn where they stay. When they first meet her, she barks, “Chowder or clam?” at them, which befuddles them both. I like her practicality. When she thinks Queequeg has committed suicide in her inn, she commissions a “No Suicides” sign.

The Two Captains, Peleg and Bildad, owners of the Pequod. It is from Peleg that Ishmael learns of the loss of Captain Ahab’s leg by the white whale. These guys argue like an old couple. Eventually Ishmael is accepted as a member of the crew. When Queequeg appears with Ishmael, the Quaker captains protest that he must belong to a church. Ishmael makes an impressive speech about Queequeg belonging to the “everlasting First Congregation of this whole worshipping world” which puts them in a good humour. Queequeg (or Quohog as they call him) is in.

The Prophet, Elijah. This weirdo follows Ishmael and Queequeg around making cryptic comments about Ahab. He calls Ahab “Old Thunder.” He’s the equivalent of the “crazy old man” in horror movies. Ishmael tells him to get lost. I get the feeling he should have listened to this guy’s rantings.

homer moab

The Crew

Ishmael and Queequeg finally make it onboard the Pequod. Here are a few people that stuck out for me so far.

Mr Starbuck, the chief mate. What a name! I instantly wanted a Pumpkin Latte. Starbuck is another Quaker, a thin man who says, “I will have no man in my boat …who is not afraid of a whale." He’s a careful man.


Mr Stubbs, the second mate and Mr Flask, the third mate. Stubbs, of Cape Cod, is “an easy-going, unfearing man;” Flask acts as if whales “had personally and hereditarily affronted him.”

The harpooners: Tashtego, and Daggoo. The harpooners are assigned to the mates. Queequeg paired with Starbuck. Tashtego is a lean Native man with eyes “Antarctic in their glittering expression.” Daggoo is a buff African man who “voluntarily shipped on board of a whaler, lying in a lonely bay on his native coast” much like Queequeg. All three of the harpooners are accomplished hunters.

Pip. Little Pip is a black boy from Alabama. Ishmael makes some foreboding statements that tell me not to get too attached. (Is this another Rue situation?)

Although the ship’s crew is filled with men from all over the world, only Americans (here I take it to mean white American men) are ever officers. Bummer. 

So where is Captain Ahab? Next time we meet the Man Himself.

*I was wrong. Aunt Charity makes a brief appearance.