The Suffragette Scandal by Courtney Milan: Review

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.

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. 

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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.

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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.

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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?

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.

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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.

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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.

Chris Reads Moby: These Are the People in Your Neighbourhood

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.

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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.

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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.

The Book Report: The Sundial

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New books, old books. Books never stop coming. What’s new to your house this week?

The Book Report discusses a book I received, whether it was bought, borrowed, or given, why I got it, or why I’m excited about reading it.


The Sundial by Shirley Jackson 

 

Where Did It Come From? I ordered this book among others from Book Depository for myself for Christmas.

 

Why did I want it? I’ve read most of Shirley Jackson’s work but this one slipped past me. I saw it mentioned a couple of times over the last year. When I was deciding what to buy, I put this at the top of the list.

 

Describe the book within 140 characters. New owners of an old house are told the world is about to end. 

 

Pre-reading thoughts. I’m cautiously optimistic about The Sundial. The fact that I hadn’t heard of it until recently makes me wonder if it can stand up, at all, against her other great works.

Mini-Bloggiesta, Baby!

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It’s that time again. The time to clean up the ole blog. Since I haven’t posted much lately, I think I’ll be spending most of my time writing posts. I’ll put up a short list of other things I hope to get around to doing.

  • Update the Review Page
  • Consider a new ratings system
  • Answer some email
  • Clean out my email
  • Do a mini-challenge or two
  • Back up my blog

As always, I’ll be updating my list and challenges here. Happy Bloggiesta!

My Overdue Blogging Goals Post

I was supposed to write this last week. Whoops.

Anyway… January 2nd was my 8 year blogging anniversary. Blogging has changed a lot over the last 8 years. I’ve changed a lot. I’ve definitely changed the way I blog. I usually use this one year mark to think about any changes I want to make to Chrisbookarama, or if I want to stay right where I am.

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  • Find more unusual books to read. By unusual, I don’t mean books about seductive millionaire dinosaurs.* I’m thinking about reading lesser known works of favorite authors, interesting takes on my preferred genre, way-way-backlisted books.
  • Write more non-bookish posts. There was a time when book blogs were more diverse in topics, more personal. As bloggers tried to break into the professional side of things, they posted about their personal business less. I’d like to bring that back here. Remember Trish’s Pinterest Challenges? They were so fun. Stuff like that.
  • Less drama. I won’t go totally Mary J Blige and say No More Drama, but less attention to the book blogger drama would be good. It seems like everyday there’s a response to a response to some post about some bonkers thing that happened. I like a little drama once in a while, it gets the blood pumping, but the tendency toward a daily dose of outrage in the book world is tiresome.
  • Say what I want to say. Related to the last point, I think we could agree to disagree sometimes. There have been times when I haven’t agreed with the majority of the book blogging world, whether it’s an opinion on a book, or a discussion happening elsewhere. I’ve hesitated voicing that opinion, because of the drama it might cause. There is room for a dissenting voice. I’m going to try to speak up more and hope that the response is reasonable.
  •  Join more readalongs. Readalongs can be fun! The Lady Audley’s Secret Readalong was a blast. I’d like to do something like that again.
  • Keep reading Moby Dick. I got off track because I keep forgetting to download more chapters. I’m not good at keeping my projects on schedule.

 

Personally.

It’s a new year, so why not think about my personal goals for the year too? They might show up on the blog in some form.

snowshoes

  • Get Active. I gained a few pounds since I started working in August. It’s so easy to just fall on the couch and watch Sleepy Hollow after working, cooking, cleaning, chauffeuring all day instead of going to the gym. I’m trying to get back into going regularly, as well as running more. The family got snowshoes for Christmas, weather permitting, I’ll be using them this winter.
  • Learn to use my camera. I have a nice camera with a fancy new lens and I don’t know much about how it works. I’m going to experiment more with it and possibly incorporate those photos into the blog. I admire how Tanya does it on Girlxoxo. She has such a great eye.
  • Print those photos! I have so many photos- on my computer. It’s not very cozy gathering around the laptop to look at our family memories. I really need to pick out the best for photo albums and frames.
  • Get back to my hobbies. I haven’t done much with my hobbies lately. I love to crochet, and cross stitch. Most importantly, read!

So, those are the goals I have for 2015. Let me know what you think!

*Though I am considering reading 1975 Governor General Award winner Bear. Just go ahead and look it up.

Reading Competitively?

reading competitively

Claire Fallon wrote this article The Problem With Reading Competitively on HuffPost and… well, let me talk about the title first. It makes it sound like readers are elbowing each other in the library. So many broken noses. I don’t think the title reflects the contents of the post. It starts out as a poke at the Goodreads Challenge but turns into the writer’s resolution to read “slow.”

As usual, I signed up for the Goodreads Challenge again this year. I hope to read 60 books in 2015. Last year I read 55, so 60 seems doable. So far I have read 0. One year I read 100 and it was a slow trot to the finish line.

I don’t see the Goodreads Challenge or any other challenge as a competition, unless the competitor was a past me. I have a book blog, obviously I read books, a lot of books. I’m not waving that around in people’s faces. It’s just a thing that I do. I’m not looking at Andi’s list and saying, “I bet I could out-read her this year.”

I have cut back significantly in challenges involving numbers. I just became overwhelmed with the idea of reading a lot of books within a set of parameters. I’ve even cut back on the number of books I wish to read over a year. I know that 100 isn’t going to happen right now. At the very least seeing that little chart reminds me that I have to read to have material for my occasional blogging.

As I said, the challenge isn’t about my reading vs someone else’s. If it was a sport, it would be a marathon. Yes, a marathon has winners, but most of the runners participating aren’t there to beat someone else. They want to see how far they can push themselves. They want to do better than the last race, but even when they don’t finish how they wanted, they’re still proud of what they’ve achieved. There is a goal, but the goal isn’t everything. What leads up to that moment is important too.

What I’m saying is if you want to read 100 books, the entire works of Dickens, Moby Dick, or every Goosebump novel this year, do it. You do you. If you succeed, that’s great. If you don’t reach that goal, I hope you get something out of it anyway.

Let’s End On a High Note

Wow, so many comments on my cranky reading year post. I’m glad to see I wasn’t alone, well sad for you all, but happy to know it wasn’t just me.

I mentioned that I did read some books I really enjoyed in 2014. I’m not going to be a Debbie Downer. I’m going to end 2014 on a high note.

rachel dratch

Speaking of Ms Downer, A Girl Walks Into a Bar was unexpectedly good.

If I ended the year with its disappointing sequel, I began the new with the excellent The Rosie Project. Proves just how bad a sequel can be. I followed that one up with The Winter People which scared the pants off me. I haven’t slept with my closet door open since. The children of Beggars in Spain never slept so I guess they never worried about closets.

I travelled to Mars with an optimistic survivor in The Martian. For something completely different, I joined a readalong and found out what was Lady Audley’s Secret. Then some creepy kids caused havoc in The Three.

Starting in late summer, I had a run of great books beginning with Landline. Things got weird in the fake Ikea store themed Horrorstor. I found a new to me author, Tananarive Due, after reading her short story The Lake. I went crazy for the cross dressing older lady in The Grey Woman, which inspired my Shocktober feature.

The wonderful Margaret Atwood did not disappoint with her collection of short stories, The Stone Mattress.

So…that was it. Not spectacular, but better than nothing.


By the way, it’s my 8th Bloggiversary today!

I’ll discuss my blogging goals on Sunday (once I have some). For now, I’d like to revisit some of the non-review posts I had fun creating in 2014.

That was 2014! Now it’s time to move into 2015 and leave it all behind. I feel refreshed! Let’s get this party started!

swansondance

A Year of Cranky Reading

2014! What a year! So many things happened. I read so many… terrible books. Okay, not really terrible, but disappointing.

This is a bummer of a Year End List but I have some strong feelings. Besides, like Festivus, New Year is a time to reflect on how my loved ones (authors) disappointed me.

festivus

Here is my list of grievances:

January wasn’t too bad. The reading was decent. February was when the trouble started. Possession nearly put me in a coma and Anjelica’s Story should have been Told At a Much Later date.

I returned from my vacation in tropical lands without having got my Groove Back. I was meh about The Ocean at the End of the Lane. By April, I had forgotten I was even reading The Scapgoat and remembered that The Golem and the Jinni was too long. May told me This House Is Haunted but the ghosts weren’t all that interesting.

What Has Become of You ushered in the season of Disturbed Teen Girls who were either Fevered or Conversioned (yeah, not a word).

Up until this point, my reading problems could be blamed (mostly) on my prickly attitude. Was it the books or me? They left me cold or annoyed me. That would change as the universe trolled me with some legitimately irritating books.

From what I had read in reviews of the following books, I should have enjoyed them. They were well received and sounded like they were up my alley. I couldn’t get past the creepy protagonist doctor in Summer House with Swimming Pool and let an octopus illustrate my feelings on that one. Queen of Tearling, a book touted to have the feminist protagonist heroine we’ve all been waiting for, taught me that all women over forty are gross and our gross faces should hide themselves away in shame. People couldn’t stop talking about The Book of Strange New Things and how great it was. I was less than enamoured with it and couldn’t stop thinking about the things that bugged me about it.

The last two months of the year arrived and it had to get better, right? Some Canadian historical fiction, perhaps? That didn’t pan out as Girl Runner made me want to run away from reading and Bride of New France should have been left at the alter.

Probably the biggest disappointment of all was the book I’d been waiting for all year, the one of which I tried, and failed, to get an advanced copy. The Paying Guest didn’t deliver the unexpected twists and turns I thought it would. I was glad I waited to get it from the library. Sorry Sarah Waters fans. My heart broke a little over that one.

To put the cherry on the cake, The Rosie Effect’s only effect was to cause steam to come out of my ears.

I honestly am not this negative. I usually cheerily proclaim that I am so good at picking out books I know I will like that I only ever read good ones (ha!). Obviously, 2014 was an off year. 17 out of 55 books read this year, not quite half, were books I didn’t love. Some I disliked more than others. It was a weird year. Seeing it all laid out like this makes me sad.

They weren’t awful books, just not for me books…except for The Rosie Effect, that’s not for anyone.

While this is a negative list, it’s been cathartic for me. 2015 will be a better reading year for me. It will! And just so you all won’t think I read nothing I liked this year, my next post will be for all the books I loved in 2014. I did have a few of those.

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