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Search tags: historical-fiction-WWI
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review 2018-03-21 18:54
See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt
See What I Have Done - Sarah Schmidt,Jennifer Woodward,Erin Hunter,Garrick Hagon

This is a fictionalized retelling of the Lizzie Borden murders and though it gets many “meh”reviews, I surprisingly enjoyed it very much. These people are awful! They are selfish, resentful, devious and maddening in their “woe is me” entitled thoughts but I LOVED reading about their misery. And, boy, did they all live in a cesspool of misery, resentment and hate.


I do think you have to be in a certain grumpy headspace to appreciate this one and I was there. We’ve had a never-ending winter and I hurt my back so bad I had to quit a much loved workout routine probably forever. Reading this when I did was perfect timing. We were all miserable together for a short time. So moral of this sad story? Don’t read this if you’re happy or want to be happy.


The story is told from three different points of view. Lizzie, Bridget the maid and a shady male character whose name I can’t recall right now. I listened to the audio which is narrated by three different people. The women do a fine job as does the male narrator EXCEPT when he attempts to do a female voice in a painful fake falsetto. Fortunately he’s mostly narrating the man part so the cringe level is tolerable.


Many people have an issue with the grit and grue factor in this book and I can understand that. This book is an experience. You can feel the cloying sickness permeating these people and for me that’s the mark of good writing but it’s almost enough to make one queasy and I have a strong stomach. There is an exceptional amount of blood everywhere but almost worse is the vomit and rumbling stomachs. These gross people have been eating rotten mutton broth for what seems like weeks on end! The maid suspects it’s bad but keeps adding more salt to disguise the reek of rotten meat. I’m guessing this was because poppa Borden was too much of a cheapskate to let food go to waste.  But I wasn’t there so who knows.


Many people also have issues with the way the story was told and I get that too. It jumps around in time and can be quite confusing and the people telling the story seem quite confused themselves at times. The end of the book leaves a lot of questions unanswered but still I love reading about these people. I cannot explain exactly why. Their relationships are poisonous and mean but if you’re up for that maybe you’ll love it too!

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review 2018-03-20 17:10
DNF at 30% mark.
The Girls in the Picture: A Novel - Melanie Benjamin

I think I should have just read a biography of either or both of these women, because they led extremely interesting lives which the book managed to make fairly dull. I wanted way more about actually making movies, and less angsting about boys, and a lot of the writing felt overwrought and melodramatic. It kept skipping over actually making the movies and what that was like into other issues.


The author backed herself into this weird smarm corner of saying the main character was completely fine with gay people, and then immediately insisting that she didn't get lesbians at all because who doesn't like cock, amirite? By the way, the character really likes cock, and isn't gay at all. Look, I don't mind stories about two women having a friendship rather than a romance, but the notgaynotgaynotgay(but not homophobic!) dance got old a long time ago. I felt like I'd fallen into Xena gen fic from the '90s. At the same time, the author had the same characters not blinking at the racism in the industry in general and Birth of a Nation in particular. So I'm not sure why period-typical racism was okay, but period-typical homophobia was not?


I did like some of the discussion about being a woman in a male-dominated field, which mostly managed to stick to period language and not sounding like it was cut from modern day. But so much of it was telling not showing, as we very rarely see the dynamics on set, or the sets at all, just hear about them after the fact. I looked at some reviews to see if it picked up, but apparently the middle is even more draggy and about boys, so I bailed.

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text 2018-03-19 23:52
Reading progress update: I've read 120 out of 448 pages.
The Girls in the Picture: A Novel - Melanie Benjamin

Long section about how much both characters love and admire D.W. Griffith's Klansmen, or Birth of a Nation, which is mostly about its technical breakthroughs, and it's true, but I just got a lot about how awesome frigging Birth of a Nation is without mentioning you know, the whole thing. Which I guess is fair, because I'm pretty sure my main characters wouldn't have cared that it was really, really immensely racist due to being white women in 1915. And yet, I'm still not over it being Birth of a Nation!


Also way too much worrying about guys. I want to hear about making movies!

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text 2018-03-17 23:07
But totally not one of those lesbians!
The Girls in the Picture: A Novel - Melanie Benjamin

I have this on audiobook, so not bothering with the exact quote, but MC is at a party in 1914, and there's some dudes making out in the shadows, and she goes out of her way to say she's 100% A-OK with that, and with ladies making out, don't mind those lesbians, not at all, but she personally really misses her ex husband in her bed.


In a book about close bonds between women in the film industry, in a period notorious for its permissiveness, this feels like it's laying on the no homo a little thick.

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review 2018-03-17 23:05
A Lady Darby Mystery- Book 6...
A Brush with Shadows - Anna Lee Huber

Lady Darby a.k.a. Kiera Gage and her husband Sebastian Gage return to Sebastian's childhood home, Langstone Manor, at the request of his grandfather, Viscount Tavistock, to investigate the disappearance of his cousin Alfred. His family hinders their investigation from the start by either withholding information or misleading them so what should have been an easy inquiry turns in to much more that...


I enjoyed the story but I don't think the author used the Moors and the family curse to its full potential. Also, I've noticed in the last couple of books, especially this one, that the author doesn't give Kiera the opportunity to use her medical background. She's fell into more of a questioner role like Sebastian.  I kind of liked the series more when she applied her "knowledge of the macabre."


*I received this ARC from the Penguin Random House First-to-Read program in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!


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