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review 2018-12-15 20:59
Talk Sweetly to Me (Brothers Sinister #4.5)
Talk Sweetly to Me (The Brothers Sinister) (Volume 5) - Courtney Milan

The final story in the Brothers Sinister series centers on Stephen Shaughnessy, who has the barest of connections ever to the core three Brothers Sinister - he writes the "Actual Man" column for Free's newspaper, and Free is Oliver's half-sister. So really, no relation at all. Stephen's a carefree chap, but I didn't get the sense from the last book that he was an unrepentant lady's man. Oh, no, don't get me wrong. He doesn't pursue all those women he sleeps with. They pursue him. So it's okay. *rolls eyes* (Really, he’s a giant goober, lol.)

 

Here he's paired up with Rose Sweetly, who we've never met previously. She's staying with her pregnant sister, Patricia, who's doctor husband is off on tour with the British army. Rose also works with an astronomer as his computer - this being back when computers were people, mostly women, who did the mathematics for scientists. Rose is indeed sweet, dedicated to her job and astronomy and her sister - and keeping a proper public profile. Because you see, she's black, and that comes with a whole heap of issues when dealing with middle-class life in Victorian England.

 

There is some effort to detail what sorts of challenges Rose and her sister face, but this is just really too short to delve into them much. Most of it centered around her sister's pregnancy and the raging d-bag of a doctor she has to put up with.

 

Rose is insistent throughout nearly the whole novella to keep her attraction to Stephen under wraps because she knows how easily and quickly her reputation could be destroyed by mere association with Stephen. Most of her concern seems to be based on Stephen's reputation as a lady's man, with no consideration to her own social and racial issues. It almost seems as if Ms. Milan was unaware of the stereotype about WOC being overly promiscuous and wanton, that Rose would already be fighting against that stigma in her every interactions with men, much less one who is known to be a player. It felt a little superficial.

 

Anyway, Stephen's a fun guy and Rose is an earnest young woman. We spend more time with Rose's POV than with Stephen's, so it was hard sometimes to guess his reaction to things. I did love his attempts to flirt with bad math puns, and that he took the time to learn more about her interests. I especially liked that he didn't even hesitate to help her sister after Rose rejected him.

 

But...I don't know. This is sort of the same issue I had with A Kiss for Midwinter and I'm going to try to keep it from getting rambly.

There are many ways for a woman to be empowered and not all of them include having sex. Very few of them do actually. But here we are again with a woman giving up her principles and giving into hormones whereas the man doesn't have to compromise at all - the Sandra Dee effect, if you will. There's no reason that sex scene couldn't have been in an epilogue after they were married, you know? Not to mention that French letters were hardly equivalent to modern-day condoms but are treated in these stories as if they're fool-proof when really they're just better than nothing. And I'm not saying that Rose should have conducted herself in any specific way because of idiotic stereotypes, far from it, but given her characterization up to that point, coupled with her exhaustion and emotional vulnerability from being up all night with her laboring sister, did make this a little weird for me. It didn't feel intimate at all to me, but felt more like it's just what the story demanded, so it happened.

(spoiler show)

Okay, that got a little rambly, and I'm not sure it made much sense, but there you go.

 

So as I said, this needed to be longer to make me really buy this resolution and this pairing, cute as they were together.

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review 2018-12-15 03:23
The Suffragette Scandal (Brother's Sinister #4)
The Suffragette Scandal - Courtney Milan

Frederica "Free" Marshall has been a delight from the first moment she graced a page in this series, and here we get to see the kind of woman she's grown up to be: an investigative reporter running her own newspaper, written by women for women. She takes her fierce spirit with her like a shield as she uncovers injustices and campaigns for women's right to vote.

 

Edward Clark is a scoundrel with a past he'd sooner forget and charm oozing out the wazoo. He's determined to save a friend from the machinations of his brother and is willing to use Free to do it. Only Free doesn't cooperate, even when he mansplains the futility of her goals - and he finds out he's no match for Free. 

 

Once again, Ms Milan finds a couple of protags who are evenly balanced for each other. They're both struggling with their paths in life, but while Edward has succumbed to the dark side of the force, Free embraces the light. She pulls Edward kicking and screaming into the light with her. Of course, he is a scoundrel and isn't telling her everything. Now, all of the books in this series involve a secret of one of MCs or the other, but the truth has always been spilled before anything physical happens. That's not the case here, so that kind of dampened the intimacy here for me. The resolution was also a little too neat and quick. I still really enjoyed this though and watching Edward falling hopefully for Free despite his efforts not to was a treat.

 

There was also a small f/f subplot with Amanda, who we met in The Countess Conspiracy, and an implication of a gay relationship between a couple of minor characters in a "squint and you'll miss it" or maybe even a "YMMV" kind of way.

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review 2018-11-25 01:13
A Dance With Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire #5)
A Dance with Dragons - George R.R. Martin

Look, Martin, we need to talk. This book came out in 2011. I bought the 5-book bundle in 2013 (on a super sweet Black Friday deal too) and then I waited over two years to start reading this monster of a series. I started A Game of Thrones in Jan 2016 and now here I am finishing A Dance With Dragons in Nov 2018 - AND YOU STILL HAVEN'T FINISHED WINDS OF WINTER! WHAT THE HELL, MAN?

 

Because let me tell you something about my boy Jon Snow. He is

Azor Ahai reborn, dammit, and so there is no way he can possibly be dead. If he does die, Melisandre's just going to have to resurrect him so he can behead all those assbutts who betrayed him in full-on Stark mode, and that's all there is to it. I will not accept any other outcome.

(spoiler show)

So there! Also, it'll really piss off Catelyn, so bonus points.

 

Also, what is your obsession with cannibalism? Please stop. Thanks!

Unless it's more Frey pies. Then I'm okay with it. ;) Because screw the Freys.

 

(spoiler show)

 

Okay, all that aside, here's a list of people you are allowed to kill off in the next book:

 

Ramsay Bolton

Victarion Greyjoy

Roose Bolton

Euron Greyjoy

Ser Robert Strong, aka FrankenGregor

Cersei Lannister

Qyburn

I know there are plenty of other candidates for this list, but these are my top choices.

(spoiler show)

 

Seriously, y'all. This book and A Feast For Crows were both a dragging headache and the most brutal thing I've read. Martin has this way of taking characters I despise and making me feel unending empathy for them to the point I'm actually rooting for them (Jaime and Theon) or at least feeling kinda sorry for them while still hoping that they die soon because they are the WORST EVER (Cersei). And while I want Dany to get the hell out of Meereen already, I'm still endlessly fascinated by the chapters set there and seeing how she navigates (sometimes well, but mostly unsuccessfully) leadership and politics. She and Jon have similar journeys here, and while they both have no idea what they're doing, they're both doing the best they can.

 

And the dragons! OMG, I was starting to worry that title was one big troll, but the dragons are amazing. Moqorro's the troll, if you ask me. At least I hope he is, because if anyone here needs to die worse than the rancid slime turd that is Ramsay, it's that decaying dick worm Victarion (and his brother but Euron wasn't in this book).

 

Arya's still kicking names and taking ass, Tyrion got a little dark here but it was interesting to see him trying to navigate the world without relying on his name, and Bran just broke my heart. Rickon, the forgotten Stark, is still MIA. Davos, my Onion Knight, 

is not dead. I KNEW IT!

(spoiler show)

and even though I despise nearly all the Ironborn, I do enjoy Asha's POV. She's most the decent of the bunch, after the Reader. Melisandre's still shady as hell. All these prophecies and conspiracies and subterfuges and whatnot - Martin's walls must be covered in post-it notes to keep this all straight. I don't know how the man does it.

 

I still think A Storm of Swords is the best of the bunch so far, but I'm going to try reading these last two books in chronological order when I do a reread and see if that helps with some of the pacing issues or makes them worse, lol.

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text 2018-11-18 17:47
Reading progress update: I've read 90%.
A Dance with Dragons - George R.R. Martin

GODDAMMIT I HATE IT WHEN I'M RIGHT GAH!

 

 

DFJADS;LKJDSAK;GHDFKLADLS;KFJALSDFJHASL

 

*sobbing in denial*

 

Jon is NOT dead! And he's not Cesar, you regurgitated mealworms! "For the Watch" my ass!

(spoiler show)
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text 2018-09-15 06:20
Reading progress update: I've read 49%.
A Dance with Dragons - George R.R. Martin

My "Ramsay Bolton needs to die in a fire" checklist:

 

1) Cut out your tongue, grind it up and eat it, so you are literally swallowing your own tongue.

2) Roll around in some acid. Go on. It'll be fun!

3) And then impale yourself on a spike through your nads and let them fall off from festering puss.

4) Then skin your ding-a-ling and watch it shrivel.

5) Then, and only then, die in a fire. Preferably of the wildfire variety.

5a) Take dear old daddy with you.

 

In happier but no less disturbing news: Lord Manderly + pies = OTP. I see what you did there, you diabolical, culinary genius. ;)

 

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