Category: Book Club

What I Watched: Game of Thrones

Between the new job and the family vacation, I have been slacking on my reading this month. I did manage to make my way through Love and Capital by Mary Gabriel, a biography of Karl and Jenny Marx. It was a reader recommendation, and I enjoyed it even though I didn’t get into it right away. I have never been interested in Karl Marx, which contributed to my “struggle” as it were; I get the sense that he was the kind of person who was more magnetic in person than, say, on the page, as reflected in other people’s words. Nevertheless, I really liked reading about the social and political milieu in which Marx moved; though I have read quite a bit about the Victorian era in England, I knew relatively little about what was happening during that time in the rest of Europe. From that perspective, the book was a solidly interesting read.

OK, it’s time. Game of Thrones, people.

I’m a bit late to this, seeing as how the season is already almost half over (sad face), but I couldn’t NOT write about my favourite show. Spoilers and speculation coming up!




OK, so here is the thing. We all know that Season 7 is short and that the story — with its various divergent lines — is coming to an end. That’s creating a sense of urgency that makes the episodes this season (so far) seem oddly muted and slow-paced. We’ve had exciting developments here and there, so I don’t think it’s an entirely fair impression, but I keep finding myself saying “GET ON WITH IT” to various characters on screen. The ice zombies are coming, for crissakes! Jamie needs to hurry up and fulfill that “little brother” prophecy and throttle Cersei because the whole war-for-the-Iron-Throne is taking up too much screen time. And, listen, I know; it’s not even that much. We had three big battles — which, in any other season, would have taken up 3 episodes by themselves — in the span of, like, 20 minutes tops. Again, in any other season, I would have loved to see this plotline unfold slowly because I have enjoyed the trajectory of Cersei. But at this point in time, does it matter? This is where I think the show erred; it spent too much time dragging things out in seasons 5 and 6, and now has to cram too much good stuff in a little more than a full season (over 2 years, blergh). I blame GRRM, and the promise of the book that still hasn’t materialized. The show writers should have struck out on their own, so to speak, earlier so that we could have gotten all of the war stuff out of the way earlier.


Dany and Jon. Fire and Ice. It’s the meeting we have all been anticipating for years, yes? Did it feel a little, um, anticlimactic to anyone else, or just me? Again, I enjoy a good slow build in normal circumstances, but it’s just killing me here. Of course, I am dying to see what these two characters bring out in each other and how that will impact the story, but Emilia and Kit’s chemistry did not bowl me over in episode 3. The most tangible emotion was Jon’s frustration at the fact that no one is taking the ice zombies seriously, so point to Kit on that one. Emilia does imperiousness well, but I hope we get to see some different takes from her soon.

Other quick thoughts:

– Damn, Lannisters are way better strategists than Targaryens. Still, this war needs to be over already. I do hope that Cersei gives Euron her special brand of queen’s justice before it’s all said and done, however. I hate that guy, and I don’t think he’s in the least interesting as a villain.

– Assuming that Jon ends up riding Rhaegal (named after his father), who is going to ride Viserion? My vote is still with Tyrion. There would be some nice symmetry there, since Viserys was a younger brother too.

– Bran needs to stop being creepy (and unnecessarily cryptic) if he wants to be useful in the least.

– I can’t wait for the Arya/Sansa reunion. I hope it goes better for poor Sansa than the Bran one … but I kinda doubt it.

– I also can’t wait for the Arya/Hound reunion. I cannot figure out how either of them fits into the bigger scheme of things at this point, and I CANNOT wait to find out.

– I still don’t care about Jorah, but Sam is about to confirm the R+L marriage, yes? Those old scrolls contain more than just paper mites is all I’m saying. Dany’s insistence on her birthright this episode convinced me. She’s going to have to deal with the realization that she is not the “rightful” heir after all. I think it’s going to be interesting to see where she goes from there.

– Of course, it will also be interesting to see Jon react to the truth of his parentage, but less so in the bigger scheme of things. A) I don’t think it will change who he is as a person or leader. B) I think Jon is never gonna sit on the Iron Throne. This is pure speculation on my part, but it’s been my theory ever since I read the ASOIAF books 4 years ago. I think Jon is the prophesied Prince Who Was Promised/Azor Ahai … and I think he will sacrifice himself to save Westeros in the end.

– Who will sit on the Iron Throne after the Night King is (hopefully) vanquished? I’m still not sure, but at this point, I think Sansa would probably make a better queen than Dany. Come at me?

OK, your turn: tell me all your GoT theories, spoilers/speculation, and thoughts on the new season. Winter is coming!

What I Read: Chick Lit Edition

I hate the term “chick lit”. I hate its dismissiveness, and I also hate that it works only too well in making me not want to read the things to which the label is affixed. I know that I need to work on that knee jerk reaction; in my mind, “chick lit” is stuff like the Shopaholic series (which I hated), and in reality, there is probably a huge variety of books which get labelled “chick lit” but which, nonetheless, I should not write off. Case in point: the Cazalet series by Elizabeth Jane Howard. I binge read all 5 volumes in less than a fortnight, and I quite enjoyed the experience. It was comfort reading at its best. I should mention that a few factors likely contributed to my enjoyment of it, and you should keep those in mind when deciding whether this might be a good recc for you. I am a sucker for the time period (1920-1950) and the genre (upper class family sagas). It reminded me of books like The Camomile Lawn and The Forsyte Saga. If you have read and enjoyed those, you will probably like these novels. There were parts I found a bit slow-going or dull, and characters I liked or cared about less, but it was easy enough to speed-read or skip those parts entirely, and pick up the plot later without any issues.

On a more personal note, the series reminded me of the Jalna books written by Mazo De La Roche. That’s probably not a name familiar to most of you, but she was a favourite writer of my grandmother’s long before we emigrated to Canada. I have fond memories of reading my grandmother’s translated Jalna books as a young teen, which detailed the lives of the Whiteoak family over the better part of a century. (There are over a dozen books in total, and you can still occasionally find them in thrift stores and the like. De La Roche was a hugely popular Canadian author back in the day, but she is hardly known nowadays. I did check Amazon, and it looks like there *was* a recent re-print of the series in about 2010.) I think my grandmother would have loved reading about the Cazalets, since stories about family dramas, secrets, and love affairs — nothing too graphic, but definitely “spicy” — were her favourite. My grandmother used to be a prolific reader, but she is 94 now, and in failing health; so there was a bitter sweetness in reading this series, and thinking of all the books to which she introduced me over the years.

Moving on to articles, can you handle yet another article about Millennials? This one posits that there are two types, those born before 1989 and those born after. As a 1980 baby, I will attest that growing up before the internet was a thing is a big part of my cultural context. I remember getting my first e-mail address when I started university in 1997, but I don’t think I actually started browsing the internet regularly until, literally, the 21st century. In fact, I was just reminiscing with a friend about how we used to register for classes back in those days by — wait for it — calling into the registration line (on our land lines, natch) and punching in the codes for the classes we wanted, praying that we hadn’t miscalculated the order (from most to least likely to fill out quickly). How far we’ve come since then! Of course, it feels like no time at all on my end, but in fact it’s been — gulp! — 20 years. I suddenly feel about as young as the cryptkeeper.

But speaking of technological advances, my binge-watching of John Oliver Last Week Tonight segments on YouTube sent me down an internet rabbit hole of articles about MLMs, which eventually led me to this older article on Racked from someone who tried selling Rodan + Fields. I will freely admit to being fascinated by MLMs, but what I found most interesting about this article was the author’s comments on why she felt uncomfortable with the idea of being a salesperson, a discomfort I share. I won’t lie; there have been times when I’ve felt tempted by some of the advertising pitches I’ve received through the blog, not to mention the lure of affiliate links. I’ve ultimately resisted them all, and most of the time I am perfectly content with that decision. I do occasionally fall into the trap of feeling somewhat inadequate for lack of a “side hustle”, but this article was a good reminder that being a “monetized influencer” would require me to take on an additional role (essentially, a salesperson) which probably isn’t a good fit for me. I wonder if that is a weird and outdated scruple in this day of pervasive social media marketing. If you are a blog reader, does it make a difference to you (in how you perceive the content of the blog or the blogger) if the blog is monetized? Do you feel like you’re being sold to, or is it just blog-reading business as usual? And if you have experiences being a “consultant” for an MLM, I would love to hear about that too!

Lastly, this is not an article per se, but Lainey`s coverage of the MET Ball is worth checking out if you haven`t already. I don`t always agree with her (and Duana`s) red carpet fashion takes, but I enjoy their analyses. This year, I think my fave Met look was Claire Danes — I thought it was wearable but still gave a nod to the theme. I also (oddly? it`s definitely not something I would wear) enjoyed Kerri Russell`s look and I agree with Lainey that she and Matthew Rhys make a very intriguing couple.

Have a great weekend!

What I Read: Netflix Redux

What have I been reading lately? Um, not much. Blame Netflix. It is the best/worst thing that has happened to me in recent memory. I am willingly risking sleep deprivation on the daily, unable to resists that “one more episode” lure every night. Nonetheless, I was able to finish All the Light We Cannot See and I really enjoyed it by the end. I grew very attached to Werner in particular, so the ending brought out all of the feels — not necessarily in a bad way, though I would not call it a heart-warming sort of ending a la Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Pie Society.

I also made my way through Crazy Rich, the Johnson & Johnson family saga. It was enjoyable in the way that biographies of the ultra rich tend to be – a kind of literary equivalent to reading Hello magazine – but it didn’t blow me away or anything. The Johnson are no Hiltons, let’s just say. A book of this kind is always better if Zsa Zsa Gabor is somehow involved.

As for what’s next, I have a long list of book in my bedside stash (it’s at least a foot tall), but none of them are calling my name quite as loudly as British TV — only reason I even have time to write this post is because Netflix does not carry all of the shows I am desperate to watch. Ahem. Next in the reading queue is probably We Two, a biography focused on Victoria & Albert’s marriage. It was recommended by one or two BCRL readers, so I have high hopes for it.

Since we may as well stop pretending this isn’t turning into a “What I Watched” post, here’s a quick rundown of my recent binges.

  • Death Comes to Pemberley, the mini-series adaptation of the P.D. James mystery novel. I highly, highly recommend both. As you know, I am a huge James fan, and this novel (based on the Austen characters from Pride & Prejudice) is perfection. I wish James had turned her pen to the other Austen novels as well. I would read all the mysteries featuring my fave Austen heroes and heroines. The mini series is also fantastic – beautifully shot (seriously, it perhaps the best looking P&P-related adaptation), wonderfully acted. Matthew Rhys is not my version of a dreamboat Darcy, but I think he captured the essence of the character so well. Ditto for Anna Maxwell Martin who played Elizabeth. Their relationship dynamic rang so true — they came alive as flesh and blood, regular people, not merely these iconic characters.
  • Oh, did I mention Matthew Goode plays Wickham? Yeah, so that sent me down a Matthew Goode rabbit hole (that sounds wrong but you know what I mean), which involved some truly terrible movies, season 6 of Downton Abbey, and then finally the mini series Dancing on the Edge. It was a bit odd in that I was expecting it to be an “inside showbiz” story when in fact it was basically a mystery (with a really, really obvious whodunit), but the acting was top notch. Chiwetel Ejiofor was superb. There were a bunch of familiar faces in it — hello, Anthony Head (aka Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Jenna Coleman (Victoria), and Tom Hughes, again. [Sidenote: British TV is incredibly incestuous. Jenna Coleman was also in Death Comes to Pemberley, playing Lydia. So, she got to pretend-shag Matthew Goode twice, lucky duck. Wikipedia tells me that most of the people on this show have, in fact, worked with each other in at least one other project. Playing 6 degrees of “British equivalent of Kevin Bacon” must be incredibly easy.]
  • Watching rich & aimless young people make a muck of their (and others’) lives in Dancing on the Edge made me want to go back to re-watch Bright Young Things with Emily Mortimer and Stephen Campbell. Also, baby James McAvoy. Well, ok, not literally a baby but definitely baby-faced. (I now feel really old because I remember this movie from back in the day). It’s a good show, definitely worth a watch (or two). I’m thinking someone somewhere is probably about to re-make this movie (based on Evelyn Waugh’s Vile Bodies). I’m already looking forward to the recasting possibilities.
  • Pemberley also introduced me to James Norton, and may I say it was an introduction that was greatly overdue. Ahem. Netflix sadly does not stream Grantchester, but I am not easily discouraged when seized of an idea. I have procured season 1 from Amazon, and will surely post an update next week.
  • I also watched the “Nosedive” episode of Black Mirror because, hello, James Norton. And good-bye; seriously, he was in the episode for all of 2 minutes. Boo. Anyway, it was an interesting premise, but the whole thing gave me terrible social media anxiety, and I ain’t got time for getting meta about social media. I do wish someone would teach me how to do my eyeliner like Bryce Dallas Howard, though. That’s some #goals right there.

That’s it … for now. As always, leave me your Netflix (and book!!) recc’s in the comments.

Finally, here are a couple interesting articles. Are younger generations reverting to old-fashioned gender norms? Click-baity topic, but some interesting theories in this article. I am familiar with the difficulties facing two working parent families, and I have ALL the sympathy for people who take them on without the support of extended family, but I am not sure that going back to “traditional” gender norms is the answer either. I think society as a whole still has a long way to go in adjusting to the changes that have been happening over the last 20-30 years. The paradigm is shifting (more or less quickly in different countries) but it seems to me that much work still has to be done; it sucks for those of us caught in the trenches, but for me the answer is to push on, rather than look back.

If you’re a PF nerd like me, you might enjoy this article that looks at median and average net worth across various demographics (US and Canada). What I found most interesting is towards the bottom of the page; there are tables showing average, good, excellent, and “rich” net worth by age group. I often wonder how my husband and I stack up to our peers in terms of financial health, if you will, and this gave me a pretty good idea, especially once I adjusted the numbers for my location using the link to the Cost of Living index. (Side note: it was also interesting to find out that the cost of living here in Edmonton is about half the cost of living in New York. That’s not bad, although, honestly, it probably should be even lower. It snows in April here, people! Ah, don’t mind me, I’m just bitter.)