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100 Random Questions

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Fun questionnaire I found online that killed my afternoon. If you use on your own site, please leave a link in the comments!

  1. Spotify, SoundCloud, or Pandora?
    Pandora (usually either on Classic Rock or Instrumental Soundtracks)
  2. Is your room messy or clean?
    Controlled chaos
  3. What color are your eyes?
    Gray with a hint of olive green
  4. Do you like your name? why?
    I go by a nickname I chose (Kaye) and I love my old-fashioned, classic full name, Katherine.
  5. What is your relationship status?
    As anyone who knows me should know—lifelong single
  6. Describe your personality in 3 words or less
    Sarcastic, pessimistic, supportive
  7. What color hair do you have?
    Nice ‘n’ Easy 4W/120B, Natural Dark Caramel Brown
  8. What kind of car do you drive? color?
    2013 Ford Escape
  9. Walmart or Target?
    Target
  10. How would you describe your fashion style?
    Lazy comfort
  11. Favorite social media account?
    Pinterest
  12. What size bed do you have?
    Full, on an antique bedstead
  13. Any siblings?
    One sister, two years older than me
  14. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? why?
    In a Nashville where there is no rushhour traffic, and where it doesn’t get above 85 degrees in the summer.😉
  15. Favorite Snapchat filter?
    Don’t use Snapchat
  16. Favorite makeup brand(s)
    NYX, Revlon, Cover Girl
  17. How many times a week do you wash your hair?
    Since I work from home, usually only every other day
  18. Favorite TV show?
    Criminal Minds
  19. Shoe size?
    10.5 (US), which is one of the hardest sizes to come by
  20. How tall are you?
    5’9″
  21. Sandals or sneakers?
    90% sneakers, 10% sandals
  22. Do you go to the gym?
    Um . . . I pay for a gym membership every month.
  23. Describe your dream date.
    October 22—a day when it’s clear that fall has good and truly arrived.😀
  24. How much money do you have in your wallet at the moment?
    $47.21
  25. What color socks are you wearing?
    Bright pink
  26. How many pillows do you sleep with?
    One, but it’s a body pillow, so it’s like sleeping with two or three
  27. Do you have a job? What do you do?
    My full-time job is as an academic editor for Northcentral University. My part-time job is as a freelance editor and fiction writer.
  28. How many Facebook friends do you have?
    223
  29. What’s the last thing you bought online?
    Two Northcentral University T-shirts and an NCU licence plate frame
  30. What’s your favorite candle scent?
    Autumn scents (cinnamon, spices) or citrus
  31. 3 favorite boy names
    William, David, Andrew
  32. 3 favorite girl names
    Julia, Katherine, Caylor
  33. Favorite actor?
    Oded Fehr
  34. Favorite actress?
    Katharine Hepburn
  35. Who is your celebrity crush?
    Which one?
  36. Favorite movie?
    Currently, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  37. Last book you finished?
    Dog on It by Spencer Quinn
  38. Money or brains?
    Brains
  39. Do you have a nickname?
    My grad school friends call me Kiki
  40. Have you ever had surgery?
    3x: left wrist, 1998 (remove a cyst from inside the carpal tunnel); lower back, 2003 (ruptured disc L4, bulging disc L5); right ankle, 2010 (twice–once to repair multiple breaks, again to remove one of the screws)
  41. 5 favorite singers/bands
    Whitesnake, Queen, Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, Steve Tyrell
  42. Do you take any medications daily?
    Too many to list here, both prescriptions and supplements
  43. What is your skin type? (oily, dry, etc.)
    Dry with eczema and psoriasis (currently controlled by medication)
  44. What is your biggest fear?
    Being alone for the rest of my life.
  45. How many kids do you want?
    None
  46. What’s your go-to hair style?
    Messy pixie
  47. What type of house do you live in? (big, small; new, old; modern; etc.)
    Small, old, without enough closet space—but it’s a house and not an apartment!
  48. Who is your role model?
    My mom
  49. What and when was the last compliment you received?
    Yesterday, that I have beautiful eyes
  50. What was the last text you sent?
    “Chip [my agent] is in my sights. Waiting to talk to him.”
  51. How old were you when you found out Santa wasn’t real?
    What? Santa isn’t real?!?!
  52. What is your dream car?
    The one I have, but with all the bells and whistles (foot-activated lift-gate, sun/moon roof, backup camera, auto parking assist, etc.—oh, and hybrid, too)
  53. Opinion on smoking?
    It’s gross and stupid (oh, and I’m extremely allergic)
  54. Where did you go to college? What is your degree(s) in?
    New Mexico State University (1 semester, major: Secondary Ed); Louisiana State University (5.5 semesters, major: Creative Writing, minor: history); Trevecca Nazarene University (BA, English, writing specialization); Seton Hill University (MA, Writing Popular Fiction)
  55. What is your dream job?
    Publisher of a university press
  56. Would you rather live in rural areas or the suburbs?
    Suburbs (more amenities)
  57. Do you take shampoo and conditioner bottles from hotels?
    Only if I’ve opened/partially used them—I find they’re usually a scent I’m allergic to, though
  58. Do you have freckles?
    Nope
  59. Do you smile for pictures?
    When I can’t avoid them, yes
  60. How many pictures do you have on your phone?
    182—most are stored on my computer
  61. Have you ever peed in the woods?
    Probably, when I was little and we lived in Alaska and actually had woods to go into.
  62. Do you still watch cartoons?
    Nope, ‘cuz they just don’t make them like they used to.
  63. Do you prefer chicken nuggets from Wendy’s or McDonald’s?
    I prefer chicken fingers from Zaxby’s
  64. Favorite dipping sauce?
    Texas Pete buffalo wing sauce mixed with Marzetti Ultimate Blue Cheese salad dressing
  65. What do you wear to bed?
    Tank top or cotton camisole with cotton-knit pajama pants
  66. Have you ever won a spelling bee?
    I have a hard time spelling out loud—I need to write it down.
  67. What are your hobbies?
    Does binge watching shows on Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu count as a hobby? No? Okay . . . knitting and crocheting, then.
  68. Can you draw?
    Yes, sort of.
  69. Do you play an instrument?
    I took piano lessons for about six months when I was in junior high. It wasn’t for me.
  70. What was the last concert you attended?
    Michael Buble, at least eight years ago.
  71. Tea or coffee?
    Coffee in the AM, iced tea the rest of the day, hot tea at night.
  72. Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts?
    Starbucks
  73. Do you want to get married?
    Yes, eventually
  74. What is your first crush’s first and last initial?
    J.A.
  75. If you’re a woman, would you/did you change your last name when you marry(ied)?
    Depends on what his last name is. I’ve had my last name for 45 years and counting. It would be hard to learn to go by another name after all these years.
  76. What color looks best on you?
    Purple.
  77. Do you miss anyone right now?
    My family.
  78. Do you sleep with your door open or closed?
    Because I live alone, I sleep with it open. When I’m anywhere else, I close the door.
  79. Do you believe in ghosts?
    No.
  80. What is your biggest pet peeve?
    Bad grammar.
  81. Last person you called.
    Mom and Dad (on Mom’s birthday, via Skype)
  82. Favorite ice cream flavor?
    Mint chocolate chip
  83. Regular oreos or golden oreos?
    Double-stuff
  84. Chocolate or rainbow sprinkles?
    Rainbow
  85. What shirt are you wearing?
    “We Are Nashville” T-shirt
  86. What is your phone background?
    Pink and purple stripes
  87. Are you an extrovert or an introvert?
    I’m an outgoing introvert.
  88. Do you like it when people play with your hair?
    Yes, though it never happens anymore now that it’s super short.
  89. Do you like your neighbors?
    For the most part, yes. I live in a great neighborhood.
  90. Do you wash your face? at night? in the morning?
    Usually only in the morning, except on the rare occasions when I wear makeup, and then I wash it as soon as I get home.
  91. Have you ever been high?
    Does laughing gas at the dentist count?
  92. Have you ever been drunk?
    Tipsy, but not full-out drunk.
  93. Last thing you ate?
    A dill pickle.
  94. Favorite lyrics right now.
    “Rise Up” from Hamilton
  95. Summer or winter?
    Autumn
  96. Morning or night?
    Night, defiitely!
  97. Dark, milk, or white chocolate?
    Caramel (with dark chocolate).
  98. Favorite month?
    October.
  99. What is your zodiac sign?
    Gemini
  100. Who was the last person you cried in front of?
    Probably my mom, but it’s been a while.

Books Read in 2016: ‘North and South’ by Elizabeth Gaskell (3 stars)

Friday, August 12, 2016

North & South by Elizabeth GaskellNorth and South
by Elizabeth Gaskell
My rating: 3 stars

Book Summary:
North and South depicts a young woman discovering herself, in a nuanced portrayal of what divides people, and what brings them together.

Elizabeth Gaskell’s compassionate, richly dramatic novel features one of the most original and fully-rounded female characters in Victorian fiction, Margaret Hale. It shows how, forced to move from the country to an industrial town, she develops a passionate sense of social justice, and a turbulent relationship with mill-owner John Thornton.

My GR Status Update(s):
06/10 . . .marked as: currently-reading

06/17 . . .13.0% Instead of a quiet, middle-aged clergyman, a young lady came forward with frank dignity . . . Her dress was very plain: . . . a dark silk gown, without any trimming or flounce; a large Indian shawl, which hung about her in long, heavy folds, and which she wore as an empress wears her drapery. . . . the simple, straight, unabashed look which showed that his being there was of no concern to the beautiful countenance…

Tea

06/19 . . .20.0% This scene. –>

06/22 . . .32.0% “Mother,” said he, stopping and bravely speaking out the truth, “I wish you would like Miss Hale.” | “Why?” asked she, startled by his earnest yet tender manner. “You’re never thinking of marrying her?—a girl without a penny.” | “She would never have me,” said he…

06/23 . . .41.0% “Mother–Mother!” cried he; “come down–they are gone, and Miss Hale is hurt!” He bore her into the dining room, and laid her on the sofa there… looking on her pure white face, the sense of what she was to him came upon him so keenly that he spoke it out in his pain: “Oh, my Margaret—my Margaret! No one can tell what you are to me! Dead–cold as you lie there, you are the only woman I ever loved! …”

06/24 . . .49.0% Death of Bessy Higgins. The character of Nicholas Higgins is much more rough/drunk/violent in the book than how he was written (and portrayed by Brendan Coyle) in the 2004 miniseries.

06/27 . . .marked as: read

My Review:
I usually enjoy the book more than the movie, but in this case I much prefer the miniseries to the book. Not only did the film adaptation manage to cut out a lot of info-dumps about the mills and the strike, it also managed to make Margaret a much more likable character.

Time to watch the film version!

North & South (Elizabeth Gaskell) Book Review | KayeDacus.com

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My rating matrix:
5 STARS = one of the best I’ve ever read
4 STARS = a great read, highly recommended
3 STARS = it was okay
2 STARS = I didn’t enjoy it all that much, not recommended
1 STAR = DNF (did not finish)

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Fun Friday (a little early): The ROGUE ONE Trailer Is Finally Here!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

What a Thursday night! Watched Simone Manuel come from behind for a gold medal in the women’s 100-meter freestyle, saw the new Rogue One trailer, and then was immediately treated to seeing Michael Phelps receive his most recent gold medal.

For me, this was the most important part of the evening:😉

Books Read in 2016: ‘The Curse of Lord Stanstead’ by Mia Marlowe (4 stars)

Thursday, August 11, 2016

'The Curse of Lord Stanstead' by Mia MarloweThe Curse of Lord Stanstead (The Order of the MUSE #1)
by Mia Marlowe
My rating: 4 stars

Book Summary:
London, 1819

When only seduction will do…

Wherever Cassandra Darkin goes, fire is sure to follow. It’s not until she’s swept into the arms of a handsome, infuriating stranger that she learns she’s responsible for the fires. As it turns out, Cassandra is a fire mage…and with her gift comes a blazing desire for sins of the flesh.

With his preternatural ability to influence the thoughts of others, Garrett Sterling is sent to gather Cassandra for the Order of the M.U.S.E. He’s entirely unprepared for his immediate attraction to the comely little firestarter. But it’s an attraction that he must quell, even as his body craves her touch and her fiery, sensual hunger.

For Garrett’s gift has a dark side…and the moment he begins to care too much for Cassandra, he knows he will doom her to an inescapable fate.

My GR Status Update(s):
05/30. . .marked as: currently-reading

06/07. . .60.0%

06/07. . .marked as: read

My Review:
I don’t usually read much paranormal romance—because I don’t really enjoy characters who are vampires or shape shifters or were-whatevers, and because I don’t like the fact that most of the ones I’ve been unfortunate enough to pick up have very little in the way of relationship development and rely on insta-lust and veer over into the erotica category.

So when I heard that this was paranormal romance that was more along the lines of X-Men mutants or superpowered Avengers or Sensory Extraordinaires (as they’re named in this book), I was willing to give PNR another chance.

And I’m so happy I did. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. While it struggles a few times to create its world along with developing its characters, it’s easily overlooked because the characters are so unique and the world Marlowe creates starts to feel as familiar as the worlds of the Marvel superheroes or the X-Men. But even better, it’s a romance and it’s set in the Regency era!

Now, there are a lot of people who read this who couldn’t stand Garrett Sterling, the hero. They felt he was a misogynist pig—but I didn’t see him that way. Even knowing that entering a physical relationship with Cassie (what she needs in order to be able to control her power as a fire mage) could end up consuming him, he’s still willing to make that sacrifice. Plus, his character is well developed enough that there are motivations and reasons for how he behaves, the way he thinks, and what he says—not the least of which is the fact that if he gets close to someone, he starts having nightmares about them that usually come true, resulting in his loved-one’s death. While he’s not a hero that I swooned over for days or weeks afterward (hello, Captain Wentworth), he’s also nowhere near the worst I’ve ever read (The Dragon from Uprooted comes to mind in the running for that title).

While the physical relationship between Garrett and Cassie develops pretty quickly, interestingly enough, Marlowe is able to take time in developing the emotional relationship between them. The physical relationship is a necessity—a safety valve.

Though this is the first book in the Order of the MUSE series, we don’t actually see the formation of this order. It exists prior to the opening of this book. Instead, we learn about the existing members both from seeing them trying to find Cassie and then as she becomes part of them. Lord Camden, the leader of the Order, can sense powered people, so he sends Garrett—Lord Stanstead—to get her. Why? Well, because Garrett’s gift is the ability to “send” his thoughts to others and be able to control them. But, of course, this doesn’t work with Cassie. Yes, it’s a bit cliché, but it still worked because it created a challenge for the overly confident Garrett that he’d never faced before which, in the long run, helped with his character growth and made him and Cassie right for each other.

Cassie has one or two TSTL moments, but those are out of the norm for her. Instead, she handles most of what comes her way with a delicate strength that is only occasionally a slight bit too modern for the era in which this is set (but aren’t most heroines of modern historical romances?).

I really enjoyed the way that both Cassie’s and Garrett’s gifts played into the ultimate climax and resolution of the mystery at the center of the plot. But I don’t want to give too much away here.

Looking forward to reading the other books in this series!

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My rating matrix:
5 STARS = one of the best I’ve ever read
4 STARS = a great read, highly recommended
3 STARS = it was okay
2 STARS = I didn’t enjoy it all that much, not recommended
1 STAR = DNF (did not finish)

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book (Partially) Read in 2016: ‘Secrets of a Proper Lady’ by Victoria Alexander (1 star, DNF)

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

'Secrets of a Proper Lady' by Victoria AlexanderSecrets of a Proper Lady (Last Man Standing #3)
by Victoria Alexander
My rating: 1 star (DNF)

Book Summary:
Lady Cordelia Bannister refuses to wed the man she has not chosen herself, no matter what her father decrees. So, pretending to be her own companion, she seeks out information about the designated groom by meeting with his secretary — a man who soon beguiles her. But Lady Cordelia doesn’t know the truth — the man she can’t resist is really her intended, Daniel Sinclair.

My GR Status Update(s):
04/13. . .marked as: currently-reading
04/21 . . .25.0%

04/30. . .42.0% DNFing at 42%. Finally giving up on this one when the author had the heroine, who is supposed to be an experienced travel writer with articles being published in all the British papers and magazines, call the Great Exhibition of 1851 the Great Exposition. This isn’t the only problem with this book, but it is the one that finally gave me the excuse I needed to stop forcing myself to try to finish it.

04/30. . .marked as: read

My Review:
The status update says it all.

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My rating matrix:
5 STARS = one of the best I’ve ever read
4 STARS = a great read, highly recommended
3 STARS = it was okay
2 STARS = I didn’t enjoy it all that much, not recommended
1 STAR = DNF (did not finish)

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Books Read in 2016: ‘Tempting Mr. Weatherstone’ by Vivienne Lorret (4 stars)

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

'Tempting Mr. Weatherstone' by Vivienne LorretTempting Mr. Weatherstone (Wallflower Weddings 0.5)
by Vivienne Lorret
My rating: 4 stars

Book Summary:
Penelope Rutledge longs for passion, but only with the man of her dreams: the brilliant, dashing Ethan Weatherstone. If only her longtime neighbor would open his eyes and realize how much she loves him. If only they weren’t best friends with so much at stake. Penelope knows her future—and their friendship—is in her hands, but is she willing to take the biggest risk of all on the man she loves?

If it were up to Ethan, life and love would be as predictable as the figures in his ledgers—certainly nothing like the adventures Penelope longs for. Yet his childhood friend has grown into a beautiful, feisty woman blissfully unaware of the danger she causes when near. Ethan knows he must save Penelope and her reputation … but can he save himself from the temptation of her lips?

My GR Status Update(s):
07/10. . .marked as: currently-reading
07/10. . .49.0%
07/13. . .marked as: read

My Review:
I love the friends-to-lovers trope in romance, whether historical or contemporary. One of the reasons I enjoy it so much is that there seems to be a lot more relationship development that happens with this trope—in other words, authors who use it don’t dive straight into the “throbbing members” and “moist-down-there” scenes of insta-lust. They take the time to establish the existing friendship first (even if there is an unrequited attraction on one side or the other) then show it developing into attraction/love.

While the characters here are a little too starkly and simply drawn (hero Ethan Weatherstone is too set in his ways, too rigid, too anti-change to be truly believable), in this case, it works pretty well, since it’s a novella and there isn’t a lot of room for too much nuance in the characterization. Lorret does a good job of establishing her H/H’s characterization and motivations early and then sticking to those throughout.

I keep wanting to use the descriptor “sweet” as I’m writing this, but for me, that term has a specific meaning when it comes to romance—that it’s “clean” (i.e., no explicit sex scenes). While the tone of this is sweet in the general meaning, it’s got some sensuality in it, too, which was well placed and didn’t overwhelm the narrative of the story by taking up too much of the word count.

This is a great introduction both to this author (for me) and to this series, which is now on my radar to be read in the future.

_______
My rating matrix:
5 STARS = one of the best I’ve ever read
4 STARS = a great read, highly recommended
3 STARS = it was okay
2 STARS = I didn’t enjoy it all that much, not recommended
1 STAR = DNF (did not finish)

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Books Read in 2016: ‘My Name is Mary Sutter’ by Robin Oliveira (2 stars)

Monday, August 8, 2016

My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin OliveiraMy Name is Mary Sutter
by Robin Oliveira
My rating: 2 stars

Book Summary:
Fans of Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks, Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier, and Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini will love this New York Times bestselling tale of the Civil War. Mary Sutter is a brilliant young midwife who dreams of becoming a surgeon. Eager to run away from recent heartbreak, Mary travels to Washington, D.C., to help tend the legions of Civil War wounded. Under the guidance of two surgeons, who both fall unwittingly in love with her, and resisting her mother’s pleas to return home to help with the difficult birth of her twin sister’s baby, Mary pursues her medical career against all odds. Rich with historical detail—including cameo appearances by Abraham Lincoln and Dorothea Dix, among others—My Name Is Mary Sutter is certain to be recognized as one of the great novels about the Civil War.

My GR Status Update(s):
07/13 . . .marked as: currently-reading

07/17 . . .21.0% While the characters have caught my interest, the writing style of this book (headhopping, flashbacks/major backstory dumps for several characters, and I just finished Ch. 4) is taking a little getting used to. So for right now, progress is slow going.

07/20 . . .35.0%
07/20 . . .marked as: read

My Review:
After having thoroughly enjoyed the PBS/Ridley Scott miniseries Mercy Street earlier this spring, I was excited about My Name is Mary Sutter after reading the book summary and a few of the more positive reviews of this book. I was hoping for something very similar in tone to Mercy Street, delving deeper into a character like that story’s Nurse Mary, while also not telling the exact same story.

In fact, the story has a similar set up for what I thought would be the romantic through-line of the story in that Mary Sutter meets a somewhat gruff young(ish) doctor in the first chapter (the rule of thumb for any romance plot to get that part of the plot rolling, even if it’s not technically a romance novel, which this one is not) who seems to be the perfect foil for her—there’s an obvious, growing attraction for her when we’re in his viewpoint, even though he’s married. (It’s quickly revealed that the marriage was a mistake and they’ve been separated almost from the wedding day.)

Mary, a trained midwife, wants to become a doctor. So she takes it upon herself to visit Dr. James Blevens to ask him to take her on as an apprentice, since the medical school in her hometown of in Albany, NY, won’t admit her. She’s read as many books as she can get her hands on, so her knowledge is extensive; but she lacks practical experience, which is what she wants from Dr. Blevens. This seems like the perfect setup for the story to come—he says no, the war starts, and he goes off for his “three-month” stint as an army surgeon (remember, no one expected the war to last long, so Lincoln put a call out for volunteers for three months at first). The war, of course, becomes Mary’s opportunity to learn what she needs in order to become a doctor.

We see “Mary Sutter” and “James Blevens” working side-by-side during a difficult delivery (a little more detailed than I was personally comfortable with, as were most of the medical scenes, but seemed very realistic, so kudos to Oliveira for doing her research) and then later, when Dr. Blevens helps transport this woman and her baby to Mary’s house to convalesce. Naturally, he’s invited to dinner by Mary’s mother, Amelia; and they’re joined at dinner by Mary’s twin sister, Jenny, and Jenny’s beau, “Thomas Fall.”

Let me stop here and address a few issues that came up early on and then continued throughout this novel for me:

1. Lack of Structure. As mentioned in my blog post on Chapter 1 of Scene and Structure, “The problem I’m having with Oliveira’s book is another one of mixed POV and seeming lack of structure. . . . And her narrative jumps around in time, dropping flashbacks into the middle of a scene of dialogue, or jumping back in time to tell someone’s entire backstory after leaving the previous chapter hanging at the end. And because this is not genre fiction (or, at least, it’s not structured as typical genre fiction), I’m having a harder and harder time trusting that the author is actually going somewhere with this story.” (This was around 20% into the novel—it didn’t improve.)

2. Head Hopping. Again, as mentioned in the above-linked blog post, I wrote: “Although I think Oliveira was trying to employ an omniscient POV, it’s actually more of a head-hopping style.” The viewpoint changes randomly from character to character with seemingly no logic or reason, which makes the lack of structure even worse, since as a reader, one cannot settle into a viewpoint and just go along for the ride . . . except for in those flashbacks, especially the ones that go on for far too long.

3. (Full) Name Calling. Oliveira has a weird habit of referring to characters by their full names: Mary Sutter. Amelia Sutter. James Blevens. Thomas Fall. Even within their own viewpoint! And it’s not as if they’re just being introduced at the beginning of a chapter or scene by their full name—it happens multiple times on a page. Then there’s the fact that Mary Sutter not only thinks of her mother by her first name, Amelia, she refers to her by her first name in dialogue.

4. The Sister Cliché. Mary Sutter is tall and gangly and not considered pretty. She’s brusque and has few social graces. Her twin sister (fraternal), however, is petite and pretty and the apple of everyone’s eye. Mary is useful while Jenny is decorative. Mary is practical while Jenny is romantic. Mary is sensible while Jenny is . . . well, you get where I’m going with that one. Not only does this cliché bother me, since there seemed to be no effort to go beyond these stereotypes, but it also bothered me because there was no reason for them to be twins, nor was there the need to set up the sisterly jealousy by having Thomas Fall first seem to be attracted to Mary and then fall for Jenny as soon as he met her.

5. There’s Something About Mary. However, even though Mary is described as too tall, gangly, mannish, unattractive, overbearing, acerbic, etc., every man who comes near her is automatically and inexplicably attracted to her.

As the book continues, even more viewpoints are introduced once Mary arrives in Washington, DC—Dorothea Dix, John Hays (aide to President Lincoln), President Lincoln, and more. Oh, and there’s another army doctor character introduced about halfway through who ends up playing a big role in the story, as well.

There’s a major lack of character development, as well as the development of relationships between characters. Mary Sutter wants to be a doctor because . . . she wants to be a doctor. That’s it. She wants to be a doctor. She does everything she can to learn how to be a doctor. The problem is, there’s no real motivation to it. She doesn’t seem to derive any pleasure out of what she does or what she learns throughout the book. She just wants to be a doctor. The best relationship development happens in about the first third of the book between Mary Sutter and James Blevens—and it’s mostly one-sided, on James’s side. And this isn’t just romantic relationships—there are occasional mentions of other nurses in the field hospitals, yet Mary has little to no interactions with any of them, and with few of the doctors other than Blevens and Stipp, as well. This lack of emotional connections keeps her a two-dimensional character who is at best boring and at worst unlikable.

Then, there are the scenes like this (beginning on p. 277):

In 1864, George McClellan, in his run as Democratic candidate opposite Abraham Lincoln, would complain that the failure of the Peninsular Campaign was due to many factors out of his control, including Lincoln’s great meddling in his plans, his failure to provide crucial reinforcements, the teeming hordes of Confederate troops, the inclement weather, the failure of the navy to properly defend the York River, the idiot mapmakers who mistook a river’s location that forced him to march miles out of his way, his recurring bouts of malarial fever due to the criminal lack of quinine, the abysmal roads which were nothing but a morass of mud, the swampy, nearly oceanic terrain, and finally, the wily Robert E. Lee, who decimated the Union troops in the last hopeless battle of Seven Days as they retreated down the Peninsula after the Union’s failure to seize Richmond. …

This is followed by at least another 200 to 300 words continuing this recitation of the research that Oliveira did. And this isn’t the only place this happens—it starts to happen with regularity throughout the last half of the book.

If I wanted to read nonfiction about the American Civil War, I would pull one of the many (many) nonfiction books on my shelves about the American Civil War (most from my days when I minored in it at LSU).

Just a sampling of the books used for the courses I took at LSU.

Just a sampling of the books used for the courses I took at LSU.

Then, there’s the ending. So disappointing! (Highlight paragraph to read spoiler) As mentioned before, the setup of this book was that somehow, even though he’s married in the beginning, Mary Sutter and James Blevens would end up together. Not only are their characters perfect for each other, but James is definitely attracted to her before he leaves for the war, and continues falling in love with her after they’re separated—he can’t stop thinking about her. But then the character of Dr. William Stipp comes along—a man more than twice Mary’s age (she’s in her early twenties, he’s in his fifties when we meet him) and for some strange reason, he ends up being the love interest.
Once I realized that was how the book would end, I pretty much gave up on even trying to enjoy it.

_______
My rating matrix:
5 STARS = one of the best I’ve ever read
4 STARS = a great read, highly recommended
3 STARS = it was okay
2 STARS = I didn’t enjoy it all that much, not recommended
1 STAR = DNF (did not finish)

View all my reviews on Goodreads

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