The Monday Check-In ~ 3/30/2020

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

Life.

Hey, hey, check out my groovy home office! I’m not really as techie as this makes me look — The laptop and one monitor are for work, and the other monitor is connected to my home computer. (Yup, that’s the one with Goodreads up on the screen!)

It’s been an insane week, and an even more insane weekend. I don’t talk about my day job too often here on my blog, but I work in HR, and this week a lot of stuff came to a boiling point. ‘Nuff said.

I’m hoping that by next weekend, I can actually have a weekend!

What did I read during the last week?

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune: 100% loved this book! My review is here.

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert: Parts of this audiobook were super cute, and parts were absolutely cringe-worthy. My review is here.

The Honey-Don’t List by Christina Lauren: Light, fluffy fun. My review is here.

Pop culture — Outlander, season 5:

My brain was ready to explode by Sunday night, so I did not even watch the new Outlander episode yet! If that doesn’t tell you what kind of week I had, nothing will.

Other TV watching:

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist is just the cutest thing ever! Okay, sure, the plot doesn’t totally make sense (young professional suddenly starts hearing everyone’s innermost thoughts as songs that they sing and dance to her), but it’s really, really fun and upbeat. And the music is amazing!

Also, my son decided that he finally wanted to watch The Witcher, and I was happy to agree to keep him company while he watched. Now I have an excuse to bask in the glory of Geralt and Yennefer again… and to sing “Toss A Coin To Your Witcher” at every waking moment.

Fresh Catch:

No new books this week.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

The Book of Koli by M. R. Carey: Just getting started. I love the strange world-building so far, but I’m afraid that this book might take more concentration than I’m capable of right now. Deep breaths…

Now playing via audiobook:

Beartown by Fredrik Backman: Also just starting — I haven’t had time to listen for the past couple of days, so I may have to start again from the beginning. But I’m excited to finally read/listen to this book!

Ongoing reads:

The Space Between by Diana Gabaldon: The latest in Outlander Book Club’s group read-alongs. Almost done.

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes: My book group’s newest classic read is now underway. We’re reading and discussing two chapters per week.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 3/23/2020

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

Life.

Well, that’s one week of sheltering in place! Who knows how many more to go… I hope everyone is staying safe and cozy and healthy at home, with lots and lots of books to keep you company.

What did I read during the last week?

Hearts of Oak by Eddie Robson: Loved it! So weird and amazing. My review is here.

Becoming by Michelle Obama: Incredibly powerful and inspiring. My review is here.

Smoke Bitten (Mercy Thompson, #12) by Patricia Briggs: I love this series, and this new book was exactly what I needed this week! My review is here.

Read but not reviewed:

Nevertheless, She Persisted: This e-book freebie is a collection of flash fiction by some amazing writers, all starting with those famously awful words: She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted. Definitely worth checking out!

Alone With the Stars by David R. Gillham: This Audible original was free last month, and I’m glad I gave it a try! This brief story (under 3 hours) cuts back and forth between Amelia Earhart on her final flight and a teen-aged girl in Florida who picks up her distress signals. It’s moving and nicely narrated — and made me want to find more to read about Amelia Earhart.

Pop culture — Outlander, season 5:

Here’s my latest Outlander reaction post:

Episode 506, “Better To Marry Than Burn” (3/2/2020) – here

Other TV watching:

My son and I watched Jumanji: The Next Level, and you know what? It’s a perfect diversion for these crazy days. We laughed. A lot.

A Quiet Place was so creepy! I’m glad we watched during the day while the sun was shining.

And…. I watched To All The Boys – PS I Still Love You. It was cute, but considering how much I loved the first movie, this one was just okay.

Fresh Catch:

Thanks, Orbit, for sending me this:

Can’t wait to get started!

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune: Really fun so far. And another book with a terrific cover!

Now playing via audiobook:

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert: Sometimes, light and sweet is exactly what’s needed. Even though it’s a little more explicit than I tend to prefer in my romance stories.

Ongoing reads:

The Space Between by Diana Gabaldon: The latest in Outlander Book Club’s group read-alongs. A very fun re-read.

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes: My book group’s newest classic read is now underway. We’re reading and discussing two chapters per week.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

Insta-Reaction: Outlander, Season 5, Episode 6

Season 5 is here! I’ll be writing an “Insta-Reaction” post for each episode soon after viewing, to share some initial thoughts, questions, reactions — you name it.

Warning:

Spoilers

I may be talking about events from this episode, other episodes, and/or the book series… so if you’d rather not know, now’s your chance to walk away!

Outlander, episode 506: “Better To Marry Than Burn”

The official synopsis (via Starz):

At Jocasta’s wedding, Jamie learns Tryon’s true motivation for ending the Regulator threat.

My take:

Major plot points:

A wedding, locusts, and make-up sex in a barn. What more do you need to know?

In a bit more detail:

  • Jocasta is going through with her plan to marry Duncan Innes, despite a last minute plea from Murtagh to wait for him.
  • We learn more about Jocasta’s past back in Scotland.
  • Jamie and Claire get a lead on a connection to Stephen Bonnet, from the odious Philip Wylie.
  • Claire and Jamie fight, then have the aforementioned make-up sex in a barn.
  • On the Ridge, a plague of locusts descends, but Roger rises to the occasion and saves the day.
  • Governor Tryon is aiming for a transfer to New York, but meanwhile, he plans to defeat those pesky Regulators once and for all — this time, on the battlefield.

Insta-reaction:

We open in Scotland, 1746, just after the battle of Culloden, as Hector Cameron, wife Jocasta, and daughter Morna are on a mad dash to escape. An unfortunate interception by a pair of redcoats puts their load of gold at risk, and as shots are fired, the British soldiers and Morna are all killed. Hector drags Jocasta from Morna’s dead body and they continue their escape. Brutal!

Back in the main storyline of the show, it’s the eve of Jocasta’s wedding, a lavish affair at River Run. First, she signs legal paperwork making little Jemmy her heir. Guests arrive, and it’s all very fancy and posh. Duncan seems like a nice enough man — maybe wealthier and with property, as compared to book Duncan — but it’s not a love match for Jocasta by any means.

Lord John is among the wedding guests, being panted over by all the single society girls. Governor Tryon may be awful, but I do love his wife. Philip Wylie is gross and awful, coming on to Claire in a gross and awful way, and later trying to get physical with her — which she fights off very proficiently, but then Jamie appears being all “grrrrrr, unhand my wife” and things get even more tense.

Rather than stab the man with his pointy little knife, Jamie challenges him to a card game. He bets Claire’s wedding rings, which pisses her off. Jamie insists it’s all for Bree’s sake, because Wylie has a connection to Bonnet, and they’re trying to find a way to meet with him so Jamie can take revenge.

After winning the card game, a very drunk Jamie finds Claire in the stables, where the hot barn sex happens. Oh, these two. They’ve definitely still got it.

Back on the Ridge, we get what I hope will be an every-episode glimpse of adorable Adso, playing with something on the floor that turns out to be a locust. Uh oh. That’s not good. The people of the Ridge are in a panic about the oncoming swarm and want to burn all the fields, which Roger is sure is a terrible idea. He remembers a story from his childhood, which inspires him to use smoke to drive away the locusts instead. His efforts work, and suddenly he’s a hero! All the men who’d doubted him before are now fans. Yay, Roger!

There’s a tear-filled scene between Murtagh and Jocasta the night before her wedding. He asks her to wait for him, and she explains that she’ll never pledge herself to another man who loves his cause more than he loves her. Not only does she believe Hector’s devotion to the Jacobite cause cost her her daughter Morna, it turns out that her two other daughters died in the aftermath of Culloden as well. For a woman who usually comes across as hard as nails, it was a touching and very sad scene.

And we end with Tryon telling Jamie to gather up the militia and get ready for battle. This is not good. Neither is the parting shot of slimy lawyer Neil Forbes telling Stephen Bonnet that “his” son now owns River Run.

Insta-reaction wrap-up:

There’s absolutely no fall-out from last week’s murder. So, apparently devout Catholic Jamie isn’t much bothered by the sin of taking a life? Show, this makes no sense, but okay, sweep it under the rug if you must.

I liked the contrast of the fanciness of the River Run party and the desperate, sweaty work of trying to save the crops and the settlement on the Ridge. It was nice to see Brianna and Roger working together, and to see Roger coming out on top for once.

As for Jocasta and Murtagh… well, we all wondered whether Murtagh’s role in the show would replace Duncan’s, and now we know. So Jocasta has herself a new husband, and Murtagh is heading back to be a rebel leader.

At least Claire and Jamie are happy! For now.

It’s been at least 5 or 6 years for me since I read The Fiery Cross, so I’m quite fuzzy on the details of what happens in the book and when. But I remember enough to know that next week’s episode is going to be very, very bad for the Frasers and Mackenzies.

 

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The Monday Check-In ~ 3/16/2020

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

Life.

It’s hard to focus on reading and blogging when real-life feels like something out of a sci-fi novel. So while reading is always my favorite distraction, I was actually too distracted to do more than a bit of reading this week.

What did I read during the last week?

The Deep by Alma Katsu: I’d been so looking forward to this book… but unfortunately, just didn’t enjoy it very much. My review is here.

The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt by Andrea Bobotis: My book group’s pick for March — which I actually managed to finish before our discussion date! My review is here.

Pop culture — Outlander, season 5:

Hey, hey — go me! I actually watched Outlander early enough on Sunday that I was able to write up my reaction post the same day! So, here’s the latest:

Episode 505, “Perpetual Adoration” (3/15/2020) – here

And here are my posts for the earlier episodes:
Episode 504, “The Company We Keep” (aired 3/8/2020) – here.
Episode 503, “Free Will” (aired 3/1/2020) – here.
Episode 502, “Between Two Fires” (aired 2/23/2020) – here.
Episode 501, “The Fiery Cross” (aired 2/16/2020) – here.

Other TV watching:

I finished my Gilmore Girls binge! Whew. What a ride! And I have feelings about it all, which I’ll attempt to write up sometime this week. I’m going to take a little pause before watching A Year in the Life… I think I need to allow a little time to pass.

Fresh Catch:

No new books this week… unless you count the few new Kindle books I scooped up!

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Hearts of Oak by Eddie Robson: Just started late Sunday — it sounds weird and wonderful, and I love the cover!

Now playing via audiobook:

Becoming by Michelle Obama: Excellent! I have just a few hours of listening left.

Ongoing reads:

The Space Between by Diana Gabaldon: The latest in Outlander Book Club’s group read-alongs. A very fun re-read.

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes: My book group’s newest classic read is now underway. We’re reading and discussing two chapters per week.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

Insta-Reaction: Outlander, Season 5, Episode 5

Season 5 is here! I’ll be writing an “Insta-Reaction” post for each episode soon after viewing, to share some initial thoughts, questions, reactions — you name it.

Warning:

Spoilers

I may be talking about events from this episode, other episodes, and/or the book series… so if you’d rather not know, now’s your chance to walk away!

Outlander, episode 505: “Perpetual Adoration”

The official synopsis (via Starz):

Jamie and his militia arrive at Hillsborough to learn that Governor Tryon has proposed a rather unorthodox solution to deal with the threat posed by the Regulators and to resolve the growing political crisis.

My take:

Major plot points:

It’s Adso, y’all! Can we just ignore the rest of the episode and focus on this adorable ball of grey fur?

No?

Okay… here’s what happened in this episode:

  • We spend some time with Claire back in the 1960s, after Frank’s death but before her trip to England and Scotland when she discovered that Jamie had survived Culloden. She has an encounter with a patient that has had a huge impact on her.
  • In the main timeline of the show, Jamie and his militia ride into Hillsborough, only to discover that the governor is pardoning all the Regulators.
  • Lt. Knox learns about Jamie’s past and his connection to Murtagh… and Jamie straight up murders him!
  • Claire performs tonsil surgery on the Beardsley twins, after discovering that she’d finally made penicillin.
  • Bree and Roger have some trouble over Bonnet, but they work it out.
  • Jamie comes back to the Ridge WITH ADSO. So he and Claire can have the cutest reunion ever.

Insta-reaction:

Okay, I just need to say this.

JAMIE FRASER IS NOT A MURDERER.

Maybe the show thought it was adding intrigue and tension, but I do not for a minute believe that MY Jamie would have murdered Lt. Knox like that. He might have tried to get the papers from him, or mislead him, or do something sly to throw him off his track, but Jamie has too much honor to behave as he did in this episode.

Ugh.

Here’s where keeping Murtagh alive (instead of having him die at Culloden, as he did in the books) is starting to backfire. Once Murtagh showed up as the leader of the Regulators, I knew this could not be good for the story. Sure, it’s dramatic having godfather and godson on opposite sides, but it felt like a reinvention of Murtagh’s character to me, and is leading to Jamie acting in ways that Jamie never would. I’m more than annoyed by this turn of events. And then Jamie goes back to the Ridge and is all smiles and happiness when he sees Claire — no soul-searching or tormenting himself over the sin he just committed? This is not working for me. At all.

But other than that…

I pretty much liked Claire’s storylines in this episode — her ruminations on the nature of time, and how all things connect. How if she hadn’t encountered her Scottish patient, Graham Menzies, and then ended up taking a leave of absence after his death, her path would not have intersected with Roger’s, and she might never have made her way back to Jamie again. And the ripples go on from there — Bree and Roger wouldn’t have met, Bree might never have learned the truth about her father, and she and Jamie would never have had the opportunity to know one another and form a relationship.

Marsali is so full of win on this show. Her adorableness over the penicillin was superb. The surgery scene was gross but great, and I think Lizzie’s face was probably all of us at the moment when Kezzy was wide awake and Claire was cauterizing his throat.

Can we just ignore the whole Regulator storyline? Basically, the governor is going to pardon all the Regulators except Murtagh, who is public enemy #1 and must be caught and hanged for treason. Great. And then there’s the Ardsmuir business and the murdering business, and I just get mad again.

On the home front, Roger and Bree get cuddly, but later fight when he finds the gemstone Bonnet gave to Bree at the jail and learns that a) Bonnet is alive and b) Brianna told Bonnet that the baby she was carrying was his. And how dare she, when she’s never said as much to Roger? I think Roger was a bit of a jerk here, to be honest. He’s not the victim! Eventually, they make up, and Roger talks again about going back to their own time, once they figure out if Jemmy can time travel. Which is not a bad idea — because let’s be real, they’re really not safe where they are.

So yeah, I’ll stop talking about how pissed off I was by the end of the episode and just focus on what’s important, i.e., all the cuteness of Adso.

Insta-reaction wrap-up:

Why, show, why did you do this to Jamie? I don’t like what this might mean for the plot going forward, and I don’t believe that good, honorable Jamie would behave the way he did in this episode.

So, all the cuteness and Claire’s medical victory and the glimpses of the past/future are pretty much overshadowed for me by the murder.

Although I did really dig seeing mod 60s Dr. Claire again!

And three cheers for The Impetuous Pirate!

 

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Insta-Reaction: Outlander, Season 5, Episode 4

Season 5 is here! I’ll be writing an “Insta-Reaction” post for each episode soon after viewing, to share some initial thoughts, questions, reactions — you name it.

Warning:

Spoilers

I may be talking about events from this episode, other episodes, and/or the book series… so if you’d rather not know, now’s your chance to walk away!

Outlander, episode 504: “The Company We Keep”

The official synopsis (via Starz):

Roger leads Jamie’s militia to the trading post of Brownsville and finds himself embroiled in a bitter feud. Jamie and Claire arrive to find that Roger’s unusual strategy may have cost them the loyalty of the militia.

My take:

Major plot points:

  • Roger leads the militia into Brownsville, kicking off a local feud.
  • Claire and Jamie consider what to do with Fanny Beardsley’s baby.
  • Roger has mixed results as a captain of the militia.
  • Brianna suspects that Bonnet is around, and is scared to death.
  • Jamie sends Claire back to the Ridge with the Beardsley twins to do some doctoring.

Insta-reaction:

Once again, I’ll keep things on the brief side.

This episode mainly takes place in the (dismal and depressing) town of Brownsville, founded and led by the Brown brothers, Richard and Lionel. We don’t know much about them at this point, but they don’t exactly come across like sunshine and roses. (And if you’ve read A Breath of Snow and Ashes, you’ll forgive me for feeling a deep hatred for them as soon as they appeared in this episode.)

Roger rides into Brownsville with the militia while Jamie and Claire are dealing with the Beardsley mess — and immediately starts getting shot at. One of the men in the militia, Isaiah Morton, has apparently “dishonored” Alicia Brown, and her father is having none of it. Because of their illicit relationship, Alicia Brown’s betrothal to a wealthy man has been called off, and the Brown family is not pleased. Roger makes peace by breaking open a cask of whisky and allowing Isaiah to be detained, which doesn’t sit well with all of the militia men, some of whom leave.

Jamie arrives to clean up Roger’s mistakes, berating Roger for not showing more loyalty to one of his men. He refers to Roger as “professor” rather than “captain”, which is a pretty serious Jamie burn. Poor Roger! But at least Roger gets in some good singing, so there’s that.

Meanwhile, Claire’s been caring for Fanny’s baby, Bonnie, but the baby obviously needs some mother’s milk. A local woman nurses the baby and takes a liking to her, and several of the women ask Claire if she’ll let them have the baby as their own and raise her. Later, drunk, Jamie asks Claire if she wants to keep the baby, since they never got to raise Bree together and he’d like to give Claire that opportunity if she wants it. She doesn’t, though — she loves her life with Jamie, and feels that the baby will be well treated in Brownsville, especially as she’s the heir to the Beardsley property.

There’s more drama around Isaiah and Alicia… the short version is that Claire and Jamie are suckers for a good love story, and eventually help them escape together, Jamie having created a diversion by setting the town horses free to gallop down the main (mud) road.

Roger is to travel back to the Ridge as Claire’s escort, along with Josiah and Kezzie, so she can take care of their infected tonsils. And after the surgery, she’ll rejoin Jamie and the militia once again.

Back at the Ridge, we get a few brief scenes with Brianna. After a trip to town, she finds a coin in Jemmy’s basket, and learns that an Irish gentleman placed it there. She fears that this means that Bonnet is around, and later has a small freak-out when she can’t find Jemmy. Marsali consoles Bree later and gets her to calm down and even smile again, but the show makes it clear that Bree’s fears are well-founded.

Insta-reaction wrap-up:

It’s not every day that we get to see Jamie Fraser perform a Highland fling! What fun.

This was a very cute scene, and Claire was so obviously smitten. These two. So adorable.

Overall, “The Company We Keep” was another well-done episode, but Brownsville gives me the creeps. I liked the little character moments for Roger, Fergus, Marsali, and Bree, and even seeing a little more of Mrs. Bug was nice. On the whole, I’m enjoying the time with the Fraser clan this season, but knowing what a lot of the action pieces will center on makes me a little apprehensive about where the season is going.

 

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The Monday Check-In ~ 3/9/2020

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

Life.

I’m been very distracted this week, which means not so much reading. At work, we’re in 24/7 contingency planning mode as the coronavirus spreads, and I ended up spending all weekend working on planning as well. Scary times. I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy!

What did I read during the last week?

I only managed to finish one book this week! It’s just been hard to concentrate, let alone find quiet time to curl up with a book.

A Murderous Relation by Deanna Raybourn: This Victorian romp was exactly the kind of escape from reality that I needed! My review is here.

Pop culture — Outlander, season 5:

You want to know how crazy this week has been? I didn’t even watch the newest episode of Outlander yet! Here are my reaction posts for the three that I’ve watched so far — hoping to get to episode 504 tomorrow night.

Episode 503, “Free Will” (aired 3/1/2020) – here.
Episode 502, “Between Two Fires” (aired 2/23/2020) – here.
Episode 501, “The Fiery Cross” (aired 2/16/2020) – here.

Other TV watching:

My Gilmore Girls obsession continues! I’m on season 7 now, and let me just say, I am NOT HAPPY with recent turn of events. Just a big NOPE. But I don’t want spoilers (although I kind of do), so I’m just silently fuming as I watch.

Fresh Catch:

Ooh, new books!

Now I just need the time to read them all.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

The Deep by Alma Katsu: Hmm. I’m at about 33%, and I’m not actually loving it so far, which is weird — hauntings and the Titanic should be a winning combo for me.

Now playing via audiobook:

Becoming by Michelle Obama: I’m loving this audiobook!

Ongoing reads:

The Space Between by Diana Gabaldon: The latest in Outlander Book Club’s group read-alongs. A very fun re-read.

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes: My book group’s newest classic read is now underway. We’re reading and discussing two chapters per week.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 3/2/2020

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

Life.

 

Things only booklovers understand:

Waking up in the middle of the night absolutely consumed with worry about what happens next to the character in the audiobook I’m listening to… and tossing and turning for the rest of the night until I could finally keep listening. (It turned out fine, but boy, was I fretting!)

Being able to give her a hug would have helped a lot.

 

What did I read during the last week?

The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi: The first book in a sci-fi trilogy that had been patiently waiting on my shelf for far too long. My review is here.

In Five Years by Rebecca Serle: Just gorgeous. My review is here.

In audiobooks:

The Bookshop on the Shore by Jenny Colgan: I know this author sometimes get pigeon-holed as “chick lit” (ugh, I hate that term)… but honestly, she just writes good, uplifting, heartfelt stories about interesting and unusual people. This one was a treat! My review is here.

Pop culture — Outlander, season 5:

I’m keeping up with my tradition of writing a reaction post after each new Outlander episode — and attempting to get them up the same night the episodes air, which isn’t always possible. So, here are my two most recent:

This week: Episode 503, “Free Will” (aired 3/1/2020) – here.
Last week: Episode 502, “Between Two Fire” (aired 2/23/2020) – here.

Other TV watching:

I’m so obsessed with Gilmore Girls that it’s kind of funny. I mean, I lost sleep over a few episodes in season 5 this past week because I was so upset by a break-up and was desperate to know if they got back together… but absolutely refused to Google it and look for spoilers. Anyway, I’m now on season 6, and loving it, of course.

 

 

 

 

Fresh Catch:

One new book this week:

Resistance is Futile by Jenny T. Colgan: Yes, the same author as the audiobook I finished above, but with a variation on her name that she uses for her sci-fi works. And I really need to start writing down who recommended books to me, because I first saw this book on on someone else’s blog within the past couple of weeks and knew I had to get it… and now I don’t remember who recommended it! Whoever you are, thank you!

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

A Murderous Relation by Deanna Raybourn: The 5th book in the enchanting Veronica Speedwell series! These books are a hoot — I’m so excited to be starting the new one.

Now playing via audiobook:

Becoming by Michelle Obama: I treated myself to a copy of this book over a year ago. It’s about time for me to finally read it! I’ve just barely started, but I’m loving listening to Michelle Obama narrate her own book.

Ongoing reads:

The Space Between by Diana Gabaldon: The latest in Outlander Book Club’s group read-alongs. This is yet another terrific novella set in the wider world of the Outlander series. It’s a re-read for me, and I’m enjoying it all over again.

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes: My book group’s newest classic read is now underway. We’re reading and discussing two chapters per week.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

Insta-Reaction: Outlander, Season 5, Episode 3

Season 5 is here! I’ll be writing an “Insta-Reaction” post for each episode soon after viewing, to share some initial thoughts, questions, reactions — you name it.

Warning:

Spoilers

I may be talking about events from this episode, other episodes, and/or the book series… so if you’d rather not know, now’s your chance to walk away!

Outlander, episode 503: “Free Will”

The official synopsis (via Starz):

The growing Regulator threat forces Jamie, Claire and Roger to embark on a mission to raise a militia.

My take:

Major plot points:

Roger and Brianna say good-bye

  • Claire continues teaching Marsali about medicine and experimenting with mold.
  • Jamie and Claire set off with Roger and other men of the Ridge to put together a militia.
  • Josiah Beardsley’s twin Kezzy shows up, and Jamie and Claire learn about their history.
  • An awful scene at the Beardsley property ensues. Yuck.

Insta-reaction:

I’m going to keep this brief, because it’s late and I’m tired…

One of the most disturbing scenes in The Fiery Cross takes place in this episode. It turns out that Josiah Beardsley, whom Jamie had already invited to settle at the Ridge (since he’s a skilled hunter), has a twin brother, Kezzy. The boys’ parents and siblings all died on the Atlantic crossing when they were only two years old, and the boys were indentured to Mr. Beardsley, a cruel master who worked them hard, beat them, and kept them starving. Kezzy was boxed so hard on the ears by his master, repeatedly, that his ruptured eardrums have never healed. leaving the boy deaf.

Jamie decides to buy the boys’ indenture, so he and Claire leave the militia in Roger’s hands and head to the Beardsley farm, which appears to be deserted. A suspicious Mrs. Beardsley opens her door, informs Jamie that her husband is dead, and shuts the door in his face. But Jamie needs the indenture paperwork to prove that the boys aren’t runaways, so he persists. When he and Claire go inside the house, there’s a horrible smell. Eventually, Claire finds the emaciated — but living — body of Mr. Beardsley upstairs in the loft. He apparently had a stroke a month prior, and his wife has left him lying in his own filth, feeding him enough to keep him alive, and torturing him. It’s so awful.

Claire, being Claire, insists that they take care of the man and tend to his (disgusting) wounds. His wife, Fanny, goes into labor suddenly, and with Claire’s care, gives birth to a healthy baby girl, who clearly is not her husband’s, as she’s biracial. Fanny describes the horror of being married to this abusive man, who killed each of his four previous wives and who would likely have done the same to Fanny if he’d been able.

In the morning, Fanny is gone, leaving the baby, the deed to the Beardsley property, and the indenture paperwork for Claire and Jamie. There’s nothing to be done for Mr. Beardsley. Jamie finally gives him a choice, and asks him if he wants Jamie to end his life. He blinks once, for yes. Claire, waiting outside with the baby, hears the gunshot.

That’s the main part of the episode, and it’s disturbing and creepy, as it’s meant to be.

Marsali working on her knife skills

Elsewhere, Claire continues to try to grow her own penicillin, teaching Marsali basic principles of medicine and how to conduct a scientific inquiry. Roger — Captain Mackenzie — leads Jamie’s men in his absence, adding more men to the roster of the militia.

Claire confides to Jamie that she wants Brianna and Roger to go back to their own time, where they’ll be safer. It’s obvious that Jamie finds this idea upsetting, although he concedes that they would in fact be safer there. Add to this the knowledge (which Jamie shares with Claire) that Stephen Bonnet is alive and in the area, and it’s for sure that Bree isn’t safe, and most likely, neither is her family.

Insta-reaction wrap-up:

Kudos to Outlander for casting Bronwyn James in the role of Fanny Beardsley. She’s fabulous in Harlots, playing a very different character who’s also named Fanny. I’m just sorry that we won’t see more of her.

This was a well-done episode, even though the focus on the Beardsleys meant we were in that disturbing place for most of the episode. As always, Claire and Jamie are a dynamic duo, rising to the challenge, and always so clearly in love.

 

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Insta-Reaction: Outlander, Season 5, Episode 2

Season 5 is here! I’ll be writing an “Insta-Reaction” post for each episode soon after viewing, to share some initial thoughts, questions, reactions — you name it.

Warning:

Spoilers

I may be talking about events from this episode, other episodes, and/or the book series… so if you’d rather not know, now’s your chance to walk away!

Outlander, episode 502: “Between Two Fires”

The official synopsis (via Starz):

As Jamie continues to hunt Murtagh with the aid of the zealous Lieutenant Hamilton Knox, he’s forced to consider whether or not he’s on the right side of history.

My take:

Major plot points:

Jamie and Claire have no scenes together. So there’s that. Otherwise…

  • Claire applies 20th century medical techniques back in the 18th century.
  • Brianna tries to help Roger fit in.
  • Jamie and Lt. Knox are hunting for Murtagh.
  • The Regulators (led by Murtagh) carry out a gruesome punishment.
  • Stephen Bonnet is up to no good, as per usual.

Insta-reaction:

Well, the sweetness and light of the wedding couldn’t last long. After all, this is Outlander, so it’s back to mayhem and danger as of episode #2.

[Note: I’m probably going to keep this recap on the short side, since it’s late and I’m tired. Sorry!]

The Regulators are out for their own form of vigilante justice, and it’s gross. We’ve all probably seen cartoon versions of tarring and feathering (Road Runner, perhaps?). The real thing, involving actual hot tar and bare flesh, is really awful and disturbing. Love ya, Murtagh, but this is just terrible.

Jamie and Lieutenant Knox ride out together searching for Murtagh and the Regulators, and have some interesting conversations about duty and loyalty. Jamie is walking a fine line between his promises to the governor and his love for Murtagh. Things go bad in a hurry when the two men question the three Regulators being held in jail, and Lt. Knox kills one of them. Jamie covers it up as self-defense (although it was really murder), but Knox later uses hefty doses of rationalization to convince himself he acted honorably. Jamie later carries out a mini-jail break, freeing the other two men, who then find their way back to Murtagh and his rebels.

Back on the Ridge, a dying man is brought to Claire for help, but it’s too late. The man’s wife’s attempts to heal her husband with blood-letting and herbs end up killing him. Claire is frustrated by how powerless she is to save lives and apply her medical training. She ends up performing an autopsy on the man, which would get her killed (or accused of black magic) if she were caught, and later convinces Marsali to become her apprentice and learn about medical techniques. By the end of the episode, Claire is trying to grow her own penicillin! Bree questions whether she’s playing God, introducing 20th century medicine two centuries too early. What if she messes up the future? But Claire asserts that they (the time travelers) are changing the future every day they’re in the 18th century. She’s determined to try to make a difference in the health of the people she cares for.

Roger can’t shoot straight, and he can’t understand why Jamie would make him a captain in his militia. He asks Brianna if she wants to go back to their own time. He clearly does; she clearly doesn’t.

Like the baddest of bad pennies, Stephen Bonnet turns up in North Carolina, betting on a fight between two women. When another man takes offense and accuses Bonnet of cheating, Bonnet challenges him to a duel, and when the man yields, Bonnet blinds him. This is straight out of the book, but still. Yuck. We get it — Bonnet is the worst. And again, back on the Ridge, we see (earlier in the episode) that Brianna is still haunted by Bonnet, drawing dark and disturbing sketches of his face, over and over again. Sadly, he and the Frasers aren’t done with each other yet.

Insta-reaction wrap-up:

I never really liked the Regulators storyline in the book (The Fiery Cross), and I’m not loving it here either. Unfortunately, this is the main historical focus this season, so I’ll just have to deal with it.

Some favorite moments from this episode:

  • Roger singing Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog to baby Jem. Can we please have a greatest hits of the 1960s and 1970s moment every episode?
  • Marsali carving up a deer while Claire surreptitiously checks out her knife skills.
  • Bree giving Roger a shooting lesson… and then completely one-upping him when there was actually something to shoot at.
  • Roger singing at the burial — hints of his future religious calling?

We met a few new recurring characters, including Mr. and Mrs. Bug, who will become important fixtures around Fraser’s Ridge.

Claire is taking a huge risk keeping a carved up corpse in her surgery! She never does stay out of trouble for long, does she?

As always, the look of the show is fabulous — the costumes, the homes on Fraser’s Ridge, the town, the food, the candle-making. Let’s hope the season doesn’t get too bogged down by Murtagh and the Regulators.

And furthermore…

If the whole reason for keeping TV-Murtagh alive years after book-Murtagh is long dead is to turn him into a Regulator leader, then I think Outlander has missed its mark somehow. I’m not loving seeing Murtagh in this role, and I’m not seeing a path to a good resolution of this storyline.

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