TV Review – “Agent Carter” (Episodes 1-4)

During the break between the first and second parts of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 2, we have been gifted with yet another incredible story from the people at MARVEL. It is called “Agent Carter”. The story revolves around the life and adventures of Peggy Carter, Captain America’s lady love, after he was presumed dead. And while many people were unsure of how the show was going to turn out, critics are raving. As we are now at the halfway point of the eight-episode season, I thought I would give my thoughts on the show so far.

For starters, I will say that the premise is perfect! After the war, women gave up the jobs that they had held, and went back to being homemakers, seamstresses, telephone operators, etc. But Peggy was kept on with the SSR because of relationship to Captain America, which leads to two problems. One: No one cares about her extraordinary skill set, and thus she is never sent on missions. And two: Most people think that the only reason she is there is because of her relationship. I want to slap half of her coworkers for the way that they treat her. They refuse to acknowledge her skills. But it also leads to some humor. They might think that they are catching the bad guys, but Peggy is the one doing all the catching.

Which leads me to Peggy herself. I must say that she is the best MARVEL female of all. Hey, Jane, Pepper, Darcy, Sif, May, etc., they’re all great, but none of them can match Peggy. Because while she is tough and won’t back down from a fight, she does it all with a feminine grace and a hint of female sass. And I admire her resolve. Despite the way she is treated by the men of the SSR, Peggy continues to do what she believes is right. And when it means going behind the backs of her coworkers and risking being accused of treason, she does it anyway. And all to help her friend, Howard Stark. Oh, did I mention him? Because the premise of the show is that some really bad guys have gotten hold of Stark’s most powerful inventions, and while he had nothing to do with it, the government is accusing him of selling out. So he goes into hiding, but not before asking Peggy to help him out. And he even offers her a friend to help as well. And his name is Edwin Jarvis. Yup you read that right. JARVIS. Now we know where Tony was inspired to name his computer. And Jarvis is a great character. He brings comic relief, as well as some serious and intelligent points. And when Peggy discovers that Stark’s request was not all that it seemed, Jarvis still wants to help her, despite her anger.

In the way of other characters, I will only mention one, and that is Agent Daniel Sousa. (I think that is his name). He came back from the war with a missing leg, and now has to walk with a brace. But he doesn’t let that stop him, as we saw last night from his epic fighting moves. Daniel is compassionate, and does his best to help a homeless veteran, and unlike the other men at the SSR, he seems to hold a respect for Peggy. I am one of many who believes that he is the man whom Peggy eventually marries. Of all the SSR men, he is the only one who treats Peggy like an equal. There is a young woman who is a close friend of Peggy’s, but she is so forgettable that I don’t even remember her name.

In terms of content, my thoughts are generally favorable. Cussing is generally minimal, all things considered, though the “B” words have popped up a couple of times, as well as the “D” and “H” words. There is also some sexual content, including some innuendos, particularly in episode 4. Peggy wore a very low cut gown in the first episode, and Howard Stark is something of a womanizer, and when he stays with Peggy, he spends some time in the rooms of the other women in the boarding house. The show can be violent, though most of it is punch-kick stylized action, with the worst stuff being visible gunshot wounds.

Overall, I have been thoroughly impressed with “Agent Carter”, and I am so glad that there is something to keep me going until AoS returns. In fact, there has been talk that there might be a season 2, due to the high ratings and reviews. I give “Agent Carter” 4 1/2 stars out of five, with the half taken off for the content. I recommend this show to 15 and up!

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Book Review – “Secret of Pembrooke Park” by Julie Klassen

  Abigail Foster is the practical daughter. She fears she will end up a spinster, especially as she has little dowry, and the one man she thought might marry her seems to have fallen for her younger, prettier sister.
  Facing financial ruin, Abigail and her father search for more affordable lodgings, until a strange solicitor arrives with an astounding offer: the use of a distant manor house abandoned for eighteen years. The Fosters journey to imposing Pembrooke Park and are startled to find it entombed as it was abruptly left: tea cups encrusted with dry tea, moth-eaten clothes in wardrobes, a doll’s house left mid-play…
  The handsome local curate welcomes them, but though he and his family seem acquainted with the manor’s past, the only information they offer is a stern warning: Beware trespassers drawn by rumors that Pembrooke Park contains a secret room filled with treasure.
  This catches Abigail’s attention. Hoping to restore her family’s finances–and her dowry–Abigail looks for this supposed treasure. But eerie sounds at night and footprints in the dust reveal she isn’t the only one secretly searching the house.
  Then Abigail begins receiving anonymous letters, containing clues about the hidden room and startling discoveries about the past.
  As old friends and new foes come calling at Pembrooke Park, secrets come to light. Will Abigail find the treasure and love she seeks…or very real danger?

I was thrilled to receive this book for review, as I have always enjoyed Julie Klassen’s books. The premise sounded exciting and unique, unlike anything she has written before, so I wasn’t surprised that I enjoyed the mystery and suspense elements of this story.

The one thing about this book that I genuinely did not like was the pacing. I felt like everything moved REALLY slowly, to the point where it took me a few weeks to read a book that I would normally read in a couple of days because I struggled to enjoy the pacing. There seemed to be a good many scenes that weren’t really necessary to the plotline. But the premise and execution were excellent.

I thoroughly enjoyed the mystery of the book, particularly because this one had me stumped at some points, while giving me some good clues at others. I guessed some of the major reveals before they happened, but they were done in such a way that the sense of shock was still there. I enjoyed the romance as well, though I felt like some of the scenes between Abigail and William were a bit out of place considering the time period. Especially the scene at the spring. A young woman of proper standing and a young, single minister would likely not spend the amount of time alone that these two did. But the romance was relatively chaste, and nothing inappropriate took place, so I can’t really complain.

I enjoyed the characters, though I had to keep a running list of who was who in a notebook so I didn’t lose track. Particularly when it came to the various Pembrookes. There were a lot of names thrown at me at any given point, so it was sometimes difficult to keep up. And some of the characters seemed pretty useless, as if they were there for the sake of adding more unneeded padding. One character in particular I thought was an odd choice for a major reveal, as she hardly made any appearances in the book until the reveal happened. I did like Abigail. She was intelligent and kind, and refused to allow her circumstances to get the better of her. William was a good choice for a main male character, and I liked the parts of the book where he preached his sermons, as they were deep and well thought out.

Overall, this is a good book, though it’s not something that a casual reader wants to pick up on a whim. This one requires some serious dedication to get through. And the end is a little bit off putting. It doesn’t really resolve the story well, and leaves me feeling like the author forgot to add another paragraph to the story. But despite this, I give “Secret of Pembrooke Park” 4 1/2 out of 5 stars, and recommend it to 15 and up!

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