Monday, April 17, 2017

Book review: "The Roanoke Girls" by Amy Engel

I picked this book because of the intrigue from the descriptions talking about dark family secrets. I thought, yaaaah there's going to be some kid in the secret room with a hunchback or the person you think is your sister is actually your mom or your dad who you thought was dead is actually alive or something like that. The secret in this book is far ickier than that.

This is a half formed, ending easily guessed "whodunnit", punctuated with a sex scene every 3 pages, and a manic pixie girl for a co-lead. I am not against sex in books, especially when suspected or unexpected pregnancy is a main thread that runs through the books but the three things the characters in the book are concerned with are: sex, food and the flimsy whodunnit plot. Everyone just felt very 1 dimensional.

And I feel bad for saying this because the author seems very nice on twitter. And the cover isn't bad. And that is really all I have positive to say about that.

Of course, and with all of my reviews, if maybe this book sounds intriguing don't let the fact that I didn't like it stop you from picking it up! You do you!

I recieved this book for free in exchange for an honest review from Blogging for Books

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Holy Week 2017 Book Review: "The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus" by Brennan Manning

I will admit off the bat that this asn't my favorite Brennan Manning book, though I kind of feel like that's his own fault since he set the bar so high for himself, haha. But like every Manning book, there are still plenty of great takeaways.

I have a feeling that this review will just be a series of out of context quotes, and I realize that that can be not helpful so I will do my best to provide some context!

Starting us off, Manning isn't afraid to throw it down:

For many people in the church, Christianity is not Good News. The Gospel is not the glad tidings of freedom and salvation proclaimed by Christ Jesus, but a rigid code of dos and dont's, a tedious moralizing, a list of minimum requirements for avoiding the pains of hell.

This is not how it should be.

During Jesus' time on earth, he constantly demonstrated his love and tenderness; especially towards people that society at the time or even know, frankly, would have deemed....ew. Us included.Here's a couple of quotes that talk about his love for his people:

In Jesus stories, divine forgiveness doesn't depend on our repentance or our ability to love our enemies or on our doing only heroic, virtuous deeds. God's forgiveness depends only on the love out of which he has fashioned the human race.... But the Father of Jesus loves all, no matter what they do. And this, of course, is almost too incredible for us to accept.

and this is actually a quote of a quote

We must remember, he proclaims, that we don not earn God's forgiveness by our sorrow or by our reparation. God's love is given. It is always there, waiting patiently for us. We need only to turn to him and receive it. He is pleased with out efforts but even more pleased with us. That's why He made us. You cannot earn God's love, because He gave it to you before you started to earn it.

One thing that I love about Manning's books is that he often tucks these short little couple a sentence stories into larger stories and some of them make me go "WHAT? NO, WHAT? I MUST KNOW MORE?" or they just make me sob like the little monk who used to be an acrobat in the circus. Oh, little circus monk. So the story for this book that garnered a big reaction from me was even shorter. So in the Bible there's passages about how Jesus talks about how he is going ahead to prepare a place for us and that he will return to take you with me so that you may be where I am. Manning knew a deaf man named Charlie who "at the moment of his death said "For the first time I can hear someone coming."  Ah! What? Tell me more?!

There is also little mini study guides at the end of each chapter and and the very last chapter is kind of a commentary on Christmas and it's weird because it almost seems weirdly out of place because it kind of feels like a Lent book more than an Easter book, but it's not like they aren't all connected, haha.


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Holy Week 2017 Book Review: "Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible's View of Women" by Sarah Bessey

Feminism is a divisive concept for a lot of people. It seems like no one can quite agree on what it is. Is it women marching in marches wearing pink hats and "standing with planned parenthood"? Is it women who think that they should be paid the same for doing the same job as a male coworker? Can you be prolife and be a feminist? Do you have to hate men to be a feminist? Are these things mutually exclusive? Here's how I define feminism for myself (and it's also the subtitle of the book #convenient): It's the radical notion that women are people too. You know who else thought women were full blown, totally developed, worth talking to people? Jesus. And that's why we are here.

Women were CLUTCH in Jesus time here on earth. From the very beginning to the very end. He was born to a young woman who, in her time and place in society, was pretty inconsequential but through her willing obedience to her God changed the world. The women at the tomb were the first people that Jesus appeared to after his resurrection. Not his anxious, overwrought disciples that were hiding in a room. The woman who at great personal risk wanted to show their love for Him by finishing his burial preparations. He raised Peter's mother in law from the dead. He frequented Mary and Martha's house and mourned with them at the passing of their brother Lazarus (I mean, it had a happy ending so that was good). While Jesus was in agony on the cross He makes sure that his mother is taken care of ("Behold your son, Behold your mother").

None of these are actions of Someone who thinks that women are ANY LESS than anyone else.

You also can't deny the incredible women who have been moved to do amazing things because of their love for Jesus, here's a teeny tiny teeny tiny list. Including links to their wikipedia pages in case you haven't heard of a few like me: Mother Teresa (duh), Amy Carmichael, Dorothy Day, Corrie ten Boom, Gladys Aylward, Evangeline Booth. (There's even a shoutout to Susanna Wesley, my namesake, who I've never run across in print before and that made my heart so happy). And those are even talking about the organizations mentioned in this book that are trying to end modern slavery, giving Haitain mothers safe places to give birth amid their shaken country, AND it doesn't include the women of great faith who are pillars in our own lives: moms, sisters, friends, coworkers, teachers, counselors,on and on and on. 

Or as the author says:
"Right along side stories of David and Moses and Pail, of Luther and Calvin, of Bonhoeffer and our dads, we could tell the stories of our own patron saints, our church mamas, our Kingdom midwives, the women of the Bible and the women of the Word walking among us right now".

There is so much more in this book that I just don't have the space to go through it all, but you could do worse than a couple of hours with this book in one hand and your Bible open in front of you. And frankly, I hope none of this shocks you. Jesus loves everyone, so of course he loves women. Jesus' words of the Gospel work through everyone, so of course it works through women. Humans were lovingly created in God's own image, so of course it includes women.

But you know, reminders are good.  

It boils down to essentially this: women make up half the church and half of the world. The untapped potential should be frightening. Make the opportunities for yourself to do big, glorious things if the opportunities are not made for you.  


Monday, April 3, 2017

Book review: "Old Souls: The Scientific Evidence for Previous Lives" by Tim Shroder

Disclaimer: I don't believe in past lives or reincarnation. I DO believe that there are so many things that we as humans can't explain and probably will never be able to explain. There's this weird gray area where incidents like these live and I just find that so intriguing. So that's how I found myself with this book.

The author, a journalist, travels with Dr Stevenson, literally across the globe as he interviews people who claim to remember past lives. The three specific parts of the world that are highlighted in this book is Beirut, India and the United States.

There are exceptions but it seems like a lot of the cases went something like this:

A child is born to a family, and at a very young age says things like "This isn't my house", "You aren't my parents". Sometimes they can even name the people who they think are their parents and the town that they say they are from. They refer to themselves as the name of their "PP" (previous persona). They can name and identify their PP's family members. Sometimes they know details about their PP's lives that no one other than that person or their spouse would know.  Almost all of the PP's died violently (thrown from a car during an accident, suicide after being cornered by cops, shot by abusive husband, etc). I think the cases that are most interesting is when there are weird birthmarks. It's like "Well, our son Sid thinks he's actually someone named Bob. Bob died when he shot himself under his chin and through his head. Oddly enough, Sid has a strange birthmark under his chin and on the top of his head where the bullet exited Bob's head. Hmmmmm".

I was explaining this book to some of my coworkers and they asked if any of the children were a different gender then their PP. There were no examples of it in the book but now I'm totally curious.

In this whole situation I feel the most bad for the person whose child thinks they are a PP. Can you imagine, you're pregnant and all excited to meet your new baby and then as soon as they are old enough to talk the things they say to you are "You're not actually my parents." ? 

The author starts as a hardened skeptic but by the end of it he doesn't necessarily end up as a believer, but he realizes there's so many things that he just doesn't have good answers for.


Friday, March 31, 2017

Book review: "The Woman in Cabin 10" by Ruth Ware

I've read 2 super-hyped thrillers in a week, and they are both very different, and interesting for their diverse settings. Woman in Cabin 10 was one of them.

Here's the Goodreads synopsis:

In this tightly wound story, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…

With surprising twists and a setting that proves as uncomfortably claustrophobic as it is eerily beautiful, Ruth Ware offers up another intense read.

Honestly I don't know if I would have picked up this book if it was in a different setting. A lot of the action takes place on an itty bitty luxury yacht, which made me think back fondly on mine and Quinn's time on our European River Cruise. That was a small boat, but it held 92 people as oppose to the book's boat - 20 people.

Here's the few things that made me like this book a little bit less:
-Felt like the ending was really rushed. Sloooooow beginning, good middle, super rushed end.

-Plot holes: there were some things that felt like significant events that just got brushed away with little or no information and I think that might also tie into the rushed end. 

-Unreliable Narrator: This is strictly a person preference but I am always wary of unreliable narrators. Our main character maaay have a drinking problem, and is on some medication to address some depression so when she tells people that she's witnessed something terrifying they don't quite believe her as much as when she told the story before they new about the booze and the pills.
Here's what I liked:
-The setting: as I said before, the boat intrigued me

-It had some epistolary moments which I always think add some texture to a book.

If you like mysteries and need a good vacation read you could certainly do worse than this one!



Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Book review: "How to Pack: Travel Smart for Any Trip" by Hitha Palepu

If you have hung around the blog for any amount of time, you probably have figured out that I love to travel! Though I am always worried that I have never packed enough of the right thing, or too much of the wrong thing. So I'm always on the lookout for books that might help me with that paranoia of mine!


First of all this is a book with a totally fitting and adorable cover.

Secondly, I like that she gives packing tips for different types of personalities. Like, do you just throw in everything willy nilly and not know what you don't have until you have to find a Walgreens in Edinburgh to get some toothpaste. She suggests the packing list.

Thirdly, this sounds like a silly piece of advice maybe, but I think it's brilliant. "Pack for who you really are". If you have thought about getting back into running after a decade absence, you are not going to start on vacation. Do not pack your running shoes.

Lastly, more simple sounding advice, only pack the things you feel good in. If you don't like how you feel in it when you are at home you aren't going to like it when you are on vacation!

Not so good:

Firstly, I was laughing when she was talking about packing your suitcase to go home and how it should be just as methodical as when you pack to go on vacation. Uh, when I'm coming home from vacation my only goal is to make sure my valuables don't break and that the damn thing zips. End of list.

Lastly, the book is a smallish book and for the packing lists in the back to be useful you'd have to have beautiful tiny penmanship that never messes up or you'd have to copy it and blow it up by about 40%.

Overall a good book, it's always worth a refresher on how to be a good packer. Except now the travel itch has never goes all the way away.....

I was given this book by Blogging for Books in exchange for a fair review

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Book review: "Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History" by Bill Schutt

I think sometimes I scare my coworkers. When they stop me when they see me going to find a quiet place for lunch to read, they ask me "so what's your book about?" Usually my answer doesn't elicit to many reactions, but when I said I was reading a book about cannibalism it was "Why?! And while you're eating?!"

By now, you guys know my love for very specific, weird, nonfiction. And that's how I ended up reading a book about cannibalism while munching on my lunch.

Each chapter highlights a different type of kind of cannibalism, or question about cannibalism. Here are just a few sneaky peeekies:

- There is a chapter on the Donner Party, naturally. Did you know that the married men out survived the bachelors in the group? The author has reasoning for this that I think is totally wrong, but I'm just some ahole so he's probably right and I'm wrong.

- Do you know how long it takes some snails to mate? 6 seconds! You know why? Post-coitus cannibalism!

- If someone invites you to a Thyestian feast you SHOULD NOT GO

- There's a type of cannibalism that is motivated by filial piety. Looking at you certain Asian countries....

- Want to learn some slang from the 1920s and 30s? If you were an "older homosexual tramp who traveled with a young boy you could be called a cannibal". 

In full disclosure, there was a chapter in the book about whether or not the act of Holy Communion practiced in Christian churches is considered cannibalism. Reader, I skipped that chapter. I did not want to become angry.

This boo was full of interesting tidbits (HAHAHA) and I learned a lot. The only time when I was queasy about this book while eating was the chapter about human mothers who eat their placenta......just...don'

3.8 out of 5 stars!



Friday, March 10, 2017

Book review: "Dark Matter" by Blake Crouch

This was a book club pick for my work friend book club and though I had heard vague good things about it I had no idea what it was about. Looking back this is probably by design because there is very little that I can say about this book without giving away major plot points, so this review is not much help but here it goes.

So Jason is a really smart scientist, but he's not really living up to his full potential because he knocked up his girlfriend who was an aspiring artist and now they are both very happy with their now teenage son but both of them are acutely aware that they aren't really living up to their whole poteintal. Then, one night after a crappy encounter with a friend whose life took the super successful science trajectory that Jason's could have, he finds himself naked in a warehouse at gunpoint by a guy in a creepy mask. And it all unfolds from there.....I'm going to be honest. It was a bit of a slow start, but it did pick up. It I felt like it just had a long build to get to the action.

If I had put together that the same dude who wrote this book also wrote the Wayward Pines trilogy I probably would have been able to guess where this was going to go. But I didn't. And I was surprised. Which is fine.

Slightly spoilery- When Jason and Amanda are in that corrido and that random torn up horrified dude just walks past them and screams, that is the most freaked out I've been by a paragraph of a book in a long time. So, good on you book. You made me go "Eeeeeeeeek!"

So if you like twists and turns and big thoughts about destiny and life and all that stuff, this is the thriller for you.


Monday, March 6, 2017

Book review: "Mexico:Stories" by Josh Barkan

I read this book over a month ago and hadn't gotten around to reviewing it, which maaaaybe says something about the book. (And maybe a little about me...I'm going to say 75% book, 25% me)

It's a short story collection, and each of the stories are centered around people who are not involved in the incredibly scary drug cartels but somehow get pulled into that world.

-There's a Romeo and Juliet story between two kids from different drug cartels families which is by far the least creative or original story in the bunch.

-There's a strange story that involves a mime and a circus and a little person...

The story that I thought was most interesting was about a man who was a kind of mid line plastic surgeon in Mexico. Suddenly a famous narco bursts into his office and demands a makeover. Not just a nip and a tuck but a "I'm going on the lam and I need to be unrecognizable" kind of makeover. The doctor protests ("yeah, usually there's a consultation or two and usually I don't do surgery at gun point soooo can we talk?") Things go south and the doctor fears for his life...

I keep trying to think of things to say about this book and I just keep shrugging my shoulders and thinking "I dunno, it's fine." If you've got a hankering for a REALLY GOOD book about people being dragged into the cartel's sphere I'd much more highly recommend "Prayers for the Stolen". That's a good book. And the cover is great. This cover is ok. It's fine. Everything about this book is just fine. It's like....if Train were a book. Not special, just fine.

I received this book for free in exchange for a fair review from Blogging for Books

Thursday, February 23, 2017

A Poem for Edward Gorey on his Belated Birthday

A Poem for one of my personal favorites, Edward Gorey.
on the day after his birthday

 If you don't know the story
Of my friend Edward Gorey
And his creepy illustrations
That could drive you to libations
I would encourage you to give him a gander

For in his books
are people with hollow looks
Children who die strange deaths
And creatures from murky depths
Of one strange and beautiful imagination

But the story that I think is best
Is the tale of the Doubtful Guest
A cute little creature 
With a striped scarf as a feature
Who suddenly appeared
And quickly endeared
Himself to a strange, hollow family

Tearing up his shoes
Playing in Flues
Tearing books out of pages
And other outrages
Were some of his favorite to-dos

So, today if you need a distraction
To avoid social interaction
 Explore my friend Gorey
And take in his stories
On this his most special day.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Book review: "Atlas of Cursed Places: A Travel Guide to Dangerous and Frightful Destinations" by Olivier Le Carrer

You know how people talk about having "wanderlust"? These places will fix that.
Or how people have bucket lists for places they want to travel? This is the opposite of that.

In this lovely formatted, pleasure to hold in your hands type of book, Mr Le Carrer takes us to places all around the world that we would only want to visit from the comfort of our living rooms.  Some places we can't visit anymore like:

- The ancient city of Carthage where pits have been discovered that contain "twenty thousand funerary urns, mostly of young children". Children offered as human sacrifices.

-The Sundra Strait, which is still there, but it looks different then it did in 1883 when a massive volcanic eruption killed tens of thousands of people and created "the tsunami that lapped the planet three times over".

There are places that you absolutely can still visit like (but you shouldn't):

- The Bermuda Triangle, which I feel like I don't even need to describe because you know the stories

- The city of Nuremburg where Hitler had grand plans for his 1000 year Reich. (Though in a moment of "oh hell yes! Take that you bastard Nazis" the building that used to house the SS barracks now houses the High Commission of Refugees.)

-Or the place in far, far, far northern Russia where there's a whole bunch of nuclear submarines, still with their payloads bobbing and rusting and decaying in the cold waters. Do you trust that none of them are leaking? I don't. I think Russia's got some 3 eyeballed fish, a la the Simpsons up there.

Not only was this a beautiful looking book, the writing was elegant and kind of lovely considering the ocassionally gruesome subject matter. The short chapters made it easy, fast reading and a good book that you could pick up and set down on busy days. This was right up my weirdo alley and I wish there were 15 more books just like this. 4 out of 5 stars.


Monday, February 13, 2017

Book review: "Splendid Slippers: A Thousand Year of Erotic Tradition" by Beverley Jackson

You're probably thinking, uh Wesley? Erotic tradition of shoes? I don't understand. Are we talking about plastic high heeled platforms? Erotic shoes? Wha?

You know what, I wish we were talking about stripper shoes, but you know what we are talking about instead? Mutilation of children as young as 3, and the people that did this to them? Their friends and relatives. We'll be talking about the tradition of foot binding in China.

So it's going to be more talking about bones breaking than....let's say...Quentin Tarantino sexual foot fetish but we will cover both.

Image result for that escalated quickly

I know Ron. I know.

So let's talk about how this book got on my TBR. It was mentioned in one of the first episodes I ever listened to of one of my favorite podcasts, Stuff You Missed in History Class. The episode was graphic and interesting and eye opening. I just assumed that foot binding was something the aristocracy did to be like "hey, look at my wife. She doesn't have to work because I'm so rich so she's got these tiny ass feet and boy aren't I rich". But I figured there was more to it than that and I listened to the episode and I was right. This book was mentioned several times and I finally got it from the library. I'm going to be honest with you. If you're like, wow that sounds like an interesting book but I don't want to actually read it, listen to the podcast. (But you'd be missing out on all of the pictures of the crazily embroidered shows which would be a mistake!).

I'm going to broadstroke the process of footbinding because it's gruesome and gross and sad. It usually started for girls between the ages of 3 and 5 because the bones in their feet hadn't really developed and it was cartillagey yet. There were a couple of ways that the foot could be broken to achieve different types of bound feet, but no matter what you usually ended up walking on the tops of your toes. The ideal length of a foot was no more that 3-ish inches.The bones would need to be rebroken several times and the bindings were wrapped very tightly to keep the feet in place. I either didn't read it or just tried to gloss over it but I don't remember what they actually used to break the bones and I don't want to know. The chances of this going really badly and leading to infection and who knows what other medical problems would be really high. Though, most women would risk infection and death than to have their foot amputated if something did actually go wrong.

A couple more facts:

- There'd be Christian orphanages and they would allow the practitioners of foot binding to come in to the orphanages and bind the young girls feet, otherwise NO marriage prospects

-As you can imagine, having to hobble along on tiny 3 inch feet lead to almost universal back and spine problems for these women.

-If you were being trained as a young boy to be an actor and it seemed that you were going to be doing ladies parts (like how in Shakespeare's time men would often play the women's roles) they would get their feet bound to be more authentic.

The shoes that these women would wear were intricately embroidered and considered prized possessions. Many men also considered them HIGHLY erotic just to see them, and often women would pin their shoes to their clothing so no man could just push them down and snatch off their shoes and make off with them.

When a woman (I should say young girl, because let's be honest, that's what it was) would get married she would have a very special pair of red shoes. On her wedding night she would leave them by the bed, and put pornographic pictures in them for her husband to find, and then after viewing them together they would consummate their marriage. (Though it's worth noting here that only VERY rarely would a man see his wife's unbound feet. Probably something to do with the terrible smell that could be a problem and because of how gruesome it looked. Women would wear very soft, nonrestrictive shoes to bed). 

I'm just going to copy this sentence from the book "There is said to have been a special training manual for prostitutes which detailed in great variety how to use their feet during sex".(Basically what you're thinking is what happened).  Also, there seemed to be a lot of drinking games with the prostitutes involving their shoes. Like, basically beer pong with teeny shoes. So much drinking alcohol out of tiny shoes, but they were basically the size of a shot class so...

So, just to put a pin in the feet fetish section, bound feet played a HUGE part in getting a good husband, having sex with said husband, and keeping harmony in the marriage. Which is funny because I don't think my husband could pick any of my shoes out of a line up.

This is already a hella long review so I will just say that if you are interested in cultural differences, women's history, pictures of tiny shoes, and have questions about bound foot porn (because that's a thing, please don't google that at work) this book has all that and more. This book kept me intrigued, but it mainly made me feel sad for these generations of poor hobbled women who could barely walk without assistance.


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Book review: "The Bear and the Nightingale" by Katherine Arden

A book set in dark, cold Russia set in a world where the line between everyday life and the folkloric tales is smudged away. 

The setting of this book is truly one of the main characters. I'm so glad that I read this book in winter, the impact of this book would not be the same if you read this on a beach somewhere I think. The Russia of this book is cold and dark, with dark foreboding forests and squat, small villages.

The story centers around Vasilisa; the youngest girl of her land holding noble family. There is something different about her, maybe having something to do with the fact that her mother and her grandmother were always accused of having some magical or at least strange tendencies.  There's no denying that Vasilisa is different. The spirits that live in the forest, in their home, in their stables and even in the village bathhouse are all obvious to her. She talks to them and brings them food.

Upheaval comes twice in short order to Vasilia's life. Her mother died minutes after giving birth, so her father after a few years decides to go to Moscow to find a new bride. The czar basically forces him to marry a certain woman with noble blood...but who also sees the same things that Vasilia sees but instead of "oh these are just little magical beings who have been a part of this already old place for a very long time" she sees "DEMONS!". This gets even worse when she leaves the city for the country.  She's a very pious woman, and so she makes sure that a new priest follows her shortly after she leaves for the countryside. This new priest immediately feels that Vasilia is (somehow, simultaneously) alluring, frightening and  repulsive to him. Lots of mixed feelings there.

With the new priest comes big changes to the townspeople who are encouraged to disregard their superstitious ways. This means the little spirits that protect that village and it's occupants are weakened enough that something evil is able to find it's way in........

I liked this book. I like folklore stuff, I like magical realism stuff, I have a well documented weird obsession with Russia here on this blog. I feel like it maybe went a little of the rails at the end, but overall a very good book with interesting characters. Snuggle under a blanket and read this book!


Thursday, January 26, 2017

Book Review: "Not Just Jane: Rediscovering Seven Amazing Women Who Transformed British Literature" by Shelley DeWees

I will say straight off of the bat that I've never been able to get into Jane Austen. I've tried. The horribleness of Mrs Bennett was enough to "nope" me out of there pretty quick. I always tell myself I should try again but then all the books on my TBR are like "choose me! choose me!" and I'm like "yeah, all of you get in the library requests. No Jane Austen right now."

So if, maybe, you find yourself thinking "I want a kinda obscure British woman author who SHOULDN'T be obscure and is kinda in the same time period and what have you" this book would be a great guide.


If you are all amped up on girl power right now, and want to keep the empowering women homefires burning this would be a great way to do so.

Here's some quick bullet points:

-I like Samuel Taylor Coleridge as a poet, but he's basically a turd as a human. When his daughter, Sara Coleridge who is one of the 7 featured ladies, was born while he was away canoodling with his mistress. What was sad about Sara is that she eventually becomes a drug addict like her very distant father.

-Dinah Mulock Craik was my favorite of the women profiled. Honestly, maybe because she was one of the few who still got a happy ending on her terms.

  - This will come as no surprise to people familiar with the time period but it was HARD getting divorces so a lot of times these ladies lived separate from their loutish husbands who still then had rights to their earnings from their publications

-The French Revolution factored into some of these ladies lives WAY more than I thought it would.

-Did you know that some people thought "female hysteria" was caused by the uterus wandering willy nilly thorough the women's body?



If you are or are not a Jane Austen fan, it doesn't matter. If you're looking for some talented ladies who put up with more than their share of garbage to do their chosen profession this will round out your TBR nicely. Recommended!

Friday, January 20, 2017

First Friday Four - Favorite TED talks so far (Technically third Friday Four, come on you guys know how this goes.)

Welcome to First Friday Four! It took me a longer time than most to get into TED talks but just in case you are behind the times like me, here's my four favorite TED talks!

This talk has made it's way through a lot of my family and we talk about it so much as to be nerdskis. Shout out to my city too!

Architecture and death together? Yes.

I have power posed in the bathroom at work, I will not lie. Also, wear your seatbelt! Hat tip to L/E guest poster and friend for the heads up on this. She reviewed Amy's book for All Lady July in 2016.

This TED talk made me happy cry several several times. The joy of wonder that books can bring you. Also I MUST got to the time travel store and the pirate supply store. MUST. #Randolph

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Book Review: "The Guineveres" by Sarah Domet

Four girls, all coincidentally named Guinevere, end up at a convent. They have each been left their by their parents for different reasons (which we find out later, which is good because I was going to be ANGRY if we did not get backstories). They all bond together immediately and spend their days talking about what their lives will be like once they are allowed to leave at 18 (or earlier, if any of their escape plans would go right.)

Their lives are pretty routine: class, mass, confession, some free time, chores, bad food, lights out. Then there are some new patients in the sick ward that changes the girls lives. This book gives you: teenage girl fights, big questions about love and God, the wonderfulness of great friendships, the general horror of being a teenager whose body is changing, and (IMHO) more than a few cases of undiagnosed mental illnesses.

Some reviewers criticize the girls for their "mindless drivel". I think that these girls who: have not much life experience (and what they have is not considered well balanced or "normal"), don't have any real safe relationships with adults where they can ask them personal questions, and have a lot of time to ruminate on things during hours of prayer and church services would talk pretty much exactly that way. Also, they are teenagers. Mostly they won't be discussing Shakespeare.

I thought this book was full of well fleshed out and realistic characters, believable scenarios, in an easy to follow narratives. I give this book a 3.5 stars out of 5. Tip of the hat to T from Traveling with T who a couple of months ago hosted a chat with the author and got this book on my radar.


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Book Review: "Spaceman: An Astronaut's Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe" by Mike Massimino

I kind of igured that if you ended up as an astronaut that was something that you decided at the age of like, 6 and then spent your whole life dedicated to getting to that goal. I think some people that is absolutley the case. Mike Massimino - "Mass" - was less like that. He had a fascination with space but then as he grew older fell into different interests until it was ignited in him again during college. What he couldn't have known was that the path that he was on (studying engineering and how humans interact with machines) was actually just what he needed to catch the interest of NASA. Which is not to say things were easy.

He was in good shape, good mental health, fit well personality wise that they were looking for but....bad eyes. And it's not like he's a pilot. He's a payload specialist. So in the years before LASIK he worked with doctors to correct his eyes in nonsurgical ways. Through practice and training he corrected his eyesight enough to get in the range of what NASA would accept. High stress!

I think that Mass loved the science, and being in space but the feeling that I get from the book is that he loved the family aspect of NASA the most. The camraderie and the team mentanlity really appealed to him and he needed to lean on that a few times with bumps in his perosnal life.

Also, if you're a Big Bang Theory fan you may recognize Mass as the American astronaut that Howard goes to space with. He started as a science advisor for the show and then they're

This was also a well timed read for me because I read it shortly after John Glenn's death and I needed a little space in my life.

A good, easy to read book that is less snark and more science than others that I have read by other astronauts. Though there is certainly room in my reading life for both types!

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review from Blogging for Books