"The Queen of Four Kingdoms" is a historical fiction look at Yolande of Aragon, who, like many aristocratic women of her age is sent off to become the...more"The Queen of Four Kingdoms" is a historical fiction look at Yolande of Aragon, who, like many aristocratic women of her age is sent off to become the consort to Louis, the Duke of Anjou. Luckily for Yolande, her match actually becomes a great love. Unlike many other women of the time, Yolande actually rules her lands as the Duke keeps going to Italy in order to fight tooth and nail for the Kingdom of Naples. This book is all about how Yolande copes with balancing family (she and the Duke have a lot of children) and duty. The Kingdoms of Anjou and Aragon seem to be only mildly assuaged by Yolande and the Duke's match.
In this book, you have a fabulous main character to read about. Yolande definitely kept me reading. I really enjoyed this story. Yolande is a really interesting figure and I did not know much about her. I am not certain as to whether or not that I've read much about her in historical fiction before. I really liked reading about everything she was able to do while her husband was away. It was so interesting to me how much power she was able to have and how she was able to walk the line between caring for her children and ruling a kingdom. I also really liked the appearance of Jeanne d'Arc in this book. She is one of my favorite historical figures to read about. What a life! It was really interesting to see Yolande's take on what Jeanne did and was able to accomplish and also how her life was ended.
Overall, the writing of this book is really good. I found it enjoyable. The writing style is interesting. The book was written in third person present tense. I think I probably say this every time I read a book in that tense (it is just so different to me) but, it did take me awhile to get used to and drew my attention away at first. Slowly I warmed up to it and it really helped me to get into the story eventually. It was an interesting choice but in the end, I think that the author succeeded.
I would be remiss if I didn't draw attention to the author. The author is Princess Michael of Kent, the wife of Queen Elizabeth II's cousin. She also came from an aristocratic family. This gives her a very unique resume. Prior to this, she had written a couple books and the foreword in this book makes it sound like she will write more (Yay!).(less)
"HRC" is one of the latest in an onslaught of books that will probably come out about probable Presidential candidates for 2016 (it's not that far awa...more"HRC" is one of the latest in an onslaught of books that will probably come out about probable Presidential candidates for 2016 (it's not that far away in political terms, guys!!!). I had been wanting to read this book for quite awhile as Hillary Clinton is absolutely fascinating to me. She is definitely a divisive figure. Some really, really like her and have very high hopes for her chances in 2016. Others absolutely hate her and are terrified what another Clinton administration (this one presided over by the first Clinton's spouse) could mean for the country. This book looks mostly at Clinton's years during the 2008 election and her being chosen to be the chief diplomat for the country, the Secretary of State.
All in all, I thought this was a very even keeled book about Clinton (a lot of other books out there are not so balanced). The authors do make some leaps to conclusions in some places but for the most part, it is left up to the readers to make a decision on how they feel. I think this can be incredibly difficult to do with such a polarizing figure like Hillary Clinton. The authors definitely succeed here. I really appreciated that the authors drew on a lot of interviews with people who have known and worked with Clinton. Not all of the sources have been named but you can tell what kinds of people that the authors were dealing with.
Although Clinton did many things before her time presiding over the Department of State, I think her years there most clearly show how she worked and made strategic decisions that changed how people saw both her and the Department of State. You get some insight into her psyche here. I also liked all of the recounts of her stories from the road. Clinton traveled a lot when she was Secretary of State and seemed to strongly believe in the ability to "reach out and touch" rather than conducting business all of the time from Washington. Overall I thought this was a pretty good book.(less)
4.5 stars. I am a romantic at heart and admittedly I love reading Craigslist's Missed Connections. It is so strange and so beautiful to me to think th...more4.5 stars. I am a romantic at heart and admittedly I love reading Craigslist's Missed Connections. It is so strange and so beautiful to me to think that one passing glance could move some to post something about exchanging smiles on the street or on the Metro. It's even more beautiful to me when someone posts a Missed Connection about someone that they knew a long time ago and now with this digital age that we live in, not giving up hope that someday they might be able to reunite with someone that they loved and/or cared about. Human connection in all of its many forms is truly a beautiful thing.
This book explores that human connection through words and charming, sometimes whimsical drawings. I really loved it. Some of the Missed Connections are funny, some make you wonder about the people that wrote them, some make you wonder about the people they were written about, and some (and these are the ones that get me) are absolutely heartwrenching! This is one of those books that will make you feel all sorts of different feelings - it is definitely a rollercoaster ride!
If you like Missed Connections or even if you are just interested in reading about the human condition and the human heart, this book would be a great pick. I know that this is definitely going to be a book that I go back to over and over again!(less)
4.5 stars. "Operation Massacre" takes place during a very dark time in Argentina's history. It is the 1950s and the political establishment has been u...more4.5 stars. "Operation Massacre" takes place during a very dark time in Argentina's history. It is the 1950s and the political establishment has been upended. Charismatic President Juan Peron lost the presidency during a coup. The Peronistas try to stage an uprising, which fails, and journalist, Rodolfo Walsh is at the center of it trying to find out what happened. Walsh uses his skills as a journalist in order to shed some light on what happened during and after the uprising and how it affected the entire country. This is an unflinching true-life account of a country in chaos.
One of my majors in college was International Studies with a focus in Latin America. I am still endlessly fascinated about this area of the world and I am sort of surprised that I didn't come across this book earlier in my studies. I was very happy to be able to borrow it from a friend. It was really interesting to read about this event from a more on-the-ground approach than you would get from a standard history book. Walsh is a very driven individual and really wants to shed light on what happened. He draws on a lot of interviews and first hand accounts of people who were there and witnessed both the uprising and the fallout. I really liked that he focused so heavily on the accounts of people who were actually there and who actually witnessed
In a lot of ways, this book reminded me of Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood" in the way that it was told. It is a gripping story that pulled me in right from the beginning. I love learning history through books like this one as they get you right into the heart of the issue.
The history behind how this book was published is fascinating as well. This was originally published as magazine articles as the magazine was the only one brave enough to publish these stories (this would have been an incredibly controversial work during that time period). It's really fantastic that Walsh's work got published at all as the magazine editor could have just as easily said no for his own protection!
If you're interested in history and especially if you are interested in politics or South America, this is most definitely a worthwhile read!(less)
I had really been wanting to read something by Sarah Jio for awhile. All of her books have sounded so good to me and I really wanted to see what they...moreI had really been wanting to read something by Sarah Jio for awhile. All of her books have sounded so good to me and I really wanted to see what they were all about. I came across "Blackberry Winter" at the library and when I read what the story was about, I knew I had to read it. I can tell you I was not disappointed!
"Blackberry Winter" is the story of two women in two different times. There is Vera, a woman in the 1930s who is struggling to care for her young son and to make ends meet. There is Claire, a woman in present day Seattle who is struggling to make her marriage work after tragedy strikes. Claire is a reporter and finds herself following a lead about a cold case involving the disappearance of a child.
Time split books can be hit or miss for me. In the case of this book, it worked really well. There were so many different surprises throughout this book and real connections between the women that it just worked really well. Jio gives you just enough about the connection between the women to keep you reading just. one. more. page (this book was really hard to put down because of that)! The way that she was able to connect everything at the very end was thoroughly delicious.
I also really liked both of the characters in this book and found them equally interesting. I felt for both of the characters. Both are dealing with very different situations but both situations center on children and what it means to be a parent. Both of the characters felt really real to me. Vera was so interesting to me. She is out on her own during a time when it was really difficult for a woman to make her own way. Claire is dealing with her problems by throwing herself into her work. She eventually realizes that she has to deal with her problems and she can't hide any longer!
I know that this is not the last time I read a book by Sarah Jio!(less)
Many of us history lovers have heard the story of Typhoid Mary but not many of us really know her story. In this book, Mary Beth Keane brings her stor...moreMany of us history lovers have heard the story of Typhoid Mary but not many of us really know her story. In this book, Mary Beth Keane brings her story to life. Mary was a hardworking Irish woman who wanted to make her life being a cook for some of the fancy homes in her area. She found many good jobs but her dreams are crushed when it is found that although she does not have symptoms of typhoid fever, she can pass it on and she happens to pass it on through her food. Some believe that she is a public health hazard and must be stopped without any regard for her own health or happiness.
This was a really hard book to read in some places. It seems like Mary was punished in a lot of ways even though there really was not anything she could do about being a carrier of typhoid fever. She gets that but those in charge of public health don't get it at all. I really felt bad for her. It was interesting to me to see how the public in general felt about diseases and how the doctors did not really understand how to prevent diseases or help people with said diseases. I really felt for Mary. She ends up not being able to live a really full life because of the typhoid.
This story also explores the issues of Mary both being a woman and an immigrant. The book makes the case for Mary receiving a lot of the bad treatment that she receives because of her being a woman and an unmarried woman at that. She had tried to rise above her station in life and was thwarted at every turn. There was also the issue of her being Irish. Back during the early 1900s, the Irish immigrants coming to this country wer not well respected at all. They were treated as less than other people. I thought it was really fascinating how the author chose to tackle both issues.
This book was a very interesting read with a very memorable character.(less)
"The Love Artist" is the story of the famous poet, Ovid, and his exile from Rome. Not much is known about why exactly he was exiled. Not much is known...more"The Love Artist" is the story of the famous poet, Ovid, and his exile from Rome. Not much is known about why exactly he was exiled. Not much is known about what his life was like when he was exiled. The author is able to take what we do know and create a fascinating story about what may have happened to Ovid during that time period.
The book is definitely a quiet one and takes a little while to truly hit its stride. It eventually gets there but it just takes a little bit. It slowly unfolds as we find out about Ovid's exile and the woman that he meets there that will change the course of his life, both personal and creative. He very quickly falls in love with a woman that may have become the muse for Ovid's Medea, of which only two lines survive today. This woman is mysterious. She may even have some magical qualities and she may actually be a witch. Ovid molds her character into the perfect character for his work.
I liked the settings in this book most of all. I still have not read all that much historical fiction set in ancient times and I really find myself appreciating books that have a lot of detail about the setting. I love armchair traveling and definitely appreciated exploring somewhere new.
Overall, this was an interesting look at Ovid's life. (less)
"The Signature of All Things" is a sweeping historical-fiction novel that takes place in the 18th and 19th centuries, a time of great change in the sc...more"The Signature of All Things" is a sweeping historical-fiction novel that takes place in the 18th and 19th centuries, a time of great change in the scientific world. At its center is an absolutely fascinating character, Alma, who grows up in a world where her parents get her engaged in science at a very early age. She is never excluded from conversations because she is female and that creates a great sense of her being able to do whatever she wants. The characters and historical detail definitely made this book for me!
Alma is such an interesting character. Because this book takes place over such a long period of time, you really get to know Alma well and she just keeps getting more and more fascinating throughout the book. She is ahead of her time in a lot of ways and it was really awesome to read about how supportive her parents and family were of that fact. Alma becomes a noted botanist but because she is a woman, she has to do things like be published under pseudonyms and hide who she really is. Alma is whip smart and she knows it. She definitely regrets that as a woman, she doesn't have nearly the amount of opportunities that a man would have in pursuing and even speaking publically about her scientific work. She comes off as callous or haughty sometimes and I really enjoyed reading about her. This book has so much more to it though besides Alma's scientific pursuits. This book is also about family and unrequited love
This book is also good for armchair travelers. Parts of the book take place in Philadelphia, Tahiti, and the Netherlands mainly but there are other places too. Because Alma is such a fantastic character, you definitely enjoy traveling with her. Gilbert was definitely able to bring these places to life for me. Alma's time in the Netherlands and Tahiti stood out for me in particular!
I listened to this book on audiobook and while it took me awhile to get through it (the length is something like 24 hours), it was a great book to listen to. I must tell you that the narration was really fantastic. The narrator is British actress, Juliet Stevenson, who has been in a ton of different movies and tv shows. Her voice is so captivating!
Overall, historical fiction lovers will love this saga!(less)
4.5 stars. Wow! I've been trying to fit a little more non-fiction in my reading diet and this book was definitely a good pick. I was pretty much total...more4.5 stars. Wow! I've been trying to fit a little more non-fiction in my reading diet and this book was definitely a good pick. I was pretty much totally captivated all the through the entire book. This book is definitely a page turner. The book takes place during Hurricane Katrina in a hospital in New Orleans. As the situation gets more and more dire, the doctors are forced to make decisions that bring up many questions about ethics. There is so much to think about in this book and I know that this is definitely a book that is going to stay with me for a very long time after I finished.
I really think that books about ethical decisions are fascinating. What do you do when you are faced with a situation where any decision is more than likely going to have really bad consequences? The doctors and hospital staff are faced with terrible choices in this book. I have no idea what I would have done if I were in their place.
The writing in this book is great and can best be described as long-form journalism. I like that the author really left it up to the readers to decide what they felt about the situation. I love books that make you think. It feels like you get to get a little more involved with the book. Fink drew on many, many interviews in order to recreate what happened in Memorial during the storm. You can see what the hospital looked like as the water began to encroach on it. You can smell the horrible conditions. You can see the doctors, patients, and family and feel just how much they must have wanted to get out of that place.
Being interested in strategic planning, I also found the discussion on how the hospital did not really have a plan in place for what to do in a situation like a hurricane, which New Orleans sees quite frequently. This event spurred other hospitals to look at what they needed to be able to do when a major disaster happened, which Fink looks at a little bit.
4.5 stars. "Scarlet" is the second book in the fabulous Lunar Chronicles series from Marissa Meyer. I really love this series and you will too if you'...more4.5 stars. "Scarlet" is the second book in the fabulous Lunar Chronicles series from Marissa Meyer. I really love this series and you will too if you're looking for something off the beaten path, sci-fi-ish, and filled with fabulous and memorable characters. One thing that I loved about "Cinder," the first book in the series, and "Scarlet" is that both books are so original. The storyline is really interesting and imaginative! "Scarlet" is a sci-fi retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. Yes, I know that sounds a little odd but really, it is fantastic. You are going to be very lost with "Scarlet" if you don't read "Cinder" first. This book is not a stand-alone.
First off, the characters in this book continue to be outstanding. Meyer gives us a new heroine in Scarlet, a French girl who just wants to save her grandmother who has disappeared and left a mystery in her wake. You also have the reappearance of some other favorites from "Cinder" so you get to see how things turn out for some of those characters that you enjoyed so much in the first book. I really liked how each character was so unique and really had their own voice. These characters really felt three-dimensional to me.
The other excellent feature of this series is the world-building. Meyer built a great foundation in "Cinder" but things get even more complicated (in a wonderful way) in "Scarlet." Meyer goes into a lot more detail as to what is happening in the war between Earth and the Moon. You also get really good descriptions as to what its like where the characters are living. I liked that Meyer focused on both creating really good characters and creating a truly fascinating world for them to "play" in. I know that I am most definitely excited for the future books in this series!(less)
4.5 stars. Oh this book was really, really good! If you want a book where you only get little bits and pieces along the way until everything comes tog...more4.5 stars. Oh this book was really, really good! If you want a book where you only get little bits and pieces along the way until everything comes together in an absolutely fantastic mind-blowing ending, this is the book for you! This is a family story with a dose of family secrets and even a little bit of something verging on magical realism. Saba and Mahtab are sisters, twin sisters. They are utterly and inextricably connected to each other. When Mahtab and their mother leave Iran for America, Saba is left to imagine what their life may or may not be.
The characters in this book are stunning and are ones that I am going to be thinking about for a long time. The chapters are narrated by various characters, which I really liked. Sometimes having a lot of narrators doesn't work for me because I get confused but here the characters are so unique that I had no trouble and really enjoyed seeing things from different angles. The main character of this book, Saba, is so wonderful.I loved Saba. She is a dreamer. She and her sister talk about going to America all the time and are encouraged by their mother who is a little bit of a rebel herself. She wants to think the best of people and the best of her situation even when everything points to the contrary. I absolutely loved following her character as she unravels the mystery of her sister and her mother. I love sister stories but this story has something special with a story of twin sisters. It is so heartbreaking thinking about siblings being separated and the author makes you really feel that pain in this book.
I also really loved the setting of this book. The book takes place in a very turbulent time during Iran's history mostly in the 1980s but stretching beyond that. The author does a really, really good job of making you feel what it must have been like to be both in the big city and small towns of Iran during that time. I loved all of the detail.
The writing in this book was so good. As I mentioned previously, there are a lot of big secrets in this book and I thought the author did a really good job of giving you just enough information to make me want to just read a few more pages to see what was happening. Needless to say, I finished this book rather quickly as I kept wanting to put all of the pieces together! Definitely a good read! (less)
4.5 stars. "Eleanor and Park" is a fantastic book that I wholeheartedly recommend to anyone who has been an awkward teenager. I had heard people ravin...more4.5 stars. "Eleanor and Park" is a fantastic book that I wholeheartedly recommend to anyone who has been an awkward teenager. I had heard people raving and raving about this book and it took me much too long to get to. My TBR is always much too long and I never get to the books that I want to read very quickly. This book was certainly worth the wait though. Picture a John Hughes movie (oh yes, this takes place in the 1980s, which I absolutely loved) filled with a great storyline and truly memorable characters and this is exactly what you get with this book and it is wonderful, absolutely wonderful.
Oh, high school. At least for me, it was a time filled with a lot of fun and a ton of awkwardness. This book reminded me a lot of my first love in high school. Instead of bonding over comic books and moody 80s music, it was bonding over Incubus and Adam Sandler songs on the Debate Club bus (yes, I was a pretty cool teenager) for me. I think a lot of us will find common ground with Eleanor and Park. In high school, most of us haven't quite found the confidence that we find later on. Both of the main characters are going through that process in this book. They find a lot of confidence from each other, which is truly wonderful.
Now this book is not just a sweet love story; there is a lot more to this book than just that. Both Eleanor and Park's family life factor into this book. Eleanor comes from a truly horrendous family situation. Her stepfather is absolute scum that makes Eleanor feel really bad about herself. Her mother both defends her and is victimized by the stepfather but chooses to stay just because she believes their tenuous existence is better than what she would find elsewhere. Park has a pretty good family life but feels misunderstood by his parents who don't seem to be able to cope with the changes that he is starting to go through.
This book was well written. The author captures all of those little details that really made the characters feel real. This is the first book that I have read by Rainbow Rowell but I know it will not be the last!(less)
Oh, Ernest Hemingway, you will slay me every time! I know it's a huge trend and some may consider it overdone but I love all of the books, particularl...moreOh, Ernest Hemingway, you will slay me every time! I know it's a huge trend and some may consider it overdone but I love all of the books, particularly historical fiction books, that have been coming out about those surrounding really famous people. In the writing world, Ernest Hemingway is still regarded very well. His books are classics. His life was tumultuous, which makes him a perfect subject for a historical fiction writer to tackle. Erika Robuck does it with panache.
Mariella is a young woman who becomes a maid to Hemingway's wife, Pauline, after going through a couple of hard knocks. She is determined to make a better life for herself and is swept up in the chaotic Hemingway web as she starts to do so. The book explores whether or not she is able to create a new life without being derailed by everything that is going on around her and threatening to pull her down into something that she cannot dig her way out of. I really loved her character. She really had a compelling voice in this book. Her strength and fire made her a fantastic foil for Hemingway. I loved reading about how (less)
Are you looking for a cute, light love story? Then "Meant to Be" is for you! This was one of the books that I read for Dewey's Read-a-thon a little wh...moreAre you looking for a cute, light love story? Then "Meant to Be" is for you! This was one of the books that I read for Dewey's Read-a-thon a little while back and it was the perfect pick for the wee hours of the morning when I needed something light that would still totally engage me so I stayed awake.
I really liked the main character, Julia. Julia reminded me a lot of myself in high school. While I am still very much a rule player, I've definitely lightened up a little bit since high school. Also, we have the whole swimming thing in common. I liked seeing how she progressed from wanting to have everything planned out, even to the point of who she was supposed to be married. It took me a little bit longer than Julia to realize that you can't plan too far in the future or you're going to fall on your face in the present.
I liked the love story between Julia and Jason. Jason is totally carefree almost to the point of being careless. I wished that we would have gotten a little more insight into his character and his motives for being the way that he is but the lack of this doesn't take too much away from the story line between him and Julia. I really liked seeing how they fell for each other.
I absolutely love London and I loved that this book took place there. This book made me want to go back and experience some of the other things that I didn't get to experience when I was there for my honeymoon. Aside from being a cute love story, this book is definitely good for armchair traveling. Julia and Jason get to see and do a ton while they are on their school trip.
I would love to have known what happened to Julia and Jason once they get back to the States. Do they stay in love? Maybe there will be a sequel? I know that I am personally hoping for one!(less)