Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I've considered myself a feminist for probably about ten years now, since I w...moreSource: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I've considered myself a feminist for probably about ten years now, since I was a teenager and started learning what feminism could mean. That commitment has never wavered through years of attacks on feminism, women, etc. But I haven't read many of the classic feminist texts (bell hooks being someone I keep meaning to try but I keep getting sidetracked by all the fantastic YA fiction out there!) so I do keep an eye out for new texts that could become feminist classics.
Unfortunately I don't anticipate this being one of those works. It's written very simply and engaging but is ultimately very simplistic. My main reaction to everything was "...and? Your point is?" There really wasn't much depth and I was expecting more. I wonder if this might be a better starter feminist text because nothing in here was new or challenging to me. I feel like I was encouraged to create my own life that works for me, which, um, I was already doing.
There were some great ideas in here but I didn't think they received enough attention. For example, political rights are largely skipped over but there is an entire chapter on bikini waxing (dull as dishwater to me). Sexy feminists are given a brief profile but not very many-I would have loved some more analysis of contemporary women who are making their mark on feminism through their actions in the public eye. In some ways, the book seems to be more about making the word "feminist" more palatable to people by making it not sound so crazy (what is crazy about valuing the life and contributions of approximately 50% of the world's population as much as that of the other 50% I ask?) and I am in favor of that but I wish this book had more of substance to offer.(less)
Source: Received an ARC from Amazon Vine in exchange for an honest review.
This book first got my attention when I saw it featured by the publisher on...moreSource: Received an ARC from Amazon Vine in exchange for an honest review.
This book first got my attention when I saw it featured by the publisher on Netgalley; unfortunately my copy expired before I got to it so I was pleased to see it for offer on Amazon Vine, giving me another chance to check out what seemed to be billed as a very gripping read. While it was not to my taste, I think there will be fans of the story.
I've always heard that little girls love horses but maybe there was something wrong with me because I never got it. Horses are big and smelly and I had less than zero interest in them. Instead I was interested in this book because of the billing of a daring heiress (Marion duPont), teenage jockey (Bruce Hobbs), an American horse (the titular Battleship), and the converging paths of all the people necessary to make a racing legend like Battleship.
The conclusion to this book with that final race that made his name was very exciting. It shows clearly all the hard work and time invested that was necessary to reach that point. However many of the passages before that bored me. There was so much information about horses and racing and I did not care nor did I need full recaps of all the races that even remotely related to the story. My expectation of this book was that it would be filled with engaging writing and be accessible to laymen and I don't feel like it met either of those.
I did enjoy the passages that focused more on the humans especially Marion's life of seemingly confirmed spinsterhood in an era that really condemned such a fate to two somewhat surprising marriages against her lifelong passion for horses. The jockey, Bruce's, story was also fascinating with his tough upbringing under his strict horse-mad trainer father that led to the very tall young man riding to victory on a comparatively small horse.
Overall: Not to my taste at all!
Note: As I read an ARC, it lacked footnotes or endnotes and pictures, both of which I hope are in the final product. I would love to see how Battleship stacked up next to the bigger horses mentioned over the course of the novel.(less)
I picked this up after having my interest piqued with the news that "The Bletchley Circle" will be coming to PBS in April. This show fo...moreSource: Library
I picked this up after having my interest piqued with the news that "The Bletchley Circle" will be coming to PBS in April. This show follows women who had worked at Bletchley Park during WWII. I was also interested in the life and times of Maggie Hope and just a general interest in code breaking.
Although I knew a little about breaking the German Enigma code, there was still much ground to explore as this book covers some of the ciphering that went on during World War I as well as the time period leading up to the second world war; there were those prescient enough to plan ahead so that England had a jump start when war did break out. Then of course this covers through the war and its aftermath, including decades long silence on the part of its participants. They still don't know everyone who worked here as records weren't kept and some have taken/will take the secret to the grave.
This book captured well the intensity of life at Bletchley Park alternating with the tedious parts. They worked eight hour shifts around the clock, switching shift times every week. Some of the work was repetitious and much of it was dull albeit vital. Because of the young women who cross-referenced the deciphered work painstakingly on index cards, they were able to stockpile and analyze a great amount of information that may have aided and cut down on the length of the war.
The amazing thing to me is how secret this was kept. People in the nearby town knew something was happening. Relatives of the men here wondered why they weren't at the front. But for the most part, people just kept their heads down and didn't probe. I'm so amazed at the lack of blabbing and the general agreement of everyone to just keep going. The reminiscences of people further back up the attitude of the time.
Overall: An interesting book about something I bet most Americans don't know much about. I would have liked to read more about the actual code breaking but this was very absorbing and educational.(less)
Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Jane Austen is my favorite author so whenever I see something related to her,...moreSource: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Jane Austen is my favorite author so whenever I see something related to her, my interest is piqued. While enjoying a very pleasurable rereading of Pride and Prejudice, I noticed many points that I hadn't before. I thought about age and the way the characters related to each other and the way Austen phrased. These are some of the items addressed in Mullen's work here, a true labor of love, stemming from his years studying Austen. He delves deeply into the minutiae, the little details that some may skip over but that make Austen's novels.
Among the questions are "How Much Does Age Matter?", "Do Sisters Sleep Together?", and "What Do the Characters Call Each Other?" Although I had pondered some of these themes, most of them were new to me. Especially interesting was discussions about the role of weather, if servants ever appear, and which card games are for bettors. He draws on all six of the published novels in addition to referencing Sandition. Every possible relevant item is included in his exhaustive chapters. Consequently even I found this a bit overwhelming. I would definitely not recommend this to a casual fan. No, it is most definitely intended for the serious Austen reader. You will also probably want to have read all six novels (possibly multiple times) in order to be familiar with everything he references. And be warned, that this book will probably make you want to read the books again. On tap for my 2013 is Mansfield Park and possibly Emma as well.
This book did feel on the academic side and as the book progressed, I found myself feeling a bit tired. Certain sections are referenced different times for different points and I may have read this too fast. If I read just one chapter every week or on occasion, I probably would have been able to process everything more thoroughly and not find it so dry.
Overall: Recommended for the Austen-ite; others will likely find it all too much.(less)
I love the idea for this book-it is right up my alley as a history major who specialized in US history. I love collections of truths and myths that br...moreI love the idea for this book-it is right up my alley as a history major who specialized in US history. I love collections of truths and myths that break them down in easy-to-read ways and this looked like the perfect quick read for me.
And it was a quick read. Each entry is only about one page and includes a picture to further illustrate the point. The writing was easy to read and due to the shortness, you can very quickly read this book. I think it would be fun to pick it up and read an entry or two at a time. It looks like a nice book to support The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and its missions of preservation and education.
However I ended up being disappointed on a few counts. First the focus is mostly on colonial times (which is forecast by the collaboration with The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation but which I didn't notice). I thought it would cover a longer period of time and be more mixed. But most of the myths come from colonial times with just a few from later days. Second was the myths themselves, most of which I had never even heard of-two separate mentions of room taxes as a for example. I guess these are questions that tourists ask when visiting Colonial Williamsburg, which makes me very worried for our school system if in fact American-educated people are thinking these things are true. My expectations were that I would have at least heard of the myths even if I knew they were false from my more specialized studying.
Overall: Good for some light reading but not recommended for history scholars.(less)
After finishing the first book Finishing the Hat, I was beyond excited to get my hands on this second book, which features a string of awesomeness, if...moreAfter finishing the first book Finishing the Hat, I was beyond excited to get my hands on this second book, which features a string of awesomeness, if not popular successes: Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Wood, and Assassins (my personal favorite Sondheim). And those sections were great. I loved finding out their origins and following their development. I was already pretty familiar with most of the lyrics but reading them over brought new pleasures. It was great to linger over and savor my imagination of how they might be staged (I have seen the filmed stage versions of the first two)
There are also more essays from Sondheim such as his opinion on awards (he appreciates those that come with cash) and one on critics. These were fascinating and I would have enjoyed more of them. I kept paging through some of the later sections, hoping for more essays.
Unfortunately the rest of the book wasn't too my taste, featuring Passion, Wise Guys/Bounce/Road Show: A Saga in Four Acts, and other musical, movie, and television songs from Sondheim. I just didn't really care. I wanted to read about complete shows that I loved. While I do think I'll find at least something to enjoy in Passion whenever I sit down to listen to it, I haven't done so yet and it fell flat for me. I feel so bad saying that but this review is my opinion and that's how I felt. Certainly theater geeks will want to read these but I found the content of the first book far superior.
Overall: Obviously something you'll want to complete the set but I preferred the first book.(less)
This is a hard review for me to write because I do not read much non-fiction. And most of what I have read in the past years was for academic research...moreThis is a hard review for me to write because I do not read much non-fiction. And most of what I have read in the past years was for academic research, not for fun. While I could produce an academic paper on this book, that would be decidedly not fun and it would not fit the content of my blog and general review style. But I still would like to be informative so here's my attempt :)
I was attracted to this book due to the presence of a certain Mr. Roosevelt, aka my favorite president and inspiration for my user name. 1858 is his birth year and TR was also a voracious reader, although I expect he read much more non-fiction than I did. This book covers the years of Roosevelt as a police commissioner on a mission to rid New York City of its vice, something that the people of NYC don't really want to do. Sure they don't want murderers, destruction of property, or burglaries but drinking, gambling, and prostitution were immensely popular activities and corruption within the Tammany Hall dominated police force was rampant.
Spurred by (mostly) Republican, native-born, wealthy Protestants though a crackdown on vice began enthusiastically by Roosevelt. As the city resisted reform though, Roosevelt began looking for an escape, which he found as Assistant Secretary of the Navy in William McKinley's cabinet on the way to the presidency.
As you might have guessed, I was most interested in the parts with Roosevelt, which made the beginning difficult as he is not really present. First we need the reformers to start agitating but for me, it was a slog. Happily Roosevelt is such a dynamic presence that once he arrives on the scene, the book picked up for me. Still as someone now more used to fiction, I found this book difficult to read.
But the information provided about Roosevelt's stint as police commissioner was fascinating. It is not a period of his life I've studied much, preferring his governorship and presidency generally, so the information presented was new to me while also demonstrating how this period of time laid a lot of groundwork for Roosevelt's future success. He certainly refined his speechmaking abilities and we see his rigid combative self that would continue to impress and enthrall us.
Overall: Definitely a great read for those interested in TR or late-nineteenth century New York City/urban centers but not a must-read in any sense for those who are not.(less)
While Stephen Sondheim is one of my favorite composers and lyricists (Gypsy, Assassins, and A Little Night Music being among my favorite musicals), I...moreWhile Stephen Sondheim is one of my favorite composers and lyricists (Gypsy, Assassins, and A Little Night Music being among my favorite musicals), I wasn't originally interested in this book as I thought it was just a collection of Sondheim's lyrics. Interesting as I find the writing, I can read all of the lyrics online or just listen to the songs as I have recordings for all.
Then I found out that Sondheim also included notes about the writing of the shows and about specific lyrics, which sounded very interesting. Another bonus was the pictures of the cast and of Sondheim's handwritten lyrics although they're in black and white so you don't get to see the colorful clothes and hair styles of the cast.
The book covers roughly the first half of Sondheim's career, from 1954-1981. The shows included are Saturday Night, West Side Story*, Gypsy*, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Anyone Can Whistle, Do I Hear a Waltz?*, Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, The Frogs, Pacific Overtures, Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, and Merrily We Roll Along (asterisks denote shows where Sondheim wrote the lyrics only). This includes some great shows but I remain more interested in the shows that will appear in the second collection (specifically Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods, and Assassins).
This is a great collection for ANYONE interested in musical theater or songwriting as Sondheim does not just discuss his career but also lyric-writing (and creating a show in general) and evaluates other lyricists, such as Lorenz Hart and E.Y. Harburg. I hope that will be continued in the second collection as well.(less)