This book is awesome sauce. Jeannine Davis-Kimball's interestingly written and amazingly information Warrior Women: An Archaeologist's Search for Hist...moreThis book is awesome sauce. Jeannine Davis-Kimball's interestingly written and amazingly information Warrior Women: An Archaeologist's Search for History's Hidden Heroines was just what I needed to get me out of my all YAL SFF, all the time rut.
Davis-Kimball came to archaeology late in life - or at least later than the norm as she had already had a "life" prior - but man did she attack her new career with awesome dedication. The woman impressed me almost as much as the book, and that's saying something as I found the book very impressive.
Davis-Kimball's focus on powerful women in history is the result of her work with Eurasian burial grounds. During her digs in the steppes, she, quite literally, unearthed evidence of egalitarian societies, of women warriors and priestesses, of powerful (to use today's vernacular) housewives and mothers. And she uncovered for me - what was probably not surprising to her - that patriarchal societies (including the modern one) actively work to suppress evidence suggesting that women were anything more than subordinate to men. Ever. Even today, our powerful women throughout history are presented as out of the ordinary, as uncharacteristic and commendable examples of womanhood, as ones who rose above their allotted space. Turns out that space may have been allotted much later in our history than previously imagined; then again, we seem to operate under the assumption that women were (are) inferior from the very beginnings of time, so maybe that's not saying much.
While primarily interested in the role of women in Eurasian nomadic societies, her discoveries with these cultures led her to Western cultures also as archaeological evidence quite clearly suggests the two societies were in contact - even blended living spaces. Caucasoid mummies have been found in China, and religious and cultural iconography and even clothing styles appear in both Eurasian and Western digs. Yeah, stuff like this geeks me out. The idea of two cultures so removed from each other geographically meeting and sharing is just freaking awesome. It's not like travel was easy-peasy back then, and it takes some serious balls to wander into the unknown with very little and no real way back.
I could regale you with tale after tale, with fact after fact; the book is brimming with interesting tidbits that are both entertaining and insightful. I even started marking pages so I could add in this or that fact to the review. But I marked so many pages that I realized the best thing I could do would be to urge you to read this on your own.
The writing here is accessible, academic, and narrative; Davis-Kimball's voice is relatable, and I enjoyed listening to her (figuratively speaking). And there are sidebars and footnotes - which I love. Unreasonably so to be honest. I have a thing for sidebars and footnotes, and the ones in this book are certainly worthy of my love.
My only issue with the book concerned the structure. There is very little regard to chronology, and at times, 'what came first' actually is an issue. Placing the discoveries in context is important for a comprehensive view, and very little of that occurs here. It's almost as if I am being given chunks of information which I have to piece together myself to see the big picture. For someone very unfamiliar with the topic, this is not exactly easy, and I would have preferred a bit more in the way of organization.
Overall though, I so thoroughly enjoyed reading Warrior Women that I'm 80% sure I am going to break my new rule regarding donating books I've already read. Yep, I may have to keep this one on my shelves. Bad me. (less)
As always John Green has impressed me with his ability to write a story filled with unique and believable characters, well crafted language, and deepl...moreAs always John Green has impressed me with his ability to write a story filled with unique and believable characters, well crafted language, and deeply felt emotion. While bittersweet - how can it not be when the primary characters are teenagers with cancer? - the story does not drown in tears; as a matter of fact, the characters are very down-to-earth. Hazel, the protagonist, has known her death was fast approaching from the moment she was diagnosed with cancer. A lucky shot with an experimental drug keeps her tumors at bay, but her lungs still aren't pumping properly so she remains hooked to oxygen. Despite all of this (because of this?), she is funny and honest and admirably realistic. Attending Cancer Kid Support Group meetings to appease her mother, Hazel there meets Augustus, and so begins their relationship with each other...and with Peter Van Houten, the reclusive author of Hazel's favorite book. I highly recommend reading the book to figure out how it all works out and adds up to quite the reading experience.
The true star of this novel is the language. Beautifully written, perfectly descriptive, the words flow off the page, lyrically (without being pretent...moreThe true star of this novel is the language. Beautifully written, perfectly descriptive, the words flow off the page, lyrically (without being pretentious). Many of these words focus on Le Cirque de Reves, the circus of dreams, a living stage for a competition between two gifted illusionists. The circus breathes with a life of its own and rarely have I read a novel where setting played such a vital, emotive role in the story.
The story, as well as the circus, is populated with memorable, distinctive characters. The twins Poppet and Widget, the mysterious contortionist Tsukiko, the simple yet powerful Isobel, all the constructors of the circus, the wonderfully wonderful clockmaker, and of course, the competitors Marco and Celia, all of the characters captured my imagination. I just wish I knew more of them.
That would be my only complaint with this novel. I wish I knew more. Then again, perhaps the not knowing is part of the appeal in a story which is, in part, about the mysterious and magical.(less)
A series of short reflections about World War Z, the novel is highly emotional. Parts actually gave me nightmares. Overall, a very thought-provoking t...moreA series of short reflections about World War Z, the novel is highly emotional. Parts actually gave me nightmares. Overall, a very thought-provoking tale about human nature. The movie has practically nothing to do with the book which is by far the more evocative, more painful, and more satisfying choice.(less)
Cryogenic space travel. A fascinating look at ship culture. Thought control. Non-stop action. Love story secondary (thank God). More adult than I expe...moreCryogenic space travel. A fascinating look at ship culture. Thought control. Non-stop action. Love story secondary (thank God). More adult than I expected.(less)
While I found the world building a bit less detailed than I would like, the character building is fantastic. Multiple characters are given deep backst...moreWhile I found the world building a bit less detailed than I would like, the character building is fantastic. Multiple characters are given deep backstories and rich personalities, and their uniqueness and depth is what kept me coming back for more. And to top off my character-love, this may be the first YA love triangle that doesn't annoy me to death.(less)