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review 2018-12-09 06:39
rising from the ashes
Riding Towards Shadows - Nellie Merthe Erkenbach

Riding Towards Shadows really impressed me more than most books I've read in recent months.

A self-discovery novel that exudes strength and vulnerability at the same time, is personal and also help (almost instructions) for women in a similar situation. Nellie Merthe Erkenbach takes us on her journey through the pain of loss, a journey into her past, which she undertakes to heal in the present.

The Glasgow of the 1990s is an unknown world but opens up through Erkenbach’s vivid descriptions and flashbacks.

Riding Towards Shadows is a "road movie" and that's why the vehicle plays a special role; her motorcycle, a Harley-Davidson Sportster, is almost mythical, a symbol of masculinity that helps this woman to emancipate from male stereotypes. The actual journey thus becomes an inner development, a maturing process.

Because these are real people, some characters remain a little unclear but this gives the story a certain kick.

Riding Towards Shadows is suffering from love lost and growing through dealing with the pain, it is not a humorous book but one that stays with the reader for a long time after the last page is turned.  

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review 2018-12-04 12:55
The Glass Universe by Dava Sobel (audiobook)
The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars - Dava Sobel, Cassandra Campbell

This books gives a historical overview of the astronomy work at Harvard done and funded by women starting in the mid nineteenth century. It basically describes how some of the directors were forward-thinking enough to hire women first as computers and then (eventually) as outright astronomers and some of the steps taken to ensure that women were at least eligible for some of the awards that were eventually funded. Sadly, being eligible seems like a pretty low bar, but you have to start somewhere, right?

 

It was interesting albeit a bit dry in parts, and I'm not sure that audio was the best format for a book like this although the narrator, Cassandra Campbell, was quite good. It cuts off in the 1950s, although it references some of the discoveries made and awards won later on.

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review 2018-12-03 01:56
Joan Of Arc's inspirational life story shines through in this unique novel told entirely in verse
Voices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc - David Elliott

This book is exquisite. ‘Voices: The Final Hours Of Joan Of Arc’ has brought life once again to one of the most unforgettable and extraordinary female warrior icons. Everyone knows her name, but do they know her story?

 

Told in verse, in different medieval forms of poems, ’Voices’ is so unique (some stanzas are shaped like the subject that is ‘speaking,’ ie the sword or the crossbow). David Elliott has written such a compelling account of Joan’s short life from her beginnings in Domrémy, to her visions of the Saints, the battles she led against the English, and her eventual capture and execution. The encroaching ‘Fire’ poem that repeats throughout the novel is particularly clever and impactful.

 

Back then in 1430 France (when she was captured and put on trial), Joan was viewed with suspicion and as an affront to the Crown because she dressed in armor and wanted to ’look like a man’. She didn't believe she should have to stay at home ’to sew and mate’ when a war was being fought, simply because she didn't want to, never mind her sexuality. Her story has always been known as one of the earliest examples of a woman standing up against misogyny, against a patriarchal system that didn't make sense to her, and because her beliefs simply wouldn't allow her to sit down and accept what was happening around her.

Joan’s voice and perspective come through clearly in the novel as brave and courageous, with the right bit of stubborn. She questions the system and pursues her objectives, which give the novel an obvious ambiance of inspiration throughout. I only really wanted more from the novel when it came to the trial and perhaps the very end of her life.

Joan became a Saint after her death and was declared a martyr for everything she gave for ’God and country’. I did appreciate the epilogue and author's note at the end of the book; it seems this work was a labor of love and I enjoyed reading about its inception.

 

Joan of Arc is a historical figure who is infamous because of the brave, short life she lived, with such a tragic death, and I think Elliott has written something brilliant here that can draw many people in to learn more about her.

Source: www.goodreads.com/book/show/40796139-voices
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review 2018-11-27 21:36
Fun from start to finish
Mary B: An untold story of Pride and Prejudice - Katherine K. Chen

I'm fairly sure that I've mentioned before that there are two books that I reread every single year and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is one of them. So it was kind of a no-brainer that I picked up Mary B. by Katherine J. Chen as it follows that story (with a little before and after) from the perspective of the middle daughter, Mary. The book focuses on what the author calls the 'forgotten Bennet sister' and follows her personal evolution beginning from her childhood and giving readers a glimpse into what happened with the Bennet, Bingley, and Darcy families after the last page of Pride and Prejudice was turned. This book was a surprise for me in a lot of ways. Firstly, I loved it. I felt like I was reading a trashy romance novel that had gotten mixed together with the classic book of the early 18th century. While I agree that it's a bit out-of-the-box in terms of what certain characters would and wouldn't do I didn't care in the least if someone did or said something 'out of character'. I knew going in that this was Chen's vision and it was bound to be different from Austen's. Secondly, this book was entertaining from start to finish and had me giggling uncontrollably at all of the spicy content. (This book is so spicy, ya'll.) Turns out Mary is headstrong, outspoken, non-traditional, and dare I say the most intelligent Bennet sister.  This book is a love letter to anyone who ever felt like they didn't belong or maybe wasn't enough. YOU ARE. If Mary can buck tradition and kick some major butt in the process then you can too. Also, it's clear Chen had a bee in her bonnet about how Mary was treated and overlooked in terms of character development by Austen in the original book. She certainly took care of that with Mary B.. 10/10

 

A/N: I'm not generally a fan of romance novels but there's something about the world that Austen crafted that makes me especially susceptible. I take comfort in the fact that I'm definitely not alone if her books are still being re-imagined. :-P

 

What's Up Next: The Ghost in the Mirror by John Bellairs & completed by Brad Strickland

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond

 

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-11-26 19:40
Historical figures: Awesome ladies edition
Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation - Cokie Roberts

This book was just what was needed to pull me out of a reading slump. Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation by Cokie Roberts is an account of the women who supported and helped shape the development of the democratic government in the United States. While I initially thought that this would yield minimal new information considering how heavily this period of time was covered during my schooldays I discovered just how wrong (and ignorant) I was especially in regards to the women. I realized that it had never occurred to me to wonder just how long the absences of these women's husbands were during the creation of the Declaration of Independence, Constitution (including the Articles of the Confederation), and the U.S. government as a whole. Not to mention how absolutely strong-willed and informed these women were about the affairs of state (which was beneficial as they passed on the latest news to their husbands through extensive letter writing). Best couple award goes to George and Martha Washington who were the most well-adjusted and steadfast couple of the lot. Martha went everywhere George went including Valley Forge where she was instrumental in keeping the morale of the men up (and getting them to stay at all) as well as organizing other women into organized sewing groups to keep the troops clothed. Favorite woman of the many discussed was hands down Abigail Adams who not only had the keenest mind but also the sharpest tongue. She had no problem telling John where to go and letting him know that just because he was away didn't mean that the romance in their relationship needed to suffer. In fact, theirs was the most strained relationship of all as John was in high demand and for the majority of their marriage they were separated as he worked tirelessly in his work as a member of the Continental Congress and then later as the Vice President. If you, like me, love reading about confident women and relish learning new things about a slice of history you thought you had thoroughly mapped then I must point you in the direction of Founding Mothers. 10/10

 

PS Benjamin Franklin was the worst.

 

What's Up Next: Mary B. by Katherine J. Chen

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond

 

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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