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review 2019-10-08 22:22
Without A Summer (Glamourist Histories Series Book 3) - Mary Robinette Kowal
Without A Summer (Glamourist Histories Series Book 3) - Mary Robinette Kowal

Read out of order, therefor reviewed out of order, sorry.

 

This time Kowal sends the Prince Regent's glamourists to London in order to give Jane's sister a proper season. Unfortuantely, it's the Year of No Summer, 1816. There is labor unrest and dirty tricks and this whole business of finding Melody a suitable husband.

 

The interweaving of the real food shortage and labor unrest with the fictional and fantastic Worshipful Company of Coldmongers is very well done. Certainly there were a great number of children working in many dangerous industries at the time to provide a suitable model. Part of the great charm here is how closely Kowal can follow the Austen model of trying to find a suitable husband for a single woman of 20, and also bring to it further depth of plotting and character development and world-building.

 

And there is thrilling courtroom drama.

 

 

Library copy.

 

 

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review 2019-10-05 22:40
Out of Salem - Hal Schrieve
Out of Salem - Hal Schrieve

I read this as part of Halloween Bingo, so the fact that this book could reasonably be applied to about half the squares is woth mentioning. This is the first book I've read which used the singular nongendered they/their as pronouns, which slowed me down a bit at the beginning. But it worked, and never felt gimmicky. Z. was a plausible fourteen year old zombie who's entire family died in an auto accident: only Z reanimated.

 

There's werewolves and high school bullying and good teachers and bad teachers and a growing movement in favor of shooting all the monsters. As a metaphor, it is terrifying. But it's also the story of school misfits becoming friends, and of teens solving a mystery, so there is significant fun as well as the terror.

 

I'm delighted it was recommended to me, and I can't wait to read Shrieve's subsequent books. As good as this debut was the next one should be astounding.

 

 

Library copy

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review 2019-10-02 02:07
An Inspector Calls - J.B. Priestley
An Inspector Calls - J.B. Priestley

Forty years since my first reading. It's still a compelling and catchy story. I love the unsolved mystery of it, as well as the solved one. All of the details were lost to me, only the barest plot outlined remained, and yet, it was memorable.

 

 

Library copy

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review 2019-09-29 17:17
The Day of St. Anthony's Fire - John Grant Fuller Jr.
The Day of St. Anthony's Fire - John Grant Fuller Jr.

Heartbreaking and Truly Terrifying.

 

I was sitting around the supper table with my family discussing theories about the Salem Witch Trials. The ergot theory was put forward, and I dismissed it, largely because of the scale: hundreds of people accused, tortured, and tried over more than a year, but also because the initial accusers would roll around on the floor in seeming fits but immediately recover, and none of them suffered anything like an actual injury during those supposed fits. Then the Spouse mentions that French town, you know...

 

I did not know. I had never previously heard of the book nor the incident it describes in well-researched, well-documented, and well-communicated detail. In August of 1951 some three hundred people in and around Pont-Saint-Esprit in Provence, France were poisoned. It was a horrible accident that killed five people,hospitalized more than a hundred, and caused many to suffer lasting debilitation.

 

As a medical mystery, it is enthralling. All the local GPs as well as the large number of treating physicians from the nearest largest cities agreed they were seeing an event out of history a mass poisoning due to ergot. They had to look in history books to get treatment ideas.

 

Then there's the legal mystery: who are what will be blamed and have to pay? The investigators had quickly found the suspect flour, but then there were years of examining the evidence. The police couldn't accept the ergot theory because the volatile alkaloids disappeared too quickly and too completely. There was literally no evidence. The legal wrangling that followed lasted a decade.

 

It's a fascinating book for those interested in medical or historical mysteries. Fuller is thorough in his recounting, but never boring. Since I didn't have Truly Terrifying, I took advantage of that black dust jacket for

 

Library copy

 

 

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review 2019-02-06 20:20
"Keep the Damned Women Out": The Struggle for Coeducation (The William G. Bowen Series) - Nancy Weiss MalkielĀ 
"Keep the Damned Women Out": The Struggle for Coeducation (The William G. Bowen Series) - Nancy Weiss Malkiel

I've already mentioned how deeply angry this book makes me. Stabby, even. It took me forever to get through it with the constant need to put it down and let my blood pressure return to normal.

 

So, long about the mid-sixties the most elite private colleges in the US and UK discovered decreasing numbers of applications, and a smaller percentage of registrations from the number of successful applicants. High school students were preferring to attend public institutions that were not segregated by gender. Then it kind of became a free-for-all as they each (in the case of the Ivys and most of the Seven Sisters) raced to go coed before one another, so as not to lose too many of their highest-ranked applicants to whichever one got there first.

 

Some schools managed better than others, but they all bollixed it up somehow. Interestingly, non of the Ivies focused on the idea of fairness, or anything really any loftier than not losing applicants. Not surprisingly, many people had trouble grasping the idea that female college students were primarily interested in a college education for themselves, rather than existing to enrich the environment for male college students. This was less of a problem at Oxbridge where women's colleges existed within the university system already. All the boy schools got tremendous push-back from alumni, most of whom got over their ire when they realized that their daughters or granddaughters could now attend the alma mater. Idiots.

 

The girls schools got similar push-back from alumna, but had more realistic concerns about loss of leadership roles for women students and employment opportunities for women professors, valid concerns as it turns out. The women's colleges that didn't enroll men in the first wave mostly didn't ever: there remained a market for women-only schools.

 

Quality scholarship on a topic that just makes me seethe. Highly recommended for anyone with the intestinal fortitude to wade through so many old men being stupid.

 

Library copy

 

 

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