Category: Uncategorized

More Time Travel in Review: The River of No Return

February 22, 2021 Uncategorized 2 ★★★

More Time Travel in Review: The River of No ReturnTitle: The River of No Return
Author: Bee Ridgway
Source: from publisher for review
|Goodreads
Rating:three-stars

Summary: This was a great adventure story with a fun romance, but the time travel rules were silly and the ending was lackluster.

This is the second time travel novel I’ve read recently – unusual for me, because I know they’re unlikely to have internally consistent time travel rules that satisfy me. This book lived down to expectations in that regard. The time travel mechanics were a mix of totally nonsensical and non-existent. Fortunately, they’re largely irrelevant for most of the book except to allow the set-up for the plot. On a global scale, we have intrigue and mystery because different people want to use time travel in different ways. At the personal level, we have Nick who’s time travelled from from the early 1800s to 2013. In 2013, he’s been helped to settled in by the Guild, provided with tons of money and given several rules for time travel. He’s living very comfortably until the Guild wants to send him back in time to try to revisit his old life. This leaves Nick struggling to decide what he wants now that he has knowledge of the future, more present-day values, a second chance with a woman he was infatuated with, and the ability to return to the future if he likes. Read more »

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Microhistory Review: Queen of Fashion

February 17, 2021 Uncategorized 4 ★★★★

Microhistory Review: Queen of FashionTitle: Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution
Author: Caroline Weber
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:four-stars

Summary: I loved all the little details of fashion in daily life that were included in this book, as well as the thorough citations supporting them.

I’m not sure if it’s entirely fair to call this a microhistory, since it does cover the fairly large topic of the French Revolution. However, it does so through the narrow, but informative lens of Marie Antoinette’s fashion choices. That topic is narrow enough that I was skeptical about how interesting it would be. While a lot of people in the goodreads group I read this with did find it too dense, I’m happy to say that my concerns were unfounded. I thought this was a fascinating way to look at this time period. The author included delightful details of daily life, backed up by thorough citations of primary sources. She also made a convincing argument that Marie Antoinette’s fashion was influential enough that it was a worthwhile frame through which to analyze this time period. Read more »

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Nonfiction Review: Homo Deus

February 15, 2021 Uncategorized 2 ★★★★

Nonfiction Review: Homo DeusTitle: Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow
Author: Yuval Noah Harari
Source: from publisher for review
|Goodreads
Rating:four-stars

Summary: This book went off on some tangents and made some unconvincing claims, but it was engaging and made me think about the world in new ways.

There was a lot to like about this book and also some aspects that bothered me quite a bit. For one, it’s supposed to be about what humanity’s next challenges will be. Now that we (mostly) know how to prevent famine, plague, and war, the author begins by asking what subsequent challenges humanity will focus on. He does acknowledge that knowing how to solve problems is different from having solved them. He also presciently notes that a runaway plague could happen if management of the situation was poor. So what bothered me here wasn’t the premise, although I was initially skeptical. What bothered me was that the bulk of the book felt tangential to answering that question. As an example, a large section of the book focused on how human beings view animals. Do we think they have self-awareness? What does science have to say on that topic? Supposedly this section was going to be important for a later section discussing how upgraded humans or AI might treat ‘normal’ humans in the future. We never really returned to these ideas later though. Read more »

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Light Fiction in Mini-Reviews

February 10, 2021 Uncategorized 10 ★★★

Light Fiction in Mini-ReviewsTitle: How to Walk Away
Author: Katherine Center
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:three-stars

 

I debated how to rate this light, heartwarming, romantic read about a woman recovering from some devastating changes in her life. I enjoyed that it was light and heart warming. I adored the romance and found the connection the characters formed convincing. I also enjoyed the main character’s sense of humor. However, this book dealt with even extremely difficult topics very lightly. Financial difficulties were mysteriously non-existent. Difficult family relationships were magically repaired. The main character’s darkest moments were skimmed over, while happier moments were given a lot of time. There was a central character who was disabled and the book handled that fairly well. The general consensus in goodreads reviews seems to be that the author avoids suggesting a ‘cure’ is needed for happiness and other offensive tropes. As with many of the other challenges characters face though, the difficulty of moving through the world with a disability was also glossed over. While I probably enjoyed this 4-stars worth while reading it, it’s predictability and lack of depth mean it hasn’t stuck with me as more than a 3-star read. Read more »

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Black History Month Review: A More Beautiful and Terrible History

February 8, 2021 Uncategorized 6 ★★★★

Black History Month Review: A More Beautiful and Terrible HistoryTitle: A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History
Author: Jeanne Theoharis
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:four-stars

Summary: Full of fascinating history, but slightly repetitive, I’d most recommend this to activists today.

This was a fascinating look at the way the history of the Civil Rights movement has been rewritten to support today’s status quo. Useful lessons that history could provide for movements today are ignored. The hard work leading up to the wins; the many ordinary individuals involved; and the goals not met are all erased. I loved learning more about the true history here. It also led to some great discussion for my book group. Read more »

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Favorite Fiction in Review: Arcardia

February 4, 2021 Uncategorized 4 ★★★★★

Favorite Fiction in Review: ArcardiaTitle: Arcadia
Author: Iain Pears
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:five-stars

Summary: The world building and clever, complex plot of this book were a ton of fun!

This was such an incredible book, one I feel almost certain will be a favorite of the year, early though it is. It included so many elements that I really love in fiction. For one thing, it includes several extremely different story lines. One takes place in Oxford during the Cold War, following a professor who’s writing a novel, but who also still dabbles in espionage. The second is a technocratic dystopia and the last is a rustic society with little technology and great reverence for storytellers. So, all in one, we have a cold war mystery, plus sci-fi, and fantasy storylines. Incredibly, all were equally engaging and it was fantastic fun to puzzle out how the stories connected. Read more »

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Short Story Reviews: Difficult Women

February 1, 2021 Uncategorized 4 ★★★★

Short Story Reviews: Difficult WomenTitle: Difficult Women
Author: Roxane Gay
Source: Bought
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:four-stars

Summary: These were some challenging stories, but they were also unique, visceral, memorable.

I love Roxane Gay’s nonfiction and admire her as a public intellectual. However, I’ve heard enough about Gay’s fiction, from her talks and from reviews, that I knew this short story collection wasn’t likely to be a great fit for me. Roxane Gay doesn’t shy away from difficult topics and writes sensitively, but directly, about sex, violence, and times when the two intersect. I tend towards happier stories, preferring to read something real if I’m going to make myself read on a tough topic. This collection was a mix of stories on some truly horrifying acts of violence; on sexual and romantic relationships that fall outside social norms; and on female power, desire, and friendships. Read more »

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