Source: from publisher for review

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Review: Shylock is My Name

February 11, 2016 Uncategorized 5

Review: Shylock is My NameTitle: Shylock Is My Name
Author: Howard Jacobson
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Amazon|Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

Summary: This was a clever, creative retelling, but I sometimes felt as though the author was trying too hard to be clever.

This retelling of The Merchant of Venice is the first book I’ve read in the exciting new Hogarth Shakespeare collection of retellings. Not only does this story include a modern retelling of The Merchant of Venice, mostly from the perspective of the modern day Shylock, the original Shylock himself shows up to have philosophical discussions, give advice, and possibly interfere. Read more »

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#FuturisticFriday Review and Giveaway: In the Land of Armadillos

February 3, 2016 Uncategorized 29

#FuturisticFriday Review and Giveaway: In the Land of ArmadillosTitle: In the Land of Armadillos: Stories
Author: Helen Maryles Shankman
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Amazon|Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: five-stars

Summary: I loved how these connected short stories revealed more layers of each character as they went and also how the magical realism and surprising acts of kindness brought hope to otherwise bleak stories.

This collection of connected short stories is set during the Nazi occupation of Wlodawa, Poland. The people we meet there include “a cold-blooded SS officer dedicated to rescuing the creator of his son’s favorite picture book, even as he helps exterminate the artist’s friends and family; a Messiah who appears in a little boy’s bedroom to announce that he is quitting; a young Jewish girl who is hidden by the town’s most outspoken anti-Semite—and his talking dog. And walking among these tales are two unforgettable figures: the enigmatic and silver-tongued Willy Reinhart, Commandant of the forced labor camp who has grand schemes to protect “his” Jews, and Soroka, the Jewish saddlemaker and his family, struggling to survive.” (source) Read more »

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Review: The Stargazer’s Sister

January 20, 2016 Uncategorized 27

Review: The Stargazer’s SisterTitle: The Stargazer's Sister
Author: Carrie Brown
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Amazon|Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: five-stars

Summary: This was fantastic historical fiction, with a fascinating time period and main character, both brought vividly to life.

Although you may recognize the name of William Herschel (astronomer, first to observe Uranus, designer of a new telescope), you may not know how involved his sister, Caroline, was in his work. Rescued from a life of drudgery with her uncaring mother, Lina was deeply grateful to come live with her brother. She embraced the knowledge he was able to share, becoming not only a capable assistant, but an impressive astronomer in her own right. Her abilities and independence gave her great joy, but, given her brother’s obsession with his work, they sometimes came at a high cost to her health and happiness as well. Read more »

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#FuturisticFriday Review: The Geography of Genius

January 19, 2016 Uncategorized 9

#FuturisticFriday Review: The Geography of GeniusTitle: The Geography of Genius: A Search for the World's Most Creative Places from Ancient Athens to Silicon Valley
Author: Eric Weiner
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Amazon|Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

Summary: This an enjoyable, engaging microhistory, full of lots of fun facts about some really interesting places.

Travel writer Eric Weiner’s exploration of genius begins with the observation that, historically, geniuses often appear in clusters, with many geniuses originating in one place during one era. To explore what made these places inspire genius, Eric visits places of past and present genius, from Athens to Silicon Valley. He observes  similarities and differences between the places he visits and connects them to many theories about what inspires creative thinking. Read more »

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Review: What She Knew

December 3, 2015 Uncategorized 8

Review: What She KnewTitle: What She Knew
Author: Gilly Macmillan
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Amazon|Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: five-stars

Summary: This thriller made me think about human nature and kept me guessing, on the edge of my seat, and up way too late.

When Rachel Jenner lets her son Ben run ahead in the woods, she’s just trying to be the fun parent – previously her ex-husband’s role. When Ben vanishes, Rachel is forced to question everything and everyone she knows. Everyone is a suspect, from complete strangers to the people Rachel knows best. Read more »

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Review: The Evolution of Everything

November 18, 2015 Uncategorized 8

Review: The Evolution of EverythingTitle: The Evolution of Everything: How New Ideas Emerge
Author: Matt Ridley
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Amazon|Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

Summary: This book covered a ton of fascinating topics, but was a bit disjointed and biased by the author’s politics.

Although we’re often taught that history is shaped by the actions of a few critical individuals, Matt Ridley argues that even the biggest changes throughout history have been the inevitable result of incremental change. He briefly argues for the evolutionary development of each of the biggest phenomenon in human history, from philosophy and religion to money, technology, and the internet. Read more »

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Review: Between the World and Me

November 15, 2015 Uncategorized 29

Review: Between the World and MeTitle: Between the World and Me
Author: Ta-Nehisi Coates
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Amazon|Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: five-stars

Summary: This was one of the most eye-opening, intellectually engaging books I’ve ever read.

If I’m honest, I’ve been putting off reading this book for ages. I’ve been nervous to pick it up both because I knew it wouldn’t be a “fun” or a light read and because I feel there’s a lot of room for me to put my foot in my mouth reviewing it. However, I’ve heard great things about it and think it’s an important book to read, so I decided to use the push from Nonfiction November and pick this up. To paraphrase the book summary, this is a book written as a letter to the author’s son attempting to answer questions about what it means to be a black man in America through his experiences and thoughtful commentary. Read more »

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Review: The Witches

October 27, 2015 non-fiction 28

Review: The WitchesTitle: The Witches: Salem, 1692
Author: Stacy Schiff
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Amazon|Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

Summary: The big picture story was fascinating, but the trial details felt like boring lists and resolution was lacking.

“It began in 1692, over an exceptionally raw Massachusetts winter, when a minister’s daughter began to scream and convulse. It ended less than a year later, but not before 19 men and women had been hanged and an elderly man crushed to death. The panic spread quickly, involving the most educated men and prominent politicians in the colony.” (source) Even today, the reasons behind the accusations and persecutions  of this time remain a mystery. Read more »

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Review: The Secret Chord

October 25, 2015 Fiction 13

Review: The Secret ChordTitle: The Secret Chord
Author: Geraldine Brooks
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Amazon|Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: five-stars

Summary: The beautiful writing and perfectly executed foreshadowing made it impossible for me to put this book down.

This is the story of King David. Combining parts of his life that have become myth with gritty historical detail, this story follows his growth from an obscure shepherd boy with nothing to a powerful ruler. When he begins to abuse that power, his seer Natan, is the only person who can speak the truth to him and who knows full truth of what he’s done and what disasters are yet to come. Read more »

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Review: Then Comes Marriage

October 22, 2015 Uncategorized 10

Review: Then Comes MarriageTitle: Then Comes Marriage: United States v. Windsor and the Defeat of DOMA
Author: Roberta Kaplan, Lisa Dickey, Edie Windsor
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Amazon|Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

Summary: This was an incredible, moving eye-witness account of an important historical event, although there was a bit too much legalese.

As a young woman uncomfortable coming out to her family, Robbie Kaplan found solace in her meetings with therapist Thea Spyer. Years later, Robbie’s position as a successful lawyer enables her to help Thea’s spouse when Thea passes away. Although Thea and Edie had been a couple for decades, had stayed together through Thea’s multiple sclerosis, and had been legally married in Canada, the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act enabled the state of NY to disregard their marriage. This is Robbie’s first hand account of the ground-breaking supreme court case that lead to that act being overturned. Read more »

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