Source: from publisher for review

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Lives in Ruins

December 4, 2014 Memoir, Narrative Non-Fiction, non-fiction, Review 18

Lives in RuinsTitle: Lives in Ruins
Author: Marilyn Johnson
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Amazon|Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

Summary: This fun romp through the world of archaeology is perfect for anyone who shares my love of learning about different professions.

I love learning about other professions, so Marilyn Johnson’s exploration of the world of archaeology was my kind of book. She joins a kind of archaeology boot camp, participates in digs, attends conferences, and interviews many archeologists. While she does focus on the more interesting and glamorous parts of the profession, she also makes it clear that the profession is hard and that steady jobs are rare. She also does a good job conveying the difficulties many archeologists face in finding public support for the preservation of important sites and their passion for the job.
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The Secret History of Wonder Woman

November 9, 2014 History, non-fiction, Review 18

The Secret History of Wonder WomanTitle: The Secret History of Wonder Woman
Author: Jill Lepore
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Amazon|Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

Summary: This book covered a number of interesting topics, but it tried to do too much and ended up feeling very disjointed.

Now that I’m back from my travels, I’m excited to really dive into Nonfiction November starting with my first nonfiction review of the month. I wish I could tell you I was equally enthusiastic about the book, especially since it covered a lot of interesting topics.  The Secret History of Wonder Woman doesn’t only cover the origins of the comic. It also includes a history of feminism, a biography of the comic’s creator, and biographies of the many women in his unorthodox love life. Unfortunately, the mish-mash of topics didn’t entirely work for me. Read more »

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The Woman Who Would Be King

October 20, 2014 Biography, History, Narrative Non-Fiction, non-fiction, Review 17

The Woman Who Would Be KingTitle: The Woman Who Would Be King
Author: Kara Cooney
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Amazon|Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: five-stars

Summary: The subject of this book was fascinating, even though the writing was sometimes a bit dry, and I loved how transparent the author was about her sources.

In ancient Egypt, royal women were expected to defend their family’s bloodline, marrying their brothers and producing royal heirs. Women might act as reagents for their young sons, but it was almost unheard of for them to rule in their own right. This biography tells the story of Hatshepsut, “the longest reigning female pharaoh in Ancient Egypt” (source) and her rise to power. The author uses what little archaeological evidence remains to speculate about Hatshepsut’s feelings and to analyze the political maneuvering required for Hatshepsut to retain power in a traditionally male leadership role.
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The War on Women in Israel

September 15, 2014 History, non-fiction 10

The War on Women in IsraelTitle: The War on Women in Israel
Author: Elana Maryles Sztokman
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Amazon|Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: five-stars

Summary: This thought-provoking book is well-written and addresses issues relevant to everyone.

Although in many ways, Israel has historically been progressive in terms of women’s rights, ultra-Orthodox Jewish extremists are influencing the government to curtail women’s freedoms in frightening ways. From segregated buses and streets to mobs attacking women who wish to pray in public, the results of this lobbying are terrifying. Resistance is also growing and there have been some great victories for women’s rights, but the problem is far from resolved.
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Soundbite Sunday – Lock In

September 14, 2014 Audiobook, Fiction, Science Fiction, Thriller 8

Soundbite Sunday – Lock InTitle: Lock In
Author: John Scalzi
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Amazon|Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: five-stars

Summary: This was a fun, fast-paced thriller which explored interesting ethical dilemmas and fascinating new paths science might take.

Lock In occurs in a not-too-distant future in the aftermath of devastating virus. Most people who get the virus either die or survive with only flu-like symptoms, but some small percentage actually have their brain rewired by the virus. Most of them become “locked in”, still alive but unable to control their bodies. Technological advances allow those who are locked in to control robot-like personal transports or  to borrow the bodies of “integrators”, people whose brains were rewired by the virus in a different way. When new FBI agent Chris Shane discovers a man apparently murdered by an integrator, he must determine if anyone else was using the integrator’s body and whether someone is using integrators’ abilities to get away with an even greater crime. Read more »

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Five Days Left

September 10, 2014 Fiction, Review 15

Five Days LeftTitle: Five Days Left
Author: Julie Lawson Timmer
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Amazon|Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: five-stars

Summary: This was an incredibly moving story, with interesting and heartbreaking ethical dilemmas.

“Mara Nichols, a successful lawyer, and devoted wife and adoptive mother, has recently been diagnosed with a terminal disease. Scott Coffman, a middle school teacher, has been fostering an eight-year-old boy while the boy’s mother serves a jail sentence. Scott and Mara both have five days left until they must say good-bye to the ones they love the most.” (Source)
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Season of Storms

September 8, 2014 Fiction, Gothic, Magical Realism, Review, Romance, Women's Fiction 8

Season of StormsTitle: Season of Storms
Author: Susanna Kearsley
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Amazon|Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: five-stars

Summary: A beautiful, atmospheric book with great characters, full of exciting romance and adventure.

Galeazzo D’Ascanio last play is known as his most brilliant, but it’s never been performed. Each attempt has been plagued by disaster, starting in the early 1900’s with the first performance when D’Ascanio’s muse and lover, Celia Sands, disappeared the night before she was to play the leading role. Decades later, a young actress named after Celia Sands is asked to take on the same role in the play being stated by D’Ascanio’s grandson. Both the mystery of the play and D’Ascanio’s handsome grandson intrigue Celia, but the relics of the play’s history may prove more dangerous than they first appear.
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Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy

September 2, 2014 Biography, History, Narrative Non-Fiction, non-fiction, Review 21

Liar, Temptress, Soldier, SpyTitle: Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy
Author: Karen Abbott
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Amazon|Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: five-stars

Summary: Some of the most exciting narrative nonfiction I’ve read. All four stories are brought vividly to life, with great detail and accuracy.

The four women in this book are very different but they also have a lot in common. Two of them were Confederates and two were loyal to the Union. They each had different motivations, from Belle Boyd’s pursuit of notoriety to Emma Edmonds’ desire to provide medical aid to soldiers on the battlefield. However, they all shared common attributes, including their bravery, their dedication to their work, and their ability to influence the outcome of the war.
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Beyond the Pale

September 1, 2014 Fantasy, Fiction, Gothic, Magical Realism, Urban Fantasy 4

Beyond the PaleTitle: Beyond the Pale: A Fantasy Anthology
Author: Gillian Philip, Heather Brewer, Jane Yolen, Jim Butcher, Kami Garcia, Nancy Holder, Peter Beagle, Saladin Ahmed
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Amazon|Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

Summary: I liked almost all of the stories included in the collection and loved the diversity of the mythologies on which the stories were based.

This collection of short stories includes those I would categorize as paranormal, urban fantasy, magical realism, and a few bordering on horror. All stick relatively close to reality but step “beyond the pale”, including some mythical element. Several previously published authors contribute short stories related to their published series, but all of the stories can easily be read on their own.
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The Story Hour

August 19, 2014 Contemporary, Fiction, Literary, Review, Women's Fiction 8

The Story HourTitle: The Story Hour
Author: Thrity Umrigar
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Amazon|Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

Summary: The author’s beautiful writing made me experience the character’s emotions very deeply, but the emotional impact of the ending was weak compared to the rest of the book.

Psychologist Maggie has always been willing to try unorthodox methods and has become known for her ability to help in tough cases. When she is asked to help Lakshmi, an isolated Indian immigrant who tried to commit suicide, it is clear that unorthodox methods are called for. Lakshmi understand therapy to mean making friends with Maggie and Maggie relates to Lakshmi too much to maintain her usual distance. As these two very different women learn each other’s biggest mistakes, their differing backgrounds and expectations of their relationship will threaten their friendship, making it hard for them to forgive one another.
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