Thursday, July 20, 2017

All Lady July Book Review: "98 Reasons for Being" by Clare Dudman

I'm honestly so meh about this book it's kind of hard to write a review about it.



via GIPHY

*An excuse to use an X-Files GIF almost makes up for it*

Our story takes place in an insane asylum in 19th century Germany. A young woman is brought in who refuses to eat, sleep or speak in a few weeks. Dr Hoffmann is the very caring doctor who runs the asylum and he takes a particular interest in Hannah. There are side stories about a few of the other patients and the people who work at the asylum (spoiler alert, not many of them are good folks. Some of then are actually very not good folks.) The doctor uses his therapy time with Hannah to exercise some of his own demons as well because his home life isn't great. And he also wrote a book of like, cautionary kids poems that are apparently famous in real life that I've never heard of?

Here's some of the things that didn't work for me:

-Switching character perspectives within the chapers
-Having the side story characters be more interesting than the main characters
-I found myself not really caring how it ended because I wasn't invested in the characters

Just because I didn't like this book doesn't mean that you might not like this book (it's got a lot of good reviews on goodreads, so many I'm just some barbarian, who knows?) Cover is fun though!




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Monday, July 17, 2017

All Lady July Book Review: "Things We Lost in the Fire" by Mariana Enriquez


When I met up with Julianne a few weeks ago she HIGHLY suggested this book, she also said Shannon (formerly of River City Reading) also loved it. I trust both of these ladies taste in books so I picked this one up from the library last week.

I couldn't stop reading this book. When I wasn't reading this book, I wanted to be reading this book.

Karen Russell is my short story go to, but when if you want something that skews a little more to the horror side of the weird short story genre then I can not point you to this book fast enough.

All(ish) of these spooky stories take place in Argentina, and some of that countries' complicated history plays into some stories, but if you don't know anything about Argentina you're still going to be fine. (All of my Argentine history comes from the musical "Evita"  but I like that musical considerably less know that I grew up and realized Peron basically through open the doors for escaping Nazis and laid down the god damn welcome mat. ANYWAY, rant over). 

The stories are short, maybe 10-15 pages at the longest but they feel complete, not like some short stories when you feel like maybe a page or two got left out somewhere and your book is faulty.  A lot of the stories deal with people's strange experiences after a personally traumatic event which is interesting. A few of the stories address the issue of poverty and drug use which I think is interesting. And at least one of them has really great, creepy, religious undertones which is boss. And a haunted house or two, naturally.

If you want some books that scratch that itch of tense, interesting and downright spooky I can't think of a better book to recommend. 4 outta 5!



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Friday, July 14, 2017

All Lady July 2017 - The Shopping Post

Oh these darn shopping posts, they are so fun to do but I always just end up wanting to BUY ALL THE THINGS! All of these posts, of course, celebrate ladies of lit or things that ladies who love lit might love for themselves! Click on the pictures for the link to where you can purchase these fine items!





Simple but high impact!



Book Page Flower Terrarium Pendant Necklace. One of a kind.

Books combined with a plant I don't have to actually take care of? Yes please!



Button-Eyed Mug, Unique Coffee Mug, Illustrated Mug, Cute Mug, Gifts for Him, Gifts for Her, Movie Mug, Film Mug, Fantasy Mug

Don't let an alternate family with button eyes keep you down Coraline!


As You Wish Quote Hand Embroidered Hoop Art, Princess Bride Art Romantic Gifts Under 50 for Her, Hand Stitched Nerd Wife Gifts

That embarrassing moment when the Dread Pirate Roberts is actually your BFF Westley.
(Spoiler alert, but that book is like 30 years old so....)


Reading is Revolt Racerback Tank Top-- Readers for Change, Protest shirt, Feminist, Reader, Book shirt, Bookish, Literary shirt, Bibliophile


Want want want. Want want. Want want. WANT.


Jane Austen Mug, Jane Austen Heroines Ceramic Mug, Literary Gift, Bookworm for Her, Pride and Prejudice, Bookish, Book Lover Gift

This is obviously a tea mug not a coffee mug.



William Shakespeare Tote Bag. Shakespeare Tote Bag. Shakespeare Quote. Book Bag. Bookish Tote Bag. Book Tote Bag. Book Lover Gifts. Reader

You might be like, uh Wesley that is from Shakespeare, from McB. And Shakespeare is a dude. And you are correct but this line is spoken by one of the weird sisters and I love them AND it's one of my favorite lines of all of Shakespeare and I make the rules SO IT'S IN. And I want this thing desperately bad.



Wonder Woman Inspired "Daughter of Themyscira" Women's Tank Top

If you love yourself some Wonder Woman but want something different from the Double W's, this is a good option!

Monday, July 10, 2017

All Lady July 2017- "We Should All Be Feminists" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This is a kinda, not really book review.

When I was recently at a great indie bookstore, finally getting to meet Julianne of Outlandish Lit fame, my hands wandered over this book. It was a book I'd heard a lot of good things about but I was confused because this. thing. is. tiny. My copy is 48 pages. I picked it up and brought it home and read it in a very short sitting by my sisters pool.

It's wonderful. It's so worth a read. It's already made me more conscious of the things I say and how and why I say them.I'm trying to pass it around to as many ladies as I can. My work friend Maggie has already read it and it's with my Mom currently.

But, it's basically a TED talk that the author gave.

So, please feel free to pick up the book, but maybe start with the TED talk. Just think of it as the audiobook version with bonus visuals :)


We should all be feminists TED talk 



Thursday, July 6, 2017

All Lady July 2017 - Books that are authored by women that are "on deck" for my TBR

(All Lady July will be a ghost of it's normal glorious self this year, but it's too fun and too good of a cause to not do it at all! So thanks for being here!)

Oh the TBR shelf, a place where books go to languish. However, I organize my books in such a way that I have an "on deck" stack, books that I anticipate will be something I will want to read next. Of course always subject to change -  a readers prerogative. So here are some of the books that I anticipate reading soon (or "soon", realistically) that are authored by women. -All synopsis from goodreads.


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This ARC is on my coffee table waiting for me as a part of Amy's Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours!

August 1914. England is at war. As Evie Elliott watches her brother, Will, and his best friend, Thomas Harding, depart for the front, she believes—as everyone does—that it will be over by Christmas, when the trio plan to celebrate the holiday among the romantic cafes of Paris.

But as history tells us, it all happened so differently…

Evie and Thomas experience a very different war. Frustrated by life as a privileged young lady, Evie longs to play a greater part in the conflict—but how?—and as Thomas struggles with the unimaginable realities of war he also faces personal battles back home where War Office regulations on press reporting cause trouble at his father’s newspaper business. Through their letters, Evie and Thomas share their greatest hopes and fears—and grow ever fonder from afar. Can love flourish amid the horror of the First World War, or will fate intervene?

Christmas 1968. With failing health, Thomas returns to Paris—a cherished packet of letters in hand—determined to lay to rest the ghosts of his past. But one final letter is waiting for him…



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I have actually checked this one out from t he library and had to return it because I hadn't gotten to it in time. Oh those damn due dates. Will try again soon!

Novelist Clare Dudman, whose work has earned comparisons to Andrea Barrett and Barry Lopez, is that rare kind of author who can bring history dramatically to life. Here she conjures up the revolutionary nineteenth-century German physician Heinrich Hoffmann (best known today for his book of children's rhymes, Shockheaded Peter, or Struwwelpeter) as he struggles to cure an inhabitant of Frankfurt's Jewish ghetto who hasn't spoken, slept, or eaten in weeks. As the secrets hidden in the girl's mind are exposed, Dr. Hoffmann also begins to uncover his own buried truths and, in the end, discovers his real reasons for being.



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I know, you guys are shocked. A super specific nonfiction book. So unlike me. /sarcasm font/

Discover the tantalizing true stories behind your favorite colors.
For example: Cleopatra used saffron—a source of the color yellow—for seduction. Extracted from an Afghan mine, the blue “ultramarine” paint used by Michelangelo was so expensive he couldn’t afford to buy it himself. Since ancient times, carmine red—still found in lipsticks and Cherry Coke today—has come from the blood of insects.


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This one is a little hyped and I think the premise isn't as unique as it probably wants to think that it is but I'm still a pinch intrigued.

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…beware of getting swept too far away.




Anyone read any of these?



Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Philadelphia in Books

I'll be spending Memorial Day weekend in Philadelphia for my cousins wedding, and I've never been there before.  In typical Wesley fashion I'm like "Hmm I wonder if there's any interesting books about/set in  Philadelphia..." considering it's role in the founding of this country I figured there wouldn't really be any shortages. So I did a little research and here's some things I found!

Also, if you're a Philadelphian and have any tips on Must See or Must Eats or Must Avoids please let me know!

(All descriptions from goodreads)


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It's late summer 1793, and the streets of Philadelphia are abuzz with mosquitoes and rumors of fever. Down near the docks, many have taken ill, and the fatalities are mounting. Now they include Polly, the serving girl at the Cook Coffeehouse. But fourteen-year-old Mattie Cook doesn't get a moment to mourn the passing of her childhood playmate. New customers have overrun her family's coffee shop, located far from the mosquito-infested river, and Mattie's concerns of fever are all but overshadowed by dreams of growing her family's small business into a thriving enterprise. But when the fever begins to strike closer to home, Mattie's struggle to build a new life must give way to a new fight—the fight to stay alive.


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Set in Philadelphia's badlands, where drug gangs rule the streets, this debut novel has the explosive authenticity, the narrative drive, and the tender passion to knock you out of your seat! Fourteen-year-old Gabriel's father skipped two years ago. Now his mother, Ofelia, is searching for her runaway son, riding her bicycle at night through the city's darkest, most violent stretch. The pavement beneath her is mysteriously painted with chalk outlines of bodies. Each time a child is killed, another white outline appears. While Ofelia tries to outrun a vision of her son's death, her son tries to outrun the neighborhood, taking cover with a drifter; but Gabriel is already trapped, at the mercy of Diablo, the ugliest of the dealers, a man who kills for fun.

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A collection of fourteen essays which records the cruelties of racism, celebrates the strength and pride of black America and explores the paradoxical "double consciousness" of African-American life.





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Imagine undergoing an operation without anesthesia performed by a surgeon who refuses to sterilize his tools—or even wash his hands. This was the world of medicine when Thomas Dent Mütter began his trailblazing career as a plastic surgeon in Philadelphia during the middle of the nineteenth century.

Although he died at just forty-eight, Mütter was an audacious medical innovator who pioneered the use of ether as anesthesia, the sterilization of surgical tools, and a compassion-based vision for helping the severely deformed, which clashed spectacularly with the sentiments of his time.

Brilliant, outspoken, and brazenly handsome, Mütter was flamboyant in every aspect of his life. He wore pink silk suits to perform surgery, added an umlaut to his last name just because he could, and amassed an immense collection of medical oddities that would later form the basis of Philadelphia’s Mütter Museum.

Award-winning writer Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz vividly chronicles how Mütter’s efforts helped establish Philadelphia as a global mecca for medical innovation—despite intense resistance from his numerous rivals. (Foremost among them: Charles D. Meigs, an influential obstetrician who loathed Mütter’s "overly" modern medical opinions.) In the narrative spirit of The Devil in the White City, Dr. Mütter’s Marvels interweaves an eye-opening portrait of nineteenth-century medicine with the riveting biography of a man once described as the "P. T. Barnum of the surgery room."





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Few men could compare to Benjamin Franklin. Virtually self-taught, he excelled as an athlete, a man of letters, a printer, a scientist, a wit, an inventor, an editor, and a writer, and he was probably the most successful diplomat in American history. David Hume hailed him as the first great philosopher and great man of letters in the New World.
Written initially to guide his son, Franklin's autobiography is a lively, spellbinding account of his unique and eventful life. Stylistically his best work, it has become a classic in world literature, one to inspire and delight readers everywhere.











Monday, May 15, 2017

Book review: "Hanns and Rudolf: The True Story of the German Jew Who Tracked Down and Caught the German Kommandant of Auschwitz" by Thomas Harding

I had high hopes for this book because it's my favorite when Nazis get what is coming to them. But this book just kind of fell flat for me. The book ping ponfed between the lives of Rudolf Hoss (pretend there's an umlut over the o) the man who would grow up to become the Kommandant of Aushwitz and and a German Hew named Hanns Alexander who lived a pretty upper crust life until he had to flee Germany, and then joined the British Army, and then eventually went rogue to find Hoss.


Considering the subject matter I just kind of felt bored with the story. But there were a few thing of interest:

- I thought it was interesting to hear about how Hoss ended up running Auschwitz and all of the Nazi bureaucracy and posturing among people. They had people coming through all of the time to talk about how they could be at maximum efficiency, like they were producing cardboard boxes instead of killing people.

-The Alexander family had a lot of money and it made their story have much happier endings then the people who didn't have the means to get their whole family out of the country. 

-The epilogue shouldn't be skipped


-"The Auxiliary Military Pioneer Corps had been created....to make use of men who were refugees from Germany and elsewhere who waned to fight Hitler. For these men, the stakes were high. If caught by the Reich they would be viewed as traitors and shot. Yet of the more than 70,000 German and Austrian refugees who landed in Britain between 1933 and 1939 approximately 1 in 7 enlisted in the Pioneers".

All in all I give this book a 3 out of 5.



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