Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Book review: "Salt to the Sea" by Ruta Sepetys

I can't remember how Salt to Sea ended up on my TBR but I am sure glad I did. The fast moving story and the short chapters made me want to sit down and read it all at once, but alas  half hour lunch breaks would not allow it.

The book's short chapters are narrated by four different people all thrown together in the horror and panic and chaos that was the end of WWII in Europe. Each of the 4 people are making their way towards a port city where they are hoping that a boat will get them to safety. Most of them are running away from things in their past, that inevitably leak out little bit by little bit as the story goes on. However, one of the people is a douche bag moron who is looking for glory and all I could do was root for an untimely and violent demise for him. Which, you know, in a book about WWII the odds are pretty good. 

The characters were varied and interesting and believable and the last 4 or 5 chapters in the end are tense and scary and makes you feel happy that you are reading on dry land. Unless you are reading this on a boat. Then put on your life jacket and sit on the deck.

I liked that this book had such short, easily digestible chapters. AND that they were clearly marked with who was narrating what. I hate it when books switch between narrators and you spend the first 10 pages of each chapter trying to figure out who is talking. It's format makes it for a good book that you can put down and pick up again easily, or one that you can blow through in one sitting. 


I will give it 3.5 out of 5 stars!






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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Book review: "Color: A Natural History of the Palette" by Victoria Finlay

While this book lacked the conversational tone that I prefer in my nonfiction books it still gave me a lot of really interesting tidbits that I can share with you.

-When you rub a thin layer of graphite around a canonball it makes it pop nice and cleanout of it's cannon. And you can also, you know, write with it.

-When Gutenberg printed his first few Bibles he couldnt keep the ink from fading. Luckily Jan Van Eyck, the famous painter. started making oil based ink a few years before and Gutenberg took that idea and ran with it. If not for Van Eyck those pages could be blank now!

-The author talks about what Victorian ladies who through the use of their white face powder, slowly poisoned themselves with lead. THAT was super interesting and sad.

-Did you know that if you swish our hand around a container of mercury (DONT DO THIS AT HOME) with the direction it's going it feels like water, no resistance. If you go against it, it's like an unstoppable force. Take of your jewlery when you do this, or else it will eat the rings off your hand immediately. PLEASE DON'T SWIRL YOUR HAND IN MERCURY.

- If you're a synaesthetic your brain can make connections between things that the majority of people don't. A man named Scriabin associated musical notes with color. But the problem is, if Scriabin heard an F flat he might see the color green. But it another person with this condition hears an F flat he sees navy blue. The connections are not universal between people. Which would be awesome. But also weird.

-There's a whole page that talks about Jan Van Eyck's most famous painting "The Arnolfini Marriage". There is probably no other painting in the world that is open to more interpretations than this painting. Are the couple happy? Are they pregnant? Are they in love? Is it significant that the window is open and she has a hand on her belly?! No.Clear.Answers. I could sit in art history classes forever just about this painting.

So while the writing style wasn't my favorite I still learned a lot. My other super small criticism is that she spends time in Iraq and Syria and while she does talk about the Taliban (it was written in 2003, so still post-9/11) I feel like the picture over there is a bit different now....

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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Book review: "Break Open the Sky: Saving Our Faith From a Culture of Fear" by Stephan Bauman


This is one of those books that after I read it I kind of just felt happy and calm and introspective. Which is kind of a rare thing, which I don't know if that attests to the books that I read or how I am as a human!

In the introduction the book talks about how at even though (generally speaking) people are living longer, earning more money and have more things than any other time period in the past our anxiety is also at an all time high. And according to the poll, people in the United States are getting progressively less happy. Maybe we need to realign our priorities?


Quote: "But meekness is not synonymous with weakness. For Jesus, being meek didn't mean the lack of strength but rather strength under authority, his Father's authority. The Greek word for meek (praus) means excersizing strength with humility, gentleness and even restraint, all of which requires a deep level of trust. This is not what we normally think of when we think of power....But meek is not weak".

Another quote: "If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other" - Mother Teresa. 

I liked that the author seems to have a lot of experience with a lot of different people all around the world. That might seem like a weird compliment but there's a lot of Christian authors who write well meaning books who seem like they live in a little Christian bubble.


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I received this book in exchange for a honest review from Blogging for Books

Friday, July 28, 2017

All Lady July - Book Review: "In the Shadow of Lakecrest" by Elizabeth Blackwell


While reading this book, especially the first half, all I could think was "Oh yeah, I know this book. Except it was called Rebecca. And Lakecrest was called Manderley and it was way better written than this". 

This is a little harsh (though not unfair) because you could reach the moon if you stacked all of the books that have this basis premise on top of each other: poor girl meets rich but mysterious man, whirlwind romance, quick marriage, he brings to his ancesteral home, family is mysterious and unwelcoming and then the mysteries of his sordid past unravel.

As the book went on it came into it's own a little bit more, but noone of it was reinventing the wheel. However it's a pretty short, fast read so if you want a little escapism this isn't the worst way to go. I think it's like, 276 pages?

I read this for my work book club so I will have to think of something more constructive to say for our meeting :)




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Monday, July 24, 2017

All Lady July - Female Author Word Search

Let's ease ourselves back into the work week with something just for fun.


G W U M I N B Z U W O O L F A 
N H U X U L O O H U R S T O N 
I A X E U N L S A P G H L L D 
L R R M C E R T N H C E L Y C 
W T E Y G I W O C I E N I U G 
O O Q N F O R P S T K H V X O 
R N A E O N E T S U A C H F A 
J R A D T E M R D Q V X I H T 
T E R C T N C G J M I H Y D E 
T E V H L T O U K A I J F Q S 
O E P C A Q L R D H C V A N H 
C L L O O U T N B G G K A D N 
L Z A E L M Z I J U Z T S N C 
A W J X U L W V Z G N C V O G 
I N J L I R L T B Y O Z Z S N 


ALCOTT
ANGELOU
ATWOOD
AUSTEN
BLUME
BRONTE
DICKINSON
GUIN
HURSTON
JACKSON
LEE
MUNRO
OATES
RICE
ROWLING
STEEL
TAN
WHARTON
WOOLF

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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