Book 450: Sisters In Law – Linda Hirshman

Hirshman, Linda - Sisters In LawFour the fourth installment of our nonfiction book group, we’re learning about the amazing Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O’Connor. I thought I knew a lot about the “Notorious RBG,” but I knew nothing; and then add in what I learned about the FWOTSC (First Woman on the Supreme Court) and I’d say this was a pretty good addition to our year of biographies and autobiographies.

As interesting as the book was, I felt like there was so much from both their histories and from their time on the court that was left out of the book. Hirshman seemed to rush the first half of O’Connor’s time on the court and the last part of Ginsburg’s continued time on the court. It was disappointing because there are clearly so many additional amazing cases they had to decide that weren’t as glamorous as LGBT rights, women’s rights or racial equality.

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Book 426: Many Waters (Time Quintet #4) – Madeleine L’Engle

L'Engle, Madeleine - Many Waters (Time Quintet #4)L’Engle went right past allegory and straight up tells a biblical tale, the tale of Noah and the ark, in this book.  Duh, I mean look at the cover, why I didn’t make that connection when I started re-reading or remember it is beyond me. Strangely enough, I didn’t mind the story at all. I think it’s because “god”/”El” took a back seat and it focused more on the people in the story rather than the morals of the story.

I also need to say I have to eat my words for the abrupt ending this time. L’Engle did it again with less than five pages left she completely wrapped everything up, but this time it made sense. A lot of the story began wrapping up well before the last few pages, but the ultimate story and the return to modern-day happened over three pages max. The abruptness of it was necessary in that is how the twins experienced it and it’s only fair we the reader do so as well. Kudos to you L’Engle for keeping me on my toes.

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Book 425: A Swiftly Tilting Planet (Time Quintet #3) – Madeleine L’Engle

L'Engle, Madeleine - A Swiftly Tilting Planet (Time Quintet #3)It’s very fitting this is published on February 29. This book is all about time and leaping backward and forward in time. Four year’s isn’t a lot of time the older you get so they seem to happen much more frequently, but growing up four years was a LONG time to wait for something as exciting as an extra day of the year. Okay, on to the book.

I’m sure you’re all tired of me saying it, but I had to put it at the front this time because it’s really driving me crazy! After three books: the denouement needs to be longer! UGH! Invariably, L’Engle wraps up the entire story in less than ten pages with a bit of a and this and this and this type narrative. It’s not bad, it’s just frustrating. I want the details. I want to know why things happened. I want to know how they happened and not just the hints that she leaves. It’s a little too deus ex machina for me.

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CRWM #09: Dr Mütter’s Marvels

CRWM09For episode nine of Come Read With Me, my friend Jess joined me to discuss Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz’ Dr. Mütter’s Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine. As usual, there were plenty of tangents including a five-minute tangent (you’re welcome, I edited it from 20) about Jane Austen fan fiction. Maybe I should just turn this into a Come Read Jane Austen with me podcast! (Don’t worry, I won’t.)

I was apparently super fidgety during the recording so I’m super sorry about all the background noise!

Download it here: CRWM #09 (Right Click and “save as.”) Or, better yet, subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher!

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Book 405: Jane Austen’s Guide to Good Manners – Josephine Ross

Ross, Josephine - Jane Austen's Guide to Good MannersIn honor of Jane Austen’s 240th birthday this past Wednesday I went to my shelf full of Jane Austen inspired works. There are many to chose from, but I wanted something short and light and I ended up with this lovely book.

I picked it up a kindle copy back in September 2013, don’t tell past me because I raved about how I was REALLY good and didn’t buy any books. It must’ve been one of the daily deals.

It was a very quick read, I read it all yesterday in two sittings, and it was quite informative. It explained pretty much any question you could have about manners and etiquette during Jane Austen’s time. (Seriously, see the chapter titles below.) Ross takes the advice from the novels Austen wrote and letters she wrote to her sister, Cassandra Austen, and her niece Anna Austen (janeausten.co.uk links), observing manners and habits of the time.

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Book 399: People of the Book – Geraldine Brooks

Brooks, Geraldine - People of the BookI’m finally starting to make a “dent” in my to-be-read shelves! YAY! On the downside, due to work events and the seasonal time change affecting me more than usual this book took two weeks to read, which is sad because it was so beautifully written.

I’m going to start by saying take my review with a grain of salt because this is a book about books and writing and conservation so of course I loved it. It also coincided with our visit to the 39th Annual Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair (a blog post about it on The New Antiquarian as the BIABF’s website appears to be down), which was great because we saw many religious texts which reminded me that I needed to finish reading this wonderful book! I’ll talk more about the fair later in a special Culture Corner post, hopefully, or at the very least in my November recap in early December.

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Book 391: Dr. Mütter’s Marvels – Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz

Aptowicz, Cristin O'Keefe- Dr. Mutter's Marvels[To hear the episode of Come Read With Me where my friend Jess and I discuss this, click here.]

I’m a little torn on this book. At the same time that it reminded me of some fascinating books I’ve read over the past few years (Geraldine Brook’s March and William MacAskill’s Doing Good Better) I couldn’t help but compare it to Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. And unfortunately for Aptowicz, it wasn’t that great of a comparison. Don’t get me wrong, this was a very interesting read and I enjoyed the book. I’m sure this book had its own set of challenges in the research done, but I still can’t quite put my finger on why I wasn’t as much a fan of this.

At first I thought it was because Aptowicz was super young and this was her first book. Her writing style felt a bit like student-work, which she admits is when she got the idea and started writing originally, but I found out pretty quick I was wrong on this one. And it’s not her first book, but it is her first work of nonfiction. (Thanks Wikipedia.) Either way, I’m grateful to Avery, a Penguin Books imprint, for providing a copy.* And the best part is, if you’re interested in the book it’s just been released in paperback at the beginning of September! (AKA Yay for more affordability!; Publisher’s website.)

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