All the Single Ladies (The Extra Woman)

Before picking up this book, I had never heard the name Marjorie Willis and after reading the book, I understood why.  Ms. Hillis is one of those “hidden” historical people that unless you study a particular area and era inside and out, you will never hear of.

I’ve read plenty about the Roaring 20s and the pre-World War II era.  Plenty.  This era of American history fascinates me and in some ways our society today is a lot like it as much as things have changed.  For example, Prohibition is still here except now it is with items such as marijuana and not alcohol.  The effects are similar and at the same time but farther reaching.  This is for another time.  Another example is Wall Street and society was shaken to it’s core again in 2008.  Yet sometimes the question bed, did we really learn?  How much of what we have is still only on paper?

Marjorie Hillis wrote several books, her best known at that time being Live Alone and Like It. Ms. Hillis wrote for the single woman of the 1920’s and managed to sell products, known today as cross-promotion, for major retailers at the same time.  Ms. Hillis managed to ride out the Great Depression and continued writing for many years, even after she married at an older age for the first time.  The author, Joanna Scutts, paraphrases the book and goes into the historical context surrounding Ms. Hillis and her works.

10/10 for helping your mind to bloom.  A must for feminists, Women’s Studies, Jazz Age enthusiasts, and history buffs.

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From Here to Eternity

I read Ms. Doughty’s first book Smoke Gets in Your Eyes while on a bus trip three years ago and after a death in the immediate family.  I finished reading From Here to Eternity the same day another immediate family member had been placed in hospice.

I applaud Ms. Doughty for doing what she does and bringing a very tough topic to the forefront with honesty and humor.  Death is part of the life cycle and so is grieving and not enough is given to the ritual of death and grieving.  Ms. Doughty traveled the world to see how other cultures deal with death and it is very different from what we know in the United States.  And then how the United States is influencing other cultures.

A must read.

Review: The City of Brass

Nahri and Ali take us through this magical journey that feels so real you can picture being part of it while reading it.  This is an adult fairy tale and adds dimension to stories from the Middle East.  Hang onto your seat because it also ends like an adult fairy tale, not as you would expect.

I’m glad I found an extra copy.  A must.

Review: The Provincials

This is a book I had been saving for years for the right time to read it and this summer offered the right time.

One curse of English literature and following that track through higher education is that sometimes courses overlap and you never get a chance to read a good variation of what is out there.  You tend to come across a lot of the same works in different contexts.  I read a lot of Faulkner and thereby have helped many clients work through his poetic language and writings. Faulkner becomes synonymous with the American South.

Eli Evans, who wrote this book, came to a local university years ago.  I actually bought a copy of the book, something I rarely do as I rely on the local library for new books, I was so enthralled to meet someone who didn’t mention Faulkner.

Mr. Evans writes about his childhood and growing up in Durham, North Carolina.  There is a brutal honesty in his writing and there is no glossing over.  Mr. Evans intertwines his personal family history with the history of Durham and with the American South.  There aren’t too many books that have their first chapter titled “Tobacco Town Jews” and where the history of cigarettes and cigarette rolling can actually be quite interesting.

10/10 for making your mind bloom.  I wish I had read this sooner.

Review: Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

If you, dear reader, are a fan of American history, particularly New York City during the Revolutionary War, this is a book for you.

If you like the Broadway show Hamilton, this is a book for you to read.  Chains is on the other side of Alexander Hamilton. Chains gives an eye-opening look to what was going on outside of the major names and players of the American Revolution.  Chains shows a piece of the underbelly of American history.

The story of Isabel Gardener will break your heart and leave you wanting more at the same time.  Isabel is 13, a slave, caretaker of her younger sister, Ruth, and not one to sit back. Her story is page turning, heart stopping, and will take your breath away.

10 out of 10 for making your mind bloom.

Review: Dante and Aristotle Discover…..

the Secrets of the Universe.

The Universe is a huge, weird, marvelous place for this love story between Dante and Aristotle, two young men from El Paso, Texas who meet each by chance.  Dante teaches Aristotle to swim and their friendship and love builds through tragedy and secrets revealed.  Each must suffer due to the other and Aristotle yearns for what Dante has and the reverse is also true.

They change each other’s lives in more ways then they originally imagined.

This book is a triumph.  Love is love and comes in many forms.

A must.

Review: The Bronze Bow by Speare

I’m surprised this book isn’t more well known.

Rating for making your mind bloom: 10 out of 10.

Similar to Ms. Speare’s well known book The Witch of Blackbird Pond, The Bronze Bow also steps back into a historical time period through a first-person narration.

Daniel bar Jamin is eighteen years old and lives in Galilee in about the year, as we know today, 30 A.D or 30 C.E.  Daniel is an outcast having run away from an indentured servitude/ slavery after losing most of his family due to the Romans.  Daniel wants to fight the Romans but also crosses paths with a carpenter named Jesus.  Daniel finds himself in some very tricky situations that are not always what they seem and makes some tough choices along the way.

There are some parallels between Daniel and Kit, the narrator of Witch.  Both are coming of age in a society where they find they do not belong yet are forced to fit in in order to survive.  Both must put their families into their lives even though they didn’t want to. Both embrace people who are shunned by the general society.  Both must make difficult choices.  Religion also plays a major part in both of their lives and stories.

Both of the books received a Newberry Medal.  If you read Witch, The Bronze Bow is a must.