Books

The Sound of Freedom & The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club

This has been a very busy and tumultuous last few months but I have been reading as much as I can. Here are a couple of books I wanted to share.
On Easter Sunday 1939, the brilliant vocalist Marian Anderson sang before a throng of seventy-five thousand at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington—an electrifying moment and an underappreciated milestone in civil rights history. Though she was at the peak of a dazzling career, Anderson had been barred from performing at the Daughters of the American Revolution's Constitution Hall because she was black. When Eleanor Roosevelt resigned from the DAR over the incident and took up Anderson's cause, however, it became a national issue. Like a female Jackie Robinson—but several years before his breakthrough—Anderson rose to a pressure-filled and politically charged occasion with dignity and courage, and struck a vital blow for civil rights. ~Goodreads description

I first heard about Marian Anderson on a podcast which you can listen to here. I was very intrigued so I went looking for more information and ran across this book. The author wrote an engaging well written story about an amazing woman and he did a great job of putting her story in context of the times in which it occurred. I highly recommend it! Here is a brief video that shows just how good of a singer she is and one of the songs she sang on that fateful day:


The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club is a series of three books that I started earlier this year. I generally tend to space out my reading of a series of books sometimes months at a time, sometimes years pass before I will read the next one. But I really loved the premise of the series and so I found myself making my way through them at a good clip.


Based on some of literature's horror and science fiction classics, this is the story of a remarkable group of women who come together to solve the mystery of a series of gruesome murders - and the bigger mystery of their own origins. 

Mary Jekyll, alone and penniless following her parents' deaths, is curious about the secrets of her father's mysterious past. One clue in particular hints that Edward Hyde, her father's former friend and a murderer, may be nearby, and there is a reward for information leading to his capture...a reward that would solve all of her immediate financial woes. 

But her hunt leads her to Hyde's daughter, Diana, a feral child left to be raised by nuns. With the assistance of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Mary continues her search for the elusive Hyde and soon befriends more women, all of whom have been created through terrifying experimentation: Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherin Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein. 

When their investigations lead them to the discovery of a secret society of immoral and power-crazed scientists, the horrors of their past return. Now it is up to the monsters to finally triumph over the monstrous. ~Amazon Description

I loved how each book is a journey.  Nothing happens quickly instead you get a lot of great character moments between the various woman.  Plus I loved how the author just hit a upon all so many of the characters from classic science fiction/horror classics, but not in a gratuitous way each woman has their place and it all makes for a delightful series.  



This entry was originally posted at https://under-the-silk-tree.dreamwidth.org/70497.html
Books

Into the Planet: My Life as a Cave Diver & Liberation Run

I have been busily reading these last couple of weeks but haven't had a lot of time on online so I hope all of you are doing reasonably well considering everything.  I have missed posting book recs so I thought I would rec a couple of books I have really enjoyed over the last month.




More people have died exploring underwater caves than climbing Mount Everest, and we know more about deep space than we do about the depths of our oceans. From one of the top cave divers working today—and one of the very few women in her field—Into the Planet blends science, adventure, and memoir to bring readers face-to-face with the terror and beauty of earth’s remaining unknowns and the extremes of human capability...~Goodreads description

From the moment I heard about Jill Heinerth's autobiography I wanted desperately to read it. I love exploring caves there is something about them that have fascinated me since I was kid but I have never thought of exploring underwater caverns. This was such a good book. Jill Heinerth has lead such an interesting life and I greatly enjoyed reading about it. From her time exploring inside an iceberg in the Arctic, to working on the movie The Cave, to helping discover the worlds longest underwater cavern, Mrs. Heinerth has an unquenchable thirst for discovery and exploration. She also definitely has a way of telling her story that grabs the readers attention and won't let go, but at the same time has such heart to it that you can't help but become invested.





Carol Danvers--Captain Marvel--narrowly stops a spacecraft from crashing. Its pilot Rhi is a young Inhuman woman from a group who left for a life among the stars. Instead they were imprisoned on a planet where an enslaved Inhuman brings her owner great power and influence. Horrified by the account, Carol gathers a team--including Ant-Man, Mantis, and Amadeus Cho--and they set out to free Rhi's people. ~Goodreads

I really loved this book.  Other then the movie, which I loved, I am not overly familiar with Captain Marvel canon, but that did not hinder my enjoyment of this book at all.  This was a perfect action/adventure story and the team that Carol puts together feels very much like a found family, which is one of my favorite tropes.  What I particularly love is how all the drama was in their fighting the villain there was no internal conflict within the team.  Instead there is such a sense of comradery and teamwork as they work together to rescue a group of girls who are being held in slavery their powers exploited by the government on a far away planet. If you have any interest in Captain Marvel, the MCU, or even superheroes in general I highly recommend!
Black cat

Hurt/Comfort Bingo Round 11

I once again signed up for [community profile] hc_bingo . I am very happy with what I got, especially comfort food, branding, and the ever versatile phobias. I can already see a few stories ideas that I have had on the back burner fitting in a few of the squares. Although of course they are scattered across the board so it might be difficult to connect them.  Honestly ruminating on the various stories I could write for the prompts is one of my favorite parts of this whole deal.  Collapse )

Anyone else signing up this year?

This entry was originally posted at https://under-the-silk-tree.dreamwidth.org/70133.html
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Ray Vecchio

Race to the Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

My Fifty-Second book for ljbookbingo  is Race to the Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse for #7 Read a YA, card found here:



Lately, seventh grader Nizhoni Begay has been able to detect monsters, like that man in the fancy suit who was in the bleachers at her basketball game. Turns out he's Mr. Charles, her dad's new boss at the oil and gas company, and he's alarmingly interested in Nizhoni and her brother, Mac, their Navajo heritage, and the legend of the Hero Twins. Nizhoni knows he's a threat, but her father won't believe her.

When Dad disappears the next day, leaving behind a message that says "Run!", the siblings and Nizhoni's best friend, Davery, are thrust into a rescue mission that can only be accomplished with the help of Diné Holy People, all disguised as quirky characters..
.~Goodreads Description

Rebecca Roanhorse is a favorite author of mine, and I love her Sixth World series. It was a very good book. I loved Nizhoni and her brother Mac and friend Davery. I greatly enjoyed the plot and the adventure the three kids went on as they try to rescue Nizhoni and Mac's father and stop the monstrous Mr. Charles from freeing all the mythological monsters from Navaho legend.

I picked this book up back in January when I went to a book signing for the author Rebecca Roanhorse.

I haven't been to that many book signings so I was very excited to get to see one of my favorite authors in person.  She talked about what inspired her to write in the first place, how she was tapped to write this particular book by Rick Riordan, and what her next projects were.  She also read the first chapter and then took questions from the audience.  I got my copy of Trail of Lightning signed and I bought Race to the Sun at the same time.  All in all it was a great experience and I can't wait to go to more in the future!

With this book I have read all fifty two books on the LJ Book Bingo Reading Challenge.  I just wanted to say thank you to ljbookbingo for giving us this challenge! I had lots of fun and it became a great way to take my mind off the current situations.  
This entry was originally posted at https://under-the-silk-tree.dreamwidth.org/69644.html
Books

London & Loimographia: An Account of the Great London Plague in the Year 1665

My Fiftieth book for ljbookbingo is London: A Travel Guide Through Time by Dr. Matthew Green for #44 A Travel Guide, card found here:



I was given this book as a gift a couple of years ago and I finally got around to reading it. It was such a novel take on a city's history. Basically you are like a time traveler who goes to various points in London's history and then the author takes you on a walking tour and shows you how London used to be. Dr. Green makes six stops through London's past from Medieval times all the way through the fifties with stops in Shakespeare's time and a London ravaged by the plague. The author really has done his research and it shows. He gives an in-depth look at each time period and doesn't sugarcoat anything, so there are some very candid descriptions of horrific events. Overall it was a fairly interesting read and kept my attention easily.

My Fifty-First book for ljbookbingo is Loimographia: An Account of the Great London Plague in the Year 1665 by William Boghurst for #51 A Book Outside Your Comfort Zone, card found here:




I first heard about this book and William Boghurst in the book London: A Travel Guide Through Time by Dr. Matthew Green.  I love to read first person accounts of historical events although I am squeamish when it comes to graphic medical accounts so it was a bit outside my comfort zone.  Eventually I found it on the Archive website and got to reading.  I am not going to lie when I read the title I was really hoping it would be the doctor's written account of his day to day life while treating patients during the plague.  That is not what this is at all, basically this is his treatise on how to help those who get the plague, various poultices and medicines you can make to help those in need.  So it has vivid and very detailed lists of symptoms and how to treat and in some cases cure patients afflicted.

Although there are some interesting tidbits buried within.  Like how Boghurst was not shy about mentioning (repeatedly) how cowardly and without mercy were the doctors who fled at the first sign of the plague and how they dishonored their whole profession.  He was really fired up about those who abandoned their patients in their time of need.  He was also against bleeding, or forcing the victims to vomit as a way to cure them although many of his contemporaries recommended it.  He believed it just made the affected sicker.  Also you could tell he really cared about the people he treated and this book was a way for him to impart his knowledge for future doctors who may have to deal with plague outbreaks.  All in all even though it was not what I thought it was I am not sorry I read it.

This entry was originally posted at https://under-the-silk-tree.dreamwidth.org/69500.html
Castiel

The Martian & The Adventurous Eaters Club

My Forty-Eighth book for ljbookbingo is The Martian by Andy Weir for #37 A Novel that has Won an Award, card found here:




Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.

Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first.

But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?
~Goodreads Description

I really enjoyed this book. I loved all of the technical information that the author gives us through Mark Watney as the astronaut jerry-rigs his way to survival on an alien planet. I loved how the author kept the reader interested while explaining in a scientific way the how and why of Watney's solutions. Watney felt very real probably because his reactions were so honest. The plot was great and it was all very exciting and intriguing. I highly recommend!

My Forty-Ninth book for ljbookbingo is The Adventurous Eaters Club by Misha & Vicki Collins for #45 A Cookbook, card found here:




I really loved this cookbook.  I first bought it because I have been looking for ways to help my kids become more willing to try new foods.  Plus all proceeds went to charity so it was a win-win.  I have to say I really liked how easy the recipes were to do.  Also I liked the overall philosophy that kids who help create and cook the food are more willing to try what they have made.  So each recipe has something for the kids to do to help.  We have tried three of the recipes so far and they turned out pretty good and I can't wait to try more.
Ray Vecchio

To Be Taught, If Fortunate & City of Bones

My Forty-Sixth book for [profile] ljbookbingo is To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers for #34 A Book Recommended to You, card found here:


This was very a good story. Becky Chambers has such a way of writing Sci-Fi, it feels attainable like something that could happen one day in the future. I love her Wayfarers series so I was really looking forward to this new work even though it is not part of the series. I loved the astronauts we were introduced to, they were so well thought out and written. What really shines in this story is their exploration of the various planets and how that effects them and the journey they go on. I really really enjoyed this one!

My Forty-Seventh book for [profile] ljbookbingo is City of Bones by Cassandra Clare for #30 A Banned Book, card found here:


I bought this book back when I heard they were going to make it into a tv series called Shadowhunters. It overall sounded pretty good and I love reading the book material before watching a show/movie that is based on it so I thought I would give it a chance. I didn't make it though a quarter of it before I set it down in annoyance and didn't pick it back up again. Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago when I was browsing a banned book list on Goodreads and it was listed there so I thought I would try again.  This time I was successful in finishing it although sometimes it was because of sheer force of will on my part.
 
Lets start with what I liked. The plot was okay although the conflict between the clave/shadowhunters and the downworlders kind of made me uncomfortable because of the prejudice Shadowhunters had for everyone who wasn't them felt icky. I liked Clary the main protagonist, her friend Simon, Magnus a magical Downworlder, and Luke who was like a second father to Clary. They were all pretty solid characters.
 
Other then that most of the other characters were pretty unlikable. Take Jace for example who was the love interest for Clary. Insufferable arrogance made up 90% of his personality and the other 10% wasn't charming or sympathetic enough to make up for it. Although inexplicably everyone around him seemed to think it did which was utterly baffling to me. He became one of those characters that every time he opened his mouth I couldn't help thinking, "Oh god he's going to talk again." I was over Jace after a few pages. But since he was basically the other main character there was no getting away from him.
 
Another thing I was over was the word Mundane which is what the Shadowhunters call anyone who was human and they say it with such contempt every single time, like we get it you think Shadowhunters are better then everyone else. The author uses the word constantly, in fact if you took a shot every time one of the Shadowhunters said it you would be dead within a couple of chapters. This is the first in like a seven book series so maybe the author made the characters arrogant and unlikeable so they could have character growth later but for now they were just pretty awful.
 
The twists and betrayals you can see coming from a mile away. Also every character gives these chapter long speeches of exposition which makes the flow of the story drag on.
 
I found the whole book irksome on several levels and I will not be continuing in the series.
This entry was originally posted at https://under-the-silk-tree.dreamwidth.org/69098.html
Ray Vecchio

The Mystery of the Bones & In Netherfield Woods

My Forty-Fourth book for ljbookbingo is The Mystery of the Bones by C.S. Poe for #32 Read an E-Book, card found here:



It’s been a full year since the mystery that brought together antique shop owner and part-time amateur sleuth Sebastian Snow with homicide detective Calvin Winter. Patience, sanity, and their very lives have been put to the test, but love has persevered. Although Sebastian is now New York City’s best-known busybody, he’s finished with crime solving and wants nothing more than to plan a romantic budget wedding.

Then Snow’s Antique Emporium receives a decapitated human head in the mail and the holidays are gory once again. Sebastian patently disregards the mystery of a lifetime because he is done with death and danger—but the killer escalates. Before Sebastian knows it, his closest friends and family are dragged into a series of horrific murders with antiquated clues hinting to the infamous Victorian American Bones Wars.
~Goodreads Description

I have greatly enjoyed this series. Sebastian is such an awesome character. I love his snark and all of the antique-y know how he spouts at random times. I also love how fiercely he loves those around him. His relationship with Calvin is fun to read as they truly love and accept each other and there is no unnecessary relationship drama just for the sake of drama. I enjoyed the mystery as well. The only thing I am sad about is the fact this is the last story in the series and I would love to read more if the author ever decided to continue.

My Forty-Fifth book for ljbookbingo is In Netherfield Woods by Ava Adams for #36 Read a Pastiche, card found here:




There is something about two characters being forced to hold still long enough to actually talk to each other that I absolutely love.  In this case it is a storm that causes Darcy and Elizabeth to be trapped together and in time they talk and come to a better understanding.  And from that they realize how they actually feel about each other.  Of course since this is a novella this change happens quicker then in a full length book but it was still very enjoyable.

This entry was originally posted at https://under-the-silk-tree.dreamwidth.org/68794.html
bird

Thorn & Three Act Tragedy

My Forty-Second book for ljbookbingo is Thorn by Intisar Khanani for #46 A Fairytale Retelling, card found here:


Between her cruel family and the contempt she faces at court, Princess Alyrra has always longed to escape the confines of her royal life. But when she’s betrothed to the powerful prince Kestrin, Alyrra embarks on a journey to his land with little hope for a better future.

When a mysterious and terrifying sorceress robs Alyrra of both her identity and her role as princess, Alyrra seizes the opportunity to start a new life for herself as a goose girl. But Alyrra soon finds that Kestrin is not what she expected. The more Alyrra learns of this new kingdom, the pain and suffering its people endure, as well as the danger facing Kestrin from the sorceress herself, the more she knows she can’t remain the goose girl forever.

With the fate of the kingdom at stake, Alyrra is caught between two worlds and ultimately must decide who she is, and what she stands for.
~Goodreads Description

I love books that retell fairy tales in their own way. The problem is it seems like the same 3 or 4 get retold time and again so when I saw Thorn was a retelling of the Goose Girl (which was one of my favorite fairy tales when I was a kid) I immediately set about getting my hands on it. I greatly enjoyed Ms. Khanani's take on this fairytale. Princess Alyrra was a compelling character who you couldn't help getting invested in rather quickly. She is also a well rounded character who makes mistakes but tries to do the right thing in spite of how scared she is. Because this book is over 500 pages the author is really able to dig deep into the various issues Alyrra faces as she is replaced and forced to live a different life. A word of warning there is an sexual assault which happens off page and it does lead to an eventual death of a minor character. The author is very honest with the heartbreaking reality of what happens in the aftermath, so it never feels gratuitous. We also get a great amount of world building which is very well written, of not only the physical world but also the people that inhabit it.
The story ends well although there are a few loose ends as this is the first book in a series. All in all I really loved it.

My Forty-Third book for ljbookbingo is Three Act Tragedy by Agatha Christie for #23 A Book with a Number in the Title, card found here:


I really enjoyed this one. I liked the side characters and the mystery was an intriguing one. Although this was a Hercule Poirot mystery he wasn't in 2/3 of it, but because of how it was written I found it didn't bother me much. I will also admit that Mrs. Christie had me I totally did not guess who the killer was. All in all a very good book.










This entry was originally posted at https://under-the-silk-tree.dreamwidth.org/68543.html