A Secret Sisterhood Revealed!

A Secret Sisterhood: The Literacy Friendship of Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf by Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney

Non-fiction/History

A Secret Sisterhood

Overall Rating: 3.5

Quick Summary: Popular conception of many beloved female authors is of them working away in solitude on their books. Midorikawa and Sweeney complicate this picture by revealing correspondence between the authors with other female authors. Jane Austen corresponded with Anne Sharp, Mary Taylor corresponded with Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot corresponded with Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Virginia Woolf corresponded with Katherine Mansfield.

This is a very interesting book, especially within the context that the authors establish in the introduction (hint: read the introduction). Being a female author at this time was difficult. There was a lot of social pressure to be a certain kind of (respectable) woman. The fellowship and friendship between female authors is fascinating and inspiring.

There are some serious problems with the first chapter in the book on Jane Austen and Anne Sharp. If you only read this chapter, I think you’ll be disappointed. It is weak on the historical evidence and the conclusions the authors draw are not very compelling. But, if you press on (or skip that chapter all together), the book is very worthwhile!

I really enjoyed the complexity in which the authors present the literary friendships. They aren’t magical, perfect friendships. The women are not perfect individuals. There isn’t an attempt to whitewash the women to prove how great they are, which is terribly important in recounting history. My favorite chapter is the last chapter because of this reason.

Also, please read the conclusion. It’s interesting and it’s worth it.

Is it worth buying? (Kindle $9.99)

If you’re like me, you’ve probably read books by all of these authors. If this is the case, then I think you’ll enjoy the book. It’s great to get some background on what was going on personally for the authors as they were writing their books. This is saying in a long about way, yes, buy it or borrow it from the library.

Something else you might enjoy:

I don’t have any suggestions. Do you?

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Brave, Not Perfect

Brave Not Perfect by Reshma Saujani

Self-Help

I received a copy of this book. I liked this book and think it’s important for others to know about it and read it.

Brave Not Perfect

Overall Rating: 4

Quick Summary: Reshma Saujani asserts that we are raising boys to be brave and girls to be perfect. This means boys are more likely to take risks than girls. By pointing at ways in which girls hold back in their quest for perfection, Saujani suggests ways we can help girls and women shift from a quest for perfection to a quest to be brave.

I’m not a scientist, however I safely say that if you’re a scientist and you’re waiting for some powerful evidence to prove that girls are raised to be perfect, you’re going to be disappointed. There are interesting points to this idea, but it’s not strong. The argument that girls are raised to be perfect is less than compelling, except in an anecdotal way.

What is compelling is a larger social focus on perfection. I’m not convinced it’s a gendered problem, but I do think it’s a problem. It may be generational, it may be that just the people I know are like this, but I know so many people who strive for perfection. I am definitely one of those people.

This book is worthwhile for the tips on how to be braver, whether you’re a man or a woman. It is a powerful message to tell people that it is okay to fail in today’s world of photo filters and 4.6 GPAs. A lot of us are pushing back about being social media perfect, now it’s time to take the next step to be brave and try and (potentially) fail and this book helps in this quest.

Is it worth buying? (Kindle $12.99)

Amazon link

I think this price is very, very steep. The book isn’t terribly long. Saujani did a TED Talk on this subject, which I watched. There is a lot more information in the book. If this is something you’re really passionate about, then by all means, by the book (other formats may be cheaper). But, even if you’re not passionate about this issue, perhaps even skeptical, you should read this!! Borrow it from the library and see what it’s all about.

Something else you might enjoy:

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin is a nice addition to this conversation, mainly because it’s about one woman’s quest to finding what makes her happy. There’s no sense in being brave if you aren’t going on your quest for something amazing on the other side.

2017 Book Challenge: An Author You’ve Never Read Before

Hello! You may be wondering why the title of this post is 2017 Book Challenge, but it’s Feb. 17, 2019. Gosh I can’t believe it’s been that long since Fallon and I were doing our first book challenge. Well, as you can tell, we let our original book challenge fall by the wayside (I more than Fallon). In fact, I know I read a book by an author I’d never read before in 2017, but who that was and what book it was, I don’t remember! But, since Fallon did her part, I wanted to make sure to post it. I also to announce we are trying again. We have a new Book Challenge we will do in 2019. Our first category will be a Children’s Book We Never Read. You can guess that Fallon’s already read her book and I have yet to read mine, but we will complete the challenge!! There’s only 10 challenges for 2019, and here’s a sneak peek, two of them are audiobook challenges. So stay tuned…

 

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

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A dystopian novel written before dystopian novels were “a thing”, The Handmaid’s Tale is set in the present date nation of Gilead. There, a woman’s sole purpose is to reproduce, and we meet Offred (once a Boston resident known by another name). Offred is a handmaid assigned to a high-ranking Gilead officer’s home to hopefully give the Commander and his wife a child. If she fails, she may be shipped to the colonies where the life expectancy is not so great.

It seems like I was the only person not assigned The Handmaid’s Tale as a required reading in college. How did my liberal arts education fail me? I never took a specific course on gender studies, but come on! I actually became aware of the novel after some podcasters were talking about the show and comparing to its source material (thank you The Broadcast). Like the television show, the novel is a slow burn, in so much that not a lot happens. The style makes you want to keep reading however, if only to find out more about either what happened that led to the creation of Gilead or what will happen. I credit Atwood with the realism of the story (and the epilogue is classic, very meta) in so much that you don’t get all the answers and everything is not tied up in a nice bow. I would have liked Offred to have had a mic drop moment before the ending though. This book is made for reading group discussions.

 

Motion: New Release By Penny Reid

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Motion, the first in the all-new Laws of Physics Trilogy from Wall Street Journal and New York Times bestselling author Penny Reid, is available now!

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One week.

Home alone.

Girl genius.

Unrepentant slacker.

What’s the worst that could happen?

Mona is a smart girl and had everything figured out a long time ago. She had to. She didn’t have a choice. When your parents are uber-celebrities and you graduate from high school at thirteen, finish college at seventeen, and start your PhD program at eighteen, you don’t have time for distractions outside of your foci. Even fun is scheduled.

Which is why Abram, her brother’s best friend, is such an irritant.

Abram is a talented guy, a supremely gifted musician, and has absolutely nothing figured out, nor does he seem to care. He does what he feels, when he feels, and—in Mona’s opinion—he makes her feel entirely too much.

Laws of Physics is the second trilogy in the Hypothesis series; Laws of Physics parts 1 (MOTION) & 2 (SPACE) end with a cliffhanger.

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Download your copy today!

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2T5iZto

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Pre-order the rest of the series today!

Space

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Time

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Meet Penny Reid:

Penny Reid is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Best Selling Author of the Winston Brothers, Knitting in the City, Rugby, and Hypothesis series. She used to spend her days writing federal grant proposals as a biomedical researcher, but now she just writes books. She’s also a full time mom to three diminutive adults, wife, daughter, knitter, crocheter, sewer, general crafter, and thought ninja.

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Connect with Penny:

Facebook: http://bit.ly/2AXQQxj

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www.pennyreid.ninja

 

Review of What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon

What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon

Contemporary Romance

 

I received a complimentary copy of this book. I have decided to review it because it’s a great book, despite my preconceived notions.

What the Wind Knows

Overall Rating: 4.5 (xoxo)

Quick summary: Anne Gallagher is adrift without her loving grandfather. His last request is to visit Ireland and spread his ashes, but Anne is devastated she’s making her much-longed-for trip without her grandfather by her side. When Anne is lost at sea, she finds herself back in Ireland in 1921. As she recovers in the home of her rescuer, Dr. Thomas Smith, she realizes there’s more to her grandfather’s wish than she could have imagined. Now Anne must decide whether she’s willing to tie herself to a man fighting for Irish independence, especially when she knows the violence that will come next.

I need everyone to know before they read my review that I dislike time travel. It’s a trope I don’t really care for and I tend to avoid at all costs. Case in point, I’ve never read Outlander. Diana Gabaldon is a wonderful writer, I did read the first 20 or so pages of the book, but I have a mental block regarding that particular plot line.

Lucky for me, I didn’t realize it was a time travel book at first. I thought it was going to be told through flashbacks, which I can handle. By the time I realized my mistake, Anne had already traveled to Ireland and I was already in love with her grandfather.

I’m really glad that I read this book. For one thing, I love the characters. Anne is lovely. She’s a strong, ethical, creative, loving woman that I would gladly have as my mom. She stays true to herself throughout the novel, despite being in tough situations. I love Dr. Smith too. He’s the perfect hero; he’s not overly handsome, not overly charismatic. He’s just a solid, smart, faithful man who thinks with his head and his heart.

The second thing I love about this book is the way Ireland serves as the driving force for character development. Usually it’s the hero and the heroine who push each other to change, and Dr. Smith does evolve as he gets to know Anne (that’s part of why she’s so kickass). But the issue of Irish independence really challenges the characters to evaluate their decisions in ways that I’ve never faced before. I’ve heard about the NRA and Irish Catholics vs Protestants, but this brought the conflict into such sharp detail. I cried over these fictional characters especially because Harmon tries to make sure there are no “good guys” and “bad guys” in this book. Everyone is desperately trying to build a better future and country for themselves and their children and they go about it in different ways.

Thirdly, I love the beginning and end of this book. It takes a good amount of plotting in order to get a novel to loop around like it did and provide a satisfying happily ever after. The difficulty in ending a time travel novel with a true HEA is probably a good portion of the reason why I don’t like them. They usually leave me a little dissatisfied or unsettled. Not with this book! There was something incredibly beautiful about this book. When I think of the beginning and the end, it feels so epic.

Is it worth buying? (Kindle $5.99)

I kind of cringe when I think about spending $6 on an ebook. I know authors put a lot of time and effort into each book, regardless of the format, so I’m sorry for thinking that, but it’s how I feel. I think it would be well worth the $6 if: 1. $6 on an ebook doesn’t make you cringe. 2. You love historical romances and don’t mind time travel. 3. You love Outlander and can’t get enough of it. 4. You’ve never read Outlander (like me) and will happily never know if there are similarities in the plot line or not.

Something else you might enjoy:

Try Serpent’s Kiss by Thea Harrison. It has a unique take on the issue of time and time travel. It’s one of many books in a series, but it stands alone well. You can read my review of the book here. I’m sorry for the typos.

Cover Reveal for Helena Hunting’s New Book & An Exclusive Excerpt

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My personal note: This cover is beautiful, but it also makes me laugh. I can’t remember the last time I saw someone walking around in a white t-shirt and jeans. But I can remember all of the posed family portraits I’ve seen of families in matching white t-shirts and jeans.

EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT

I’m startled out of my thoughts when my brother jumps up and shouts a bunch of profane nonsense, hands flailing like he’s trying to swim on land, or approximate the chicken dance while on an LSD trip.

“You can’t do this! It’s absolute bullshit!” Armstrong yells.

I look around the table, trying to piece together what I missed.

“I’m sorry, Armstrong. I know this is a shock, but we feel it’s in the company’s best interest to put Lincoln at the helm during this transitional stage,” G-mom says firmly.

At the helm? I look to G-mom who’s busy not looking at me.

Armstrong jabs at finger at himself. “But I’m the one who’s put in all the time here! I deserve to run the company! Lincoln doesn’t know the first thing about Moorehead. All he knows how to do is dig wells and forage for food in the wilderness. How are those valuable assets here?” He turns his attention to our mother. “Did you know about this? How can you let this happen? Look at him. How can that be the face of our company? He looks like he crawled out of a gutter and mugged a twenty-year-old college kid on a bender. How is this better for our bottom line?”

My mother clasps her hands in front of her. “I’m sorry, Armstrong, but this decision wasn’t mine to make. I know this is hard for you, but your grandmother and fath—”

Armstrong stomps his foot, exactly as a toddler would. “The company is mine! Lincoln can’t have it!”

I raise a hand, half to quiet my brother and also to find out what the freaking deal is. “Whoa, let’s back this bus up.  Can someone explain what’s going on?”

“You’ve been appointed as the CEO of Moorehead Media, according to the will,” Christophe—no R, because that would make it far too pedestrian a name—my father’s lawyer says.

I’m working on trying to remain calm as I address my grandmother. “You didn’t say anything about me being CEO. You said you needed my help.”

“Running the company, yes,” she says through a practiced, stiff smile.

It’s her warning face, but seriously, when she said she needed my help for a few months I figured it meant I’d be keeping Armstrong in line while she sorted out who was going to take over the company, which I realize now was a stupid assumption.

“I didn’t think that meant CEO. How am I going to run a company with this dickhead on staff?” I motion to my brother.

“The name calling is unnecessary,” G-mom replies.

“Lincoln’s not even part of this family! He hasn’t attended one event in the past five years except for Dad’s funeral. He didn’t bother coming to my wedding and now he’s going to run the company? How is that fair?”

I snort. “Your wedding was an expensive joke.”

He crosses his arms over his chest. “I was set up. Amalie had cold feet and made me out to look like the bad guy.”

The woman beside him shoots him disgusted look.

Armstrong clears his throat and tugs at his collar. “My wedding is not the real issue. The point is that you’ve never involved yourself in any part of this family and now you think you can come in and take over. I will not stand by and let this happen!” He keeps jabbing his finger at me, as if he’s engaged in a finger sword fight.

I lean back in my chair and lace my fingers behind my neck. Armstrong has always been reactive. And self-absorbed. For a while it seemed like he finally had it together—back when he was engaged. But ever since that fiasco of a wedding he seems to have come completely unglued. Again. But worse this time. “Someone needs a timeout.”

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Helena Hunting

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New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of PUCKED, Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. She’s writes contemporary romance ranging from new adult angst to romantic sports comedy.

Social Media Links:

Author Web Site
Facebook
Twitter

FREE Valentine’s Anthology

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Nine full-length novels of seduction and romance

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Valentine’s Day and Nights is a brand new boxed set exclusively for Valentine’s Day as a gift to our readers and to introduce you to new series to love!

 

NINE BOOKS INCLUDE:

PUCKED by Helena Hunting

SHOPPING FOR A BILLIONAIRE 1 & 2 by Julia Kent

SOMETHING IN THE WAY by Jessica Hawkins

ONLY TRICK by Jewel E. Ann

WRONG by Jana Aston

ESCORT by Skye Warren

ROUGH EDGE by CD Reiss

CONSOLATION by Corinne Michaels

BEAUTY AND THE MUSTACHE by Penny Reid

I’ve personally read Pucked by Helena Hunting, Beauty and the Mustache by Penny Reid, and Shopping for a Billionaire by Julia Kent. You can read my review of Pucked here. My mini review of Shopping for a Billionaire is here. I love them all and definitely recommend getting them for FREE in this anthology, if you don’t already have them!!!