In Margaret Fuller: A New American Life, Megan Marshall explores female journalist Margaret Fuller’s life, from her early days of rigorous study under her father to her Conversations for women in Boston to her coverage of the Roman revolution. Drawing from several resources–including Margaret’s own papers–Marshall brings this remarkable woman to life in all her pioneering glory and all her doubts and desires.
Margaret Fuller is one of those names that I recognize, but, until very recently, had to claim ignorance upon. However, Marshall did a fantastic job of weaving a comprehensive narrative that, while dense, was also engrossing. While I learned a lot about her intellectual accomplishments–she was an extremely gifted scholar and wrote extensively on several topics–and driven nature, my favorite part of the book was that Marshall introduced us to multiple sides of her. Based on the writings Marshall presented, Margaret Fuller asked a lot of the questions that I ask myself, and Margaret’s struggles and doubts made her very relatable. I definitely recommend this engaging biography of a remarkable woman.
Posted in Non-Fiction | Tagged biography, book review, history, Margaret Fuller, women's history | Leave a Comment »
When Francis Walslingham became principal secretary to Queen Elizabeth, he also assumed the duties of maintaining security for the Queen. For much of his life, Walsingham would investigate threats to the nation’s security. This book investigates Walsingham’s role in defending Queen Elizabeth’s throne from foreign, Catholic threats.
This work was an engaging look at the role of intelligence through the eyes of one man. I really enjoyed reading about Walslingham, and it is very hard to convince me to read anything related to the Tudors. Cooper develops a well-balanced image of Walslingham and does a fantastic job of weaving an engaging narrative that also establishes the historical context. I recommend this one.
Posted in Non-Fiction | Tagged history, intelligence, tudor, walslingham | Leave a Comment »
Ronan Lynch can take things out of his dreams. Although he keeps that secret–and others as well, individuals are stirring in the shadows. Several people are using the awakened ley line to search for the Greywaren, and Ronan’s secrets are finding their way to the surface.
The sequel to Raven Boys was a satisfactory read. The focus on Ronan-who I’d found very interesting in the first book-was enjoyable. Stiefvater strikes a good balance between abrasive and sympathetic;, and I enjoyed Ronan as a character. I thought the focus on Ronan was well-balanced with stories about the other cast members and the continuing mysteries surrounding Glendower and the ley line. I’m excited to see where this series goes.
Posted in Fiction | Tagged book review, fantasy, maggie stiefvater, new young adult fiction, raven cycle, young adult | Leave a Comment »
During World War II, the Rosati family, a well-off Tuscan family, struggled to maintain a semblance of normalcy as the Nazis struggle out the last days of their reign. The Rosati family is caught in that final firefight and fall from glory, their estate in flames. In 1955, someone has begun to kill off the remainder of the family. Detective Serafina, who has scars of her own, is assigned to protect the remaining Rosatis and catch the murderer before he finishes off the entire family.
Bohjalian’s novel is an exciting foray into life in Italy during the second World War II. Like in Sandcastle Girls, Bohjalian brings to life a unique perspective on a significant piece of history. Bohjalian is skilled at creating sympathetic characters, and this book was no different. The murder mystery added an extra dollop of excitement. This book was a treat to read, and I highly recommend it for mystery lovers and historical aficionados alike.
Posted in Fiction | Leave a Comment »
Readers might remember when I reviewed Johnson’s The Name of the Star. Well, this time, we’ll turn our attention to The Madness Underneath, the sequel to The Name of the Star. After her traumatic encounter with the Ripper, Rory has remained under the sheltered care of her parents and therapist in Bristol. Abruptly, however, Rory’s therapist says she can go back to Wexford and her friends. Rory jumps at the chance and returns to the courses and social life that makes up Wexford. However, a series of mysterious deaths and cracks in the floor, along with a new ability, plunges Rory into a new supernatural mystery.
I enjoyed this sequel. I actually had no idea that it was out and happened across it during another browsing session at my public library, and I’m actually disappointed it wasn’t better promoted, as I really enjoyed the first one. Johnson has maintained the suspenseful nature and creative supernatural elements that made the first book so enjoyable to read. I enjoyed Rory quite a bit in this second book. As a character, she felt more solid to me, more involved in the actual telling plot. The book has added some exciting elements and plot elements that hopefully will be resolved in the upcoming books. All in all, this was an exciting, well-built sequel, and, as a result, I’m looking forward to the third book (The Shadow Cabinet, out next year).
Posted in Fiction, Uncategorized | Tagged book review, mystery, supernatural, young adult | Leave a Comment »
Imogen is a black belt in taekwondo. For years, she has honed her skills to become a well-oiled fighting machine. She can execute kicks and punches with devastating force. However, when she gets mixed up in a hold-up at a diner, Imogen hides. She comes back to awareness covered in blood with no memory of what happened. When it counted, she did nothing.
I came across this book while browsing one of the local public libraries. I opened it, read the book flap, went “oh hey, I used to do taekwondo, this looks cool”, and took it home. Although I was initially attracted to the book because of the nostalgia factor, I actually ended up enjoying it and sped through it in a day. Imogen, despite her flaws, is an enjoyable character, who grows over the course of the book. I liked her character trajectory and found the depiction of her to be well-rounded. She receives consequences for her actions, and she’s self-aware on a number of things and comes to address the things she sees in black and white terms.
Another great thing about the book is that it’s not exclusively about the diner incident. Yes, the book does focus on Imogen’s recovery from PTSD and her identity crises as a martial artist, but also addresses other challenges in her life and addresses some of the challenges in her relationships with her family and her friends. Skilton does a great job of intertwining all of these problems into a cohesive, engaging plot. Overall, this was a great find in the young adult section, and I recommend it.
Posted in Fiction | Tagged book review, martial arts, realistic fiction, strong female characters, taekwondo, young adult, young adult literature | Leave a Comment »
Over the last month or so, I have been on a bit of a mystery binge. I’m really picky about mysteries–I enjoy them, but they’re usually has to be a pretty compelling reason for me to read one. The murder with suave detective formula doesn’t do it for me. However, I recently came across several that I’ve just plowed through (Lauren Beukes’ The Shining Girls being one). I’d like to bring to everyone’s attention the Department Q series by Danish writer Jussi Adler-Olsen. The Keeper of Lost Causes introduces Carl, a Copenhagen detective who returns to the job following the loss of his partners during a murder investigation. Surly and difficult, Carl gets himself elected the head of newly formed Department Q, who handles cold-cases. Joined by precocious assistant Assad, Carl investigates his first case, the disappearance of a female politician.
The Department Q books possess a strong omniscient viewpoint. The Keeper of Lost Causes–as well sequels The Absent One and A Conspiracy of Faith*--follow both Carl as well as the guilty/involved parties. In The Keeper, this plays out by introducing you to Carl and Assad, as well as showing the experiences of the missing politician following her kidnapping. This viewpoint both introduces all involved parties and superbly builds up to the inevitable encounter between the Department Q and the opposing parties in all three books. As a result, the books are quick reads–it only took me a few weeks to read all three books available in English.
I also give Adler-Olsen full credit for creating well-rounded and engaging characters for these stories. Carl is a huge jerk, but Adler-Olseen’s additional details about him and his situation make him ultimately sympathetic. My favorite character is Assad with his brains, zingy one-liners, and incredible fighting skills. For me, there is the added nostalgic pleasure of reading stories set in Denmark, where I spent a semester abroad. In short, if you’re looking for a gritty, action-paced mystery series, these are the books for you.
*The Absent One is the second book and follows the search for a homeless woman related to a string of violent crimes. In A Conspiracy of Faith, Carl and co. investigate missing children from religious communities.
Posted in Fiction | Tagged adler-olsen, book review, department q, mystery, scandinavian mystery | Leave a Comment »