Thursday, October 30, 2014

Sex with the Queen --by Eleanor Herman

Sex with the Queen: Nine Hundred Years of Vile Kings, Virile Lovers and Passionate Politics —by Eleanor Herman
Nonfiction / History  

352 pages
5 Stars

How come history wasn't this much fun when I was in school? Queens were rarely, if ever, mentioned—it was all about the Kings, the men, the knights, the male of the species. Only now and then were the females of the species mentioned, and usually because they died rather out of sorts. Marie Antoinette, the stupid little twit who uttered the famous phrase, "Let them eat cake." And the innocent Anne Boleyn. Catherine the Great who brought Russia into the then modern age—and a slew of lovers into her bed.

Not mentioned were the Kings who were imbeciles (literally), or impotent, or the wives forced upon them who were actually (well, for the most part. We can't totally ignore Marie Antoinette) intelligent and better able to run the country than their spouses.

Women, especially princesses raised to become queens, were taught to read and write, at least a little, mostly they were taught to sew, embroider, and to spawn as many children as possible. They received little, if any, instruction on what to expect in married life, other than to remain chaste, and loyal to their husbands.

Oh, my. When those delectable young women found themselves in bed with a boor, is it any wonder so many of them strayed? And, they often strayed with the blessing of the government, if they were smart enough to choose the right lovers, and several were.

This book is about scandal on a royal scale. It is history. It is funny. Oh, at times, sad. But I guarantee you, it's history like you never learned in school. Is it true? I dunno, but it sure was fun! Gossip on a royal scale, all of it old, some ancient. Who really knows if it's true or not. And who really cares if Marie Antoinette really said, "Let them eat cake." This book is just downright fun!

I can hardly wait to read Sex with Kings and her other books.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Born A Refugee --by Dixiane Hallaj

Fiction / Historical (modern)  

314 pages / 3961 KB
5 Stars

"Born A Refugee" sat in my kindle for several months before I decided to read it. I had started it, when first purchased, and for some reason didn't get very far. I feared, I think, it would be a downer, and I just didn't want to read a downer. Was I ever wrong!

I needed a good book to read the other day, and opened this one. I finished it the next day. It was a 2-sit read. Had I not fallen asleep, it would have been a 1-sit read.

I know very little about modern Palestine and or Israel, and found this book to be very enlightening. Now, I know a little about Palestine and life in one of the refugee camps.

Mama, a widow, and her three youngest sons live in Kalandia Refugee camp. Her oldest boy is a businessman and lives in town, and her daughter is married and lives on the other side of the camp. The younger boys were born in the camp, and know no other life. The older children were very young when they were dispossessed and moved to the camp. The book easily could have become a lament, but it didn't. The boys are very believable boys.

There is sadness in the middle of the book, but it works. So did my eyes, and I recommend a hankie at the ready. By the end of the book, happiness once again prevails. There are a couple of loose ends I hoped were answered, but they weren't, but overall, I would give this book a 97 out of 100 possible points.

I heartily recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good story, and would like to read a non-text book, yet educational and informative, story about the Palestinian people and their lives under the thumb of the Israelis. I found the story engaging, the people believable, I learned some about the culture and beliefs, and look forward to reading Book 2 and Book 3.

Monday, October 20, 2014

(A Few White) Women Who Made The West

The Women Who Made The West: The stories of the unsung heroines of the American frontier –by The Western Writers of America

Nonfiction / History
252 pages
4 Stars

Note: the picture is for a later edition 1982) of the same book.

This collection of 18 short biographies of white women who helped to open and settle the West is slightly misnamed. Considering the time published (1979) we were calling much of the book's "West" the "Midwest" and the use of "The" in the title makes it sound like it's all inclusive. It isn't. Still, it is an interesting collection of stories about some very interesting women who made large contributions to our country. These are not stories of the women who came west in wagon trains, or who bravely fought off Indians (though there are a couple of stories where that nearly became a problem). These are stories of women who, for the most part, saw the century change from 1899 to 1900 and beyond.

These were women who either sought adventure and came West on their own, or came with a husband, and rose to the necessity of surviving in heroic measure. All of the women in this book were white women, there was nothing about the women of color—Indian, Mexican, African, Chinese—who also helped 'make' the West, and for that, I fault the book. Two come easily to mind: Lalu Nathoy, or Polly, as she was later called who was sold by her father in China and ended up in Idaho and helped settle that area and Marie Dorion, an Ioway Indian, who came west shortly after Sacajawea, but unlike Sacajawea who contributed nothing to the opening of the West, Marie stayed, as the first pioneer woman in the Oregon Country, and gave birth to the first 'white' children in the Oregon Country. (Her husbands were metis, and therefore his children were considered white. They weren't always treated as such, but for the record were considered as white.)

If you are interested in the history of white women at the turn of the century, this is an excellent book. The stories are short, accessible, and well researched by the authors (each story was written by a different author). The women ranged from Doctors to Madames to Ranchers to Suffragettes, and everything in between, including a bona fide teenage heroine who saved many lives during a horrendous flood.

The book is out of print, but copies are available from book resellers.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

In Dreams an anthology --by CL Norman

Fiction / Fantasy
61 pages / 214 KB
5 Stars

CL Norman has given us five fantasy stories that are fun to read. Each is different from the other, and yet each plays well with its neighbor. While all the stories are well written, my favorite was "Dragonslayers Anonymous." She sold this story as a singleton some time ago, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, and am glad to see it has re-surfaced in this anthology.

Reading "Dragonslayers Anonymous" again was like meeting an old friend I haven't seen for several years and having a good gab-fest over a cup of strong coffee.

I hope we see more stories by this writer in the near future.

Tigers: Fun Facts and Amazing Photos by Emma Child

29 pages / 758 KB
5 Stars

Emma Child has done it again! In her book about tigers, she has given us fascinating information about these marvelous cats, and done so in a way easily understood by the children her book is aimed at reaching. Her writing is informal, fun, and parents who read to their children won't mind reading this one several times over.

Any child who shows an interest in the world of animals will enjoy this series of books. The whole series is fascinating, and I can't imagine anyone not enjoying these books.

I have read all but one of her books, some as free downloads, some as purchased books, and have enjoyed, and learned from, every one of them. This book was a free download.

Keep up the good, and most interesting, work, Ms. Child. Your books are delightful and, dare I say it? Educational ;-)