Standalone Sunday: Into the Heart of Tasmania

Review: Into the Heart of Tasmania: A Search for Human Antiquity

Author: Rebe Taylor

Themes: race, anthropology, class, human evolution, culture

In 1908 it was widely accepted that the last Aboriginal in Tasmania was dead.  Enter Englishman Ernest Westlake, who planned to write about Stone Age implements and tools. Instead he wound up in the middle of a controversy he did not appreciate as he found living history all around him.

I have to admit that I really struggled with this book at first. If I hadn’t agreed to read it for Net Galley, I would have given it up. But I stuck with it, and somewhere around 10% I found it getting interesting. Westlake is not a sympathetic character. He struck me as a rather typical stuffy, pigheaded Victorian gentleman of the time. But the author, Rebe Taylor, was much more engaging when she allowed her personality to come through.

I think this could have been a more interesting book, but as it was I found it difficult to follow and rather dull. I’m not sure who the was intended for, but I doubt it was for average readers like myself. Thanks for the chance to read it.

Review: As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust

Title: As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust. Flavia De Luce #7

Author: Alan Bradley

Spoilers for the previous books in the series, so if you’re planning on reading them but haven’t yet, don’t read this review! You’ve been warned.

At the end of the previous book, Flavia’s beloved mother Harriet has been located and brought home to Bishop’s Lacey at last for a burial. But while Flavia has inherited everything, she’s being packed off to Canada to Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy to be trained up in all the things a gentlewoman (and a spy?) might need to know. Flavia is homesick, but full of pluck as per usual, so when a body falls out of her chimney, she takes it in her customary stride. Something is clearly a foot.

I enjoyed this one, but it wasn’t as much fun without the usual Buckshaw crowd. Still, it did Flavia good to let her stretch her wings a bit and see what she was made of. Looking forward to the next one.

Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell

22304616._SY540_Review: Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Genre: Fantasy/Horror Novella

Silence is an innkeeper, but if you’re thinking of a friendly, garrulous sort who likes to gossip with the patrons, you’re far off. Silence is grim. Most folks are pretty grim, here on the outskirts of the forest. She’s also a bounty hunter, and between both jobs, she’s barely making enough to provide for her 14 year old daughter and her ward. Now she’s heard of a fat bounty on a known criminal, currently sitting downstairs in her tavern.

Silence and her daughter William Ann wait for the right moment, then follow to get the bounty. They’ll have to track a whole group of men, kill them, and bring back the body of the one they want, all without getting killed by the men or attacked by the shadows who dwell in the forest.

Of the two, the forest shadows are far more deadly. One touch and you’ll start to wither. Only silver can stop you from becoming like them. There are rules to keep you safe, but even when you follow the rules, there’s never any guarantee. But Silence needs that bounty.

Sanderson is really one of my favorite writers. I loved how he painted such a vivid picture of a grim world and a tough woman determined to keep her family together no matter what it took. Haunting and mesmerizing, you have to read this one.

Contest Reminder!

flatline-no-growth.jpg-1170x824-700x492All that stuff and a bag too! I warned you that I might keep adding to the giveaway, right? Well, here’s the latest. It’s a one of a kind book bag. It’s made of denim with a yellow and pink fringe at the bottom and hot pink webbing straps at the top. It’s just the right size for a couple of hardback books or a book and a bottle of water and your wallet.

Here’s a closeup of the fringe: fringe

How’s that for exciting? Pretty dang cool.

And just a reminder, it also includes the following books:

The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America by Timothy Egan

Land on Fire: The New Reality of Wildfire in the West by Gary Ferguson

City Mouse by Stacey Lender

Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick

TO ENTER: like this post AND follow my blog.

EXTRA ENTRIES:

  1. follow me on twitter @cindy_bohn
  2. share this contest on your blog and link to it
  3. mention it on social media.

Just send me a link on Twitter or here to verify. Good luck!

DEADLINE: 6/27/17

Book Sins

I hate to single out books for hate, so I thought of a a way to do it without getting too nasty. You could still figure it out if you try, and if you really want to know, you could send me a private message and I’ll tell you, but I’m not trying to single out anyone for unfair criticism here. After all, it’s just my opinion. But there are some things that really bugged me about these books and I think it’s fair to warn you if you’re planning to read them.

  • A, S D by M K – cozy mystery. Tried too hard. Why do cozies do this? They remind me of the kids at school who want to be liked so much that they wear the latest fashion, attach themselves to the coolest crowd, and try to fool everyone into thinking that they belong. If you have to try that hard, you’re not cool. Your humor either works, or it doesn’t, and desperation is not helping.
  • TWWBK by KC – biography. Speculation. Look, either it’s biography or it’s fiction, but quit trying to be both. If you don’t have the sources to back up your guess work, just write it as historical fiction. Don’t try to sell it as non-fiction. You’re just irritating your readers.
  • A&TFK by SP – YA romance. General grump here. I think I was the wrong audience, but hey, tell your characters to quit whining already. You’re in Paris. That’s not too bad. Enjoy it already.
  • F by MRC – could you be more depressing? a druggie kills a kid and goes to prison? Why did I read this? My fault here, I should have expected it to be bleak.
  • Y by CK – thriller. This book does nothing by glorify stalking. It is disturbing and horrible. Why is this rated so highly? And why are some readers defending him? He’s a stalker, abusive, and a murderer. There’s no defense.

Those were my 1 star reads of the year. I may end up with more. Did you guess any of them? All of them? Some weren’t too hard.

Top 10 Tuesday

Inspired my recent read, A Lady in the Smoke, which features a railway doctor, I thought I would give my Top 10 Books on Medicine that I would recommend. These are mostly non-fiction, but include some fiction as well.

  1. The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee. This one is about cancer, and it’s a truly impressive book from start to finish. I was amazed at the amount of research that went into this. I read it after my dad passed away from cancer, and yet I found it an inspiration to read about all the people who are working so hard to find treatments and one day, even a cure.
  2. In Reckless Hands: Skinner V. Oklahoma and the Near-Triumph of American Eugenics by Victoria F. Nourse. If the last book inspired me, this one enraged me. Eugenics was a big movement for a shockingly long time which culminated in Nazi experiments in the prison camps. But it was big here in the US as well, and could have become law if not for a landmark court case.
  3. The American Plague: The Untold Story of Yellow Fever, the Epidemic that Shaped Our History by Molly Caldwell Crosby. I’ve read a lot of epidemic books, and this is my favorite on yellow fever. I tell you, you’ll be swatting mosquitoes a lot harder after this book!
  4. The Cruelest Miles: The Heroic Story of Dogs and Men in a Race Against an Epidemic by Gay Salisbury. This is another great one to read this summer when you’re sweltering in the heat. Read about the race through blizzards to get a diphtheria antidote to an isolated community in Alaska and you’ll feel so thankful for vaccines and for air conditioning both.
  5. Aspirin: The Remarkable Story of a Wonder Drug by Diarmuid Jeffreys. From its discovery to Bayer’s shameful Nazi connections to modern research, this covers everything.
  6. Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters by Matt Ridley. I really liked the way this book organized, a chapter for every pair of chromosomes, and a gene from every chromosome. It’s not even a little comprehensive, but it was compelling reading.
  7. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. Lacks was a poor Black woman who died of cancer, but her cells live on in research that has saved hundreds of lives. However, that raises questions about the rights of patients in this book that’s now a movie.
  8. The Leper of Saint Giles by Ellis Peters. I love the Brother Cadfael mysteries, but this one is my favorite in the series. Not only is the mystery compelling, but the description of the nursing among the lepers in England, of the disease and its effects is truly moving.
  9. An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears. This one is big. But it’s my favorite look at 17th century medicine. It was a time of great discovery, but also a time of superstition and prejudice. Told from multiple POV, it makes the story more complex.
  10. The Physician by Noah Gordon. An orphan is driven by an urgent need to know how the body works. He makes his way to medieval Palestine so he can study medicine and learn what there is to know.