The Dovekeepers

The Dovekeepers
By Alice Hoffman

Genre: Historical Fiction, Magical Realism

How I discovered this book: Goodreads. (I luv Goodreads.)

Rate: (Scale from 1-10):
Quality of writing: 9
Characters: 10
Plot: 10

Summary:
From Amazon: “In 70 C.E., nine hundred Jews held out for months against armies of Romans on Masada, a mountain in the Judean desert. According to the ancient historian Josephus, two women and five children survived. Based on this tragic and iconic event, Hoffman’s novel is a spellbinding tale of four extraordinarily bold, resourceful, and sensuous women, each of whom has come to Masada by a different path. Yael’s mother died in childbirth, and her father, an expert assassin, never forgave her for that death. Revka, a village baker’s wife, watched the horrifically brutal murder of her daughter by Roman soldiers; she brings to Masada her young grandsons, rendered mute by what they have witnessed. Aziza is a warrior’s daughter, raised as a boy, a fearless rider and an expert marksman who finds passion with a fellow soldier. Shirah, born in Alexandria, is wise in the ways of ancient magic and medicine, a woman with uncanny insight and power.”

Its a compelling story of how these women survive or don’t survive. Set in a period of history that I don’t know much about, which makes it’s more compelling.

Reasons I enjoyed or disliked:
I liked this one. It did take me a bit to settle into the writing style but I think that was just because I had been working a lot and my brain was tuned to alter dance clothes. Once I settled in, I really enjoyed the magical feel that she was able to give the women and thier stories.
I thought the way the stories wove together was compelling. I also like the way the main story continued with each new woman that we met, while still giving us the woman’s background. I think that telling the story of this event through the eyes of the women was a smart take on it. As it gives you women who are warriors, pacifists, and women just trying to survive. Which, I think, is relatable to any time period.
My benchmark for good historical fiction is if it makes me go research the events that are happening in the novel. (Even if it’s just a Wikipedia read). This one did that and more. I’m actually looking for a book on daily life in biblical times, just to get a better handle on gender roles, societal norms, and regular life.
So, this one is a great book.

Yay or Nay?
YAY!

Cleaning tips for the rest of us….

My Boyfrind barfed in my handbag….and other questions you can’t ask Martha
By: Jolie Kerr

Genre: Non fiction, cleaning tips

How I discovered this book: I’ve been reading Jolie’s column since she The Hairpin. Now she’s over at Jezebel. She’s awesome.

Rate: (Scale from 1-10):
Quality of writing: 9
Characters: no real characters, unless you count OxiClean. Which is totally a charater in this book.
Plot: 8

Summary:
The book is a compilation of Jolie’s vast cleaning knowledge. Which is vast. And it answers all the questions you had about cleaning everything. And I mean everything. From getting questionable stains out of sheets to cleaning your handbag after your boyfriend barfed in it, Jolie has you covered.
I mean, just look at the cover:

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She’s a big proponent of OxiClean. And now I am too…. That stuff will clean everything. She also gives great alternatives to using harsh chemicals which I liked.
She’s got charts for easy reference and she will have you wanting to clean your house throroughly before you’re even a quarter of the way thorough the book.

Reasons I enjoyed or disliked:
I’ve loved Jolie’s column for a long time and I’m glad she compiled all of her knowledge into one place. It’s a great reference book. I’m gonna keep this one around for a long time. And give it as a housewarming present. Along with a bucket and a tub of Oxiclean.

Yay or Nay?
Yay!

Bringing about Armageddon can be dangerous. Do not attempt it in your own home.

Good Omens
By: Neil Gaiman and Terry Prachett

Genre: Fiction

How I discovered this book: Goodreads. (I luv Goodreads.)

Rate: (Scale from 1-10):
Quality of writing: 10
Characters: 10
Plot: 10

Summary:
From GoodReads: “According to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (the world’s only completely accurate book of prophecies, written in 1655, before she exploded), the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just before dinner.

So the armies of Good and Evil are amassing, Atlantis is rising, frogs are falling, tempers are flaring. Everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon—both of whom have lived amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and have grown rather fond of the lifestyle—are not actually looking forward to the coming Rapture.

And someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist . . .”

So. The Antichrist is mistakenly given to the wrong family. The two in charge of guiding his evil or good tendencies are helping another boy, who is most definitely not the Antichrist. Aziraphale, an angel and Crowley, a demon do their jobs, and do them well. After six or seven thousand years on earth, they both are beginning to enjoy earth and humans. But when they realize that Armageddon is indeed under way, they garner forces to maaaaybe stop it from happening. And a cast filled with witch finders, gangs of kids, a book of prophecies, and the highway system around London.

All this on a Satruday afternoon in England.

Reasons I enjoyed or disliked:
I really really liked this book. The writing made me smile in ways that reminded me of The Hithickers Guide (Also awesome. Go read it.) For example: “An Angel who did not so much Fall as Saunter Vaguely Downwards.” And “Anyway, if you stop tellin’ people it’s all sorted out afer they’re dead, they might try sorting it all out while they’re alive. ”
The story is just absurdly wonderful. You find himself rooting not so much for humanity but for Aziraphale and Crowley to stop Armageddon.
Then you find yourself rooting for Newt and Anathema. Who have the prophecies vaguely figured out and are trying to figure out where to go to stop it.

At each turn, it just delighted me. I loved the mix of charaters and the fun it created. And I almost almost wanted to see what would happen if certain forces were successful.

Also, there is so much good use of the word “ineffable” that it made me very happy.

Yay or Nay?
YAY. Definitely YAY.

Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.

The Handamaid’s Tale
Margaret Atwood

Genre: Fiction (science fiction, speculative fiction)

How I discovered this book: Goodreads. But it has always been reccomended to me but I refound it through goodreads.

Rate: (Scale from 1-10):
Quality of writing: 10
Characters: 10
Plot: 10

Summary:
From Goodreads:
“Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now…”

So. A dystopian America in which women are culled into 4 groups: Wives, Handmaids, Marthas and Econowives. This happens after a terriost attack wipes out the government all at once. At first the religious growth attackers over seems to be caring for a nation filled with chaos but it’s soon revealed that they use their postion to create a theocracy with rigidly defined gender codes.

The story is told by Offred, in what seems to be letters or journal entries. She was a married woman at the time of the take over and she recounts the swift decline in her life as well as the swiftness of the new rules.

Reasons I enjoyed or disliked:
Argh! That’s the first thing I say about this book. Not because it was bad, on the contrary, it is excellent. I say it because it is a very very plausible thing that could happen in the world. In this country, even.

(I read this backstage during a show. I think the women who had read it before were amused by my first reading of it. I kept putting it down in digust because of the world it was portraying. They told me to stick with it. And so should you.)

The storytelling is wonderful in that it’s not a linear telling. You jump around as Offred tells the story from her memories and the happening of the action. I feel like this keeps you at the edge of your seat with wanting to find out what happens to her. And the ending….. Was everything and nothing at the same time. It’s good. Really good. (I don’t want to give it away. Call me when you’ve read it. We’ll discuss our feelings.)

Very horrific things happen to her and women that have become commonplace, which make it very very scary. As you’re reading it, you can’t help but think of how the society in the book I s plausible today. With the arguments about birth control, same sex marriage, and the way some people are pushing religion as a political argument- it’s pretty easy to see that this could be a conclusion of it. (I don’t mean people who are religious and faithful. I mean the people who try and push their religious beliefs on you. That’s no good.)

The way Atwood gets you thinking is really clever. You start just wanting to find out more about Offred and move into what the reality of this could be. It’s really gets the nerves and thoughts going.

In summary, this book took me to a whole new level of feminism. I went from wanting to throw my shoes at the patriarchy, to wanting to punch them in the nuts. Repeatedly.

So. Well done, Ms. Atwood.

Yay or Nay?
YAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAY! This book should be required reading. For everyone. Once they turn 15.
I plan on giving this to every young person was soon as I feel they’re ready For it.

Letters from a Woman Homesteader

Letters from a Woman Homesteader
By: Elinore Pruitt Stewart

Genre: Letters. (It’s actual letters. Awesome first person account)

How I discovered this book: My friend, Alyssa. Thanks!

Rate: (Scale from 1-10):
Quality of writing: 10
Characters: 9
Plot: 8

Summary:
Elinore sets out to become a homesteader in Wyoming in the early part of the 1900s. These are her letters back to her friend in St. Louis. You see the female perspective of homesteading and what it means to be on a semi-isolated ranch in Wyoming in 1909.

Reasons I enjoyed or disliked:
This one was great. It was interesting to see the first hand letters of Elinore. The only bad thing was that you didn’t get to see the exchange of letters, it’s all just Elinore’s letters.
You learn how she decided to come to Wyoming, and the decisions she makes while there. Elinore appears to enjoy her time as a homesteader and accepts the trials with grace.
It was a really nice look at the American Frontier from a differnt perspective.

Yay or Nay?
YAY! Guys, it was free on the kindle. Free! A good read. Go read it.

Robin: Lady of Legend

Robin: Lady of Legend
R.M. ArceJaeger

Genre: Historical Fiction

How I discovered this book: amazon search.

Rate: (Scale from 1-10):
Quality of writing: 7
Characters: 9
Plot: 8

Summary:
From Goodreads: “Robin of Locksley is young, headstrong, and about to receive the worst birthday present of her life. Still struggling to define herself in a society that believes women are fit for little more than governing a household and bearing children, she balks at her father’s plans for her future, but the consequences of her rebellion prove deadly. Hunted by both her father and the Sheriff, Robin is forced to hide her identity and seek refuge as an outlaw in Sherwood Forest.”

So. Robin is a girl who is about to be married to the Sheriff of Nottingham. She runs away and becomes the Robin Hood we know and love. We meet all the same characters. But with the twist of Robin hiding her gender, you wait for the secret to come out and see what will happen

Reasons I enjoyed or disliked:
Guys. I love the Robin Hood myth. My favorite movie of all time is the Disney Robin Hood. Which is a difficult one to beat. But this one comes close. I liked the twist of Robin being a girl. I liked that she was a strong female character. I liked that she was an acher. (Note to self: add archery to list of skills to learn.)
She spends a lot of time being by herself and not wanting to care for the ragtag group that found her. She may have been thrust into the role but she winds up accepting it with grace.
The only thing I didn’t like was how easily the ending tied into a bow. I want to chalk it up to this being one of the authors first books.

YAY or NAY:
YAY. It was a quick, fun read.