In the fifth century B.C., thousands of years after her lifetime, the
Greek historian Herodotus wrote about a certain Nitocris, a queen whose
husband-brother had been murdered by conspirators.
Egyptologist Kara Cooney takes us back to Ancient Egypt and the rule of
six remarkable female kings. In a time where men ruled everything these
women were able to rise to the highest position in the ancient world
using their own cunning. Using years of research and her own deductions
we look at their rise to power, their reign and their eventual fall from
My Thoughts: Before starting this book I had only heard of three of these female pharaohs: Hatshepsut, Nefertiti and Cleopatra. I was really excited to delve deeper into each of their lives and reigns but I got the extra bonus of learning about three other incredible women from Ancient Egypt. Each of them came to power in different ways. Some through marriage, others religion, and by default as well. Cooney does a fantastic job giving the background of each pharaoh’s dynasty and the events leading up to their reign.
The fact that we know so much about events from 5,000 years ago is astounding to me. The Egyptians left lots of details about the reigns of their monarchs either on monuments, temples or tombs. We are very lucky to have these records. And hopefully over time we will discover more as the search continues for more tombs. I really hope that one day we will find the tomb of Nefertiti!
been a dream of mine to visit Egypt and see the pyramids. The thought of
walking where these god-kings once did would be awe-inspiring. I have
long followed the work of Zahi Hawass, a world renowned Egyptologist,
but I think I will keep an eye on Kara Cooney as well. She has another
book all about Hatshesput which I hope to read soon.
My one critique is the fact that the author tried to compare current events to Egyptian culture. It did not flow well and it takes you out of the mindset of the facts. I skipped those paragraphs. Luckily they were few and far between.
FYI: If you want a historical fiction book similar to this then try Nefertiti by Michelle Moran.
*This is my pick for #8 (A book by an author who is new to you) in the ReadICT reading challenge.*
First line: There are three ways up to Castle View from the town of Castle Rock: Route 117, Pleasant Road, and the Suicide Stairs.
Gwendy is a twelve year old girl from the town of Castle Rock. One day
while running up the stairs to Castle View she is stopped by a gentleman
in a black hat. During their conversation he gives her a box. The box
has buttons. Some are harmless but others are not. He tells her that the
box is her responsibility and to keep it secret. As the years go by
Gwendy notices changes in herself and the world she lives in. Is it the
box? And what price does she have to pay for its gifts?
I had no idea what I was getting in to when I started this book. It
seemed to walk the line between a sweet little story and a nightmare. I
listened to the audiobook while cross stitching on a Sunday morning. I
was completely engrossed in the story. I even gasped and set my
stitching down at several points so that I could focus on the story.
Gwendy first gets the box it appears to be a dream come true. The box
spits out silver dollars and chocolates that suppress cravings.
Everything in her life starts going better. What’s not to like? But when
she starts getting curious about the other buttons I knew something bad
was coming. Books like this show how great of a writer Stephen King
truly is. He can mix the genres and write an excellent story in less
than 200 pages.
FYI: There is a sequel written by the co-author called Gwendy’s Magic Feather.
The Five by Hallie Rubenhold
First line: There are two versions of the events of 1887. One is very well known, but the other is not.
Everyone has heard the story of Jack the Ripper. He haunted the streets
of Whitechapel preying on women. His victims known as the canonical
five are Polly, Annie, Elisabeth, Catherine and Mary Jane. His story has
been researched and turned over hundreds of times but very little is
actually known about the women whose lives he took. Here are their
My Thoughts: I have recommended this book to
anyone and everyone! I was completely engrossed in it. It is thoroughly
researched and well written. It reads like fiction and is easy to get
caught up in these women’s lives. I found myself hoping for better
outcomes as I read even though I knew how each of their stories was a
going to end.
Rubenhold brings these women and the times that
they lived to the forefront. Everyone thinks that they know the victims.
They were prostitutes right? Wrong. Some were but not all five. Each
has a story to tell. I could not believe the detail put into their
narratives. Using housing records, census, interviews and newspaper
reports we get fuller picture of their lives.
romanticize the Victorian time period but it was anything but ideal.
People were barely able to care for their families. Housing was not
always safe or healthy. Disease, alcoholism and poverty were prevalent.
How people survived is astounding.
If you love history, true
crime or biographies than this is perfect for you. It is full of
information that will keep you reading until the very end.
FYI: There is very little mentioned about Jack the Ripper. This book focuses on the women only and the time that they lived.
First line: Scott Carey knocked on the door of the Ellis condo
unit, and Bob Ellis (everyone in Highland Acres still called him Doctor
Bob, although he was five years retired) let him in.
One day Scott Carey noticed that he was losing weight but that his body
was not changing. Each day brought on another weight loss. Even when he
was holding something the weight was the same or less each day. There
is no explanation for this strange occurrence. He has no interest in
being a science experiment.
And this is not the only troubling
part of Scott’s life. He has a small feud with his neighbors. They keep
letting their dogs use his yard as a bathroom. While Scott tries to mend
fences he learns that sometimes it takes more than just a kind word or
My Thoughts: This is such a sweet little book.
The story is creative and uplifting. It is unlike most of King’s other
works. It shows that he has a range of talents in writing. I sped
through it in just a few hours. At the end I had to sit and reflect on
the story for a bit to completely appreciate the story. I was not sure
how it was going to end. I was a little shocked, saddened and happy with
the ending. It was not what I was expecting at all.
I loved how
the relationships changed in the story. How the characters evolved as
the tale progressed even changing their prejudices. This is a wonderful
read for anyone who likes a good story. If you need a quick book to
finish off your reading goal for 2019 this should be it!
FYI: No ghosts, horror or mad dogs.
First line: I was in a coffee shop looking through the want ads when I read, “Macy’s Herald Square, the largest store in the world, has big opportunities for out-going, fun-loving people of all shapes and sizes who want more than just a holiday job! Working as an elf in Macy’s Santaland means being at the center of the excitement…”
Summary: In his holiday collection of essays, David Sedaris covers topics from his time as an elf in Santaland at Macy’s, holiday traditions in other countries and his family’s traditions.
My Thoughts: I am not one who looks for holiday books to read at Christmas time. But this book is the exception. Ever since I was introduced to this collection I was hooked. I listen to it every year. I love to hear about his time in Santaland. It is my favorite part. But I do enjoy when he questions people on his travels about their local traditions. I wish I would have thought about this while traveling abroad.
It is best enjoyed as an audiobook. David reads it himself which adds an extra bit of wonderfulness to the stories. No one can deliver the lines like he can. I laugh every time I hear it. I was so happy to find that it is available on Hoopla, so I can listen to it whenever I want! If you are looking for something funny for your annual holiday read than this is my recommendation.
FYI: If you are easily offended then this may not be the book for you but we do have lots of other Christmas titles available on our displays!
First line: Alice Lake lives in a house by the sea.
When Alice notices a man sitting on the beach behind her house in the
rain she wonders what he could be doing there but decides not to get
involved. Several hours later he is still sitting there. When she takes
out a coat to the man she starts to talk to him and learns that he has
lost his memory. With no idea who he is or how he ended up on the beach,
Alice invites him to stay in her guest house for the night.
Lily Monrose has been married for three weeks. Her husband loves her very much but one night he does not come home. The police look into who he is and where he might have gone. As they search they discover that her husband, Carl Monrose does not exist. Lily is determined to find her husband and get some answers.
My Thoughts: I enjoy everything I have read
by Lisa Jewell. Her books have a fun mystery with twists and turns. The
story always moves along quickly with intriguing characters and
situations. However, I was a little disappointed in this one. I enjoyed
the story but it was really predictable. I kept hoping that the ending
would have an OMG moment like her newest books have had but it did not.
It wrapped up nicely and everyone ended up “happy”.
I did enjoy
the characters and the events of the book. I really liked the flashbacks
to 1993. It was dark and disturbing. It was the typical Lisa Jewell.
Maybe I need to stick to her newer books rather than trying some of her
older ones. But if you like a good story than this is one.
FYI: We have an audio version available on Hoopla.
First line: On the second day of December in a year
when a Georgia peanut farmer was doing business in the White House, one
of Colorado’s great resort hotels burned to the ground.
Danny Torrance was five years old when his life changed. He has spent
years trying to hold back the psychic power called “the shining”. Many
of those years were spent as a drunk barely surviving as he drifted from
place to place until he stops in a small New Hampshire town. He
receives a chance by several local men, giving him a new lease on life.
As he cleans up his life he finds his purpose in live, working at a
hospice, helping the patients pass on earning the nickname Doctor Sleep
by the staff.
But when he starts to receive messages from a
little girl who also has “the shining” he finds his world once again
turned upside down. As he and Abra learn more about this mysterious
group of nomads looking for people like them, they have to figure out
how to stop them once and for all.
My Thoughts: I love this book! It is completely gripping from the very beginning. We all know the story of the The Shining. It is one of Stephen King’s most famous novels. This is the continuation of that and it does not disappoint. I read this while tightly gripping the pages. With every page things went from bad to worse.
King does an amazing job providing imagery for his
readers. I could easily picture the ghostie in the bathroom, Rose the
Hat and Teenytown. He can build a story slowly but make it so engrossing
that you cannot stop reading.
I enjoyed finding out what
happened to Danny after the events in Colorado. I felt for him as he
tried to quiet his demons. I loved his interactions with the patients at
the hospice. There were several twists that I never saw coming and I
literally gasped as I read them. This book will leave you on the edge of
your seat and keep you wanting more.
FYI: Now a movie starring Ewan McGregor! I cannot wait to see it.
First line: Louis Creed, who had lost his father at three and who
had never known a grandfather, never expected to find a father as he
entered his middle age, but that is exactly what happened…although he
called this man a friend, as a grown man must do when he finds the man
who should have been his father relatively late in life.
Dr. Louis Creed takes a job as the resident physician at a college in
Maine. He moves his family from their home in Chicago to a farm house in
the country. Upon their first day there they are warned about the
trucks that drive too fast down the road. As strange things start to
happen that may be connected to the Pet Sematary located behind their
house, Louis begins to wonder if he made a mistake bringing his family
to Ludlow, Maine.
My Thoughts: I have been on a big Stephen King kick lately. It is all I want to read. Before October I had only read two of his novels. Both were good, Joyland and The Shining, but neither gave me the urge to read more. However, for the Forbidden Forest Read-a-thon at the library I picked Carrie for my horror novel. I am so glad I did. It was fantastic! I watched the movie after and really enjoyed it as well.
Pet Sematary was even more chilling. The way King describes everything makes them seem so real. I can see why the movies have not been able to do this novel justice. There is no way to convey the eeriness of the Church or the spooky trek through the woods to the burial ground. I did find the beginning slow as he was laying the groundwork for the second half. But as you come to the end you understand why he had to spend so much time on the backstory. I had nightmares while reading this but it did not stop me from buying a copy of Doctor Sleep and Misery the next time I was at a used bookstore. If you want something that will give you chills then King is definitely your guy!
FYI: I tried the new movie but I did not make it very far before I decided I did not want to mess with the version in my head.
First line: By the time Alex managed to get the blood out of her good wool coat, it was too warm to wear it.
Galaxy “Alex” stern is a freshman at Yale. She grew up in California
but got in with a rough crowd as a teenager. She dropped out of school,
took drugs and lived with her drug dealing boyfriend. Until one night
everyone in her apartment is found dead except for her. She is
approached during her hospital stay with the offer of a lifetime, a full
ride scholarship to Yale.
However, when she arrives at the
prestigious college she learns that her role here is not just academic.
Alex is now a part of a society that is tasked with monitoring the
activities of the universities secret societies. With her ability to see
ghosts she is charged with helping keep the spirits and the rituals in
When a local girl is found murdered around the campus
Alex believes that the societies may have something to do with it. As
she continues to search for more clues to the mysterious death her she
finds herself being attacked by the ghosts the walk the town of New
My Thoughts: I have been looking forward to reading
this book ever since I heard about it. I really enjoyed her young adult
series. Bardugo is a master at world building and wit. But as the
release day got closer I saw several reviewers I follow giving it low
ratings or not finishing the book at all. This started to scare me. Even
though there were these negative reviews with lots of trigger warnings I
decided to ignore them and judge it for myself. And I am so glad I did!
started the book as an audio. I liked it and continued listening to it
but alternating between it and the physical book. However, I wish that I
had read the first few chapters where much of the world building
information was. There are eight secret societies with different
rituals. There are lots of characters and also time jumps between
characters. This got a little confusing. Once I started to read more it
smoothed out and got to be quite enjoyable. I found it hard to put down.
Alex gives us a glimpse back into her life before Yale and what led her
to this point. Darlington shows us what the first few months are like
with Alex as the new Virgil.
I believe that my favorite part was
when Alex interacted with the ghosts. Some are very listless but others
can be very malevolent. I hope that Bardugo gives us more of this in the
upcoming books. Even though the main mystery was who killed Tara there
is an underlying and more interesting mystery. What happened to
Darlington?! Is he alive? Where did he go? Is he coming back? We get
left with quite a cliffhanger so I really hope that the next book is not
several years in the future!
FYI: This is Bardugo’s adult debut. Her young adult series are The Shadow and Bone Trilogy, The Dregs Duology, and the Nikolai Duology.
Mudlark by Lara Maiklem
First line: It is hot and airless on the 7.42 from Greenwich to Cannon Street.
Mudlarker Lara Maiklem spends hours walking miles along the riverbank
of the Thames in London. In her wanderings she finds little trinkets
that give us a look into the English past. She has found items ranging
from the Romans to modern day trash.
My Thoughts: I absolutely devoured this book. I first heard about it on a podcast, Talking Tudors, hosted by Natalie Grueninger. In one of her recent releases she talked with Lara about her upcoming book and the Tudor related finds she has discovered in the mud of the river. Immediately after listening to it I had to find a copy to read. Thank goodness Netgalley had it available.
I really enjoyed how the author laid
out the book. She started at one end of the Thames and worked her way
to the sea. As she described her finds she also delved into her past,
experiences on the foreshore and other mudlarks and their finds. I loved
learning about the items she found. I was constantly on the internet
looking for pictures of these items and reading more history behind
them. I am really jealous of the items she has in her curio cabinet. I
am seriously thinking about getting a day pass to mudlark the next time I
am in London. Or can I mudlark in Kansas?
FYI: Lara Maiklem is on Facebook and Instagram. If you want to see her finds and hear more about mudlarking then check them out.