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Monday, October 24, 2016

Review: The Guineveres by Sarah Domet

Title: The Guineveres
Author: Sarah Domet
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publish Date: October 4, 2016
Source: Publisher

What's the Story?:

From "Vere, Gwen, Ginny, and Win come to The Sisters of the Supreme Adoration by different paths, delivered into the rigorous and austere care of Sister Fran. Each has their own complicated, heartbreaking story that they safeguard. But together they are the all powerful and confident The Guineveres, bound by the extraordinary coincidence of their names and girded against the indignities of their plain, sequestered lives. Together, they learn about God, history, and, despite the nuns' protestations, sex. They learn about the saints whose revival stories of faith and pain are threaded through their own. But above all, they plot their futures, when they can leave the convent and finally find a true home. But when four comatose soldiers, casualties of the War looming outside, arrive at the convent, The Guineveres’ friendship is tested in ways they never could have foreseen."

My Two Cents:

This book is about four teenaged girls all named Guinevere. They go by different nicknames: there is Vere (who narrates most of the book), Gwen, Win, and Ginny. All four have ended up at a convent for all different reasons. They cling together and none of the other teenaged girls in the convent are never allowed to be in their inner circle. This is a novel about those relationships that you only seem to develop as a young person where you're almost creating a family rather than just making friends.

This book took a little while to get going. On it's surface, when the book starts out, it seems like a story about four girls who do what four girls are want to do when they have little adult supervision. They cause a ruckus. They dream about the future: all four to varying degrees dream of big lives for themselves, something much different from the convent. I was wondering where the book was going because at first, it just covers what the girls are experiencing at the convent and the small amounts of ruckus that they cause. Eventually it shifts to something deeper as we learn about why the girls end up in the convent. Several men fighting the war end up at the convent and the girls are charged with taking care of them, which leads to them exploring what they want for the future.

There are a lot of layers to explore within the story. The writing was good but confusing at some parts. Most of the book is told from one point of view with other points of view thrown in here and there. It worked well but I wish that there had been more delineation. The book could have also been streamlined a bit to get to the salient points and to make them have a bigger impact. I did like how the author created different voices for the different points of view. They were distinct and heartbreaking in different ways. This was a good debut!


Friday, October 21, 2016

Guest Post: Marie Benedict, Author of The Other Einstein

Hello! Today I am pleased to welcome Marie Benedict, author of "The Other Einstein" here to A Bookish Affair.

 Growing up, I always wanted to be an archaeologist. Admittedly, my notion of an archaeologist was a bit fanciful, greatly influenced by Indiana Jones. Still, the idea of unearthing long-forgotten secrets from the ground and astonishing the world with a fresh understanding of our past captivated me.
Even though I studied history and archaeology in college with the intention of fulfilling that dream, I got derailed. I took the safer path of law school and a decade practicing as a commercial litigator in New York City, but the unknown past still held its allure, particularly the hidden history of women. My interest became piqued when I learned that Albert Einstein’s first wife, Mileva Maric, was a physicist herself, and that she had been married to him during his 1905 “miracle year” when he published four papers with his most ground-breaking theories. I couldn’t stop thinking about the role Mileva might have played in his life and work, and so I began digging.
THE OTHER EINSTEIN is the result of that excavation, one made challenging by the fact that, while a wealth of evidence existed about her famous scientist husband, very little in the way of artifacts remain about Mileva’s life. Sifting through the extant papers and remembrances and filling in the gaps with fiction and logic, I recreated the story of a woman who made an astonishing climb from Eastern Europe where it was illegal for women to attend high school to become one of the few female physics students at a European university, where she met Albert Einstein. Hers was a life that deserved to be uncovered. So I have become a different sort of archaeologist than the one of which I originally dreamed, a writer excavating women from the dusty corners of the past where they’d been buried or forgotten, building stories of their forgotten lives, and finding their places in history.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Review: A Most Extraordinary Pursuit by Juliana Gray

Title: A Most Extraordinary Pursuit
Author: Juliana Gray
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Berkley
Publish Date: October 4, 2016
Source: Publisher

What's the Story?:

From "As the personal secretary of the recently departed Duke of Olympia—and a woman of good character—Miss Emmeline Rose Truelove never expected to be steaming through the Mediterranean on a luxuriously appointed yacht under the watchful and jovial eye of one Lord Silverton. But here they are, as improper as it is, on a quest to find the duke’s heir, whereabouts unknown.

An expert on anachronisms, the adventurous Maximilian Haywood was last seen at an archaeological dig on the island of Crete. And when Truelove and Silverton disembark, they are met with incidents of a violent nature: a ransacked flat, a murdered government employee, an assassination attempt. And as they steam from port to port on Max’s trail, dodging danger at every turn, Truelove will discover the folly of her misconceptions—about the whims of the heart, the desires of men, and the nature of time itself..."

My Two Cents:

In "A Most Extraordinary Pursuit" is the story of Emma Truelove. She is a very traditional woman who is interested in maintaining her appearance as a fine, upstanding woman. After the Duke of Olympia dies, his secretary Emma is forced to go to Greece in order to find his heir. Lord Silverton, a  guy who doesn't seem to take himself too seriously and seems to think that there may be something more to Emma hiding under her prim and proper exterior. Emma seems to think that he might just be a bother on this journey but understands that a woman must be accompanied wherever she goes!

This is a new historical fiction by Juliana Gray, a new pen name for well-known histfic writer Beatriz Williams. I have read a lot of Williams' books and really enjoyed them. I was anxious to see what this book was like. This book has more mysteries than Williams' other books. Haywood, the heir to Olympia, has disappeared without a trace. Emma and Silverton discover many clues that they have to put together in order to figure out where he might have gone.

The writing of the book was good. The relationship between Emma and Silverton took me a little while to get into. It seems sort of contrived at the beginning. Emma is playing coy and being prim and proper. Silverton is pushing her to be more real with him. Eventually this hit a good pace for me but it was a little touch and go in the beginning.

There are a lot of interesting elements that made this book a lot of fun. First off, there was the setting. This book is set in Greece, a place that I don't get to visit often enough. I loved the detail that the author added. I also liked that the author added elements like the ghost of Queen Victoria (as feisty as she ever was) makes an appearance in the book. This book is the first in a new series according to Goodreads and will engage fans of series such as the Maisie Dobbs books (you can see the fanbase they are going for with the cover that seemed eerily familiar).


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Review: The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict

Title: The Other Einstein
Author: Marie Benedict
Format: ARC
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publish Date: October 18, 2016 (Yesterday!)
Source: Publisher

What's the Story?:

From "What secrets may have lurked in the shadows of Albert Einstein’s fame? His first wife, Mileva “Mitza” Marić, was more than the devoted mother of their three children—she was also a brilliant physicist in her own right, and her contributions to the special theory of relativity have been hotly debated for more than a century.

In 1896, the extraordinarily gifted Mileva is the only woman studying physics at an elite school in Zürich. There, she falls for charismatic fellow student Albert Einstein, who promises to treat her as an equal in both love and science. But as Albert’s fame grows, so too does Mileva’s worry that her light will be lost in her husband’s shadow forever."

My Two Cents:

In "The Other Einstein," we meet Mileva Maric, a gifted young woman who moves to Zurich (where she knows no one) from her native Serbia. Isolated at home because her main interests include physics, something that many thought was not something women should be involved with at the time, she is looking forward to finding common ground with some of her classmates at the university in Zurich. The year is 1896 and few women went to university and she is the very first woman to enter the program at Zurich. She meets a young Albert Einstein and they fall in love. He promises her that they will be an equal Bohemian couple but his promises eventually go astray.

I had never heard of Mileva before reading this book. Come to think of it, I knew very little about Albert Einstein's earlier life before reading this book. I love when histfic can teach me something and introduce me to new people. This book certainly does that! Not only do you have the love story between Albert and Mileva, which starts with a bang but the book explores a lot about Mileva's position as a woman and what it means for her brilliant mind and her potential career. She is definitely a woman limited by the place and time in which she lives in. It was disheartening to read about but really made me realize just how far that we've come!

The relationship between Mileva and Albert is so fascinating. At first, Albert seems really interested in making sure that their relationship is a partnership: both romantically and professionally. Mileva is thrilled because she believes that it will get her foot in the door with actually having a career as a physicist. As we see in the book, Albert becomes jealous and decides that he wants a dedicated wife after all. He takes some of Mileva's ideas and renegs on publishing her name on papers after promising to in the first place. I felt horrible for Mileva and this was a side of Albert Einstein that I had never read about. It's always fun to have your assumptions turned on their heads. 

Told from Mileva's perspective, this book gave me so much to think about. I really enjoyed learning about Mileva from this book. It is so sad that she has largely been lost to history. This is a well written book that I was happy to dive into.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

TLC Book Tours Review: Earning It by Joann S. Lublin

Title: Earning It
Author: Joann S. Lublin
Format: ARC
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publish Date: October 18, 2016
Source: Thanks to Harper Collins and TLC Book Tours for the review copy!

What's the Story?:

From "Among the first female reporters at The Wall Street Journal, Joann S. Lublin faced a number of uphill battles in her career. She became deputy bureau chief of the Journal’s important London bureau, its first run by women. Now, she and dozens of other women who successfully navigated the corporate battlefield share their valuable leadership lessons.

Lublin combines her fascinating story with insightful tales from more than fifty women who reached the highest rungs of the corporate ladder—most of whom became chief executives of public companies —in industries as diverse as retailing, manufacturing, finance, high technology, publishing, advertising, automobiles, and pharmaceuticals. Leaders like Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, as well as Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, and Brenda Barnes, former CEO of Sara Lee, were the first women to run their huge employers. Earning It reveals obstacles such women faced as they fought to make their mark, choices they made, and battles they won—and lost."

My Two Cents:

"Earning It" is a non-fiction business book geared for women in the workplace. Being a working woman today, I am so appreciative for those women who have gone before me and have paved the way for me. There is a long way to go but oh-so-many of the stories in this book show how far we've come. It gives me hope that we're on the right track!

This book is filled with stories of women from many different sectors of the economy. The author tells the stories of a ton of different women. There are some you may recognize like Mary Barra or Carly Fiorina, who made a run for the White House just earlier this year. There are also a lot of other woman that I had never heard of so there was even more to learn in this book. They are tales of irritation and hard won respect. They are tales of difficult circumstances and triumph. The author delves into her own experiences as one of the first female reporters for the illustrious Wall Street Journal. This experience gives her personal insight into some of the things that these women went through.

The stories were fascinating. Some of them disheartened me but some of them really made me excited for how far we've come. Most of the book is involved with telling individual women's stories but there was not much to hold them all together. I wanted a little more from the book, some sort of connection. This is a great book for learning more about what individual women have faced in marching towards success in the workplace!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Review: The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza

Title: The Knockoff
Author: Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Doubleday
Publish Date: May 19, 2015
Source: Library

What's the Story?:

From "When Imogen returns to work at Glossy after six months away, she can barely recognize her own magazine. Eve, fresh out of Harvard Business School, has fired “the gray hairs,” put the managing editor in a supply closet, stopped using the landlines, and hired a bevy of manicured and questionably attired underlings who text and tweet their way through meetings. Imogen, darling of the fashion world, may have Alexander Wang and Diane von Furstenberg on speed dial, but she can’t tell Facebook from Foursquare and once got her iPhone stuck in Japanese for two days. Under Eve’s reign, Glossy is rapidly becoming a digital sweatshop—hackathons rage all night, girls who sleep get fired, and “fun” means mandatory, company-wide coordinated dances to Beyoncé. Wildly out of her depth, Imogen faces a choice—pack up her Smythson notebooks and quit, or channel her inner geek and take on Eve to save both the magazine and her career. A glittering, uproarious, sharply drawn story filled with thinly veiled fashion personalities, The Knockoff is an insider’s look at the ever-changing world of fashion and a fabulous romp for our Internet-addicted age."

My Two Cents:

"The Knockoff" is a hilarious riff on the changing times in the magazine publishing world. Imogen is good at her job. She knows she is. When she comes back after a hiatus, she finds that she is in the process of being replaced but Imogen will not go without a fight. This book explores how Imogen is able to get her groove back and squash Eve, her former assistant, back to where she belongs.

This book took me awhile to get into because of the characters (it takes awhile to get to know them) but I ended up liking the book. I really liked this book because it speaks to the way that so many industries are changing with the advent of new technology. New technology is great but if there is no substance behind what you're doing or selling, you will still fall flat. Imogen realizes this. Eve does not. I loved seeing the tug-of-war between Imogen and Eve. You're pulling for Imogen the whole time as she is trying to find her footing.

This is a fun read that shed some light on the fashion and magazine world for me. It's a light read! It also happens to be Lucy Sykes' debut novel.  


Friday, October 14, 2016

Author Guest Post: Phyllis Edgerly Ring

I am very pleased to welcome Phyllis Edgerly Ring to A Bookish Affair today! 

A highlight for me as my novel, The Munich Girl, came into the world was my return to the first place in Germany where my family lived when I was a child, On the cloudy November afternoon that the book published, I faced the Main River in the tiny village of Dorfprozelten and offered my thanks at the grave of Herr and Frau Geis, who shared their house with my family back in the early 1960s.

It was because my military family lived “on the economy” with them that my sense of myself as a citizen of the world began so early. The fact that my family established close ties with German people in post-war Europe also inevitably led me to want to understand the experience of Germans themselves during the war.

I’d never have imagined this path would take me through Hitler’s living room as it drew me into the life of his longtime mistress, later wife, Eva Braun. “How will you ever get readers past the fact that it’s her – that she’s such a large part of the story?” is a question I grew used to hearing.

I wouldn’t. I knew that from the start. Readers would embark on that particular journey only if they were willing to.

This story in no way seeks to exonerate or “redeem” her, Rather, she makes a good motif for looking at the ways in which many people, women in particular, suppress our own lives – or often don’t even claim those lives fully at all.

The story of The Munich Girl is about many things, including, of course, Hitler’s mistress, Eva Braun, and many facets of history from the time of the war in Germany. It is also about the power of friendship, and the importance of our often ignored and overlooked inner life, without which our world careens increasingly out-of-balance, as it did in those wartime days.

Much like the book’s protagonist, Anna, I repeatedly experience what invites me to look beyond what I think I know, and have understood about life. The process of uncovering the story has helped me remember many kinds of homecomings, spiritual and material, that life brings to us.

At its heart, it’s a story about outlasting that chaos and confusion that unavoidably visit us, in both public and private wars. We seem to do that by valuing, and believing in, the stronger possibility in all of the good that we are willing to contribute to building together. Part of our ability to do that, I’ve come to believe, rests in being able to recognize that human beings aren’t usually all good, or all bad, but a complex mix of where our experience, understanding, and choices have led us.
As one character in The Munich Girl observes: “Sometimes, we must outlast even what seems worse than we have imagined, because we believe in the things that are good. So that there can be good things again.”

Eight years ago when the process of this book began, I also couldn’t have imagined what those words might come to mean in the atmosphere of our world today. I thank every reader who’s giving the book time, and also offering thoughtful reflection that helps me to continue learning from the pathway of this story, every day.


Author info:

Phyllis Edgerly Ring lives in New England and returns as often as she can to her childhood home in Germany. She has studied plant sciences and ecology, worked as a nurse, been a magazine writer and editor, taught English to kindergartners in China, and frequently serves as workshop facilitator and coach for others’ writing projects. Her published work includes fiction and inspirational nonfiction.

Twitter: http://

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