Thursday, April 19, 2018

That's What She Said (Book Review)

Title: That’s What She Said: Wise Words from Influential Women
Author: Kimothy Joy
Publication: HarperCollins Wave, hardcover, April 2018
Genre: Nonfiction/Women/Inspirational/Gift
Description: This is an illustrated book that blends watercolor and short biography to showcase the contributions of more than fifty influential female leaders whose words and actions are a passionate call to arms.

Author/editor Kimothy Joy found herself poring over the biographies of brave women throughout history—those who persisted in the face of daunting circumstances—to learn from their experiences. Turning to art, Joy channeled her feelings to the canvas, bringing these strong women to life in bold watercolor portraits surrounded by inspirational hand-lettered quotes. She shared her watercolors with her online community and encouraged everyone to raise their own voices and recharge for the battles ahead.

Now Joy has gathered her memorable illustrations and quotes and paired them with surprising, illuminating biographies of her subjects to inspire women of all ages, races, and backgrounds. That’s What She Said honors a powerful and diverse group of over fifty women—from Maya Angelou, Gloria Steinem, and Virginia Woolf to Sojourner Truth, Malala Yousafzai, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg—role models whose words and insights remind us that we must never give up the fight for a more just and equitable society.

This appealing book celebrates strong female leadership throughout history and may inspire current and future generations to find their voices and create change in their communities.

Audience: Readers who appreciate intelligent, outspoken women

Michelle Obama takes the high road *
My Impressions: Rather than simply review this book, I thought I would share some of my favorite quotes:

Emmeline Pankhurst – This famous suffragette family has interested me since I was a teen when I watched a miniseries called Shoulder to Shoulder about them.
“As long as women consent to be unjustly governed, they will be.”

Jane Addams – Ever since I read a Childhood of Famous Americans biography of Jane Addams, she has been a favorite (and that was before I learned more about her from Emily of Deep Valley)
“True Peace is not merely the absence of war; it is the presence of justice.”

Grace Hopper – brilliant mathematician and Naval Rear Admiral
“Probably the most dangerous phrase that anyone could use in the world today is the dreadful one: “But we’ve always done it that way.”

Eleanor Roosevelt – perhaps the most impressive First Lady
“Do what you feel in your heart is right – for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.”

About the Author: Kimothy Joy is a Denver-based artist whose work combines watercolor and pen with hand lettering. Her artwork tries to add a sincere and hopeful message of empowerment to women and girls in a conversation where that is often lacking. She collaborates with like-minded individuals and organizations such as Melinda Gates, Reese Witherspoon's digital media company HelloSunshine, GUCCI, The Huffington Post, I AM THAT GIRL, and more - to spread a positive message of joy. 
Purchase Links: Amazon Barnes & Noble Harper Collins IndieBound

Source: I was provided a pre-publication copy of this book by the publisher and TLC Book Tours for review purposes.   Please visit other stops on the tour by clicking below:

Tuesday, April 3rd: A Bookish Affair
Wednesday, April 4th: G. Jacks Writes
Thursday, April 5th: bookchickdi
Tuesday, April 10th: Leigh Kramer
Wednesday, April 11th: Literary Quicksand
Thursday, April 12th: Instagram: @thats_what_she_read
Wednesday, April 18th: Stranded in Chaos
Thursday, April 19th: A Bookish Way of Life

*Image of Michelle Obama is copyright to HarperCollins; shared above to show the illustrated format of the book

Sunday, April 15, 2018

England 2018, Day 8

Enid Blyton lives as we begin our adventure
In which we travel to the original Worcester:

It was time for my niece to be swept from her studies at IES by two of the family historians (and we could have used my brother Peter on many occasions). We met at Paddington (where we expected but did not see many stuffed bears for sale) and zipped off by train to Worcester, a city of 100,000 in the West Midlands. Why, Worcester, you ask? Not because Simon de Montford, one of my favorite historical characters was killed there in 1245 (I don't recall which Sharon Kay Penman recounted this sad event but I remember needed lots of Kleenex!)  It was more because I had heard that the Cathedral was beautiful and that there had been two significant battles in the English Civil War in Worcester, including the final battle.

Our luggage had gotten heavier (at least mine had! I wonder why) since arriving in London, and it was great to have additional hands. However, we were pleased to find our hotel was directly opposite the train station, the Worcester Whitehouse Hotel. Sometimes the hotels near the stations are seedy but this was very nice - by far the most spacious of the places we had stayed (you could have got about 4 or 5 of our London room into the twin room my niece and I shared) and my mother was pleased to have a luggage rack.

Composer Edward Elgar, native son 
We set off for the Cathedral which was a ten-minute walk from the hotel, and was impressive even on a gray (yet again) day. The two most interesting (non-architecture) aspects of the Cathedral were the tombs of Bad King John (died 1216; you may recall we saw his effigy on Day 1 in London at the Temple Church), younger brother of Richard the Lionheart and, more unexpected, the tomb of Prince Arthur, older brother of Henry VIII. Arthur was just 15 when he died in 1502, having been married to Catherine of Aragon six months earlier. The story goes that his father, Henry VII, did not want to return Catherine's dowry so insisted she marry his second son (later Henry VIII) after a suitable mourning period. Had Catherine's parents, Ferdinand and Isabella of Columbus fame, known what sorrow and humiliation were in store for their daughter, I hope they would have sent an escort to bring her home, no matter how beneficial an alliance between England and Spain would be!
With King John I (more or less)
Next we stopped at the Cathedral Café for a fabulous lunch! I had a Coronation Chicken panini, my niece had a cranberry and brie panini, my mother had mushrooms on toast, and we shared a slice of Victoria Sponge cake between us (the first of many amazing desserts on this trip). Everyone was in a very good mood as we left the Cathedral, and headed for the Commandery, a historic building / war museum that served as Charles II's headquarters during the last battle of the Civil War. It had some good exhibits but is desperately in need of funding and some high-tech embellishments. I did think my nephews would have enjoyed all the weapons!
A stool made from the famous Royal Oak that saved Charles II

My niece tries out the 5-meter training pike!
After the Battle of Worcester in 1651, Charles II fled and is reputed to have avoided capture by hiding in an oak tree. I had always imagined a hollow oak with a convenient hole but one exhibit describes him hiding in the branches as Parliamentary soldiers passed below and later a stool was made from the root of this famous Royal Oak.  We were surprised to learn that John Adams and Thomas Jefferson had visited Worcester and the Commandery in 1786 (Adams seems to have cheered on Cromwell's victory - I guess not too surprising but regicide is not very nice, John). We stopped at one charity shop on the way back to the hotel (I found a Katie Fforde I didn't have and an Elizabeth Elgin, an author I had not read for years).

No time to visit Edward Elgar's birthplace but I thoughtfully hummed Pomp and Circumstance from time to time so my niece would know what she was missing.

Dessert at Slug and Lettuce

My mother was not interested in dinner after a surfeit of mushrooms (literary allusion) but after my niece and I recuperated for a bit, we set out to explore the Worcester night life. Although most of the city shut down promptly at 5, we found a branch of a chain called Slug and Lettuce (British humor?) that had great food and a lively bar scene. There was one moment when the waitress took my niece's empty water glass away and never refilled it, but we liked the vibe and the dessert was delicious!

Book count: Two
Cathedral count: One

Saturday, April 14, 2018

In Her Skin (Book Review and Giveaway)

Title: In Her Skin
Author: Kim Savage
Publication: Farrar Straus Giroux, April 2018 (hardcover, Kindle, audio)
Genre: YA
Plot: From childhood Jolene Chastain's mother taught her how to survive by scamming the public, pretending to be someone else to garner sympathy and extract cash. Jo can be whatever or whoever anyone wants her to be. When her mother takes up with a series of bad boyfriends, Jo's life deteriorates rapidly even as her con artist skills become very lucrative. But after her mother is killed, she takes off, ending up on Boston where she makes friends with another abused teen, Wolf, in the tent city where the homeless live.

Hanging out at the Boston Public Library during the day, Jo becomes fascinated by a beautiful young woman she sees studying, Temple Lovecraft, about her age but clearly from an extremely privileged background. After stealing Temple's ID, she googles her and learns that seven years ago 9-year-old Vivienne Weir disappeared from Temple's home while the two girls were playing. This gives Jo the idea for the biggest scam of her life and one that could provide the long-term security she knows she needs - to pretend to be long-lost Vivi. Jo's ability to play a part is undeniable but what if Vivi's life does not represent safety but, terrifyingly, another source of danger?
The Boston Public Library where Jo makes her con artist move
Audience: If you like authors such as E. Lockhart, Michelle Gagnon, and Annabel Monaghan, you will enjoy this YA suspense novel.

My Impressions: This is an original and darkly compelling story about a teenager mature and self-reliant beyond her years. I was attracted initially because I have always been fascinated by impersonation stories and was also intrigued by the Boston setting. Kim Savage certainly delivers an intricate and unforgettable story with memorable characters, including a heroine who the reader roots for from the beginning. Jo has gone through very difficult situations so this may not be suitable for pre-teen readers.

The author says In Her Skin is about the danger of forgetting who you are. It is interesting that Jo does not have many happy reasons to remember who she once was: while her mother clearly loved her, her mother's bad choices led to the mother's death and physical harm to Jo, and yet she was trying to leave to save them both when she was killed and Jo remembers the lessons her mother taught her and uses them to survive:
Remembering past lives. Isn't my only skill. Long ago, I learned I was good at using the ones right in front of me. Momma had a name for it: said I was an Intuit.  See, every time I switched schools, to avoid getting teased for my backwater accent or my short pants, I'd pick a certain girl - the girl whose laugh could leave you bleeding, the one who moved other kids around like chess pieces, the one teachers let get away with murder. I couldn't copy clothes, or the smell of clean scalp, or a hard little chin. But I'd get good at the cool rhythm of her speech, her shuffle walk, her nonchalance. Eventually, it wasn't enough to be on the outside: I wanted in.
Jo has used this skill to survive trials that would send someone weaker straight to social services but she is smart enough to realize there are tradeoffs. Even after she assumes Vivi's identity, she is conscious that her real self is still there, however deeply buried, and she doesn't want to lose it.

Giveaway: There is a giveaway to win a finished copy of In Her Skin. Click on the Rafflecopter link to enter from April 10 through April 24, a Rafflecopter giveaway
About the Author: Kim Savage is the author of three critically acclaimed young adult novels, After the Woods, Beautiful Broken Girls (named by Kirkus as one of the 10 Best YA of 2017), all by Farrar, Straus, Giroux/Macmillan. Her novels have been published internationally and been optioned for TV. A former reporter with a Master's degree in journalism from Northeastern University, she lives with her family near Boston. Kim and her husband have three children, each of whom begs to appear in her books. They shouldn't.

Purchase Links: Goodreads * Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Book Depository * Kobo * IndieBound * iBooks

Source: I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and the Fantastic Flying Book Club for review purposes, and recommend it. You can visit other stops on the tour and read those reviews by clicking below:

Tour Schedule

April 10th

Pink Polka Dot Books- Welcome Post

April 11th

A New Look On Books- Official Book Playlist

April 12th

The Last Page- Review
Vicky Who Reads- Creative Option

April 13th

April 14th

Phannie the Ginger Bookworm- Review & Favorite Quotes
Mama Reads Blog- Creative Option: Playlist

April 15th

Jessabella Reads- Review & Book Playlist
Kat’s Books- Review
Bookablereads- Review & Favorite Quotes

April 16th

Friday, April 13, 2018

England 2018, Day 7

The Old Palace, Hatfield House
The one place my mother wanted to see more than any other on this trip was Hatfield House in Hertfordshire, where Elizabeth I had grown up and where she was living, under house arrest, on November 17, 1558 when Sir Nicholas Throckmorton*  rides from London to tell Elizabeth her sister Mary I had died and she was now queen. Tradition has it that Elizabeth was standing under an oak tree when she heard the news and said, "This is the Lord's doing: it is marvelous in our eyes." Of course, we wanted to stand beneath that same oak tree. There were two small obstacles: the first was that the ree was a 20 minute walk and we were already tired. Luckily, before we had been walking for more than five minutes, a man
Where Elizabeth I and Edward VI did lessons
appeared on a golf cart and magically whisked us to the oak. However, the second obstacle is that the tree is gone. Although many oaks older than 16th century have survived, this one did not. Luckily, the Cecil family handled that by asking Queen Elizabeth II to plant a tree in the same place. My mother had been planning to declaim Psalm 118 (or the excerpt cited above) but was too modest in front of our driver. Still, it was worth it to get a ride!

We toured both the Old Palace (three-quarters of which was torn down to provide bricks for the new house) where young Elizabeth I had spent most of her child and young adulthood, sometimes with her brother Edward (who ruled briefly before Mary as Edward VI), and it was a thrill to be in the same room where Elizabeth had studied with her tutor Roger Ascham (and our guide received an impressed, "I learned several things I didn't know," from my mother who often knows more than the docents). Then we went to Hatfield House next door which is gorgeous and was built in 1611 by Robert Cecil (son of William Cecil, Lord Burghley, Elizabeth I's lord treasurer). Robert succeeded his father as one of Elizabeth's most trusted advisors, and the estate is still owned by his descendants; the current owner is the 7th Marquess of Salisbury.
The Famous Oak Tree

This ceiling was painted gold for Queen Victoria's visit!
One of the reasons Hatfield House has a different feel than other sumptuous estates is that the current owner and his family actually live in the house (presumably on the top floors, although we were told they use the main floors we were touring for parties). I was reminded of Eva Ibbotson's A Company of Swans in which the heroine's dreadful aunt and her friends like to go to visit Stately Homes in the hope of a sighting of the owners. No sightings for us but we had tea and lunch at the restaurant on site before taking a look at the front of Hatfield House, then walked back to the train.
Hatfield House from the front
Once back in London, my mother went to visit her favorite church, St. Etheldreda near Fleet Street, and I went to a shrine of my own (just kidding), Foyles on Charing Cross Road! I had fun browsing and made the mistake of reading half a book without writing down the title or author (debut novel about a woman having an affair; her lover gets murdered and she is the suspect). I got a pot of tea and bought a classic old mystery by Lois Austen-Leigh. Book count for the day was a mere one.
In the evening my niece and I went to see Chicago! It was an amazing production with a strong cast and Cuba Gooding Jr. playing Billy Flynn. He seemed to be having a great time, and if his voice was not the strongest in the cast, no one seemed to mind. The theatre was full and the audience very appreciative, as were we.

* I suspect it is Throckmorton's daughter who later serves as the queen's lady in waiting and falls into permanent disfavor when she and Sir Walter Raleigh fall in love and someone winds up pregnant and secretly married (in that order).

Book Count: One

Thursday, April 12, 2018

England 2018, Day 6

On Wednesday, we headed to a fashionable part of London - Mayfair! My mother wanted to visit the house where composer George Frideric Handel had lived - now a museum housing both German-born Handel and Seattle-born rock star Jimi Hendrix memorabilia!  We have a particular interest in the former because my grandfather was a Handel scholar, author of a book on Handel that is still in print. The museum was small but charming: we enjoyed a young musician playing the harpsichord while singing Bach in German (he said he'd get to Handel if I was patient), and I learned a little about Jimi Hendrix also!  Most of all, it was exciting to think of Handel working on Messiah in this very house (and I was amazed to learn he had completed it in about three weeks), using this very bookcase. 
Handel's bookcase
Before leaving Mayfair, I also poked my head into nearby Claridge's Hotel which made me feel like the royalty and celebrities who often stay there. Perhaps one sign of a five star hotel (not to mention L500/night) is that they made me feel welcome even in jeans and sneakers (if it weren't always cold and rainy I might have looked less disheveled). The hostess at the restaurant urged me to bring my mother in for a coffee but there wasn't time.

Interior of St. George's, Hanover Square
My big miscalculation of this trip (at least so far) was looking on my phone at the distance between Brook Street and the Churchill War Rooms and deciding it was close enough to walk. It took us nearly an hour and half to get there and then there was an enormous line! Nicky had warned us the night before to buy tickets online but the website was uncooperative. It turned out that the tickets were sold out and a sympathetic guard said we might get in but it could be one hour or four! We were cold and disgruntled, so walked another 20 minutes before we found a Pret a Manger, where we partook of hot chocolate, tea, and cookies, which restored our good humor. The walk had been interesting, after all, and among other things we had visited St. George's, Hanover Square, the society church that makes appearances in Georgette Heyer's and others' books. We also walked by the shop (showroom?) of Jenny Packham, the British fashion designer patronized by the Duchess of Cambridge. As my guilty pleasure is this delighted me.
Jenny Packham, clothing designer to the stars
I had read about a fabulous exhibit about Charles I, King and Collector at the Royal Academy, so although we hated to walk another meter, we girded our loans and hustled over to Burlington House on Piccadilly. The queue there was almost as bad as the one we had left behind but fortunately they sold us tickets for 3:30 and we only had to wait patiently for 20 minutes or so to enter. The exhibit had brought the treasures of Charles I from all over the world for the first time since, presumably, he was chased out of town by those vile Roundheads. It consisted of paintings, sculpture, miniatures (by Nicholas Hilliard!), tapestries, medallions and more, dazzlingly displayed in many rooms. The most impressive paintings were by Anthony Van Dyck, who came to England and essentially became the court painter, painting many portraits of Charles and his family. Each room was extremely crowded because the exhibit is closing on April 15th and people were trying to catch it. It was worth elbowing our way through to see such exceptional works.
I really wanted the exhibition poster but was not sure I could get it home intact
By 5:15, however, we were not just tired of the crowds but also eager to see the real reason for our trip, my eldest niece, who is studying in London this semester. We had arranged to meet her at Zizzi on the Strand (a chain but the food was wonderful), so we hurried through the rush hour commuters and a kind manager at the restaurant found us a table although we did not have a reservation. It was great to see my niece and hear about her adventures! She is studying theatre and after dinner we went to see a new play, Quiz, which had just opened and was cleverly staged and great fun.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

England 2018, Day 5

On Tuesday we walked to St. Pancras Station to meet Nicky Smith for a day trip to Rye, a small town in East Sussex  about 90 minutes from London with many historic and literary associations.
Looking toward St. Mary's
It is two miles from the sea and has long been mentioned in the same breath with smugglers. Jane Aiken Hodge lived in nearby Lewes and is probably responsible for some of my historical reading about smugglers. Also well-known is a series of books, Mapp and Lucia by E.F. Benson, set in a town called Tilling which is based on Rye. A BBC miniseries based on the books was actually filmed in Rye. Author Henry James lived in Rye and Monica Edwards and Malcolm Saville have set series on Romney Marsh. More recently, Helen Simonson wrote The Summer Before the War which takes place in Rye in 1914, which I liked so much I chose it for my book group last year.  Downton fans would like it too!
The Mermaid Inn!

Rye is an extremely walkable town so long as one wears comfortable shoes and enjoys the picturesque. The gray day improved as we headed up the cobblestone path from the train station to Mermaid Street. Our first stop was the historic Mermaid Inn, known as the unofficial home of the notorious Hawkhurst gang, free traders (aka smugglers) who ruled the region through violence in the first half of the 18th century.
The famous bar of the Mermaid Inn
Mapp and Lucia's author
The Mermaid turned out to be very charming with traces of smoke from bygone fires or bygone nefarious deeds, perhaps. Nicky was a great traveling companion, having taken a vacation day to join us and bringing a map of Rye with her. She is always knowledgeable and it helps to have someone else who always wants to take a tea or wine break!
A Burne-Jones window!
Next, we visited the local church, St. Mary's, a lovely 900-year-old church that was interesting to stroll through. We admired the look of the tower but did not have the energy to climb it! The choir was practicing gently on one side of the church s we investigated a few racks of used books in a corner (we found a St. Clare's book for my niece Katherine and Nicky found a book for our friend Emily). Touring churches is hungry work! We lunched at the George on the High Street, a luxury hotel with what it calls a rustic bar and plush grill. The food was good although very messy and the service only adequate but the atmosphere was pleasant. No trip to Rye is complete without checking out the Rye Castle Museum (built 1249 as protection for raids by the French) which has a very attractive exterior although a bit disappointing inside.
The Rye Castle Museum
The weather had improved dramatically and touring museums is thirsty work! We found a place to sit outside the Hope Anchor Hotel and have a drink and enjoy the afternoon for a bit. Finally, we visited a charity shop (often the best place to find used books) and then spent half an hour in the Rye Book Store browsing. It looked like an independent but I became suspicious when I realized it was promoting all the same books as Waterstone's (despite liking Waterstone's). The staffer admitted the store is owned by Waterstone's but provided no explanation. There was even time for our fourth opportunity to imbibe before we took the train back to London. By the way, I had used the TicketClever to purchase these tickets (and also for Friday's jaunt) and was a little apprehensive but I punched the access code into a ticket machine at St. Pancras and out shot many orange tickets, so I saved a lot of money by using this website.
CLM trying a costume in the Castle!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

England 2018, Day 4

Hotel Arosfa on Gower Street in London was recommended by one of my Betsy-Tacy friends and I thought it was a good suggestion because I wanted to stay near Bloomsbury. It is a townhouse that once belonged to Sir John Everett Millais; most suitable given my love of the Pre-Raphaelites. The room is tiny and my mother and I keep crashing into each other but the breakfast room is charming and the breakfast itself was abundant.
Throughout London, there are Blue Plaques, put up by British Heritage, which celebrate notable people from the past at the locations where they lived. Several years ago, Georgette Heyer was honored with one at her birthplace in Wimbledon (maybe one day I can combine a visit there with some tennis viewing). It is great fun when you walk by one of these Plaques and recognize someone! The last time I was in London, my friend Nicky Smith surprised my friend Ellen and me by walking us down Wimpole Street where we saw the Blue Plaque for Elizabeth Barrett Browning, which was most gratifying. Strolling to the British Museum in this historic neighborhood led us past many Blue Plaques this morning, and I was pleased to see several of significance to me, including Anthony Hope, author of The Prisoner of Zenda, an old favorite, and Randolph Caldecott, noted Victorian artist after whom the ALA picture book award is named.
The Corbridge Lanx, Roman Britain - notable not only for being an exquisite silver platter but also because our guide said the scene depicted may be set on the shrine on the Greek island of Delos, the birthplace of the twins, Apollo and Artemis  (all roads lead to Betsy-Tacy, even at the British Museum).
The British Museum was impressive in its vastness but almost too huge to be enjoyable. We saw many beautiful things, found a tour on the influence of Greek gods which was good (our guide was very earnest and congenial), then spent a lot of time with the Parthenon Sculptures (formerly known as the Elgin Marbles). We were both tired and should have stopped for tea and cake.
Thalia, Muse of Comedy, 2nd century AD (for Antonia Forest fans)
When Mother went back to the hotel to write, I went on a pilgrimage to Persephone Books which was about 15 minutes away, and then walked to Liberty of London - both amazing places to window shop. I resisted any purchases because my luggage is heavy enough already and I haven't even been to Foyles yet! We ate dinner at Saucy, a casual Greek restaurant on Marchmont Street, halfway between our hotel and King's Cross.
One of many appealing displays at Liberty!

Monday, April 9, 2018

The Baby Plan (Book Review)

Title: The Baby Plan
Author: Kate Rorick
Publication: William Morrow, paperback, 2018
Genre: Fiction/Chick Lit
Taking a quick break from blogging about my trip to England with my mother to review a book that fits into the chick lit genre, despite being about three women who become pregnant. . .

Plot:   Meet three appealing mothers-to-be!

Nathalie Kneller: Nathalie's plan: to announce her pregnancy now that she's finally made it past twelve weeks! But just as she's about to deliver (so to speak) the big news to her family, her scene-stealing sister barfs all over the Thanksgiving centerpiece. Yup, Lyndi's pregnant too, swiping the spotlight once more…

Lyndi Kneller: Lyndi's plan: finally get her life together! She's got a new apartment, new promotion, new boyfriend. What she didn't count on-a new baby! She can barely afford her rent, much less a state-of-the-art stroller…

Sophia Nunez: Sophia's plan: Once she gets her daughter Maisey off to college, she'll finally be able to enjoy life as make-up artist to one of Hollywood's biggest stars, and girlfriend to one of rock's hottest musicians. But after 18 years she discovers the stork is once again on its way…
Now these women are about to jump headlong into the world of modern day pregnancy. It's a world of over the top gender reveal parties (with tacky cakes and fireworks); where every morsel you eat is scrutinized and discussed; where baby names are crowd-sourced and sonograms are Facebook-shared. And where nothing goes as planned…

Audience: I was reminded of Watermelon by Marian Keyes and books by Sophie Kinsella. In fact, I was sometimes startled to realize the book was set in Southern California and not London!

The Gerbera Daisies Lyndi likes to arrange 
My Impressions: This was a fun and pleasant airplane read for me about three appealing women. While most of my friends have finished their pregnancy adventures, I have certainly lived through it vicariously, with the baby-shower-giving scars to show for it! I certainly understood Nathalie's angst at waiting so long to be pregnant and getting upstaged by her careless sister, even if I wanted her to soften her attitude to disorganized and confused Lyndi. I also enjoyed how the author wove the third pregnant woman, Sophia, and her daughter Maisey into the narrative by creating relationships for them with other characters. All of the men in the story were flawed - or should we say human - with the possible exception of Nathalie's father (and while he saddled her with a stepmother, Kathy was annoying but not at all evil) but each of the women characters was depicted with sensitivity, and even Nathalie's over the top decorating obsession seemed sympathetically portrayed.

I was eager to read this book when I heard it was by the author of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, which several friends had recommended to me and which has been on my mental TBR for ages. I definitely think it would be a fun shower gift for a pregnant friend!

Purchase Links: IndieBound *  Barnes & Noble  * Amazon *  Harper Collins
Source: I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and TLC Book Tours for review purposes. You can visit other stops on the tour below and read other reviews as well:
Tuesday, March 20th: A Chick Who Reads
Wednesday, March 21st: Novel Gossip
Thursday, March 22nd: West Metro Mommy
Thursday, March 22nd: Tina Says…
Friday, March 23rd: Time 2 Read
Monday, March 26th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Tuesday, March 27th: Instagram: @Novelmombooks
Thursday, March 29th: A Bookish Way of Life
Tuesday, April 3rd: Ms. Nose in a Book
Wednesday, April 4th: Stranded in Chaos
Thursday, April 5th: Instagram: @jackiereadsbooks
Wednesday, April 11th: Sweet Southern Home
Thursday, April 12th: Books and Bindings
Friday, April 13th: Not in Jersey

England 2018, Day 3

Entrance of OLEM

We spent the night in Cambridge and breakfasted before walking to Mass at the Church of Our Lady and the English Martyrs, a Roman Catholic church located in southeast Cambridge not far from the university. It is a large Gothic Revival church built between 1885 and 1890, fairly dark and dreary (although the morning rain didn't help).   However, as my mother wrote her thesis on the English Catholic Martyrs, I knew she would be excited to visit it.  Also, coincidentally, a book I reviewed recently, Look for Her by Emily Winslow, took place in this Cambridge and the main character attended a funeral at this very church.   I was tempted to tell the priest about this but separately my mother and I had asked him for more information on our favorite martyrs (Edmund Campion and Nicholas Owen; i.e., were they recognized anywhere in the church with plaques or stained glass) so did not want to overwhelm him with info.   The priest, who was very nice Benedictine, did not know much about his martyrs.  The deacon who was quite full of himself said he didn't remember. 
Approaching Ely Cathedral
The construction of the church in the 19th century has a story behind it that sounds like a historical romance: the local priest organizing land and fundraising was assisted by the Duke of Norfolk (a prominent Catholic peer since the 16th century despite Henry VIII's threats) but more money was needed or the church would not get built!   To the rescue, in 1884, came a retired ballerina who had married the richest banker in England with £70,000 of her fortune (an enormous amount in those days) to support the construction.  We also read that the local Protestants loudly opposed the construction of a Catholic church.  My mother posed for a rare picture in front of the church.
Bishop Peter Gunning, 1675-84; imprisoned for his loyalty to Charles I
Next, we headed to the train station to visit Ely, a historic city with a beautiful cathedral about 14 miles northeast of Cambridge.  Etheldreda, an Anglo-Saxon noblewoman (later sainted for her piety, etc.), founded an abbey in 693, which was destroyed by the Vikings several hundred years later, but rebuilt periodically from 970 to 1375, with contributions from the Normans (more or less helpful) and Tudors (unhelpful - Henry VIII and his henchmen took it from the Catholic church in 1539 when he imposed the Protestant Church on his country).  Henry's new bishop zealously destroyed the stained glass and much of the sculpture, and any Anglo-Saxon items remaining (a German tourist came into the cathedral just after I arrived, asking if there were any St. Etheldreda relics in existence to venerate but the answer was no). Further repressions took place when Oliver Cromwell ruled England.   However, after Charles II was restored to the throne in 1660, it was safe to have beautiful churches again.   In the 19th century the Victorians undertook a massive restoration, resulting in the beauty we saw today.   And considering it was a gray and rainy day, it is even more amazing how the stained glass electrifies the interior of the church while from the outside the cathedral and grounds are also impressive - built onto a slight hill which my mother says is very unusual for a church.  The church is huge: 537 feet in length (a football field is 120) with a west tower that is 215 feet high and turrets that are 120 feet high.
Listening to Evensong
After several hours exploring the cathedral, which had a great app we downloaded and free Wi-Fi to facilitate use, we braved the rain to check out the nearby High Street (the exact length of the nave of the church) and ate at the Almonry (indifferent roast beef sandwiches and Victoria sponge cake but the hot tea and picturesque setting were very appealing).   We also stopped a lovely bookstore, Topping and Company, which is hosting Robert Goddard in May.  I would have bought his new hardcover except did not want to carry it.  Had it already been signed, it would have been very hard to resist as I have been a fan since my first weeks at Bantam Doubleday Dell in 1989, when I picked up a Transworld paperback of Past Caring.  We bought a couple paperbacks for the nieces and nephews instead.

Then we laboriously made our way back to Cambridge (bus) and then London (train), and after a mishap with Uber landed happily at the Arosfa Hotel.  Our room is beyond tiny but well situated and very secure.  It even overlooks Waterstones!   Why does my mother keep saying I don't need any more books?
From 83 Gower Street
Book Count: Three
Cathedral count: One

Saturday, April 7, 2018

England 2018, Day 2

Saturday we woke up early and had tea and toast at the Arriva Hotel before taking an Uber to Liverpool Street Station (had I been in a taxi I would have been annoyed as it did not seem like the most direct route based on my inspection of the map) and then a train to Cambridge. It was a good half mile to the guest house but our suitcases wheeled along obediently, and soon we had lightened our load and set off for the university part of town.
King's College

We signed up for a tour of Cambridge including King's College, founded by Henry VI in 1441. There was just time for tea and scone for me/soup for my mother and a quick visit to the renowned Haunted Bookshop before the tour. Book count: just one - Hester Burton's No Beat of Drum. I also resisted the offerings in David's Bookshop and two tables of paperbacks in a church that were only 30 pence each!
A treasure-trove of girls series books on the top floor
The tour, made very enjoyable by guide Andrew (so full of interesting commentary that my mother didn't even object that he told her things she already knew), lasted until 4:15 so we had to run to the Fitzwilliam Museum before it closed at 5 pm. There was only time to see some of the paintings and I spent about 10 minutes in a sampler exhibit that had interested me.
King's College Chapel
King's College
King's College Chapel
Although extremely tired of walking by this point, I felt it only right that we pay our respects to Emmanuel College, alma mater of John Harvard, the poor minister whose deathbed bequest to the "schoale or colledge" founded two years earlier gave it his name . . . It turned out to be one of the prettiest we had seen and the porter gave us permission for a quick look at the courtyard and gardens, which included a duck pond. Extra credit: Where is John Harvard buried?

We walked slowly back past the Fitzwilliam to Brown's restaurant, a charming place with high ceilings in part of a converted hospital. The host took pity on us for not having a reservation and found us a table. We dined on schnitzel and warm sourdough bread and Prosecco.
Punters behind King's College

Emmanuel College

Answer: John Harvard is buried at the Phipps Street Burial Ground in Charlestown, created in 1630.