04 Sep, 2015

The Royal Mews

/ posted in: travel


What is the Royal Mews?

The Royal Mews is attached to Buckingham Palace. Very convenient for starting a royal procession with the fancy coaches and horses.

There were two horses on display. This is a Cleveland Bay. My mother and I were absurdly excited about this. We’ve never seen one. They were just a trivia question in 4-H contests to us and here was one in the flesh. They are a very rare breed and the favor of the Queen is pretty much what is keeping them from dying out.

All the fancy coaches that you see on TV and documentaries are kept here.

The Glass Coach

The Semi-State Landau

The Scottish State Coach

The Irish State Coach

The Diamond Jubilee Coach

This is the new coach. It is seriously state of the art, which you may consider weird for a carriage. It has power windows, heat, security camera in the crown, and interior lighting. It has a modern suspension. The wood includes pieces from many major British icons like Lord Nelson’s ship, Balmoral Castle, the Mayflower, etc. See the list.

There are also smaller everyday carriages like this antique child’s cart.

Carriage horses are kept here but they are moved out of the stables while the public can walk through. I’m not sure where they hide them.

Why did they need a new fancy carriage? This was the old one — The Gold State Coach.

It was built in 1762 and weighs four tons and is very difficult to maneuver. It is so bumpy to ride in that it was described by King William IV as being tossed in a rough sea. It can only be pulled at a walk — anything faster would make it go out of control. I hadn’t realized that but if you see it in documentaries of coronations they are only walking slowly down the street. It isn’t to be seen well. It is to keep from crashing.

It is in its own room at the Royal Mews. To get it out they need two days notice to take down the wall. It will only come out for coronations probably.

The Royal Mews

Adults £9
Including in the London Pass

04 Sep, 2015

Why Throne of Glass is Not Okay

/ posted in: Reading Why Throne of Glass is Not Okay Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
on August 7th 2012
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 406
Format: eBook

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.
Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for four years and then be granted her freedom.
Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.
Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

This series is all the rage for a lot of the book people I follow on Twitter.  When I saw the first book was available to read on Oyster I decided to see what all the fuss was about.  I got about 25% through and quit because I was bored.  This week another book in the series came out and people on  Twitter were all excited like it was the second coming of Harry Potter.  I decided to try again to see if I missed something.  I forced myself to finish it this morning.  Yeah, forced.  That’s not a good sign.  Checking the % finished number every few pages wasn’t a good sign either.

I checked reviews on Goodreads after I finished and am relieved to see that I am not alone.  This seems to be a love it or hate it book.

Here’s what bothered me.

Creepy Male Main Characters

Celaena is a seventeen year old female assassin who has been in a prison camp for a year.  She is taken out by a Prince and the Captain of his guard to compete in a contest.  If she doesn’t win the contest she is going to be sent back to prison.  Once at the palace she is kept in her rooms with guards on the doors unless escorted out.

These two men who took her out of the prison have complete control of her life.  They have become her jailers.  What do they do?  They take turns coming into her room in the middle of the night when she is in bed.  WTF?  That’s not okay.

You know what is even worse?  Sometimes she doesn’t wake up when they come in so they stand there and watch her sleep.  No, just no.  Why is this somehow considered sweet and romantic in YA books?  It is not sweet.  That is Get Me A Restraining Order behavior. (Why is such a supposedly fearsome killer such a heavy sleeper that they creep up on her all the time anyway?)

So then one of them starts coming onto her.  He’s supposedly some major womanizer but of course he wants to give it all up for her.  Well, except for that time she is escapes and sees him kissing on another woman while Calaena is supposed to be locked up.  How does our heroine react?  Does she realize that he is a creep?  Don’t be silly.  She wonders what is wrong with her and why she feels so jealous.

At the end of the book, (that’s your spoiler alert) she decides to just be friends with him because she wants to be free at the end of her sentence and make decisions for herself.  Good on her.  But then the other guy comes along and finds out about this decision.  His response?  He ogles her short nightgown because he always comes in unexpectedly at night.  Then this conversation happens.

He pulled out the chair in front of him and sat down.  She filled a goblet with wine and handed it to him.  “To four years until freedom” she said, lifting her glass.

He raised his in salute.  “To you, Celaena.”

Their eyes met, and (creepy dude #2) didn’t hide his smile as she grinned at him.  Perhaps four years with her might not be enough.


Right, she’s celebrating the fact that eventually she is going to be free to make her own decisions and he is thinking that now that Creepy Dude #1 is out of the picture that she is all his for the next four years.  Chilling.

Magical Puppy Raising

At one point in the story Calaena is given a puppy by Creepy Dude #1.  Here is her response.

…I want her trained.  I don’t want her urinating on everything and chewing on the furniture and shoes and books.  And I want her to sit when I tell her to and lay down and roll over and whatever it is that dogs do.  And I want her to run – run with the other dogs when they’re practicing.  I want her to put those long legs to use.”

…. “When I’m training” — she kissed the pup’s soft head, and the dog nestled her cold nose against Celaena’s neck — “I want her in the kennels, training as well. When I return in the afternoon, she may be brought to me.  I’ll keep her in the night.” Celaena held the dog at eye level.  The dog licked her legs in the air.  “If you ruin any of my shoes,” she said to the pup, “I’ll turn you into a pair of slippers.  Understood?”


Oh, Lord, help me.  It is attitudes like this why I have to remind myself on a daily basis that it is illegal to beat people.  It is a puppy.  It is a baby.  It doesn’t know all the rules just because you explain them once.  She can’t hold her urine.  A person locked up in a room can’t take her outside and she isn’t allowed to urinate in the room.  Good plan.

I have this discussion all the time.  People bring me 9 week old dogs thinking there is something horribly wrong with them because they aren’t housebroken yet.  Or they want drugs for the 4 month old because he is chewing on things.  Have they taught the dog manners?  Of course not.  Dogs are just supposed to know or else magical dog trainers swoop in during the night to teach.  Trust me – sending a young puppy outside in the morning for a few hours and then locking her up in a room for the rest of the day and ignoring her (which she does), does not a trained dog make.  This is a recipe for an abandoned dog when it doesn’t live up to expectations.





About Sarah J. Maas

“Sarah lives in Bucks County, PA, and over the years, she has developed an unhealthy appreciation for Disney movies and bad pop music. She adores fairy tales and ballet, drinks too much tea, and watches an ungodly amount of TV. When she’s not busy writing, she can be found exploring the historic and beautiful Pennsylvania countryside with her husband and canine companion.” from Goodreads

03 Sep, 2015

The Three Body Problem

/ posted in: Reading The Three Body Problem The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu
on November 1st 2014
Genres: Fiction, Science Fiction
Pages: 400
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon

"With the scope of Dune and the commercial action of Independence Day, this near-future trilogy is the first chance for English-speaking readers to experience this multple-award-winning phenemonenon from China's most beloved science fiction author. Set against the backdrop of China's Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion. The result is a science fiction masterpiece of enormous scope and vision"--

A multiple award-winning science fiction book set in China and translated from Chinese?  That sounds like a perfect book for me.

The book starts with the story of woman whose father is killed during the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s.  She is sentenced to reeducation but eventually her training as a physicist is determined to be desirable for a new military project.  She is sent to live and work on a base with a large radio antenna.

In the present day, there is a wave of murders and suicides of scientists in China.  A man who is researching ways to make fabric from nanoparticles finds that whenever he takes a picture there is a clock embedded in the image.  The clock is counting down.  He doesn’t know what is going to happen when the countdown ends.  He is contacted and told to stop his research and the countdown will stop.  It does.

He knew a few of the dead scientists.  When visiting the husband of one he is surprised to see a set up for a video game called Three Body.  The dead scientist didn’t seem like the kind of person who would enjoy a game.  He decides to play it to see what it is like.  The game is set on a planet where day and night are not set lengths.  They can’t be predicted.  In times of extreme cold or heat, civilizations on the planet collapse.  The game then restarts in a different period of time and the goal is the same.  Try to predict the movement of the sun.

People who like and are good at this game tend to be scientists and intellectuals.  Once they pass a certain level they are contacted for meetups.  There they are told that the world in the game is real and that aliens from that planet are on their way to Earth.


What I didn’t realize when I got this book is that it is more about physics than anything else.  Most of the main characters are theoretical physicists and the book is mostly them talking to each other about their research.

I’m not good with physics.  I had to take a few classes in college and I hated it.  Here’s my hangup.  When they start talking about things like, “We’ll smash these particles together and if something bounces back in this direction then we’ll know that there was this type of particle there.”  My brain says, “No you don’t.  You assume that what bounced your particle back was another particle because you are thinking in particles.  But you can’t see it.  You don’t know what it is.  There could be a force that you don’t know about that is repelling particles.  For all you know, there could be a tiny elf with a mirror reflecting particles.  It could be anything.  You don’t know!”  Yeah, I’m a biology girl.  I want to actually see what is going on.  When this book got into discussions of what would happen if you unfold a proton in 2 or 1 or 6 dimensions … ugh.

I had to step back from the details of this book to look at the main questions.

  • Has humanity become so depraved that you would welcome an alien invasion?  You don’t know if they will coexist, destroy humanity, or change humanity.  Do you care?
  • Can you cripple a society if you make it sufficiently afraid of scientific investigation?  This one is interesting to me because I read so much about anti-intellectualism in the United States.  (Despite my physics rant in the paragraph above, I think investigating basic sciences is extremely important because there is so much that we don’t know.)

An interesting part of the translation of this novel is the fact that so much of it is based in Chinese history and philosophy. There are some footnotes to explain the mindset of the Cultural Revolution and Chinese philosophers to English-reading audiences. There is Chinese wordplay that is explained too. I appreciated that because it helped but it is also a little embarrassing that they knew we would need the help. There are parts of the game where western historical figures are brought in. I wonder if there were footnotes in the Chinese version to explain them.



#currentlyreading #books #bookstagram #bookquotes

A photo posted by @dvmheather on

02 Sep, 2015

Books that have changed your life

/ posted in: Reading

Are there books or authors that have been major influences on your life?

Marguerite Henry

Marguerite Henry (April 13, 1902-November 26, 1997) was an American writer. The author of fifty-nine books based on true stories of horses and other animals, her work has captivated entire generations of children and young adults and won several Newbery Awards and Honors. Among the more famous of her works was Misty of Chincoteague, which was the basis for the 1961 movie Misty, and several sequel books.”  from Goodreads


As a kid I had all of Marguerite Henry’s books about horses.  I didn’t just read them over and over.  I had them all memorized.  I read them because I was already a horse crazy kid but having all these facts helped me when I joined 4-H and started competing in contests about horses.  I ended up traveling all over the country to compete and winning several national titles certain didn’t hurt my vet school applications.

James Herriot

James Herriot is the pen name of James Alfred Wight, OBE, FRCVS also known as Alf Wight, an English veterinary surgeon and writer. Wight is best known for his semi-autobiographical stories, often referred to collectively as All Creatures Great and Small, a title used in some editions and in film and television adaptations.

I think all veterinarians are influenced by him.  Another vet at the clinic I work at and I were horrified to learn that none of the staff members had ever heard of him.  His stories of being a vet in the 1930s are embedded in my brain and I have actually used some of his suggestions before on cases.

Grethe Cammermeyer

Serving in SilenceServing in Silence by Margarethe Cammermeyer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Grethe Cammermeyer was a nurse in the Army during Vietnam.  In 1989 during an interview for a clearance to attend the War College she came out as a lesbian to the Army. She was discharged.  She fought her discharge and won.

I was raised as a good evangelical Christian so I knew that homosexuality was wrong.  Reading this book changed my mind.

Sue Monk Kidd

The Dance of the Dissident DaughterThe Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Everybody knows Sue Monk Kidd now as a bestselling author.  Remember that evangelical childhood of mine?  I knew her as a contributing author to Guideposts.  I always remembered her name because I thought it was weird.  Sorry.  When I was getting out of Christianity, I found this book.  It detailed her move away from her evangelical roots.  This book made it seem ok.  I reread it every few years.

Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins

Left Behind (Left Behind, #1)Left Behind by Tim LaHaye
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Ok, this might seem weird following the last two but stick with me.  If you don’t know, the Left Behind series is a story about the Rapture and Tribulation as imagined by fundamentalist Christians.  It came out during my waffling stage when I was trying to decide whether to stay Christian or not.  There is a character in this series named Chloe.  She is the adult daughter of the main character.  As Christians are persecuted she sets up a world-wide underground economy from a bunker.  Pretty cool and smart, right?  Yeah, except… these authors couldn’t have her be a strong woman.  When she isn’t trying to save the world she needs to ask her husband and father for permission to do everything.  She even asks if she can go outside.  So she can run a huge business but can’t decide if it is safe to go outside and needs to defer to male judgement?  She also had a baby because that’s what women do.  They know that they are in a war that is going to last seven years and then Jesus will return.  In those seven years they will be hunted and be on the run and they sit down and make the conscious decision to reproduce?  It wasn’t an accident.  It was deliberate.  It infuriated me.  It made it really obvious to me how much some Christians can’t deal with women.  I hated what they turned her into.  I just wanted her to die.  As soon as Chloe was killed in the series (whoops, sorry baby!) I put down the book and walked away.  I didn’t even finish that book.

01 Sep, 2015

Read This

/ posted in: Reading

img_20150728_185733Photo courtesy of Charlie @Girl of 1000 Wonders

Welcome to Read This, a collection of book reviews and giveaways that were posted in the past week or so from around the web. This is a collection of book reviews & contests from real reviewers. If you want to be included in the next edition start with the guidelines, then use the submission form.

Want to read more reviews? Check out Read This for a list of the latest reviews and stellar reviewers. You can also follow on twitter for the latest round ups. Read This is now accepting photo submissions for each edition.

















01 Sep, 2015

Why I Don’t Read Books with Unlikable Characters

/ posted in: Reading

This week’s topic for Top Ten Tuesday is Ten Characters I Didn’t Like.  I can’t really list ten.  Sure, I could list ten villians but you aren’t supposed to like the villians in books.

I’ve read a lot of posts lately about why we should read books with unlikable characters.  I guess it is supposed to be good for us like eating broccoli or something.  I don’t require main characters to be someone who I can relate to.  They don’t have to be like me for me to enjoy the book.  They do, however, have to be likable and I’ve figured out why.

I deal with enough jerks in my day to day life without wasting my leisure time on them.

Here are the characteristics of a main character that will make me hate a character or DNF a book without a second glance.

Mean to animals

I’ve discussed this one in depth already.  I never got past the first few chapters of The Knife of Never Letting Go for this reason.


If you repeatedly make mistakes because you are too stupid to listen to anyone else, I don’t care to spend time with you.  Charley Bordelon in Queen Sugar had this issue.  Luckily she started to get over it so I could finish the book.

Queen SugarQueen Sugar by Natalie Baszile




Clueless and/or Entitled

GuyanaGuyana by Élise Turcotte

I read this book because I’m trying to read more set in South America.  This was also translated from French so it seemed perfect.  I finished this book just to see if it eventually made any sense.  It didn’t.  It was set in Montreal.  The hairdresser of the main character’s autistic son died.  The main character wants to know why.  She has no connection to this woman other than paying her to cut her son’s hair.  She starts harassing the woman’s friends.  She goes to her house and barges in on her roommate.  She makes these people who actually knew the dead woman stop dealing with their grief in order to attend to her.  She was completely clueless that she was behaving badly.  Her reasoning?  The hairdresser was from Guyana and one time, when she was in the hospital, the main character saw stories about Guyana on the news.  I’m not even kidding about that.  I wish I was.

What Characteristics Make You Hate a Main Character?


31 Aug, 2015

Wrapping Up August

/ posted in: Reading

In August I read 16 books.

  • Two were nonfiction.
  • One was on audio.
  • They were set in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, Oregon and the moon, New York, Diego Garcia, Miami, Massachusetts, Montreal, Seattle, Maine, England, California, China,
    Washington D.C., and fantasy worlds.
  • Eleven of the authors were women and five were men.
  • The authors were African-American (2), Indian (1), Hispanic (1), Chinese (1), Egyptian (1), and Caucasian (10).
  • Two of the books were originally written in an language other than English.

Around the Internet

The Ninja Book Swap signups open on September 1.



Diversiverse is coming!  This is my favorite reading challenge of the year.  The goal is to read and review one book written by an author of color.  Easy.  You get so many great suggestions.  Here’s what Aarti, the host of the reading challenge, says about it.

Reading diversely is important because we live in a global world.  Period.  If you read books only by white authors, you are limiting yourself to less than 30% of the world’s experience of race and culture.  If you read books only by Christian authors, you are limiting yourself to only about 33% of the world’s experience of religion.  If you read books only by authors in developed countries, you are limiting yourself to a very privileged view of what the world has to offer you.  If you read books that focus only on Western thought, history, and philosophy, you are missing out on many rich and varied traditions and worldviews that have informed and continue to enrich the way we view the world today. “

Sign up here.


I’m participating in a CG swap right now and my partner and I are exhanging ebooks.  So far I’ve gotten this book.

If You Could Be MineIf You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan


“Seventeen-year-old Sahar has been in love with her best friend, Nasrin, since they were six. They’ve shared stolen kisses and romantic promises. But Iran is a dangerous place for two girls in love—Sahar and Nasrin could be beaten, imprisoned, even executed if their relationship came to light.

So they carry on in secret—until Nasrin’s parents announce that they’ve arranged for her marriage. Nasrin tries to persuade Sahar that they can go on as they have been, only now with new comforts provided by the decent, well-to-do doctor Nasrin will marry. But Sahar dreams of loving Nasrin exclusively—and openly.”

Thanks Kim!

Speaking of diversity in authors, Who Won Science Fiction’s Hugo Awards, And Why It Matters. The Three-Body Problem, one of my August reads, was one of the winners this year.

Since reading Headscarves and Hymens, I’ve been following the author @monaeltahawy on Twitter.  She writes a lot about feminism in the Middle East.

Incredible, honest and difficult read on the impact #FGC had on a young woman’s sex life & relationship w her mother http://t.co/1X2QGwYRrL — Mona Eltahawy (@monaeltahawy) August 26, 2015 And this.  The Shepherd’s Crown, the last Discworld novel is out and the account of the late Terry Pratchett posted this picture of the last page.  I want to read the book but I just can’t yet.

I’m working on a page with a huge list of places to link book reviews.  Where do you link yours?  Do you use any sites that you think most people wouldn’t know about?  Leave a link in the comments.

28 Aug, 2015

Inside Hampton Court

/ posted in: travel

Hampton Court was built by Thomas Wolsey, who was the Archbishop of York and a favorite adviser of Henry VIII. He fell out of favor though and to try to get back in favor he gave Henry Hampton Court. It didn’t help.

There are several tours that you can take of the interior of the palace. The audio guides are very good for each. We started with the kitchen tour. We learned about the supply chain and massive numbers of people required to feed everyone in the palace. We walked through the kitchens and saw the huge fireplaces (above) used to cook meat.

This is the wine cellar. There were cool houses to store supplies and rooms just for polishing all the tableware.

The next tour we did featured the life of Henry VII.

The Great Hall was the most important room. It is surrounded by tapestries and has a hammer beam ceiling. There are many small figures in the ceiling to remind people that someone was always watching them.

The whole palace is filled with art and extravagant decorations. This stained glass window is fairly plain compared to the rest of the palace.

William and Mary updated the castle to their liking when they were in power. There are audio tours through their wings.

This room was a guards’ room outside of the royal chambers. What do you do with all of your weapons when you aren’t using them? Decorate!

For a look at the grounds of Hampton Court visit last week’s post.

27 Aug, 2015

Read This

/ posted in: Reading

3048036Photo courtesy of Sofia @Platypire Reviews

Welcome to Read This, a collection of book reviews and giveaways that were posted in the past week or so from around the web. This is a collection of book reviews & contests from real reviewers. If you want to be included in the next edition start with the guidelines, then use the submission form.

Want to read more reviews? Check out Read This for a list of the latest reviews and stellar reviewers. You can also follow on twitter for the latest round ups. Read This is now accepting photo submissions for each edition.


















26 Aug, 2015

Why is a series set in Maine making me run around Ohio?

/ posted in: Reading Why is a series set in Maine making me run around Ohio? Carousel Sun by Sharon Lee
Series: Archer's Beach #2
on February 4th 2014
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 336
Format: Paperback
Buy on Amazon

When magic meets mundane, sparks fly: these are exciting times in Archers Beach, Maine! A unprecedented Early Season has united townies and carnies in an effort to expand into a twelve-month resort, recapturing the town's former glory. Kate Archer, owner-operator of the vintage wooden carousel, is caught up in the excitement—and is quite possibly the cause of it. Kate leads a double life, as a carny and as Guardian of the land. Her recent return to the home she had forsaken has changed the town's luck—for the better—and energized the trenvay—earth and water spirits who are as much citizens of the Beach as their mundane counterparts. But the town's new energy isn't the only change afoot. Joe Nemeier, the local drug lord, whose previous magical consultant was vanquished by Kate, has acquired a new ally—and this one plays with fire.

You know, for a series set in Maine this sure is making me run around Ohio a lot.  After I read the first book in the series, Carousel Tides, I went to the Merry Go Round museum in Sandusky.  Then in the very beginning of this book Kate is looking for a replacement horse.  She hears about the Euclid Beach carousel that is being stored at the Western Reserve Historical Society in Cleveland.  They won’t sell her a horse because they plan on putting the carousel back together.

Wait, what?  Is that true?  I pulled out the ipad and googled.  Yep, it started giving rides again at the end of 2014.  I had seen the museum building on our last trip to the botanical gardens.  I decided we needed to go.

The carousel is housed in a glassed in part of the building so you can see it from outside. Two rides are included in the cost of admission.

The carousel is from an amusement park that shut down in the 1960s.

I did enjoy this second book in the Archer’s Beach series.  I love the world of nature spirits interacting with the humans who are mostly unaware.  I’m looking forward to reading the third book and interested to see if it sends me anywhere else.


About Sharon Lee

Sharon Lee has been married to her first husband for more than half her lifetime; she is a friend to cats, a member of the National Carousel Association, and oversees the dubious investment schemes of an improbable number of stuffed animals.

25 Aug, 2015

The Outlander King

/ posted in: Reading The Outlander King The Outlander King by Hilary Rhodes
Series: The Aetheling's Bride #1
on June 1, 2015
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 476
Format: eBook
Source: Book Tour
Buy on Amazon

The story of The Lion and the Rose and the Norman Conquest continues in this spellbinding new historical fiction series from author Hilary Rhodes, pulling back the curtain on the lives of two remarkable women connected across centuries: Aislinn, a seventeen-year-old English girl caught up in the advancing army of the “outlander king,” the man who will become known to history as William the Conqueror. Thrust into the center of the new Norman court and a dizzying web of political intrigue and plotting princes, she must choose her alliances carefully in a game of thrones where the stakes are unimaginably high. Embroiled in rebellions and betrayals, Aislinn learns the price of loyalty, struggles to find her home, and save those she loves – and, perhaps, her own soul as well.

Almost nine hundred years later in 1987, Selma Murray, an American graduate student at Oxford University, is researching the mysterious “Aethelinga” manuscript, as Aislinn’s chronicle has come to be known. Trying to work out the riddles of someone else’s past is a way for Selma to dodge her own troubling ghosts – yet the two are becoming inextricably intertwined. She must face her own demons, answer Aislinn’s questions, and find forgiveness – for herself and others – in this epically scaled but intimately examined, extensively researched look at the creation of history, the universality of humanity, and the many faces it has worn no matter the century: loss, grief, guilt, redemption, and love.

After the Battle of Hastings William the Conqueror rode across England taking a child from each of the farms he came to as a tribute.  He decided to take Aislinn along with her brother for reasons that aren’t clear to anyone but him.  She becomes helpful though with some herb knowledge and can help work as a healer.

When they get to the capital she is given as a servant to the family of the deposed heir to the throne of England.  This puts her in the middle of a web of secrets and plots between the Normans and those trying to return to Saxon rule.

Somehow I missed the fact that there were multiple times lines in this story so when the story suddenly switched from the 1060s to 1987 it was a bit of a shock.  I liked the stories in both timelines but they aren’t tied together enough in this book to have them relate to each other well.  An excerpt of the next book at the end shows that book starting with the 1987 story that ties things together a bit more.  That feels like it should have been the end of this book to have it make more sense.



Monday, August 24
Spotlight & Excerpt at What Is That Book About

Tuesday, August 25
Review at Based on a True

Wednesday, August 26
Spotlight & Excerpt at To Read, or Not to Read
Spotlight & Giveaway at Teddy Rose
Book Reviews Plus More

Thursday, August 27
Review at 100
Pages a Day

Friday, August 28
Spotlight at The Never-Ending Book

Monday, August 31
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective
Interview at Boom Baby

Tuesday, September 1
Spotlight at The True Book Addict

Wednesday, September 2
Guest Post & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Thursday, September 3
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Guest Post at Books and

Friday, September 4
Spotlight at A
Literary Vacation

Saturday, September 5
Review at A Fold in
the Spine

Monday, September 7
Review & Excerpt at Queen of All She Reads

Tuesday, September 8
Review at Book

Wednesday, September 9
Spotlight & Excerpt at Historical Fiction Connection

Thursday, September 10
Review at Yelena Casale’s

Friday, September 11
Spotlight & Excerpt at The
Lit Bitch



About Hilary Rhodes

Hilary Rhodes is a scholar, author, blogger, and all-around geek who fell in love with medieval England while spending a year abroad at Oxford University. She holds a B.A. and M.A. in history, and is currently preparing for doctoral studies at the University of Leeds, fulfilling a years-long dream to return to
the UK. In what little spare time she has, she enjoys reading, blogging about her favorite TV shows, movies, and books, music, and traveling.

25 Aug, 2015

Top Ten Books I Would Use to Teach Alternative History 101

/ posted in: Reading

I love books where history is just a little bit different. Sometimes one small change can lead to huge consequences.

American Front (The Great War, #1)American Front by Harry Turtledove


“When the Great War engulfed Europe in 1914, the United States and the Confederate States of America, bitter enemies for five decades, entered the fray on opposite sides: the United States aligned with the newly strong Germany, while the Confederacy joined forces with their longtime allies, Britain and France.”

Whenever I think of alternative history I think of Harry Turtledove even though I’ve never read any of his books.  I think of his books as the classic alternative history that don’t rely on magic but on normal events going differently.


World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie WarWorld War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“The Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Max Brooks, driven by the urgency of preserving the acid-etched first-hand experiences of the survivors from those apocalyptic years, traveled across the United States of America and throughout the world, from decimated cities that once teemed with upwards of thirty million souls to the most remote and inhospitable areas of the planet. He recorded the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the living, or at least the undead, hell of that dreadful time. “World War Z” is the result. Never before have we had access to a document that so powerfully conveys the depth of fear and horror, and also the ineradicable spirit of resistance, that gripped human society through the plague years.”

Forget the fact that they turned this into just another zombie movie.  This book is like nothing else I’ve ever read.  The Zombie War happened 10 years ago.  Now survivors are being interviewed.  You start out knowing nothing about the war.  Why would you need that explained?  You obviously lived through it.  While reading survivor accounts, you learn the story.  The doctor who treated the first case, the people who trained dogs to find zombies, and other people tell what happened to them. Amazing.


1632 (Assiti Shards, #1)1632 by Eric Flint
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“1632 And in northern Germany things couldn’t get much worse. Famine. Disease. Religous war laying waste the cities. Only the aristocrats remained relatively unscathed; for the peasants, death was a mercy.

2000 Things are going OK in Grantville, West Virginia, and everybody attending the wedding of Mike Stearn’s sister (including the entire local chapter of the United Mine Workers of America, which Mike leads) is having a good time.


When the dust settles, Mike leads a group of armed miners to find out what happened and finds the road into town is cut, as with a sword. On the other side, a scene out of Hell: a man nailed to a farmhouse door, his wife and daughter attacked by men in steel vests. Faced with this, Mike and his friends don’t have to ask who to shoot. At that moment Freedom and Justice, American style, are introduced to the middle of the Thirty Years’ War.”

I read 1632 as part of a library book club a few years ago. I loved the book. What would you do if you were suddenly plunged into the past with no way back and had to survive only on what was transported with you? Academic worries about changing history take a backseat to surviving. There are a bunch of sequels and fan fiction branching off of this. Eventually I couldn’t keep everyone straight in the universe and gave up.


The Eyre Affair (Thursday Next, #1)The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Welcome to a surreal version of Great Britain, circa 1985, where time travel is routine, cloning is a reality (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously. England is a virtual police state where an aunt can get lost (literally) in a Wordsworth poem, militant Baconians heckle performances of Hamlet, and forging Byronic verse is a punishable offense.”

In this world the Crimean War between England and Russia never ended, leading to all kinds of changes in history as we know it.


Rebel Mechanics (Rebel Mechanics, #1)Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“A sixteen-year-old governess becomes a spy in this alternative U.S. history where the British control with magic and the colonists rebel by inventing.”

I loved this book about what 1888 Boston would look like if the magical British aristocracy was still in charge.

Ink and Bone (The Great Library, #1)Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Imagine the Great Library at Alexandria had survived. “Ruthless and supremely powerful, the Great Library is now a presence in every major city, governing the flow of knowledge to the masses. Alchemy allows the Library to deliver the content of the greatest works of history instantly—but the personal ownership of books is expressly forbidden.”

This is a great book imagining the Welsh and English at war and Alexandria as the greatest city on Earth.


The Greyfriar (Vampire Empire, #1)The Greyfriar by Clay Griffith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“In the year 1870, a horrible plague of vampires swept over the northern regions of the world. It is now 2020 and a bloody reckoning is coming. Princess Adele is heir to the Empire of Equatoria, a remnant of the old tropical British Empire. When she becomes the target of a merciless vampire clan, her only protector is the Greyfriar, a mysterious hero who fights the vampires from deep within their territory. Their dangerous relationship plays out against an approaching war to the death between humankind and the vampire clans.”

Not going to lie.  I listened to this solely because it was narrated by James Marsters but I ended up loving the book.


Written in Red (The Others, #1)Written in Red by Anne Bishop
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What if when humans tried to expand out of the areas they first settled they found that they weren’t the dominant predators on Earth?

I love this series.  The world is run by shape shifters who keep humans in check through a few strict system of controls.  Now humans are trying to rebel.  Hint – you won’t be rooting for the humans.


What About Trying Hard To Have History Just The Way It Is?

Just One Damned Thing After Another (The Chronicles of St Mary's, #1)Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“A story of history, time travel, love, friendship and tea. Meet the disaster-magnets at the St Mary’s Institute of Historical Research as they ricochet around history, observing, documenting, drinking tea and, if possible, not dying. “

This is a series about historians who can go back to observe history and try very, very hard not to change it.  No, you can’t put out the fire at the Library in Alexandria or warn people who are going to be assassinated no matter how good of an idea it seems at the time.


KindredKindred by Octavia E. Butler

“Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned to save him. Dana is drawn back repeatedly through time to the slave quarters, and each time the stay grows longer, more arduous, and more dangerous until it is uncertain whether or not Dana’s life will end, long before it has a chance to begin.”

I haven’t gotten to this one yet but I really need to.

All book summaries in quotes from Goodreads
24 Aug, 2015

Four Reasons to Love Five Flavors of Dumb

/ posted in: Reading Four Reasons to Love Five Flavors of Dumb Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John
on 2010
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 337
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon

The Challenge: Eighteen-year-old Piper has one month to get her high school's coolest rock band Dumb a paying gig.

The Deal: If she does it, Piper will become the band's manager and get her share of the profits.

The Catch: How can Piper possibly manage a band made up of an egomaniacal pretty boy, a talentless piece of eye candy, a silent rocker, an angry girl, and a crush-worthy nerd boy? And how can she do it when she's deaf?

A unique main character

I heard about this book when I was researching my post about physical and mental diversity in books. I realized that I hadn’t ever read a book with a deaf main character and this one was suggested.

The book isn’t focused on Piper’s deafness.  She is a normal high school student who is trying to get publicity for a band.  She doesn’t know anything about music so she is learning on the job.

Discussions of disability

Deafness is a hereditary condition in Piper’s family.  Her mother’s parents were deaf.  Piper started to lose her hearing at age 6.  Her little sister was born deaf. Her sister just got a cochlear implant that allows her to hear.  Because Piper was older she wasn’t as good of a candidate.  Her parents don’t understand why she has mixed feelings about this.  They wonder why she doesn’t want what is best for her sister.  She wonders if they think it is better that Grace is now “fixed” unlike her.  This is even before she finds out that her parents used her inheritance from her grandparents that was for her college fund to pay for her sister’s operation.

The romance isn’t the focus

One of my major complaints about YA books is that there is almost always romance.  That isn’t happening here.  There is a little bit that develops but no instalove and no one gets stupid because they have a boyfriend/girlfriend.

Girls stick together

The relationships that do develop in this book are between the girls involved in the band.  In fact, when things get tense they ditch the guys and go hang out together.  They support each other and aren’t made to fight over a guy.

Even if you aren’t generally a fan of YA contemporaries, this one is worth reading.


About Antony John

“Antony John was born in England and raised on a balanced diet of fish and chips, obscure British comedies, and ABBA’s Greatest Hits. In a fit of teenage rebellion, he decided to pursue a career in classical music, culminating in a BA from Oxford University and a PhD from Duke University. Along the way, he worked as an ice cream seller on a freezing English beach, a tour guide in the Netherlands, a chauffeur in Switzerland, a barista in Seattle, and a university professor. Writing by night, he spends his days as a stay-at-home dad—the only job that allows him to wear his favorite pair of sweatpants all the time. He lives in St. Louis with his family.” from Goodreads

21 Aug, 2015

The Grounds of Hampton Court

/ posted in: Familytravel

Hampton Court is 11 miles southwest of central London. To get here take the Underground to Waterloo Station. There is a Hampton Court train that runs every half hour for £6 round trip. Hampton Court is the end of the line. From the station follow the crowd a few blocks, over a bridge over the Thames, and the palace is on the right. Entrance is included in the London Pass.

The grounds are family friendly. On the approach there are pretend carriages.

Yes, we displaced small children for these pictures. Don’t act like you wouldn’t have.

I loved the statues at the main entrance. They represent the heraldic symbols of the ancestors of King Henry VIII and Jane Seymour.

The inner courtyard

There is a recreation of a fountain that Henry VIII had made that dispensed wine on important days. There is a famous painting of people getting very drunk near it.

This fountain also dispenses wine on important days. We were there on an unimportant day.

The Gardens

The gardens were designed in the 1700s. There are many small gardens and also large parks around the palace.

There is The Great Vine which is a grape vine that was planted in 1768. It is 12 feet around the base. It still produces fruit. The base is in its own conservatory but the vines go all over.

There is a maze here too. That is a separate charge but also included in the London Pass. We never did find our way to the center. I saw the center once through a sparse point in the hedge but then we ended up at the entrance again. I later told my father that I tried really hard to lose Mom in the maze for him but she’s a crafty one and found her way out.

Shires horses giving carriage rides around the grounds.

20 Aug, 2015

My Name is Resolute by Nancy E. Turner

/ posted in: Reading My Name is Resolute by Nancy E. Turner My Name Is Resolute by Nancy E. Turner
on February 18th 2014
Genres: Fiction, Historical
Pages: 593
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon

The year is 1729, and Resolute Talbot and her siblings are captured by pirates, taken from their family in Jamaica, and brought to the New World. Resolute and her sister are sold into slavery in colonial New England and taught the trade of spinning and weaving. When Resolute finds herself alone in Lexington, Massachusetts, she struggles to find her way in a society that is quick to judge a young woman without a family. As the seeds of rebellion against England grow, Resolute is torn between following the rules and breaking free. Resolute's talent at the loom places her at the center of an incredible web of secrecy that helped drive the American Revolution.

“My story is the story of other women like me, women who left no name, who will not be remembered or their deeds written, every one of them a restless stalk of flax who lent fiber to the making of a whole cloth, every one of them a thread, be it gold, dapple, crimson, or tarred.”

Resolute was the spoiled and indulged ten year old daughter of a plantation owner in Jamaica when pirates raided her family home. Her father, sister, and brother were taken along with Resolute and many of the slaves to be sold. The pirate ship was taken by English privateers and eventually Resolute and her sister Patience were sold in New England.

Resolute at this age annoyed me and I had to keep reminding myself that this was a very naive child. Her sister tells her that women are taken from the hold of the ship to go on deck for dancing and feasting but then knocks Resolute almost unconscious when someone tries to take Resolute above deck at night. She thinks Patience is just trying to keep all the fun away from her.  She thinks that they will be able to buy their way back to Jamaica and their mother as soon as they land no matter what Patience tries to tell her.

She is sold as an indentured servant in a house that is poorer than she has ever lived in. She needs to quickly learn how to do everything that she had slaves to do for her.

Resolute learns to survive though. Over the next few years her life is turned upside down as her village is raided and she is taken captive and sold again.  Eventually she escapes and makes her way as a free woman to the outskirts of Boston.  She has been trained to weave and starts to make her living with cloth.

Her life is fairly ordinary.  She marries and has children and tends her house and farm.  But the British are putting harsher and harsher restrictions on Massachusetts and her family and neighbors are getting involved in the rebellion in various ways.  She isn’t one to sit idly by while her family is in danger.

“Perhaps, along with hundreds of other women in this place during this momentous time, I have made a difference.”

This is a wonderful historical fiction novel.  I found myself reading late into the night and ignoring other things I had to do in order to finish it.  It captures a time and place and the lives of the simple people who were part of it.

The one quote that kept coming to mind while reading this book was this one from The Princess Bride.

Grandpa: Are you kidding? Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles…

The Grandson: Doesn’t sound too bad. I’ll try to stay awake.

Grandpa: Oh, well, thank you very much, very nice of you. Your vote of confidence is overwhelming.

That description of that book seems like it would fit this book and there are pirates throughout it!




About Nancy E. Turner

“Nancy Elaine Turner was born in Dallas, Texas and grew up in Southern California and Arizona. She began writing fiction as an assignment for a class at Pima Community College and completed a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts Studies from the University of Arizona in 1999 with a triple major in Creative Writing, Music, and Studio Art. She lives in Tucson with her husband and Snickers, a dog rescued by F.A.I.R. She has two married children and four grandchildren. She also enjoys the outdoors, theater, movies, and antiques.” from her website

19 Aug, 2015

Make Your Home Among Strangers by Jennine Capo Crucet

/ posted in: Reading Make Your Home Among Strangers by Jennine Capo Crucet Make Your Home Among Strangers by Jennine Capó Crucet
on August 4th 2015
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 400
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon

When Lizet, the daughter of Cuban immigrants, secretly applies and is accepted to an ultra-elite college, her parents are furious at her decision to leave Miami. Just weeks before she's set to start school, her parents divorce and her father sells her childhood home, leaving Lizet, her mother, and Leidy-Lizet's older sister, a brand-new single mom-without a steady income and scrambling for a place to live.Amidst this turmoil, Lizet begins her first semester at Rawlings College, distracted by both the exciting and difficult moments of freshman year. But the privileged world of the campus feels utterly foreign, as does her new awareness of herself as a minority. Struggling both socially and academically, she returns to Miami for a surprise Thanksgiving visit, only to be overshadowed by the arrival of Ariel Hernandez, a young boy whose mother died fleeing with him from Cuba on a raft. The ensuing immigration battle puts Miami in a glaring spotlight, captivating the nation and entangling Lizet's entire family, especially her mother. Pulled between life at college and the needs of those she loves, Lizet is faced with difficult decisions that will change her life forever.

Lizet’s older sister Leidy graduated from high school and then took the next logical step.  Her boyfriend hadn’t proposed yet so she went off birth control and got pregnant to try to force him to marry her.

Lizet’s response to this was to secretly apply to colleges and win a scholarship to an elite northern liberal arts school.

Guess whose decision infuriated her parents and was repeatedly called a betrayal?

Lizet was a star student at her old high school.  She doesn’t realize that she has not been academically prepared until she is failing out of her first semester.  She feels like she can’t tell anyone at home because it will prove that she shouldn’t have gone away and destroy their narrative that she is smart.  Depressed and scared, she makes a surprise visit home at Thanksgiving only to find her mother obsessed with Ariel Hernandez, an Elian Gonzalez-type situation.  A boy was found on a raft after his mother died on the way from Cuba.  The boy’s Miami family has taken him in two blocks away from Lizet’s mom’s apartment.  Her mom is a regular demonstrator against the government who is trying to return the boy to Cuba now.  She is even changing her life story to make better TV.  Lizet and Leidy don’t fit into this new narrative.

Away at school Lizet doesn’t fit in either.  She doesn’t understand a world where she is supposed to use her family contacts to find an internship for the summer.  She can’t afford not to get paid.  She doesn’t want to speak for the Cuban community in discussions about the news out of Miami about Ariel.  She doesn’t want people to know that her mother keeps appearing on TV.

Back in Miami, Leidy is trying to keep her mother grounded in reality and is failing. With her sister gone, she has no one to help her and when Lizet finds out she is furious with Leidy for keeping her in the dark.

I’ve never felt more like a white, northern, liberal arts school graduate than reading this book.  It was hard for me to understand the motivations for anything Lizet’s family did.

This book captured the essence of moving away from home and then coming back to see your familiar surroundings with new eyes.  It gets the feeling that you never quite fit back in the way you did before and it is awkward for everyone.  Lizet resents being treated like an outsider and at the same time resents that no one acknowledges the changes that she is going through.




About Jennine Capó Crucet

“Jennine Capó Crucet is the author of the novel MAKE YOUR HOME AMONG STRANGERS, just out from St. Martin’s Press and recently long-listed for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. Her story collection is HOW TO LEAVE HIALEAH, which won the Iowa Short Fiction Prize, the John Gardner Book Award, the Devil’s Kitchen Reading Award, and was named a Best Book of the Year by the Miami Herald, the Miami New Times, and the Latinidad List. A winner of an O. Henry Prize and a Bread Loaf Fellow, her writing has appeared in Guernica, Ploughshares, Epoch, The Rumpus, Prairie Schooner, and other magazines. She was recently the Winter 2013/14 Picador Guest Professor at the Institute for American Studies at the University of Leipzig, Germany. Originally from Miami, she is an assistant professor of English and Ethnic Studies at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. ” from her website

18 Aug, 2015

Books & Bloggers Swap

/ posted in: General

Are you ready to join us for the final Books ‘n’ Bloggers Swap of the year?
Get ready, readers!
Your Swap Objective:
Get to know your fellow book-loving partner and send them a fantastic bookish package.
Your package must include:
  • A book from your partner’s wishlist.
  • A book you have read and loved.
  • A book you haven’t read, but think looks interesting. (Can also be on their wishlist.)
  • *Optional* Other book-related goodies.  
Important Dates to Remember:
  • Sign-ups Open: Monday, August 17th.
  • Sign-ups Close: Monday, August 24th.
  • Partners Assigned by: Wednesday, August 26th.
  • Packages Ship: on or by Saturday, September 5th.
  • Show-Off Linky Opens: Wednesday, September 9th.

I’ve done this swap before.  It was so much fun.  I’m looking forward to doing it again.

18 Aug, 2015

Top Ten Of Your Auto-buy Authors

/ posted in: Reading

When these authors have a new book out I automatically read it. I usually don’t even know what it is about in advance and I don’t read the summary on the book flap. I just read it.

Jim Butcher


I love his Dresden Files series and his fantasy series The Codex Allera.  He has a new series starting this fall.  I have no idea what it is about but I’m going to read it.

Nnedi Okorafor

Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor

This author writes YA and adult sci-fi and fantasy from an African perspective.  My favorite is her Who Fears Death.  I’m working through her backlist now.

Daniel Silva

The English Spy

I read his spy thrillers about an Israeli agent named Gabriel Allon.

Ernest Cline


He has two books out and I love them both.  I’ll read whatever he writes next.

Lindsey Davis


She writes two funny series about private investigators in ancient Rome.

Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn


They write nonfiction usually about female issues like in Half the Sky and in A Path Appears.

Maggie Anton


Esoteric historical fiction about the development of the Talmud mixed with ancient Jewish witchcraft?  Yep, I’m reading anything she writes.

Jasper Fforde


I love his imagination in the Tuesday Next series about law enforcement inside the world of books.  I’ve been waiting for years for the sequel to his Shades of Grey.

Jonas Jonasson


This is a Swedish writer who is so absurd that you just go along for the ride.

Deborah Harkness


I loved her All Saints Trilogy and I don’t even know why.  I can’t give a logical explanation.  I’ve reread it several times and want to see what she writes next.

17 Aug, 2015

Read This Roundup #47

/ posted in: Reading


Photo courtesy of Katie @Just Another Girl and Her Books

Welcome to Read This, a collection of book reviews and giveaways that were posted in the past week or so from around the web. This is a collection of book reviews & contests from real reviewers. If you want to be included in the next edition start with the guidelines, then use the submission form.

Want to read more reviews? Check out Read This for a list of the latest reviews and stellar reviewers. You can also follow on twitter for the latest round ups. Read This is now accepting photo submissions for each edition.






















hijab headscarves
17 Aug, 2015

Headscarves and Hymens

/ posted in: Reading Headscarves and Hymens Headscarves and Hymens by Mona Eltahawy
on April 21st 2015
Pages: 256
Format: Hardcover
Buy on Amazon

The journalist Mona Eltahawy is no stranger to controversy. Through her articles and actions she has fought for the autonomy, security, and dignity of Muslim women, drawing vocal supporters and detractors. Now, in her first book, Headscarves and Hymens, Eltahawy has prepared a definitive condemnation of the repressive forces-political, cultural, and religious-that reduce millions of women to second-class citizens.Drawing on her years as a campaigner for and commentator on women's issues in the Middle East, she explains that since the Arab Spring began in 2010, women in the Arab world have had two revolutions to undertake: one fought alongside men against oppressive regimes, and another fought against an entire political and economic system that represses women in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, and other nations.Eltahawy has traveled across the Middle East and North Africa, meeting with women and listening to their stories. Her book is a plea for outrage and action, confronting a "toxic mix of culture and religion that few seem willing or able to disentangle lest they blaspheme or offend." A manifesto motivated by hope and fury in equal measure, Headscarves and Hymens is as illuminating as it is incendiary.

Mona Eltahawy was born in Egypt and moved to Saudi Arabia as a teenager.  She knows firsthand the restrictions on women in that part of the world.

“My own feminist revolution evolved slowly, and traveled the world with me. To this day I have no idea what dissident professor or librarian placed feminist tests on the bookshelves at the university library in Jeddah, but I found them there. They filled me with terror. I understood they were pulling at a thread that would unravel everything. Now that I am older, I can see that feeling terrified is how you recognize what you need. Terror encourages you to jump, even when you don’t know if you will ever land.”

If you are reasonably well informed about the struggles of women in Islamic countries, nothing in this book is going to come as a shock.  That’s a shame.  It would be nice to be surprised to hear that women can’t drive or go out without a male relative to play sports.  I didn’t know that Saudi Arabia had been forced to allow female athletes to participate in the Olympics by the International Olympic Committee.  I also did not know that Saudi clerics started publicly calling these athletes whores and used the hashtag #prostitutesoftheOlympics.  I wasn’t surprised though and that is sad.  Even though incidents like this aren’t surprising it is important to read about them to be reminded of what is happening.

The author’s own stories about deciding whether or not to wear a hijab and her disappointment about the treatment of women during the Arab Spring give these issues a personal immediacy. I liked her comparison of Muslim attitudes to women to Christianity’s purity culture.  I don’t have any experience with Islam but I know about extreme Christian attitudes towards women.  Knowing how hard people in that subculture fight for the right to keep women at home and in their place makes me feel like the possibility of any real change in religious treatment of women is low.


At the same time I was reading this book, Richard Dawkins tweeted about needing a feminine revolution in Islam and was widely attacked for saying it because he is a white man.  This book looks at the need for everyone to be involved so it was disheartening to see the controversy.  This article seems to get it.

There Was Nothing Wrong with Richard Dawkins’ Tweet That “Islam Needs a Feminist Revolution”

What do you think?  Can non-Muslims speak out about how women are treated?  Will it help?

More by Mona Eltahawy

Mona Eltahawy: ‘All religions are obsessed with my vagina’

Why some people consider Mona Eltahawy a dangerous woman


About Mona Eltahawy

” Mona Eltahawy is an award-winning columnist and international public speaker on Arab and Muslim issues and global feminism. She is based in Cairo and New York City.

She is the author of “Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution,” released April 2015, and is a contributor to the New York Times opinion pages. Her commentaries have appeared in several other publications and she is a regular guest analyst on various television and radio shows.
During the 18-day revolution that toppled Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak, she appeared on most major media outlets, leading the feminist website Jezebel to describe her as “The Woman Explaining Egypt to the West”.

In November 2011, Egyptian riot police beat her, breaking her left arm and right hand, and sexually assaulted her and she was detained for 12 hours by the Interior Ministry and Military Intelligence.