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Saturday Snapshot

Last weekend I was judging a competitive trail ride in Tennessee.

These pictures were taken as the horses and riders came to the top of a hill that was over a mile long. They were climbing up bare rock for most of it. I was at the top to make sure that the horses were good to continue.

Linking up with West Metro Mommy Reads.

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Throne of the Crescent Moon (The Crescent Moon Kingdoms, #1)Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed

Fantasy

Doctor Adoulla Makhslood, “the last real ghul hunter in the great city of Dhamsawaat,” is tired. He’s been fighting supernatural evil all his life and he doesn’t see any way to retire. He has an apprentice who is a fierce fighter but he doesn’t have Adoulla’s magical skills. His former partners are all out of the business so someone has to stick around to fight. Then the one true love of his life, who he lost because of his inability to step away from the job, contacts him because her niece was murdered by monsters.

I really liked the premise of this book. I liked the idea of a main protagonist who is old and broken down but who is all that is left. I liked the other characters too. There is a fighter who is devoted to his religion but is starting to see that there may be more grey areas in life than he likes. There is a girl who can take the shape of a lion. There is a powerful magician who ages with every spell he casts and his wife who makes potions.

I found this book on a list of fantasy books that take place in a non-European setting. The world is fantasy Arabic with deserts and ancient cities.

With so much to like about this book, I was disappointed that the story never became a page turner for me. There is a lot that is really good here but somehow it never came together into a tight story. However, I read the synopsis of the next book in the series and it sounds good too so maybe I should give it a try…

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Sultana’s Dream

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Sultana’s Dream is a science fiction short story first published in English in 1905.  It was written by Roquia Sakhawat Hussain, who was a Muslim feminist living in Bengal.  She started the first school for Muslim girls which still exists today.

In Sultana’s Dream a woman has a dream that takes her to Lady Land when men are kept secluded in a reversal of the practice of purdah common at her time.  The women of Lady Land have dedicated themselves to scientific research instead of war and are keeping the men out of the way so they don’t cause trouble.

You can read Sultana’s Dream here.

Stevenson's TreasureStevenson’s Treasure by Mark Wiederanders

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Historical fiction

In 1879 Robert Louis Stevenson was a chronically ill, wannabe travel writer who had only published a few essays, when he met Fanny Osbourne in France. She was an unhappily married American who was in France to get away from her husband and who was mourning the death of her young son. Louis was immediately infatuated and when she returned to California, he decided to try to find a way to follow her.

I didn’t know anything about the life of Robert Louis Stevenson besides the fact that he wrote Treasure Island. This book covers the years leading up to the writing of that book. I was fascinated by Louis’ unfailingly (and sometimes irrationally) upbeat personality no matter what was going on in his life. The love of his life is married and lives on another continent in a time when travel is incredibly hard? No problem. He is so sick that he has to take time out of travel to recuperate with whatever stranger he happened to collapse on? Why let that stop you? Your intended is married and has no idea you are about to show up on her doorstep? No big deal.

If that type of personality is interesting to read about, I think it would be crazy-making to live with. I admire Fanny for trying to keep some type of order in the midst of the chaos.

If you are interested in the lives of writers, I definitely recommend this book. Would you like to win it?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Saturday Snapshot

Last week we went to a fair. I’m cynical about fairs having spent a large portion of my life on fairgrounds. I hate fair food. (Seriously, live on it for a week at a time and come back and tell me if you still crave it.)

But, the husband likes a fair and Z wants to ride rides. This led to us wandering around looking at animals while Z complained about how much she hates stupid animals. Good times. I think all the animals that only have a few days left to live are absolutely depressing. I petted a pig for a while and apologized for humans being barbaric. He’s been murdered by now.

There were horses and they get to survive a fair.

These are the nicest stalls I’ve ever seen on a fairgrounds.

Dairy cows at fairs are false advertising. I worked on dairy cows. They are never this clean.

This guy makes his living by letting kids ride him and posing for pictures.

There were stuffed animals of course.

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Inés of My SoulInés of My Soul by Isabel Allende
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Historical fiction

Ines de Suarez was born in Spain where she married a charming man who abandoned her to make his fortune in the new world. Realizing that there was no future for her as a poor abandoned woman in her village, she traveled to Venezuela. She used the excuse of being a devoted wife looking for her husband but, in truth, she didn’t care if she ever found him. She worked as a seamstress and a cook. Eventually she met Pedro de Valdivia and became his mistress. When he decided to try to colonize Chile, she went with him.

One of my goals for the Travel the World in Books read-a-thon was to read a book about a place that I hadn’t read about before. I’m weak in South America so I googled historical fiction in South America and found this book. I didn’t know anything about the founding of Chile. Any books about this time and place can be hard to read because the Spanish were just so horrible. This book doesn’t gloss over the horrific treatment of the Indians. It talks openly about how the Spanish were famous for lying when making promises.

I found Ines fascinating. She did what needed to be done but what isn’t always considered important by history. She and her native servant talked to locals in each area they passed to learn about healing plants that grew nearby. They did the doctoring during battles. She had the ability to douse so they could find water. She is known for founding institutions. She started hospitals and other services that you need to make a city from scratch.

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Quilting Wednesday

Would you look at this? Actual quilting going on at my house.

There has actually been tons of boring quilting all summer. It has been my summer of backs. I’ve been making backs for a lot of Quilts of Valor tops that I had donated and sending them to quilters.

We have a big presentation coming up next week and I got worried about our quilt count. I wanted some backup quilts so I pulled out this giant star and started quilting it. I did some straight line quilting, some meandering, and used this stencil with hearts surrounding a star on the corners.

Sorry for the black on black picture but you get the idea.

I worked for days on this. I was dedicated. Then I realized that we were fine on quilts and … I haven’t done anything for a few days. Yep, I’m an emergency kind of quilter.

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Spine Poetry Challenge

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Today is the Spine Poetry Challenge. I didn’t think I’d be able to do this. I don’t have a lot of physical books at my house. I get mostly library books and ebooks but I managed to make a few.

Ines of My Soul (Chile, Peru, Panama, Spain)
Walks Around Akron (Ohio USA)
Making Money (fantasy)

The Visitor (USA)
Raising the Stones (fantasy)
Echoes (Ireland)
The Lost Symbol (USA etc)
Beauty (fantasy)

An all USA one but one from all different areas.

A Walk in the Woods
In His Steps
I’m a Stranger Here Myself

 

Guttenburg’s Apprentice (Germany)
Courage Under Fire (USA)
Matters of the Heart (USA)
Destiny of Gold (USA)

Fitness Tuesday

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My goal for this week was to go for a 2.5 mile walk every day.  I did that and sometimes managed to go for more.  My hip is feeling good most of the time so I think I can get back into some normal workout routines soon.

I’ve also been doing the #sizedoesntmatter yoga challenge on Instagram. Here are a few of the photos.

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Reading Week in Review

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Travel the World in Books has kept me busy. I did posts for East Asia, South Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, and Everywhere Else.

Reviews Posted:
Alienated by Melissa Landers
French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon
Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy by Karen Abbot
White Tiger by Kylie Chan
Red Phoenix and Blue Dragon by Kylie Chan

I also made my book map for 2014 that is now living on my sidebar.

Reading Right Now

Inés of My SoulInés of My Soul by Isabel Allende


“Born into a poor family in Spain, Inés, a seamstress, finds herself condemned to a life of hard work without reward or hope for the future. It is the sixteenth century, the beginning of the Spanish conquest of the Americas, and when her shiftless husband disappears to the New World, Inés uses the opportunity to search for him as an excuse to flee her stifling homeland and seek adventure. After her treacherous journey takes her to Peru, she learns that her husband has died in battle. Soon she begins a fiery love affair with a man who will change the course of her life: Pedro de Valdivia, war hero and field marshal to the famed Francisco Pizarro.” from Goodreads

Red Phoenix (Dark Heavens, #2)Red Phoenix by Kylie Chan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Blue Dragon (Dark Heavens, #3)Blue Dragon by Kylie Chan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Urban fantasy

These are the second and third books of the Dark Heavens series that started with White Tiger.

The household of the god Xuan Wu know that he will only be able to continue holding human form for a bit longer. His goal is to have his child Simone able to defend herself before he has to leave to regenerate for several decades. The capture of a half Shen child would be quite a coup for an ambitious demon.

As the final battle gets closer, Xuan Wu’s fiance Emma and his bodyguard Leo prepare for life after his departure.

After I read White Tiger I wanted to see where the story would go so I picked up the next two. The weaknesses of the first story were amplified in these ones.

There wasn’t a lot of character development. I still can’t quite figure out why all these humans and magical creatures are so dedicated to keeping Simone safe. I mean, she seems nice enough but nothing special. There are other half Shen children in the battle to protect her so it can’t be just that she is half god. At the end of the third book you finally see her use some powers and it is pretty cool but it takes a long time to get there.

The series doesn’t really have a lot of closure. There are 5 more books that are considered two new series with the same characters.

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Everywhere else

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Australia

In a Sunburned CountryIn a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Nonfiction

This is the first Bill Bryson book I listened to on audio and it is my all time favorite. I learned that everything in Australia is actively trying to kill you.

Oceania

Moby-Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists, and Fools, Including the Author, Who Went in Search of ThemMoby-Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists, and Fools, Including the Author, Who Went in Search of Them by Donovan Hohn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When the writer Donovan Hohn heard of the mysterious loss of thousands of bath toys at sea, he figured he would interview a few oceanographers, talk to a few beachcombers, and read up on Arctic science and geography. But questions can be like ocean currents: wade in too far, and they carry you away. Hohn’s accidental odyssey pulls him into the secretive world of shipping conglomerates, the daring work of Arctic researchers, the lunatic risks of maverick sailors, and the shadowy world of Chinese toy factories.

Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone BeforeBlue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before by Tony Horwitz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Two centuries after James Cook’s epic voyages of discovery, Tony Horwitz takes readers on a wild ride across hemispheres and centuries to recapture the Captain’s adventures and explore his embattled legacy in today’s Pacific. Horwitz, a Pulitzer Prize-winner and author of Confederates in the Attic, works as a sailor aboard a replica of Cook’s ship, meets island kings and beauty queens, and carouses the South Seas with a hilarious and disgraceful travel companion, an Aussie named Roger.

Antarctica

Antarctica on a PlateAntarctica on a Plate by Alexa Thomson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Imagine you are a young woman with a stellar career but an increasing dissatisfaction with life. Imagine that your idea of a remote location is the distance between a taxi rank and a shoe shop. How do you shrug off your growing ennui? Simple. You apply for the position of cook in the coldest place on earth: Antarctica.

Looking for even more recommendations? I belong to the Around the World in 80 Books Goodreads group. They have compiled a list of every book that people have claimed for every country. It is an amazing resource.

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Latin America/Caribbean

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I’m lumping these together because I’m weak on both of them. I’ve read more than I’ve listed here but I haven’t read a lot that has been really great. I need to find more books in these areas.

Anguilla

A Trip to the Beach: Living on Island Time in the CaribbeanA Trip to the Beach: Living on Island Time in the Caribbean by Melinda Blanchard
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Nonfiction

I list this one primarily for the life changing Caribbean Corn Bread recipe in it. I’ve tweaked this over the years to make it vegan and not quite so likely to clog your arteries on sight, but in any incarnation it is amazing!

Peru
Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a TimeTurn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time by Mark Adams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nonfiction

“July 24, 1911, was a day for the history books. For on that rainy morning, the young Yale professor Hiram Bingham III climbed into the Andes Mountains of Peru and encountered an ancient city in the clouds: the now famous citadel of Machu Picchu. Nearly a century later, news reports have recast the hero explorer as a villain who smuggled out priceless artifacts and stole credit for finding one of the world’s greatest archaeological sites.”

And that’s it. Pathetic, huh. It is especially so since some of my major travel experiences are in this region. I stayed 5 weeks each in Costa Rica and Bolivia.

TBR list

For this read-a-long I decided to specifically look for fiction set in South America. I’m going to read:

Inés of My SoulInés of My Soul by Isabel Allende

“Born into a poor family in Spain, Inés, a seamstress, finds herself condemned to a life of hard work without reward or hope for the future. It is the sixteenth century, the beginning of the Spanish conquest of the Americas, and when her shiftless husband disappears to the New World, Inés uses the opportunity to search for him as an excuse to flee her stifling homeland and seek adventure. After her treacherous journey takes her to Peru, she learns that her husband has died in battle. Soon she begins a fiery love affair with a man who will change the course of her life: Pedro de Valdivia, war hero and field marshal to the famed Francisco Pizarro.”

I recently heard of:

Land of Love and DrowningLand of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique

“In the early 1900s, the Virgin Islands are transferred from Danish to American rule, and an important ship sinks into the Caribbean Sea. Orphaned by the shipwreck are two sisters and their half brother, now faced with an uncertain identity and future. Each of them is unusually beautiful, and each is in possession of a particular magic that will either sink or save them.”

Saturday Snapshot

Because I very rarely learn my lesson, I took Freckles on another photo walk.

This time we went to the Gorge Metro Park where neither of us had ever been before. So many new smells to smell!

Linking to West Metro Mommy Reads.

White Tiger (Dark Heavens, #1)White Tiger by Kylie Chan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Urban fantasy
Emma Donahoe is Australian and  has been working as an English teacher in Hong Kong for four years when she is hired to be a full time live in nanny for one of her students, Simone.  Simone’s father, Mr. Chen, is very wealthy and the household is mysterious.  Simone has a full time bodyguard and sometimes strange visitors, who Emma is forbidden to speak to, come to train in martial arts with Mr. Chen. 

Emma learns that she is working for Xuan Wu, one of the Four Winds of Taoist mythology.  He is staying in his human form, Mr. Chen, in order to protect his child but that decision is making him weak and vulnerable to attack. 

I first heard about these books on a list for #Diversiverse about Asian writers.  I started reading it a bit early and then at the end of the book looked at the author picture and realized that Kylie Chan is white.  Fail.  Luckily, my goal for Travel the World in Book Read-a-long was to read books set in areas that I hadn’t read before and I have never read anything set in Hong Kong.

I really liked this book.  I looked at the Goodreads reviews after I read it and was surprised by how many people vehemently hated this book.  I think the things that most of them hated though were the things that I liked.

This book is longer and more in depth than a lot of urban fantasy.  It is over 400 pages long.  Lots of reviews complained that it was slow. There is a lot of set up which I appreciated because I’m not up on my Taoist mythology.  There also isn’t any real insta-love here which I appreciated.

One plot point that bothered me was that they had been leaving hints that Mr. Chen was a god for Emma.  She had been studying up on Xuan Wu.  But then when they confirm it for her, she doesn’t believe them.  What?  She’d been halfway to the realization all by herself.  Once given proof she goes backwards in her belief?

I did also have a complaint about the characterization of women.  This surprised me because it is a female author.  Emma is a strong woman. Once she accepts that she is living in a magical family, she adapts and starts to participate.  When things go bad and she doesn’t run away screaming, the men are amazed and often call her “cold-blooded.”  (That isn’t entirely an insult because Xuan Wu is a turtle.)  Apparently all the other human women they know are gibbering wrecks when they see supernatural stuff or blood.  Even a former human wife of Mr. Chen’s supposedly couldn’t bear to look at him when he was in any aspect of his god forms.  His housekeeper hides whenever the god stuff gets to much.  I don’t like the whole “women are weak and scare easily” idea.

I’ve already started book two, Red Phoenix.

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Africa

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Subsaharan Africa is an area that I feel weak in . I need to find some more books from that region.

Egypt

There are lots of great books set in Egypt. I like Elizabeth Peters’ mystery series about a female archeologist and her family in the early 20th century. Rick Riordan has a series set here.

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

Vampires have taken over the temperate zones of the Earth and humans have retreated to the equator. When the heir to the throne, Princess Adele, is kidnapped by vampires, she learns about their lives and decides how humans should fight back. James Marsters narrates the audio so it is wonderful.

Morocco

The Caliph's House: A Year in CasablancaThe Caliph’s House: A Year in Casablanca by Tahir Shah
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fixing up a house is bad enough, let alone moving a totally foreign culture to do it.

 

 

 

Ghana

King Peggy: An American Secretary, Her Royal Destiny, and the Inspiring Story of How She Changed an African VillageKing Peggy: An American Secretary, Her Royal Destiny, and the Inspiring Story of How She Changed an African Village by Peggielene Bartels
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Nonfiction

Peggy Bartels was an American secretary when she found out that his had inherited the title of King of a small African village. King is equivalent to mayor but is for life. Now what does she do?

South Sudan
Who Fears DeathWho Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Yeah, yeah, if you’ve been a regular reader you know I can’t shut up about this book. Just go read it.

 

 

 

South Africa

The Housemaid's Daughter

 

The Housemaid’s Daughter by Barbara Mutch

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A lonely immigrant housewife attempts to mentor her housemaid’s daughter in South Africa in the midst of apartheid.

Listening to now

I’m juggling two African audiobooks right now.

Diamonds, Gold, and War: The Making of South Africa

Diamonds, Gold, and War: The Making of South Africa by Martin Meredith

Nonfiction

The history of the fight over the diamond mines of South Africa.

 

 

NefertitiNefertiti by Michelle Moran

Historical fiction about the life of Queen Nefertiti.

Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil WarLiar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War by Karen Abbott

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nonfiction

 

 

 

boyd

Belle Boyd was a loyal Confederate who shot a Union officer in her parlor. She then went on to be a spy who reported to Stonewall Jackson.

RosesBusts

Rose Greenhow was a Southern socialite who used got information from her powerful Union lovers and also used her daughter to pass messages for her.

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Emma Edmons cut her hair and enlisted in the Union Army as Frank Thompson. After serving as a nurse she was chosen to act as a spy – sometimes going “undercover” as a woman.

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Elizabeth Van Lew was a wealthy spinster in Richmond who ran a large spy ring to pass messages from the Confederate capital to the north. She was even able to place a former servant of hers in the Confederate White House to read Jefferson Davis’ papers while she was cleaning.

All of these women were brave but I enjoyed reading about Emma and Elizabeth most. That was partially because they were on the side of the Union and partially because the other two were just so awful.  Belle Boyd seemed to be mostly focused on keeping herself famous.  If she had lived today she’d be getting herself on reality tv shows.

I don’t understand how Rose Greenhow kept getting Union officials to sleep with her and tell her secrets in the middle of a war.  Were the men really that stupid or did they just underestimate women that much?  She was just a hateful person and she trained her daughter to be hateful too.

If Elizabeth Van Lew’s story sounds a little familiar it may be because I recently reviewed Jennifer Chiaverini’s The Spymistress which is an historical fiction version of her story.

I really enjoyed this book.  It would be great for anyone interested in Civil War history or women’s history.

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The F-word

Are you an outspoken blogger who loves talking equality, feminism, and women’s rights? Marielle and Kiersten started this link-up after noticing a lack of feminist bloggers in the community, or at least that we were able to find.  Once we started looking, we noticed they were everywhere, and wanted a way to bring them all together.  The F-Word is a monthly link-up to share your thoughts on Feminism, whether it be a story, an article, a list, or a lesson – we want to hear it!

Today’s optional topic is “What kind of sexism have you experienced in your everyday life?”

A lot of the things that I wanted to say were covered brilliantly by Katie here. Instead, I’m going to tell you a story.

A long, long time ago when I was applying to veterinary school, people realized that there was about to be a major demographic shift. More women were going to vet school then men. As men retired this meant that soon there were going to be more women than men in the profession. The sky was sure to fall!

I remember one Sunday when I was working and an older male vet decided to give me a lecture about how women were going to ruin the profession. His reason was that women only look on their jobs as a hobby because they have their husbands to support them. They will be able to undercut their male competitors because they don’t care if their businesses are profitable or not. This wasn’t a person whose opinion I respected on much of anything so I didn’t say much. I did wonder about one thing. He had employed two female veterinarians. Neither had a husband. How did they fit into his worldview? I didn’t have the nerve to ask.

It wasn’t just him though. Veterinary business magazines talked all the time about the demographic shift and what it was going to mean. Woman don’t want to work full time. They aren’t going to buy practices from retiring veterinarians. They are going to work a few years and then quit to have babies. And on and on and on….

Then around 2005 it happened. We took over. And nothing happened. Life went on as usual. Yes, more people work part time now but guess what? Men like that too. The old normal of 80 hour work weeks and being constantly on call doesn’t appeal to many people. Turns out that women can run a business too. Who’d have thunk?

  • People are getting used to seeing female doctors. I don’t get, “Look, Fluffy, you’re seeing a GIRL!” nearly as much as I did at the beginning of my career. But people still sometimes don’t realize that I’m the doctor.  I mean white coat, stethoscope, name tag, and saying my name aren’t enough of a clue for some people.
  • One time when I was working at that clinic in college, the female vet and I were trying to work on a dog that we could not get near.  As we stepped back to reassess the situation the (female) owner said, “Well, sweetie, why don’t you go ask the vet?”  I thought the vet’s head was going to spin around as she growled, “I AM THE VET!”
  • I used to work in an office with several doctors on staff at once. If I had one of the male doctors come in and consult on a case then I was done. The people would direct all questions to the male even though I was the one making the decisions. That didn’t happen if I was the one going to consult on their cases though.
  • But on the reverse side I’ve had people who won’t let men touch their animals or are super relieved when they see me because they think that men are too scary to examine animals.
  • I worked in an Amish community and never had any sexism with them.  Mennonites sometimes wouldn’t let female vets work on their animals though.
  • When I left that job a new male vet was hired to replace me at a higher salary than I had gotten specifically because he was a married man.

Overall it is getting better but we still have a way to go.

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I imagine that if you are like me you probably read a lot of books set in Europe but most of them are probably from four countries – Ireland, The United Kingdom, France, and Italy. Those are the books that I find often. Here are some European books that go beyond those borders. (All descriptions in italics from Goodreads.)

Turkey

The Secret History: A Novel of Empress TheodoraThe Secret History: A Novel of Empress Theodora by Stephanie Thornton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In sixth century Constantinople, one woman, Theodora, defied every convention and all the odds, and rose from being a common theater tart to become empress of a great kingdom, the most powerful woman the Roman Empire would ever know. But the woman whose image was later immortalized in glittering mosaic was, in fact, a scrappy, clever, conniving, flesh-and-blood woman full of sensuality and spirit whose real story is as surprising as any ever told…

Russia

The Winter Palace: A Novel of Catherine the Great (Catherine, #1)The Winter Palace: A Novel of Catherine the Great by Eva Stachniak

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Her name is Barbara—in Russian, Varvara. Nimble-witted and attentive, she’s allowed into the employ of the Empress Elizabeth, amid the glitter and cruelty of the world’s most eminent court. Under the tutelage of Count Bestuzhev, Chancellor and spymaster, Varvara will be educated in skills from lock picking to lovemaking, learning above all else to listen—and to wait for opportunity. That opportunity arrives in a slender young princess from Zerbst named Sophie, a playful teenager destined to become the indomitable Catherine the Great. Sophie’s destiny at court is to marry the Empress’s nephew, but she has other, loftier, more dangerous ambitions, and she proves to be more guileful than she first appears.

Sweden

Sure there is Stieg Larsson but after that you need to read Jonas Jonasson. The titles of his books tell you all you need to know.

The Girl Who Saved the King of SwedenThe Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

 

 

 

 

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and DisappearedThe 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

 

 

 

 

Greece

The IslandThe Island by Victoria Hislop

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The island was a leper colony in Greece. A community grew there full of people who expected to live out their lives in isolation. But when a cure is discovered how will people be able to move away?

 

 

Poland

The Pope and I: How the Lifelong Friendship Between a Polish Jew and Pope John Paul II Advanced the Cause of Jewish-Christian RelationsThe Pope and I: How the Lifelong Friendship Between a Polish Jew and Pope John Paul II Advanced the Cause of Jewish-Christian Relations by Jerzy Kluger

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Nonfiction

This book describes the surprising, lifelong relationship between Pope John Paul II and his Jewish friend, Jerzy Kluger. Their friendship played a role in shaping Karol Wojtyla’s early views toward the Jewish people, and his later efforts, as pope, to overcome the legacy of anti-Semitism. Though their story has been previously recounted, here for the first time Jerzy Kluger offers his own account of their relationship over many years. The story begins with their friendship in grade school in Poland, Kluger’s extraordinary survival of the war, followed by his reunion with Archbishop Wojtyla in Rome during Vatican II. After his friend’s election as Pope John Paul II, their relationship unfolds against extraordinary advances in Jewish-Christian relations. Kluger tells a fascinating tale, highlighting the surprising confluences of history, politics, and religion sealed by friendship and mutual respect.

 

My TBR list

What I would really like to find is some good Polish historical fiction that doesn’t involve World War II.  I’d like medieval Poland.

While writing this post I realized that the sequel to The Winter Palace was published last year and I missed it.  That’s on the list.

I also recently heard of this:

The GreenlandersThe Greenlanders by Jane Smiley

 

Alienated (Alienated, #1)Alienated by Melissa Landers
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

YA Fiction

It has been two years since the L’eihrs first made contact with Earth. Now there is going to be a student exchange program and Cara Sweeney has been chosen to host the United States’ alien.

In spite of the L’eihrs offering technological advances, like a cure for cancers, many people on Earth don’t trust them. Protests are springing up near the host homes of the three L’eihrs now living in the U.S, China, and France. Cara is being shunned and threatened daily for being assigned to host Aelyx. What no one realizes is that the L’eihrs aren’t happy about being here either and they’ve decided to do something about it.

I liked this book. I was a quick read. I just picked it up from the library yesterday. It doesn’t exactly fit in with my Travel the World in Books read-a-long theme for this week unless we expand that to travel way out of the world.

Cara and Aelyx need to learn to rely on each other as they are isolated and threatened. Humans find the aliens threatening because of their advanced intelligence and ability to communicate with each other telepathically, which are traits that have been selected for by generations of selective breeding. Besides, everyone knows that aliens just want to destroy the Earth with their weapons and probe humans, right?

This is the start of a series. I guess the next book looks at life on L’eihr as the alliance between humans and L’eihrs is being negotiated.

I have one problem though. Here is the description of the L’eihrs.

“All of them, men and women alike, wore their shoulder-length light brown hair tied neatly behind the neck. It blended perfectly with their russet skin, and when combined with the tan uniforms, they were a monochromatic solid wall of brown. Like walking paper bags.” -page 33

Now, look at the cover. Here, I’ll make it bigger.

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Who is that white boy supposed to be? They couldn’t find a model who was even a little bit brown? If that was impossible, they couldn’t photoshop? Do YA covers need to be lily white?

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