Dark Matter Heart

Dark Matter Heart (Book #1) by Nathan Wrann

(Summary taken from an email the author sent me) “A new town. A new school. A new beginning. Seventeen
year-old Cordell Griffin, and his mother, moved from Southern California to the
Pacific Northwest to deal with his “sun allergies,” and bizarrely restrictive “human blood
diet”. Cor has one goal: To blend in and be invisible. Unfortunately for him, no
matter how far he goes, danger and tragedy lurk around every corner. “

Mr. Wrann hooked me on this book from page one. Cor’s character intrigued me from the very beginning. Why was he hiding under a blanket in the car? Why did he and his mom need to leave Los Angeles? Why is he a fugitive? Is he in trouble with the law? And, in order to find the answers to these questions, I kept reading and reading and reading. I liked the character development in this book. I really liked Cor, Taylor, Caitlyn, and Mr. Gifford. Cor did make me nervous hanging out at scary parks in the middle of the night with a murderer nearby, but as I read I understood a little more. I pretty much knew what was going on before Cor did, but I kept reading because I couldn’t stop. Although it has a storyline that is similar to a lot of current books, it does have a different twist that makes it interesting.

I loved this book…..until I got to the last few pages. Oh man. I was really disappointed. In what had been a fairly clean book, suddenly there was a barrage of “f” words and other harsh language. There was a graphic rape scene and graphic murders. It became very violent and gory. I, the reader, felt violated after reading the last couple of pages. I didn’t like it at all. And the sad part was, there was a really good twist at the end, and I just felt blah. Even though I really want to know what happens in the next book, I don’t know if I’ll read it because of those last few pages. I wish it hadn’t ended on that note, because I really want to read the next one. I just don’t know if I want to read it if it is going to continue to be that violent and graphic. I may give it a shot just because I’m kind of hooked, but I’ll let you know.

Rating: R (Language, including a few “f” words, violence, a rape scene, murders, graphic descriptions)

Recommendation: College and up

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Return to the Aegean

Return to the Aegean by E.J. Russell

Thalia grew up on Katafigio, a small island in Greece. She left years ago and has not returned, until now. She has her reasons for not returning all these years, and is now hoping to find some answers and some peace. Will she find them?

Haha….that is my lame excuse of a summary. Now you know why I usually copy the summary from the book or other sources. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a summary for this book so you have to suffer through mine.

Moving on….I enjoyed this book! It has mystery, romance, and betrayal. What more could you ask for, right? How about beautiful descriptions of Greece’s scenery? Ms. Russell’s descriptions put you right on the island. They are very well written and definitely make me want to visit Greece. I could almost smell the ocean and feel the breeze. Ms. Russell also has very good character development. I don’t really relate to Thalia at all, but it didn’t matter because I could find enough of a connection that I felt for her and wanted her to find the truth. I liked a lot of the people around her. For example, I really liked her friend Irini and her step-mom Sophia. They helped to ground Thalia, and I related to them more than I did to Thalia. They were a good connection for me. I also liked Petros, Villi, and Manolis. They all helped Thalia in some way or another, and with each of these people around her she was able to begin the process of healing. And that is how it is in real life. The people we surround ourselves with are the people that ground us, love us, help us, and help make us who we are. It’s the relationships in our lives that bring us the most fulfillment.

I liked Ms. Russell’s writing style and thought it was easy to read and it flowed well for the most part. There were a few typos, and there were also some sentences I read twice and still wasn’t sure where she was going with them, but it wasn’t enough to deter me from continuing. There were also some Greek words I didn’t know the meanings of, but there is an index in the back so I could look them up. I did have some unanswered questions, one of which still bothers me. I can’t go into too much detail without giving it away, but someone knew the whole time what had happened. Why doesn’t this person just tell Thalia when she sees her? She knows Thalia is looking for the truth. It would have saved a lot of trouble. It also would have taken away half of the book, which is probably why. But this is a trusted person. I still don’t get it. And Thalia was never upset with her for not telling her the truth from the get-go. My only explanation would be that she wanted Thalia to find out on her own, and that maybe it would help her move on easier. I still enjoyed the book, but this point is still a little frustrating for me.

This is definitely a book for adults. There is quite a bit of language, including a few “f” words. They caught me by surprise and I didn’t really think they needed to be there. There is also a lot of “physical intimacy.” Some scenes have more details than others, but it is a prevalent part of Thalia’s lifestyle. There is also an attempted rape scene and a murder, which is difficult to read because of how it happened and the people involved. I do recommend this book, with the previous warnings, and for the correct age group.

Rating: R (This does not follow the movie ratings exactly, it is just my way of saying that it is NOT appropriate for younger readers.) Language, “physical intimacy,” attempted rape, and a murder scene.

Recommendation: College and up

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, and I thank Ms. Russell for the opportunity to read and review her book.

Pulling Up Stakes

Pulling Up Stakes by Harriet Kimble Wrye

(Summary taken from the back book cover) “Atop Mt. Kilimanjaro, psychologist Harriet Wrye felt a millennial call to “pull up stakes” in her life, as she did with tent and llama stakes each day whenever she and her husband backpacked in the high Sierras with their llamas. Inspired, she closed her Los Angeles psychoanalytic practice of thirty years, they leased their house at the beach and set out on an odyssey into the “back of beyond.” Creating a sabbatical away from the familiar, her journey became a life-changing spiritual pilgrimage that led to a deep practice of letting go of assumptions, habits and patterns, and stepping into freedom.”

I didn’t know what to expect from this book and ended up liking it. There were some aspects of the book that were exciting and tense, some that were scary, some that were quiet yet profound, and some that were easy to relate to. However, there were also some parts that were too personal (and should have been kept in a personal diary), some that were way too long and drawn out, and some that I couldn’t relate to at all. Ms. Wrye is definitely a great example of staying healthy and fit and active as you grow older. She had some incredible experiences that I know I will never experience, and it was interesting to learn about the different parts of the world that she visited. I will never be able to visit all of those places, so it was wonderful to learn about them and the people that live there. I could relate to a lot of what she was trying to let go of. I too have a lot of anxiety that I would love to let go of, and even though my children are still young, I could totally see myself trying to control them in their teenage years. It was good to be able to learn from her experience with that. I too worry about my husband and his safety and health. I know I tend to pack everything “just in case” and so it would be good to shed some of that and know that I would be fine with less.

Even though we are very different, she and I, we both share a love of family and feel that family is everything. We come from very different backgrounds and live very different lives, but as mothers we can connect just because we love our children and want the best for them, and want them around us. I’m glad I was able to take some of these things away from the book. I think it is amazing how fit and active she is as she grows older. I would love to be that healthy and fit in my 60s and 70s.

There were some aspects of the book, though, that I just had a hard time getting through. I would have been happy if it had been 200 pages shorter. She threw in a few political comments, and you know me, that is not my favorite thing in nonpolitical books. I found it hard to relate to some of her experiences. I did, though, learn a lot about living in the moment and finding joy in the journey and in the everyday, not just in reaching the destination.

I would recommend it because it was interesting learning about the different places she visited and people she met there. She had some really good insights and she is a great example of staying healthy, fit, and active as you grow older. She and her husband area also good examples of keeping your marriage vibrant and healthy.

Rating: R (This does not follow the movie ratings, it is my way of saying that it is not appropriate for younger readers.) There was language, including a lot of “f” words. She and her husband definitely love each other, and she doesn’t describe these moments, but she tells you that they were there.

Recommendation: College and up. I don’t think younger readers would get a lot out of it. I don’t think it would interest them, and I don’t think it is appropriate for them.

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Dancing on Broken Glass

Dancing on Broken Glass by Ka Hancock

(Summary taken from the back book cover) “Lucy Houston and Mickey Chandler probably shouldn’t have fallen in love, let alone gotten married. They’re both plagued with faulty genes–he has bipolar disorder; she, a ravaging family history of breast cancer. But when their paths cross on the night of Lucy’s twenty-first birthday, sparks fly, and there’s no denying their chemistry. Cautious every step of the way, they are determined to make their relationship work–and they put their commitment in writing. Mickey will take his medication. Lucy won’t blame him for what is beyond his control. He promises honesty. She promises patience. Like any marriage, there are good days and bad days–and some very bad days. In dealing with their unique challenges, they make the heartbreaking decision not to have children. But when Lucy shows up for a routine physical just shy of their eleventh anniversary, she gets an impossible surprise that changes everything. Everything. Suddenly, all their rules are thrown out the window, and the two of them must redefine what love really is.”

Grab your box of kleenexes ladies, you’re going to need it! This book is amazing. And heart-wrenching. It’s one of those books where I could see where it was going and thought about quitting before I got there, because I didn’t know if I could handle it, but I just couldn’t put it down. I was so involved in these people’s lives that I had to see what happened. Ms. Hancock’s character development is so good that I thought of myself as the Chandler’s next door neighbor. I knew all the neighbors so well that I could have just moved on in and felt right at home. Nevermind that I have never been to Connecticut, I felt like I lived there.

As much as I cried, you’d think that I didn’t like this book, but no, I can’t say that. It is amazing. It is very well written and draws you in from the first sentence. I had a roommate in college that had bipolar disorder, and I could tell in seconds whether or not she had taken her medicine that day. That has been my only experience with bipolar disorder, but she had a lot of the same tendencies that Mickey has in the book. Thankfully she never crashed far enough to need hospitalization, but she had her up and down days. I could not imagine what Lucy went through being married to Mickey, but when you love someone you will do anything for them. I loved that message in the book. If Lucy and Mickey could make their marriage work through all those hard times, anyone can. Yes, it’s hard, but you do it. You keep your commitment and love each other through the best and worst of times. I also loved the connection Lucy and her sisters had. I loved Charlotte and Harry and Jan. I highly recommend this book. Just grab your box of kleenexes and lock yourself in your bedroom where you can cry in peace.

There is some language in this book. There are also a few love making scenes, but they are tastefully done and very romantic. There are also some tragic deaths that are heartbreaking and difficult to read. However, there is also hope and inspiration, dedication and love.  I love how the title fits in.

Rating: R (This rating does not follow the movie ratings, it is just my way of saying it is not appropriate for younger readers.) Language, love making, death of a main character.

Recommendation: College and up. I really want to say married and up, because of the love making scenes, but they are tasefully done. For some, married may be better. This is definitely an adult book, though, and not appropriate for young adult readers.

Disclaimer: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Thank you Ms. Hancock for allowing me to read and review this book, it was an honor.

Cleopatra’s Daughter

Cleopatra’s Daughter by Michelle Moran

(Summary taken from the inside book jacket) “The marriage of Marc Antony and Cleopatra is one of the greatest love stories of all time, a tale of unbridled passion with earth-shaking political consequences. Feared and hunted by the powers in Rome, the lovers choose to die by their own hands as the triumphant armies of Antony’s vengeful rival, Octavian, sweep into Egypt. Their orphaned children–ten-year-old twins Selene and Alexander–are taken in chains to Rome. Delivered to the household of Octavian’s sister, the siblings cling to each other and to the hope that they will return one day to their rightful place on the throne of Egypt. As they come of age, they are buffeted by the personal ambitions of Octavian’s family and court, by the ever-present threat of slave rebellion, and by the longings and desires deep within their own hearts.”

I liked this book. It wasn’t my favorite book or anything, but it was entertaining. It was written fairly well. There were some words she used at certain points that didn’t make sense with the time period, and it was kind of confusing with English and a few Roman terms thrown in. I know we couldn’t read it if it were written all in Latin, but it was almost choppy with some terms thrown in here and there. The story was entertaining and it was fun to think about how these people really lived. Ms. Moran tried to stay true to these people, but you just never know. There were some of the Roman traditions that I was not too fond of, like the Columna Lactaria, a column where people just left their unwanted babies and strangers could stop and feed them if they chose to. I don’t know if this tradition is a true one, but I did not like it. I also didn’t really like the whole fertility celebration.

The character development was pretty good. I really liked Selene and Alexander, Octavia, Marcellus, and Julia. I did not like Pollio at all. I felt for Selene and Alexander. How sad to lose your family and kingdom, and everything you know, in one day. And then to be paraded around Rome. I didn’t love the title. Selene makes a big deal about how her name is spelled with a “K” (Kleopatra) and then the title has it spelled with a “C”???

This book has some language in it. It also has beatings and harsh treatment of slaves, with some dying. It also has gambling and it discusses “physical intimacy” in marriage and out of it, with prostitution included in the mix. Then there is the “Liberalia” celebration, which I did not like. Let’s just say I learned a new word. Yeah, they decorate floats of men’s private parts and parade them down the street. Not a great image to have in your head, right? I’m glad I’m not Roman.

Overall, I liked the book. It’s good for a quick and entertaining read. I like the history involved, and knowing that most of the people were real. And, there is a glossary at the end of the book. I wish I would have known that as I was reading.

Rating: R (language, deaths, beatings of slaves, killing of a newborn baby, “physical intimacy” and prostitution)

Recommendation: High School Senior and up. This is NOT a good young adult book. It may be too much for some seniors.


Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

(Summary taken from the inside book jacket) “On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard. So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War. The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini. In boyhood, he’d been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails. As a teenageer, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile. But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown. Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.”

Wow. What a story! And I complain when I have a headache. This story helps you see perspective in your life. I had no idea what our troops went through as Japanese POW’s. I had no idea that many POW’s were even taken during the war. What they went through sickened me. The brutality of the captors was unimaginable. I compare this with a book I read a little while ago called “A Woman’s Place.” In that book there are a few POW’s that work in a ship-building factory with the women in the book, and they are treated so kindly compared to what our men went through.

This book is nonfiction, but is very well written. It does take a little longer to read than a good fiction book, but it is worth it. Mr. Zamperini is definitely a hero and an example of bravery, courage, and patriotism that we should all learn from. The things he and the other POW’s went through were horrible. It is a privelege to be able to hear his story and learn from it. I am so thankful to all our service men and women for serving our country.

This book, although a really good book, is filled with many things that are extremely difficult to read.  There is language, torture, rape, fights, beatings, war atrocities, deaths, and a lot of physical and mental anguish. I know, it sounds depressing. And a lot of it is. However, there is also so much to take away from this book. There is so much to learn from these men and their bravery, determination, and courage, that it is definitely worth reading. I’m not one to search out books with the above characteristics, but I came away from this book with so much.

Rating: R (Language, torture, rape, fights, beatings, war atrocities, deaths, physical and mental anguish, and “physical intimacy.”)

Recommendation: College and up. This is way too much for younger readers. It’s a great teaching tool for WWII, but more for a college history course.

Confessions of a Middle-Aged Babe Magnet

Confessions of a Middle-Aged Babe Magnet by Chad Stone

(Summary taken from http://middleagedbabemagnet.blogspot.com) “Confessions of a Middle-Aged Babe Magnet is the almost completely true story of
one man’s brave adventure into dating again in the 21st Century. The hero (me!)
jumps headfirst into the dating pool with the goal of becoming a self-professed
Babe Magnet. The story unfolds as a humorous memoir that’s also an insightful
dating and relationship guide for men of all ages. For women, the book offers a
unique, unvarnished look into the mind of a real man—revealing how a single man
thinks and why he behaves as he does.

Confessions of a Middle-Aged
Babe Magnet is a journey of modern self-discovery that is laugh-out-loud funny
in some places and poignantly tender in others. Fascinating, funny and
heartfelt, Confessions of a Middle-Aged Babe Magnet is proof that love is
possible at any age— as long as you’re willing to embrace it.”

I have to get this out of the way, and I’m sorry to the author (and his character in the book), but this character (Chad Stone) is a complete jerk. There, I said it. I feel better now. After 25 years of marriage he leaves his wife because he fell out of love with her. He admits he didn’t try and work it out at all. So, because he is selfish and lazy he devastates his wife and son, and destroys a family. Then he goes on to write this book and make money off of his ex-wife and son’s heartbreak. If he had spent half the time he spent becoming a “babe magnet” for other women, and became one for his wife, or if he had spent the time wooing her back instead of wooing other women, he might have been able to save his relationship………

……..That being said, I ended up really enjoying this book. It was well written and humorous. It was also VERY enlightening. As a woman, I had NO idea men thought about certain things as often as they do. I learned a lot about men and how they think and what makes them tick. I am happily married, thank goodness, and my husband thought it was hilarious because I kept asking him if he thought about things that way, or as often as Chad did in the book. As a married woman I think it actually did help make my marriage better because I talked to my husband in great length about how we could make sure this didn’t happen to us. I think it would be very beneficial to women who are dating to read. Really. Read it. I think it also helped to make sure my daughters will not be dating…..ever. It’s a must-read for mothers who have daughters in dating mode.

I was a little disappointed with the ending. It ended very abruptly, and could have used another thirty or so pages to wrap it up, but I would still recommend it. There is language and an almost constant presence of thoughts about, yearnings for, and a few scenes of  “physical intimacy.” This guy thinks about it non-stop. This is definitely not a book I would have ever chosen on my own, but I liked it. So, do you think the women in the book will figure out it is written about them?? (Like in The Help?)

Rating: R (Yep, lots of language and lots of “physical intimacy.” He thinks about it, talks about it, wants it, and has it.) I actually can’t believe I liked the book, just because of the content.

Recommendation: Married and up. Women who are in college and dating may want to read it as well.

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Paper Children

Paper Children by Marcia Fine

(Summary taken from the back book cover) “Driven by cataclysmic world events, the story encompasses the lives of three generations of women. In Book One, Paulina, the privileged daughter of aristocratic parents, reluctantly follows her driven businessman husband to America in 1929. From a vantage point in New York she endures a difficult marriage and slowly becomes aware of the destruction of her large extended family in Poland as the Nazis tighten their grip on Europe. Book Two begins in 1940 following Paulina’s daughter Sarah, as she pursues a career in photography. Sent on assignment to the Displaced Persons camps in Europe, Sarah is shaken loose from her faith and pursues a hedonistic path. The Third book deals with Mimi, Sarah’s daughter. A solitary young woman, she becomes curious about the family’s past. She explores the Holocaust and searches for her roots. In a confrontational scene Paulina hands over her family’s pre-war correspondence that she calls her “Paper Children.”

I really like the concept of this book. I like that it follows three generations of women in a family, and shows how they lived, and the national and world events that happened during their lives. I like that you can see how choices made by these women affected not only them, but how they affected their children and grandchildren as well. It helps me to see that there is importance in this motherhood thing.

I really liked the first book in the story. I found it fascinating to learn how a privileged family lived in Poland at the beginning of the 20th century. I had no idea. I enjoyed learning about Paulina and her family. Even though I didn’t love her husband in the story, I did like that he was so driven and no matter what happened he picked himself up and moved on. The story was depressing a lot of the time, but I liked it. Times were tough, and so it seemed ok. Paulina was very proper and wanted to do everything a good Jewish girl would do. A lot of the first book dealt with her trying to be proper. And then comes book two. Wow, did book two throw me for a loop! I liked it at first with Sarah going to the Displaced Person camps and seeing the devastation for herself. She picks up smoking (which her mother hates) and loses her faith in God while she is there, right at the beginning. Then within 30 pages Ms. Fine throws in this out of place (completely opposite of book one) sensual love-making scene that completely took me by surprise. It is very detailed. I’ll put it that way. Very detailed.

Unfortunately, I think the book goes downhill from there. A lot of the rest of book two is about “physical intimacy” and it was too much for me. There is also a lot of profanity. There are lessons to be learned, but, I think there are better ways to learn them. The story, at that point, just lost a lot of its excitement. I had to push through to the end. Then comes book three and I thought it was completely unrealistic. It starts when Mimi is four years old. I have an almost-four-year-old, and it just didn’t fit. For example, Mimi, at four, supposedly says, “The year of mourning after my grandfather’s death became a slow dirge of cleaning out closets, consolidating bank accounts, and shuffling papers.” My daughter would never say anything even close to that. The vocabulary is much to difficult for that age.  I wish it would have started when she was 12 or older, I think it would have been much more realistic. It does catch up with her age, and she has her own love-making scenes. It takes her through the sixties with their anti-war demonstrations and tie-dye t-shirts. It may just be me, but this time period doesn’t interest me as much as the earlier times do, and so I just wasn’t interested at this point. And it was still depressing. I felt more depressed and let down at the end than I did during the war times.

In other words, I didn’t love this book. It was ok. I couldn’t recommend it to any of my friends because of the “physical intimacy” and language. There is also violence, including domestic violence and WWII camp devastation. However, if those things don’t bother you and you enjoy reading about people and their histories, then you may enjoy this book.

Rating: R (Remember, this does not follow the movie ratings exactly, it’s just my way of saying it is NOT for younger readers.) There is a lot of “physical intimacy,” language, violence (including domestic violence), smoking, and war-time devastation.

Recommendation: Married and up. Definitely.

Disclaimer: I did receive a free copy of this book for my review. This did not sway my review in any way. All  my reviews are honest.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

(Summary taken from the inside book jacket) “Her name is Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells–taken without her knowledge–became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. If you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they’d weigh more than 50 million metric tons–as much as a hundred Empire State Buildings. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Yet Henrietta Lacks remains virtually unknown, buried in an unmarked grave. Now Rebecca Skloot takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s to stark white laboratories with freezers full of HeLa cells, from Henrietta’s small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia–a land of wooden slave quarters, faith healings, and voodoo–to East Baltimore today, where her children and grandchildren live and struggle with the legacy of her cells. Henrietta’s family did not learn of her “immortality” until more than twenty years after her death, when scientists investigating HeLa began using her husband and children in research without informed consent. And though the cells had launched a multimillion-dollar industry that sells human biological materials, her family never saw any of the profits. As Rebecca Skloot so brilliantly shows, the story of the Lacks family–past and present–is inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of. Over the decade it took to uncover the story, Rebecca became enmeshed in the lives of the Lacks family–especially Henrietta’s daughter Deborah, who was devastated to learn about her mother’s cells. Deborah was consumed with questions: Had scientists cloned her mother? Had they killed her to harvest her cells? And if her mother was so important to medicine, why couldn’t her children afford health insurance?”

This book had me at the intro.! The introduction alone just fascinates me. To know that one person’s cells weigh that much, and that her family didn’t even know is incredible. It definitely has the feeling of a fictional movie. I couldn’t put it down, and it’s nonfiction! This is the best nonfiction book I have read in a long time! Ms. Skloot’s writing style is easy to read and understand, even when she is discussing very technical and confusing topics. It reads as a fascinating story, with a hint of technicality to it. The book is very informative and yet is also very emotional. I cried and cried, and then I’d laugh, and then I’d feel angry, frustrated, relieved, embarrassed for our past, and everything in between. It is hard to believe that the story could have taken place sixty years ago, because it seems more like something that would happen 160 years ago. To know that sixty years ago African American people were being mistreated like this is horrible. Unfortunately, it seems like all the issues regarding tissue study and culture still haven’t been resolved. I highly recommend this book, it is (I know I said this before, but it’s true) fascinating and intriguing.

There are some parts in this book that are difficult to read, and not appropriate for younger readers. There are some of the heavier curse words and there are some domestic violence stories. Henrietta’s life was difficult, and it was also difficult for her children and grandchildren. The stories are true, which makes it harder to read. I’ve learned that our country’s past is not always happy or nice, and in some instances is flat-out terrible. Hopefully with the truth of some of these issues coming to the forefront, we can learn from these mistakes and make sure they do not happen again. I highly recommend this book, because from it we can learn, and the more we learn, the more we can change for the better. Thank you, Ms. Skloot, for bringing this important woman in our history into the light, and for honoring her legacy.

Rating: PG-13+ (Language, domestic violence, harsh circumstances of the characters and their loved ones.)

Recommendation: Senior in high school and up. Maybe even college, but it is definitely worth reading!

A Woman’s Place

A Woman’s Place by Lynn Austin

(Summary taken from the inside book jacket) “Virginia Mitchell watched her husband carve the Sunday pot roast and wondered if he was having an affair. He showed more interest in the way the meat was cooked than he did in her. But maybe it was better if she didn’t know for certain. This way she wouldn’t be forced to decide whether to live with the knowledge in silence, forgive him, or leave him. She found it difficult enough to decide what to fix for dinner, let alone wrestle with questions of infidelity and trust….Virginia’s insecurity regarding her marriage casts a pall over her future. But with the devastating news of America’s entrance into WWII. Ginny feels called to make a difference. As she embarks on this journey, she’ll meet three other women–and in the process, change her world.”)

I liked this book a lot. I found it so interesting to learn about these four (and later on, a fifth) women and their lives. I liked how their lives intertwined, and how they forged friendships and also how they forged a way for women into the workplace during the WWII era. I liked each of the characters, and felt as if I could walk into their world and fit right in. It did take me awhile to get them straight, and remember who was who, but by the end they felt like my friends. I liked how each of them dealt with her own trials, and yet they all faced many of the same trials together. They helped each other, and came to rely on each other. The men in the book made me furious. I did like Earl. Ginny’s husband drove me crazy! And the men workers at the factory were awful. I found it difficult to believe that some of those problems existed in the 1940’s. I knew women worked during WWII because I have seen the Rosie the Riveter poster:

but I’d never thought about how that made the men feel, or what those women did once the war was over. I enjoyed this book and recommend it.

The writing style is hard to get used to at the beginning, but becomes easier by the end. It is a little slow in some parts, but it was engaging enough to keep me reading. There are some scenes in the book that are difficult to read because of the way the people were treated. There is some harsh racial violence (beatings, and a terrible “accident”) and you learn of characters dying in the war. There is some language. One of the characters has a habit of drinking and getting drunk. There is a little bit of a Christian message in the book because a couple of the characters discuss God and His influence in their lives.

Rating: PG-13+ (Racial beatings, a so-called “accident,” characters dying in the war, sparse language, drinking, and Ginny wondering about an affair.)

Recommendation: High School and Up. I took a Women’s History class in high school, and this would have been a great read for that class. It is fiction, but it’s great to see a different viewpoint of WWII.