Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Review: Epic Journeys: 245 Life-Changing Adventures by National Geographic

Title: Epic Journeys: 245 Life-Changing Adventures
Author: National Geographic
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: National Geographic
Publish Date: October 22, 2019
Source: TLC Book Tours and PR

What's the Story?:

From "From navigating the class-five rapids of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon to sandboarding the slopes of a volcano in Nicaragua to dogsledding in the Arctic, this beautiful and comprehensive book offers trips of a lifetime for explorers and adrenaline junkies alike. Filled with more than 300 vivid photographs, this inspirational guide reveals over 225 of the planet's best destinations for hikers, skiers, divers, rafters, and more. You'll also find everything you need to know for the ultimate epic journey: what to see, when to go, and what to do. Combining adventure with cultural experiences--for example, a safari through Madagascar or visiting the ruins of Buddhist temples after sea kayaking the warm waters of Vietnam--this one-of-a-kind collection, complemented by top ten lists and adventurer essays covering everything from the best hiking trails to the top wildlife parks, will lead you to new heights of exploration."

My Two Cents:

"Epic Journeys" is a full-color guide to some of the most stunning, fantastic, and downright drool-worthy trips in the entire world! Lovingly put together by trusted travel connoisseur National Geographic, this is a beautiful guide to some very bucket list worthy trips. This is the perfect book to inspire your next grand adventure!

Broken down into sections dedicated to different areas of the world, this book is very easy to navigate. The book includes gorgeous pictures of various destinations. It also includes itineraries for different places as well as stories from some National Geographic writers who have been there and done ALL of that. I also really liked the inclusion of top ten lists for a variety of topics to include safaris and bird-watching. Some of the places I was familiar with but this book also explores a lot of corners of the world that I was unfamiliar with. I must have added a bazillion places that to my to-travel-to list. It was hard to find a trip in this book that didn't sound amazing and like the trip of a lifetime!

This book is absolutely gorgeous and would make a great gift for those in your life that love to travel! It's definitely a book that I know that I am going to want to revisit over and over again. My only criticism is that the book didn't come with unlimited plane tickets to at least get me started on traveling to all of these amazing places!!!

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Review: The Museum of Lost Love by Gary Barker

Title: The Museum of Lost Love
Author: Gary Barker
Format: Paperback
Publisher: World Editions
Publish Date: October 1, 2019
Source: PR

What’s the Story?:

Katia and Goran are in love. Tyler is in therapy. On a summer trip to Zagreb, the couple discover an unusual museum—a museum that displays mementos of broken relationships. Inside, Goran stumbles upon an exhibit that seems to be addressed to him, from a girl he met in a Sarajevo refugee camp at age fourteen. What follows is a whirlwind summer of reconnecting with lost pasts: Goran confronts the youth he lost during the Yugoslav Wars, Katia heads to Brazil to find her roots, and Afghanistan veteran Tyler pours out his soul. Set against alternating backdrops of violent circumstances, this novel is a soulful testament to the uncontainable flourishing of the human heart.

My Two Cents:

“The Museum of Lost Love” is a love story and being vulnerable enough to let love in even when it seems like love will just bite you back. This is a story about Katie, a woman who knows little of her background, and Goran, who constantly seems to be running from his background and from the horrific experiences that he had as a young child during the Yugoslav Wars. It’s also the story of Tyler, a veteran of the Afghanistan War, who is back home and very much still trying to get used to what life looks like after war where things may be even more difficult.

I really enjoyed this book. It was interesting to see how the stories intertwine with each other. They mesh together in some really unexpected ways. I was definitely drawn to both stories. We get to see Katia and Goran grapple with their pasts in order to define their futures. We see Tyler figure out what really matters when it comes to his son and how they move together as a family.

The writing of the book is really good. I loved how the story lines were interspersed with stories from the Museum of Lost Love. These little vignettes cover all sorts of different story lines and some of them are really poignant. I was amazed with how much the author was able to pack into such a small amount of space.  The vignettes cover all different  types of love.  The author is at his best when he’s showing the inner motivations of each character. All the characters feel very real and the mauIn characters are ones I will be thinking about for a long time!

Friday, October 18, 2019

TLC Book Tours: Ribbons of Scarlet: A Novel of the French Revolution by Multiple Authors

Title: Ribbons of Scarlet: A Novel of the French Revolution 
Authors: Kate Quinn, Sophie Perinot, Stephanie Dray, Heather Webb, Laura Kamoie, and E. Knight
Format: Paperback
Publisher: William Morrow
Publish Date: October 1, 2019
Source: TLC Book Tours and HarperCollins

What's the Story?:

From "In late eighteenth-century France, women do not have a place in politics. But as the tide of revolution rises, women from gilded salons to the streets of Paris decide otherwise—upending a world order that has long oppressed them.

Blue-blooded Sophie de Grouchy believes in democracy, education, and equal rights for women, and marries the only man in Paris who agrees. Emboldened to fight the injustices of King Louis XVI, Sophie aims to prove that an educated populace can govern itself--but one of her students, fruit-seller Louise Audu, is hungrier for bread and vengeance than learning. When the Bastille falls and Louise leads a women’s march to Versailles, the monarchy is forced to bend, but not without a fight. The king’s pious sister Princess Elisabeth takes a stand to defend her brother, spirit her family to safety, and restore the old order, even at the risk of her head.

But when fanatics use the newspapers to twist the revolution’s ideals into a new tyranny, even the women who toppled the monarchy are threatened by the guillotine. Putting her faith in the pen, brilliant political wife Manon Roland tries to write a way out of France’s blood-soaked Reign of Terror while pike-bearing Pauline Leon and steely Charlotte Corday embrace violence as the only way to save the nation. With justice corrupted by revenge, all the women must make impossible choices to survive--unless unlikely heroine and courtesan’s daughter Emilie de Sainte-Amaranthe can sway the man who controls France’s fate: the fearsome Robespierre."

My Two Cents:

 "Ribbons of Scarlet" is a fantastic story of the French Revolution told in six parts by some of the powerhouse women authors of the historical fiction world. The French Revolution is definitely well-trodden territory for historical fiction but this book feels fresh as it gives a lot of new perspectives to such an important event through the eyes of the women who experienced it firsthand. These women are strong, principled, cunning in very different ways! This book was truly a treat!

One of the things that I love best about reading both non-fiction history and historical fiction is the lessons that they hold for the present day and those nuggets are most definitely strewn throughout this book. Women did not often have a platform during this time but all of these women find small and big ways to make waves and stand for what they believe in! Always an important lesson and one that is definitely well done throughout this book!

Each of the six sections of the book is written by a different author but the whole story flows while giving us different perspectives and showing different aspects of the French Revolution. I love this concept and I think it works really well to essentially breakdown super complex events into something that is easier to follow. If you're a historical fiction fan, you may have caught some of the authors in this book in other History 360 books such as "A Day of Fire" and "A Sea of Sorrow" among others. They have found a really great way to tackle some of the big events of history. "Ribbons of Scarlet" is the first History 360 book to be traditionally published, which will hopefully bring these stories to more people. The concept is much the same as the other books although this book really felt more cohesive and a whole story rather than only showing various perspectives.

The characters that we're introduced to are really fantastic and they are so different. We meet some of the great thinkers of the revolutions, the students, the traditionalists, and the muscles of France. They come from different experiences and classes. All of them are women. All of them seem to be stymied in some way because of their sex. All of them find ways to make their voices heard. Present day, when it feels like there is not much you can do about the things going on in the world, this book is seriously inspiring!


Friday, October 11, 2019

Review: Dinosnores by Sandra Boynton

Title: Dinosnores
Author: Sandra Boynton
Format: Board Book
Publisher: Workman Publishing Company
Publish Date: September 3, 2019
Source: PR

What's the Story?:

From "'Honk SHOOOOOO! Honk SHOOOOOO! . . .'     

The snoring goes on, on and on through the night. They never stop snoring till the first morning light.

Ah, all those dinosaurs look so cute in their pajamas. See them yawn and stretch and brush their teeth. Soon they’ll be sound asleep, and . . . OH NO! SNORING!!!

Little kids love big dinosaurs. They also love the sublime silliness of Sandra Boynton books. So what better way to wind down at the end of the day than with DINOSNORES, a rhyming and rhythmic ritual of getting ready for bed—featuring a pile of loudly snoozing dinos."

My Two Cents:

"Dinosnores" is the latest book by beloved writer of bedtime books, Sandra Boynton! We love her books in my house. My four year olds love the word and we especially liked imitating all of the snoring the dinosaurs do throughout the book. Bedtime is often a good time for us to have one last giggle before we slip off to dreamland and this book definitely is a good fit for that! This short book is a welcome addition to our kiddos' library.

As always, Ms. Boynton's illustrations are fantastic! They are super bright and super cute! My girls are dino obsessed right now and they loved the pictures of the very noisy but still downright cuddly dinos as they snored on through the night. The words are simple and fun and my girls loved repeating the story to me. This was a great book that I know we are going to be revisiting a lot!


Thursday, October 10, 2019

Review: Barbie Forever: Her Inspiration, History, and Legacy by Robin Gerber

Title: Barbie Forever: Her Inspiration, History, and Legacy
Author: Robin Gerber
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Epic Ink
Publish Date: September 30, 2019
Source: PR

What's the Story?:

From "Barbie Forever: Her Inspiration, History, and Legacy presents a detailed, full-color portrait of this beloved doll through all-new interviews, original sketches, vintage photos, advertisements, a foldout timeline, and much more. Explore how the doll came to be, what it takes to create one of her many looks, and how her legacy continues to influence the world.

Since her debut in 1959, Barbie has been breaking boundaries and highlighting major moments in art, fashion, and culture. She has been an interpreter of taste and style in every historic period she has lived through and has reflected female empowerment through the more than 200 careers she has embodied. Today, an international icon, Barbie continues to spark imaginations and influence conversations around the world.

Barbie Forever is a vibrant celebration for the "Barbie Girl" in all of us."

My Two Cents:

"Barbie Forever" is a positive look back at one of the most iconic toys around: Barbie. Starting from her beginning in the middle of the 20th century, Barbie has been the both the subject of praise and scrutiny. I was definitely a Barbie girl (in a Barbie world) growing up and so this toy has a very special place in my heart and I was interested to get a better look at the history through this book!

As I mentioned before, this is a very positive look back at Barbie's origins and her history. The toy faced much scrutiny for offering unrealistic body types and sometimes problematic story lines. This book doesn't really mention that and focuses on the highlights of Barbie's history. And to Mattel's credit (Mattel is Barbie's manufacturer), the brand has made great strides recently in being more inclusive and honoring the diversity of the real world (it's never too late). I appreciated seeing how the brand had changed throughout time. Barbie goes from being a fashion doll to show off pretty clothes to something more like what she was for me growing up: a tool for my imagination. The book captures that magic!

The book is also beautiful! It has a ton of full color pictures that celebrate both where Barbie has been and where she could potentially be going. This was such a great walk down memory lane for me. My sisters and I had an EPIC collection of Barbies that we loved to play with and we definitely had so many of the Barbies that appeared in the book.

With the holidays being just around the corner, this book would be a perfect gift for those that grew up with Barbie like I did!


Friday, October 4, 2019

Reading Challenge Update!

As a reminder, I am aiming to read a book from or set in each country the Department of State recognizes, which is 195 countries!
This was my best month yet!
I read books from this many countries in September:
You can check out my progress on my map or see a list of where and what I'm reading here.

I have read 87 books for this challenge so far.

Take a look at my list! What else should I be reading?
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