Category Archives: Books

Book Review – Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

Hello again book lovers! Sorry it’s been so quiet here lately. I’ve been dealing with some health issues and had to spend some time in the hospital recently.  I am home now and recovering but updates are probably going to be sporadic as I rest and recover. I also have to have an operation in a few weeks time so it will be a little while before things completely get back to normal around here. (Sorry about that). But with Black History Month coming to an end and since the film version of the book is up for a couple of Academy Awards this weekend, I wanted to pop on and share my book review of Margot Lee Shetterly’s Hidden Figures. Enjoy!

 

Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space RaceHidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A few weeks back, my family and I went to see Hidden Figures. The film – the story of three African American women, Katherine Goble Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson, and their contributions to the space race – was excellent and I highly recommend it. It was so good, in fact, that I wanted to know more about Katherine, Dorothy, and Mary’s story so – despite being an almost exclusive reader of fiction – I decided to pick up the book that the movie was based on, Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterley. If my goal was to know more about this topic, this book more than delivered. The book is a much broader and deeper look at the hidden figures of the space program. Rather than a feel-good story about just three remarkable women, the author gives a detailed and in-depth account of several generations of African American women who worked as computers, engineers, and mathematicians in the Space and Aeronautics program at Langley Research Center. The book also covers a much longer period of time than the movie did, celebrating the contributions the women made to Langley from World War II to the space race and beyond – rather than just focusing on the 1960’s – and placing those contributions in the social and technological context of the times. I am not very mathematically orientated so – I have to admit – I glazed over a little when the writer delved into the technical aspects of the women’s work, but otherwise I enjoyed getting to know more about the (until now) hidden figures of the space program and their contributions to history.

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Valentine’s Day With Rhett and Scarlett

Valentine’s Day With Rhett and Scarlett

For the past few weeks, I’ve been doing a series of Valentine’s Day outfits for book lovers inspired by famous literary couples. So when one of my Instagram followers suggested that I do a Gone with the Wind outfit inspired by Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler, I was intrigued. I started to envision the outfit that a modern-day Scarlett O’Hara would wear when she sets out to prove to Rhett that he really DOES give a damn about her and convince him to come home to her. This is what I came up with.

 

Scarlett and Rhett

 

Say what you will about Scarlett O’Hara but the girl knows how to turn heads and rock a green dress! From the iconic green floral dress she wore to the Twelve Oaks BBQ to the green dress she made from the curtains, green seems to be Miss Scarlett’s signature color so I knew whatever look I made had to start with a killer green dress! I considered a lot of dresses with long, full skirts as a nod to the book’s Civil War setting but decided that, given a choice, Scarlett would have ditched the hoop skirts and crinoline the first chance she got, and opted from something more modern. I’ve always thought of Scarlett as a fashion rebel who wasn’t afraid to make a statement and flaunt her sex appeal so I went with this form-fitting cocktail dress with a deep neckline and paired it with matching heels and a pair of Gone With the Wind earrings from the C. S. Literary Jewelry Etsy shop. All together, this Gone With the Wind outfit is perfect for a wedding at Tara, date night with your own, personal Rhett Butler, or a hot night on the town in Atlanta.

 

Kiss GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

 (Too soon?)

 

Like what you see?

Want to see an outfit inspired by your favorite book or character? Leave a suggestion in the comments below and I’ll see what I can do.

Until next time, take care and happy reading!

P.S. Don’t miss the final days of my Valentine’s Day sale on handmade literary jewelry for book lovers.

 


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Book Review – The Bear and The Nightingale by Katherine Arden

The Bear and the NightingaleThe Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It’s a snowy day here in New York, the kind of day that is perfect for gathering round the fire and listening to old tales of clever heroines having adventures in wintry Russian forests. Of course, if you don’t happen to know any old Russian folktales, you can get the same sort of effect by curling up with The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden.  There’s been a lot of buzz about The Bear and the Nightingale lately. I’ve seen it compared to the Night Circus and to Neil Gaiman’s work so I was extremely eager to get my hands on the book and see if it lived up to the hype. I am also a big fan of books that play with fairy tale motifs and this story, which plays with Russian folklore and stories, seemed to have a lot of potential.

The book tells the story of a young girl, Vasya, who is able to see and interact with the household spirits and various fey-like creatures in the fields and forests that surround her father’s home. This ability and Vasya’s family observance of the little offerings and rituals that honor these creatures keeps the family safe and ensures their prosperity. When Vasya’s father brings home a new bride – a hysterical, tortured woman who can also see the household spirits but who is convinced they are demons to be feared – the balance between their people’s Christian faith and the old ways is thrown off. And when a charismatic, fanatic of a priest arrives – bringing fear and threats of hellfire with him – the protections erode completely. The dead begin to walk, a cruel winter descends, and a dark force starts to rise in the forest. Only Vasya, with the help of Lord Frost, the spirit of Winter and of Death, can stand between her family and the Bear who is coming to devour them.

Now that I’ve read The Bear and the Nightingale, I must admit to having a more mixed reaction than I expected. I hated the one-dimensional, tired old trope of a villain, a fanatic, intolerant priest who, in his quest for glory and control, dominates the village with his message of fear and becomes an unwitting pawn of the darkness. But the world that Katherine Arden built is rich and interesting and I loved her use of Russian myths and fairy tales. From what little I know about Russian folk stories and the little details Arden weaves into the tale, especially the part of the story where Vasya is brought to Lord Frost’s home, there is room to delve deeper and explore in this world. It also seemed to me that The Bear and the Nightingale had every indication of being the first books in a series. If I am right about that, then all the interesting characters  that are introduced and then disappear, (like Sasha, Vasya’s brother who leaves home to become a warrior monk in the service of God and Russia’s Grand Prince),  and all of Vasya’s future adventures that are alluded to but never explored go from being a side note to potential books look forward to. So, while The Bear and the Nightingale didn’t exactly live up to my immediate expectations, I am willing to say that it is an excellent investment in future stories and I look forward to seeing what Katherine Arden does next.

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What do you think, book lovers? What’s your favorite book to curl up with on a snowy day? What should I read / review next? Let me know in the comments below. And until next time, take care and happy reading!

P.S. Looking for the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for your book-loving Valentine? There’s just a few days left in the C. S. Literary Jewelry Valentine’s Day Sale.

 

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Valentine’s Day With Juliet

Valentine’s Day With Juliet

Go Shakespeare – chic this Valentine’s Day with a romantic Romeo and Juliet outfit inspired by William Shakespeare’s timeless tale of star cross’d lovers. Perfect for Valentine’s Day, prom night, weddings, date night at the theatre, and romantic, starlit rendezvous on your balcony, this elegant outfit features handmade pearl drop jewelry with text from the Romeo and Juliet balcony scene.

Juliet Capulet

 

Question of the day: Which Shakespearean heroine is your favorite and why? Let me know in the comments below.

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Until next time, take care and happy reading!

 

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Anne and Gilbert

Anne and Gilbert

Good morning book lovers! With Valentine’s Day on it’s way and today being National Spouses Day, I thought it would be a good time to share a book lover’s outfit inspired by the romance between one of my favorite literary couples, Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe from the Anne of Green Gables books. Their progression from nemesis / rivals to chums to soul mates is simply the most wonderful love story and I wanted to create a look that captured the spirit of their relationship.  So I took a pink sweater with a sweet white color, a pair of black slacks, and pink flats and then added an Anne of Green Gables heart necklace from the C. S. Literary Jewelry Etsy shop. All in all, this Anne of Green Gables outfit is sweet, classic, and perfect for everyday romance with your best friend.

 

 

Anne and Gilbert

What do you think, book lovers? Did I do Anne and Gilbert justice? Who’s your favorite literary couple? Let me know in the comments!

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Until next time, take care and happy reading!

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Snowed In With Jane Austen

Snowed In With Jane Austen

There’s no better way to spend a snow day that curled up on the sofa with your favorite Jane Austen novel. So when the snow started to fall here in NY, I was inspired to create this relaxed book lovers outfit. I wanted something that captured the warmth and relaxation of a day spent watching the snow fall and dreaming of Mr. Darcy so I paired a thick, comfy sweater and a pair of slacks in warm neutral tones with a romantic Pride and Prejudice Heart Necklace from the C. S. Literary Jewelry Etsy shop.  Add a cup of tea and a fire in the fireplace and you have the perfect snowy day!!!

 

Snow Day With Jane Austen

 

What do you think, book lovers? What’s your favorite way to spend a snowy day? Let me know in the comments below!  And if you like what you see, you can also:

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New Year, New Books

The TypeThe Type by Sarah Kay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don’t know about you but I always have such a hard time getting back into the swing of things after the holidays. It’s partly because I need a little while to recover from the craziness of the last few weeks of the year but it’s also because I always get a pile of new books for Christmas and I can’t resist the temptation to spend more time than I should reading them once the holidays are over.
This year Santa was kind enough to bring me two new poetry books by the spoken word poet, Sarah Kay. Each book is a standalone volume containing a single poem, B and The Type. Neither poem is particularly new. B, sometimes called “If I Should Have a Daughter” is one of Kay’s best-known poems and was performed at the Ted Talks Conference in 2011. (You can see the video of that performance here.) And both B and The Type were included in Kay’s beautiful anthology of poems, No Matter the Wreckage, which I own and highly recommend!! But when I discovered that these poems came in their own books, beautifully illustrated by artist Sophia Janowitz, I knew I wanted to add them to my poetry collection anyway.

The thing I love about both these poems – and one of the reasons I am so glad they exist as their own books instead of nestled in among other poems – is that they are so very warm, empowering, and totally accessible even for folks who don’t read a lot of poetry. B, a collection of wisdom and life lessons that Kay would like to pass down to her daughter, if she should ever one, would make a beautiful gift for mothers and daughters alike. Full of encouragement for times of disappointment and struggle, this wonderful poem is a love-song to the power of optimism and a tribute to the mothers (and mother figures) who will always have our back. Meanwhile, The Type is a poem about womanhood and how we define ourselves and build ourselves up. A perfect gift for a girlfriend going through a break-up or struggling with relationship issues, The Type is also a beautiful way to recenter and refocus yourself when your self-esteem starts to drift.

All in all, I am so happy to add The Type and B to my library and would love to give a copy of each (along with Maya Angelou’s Phenomenal Woman) to every woman I know.

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