Archive for the ‘Mental Health’ Category

Book Review – City of Ashes

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

What I’ve recently finished:

**City of Ashes by Megan Chance**
GoodReads
Amazon
World Catalog

What is it about?
This book centers around two young women. Set in the late 188s, Geneva Langley is a Chicago socialite who loves being surrounded by artists and free thinkers. Her husband, on the other hand, wants her to fit a rather strict mold of upper class woman hood-paying calls, attending balls and being a model wife as his business develops. Geneva (or Ginny) pushes the edge too far and they both find themselves banished to the developing city of Seattle. The second woman, Beatrice Wilkes, is an actress already living in the cut throat world of the newly developing Seattle theater scene. She has lived on her own since her mid-teens and because of this, she trusts no one living in this kind of environment – someone can be her friend one day and then steal her part the next.

These two women might initially strike the reader as opposites – Ginny getting many things handed to her with little work needed on her end and Beatrice who has had to work hard for everything from her food to her position in her theater company. But the Seattle fire of 1889 forces a bond between these two unlikely women and helps them attain what they both want – freedom and position and they pair together in a rather creative way in order to do just that.

Why did I read this?
I read Megan Chance’s book The Inconvenient Wife and thoroughly enjoyed it. City of Ashes is set around the same time as this other book but during a more specific event, The Great Seattle Fire. I had never heard of this, unfortunately, so that made me want to read it.

What impressed me about this book?
I’m a sucker for books told in various points of view. Many, if not all, of the characters were sneaky and dishonest. It was interesting read Ginny, for example, see her husband do something out of character and then, in the next chapter from the husband’s point of view, you can read what he was thinking and know why he did it.

I also liked the descriptions of the city both before and after the fire. It made the book quite interesting.

What disappointed me about this book?
Since this was the second book I read by the author, I couldn’t help but see a familiar and almost formulaic timeline between the two books. (I won’t state much else because I don’t want to include spoilers)

Historical Relevance:
When Ginny and her husband first arrive to Seattle, you read of a city with very little archetectural structure. For example, shops are on streets however they’re not all aligned correctly. And many of the buildings were made from wood. So imagine a great fire hitting a city like this? It is because of these circumstances, the fire did as much damage as it did. Because of this, many policies were changed during its rebuilding. I’ll take text straight from Wikipedia:

The city made many improvements in response to the fire. The city’s fire department shifted from a volunteer to a paid force with new firehouses and a new chief. The city took control of the water supply, increasing the number of hydrants and adding larger pipes.The advent of brick buildings to downtown Seattle was one of the many architectural improvements the city made in the wake of the fire. New city ordinances set standards for the thickness of walls and required “division walls” between buildings.These changes became principal features of post-fire construction and are still visible in Seattle’s Pioneer Square district today, the present-day location of the fire. At Pioneer Square, guided tours are also available to paying customers. Also at this location visitors can tour the Seattle Underground, where they can visit remains of buildings that were built over after the fire.

What reading challenge(s) did this book apply to?

Overall Grade?
Rating: ★★★½☆

Book Review – Blue Asylum

Monday, May 21st, 2012

 

I’m a little back logged as far as books are concerned.

What I’ve recently finished:

 

**Blue Asylum by Kathy Hepinstall**
GoodReads
Amazon
World Catalog

What is it about?
OK Tell my why I seem to be drawn to books where women are thrown in insane asylums for crazy reasons? asks the uppity feminist of the 21st century, reading about women in the 19th and early 20th century. All I have to say, that while women still have a way to go in terms of achieving equality, at least we’ve come far away from that! I’ve read my fair share of books with this premise or I’ve marked books like this as “to read” and I just end up feeling so terrible for these women!
Anyway, this specific book is about Iris Dunleavy, a Virginia plantation wife who is sent to the Blue Asylum off the coast of Florida during the Civil War after she is found to be mad for disagreeing with her husband over ideas concerning human decency and property. Iris is sent to an insane asylum with “modern” techniques to “cure” her. As someone in the 21st century reading this, I could not help but see the differences in the definition of slavery in the 1860s vs now. At this facility, she meets a soldier, Ambrose Weller, who is reeling from his experiences on the battlefields of our nation’s Civil War

Why did I read this?
Honestly, I think I was wondering around Amazon one weekend and found it. Luckily my library had it as well and I was one of the first in my branch to read it :-D (It’s the little things, no?)

What impressed me about this book?
I’m not going to lie–excessive descriptions of settings is a personal pet peeve of mine. I pride myself on the visions of the story in my head. That said, this book is essentially set in a swamp area. While I’ve heard DC referred to one countless times (:-)) , even I can admit I’ve never been. The descriptions in this book were clear without being too verbose.

What disappointed me about this book?
One very abrupt ending – I felt like there was very little resolution for many of these characters. I finished the book and I can’t help but wonder: What happened? And not like when you finish a book and you wonder what happens to them afterward. I genuinely felt like questions were left unanswered.

What reading challenge(s) did this book apply to?

Overall Grade?


Book Review – Revolution

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

In addition to my resolution to write more reviews, I have been finding all these great reading blogs, especially ones on historical fiction. YAY! My favorite so far is Historical Tapestry and I’ve certainly added some blogs to my Google Reader account.

So I’ve been finishing books more frequently and now I can share my review of “Revolution”

What I’ve recently finished:

**Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly**
**GoodReads**
**Amazon**

What is it about?
Seventeen year old Andi Alpers experiences the death of her younger brother and witnesses the unraveling of her family. Her father leaves and her mom simply can not handle it. Andi is left to take care of her very distraught mother while she works on her private school’s senior project. Because she’s angry and doesn’t know how to cope, her grades suffer to the point where the principal threatens to expel her unless she can develop an outline for her class’ senior project.
Her father steps in and tells Andi that she can work on this project while they’re both in Paris France. They stay with some family friends who are trying to prove that a heart they found belongs to Louis XVI, the son of Louis XV and Marie Antoinette through DNA testing. Andi comes across the diary of a woman two centuries prior who writes as the tragic events of the French Revolution are occurring. And she writes more specifically about her many failed attempts to rescue Louis as well. Andi develops a bond with this character, Alexandrine, who was almost a nanny to young prince. The readers gains an inside look at what the events of the French Revolution did to society’s “normal” folks.

Why did I read this?
My friend Carol recommended it.

What impressed me about this book?
The research!
The French Revolution always confused me in school. So to read a book that switched between two rather complicated teenagers during separate centuries, it had to be done well and Jennifer Donnelly did it fluidly. You can see how these two young girls were different but you can also see how Andi could relate to her. I won’t lie….there were times when I was googling a “French Revolution Timeline” so I can get some perspective but once I did that, I was able to appreciate the 18th century diary components and understand it better.
I also liked the character of Andi. This is a side note really but when she wasn’t being such a drama queen, she’s quite a funny kid! Teenagers will be dramatic teenagers, ya know?

What disappointed me about this book?
Ever watch a movie and say “great movie but if they only shaved a half hour off….?” Well, that’s the feeling I had about this book. It goes on for a while.

What reading challenge(s) did this book apply to?

 


Overall Grade?

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