Book haul #4

Happy Monday, lovely friends!  I have some more books to show you:

book haul

Here’s what we have:

God, A Human History by Reza Aslan.  Nonfiction book about how God has been conceptualized by humans across the ages and cultures of earth.

The Gown by Jennifer Robson.  Historical fiction based in fact.  Behind the scenes story of the creation of Queen Elizabeth’s wedding gown.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee.  Historical fiction, supposed to be quite funny, about young aristocrats on a European tour.  LGBTQ+ themes.

Selfie by Will Storr.  Nonfiction – the subtitle tells it all:  “how we became so self-obsessed and what it’s doing to us.”  Popular culture critique.

Good Luck With That by Kristan Higgins.  A novel about three women who met as girls at a weight-loss camp, and the development of their self-images.

Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen by Alison Weir.  I must confess, I’m eager to get into this one.  Weir is writing a book about each of Henry VIII’s six wives, and I believe the first three are out.  I want to read the whole series.

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton.  I understand this is a “Groundhog Day” type story, where Evelyn Hardcastle keeps dying and then waking up again.  Don’t know much about it other than that, but it’s been popular on booktube.

Paris By The Book by Liam Callanan.  A novelist disappears, and leaves his wife plane tickets to Paris.  Once there, she discovers a manuscript he’s been writing.  This leads to a hunt for his whereabouts.

That’s it for now!  I have TONS more and will be showing them to you at intervals.  I went to the library book sale in early June, where books were $3 a bag, and hit the jackpot!  Plus, some of these are lent/borrowed, and some are purchased at bookstores.  As you know, I don’t do “TBR” lists – when I do a haul, those books go into a queue to be read.

Happy reading everyone!

Winnie and the Professor


Book review: The Tudors

Dear friends:

Yesterday I finished listening to the audiobook of The Tudors: A Captivating Guide to the History of England from Henry VIII to Elizabeth I. 


This choice won’t surprise many of you, as you know that I am fascinated by this period in English history, and particularly the stories of the Tudors, including “Bloody Mary,” Elizabeth I, and Mary Queen of Scots.

The audiobook attempts to be comprehensive, but because of its brevity, lacks some depth.  If you already know a lot about this time period, you may find this to be a “Cliff’s Notes” version of a very complex historical era.  The “bird’s eye view” aspect of it all might be useful to someone who is just beginning to explore Tudor history, but for me, it felt rushed and simplified.  (An exaggerated example, but this is the level of depth to expect:  Henry was married to Catherine of Aragon when he fell in love with her lady-in-waiting, Anne Boleyn.  He divorced Catherine to marry Anne.  Later, he ordered Anne beheaded when she was found guilty on trumped-up charges).  (Point, set, match).

I exaggerate, but not much.  On the upside, it’s short as audiobooks go, lasting just over 3 hours.

I did learn a few new (to me) facts about Henry’s sisters, and his best friend Charles Brandon, which I enjoyed hearing about.



B is for body

Dear friends,

I have mixed feelings about the term “body positivity.”  Here’s why:

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On the plus side, I agree that we should all feel positively about our bodies.  We should nourish, honor, and care for our physical selves.  It’s so easy to engage in self-attack, rather than appreciating our earthly forms for all the wonderful things they enable us to do.

But (you knew there was a “but”) –

The idea of “body positivity” is juxtaposed against the way many women feel about their physical selves – negatively.  Badly.  Never good enough.  The very fact that we have to be reminded to think positively highlights a societal problem – that positive thinking (at least in this area of life) is not the norm.

I should feel positively about my body – compared to what?  Compared to the default, the negativity?  That just makes me sad.

We must also ask ourselves: What makes a “good” body?  For many of us, a good body is a disciplined one.  If we exercise and diet without fail, without mistakes, to a point of near-emaciation, we have achieved some sort of physical ideal.  We’ll never entirely get there, though.


Here’s the paradox: We can’t live our lives to the fullest if we’re caught up in criticizing ourselves.  We must look outward, engage, embrace.  To do that, we must do what we can to stay physically healthy, and nurture ourselves through good hygiene and other forms of self-care — then, forget about it.  When people look at me, I don’t think they’re dwelling on my uneven jawline, graying hair, crooked nose, or undereye bags (and if they are, they’re the one with a problem).  I hope, instead, they focus on my smile and what’s in my eyes, and the connection between us.

So “body positivity” is a step, as far as it goes.  But it’s a beginning step in the process of how we enter the world.  Take care of your body each day – then look outward.  There’s a community out there that needs what only you can give.



Book review: Naked In Death

Hello lovely friends,

I have long been a fan of Nora Roberts’ romance novels, so I decided to give her crime/thriller series a try.  She has written nearly 50 books in the “In Death” series under the pen name “J.D. Robb,” and this is the first of the series.


The “In Death” series is set in the mid 21st century, so it’s slightly futuristic, but not science-fictiony; the futuristic elements are believable, such as an “Autochef” machine in the kitchen that prepares your meals (remember the Jetsons?).  In this setting, we meet police lieutenant Eve Dallas, who has been assigned to solve a sequence of serial murders – hopefully before the murderer strikes again.

We also meet Roarke, an enigma of a man who is wealthy and handsome (naturally), attracted to Eve (of course), but may be a suspect in the crimes.  Is she literally sleeping with the enemy?  (Cue suspenseful music).

The book was a fast read, and the police procedures and futuristic elements were exciting, as was the forbidden romance between Eve and Roarke.  The identity of the killer took me by surprise.

I will read more books in this series, which I understand will feature Eve and Roarke as a crime-solving power couple.



Winnie and the Professor

Book review: The Strange Journey of Alice Pendelbury

Dear friends,

I “borrowed” this book on Kindle Unlimited.  I would describe it as a road-trip novel, or a fictionalized travel memoir.

We meet Alice Pendelbury, a single woman living alone in a London flat, and her across-the-hall neighbor, Ethan Daldry.  Alice works as a “nose,” a person with an acute sense of smell who creates fragrances.  Ethan is an artist, and he covets Alice’s flat, because she has a skylight, and the natural light would enhance his paintings.  He had wanted to buy the flat before she moved in, so he is grumpy toward her at first, and toward her motley group of friends.


Alice and her group of single friends (they reminded me of the phrase “urban family”) go to a carnival one weekend, and Alice has her fortune told by an old gypsy woman.  The woman tells Alice that everything she knows about herself is false, and that she will meet an important man who will change her life, but she must meet six other people first.  Alice also learns that the woman believes she was born in Turkey, which seems impossible, as Alice is sure she was born in England to English parents.

Alice and her neighbor Ethan take an excursion to Turkey, to investigate the fortune-tellers claims.

Overall I enjoyed the book, but found it VERY slow.  Lots of long, meandering descriptions of locations, which I suppose some would find “atmospheric,” but to me, they bogged down the story at times.  Ethan seems too young to be such a curmudgeon, although we eventually find out why he is so grumpy toward Alice (it’s not about the skylight).  Alice’s “important man” turns out to be quite a surprise.

After plodding along for hundreds of pages, the resolution of the book seems to come very quickly.  There are a few plot twists at the very end that wrap things up, but they come in rapid succession, and left me a bit unsatisfied.  After the lengthy, descriptive nature of the rest of the book, I actually would have liked more detail at the end.

It was ok.  Not a waste of time, but I wouldn’t reread.  Incidentally, the author is French and the book was originally published in French, so this is a translation.  It’s possible that culture and language are playing a part in my responses here.

Happy reading,

Winnie and the Professor

How do I read so much?

Dear friends,

Occasionally I’ll get the question, how do you read so much?

Here is my (multi-part) answer:

  1.  I have several books on the go at one time.  I’m usually listening to an audiobook, reading something on Kindle, and have more than one “physical” book in process at the same time (in the bathroom, on my nightstand, etc.)  – the key to reading multiple books at once (at least for me) is that they be different genres.  Fiction here, nonfiction there, etc.
  2.  I make time for reading, because I find it pleasurable.  In the evening, after getting home from work and having dinner, a lot of people will watch television.  I read.  A couple of hours of reading in the evening is my idea of enjoyment and relaxation.
  3.  I’m a fast reader.  If it’s a true “page-turner,” and the font is large enough for my near-sighted eyes to not have to strain, I can pretty much skim-read.  Tiny font and densely-written books take longer.
  4.  I consider reading to be part of my lifestyle and part of my job.  As an academic, I subscribe to the mantra of “read a lot, write a lot” (and I’m working on a book right now).  Reading helps get the flow going.

Happy reading!

Winnie and the Professor  (that’s not Winnie, that’s my friend’s kitty Kiki … I love torties!)

Image may contain: Annette Hamel, eyeglasses and indoor