Her Lost Words by Stephanie Marie Thornton: Based on all the four and five-star reviews, there are many readers out there who will adore this book, which recounts the lives of feminist frontrunner Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter, the author Mary Shelley.
Unfortunately, as much as I wish otherwise, I was not one of them.
This is one of those times where the cliche “it’s not you, it’s me” applies. Her Lost Words is incredibly well written. Thornton is a gifted writer who nails both the period’s speech and mannerisms. Her research is amazing as well. However, as beautiful as her writing was, II simply couldn’t connect with the characters. Why? I can’t say. That’s why I think it’s a “me” problem and not an issue with the book.
I will confess that I became more invested near the end of the book when Percy Shelley died. His death was a tragic case of genius taken too soon. He was also, if the story is to be believed, a supportive husband at a time when women were treated like chattel.
I also learned a lot from reading this book. For example, while I knew Lord Bryon was a womanizer, I didn’t know the depths of his behavior. The man was a class-A jerk.
My bottom line is this: Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter, Mary Shelley were women far ahead of their time. They deserve to have their stories told, and I’m very grateful that Stephanie Marie Thornton brought them to life. While the book wasn’t the perfect read for me, it will be for many people. Read it and judge for yourselves.
Hang the Moon by Jeannette Walls. I’ve never read The Glass Castle, although I’ve heard nothing but praise for the book. Therefore, when I heard Walls had a new fiction title out and that the book was based during prohibition, I couldn’t wait to read it.
Wow, what a ride.
Hang the Moon is the story of Sallie Kinkaid, daughter of Duke Kinkaid, the most powerful man in the family. Sallie idolizes her father. To her, he is the perfect man. When she’s eight years old, Sallie’s stepmother banishes her from the house. She returns nine years later on the cusp of adulthood ready to claim her place in the family.
From that moment on, a lot happens. There are deaths, births, arrivals, departures, and of course, whiskey running. Each event rolls into the next with the consequences building like a slow-moving snowball. Nothing is random. A scene that might seem needless will end up playing a key role later on.
In the middle of all this chaos and change is Sallie who is struggling to learn who she is and whom she wants to be. Every time tragedy strikes or a family secret is revealed (and there are a lot of secrets!) she’s forced to recalibrate the truth about her family. By the end, everything and everyone has changed. Sallie has grown up.
Hang the Moon snuck up on me. It wasn’t fraught with tension nor did it build to a giant climax, and yet it was a page turner. I liken it to sitting on the front porch listening to someone recounting a story. The only thing missing was a tall glass of lemonade (or in this case, a teacup full of whiskey). I especially loved Sallie’s feistiness and individualism. Even when she doubted herself, she still managed to be decisive.
This is a great book for people who enjoy beautiful language and good family sagas.
London Séance Society by Sarah Penner: After enjoying The Lost Apothecary immensely, I was looking forward to Sarah Penner’s sophomore book. Seances? Spiritualism? Murder? Sounded like the perfect recipe.
Sophomore books are hard, and they are doubly hard when the debut was a knock-out success. Penner does her best here, but it didn’t have quite the same sparkle as The Lost Apothecary. The pacing was much too slow for a mystery. Many of the scenes were cut up with unnecessary cliffhangers that, rather than heighten the tension, diluted it. I would have preferred a shorter read with tighter pacing.
However, the mystery itself had some terrific twists. Just when I thought I had the whole story figured out, Penner threw in a twist I did not see coming. I love when that happens. I also enjoyed the slow-burn romance between the two spiritualists.
Overall, this is a great book if you’re looking for something light for the weekend or for vacation. It was good enough that I’ll definitely keep Penner on my buy list.
I received advanced copies of The London Seance Society, Hang the Moon, and Her Lost Words in exchange for the above honest reviews.
The Self-Talk Workout: Six Science-Backed Strategies to Dissolve Self-Criticism and Transform the Voice in Your Head by Rachel Goldsmith Turner: I have the loudest inner critic in the universe. As a result, I’ve spent much of my adult life working to silence that voice, and subsequently feeling bad when I fail. I’d attend workshops where the speaker would advise us to simply “flip the script” or “tell the critic he’s not in charge” and wonder what was wrong with me that the advice seemed inpossible.
Then along came Rachel Turner and this book. She was the first therapist who recognized that low self-esteem and self-criticism can be deeply engrained and difficult to battle. In fact, she won me over with this quote from page 1:
People are often aware that their self-critical thoughts are painful and problematic, but they find that simply deciding to have healthier ones doesn’t usually work.
Hello, yes! Thank you! Unlike other books on self-talk, this book contained exercises designed to strengthen your self-esteem muscles. These exercises range from simple breathing to more complex meditation and are backed by scientific data. My favorite exercise was ‘Spot the Success’ a daily list-making exercise that trains your brain to see successes rather than give in to negativity bias.
Like all self-help books, The Self-Talk Workout isn’t for everyone. Nor can it solve all problems. It does, however, provide readers with more tools for the self-esteem toolbox. If you, like me, want to improve your self-talk, it’s worth a read.