Young Elizabeth: The Making of the Queen

After watching The Crown on Netflix, I saw this audiobook at the library. I read on Goodreads that this book almost follows that events of Season 1 completely. I found Kate Williams to be a good writer, but she also read this audio and it was impossibly slow.

Young Elizabeth: The Making of the Queen follows the life of Queen Elizabeth II in her childhood and her early days as queen. One of my only complaints is that this book focuses occasionally on Elizabeth’s younger sister, Margaret, and her affair with Group Captain Peter Townsend. While this was a large part of Elizabeth’s early reign, I felt like Williams was more interested in Margaret’s affair than the impact it had on Elizabeth and her relationship with the church, her government, and her people.

Overall, I liked listening to this book. I probably would have enjoyed it more if I could have sped through it on Overdrive. Williams paused between every sentence. I can see where this would be helpful with such an information-heavy book, but it annoyed me. This book helped fuel my interest in Queen Elizabeth II and tide me over until the next season of The Crown.

3/5

Advertisements

All the Single Ladies

I’ve tried to read this book multiple times, but could never seem to fit it in before I had to return it. Finally, I found it on Overdrive in audio form and sped through it.

All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation by Rebecca Traister is a well-researched and thought out book about the history and present reality of single women in America. Traister interviewed hundreds of women about their personal experiences and also cites other studies and books to support her claims.

Traister comes to the conclusion that the way to “save marriage” in America is for women to be equal and to support women as people who make their own decisions about their bodies and what to do with their lives. I agree 100% with her assertion. I tried to listen to this book with a critical ear and I still believe that her research fully justified her claims.

This book was occasionally hard for me to listen to. I learned a lot of the lessons about being by myself in college. While my friends were dating and in long-term relationships, I was more focused on classes and work. I grew up and went to college in Texas, where so many people are thinking about marriage early. I had a lot of female friends get married as soon as they graduated college, or before. I wish I’d had this book then, when I was doubting whether I would ever be in a long-term relationship, much less get married. It is reassuring to know that I’m still within the normal age range, even in Texas, where the average from 2010-2015 was 26.1 for women and 27.8 for men.

Overall, I found this book to be well-researched and informative. I am personally invested in the topic and the social issues that are discussed. I highly recommend this book to anyone curious about the current state of marriage, women, families, or socio-economic status for women in America.

4/5

Zero Day

I work at a library and we started an informal book club. One of my coworkers wanted to read this book and we ended up all reading it together. Out of the six people in the the group, not one liked this book. Jan Gangsei’s Zero Day follows the story of Addie Webster, the eldest daughter of the current U.S. President. Addie was kidnapped as a young child and has just recently returned, under suspicious circumstances.

This is billed as a political thriller for teens, a la 24. Which it was, but not a particularly well-written one. This book was so full of plot holes and cliches, that I don’t even know how it was published in its current form. It was even chosen as a Lone Star Book through the Texas Library Association, something else that baffles me.

Addie is a super-hacker that is having trouble readjusting to life with her family. She was brainwashed by her kidnapper, who is also trying to bring down the government. While I can suspend some disbelief for the terrible tropes, Addie hacks into the U.S. Government in just a few minutes. Most of the plot seems to be crafted for the sake of moving the story along, not for any particular theme or characterization.

The only scene I liked in the novel was one towards the end when Addie’s dad saves her life. She realizes that he loves his daughter and doesn’t just see her as a political tool. This was by far the best scene in the novel, even if it was just as unrealistic as the rest of it.

1/5

The Moth and the Flame

This short story is the tale of Despina and Jalal, two characters from Renee Ahdieh’s The Wrath and the Dawn series. I originally started this series for three reasons: the covers are pretty, the story is a retelling of One Thousand and One Nights, and the author and the characters are Middle Eastern, like me.

This series feels like the stereotypical YA to come out of Penguin recently. Which isn’t a bad thing, but they all start to run together a little bit. The two characters of this short story are minor characters in the original series. I think that a digital release was the right route for this story. Print would have been too expensive and an overkill.

Despina’s drama revolves around a boy- Jalal. She teases and flirts with him and gets pregnant, falling in love in the process. But she is strong and makes her choices on her own terns. She wants to make the world a better place for her child. Despina decides that telling Jalal about the child means that he would have power over her. She is a rough idea of a strong woman. She is what someone would call “feisty” and sticks up for herself. She isn’t perfect and she shows vulnerability.

Overall, I enjoyed this short story for what it is. It’s not elaborate or literary, but it’s fun, short, and satisfying.


3/5

Deadpool: The Complete Collection, Vol. 1

This collection of comics by Daniel Way featuring Deadpool span several different series to make one cohesive story line. If they hadn’t been collected in that order, I highly doubt I would have enjoyed the story the same way.

Prior to this, my Marvel knowledge featured information solely from MCU and what I’ve seen in passing on the internet. From everything I’ve seen of cosplayers and elsewhere on the internet, and Ryan Reynolds’s portrayal in the movie, Deadpool was a little less witty than I thought he was going to be. I never thought that the movie version of Deadpool would show a nuanced version of the character, but there you go.

Overall, I enjoyed Deadpool. It was fun, light, and the storyline flowed well. The skip in art styles from series to series was a little jarring (why does Black Widow’s hair have to be different for every incarnation of her character?) but overall, I enjoyed the series and thought it was a nice introduction into the comic side of Marvel. It took me forever to finish. I wasn’t terribly invested in the story. And because I was expecting something less misogynistic, for whatever reason. (Actually, I know the reason. It’s Ryan Reynolds.)

3/5

A Darker Shade of Magic

This is another book that I judged by its cover. I love the minimalistic/screenprint vibe and the design of the title as well. After picking it up, I went to the subjects on the Library of Congress page and saw “Magic–Fiction” and “Quantum Theory–Fiction”, and that was all I needed to check it out.

V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic is the first in her Darker Shades trilogy. This series is set where four different universes are layered one on top of another, joining at London, England. Kell, who is one of the most powerful sorcerers in the world, can travel from universe to universe, but only laterally. He is from “Red” London, which is where magic thrives. He can either go one way into “Gray”, which is our London, or if he goes the other way from Red, he can go to “White” and then “Black”. (So Black, White, Red, Gray). Black London is shut off because magic overran them and they had to cut it off to stop it from ruining the rest of the worlds. Delilah Bard, a thief from Gray London, joins Kell on his quest to return an artifact to Black London and save all of the worlds.

Overall, I really enjoyed this novel. Schwab writes engaging prose and the story is fairly fast-paced. I would have loved a dictionary and/or maps for reference, but that’s because I’m used to it, not because it’s necessary. I love the blend of science and fantasy, and I can’t wait to see where she goes with the rest of the trilogy.

4/5

 

Flashforward

I started listening to Robert J. Sawyer’s Flashforward on a whim because A) it was available on Overdrive and B) I loved the short-lived TV version on ABC. This book was very different from the show and honestly, I felt more neutral towards it than anything else.

In Flashforward, CERN performs an experiment led by Lloyd Simcoe to try to prove the existence of the Higgs-Boson particle. Instead, the whole world looses consciousness for a little over two minutes and sees more that 20 years into the future. Millions of people die, and some don’t see any future at all.

My biggest problem with this book was how Sawyer treated Michiko. She is the fiancee of Simcoe and her daughter is killed in the flashforward. Her story revolves around motherhood and how she relates to the men in her life. Every time Simcoe’s assistant, Theo, sees or thinks about her, he goes into detail about her appearance and how much he wants her. I was much more interested in Michiko’s perspective. She lost her daughter and her fiancee has decided that he doesn’t want to marry her. But Sawyer instead focuses on the same tired stereotypical story. He had an opportunity to craft something fresh but didn’t, and in the process, turned his main female character into a flat archetype.

Overall, I found the scientific aspects of the novel to be the most interesting, as Sawyer’s story-telling ability lacked to me. I finished it, but it took me almost four months.

2/5