Wonder Women by Sam Maggs (review)

wonderwomen_maggs_quirkbooksPublisher’s Description: 

Ever heard of Allied spy Noor Inayat Khan, a Muslim woman whom the Nazis considered “highly dangerous”?  Or German painter and entomologist Maria Sibylla Merian, who planned and embarked on the world’s first scientific expedition?  How about Huang Daopo, the inventor who fled an abusive child marriage only to revolutionize textile production in China?

Women have always been able to change the world, even when they didn’t get the credit.  In Wonder Women, author Sam Maggs introduces you to pioneering female scientists, engineers, mathematicians, adventurers, and inventors—each profile a study in passion, smarts, and stickto-itiveness, complete with portraits by Google doodler Sophia Foster-Dimino, an extensive bibliography, and a guide to present-day women-centric STEM organizations.

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Aptly sub-titled “25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History,” this gathering of biographical sketches shines a spotlight on women who have made great contributions to their area of endeavor.  Following a “We Can Do It” introduction that discusses representation and why it matters, there are five chapters that divide the women profiled into categories: Women of Science, Women of Medicine, Women of Espionage, Women of Innovation, Women of Adventure.

Each section consists of five (of the 25) biographical profiles, a quick paragraph each of more women who also made contributions,and a brief interview with a woman currently working in the area.   There are many women included that, like me, you have probably not heard of, and the author is often quick to point out why.
The aim of this book is fantastic, to bring to light women who have made important contributions in STEM areas.  The inclusion of advice to young women seeking to enter a STEM career path is a great addition and would have been highly valued personally had such a book been published and accessible in my more formative years.

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Catherine West E-book Deal Alert (9/22-9/26/16)

I stole a tweet.  I hope the author doesn’t mind… but I just had to share this “deal & steal” for ebook versions of two Catherine West books (remember a week or so back when I raved about the break-my-heart-into-little-pieces The Things We Knew?  Yep, that Catherine West!): Continue reading

The Loyal Heart by Shelley Shepard Gray (review)

theloyalheart_grey_zondervanFrom the Cover:

Robert came to Galveston to fulfill his promise to a dying man and look after his widow. He didn’t expect to find love in the unlikeliest of places.

Robert Truax, former Second Lieutenant and Confederate officer in the Civil War, made a promise to his comrade Phillip Markham. If anything happened to Phillip, Robert would look after his beloved wife, Miranda. She was his life, his world, his everything.  Continue reading

Book Suggestions for Talk Like a Pirate Day

I’m running late with my Monthly Recommendations post (September’s topic is Science Fiction), but seeing that today is Talk (or is it Speak?) Like a Pirate Day brought to mind a short list of fun pirate-y reads.  So, here are just a few enjoyable books with pirates:

princessbrideThe Princess Bride by William Goldman is a very fun read and is the basis for one of my favorite movies.  The Dread Pirate Roberts inspires fear throughout Florin, but the reader/viewer knows he is suave, smart, and quite handsome behind his black mask.  I only wish there was a continuation of the Dread Pirate’s story.


The Tales of the Ketty Jay series by Chris Wooding begins with Retribution Falls.  This quartet of futuristic tales feature a ragtag crew of a small time pirate-ish airship, with elements that evoke a bit of a steampunk vibe while being reminiscent of another favorite, the TV/movie/graphic novel world of Firefly and Serenity.  I’ve only read the first two books, so far, and plan to read the final two as soon as possible.  Don’t be too surprised if you see these on my Monthly Recommendations list for this month.

And for younger readers (though adults might find them to be quite fun, too), here are a few more suggestions:


Tales of the Pirate Gospel by Andrew Moody is subtitled “A Somewhat Free Retelling of the Gospel of Mark” and is exactly what it says on the tin.  The Gospel of Mark retold in pirate-ese.  If you are wanting something to read that is overtly and completely pirate, without getting too salty for little ears, this is a fantastic choice.  (I previously reviewed this ebook)


Warren the 13th: The All Seeing Eye written by Tania del Rio, illustrated by Will Staehle is full of the unexpected.  Warren is a toad-like young orphan who works as a bell-hop in his family’s hotel.   He is in for quite the adventure as he makes a new friend and works to unravel the mystery before his evil witch of an aunt.  Along the way he meets a pirate, various treasure hunters, and a bona-fide Perfumer.  (I received a copy of Warren the 13th from the publisher to be featured on my Instagram.)


Tough Boris by Mem Fox is one of my favorite picture books and stars the very scary, gruff, and nasty pirate Boris.  Along with the narrative of the story about how awful (though not completely) Boris is, and all pirates are in general, is a visual story of a young stowaway.  Kathryn Brown’s illustrations are a great accompaniment to what is one of the most fun read-aloud picture books on my bookshelf.

So, there ye have it, matey.  Five pirate-y books I would recommend for Talk Like a Pirate Day or any other day you just want to spend a bit of time, safely, with a pirate.

What about you?  What is one of your favorite books about, or including, pirates?




Kid Artists: True Tales of Childhood from Creative Legends by David Stabler & Doogie Horner (review)

kidartists_quirkbooksFrom the Cover:
The series that began with Kid Presidents and Kid Athletes has a new volume that chronicles the childhoods of 16 celebrated artists—everyone from Claude Monet and Vincent van Gogh to Mary Cassat, Frida Kahlo, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and even Dr. Seuss! Readers will learn:· Georgia O’Keeffe was so enthralled by nature that she once ate dirt just to see what it tasted like.
· Jackson Pollock lost the top of his right index finger in a childhood accident (and the severed tip was eaten by a rooster!).
· Andy Warhol’s favorite childhood lunch was—what else?—a bowl of Campbell’s tomato soup.Every scribble, sketch, and sticky situation comes to life in these kid-friendly and relatable stories, all with Doogie Horner’s trademark full-color illustrations. Kid Artists is a delight for budding artists and eager readers alike.

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Into the Free by Julie Cantrell (review)

intothefree_cantrell_tnzJulie Cantrell has created a 9 year old narrator in Millie Reynolds that has me feeling for her now very nearly the same as I remember feeling for Scout in To Kill A Mockingbird when I first read it over 30 years ago.

Millie as a nine year old is charming, and a gateway into a childhood that is filled with the wonder of hearing trees sing and helping an older neighbor, Sloth (whose nickname slowly grew on me and greatly formed how I imagine him) care for his chickens.  She is also the filter through which we see her mother, prone to depression and using drugs to escape the pain of her life, and her father, a half-Choctaw rodeo bull-rider who reacts to her mother’s drug addiction with abusive rages. Continue reading

No Way Up (The Cimarron Legacy, #1) by Mary Connealy (review)

nowayup_connealy_bethanyThe Fight for the Cimarron Ranch Has Just Begun!

When Cimarron Ranch patriarch Chance Boden is caught in an avalanche, only the quick actions of hired hand Heath Kincaid save him. Before leaving by train to receive treatment to save his leg–and possibly his life–Chance demands that Heath read the patriarch’s will and see its conditions enforced immediately. If Chance’s three bickering adult children, Justin, Sadie, and Cole, don’t live and work at the ranch for an entire year, ownership of the ranch will pass to a despised distant relative.

Before long, however, Heath discovers that the avalanche may have been intentionally set–and that more danger lurks ominously. Finding his own future–and a desired future with Sadie–locked up in saving the Cimarron Ranch, Heath and the Boden siblings must work together against outside forces that threaten them all. Continue reading