Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Just A Note...

 So I have been quiet in terms of responding because Eleanor and I have been home with family in Minnesota for a while. I have had scheduled posts going up that I had done before we left.

I had to take my grandpa to the ER on Monday night and he is still in the hospital. He is doing much better today than he was on Monday, but does not have a discharge date yet.

I've spent lots of time at the hospital with him yesterday and today; he is alert and chatting and his usual charming self. But, he is still sick and will be there for a bit longer. I will be going back again tomorrow and Friday as well.

We would appreciate all manner of prayers, positive and happy thoughts, good vibes - whatever you are inclined to send our way.

There are a few more posts scheduled to go up in the next couple days and I will get back to you all soon.

Happy Reading!


Tackling the TBR Week 24: June 22 - June 30, 2021


I am now entering year three of Tackling the TBR. Slowly but surely I have made big strides in getting by TBR under control. When I first started in 2019, my TBR was topping out at over 5,000 books. I don't know that I will ever get below 500, but a #BookDragon can dream!

I will be posting on the 7th, 14th, 21st, and the last day of the month. Feel free to join in if you'd like!

Previous Week's TBR Total: 2,875

Currently Reading

Books Added to TBR: 0

Books Removed from TBR: 1

Books Read

Books DNF-ed: 0

Duplicates Removed: 0

New TBR Total: 2,876

Any of these catch your eye? Have you already read any? Let me know!

Happy Reading!


You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

State of the ARC #36


State of the ARC is a monthly feature hosted by Evelina at Avalinah's Books - and now me, too! I took over temporary hosting duties back in early 2020. A couple months ago Evelina asked if I would like to co-host and of course I said yes! If you are new to the meme, you can check out the guidelines HERE.

Links go to my review. The majority of the ARCs I receive are through NetGalley. Some have come from publicists, or were offered to me from a publisher who specifically approved me for it on NetGalley; I will always note in the review how I acquired the ARC.


Currently Reading
Edward I and Wales - May, 2021
Defenders of the Norman Crown - May, 2021
The Coffin Ship - June, 2021

Daughters of Edward I - July, 2021
The Ambassador - August, 2021
The Real Leonardo Da Vinci - August, 2021

Finished, Review to Come
The Killer of the Princes in the Tower - April, 2021
Maiden Voyages - August, 2021
The Real Valkyrie - August, 2021
How to Walk with Steve - September, 2021 (Publicist Gift)
Where the Light Fell - October, 2021 (Publicist Gift via NetGalley)
Sweating in the Land of Smiles - Pub TBD (Author Gift)

Review or Feedback Sent
53084465. sx318 sy47552756711. sx318 sy47551542229

When I first started blogging my monthly State of the ARC I felt like I was drowning in ARCs. My main goal was to get my NetGalley feedback ratio above 80% and thanks to this meme, I slowly but surely clawed my way up. At my highest I was at 97%. I am currently at 93%.

How are you doing with your ARC goals? Let's talk ARCs!

Happy Reading

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Eleanor Reads! June Edition


Each month Eleanor and I share the chapter books we've read in that period. We've been reading chapter books since before Kindergarten and her attention span as a four year old was definitely something to brag about. Eleanor was born a reader and that makes my heart so, so happy.

Do the kiddos in your life have an interest in any of these?

Happy Reading,
Eleanor and Sarah

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Stacking the Shelves #152


Stacking the Shelves is a weekly feature hosted by Reading Reality. It is a chance to showcase all the goodies you've collected throughout the week, whether they're bought on-line or in-store, an ARC or a final copy, borrowed from a friend or the library, physical or digital, etc.

Kind of a miracle, actually.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Quick Thoughts | A Promised Land


Rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

There no real good way to review this book, so I am not going to. And if you're not a fan, nothing I say will change your mind. If you are a fan, you already know everything I could possibly say.

Was President Obama perfect? No.

Do I believe he had the best interest of our nation at heart in his eight years in office and served admirably? Undoubtedly, yes.

So, I am just going to share some highlights I found especially poignant. It was such a relief reading this book, to "hear" the voice of an adult who understood the weight of the world on his shoulders as he steered our country through tumultuous times and brought us out of terrible economic conditions. I read it in the first week of December 2020, as four years of chaos, incompetence, and greed were finally sort of winding down. It was very easy to slip into Barack-Obama-is-talking-to-me mode, because that's what it felt like, a conversation between friends.

Highly highly recommended.

"Perhaps most troubling of all, our democracy seems to be teetering on the brink of crisis - a crisis rooted in a fundamental contest between two opposing visions of what America is and what it should be; a crisis that has left the body politic divided, angry, and mistrustful, and has allowed for an ongoing breach of institutional norms, procedural safeguards, and an adherence to basic facts that both Republicans and Democrats once took for granted" (1%).

"Do we care to match the reality of America to its ideals? If so, do we really believe that our notions of self-government and individual freedom, equality of opportunity and equality before the law, apply to everybody? Or are we instead committed, in practice if not in statute, to reserving those things for the privileged few?" (1%).

"...we will learn to live together, cooperate with one another, and recognize the dignity of others, or we will perish. As so the world watches America - the only great power in history to be made up of people from every corner of the planet, comprising every race and faith and cultural practice - to see if our experiment in democracy can work. To see if we can do what no other nation has ever done. To see if we can live up to the meaning of our creed" (1%).

"More than anyone, this book is for those young people - an invitation to once again remake the world, and to bring about, through hard work, determination, and a big dose of imagination, an American that finally aligns with all that is best in us" (1%).

Ted Kennedy (8%): "The power to inspire is rare. Moments like this are rare. You think you may not be ready; that you'll do it at a more convenient time. But you don't choose the time. The time chooses you. Either you seize what might turn out to be the only chance you have, or you decide you are willing to live with the knowledge that the chance has passed you by."

Discussing his candidacy (9%):  "But who knows," I said, looking around the table. "There's no guarantee we can pull it off. here's one thing I know for sure, though. I know that the day I raise my right hand and take the oath to be president of the United States, the world will start looking at America differently. I know that kids around this country - Black kids, Hispanic kids, kids who don't fit in - they'll see themselves differently, too, their horizons lifted, their possibilities expanded. And that alone...that would be worth it."

A lesson from John McCain (you can disagree with much of his politics as I do, but you also have to admire how he responded multiple times to the blatant racism, bigotry, and disrespect that began so heavily permeating politics when Obama began his campaign) (21%): "I have to tell you, he is a decent person and a person that you do not have to be scared of as president of the United States," he said, causing his audience to boo lustily. Answering another question, he said, "We want to fight, and I will fight. But we will be respectful. I admire Senator Obama and his accomplishments. I will respect him. I want everyone to be respectful and let's make sure we are because that's the way politics should be conducted in America."

On the bin Laden mission (74%): Then, with a suddenness I didn't expect, we heard McRaven's and Leon's voices, almost simultaneously, utter the words we'd been waiting to hear - the culmination of months of planning and years of intelligence gathering. "Geronimo ID'd...Geronimo EKIA." Enemy killed in action. Osama bin Laden - code-named "Geronimo" for the purposes of the mission -  - the man responsible for the worst terrorist attack in American history, the man who had directed the murder of thousands of people and set in motion a tumultuous period of world history, had been brought to justice by a team of American Navy SEALs. Inside the conference room, there were audible gasps. My eyes remained glued to the video feed. "We got him," I said softly.

I will never forget that announcement as long as I live. We got him. Thank you, President Obama.

Mini Reviews | Ancient Egypt


I love Ancient Egypt so much. I want to visit and see all there is to see of that world. It also infuriates me that so much has been lost to history - and continues to be lost as smuggled pieces magically make their way to private collections. Egypt has been robbed of so much and deserves to get their history back.

 Rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Absolutely LOVED this one and could not put it down. Easily one of my top-five favorite books on Ancient Egypt. It's the perfect combination of academic and accessible for those who are not as fond of non-fiction as I am.

When one thinks of Ancient Egypt, most likely the first thing that pops into your head has something to do with tombs, mummies, the pyramids, etc. After all, these items make up much of the visible remains of this mighty culture - and mummies + funerary items travel well, all over the world on display.

In this text Dr. Naunton's primary focus is on what we HAVEN'T found yet - such as the tombs of some of the most famous rulers to ever live; think Cleopatra, Alexander, Nefertiti, and Imhotep (I know, I know, he was never Pharaoh, but he's still a big deal). Just think about that line-up for a second and what it would be like if even ONE were to come to light. People would go batshit crazy over it, and rightly so. I would be one of those people.

Yet he also looks at those at the reigns of some more obscure rulers as well, thus giving a well-rounded picture of the whole of Egypt's ancient world and not just those that blockbuster movies are made about. I found these lesser-known rulers' reigns to be just as fascinating as those mentioned above.

Here the author takes deep look into the lives of these rulers and what they accomplished in their time on the throne. Based on incredibly detailed scholarship, he also discusses what their tombs likely contained, how they were buried, and why their tombs have remained undiscovered for centuries. even better, he lays out how they might yet be found.

I appreciated the variety of images that accompanied the text, both color and black and white. The maps came in handy as well - as did the list of kings he included. I think we can all agree that scholarship on this massive period of time is far from complete, but this list with dates is the most up-to-date we have at the moment. And honestly that's what continues to draw people to Ancient Egypt - there's still so much more to discover.

This a must for anyone who happily "suffers" from Egyptomania. Absolutely brilliant. You will not be disappointed.

Rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Another great read from Brian M. Fagan, one of the leading experts on this most ancient world. We meet a wide variety of people from many different periods, many who had one thing in common: they were super fucking greedy.

This mainly applies to the tomb robbers who beat modern archaeologists to these finds by thousands of years, to those who paid well for pieces to be spirited out of the country and into private collections. And even today, with so many artifacts on display around the world, sitting in museums far from their place of origin. These artifacts MUST be returned to Egypt, though I highly doubt it will ever happen unfortunately.

Fagan also introduces us to fledgling archaeologists, some who did their best to protect and preserve their finds and others who all but ripped stones, pillars, obelisks, etc. from their resting places.

The author tells the story in chronological order and it's not terribly hard to see why so many artifacts were lost - France and England both somehow thought that they had the rights to another country's history, and could tell that history better than Egypt. It's such a gross perspective. There were of course archaeologists who were in it for the history and not the money, but money ruled over everything else, and still does today. It certainly did not help that there were those within local government positions in Egypt who gladly took the money and handed over the history. Basically, the whole system sucked.

The first volume of this book was published in 1974, but I read the revised edition that came out in 2004. There was much to update and Fagan writes just as passionately about the newer discoveries as he did the earlier ones. He also does not shy away from critiquing the tourist industry and explains what should be obvious - tourism might be crucial to the economy, but it is destroying the very things tourists come to see and if not better protected, they will not survive. Stricter guidelines have been put in place over the years, and hopefully they are enough.

Fagan does a marvelous job bringing to life many of those who sought Egypt's ancient artifacts. yet he does an even better job with those who sought to preserve the history and keep it where it belongs. Incredible attention to detail and brilliantly written.

Highly recommended.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Quick Thoughts | Buffy Goes Dark: Essays on the Final Two Seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer


Rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐

It took me forever to read this book because I hated season six SO MUCH.

The very first episode I ever saw was 'Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered", season two. I was hooked. I was OBSESSED. My life revolved around the show. I once faked being sick to stay home and listen to a ten minute interview with David Boreanaz on one of our local morning pop radio shows. That night Mom said she knew I wasn't sick so I should have just been honest and I could have stayed home either way.

A few months before I read this book in Feb of this year, I finally gave in and let Eleanor start watching. I have to censor some things of course, but she is hooked too. We've watched the first three seasons, and the rest is on hold a bit for now.

When allthe shit with Joss started coming out earlier this year, I was DEVASTATED. How could these things be true? He created BUFFY, the most iconic hero of all time. But I believed Ray Fisher immediately, and Charisma, and everyone after that who finally could stand up and say that Joss Whedon is  terrible human being and deserves none of the respect he's been given for the last twenty+ years.

It was in this time of complete upheaval that I started this book, and finished it quickly. The majority of the essays are fantastic, something I recognize despite my deep burning hatred of season six. Buffy has always been about family, both the family chosen for you and the family you choose for yourself. That is the heart of these seven seasons of magic (no, the comics do not count. I want live-action or NOTHING!) The essays are penned by a variety of authors working from various backgrounds and do not disappoint even when I disagreed with what they were saying.

I still hate season six with the fiery passion of a thousand suns. This season also plays a lot differently now in the context of what a POS Joss is. But the season also begins to make a lot more sense. After the show ended, there were multiple reports that Sarah Michelle Gellar had major issues with how Buffy was being written, that Buffy was doing things that SMG knew Buffy would never do, and that she addressed that with Joss. It also makes sense why she decided to walk away after seven seasons.

But I have made the conscious decision to not let Whedon ruin something so seminal to my teen and young adult years. It was harder at first, and just seeing his name on the screen made me want to throw up when Eleanor and I would watch a couple episodes, but I can separate the two now. I remind myself that even though Joss may have written the words and/or directed the episodes, the insanely talented cast brought the characters to life. Credit should be given to them first and foremost for the brilliance we saw week in and week out on both Buffy and Angel, especially given what we know now of the working conditions on both shows.

This is an must-read for any fans of the show.

And Joss Whedon can fuck off into the sun.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Mini Reviews | We Will Never Stop Needing Books About Shakespeare


I truly do believe that. I don't think I will ever tire of reading about the greatest author of all time.

 Rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I stumbled upon this one recently and am so glad I did. The author masterfully fleshed out the Bard a bit more by recounting for readers the company he kept - from his time in Stratford-upon-Avon, to London, and back again.

This is aspect I had not really considered before - learning about Shakespeare through his friends. The debate will likely rage on forever whether or not Shakespeare really existed, or if it is simply a pseudonym for someone else. I firmly believe William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, travelled to London after the birth of his children, became the greatest playwriter in history, then returned home upon retirement from theatre life.

Though this book does not purport to make a case for either side (though obviously sides with me given the content), it actually makes a fantastic case for Shakespeare being, well, Shakespeare. Through so much research, the author has found glimpses - MANY glimpses - of Shakespeare in the lives of those who knew him. Are we really to believe that those mentions in wills of deceased friends were placed there to through people off the track of the "real" genius behind the name? I hardly think so. Not only that, but Shakespeare is hardly the first writer to come from a bit humbler beginnings, and make it big in London. Why would it be possible for Ben Jonson to do this, but not William Shakespeare? Their educations would have been roughly the same, and both managed to write excellent characters in excellent plays that thrilled their audiences.

The author does a fantastic job showing who he was by showing us who he socialized with - either professionally, personally, or both. The book is divided into sections of those from his boyhood, to the fellow writers, actors, and so on who he worked with closely, or at arms-length.

Through the lives of his friends, Shakespeare is made just that much more whole to us, 400 years later. Though we will likely never know everything about him, this book certainly fills a gap.

Highly recommended.

 Rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I absolutely loved this one! Another accidental find, but a gem. Also, a chance to relive some of the best and worst scenes Shakespeare wrote.

The author also happens to be a chemist and in a very thorough and scientific way explored all the deliciously terrible ways the Bard killed off his characters.

It's pretty obvious that life in 16th/17th century London was hazardous. Plagues were always afoot, as were deaths by childbirth, public executions, and everyone's least fave: syphilis. 

Death stalked many of his most famous characters and is a constant theme across many of his plays regardless of genre. In all, Shakespeare killed off a multitude of characters in a whopping 74 different ways. The author discusses each at length, analyzing how realistic his methods were. She looks at the science of the time and what Shakespeare's understanding of that might have been to determine the likelihood of these deaths actually occurring.

It's easy to see why death was such an easy thing for Shakespeare to write about - his livelihood depended on it. When bouts of plague came around, the theatres closed and no money could be made. So the troupe headed off to the countryside, and in those times Shakespeare wrote  much of his poetry to support himself and his family. This cycle was repeated over and over. Death touched Shakespeare deeply personally as well, when his son Hamnet died at age eleven. Though Shakespeare would write comedies for a time after this, the tragedies were soon to come. And perhaps his greatest character ever, Hamlet, would soon grace the stage.

(Side note: When Shakespeare's First Folio was on tour a few years ago, it came to the Durham. The Folio was open to Hamlet's soliloquy and I am not even a little bit embarrassed to say I cried as I whisper-read it out loud. Volunteers asked if I was okay. I just nodded and kept reading/crying.)

The author discusses each type of death in its own chapter, including excerpts from the plays where said death occurred plus the larger context of what it meant to the plot as a whole. We see the whole gamut - poisoning (obviously), beheadings, suicide, war, and of course, bear attacks.

The author analyzes each of these and really gets into the yucky details at times. Yet, as it turns out, most of the time Shakespeare knew what he was talking about and the deaths were fairly realistic. I won't tell you which ones, that you will have to find out for yourself.

Highly recommended.



(For those unfamiliar, this is a still from a show that airs on the History Channel called Pawn Stars. The show documents 'life' in a Las Vegas pawn shop run by Rick Harrison, the bald gentleman whose refrain is always, "The best I can do is..." when making an offer on an item.)

Monday, June 21, 2021

Tackling the TBR Week 23: June 15 - June 21, 2021


I am now entering year three of Tackling the TBR. Slowly but surely I have made big strides in getting by TBR under control. When I first started in 2019, my TBR was topping out at over 5,000 books. I don't know that I will ever get below 500, but a #BookDragon can dream!

I will be posting on the 7th, 14th, 21st, and the last day of the month. Feel free to join in if you'd like!

Previous Week's TBR Total: 2,880

Currently Reading

Books Added to TBR: 0

Books Removed from TBR: 4

Books Read

Books DNF-ed: 0

Duplicates Removed: 0

New TBR Total: 2,875

Any of these catch your eye? Have you already read any? Let me know!

Happy Reading!