Saturday, July 31, 2021

Tackling the TBR Week 28: July 22 - July 31, 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: 2,866

Currently Reading

Books Added to TBR:

Books Removed from TBR: 0

Books Read

Books DNF-ed

Duplicates Removed: 0

New TBR Total: 2,857

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 #37


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
Defenders of the Norman Crown - May, 2021
The Coffin Ship - June, 2021

Finished, Review to Come
Sweating in the Land of Smiles - July 2021 (Author Gift)
How to Walk with Steve - September, 2021 (Publicist Gift)
Where the Light Fell - October, 2021 (Publicist Gift via NetGalley)

Review or Feedback Sent

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 96%.

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! July 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

Stacking the Shelves #157

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.

Library Treasures

Happy Reading!

Friday, July 30, 2021

Author Gift | Women of Power in Anglo-Saxon England

I received a free digital copy of this text from the author, Annie Whitehead, in exchanged for an honest review.

Rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I was first introduced to the work of Annie Whitehead and many other fantastic authors in a wonderful little volume called 1066 Turned Upside Down. This absolute gem of a book explored all sorts of outcomes of the entire year of 1066 and what possibilities could have come true besides William the Bastard's victory. Most were grounded in reality and some were quite fantastical but I loved every single one - especially the one that saw Harold successful at Hastings. But I also have to remind myself that if we are altering British history that greatly, Eleanor of Aquitaine might never have become who she was, so I have to accept what happened and be fine with it.

My second encounter with the author's work came with a reading of Mercia: The Rise and Fall of a Kingdom. You'll notice a theme here, in that when it comes to my beloved Anglo-Saxons, I will read any and everything I can get my hands on. This was another fantastic read for me and I eagerly awaited Whitehead's next offering.

I was NOT disappointed.

This text is incredibly well-researched, almost exhaustedly so. The author makes fantastic use of all the sources she is able to find - which was a surprising great number. I've read so much about the Anglo-Saxons, but never a book so wholly dedicated to restoring the women of the time back to their rightful places in history. And let's be realistic: when we do meet these women by chance or in passing, we usually don't get much information unless she was powerful or scandalous or both.

Yet here Whitehead is able to explore the lives of so many women in-depth, or at least as deep as we are able to go with what information exists. I was truly in awe of the number of primary sources that named so many women who, most often, I knew only scant facts about. To find that so many women were well-educated, literate, and powerful is thrilling. She uses a number of chronicles, annals, and charters to pull apart the many threads sometimes necessary to get to the truth. When necessary she also uses information from legends or gossip about certain figures that has come down to us through the ages. It was really interesting to see the comparisons of what chroniclers said about these women, vs. what records actually show. Such sniveling little men sometimes - something I know all to well in regards to my dear Eleanor of Aquitaine, centuries later.

Whitehead shows just how powerful some women became, and in a variety of roles: landowners, queens, consorts, dowager queens, abbesses, even a warrior (perhaps). Where she found contradictions in sources, Whitehead takes the best route possible in order to remain neutral and present her thoughts without stating that it is absolutely certain this way or that. I think that is was a good historian must do, choose what is most likely when considering the biases that many chroniclers held for women - especially powerful ones.

The book is divided by topic and each section within is mostly chronological, but not entirely. There is overlap from section to section but I feel that in a book like this that is helpful, as the reader is more able to place each woman in the proper context of her time and role. Some might find this bit repetitive, but I found it useful.

For dealing with these centuries when women were regularly written of only as footnotes in the lives of their fathers, sons, uncles, brothers, even cousins, Annie Whitehead has done a beautiful job restoring them to their rightful places in history.

Highly recommended.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

NetGalley ARC | Powers and Thrones: A New History of the Middle Ages


I received a free digital ARC from the publisher via NetGalley.

(I complained on Twitter about not getting approved or denied so maybe Dan Jones told them to give me a copy just so I would shut up about it.)

Rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I know, I know.

I obviously can't be objective because it's Dan Jones, is what you're all thinking.

Well, I CAN!

This book is just THAT GOOD.

Literally all of my favorite people, places, and things from history, in one ginormous volume, covering roughly 1,000 years of everything that happened from the Fall of Rome to those Tudors coming in and shaking things up.

We're talking this one might be rivalling The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England as my most fave Dan Jones book. That's HUGE. I first learned about Eleanor of Aquitaine from The Plantagenets so Dan Jones basically named my baby. (Side note: I always remind Eleanor that she is so lucky that I learned about Eleanor of Aquitaine BEFORE Boudicca, or she might have a very different name.)


You also might be thinking, "Do we need ANOTHER book about the Middle Ages?"

Again, the answer is yes.

What Jones has managed to do once again is combine his massive amount of knowledge, tying it all together across place and time, and present it in a highly informative yet highly readable way.

I was lucky to have teachers who really made history come alive for me, even going back to middle school. History has been my love for as long as I can remember. I get that non-fiction is not for everyone. A lot of people don't even give it a chance because history was taught to them in a boring recitation of facts and dates and names.

This book though, is something different; an extraordinary feat that Jones should 100% be proud of. (And I assure you he is, because who wouldn't be?)

He brings these historical figures to life and makes them real once more. It's hard sometimes to think about people this way, to imagine them living and working and dying in a world so different from our own. But Jones has the skill to share this knowledge and research in such an engaging way that you feel as though you could actually reach back in time and walk along Hadrian's Wall (which you actually can do if you're in the UK, which I am not and that is sad), to sit in a Great Hall and take in all the sights and sounds and smells of life at a royal court, to race along the Asian Steppes with Genghis Khan, watch as Rome is sacked time and again (six altogether in this span that Jones covers), and more.


Really, truly. I was actually nervous about how I was even going to write up this review because there is so much material to address. Otherwise I would have had it up days ago.

Just for fun, let's take a look at all of my Goodreads shelves I added this book to, so you can get an idea of everything you'll find. I am selective in how I add non-fiction texts to my various shelves. If something is mentioned in passing and gets barely more than a paragraph, then no it does not qualify. If it is discussed in-depth or is used in a way that makes more clear the topic at hand, on the shelf it goes. They are as follows:

                        Ancient Rome    Medieval Europe    Middle Ages    Roman Britain    Asia   

Eastern Europe    Goths/Visigoths/Ostrogoths    Byzantium    Plague    Middle East    

Military History    Islam    France and the French    Carolingian Dynasty   

 Merovingian Dynasty    Vikings    Christian History    Plantagenets    King Arthur

    Wales    The Crusades    Eleanor of Aquitaine    Spain and the Spanish    

Mongols and Mongolia    Russia    Business and Leadership    Anglo-Saxon England

    Castles and Palaces    Christian Holy Places and Relics    Climate Change   

 Medicis    Joan of Arc    Architecture    Art    Explorers    Mexico    Popes   

 Germans and Germany    Tudors    Gauls and Franks

Quite a bit of information, no?

And if that's not enough, there are plenty more topics that would probably have justified the creation of a new shelf to accommodate it, but I chose not to. I couldn't even list all the labels on this post because there is a character limit.

I really love how Jones divided up each section. First there is Imperium, Latin for what amounts to absolute power, which Rome once had, which covers 410-750. Here we find chapters on the Romans, Barbarians, Byzantines, and Arabs.

Next comes Dominion, spanning 750-1215, with sections entitled Franks, Monks, Knights, and Crusades.

Third is Rebirth, 1215-1347, detailing the time as it related to the Mongols, Merchants, Scholars, and Builders.

Last comes Revolution, 1348-1527. We learn of Survivors, Renewers, Navigators, and Protestants.

As you might expect, there is an extensive section of notes and from Jones you should expect no less. The text ended at 77% in my advanced digital copy, with notes taking up the next 13% of the content. Primary sources cover another 4%, with journal articles and theses ending at 96%. The remainder right up to 100% is footnotes.

I can promise that if you pick this one up and settle in for a good bit of reading time, you will not be disappointed. Powers and Thrones: A New History of the Middle Ages is the new standard against which to measure all other books covering the same topics.

Without a doubt, this is the best book of 2021 for me and I don't believe that anything the rest of the year can top it.

Highly, highly, highly recommended.