[Review] My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira

8700535Genre: Historical Fiction

Publication: 2010

Rating: ★★★★☆

Acquisition: library book

The Story

At the very start of the Civil War, Mary Sutter, a midwife, escapes to Washington in the hopes of realising her dream of becoming a surgeon. That’s all I’m going to say!

My Thoughts

I haven’t been swept in by a novel in a while. I loved this one. The character of Mary Sutter, who wants more in life than what women can achieve at that time, was great, I was rooting for her right from the start. Actually, the whole cast of characters is great. They’re all human, with their flaws and tempers and bad decisions – I really cannot stand perfect characters. I’m not usually into having real people in historical fiction as they’re not always well, but Robin Oliveira did a great job of having them all come to life, especially Lincoln.

The writing is great, too. Quite a few scenes are really intense. The first amputation scene especially found me compulsively reading on as I felt all the feels and it was so nerve wracking. The beginning can feel a bit slow as the Civil War breaks out and the story develops, but that didn’t bother me, as the rhythm of the story was well constructed, with a slow beginning and then the pace picking up and up towards the end. The use multiple points of view was skillfully used, as well as the use of letters from time to time, which I really liked.

My only criticism (hence my rating of 4 stars instead of 5) was that there was a little bit too much gathering of skirts and messy curly hair, but I can be very nit-picky about such details.

You need to check this book out 🙂

Related reviews:

Heart of the West by Carolyn Twede Frank

[Review] The Taste of Air by Gail Cleare

32179161Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

Publication: 22 June 2016 by BooksGoSocial

Rating: ★★★★☆

Acquisition: e-galley courtesy of the publisher/NetGalley

The Story

(From the Publisher)

A simple phone call disrupts Nell Williams’s well-ordered life. Her mother, Mary, is in a hospital in Vermont. But her mother is supposed to be safely tucked away in an assisted-living facility in Massachusetts, so Nell can’t fathom why she would be so far from home.

After notifying her sister, Bridget, Nell hops on a plane and rushes to her mother’s side. There, she discovers that her mother has been living a second life. Mary has another home and a set of complex relationships with people her daughters have never met.

When Nell and Bridget delve deeper into their mother’s lakeside hideaway, they uncover a vault of family secrets and the gateway to change for all three women.

My Thoughts

I really enjoyed this read. I did find it was a bit difficult at first to believe a woman could have this whole other life and own a house without anyone ever finding out, but then I have heard real life stories of people doing just that. So I guess you would have to be really strong at keeping both lives separate, and I just went with it, which I didn’t regret.

I don’t usually read much contemporary, so I was pleasantly surprised. The Taste of Air is marketed as “romance”, but don’t let that fool you. Although there is romance in the novel, it is part of the story and isn’t there for the sake of it, so I wasn’t bothered by it at all. I would have loved to spend more time with Mary in 1968 in Vietnam, as those were my favourite parts, but that might just be me being a historical fiction lover.

What really struck me in The Taste of Air is how beautiful the writing is, especially the descriptions of nature, which are very poetic. You can feel the love Gail Cleare has for nature herself in the way she writes about it – the sights, the sounds, the smells, you get everything. The characters are human, with their unique flaws, and you can identify with every single one of them. I was thinking about them, trying to pick a favourite, but I think I just like them all. There are so many twists and turns in the story, you’re just carried along. Gail Cleare is skilled at switching from one character to the other and from one time period to another one. It’s great writing.

I usually dislike multiple points of view and moving through different time periods, I like linear stories. But I have to say it seems Ms Cleare has cured me of that! I would love more historical fiction from her.

[Review] Stuffed! by Marlena Kur

cover143094-mediumGenre: Cooking, Food & Wine

Publication: 29 June 2018 by Quarto Publishing Group – Race Point Publishing

Rating: ★★★★★

Acquisition: e-galley courtesy of the publisher/NetGalley

What It’s About

(From the publisher)

Looking for creative and delicious ways to eat your vegetables? Now you can eat an array of colorful foods, eliminate cooking with tons of dishes and bowls, and get on board with the hot new trend: the veggie boat!

Vegetable and fruit “boats” are a delicious and nutritious vessel for your meals. Stuffed! shows you how to stuff your favorite foods into most types of fruits and veggies. Each chapter is organized by vegetable, and you’ll love the clever combinations available.

You won’t believe the incredible flavor combinations for your avocado boats, eggplant boats, red pepper boats, and many more. Enjoy filling meals, know that there is no waste, and love that there are no dishes to clean when you’re done!

Author Marlena Kur is the recipe developer and stylist behind Zest My Lemon, the popular healthy eating Instagram and website.

My Thoughts

I loved the concept of the vegetable boat right from the start. I grew up eating tomates farcies (stuffed tomatoes) every summer and it’s what of these Proust madeleines that take you right back. So I was interested to see what else could be done with stuffed vegetables.

I loved the recipes. I’m not a vegetable lover myself to be perfectly honest, and I’m not overly adventurous with them. I have a few favourites, which I’ll eat, but yes… I’m a bit of a picky eater at times. Those veggie boats are such a fun way to add vegetables to a meal. I get a weekly vegetable box from my green grocer (another way to get more vegetables!), so sometimes I need to look for ideas on how to cook some of them.

I tried the tuna melt zucchinis (or should I say courgette!) for lunch today and they were delicious. Yes, it’s a baby zucchini boat for my toddler on the right. No, he didn’t eat it. And yes, the photographs are much better in the book, I’m definitely no food photographer… But anyway, it was so easy to make. Toddler didn’t want to eat it but he did participate in the making of them.

I know I say this in almost every review of a cooking book, but this is another book I will need to get a physical copy of as I want to use it a lot!

Also, I looked up Marlena Kur’s website as I didn’t know about it until I read this book, and the recipes look so yummy.

[Review] Knitting Ganseys by Beth Brown-Reinsel

39326901Genre: Crafts & Hobbies

Publication: 31 July 2018 by F+W Media

Rating: ★★★★★

Acquisition: e-galley courtesy of the publisher/NetGalley

What It’s About

(From the publisher:)

Originally released in 1993, Beth Brown-Reinsel’s bestseller, Knitting Ganseys, is a classic in the hearts of traditional and modern knitters alike, bringing this historic tradition to your needles for 25 years! This completely revised and update version of the perennial bestseller includes 100% new photography, new patterns, and more!

This special edition celebrates with new patterns for sweaters in the traditional gansey style as well as new explorations of modern gansey-inspired patterns. Full-color, step-by-step photography walks you through a variety of traditional gansey techniques and construction methods, plus contemporary sources for traditional gansey yarns are shared, making this as vital to your knitting library as the original.

My Thoughts

I’ve just started knitting so I’m curious to learn more about all sorts of techniques. I found this book great as it explains the origin of the gansey style and all the techniques required to knit it in detail. There’s even a miniature gansey sweater project to realise to learn all the techniques, it’s really sweet. I liked that there are models to make in the book, but Brown-Reinsel also teaches how to create your own.

I particularly enjoyed the historical sections, with their period photographs. All in all, I learnt a lot knitting wise and history wise. I think the gansey style is still a bit too difficult for me at my level of skills, but it’s definitely interesting to read about and should appeal to lots of knitters.

 

[Review] Book Towns by Alex Johnson

35959803Genre: Nonfiction

Publication: 22 March 2018 by Quarto Publishing Group – Frances Lincoln

Rating: ★★★★★

Acquisition: e-galley courtesy of the publisher/NetGalley

What It’s About

A guide to the 45 literary towns around the world.

My Thoughts

Shamefully, I didn’t know much about book towns. I think I had vaguely heard about them before, but that was the extent of my knowledge. Alex Johnson does an amazing job of telling us what they are, along with the history and development of each town as a book town, along with gorgeous photographs. He also gives you the addresses of the most notable buildings for each town, so it turns into a travel guide at times, which is great as I now want to go and visit all the towns! Book Towns is full of information, easy to read or just look at, and it puts dreams in your head.

A must-have for book lovers!

Library Loot: July 4 to 10 (Adult & Toddler)

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

I go to the library every week, so I thought it would be great to join this event and share the love for libraries!

This week, I’m still swamped under the million books I have to read, so I didn’t borrow too much for myself.

  • Revolutionary Heart: The Life of Clarina Nichols and the Pioneering Crusade for Women’s Rights, by Diane Eickhoff. I had never heard of Clarina Nichols (1810-1885) despite having been interested in women’s studies for years. I  can’t wait to discover more about her. Apparently she was a newspaper publisher!
  • My Name is Mary Sutter, by Robin Oliveira, a historical novel set during the Civil War about a midwife who wants to become a surgeon. I’m currently reading it and I am totally engrossed in the story!
  • Guard Your Daughters, by Diana Tutton. I requested the library buy this book as I want to read it and they didn’t have it – and they did! I’m planning to read all (or most of!) the Persephone books to read more female writers. This one is about the Harvey sisters, who live an unconventional life away from the rest of the world.

All four books are great, with beautiful illustrations. The favourite is A Day With the Animal Builders, with a great story and plenty of vehicles – I think we’re going to have to buy this one to keep it forever!