Mini-Reviews: Non-fiction

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Sister Queens: The Noble, Tragic Lives of Katherine of Aragon and Juana, Queen of Castile by Julia Fox

I've been on a Tudor kick lately, and the wife of Henry VIII that most fascinates me is his first wife, Katherine of Aragon -- a woman who refused to relinquish her position as Queen of England, who held onto her dignity as long as possible, not once but twice. I was also curious about her so-called "crazy" sister, Juana. Sister Queens satisfied my curiosity on both counts. The author clearly believes that both Katherine and Juana were severely misunderstood, but she presents sound evidence to challenge the traditional views of both women. The book was a bit dense, but provided an interesting, well-researched perspective into the lives of these women.

3.5 stars

Warnings: None

The Heroine's Bookshelf by Erin Blakemore

The Heroine's Bookshelf explores the way twelve different heroines exemplified different character traits. I had an interesting experience with this book -- initially, I found it bland and was really having a hard time keeping an interest in it. However, the chapter on Jane Eyre really resonated with me. I also enjoyed the author's perspective on Lizzie Bennet and Scarlett O'Hara. In a nutshell -- there are some interesting insights here but for the most part it wasn't electrifying. 

3 stars

Warnings: None

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

A Walk in the Woods chronicles Bill Bryson's adventures on the Appalachian Trail. It was my first Bryson read, and I was expecting humor and a barrage of facts. In this way, I was definitely satisfied. Bryson's sense of humor is very dry, and the information he provided was both interesting and appealingly random. However, while the first section of the book, where Bryson and his buddy are consistently on the trail, was much more interesting than the second, where Bryson takes random weekend hikes to finish it out. The book lost steam for me about halfway through. Still, I'll probably read more of Bryson's work.

3 stars

Warnings: Language, innuendo

A Mother's Trial by Nancy Wright

I came across this book in the best-selling free Kindle books section, and my interest was sparked because it was about Munchausen's Syndrome by Proxy, a mental disorder when a caretaker injures or sickens their charge in order to gain attention and praise for being such a good caretaker. As a pediatric nurse, this is something I've studied but never encountered, and I was morbidly curious about it. In this case, the woman had adopted a little girl who had died of uncertain medical causes. Shortly thereafter, she adopted another little girl who also began to have inexplicable illnesses. The book wasn't particularly convincing as a true crime book, as many of the dialogues were obviously invented, and I was left ultimately unsatisfied because despite the verdict served, the resolution was still very uncertain. However, it was very interesting and difficult to put down. It's good for cheap thrills, in both senses of the word.

3 stars

Warnings: Language, disturbing material

1 comment:

  1. I liked The Heroine's Bookshelf just fine-definitely preferred the chapters for the books I'd read but probably shouldn't have read it all in a few sittings like I did. I think it would have worked better if I had let each chapter probably sink in with me before going on to the next.


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