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.
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.
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.
Warnings: Language, innuendo
A Mother's Trial by Nancy Wright
Warnings: Language, disturbing material