Monday, March 20, 2023

Random Things Tours: Forgotten Women by Zing Tsjeng

In the last years, more and more books, articles and movies do aim to reveal stories about women whose contribution to science, arts and politics was previously either neglected or obstructed from being made public. It started with the ´Radium Girls´, working class women who died from radiation poisoning and continued with women pilots and spies during WWII, or involved in the American projects of building up the atomic capabilities during Cold War. Practically, we need more and more examples to convince everyone that women can do everything and they always used to. Except that very often their achievements were hidden from the public eye, for all the wrong reasons.

Journalist and author Zing Tsjeng collected a tremendous amount of examples across centuries, of women stories. Forgotten women stories, to be more specific. Her book, Forgotten Women. The Leaders collected an impressive collection of examples, organised in some important chapters: Campaigners, Mavericks, Revolutionaries, Trailblazers, World changers, Truth tellers, Visionaries

Well-researched and written in a simple yet impactful journalistic style, the book offers enough stories that can be used in classrooms, for educating both girls and boys, but also for journalists and writers, that could use the material in order to continue featuring women stories. The more the better. 

The book is so dense that even someone who may consider her or himself knowledgeable in the field would find enough unknown profiles of famous women who lead the world to a better place, either in the arts, politics or education field, to mention only few areas covered.

Forgotten Women is a book that will bring us more knowledge and understanding about women leaders and histories. A recommended read to anyone curious about a more complex and comprehensive way to read history.

Rating: 5 stars

Disclaimer: Book offered as part of the book tour but the opinions are, as usual, my own

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Book Review: The Hundred-Year House by Rebecca Makkai

Built around the stories of a house using to host a colony of artists, The Hundred-Year House by Rebecca Makkai is a story made of intertwinned memories. Set in different timelines, from our current times to the beginning of the 20th century. 

I fell in love with Makkai´s writing since reading The Great Believers and The Hundred-Year... do have the promise of a story well told. Actually, each of the separate timelines describing the intrigues and drama of the artists does have a promising storytelling background. However, the plot is often broken as it simply looks of not going anywhere, with a very slow motioned character development stopped short once the focus is smoothly switched to the action.

I may be biased, as I usually prefer stories set in our current times, but the beginning of the novel, focused on an evolving shy love story between Doug - obsessed about Edward Parfitt, a once resident of the colony, married with Zee, whose mother is the daughter of the colony owner, and Miriam, also part of the colony´s family, an artist of recycled everything. The characters are alive and their story has an inner pace, until it simply stops to be took over to the other sequences of the history, which are by far extremely slow and not necessarily going anywhere. 

However, the story is dense and there is a red thread to follow, adding surprising layers of information to the general history. Only that for my taste, it may either too slow or just sparsely connected to the narrative.

Those shortcomings though will not change an ounce my overall appreciation for Makkai´s style and I can´t wait to read her latest book: I Have Some Questions for You.

Rating: 3 stars

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Rachel´s Random Resources: Ten Dates by Rachel Dove

What can you do when the love of your life forgot ever being in love with you? How can you fill the years and recreate the experience of the first dates, not only for rekindling the flame, but for getting your past and ultimately, your love, back?

Ten Dates by Rachel Dove is a sweet romantic novel, about a couple - Alice and Callum - in love. But their love story was cut short after Alice was the victim of a car accident. In coma for a couple of months, as she woke up, she could not remember the last two years of their common life. Callum will try, in just ten dates, to convince her to fall in love with him again.

I loved how slowly we are introduced into the story and the beginning convinced me to keep and keep reading. For me, it was an easy, weekend read, but very emotional, as it deals with the processes taking place into our brains while highlighting the fragility of life and love.

I also loved the idea of doing all possible to get the loved one back, to fight against oblivion against all odds. Callum´s fight to get his Alice back is very romantic and heroic, a reminder that love still has a price worth paying for.

Ten Dates is a perfect read for hopeful romantics and anyone interested in a different take on falling in love and fighting for love in a completely unexpected situation.

Rating: 4 stars

Disclaimer: Book offered as part of the book tour but the opinions are, as usual, my own

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Bring on More Energy!


Spring is - finally - around the corner, and it is the right time to start cutting short the bad life and eating habits. Particularly during this time of the year, affected by the change of seasons and temperature is prone to various health challenges. Our modern life is rarely taking a healthy break and trying to get things done makes us often deaf to the urgent calls of our body to hear its needs.

Dr. med. Anne Fleck is close through her professional and family ties to the Kneipp movement, a German-bread health philosophy encouraging, among others a return to the rhythms of the nature and a balance between body movement, eating and finding the right work/life balance. Her book Energy! in 5 Minutes that I had access to in audiobook format offers tons of ideas and tips, including through self-assessment questionaries, aimed at taking the chronic tiredness at a different, self-care-oriented level.

Although I am on the skeptical side when it comes to the homeopathic/plants-oriented, anti-medicine of some medical schools of thought in Germany, I think that listening to your body and trying to understand - through the right medical consultation - what your body - and mind - needs, is important. As it is equally important to have the knowledge for making the right choices in terms of food and healthy life habits.

The book - as for now, only available in German - teaches the reader to identify, with the dedication of a detective, those factors that may affect one´s degree of energy - like dirt in the apartment or lack of sleep, but also how to prevent an chronical sickness to take over your body. As everything when it comes to the German mentality, prevention is key.

A recommended read to anyone looking to catch up some healthy habits and offer a well-deserved spring body to his or hed body.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Random Things Tours: A Psychic Subterfuge by JP Alters


Paranormal books are a very rare choice of lectures in my books. This genre was so much abused for very kitschy reasons that I am very cautious in terms of the topic and approach. But this year I want to give a try in terms of diverse topics and expand my literary realm and experiences.

Therefore, giving a try to debut author JP Alters - a pseudonym - and her first installment of A Psychic Subterfuge went hand in hand with my plan. There are so many interesting parts of the story that interested me: the character, Mary Jameson is a diagnosed schizophrenic and her attempts to dismantle a dangerous conspiracy do mirror questions about her sanity. Is she really serious or it is just the result of her troubled mind? This narrow distinction is fascinated to follow in the different episodes of the story.

Personally, I´ve found very entertaining and highly challenging the association between paranormal and thriller. Besides getting the best of both worlds, it also creates so many opportunities to build up suspense and tension in the most unexpected, (para)normal ways. Thus, even the most skeptical and cautious readers - like me - may feel caught into the web of stories and stop having second thoughts about the - almost compromised - genre.

For curious and open minded readers, as well as for thriller AND paranormal lovers, A Psychic Subterfuge is a pleasurable and action filled book and that left me curious to find out what gonna happen next to the main character of the book.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Disclaimer: Book offered as part of the book tour but the opinions are, as usual, my own

Compulsive Readers Book Tour: The Accident by Julia Stone


What would you do when while driving someone, a woman to be more precise, is falling down on your car, from a bridge? The woman dies while the driver is took to the hospital. The driver too, may not take any easy explanation for an answer. Plus she is a genealogist, therefore, may have some experience in terms of tracking difficult cases. This is the beginning of a long and complex story of lies and deceit.

The Accident by Julia Stone is a novel of psychological suspense, carefully built with characters with at least one hidden face. A great start for building a web of fragments of truth and as many lies. Slow paced but in an engaging kind of way, the story is taking the reader to the hidden mechanisms of lies and how they may bring us together and take over our lives, until the very last breath.

I really liked to be taken into this story, trying to figure out - guided by the book thread or just by myself - the mystery of the falling woman. The problemsolver-in-chief, Janice Thomason, is smart and relatable, able to smartly control her dark and bright sides.

Overall, a psychological suspense worth spending some hours with. The Accident is intelligent and carefully build up, a wandering through the shadows of untruth and secrets.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Disclaimer: Book offered by Compulsive Readers as part of the book tour but the opinions are, as usual, my own

Monday, March 13, 2023

Random Things Tours: TEKEBASH & SABA- Recipes from the Horn of Africa by Saba Alemayoh

Travel around the world one plate at a time may be as extraordinary as changing airplanes and taking long journeys around the world. When it comes to food, well curated recipes featuring international cuisines may be an unique opportunity to open up to specific histories and cultures, one spice at a time. 

With influences from the Sudanese and Ethiopian cuisine, the traditional meals from Tigray are featured in Tekabash&Saba. Recipes from the Horn of Africa, a mother and daughter experience of East African identity. Saba Alemayoh, after a career in the Australian Army, among the first women to go to combat, is the owner of a successful restaurant in Melbourn, Saba serving a fine selection of Eastern African dishes. 

The book, with a beatiful cover and equally beautiful illustrations is an introduction to the geography and tastes of East Africa, particularly Tigray, Ethiopia´s northernmost state. The cuisine mostly developed under the impact of faith and available resources. 

The backbone recipes of the cuisine are three essential recipes: tesmi - spiced butter, injera - fermented flatbread where, for instance, different meals spread on, instead of dishes (and there is another type of flatbread, the kicha), and dilik or berbere - a kind of powdered chilli mix or paste (the recipes of how to prepare all of them are also included). Ingredients such as chickpea are one of the most used and appreciated, present in various combinations in the recipes of local meals, such as vegan scrambled eggs that I´ve tried and keep perfecting it over and over again. Some combinations are unique, like the cardamom seeds into the shiro powder. The stuffed green chillies, the accompaniment for meat dishes, are also an excellent and easy recipe to try. For a long summer evening, shredded flatbread with tomato sauce is an fresh choice, to be prepared within minutes (as a matter of fact, the book does not inlude the time requested for preparation, and it may be a bit confusing, but after you try the recipes - or just have an acknowledgeable look over the recipes themselves - one may just realize that mostly one may not spend more than 30 minutes preparing it). It also features one of my favorite veggie, Okra - or Bamya - which is such a pleasure to match with meat or vegetarian dishes. 

The recipes are sharing stories of her mother´s and her own´s life. They also introduce the readers into the everyday pace and customs of the average Tigraweyti family, a priviledge to be taken with gratitude. 

Most of the ingredients featured can be easily found in the ´ethnic food´ stores from all over the world. The recipes are easy to follow and written in a way that addresses both the experiences and the beginner cook.

Tekebash&Saba are an extraordinary introduction into the food culture in this part of the world. A very delicious invitation, actually.

Rating: 5 stars

Disclaimer: Book offered as part of the book tour but the opinions are, as usual, my own