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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Review: A Most Extraordinary Pursuit by Juliana Gray

Title: A Most Extraordinary Pursuit
Author: Juliana Gray
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Berkley
Publish Date: October 4, 2016
Source: Publisher

What's the Story?:

From "As the personal secretary of the recently departed Duke of Olympia—and a woman of good character—Miss Emmeline Rose Truelove never expected to be steaming through the Mediterranean on a luxuriously appointed yacht under the watchful and jovial eye of one Lord Silverton. But here they are, as improper as it is, on a quest to find the duke’s heir, whereabouts unknown.

An expert on anachronisms, the adventurous Maximilian Haywood was last seen at an archaeological dig on the island of Crete. And when Truelove and Silverton disembark, they are met with incidents of a violent nature: a ransacked flat, a murdered government employee, an assassination attempt. And as they steam from port to port on Max’s trail, dodging danger at every turn, Truelove will discover the folly of her misconceptions—about the whims of the heart, the desires of men, and the nature of time itself..."

My Two Cents:

In "A Most Extraordinary Pursuit" is the story of Emma Truelove. She is a very traditional woman who is interested in maintaining her appearance as a fine, upstanding woman. After the Duke of Olympia dies, his secretary Emma is forced to go to Greece in order to find his heir. Lord Silverton, a  guy who doesn't seem to take himself too seriously and seems to think that there may be something more to Emma hiding under her prim and proper exterior. Emma seems to think that he might just be a bother on this journey but understands that a woman must be accompanied wherever she goes!

This is a new historical fiction by Juliana Gray, a new pen name for well-known histfic writer Beatriz Williams. I have read a lot of Williams' books and really enjoyed them. I was anxious to see what this book was like. This book has more mysteries than Williams' other books. Haywood, the heir to Olympia, has disappeared without a trace. Emma and Silverton discover many clues that they have to put together in order to figure out where he might have gone.

The writing of the book was good. The relationship between Emma and Silverton took me a little while to get into. It seems sort of contrived at the beginning. Emma is playing coy and being prim and proper. Silverton is pushing her to be more real with him. Eventually this hit a good pace for me but it was a little touch and go in the beginning.

There are a lot of interesting elements that made this book a lot of fun. First off, there was the setting. This book is set in Greece, a place that I don't get to visit often enough. I loved the detail that the author added. I also liked that the author added elements like the ghost of Queen Victoria (as feisty as she ever was) makes an appearance in the book. This book is the first in a new series according to Goodreads and will engage fans of series such as the Maisie Dobbs books (you can see the fanbase they are going for with the cover that seemed eerily familiar).


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Review: The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict

Title: The Other Einstein
Author: Marie Benedict
Format: ARC
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publish Date: October 18, 2016 (Yesterday!)
Source: Publisher

What's the Story?:

From "What secrets may have lurked in the shadows of Albert Einstein’s fame? His first wife, Mileva “Mitza” Marić, was more than the devoted mother of their three children—she was also a brilliant physicist in her own right, and her contributions to the special theory of relativity have been hotly debated for more than a century.

In 1896, the extraordinarily gifted Mileva is the only woman studying physics at an elite school in Zürich. There, she falls for charismatic fellow student Albert Einstein, who promises to treat her as an equal in both love and science. But as Albert’s fame grows, so too does Mileva’s worry that her light will be lost in her husband’s shadow forever."

My Two Cents:

In "The Other Einstein," we meet Mileva Maric, a gifted young woman who moves to Zurich (where she knows no one) from her native Serbia. Isolated at home because her main interests include physics, something that many thought was not something women should be involved with at the time, she is looking forward to finding common ground with some of her classmates at the university in Zurich. The year is 1896 and few women went to university and she is the very first woman to enter the program at Zurich. She meets a young Albert Einstein and they fall in love. He promises her that they will be an equal Bohemian couple but his promises eventually go astray.

I had never heard of Mileva before reading this book. Come to think of it, I knew very little about Albert Einstein's earlier life before reading this book. I love when histfic can teach me something and introduce me to new people. This book certainly does that! Not only do you have the love story between Albert and Mileva, which starts with a bang but the book explores a lot about Mileva's position as a woman and what it means for her brilliant mind and her potential career. She is definitely a woman limited by the place and time in which she lives in. It was disheartening to read about but really made me realize just how far that we've come!

The relationship between Mileva and Albert is so fascinating. At first, Albert seems really interested in making sure that their relationship is a partnership: both romantically and professionally. Mileva is thrilled because she believes that it will get her foot in the door with actually having a career as a physicist. As we see in the book, Albert becomes jealous and decides that he wants a dedicated wife after all. He takes some of Mileva's ideas and renegs on publishing her name on papers after promising to in the first place. I felt horrible for Mileva and this was a side of Albert Einstein that I had never read about. It's always fun to have your assumptions turned on their heads. 

Told from Mileva's perspective, this book gave me so much to think about. I really enjoyed learning about Mileva from this book. It is so sad that she has largely been lost to history. This is a well written book that I was happy to dive into.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

TLC Book Tours Review: Earning It by Joann S. Lublin

Title: Earning It
Author: Joann S. Lublin
Format: ARC
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publish Date: October 18, 2016
Source: Thanks to Harper Collins and TLC Book Tours for the review copy!

What's the Story?:

From "Among the first female reporters at The Wall Street Journal, Joann S. Lublin faced a number of uphill battles in her career. She became deputy bureau chief of the Journal’s important London bureau, its first run by women. Now, she and dozens of other women who successfully navigated the corporate battlefield share their valuable leadership lessons.

Lublin combines her fascinating story with insightful tales from more than fifty women who reached the highest rungs of the corporate ladder—most of whom became chief executives of public companies —in industries as diverse as retailing, manufacturing, finance, high technology, publishing, advertising, automobiles, and pharmaceuticals. Leaders like Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, as well as Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, and Brenda Barnes, former CEO of Sara Lee, were the first women to run their huge employers. Earning It reveals obstacles such women faced as they fought to make their mark, choices they made, and battles they won—and lost."

My Two Cents:

"Earning It" is a non-fiction business book geared for women in the workplace. Being a working woman today, I am so appreciative for those women who have gone before me and have paved the way for me. There is a long way to go but oh-so-many of the stories in this book show how far we've come. It gives me hope that we're on the right track!

This book is filled with stories of women from many different sectors of the economy. The author tells the stories of a ton of different women. There are some you may recognize like Mary Barra or Carly Fiorina, who made a run for the White House just earlier this year. There are also a lot of other woman that I had never heard of so there was even more to learn in this book. They are tales of irritation and hard won respect. They are tales of difficult circumstances and triumph. The author delves into her own experiences as one of the first female reporters for the illustrious Wall Street Journal. This experience gives her personal insight into some of the things that these women went through.

The stories were fascinating. Some of them disheartened me but some of them really made me excited for how far we've come. Most of the book is involved with telling individual women's stories but there was not much to hold them all together. I wanted a little more from the book, some sort of connection. This is a great book for learning more about what individual women have faced in marching towards success in the workplace!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Review: The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza

Title: The Knockoff
Author: Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Doubleday
Publish Date: May 19, 2015
Source: Library

What's the Story?:

From "When Imogen returns to work at Glossy after six months away, she can barely recognize her own magazine. Eve, fresh out of Harvard Business School, has fired “the gray hairs,” put the managing editor in a supply closet, stopped using the landlines, and hired a bevy of manicured and questionably attired underlings who text and tweet their way through meetings. Imogen, darling of the fashion world, may have Alexander Wang and Diane von Furstenberg on speed dial, but she can’t tell Facebook from Foursquare and once got her iPhone stuck in Japanese for two days. Under Eve’s reign, Glossy is rapidly becoming a digital sweatshop—hackathons rage all night, girls who sleep get fired, and “fun” means mandatory, company-wide coordinated dances to Beyoncé. Wildly out of her depth, Imogen faces a choice—pack up her Smythson notebooks and quit, or channel her inner geek and take on Eve to save both the magazine and her career. A glittering, uproarious, sharply drawn story filled with thinly veiled fashion personalities, The Knockoff is an insider’s look at the ever-changing world of fashion and a fabulous romp for our Internet-addicted age."

My Two Cents:

"The Knockoff" is a hilarious riff on the changing times in the magazine publishing world. Imogen is good at her job. She knows she is. When she comes back after a hiatus, she finds that she is in the process of being replaced but Imogen will not go without a fight. This book explores how Imogen is able to get her groove back and squash Eve, her former assistant, back to where she belongs.

This book took me awhile to get into because of the characters (it takes awhile to get to know them) but I ended up liking the book. I really liked this book because it speaks to the way that so many industries are changing with the advent of new technology. New technology is great but if there is no substance behind what you're doing or selling, you will still fall flat. Imogen realizes this. Eve does not. I loved seeing the tug-of-war between Imogen and Eve. You're pulling for Imogen the whole time as she is trying to find her footing.

This is a fun read that shed some light on the fashion and magazine world for me. It's a light read! It also happens to be Lucy Sykes' debut novel.  


Friday, October 14, 2016

Author Guest Post: Phyllis Edgerly Ring

I am very pleased to welcome Phyllis Edgerly Ring to A Bookish Affair today! 

A highlight for me as my novel, The Munich Girl, came into the world was my return to the first place in Germany where my family lived when I was a child, On the cloudy November afternoon that the book published, I faced the Main River in the tiny village of Dorfprozelten and offered my thanks at the grave of Herr and Frau Geis, who shared their house with my family back in the early 1960s.

It was because my military family lived “on the economy” with them that my sense of myself as a citizen of the world began so early. The fact that my family established close ties with German people in post-war Europe also inevitably led me to want to understand the experience of Germans themselves during the war.

I’d never have imagined this path would take me through Hitler’s living room as it drew me into the life of his longtime mistress, later wife, Eva Braun. “How will you ever get readers past the fact that it’s her – that she’s such a large part of the story?” is a question I grew used to hearing.

I wouldn’t. I knew that from the start. Readers would embark on that particular journey only if they were willing to.

This story in no way seeks to exonerate or “redeem” her, Rather, she makes a good motif for looking at the ways in which many people, women in particular, suppress our own lives – or often don’t even claim those lives fully at all.

The story of The Munich Girl is about many things, including, of course, Hitler’s mistress, Eva Braun, and many facets of history from the time of the war in Germany. It is also about the power of friendship, and the importance of our often ignored and overlooked inner life, without which our world careens increasingly out-of-balance, as it did in those wartime days.

Much like the book’s protagonist, Anna, I repeatedly experience what invites me to look beyond what I think I know, and have understood about life. The process of uncovering the story has helped me remember many kinds of homecomings, spiritual and material, that life brings to us.

At its heart, it’s a story about outlasting that chaos and confusion that unavoidably visit us, in both public and private wars. We seem to do that by valuing, and believing in, the stronger possibility in all of the good that we are willing to contribute to building together. Part of our ability to do that, I’ve come to believe, rests in being able to recognize that human beings aren’t usually all good, or all bad, but a complex mix of where our experience, understanding, and choices have led us.
As one character in The Munich Girl observes: “Sometimes, we must outlast even what seems worse than we have imagined, because we believe in the things that are good. So that there can be good things again.”

Eight years ago when the process of this book began, I also couldn’t have imagined what those words might come to mean in the atmosphere of our world today. I thank every reader who’s giving the book time, and also offering thoughtful reflection that helps me to continue learning from the pathway of this story, every day.


Author info:

Phyllis Edgerly Ring lives in New England and returns as often as she can to her childhood home in Germany. She has studied plant sciences and ecology, worked as a nurse, been a magazine writer and editor, taught English to kindergartners in China, and frequently serves as workshop facilitator and coach for others’ writing projects. Her published work includes fiction and inspirational nonfiction.

Twitter: http://


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Review: The Munich Girl by Phyllis Edgerly Ring

Title: The Munich Girl
Author: Phyllis Edgerly Ring
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Whole Sky Books
Publish Date: November 14, 2015
Source: Author

What's the Story?:

From "Anna Dahlberg grew up eating dinner under her father’s war-trophy portrait of Eva Braun. Fifty years after the war, she discovers what he never did—that her mother and Hitler’s mistress were friends. The secret surfaces with a mysterious monogrammed handkerchief, and a man, Hannes Ritter, whose Third Reich family history is entwined with Anna’s. Plunged into the world of the “ordinary” Munich girl who was her mother’s confidante—and a tyrant’s lover—Anna finds her every belief about right and wrong challenged. With Hannes’s help, she retraces the path of two women who met as teenagers, shared a friendship that spanned the years that Eva Braun was Hitler’s mistress, yet never knew that the men they loved had opposing ambitions. Eva’s story reveals that she never joined the Nazi party, had Jewish friends, and was credited at the Nuremberg Trials with saving 35,000 Allied lives. As Anna's journey leads back through the treacherous years in wartime Germany, it uncovers long-buried secrets and unknown reaches of her heart to reveal the enduring power of love in the legacies that always outlast war."

My Two Cents:

In "The Munich Girl," Anna loses her mother in the mid-nineties and becomes keenly interested in learning more about her mother's life in Germany in World War II. Although Anna was incredibly close to her mother, she knows very little about her life in her younger years. As Anna begins to put the pieces together, she realizes that her mother knew Eva Braun (yes, that one), whose portrait hung above their table at home throughout Anna's life. Anna thought the portrait was simply war booty her father brought home and didn't know that perhaps her mother was hiding a personal connection to Hitler's infamous mistress.

Eva Braun is infamous. Even as a history lover, I did not know much about her at all besides the fact that she was Hitler's mistress. This book sheds light on the fact that at one point, she was just another German schoolgirl as Peggy, Anna's mother is in this book. The juxtaposition between who she was and who she became was absolutely fascinating. It is easy to see how the author was drawn to telling this story. 

There is also the juxtaposition of Peggy and Eva's lives. They both start out as schoolgirls when they first meet. The narrative moves forward a few years per chapter so we don't get a good sense of how entangled they are or how much they really see of each other. I wish we would have gotten more of a sense of it throughout the book. Peggy goes on to have her life totally upended by the war. Because of who her lover is, Eva still lives a fairly luxurious life. She can still have strong coffee overlooking the mountains. It was so interesting to see this comparison and this really pulled me into the book.

It is clear that the author did a lot of research in order to write this book. A lot of the detail is fascinating and adds to the story. In some cases though, the narrative veers into too much telling and not enough showing, which took me out of the book both with facts as well as what characters are thinking or doing. The book definitely could have been streamlined in order to further pound the salient points of the book home.

Overall, this was an insightful historical fiction read!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Review: Good Taste: Simple, Delicious Recipes for Family and Friends by Jane Green

Title: Good Taste: Simple, Delicious Recipes for Family and Friends
Author: Jane Green
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: NAL
Publish Date: October 4, 2016
Source: Publisher

What's the Story?:

From "Jane Green’s life has always revolved around her kitchen...
... from inviting over friends for an impromptu brunch; to wowing guests with delicious new recipes; to making sure her ever-on-the-move family makes time to sit down together. For Jane, food is enjoyable because of the people surrounding it and the pleasures of hosting and nourishing those she cares about, body and soul.
Now, Jane opens wide the doors of her stunning home to share tips on entertaining, ideas for making any gathering a cozy yet classy affair, and some of her favorite dishes, ranging from tempting hors d’oeuvres like Sweet Corn and Chili Soup, to mouthwatering one-pot mains like Slow-Braised Onion Chicken, to sinfully satisfying desserts like Warm Chocolate and Banana Cake."

My Two Cents:

"Good Taste" is a new cookbook by Jane Green. I have read a lot of her fiction books and have really enjoyed them. I had no idea she liked to cook! These recipes run the gamut from delicious starters to decadent desserts. With the recipes, Green doles out stories and sometimes advice throughout the book. The recipes in this book look really good and you certainly don't need to be familiar with Green's other books in order to enjoy this one!

Some of the recipes are Green's own. Some of the recipes came from other places and were tweaked (some very slightly) by Green so the collection may not feel totally original. I really liked that Green included recipes for all occasions. I also liked that she includes some recipes on the healthier side as well as some treats. Balance in everything is so important to me! Typically, I try really hard to eat low carb, high protein because it makes me feel better and I was incredibly pleased to see a few recipes that fit that diet in this book. I guess Green typically tries to eat the same way.

The recipes vary in level of difficulty but most of the recipes seem accessible to the casual cook, which was great to see. This is a beautiful cookbook filled with lovely pictures and I am anxious to start cooking out of it!

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