The Electricity Fairy

The Electricity Fairy
by Alex Mar

The inspiring true story of Loïe Fuller, a radical nineteenth-century art nouveau icon who turned artificial light into performance art and became the incandescent inventor of modern dance.

In a new era lit by Edison bulbs, Loïe Fuller was the quicksilver that connected scientific and artistic inspiration. In a flurry of shifting lights and serpentine spins, she inspired the earliest films of Georges Méliès and held Jean Cocteau spellbound. She even sought out the Curies for a radioactive showstopper. In this transportive and hypnotic historical narrative, the uninhibited Folies Bergère superstar la fée lumière is finally restored to her shimmering, glorious place in modern history.

The Electricity Fairy is part of Inventions: Untold Stories of the Beautiful Era, a collection of incredible true stories from the belle epoque, an age of innovation, daring, bluster, and beauty when anything seemed possible. Each piece can be read, listened to, and marveled at in a single sitting.

Amazon’s Inventions: Untold Stories of the Beautiful Era collection may be my favorite discovery of 2019. It consists of three nonfiction novellas covering the inventions and discoveries of the early 1900s. I listened to the audiobook versions which were an interesting mix of audiobook and podcast. Actually, I often felt as if I was listening to a radio broadcast of the events. I enjoyed the format as a nonfiction lover and I feel it will make nonfiction more accessible for those new to the genre.

I started with listening to The Electricity Fairy, and am not ashamed to say I picked it because I thought it would be about the electricity wars between Edison and Tesla. (Nope…didn’t even bother to read the story summary.) I was pleasantly surprised to find myself learning about the life of Loie Fuller, dancer and harnesser of light. This was a historic figure/story that I knew NOTHING about…I GET TO LEARN SOMETHING NEW! That is why we read nonfiction right?

Loie Fuller, the Electricity Fairy, was a dancer who combined flowing fabric and colored lights to create mesmerizing performances. She was driven by the effects of light and motion, and was innovative in her use of extensive moving light rigs to produce her desired illusions. But The Electricity Fairy covers more than just dance and fancy lighting. This story introduces readers to Marie Currie’s research on radium and Edison’s push towards moving pictures through our artist’s personal association with the scientists. Readers are also provided a detailed description of period artistic movements, with Fuller’s activities highlighting how art mixed with industrial innovation to influence the society growing around the advancements.

The information presented in The Electricity Fairy was well researched and presented in an easy to read format. It is a wonderfully engaging mix of light, dance, and science.

Let me know if you have listened to the Inventions collection and happy reading!

Lindsay

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Running Like a Girl

Running Like a Girl
by Alexandra Heminsley

In her twenties, Alexandra Heminsley spent more time at the bar than she did in pursuit of athletic excellence. When she decided to take up running in her thirties, she had grand hopes for a blissful runner’s high and immediate physical transformation. After eating three slices of toast with honey and spending ninety minutes on iTunes creating the perfect playlist, she hit the streets—and failed miserably. The stories of her first runs turn the common notion that we are all “born to run” on its head—and expose the truth about starting to run: it can be brutal.

Running Like a Girl tells the story of how Alexandra gets beyond the brutal part, makes running a part of her life, and reaps the rewards: not just the obvious things, like weight loss, health, and glowing skin, but self-confidence and immeasurable daily pleasure, along with a new closeness to her father—a marathon runner—and her brother, with whom she ultimately runs her first marathon.

But before that, she has to figure out the logistics of running: the intimidating questions from a young and arrogant sales assistant when she goes to buy her first running shoes, where to get decent bras for the larger bust, how not to freeze or get sunstroke, and what (and when) to eat before a run. She’s figured out what’s important (pockets) and what isn’t (appearance), and more.

For any woman who has ever run, wanted to run, tried to run, or failed to run (even if just around the block), Heminsley’s funny, warm, and motivational personal journey from nonathlete extraordinaire to someone who has completed five marathons is inspiring, entertaining, practical, and fun.

Are you wanting a kick-start to a healthier lifestyle? Are you wanting confirmation that you aren’t alone in those awkward first steps? Are you constantly waiting for next Monday to start on your goals? READ THIS BOOK!

I am trying to run more and dream of eventually completing a marathon. I struggle with maintaining motivation, especially when life gets super stressful or busy. As such, I like to read running books to remind me that I am not alone and that there are others out there who have completed the seemingly impossible. (Feel free to peruse my reviews of How to Lose a Marathon, My Year of Running Dangerously, and Life’s Too Short to Go So F*cking Slow)

I discovered Alexandra Heminsley via an episode of one of my favorite podcasts, The Adventure Sports Podcast. She talked about her running and open water swimming journey during the interview. Her frank honesty had me interested in Running Like a Girl; so I picked up the audiobook. (Sadly Audible doesn’t have the UK version where Heminsley reads her own work but it was still well narrated.)

The format is incredibly easy to follow. The first part of Running Like a Girl details Heminsley’s often hilarious running journey. The second shorter part provides a summary of tips on how to pick shoes, run for charity, and just general running tips. Heminsley’s work is honest. She is bluntly open about her experiences, both the good and the bad. She shares her fears of running in front of people, her horribly demeaning first experience buying running shoes, her elation at successfully wrangling her boobs during runs, and the emotional rollercoaster she experienced during every race.

Heminsley doesn’t sugar coat anything. She openly mocks herself for her stubborn refusal to ask for advice. But she also shares the joy of finding strength and confidence with each completed run. My favorite parts are when she talks about meeting new people while running, and talking to runners who have to overcome great physically difficulties just to run. Her experiences provide a glimpse at a positive perspective most modern adults are too self-centered to realize. 

The few complaints I’ve seen can be summed up under the following topics: Heminsley self-focused narrative, her lack of scientific information on running, and the section on running makeup. Yep. There is a section on running makeup. So I am going to address these one at a time.

1.       The summary of the novel tells readers this is the author’s personal running story. Heminsley is blatantly open about her faults and trying to improve them. She berates herself for her own stubbornness, lack of confidence, and fluctuating emotions. This is her story about learning to run and how to be a better version of herself. Get off your preachy soapbox ya negative Nancys.

2.       There are plenty of books out there on the science of running. Running Like a Girl never pretends to be one. Go pick up Born to Run if that’s what you are looking for.

3.       I don’t really wear makeup but I put on mascara every day. I wear mascara to group workouts. And there is nothing wrong with people using makeup to boost their confidence during a race. She shared what had worked for her just in case someone out there could use the information.

If y’all could only see the eyerolls over here! Also, it should be obvious Running Like a Girl is specifically written for a female audience; however, this book is for anyone who has trepidations towards getting out the door on that first run. Sure, guys probably won’t get much from the section on sports bras, but this definitely isn’t a ‘dude bashing’ story. Heminsley talks about all her supporters, both male and female. The best takeaway for anyone reading this book….you can run; all you need to do is get yourself out the door.

This book is the perfect boost for anyone wanting to run, or tackle any exercise. Heminsley quickly points out that it doesn’t just have to be about losing weight but instead promotes exercise as a way to meet new people, potentially help others, and live your best life. Make today your last ‘I’ll wait until next Monday.” Pick up this story and get a needed kick in the butt to do more with your life. Have a great week and happy reading!

Lindsay

Destination Unknown

Destination Unknown

by Agatha Christie

5

In Agatha Christie’s gripping international thriller Destination Unknown, a woman at the end of her rope chooses a more exciting way to die when she embarks upon an almost certain suicide mission to find a missing scientist.

When a number of leading scientists disappear without a trace, concern grows within the international intelligence community. And the one woman who appears to hold the key to the mystery is dying from injuries sustained in a plane crash.

Meanwhile, in a Casablanca hotel room, Hilary Craven prepares to take her own life. But her suicide attempt is about to be interrupted by a man who will offer her an altogether more thrilling way to die. . . .

Destination Unknown is my favorite Agatha Christie novel (so far)! Pretty sure you now know how this review is going to go….

The weather was turning muggy and I wanted an Agatha Christie novel to take to the beach. Her stories are typically the perfect length and tone for a lazy weekend reading and listening to the waves crash on the shore. I wasn’t necessarily in the mood to peruse the next instalment of the Miss Marple or Piroit series, so I picked up one of her stand-alone stories. And I openly admit that I picked Destination Unknown solely because of the cover. I mean look at it! Airplanes! I was in.

(Don’t even pretend that you don’t pick up books because of the cover. WE ALL DO! That’s the whole point of books having a cover.)

The mystery and suspense is the best aspect of any Agatha Christie novel, so I will not be going into too much detail about the plot. I don’t want to spoil it! Just know the story was fantastic. The plot progressed quickly, with Christie providing just enough detail to keep me on the edge of my seat the entire time. Everything tied together perfectly and I didn’t figure out ‘who-dunnit’ before our heroine. And speaking of the heroine, I enjoyed reading this story from Hilary’s point of view. She is smart, witty, and surprisingly average making her a relatable character. Readers can easily connect with her emotions, which range from grief to hope to curiosity, and feel as if we are traveling the unknown roads right next to her. Hilary is the reason I enjoyed this story so much.

I do have one negative point and it contains SPOILERS. Look away if you must! I was left wanting more development when it comes to Hilary’s relationships. The last half of the book finds her forced into a relationship with one man while she is subtly developing feelings for another. I knew this was happening; I was all about it happening! I just wanted a little bit more. I wanted more passages detailing her struggles, her strain to keep up appearances, and her hopes for the future. We know she wants to escape but I wanted to know more about her hopes for after the planned escape. The ending felt a tad rushed and I wasn’t ready to say good-bye. That’s all for the negatives!

Agatha Christie is definitely the Queen of Suspense and Destination Unknown will be one of my top mystery recommendations of the year. It is perfect if you are in need of a quick summer suspense!

Let me know which story is your favorite by Agatha Christie and happy reading!

Lindsay

The Old Man and the Sea

The Old Man and the Sea

by Ernest Hemingway

4

The Old Man and the Sea is one of Hemingway’s most enduring works. Told in language of great simplicity and power, it is the story of an old Cuban fisherman, down on his luck, and his supreme ordeal—a relentless, agonizing battle with a giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream. Here Hemingway recasts, in strikingly contemporary style, the classic theme of courage in the face of defeat, of personal triumph won from loss. Written in 1952, this hugely successful novella confirmed his power and presence in the literary world and played a large part in his winning the 1954 Nobel Prize for Literature.

Have you ever made a decision knowing it was going to change your perspective?

I hated Ernest Hemingway. I decided that I hated him half way through A Farewell to Arms my junior year of high school. I didn’t care if he was considered a literary genius…A Farewell to Arms just plain sucked. And I didn’t like him.

And then I visited Key West and spent a day at the beautiful Hemingway home. And I took a writing course taught by a fabulous person who loved Hemingway’s works. And then I went back to Key West and feel even more in love with Hemingway’s home. And this tiny voice in the back of my head told me I was being pig-headed holding on so tightly to that hate. And as a strong-willed, intelligent woman….I completely dismissed that little voice. PSSSHHHHH I DON’T LIKE HEMINGWAY!

And yet…many times I found myself looking at his name on a shelf at Barnes and Noble. I always perused the used Hemingway texts at my local bookstore. I reached out to that friend/professor asking which story one should read if they were hypothetically interested in trying to not hate Hemingway. And then I found myself with a used copy of The Old Man and the Sea in my beach bag as I headed off to enjoy a ‘me day” at the beach.

I’m not going to talk about the story, as many of you have likely read it as a required text in some high school or college course. There are a bagillion reviews on The Old Man and the Sea that you can read if you want to know more about it. All I am going to say is that I love it! I adore Santiago and his love of baseball. I was surprised by his respect for the fish. I enjoy his relationship with the boy. And I burst into tears, sharing the sadness of the fishing community as Santiago slept and I turned the last page.

Just 2.5 hours of reading at the beach and The Old Man and the Sea changed everything.

I no longer hate Ernest Hemingway (no comment on A Farewell to Arms :D) I find myself often thinking of the Old Man. I wouldn’t say no to reading something else.

Let me know what you think and happy reading.

Lindsay

Dress Her in Indigo

Dress Her in Indigo

by John D MacDonald

3

A wealthy old man laid up in the hospital is desperate to understand the last months of his daughter’s life before she was killed in a car crash in Mexico. It was puzzling. She’d cleaned out her considerable bank account, left Miami and hadn’t been heard from again. Travis McGee ventures into the steep hills and strange backwoods of Oaxaca through a bizarre world of dropouts, drug freaks, and kinky rich people–and begins to suspect the beautiful girl’s death was no accident….

I have spent most of this year reading books that have a beachy/tropical setting in an attempt to enjoy the miserably cold Florida winter (yes I know it is now spring. I’m behind). Tropical setting plus a thrilling mystery always equals a Travis Magee novel! I am slowly collecting the series thanks to my local book store and I picked up Dress Her in Indigo as it had Travis and Meyer traipsing across Mexico.

Whew.

season 2 ugh GIF by IFC

Don’t get me wrong; I loved it. I love every Travis Magee novel, but Dress Her in Indigo was a tough read. Let’s go ahead and get the Spoilers/Trigger Warning out of the way. Be prepared for extensive descriptions of substance and sexual abuse. Nothing is sugar coated (in typical JDM fashion) but you don’t have to worry about gratuitous gore. It is what it is and that is exactly how JDM lays it down on the page. Dress Her in Indigo does not have a happy ending; it ends the only way it can. Just…whew. End of Spoilers.

Meyer and Magee are hired to go to Mexico and discover the details of a lost life. An old friend of Meyer’s has recently buried his daughter and wishes to know how she lived while in Mexico. Travis knows that nothing good will come this venture but Meyer insists on doing the favor for a friend. This scene between the three men introduced me to my favorite quote:

“But don’t fault him. He believes he is really in the midst of life and always has been. He doesn’t know any better, because he’s never known anything else. What a limited man believes is emotional reality is indeed his emotional reality.” Meyer (John D MacDonald)

So, Travis takes this job against his better judgement and heads south with Meyer. What follows is a twisted tale of drugs, hard living, and the loss of innocence. It was an amazing story; it was a rough story.

I don’t want my promise of a rough time to dissuade you from reading Dress Her in Indigo. The novel was initially published in 1969 and tackles a number of social issues. Unsurprisingly, JDM’s opinions/suggestions are just as applicable today. He discussed the lack of communication between the young and old, the stark contrast of the materialistic and idealistic, the difference between sexual conquest and intimacy, and the affects of war and violence on mental health. He takes a very candid approach on the struggles of those with same sex sexual orientation (remember it was published in 1969). But most importantly, Dress Her in Indigo highlights the loss of innocence and how to adjust to a new reality.

I especially enjoyed the aforementioned quote because it hit me at the right time in my life. I needed to read that statement. I needed to know that some people are incapable of understanding a life outside their own small reality. To understand this isn’t necessarily because they are mentally incapable of such a feat (though that can be the case) but often they have no idea there is so much more out there.

Do I suggest Dress Her in Indigo? Yup. But like all John D MacDonald books…that recommendation comes with a caveat. This book is going to make you think. It’s going to make you cringe; make you wish beyond anything that you can jump into the pages and hug poor Meyer. This book isn’t a light holiday read, but it is perfect for those longing for more of a thrill as they soak up the sun.

Let me know what you think! Happy Reading

Lindsay

First Quarter Update

I know I’m a tad behind on the update but eh… I have finally gotten back to reading daily and have been enjoying every minute of it! Hear is what i read the first quarter.

Total: 4

I’m enjoyed all four books!

Mystery: 2

 

Nonfiction: 1

1

Classic: 1

4

You can expect reviews on all of these in the next few weeks.

Happy Reading! Lindsay

2019 Goals

I am going to keep it simple. I am participating in the Goodreads 2019 Reading Challenge and I would like to focus on reading more nonfiction this year.  I have two personal goals, which just so happen to be the same as last year’s!

Total: 50

Nonfiction: 12

I’d like to finish all the books I started but didn’t finish in 2018….there are sooooooo many.

It looks like 2019 is going to be a fun reading year! Please tell me all about your personal reading goals.
Lindsay
 

All Quiet on the Western Front

All Quiet on the Western Front

by Erich Maria Remarque


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Considered by many the greatest war novel of all time, All Quiet on the Western Front is Erich Maria Remarque’s masterpiece of the German experience during World War I.

I am young, I am twenty years old; yet I know nothing of life but despair, death, fear, and fatuous superficiality cast over an abyss of sorrow. . . .

This is the testament of Paul Bäumer, who enlists with his classmates in the German army during World War I. They become soldiers with youthful enthusiasm. But the world of duty, culture, and progress they had been taught breaks in pieces under the first bombardment in the trenches.

Through years of vivid horror, Paul holds fast to a single vow: to fight against the principle of hate that meaninglessly pits young men of the same generation but different uniforms against one another . . .  if only he can come out of the war alive.

The latter half of 2018 has found me struggling to finish books. I have a stack of a dozen half-finished books sitting next to my bed; it has just been a rough reading year. So it may seem understandable that I was hesitant to cater to the overwhelming urge to reread All Quiet on the Western Front. I mean….I had all these other books that I needed to finish. And I didn’t even own All Quiet on the Western Front. Good thing I broke down and picked up a copy at my local used bookstore because All Quiet on the Western Front is the first book I have finished in months.

I love this book. 

I am a firm believer that you need to read specific things during certain times in your life. December 2018….I needed to read All Quiet on the Western Front. I was struggling folks because 2018 has been a year of necessary personal growth. I couldn’t read. I was stuck dealing with the typical stresses of the holiday season and having to deal with a significant amount of petty bullshit at work (I’m not even going to apologize for the language. It is what it is.) I was stuck in my own head desperately trying to identify my source of frustration. All Quiet on the Western Front brought me some much needed perspective. It starts:

“This book is to be neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even through they may have escaped shells, were destroyed by the war.”

For those who don’t know….All Quiet of the Western Front is the fictional story of a German soldier, Paul Baumer, and his experiences on the Western Front during World War I. It was written by Erich Maria Remarque, a German man who fought in World War I. But it doesn’t matter that it is told from a German perspective because Paul’s experience (as I expect Remarque’s) is the same story told by other survivors of the Western Front be they German, British, Canadian, American, South African, Australian, New Zealander, Belgian, or French. It is a story of young men struggling to survive a life in mud filled trenches. Men covered in lice. Men gasping for breath as toxic gas rolled over shell holes filled with bloody water. Men desperate to go home only to struggle wth the banality of everything once back.  

Remarque’s writing style effortless pulls readers through the emotional waves experienced by Paul. The prose is long and complex with an air of casual indifference when Paul is relaxing with his mates behind the front line. He happily describes his free time killing lice, hunting for extra food, and discussing with his friends the great mysteries of life. The prose subtly shifts to a choppier style as they near the front line. You can not help but feel the dull worry that Paul forces himself to ignore. And then he is on the front, crouching the mud and cringing at the whistling sounds of the artillery. The prose loses all sense of order; just choppy thoughts making it through the chaos and on to the page. You sit there on the edge of your seat, anxiously clutching the book, and willing Paul and his mates to make it through this fight. Then the writing slowly shifts back, and it is all done so effortlessly!

I laughed…I cried..and more importantly, I took a step back an reevaluated all the things in life that were making me feel stressed. None of it really seemed that important anymore; not compared to what I had just read. 

READ IT. Just read it. And then go watch Peter Jackson’s documentary They Shall Not Grow Old. Take a moment to appreciate how these soldiers talk fondly of moments that us readers would find appalling. Their mindset, and that of Paul, helped me find the perspective I needed. To embrace the simplicity for as Paul says:

“I often sit with one of them in the little beer garden and try to explain to him that this is really the only thing: just to sit quietly, like this.”

I would love to hear your thoughts on All Quiet on the Western Front. Please share them here or on Instagram. And Happy New Year. 

Lindsay

In the Woods

In the Woods

by Tana French

itw

The bestselling debut with over a million copies sold that launched Tana French, “required reading for anyone who appreciates tough, unflinching intelligence and ingenious plotting” (The New York Times), who is “the most interesting, most important crime novelist to emerge in the past 10 years” (The Washington Post)

As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers, and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours.

Twenty years later, the found boy, Rob Ryan, is a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad and keeps his past a secret. But when a twelve-year-old girl is found murdered in the same woods, he and Detective Cassie Maddox—his partner and closest friend—find themselves investigating a case chillingly similar to the previous unsolved mystery. Now, with only snippets of long-buried memories to guide him, Ryan has the chance to uncover both the mystery of the case before him and that of his own shadowy past.

Richly atmospheric and stunning in its complexity, In the Woods is utterly convincing and surprising to the end.

I picked up In the Woods because I wanted to read the second book in the Dublin Murder Squad series, The Likeness, and I can’t read the second book in a series without reading the first..first. I just can’t. So In the Woods was pushed to the top of my TBR.

I’m going to do everything I can to avoid spoilers but guys…whew.

season 2 ugh GIF by IFC

I sat on this review for a solid 2 weeks because I’m just not sure where to start. I’m still not sure how to accurately express my feelings for In the Woods. So here it goes.

Tana French has made the list as one of my favorite authors. In the Woods is one of my top five favorite reads of 2018. And around page 300 I was yelling (out loud) at the characters. I finished this book feeling drained, angry, sad, frustrated, and still amazed. This story left me so upset that I contacted a few of my closest friends just to remind them they are loved. I still find myself fondly thinking about it on a near daily basis. In the Woods will stick with me for a long time.

I’m not going to provide any story details because it would definitely ruin the reading experience. Just know that Tana French is a FANTASTIC character writer. I didn’t realize how invested I had become in Rob and Cassie until it was too late to pull back. French provides a startling decent into the mind of a victim, the manipulation of psychopaths, and the flawed logic of humans. She doesn’t insult her readers by switching traits of her characters. Rob is no Mary Sue; he sticks to his guns for better or for worse. I appreciate this in a writer; French made these characters real!

Oh..and there are multiple murders, some archaeology, and other amazing parts that make it the perfect fall mystery. Just read it. (but make sure you have a puppy or best friend to hug afterwards ☺️)

Anyone else a Tana French fan? Please please please tell me what you think of In the Woods. Happy Reading.

Lindsay

CB Strike Update

I love JK Rowling’s Cormoran Strike mystery series written under her pseudonym, Robert Galbraith. I actually prefer this series over Harry Potter….(there. I SAID IT. I love this series. Its fantastic)

So you can only imagine how excited I was to find the books had been turned into a tv series and that it was available on Cinemax/Amazon Prime. Guys…I full on fan-girled and then subjected my husband to three books worth of episodes. He was less than thrilled but I am one happy girl who is ready to binge watch the entire series again. (I reshared by initial reviews of The Cuckoo’s Calling, The Silkwormand Career of Evil before watching the show.)

So how does it hold up to the original books? I think the tv adaption is awesome!

The tv adaptation stays relatively true to the stories. The setting is visually spectacular; the gray/blue lighting emphasizing the darker aspects of both the crimes and Strike’s personal struggles. I felt the cast was well picked. Tom Burke played the perfect Strike and I was happy with Holliday Grainger’s representation of Robin. Even the secondary characters, such as Shanker and Matthew, were just well done. And the best part….they didn’t change the storylines too much! (that’s always a big deal in my opinion)

I wish the episodes were longer. I felt that each book could have had an additional episode devoted to the story because there were so many fantastic details that you miss if you haven’t read the books. This includes the details of both Strike and Robin’s pasts, the minutia of the investigations, and Strike’s investigative relationships.

My one actual complaint….Matthew was too nice. The Matthew of the books is an insecure, controlling jerk. I can’t stand him. I finished the last book wanting nothing more than for Robin to leave him. The Matthew of the series was a more reasonable shadow of the man in the books. Sure he was still insecure and self centered but he’s no where near as whining and controlling as he should have been portrayed. It left me annoyed that he was more likable than he should have been.

WATCH IT! READ THE BOOKS! And then let me know what you think! In the meantime…I think I’m going to watch it again. Happy Reading!

Lindsay