Siege’s #CBR5 #7: They Fought Like Demons: Women Soldiers in the Civil War by DeAnne Blanton and Lauren Cook

As you all know, I’m an avid Civil War buff, and am always on the lookout for a new and interesting slant on things. They Fought Like Demons focuses on women who disguised themselves as males to join in on both sides of the conflict. Though primary sources and also reported anecdotal evidence, the authors demonstrate the methods and motivations of women in the Civil War trenches.

This definitely reads more like an academic paper than a book, but that’s okay. The authors managed to cram in an amazing amount of facts and research into a fairly small amount of space. A lot of it was fascinating, though there were sometimes SO MANY facts that it got a little hard to follow or in a few spots a bit repetitive. 

The only thing I found a little questionable was the authors’ adamant denial that any of these women (even the ones who lived as men both before and after the war) were lesbians. While I see their point, which is that women had so few options at the time that some might choose to continue to live as men because they preferred a more independent lifestyle, I think it’s a bit silly to think that none of them would be what today would be referred to as “transgendered”. In all, it’s an excellent piece of research on an overlooked area of history.

Siege’s #CBR5 #6: Role Models by John Waters

(I’ve been really out of the blogging game this year. Not sure why, but I just WAS NOT FEELING IT. I’ve been reading at my usual pace, but the effort needed to get online and write up a blog and then copy it to the other blog and blah blah blah was not making the top of my priority list. So I thought “Well, that’s it for book blogging, I guess.” Then one day, I discovered that as I was finishing books, I was feeling inspired to add a little review blurb over at Goodreads (where I diligently keep track of all my book activities). Nothing major or in-depth, but just a little something to let people know what I thought. As time went on, I thought “Maybe I could copy these little blurbs on my blog? They’re obviously not great criticism, but they’re SOMETHING at least.” So that’s what I’m doing. Take it or leave it, people.)

I find John Waters totally adorable. His gleeful enthusiasm for all things tacky, crude, and macabre makes me think that we would probably get along famously. Role Models is a series of essays, loosely gathered under the theme of “role models” but it’s mostly musings on his twisted way of seeing the world. Whether it’s a heartfelt explanation of his friendship with former Manson girl Leslie Van Houten or an in-depth investigation of the lives of underground gay porn filmmakers, Waters brings a boundless curiosity and a certain amount of sweet affection to all his subjects. He’s unapologetic about his own quirks and flaws, which makes him very understanding of the neuroses of others (unless they don’t read, in which case, “don’t fuck them”).

Although a few of his essays can seem a bit endless (the one about his favorite clothing designer reads a bit like the chapter of American Psycho when Patrick Bateman describes in detail each item of clothing and skin care product he owns) most were glorious little blobs of cheerful crudity and giggling chaos. It’s not for everyone, but if you love his movies, you’ll probably love his books too.

Rochelle’s #CBR5 Review #25: The River of Doubt by Candace Millard

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After I finished A Storm of Swords, I felt traumatized and brutalized.  I felt like I needed something gentler for my next read, so I picked up Candace Millard’s River of Doubt, Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey.  Because the best palate cleanser for fictional brutality is historical brutality.  Oh, it’s a different kind of brutality, less about people killing each other creatively, though there is some of that, and more about brutal deprivation and surviving in an inhospitable environment for which you are devastatingly unprepared.

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Siege’s #CBR5 #5: Constable for Life: Chronicles of a Canadian Mountie by Chuck Bertrand

This is a charming little book that The Boyfriend picked up for me while on a business trip to Vancouver. He apparently stumbled upon the author doing a signing, and managed to get a signed copy with a nice dedication for me.

Chuck Bertrand’s voice is pleasant, and he tells stories from his career in the RCMP that vary from humorous to heartbreaking. I really enjoyed this, and felt that Bertrand seems to be the kind of law enforcement officer that everyone hopes for–dedicated to protecting and serving, but with a healthy of dose of humor and common sense.

Although not to everyone’s taste, I found this a quick and sweet read.

taralovesbooks’ #CBR5 Review #37: Not Without My Sister by Kristina Jones, Celeste Jones, & Juliana Buhring

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Cannonball Read V: Book #37/52
Published: 2008
Pages: 432
Genre: Nonfiction/Memoir

Like other people have said, the title of this book is a little misleading. The book does follow three half-sisters who grew up in the Children of God cult. However, they are in and out of each others lives and barely know each other, much less refuse to leave without each other. The first half of the book is divided into three large chunks with the background of each sister – Celeste, Kristina, and Juliana. The second half weaved the sisters’ stories together and quickly changed narrators every few pages. I found the second half was really hard to keep track of everyone because their backgrounds, childhoods, and family members were very similar.

Read the rest in my blog.

taralovesbooks’ #CBR5 Review #36: Locked Up in La Mesa by Steve Peterson & Eldon Asp

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Cannonball Read V: Book #36/52
Published: 2011
Pages: 230
Genre: Nonfiction/Memoir

In the 70’s, Steve Peterson got arrested for smuggling marijuana across the Mexican border. He ended up in a notoriously bad Mexican prison for almost a year due to the large amount of pot he was smuggling. La Mesa reminded me of the South American prison in the tv show Prison Break. Inmates were sort of thrown in there and left to their own devices. Some inmates had their entire families living in there with them. A hierarchy was structured with the “leader” of the prison living in an onsite house with a jacuzzi. The inmates could buy property from him (Peterson bought a small cell with cardboard walls for a few hundred dollars) and he controlled all the buying/selling/trading that went on within the prison.

Read the rest in my blog.

taralovesbooks’ #CBR5 Review #35: Texts From Bennett by Mac Lethal

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Cannonball Read V: Book #35/52
Published: 2013
Pages: 320
Genre: Humor/Nonfiction

**I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley. It is expected to be released on September 3, 2013.**

I don’t read a lot of humor books, but I’m a fan of Mac Lethal’s Tumblr blog, Texts From Bennett. The blog is a series of texts between Mac and his younger cousin, Bennett. Bennett is a wanna-be gangster (he thinks he’s in the Crips gang) from Kansas City. Mac is actually a legit hip-hop artist (which I had no idea about until I read the book), but doesn’t play into the rapper stereotype, much to Bennett’s chagrin.

I always wondered how Mac and Bennett’s relationship was formed. They seem so different, including a fairly big age gap between the two (Bennet is a teenager and Mac is 30 in the book). That’s where this book excelled. I went into it expecting a bunch of short stories and jokes at Bennett’s expense and actually found a great story about two very different people becoming great friends.

Read the rest in my blog.

taralovesbooks’ #CBR5 Review #31: Inside Scientology by Janet Reitman

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Cannonball Read V: Book #31/52
Published: 2011
Pages: 444
Genre: Nonfiction

I’m officially burned out on Scientology books. I actually bought this one before Going Clear, but figured since I already bought it, I might as well read it to. I figured it would be pretty redundant since Going Clear was so thorough, but I was surprised to find some new stuff in Janet Reitman’s book.

I’m just going to say this again: Scientology is scary. I don’t really care what religion people want to believe in, but when a religion refuses to allow people to leave that’s when it starts crossing the line over into cult territory (at least for me). Although Scientology constantly is refuting the claims of abuse from ex-members, I’m finding it really hard to believe it’s not true with all the first-hand accounts. And those are just from the people they haven’t scared or paid off to keep quiet.

Read the rest in my blog.

lyndamk #cbr5 review #15 & #16: Baghdad without a Map and Other Misadventures in Arabia by Tony Horwitz and The Way of the Knife by Mark Mazzetti

Horwitz will make you laugh about his “misadventures” in a turbulent region. Mazzetti, on the other hand, will probably provide a dose of frustration. Both are good discussions of our relations with the Middle East. Read more at my blog …

Katie′s #CBR5 Review #30: What You Need To Know Before You Invest by Rod Davis

Title: What You Need To Know Before You Invest
Author: Rod Davis
Source: library
Rating: 
Fun Fact: The Dow Jones index was created in 1884, when it included 11 companies and was computed by hand.
Review Summary: This was mostly an easy read and seemed like a good introduction to the different types of investments.

Investing is a topic that makes me anticipate being confused, bored or both, so I approached this book with a certain amount of trepidation. In fact, I probably wouldn’t have picked it up at all if it weren’t for two things. First, my significant other and I are reaching a stage in our careers where knowing something about investing seems responsible. Secondly, my attempt to read through the Dewey Decimal system made this day inevitable. Fortunately, the majority of the book was a much easier read than I expected.

Read more at Doing Dewey…