Science Novel Critique

Her Hidden Genius by Marie Benedict tells the story of Rosalind Franklin, an unsung hero of science who braved the storm of gender bias to map the structure of DNA, despite constant harassment and undermining in the late 1940s and 1950s. As an X-ray crystallographer, Franklin battled not only the complexities of scientific discovery but also the demeaning attitudes of her male colleagues in academia. Despite her pivotal contributions, the theft of her work shadowed her achievements by other scientists who later won a Nobel Prize. Benedict, who has a knack for bringing the stories of overlooked women in history to light, paints Franklin as a tenacious and intelligent trailblazer. […]

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Panama Canal Coup

I just finished Command and Control, a thrilling addition to the Jack Ryan series that kept me turning pages well into the night. The legacy of Tom Clancy lives on, and this book is proof that the spirit of Jack Ryan continues to captivate readers with its intense political and military scenarios. This time, the drama unfolds around the Panama Canal, an essential artery of global trade. The plot kicks off when President Jack Ryan is caught in the middle of a coup while visiting Panama to support his friend, President Rafael Botero, against socialist threats. What was supposed to be a routine display of democratic solidarity spirals into chaos, […]

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Mixed Feelings About Violeta

Violeta by Isabel Allende, a nominee for the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Historical Fiction in 2022, is a bit of a mixed bag for me. It’s the life story of Violeta del Valle, a woman whose 100 years span the most tumultuous events of the twentieth century, told through letters to her grandson. This setup promises a lot—emotional depth, historical insights, and the personal touch that comes with such a narrative form. And while Allende is no slouch in the storytelling department, this journey felt uneven. Starting off in the stormy year of 1920, during the Spanish flu pandemic, Violeta’s life is undeniably epic. I could almost see the […]

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A Maritime Disaster in 1915 Chicago

“If we’re honest with ourselves, I think we’d find that much of what we love has a lot to do with the memories we’ve attached to it.”—Jocelyn Green, Drawn by the Current. Jocelyn Green’s Drawn by the Current takes you on a harrowing journey aboard the ill-fated SS Eastland, which capsizes while tied to a dock in 1915 Chicago. Olive Pierce, an insurance agent, takes her best friend on an excursion on the ship to celebrate her birthday when the unthinkable occurs. With Claire missing amid the chaos, Olive’s escape is just the beginning. The wreckage is more than the twisted steel and the chilling waters of the lake—it’s the […]

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A Sweeping Equestrian Journey

“You have to know that bigots are unwittingly handing you an edge. By thinking you’re lesser than they are, they underestimate you. Lean on that. Learn to use it, and you’ll get the upper hand.” —Geraldine Brooks, Horse. I’ve been a fan of Pulitzer Prize-winner Geraldine Brooks since reading her first novel, Year of Wonders. She once proves once again why she’s a household name with her novel Horse. Based on a true story, this journey weaves through centuries, tying together the lives of people separated by generations but connected by the legacy of a record-breaking thoroughbred named Lexington. You’ll meet Jarret in the 1850s, bound by the chains of […]

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Epic Family Saga

“Within every misfortune there is a blessing and within every blessing, the seeds of misfortune, and so it goes, until the end of time.”—Melissa Fu, Peach Blossom Spring. Melissa Fu’s Peach Blossom Spring is a mosaic of survival and identity, stitching together a story across oceans and generations. Through the eyes of Meilin and her son Renshu, later known as Henry Dao, we experience the upheaval of war and the tension between embracing the future and honoring the past. Meilin charts a course through a China inflamed by war and political upheaval, her resilience leaping off the page. Fu paints Meilin with a masterful touch—she’s not just a character but […]

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Updated Devotional Falls Short

“Consider the moment you are in right now: Do you feel the spark of eternity, of life itself, lighting you from within? The spark never comes from our own efforts. Obedience keeps us in the light, but it doesn’t fill us with vibrant, vital, untiring life. This can only come from the Spirit. To keep in touch with the Spirit within, we must jealously guard our relationship to God.”—Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest. Oswald Chambers’s My Utmost for His Highest is a devotional that has stood the test of time, touching the lives of millions. In its newest incarnation, the 99-day condensation presents the essence of his 366-day […]

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Where the Last Rose Blooms

Ashley Clark’s third installment in the Heirloom Secrets series, a dual-narrative historical novel, intertwines the lives of two women bonded by loss and a hidden language of flowers. The suspenseful story flips between post-Katrina New Orleans and Civil War-era Charleston, focusing on Alice, a florist who stumbles upon an embroidered mystery, and Clara, a Confederate general’s daughter, turned abolitionist spy. The women, separated by centuries, share a common determination and depth of spirit as they face challenges including slavery, societal prejudices, and personal demons. The novel shines with its well-crafted female protagonists, both embodiments of resilience and faith. The historical fabric of the narrative, particularly Clara’s journey, is richly woven, […]

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The Marriage Portrait

In Maggie O’Farrell’s The Marriage Portrait, the historical backdrop of Renaissance Italy leaps off the page, bringing us the tale of Lucrezia de’ Medici, third daughter of Cosimo de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany—a figure shrouded in obscurity and tragedy. O’Farrell paints a vivid picture of young Lucrezia, who much prefers the strokes of her paintbrush and exploring the Palazzo over the harsh expectations of nobility. Lucrezia’s life takes a sharp turn at 12 when she’s promised to Alfonso d’Este, Duke of Ferrara—her deceased sister’s once-intended. Once she enters the duke’s world at age 15, Lucrezia faces the challenge of threading her way through the intricate politics of her new […]

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Amy’s Picks and Pans, Issue 27

  Hey fellow bookies! Spring has sprung, birds are looking for love, and flower bulbs are popping through the moldering ground. Just imagine, with a gentle breeze stirring the air, there’s nothing like kicking back with a good book. So, let’s grab a cup of something yummy and dive into this month’s hits and misses in the literary world. I’ve got my stack right here, and I’m ready to share my thoughts. Let’s find out which books might become your sun-soaked companions and which ones might just be better used as doorstops. As always, these are just my opinions, you may think differently. Ready? Let’s turn the page!   Remarkably […]

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