Looking for a new book to read? How do you know if it’s any good?
Well, Gal’s Guide has started a new programs where we are readers like you to review books and we share them. We’re even giving away cool 80’s theme prizes to reviews.
Happiness Becomes You by Tina Turner
I like that Tina Turner talked about how Buddhism and chanting helped her life. I would absolutely recommend this book to people who are wanting to start a study of Buddhism or those who are interested in how Tina Turner is an amazing survivor who is giving her hard-fought knowledge to the world. – Reviewed by Leah Leach
Gal’s Guide Library – Not Yet Available
Axis Sally by Richard Lucas
Axis Sally (Mildred Gillars) is a complicated lady and I’m so glad there is a book about her. Axis Sally did some shady things during the war and it was nice to be able to see where possibly her intentions were. I didn’t like the author blaming the men in her life. I think they were an influence but I think she had a strong urge to perform and make a difference, she just got the chance with terrible people. I would recommend this book to people who like complicated women of history and don’t mind reading about the Third Reich and the Nazi’s. -Reviewed by Leah Leach
Always Coming Home by Ursula K Le guin
Love this book! It was a little confusing at first, but after I learned that it was written as different people speaking, it made it much easier to read. I still am not sure who the anthropologist is in the beginning. I would recommend this book but – be patient. – Reviewed by Mona
Good Morning, Destroyer of Men’s Souls by Nina Renata Aron
It was realistically presented as a woman in love with an addict. Very intense. What I didn’t like about the book was when she sought help, she worked only with alanon, with any other type of group. AA and those groups and religious oriented and are a turn off to me. I would recommend this book especially if one is struggling with co-dependency. – Reviewed by Mona
Untamed by Glennon Doyle
It was ok. She wrote in vignettes, which I like, but I think that she tries too hard. The second part is better than the first. It’s too exuberant for my taste. I know that she and I don’t have anything in common. It’s just a bit much for me. I just think she tries too hard. I would recommend it to women who were raised in a strict home where they weren’t allowed the freedom to explore their own personality, not to someone like me. – Reviewed by Mona
Inspiring story of a woman who blew up her life to pursue her true desires. I definitely recommend this book. I’ve given it to five friends already. My favorite quote is “You are a goddamn cheetah Tabitha.” – Reviewed by Lisa
Caste by Isabel Wilkerson
This is a brilliant book, describing caste as the predominant way that our system of government and life with a hierarchy of human rankings, like those in India and Nazi Germany. I thought I knew what it would be about, but I was sorely mistaken. I’ll be donating this book to the library. Highly recommend to anyone who seriously thinks about our society for for what it truly is. – Reviewed by Mona
Favorite Quote: Describing a photo of a man in Nazi Germany, not saluting Hitler: “…unless people are willing to transcend their fears, endure discomfort and derision, suffer the scorn of loved ones and neighbors and co-workers and friends, fall into disfavor of perhaps everyone they know, face exclusion and even banishment, it would be numerically impossible, humanly impossible, for everyone to be that man. What would it take to he him in any era? What would it take to be him now?”
Nobody’s Victim: Fighting Psychos, Stalkers, Pervs, and Trolls by Carrie Goldberg
Victim rights lawyer Carrie Goldberg should get a Nobel Prize for her work helping girls and women (as well as gay men, non-binary individuals, and other LGBTQ+ folks) who have been victimized by, as the title says, psychos, stalkers, pervs, and trolls – known and unknown. From victims of anonymous death threats and gang stalking to revenge porn, blackmail, and extortion by exes — Goldberg has literally seen it all and helped countless people, not least by lobbying for new laws that take new technology and platforms and their misuse into account. This book is an excellent resource for anyone who is being harassed online or offline and needs practical advice. How it could be better It’s impossible to be 100% up-to-date with bills, laws, court cases, legal precedents, and active web links with such a timely topic. I look forward to reading an updated edition. I’d definitely recommend this book.
Favorite quote “These offenders want to dominate, manipulate, and punish their victims. I refuse to let them win. All of us have the power to fight back. We don’t have to be victims. We can be the army to take these motherfuckers down.”- Reviewed by The Other KGB
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
I loved that the author exposed the racism in 1950s medicine, while she developed a friendship with the family of Henrietta, especially her daughter, Deborah. She had more patience than I ever could have had. I also liked that she started by saying she wasn’t even interested in science as a kid. It was only when she learned about Henrietta that she became interested. Rebecca seemed almost super-human patient with the family is the only flaw if there is one. I just don’t see how anyone could be that way, probably because I am not. I would recommend this book. – Reviewed by Mona
What Stars Are Made of The Life of Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin
This was a very easy to read book. It is about 250 pages with many photos and I was able to read through it in a weekend. I still cannot believe that the work she is known for, figuring out that stars are mostly hydrogen and helium, she completed when she was around 25. I would have loved to learn more about her working relationships with the other Harvard computers. It did mention that Pickering, Willimina, and Leavitt had died before Payne arrived. I believe Cannon was still there though. I would absolutely recommend this book! – Reviewed by Bonnie
Gal’s Guide Library – Not Yet Available
The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer
This was a compelling book that told the stories of two women in different times who both have challenges – external and internal. I liked the two stories of women in different time periods discovering themselves and becoming stronger. In the past, Alina overcomes her family’s and society’s expectations that she is too young, too feminine, too girly, and saves another’s life and escape the horrors of the war. In the present, Alice finds her voice. I would definitely recommend this book. Favorite quote “Life has a way of reminding you that you are at the mercy of chance, and that even well-thought-out plans can turn to chaos in an instant.” Reviewed by Carol
Irena’s Children: The Extraordinary Story of the Women Who Saved 2,500 Children from the Warsaw Ghetto by Tilar J. Mazzeo
While this book detailed the horrors of the war, it also showed the strength and resilience of those who refused to stand by and watch the horrors of World War II, Irena and those who helped her were inspiring from her fellow social workers. These stories are important to be told so that we don’t forget. I would recommend this book. – Reviewed by Carol
The Sleeping Dictionary by Sujata Massey
This is historical fiction at its best. Massey creates the story of Kamala, a young girl orphaned in a hurricane, and late Raj India in their quest for independence. The book is well-researched, entertaining, and uplifting.
I listened to the audiobook. The narrator is Sneha Mathan who does a lovely job of bringing characters to life. I highly recommend this book. It’s a fascinating look at a resilient young woman and her life in Raj India. Favorite Quotes: “Any person could build a room of her own in her mind.” “To say goodbye to my collection of books hurt, for they had been my steadfast companions through everything.” “Words are what will win our struggle.” – Reviewed by cblake50
Gal’s Guide Library – Not Yet Available
Buffalo Gals & Other Animal Presences by Ursula K Le Guin
I have fallen in love with this author! This book is a collection of short stories, 1 novella, and poetry. I especially loved a story called, The Direction of the Road, but everything in the book is magical. Funny that I’d never read anything written by her until last year. Now I want to gobble up everything she ever wrote! The last story in the book relates to the first book I reviewed, Always Coming Home. How it could be better? It was too short! More! More! I would highly recommend! My opinion, but I believe she had to have been high on peyote to write the way she does, in any of her books! I love the introductions that she gives before each story and poem. – Reviewed by Mona
They Married Confederate Officers by Kathy Neill Herran
I loved the well made, well planned, family tree that is inside the front of the book. I checked it out because I have ancestors that were in NC, so I wanted to see if I recognized any names. I found none of my ancestors on those pages. It is written partly as a biography and partly as a well researched history. I think if she would have concentrated more on the biography aspect and less on the history part, it would have been an easier read. I would recommend this book, yes. If you have ancestors from that area or are researching that time period. Or are just fascinated with it. It’s well researched. – Reviewed by Mona
Unbought and Unbossed by Shirley Chisolm
This book was an honest look at politics, racism, and genderism in the 1970’s – and the story of a woman who fought it all to become the first African American woman in Congress. She told her story – her strengths, her illness, her regrets – and pulled no punches about who and what she had to work around (or work with) to do what she needed to do. What I disliked about the book was how relevant that book is 50 years later. I kept having to remind myself that this was published in 1970 – and yet so much of the prejudice and behind-the-scenes political machinations seem to be pulled straight out of last week’s newspaper. “I know they think, as many people do, that I don’t understand politics. I understand it too damned well, after all my years in it, and that’s why I want to change it.”
“I hope if I am remembered it will finally be for what I have done, not for what I happen to be. And I hope that my having made it, the hard way, can be some kind of inspiration, particularly to women.” (Yes, you are, Shirley, yes you are.) – Reviewed by Debbi
Visconti’s Forgotten Heir by Elizabeth Power
Good descriptions. I checked this book out because I am writing a book and I wanted to read it for research. I had never read a Harlequin romance before. I was pleasantly surprised. It had a pretty good plot. I did not like the aspect of people, especially women, being slaves to their emotions or sexual urges. Not sure. I read or skimmed it in one night. – Reviewed by Mona
The Land of Painted Caves by Jean M. Auel
I don’t want to give anything away because this is the 6th in the Cave Bear series so if anyone wants to read them all they wouldn’t want spoilers. Ayla and Jondular are fine. I am writing a book and researching how to write sex scenes. For 30 years, there has been an annual Bad Sex in Fiction award, given to otherwise good fiction. This book was a runner-up in 2011. In 2020, that award was cancelled because the Literary Review said there was too much bad in the world, they didn’t want to add anything else. I’d already read all 6 of these books, but I went through 2 of them again, looking for good or bad sex scenes. True to it’s title, this gigantic book is about caves. When I read it the first time, I remember how I kept thinking, come on, come on, let’s get through these caves and get to the good stuff. I know the caves are important, and important things happen in the caves to Ayla, but still, I was really impatient to get out of the caves. I’d said before that the ending was disappointing but I re-read it and I was wrong. I think it’s pretty good. I would recommend the entire series of Clan of the Cave Bear. Jean Auel took 19 years to research and write all 6 books. They were published in 1980, 1982, 1985, 1990, 2002, and 2011. There were many years waiting between books. Many die-hard fans (such as myself) were hoping for a 7th book, but it never came. She always planned on only 6. Jean Auel is 86 now. All the other books are better, but I loved the series. – Reviewed by Mona
Sisters In Spirit, Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Influence on Early American Feminists by Sally Roesch Wagner
Did you know that there is evidence that both Gage and Mott had ties to Native American culture? They both referenced this in their writings and speeches. Native Americans and settlers of northern New York state closely shared lives and cultures. In Syracuse newspapers, information about Native American tribe events were published in newspapers alongside settlers news. This book has great examples of the influence of the matrilineal culture of the Haudenosaunee upon early feminists.
In 1848, Mott attended a meeting of the Seneca Nation where she saw women in authority. (women nominated the chief of the tribe even). A few months later, she and Stanton organized the women’s rights convention.
How it could have been better: Spent a lot of time discussing history of women’s rights at the time which was old news for me.
I would definitely recommend. Great information about the balance of power of women and men in Native Americans and that influence upon Mott and Stanton. Only rated 4 stars because was repetitive at times. Information was top notch.
Favorite Quote: They believed women’s liberation was possible because they knew liberated women. – Reviewed by lzcardona
Parched: A Memoir by Heather King
Heather King is so thoroughly honest in her deeply personal memoir that she really gives the impression of what it was like to walk in her shoes as she struggled with alcohol abuse. When an autobiography is this personal, it’s hard to say it could have been better because that almost feels like a judgment on the author’s life. I feel as though Heather King shared exactly the right amount. If you have a friend or family member who struggles with substance use and want to know what it’s like to walk in their shoes, read this memoir.
Favorite Quote: “Books were the closest thing I had to God–even at my worst I still made a pilgrimage to the public library every week or so for a fresh stack–and O’Connor was my heroine, literary and otherwise. I had read her short stories so many times that her characters…were more real to me than people I had actually met, and though I could not imagine being a Catholic, or understanding the Gospels, or living like a monk in a Georgia dairy farm the way she had, her fierce faith and unwavering convictions inspired in me the utmost respect.” — Reviewed by SBBookGirlErin
The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles
This historical fiction set in Paris during World War II uses the American Library in Paris as its major setting. If you love books, libraries, and fascinating characters (some based on real, fascinating people), I’d highly recommend this story about the complexities of choices made during this time period. I’m not usually a fan of the dual/triple timeline, but the author weaves the past and present quite well. There as nothing I disliked. I would absolutely recommend this book!
Favorite Quote: “Delivering books will be our way of resisting.
The best thing about Paris? It’s a city of readers.
We all have a book that’s changed us forever, one that lets us know we’re not alone.” — Reviewed by cblake50
Gal’s Guide Library – Not Yet Available
The Invisible Woman by Erika Robuck
Virginia Hall was an American OSS/SOE agent who parachuted into France in 1944 and worked with a resistance group in preparation for D-Day. Her story is a remarkable and courageous one. Robuck’s research is thorough, and the resulting narrative is one which covers Hall’s past and WWII exploits in an engaging read. This book is one of my favorites of the year so far. It’s important for women’s stories to be told and to be told accurately. Hall was called the “Most Dangerous of Allied Spies” and “The Lady Who Limps” (because of her prosthetic leg).
Favorite Quotes: “As a wireless operator in fully occupied France, you’ll have six weeks to live.” “The Spanish understand the sacrament of the present moment.” “Upon her death (Vera Atkins), even those who were close to her did not know she was Jewish.” — Reviewed by cblake50
Gal’s Guide Library – Not Yet Available
a Rainbow Comes and Goes by Anderson Cooper & Gloria Vanderbilt
I greatly enjoyed the life lessons and differences in personalities that they shared with each other in this book. Gloria’s story should touch on the hearts of any young women growing up without a father figure.
The only thing I did not care for about the book was the interview style in which it was written because I found there were times when I didn’t know if it was Anderson or his mother that I was reading.
I would recommend this book if you like Anderson Cooper and wonder what its like to rub elbows with the rich and famous as a young girl.
Favorite Quote: “Being fatherless leaves a women with a taste for the fanatical… a fatherless girl can be satisfied only with the heroic, the desperate, the extreme.” –Reviewed by Suzanne
The Rosewood Casket by Sharyn McCrumb
I’ve been training with Alisa for about 9 month now. The best This book was an easy read and and it gave pretty good descriptions of the characters so you feel like you know their individual personalities. I did wonder where the author was going with the book at points. Although it’s an easy read I only gave it 4 stars because it wasn’t the most exciting. You kind of feel like the author is just trying to add interest or a twist to the story a little too late in the book. I feel like the portion of the story about the rosewood casket and his sons itself took up too much of the overall story because it just wasn’t as exciting as certain other things that happen in the book. I would have liked the story center more on the characters introduced towards the end but then it probably would not be called “ The Rosewood Casket”. I would recommend this book if you want something easy to read and can pick up and put down whenever you feel like it. Nope no quotes really stick out to me. However, I do enjoy the descriptions of the woods or nature in the book. –Reviewed by Suzanne
Not Yet Available at the Gal’s Guide Library
Great portraits described by great writers Edited by Esther Singleton
There are so many back handed compliments. These critics are brutal and snarky. For example, “the original work was bought by the noted amateur, M. De Calonne … was finally acquired by the first Marquis of Westminster.” And “the extraordinary popularity of Greuze is based, not upon the excellence of his painting , but upon his pretty faces.” I must admit, the title was both intriguing and misleading. I had envision great novelists, amatures in art, describing the works. Something like Hemingway critiquing Chagall – “damn idiot can’t draw a straight line” or some such. Sadly, this was not the case as it is art described by art critics. It’s pretty dry material. Is an interesting source of scholarly art critiques, though. The writing style of the era, 1905, was very stilted and flowery. I really had to concentrate while reading it. It is informative and reminded me of my art textbooks. –Reviewed by Lzc
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
I did enjoy the descriptive style in which the author wrote the book as it gave life to what it was like to be a black individual during the time of slavery. I did not like how overly sexual the book was. Maybe that played a big role given the time period and subject matter but for me it didn’t seem necessary for the story. The story too seems to jump about between characters which makes reading disjointed. I would recommend this book for anyone with an interest in black culture and the slavery era for its descriptions. –Reviewed by Suzanne
Not Yet Available at the Gal’s Guide Library
My Path Leads to Tibet by Sabriye Tenberken
I really liked that the Author took the risks that she did in pursuit of her dream no matter what anyone else told her. I do think that this book was kind of a sleepy read. It just didn’t grab my attention and I kind of labored through until the end. Plus the end seemed rather abrupt like it wasn’t really finished. I would recommend this book to anyone that wants to do charity work in places they aren’t familiar with so they can assess potential risks and challenges in their own charitable journey.
Favorite quote: “What was I doing really?” –Reviewed by Suzanne
Lucky by Alice Sebold
It’s an easy read. Its somewhat of a page turner because you start to wonder if her attacker will be caught and if caught what sort of sentence he will get. It’s a little repetitive. However, I think this is an intentional technique that the author uses to show what it’s like to relive a traumatic event over and over again. I would recommend this book because it allows you to empathize with the author and anyone that has gone through a traumatic sexual assault or rape. The author was strong and brave enough to give full on detail about her experience and I imagine that would be very difficult or triggering to someone with PTSD about a rape.
Favorite Quote “Come to me, Come to me,
Come die and lie, beside me.” –Reviewed by Suzanne