There is nothing like a serial killer to get your blood boiling and this particular one is most upsetting because he was a Doctor. Dr. Cream poisoned at least ten women over a fifteen year period before he was finally brought to trial in London in 1892. It is always fascinating to see how the police refused to use the new science of forensics which would have solved a great many of these crimes, the Victorian society norms that gave Dr. Cream a multitude of willing victims in search of an abortion and the ease of which a doctor was able to obtain deadly poisons in large quantities. Dean Jobb gives us a fascinating and grisly look at what makes a killer and how he can hide in plain sight making this just the ticket for those fans of THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY, Jack the Ripper and MINDHUNTER. 4 stars
I love Helen Ellis and her style of in your face but with a Southerner's grace of humor. Her essays speak to all ages of women whether you are in that age range, will someday be in that age range or remember how crazy that age was , the end result is always the same- giggle snort laughter. From gaging their dinner guest's sex life, to girl trips, to garage sales these essays speak to women who are not afraid to stare fifty in the face. Every time I read her I want to shout out "Right On Sister"! She is a national treasure, a character and a spokesperson for telling it like you wish you could. Fans of Erma Bombeck, Nora Ephron and Mrs. Mazel rejoice! 4 1/2 snarky stars
In 1860 a woman had no rights. Her life was dictated by her father, then husband or another male in the family. Elizabeth Packard was a devout woman, loving mother of six children and the wife of a preacher. She was not meek and shared her views with the congregation and her husband. Because her voice would not be silenced her husband had her committed to an asylum. She had no contact with the outside world and more importantly, her children. Even though Elizabeth began her stay at the Jacksonville asylum on a ward that was quiet and offered a bit more freedom, her cries of protest got her sent to the truly dangerous ward that was barbaric and made her situation even more unjust. Foraging for scraps of paper and pencil nubs she was able to keep a secret diary which later gave her the means for several books and papers. A gifted writer and speaker, when she eventually gained her freedom she was able to support herself and her children which felt like the final "take that" moment. A staunch supporter of women's rights she won legislation to force the courts to hold a trial before anyone was committed which slowed down the process by which so many healthy sane women were being unjustly held. The account is harrowing, the description of the "cures" used in these asylums is barbaric and the telling of Elizabeth Packard's story is riveting. 4 1/2 stars
A gritty memoir of a man who rose out of a violent and transient childhood to become a scientist for NASA. Instead of falling into a downward spiral of poverty, abuse, violence and drugs Hakeem discovered early on that he had a super power that would save him - he was smart. The more he learned, the more he wanted to understand which got him countless whippings as a kid but gave his curious mind somewhere to go other than the streets. His life was a yo-yo which included gang trouble and drugs but education led him eventually to Stanford and a career at NASA. He is blunt and honest in his accounting of the challenges and triumphs and hopefully his story will inspire young people at a crossroads to succeed and appeal to those who have the power to lift up rather than force down. 4 stars
Take one 63 year old woman who has never really been out of her little Maine town but has a burning desire to see the Pacific Ocean, add a horse who needs a second chance, a faithful dog and no reason to stay in Minot after losing the family farm and you have the basis for this enchanting adventure. Annie Wilkins finds herself in 1954 with nothing left to lose and just enough money to make it tramping as she calls it as she sets out to travel cross country by horseback. What she finds is more attention is paid her than she expected, the mountains out west should be taken seriously and there is kindness from strangers wherever she goes and whenever she needs it. Elizabeth Lett's easy going writing style is perfect in the telling of this grand adventure and spunky determination of Annie to finish her quest. It is a story of a simpler time, a love of animal companions and the kindness of people. Fans of her other horse books will enjoy as will readers of Steinbeck's TRAVELS WITH CHARLEY. 4 stars
Most performers are nervous on opening night on Broadway but few are worried that the evening may result in violence and possibly death. This was indeed the case when Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake's first all- African American cast musical played Broadway in 1921. Thankfully, there was much applause and the success of "Shuffle Along" grew into a long running hit. In a time where the only entertainment showing African Americans was done by white actors in black face makeup, this show broke barriers and introduces theatre goers to the real African American experience and talent. These brave men and women whose careers were launched from that show were fortunate to finally have a showcase for their considerable talent. They still faced racism, inequality in pay and recognition. A solid choice for those interested in early Broadway and African American performers. 5 stars
Katherine Johnson was a pioneer on so many levels and crossed barriers due to her skin color and the fact that she was a woman as well as helping to launch the US into space. Following the movie "Hidden Figures" she became well known overnight as we learned of her long career with NASA as a black female mathematician. She was who John Glenn wanted to check the calculations before he would climb into the tin can that would hurl him into space. She also worked hard to break barriers outside of NASA and was active in civil rights. All this coming from humble beginnings in West Virginia in a family where education was everything. She led a full life and shares her hopes, joys and defeats in this sweet memoir that mixes the history of the space program with the civil rights movement and stressing the importance of a good education and perseverance. 4 stars
Give me the worst time of your life and I am pretty sure Eddie Jaku has seen worse but you would never know it. Here is a man who lives by love and friendship after almost being exterminated and in a string of camps enduring a host of atrocities the vast majority of people did not survive. This slim memoir is a testament to choosing to embrace life and happiness. He honors those who died by giving joy to those who live. This is a testament to the absolute evil that human beings can inflict on one another and the absolute joy in spreading happiness. This will make a optimistic gift for graduates or young people who are having a hard time understanding the hate in our society. 4 stars
A young Korean-American woman deals with the illness that robs her of her mother and the grief that comes after losing her. Food connects us to where we come from, to our family, and our own history.
This memoir is a celebration of that connecting her to her mother's dishes, to the food they experienced during their trips back to Korea and to Michele's recreation of those dishes in the states. It is a powerful, painful and heartfelt story that shows the connections between mother and daughter, the two cultures that helped shape her and losing her mother to a horrible disease that she was felt powerless to control. It is a story that speaks to all of us. 4 1/2 stars
Having always been interested in larger than life Nellie Bly I knew that there had to be many more women journalists who were pioneers in a world dominated by men. So, how do you get out of writing snippets in the society pages and do some real journalism when you can't even vote, sit on a jury and are not taken seriously? You work for free, work under an assumed male name or become a "girl reporter". These brave women put themselves in dangerous situations that even their male counterparts would not have done to expose scandals , dangerous situations and deplorable social conditions. They searched out women like themselves and became advocates for women's rights.
Some, like Nellie Bly, would achieve fame but most had their best efforts go unnoticed by the public.
Not only is this an in depth look at the "girl stunt reporters" but it is also an interesting look at the high jinx between the two biggest publishers - Heart and Pulitzer in their endless feud and quest for being crowned king of the publishing world. Kim Todd shares her research at the end of the book which tied up loose ends and I found very interesting. For any reader who enjoys learning more about the unsung female heroes.
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