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Terrible Virtue by Ellen Feldman

Ohhhhh boy. This book.

I was so excited to read it. I even thought about pre-ordering it on Kindle just to be sure that I got a copy. Then, duh, I remembered those nifty places called “libraries” and I was able to get one of the first copies of it reserved. When it arrived – ahead of schedule – I cleared my reading queue to make room for it. The fact that I have to return it by a certain date notwithstanding…

Once again, the library saved my already bloated reading budget. I am so glad I didn’t purchase this title. The one word I’d use to describe it would be thus — underwhelming.

The first, oh, 25% of the book was good. It was very well paced and gave a good background to Margaret, her life, and some possible reasons why she because involved in the women’s movement, primarily birth control.

Then…It took a nose dive. Big time. And the way that Ms. Feldman chose to write Margaret turned her into an insufferable harpy. She became so myopic to the cause of birth control that very few were left unscathed in her wake; this included her family.

Add to that, it jumped around a lot and the injections of other people’s POV in the middle of chapters just left me with a serious case of reader’s whiplash. Were they letters? Journals? How did these other people find their way into the narrative? If you’re going to write a book in first person, keep it that way. And if you’re going to bring in other narrators, then at least give the reader some context as to how it is these characters are now talking to you.

Much has been written and reported on Margaret’s involvement in the eugenics movement. Now, keeping everything in context we, as modern readers, need to realize that, much like seances and psychics, eugenics was, unfortunately, a very real part of early 20th century culture. Was it right? No, not at all. However, we do ourselves and our grandparents/great grandparents generation a disservice when we try to view the good, the bad, and the ugly (of which eugenics was most definitely the bad and the ugly) from the lens of our perspective.

Having said that, this book treated that topic as a minor footnote. In fact, it was only in one of the shorter chapters towards the end of the books where anything was really said about it. (Again, first person narrative.)

My final gripe with this book is that it ended so quickly and abruptly that I was wondering if maybe the copy I’d gotten from the library was missing another couple of chapters. Nope. It just comes to s a screeching halt. Obviously, because this book is based on a person who was an actual living, breathing human being and who was born, lived, and died, of course the book had to come to an end. I just object to the fashion in which it just BAM! sort of happened. Some editor somewhere needs a stern talking to.

Would I recommend this book? Ehhh, hard to say. I did find myself looking for other titles on birth control, the suffrage movement, and feminism in general just because I think women nowadays take so much for granted. I’m a woman – and a millennial – and even though I have a bachelors degree in history, I *still* find myself pausing and taking a moment and realizing that women haven’t even had the right to vote for even 100 years yet.

But I digress. Read this at your own risk. I will say that this book inspired me to take the money I would have spent on it (thanks again, library!) and donate it to Planned Parenthood instead.

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Review – Blackstone and the Rendezvous with Death

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. Many thanks!

Blackstone and the Rendezvous with Death by Sally Spencer

4 solid stars for the start of a series that shows great promise. If you’re a fan of the BBC’s Ripper Street or Copper (never mind its American location), you will love this book.

A member of an aristocratic family turns up dead in the guise of a beggar. Later, he is found to have had muckraker sensibilities that stretches into London’s various immigrant populations, namely the Russians.

Add to that Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee and a world on the cusp of the 20th century and you have yourself a fascinating peek into late 19th century detective work.

Blackstone was an interesting character. Not much is revealed about him, personally speaking, in about the first half of the book. Then, by the 2nd half, you learn lots more. As I was first beginning this book and not seeing much character development, I wondered if perhaps this was a later book in the series. Nope, it’s just a matter of plot and how the author decided to sequence the story.

The one character who I did find to be a bit overwrought was that of Hannah. I won’t spoil anything but will just say, “aw, c’mon”.

I would have rated this at 5 stars but there were some grammatical errors that I just couldn’t overlook. In spite of those errors, I will definitely be continuing this series.

Highly recommended!

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The ABCs of Yoga for Kids: A Guide for Parents and Teachers

I received a copy of this from the publisher via NetGalley. Thanks so much!

As a yoga instructor, I’m always on the lookout for books to enhance my teaching. I’ve never taught children but figure there’s no time like the present to start dipping my toes into that side of the yoga pool.

I can see where this book would be good for teachers who already run classes for children. Even more so, this book probably should be read after the main book, The ABCs of Yoga for Kids, as my hunch is that book has pictures and alignment points for each of the poses discussed in this book. Many of the poses mentioned in this book are not the same as what you hear in your typical adult class, so I was left wondering and assuming — and probably incorrectly so!

There were many cute ideas discussed as to how to make yoga accessible to children without them realize they’re doing yoga. Some instructors might like this approach while others might not. I’m reminded of something one of my teachers said to my class of yoga teacher trainees — “Yoga is really just one giant game of ‘Simon Says'”.

One thing I would have liked to see more of would be sources for the science behind some of their statements as to how and why yoga is beneficial for children. It made a lot of broad generalizations about certain health concerns for children (ADHD, etc) and, as instructors, we have to walk a very fine line with declaring yoga as a cure all without proper scientific backup.

One minor note is that the formatting was quite off on the copy I received for review. This made it a bit difficult to follow. There were also quite a few spelling and grammatical errors. Again, my hope is that these have been corrected in the final version.

The illustrations were adorable and I would have loved to seen more included.

Overall, I’d probably recommend this book only after reading The ABC of Yoga for Kids.

3 solid stars.

 

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