Outrageous Women of the Renaissance

Okay, here’s a thought provoking question for you: What do you think when you think nonfiction books? Do you think dusty old tombs no one wants to read? Do you think textbooks, like in school? Or just, “Gosh, BORING.” I’ll admit it, I never used to read nonfiction books. But I’ve recently started reading some, and realized that they can be pretty good. I mostly like reading about people (particularly women) that lived years before us, such as Sir Walter Raleigh or Eleanor of Aquitane. So no wonder I like this book, Outrageous Women of the Renaissance, by Vicki León. It has stories of women from all around the world, living during the unique times of the Renaissance. Some are ladies of high standing, some are even thieves and pirates, and all of them are interesting. There’s Isabella from Spain, Moll Frith of the British Isles, Joan of Arc from France, and tons more. This book teaches people about history and the way things were back then as well as the ladies. It’s fun, and there are also Outrageous Women of Ancient Times and Outrageous Women of the Middle Ages, plus more. This is a book for all ages, showing that the really good stories aren’t always fantasy.

July 3, 2011: 5 posts left!

Madam C. J. Walker: Entrepreneur

Who was Madam C. J. Walker? Many of you have probably already heard something about her. She started her own line of hair products for women and was a busy millionaire by the end of her life! She also gave much to charity and opened a theater in Indiana. Are you curious yet? I was, when I was told I had to read a biography of an African American in February. So, I hightailed it over to the library to get this great book by A’Lelia Bundles, who also happens to be Madam C. J.’s actual great-great granddaughter (talk about coming from an inspiring background). This book outlines the life of one of the best women in history, from her days in the south as Sarah Breedlove to the days of her thriving business in Harlem. Well-written, interesting, and with plenty of good pictures, this book will not only educate, but entertain. You might think nonfiction is boring, and I might have too at one point, but if you just try it you’ll figure out that there are somethings that are just as interesting as books about magic and witches. So why don’t you go to the bookstore and give this a try?

P. S. And for the adultsOn Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C. J. Walker.

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

How can I even describe such an amazing book? I’m sure plenty of you have heard of this one: The real-life diary of a teenager called Anne Frank who hid for two years from the Nazis ages ago. Now if you like to read books that are sure to have happy endings, that’s fine, but THIS? This is not to be missed, sad or not. A more touching and thought-provoking book I’m not sure if I’ve read. Not only did the brave girl face the cruelty and torture of the Nazis, she also coped with inner, personal problems such as ones with family. Perhaps some young girls could even relate to some of these. Anne Frank’s story is, in my opinion, one of the most inspiring in literature. It’s one of the few books that brought me to tears, and I get the feeling it would do that to almost anyone. It makes someone realize so much about life and what people like Anne went through during the Holocaust. Anne boldly touched on some tentative topics, but some people may commend her for being so honest. I, for one, admire her. And you would, too, if you read this.

The Year of the Dog

Here is another book by the talented Grace Lin. Some of you may remember I’ve reviewed one of her books before. This book tells the story of Pacy/Grace Lin. (Sound familiar?) Partially fiction, partially not, The Year of the Dog chronicles the adventures of Pacy and her new best friend, Melody. It’s the Year of the Dog, and Pacy is supposed to find herself and discover her special talent. But she hasn’t been having much luck. Kids in the middle grades will like this kind of humorous, kind of touching, and overall great book. It even has little doodles! So why don’t you go check for it at your local library? And if you like it, take a look at the sequel, The Year of the Rat.

Lives of the Writers

Did you ever know what Charles Dickens ate? Or how Frances Hodgson Burnett dressed? This is a good book that enables you to find out. Lives of the Writers is not merely a collection of short biographies of different authors-it is a very interesting and absorbing book as well, written by Kathleen Krull. Seriously, I couldn’t put it down. Some of its stories include the lives of the Brontë sisters, Hans Christian Anderson, and E.B. White. It has a lot of cool facts, like did you know the Brontës made up a whole different world called Glass Town? There’s that and more. I actually convinced a friend to read it, and when she returned the copy to me, she said that she’d expected it to be boring, but it was really awesome. Are you convinced yet? This would be an excellent gift for any young (or adult) reader so that they can learn more about their favorites. So get in your car, and go to the nearest good bookstore or library. I don’t care which one.

P.S. If you enjoyed this, you might also enjoy Kathleen Krull’s other books in the series, such as Lives of the Artists.

Writing Magic: Creating Stories That Fly

Gail Carson Levine! Yay! She’s awesome! OK, now that my enthusiasm is out, let’s continue. This book is, in fact, not one of Gail Carson Levine’s usual fantasy novels. This is a book on how to write them. And it’s fabulous! The tips and instructions are easy to follow, written in the author’s usual captivating way. It will help you write all kinds of things, not just books. It’s perfect for both beginning writers and HUGE Gail Carson Levine fans. (Both of which I am!) I was so excited when I got it from the library, I didn’t put it down all day. I am crazy about it, mostly for the great advice it gave me and how it wasn’t just a boring old book of instructions. It was way, way more. So, I think that this book could really help anyone who needs advice on writing, or just loves the author.

Sweet Treats

Do you enjoy cooking? Are you a kid? Well, even if you’re not, I think you just might enjoy the book this review is focused on. Specifically for children, Sweet Treats (written by Carolyn Beth Weil, and part of the William-Sonoma cookbook collection) is a very tasty and fun book. There are tons of recipes, all desserts, and it’s lots of fun to follow along and create some of these. A few are Easy Cheesy Pie, Black Bottom Cupcakes, and Strawberry Shortcakes. I have made Thumbprint Cookies, and Truffle Mint Ice Cream Cake. Both are delicious, and so are the Lemon Bars. The little chef of your life will most likely love to create these delicious dishes, and might love eating them more! There is, of course, the sense of pride to know you made it yourself to make it even better. I really like baking, and this was a great gift for me from my grandmother for Christmas. It’s a lot of fun! So at least take a look, okay?