starry skyAn epic historical fiction of Robert Louis Stevenson’s and his artistic, strongly  independent American wife Fanny. Their travels to find a place that provided the best climate for RLS’s physical condition from TB, their potent love story, their struggles to provide a secure living and their professional challenges are covered in a captivating book.

Like her husband, Fanny was also an artist, painting and writing but she often felt devalued by her husband's friends and sometimes by Robert himself. However, they were deeply in love and Fanny's determined care pulled him through again and again his bouts with consumption (TB).

The settings, from France and England to Scotland, Switzerland and finally Samoa to find the best climate for Robert are well detailed and the complex nature of Fanny and Robert’s personalities are beautifully portrayed.

 unbowedFrom her life as a Kikuyu child in Africa, to a Nobel Peace Prize winner, Dr. Matthai tells in a very personal and easy conversational account of her growth into a tenacious activist in ecology and human rights. Raised in rural Kenya, she never lost her deep connection with the land . As she saw the destruction of her environment around her, she started the Greenbelt Movement to plant trees to reclaim the land as a campaign for and with rural women. An amazing, inspirational fighter for the environment and human rights, it demonstrates how one person can really make a difference in the world.

This book also weaves in some of the history of Kenya and Kenyan culture from the 1940’s to the present, which is important in understanding Maathai's work and her impact

fikryA. J. Fikry, the irascible owner of Island Books, has recently endured some tough years: his wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and his prized possession--a rare edition of Poe poems--has been stolen. Over time, he has given up on people, and even the books in his store, instead of offering solace, are yet another reminder of a world that is changing too rapidly—until a most unexpected occurrence gives him the chance to make his life over and see things anew. 

code girls1An incredible look into the service of women code breakers during World War II, at a time when women were eager to do their part to end the war and bring their loved ones home from dangerous combat. At a time when women weren't expected to go to college, much less hold a job, some of the most talented were handpicked to join the Army & Navy for  codebreaking operations. More and more women joined the ranks as the war raged on. They worked hard to decipher enemy communications in time to make a difference in war operations big and small. We have so much to learn about what women have contributed to history, and this book is a great contribution the historical record. These women were heroes!

homegoingThe book is an amazing masterpiece written by a first-time 26-year-old author, Yaa Gyasi. The novel begins with two half-sisters born in 18th-century Ghana who will never meet. Effia marries a white British man and Esi is enslaved and taken to America. The book follows the children of these two women through the generations, alternating between Africa and America. The chapters are a series of interrelated stories that play out the legacy of slavery on the successive generations. Through this heartbreaking journey, I learned so much about the slave trade within Africa changing my perspective on this horrific time period in our history. The haunting, beautifully depicted characters are etched firmly in my mind. This is a novel with truly staying power for the reader.

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