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ARC Review: The Divorce Colony

The Divorce Colony: How Women Revolutionized Marriage and Found Freedom on the American Frontier by April White April White’s The Divorce Colony is set during the Gilded Age, in the America of the late 1800s. It revolves around the lax divorce rules then to be found in South Dakota.  Today, getting divorced is almost easier than getting married. But in the Gilded Age, divorces were not so easy to obtain. Divorce was viewed as a moral concern for the state, and was denounced from the pulpit for threatening the sanctity of marriage. Even President Theodore Roosevelt spoke out against it.  Laws around divorce tended to be most lax on the frontiers of the United States. By the 1880s the territory of Dakota gained the dubious honor of posting the largest rise in divorces in the country. At the turn of the century one city - Sioux Falls, South Dakota - gained a reputation for having the laxest divorce laws of all, and required only a three month residency in order to take advantage of them

Book Reviews: Short Reads for Your Kindle

 

Four short reads for your Kindle
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Today’s post is a bit different. Rather than one book, I have four short Kindle books to review. 

I admit to being a bit burned out on full length books right at the moment, so taking a break of sorts with some short books has been good. But there are plenty of reasons why you might find short reads appealing too. Maybe you’re in a reading slump like me, and a few short books may help snap you out of it. Maybe you have a reading challenge and just want a short book to help you get to your goal. Maybe you want to try out a new genre outside your normal comfort zone but don’t want to commit a lot of time to it. For any of these reasons - check out Amazon’s Kindle Short Reads.

If you have a Kindle, you've no doubt encountered Kindle Short Reads before. These are ebooks that Amazon markets as “Great Stories in One Sitting”. The content of these ebooks can fall anywhere in length from a short story to a novella - from one page long up to 100 pages. 

Many Short Reads are self published, but a surprising number come from mainstream publishing houses like Macmillian or Simon & Schuster. And the authors may be new to you or old familiar names. Names like Stephen King, Roxane Gay, Dean Koontz and Amor Towles have titles that fit into the Short Reads category. 

Those last three authors have Short Reads that are also part of an Amazon Original Stories collection. Original Stories collections are stories on a particular theme or by a particular author. All the stories in the collections are free to Amazon Prime and Kindle Unlimited members. Many, if not all, of the Amazon Original Stories come with an accompanying audiobook.

Below are summary reviews of four short books I’ve recently read. Three of them come from Amazon’s Short Reads program - Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer, at just under 200 pages, doesn’t. In fact, I borrowed Annihilation from my local library using the Libby app, which allows you to send ebooks to your Kindle. Even though it’s not one of Amazon’s Short Reads, I did devour it in one sitting.




What Happened to Neil Frost? By ER Wills

This book is independently published by a British author. The story takes place in Britain and revolves around a late middle-aged, down on his luck sort of guy. Neil Frost’s main daily activity is hanging out at the pub with his friends. One night while stumbling home from the pub he encounters something wholly unexpected, that changes his life for the better. But as things start to turn in a positive direction, he takes a step too far. 

While I liked the writing style and the character development this short read ended too suddenly for me. It seemed like a great beginning and a decent middle with an abrupt end. Two Stars ⭐⭐



Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer
The gripping first book in a horror sci-fi trilogy from 2014, this book grabbed me from the start and didn’t let go. A biologist is part of a team sent to Area X, a mysterious zone where the normal rules of Earth biology don’t seem to apply. Very strange and unexpected things unfold, and you are never quite sure what exactly is the cause. I’m eager to check out books two and three. 

The book was turned into a movie in 2018 with Natalie Portman, which came and went from the theaters pretty quickly. In fact, I didn’t even know there was a movie until I googled the book after I read it. Sure sounds like a case where the book was better than the movie. Four Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐



The Shortest Day by Colm Tóibín

In this story, Professor O’Kelly is an archeologist who has made the ancient burial chamber called Newgrange in County Meath his life’s work. Tóibín has spun quite an interesting tale about the spirits of those buried in the chamber, and the effect on them when the Professor proposes to visit the chamber to view the winter solstice light as it shines through the roof on the shortest day of the year. Great writing that explores deep questions of life and death, time and eternity, science and spirituality. Five Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

NOTE: The Newgrange burial chamber is a real, and quite interesting, thing in and of itself.



The Sleep Tight Motel by Lisa Unger

She’s on the run. She has a fake ID, a .38 revolver, and a broken down Mustang when she checks into the Sleep Tight Motel. But if she’s the only one checked in, why does she keep hearing things in the next room - including a woman screaming? In this noir thriller by bestselling crime thriller author Unger, you’re never quite sure exactly what’s going on until the very end. Four Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐