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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

February Book Review Summary

Snowy February

Up here in Michigan's Upper Peninsula we get a lot of snow. Over the course of the winter it can be interesting to see just how much the amount of snow differs in a relatively short distance. 

Southwest of us, for example, is the local bastion of higher education, Michigan Tech. It's twenty miles by car but just a bit over 12 miles as the crow flies. They report that snowfall on campus in February was 43 inches, or just over 3 ½ feet. 

Meanwhile to the north of us, about 14 miles as the crow flies, is where the next county, Keweenaw, measures it's snowfall. Keweenaw reports 90 inches of snow for February (7 ½ feet). 

Here at our house we tend more toward the Michigan Tech number than the Keweenaw number, but I would guess we got around 50 inches in February. It's hard to tell though, as the wind has blown the snow around quite a bit. We've got five foot drifts in the front yard, and at least a 7 foot drift in the back.

The Seven (or maybe it's Eight) Foot Drift

One thing all that snow is good for (besides snowplowing) is staying indoors and getting a lot of reading done. I've gotten through nine books this month and posted reviews for  them to my blog. 

Favorite book this month

My favorite book this month is undoubtedly Several People Are Typing by Calvin Kasulke. It's a quick fiction read that made me laugh out loud. On the nonfiction side, both Barack Obama and Spies, Lies and Algorithms were tops on the list, and both quite good. I'd have to give the edge to the Obama book though as the best nonfiction read of the month.

Book Formats

  • Two audiobooks (Frozen In Time and Spies, Lies and Algorithms
  • Four ebooks (Barack Obama, Shady Hollow, Several People Are Typing, and The Far Land 
  • Three physical books (The Impossible First, Bloom (my first graphic novel!), and A Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man )


ARCs

Three Advanced Review Copies this month, all through NetGalley:

Book Tours

No book tours this month.

Summary Reviews

Summary reviews of each of my February reads are below. The link in each summary review leads to my full review for that book. At the top of each my full review post are links to the publisher's page for the book, and the author's web page or internet presence. At the bottom of each review post are the bookseller links. 





Three Stars 

Colin O'Brady's account of his solo trek across Antarctica. Arriving in Antarctica he discovered that someone else would attempt the same route at the same time, meaning a race was on. The race generated lots of positive media, and the O'Brady's book is a great read but the controversy that arose around his accomplishment did make me wonder how much the book is embellished, and that diminished the reading experience for me. 



Four Stars ⭐

The Franklin Expedition sought the Northwest passage in 1845 and was lost in the frozen north. This book covers that expedition, 19th century search parties, & the 20th century forensic expeditions that exhumed and autopsied the frozen corpses of 3 sailors. Beattie, one of the authors, led the forensic expeditions. Fascinating and chilling (pun intended)!






Four Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Retired college professor & presidential historian Burton Kaufman tackles the Obama presidency. A well-researched and well done book, and refreshingly these days without an obvious political agenda. Written like you'd expect from a history professor - neutral and a bit dry. I did like it, but I was disappointed that it doesn't seem to have anything new to say. ARC copy - book due on 3/15.






Four Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

A cozy mystery with a sly twist. Imagine the quaintest small country village you can. Now, populate it with animals - a moose runs the cafe, a raven owns the bookstore, and the fox Vera Vixen is the ace reporter at the local paper. One day the town curmudgeon, an old toad, is found stabbed. A murderer is on the loose in Shady Hollow, and Vera Vixen is hot on the trail!





Four Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

𝘽𝙡𝙤𝙤𝙢 is the story of two teen boys trying to figure out what life has in store for them post high school. A coming-of-age romance, the book has as its main setting the family bakery owned by one of the boy's parents. A cute, fun, quick read and the bakery store LGBTQ romance I didn't know I needed! And it's my first ever graphic novel! I know, I'm a late bloomer.. 






Four Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Strange, quirky and hilarious are words used to describe this book. All true - along with quick & compulsively readable. Gerald, while working from home for a PR firm, has his mind inexplicably sucked up into the firm's Slack messaging system. Hilarity and some existential comedy ensue. This ended exactly as I expected, and at the same time included something I hadn't expected at all (but really liked). I laughed out loud more than once.





Three Stars ⭐⭐⭐

Dual story of the Bounty mutineers & the author's own present-day travel to Pitcairn Island - where Fletcher Christian & the others settled. Uneven - I actually liked the travel story better than the Bounty mutineers. Narrative history is hard to do right, & Presser is a travel author - so maybe not surprising. But any story with “Massacre Day“ as a plot point will hold your interest! ARC copy - book due 3/8. 



Four Stars ⭐⭐

A well written & accessible book on a complex subject by a capable academic expert. This book is a guide to understanding intelligence, the agencies that engage in it, the types of intelligence they gather, challenges to effective intelligence, counterintelligence, & the growing relevance and importance of cyber intelligence. I know that sounds like a lot, but she really packages it for us non-experts.






Unrated - Classic Read

The 2nd book in my challenge of one book per month from my Modern Library collection. Ever read a book & listen to the audiobook at the same time? I did on this one. It's my first time reading Joyce. Not an easy read, so having someone reading along with me helped. I also “cheated“ & watched a couple of video reviews along the way to aid understanding (and googled stuff). Ended up liking it a lot.