Book Review: “Women Of Scotland: A Journey Through History” by Helen Susan Swift

Howdy!

Recently I was scrolling through new free books on Amazon and I came across this little beauty. It is called Women Of Scotland: A Journey Through History by Helen Susan Swift. I am prone to love books directed towards women and their everyday lives, and it doesn’t matter on the time period, I just like to learn what they were up to; so when I read the description of this, I became even more curious to learn about them.

I actually wasn’t going to do this review, but I wanted a nice get way to talk about my reason to why I decided to read this book. I just figured I could kill two birds with one stone! So, let’s get started with my explanation and ultimately talk about why I enjoyed this, but still gave it three stars on Goodreads.


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A historical survey of Scotswomen from earliest times to the 21st century. This book looks the huge number of women who have been the driving force behind this small but dynamic nation from the dark ages to the present day. As well as warriors and scientists, fish wives, seawomen, the factory workers and authors are included.

taken from Goodreads.


For Christmas, my dad received the AncestryDNA kit. He’s always talked about doing it, but is really paranoid about these things. However, once he did it, it was like he was a kid again, all excited and giddy with every new notification. It was so adorable!

He has known about the Scottish and Welsh roots, but wasn’t really sure about the percentage. Once the results were ready, he found out that he a greater amount of both heritages but with the addition of Irish, British and Germanic, which we are still unsure about anyways, so if you know this means, please explain it to me so I can tell him too!

For me, I have always felt more Irish than Scottish and that was the big reason why I decided to get this book, because I thought maybe it would inspire me to accept this easier. In the beginning, it really helped and I was even saying to my mom, “these are my ancestries and I am descended from these strong women!” So, it became a great investment in both ways as my dad was discovering his family tree and I was learning more about the history of Scottish women.

*****

I feel like I should mention that I got this, a little bit before he received his results back. So, whether or not he was right about his family folklore (because we found out another tall tale was wrong!) I think I would have continued to read it. I say “I think” because there were some chapters that were incredibly boring…

Since this book was about women, the author really dug deep and found some extraordinary women and girls to discuss in each section. We start off learning about the Romans, Vikings invading early Britton. As it continues talking about the Celts and their ways, like how they revered the women from their beauty to rules of marriage, divorce, and ownership over lands.

One story in particular that I remember in a chapter was about Lady Devorgilla. The name differs but the way Helen used was “Devorgilla” so that’s how I’ll call her. I don’t really remember much, because of the amount of other’s stories I learned while reading, but she was the mother of a King of Scotland. She created a college located in Oxford (Balliol College), an Abbey called “Sweetheart Abbey”, and a notable bridge called Devorgilla Bridge.

One interesting fact that I just adored was that even though she was betrothed to her husband John Balliol from a young age, she clearly loved him dearly! After he passed away, she commissioned an Abbey to be made so she and the nuns could endlessly pray for her husband’s soul. She apparently had his heart embalmed and locked away in a casket so she had a piece of him every day and night. This is why the name of the Abbey, is “Sweetheart Abbey”.

There were a lot of individual stories included in the book. Since it literally goes in order of history, you have many tales of medieval royal women. She does talk about Mary, Queen of Scots, but tries not to dedicate too much time to her which I liked a lot because I hope to read a book dedicated to her only. However, there were also just ordinary women included too. Some who maybe made a name for themselves outside of Scotland.

As you come to the 19th and 20th Century chapters, you will learn about women who did not abide by the rules of the time. They traveled all around the world like the men of the time. One by the name of Helen Gloag was an regular young women wanting to explore new worlds but her boat was captured by pirates and was forced to change course to Morocco.

At the point, the sexes would be separated, while the men were killed the women on the ship were sold as slaves and she was brought to the ruler, Sultan Sidi Mohammid ibn Abdullah. He obviously liked her unique features and took her in and eventually married her, thus becoming an Empress of Morocco.

The chemistry between them must been mutual as they had two sons and she was able to write to her family back in Scotland about her new home. She was also able to persuade the Sultan to release any person captured by the pirates that came into their kingdom. When her husband died, she was removed of her place and title as one of the Sultan’s older sons had his younger half brothers killed and there’s a possibility that Helen lived the reminder of her life in exile as she disappears from history afterwards.

These women were wonderful to learn about, but I did give a three star rating on my Goodreads profile for a reason. It was because there were like four or five chapters in a row that discussed how women dealt with life as a peasant I guess, and I do feel awful about this. I really didn’t like the discussion about how women were treated during the times of war, although learning that some wives and entire families would flock among the camps of soldiers! Imagine bringing in a new baby to an actual war zone?! The other part was when we got into the lives of fisherwomen and working in the salt mines. It just wanted to drag on and on, but I am glad I continued though.

A part of me thinks this is a great book full of references a person could use if they are after a Women’s Studies degree. It has a lot of material that could be useful for feminists, as it talks about the Scottish suffragettes in the later chapters. It could also be a great motivational book, as it really helped influence me into thinking I am a strong woman myself, and since I am descended through many of these different women and their histories, I definitely felt influenced but loved as well.

Have you read “Women In Scotland” by Helen Susan Swift yet? If you have, what were your thoughts about it? Did you have any favorite stories too?

snowflake

Life Lately | Tulips, Royals, & Blog Schedule

Howdy!

It has been a LONG freaking time since I’ve done one of these blog posts. I always tell myself I need to do more of them or at least have mom buy a thick spine journal so I can get things out but it never happens!

Here’s the interesting part of this, I thought about writing this first than getting to work on Friday’s post, which will be a diary entry directed to my lovely papaw. For today, I am focusing on good things–not saying talking about/to my papaw isn’t good–and I am hoping to unleash a lot of things that have been roaming around in my mind lately! It will be separated by three sections so I hope everyone enjoys themselves and give me your thoughts at the end.

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Spring Is Coming!

I like winter, and always have, mostly because snow makes me happy although I never go out and play in it or run through with my wheelchair. This year, we haven’t had a lot of snow and like my mom mentioned to me the other day, she said since we didn’t have a bunch of snow like in previous years, the bugs will be awful because they didn’t necessarily die. I am okay with the occasional fly or in our case, ladybugs but yeah, I could do without the wasps! I’m not a fan of bees either, but we need them to survive apparently!

One thing that I definitely missed during the colder months is my mom buying flowers for our house. I guess we kind of got into a routine of having new flowers throughout every two weeks. I am actually fine with fake flowers, but having something like fresh flowers can really help your mood. At least, it has in my case when my mom bought me some very beautiful tulips one day.

I am not just obsessed with sunflowers, I like a variety of flowers like daisies, roses and tulips. I do talk about my love of sunflowers quite a bit and because of that nobody really knows about the others. So, after my mom found out that I adored tulips, she found these $12.99 tulips in a fairly large vase. My dad didn’t really like the price of them but since then we have all become a little obsessed with them. They change every day. They continue to flourish but we’ve been watching one of them because it’s been a little overzealous on how high he becomes that for a while he began to lean down and we have started to make jokes about it like “I’ve stood up all day. I need a break!” My mom and I can be a little weird sometimes

Since having the flowers in my room, I have been looking forward to spring. My room is located by all of our trees and I have really missed the greenery that surrounds me, but I have enjoyed seeing the moon through my window at night.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex

I know you’re probably tired of seeing everybody discuss the royals right now. If you want to ignore this section, you can. I don’t want to spend a lot of time talking about the drama, but I do want to talk about my thoughts on it.

I have been following the British Royal Family since The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were married, so around 2011. My mom has been reading up about them since Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer. And yes, she absolutely hated Camila, The Duchess of Cornwell. I actually do not, mainly because I am a supporter of Anne Boleyn, as she was also a mistress to a senior royal.

For the case of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, I always felt they would be different. They would move into the modern world as royals, but I did not think this would happen at all! When The Queen gave Harry and Meghan the title of “Duke and Duchess of Sussex” was interesting because the last time a royal was given this peerage was Queen Victoria’s uncle Prince Augustus Frederick. Although he had the title of ‘Duke Sussex’ neither one of his wives were allowed to be called a duchess, but what is interesting is that they were not given permission of the crown which at the time of his first wife, George III was still alive. Prince Augustus and his first wife welcomed two children, but were not recognized so they were not awarded any titles as their many cousins.

Prince Harry asked the queen for permission to marry Meghan, but their son Archie does not carry the title of Viscount like say Harry’s uncle Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex’s son James, as he is known as a Viscount.  I understand their right to want to lead a more private life for Archie’s sake, but the separation of leaving as senior royals threw me for a loop! To me, I think this would have been easier on everyone if Harry declined the title of Duke when he and Meghan first married.

When Anne, The Princess Royal first married her first husband, he was offered a title but declined thus their children: Peter and Zara, along with their descendants do not have royal titles. A lot of people will say this happened because Anne is a woman, but at the time of the marriage, Charles was not married at all. She was the only child of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh to wed. Here we have Prince William as the oldest son of The Prince of Wales, married with three children. All three were present when Harry and Meghan married, so why didn’t he say no? A part of me wonders on the fact of possible backlash to the world if Meghan, a biracial woman, wasn’t allowed to be called a duchess. Shrugs.

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The Blog Schedule

After what happened while I was doing my A-Z Disability Challenge series, I honestly wanted to give myself a massive break. Since I can’t stop blogging, I figured I needed to find a solution to make it easier and also keep it fun for the both of us. Once January began, I took off for two weeks and do other things that were not related to blogging. It was relaxing, but I did not envision to keep this trend alive for as long as I thought I would. However, I have quite enjoyed myself in these breaks, mostly because I can focus my attention on reading my books in my off time.

The schedule (including a post for Mon, Tues, and Wed) will continue this way until I decide that I need another week for more posts. As of right now, two weeks is doing really good for me. I am still skeptical of this, but I am getting the hang out of it.

I think I am done writing this post now. I thought I would add a few more things about my life, but as I said above, I also have my papaw’s letter to do as well. I think I will include bits about my nephew Nolan in there because I know he’d enjoy it. Well, I hope you are having a great week!

snowflake

Book Review: “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio

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Howdy!

In February, I read only three books.

Ride Me Dirty by Vanessa ValeJane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone and Wonder by R.J. Palacio

My tastes in books at the moment has been very interesting, I’m not really sticking to one genre but then again if you know anything about me, you’ll know this is completely normal because I can be completely at peace when my music is on shuffle. I figure going this route will help me stay motivated to read more and maybe keep it entertaining and so far so good!

This book was my final “disability” read on my list and I’m glad I read it, but I am somewhat surprised by the fact that I gave it a four star rating on Goodreads. I enjoyed reading it. I thought it was really good, but I just didn’t think it deserved five stars.

Hmmm…


13510287“I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.”

August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face.

WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.

taken from Goodreads.

The story of August “Auggie” Pullman was beautiful! I loved his attitude and surprisingly his hobbies like Star Wars. Although, I have to say, I don’t know anything about that fandom. Honestly, I am more into the “newer” Star Trek world of Captian Kirk and Spock. Anyways, I loved that there was still a silver of a young child in him, but as you continue reading the book, you also discover there’s a mature side wanting to come out too.

It was a bit difficult to see him as a middle schooler, because where I’m from, when you become a fifth grader, you’re still in elementary so I had to get it into my brain to not create this avatar character younger than he is in the book. Another part of this process was when the term “dating” come up and oh my gosh, I had so many flashbacks going on, it was nuts! I fully agreed with Summer’s mother, fifth graders are too young to start dating or anything else in that realm.

We talk about Auggie’s life in his perspective first, but then we come to a stop and there are a few parts for some of the close characters that August is surrounded by and I feel like these were my favorites because of course, everybody is going to have another perspective of a certain person, but you never get to really know what they are thinking about them in real life. So, the fact that we see Via, Jack Will, Justin’s telling us their thought process made it more interesting for me. It actually brought me back to the time when I first met my friend Haley in kindergarten, because for me this was the first time I was around a group of kids all day long, so they were allowed to get to know me but the only person I remember who had a good experience was Haley. She thought I was the coolest thing in the world and I still appreciate everything she ever did for me back then.

One of the other things that is discussed is these precepts in Mr. Browne’s English class. I thought it was only right to end this post with one of my own. Actually, this is a quote that I used for my senior year in high school to go underneath our pictures in the yearbook. It was:

Why be different when you can be so much more?

At this point in my life, I wasn’t comfortable with my body, disability at all. So, I still don’t fully understand why I would come up with such a thing. I came up with it on the spot too! It was crazy, but the real question is now that 10 years have passed, do I believe it? In a way, yes I do. I am different, but I am more than my disability. I am a woman, who thinks for herself and enjoys things like any other person. I am just me. I think Auggie could believe it too. He is more than what is going on with his face. He is more than what other people may think of him. He is just himself.

I think I might’ve figured out why I gave it four stars. At the end of the book, Auggie does understand that he is just an ordinary guy and is perfectly fine with it. He is also looked upon others as an inspiration. He did do an extraordinary thing and even though he was happy about it, as the reader I didn’t much care for the ending of the story. It was exactly like it was supposed to be, a happy ending with a greater reason behind it. I expected it to happen and I’m sure others did too, but because of that, I was immediately offended. So, I left out a star and I know, people will say something about it, but this is what I feel and what entered me emotionally while I was reading it.

How you read the book “Wonder” yet? What were your thoughts on it? Let me know below! 

snowflake

February Playlist

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Howdy!

It is time for this month’s playlist and I am SO excited because I felt like this was such a big time for music! I did a lot of discovering new music and reading for February, and I actually enjoyed being able to multitask like this! I would go back and forth between wanting to read my books as you’ve probably seen with all of my reviews lately, but music has played a big part of it too!

This month’s playlist on Spotify is gigantic! I mean, I’m not really surprised but I wasn’t expecting the actual  number to be lower than 200! As I am writing this post, the amount of songs included is: 139!

I am definitely bringing back listing my Top 25 songs for this! I feel like I would have a difficult time making it smaller, so it’ll just make things easier on me so I can add all of my favorites.

Good In Goodbye by Madison Beer
Mambo by Nikki Vianna
Reckless by Yellow Claw x Fatman Scoop
Light It Up by UNSECRET featuring Manafest
Someone New by Astrid S
Gotta Make It by Trey Songz featuring Twista
Moves Like Jagger by Maroon 5 featuring Christina Aguilera
Hi Bitch by Bhad Bhabie
So Thick by WHIPPED CREAM featuring Baby Goth
Noise by Nightwish
React by The Pussycat Dolls
Medusa by Jhay Cortez with Anuel AA & J Balvin
No Good by Ally Brooke
Supernova by Within Temptation
Billie Jean by The Civil Wars
Do Or Die by Amaranthe featuring Angela Gossow
Have You Ever Been In Love? XYLO
Out Of The Mind by Lawless with MXMS
A Thousand Years by Jasmine Thompson
Not About Angels by Jasmine Thompson
16 Shots by Steffion Don
I Do!! by Toya
Fuego by DJ Snake featuring Sean Paul, Anitta, & Tainy
Mirage by Nextro

As I mentioned above, I did a lot of reading this month too. How are you about music playing in the background while you clean or read? I honestly enjoy listening to instrumentals; it is my go-to every time. However, lately I’ve been wanting something different, because sometimes whenever I have instrumental music going on, it can make me want to go to sleep. For two days in a row, I used Spotify’s playlist called “Arabic Trap”. I love trap music but with very little vocals. There is another one I like to use and it’s called “Ethnic Trap” and this has both Indian and Arabic trap music included. I don’t use it very often, but since I feel like I have listened to all of the tracks in the first one, I may have to switch them around.

I know I haven’t done any music reviews lately, but that doesn’t mean I’m not checking them out though! I’ve heard Major Lazer’s new EP “Soca Storm” and Krewella’s new album “zer0” so far. I have three others left and I’ll try to get to them soon!

What have you been listening to for February? Do you have a favorite album and/or song?

snowflake

Book Review: “Jane Doe” by Victoria Helen Stone

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Howdy!

So, this week is all about reviews. I had two other plans for what I could talk about for today, but I just decided to scrap them and give you this one to round up a very busy time for books!

This month, I was able to enjoy some Prime Reading and as much as I had hoped that Margaret Atwood’s sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale would still be listed on the site as part of the choices you can read, it wasn’t so I had to find something else and as I scrolled through all of these books, I finally saw a familiar cover. Before we continue though, I have to mention that I am not really into suspense thrillers in both books and films. I have watched What Lies Beneath, Escape Room, and Play Or Die recently and really enjoyed them but I never finished Paula Hawkins’s The Girl On The Train so I was a bit hesitant but once  I read the description of the story, I instantly hooked!


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A double life with a single purpose: revenge.

Jane’s days at a Midwest insurance company are perfectly ordinary. She blends in well, unremarkably pretty in her floral-print dresses and extra efficient at her low-level job. She’s just the kind of woman middle manager Steven Hepsworth likes—meek, insecure, and willing to defer to a man. No one has any idea who Jane really is. Least of all Steven.

But plain Jane is hiding something. And Steven’s bringing out the worst in her.

Nothing can distract Jane from going straight for his heart: allowing herself to be seduced into Steven’s bed, to insinuate herself into his career and his family, and to expose all his dirty secrets. It’s time for Jane to dig out everything that matters to Steven. So she can take it all away.

Just as he did to her.

taken from Goodreads

So, I started reading this book, knowing that there would a big chance that I could be wrong and I would hate this, but thankfully I didn’t!

I was actually flying through it because I was loving the main character Jane. She explains everything from her childhood to how she basically self-diagnosed herself as a sociopath. I love watching some true crime shows on Investigative Discovery and it was interesting to see how her mind worked. I love to observe people and learning how to read their body language but this goes all in and it was so addicting! She also talks you through her reasons why she wants revenge on this guy, and this is where you really see this side of her really start to unfold, because she’s very honest about everything. I like that fact she isn’t a whiz at everything, like she says in the book, she can’t break into safes and vaults.

There are some strong religious views; a man has more authority, he owns everything and the only thing the women are suppose to do is be there for him and take care of the children and their home. A man can be forgiven by the Lord with little to no punishment whereas a woman has to pay for her sins automatically. I know there are a lot of people out there who still live and preach this way, but I have issues with it. I have always had questions about this lifestyle, but after taking a few days to think about it, I thought maybe I am a little bit of a feminist than I originally thought, because I believe in equality in relationships and if you are doing something against God, whether you are a man, woman, trans, gay, disabled you should all be punished for those choices. That’s my say on it.

Overall, the book itself was so good! I wasn’t even halfway finished with it before I basically announced it to anyone within ear shot that it was my favorite book of the year and at the moment, I have read four others so this is a pretty big deal for me! If you don’t normally go for these types of books, I definitely think you should at least to try to find it at your local library or if you have Prime Reading too, you can check it out there to see if you are proven wrong like I was!

Have you read Victoria’s novel “Jane Doe” yet? If you said yes, what did you like or hate about it? Let’s chat below!

snowflake