Mental Dumbbells – November 2012

I’m a little late in posting the Book recap for November, but so far it includes some of my favorite books, and a new favorite author. In October I discovered Michelle Moran’s book, Cleopatra’s Daughter which I LOVED! So I went in search for her other novels and found historical fiction novels for ‘The Heretic Queen’, ‘Madame Tussaud’, and ‘Nefertiti’. More on them below and she still has one other story that I’m reading this month. I’m obsessed I tell you!


What have you been reading?


The Dressmaker of Khair Khana: Five Sisters, One Remarkable Family, and the Woman Who Risked Everything to Keep Them Safe (P.S.)

I believe I purchased this book at Target and it did not disappoint. It was so much more than I thought it would be, and incredibly inspiring. It’s the story of a country in turmoil, and a family that had to figure out a way to survive as the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan. I found the book fascinating (and at times sad/disturbing) in the description of how women, in particular, were/are forced to live. Female children being banned from school, curfews enforced, attire dictated, women beaten in the streets if so much as a wrist shows, etc. It’s certainly not something that I’m familiar with, and I found it to be a great learning opportunity for me to better understand what another country was going through. Throughout the book you are following Kamila who became the breadwinner for the family when her father and brother had to flee for their safety. She taught herself a new skill, created a business that not only provided for her family, but provided a means for other families to support themselves. It was an incredibly inspiring (and true!) story. Definitely recommend.



From Notting Hill with Love…Actually

After the above book, I wanted something that was light and funny. I’m not sure why, but I started this book with very low expectations. However, I really enjoyed it. It’s a romantic comedy, the story of a young women who LOVES the movies. She finds herself somewhat stuck in life, and take a 1 month ‘vacation’ to house-sit at a gorgeous home in Notting Hill. She has the classic funny Rom Com pitfalls. Meets the cute neighbor, goes looking for her long-lost mother, and ends up in a love triangle. It has a sweet ending that left me smiling. If you’re familiar with films, then you’ll also enjoy the numerous movie references throughout.



Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution

So here we are back with the same author that wrote Cleopatra’s Daughter. Michelle Moran has become one of my favorite authors this past month so I won’t say too much. I don’t want to bore you as I gush about how much I LOVED all her novels. Just know that I do…LOVE LOVE LOVE them. This book was the story behind the Madame Tussaud wax museums. I had no idea there was  history to how those came about. I honestly thought they were a tourist trap, but after reading this book I want to visit one. Granted she takes some liberties with the histories to make them slightly more interesting, but this story was fascinating. The story involves Marie Antoinette and her family and how Madame Tussaud survives the Reign of Terror.

Simply fascinating.



Young House Love: 243 Ways to Paint, Craft, Update & Show Your Home Some Love

I had to break up the novels at some point in the month and I’m a huge fan of the blog, Young House Love, so this was a no brainer. Loved the book, great ideas and layout. Easy to read and will be a great interior reference book in my library. Easily one of my favorite decorating books/blog…enough said.



The Heretic Queen: Heiress of Misfortune, Pharaoh’s Beloved

Another Michelle Moran novel. This one is probably my third favorite so far. I should have read Nefertiti first, since this book dealt with a relative of hers and how her actions affected this young girl. There were moments that lost me since I wasn’t familiar with Nefertiti’s story. Other than that, loved the book. It’s a detailed and interesting about how a young girl blasted by her relation to a ‘heretic’ becomes queen. Amazing historical detail, a fascinating story.

(Not the cover I have)


Nefertiti: A Novel

Okay, last book for last month and it caught me up on the story I read previously. My least favorite of the bunch since I really ended up disliking the main character, but still a fascinating read. It’s amazing is that given the liberties the author takes, these are still stories based on real people. The author includes a section at the end of the book, to outline the fiction vs truth of the novel which I really appreciate. There are obviously things they say and do that we cannot know, but she does an amazing job putting these novels together.

For anyone interested in how ‘Nefertiti’ and ‘The Heretic Queen’ connect…Nefertiti’s sister is ‘The Heretic Queens’ mother. I would recommend you read this one first if you plan to read both stories.



*Please note that book links in this post are Amazon Affiliate links; however, all opinions are my own and all books were purchased with my own money.


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