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Book review: Four Lost Cities

Picture of book cover for Four Lost Cities

From Hannah, our newest employee: Is your New Year’s resolution to read more nonfiction? Do you normally think of nonfiction books as a dry read filled with facts and no intrigue? Or are you simply fascinated with archology and anthropology?

Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age by Annalee Newitz is steeped in fact, but reads as a fiction at times, as they weave together archeological evidence into a vibrant picture of the lives the ancient people may have led. The focus of this book is on the people who inhabited these “lost “cities, thereby making it immediately more relatable than you would expect.

W. W. Norton Review: “A quest to explore some of the most spectacular ancient cities in human history―and figure out why people abandoned them.

In Four Lost Cities, acclaimed science journalist Annalee Newitz takes readers on an entertaining and mind-bending adventure into the deep history of urban life. Investigating across the centuries and around the world, Newitz explores the rise and fall of four ancient cities, each the center of a sophisticated civilization: the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük in Central Turkey, the Roman vacation town of Pompeii on Italy’s southern coast, the medieval megacity of Angkor in Cambodia, and the indigenous metropolis Cahokia, which stood beside the Mississippi River where East St. Louis is today.

Newitz travels to all four sites and investigates the cutting-edge research in archaeology, revealing the mix of environmental changes and political turmoil that doomed these ancient settlements. Tracing the early development of urban planning, Newitz also introduces us to the often anonymous workers―slaves, women, immigrants, and manual laborers―who built these cities and created monuments that lasted millennia.

Four Lost Cities is a journey into the forgotten past, but, foreseeing a future in which the majority of people on Earth will be living in cities, it may also reveal something of our own fate.”

Book review: The Last Graduate

Picture of book cover for The Last Graduate

The wait is over! The anxiously awaited sequel to A Deadly Education, first book in the Scholomance series by Naomi Novik, has arrived at the library. Dark Academia is one of my favorite sub-genres, and this book is dark indeed! (Scholomance is like Hogwarts, if Hogwarts was run by Voldemort’s more powerful and more evil sibling…). Highly recommended but I strongly advise reading book 1 first if you haven’t already done so.

Library Journal review: “Keep far away from Orion Lake.” Galadriel “El” Higgins knows she should take her mother’s words seriously, but she has to survive her senior year in the Scholomance, and Orion may be one of the few allies (friends?) who can help. From day one of the term, El is up against deadly homework, the maleficaria that linger, and her destructive destiny for dark power. She must fight fate, feelings, and monsters to get herself and her allies out of this horrid school alive, and the stakes will only continue to rise. When El’s power is made public, she realizes that rules were made to be broken. In fact, throwing out the rulebook entirely might mean her survival…VERDICT Sardonic students, gruesome monsters, growing friendships, and a touch of romance create a highly readable story. Some questions remain to be answered in the trilogy’s last volume. The end of this installment ensures that book three can’t come fast enough.”

Book review: The Missing Sister

The anxiously awaited 7th book in the Seven Sisters series by The Sunday Times number one best-selling author Lucinda Riley was assumed to be the last in the series by many, and the reaction has been mixed now that we know there will be at least one more. Mixed because we wanted to get to the background of the story, hoping that all would be explained, but thankful that we can look forward to more on the enchanting D’Aplièse family. The sisters all have amazing back stories steeped in history, with the search for their birth families. I don’t know who else feels this way, but when a well-loved series ends, I feel lost (but only until I find the next series to immerse myself in!). If you love historical fiction, with a little bit of mysticism, romance, and mystery, then this is a great series to check out.

Preview from Amazon: The six D’Aplièse sisters have each been on their own incredible journey to discover their heritage, but they still have one question left unanswered: who and where is the seventh sister?

They only have one clue – an image of a star-shaped emerald ring. The search to find the missing sister will take them across the globe; from New Zealand to Canada, England, France and Ireland, uniting them all in their mission to at last complete their family.

In doing so, they will slowly unearth a story of love, strength and sacrifice that began almost one hundred years ago, as other brave young women risk everything to change the world around them.

The Missing Sister is the seventh installment in Lucinda Riley’s multimillion copy epic series.

Discover yourself at the heart of history.