Size Doesn’t Matter (155): Scars of Independence; A Study in Scarlet Women; Spill Zone

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (155): Scars of Independence; A Study in Scarlet Women; Spill ZoneScars of Independence: America's Violent Birth by Holger Hoock
Narrator: Scott Brick
Length: 14 hrs, 51 mins
Published by Random House Audio on May 9, 2017
Genres: Nonfiction, History
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
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A magisterial new work that rewrites the story of America's founding

The American Revolution is often portrayed as an orderly, restrained rebellion, with brave patriots defending their noble ideals against an oppressive empire. It's a stirring narrative, and one the founders did their best to encourage after the war. But as historian Holger Hoock shows in this deeply researched and elegantly written account of America's founding, the Revolution was not only a high-minded battle over principles, but also a profoundly violent civil war--one that shaped the nation, and the British Empire, in ways we have only begun to understand.

In Scars of Independence, Hoock writes the violence back into the story of the Revolution. American Patriots persecuted and tortured Loyalists. British troops massacred enemy soldiers and raped colonial women. Prisoners were starved on disease-ridden ships and in subterranean cells. African-Americans fighting for or against independence suffered disproportionately, and Washington's army waged a genocidal campaign against the Iroquois. In vivid, authoritative prose, Hoock's new reckoning also examines the moral dilemmas posed by this all-pervasive violence, as the British found themselves torn between unlimited war and restraint toward fellow subjects, while the Patriots documented war crimes in an ingenious effort to unify the fledgling nation.

For two centuries we have whitewashed this history of the Revolution. Scars of Independence forces a more honest appraisal, revealing the inherent tensions between moral purpose and violent tendencies in America's past. In so doing, it offers a new origins story that is both relevant and necessary--an important reminder that forging a nation is rarely bloodless.

Don’t take the rating too seriously here, because nonfiction is such a mess to rate tbh. I also still have no clue how to review it. Hoock’s Scars of Independence is an excellent and important history that is more timely than you might expect.

Hoock comes at the American Revolution from an international perspective, considering British, American, German, African American, and Native American lenses. He’s particularly focusing on the way that the conflict differs from the way American education says it happened. There’s a tendency in American culture to uphold the Revolutionary War and to romanticize it, and Scars of Independence is a reminder of the violence perpetrated and the racism underpinning much of the conflict. It’s important to remember that the revolution was also a civil war, and that it was not remotely civil.

Note: I will never recover from some of the disgusting abuses described in this book. Like how tarring and feathering actually cooks your flesh and my god I’m shuddering just thinking about it.

In today’s political landscape, Scars of Independence is a nice reminder that the grand tradition of America has a lot of horrible stuff we like to gloss over, rather than actually dealing with. Very much recommended.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:


I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (155): Scars of Independence; A Study in Scarlet Women; Spill ZoneA Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas
Series: Lady Sherlock #1
Published by Berkley on October 18, 2016
Genres: Historical, Mystery, Retelling
Pages: 323
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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With her inquisitive mind, Charlotte Holmes has never felt comfortable with the demureness expected of the fairer sex in upper class society. But even she never thought that she would become a social pariah, an outcast fending for herself on the mean streets of London.

When the city is struck by a trio of unexpected deaths and suspicion falls on her sister and her father, Charlotte is desperate to find the true culprits and clear the family name. She’ll have help from friends new and old—a kind-hearted widow, a police inspector, and a man who has long loved her.

But in the end, it will be up to Charlotte, under the assumed name Sherlock Holmes, to challenge society’s expectations and match wits against an unseen mastermind.

My expectations were super high coming into Sherry Thomas’ A Study in Scarlet Women, because a Lady Sherlock written by an author who does both genre fic and romance well sounded like the absolute best thing. While very good, I was a bit disappointed in the lack of romance in at least this first installment.

The premise runs a bit to the absurd for me. Though I love Charlotte Holmes and the fact that she very much fits with the Holmes persona, I find it really hard to believe that she’d create such an obvious charade as Sherlock Holmes. Surely, she would be clever enough not to give her alias the same last name? It’s amazing to me that people take as long as they do figure it out tbh. I can suspend disbelief on this, but I do think the book would have been much stronger as a whole if she’d been Charlotte Hancock or some other, disparate last name. The mystery plot does work, I think, running to the massively elaborate, complex, and ending in shades of gray.

I very much adore Charlotte’s daring, and Thomas plays with the “scarlet woman” stereotype over and over again in this novel. Charlotte intentionally ruins her reputation at the outset, which is deliciously funny and clever of her. She doesn’t buy into the mores of the time, and she doesn’t let others make her feel like shit about herself. She’s awkward and brusque in just the right way. I’m also thrilled that Watson is a lady too. And that her love interest isn’t the inspector, since the lady detective books all seem to do this.

However, the ship, such as it is, doesn’t really work for me so far. She and Lord Ingram could have been great, but unfortunately he’s married. Unhappily, but still. Unless his wife conveniently dies, I don’t really see a road for them, as he’s too gentlemanly to take her as a paramour, despite her willingness. There’s tension for sure, but this ship mostly just makes me sad. I’d actually like to see a new love interest appear, because I don’t want his wife conveniently killed off.

A Study in Scarlet Women is a fun, female-focused retelling of Sherlock. If you’re coming to it from love of Sherry Thomas’ romances, you might be a bit disappointed. I have hope that this series will get to a shippier, more character-focused place down the road.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

Size Doesn’t Matter (155): Scars of Independence; A Study in Scarlet Women; Spill ZoneSpill Zone by Scott Westerfeld
Series: The Spill Zone #1
Published by First Second on May 2, 2017
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 224
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
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Nobody's ever really explained the Spill. Was it an angelic visitation? A nanotech accident? A porthole opening from another world? Whatever it was, no one's allowed in the Spill Zone these days except government scientists and hazmat teams. But a few intrepid explorers know how to sneak through the patrols and steer clear of the dangers inside the Zone. Addison Merrick is one such explorer, dedicated to finding out what happened that night, and to unraveling the events that took her parents and left her little sister mute and disconnected from the world.

Spill Zone‘s an intriguing start to a new graphic novel series, but I’d have liked a bit more from this initial volume.

As a reader of many series, my general expectation (which is definitely not always met) is that the series as a whole will have a narrative arc and that each individual installment will have its own narrative arc. Spill Zone doesn’t meet that latter expectation. Stuff happens and just when it seems you’re really getting to the plot, the volume ends; it’s more like a prologue than a complete story. This is pretty common in manga volumes, which are published serially, but I don’t think it holds up so well in a series that’s going to come out with up to a year between volumes.

The world building is very interesting, and, while I’m not attached to the characters yet, the cast is promising. Again, there’s a lot that’s introduced but with which nothing has yet been done. Spill Zone lacks a bit of focus, I’d say. I very much enjoyed reading it, but, even reading aloud, it only took me half an hour to get through the whole thing. A+ on the creep factor, though, so if you’re coming for horror, you should be pleased. That doll is by far the most terrifying element, though the meat puppets are a close second.

A fun opening to a new series. I will absolutely continue the series, but I hope for a bit more oomph across the board.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:



2 responses to “Size Doesn’t Matter (155): Scars of Independence; A Study in Scarlet Women; Spill Zone”

  1. I’d been crazy excited when I first heard about A Study in Scarlet Women but I’m not so sure I’ll be giving it a go. I haven’t read any of her romances though so maybe it’d work better for me. I might have to check out Scars of Independence. I’ve gotten a bit obsessed with NF as of late.
    Bonnie @ For the Love of Words recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday – All the Crooked Saints by Maggie StiefvaterMy Profile

  2. The Spill Zone by Sarah Gerard was a highly anticipated read for me. I’ve been following Sarah via twitter for almost two years now. She’s got a great sense of humor, is super intelligent, and has an amazing eye for detail. I love her writing style to pieces. One of my favorite things about her is that she doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to her feelings about certain topics.
    Nia Hayes – ShunCy recently posted…How to Grow Tomatoes HydroponicallyMy Profile

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