Release Date: May 24, 2022
Release Date: June 14, 2022
Synopsis: A fierce, funny, and revolutionary look at the queens of the animal kingdom
River of the Gods: Genius, Courage, & Betrayal in the Search for the Source of the Nile- Candice Millard
Release Date: May 17, 2022
Synopsis: For millennia the location of the Nile River’s headwaters was shrouded in mystery. In the 19th century, there was a frenzy of interest in ancient Egypt. At the same time, European powers sent off waves of explorations intended to map the unknown corners of the globe – and extend their colonial empires.
Candice Millard's (Hero of the Empire) newest book delves into the search for the source of the White Nile by British explorers Richard Burton and John Hanning Speke and their invaluable, extraordinary guide, Sidi Mubarak Bombay. Over multiple trips and many years the men traveled hundred of miles and encountered endless dangers together. With other expedition members, porters, guides, and guards they used (then) Zanzibar as their jumping off point to search for rumored lakes believed to be the source of the Nile River, often nearly starved, died of diseases, insects, and worse. On their second trip, with Burton too ill to continue, Speke and Bombay reached Lake Nyanza (which Speke renamed Lake Victoria), where Speke believed the Nile to originate. Speke didn't prove this to Burton's satisfaction and this doubt was one of the many instances that came between the two explorers to create a rivalry that would last the rest of their lives.
River of the Gods shows mid-nineteenth century British exploration in all of its complexities: the positive, the negative, and every political, emotional and ethical shade in between. Millard does a good job of balancing Richard Burton and John Speke in the same way. Neither are complete heroes, neither total villains, in their own minds each are completely right in the actions they take and justify themselves along the way. In hindsight we know that the exploration of Africa by England of other countries isn't "just" about the need to fill in blanks on a map- it is leading to complete colonization and further exploitation of people and resources across the continent. We see the contrast of places like Zanzibar: a beautiful paradise of white sandy beaches and clear blue waters, while at the same time one of the worst slave auction sites that bothers even many slavers. Burton is generally someone who takes people as they are, interested in their customs, cultures and languages for what he can learn (whether or not he should) while at the same time being European enough to look down on Africans as a lesser race until the end of his life, while Speke looks down on everyone. What I appreciated about Millard here is that she put everyone's thoughts and actions in the context of their time and not in our modern day sensibilities. We know what we find racist and abhorrent today, so I'd rather know what was the cultural norm at the time and how it changed over the time frame Millard covers, which I thought she did well.
It is toward the end that she reminds us that there was a third main explorer who deserves as many accolades as Burton and Speke: Sidi Mubarak Bombay. Enslaved as a child, he returned to Africa as an adult and was a trustworthy guide, interpreter, and friend to European explorers like Burton and Speke- and later helped the famous journalist Stanley find Dr. Livingston. Bombay helped shine a light on the native guides and interpreters that Europeans needed to succeed in being "the first" to do so many things, from finding the source of the Nile to climbing Mt. Everest, and that today historians must try to discover the little told stories of these men and women and celebrate them just as much as their more famous (or infamous) European counterparts.
Millard's brilliance for a truly riveting, engaging writing style is evident from page one in River of the Gods, drawing the reader in and refusing to let them go until the final page. Every step in the exploration, every twist in the bitter verbal sparring between former friends, keeps you emotionally engaged and waiting tensely to see what will happen next. It isn't just the adventures in Africa that read like adventure stories, it is the entire book.
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Something Wilder - Christina Lauren
Release Date- May 17, 2022
Synopsis: Growing up the daughter of notorious treasure hunter and absentee father Duke Wilder left Lily without much patience for the profession…or much money in the bank. But Lily is nothing if not resourceful, and now uses Duke’s coveted hand-drawn maps to guide tourists on fake treasure hunts through the red rock canyons of Utah. It pays the bills but doesn’t leave enough to fulfill her dream of buying back the beloved ranch her father sold years ago, and definitely not enough to deal with the sight of the man she once loved walking back into her life with a motley crew of friends ready to hit the trails. Frankly, Lily would like to take him out into the wilderness—and leave him there.
Kiss Hard (Hard Play 4)- Nalini Singh
Release Date: May 3, 2022
Synopsis: Daniel Esera is a young god on the rugby field, a sexy and charming man who's got the world at his feet. There's just one problem: his sudden potent attraction to his number one nemesis--Catie River. No. Just no. Not happening.Catie River is on her way to Paralympic gold, and she's not about to allow Danny "Hotshot" Esera to derail her plans. Too bad her body isn't cooperating. Even worse? Her heart might be coming along for the ride. No. Nope. Never.