Monday, August 29, 2022

2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Roundup

 I had signed up for the book challenge at Shelleyrae's site Book'd Out and went for the Nibbler category of six books. 

Here's my round up.

  1. Social History - Changing Roles by Dr. Vivien Newman
  2. Popular Science - The Lost Family: How DNA Testing is Upending Who We Are by Libby Copeland
  3. Language
  4. Medical Memoir - Trauma by Dr. James Cole
  5. Climate/ Weather
  6. Celebrity - Taste by Stanley Tucci
  7. Reference - The Lyrics by Paul McCartney
  8. Geography - Stonehenge by Francis Pryor
  9. Linked to a Podcast
  10. Wild Animals - Aesop's Animals: The Science beyond the Fables by Jo Wimpenny
  11. Economics
  12. Published in 2022

My favorite book in this reading challenge was The Lyrics by Paul McCartney. I was fortunate enough to have seen McCartney with Wings at a concert in Germany in 1976. It was amazing.  Big fan here!

 Trauma was another one I could recommend for the medical memoir.

The Nonfiction Reader Challenge is hosted by Shelleyrae at Book'd Out.  Check out the sign up post and info HERE.  It's never too late to join in on a reading challenge in my opinion!

Thursday, August 25, 2022

The Lost Family by Libby Copeland and Signal Fires by Dani Shapiro


The Lost Family was an interesting nonfiction book about DNA testing.  Through spitting into a tube and sending your sample to Ancestry or 23andMe some people have found surprises in their family lines.

Some are welcomed into a family they never knew. With others, they've been met with mistrust as the "new family" think they’re interested in money or have ulterior motives. That’s quite a disappointment for somebody that feels like they have suddenly found their biological family.

This book also addresses the genetic testing with markers for health reasons, 23andMe may lead to discoveries you'd wish you’d never uncovered. If you find out you have a genetic marker for Alzheimers do you tell your children so they know something to look for? It would hang like a guillotine over my neck the rest of my life so I don't want to know.

Another book I found very interesting on the same subject is Dani Shapiro's nonfiction Inheritance.  Check out the review HERE on my previous book blog. I immediately thought about this book when I was reading The Lost Family.

And with that I will segue to Dani Shapiro's latest book, a work of fiction titled Signal Fires.  This kept me reading constantly. I finished this in two days. 

You know how some authors can describe characters so will you have a very vivid mental image of what they look like? Well not only does the author describe them so you can picture them, she builds the flesh and emotion around them.  You can visualize the mannerisms, witness their anxiety and know when they were uncomfortable or when they’re getting ready to explode and anger. She brings them to life.

There is a young boy who is a genius level with an interest in the the stars.  He can't seem to connect with his classmates or his father. He will become an astrophysicist but he experiences loneliness growing up. The connections of all the characters -signal fires -link the young boy, the doctor and his family who live across the street, a car accident which takes a life, everything is connected. As I said, couldn't put this down and would recommend to a fan of Dani Shapiro.

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this advanced reader copy.  The publication date is October 18, 2022 by Knopf Doubleday Publishing. Genre: General Fiction, Literary Fiction.

Sharing The Lost family with Shellyrae at Book'd Out for the 2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge (Category: Popular Science).

Monday, August 22, 2022

The Maze by Nelson DeMille


I have enjoyed many of DeMille's novels and remember liking the character John Corey. He's a combination of Jack Reacher and Detective Frank Mackey (Dublin Murder Squad by Tana French) with a heavy side of sarcasm.

That said, I enjoyed the first two John Corey novels Plum Island and The Lion's Game much more than this one. The macho stuff was way over the top and I found myself ready to skim to get to the mystery. If you haven't read any of this series before please don't start with this one as you need background and character development.

Basic plot is about murdered prostitutes and how Corey gets involved - again. He investigates dirty cops and has a teenaged inner dialogue about women (Ugh), mental scenarios where he is as agile and badass as he was in his youth.  If you aren't a John Corey fan already I'd give it a pass. Plum Island was great so you could make the exception there!

Publication date October 11, 2022 by Scribner.  Genre: General Fiction Adult, Mystery and Thrillers.

Thank you to Netgalley for the advanced reader's copy of this book.  I was not compensated for the review, all opinions are mine.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

The Last Girl to Die by Helen Fields

My introduction to Helen Fields' books were through the D.I. Callanach series and I was instantly hooked.  If you like police procedurals and mysteries which are gritty and bold, this is your author.

The Last Girl to Die is a stand alone novel with charcaters you'd not be familar with if you were a fan of the aforementioned series. This one is a page turner. 

The setting is Mull, a small island off the coast of Scotland. Our main character is Sadie Levesque, a Canadian private investigator hired by the Clark family to find their missing daughter. The Clarks are from California and when 17 year old Adriana suddenly disappears, they seek help from outside the community.  The local townspeople are close knit and outsiders aren't welcomed with open arms. The police chief isn't helpful and tells the parents she's probably off partying in Glasgow.

Sadie doggedly pursues her investigation despite the hostile environment and lack of cooperation / info sharing from the police. Secrets are uncovered about the Clark family and a few locals,  violence is threatened and carried out and the ending - just wow. I was so astounded how this ended. I went back a chapter to reread it. If Fields comes out with any new books I will purchase them.  

Publication date September 1, 2022 by Avon Books U.K.  Genre: General Fiction Adult.

Thank you to Netgalley for the advanced reader's copy of this book.  I was not compensated for the review, all opinions are mine.

Sharing with Joy's Book Blog for British Isles Friday.

Monday, August 15, 2022

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus


This book was well written and will go down as one of my favorites for the year. I had been in a reading slump but this book - wow.  Couldn't stop and finished in two days.

If you have ever seen the television series Mad Men and wondered why women would allow themselves to be cast as second class citizens, you will love this book. Chemist Elizabeth Zott takes on the male dominated science field and won't be held back. She's intelligent and driven, not a ball buster as you'd think a woman had to be to take up for themsleves.

Elizabeth is smarter than her male coworkers, won't be pushed into making them coffee, sharing her research or leaving her name off a professional publication because she is a woman. I could rehash the many great conversations and scenes but this has been done by many already so I won't do that.
There were many laugh out loud moments, many times I read passages to my husband and can highly recommend reading this novel.

I saw some who listened to book had some issues but I can not comment on the audio versions as I never could get into that format.  Read this on my Kindle in two days.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

I, Mona Lisa by Natasha Solomons

I wasn't sure what to expect from this novel about Mona Lisa but I liked the description so I bought it on a sale from Amazon. 

The odd parts, for me, was how Lisa spoke of being in love with Leonardo.  A fantasy tale of how the centuries passed and what the painting experiences. She tells how she was brought to life, how she was kidnapped, the lonely existance of sitting in her glassed prison in the Louvre as people wander by and only comment how small the painting is in real life.

 Listen to my history. My adventures are worth hearing. I have lived many lifetimes and been loved by emperors, kings and thieves. I have survived kidnap and assault. Revolution and two world wars. But this is also a love story. And the story of what we will do for those we love. (From Goodreads)

Overall I enjoyed the novel.  If you like historical fiction and reading about the Renaissance era you may well enjoy this book.  Natasha Solomons is a British author and as I liked her style, I will add her other books to my to-read list.  The House at Tyneford is set in England, another historical fiction, and I'd like to read that soon.

Sharing with Joy's Book Blog for British Isles Friday and Marg at The Intrepid Reader for the Historical Fiction Readng Challenge.

Monday, August 1, 2022

The Family Game by Catherine Steadman

Harriet Reed (called Harry by her friends) is engaged to Edward Holbeck, a handsome man with a super rich family.  Harry is a best selling novelist and Edward is a businessman.  He is estranged from his family because, as you're led to believe, they are self entitled, eccentric and controlling. Eventually Harry agrees to meet the family and the games begin from there.

Harry has a secret from her past but it just about pales in comparison to Holbecks.  Edward brings her to the family home for the first time at Thanksgiving.  During that visit Edward's father meets with her privately, eventually giving her a tape of a "novel in progess" for her to evaluate.  Is it a thriller or is it a murder confession disguised as fiction? Harry researches the information and realizes she is involved in a potentially deadly situation.

The prologue starts with Harry coming to on the floor on the estate of the Holbeck mansion.  Wiping the blood from her face she makes a plan to survive this dangerous treasure hunt, a family game played every year at Christmas.  The stakes are high and the scenes are brilliantly written.

Near the end of the book this scene picks up so you know exactly how crazy a family game this was.  I could not put this down after the twists were revealed - dinner was late on two evenings while I read on! This is the fourth book I have read by Catherine Steadman and I loved it.

Publication date is November 8, 2022 by Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine.  Genre: General Fiction Adult, Mystery and Thrillers, Women's Fiction.

Thank you to Netgalley for the advanced reader's copy of this book.  I was not compensated for the review, all opinions are mine.

Sharing with Joy's Book Blog for British Isles Friday.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Walking Through History

If you are interested in history and most especially in English historical landmarks, I highly recommend the Walking Through History series. Check out this link HERE for an introduction to this exceptional series.

"Most of the walks Tony Robinson follows are around 100km long, and although he doesn't walk the full extent for the camera, he reckons he covers at least that distance during filming. "I walk my arse off," he says. "Every shot we do needs three or four takes - so I go up a mountain, come back down, and go up again."

The scenery is stunning and we enjoyed each episode. The photo below is from Cornwall, snapped from our TV as we watched.  This one detailed smuggling in the area and I learned the sayings "the coast is clear" and it's "all above board" originate from those times.

How I would love to be in shape and walk these trails. The history and walsk near Hadrians Wall was of particular interest to me.

Sharing with Joy's Book Blog for British Isles Friday.

Monday, July 25, 2022

The Villa by Rachel Hawkins


This story has two separate story lines.  Mari's story is from 1973 and Emily's story is set in present day. Seems all our main characters are writers, both past and present.

Emily is having trouble in her marriage as well as her writing career.  Her best friend Chess, also a writer, invites her on a 6 week vacation staying at an Italian villa.  It is mainly set in Italy and the villa sounds amazing. The setting and genre were my initial attractions to the book.

I found there were too many plots going on, back and forth between Mari and Emily's time period.  The toxic relationship development was not surprising between the friends so after a while I became distracted. I would not describe this book as a thriller at all.  It was a mystery but a predictable outcome.

Previously I enjoyed The Wife Upstairs and so I would read more by this  author.

Publication date January 3, 2023 by St. Martin's Press  Genre: General Fiction Adult, Mystery and Thrillers.

Thank you to Netgalley for the advanced reader's copy of this book.  I was not compensated for the review, all opinions are mine.

Friday, July 22, 2022

How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

Tom Hazard is  very old man; he is 429 years old.  He has only aged one year for each fifteen years in passing. Tom looks for meaning in life as he can never have a lasting relationship or let his guard down.  

As it turns out there are others in the world with the same condition and eventually they are discovered by a covert society called Albatross.  The society protects them, allowing them to live in a normal setting for eight years before getting an assignment, then relocating with a new identity. One thing that keeps Tom motivated to live (as he could kill himself to end this existence) is a desire to find his daughter Marion. She apparently inherited his genetic disposition and may be somewhere in the world trying to hide her identity. 

In his long life Tom has met F. Scott Fitzgerald, Captain Cook and Shakespeare among other historical figures. The book is divided by time periods and places.  Recently I read Benedict Cumberbatch has acquired film rights to star in the production.  For what it's worth, I prefered The Midnight Library to this book but I never considered abandoning the book.

Matt Haig was born in Sheffield England. His website may be found HERE

Sharing with Joy's Book Blog for British Isles Friday and Marg the Intrepid Reader for the 2022 Historical Fiction challenge.

Monday, July 18, 2022

Ashton Hall by Lauren Belfer

This book is a historical fiction based on the real Ashton Hall built in 1856 in Lancashire England.

Hannah Larson is researching her doctoral dissertation and the subject matter of Ashton Hall plays in.  There is a dark history about the house and a mystery about a  skeleton which was found in a locked room. You will eventually discover who that person was. The backstory on that and the house history is revealed at the end. This is not a ghost story and just about all of the book is set and present time. 

Hannah's life is basically a dumpster fire with a marriage in trouble and her son Nicky having emotional difficulties. I don’t mean he’s unruly or acting up, but more like a medical condition which causes him to become unpredictably violent.  Yet he is bright and it's Nicky who discovers the skeletal remains.

Hannah's research brings the Elizabethan era to life as she goes through old account ledgers and diaries.

Publication date is June 7, 2022 by Random House Publishing - Ballantine Books.  Genre: General Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mysteries and Thrillers.

Thank you to Netgalley for the advanced reader's copy of this book.  I was not compensated for the review, all opinions are mine.

Sharing with Joy's Book Blog for British Isles Friday and Marg at The Intrepid Reader for the Historical Fiction Readng Challenge.

2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Roundup

 I had signed up for the book challenge at Shelleyrae's site  Book'd Out  and went for the Nibbler category of six books.  Here'...