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Nonfiction November – Week 1

Prompt 1: Your Year In Non-Fiction

I’m so excited that Nonfiction November has kicked off (yeah, I admit, i’m kind of a dork). Typically I try to read 1-2 non-fiction books a month – but that just depends on what else is going on in life and around me. For this post (My Year in Nonfiction) – I went back through my Goodreads records to identify the books that i’ve read since NF November finished last year. Its always an insightful kind of exercise

Dec 1, 2019 to October 31 2020 Non-Fiction Book List

  • Memoir – The Quarter-Acre Farm: How I kept the patio, lost the lawn, and fed my family for a year
  • Memoir/Animals – Thunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero
  • Memoir/Graphic Art – Prison Island: A Graphic Memoir
  • Memoir – Love Is a Mix Tape
  • Memoir/Social Justice/Social Movements – I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness
  • Memoir – I Have Something to Tell You
  • Memoir/Social Justice – When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir       
  • Memoir/Graphic Art – They Called Us Enemy
  • Memoir – From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home    
  • Biography – A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea: One Refugee’s Incredible Story of Love, Loss, and Survival
  • Biography/Books About Books – Bowie’s Bookshelf: The Hundred Books that Changed David Bowie’s Life
  • Biography – Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg
  • Biography/History – Jefferson’s Daughters: Three Sisters, White and Black, in a Young America   
  • True Crime – The Killer Across the Table: Unlocking the Secrets of Serial Killers and Predators with the FBI’s Original Mindhunter
  • True Crime – The Third Rainbow Girl: The Long Life of a Double Murder in Appalachia
  • True Crime – Mrs. Sherlock Holmes
  • True Crime – Hell in the Heartland: Murder, Meth, and the Case of Two Missing Girls  
  • True Crime – American Predator      
  • Gender Studies – Men Explain Things to Me      
  • Gender Studies – Three Women 
  • History/Gender Studies – Shortlisted: Women in the Shadows of the Supreme Court
  • History/Military – Joe Rochefort’s War
  • History/Significant Events – The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland
  • History/Sports – One Shot at Forever: A Small Town, an Unlikely Coach, and a Magical Baseball Season
  • History/Social Movements/Social Justice – Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America
  • Economics – Free: The Future of a Radical Price
  • Cookbooks – Cook Once, Eat All Week: 26 Weeks of Gluten-Free, Affordable Meal Prep to Preserve Your Time & Sanity
  • Self-Help – Päntsdrunk (Kalsarikänni): The Finnish Path to Relaxation (Drinking at Home, Alone, in Your Underwear)

What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year?

This is always a hard question for me to answer because I read such a diverse range of books and topics. If i had to pick (like really twist my arm kinda pick) – then I could narrow my favorites down to 2. Joe Rochefort’s War (Elliot Carlson) and One Shot at Forever (Chris Ballard). – I just finished up Joe Rochefort’s War in October – if you are interested in military history, especially World War 2/ war in the pacific, then this is a book that would likely interest you. CDR Joseph Rochefort was the Officer in Charge of Station Hypo in Pearl Harbor and was key in identifying where the Battle of Midway was going to take place. If you have seen either the new 2019 Midway movie or the older one – he is depicted as wearing a dressing gown and slippers (and per his biography he did because the space was so cold and clammy). – As I was reading One Shot in Forever (while stuck on pre-deployment COVID restriction of movement in Italy) – the thought that kept running through my mind was how has this not been turned into a Disney movie yet? If you like movies like McFarlane USA and Miracle, then this is a book you may enjoy.

Left: Joe Rochefort’s War; Right: One Shot At Forever

Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year? 

In general, I’ve maintained my pretty diverse range of non-fiction reads. Memoirs and Biographies have typically been top of my most read list over the last few years; followed close behind by True Crime. I think the one topic this year that hasn’t been as present in previous years is the the Social Justice/Social Movement type books – this had definately not been a topic that I had really explored in the past – beyond reading Just Mercy a couple of years ago – but with the events of 2020 and the ongoing civil unrest related to deaths of African American citizens by police – its definately something I wanted to become more informed about. Locking Up Our Own was probably one of the more insightful about racial profiling; and then reading When They Call You a Terrorist by one of the founders of Black Lives Matter highlighted huge gaps in my awareness of ongoing issues.

Left: Locking Up Our Own; Right: When They Call You A Terrorist

What nonfiction book have you recommended the most?

Nonfiction seems to be my least recommended books in general – likely because most places where I make recommendations are heavy with genre readers. That being said – i’ve definately recommended One Shot in Forever to a couple of people, including one person who blogs sports books (he’d actually already read it – but that counts right?) I’ve also recommended American Predator and Killer Across the Table (as audiobook listens) to a few people – I mean King George himself (aka Jonathan Groff) narrates Killer Across the Table).

What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

What i always want to get out of Nonfiction November – most books added to my already huge TBR pile. Ha! But there is some truth in that – i like seeing what other people are reading and recommending – and I tend to keep a running list of books that catch my eye – either mentioned on Goodreads, Twitter or Blogs (I mean, i do this during the year, but on average I add probably double the books during this month). I also like finding books I can recommend to my local library system to buy (in a perfect world, I would love a job buying books for a library but alas….)

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

Non-Fiction November – Intro

I’m always excited when I start seeing the discussions about Non-Fiction November each year. I wait to see what the prompts are going to be and how people interpret them; dig through my pile of unread non-fiction books to see what I have that fits prompts and in general, just add more books to my TBR pile like crazy 😉

One of the first things that I normally do when I prep this intro post for the year is to go back through my Goodreads records and count up how many non-fiction books i’ve read in the lead up to November and reminise on which ones were favorites of mine.

After I look at my year in review of non-fiction; then I start digging into the books that I want to read this month. Sometimes those choices are driven by various reading challenges that I participate in. For example, this year, the first two books on my Non-Fiction November pile are books to finish out my Fall 2020 Seasonal Reading Challenge (SRC). SRC is a Goodreads group where every three months you read books based on a series of tasks/prompts – these prompts are either developed by the moderators or if you finish the challenge, you get an option to develop a task. These two books are Seven Signs of Life (Aoife Abbey) and Eliza Hamilton: The Extraordary Life and Times of the Wife of Alexander Hamilton (Tilar J. Mazzeo)

Next up in the developing a Non-Fiction November reading pile is any books that I have on my Advanced Readers Copy shelf that I need to get caught up on. However, since i’ve been deployed for the last five months, I’ve really dialed back on the number of ARC’s i’ve requested – so for year, this will likely be a low number of books (but i’m sure I have a couple I could dig out of the pile).

Finally, I get to the prompts given to Non-Fiction November participants by the organizers. For 2020, these prompts are: 1) Movement, 2) Buzz, 3) Discovery and 4) Time. Its up to the participants to determine how to interpret those prompts. This year, I have the limit that because I’m not home with a ready access to my normally awesome library for print books – I’m sticking to books in the Overdrive or Hoopla apps that I can borrow – but in some ways this is fun/entertaining because I discover books that I never would have found otherwise.

For movement, the first thought/image that came to mind was ballerina’s dancing and moving to the music. There was one cover that had caught my eye about a year ago at the library that I decided had to go on the pile -the cover of Taking Flight to me is the epitome of movement – a ballerina flying through the air.

For Buzz, I was hoping to read a new non-fiction that is getting a lot of attention (aka Buzz) – Unfortunately, the list of holds at my library for the book I wanted to read (Group – Christie Tate) is about 6 months for ebook/audio right now. So my alternative is a book where the featured subject buzzes…the annoying Mosquito.

Right now, I have a choice of two books for the discovery prompt that I’m considering. Oh, who am I kidding? – I’m going to try to read/listen to both of them. These came when I searched science +discovery in the Overdrive catalog and then narrowed down the results to non-fiction (this search method has typically rewarded me with fairly solid choices to consider).

For the final prompt – time – there is a diverse range of options – from the self-help books about how to manage time better (always interesting to “time” being a common word found in many political memoirs – but we’re just not going to go there right now….

Right now I have this prompt narrowed down to three books – 1) a book about solving murders from a specific time period (the Civil Rights era); 2) a book about a specific time/place in history (World War 2 in Oak Ridge, TN) and 3) a biography “time”less classic movie – The Princess Bride (I just watched this less than a month ago and even 20 years later – for me – it still stands the test of time).

So that’s my intro to Non-Fiction November! Who else is participating and what books are you most excited to read?

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

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Dewey’s Readathon – Hours 13-18

Ahh readathon hours 13-18 – also known as 3am until 8am Greek time or the time where Dee passes out facedown in her pillow spread diagonally across the queen sized bed. Ha! To be honest, i didn’t actually read/listen to much in this block of tmie. I had every intention of only napping for a couple of hours but alas, that didn’t happen.

During this time period, i read/listened until about 4:30am – during which time I finished up The Light Over London (Julia Kelly). Overall t read, however, i felt like everything just wrapped up too quickly – the whole dual time-line reveal all culminated around 90% but it just felt really quick. A solid 3 star read for me. I also listened to another 39 minutes of His Only Wife.

Books/Pages Read During This Time:
His Only Wife - 21pgs
The Light Over London - 225pgs
Total Pages: 246pgs
 
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Posted by on October 25, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

Dewey’s Readathon – Hours 9-12

Half-way done! I can’t believe that its 3am and i’m still awake (although, there is a 99.9% chance that I’m going to nap during the next 4 hours). This last four hours included me needing to charge both my kindle and phone – so I spent a chunk of time working on the one print book that I have in progress (Joe Rochfort’s War). I’m also listening to His Only Wife (Peace Adzo Medie) – but right now I’m still listening to the portion I had previously read.

During hours 9 through 12, I also finished up Take Two (Mia Masters/R. Ramsey), as well as Sleep Tight (Anne Fraiser). Take Two was, to be honest, mediocre at best but since I borrowed it through Kindle Unlimited, I didn’t lose money on it (since I’ve already read enough books this month to exceed the cost of my subscription). Sleep Tight was a decent suspense, I’m not sure why it has been on my to-be-read pile for so long (according to my records, I bought it in 2011). I also started The Light Over London (Julia Kelly), a WW2 historical fiction/romance. This is right up my comfort read alley – although I haven’t read any boks about the Gunner Girls (who served in the British Army in an Anti-aircraft gun unit). I also continued reading some more of The Only Plane in the Sky (for time sequencing, the plane just hit the Pentagon – the 3rd of the planes of that were hijacked that day). The Librarian of Auschwitz (Antonio G. Iturbe) and Flood (Andrew Vachss) rounded out my reading for the last 4 hours.

Pages/Books Read During This Time:
His Only Wife - 56min/30pgs
Take Two - 122pgs
Sleep Tight - 143pgs
Joe Rochfort's War - 49pgs
The Only Plane in the Sky - 35pgs
Flood - 68pgs
The Librarian of Auschwitz - 64pgs
The Light Over London - 111pgs
Total Pages: 622
 
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Posted by on October 25, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

Dewey’s Readathon – Hours 5-8

I mentioned in my introductory post (i think) that it was really weird starting Readathon at 3pm in the afternoon – but after 8 hours, I think I could get used to it. If I was at home, then hour 8 would be around 4pm and the long night would look so daunting ahead (especially at hours 18-24) – but right now, its 11pm and I’m still going strong. Although this could be because I pretty much slept the day away until festivities kicked off….

In hours 5-8, I finished listening (with minutes to spare in hour 8) to Plan for the Worst (Jodi Taylor) – after 11 books in the series, I didn’t think Ms Taylor was going to be able to surprise me, but i didn’t see that reveal coming. Now I have to wait for book 12 which doesn’t come out until next year (insert stamping feet temper tantrum). I started The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11 (Garrett M. Graff) – I still remember where I was on 9/11 (A freshman in college at Virginia Tech) – so its a) hard to believe that its been nearly 20 years and b) still very shocking to read some of the memories of the day (from transcripts of calls from the planes; to memories of key political figures at the time and the every day workers in the World Trade Centers). I’m attempting to listen to the audiobook of His Only Wife (Peace Adzo Medie) – this is Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine book of the month for October – I had previously tried to read it but didn’t get very far – so hoping the audiobook is better. I also made some progress on Joe Rochfort’s War (Elliot Carlson) – I’ve been reading this at like a chapter a night, but readathon is a good way to make some more progress. And finally, I made some more progress on Sleep Tight (Anne Fraiser); as well as starting Take Two (Mia Masters/R.Ramsey).

Books Read During This Time:
Plan for the Worst - 2hr 58mi/104pgs
The Only Plane in the Sky - 53pgs
His Only Wife - 3 pgs
Joe Rochfort's War - 27pgs
Sleep Tight - 41pgs
Take Two - 104pgs
Total Pages Read/Listened: 332pgs
 
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Posted by on October 24, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

Dewey’s Readathon – Hours 1-4

Its crazy how fast the first few hours of Readathon always seem to go. I feels like I honestly just started reading/listening – but here we are at the end of hour 4 and officially 1/6 of the way through the 24hrs.

During this first 4 hours hours, I managed to listen to 3 hours and 4 minutes of Plan for the Worst (Jodi Taylor) This series is one of my favorites because it has a nice blend of romance, humor, historical events all wrapped up in time travel (although St Mary’s will never actually admit to time travel, they just observed periods of historical significance in contemporary time). This is book 11 in the series and its one that i always eagerly await the new release. I also finished up Hers to Keep (Serena Akeroyd) which i borrowed from Kindle Unlimited. I also read 64pgs of Sleep Tight (Anne Fraiser).

Books Read During This Time:
Plan for the Worst - 3hrs 4min/108pgs
Hers to Keep - 166pgs
Sleep Tight - 65pgs
Total Pages Read/Listened: 339

If you are participating in Readathon – how you doing so far? Have you finished any books?

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

Dewey’s Readathon – Oct 24, 2020

Every October, I eagerly start checking the Dewey calendar to see when the next Readathon will be – so that i can make sure i set that date aside. This October, being that I’m deployed, I wasn’t sure if that was going to be doable – since if we were underway, then its working 7 days a week but in port, I could potentially swing it. Thankfully the stars all decided to alig and we have been in port in Crete, Greece and will be here for a little bit longer. We were also lucky enough to be given liberty out in town (being that we had been isolated to prevent the spread of Covid since end of September) – so right now I’m chilling in my AirBnB – enjoying a kitchenette and a queen size bed for the first time since mid-July when I left Norfolk

Other Books On Readathon Pile:
- The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11 - Garrett M. Graff
- The Rookie - Kimberly Kincaid
- The Heartbeat Hypothesis - Lindsey Frydman
- The Light Over London - Julia Kelly
- Seven Signs of Life - Aoife Abbey

Who else out there is participating in Readathon? What is on your pile? What book are you most excited about?

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

Review – The New Husband – D.J. Palmer

the new husbandThe New Husband
Author: D.J. Palmer
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Publisher

Description:
What makes Simon Fitch so perfect?
-He knows all her favorite foods, music, and movies.
-Her son adores him. He was there when she needed him most.
-He anticipates her every need.
-He would never betray her like her first husband.

The perfect husband. He checks all the boxes.

The question is, why?

Nina Garrity learned the hard way that her missing husband, Glen, had been leading a double life with another woman. But with Glen gone―presumably drowned while fishing on his boat―she couldn’t confront him about the affair or find closure to the life he blew apart.

Now, a year and a half later, Nina has found love again and hopes she can put her shattered world back together. Simon, a widower still grieving the death of his first wife, thinks he has found his dream girl in Nina, and his charm and affections help break through to a heart hardened by betrayal. Nina’s teenage son, Connor, embraces Simon as the father he wishes his dad could have been, while her friends see a different side to him, and they aren’t afraid to use the word obsession.

Nina works hard to bridge the divide that’s come between her daughter and Simon. She wants so badly to believe her life is finally getting back on track, but she’ll soon discover that the greatest danger to herself and her children are the lies people tell themselves.

Review:
After my enjoyment of Saving Meghan (see review HERE), I was honestly worried when i was offered the chance to review The New Husband on whether it could keep it on the edge of my seat like Saving Meghan did. But to start of, I would caveat that this book should have some kind of trigger warning for abuse – just as a heads up. there were a few places that I felt uncomfortable and I’ve never been in that kind of situation.

While I found this one to be must more in your face with the whole done it (I mean, i had a pretty solid idea of who the bad guy was fairly early on) but seeing all the psychological twists…at one stage I tweeted that the book was a total mindfuck – and it was. Its honestly hard to write a good review without divulging spoilers and I hate doing that.

I will admit that through most of the book Nina kind of annoyed me – I know that Simon was a psycho and all that but it seems like she had no personality even with her first husband and now was just trying to find herself. Her daughter was by far the more interesting of the 3 characters you get to know in the Garrity family – and I really liked her friend (and of course, the dog made the story all the more enjoyable like dogs do). My only other comment will be that there was a bit of a dangling thread to simon’s story that i would have loved to have seen tied up – but that makes me wonder if there is another story coming…

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2020 in Book Review, Review

 

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Review – The Lover’s Portrait – Jennifer S. Alderson

the lover's portraitThe Lover’s Portrait
Author: Jennifer S. Alderson
Series: #1 in the Zelda Richardson Mystery series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Description:
When a Dutch art dealer hides the stock from his gallery – rather than turn it over to his Nazi blackmailer – he pays with his life, leaving a treasure trove of modern masterpieces buried somewhere in Amsterdam, presumably lost forever. That is, until American art history student Zelda Richardson sticks her nose in.

After studying for a year in the Netherlands, Zelda scores an internship at the prestigious Amsterdam Historical Museum, where she works on an exhibition of paintings and sculptures once stolen by the Nazis, lying unclaimed in Dutch museum depots almost seventy years later.

When two women claim the same painting, the portrait of a young girl entitled Irises, Zelda is tasked with investigating the painting’s history and soon finds evidence that one of the two women must be lying about her past. Before she can figure out which one it is and why, Zelda learns about the Dutch art dealer’s concealed collection. And that Irises is the key to finding it.

Her discoveries make her a target of someone willing to steal – and even kill – to find the missing paintings. As the list of suspects grows, Zelda realizes she has to track down the lost collection and unmask a killer if she wants to survive.

Review:
Sometimes when you pick up a random book for a reading challenge (in this instance, I needed a book that was set primarily in Netherlands), you discover a gem. The Lover’s Portrait is one of those gem’s – i’d honestly never even heard of the author and I came by it searching fiction and Netherlands on Amazon (and then narrowing down to kindle unlimited books). I’ve studied the holocaust on and off over the years and know about the looting and stealing of artwork that occurred in many of the Nazi occupied countries – so a mystery about discovering what happened to a collection of paintings was something that caught my eye and i borrowed it. And then it sat on my kindle – i think for maybe close to a month before I actually picked up my kindle and read it.

I was pretty much sucked into Zelda’s story right away – she kind of reminded me of myself at times (not that i have any experience with museum’s – but rather the bull in a china shop get right to the problem and sometimes going a bit too far). I thought the author did a good job of writing a character who was kind of out of place in society as she isn’t native dutch but also trying to figure out what she wanted to do with her lift (and waiting to find out if she was accepted in a master’s program in museum studies). The mystery in and of itself was solid – i had kind of an inkling about 1/2 way through of who the bad guy(s) were but at times, the author left me questioning whether I was right or not (which to me is the sign of a good mystery). I liked how she alternated between WW2 Amsterdam and present day Amsterdam.

I’ll admit that i’ve already borrowed the second book in the series and can’t wait to see where Zelda’s adventures take her next!

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2020 in Book Review, Review

 

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Review- Beach Read – Emily Henry

beach readBeach Read
Author: Emily Henry
Publication Date: 19 May 2020 (Berkley)
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ 1/2

Review Copy Provided by Publisher via Edelweiss

Description:
A romance writer who no longer believes in love and a literary writer stuck in a rut engage in a summer-long challenge that may just upend everything they believe about happily ever afters.

Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.

They’re polar opposites.

In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block.

Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.

Review:
I was scrolling through Edelweiss a few weeks ago looking at the available for download books when I came across Beach Read. While I’ll admit, I initially clicked on the description because of the cover, it was the first couple lines of the description (romance writing no longer believing in love) that totally sold me. It is kind of obvious from the majority of my reviews here, that romance is a genre that I read on a pretty frequent basis – but having a POV of a romance author who didn’t believe in love, seemed like something unique. Plus enemies to lovers (in this instance a romance writer and a literary writer – which gives me visions of a dude with his nose in the air) seemed like something that I would enjoy – since in general its one of my favorite romance tropes.

The premise to me was an interesting dichotomy, I follow quite a few romance authors on various social media platforms and the vast majority all seem to have a happily ever after with the significant other that potentially helps to feed into their writing mojo (I don’t have any solid proof of this but its a pretty solid working hypothesis). Anyways – what happens when a romance writer can no longer write romance – what does she do next? That formed a great basis for a challenge between two writers – January will try her hand at writing the next great american novel (which honestly, i typically try to avoid because i find majority of them to be pretentious) and Augustus (aka Gus) would try his hand at writing a romance novel.

I think the weakest part of the plot for me – we saw a lot about January writing her great american novel, but i wanted to see more of Gus trying to write his romance. I don’t know if alternating POV’s would have worked but the ending just left me feeling a bit empty about that aspect of the plot – which is why I ultimately gave Beach Read 3.5 stars.

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2020 in Book Review, Review

 

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