The Guardian Poplar: A Memoir of Deep Roots, Journey, and Rediscovery

by Chase Nebeker Peterson

The Guardian Poplar: A Memoir of Deep Roots, Journey, and Rediscovery by Chase Nebeker Peterson

This book was kind of a meh, for me. Peterson writes well, and a lot of his memories are interesting, but it just didn’t seem to resonate with me. Perhaps the lackadaisical, no real moral to the story, type of storytelling just doesn’t grip me personally, but it this book didn’t. Read More »

Justice For All: Earl Warren and the Nation He Made

by Jim Newton

Justice For All: Earl Warren and the Nation He Made by Jim Newton

As I’ve mentioned before, sometimes I have a difficult time enjoying a biography if I don’t necessarily like the person the book is written about. To separate the book from the person is a challenge, so full disclosure, I think Earl Warren was kind of a jerk. And a bit of a hypocrite. Read More »

Love Goes to Buildings On Fire: Five Years in New York That Changed Music Forever

by Will Hermes

Love Goes to Buildings on Fire: Five Years in New York That Changed Music Forever by Will Hermes

In the preface Hermes writes that this is, “In a sense, an inspirational book.” And I am still wanting to know, in what sense? When a book claims it will inspire, I’d better be inspired, and it didn’t, and I wasn’t, and for this and other reasons, this book was one big fail. Read More »

Nothing To Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

by Barbara Demick

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick

I must say, I loved this book. Absolutely loved it. It had all the elements of a wonderful non fiction: compelling subject matter, new information, and nice writing style. I am sad that this book isn’t a best seller, but not terribly surprised when I see the types of books that become best sellers. Read More »

Barack Like Me: The Chocolate-covered Truth

by David Alan Grier with Alan Eisenstock

Barack Like Me: The Chocolate-covered Truth by Alan Grier with Alan Eisenstock

Ugh, I hated this book. Mercifully, it was written so that an elementary student could have gotten through it quickly had they wanted to… and I sincerely hope none would. Read More »

Operation Mincemeat: How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory

by Ben Macintyre

Operation Mincemeat by Ben Macintyre

I feel like I am on a WWII kick. I promise that I have been reading other things as well, but with the discovery of Macintyre’s interesting WWII books which detail the lives of spies and intelligence secrets… well, I might be on this kick for a while. Operation Mincemeat offers a different side of the WWII story. It does talk about specifics campaigns but focuses on the Intelligence community’s unique role in the strategic gathering and decimation of information. Macintyre’s book was well written and well researched. You can tell that his background is in newspaper journalism because each chapter is short and snappy, like a well written article.

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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

by Rebecca Skloot

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

This book and I have history… I read a review before it came out and was very excited about it. Then, one of the defunct book clubs that I am a part of decided to read it. I was thrilled, then they decided to replace the selection with The Help *gag*. I was disappointed but always having 20 books or so on my to read shelf didn’t leave me time for moping. Read More »

Wicked Bugs: The Louse That Conquered Napoleon’s Army & Other Diabolical Insects

by Amy Stewart

Wicked Bugs by Amy Stewart

I recently moved to a house with a basement. And in the basement spiders lurk, everywhere! I was also reading this book while pregnant, which makes me a bit more sensitive to things. Needless to say, my skin crawled the entire time I read this one. The premise is something I can get behind, a non fiction book about the havoc that harmless little bugs can reap, but the book as a whole was not wonderful. Read More »

The Lampshade: A Holocaust Detective Story from Buchenwald to New Orleans

by Mark Jacobson

The Lampshade by Mark Jacobson

You know I am a sucker for a real life detective story… and a real life detective story with Nazis… sign me up. There were so many things I enjoyed about this book, but a fair amount that I didn’t enjoy. Read More »

Who Do You Think You Are?: A Memoir

by Alyse Myers

Who do you think you are: a memoir by Alyse Myers

Every now and again I like to read a biography about someone I have never heard of. In this case it was an auto-biography, or memoir if you want to get fancy about it, written by Alyse Myers. I knew nothing about who she was, or why her life was important, but discount books are my weakness. Read More »

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin

by Erik Larson

In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson

When I got this book, I was so excited. I love Erik Larsen’s books. I enjoy how he blends history and murder. I think his style is easy to get lost in. That is why In the Garden of Beasts was a huge disappointment to me. Read More »

Born Liberal Raised Right: How to Rescue America from Moral Decline-One Family at a Time

by Reb Bradley

Born Library, Raised Right by Reb Bradley

This book was a gift… at the time of the receipt of said gift, I had (okay I guess I technically STILL have just the one kid) one kid who was not yet a year old. So I am not sure if this was a reflection on my current parenting, or a future warning… either way, another book that didn’t need to be written. Read More »

The Rasputin File

by Edvard Radzinsky

The Rasputin File by Edward Radzinsky

Rasputin is one of the great characters in history. He features in countless novels, non fiction books, plays, and even cartoons. Often Rasputin is portrayed as a seducing villain who caused the downfall of the Romanov empire.  Radzinsky sets out to present a real Rasputin, one who propagandists failed to present. Read More »

The Great Upheaval: America and the Birth of the Modern World 1788-1800

by Jay Wink

The Great Upheaval: America and the Birth of the Modern World by Jay Winik

The wonderfully researched history follows the fledgling United States, France, and Russia as they navigate into the modern world. For non history buffs, the period of 1788-1800 includes all sorts of rebellion within the United States (Shay’s Rebellion, Whiskey Rebellion, etc), the French Revolution and murder of the French Monarchy, as well as the twilight of Catherine the Great and Russia as a world power. Read More »

Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination That Changed America Forever

by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard

Kill Lincoln by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard

I am always a bit skeptical when I pick up a book that someone AND someone else wrote. I get vicious flashbacks to university where I had to write papers in a group. Trying to fit your own writing style with the writing style of someone else… well, lets just say I hated writing papers in a group or as a pair. I don’t know how two people organize one set of thoughts, which is one of the problems with this non-fiction. Read More »

Raising a Riot

by Alfred Toombs

Raising a Riot by Alfred Toombs

This non fiction comes to us via my husband and the yard sale. It is another of the ‘christian fiction’ set, though Christianity is not displayed quite so prominently, or prominently at all. If I did not know where this book came from, I would just assume it was another set of memoirs that didn’t need to be written as nothing of import actually happens. Read More »

Stalin’s Children: Three Generations of Love, War, and Survival

by Owen Matthews

Stalin's Children: Three Generations of Love, War, and Survival by Owen Matthews

Stalin’s Children met my criteria for a good biography. Most likely because I found myself crying throughout the first third of the book. Read More »

Into the Wild

by Jon Krakauer

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

I am not sure whether I actually enjoyed this book. Probably not a good sign since I have already finished it but, you see, I find myself torn. I feel biographies should be written about people that DO something, people worth learning about. The circumstances portrayed in this non fiction are certainly tragic, but I am not sure if they merit a novel. I am also not sold on Krakauer’s writing style. Read More »

Welcome to My World

by Johnny Weir

Welcome to My World by Johnny Weir

First, I think I should let you know that I got this book for free… as a joke. When Borders went out of business (moment of silence), they gave a bunch of books that they couldn’t offload at a 90% mark down to my brother’s place of work. He came over once while I wasn’t home and hid them all over my bookshelves. The joke is on him because I will read anything! Read More »

My Two Chinas: The Memoir of a Chinese Counterrevolutionary

by Baiqiao Tang with Damon DiMarco

My Two Chinas: The Memoir of a Chinese Counterrevolutionary by Baiqiao Tang with Damon DiMarco

There were so many great aspects to this book, but other aspects left me flat. When I read an autobiography, I expect a person to relate the events of their life with a level of passion or interest, and why not? Most people enjoy talking about themselves. My Two Chinas could have been written by a stranger, some of the episodes in the book were retold with such a lack of passion that I wouldn’t have believed, except for the use of the first person, that Biagiao Tang wrote this about himself. Read More »

The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War

by David Halberstam

The Coldest Winter by David Halberstam

Meh. Longest. War. Ever. Or so this book would have me believe. The actual title of this book should have been. I Hate McCarthur, and Here is Why, oh and also, His Entire Geneology, and the Failings of His Ancestors. I was prepared to like this book at the outset, and was bitterly disappointed. Read More »

Unlikely Allies: How a Merchant, a Playwright, and a Spy Saved the American Revolution

by Joel Richard Paul

Unlikely Allies: How a Merchant, a Playwright, and a Spy Saved the American Revolution by Joel Richard Paul

I know some people don’t like non fiction. They get bogged down in the dates and the details, and if it doesn’t pertain to their immediate circumstances… they just don’t care. I am not one of those people. I LOVE non fiction. I like obscure settings, and obscure people. The older, the better. Sadly, Unlikely Allies seemed to be history light. Read More »

Always Magic in the Air: The Bomb and Brilliance of the Brill Building Era

by Ken Emerson

Always Magic in the Air by Ken Emerson

I have a slight confession. I don’t usually read the preface, introduction, or forward in books. I find that if I’ve never read the book I get too many spoilers. If the preface is written by someone I find interesting, I will go back and read it at the end. Most of the time; however, I am content to read the book and have done. I read Ken Emerson’s introduction, and I am glad I did. Read More »

Tried By War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander In Chief

by James M. McPherson

Tried by Way: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief by James M. McPherson

In modern parlance I would consider myself ‘a fan’ of Lincoln. From the many biographies I’ve read, to the bajillion hour Ken Burns Civil War Documentary that my nocturnal newborn and I watched, Lincoln stands out as an all around good guy. More importantly, he wasn’t a hypocrite which in these days of political intrigue and outrage, is a pretty amazing fact. The only problem with Lincoln is the in flux of information about the man. Read More »

The City of Falling Angels

by John Berendt

The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt

I like to think that if John Berendt and I ever met, we’d go to some cafe somewhere (in this little fantasy I live in a place that actually has cafes in the European sense and not in the Route 66 sense) and talk. We’d tell stories about the people we’d met. We’d laugh about the things we’d seen. We’d be friends. I would imagine that the differences in our beliefs and life experiences would not separate us, but we would feel a comradarie that only people who love people can understand. Read More »

Pirates of Barbary: Corsairs, Conquests, and Captivity in the 17th-Century Mediterranean

by Adrian Tinniswood

The Economist said this was a novel about how a biography and social history can ‘work magnificently together’. No, no, no, Economist. No. Social history can NEVER work with biography. That is the law. When you try to view the actions of a bunch of Barbary Pirates through the lenses of a social or political theology (if you will) of the 21rst Century… well, you are going to get someone’s ideological crusade. Adrian Tinniswood would have done well to stick with writing about country homes. Read More »

Gomorrah: A Personal Journey into the Violent International Empire of Naples’ Organized Crime System

by Roberto Saviano

According to the cover, this ‘novel’ is now an award-winning film. I have a hard time believing they could make a film from the contents of Saviano’s novel. It isn’t a story so much as an expose that has no actual narrative. Though I found it interesting, highly interesting, it would be better served for a magazine article, and not a book. Read More »

Stormy Weather: The Life of Lena Horne

by James Gavin

Stormy Weather: The Life of Lena Horne by James Gavin

Initially, I wanted to give this book a bad grade, but I realized I really wanted to give Lena Horne a bad grade. The book was good. Well written. Well balanced. Well researched. I just don’t like Lena Horne. I thought she wasn’t a talented singer and really didn’t understand the fuss. Stormy Weather confirmed my feelings. Read More »

Patton, Montgomery, Rommel: Masters of War: A Story of the Three Greatest Generals of the Greatest War

by Terry Brighton

Patton, Montgomery, Rommel: Masters of War by Terry Brighton

I am not sure why historians can’t seem to choose shorter titles, but they can’t, and as a result we know what they want their book to be about from the cover. For some reasons over the past year or so I’ve read several WWII books. Both fiction and non fiction. None have focused at all on the North African theater of war, so the novel was refreshing in that aspect. Read More »

Don’t Mind if I Do

by George Hamilton and William Stadiem

Why did I want to read about the life of the darkly tanned old Hollywood lothario? Why, not? And that pretty much sums up George Hamilton’s philosophy on life, at least according to himself. Before picking up this book I knew very little about George Hamilton. After reading it, I don’t necessarily feel like he is an old friend, but it was a fun read. Read More »