Nonfiction

Leopard at the Door by Jennifer McVeigh

Available tomorrow: Leopard at the Door by Jennifer McVeigh

*****4.5/5 starsjmcveigh-leopardatthedoor

Like Gone with the Wind, but set in 1950s British-occupied Kenya: You’ll love it!

Recommended readers:

  • Fans of British history
  • If you like Gone with the Wind for its historical insights and feels
  • If you like fictional history and a mix of genres

Here’s my Rankings:

  • 4/5 for characters
  • 5/5 for plot
  • 4.5/5 overall

REVIEW FROM BOOKS FOR HER:

After spending her adolescent years in England, Rachel has longed for her family’s Kenya farm, where she roamed the land, worked and loved the family’s slaves, that she left behind after her mother’s death. Now, no longer a child, Rachel comes to see the harsh challenges of British-occupied Kenya in the 1950s, both from the native Kenyans to the extremist Mau Mau fighters to the white settlers. It’s like a Gone with the Wind, set in Kenya, where the stark contrast of slaves and owners – along with the dramatic political climate, make this an intense, emotional and thoughtful read. I loved it!

Available tomorrow: Leopard at the Door by Jennifer McVeigh

Fates and Traitors, A John Wilkes Booth Novel

Available now: Fates and Traitors, A Novel of John Wilkes Booth

****4/5 stars

If you’re a fan of history being humanized – Fates and Traitors is a fascinating retelling of the John Wilkes Booth’s life surrounding one of US history’s most notorious events.

Recommended readers:

  • Fans of history that
  • If you like mystery-thrillers with some romance
  • If you want a quick-reading mystery

Here’s my Rankings:

  • 4/5 for characters
  • 5/5 for plot
  • 4/5 overall

REVIEW FROM BOOKS FOR HER:

Fates and Traitors is a fictional accounting of the life (and surrounding people’s lives) of John Wilkes Booth, the infamous assassin of Abraham Lincoln. History books portray him as an evil villain and it’s not so black and white; there’s much more to the story especially from the point of view of four influential women surrounding him.  Enjoy Jennifer Chiaverini’s fictional telling, and immerse yourself in the interesting and potentially true stories of a complicated man.  From Booth’s childhood, his famous actor-alcoholic father, his siblings, mother – and the elite Washington DC girlfriend who knew nothing of his politics. Even when you know the ending, you’ll continue to enjoy the journey and challenges of John Wilkes Booth and the people around him and how they suffered following Lincoln’s assassination and Booth’s death, despite their differing politics.

Available now: Fates and Traitors, A Novel of John Wilkes Booth

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

Available Now: Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike

*****5/5 stars- loved itpknight-shoedog

The founder of Nike tells you how he barely succeeded in making the biggest brand on the planet.

Recommended readers:

  • If you’re an entrepreneur or business person
  • If you think building a business is easy
  • And if you’re enthralled with the mega brand called Nike

Here’s my Rankings:

  • 5/5 overall

REVIEW FROM BOOKS FOR HER:

When you think of Nike, you don’t think of bad management, bad decisions and bad products – you think of money, brand and tons of success. In Phil Knight’s Shoe Dog, the creator himself will tell you what a terrible boss he was, how many mistakes he made, and how often the company almost went broke. In fact you’ll keep wondering how he held on so long – and how his marriage survived so many company and person attacks. Which is why you’ll want to read Shoe Dogs until the end. It’s refreshingly honest into the man who created the biggest brand on the planet.

Available Now: Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike

Nonfiction Review: Guide to Vegetable Gardening

Available Dec. 23: The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in Southern California

*****5/5 stars- Loved it!VegetableGardeningSouthernCalifornia

Everything a gardener in Southern California (or your respective region) would need to know to grow vegetables.

Recommended readers:

  • Beginner to intermediate gardeners in Southern California
  • So Cal homeowners
  • Looking for a housewarming gift for your So Cal friends?

Here’s my Rankings:

  • 5/5 overall

REVIEW FROM BOOKS FOR HER:

A 10-year Southern California native, I’ve tried my hand at vegetable gardening for years with almost no success. Vegetable gardening is too region-specific to have a catch-all guide. The Timber Press Guide provides monthly checklists, along with specific lists of recommended vegetables, fruits and herbs for the region. And based on the clarity, simplicity and organization of this book, I recommend you check out the Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening for your region: Click here to browse.

Available Dec. 23: The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in Southern California

The Boy Who Became Buffalo Bill by Andrea Warren

Available now: The Boy Who Became Buffalo Bill: Growing Up Billy Cody in Bleeding Kansas

**** 3.5/5 stars- Loved it – great for teens

A great read for any middle schooler (or adult really) who likes a taste of history.

Recommended readers:

  • Wyoming natives (have you been to Cody, the town founded by Buffalo Bill)
  • Western history buffs
  • Middle Schoolers

Here’s my Rankings:

  • 5/5 for characters
  • 3/5 for plot
  • 4/5 overall

REVIEW FROM BOOKS FOR HER:

We all know the legend of Buffalo Bill and his Wild West Show – but do we know what shaped and drove the man to be the charismatic, fearless entertainer that he was? Andrea Warren explores the sometimes sad, always challenging life that formed the man Billy Cody became. From the death of his older brother, to becoming the man of the house as early as 11. A fascinating read for an adult – and if you can get your teenager to read it too, even better.

Available now Amazon:  The Boy Who Became Buffalo Bill: Growing Up Billy Cody in Bleeding Kansas

Kid Athletes: True Tales of Childhood from Sports Legends

Available November 17: Kid Athletes: True Tales of Childhood from Sports Legends (Kid Legends)

**** 4/5 stars- Loved it – great for kidsdstabler-kidathletes

A great read for any middle grade kid who likes sports.

Recommended readers:

  • If you’re a soccer mom or dad (or baseball, football, hockey, etc)
  • Kids into sports – recommended middle grades
  • And if you’re just a sports fan

Here’s my Rankings:

  • 5/5 for characters
  • 3/5 for plot
  • 4/5 overall

REVIEW FROM BOOKS FOR HER:

I loved the premise of this book – that amazing athletes who children idolize are real people too. As a parent, especially as my son is succeeding and failing at different activities, it’s a great perspective for him to have: That professional athletes are people who have won and lost throughout life. For my fourth-grader who is a Denver Broncos fan, he loved reading about Peyton Manning dancing the tango in front of his middle school. Other athletes included were Jackie Robinson, Yao Mind, Lionel Messi, Gabby Douglas, Tiger Woods and Danica Patrick. This is a fabulous read for middle grade kids who have an interest in sports – and covers a variety of sports, backgrounds and diversity with short stories and illustrations that make this especially good for middle grade readers.

Available now Amazon: Kid Athletes: True Tales of Childhood from Sports Legends (Kid Legends)

Available this month: Twain’s End

Available now: Twain’s End by Lynn Cullen

**** 3.5/5 stars- Liked it to the edge of love- call it a stage I crushtwains-end-LCullen

Mark Twain is famously known as a talented, maybe eccentric author; Twain’s End shares a peak into the truly dark person who Twain likely was.

Recommended readers:

  • If you’re a fan of Mark Twain (or at least curious about the real man)
  • If you like a peak into a historical famous person (especially from literature)
  • and if you’re a history or literature buff.

Here’s my Rankings:

  • 5/5 for characters
  • 3/5 for plot
  • 3.5/5 overall
  • Steaminess: 0 of 5  (see our scale here)

REVIEW FROM BOOKS FOR HER:

A truly fascinating person, Mark Twain, is still revered today and at the time he was idolized and probably the most famous person of his time, respected in various circles from politics to music and business. Twain’s End is a fabulous story-telling and peek into the man that few people knew: Sam Clemens. I can’t even come up with a good genre to explain the book – part biography, part family drama-saga, and part romance; Regardless, Twain’s End is eye-opening, dark and very real. Based on several real documents – from diaries to letters – Lynn Cullen weaves a painfully real story of the real Mark Twain and the suffering he created to those around him.

Available now Amazon: Twain’s End

Non Fiction Review: Pirate Hunters

Available now: Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship

****3.5/5 stars- liked to the edge of love- call it a stage I crush.rkurson-piratehunters

Sometimes searching for a legendary pirate ship take more than technology, as you’ll find in Pirate Hunters.

Recommended readers:

  • For scuba divers, underwater adventurers
  • For lovers of pirates, history and ships
  • For fans of historical fiction who want a fun, factual read

Here’s my Rankings:

  • 3/5 characters
  • 5/5 plot
  • 3.5/5 overall

REVIEW FROM BOOKS FOR HER:

A little out of my usual historical fiction, Pirate Hunters caught my eye immediately with an adventurous cover and intriguing title. My favorite character in any historical romance, I love pirates and novels set on a ship. And adding Pirate Hunters to the book list seemed like a great toe-in-the-water to get a little more fact with my fiction. The story begins with two famed scuba divers/treasure hunters and their search for one of the greatest pirate ships ever. The two collect all the latest technology to start their search and when they realize that technology is only going to get them so far, they dig deeper to try to discover not only the ship, but the real story behind one of the most intriguing pirate captains ever. As a fiction reader, I wanted a little more emotion, a little more personal depth in the story (and maybe its just too hard to do in this format) – but there’s no denying the excitement of following these two men and their trek to find a legend.

Available on Amazon: Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship

Nonfiction Review: War Bonds

War Bonds: Love Stories From the Greatest Generation is available now

***3/5 stars- liked it!

Columnist Cindy Hval brings together 30 snapshots of enduring love forged in World War II.

Recommended readers:

  • Fans of a good human interest story
  • Readers of short nonfiction and essays
  • Readers of history and social history

Here’s my Rankings:

  • 3/5 overall

REVIEW FROM BOOKS FOR HER:

War Bonds is a collection of short essays on the lives of World War II-generation couples who often turned courtships of three months or less into six decade marriages. Collected and told by a newspaper columnist, each section reads much as a surface human interest story complete with a love lessons advice from the couples and a representative war time song. The  result does lack some depth, presenting a vivid but  disappearing greatest generation much  quieted by time and hindsight, but the very definition of heartwarming.  And kudos to the author for a title in pun.

War Bonds is Available on Amazon

Review: Esther by Angela Hunt

Available January 6: Esther: Royal Beauty (A Dangerous Beauty Novel)

****4.5/5 stars

An emotional portrayal of Esther is touching, real and gives such depth to a favorite Biblical icon.

Recommended readers:

  • Anyone looking for a perspective on Biblical times
  • If you love the Book of Esther and women in the Bible
  • and anyone who loves to learn about a prominent female in history

Here’s my Rankings:

  • 5/5 characters
  • 4/5 plot
  • 4/5 overall

REVIEW FROM BOOKS FOR HER:

This Angela Hunt portrayal of Esther is dramatic and real – through the eyes of two characters: Hadassah (the Jewish name that Esther is called throughout) and Harbonah, the kind’s personal slave. The two perspective are brilliant in telling the full story and life of Persian times. I loved that this book didn’t glorify Esther, but instead made her real, human as she grows from a Jewish orphan girl living with her cousins to Queen of Persia to a wise and bold influencer of her husband King Xerxes.

Note: It’s interesting to read this and then read the Book of Esther. While Esther Royal Beauty is fiction, it is mostly factually based and gives a dramatic portrayal of Biblical times. While I can’t vouch for every Biblical accuracy of the book, there are no major contradictions; I recommend reading this book as fiction that gives a potential perspective to Esther’s story.

Available on Amazon: Esther: Royal Beauty (A Dangerous Beauty Novel)