Tag: #nonfiction

“Unwanted” by Andrew Young

“Unwanted” by Andrew Young

It’s the late 1800’s in the Cincinnati, Ohio area and a young woman’s decapitated body has been found in a farmer’s field. This book traces the story of the investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators. The initial challenge is to simply identify her because the head is missing. With fingerprints not yet broadly used in law enforcement and crime scene preservation not even a topic of conversation, the attempt to identify the girl finally comes down to an observant shoe seller who recognizes her shoes uniqueness and is able to actually trace the sale. The young lady had traveled to Cincinnati from her family’s rural farm to meet up with a boyfriend.

This is a very detailed look at a very brutal crime. The story is based on extensive research of the accounts that remain from the time. I really appreciated the structure of the chapters, with each looking at an aspect of the investigation from start to finish. It’s almost surprising that the identification of the body and the perpetrators was possible given the limited tools the police had available to them at the time. This book should be of interest to those who like true crime or historical crime stories.

Alinefromabook’s rating:  3-5-star-rating  3.5 stars!!

Happy Reading!

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Thank you to Pen & Sword Publishing for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.

“The Kings of Georgian Britain” by Catherine Curzon

“The Kings of Georgian Britain” by Catherine Curzon

Who knew that reading history could be fun! Catherine Curzon takes the reader on a journey through the lives and reigns of the four Kings George and she does it with a sense of humor. This is not your stereotypical dry history narrative. The book is broken down into sections, one for each King and tells their story starting with their birth and ending with their death. She will see what they’re their childhoods were like, who had the strongest influence on them, what kind of fathers and husbands they were, and the politics of their respective monarchies.

As you can probably guess, I really enjoyed this book. I wasn’t sure I would because the British monarchy is so complicated, there are tons of players, and I’m an American, so I was delighted that this was such a great read. George the First’s story was a little confusing at first but only because there were so many women named Sophia in his life. I recently received the companion book “The Queens of Georgian Britain” and I’m very excited to read it after enjoying this one so much. For American readers the section on George III would be very interesting as he was the king during the War for Independence. The author really made these men come alive and in a reader-friendly way. I highly recommend this one.

Alinefromabook’s rating: 5-star-rating  5 stars!!

Happy Reading!

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“Goat Castle” by Karen L. Cox

“Goat Castle” by Karen L. Cox

A True Story of Murder, Race, and the Gothic South

The Gothic South, a place of romance and mystery, and Natchez, Mississippi is the epitome of the era. Residents are proud of their heritage and their beautiful houses that draw tourists from all over the country in the 1920’s and 30’s. But in 1932 an act of revenge plunges the town into the scandal of the decade, and leaves two people dead and an innocent black woman in prison, while the real perpetrators are free to profit from their notoriety.

This is a fascinating story and an excellent example of the Jim Crow laws of the era in action. I really appreciated the amount of background that the author gives the reader so that you really get a feel for why circumstances worked out the way they did. The reader gets the history of each of the main characters and a timeline that leads up to the events in 1932. The relationships between those involved are explored in order to understand how the actions of that fateful night came to happen. The Jim Crow era is a period of history that I think most Americans outside of the South know little about and probably because it is so unpleasant. But the author really expanded my knowledge with her descriptions of how the laws impacted both blacks and whites at the time. If you want a glimpse behind the veil of the Gothic South then take a look at this book. Well-written, well-organized and eye-opening.

Alinefromabook’s rating:  4-5-star-rating 4.5 stars!

Happy Reading!

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“Children in the Second World War” by Amanda Herbert-Davies

“Children in the Second World War” by Amanda Herbert-Davies

This book, for me, was a real eye-opener. Being an American, born after the war I had no real understanding of what conditions were like in a country where the war was actually being fought. This book focuses on the experiences of children in Britain, and while I’ve seen movies and TV shows set during the period, it’s a whole different understanding when you hear (or read in this case) from the people who actually lived through it.

The book opens with the recollections of what children were thinking or doing when the war was announced and then moves on to talk about the evacuations, the bomb shelters, shortages, education, war efforts and culminates with thoughts on the end of the war. I think the author has done a fantastic job of weaving together the facts of the war and the thoughts and recollections of people who actually grew up during the war. There are stories from kids who thought that bombed out buildings were a great playground and those for whom the terror of air raids left them permanently traumatized. The various chapters present a comprehensive look at the living conditions during this time, from those who were evacuated to an idyllic countryside childhood to those who were in the heart of the bombing zones and spending their nights in shelters. I hope that reading this book will give people pause when considering the act of war because it is often the youngest among us who bear the brunt of such action. I highly recommend this book as I found it both informative and moving at the same time.

Alinefromabook’s rating: 5-star-rating  5 stars!!

Happy Reading!

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“The Fact of a Body” by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

“The Fact of a Body” by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

Alexandria takes a job as a summer intern at a Louisiana law firm that defends murderers. When she sees a videotape of Ricky Langley’s confession she does not expect the maelstrom of personal memories and emotions that bombards her, or the journey that she will embark on as a result. In this book the author tells us the story of Ricky Langley side-by-side with her own story. Both of these stories are moving and compelling, addressing the complexity of family relationships and how they shape who we are.

I found this book really easy and enjoyable to read even though the subject matter is at times very dark. The author spent years researching the Ricky Langley case and has put together a very thorough presentation of his story. At the same time, she has opened herself up in a heart-wrenching way in order to relate her own story. The story is well-written and moves seamlessly between the two narratives. This is a great biography/memoir/true crime story.

Alinefromabook’s rating: 4-star-rating  4 stars!!

Happy Reading!

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“In A Different Key” by John Donvan & Caren Zucker

“In A Different Key” by John Donvan & Caren Zucker

The Story of Autism

“In A Different Key” presents the history of autism from the first diagnosed case to the status of research and the community today. The movement to create awareness of autism and learn more about its causes and treatments has been largely parent-driven and this book walks the reader through all of it. From the triumphs to the tragedies you will come away with a greater understanding of what autism is, and is not, and the challenges faced by the caregivers who live with it every day.

The authors have done a very thorough job of collecting the stories of autism families and autism science and presenting them in an easy to read format. Chapters are broken down by decades with some focusing on the scientific research aspect and others focusing on the work that parents were doing to find treatments for their children. There are successful stories and not-so-successful stories, but all of them help to further the readers understanding. The writing in this book is so approachable that at times it almost reads like a novel. Anyone who has even a passing interest in the subject of autism should read this book.

Alinefromabook’s rating: 5-star-rating  5 stars!!

Happy Reading!

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“Mercies in Disguise” by Gina Kolata

“Mercies in Disguise” by Gina Kolata

A poignant story about unraveling the mystery of an untreatable illness. The Baxley family is a pillar of their community but a strange illness is taking family members at early ages. They consult with leading doctors but no diagnosis or treatment is in sight. As the youngest generation comes of age they must confront the prospect of the illness affecting them and make choices that could alter their lives forever.

In this book, Gina Kolata traces both the Baxley family and the science behind their family illness in expert fashion. This book reads more like a story than a case report and I think this is largely due to the structure she uses. The chapters alternate back and forth between the scientists working to decipher the cause of the illness and the family as they deal with its consequences. It moves at a really good pace and the alternating storyline keeps the reader engaged and wondering what happens next. This story is both poignant and tragic, and full of hope. I really enjoy a book where the author can take a very scientific subject and make it approachable for the average reader. I highly recommend.

Alinefromabook’s rating: 4-5-star-rating  4.5 stars!

Happy Reading!

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Non-Fiction Book Review: “The Cult Next Door” by Elizabeth Burchard and Judith Carlone

the-cult-next-door

We typically think of cults as living on a remote compound somewhere, but in this true story we see that a cult can form anywhere, even in the house next door. Elizabeth Burchard’s mother invites a biofeedback therapist she sees and some of her friends to gather at her apartment every week. They seek wisdom and direction for their lives. This man says all the right things and claims to speak the truth of the universe. Over the course of 30 years he subtly manipulates these men and women to do his bidding. After 20 years Elizabeth meets Judith and their friendship starts to change her perspective of her guru. Gradually she is able to disentangle her life from the effect the The Group.

This is a heart-wrenching story as you see Elizabeth being brainwashed by this charlatan. It’s a very eye-opening story. These people were educated, holding down good jobs, but their emotional vulnerabilities make them the perfect victims. The fact that Elizabeth is able to eventually extricate herself is a testimony to her fighting spirit and the support she receives from Judith. The story is told in a way that reads like a novel, taking you step by step through her journey. I really enjoyed this book and found it easy to read. This is a great book for anyone who’s interested in a look behind the scenes of a cult.

Alinefromabook’s rating: THUMBS-UP!

Happy Reading!

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History Book Review: “Poison Panic” by Helen Barrell

History Book Review: “Poison Panic” by Helen Barrell

Welcome to what I like to think of as one of the quirky little corners of history. In the 1840’s, in the Essex region of England, there was a rash of deaths by poisoning that created panic in the local population. This was due in part to the easy access people had to poisons. Author Helen Barrell came upon this while researching her own family history. She has done a wonderful job of telling the stories of the prominent cases of the time. I found the book to be really engaging and an enjoyable read. She has researched the press coverage of these cases and also the government records of the people involved and what happened to them after their cases were resolved. One of the things I like about this kind of book is that it gives the background that led to some of the laws and cultural norms that exist in our society today. In this episode of British history, you can see the beginnings of our current regulation of drugs and chemicals. I think that readers who are interested in history will really enjoy this book.

Alinefromabook’s rating: THUMBS-UP!

Happy Reading!

Thank you to Pen & Sword Publishing for providing a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

Available on Amazon US

 

Book Review: “The Disappearance of Maria Glenn” by Naomi Clifford

Book Review: “The Disappearance of Maria Glenn” by Naomi Clifford

This is a biographical account of what happened to Maria Glenn in the early 1800’s. It is the story of her abduction and the lawsuits that resulted from it. It is a story of greed and the lengths people will go to in the pursuit of money.

Maria Glenn is a teenager, in the care of her aunt and uncle, in Taunton. She is very reserved, dresses modestly and is rarely out on her own. She is loved and nurtured by the Tucketts and her cousins. Shortly before her 16th birthday, Maria and her cousins are stricken with a potentially deadly virus and sent to a farm outside the city of Taunton to recuperate. The owners of the farm have a good reputation in the community and have taken in other children previously for this purpose. Mr. Tuckett is a lawyer and has investigated them thoroughly before leaving his children in their care. What Mrs. Bowditch fails to tell him is that one of her sons, James, also lives in the house. The Bowditches upon learning that Maria is expected to inherit a fortune upon the death of her mother and that she will soon be 16, concoct a plan to abduct Maria, after her birthday, and force her to marry James. They use threats to “convince” Maria to go along “willingly”. Maria is rescued before the ceremony can take place and her uncle decides to bring criminal charges against the Bowditches. What appears to be a straightforward crime turns into a legal battle that lasts for years and forces Maria to live in exile for almost 30 years.

I was quite frankly astonished by this story and the way that Maria was tormented throughout, not only by her abductors but afterward by the citizens of Taunton. Naomi Clifford has done a masterful job of researching the case and relating the shifting tides of the legal battle and public opinion. Even more surprising is the way in which Maria is able to bear up in the face of horrible false accusations. This is a great book for anyone interested in legal history or women’s history in England. Included in the book is the complete transcript of Maria’s statement of her abduction and the events leading up to it.

Alinefromabook’s rating: THUMBS-UP!

Happy Reading!

On Amazon US

On Amazon UK