Book Review: Non-Fiction

Book Review: Lady on the Hill: Biltmore Estate by Howard E. Covington, Jr.

Posted on

Book Review: I read Lady on the Hill: How Biltmore Estate Became an American Icon by Howard E. Covington Jr. over the last two weeks, absorbing a few chapters each night to reminisce over my stay at the beautiful estate last September. I miss it and want to go back right now, but alas, a short book review will have to do.

iltmore

Summary 
It’s a 3.5 star read for me — a good account of the transition of the estate from what it originated as through what it became in early 2000. I don’t often read non-fiction unless it’s someone famous I admire in history (I don’t read current celebrity/political books, just not usually my thing) or a great account of some marvel or period in history. This fell into the second category, as I was anxious to learn about how the Vanderbilts changed over the years. It’s hard to maintain a fresh voice in a book that is informational. At times, I felt this was a tad dry, even for the type of book it is. I went in knowing there’d be information dumps, partial history and a different take on how it currently runs. I learned a lot more than I did on my visit, but at the same time, it felt like it was missing enough of a lure to keep me wanting to read more. The writing is strong. The information is great. Yet, it came from a starting place of facts rather than the passion behind everything that went into the estate. You feel it from the Cecil family in a few chapters, but not always. The author did a good job at balancing all the information, and it’s worth a read for anyone who loves the estate. If it’s your first time to get acquainted, it might be a difficult read. All in all, I’m glad I revisited the place and took the time to read over several weeks in between other books, as it made the magic last a bit longer.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Advertisements

Book Review: Where the Moose Slept by Atwood Cutting

Posted on Updated on

Book Review: ‘Where the Moose Slept’ by Atwood Cutting (fellow blogger!)

desksdssd

Why This Book 
I met a wonderful blogger about three months ago who I began exchanging emails with each week, chatting about books, life, and many other topics. After a while, she casually mentioned her book, which of course led me to reading a little more about it and her. I recently started a new segment on my blog called ‘Author Alert,’ where new authors can share a message with my friends and followers – Atwood Cutting, author of Where the Moose Slept: An Account of Two Late-20th Century Pioneers Who “Saw the Elephant” on the Last Frontier, is today’s (Fri 12/15) latest author. But first I had to finish reading her book this week and write this review…

Approach & Style 
I read this ~300 page book via Kindle Reader on my iPad in 4 hours over three days. It is a cross between fiction and non-fiction, as it is a true account, almost a journal, of a woman and her family’s experiences; however, a few things were changed around in how the story was told so that it reads more like a story. Atwood tells accounts of her life through letters home to her mother, in episodes focused on their trek around Alaska, and via pictures from the entire time period.

Plot, Characters & Setting 
Kate and Tim Peters were recently married, making the trek up to Alaska for the oil boom during the mid-1970s, several years after college. Picture frontier life in a more modern world (still didn’t have electricity in the beginning, tho!) and learning how to adapt to life in the wilderness where animals — and people — attack. Through building a home, getting to know their neighbors, learning how to adapt to married life, finding ways to earn money and survive, they meet some potentially life-long friends (I only read the first book… not sure of the ending even though I know and chat with the author) in this beautiful backdrop where the moose sleep – in search of seeing the elephant (you’ll have to read the book to know what that means).

Key Thoughts 
Atwood’s voice is the best part of the book. Writing an account of your life, understanding what to include about the mundane versus existing parts of your life, is critical. Through the characters, Kate and Tim, she achieves a charismatic and earthy combination of humanity. Life for many of us who live in a city or the suburbs seems difficult, but you don’t know difficult until you truly rough it on land that’s never been lived on before. Seeing (the pictures are fantastic) and reading about their lives gives you a bit of the goosebumps, worried for their safety and mental health. It can be lonely and cold; it can be dangerous and boring. But through trust and a strong relationships, two people can achieve a lot of success — success which is measured differently when you go through a non-traditional path (building your own house in frigid temperatures with practically no neighbors around in a place you’ve never been and no knowledge of how to make it all work!), but in the end, you still experience that wonderful amazement of knowing you did it all with your own two hands.

This is the kind of book you want to read when you are bored with mysteries or general fiction, when you need something inspirational without being pedantic. It’s a light yet heavy account of a really different side of life, one we should all experience for ourselves at some point. But if you’re not the kind of person who will rush off to Siberia or Alaska, then dive into this book for an intense picture of what it might be like. You’ll enjoy some of the sentimental moments and many humorous conversations between Kate and Tim. I won’t spoil them here, so go read it.

Summary 
I’m normally a fiction reader, who will throw in 5 to 10 non-fiction books each year. When I do, they’re usually based on a famous figure in history or a remarkable informational piece. When I chose Atwood’s book, I knew it would be a different kind of read because it was a personal journey with an incredibly charming voice — that alone makes it worth the read. But once I started it, the story became so much more. I look forward to reading more from this author and will keep on chatting with her to see how everything turns out in her life.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Simply Does It by Melanie Mole

Posted on

Simply Does It           by          Melanie Mole

simply does it

Book Review 
Life can be quite difficult, especially when it comes to working hard to afford whatever lifestyle choices you make; however, it doesn’t always have to be that way. If you’re interested in learning how one woman simplified major aspects of her day-to-day, this is the book for you. It’s not a step -by-step-how-to book, or an encyclopedia of all the things stress does to your body. It’s a lovely tale almost written in the form of journal entries with some tips on how the author, the wonderful Melanie Mole, learned to make the switch from hectic to calm.

I ‘met’ Melanie through my blog, ThisIsMyTruthNow, over the summer, and we began exchanging emails each week to share our thoughts on writing and publishing. When she described her book, I thought it was something I’d enjoy, and probably needed to digest to keep myself from again crossing that line into a world of constant stress. I purchased the electronic version in September and read this ~200 page book over three nights just before bed, hoping its messages would sink in overnight. It was an unexpected read, divided into three major sections, each describing and comparing Melanie’s experiences: (1) staying in a nunnery, (2) bonding with dogs and (3) living on a boat and in a caravan. Within each one, she tells how the connections/events occurred, what she felt about them at first and where she ended up when the experience ended.

This is a different kind of book. It’s one where you can casually read it while also diving into a new novel, balancing your love of stories and your interest in making small changes to your life. The messages are simple, everything from ‘never give up’ to ‘balance your risk,’ each providing a short memory or story to drive home Melanie’s point. The language and writing is clear and simple, too, as it’s meant to sink into your mind now and again as time passes. At first, you’ll hear the words and think ‘oh, that’s hard,’ but then you’ll ponder it throughout the day to see which one of the lessons you could try to incorporate into your own life.

Every once in a while, it’s good to take a chance on a new author or a new book topic. I’m glad I did with this one and encourage others to take a look at the book for their own world. It may just give you a different perspective, one you might have heard before, but always need a reminder of. And if simplifying life is not for you, it’s still a fun tale about three experiences many of us don’t have very often in life. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to visit a convent or a monastery… now I have a good sense.

I hope you enjoy the book and take something away to make the future days even better. It’s on sale via Amazon and for less than the price of a cup of coffee as someone has quickly pointed out to me!

About Me 
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

Review: Treasures of Westminster Abbey

Posted on Updated on

Treasures of Westminster Abbey
Treasures of Westminster Abbey by Tony Trowles

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’d just visited Westminster Abbey and picked this up as a remembrance. It was a great account full of beautiful pictures. Worth a read for anyone interested in British history.

View all my reviews

Review: Crown of Thistles: The Fatal Inheritance of Mary Queen of Scots

Posted on Updated on

Crown of Thistles: The Fatal Inheritance of Mary Queen of Scots
Crown of Thistles: The Fatal Inheritance of Mary Queen of Scots by Linda Porter

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve always been fascinated by British royalty, especially the Queens. So much intensity and drama. This was a great book. At times a little too narrative and expository, but that’s called for in this type of re-telling. Little details stand out. A trove of info for those with keen interest.

View all my reviews

Review: Here We Go Again: My Life In Television

Posted on Updated on

Here We Go Again: My Life In Television
Here We Go Again: My Life In Television by Betty White

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A friend recommended this book to me, noting it would be a light read and likely a good break from all the mystery, suspense, murder and thrillers I generally choose. He was right, a definitely a light one, but I’m on the fence on how much I enjoyed it. I rated it a 3 because the sections I loved, I loved. But the sections I did not love, I did not love!

I’m a huge Betty White fan and find myself on the lookout for anything new she stars in. I knew a lot about her career for the last 35+ years when I was alive to watch it but little about anything before about 1980. I had hoped I’d learn a lot but also enjoy what I was reading. Unfortunately, it’s very fact-based and felt more like a list of things that she did rather than taking me on the journey of her life. I wanted to see more about her childhood (connections to TV), a chapter on each major TV show or series she did, a section on her business and personal relationships thru the TV experience, et al. Instead, it felt a bit disorganized and jumped around a lot. It wasn’t bad, just not what I was expecting and not my favorite style.

With that said, once she got to the shows I watched, it was much more enjoyable. I learned a few things and felt even more connected. I skimmed the parts I didn’t know much about or care much for but read with clear focus on the ones that spoke to me. And it worked out… as I write this, I feel like my review is a little disorganized like the book felt. Totally intended that way… Ha!

View all my reviews

Review: Teatime with Mrs. Grammar Person

Posted on Updated on

Teatime with Mrs. Grammar Person
Teatime with Mrs. Grammar Person by Barbara Venkataraman

Barbara Venkataraman‘s “Teatime with Mrs. Grammar Person” is an adorable piece of work that provides a humorous approach to learning all the key grammar rules in about thirty pages of sheer brilliance. It may sound funny to call it a “piece of work” but it truly fits in this case. It’s a work of fiction because there are characters with certain actions who are not real; however, it’s also a figurative “piece of work” because the approach the author took is quite amusing and unique.

Mrs. Grammar Person (Mrs. G. P.) introduces readers to all the rules and guidelines for how and why words change tense, plural / singular, possession, contractions, repetition, similar / different spellings, et al. She has a few friends that handle other areas of the English lexicon (syntax, other language translations) but is consistent in her need for tea and biscuits each morning. What a hoot!

Think of her as a cross between Miss Marple and Mary Poppins. But I guarantee you’ll save it as a quick look-up when in a pinch and you just can’t remember the formal rule before you submit that text to your professor, editor or blog.

Yikes! Even though I should be critical in the words, punctuation and grammar I select in this review, I’m hoping Mrs. G. P. will forgive me if I am not 100% on point with all the rules. It’s not her fault if I still get one or two wrong; it’s my conscious decision to blatantly break the rule. Yeah, that works. 🙂

View all my reviews