2021 NONFICTION READING CHALLENGE


The aim of the Nonfiction Reader Challenge is to encourage you to make nonfiction part of your reading experience during the year.

I am joining in again as a “Nibbler.”  I have also created a page here where I will list my titles as I complete them.

Thanks to Shelleyrae and last year’s Challenge, I cleared seven nonfiction titles off my shelves.  And enjoyed them all!

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ANOTHER BOOK TO “DUST OFF”

It is time for another search of our TBR shelves/piles for those sadly neglected books from the past.  Carole’s Random Life in Books is hosting this event.

Another plumbing of the depths to discover an older book.  I found this book from August 2019:  Old Baggage, by Lissa Evans.

It is sitting on my TBR Shelf where my print unread volumes go:  I even started reading it a while ago.  Now I am determined to finish it this year.

 

The author of the acclaimed Crooked Heart returns with a comic, charming, and surprisingly timely portrait of a once pioneering suffragette trying to find her new passion in post-WWI era London.

1928. Riffling through a cupboard, Matilda Simpkin comes across a small wooden club—an old possession that she hasn’t seen for more than a decade. Immediately, memories come flooding back to Mattie—memories of a thrilling past, which only further serve to remind her of her chafingly uneventful present. During the Women’s Suffrage Campaign, she was a militant who was jailed five times and never missed an opportunity to return to the fray. Now in middle age, the closest she gets to the excitement of her old life is the occasional lecture on the legacy of the militant movement.

After running into an old suffragette comrade who has committed herself to the wave of Fascism, Mattie realizes there is a new cause she needs to fight for and turns her focus to a new generation of women. Thus the Amazons are formed, a group created to give girls a place to not only exercise their bodies but their minds, and ignite in young women a much-needed interest in the world around them. But when a new girl joins the group, sending Mattie’s past crashing into her present, every principle Mattie has ever stood for is threatened.

Old Baggage is a funny and bittersweet portrait of a woman who has never given up the fight and the young women who are just discovering it.

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What have your found on your dusty shelves?

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ANOTHER REDISCOVERED BOOK…

It is time for another search of our TBR shelves/piles for those sadly neglected books from the past.  Carole’s Random Life in Books is hosting this event.

Today I found a book I need to read soon!  I bought it in August 2019:  The Kennedy Heirs, by J. Randy Taraborrelli.

I bought it because I love all things Kennedy…but the heft of this hardcover book (624 pages) has kept me from grabbing it.  So far.

Synopsis:  A unique burden was inherited by the children of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy and his celebrated siblings, Senators Robert and Ted Kennedy. Raised in a world of enormous privilege against the backdrop of American history, this third generation of Kennedys often veered between towering accomplishment and devastating defeat. In his revelatory new book, acclaimed Kennedy historian J. Randy Taraborrelli draws back the curtain on the next generation of America’s most famous family.

John Kennedy, Jr.’s life in the public eye is explored, following the Kennedy scion as he faced the challenges posed by marrying his great love, Carolyn Bessette. Riveting new details are shared about the couple’s tragic demise―and why Ethel Kennedy advised Carolyn not to take the trip that would ultimately end her life. John’s sister, Caroline Kennedy, had her own complicated relationships, including a marriage to Ed Schlossberg that surprised her mother, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and an unexpected bond with her mother-in-law, Mae Schlossberg.

Additional stories, many shared here for the first time, illuminate the rest of the Kennedy dynasty: Kara Kennedy, Ted’s daughter, and her valiant battle against lung cancer; how Ted’s wife, Vicki, introduced a new era of feminism to the Kennedy family; the lifelong struggles with addiction faced by Bobby Kennedy Jr. and Patrick Kennedy; the unexpected way pop star Taylor Swift helped Conor Kennedy heal after the death of his mother, Bobby’s wife Mary; and Congressman Joe Kennedy III’s rise to prominence. At the center of it all is the family’s indomitable matriarch, Ethel Kennedy―a formidable presence with her maddening eccentricities and inspiring courage.

Based on hundreds of exclusive first-hand interviews and cultivated over twenty years of research―including numerous Oral Histories from the JFK Library and the Edward M. Kennedy Institute―The Kennedy Heirs is an epic drama of ambition, scandal, pride and power.

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I am eager to dive into this one finally.  What have you discovered on your TBR?

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BOOKISH NEW YEAR TASKS…

As a New Year begins, one of my tasks is to create the pages on this blog where I can enter titles, links, etc., as the year progresses.  Every year, I have pages for Books Purchased, Books Read, and Review Books Received and Read.

The task was more challenging this year due to my relatively new use of the Block Editor.  But I somehow got through it!  I was exhausted afterwards, though.

Here are the pages I created:

Bookshelves – 2021

 

 

Books Purchased in 2021

 

 

Books Read in 2021

 

Review Books in 2021

 

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What bookish tasks do you complete at the beginning of a New Year?

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MONTHLY WRAP-UP: YEAR’S END…

It is that time again!  The end of a month…and this month is the final month of the year.

Here are three favorites from December:

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Genres:

     Mystery/Thriller/Suspense:  – 9

     Contemporary Fiction:  2

     Memoir:  1

     Fictionalized Biography:  1

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My Books for the Month:  Click titles for reviews

DECEMBER 2020:

1.Arrangement, The (e-book), by Robyn Harding – (353 pages) – (thriller) – 12/31/20

2.Behind the Red Door (e-book), by Megan Collins – (301 pages) – (psychological thriller) – 12/25/20

3.Christmas Shopaholic, by Sophie Kinsella – (424 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 12/7/20

4.Clear My Name, by Paula Daly – (293 pages) – (murder mystery) 12/13/20

5.Cruel Winter (e-book, County Cork Mystery), by Sheila Connolly – (298 pages) – (cozy mystery) – 12/22/20

6.Dirt (e-book), by Mary Marantz – (260 pages) – (Memoir) – 12/19/20) – (Nonfiction Reading Challenge)

7.Girl in the Mirror, The (e-book), by Rose Carlyle – (293 pages) – (thriller) – 12/8/20

8.Goodnight Beautiful (e-book), by Aimee Molloy – (293 pages) – (domestic thriller) – 12/11/20

9.I Was Told It Would Get Easier, by Abbi Waxman – (328 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 12/4/20

10.Last Wife, The (e-book), by Karen Hamilton – (302 pages) – (thriller) – 12/28/20

11.Lies You Told, The (e-book), by Harriet Tyce – (286 pages) – (psychological mystery) – 12/29/20

12.Open House (e-book), by Katie Sise – (272 pages) – (mystery) – 12/5/20

13.Rodham, by Curtis Sittenfeld – (417 pages) – (fictionalized biography) – 12/17/20

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NUMBER OF BOOKS READ IN DECEMBER 2020:    13

NUMBER OF PAGES READ IN DECEMBER 2020: 4,120

BOOKS READ YTD: 139

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REVIEW: THE ARRANGEMENT, BY ROBYN HARDING

 

Natalie, a young art student in New York City, is struggling to pay her bills when a friend makes a suggestion: Why not go online and find a sugar daddy—a wealthy, older man who will pay her for dates and even give her a monthly allowance? Lots of girls do it, Nat learns. All that’s required is to look pretty and hang on his every word. Sexual favors are optional.

Though more than thirty years her senior, Gabe, a handsome corporate finance attorney, seems like the perfect candidate, and within a month, they are madly in love. At least, Nat is…Gabe already has a family, whom he has no intention of leaving.

So when he abruptly ends things, Nat can’t let go. But Gabe’s not about to let his sugar baby destroy his perfect life. What was supposed to be a mutually beneficial arrangement devolves into a nightmare of deception, obsession, and, when a body is found near Gabe’s posh Upper East Side apartment, murder.

 
 
 

From the beginning of The Arrangement, a sense of doom clouds the relationship between Nat and Gabe. What had started out as a financial matter between them becomes so much more. Especially for Nat. But for Gabe, there is an element of coldness and calculation, and I had fears that grave disaster would come for them.

Could their relationship turn into a loving one or would they each come to regret what they had started?

Unexpected twists kept me turning the pages, wondering what would happen next. A sense of darkness hovered as I kept moving toward what could only be a nightmare conclusion. Stunning events kept the pace intense throughout. 5 stars.

 
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PLUMBING THE DEPTHS…

It is time for another search of our TBR shelves/piles for those sadly neglected books from the past.  Carole’s Random Life in Books is hosting this event.

Today I decided to plumb the depths of my 2019 purchases, and found this one from last December:  Home Truths, by Tina Seskis.

I had read a previous book by the author, which led to the purchase.

 

Synopsis: A strong marriage can cope with the unexpected. But can it survive the unimaginable?

American nanny Eleanor was never meant to meet Alex. But when she walks into his London police station to report a stalker, everything changes for them both. He’s convinced he can protect her from anything and anyone. She hopes her darkest days are behind her.

As they settle into their life together, two hundred miles away another young couple faces an uncertain future. Christie knows Paul is a decent man, but she can’t shake a clairvoyant’s warning: ‘Never trust your husband . . .’ When a work trip tests their bond, will she overcome her fears for the sake of her family?

Ten years later, both couples are still together, for better or worse. But as doubts and resentments begin bubbling steadily to the surface, all four of them start to question the choices they’ve made.

At least the secrets they all brought into their marriages are still well hidden.

For now.

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So now I must add it to the top of my Kindle and read it soon!  What have you discovered?

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REVIEW: BEHIND THE RED DOOR, BY MEGAN COLLINS

When Fern Douglas sees the news about Astrid Sullivan, a thirty-four-year-old missing woman from Maine, she is positive that she knows her. Fern’s husband is sure it’s because of Astrid’s famous kidnapping—and equally famous return—twenty years ago, but Fern has no memory of that, even though it happened an hour outside her New Hampshire hometown. And when Astrid appears in Fern’s recurring nightmare, one in which a girl reaches out to her, pleading, Fern fears that it’s not a dream at all, but a memory.

Back at her childhood home to help her father pack for a move, Fern purchases a copy of Astrid’s recently published memoir—which may have provoked her original kidnapper to abduct her again—and as she reads through its chapters and visits the people and places within it, she discovers more evidence that she has an unsettling connection to the missing woman. With the help of her psychologist father, Fern digs deeper, hoping to find evidence that her connection to Astrid can help the police locate her. But when Fern discovers more about her own past than she ever bargained for, the disturbing truth will change both of their lives forever.

Behind the Red Door is one woman’s journey into the mysteries of the past and how she sees the world, a journey that leads Fern to explore how she is connected to Astrid.

To find the answers, she must sort through memories that she has repressed.

As we follow along on Fern’s quest, I was able to put the pieces together. Fern struggled to accept the identity of the abductor, and was finally able to make some difficult decisions as a result. But I wasn’t prepared for the unexpected twists in the end, and I was left questioning what Fern would do with those answers. Would she finally be able to move forward? A page turner that earns 4.5 stars.

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DUSTING OFF AN OLDER BOOK…

It is time for another search of our TBR shelves/piles for those sadly neglected books from the past.  Carole’s Random Life in Books is hosting this event.

Today’s chosen backlog book arrived on my Kindle in January 2017:  This Is How It Always Is, by Laurie Frankel.

I remember buying this book because Reese Witherspoon chose it for her book club.  And the blurb caught my eye.  Now, as I read the blurb again, I am so glad that I found it!



This is how
a family keeps a secret…and how that secret ends up keeping them.

This is how a family lives happily ever after…until happily ever after becomes complicated.

This is how children change…and then change the world.

This is Claude. He’s five years old, the youngest of five brothers, and loves peanut butter sandwiches. He also loves wearing a dress, and dreams of being a princess.

When he grows up, Claude says, he wants to be a girl.

Rosie and Penn want Claude to be whoever Claude wants to be. They’re just not sure they’re ready to share that with the world. Soon the entire family is keeping Claude’s secret. Until one day it explodes.

Laurie Frankel’s This Is How It Always Is is a novel about revelations, transformations, fairy tales, and family. And it’s about the ways this is how it always is: Change is always hard and miraculous and hard again, parenting is always a leap into the unknown with crossed fingers and full hearts, children grow but not always according to plan. And families with secrets don’t get to keep them forever.

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Up it goes to the top of my Kindle list!

What have you rediscovered today?

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COZYING UP WITH A REDISCOVERED MYSTERY…

It is time for another search of our TBR shelves/piles for those sadly neglected books from the past.  Carole’s Random Life in Books is hosting this event.

Today I scrolled through my 2017 purchases and rediscovered a book from a series I’ve enjoyed:  Cruel Winter, A County Cork Mystery, by Sheila Connolly, purchased in December 2017.  I bought it because I enjoy the settings and the characters.  So out it comes.

Description:  Snow is a rarity in Maura Donovan’s small village in County Cork, Ireland, so she wasn’t sure what to expect when a major snowstorm rolled in around Sullivan’s pub. But now she’s stranded in a bar full of patrons—and a suspected killer in a long-ago murder.

Maura’s been in Ireland less than a year and hasn’t heard about the decades-old unsolved crime that took place nearby, let alone the infamous suspect, Diane Caldwell. But the locals have, and they’re not happy to be trapped with her. Diane, meanwhile, seeks to set the record straight, asserting her innocence after all this time. And since no one is going anywhere in the storm, Maura encourages Diane to share her side of the story, which she’d never had a chance to do in court.

Over the next few hours, the informal court in Sullivan’s reviews the facts and theories about the case—and comes to some surprising conclusions. But is it enough to convince the police to take a new look at an old case? A clever spin on the classic locked room mystery, Cruel Winter, the fifth in New York Times bestselling author Sheila Connolly’s series, will delight fans of the Emerald Isle.

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I feel like cozying up on my bed, with my new blanket, and immersing myself in this one!

What have your rediscovered today?

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