An Unusual Investigation Reveals Sweden’s “Dark Heart”

Book review: The Dark Heart, by Joakim Palmkvist (Amazon / Book Depository) At summer’s end in 2012, an older, miserly farmer went missing from his farm in the Swedish countryside. The surrounding region is dubbed the “dark heart of Smaland,” in reference to its traditional conservatism and religious background. Palmkvist points out that it’s an apt expression for this story, at the heart of which … Continue reading An Unusual Investigation Reveals Sweden’s “Dark Heart”

Nonfiction November Week 4: Reads Like Fiction

Welcome to Nonfiction November week 4! I’m hosting, so don’t forget to add your posts to the link-up at the very end. Our theme: Week 4: (Nov. 19 to 23) – Reads Like Fiction (Rennie @ What’s Nonfiction): Nonfiction books often get praised for how they stack up to fiction. Does it matter to you whether nonfiction reads like a novel? If it does, what gives it … Continue reading Nonfiction November Week 4: Reads Like Fiction

An Espionage Mystery in the Caucasus

Book review: The Spy Who Was Left Behind, by Michael Pullara (Amazon / Book Depository) Lawyer Michael Pullara was bothered by the official narrative of the 1993 murder of Freddie Woodruff, a CIA agent and diplomat working as station chief in Tbilisi, Georgia at the time of his death. Pullara spent ten years investigating and researching the incident and its myriad oddities; The Spy Who Was … Continue reading An Espionage Mystery in the Caucasus

Nonfiction November Week 3: Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert

Week 3: (Nov. 12 to 16) – (Julie @ JulzReads): Three ways to join in this week! You can either share three or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own … Continue reading Nonfiction November Week 3: Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert

Nonfiction November: Podcast / Nonfiction Book Pairing

Nonfiction November Week 2: (Nov. 5 to 9) – Fiction / Nonfiction Book Pairing (Sarah’s Book Shelves): This week, pair up a nonfiction book with a fiction title. It can be a “If you loved this book, read this!” or just two titles that you think would go well together. Maybe it’s a historical novel and you’d like to get the real history by reading a nonfiction version … Continue reading Nonfiction November: Podcast / Nonfiction Book Pairing

Nonfiction November: Your Year in Nonfiction

Nonfiction November is finally here! I couldn’t be more excited to see more nonfiction in the spotlight for a whole month and to help with hosting alongside Kim @ Sophisticated Dorkiness, Katie @ Doing Dewey, Sarah @ Sarah’s Book Shelves, and Julie @ Julz Reads. This week’s (Oct. 29 – Nov. 2) discussion is hosted by Kim @ Sophisticated Dorkiness: Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the … Continue reading Nonfiction November: Your Year in Nonfiction

A True Victorian Murder Mystery Set in a “Dollhouse”

Book review: The Lady in the Cellar, by Sinclair McKay Book Depository Number 4, Euston Square, seemingly so prosperous, well-run and attractive, was a boarding house filled with unease; a house that was restless at night; a house with secrets. Soon it would seem like a gigantic doll’s house, open to examination by the entire nation. In Victorian London in 1879, a macabre discovery was … Continue reading A True Victorian Murder Mystery Set in a “Dollhouse”

7 Spooky Nonfiction Books for Halloween, Plus More Scary True Stories

Every autumn I find myself looking for at least a few spooky-themed books to read as Halloween approaches. It’s a little trickier with nonfiction, especially if you avoid the more unquestionably accepting/woo-woo ones, but there are still plenty of possibilities if you like your creepy stories full of truthiness! With Halloween weekend upon us, here’s a roundup of some spooky nonfiction I can recommend that … Continue reading 7 Spooky Nonfiction Books for Halloween, Plus More Scary True Stories

Recipe for a Zombie: Science Immerses in Haitian Magic

Book review: The Serpent and the Rainbow, by Wade Davis Book Depository The Serpent and the Rainbow is a modern classic, a story that flirts with a deep-seated fear out of one of humanity’s collective darkest nightmares – that of being buried alive, and of being raised to live as “undead”. But the book isn’t strictly horror. It’s a perfect example of reality’s scary stories being … Continue reading Recipe for a Zombie: Science Immerses in Haitian Magic

Arthur Conan Doyle, Harry Houdini, and the Promise and Ruin of Spiritualism

Book review: Through a Glass, Darkly, by Stefan Bechtel and Laurence Roy Stains Amazon / Book Depository What had come to be known as “spiritualism”—the conviction that those who have passed over had the ability and the desire to make contact across the veil of death with those they’d left behind—seemed to have bewitched the Western world.  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, forever linked with his character, … Continue reading Arthur Conan Doyle, Harry Houdini, and the Promise and Ruin of Spiritualism

The Historic Los Angeles Library Fire Sparks a Bigger Story: What Libraries Are to Us

Book review: The Library Book, by Susan Orlean All the things that are wrong in the world seem conquered by a library’s simple unspoken promise: Here is my story, please listen; here I am, please tell me your story. Journalist and author Susan Orlean began her latest book by investigating the devastating 1986 fire at Central Library in Los Angeles. By the time the fire was … Continue reading The Historic Los Angeles Library Fire Sparks a Bigger Story: What Libraries Are to Us

Writing Her Grandparents’ Lives and a Memoir of Childhood

Book review: On Sunset, by Kathryn Harrison (Amazon Book Depository) Never mind that we live in Los Angeles and that I was born in 1961; my childhood belongs to my mother’s parents, who, in the way of old people, have returned themselves to their pasts, taking me along. Author Kathryn Harrison writes a memoir of a slice of her childhood, a well-adjusted one considering some … Continue reading Writing Her Grandparents’ Lives and a Memoir of Childhood