2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge: Monthly Spotlight #7

I’m delighted with the response to the inaugural Nonfiction Reader Challenge so far, and since sign-ups are open until December 1st, a few more may decide to join us during the year.

If you hadn’t yet noticed, I’ve created a permanent page for the challenge, you can CLICK HERE, or select the menu link at top left.

The Linky to add your review to can be found there. This new link will remain active for the rest for the year’s submissions. Look for the text in orange.

On the first Saturday of each month, I will be highlighting a handful of Linky submissions, but I encourage you to support all participants who have shared what they have been reading for the challenge. Give them a like, leave them a comment, share their posts on twitter, Facebook or instagram #2020ReadNonFic

 

JULY

 

 

In a single post at The Cue Card, Susan reviews three nonfiction books. The first is a short memoir, that she found so fascinating she listened to twice, A Bookshop in Berlin: The Rediscovered Memoir of One Woman’s Harrowing Escape From the Nazis by Francoise Frenkel. The second is She Came to Slay: The Life and Times of Harriet Tubman by Erica Armstrong Dunbar. The third, The Hidden Life of Owls: The Science and Spirit of Nature’s Most Elusive Birds by Leigh Calvez gave Susan a new appreciation for them.

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Jo at BookloverBookReviews recommends Joanna Cannon’s Breaking & Mending unreservedly. She writes, “The striking honesty and authenticity with which she interrogates her own thinking and responses to situations, and how that changed, during her journey from aspiring student of medicine to fully-fledged doctor, will move even the most hardened of souls. The tears rolled for me.”

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At Book’d Out I posted a review of The Cold Vanish: Seeking the Missing in North America’s Wildlands by Jon Billman this month. I counted it towards the Nature category though it could also work for True Crime. “With a well organised, well researched, and accessible narrative, Billman effectively communicates the facts, but also ensures the humanity of his subjects is never forgotten.”

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At Journey and Destination, Carol reviewed Queen Victoria by Lucy Worsley. She wrote, “This was a good introduction to the life of Queen Victoria and I liked the ‘twenty-four day’ approach as it helped to give an overview of her life in general. The author presents Queen Victoria as a complex person with faults and eccentricities but also as a person who was affectionate and sympathetic.”

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Maphead Book Blog has reviewed several nonfiction titles in the past month, but it’s of The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia that he calls, “…an outstanding book, and a must read for anyone wanting to understand Putin’s Russia.” He writes, “Not only will it make my 2020 list of favorite nonfiction it’s also one of the best books I’ve read this year.”

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Do any of these interest you? What will you be reading in August?

Click here to see what else other participants have been reading!

 

In case you missed it….

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge: Monthly Spotlight #6

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge: Monthly Spotlight #5

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge: Monthly Spotlight #4

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge: Monthly Spotlight #3

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge: Monthly Spotlight #2

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge: Monthly Spotlight #1

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Recommendations Part 1 #Memoir #DisasterEvent #Social Science #Related to An Occupation

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Recommendations Part 2 #History #Feminism #Psychology #Social Science

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Recommendations Part 3 #Nature #True Crime #Science #Published in 2020

Review: Boys & Sex by Peggy Orenstein

 

Title: Boys & Sex: Young Men on Hook-ups, Love, Porn, Consent and Navigating the New Masculinity

Author: Peggy Orenstein

Published: July 1st 2020, Profile Books

Status: Read July 2020 courtesy Allen and Unwin

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My Thoughts:

Negotiating sexuality and relationships today is arguably more complicated than when I was teenager and as the mother of two teenage boys (and girls) I hoped Boys & Sex might provide me with some insights into areas I may have not considered as part of my discussions with them.

The ‘sex talk’ has never been a single conversation in our house, it’s been the subject of casual discourse over the years as they’ve grown, often initiated as the result of news stories, gossip, or issues faced by their peers. We’ve talked about most of the topics explored in this book, though I’ve learnt from Orenstein via the young men that she interviews, that I can do more.

Thankfully my sons are surrounded by good role models, but one of the most significant takeaways for me from the book is that my boys need the men in their life, particularly their father, to better verbalise their experience, opinions and feelings about relationships, sex and masculinity. Despite my best intentions, it will be the other men with whom they connect that will significantly shape their response to the situations raised in Boys & Sex, and my empathy is not a substitute for their shared experience.

I do feel Orenstein’s sampling for her research was quite small (100 young men), and very USA-centric, which meant for me there were elements I didn’t find directly relevant. Racial issues and the experience of college/university life differs here for example, also a Personal Development, Health, and Physical Education syllabus from years K-10 is compulsory in all public schools in Australia. In general this is a medically accurate, current, and inclusive program that explores physical, social and emotional aspects of sexuality in some detail (that abstinence-only is still a feature in any modern day curriculum is absurd). That said I do prefer the anecdotal approach Orenstein has taken, as scientific methodology tends to lack urgency and nuance.

I would recommend Boys & Sex to parents, and suggest it be shared and discussed with teens of both sexes, as both will benefit from the information. An extensive bibliography provides additional resources to ensure we raise “…our boys to be the men we know they can become.”

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Available from Allen & Unwin Australia RRP. AUD$29.99

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Indiebound

Bookshelf Bounty

 

Every third Sunday of the month I share my Bookshelf Bounty – what’s been added to my TBR tile recently for review from publishers, purchases or gifts.

This month I’m linking up with Mailbox Monday

Click on the cover images to view at Goodreads

For Review (print)
(My thanks to the respective publishers)

 

  
 

 

 

 

For Review (ebook)
(My thanks to the respective publishers)

 

 

Review: The Cold Vanish by Jon Billman

 

Title: The Cold Vanish: Seeking the Missing in North America’s Wildlands

Author: Jon Billman

Published: July 7th 2020, Grand Central Publishing

Status: Read July 2020 courtesy Grand Central Publishing/Netgalley

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My Thoughts:

 

“A person isn’t missing until they’re reported missing. Even then, if you’re over eighteen years old, going missing isn’t a crime or even an emergency.”

Conservative estimates put the number of missing persons whose last known location was somewhere in the wildlands of the United States at 1,600. I was astonished to learn that no one really keeps track of how many people have disappeared in the mountains, parks, forests, scrub or deserts across the country, and as such the real number is likely quite higher.

Some of the people reported missing may eventually found alive, perhaps disorientated, injured, or even living a new life elsewhere. Others may be recovered deceased days, weeks, months, even years after they disappeared, having met with some kind of misadventure. Some are never seen nor heard of again. Of particular interest to Billman are those cases where someone disappears under circumstances that suggest they should be easily found, like Jacob Gray, or conversely those that are found, alive or dead, after an improbable period or in unlikely locations, like Casey Hathaway.

Billman details a number of cases in The Cold Vanish, gathering information from relatives and/or friends, law enforcement officials, search and rescue personnel, and other interested parties. One of these is the case of Jacob Gray which the author repeatedly returns to throughout the narrative.

For seventeen months after Jacob Gray went missing in 2017, his red bicycle and hiking gear found by a river near the Olympic National Park in Washington, his father searched, traversing miles of river, trails, and streets both near and far from where he was last seen. Left in an agony of limbo, he was willing to consider every possible fate for his son from a mundane slip and fall, to abduction by a cult or a serial killer, to an encounter with a Bigfoot, if it meant he would find some answers. He followed up on every clue from vague sightings to psychic predictions.

Billman examines the factors that influence searches, not only delays in reporting but also, unsurprisingly, terrain and weather, as well as search personnel experience, bureaucracy, funding, and jurisdictional conflicts. The average official search period for a missing person in wild areas is five days, and the resources available vary widely between locations. Billman interviews expert trackers, search dog handlers, divers and advocates, and writes of his own participation in searches for the missing, accompanying both officials and volunteers.

With a well organised, well researched, and accessible narrative, Billman effectively communicates the facts, but also ensures the humanity of his subjects is never forgotten. I found The Cold Vanish to be both a fascinating and frightening read.

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Available from Grand Central Publishing

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Indiebound

Review: The First Time He Hit Her by Heidi Lemon

Title: The First Time He Hit Her: The shocking true story of the murder of Tara Costigan, the woman next door.

Author: Heidi Lemon

Published: June 30th 2020, Hachette Australia

Status: Read July 2020 courtesy Hachette Australia

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My Thoughts:

Twenty-eight-year-old Tara Costigan was one of 103 women who died violently as a result of family violence–related homicide* in Australia during 2015. The hardworking, loving, mother was holding her newborn daughter in her arms when her ex-partner swung an axe at her neck, her two young sons looking on in horror.

Author Heidi Lemon was shocked by the bare details of the murder reported in the news and made contact with Tara’s uncle, Michael Costigan, a few months later. She spent two and a half years writing The First Time He Hit Her in the hope of understanding the tragedy, and bringing awareness to the relationship between verbal abuse and intimate partner homicide.

“He’ll go ballistic,” [Tara] conceded, “but he won’t hurt me. He’s never hit me.”

Marcus Rappel had never posed a physical threat to Tara until that fateful day. In recent months Marcus had become paranoid, most likely due to anabolic steroid and Ice use, and grown increasingly emotionally and verbally abusive, berating her for hours over imagined infidelities and slights. Tara held on to the hope that the man she fell in love with would reappear until at eight months pregnant she could no longer endure Marcus’s behaviour and asked him to leave. Despite already being embroiled in a new relationship with an ex-girlfriend (the mother of his first child who was also now pregnant), Marcus continued to harass Tara. A few days after Tara gave birth to Ayla she successfully applied for a DVO, and on the day it was served Marcus used an axe to break down Tara’s front door.

During her own experience in a verbally abusive relationship, Lemon failed to recognise it as a form of domestic violence, because she never felt that she was physically at risk. She was shocked to learn during her research for this book that in an estimated quarter of cases of intimate partner homicide there had been no physical violence before the murder. It’s a startling find that contradicts our misconceptions about the danger emotional and verbal abusers pose to their victim.

“Control, then, is the link between all forms of abuse, including murder. The very same appetite for control lies beneath the invisible forms of violence and the single act of violence that will result in someone’s death.”

The First Time He Hit Her is a thought-provoking examination of domestic violence in Australia, a devastating tale of murder, and a moving portrait of a life taken too soon.

If you or someone you know (in Australia) has experienced any kind of abuse, sexual assault, domestic or family violence, please call 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) or visit their website to chat online.

If you’re concerned about your own behaviour and would like support or information (in Australia), please call MensLine on 1300 78 99 78 or visit their website.

* https://www.saferresource.org.au/the_evidence

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Available from Hachette Australia

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge: Monthly Spotlight #6

 

I’m delighted with the response to the inaugural Nonfiction Reader Challenge so far, and since sign-ups are open until December 1st, a few more may decide to join us during the year.

If you hadn’t yet noticed, I’ve created a permanent page for the challenge, you can CLICK HERE, or select the menu link at top left.

The Linky to add your review to can be found there. This new link will remain active for the rest for the year’s submissions. Look for the text in orange.

On the first Saturday of each month, I will be highlighting a handful of Linky submissions, but I encourage you to support all participants who have shared what they have been reading for the challenge. Give them a like, leave them a comment, share their posts on twitter, Facebook or instagram #2020ReadNonFic

JUNE

Of Fathoms: the world in the whale by Rebecca Giggs, TeresaSmithWrites says: “This is a remarkable book. The scope and sheer detail is so impressive…. highly readable and deeply thought provoking – there’s something in this one for everyone.”

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Jo of BookloverBookReviews describes the memoir MI5 and Me by Charlotte Bingham as, “… an entertaining reminder of fact often being stranger (and sillier) than fiction and the perils of taking ourselves too seriously.”

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For the disaster category, Carla of CarlaLovestoRead chose to read Malibu Burning: The Real Story Behind LA’s Most Devastating Wildfire by Robert Kerbeck. She says, “This book takes you into the hearts and minds of those who fought for their lives while the world watched Malibu Burning…. well written and worth a read if you are interested in fire fighting, Hollywood, climate-related disasters or just an informative and interesting non-fiction story.”

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Of Breaking Anxiety’s Grip: How to Reclaim the Peace God Promises by Dr. Michelle Bengston Barbara of StrayThoughts writes: “The coronavirus pandemic began just after I started this book, and the chapters I read then helped me immensely in the uncertainty and anxiety of that unprecedented situation.”

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Tina of Novel Meals read two books for the Nature category, Birding Without Borders by Noah Stryker and Wesley the Owl by Stacey O’Brien. She recommends the former for enthusiasts, of the latter she writes: “I loved this book, it was very informative, engaging and I cried near the end.”

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And congratulations to Denise of DeniseNewtonWrites who has successfully reached her goal of reading 6 nonfiction titles earning herself Nonfiction Nibbler status!

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Do any of these interest you? What will you be reading in July?

Click here to see what else other participants have been reading!

In case you missed it….

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge: Monthly Spotlight #5

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge: Monthly Spotlight #4

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge: Monthly Spotlight #3

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge: Monthly Spotlight #2

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge: Monthly Spotlight #1

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Recommendations Part 1 #Memoir #DisasterEvent #Social Science #Related to An Occupation

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Recommendations Part 2 #History #Feminism #Psychology #Social Science

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Recommendations Part 3 #Nature #True Crime #Science #Published in 2020

Review: The Convict Valley by Mark Dunn

 

Title: The Convict Valley: The Bloody Struggle of Australia’s Early Frontier

Author: Mark Dunn

Published: June 2nd 2020, Allen & Unwin

Status: Read June 2020 courtesy Allen & Unwin

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My Thoughts:

 

The Convict Valley by Mark Dunn is a fascinating examination of New South Wales’ Hunter Valley region covering approximately a 60-year span from the late 1790’s to the early 1850’s.

“Outside of Sydney, the Hunter Valley was the first region to be explored in any detail by the British….”

Dunn utilises meticulous research to uncover the history of the region’s early development, and makes a sincere attempt to include the experience of the Aboriginal people in the narrative.

“From the very first years a complex, interwoven history emerged between the Aboriginal people and the British in the Hunter.”

Essentially stumbling on what is now known as Newcastle during the pursuit of five runaway convicts, the British were quick to recognise the region’s potential to provide coal and timber for the burgeoning colony of Sydney. Beginning as an unspoiled wilderness, home to the Wonnarua people, the Hunter Valley became the site of the state’s second penal colony in 1804, mainly to provide free labour to exploit its natural resources in a systematic manner, before the land was opened to free settlers in 1822. Largely an agricultural landscape, dominated by farms and estates, Newcastle (briefly renamed Kings Town) slowly became an urban center by default as new colonial settlements began to develop in Wallis Plains (Maitland), Green Hills (Morpeth) and Patrick Plains (Singleton).

“…as the population rose, and the stakes over land and property grew, class and racial tensions began to manifest themselves in what for a time became a landscape of violence.”

Detailing the physical, economic and social growth of the Hunter Valley in an accessible manner, enhanced by paintings, maps, sketches, and photographs, The Convict Valley makes an important contribution to the historical record of Australia.

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Available from Allen & Unwin. RRP AUD$32.99

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge: Monthly Spotlight #5

I’m delighted with the response to the inaugural Nonfiction Reader Challenge so far, and since sign-ups are open until December 1st, a few more may decide to join us during the year.

If you hadn’t yet noticed, I’ve created a permanent page for the challenge, you can CLICK HERE, or select the menu link at top left.

The NEW Linky to add your review to can be also be found there. This new linky will remain active for the rest for the year’s submissions. Look for the text in orange.

On the first Saturday of each month, I am highlighting a handful of Linky submissions, but I encourage you to support all participants who have shared what they have been reading for the challenge. Give them a like, leave them a comment, share their posts on twitter, Facebook or instagram #2020ReadNonFic

 

DURING MAY….

 


Laurel at Curl Up and Read enjoyed Hungry Heart, a collection of essays from popular contemporary fiction author, Jennifer Weiner. She says,
“… her humorous and sometimes snarky voice shines through, making me want to keep going. A book that earned 5 stars from me.”

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Of the memoir by Australian Aboriginal musician, Archie Roach, titled Tell Me Why, Denise of Denise Newton Writes  summarises,
“This memoir will make you cry, feel anger, laugh out loud, and when you have finished, I promise you, your heart will be full of Archie’s generous and resilient spirit.”

 

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Deb of The Book Stop feels that No Visible Bruises by Rachel Louise Snyder is, “…a really unique and comprehensive look at domestic violence.”

 

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An Alice Girl by Tanya Heaslip is a childhood memoir of a woman who grew up in the late 1960s and early 70s on a cattle property in a remote area of Australia. Veronica of The Burgeoning Bookshelf writes, “[it] is an awe inspiring story of hardship, endurance, determination and ultimately triumph over the elements to make a living in the harshest of conditions.”

 

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At Maphead’s Book Blog, you can find a review of David Maraniss’ book  Rome 1960: The Olympics That Changed the World. Describing it as “…a heck of a book”, Maphead learnt that not only were the supporting  successes and failures of the Games significant but also made a wider contribution to history.

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Do any of these interest you? What will you be reading in June?

Click here to see what else other participants have been reading!


In case you missed it….

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge: Monthly Spotlight #4

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge: Monthly Spotlight #3

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge: Monthly Spotlight #2

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge: Monthly Spotlight #1

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Recommendations Part 1 #Memoir #DisasterEvent #Social Science #Related to An Occupation

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Recommendations Part 2 #History #Feminism #Psychology #Social Science

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Recommendations Part 3 #Nature #True Crime #Science #Published in 2020

Review: Radio Girl by David Dufty

Title: Radio Girl: The Story of the Extraordinary Mrs Mac, Pioneering Engineer and Wartime Legend

Author: David Dufty

Published: 28th April 2020, Allen & Unwin

Status: Read May 2020, courtesy Allen & Unwin

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My Thoughts:

Radio Girl by David Dufty is, as the tag line says, the story of the extraordinary Mrs Mac, pioneering engineer and wartime legend.

(Florence) Violet McKenzie née Wallace, who later came to be known affectionately to many as Mrs. Mac, was born in Melbourne in 1890, married in 1924, and died in 1982. While her childhood in Austinmeer, south of Sydney, was largely unremarkable she went on to make an outstanding contribution to Australian society over her lifetime.

Radio Girl is a fascinating tribute to an amazing woman who deserves far more recognition than she has ever been given. I was quickly absorbed in the tale of Mrs Mac’s life, inspired by all she achieved, and frankly annoyed that I’ve never heard of her.

Some of Violet’s many accomplishments included becoming Australia’s first woman to earn a diploma in electrical engineering, owning and operating a successful store, the ‘Wireless Shop’, catering to amateur radio enthusiasts, and establishing the Electrical Association for Women.

However Violet’s most significant achievement was her contribution to the war effort. In 1939 Mrs Mac, as she was by then commonly called, created the Women’s Emergency Signalling Corps, ultimately training around 3000 women in Morse code. She became the driving force behind the creation of the Women’s Royal Australian Navy Service in 1941, which employed as many as a third of ‘her girls’ during WWII, and also trained thousands of enlisted and civilian men, from more than half a dozen countries, in signalling.

Suitable for the general reader, as well as those with specific interest in Australian military history or womens history, Dufty’s narrative reads well, it’s detailed without being dry, and informal in tone. Progressing chronologically through Violet’s lifetime, Dufty includes a dozen or so photographs, which I always appreciate. While it is unfortunate though that Violet could not directly contribute to this biography as I‘d be interested in the addition of a more personal perspective, the story of the Radio Girl and her achievements is nevertheless fascinating.

Radio Girl is interesting and informative and I’d like to thank David Dufty for ensuring Mrs Mac, and her admirable accomplishments are recognised in the present day, and recorded for history.

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Available from Allen & Unwin RRP AUD$29.99

Also available from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge: Monthly Spotlight #4

I’m delighted with the response to the inaugural Nonfiction Reader Challenge so far, and since sign-ups are open until December 1st, a few more may decide to join us during the year.

If you hadn’t yet noticed, I’ve created a permanent page for the challenge, you can CLICK HERE, or select the menu link at top left.

The NEW Linky to add your review to can be also be found there. This new linky will remain active for the rest for the year’s submissions. Look for the text in orange.

On the first Saturday of each month, I am highlighting a handful of Linky submissions, but I encourage you to support all participants who have shared what they have been reading for the challenge. Give them a like, leave them a comment, share their posts on twitter, Facebook or instagram #2020ReadNonFic

 

During APRIL…

 

 

Denise Newton found I Want You To Know I’m Still Here: My family, the Holocaust and my search for truth by Esther Safran Foer, to be a moving and thought-provoking, “exploration of what it means to survive, to make decisions about whether to walk away from the past, to learn about it or to silence it…”

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Stray Thoughts
highly recommends Off the Clock by Laura Vanderkam, she says, “I appreciated that Laura dealt in common-sense broad principles rather than a rigid system and that her examples came from home and family as well as work and career. This is a great book for learning how to “feel less busy while getting more done.”

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Maphead describes Black Wave: Black Wave: Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Forty-Year Rivalry That Unraveled Culture, Religion, and Collective Memory in the Middle East by Kim Ghattas, as “outstanding”. They feel the author did a “superb job delivering the big picture with the perfect amount of detail” and may be their favourite non-fiction of 2020.

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Fake Law by The Secret Barrister writes, is the, ” distortion[s] of legal cases and judgments, spun and reformed for mass consumption.” It is evident everywhere, under every regime, and has a detrimental impact on the integrity of legal process, which is particularly noticeable in country’s where the judicial system is unduly influenced by political stakeholders. I, Shelleyrae @ Book’d Out, think this book offers a lot to explore, examine, and debate, and I’m happy to recommend you do.

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Do any of these interest you? What will you be reading in April?

Click here to see what else other participants have been reading!

 

In case you missed it….

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge: Monthly Spotlight #3

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge: Monthly Spotlight #2

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge: Monthly Spotlight #1

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Recommendations Part 1 #Memoir #DisasterEvent #Social Science #Related to An Occupation

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Recommendations Part 2 #History #Feminism #Psychology #Social Science

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Recommendations Part 3 #Nature #True Crime #Science #Published in 2020

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