Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Review: Fasionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes



Dana Thomas

Fashionopolis is a well-written and researched book that looks at the cost of fast fashion in terms of labor relations, environmental damage, and changing forms of production. It asks, “is the current trend of quick output and rapid turnover in shops like Zara sustainable?” Not surprisingly, the answer is no.

Many are probably well aware of new reports about labor exploitation in the garment industry, but there is also an environmental impact that has been gaining attention. For example, a large amount of water is consumed to grow cotton to produce items such as t-shirts and jeans. Not to mention the vast amounts of pesticides and chemicals needed to grow the crops and process clothing. And what happens when we are tired of wearing these items? Throwing them in a landfill is not the answer since many fabrics are not biodegradable.

The author focuses her attention not just on the history of production but also on how businesses and researchers are seeking new ways to help the industry change to a model of production and use that is better for consumers and the environment. But will customers be satisfied with the idea of buying less but paying more for quality? I'm not so sure but, after reading this, I will be thinking more about the real cost of the garments I'm wearing.

This review was written by me originally for City Book Review.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Review: The Quiet Side of Passion

The Quiet Side of Passion (Isabel Dalhousie #12)

The Quiet Side of Passion

Alexander McCall Smith

Isabel Dalhousie is a busy woman. As editor of The Review of Applied Ethics, wife to Jamie, and mother to Charlie and Magnus, she hardly has time for herself. In an attempt to simplify life, she decides to hire an au pair and an assistant editor for the journal. Unfortunately, this doesn't have the desired effect. Life only becomes a little more complicated with the addition of two employees to the household.

On top of that, Isabel's found a friend for her son Charlie, a little boy being raised by his single mother, Patricia. Isabel can't help but get entangled in this woman's questionable lifestyle. But it's all in the name of trying to do good, even if things don't turn out the way she expected.

I'm always drawn to McCall Smith's stories. I love the feeling that I'm having an intimate chat with his characters, and Isabel is no exception. Her philosophical musings are thoughtful and often amusing. Her privileged and charming Edinburgh life creates the perfect atmosphere and backdrop to this series. It's the common questions and dilemmas that she must come to terms with that keep this tale both subtle and all-consuming. This is my first book in this series, but it certainly not my last. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Review: The Whispered Word

 The Whispered Word (Secret, Book, & Scone Society, #2)

The Whispered Word

Ellery Adams

Nora, a book store owner in Miracle Springs, North Carolina and, several other women in the town, have formed a group known as The Secret, Book, and Scone Society. They extend help where help is needed in the form of surprise gift bags to locals in need of kindness or assistance. When a strange girl named Abilene shows up in Nora's bookstore, she knows that the girl needs a friend. But when another woman in town is found dead, Nora wonders what the mysterious girl is hiding. It will take time and effort to help Abilene. And discovering a killer may not be easy, but Nora and her friends are always up for a challenge.

The Whispered Word is a terrific story about a strong group of women helping each other and the small town they love. This cozy mystery was like a warm blanket. When I started, all I wanted to do was curl up in bed and read it straight through. The focus on comfort food and books was a delight. With wonderful characters, a mystery to solve, and a little romance on the side, this book was more than a good read. By the time I finished, I felt like I belonged in Miracle Springs as well. It will come as no surprise that I'm hoping to read more in this series.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Review: Fatal Roots

 Fatal Roots (County Cork #8)

Fatal Roots

Sheila Connolly

Maura Donovan is busy trying to manage her pub in the Irish village of Leap. Her estranged mother has just returned from Chicago with Maura's half-sister, Susan, in tow. It's the first time Maura and Susan have met, and Maura's hoping Susan will be able to spend some time in the pub while her mother tends to her business dealings in Cork. At the same time, three graduate students arrive at Maura's cottage, looking for fairy forts. Maura doesn't know anything about these prehistoric sites, but it appears she owns the land where at least one fort exists. When one of the students disappears without a trace, Maura and her friend Mick decide to take a look around the fort. That's when they find a decade's old body, which might hold some clues to Maura's past.

Although I felt this one started a bit slowly, it did get better the further I got into the story. The best thing about Connolly's writing is that she can make the reader feel like they are just as much a part of the community in her book as the characters she creates. This is a cozy and charming mystery. Fans of this series will feel like they've returned home to reconnect with old friends.

This review was written by me for City Book Review.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Review: His Only Wife

 His Only Wife

His Only Wife

Peace Adzo Medie

Afi Tekpie is a young woman living in a small village in Ghana. She works as a seamstress with dreams of a better life. When she gets a proposal from the wealthy Ganyo family to marry the youngest son Elikem, she knows this will change her life, and she's looking forward to the wedding and the chance to live in the capital city of Accra. The traditional marriage is arranged but, to her disappointment Elikem doesn't appear. His older brother Richard stands in.

Nevertheless, Afi moves to Accra to a modern luxury apartment, hoping to get to know her new husband. When he doesn't come to her immediately, she begins to wonder what's going on. Then she learns of the other woman. The Ganyo family has been hoping that the marriage of Afi to Elikem will be the end of Elikem's fascination with a Liberian woman the family can not abide. They encourage Afi to stick with her man and win him over.

If only life were so simple. In fact, for Afi, it's becoming more and more complicated. And Elikem wants to have his cake and eat it too but, where does that leave Afi? She has to learn to stand on her own and make tough decisions if she wants to have the life she's always dreamed of having.

His Only Wife is a marvelous tale of a woman striving to find her place in the modern world. She is torn between her personal desires, family connections, community obligations and expectations, all of which ultimately make her more determined to forge her own path. The author writes with humor and passion, making this a book I didn't want to end. I'm hoping this isn't the end for Afi because I would love to find out what happens next to this fascinating and endearing character.

Thanks to Library Thing for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Review: Better Homes and Corpses

Better Homes and Corpses (Hamptons Home & Garden Mystery, #1)

Better Homes and Corpses

Kathleen Bridge

Meg Bartlett recently moved to the Hamptons to get away from fiance Micheal, who cheated on her with his ex-wife. Meg has started a new interior design company and has been asked to help a former college roommate's mother clear out an attic. And it's not just any attic. The Spenser family are well known for their antiques and wealthy lifestyle. But when Meg arrives, she finds the matriarch Catherine dead in the arms of her daughter Jillian.

Meg agrees to help her friend Elle inventory the contents of the house for an insurance company. She soon discovers family secrets and missing furniture. And to top it all, Jillian seems to be in danger from a murderer no one seems able to catch. If only Meg could find out who killed Caroline before she gets in over her head.

Better Homes and Corpses is a fun, cozy mystery, full of twists and turns. It also has a main character who has a lot of spunk and determination. This is a good mystery for a lazy afternoon.


Monday, August 17, 2020

Review: The Year 1000

 The Year 1000: When Explorers Connected the World—and Globalization Began

The Year 1000

Valerie Hansen

In The Year 1000, Yale University historian Valerie Hansen argues that trade increased in numerous regions throughout the world around the year 1000 due to surplus agricultural production. This increased production allowed some people to stop farming and produce goods for markets. They were then able to become merchants who traveled old and new trade routes near and far to exchange not only physical products but also information and ideas, making the world more connected at that time than we might at first assume. Each chapter in the book focuses on a different region of the world, ranging from the Viking invasion of Greenland, and their travels to North America to China, which by 1000 had flourishing trade routes and a considerable population.

This book is perfect for historians and history buffs alike. It clearly shows us that globalization is nothing new. Humans have been exchanging ideas and goods that have shaped the world in numerous exciting and interesting ways throughout the past. The information the author presents in this work might make readers look at the world in a whole new light once they see what was happening around the globe in the year 1000.

This review was written by me for City Book Review.