Saturday, November 25, 2023

Review: Missing In The Dark

 Missing In The Dark
Bernadette Calonego

Detective Sergeant Calista Gates is headed back to Vancouver, her hometown. She's planning to participate in a clinical research program about brain damage. But she's also keen to look into a cold case involving Becca, a childhood friend and neighbor who died some twenty years ago. She's been haunted by her death for years but hasn't been able to do much about it. But the disappearance of Tilly Falon from a remote cabin in British Columbia, near where Becca's body was found, and an aspiring author who claims to be writing a true crime novel, hinting that she might know something about Becca, leaves Calista thinking the killer may still be in the area. Will she be able to draw the killer out without endangering herself? She will need all the skills she has to find out what happened to the two women.

Missing In The Dark is the fourth book in the Calista Gate Series, and I have loved them all. This one is no exception. There are enough twists and turns to keep readers guessing what will happen next. I love the element of adventure this series provides where nature looms large, and the characters and plot are well-developed. I loved having Vancouver and British Columbia as a setting in this novel. The author makes readers feel like they are in the forests or the gritty streets with Calista. I also loved learning about Calista's family and their background in this installment. It gave more depth to her character and made me feel much more connected to her. And without providing any spoilers, I appreciate how some of the storylines from the previous books were drawn together in this one. I feel so invested in this series that I can't wait to see what happens next. I can't recommend this one enough. If you have yet to read it, you are definitely missing out on a good read full of drama, adventure, mystery, and wonderful characters, all set in marvelous Canadian scenery.

Monday, July 18, 2022

Review: The Insect Crisis

The Insect Crisis

Oliver Milman

Oliver Milman presents a fascinating look at what might happen if the insects we depend on to pollinate our food supply disappear. Scientists have sounded the alarm about increasing concerns that insect populations are declining rapidly. The honeybee's plight is probably well known, but what about other insects like moths, dragonflies, and beetles that we tend to think about less often. These and other insects may also be on the decline thanks to a host of environmental issues, for which we humans are mostly to blame. The increased use of pesticides, mono-cropping, habitat degradation, and climate change has played a significant role in these environmental changes. And even though, as Milman points out, insects have primarily been able to survive every other mass extinction the planet has seen, this may be changing.

The Insect Crisis should be required reading for anyone concerned about environmental issues and our future. It's well researched, not to mention engagingly written. But most of all, it's informative and shows the complex issues and challenges we face in the future in a world that may have fewer species.

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


Friday, June 24, 2022

Review: A Trillion Trees

 A Trillion Trees

Fred Pearce

A Trillion Trees presents a fascinating look at the state of the world's forests. And while Pearce highlights the increasing destruction we have seen in the past, he also shows how and why he thinks things may not be all gloom and doom. Especially as he points out that forests have a way of regenerating themselves if they are left to their own devices. He also presents a host of case studies that show how much the forest creates weather patterns by creating "flying rivers" that move rain to areas far beyond the forests.

What may come as a surprise to many readers is the fact that forests like those in the Amazon or deep in the Congo are not as old or pristine as we often think. Instead, they are regrowth forests from previous civilizations. Pearce argues that indigenous communities today are still at the forefront regarding caring for and protecting some of these forests. Throughout the book, he recounts his fascinating journeys and the interviews he's had with scientists, farmers, and others interested in the health and welfare of our forests. And while all might not be doom and gloom, there is still the continued threat of destruction, especially in developing areas where there is a continued focus on expanding cattle ranching and the mono-cropping of soybeans, palm oil, and other cash crops. But, Pearce argues that simply planting more trees to offset those lost may not be the best answer. Instead, he believes that, if allowed, the forests will heal and regrow on their own.

I think this book is a must-read for anyone interested in not just trees and forests but the wonderful world of nature that we inhabit.

Thanks to LibraryThing and Greystone Books for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Review: The Joy and Light Bus Company

 The Joy and Light Bus Company

Alexander McCall Smith

Mma Ramotswe is confronted with several dilemmas in this installment of The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency. Firstly, her husband, Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, is off to a business course where he gets the opportunity to invest in a bus company with a former friend from school. But it would require raising capital which would need a bank loan; something Mma Ramotswe is firmly against. While worrying about her husband's risky adventure, she takes on a client concerned that his elderly father is being manipulated by his nurse to inherit his land. Plus, she has heard from her friend Mma Potokwane about a possible case of domestic slavery, and she simply cannot let it go without further investigation.

Along with her trusted assistant Mma Makutsi and a good cup of bush tea, Mma Ramotswe will investigate the issues as they arrive, hoping that she will bring justice, compassion, calm, and happiness back to her beloved corner of Botswana. As always, McCall Smith has written a lively, heartwarming story full of wit, humor, and wisdom. The Joy and Light Bus Company is an enormously pleasurable read.

This review was originally written for City Book Review.

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Review: Black Lion

 Black Lion

Sicelo Mbatha

Black Lion tells the story of Sicelo Mbatha's life growing up in rural South Africa and his long career as a Wilderness guide. From an early age, he felt a deep connection to nature and the wildlife surrounding his community, setting him on a path to help conserve and celebrate all the beauty he saw. His ultimate goal would be to create a company that could help others, especially those from his own community, experience nature's healing powers.

It's not just the story of Sicelo's life and the many hardships he had to overcome to reach his dream that makes this book fascinating. It's also his refreshing view of nature and the wonders she has to offer all of us, whether in faraway places or just in our backyards. As Sicelo suggests, we need to open our senses and appreciate the other living things around us to understand that we can find deep connections and spiritual peace by immersing ourselves in this world.

I loved getting to know more about his Zulu culture, the vital role his kinsmen played in his journey, and how they could share so much knowledge acquired over generations but not always appreciated by others. Thankfully, there are people, like Sicelo, who do not want to see their traditions disappear over time. In Black Lion, he conveys his love for his heritage and community with honesty, humility, and vast knowledge of nature.

Frankly, this book is like a balm for the soul. And maybe the next best thing to stepping out into nature itself. No doubt, like everyone else who reads this, I suspect I'll be dreaming of a day when I can join a guide like Sicelo in discovering the African wilderness. But, until then, I'll be trying to appreciate all the nature in my area.

Thanks to LibraryThing for allowing me to read this book in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, February 25, 2022

Review: A Margin For Murder

 A Margin For Murder

Lauren Elliott

When Addie Greyborne, owner of Beyond the Page bookstore, and her assistant Paige head over to the neighboring town of Pen Hollow to buy books from a library forced to close, they never imagined the trouble they would find. They intended to purchase books for the store, but the town's mayor, Luella, presented them with an opportunity to buy a bookmobile. An opportunity they couldn't refuse. But while the mayor was trying to deliver the bus for a photo-op, she was killed. According to the autopsy, she was poisoned.

Addie and Paige, as outsiders in the small town, are considered prime suspects and are not allowed to leave town. So ex-boyfriend Marc, head of police in Greyborne Harbor, and current boyfriend Simon, the local coroner, arrive to help find out what happened and persuade the local sheriff that Addie and Paige are innocent. They will all have to put their heads together if they want to find the real killer. The suspect list is long, and no one wants to accuse a neighbor or relative in this small town.

A Margin for Murder is a fun cozy mystery with a strong plot and engaging characters. This is the first book I've read in this series, but I'm hoping to read more in the future.

Thanks to Kensington Books for allowing me to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, February 4, 2022

Review The Paris Apartment

The Paris Apartment

Lucy Foley

Jess needs to get away from England for a while, and she decides to head to Paris to visit her brother Ben. He's expecting her, but when she arrives, he's nowhere to be found. Slowly she realizes something isn't right. The inhabitants of the posh building where Ben has an apartment are holding back when she tries to find answers to her brother's disappearance. All is not what it seems in the elite world of money and wine that Ben has infiltrated. But Jess is determined to find her brother even if she has to peel back layers of secrets to get the answers she needs.

The Paris Apartment is another riveting read by Foley that I couldn't put down. It's wonderfully plotted with lots of twists and turns and layered with enough secrets and intrigue to keep discerning readers turning the page in anticipation of the next event. I almost hated for this one to end; it was so enthralling.

Thanks to William Morrow Books for allowing me to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review.