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.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Review: Murder on an Irish Farm

 Murder on an Irish Farm

Carlene O'Connor

It's Siobhán O'Sullivan's wedding day. She and Macdara Flannery are finally ready to tie the knot. But before the ceremony can really get started, it's interrupted by Siobhán's brother James. He's found a body, a skeleton to be more precise, in a barn where he's been working. So, of course, this means the wedding will have to be postponed because Garda O'Sullivan and Detective Sergeant know they will have to investigate.

While at the scene, they are met by an elderly lady Gladys who lives next door to the property. As soon as she gets sight of the skeleton, she knows it's the true love of her life. The man who left her standing at the altar fifty years ago, the man she never forgot, even though she married his best friend. When another body turns up in the same place, O'Sullivan and Flannery know they are not dealing with a cold case. There is a killer still lurking in their midst. Before they can find this killer and get back to their own wedding, they will have to unravel a host of family secrets and decipher old and new clues.

Murder on an Irish Farm is a fun and entertaining story. It's full of twists and turns, comic scenes, and two wonderful main characters who feel like friends. I think the sense of community makes this such a pleasure to read. One feels almost like a village member as we follow O'Sullivan and Flannery in their day-to-day work. O'Connor has created an enticingly cozy atmosphere and a story that is hard to put down. I can't wait to read the next installment.

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