November Reading Events Tally

November has too many great reading events! Thankfully, I started a new job this month, so my participation was curtailed by the exhaustion of all day in new surroundings, all day surrounded by people, and all day learning new things. So, my goals were a little too lofty this year!


Sorry, German Literature, but you were the one that got lost in the crowd this time. No worries–I’d already read one German book in translation this year.


My Nevile Shute reading put me in good stead this year. I finished my second book by the Australian author at the start of the month. I reviewed What Happened to the Corbetts by Nevil Shute (Also titled The Ordeal) and the newer Jane Harper novel Lost Man.



Nonfiction November is an event I look forward to each year. This year I did “ok,” not great, but “ok.” I finished two audio books–Christmas Far From Home about Christmas in the Korean War and The Women of Rothschild, a biography of the women of that famous family.



I had big hopes for little books this year! But Novellas in November just didn’t go very far this time. A few “double dips”–books that worked for this and some other reading challenge or event. I reviewed A Christmas Escape by Anne Perry which “doubled” with 20 Books of Christmas, and What Happened to the Corbetts which doubled with Aus Reading Month.



20 Books for Christmas is still on going, so I’m not done. I’m trying to just use Christmas themed books–fiction or nonfiction. So, I reviewed Christmas Far From Home (nonfiction), The Christmas Escape,   The Christmas Bookshop, Mistletoe and Magic for the Cornish Midwife, and another book I’m reviewing on Monday.

I also read two other books, too long for NovNov and not Christmas Themed Meredith, Alone and The Blue Castle.

Have you done a November reading round-up type post? Have you read any of these books? Read anything else you think I’d want to know about? Leave me a comment or a link to your post!

Nonfiction November: New to my TBR UPDATED


Well, November ends tomorrow! On Thursday I’ll post my November challenges, reading months, etc, final post. Today, though, here are some of the new or new-to-me nonfiction books recently added to my TBR. I gather we are supposed to link back to the blogger who introduced you to the book….oops…hence the update! Sadly, none of these were recommended by bloggers. Happily, I have hundreds of novels on my TBR recommended by great book bloggers!

Most of the royal or royal-related books are not yet out in the USA, so I won’t bother linking to books today. [I make no money off this blog–even if you click on a link, it is merely a convenience for you].

What nonfiction have you added to your TBR recently? Leave me a comment or a link to your own post.

Thanks again to the hosts of Nonfiction November for a great month!

Week 3: (November 14-18) – Stranger Than Fiction: This week we’re focusing on all the great nonfiction books that almost don’t seem real.


This week’s topic isn’t one with which I have a lot of experience. I don’t read a lot of creepy, other-worldly nonfiction and that’s kind of how it strikes me. So, here is as close as I could come. I did not read them this year.


I hated science in school. It bored me silly. But this book, tracing the origin of a cholera epidemic in long-ago London fascinated me. Ghost Map by Steven Johnson.



What is killing the honey bees? Fruitless Fall by Rowan Jacobsen.


Why are some of us Autistic? In A Different Key: The Story of Autism by Caren Zucker was very interesting.

I did not read any of these this year. I hope these meet the criteria for this week!


NonFicNov Review: A Christmas Far From Home by Stanley Weintraub


My Interest

Since moving here to Southern Ohio in 2008 I’ve met two Korean War veterans. One died during the Covid epidemic, the other, my next door neighbor, is still going strong at 90-something. Of course, I have a near life-long interest in U.S. history, too, so that figured into decided to read (well, listen to) this book.

Author Stanley Weintraub has made an industry for himself writing nonfiction stories set at Christmas during the various wars. Finally, I was a child of the 70’s. The movie M*A*S*H was one of the first “grown-up” movies I watched. I also read the book  (and a couple of the sequels) at a tender age. Then there was the t.v. show [see the bottom of this post] that ran about 100 times longer than the war itself. So, in memory of all those people who fought in Korea and were immortalized by the book, movie and tv show characters, I had to read or listen to this book.

The Story


Mountbatten (left) and MacArthur (right)
photo credit

General of the Armies Douglas MacArthur, was an early believer in public relations–p.r. Much like Lord Mountbatten (“Uncle Dickie” on The Crown), he was a self-promoter who was often regarded as having over-reached. MacArthur had at least some of the traits of a narcissist. He ran away and deserted our troops, fleeing to safety in Australia with his much younger wife, their toddler son (and his nanny) when the Japanese over-ran the Philippines. For this he managed to earn the nation’s highest award for bravery: The Congressional Medal of Honor.

When the Korean “War” began, Arthur hadn’t lived in the USA for many years. He’d commanded the Philippine Army, then been away in Australia during World War II, then oversaw the occupation of Japan. His last big experience in the United States had been leading the Army, with the help of his assistant, Dwight D. Eisenhower, through Washington D.C. and to the camp of the “Bonus Marchers” or “Bonus Army”–the unemployed, homeless, desperate veterans of World War I marching on Washington to try to make Congress pay them their “bonus” for service in WWI several years early. It didn’t work. MacArthur and Ike led the tanks and troops in moving the marchers out of their encampment. (Where many of them were subsequently put on trains and sent to south Florida where they would die in a hurricane). He survived that black mark how? Public relations. He also had a notorious affair with a showgirl called Bubbles who called him, wait for it, “Daddy.” Yeah.

When the U.S. entered Korea Mac Arthur was in charge of the Command area that included Korea. He did not take the whole thing very seriously and insisted, as have so many commanders in so many wars, that our boys would be home for Christmas.

Only, they weren’t. And, many did not even have winter uniforms. [This mix-up of seasons and uniforms is a specialty of the U.S. Army. In the Spanish American War, a tropical war, they had heavy woolen uniforms]. This book tells what the men went trough from Thanksgiving until what we remember today as the Chosin Reservoir aka “The Frozen Chosin” was over. Thankfully, President Harry S. Truman, got tired of MacArthur’s grandiose insubordination and fired him. Who knows how long the war would have lasted with “Doug Out Doug” in charge (the name comes from hiding in a dugout).

My Thoughts

My next door neighbor was a young and bitterly cold U.S. Marine during this battle. It must not have affected him–he used to mow the equivalent of 3 acres with a push mower every week and raise 7 kids on a city cop’s salary. All but 1 went to and graduated from college. He’s still tough. It’s pretty obvious from this story that he wasn’t the only one.

Harry Truman was a remarkable president for standing up to an icon and winning. MacArthur should have been revealed of command when the Philippines fell. Instead he let another general take the surrender while he went on living his life with his family in Australia. His Congressional Medal of Honor should have gone to all of those who survived captivity under the Japanese. He is remembered well, however, for changing Japan to a more democratic form of government. Nonetheless, Truman kept a potential despot from running for president by firing him over Korea. We should be grateful.

My Verdict


A Christmas Far From Home: An Epic Tale of Courage and Survival During the Korean War by Stanley Weintraub


My Review of Another Book by This Author


Pearl Harbor Christmas: A World at War December 1941 by Stanley Weintraub

Nonfiction November Review: The Women of Rothschild by Natalie Livingstone


My Interest

The name “Rothschild” conjures up for me images of unimaginable wealth. Aristocratic families are a big interest of mine, so when I saw this on NetGalley I requested it and somehow got both a print and an audio copy. I listened to the audio.

The Story

Starting in the 18th century in “Jewish ghetto” and ending in the late 1990s, this biography purports to tell the real story of the women behind the Rothschild men. We are promised that the women were more than mere wives and mothers. What did these women do as the wives and daughters of one of the world’s best known Jewish families? That is what the biography sets out to tell us. The family is compared to a royal family because they all hate each other but close ranks and form a united front in public–I loved that, even if I couldn’t stop and write out the exact quote. (NetGalley’s reading app doesn’t have any features and I forgot and downloaded to it and not Kindle, so it wasn’t easy to find it).

In the early years the women were more involved with the family business, but as time went on they fell into the normal society lady type charitable works. There is nothing unusual about a great “lady” helping with encouragement and money to improve the education of poor children, nor is there really anything unusual about them working to improve health conditions. It was unusual for anyone to take up the cause of Jewish “women of the night,” but as others were doing it for non-Jewish women of that profession I don’t really see it as that unique.

Fast-forward to the 20th Century. While various men of the family involved themselves in the late 19th Century with the Prince of Wales “Marlborough House” set, there was little remarkable about that, either. They had pots and pots of money. The Prince often needed it. Sir Ernest Cassel (Grandfather of Edwina Mountbatten) was another Jewish financier in the Marlborough House set.

Finally, somewhere around World War II or just after we get to some slightly more interesting activities. A Rothchild woman contributed to a report hoping to de-criminalize h o _ – se-u _; ! ty. Good thing, since at least one of the men had such proclivities. Miriam became an expert on fleas and other parasites. She was finally even welcomed by “professionals” for her extensive knowledge. Veronica, aka “Nica’ gets the lion’s share of the coverage–or rather her famous male associates to. Thelonious Monk and Charlie “Bird” Parker. The hose she built for jazz sessions was called “The Cat House.” And, she observed first hand a Jim Crow-era beating in New Castle, Delaware (a Civil War border state) that Monk endured.

Finally, another end-of-the-book Rothschild,  discovers that motherhood isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. Being rich and having discovered this, she got to write about it. Wow. I think Betty Friedan beat you to it, Sweetie, but …. Goodness knows it must be way harder to be a Mom with a ton of money in the 1990’s than in the stifling suburbia and low pay of the early 1950s!

Miriam, of flea fame, also did contribute in a very humanitarian way to the founding of Israel and the Zionist movement as led by the nation’s first President, Chaim Weizmann. That was very commendable and I would like to have heard more about that.

My Thoughts

I’m being a bit snarky for a reason. There is so much MORE material in here (as there often is in such biographies of pre-21th Century women) about the men. And the man with the most coverage wasn’t even a Rothschild! He was Theolnious Monk, a great jazz musician. I love his music, his talent, but I came to read about how different the Rothschild women were. Instead I found out they did exactly the same sort of charity work as most other titled ladies of the era until about the time of World War II. Helping decriminalize you-know-what is very noteworthy. Also, Miriam certainly deserves praise for sticking to her studies and taking her naturalist studies to the professional level. (I loved that she included her son in her research)/

This is not a bad biography. I learned a lot. The prose is well written. It just didn’t profile enough about the women that was “exceptional.” I also found it very weird that they married cousins and it was even possible for an uncle to marry a niece–though not the very bold uncle whose announcement of such a marriage was one of the stories in the book. Too weird for words. Liberty Rothschild, the hidden “Rosemary Kennedy” of the family, deserved more attention, but alas, the records about her treatment were mostly burnt. I also like the appearance at the very, very end of Lady Bird Johnson and her “beautification” schemes with wildflowers. That was wonderful. She gave the world a gift–nice to see someone outside America, and with influence, admiring her work.

My Verdict


The Women of Rothschild by Natalie Livingstone


Nonfiction November: Book Pairings!


This week, pair up a nonfiction book with a fiction title (or another nonfiction!). 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 of the story. Or pair a book with a podcast, film or documentary, TV show, etc. on the same topic or stories that pair together. (Rennie @ What’s Nonfiction)

This is my favorite part of Nonfiction November–book pairs!

My past pairings lists:

  1. 2019
  2. 2020
  3. 2021

This year I had some of these in a list I kept. Others are formed with books I read this year.

Last Summer on State Street is possibly my favorite book of 2022. I wish everyone would read it! It is the fictional story while, An American Summer: Love & Death in Chicago and the author’s earlier book, There Are No Children Here, are the nonfiction story of growing up in Chicago’s worst public housing projects–and after. Another good nonfiction piece is the documentary Hoop Dreams. While those focus more on boys, they are still a good counterpart to Toya Wolfe’s story of that Last Summer on State Street.

This is a pair I identified in 2019 and keep forgetting to use in the book pairings post!! Whether newly arrived via the immigration crisis, or long-settled, those of African-descent who consider themselves now European have interesting stories. Two such books are the novel. Travelers by Helon Habila (my review is linked) and Afropeans: Notes from Black Europe by Johnny Pitts (nonfiction and beautifully reviewed by Liz Dexter on her blog. I have not read Afropeans yet.

We Band of Angels is the nonfiction book in this trio. When We Had Wings and Angels of the Pacific are both new novels. All deal with the nurses taken prisoner in the Philippines early in World War II. I find it amazing that this happens so often today–two books on the same topic, often very similar, coming out at around the same time. I’ve taken to calling these “Book Twins.”

I’ve previously paired Hitler’s Forgotten Children with Someone Named Eva by Joan M. Wolf. Another set of “Book Twins” hit the shelves this year–Cradles of the Reich and The School for German Brides. I’ve added the nonfiction group biography, Nazi Wives because the “twins” deal with a different aspect of the Lebensborn program, and some of that information is similar to a little of the discussion in Nazi Wives.

Are you doing Nonfiction November? Leave me a comment or a link to your post.

Nonfiction November: Week 1 (Oct 31-Nov 4) – Your Year in Nonfiction:


I’ve had a very good nonfiction reading year. Back before I got into blogging and started writing and trying to publish my novel, I read mostly nonfiction. But, my 13 years of an hour each way in the car to work 5 days a week meant I got through a lot of books on audio. Nonfiction wasn’t always available and, no matter what, anything gets boring with that much exposure. I’m a very eclectic reader, too. Just no sci fi or fantasy. The titles below, except for the royal books (except for the Duke of Kent’s boring memoir) I did not review. Like series books, I choose not to normally review royal books. Most are pretty vapid, but this year had some more serious ones. Still, I don’t want hate-bots on my tail for being honest, so I’m skipping reviewing books about a certain new monarch’s other daughter-in-law. Enough said.

My reviews are linked below the photo collage of book covers.

My Nonfiction Year to Date:

Full Tilt: From Ireland to India With a Bicycle

Churchill’s Band of Brothers 

River of the Gods

The Puma Years

Mary Churchill’s War

Did Ye Hear Mammy Died? 

The Girl from Lamaha Street

A Royal Life 


Nobody Better

Sugar & Slate

After the Romanovs 

Bagels, Schmears and a nice piece of Fish


Are you doing Nonfiction November? Leave me a link to your post!

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