Carla Loves To Read


Adult Non-Fiction

Nature Crafts by Fiona Hayes and Creative Adventures in Cursive by Rachelle Doorley

These two books are both wonderful additions to a family, school or classroom library. They are all about creativity, crafting and homemade gifts. I thought they were both especially timely with Christmas coming. I love homemade gifts from my family and these books have several suggestions.

Nature Craft5 Stars

Published August 14th 2018 by QEB Publishing Continue reading “Nature Crafts by Fiona Hayes and Creative Adventures in Cursive by Rachelle Doorley”


The Illustrated History of the Snowman by Bob Eckstein

The Illustrated History of the Snowman4.5 Stars

Published September 1st 2018 by Globe Pequot Press

Continue reading “The Illustrated History of the Snowman by Bob Eckstein”

The Doggie in the Window: How One Beloved Dog Opened My Eyes to the Complicated Story Behind Man’s Best Friend by Rory Kress

The Doggie in the Window: How One Beloved Dog Opened My Eyes to the Complicated Story Behind Man's Best Friend5 Stars

Published April 3rd 2018 by Sourcebooks

This is not a book that you can read in one sitting. It is a tough book to read, especially for dog lovers, of which I am one.

For anyone who plans on purchasing a puppy or adopting a dog, this is a must read. I’ve heard about puppy mills but the descriptions that the author shares really brings it home. I’ve always been an advocate of adopting from shelters, but know that is not always what someone is looking for, especially if they want or need a specific breed. However, as stated in this book, before adopting a dog, one has to see the environment that it’s currently living in as well as seeing the dog itself. I can’t believe people purchase dogs sight unseen, and just believe whatever information they are told. This book had a good balance of research, first-hand experience, and personal anecdotes. The insight into puppy mills was very in-depth. I was surprised to hear about the inspection process and how it does not really enforce the laws in place. It was very interesting to read information about her dog’s behavior and how being born in a puppy mill can impact the dog’s personality for its entire life.

Check out this issue of the online magazine Shelf Awareness to read a great interview with Rory Kress from the article, The Writer’s Life.

I hope this is read widely and is a force for needed change. I definitely recommend this book to dog lovers or those involved in advocating for dogs and healthy, regulated breeding. I requested and received a copy of this book from the publisher, Sourcebooks, to read. The rating, ideas and opinions stated are my own. Continue reading “The Doggie in the Window: How One Beloved Dog Opened My Eyes to the Complicated Story Behind Man’s Best Friend by Rory Kress”

Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover

Educated: A Memoir5 Stars

Published February 20th 2018 by Random House

I read all kinds of reviews and accolades for this book, so decided that I needed to read it. Being a retired teacher and administrator, I didn’t want to read it. Well, I am certainly glad that I did. This book hurt my heart and my soul. This is a book that I had to take time outs from. It was so real and so hard to read all at the same time. This is the story of Tara Westover and her dysfunctional family. They were Mormons, but her father took it to an extreme. He did not trust the government, medical care and certainly not schools. He was also a survivalist who stockpiled supplies and lived off the land. He did not have a high school diploma, yet was smart. He also had some sort of mental illness, whether it was bipolar disorder or schizophrenia it was never diagnosed.

Tara Westover never went to school, was not even home-schooled, yet she ended up with a doctorate. She is stubborn as a bulldog and pulled herself up by the steel-toed boots she wore as a child working in her family’s Idaho junkyard. The first class room she ever entered was the first day of her freshman college year at age 17. She had never seen a doctor. Never had a vaccination. Never taken any kind of medication, not even an ibuprofen. She had no birth certificate. She didn’t even know her birthday. As she continued on in her education, there were many things about the world that she didn’t know. She always felt she was a fake, that she didn’t belong there. She was poor, uneducated and a whore, at least that is what she thought.

As you read this book, be prepared for some physical, verbal and emotional abuse. Tara wants to be part of her family, even with her successes at school, but she can not bring herself to accept that the things that have happened in her family were okay. She is so damaged along the way, that without the counselling she finally participates in, she would not be where she is today. EDUCATED is a fascinating story of sheer perseverance and grit. As I said at the beginning of this review, this book brought out so many emotions as I read it, but in the end, I am very glad I did. Bravo to Tara Westover.

Continue reading “Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover”

Mercy by Michael Palmer, Daniel Palmer

261145104.5 Stars

Published May 17th 2016 by St. Martin’s Press

The book opens with someone killing a terminally ill patient, a mercy killing, except the patient did not ask for it. Dr. Julie Devereux is a critical care physician working in Boston. She’s also an advocate for death with dignity. She believes that patients should be able to end their suffering on their own terms, that is until her fiancee suffers serious injuries and paralysis in a motorcycle accident. When he begs Julie to help him die, she enlists the help of a volunteer with the organization Very Much Alive to help Sam recover his desire to live. Sam starts to get better, when he suddenly dies. Julie orders an autopsy and what she finds leads her in a search for the reason for several unusual deaths. With the help of others in the hospital, she puts together the pieces at risk to her own job.

The philosophical debate that is the heart of this novel is very timely. Mercy or murder? Do the terminally ill or the severely disabled deserve the right to die at their own request and in their own time to avoid inhumane suffering? Or should suicide or assisted suicide in those cases remain illegal and generally thought immoral? Would allowing it lead to abuse or reduced care? Beyond this question, this is a Medical thriller that had me reading fast and furious. This was a realistic story (as far as the ill patients, discussion of right to die) with lots of medical action and terminology, intensive care, pathology, laboratory analysis and more. Of course there are also plotlines that are a bit far-fetched, but there is always license with fiction to fictionalize. I liked the character of Julie. She was a hard worker, very smart and intuitive, friendly to her co-workers and willing to put herself out there to find out what was going on. The only think I was unsure of was the fact that she is able to disconnect from work completely when she goes home. I wish I could have done that and I was in education, not as stressful or life altering as a medical career. This was a fast-paced story that I really enjoyed! I was unable to solve the full mystery of who was involved in these killings until the very end when it was all put together and revealed to the reader, yet it all made sense. I have read one other book by Michael Palmer, but will definitely be looking for others.

Continue reading “Mercy by Michael Palmer, Daniel Palmer”

Spring at Lavender Bay (Lavender Bay #1) by Sarah Bennett

Spring at Lavender Bay4 Stars

Published February 2nd 2018 by HQ Digital 

This is my first book by Sarah Bennett and it won’t be my last. I enjoy these fun, romantic stories on the coast in the UK. Beth returns to Lavender Cove for the funeral of Eleanor, the woman who raised her. When she finds out that Eleanor has left the Emporium to her, she needs to figure out what to do with it. She lives in London, not Lavender Bay. When she returns to London, she realizes that there is nothing there for her, she has broken up from her boyfriend and the promotion at work seems to be going to someone else. Time to go back home.

This story is filled with great characters, friendships and memories. Eliza, Libby and Beth (all named Elizabeth, so they had to take on nicknames) have been best friends all their lives. I love the relationship these ladies share. The others in Lavender Bay all love them as well and support whatever they are trying to do.When trouble brews, the people in the town are there to help. When romance is in the air, friends promote and encourage and when emotions boil over, friends are able to calm and support. A wonderful story filled with love, loyalty, friendship, a bit of angst and happy endings. I am definitely going to read the next one in this series. The publisher, HQ Digital, generously provided me with a copy of this book to read. The opinions shared are my own.

Continue reading “Spring at Lavender Bay (Lavender Bay #1) by Sarah Bennett”

A Life in Parts by Bryan Cranston

A Life in Parts

4.5 Stars
Hardcover, 271 pages
Published October 11th 2016 by Scribner
Kindle Edition, 289 pages
eAudiobook, Audiobook by Simon Schuster Audio

About the Book: A poignant, intimate, funny, inspiring memoir—both a coming-of-age story and a meditation on creativity, devotion, and craft—from Bryan Cranston, beloved and acclaimed star of one of history’s most successful TV shows, Breaking Bad.

Bryan Cranston landed his first role at seven, when his father cast him in a United Way commercial. Acting was clearly the boy’s destiny, until one day his father disappeared. Destiny suddenly took a backseat to survival.

Now, in his riveting memoir, Cranston maps his zigzag journey from abandoned son to beloved star by recalling the many odd parts he’s played in real life—paperboy, farmhand, security guard, dating consultant, murder suspect, dock loader, lover, husband, father. Cranston also chronicles his evolution on camera, from soap opera player trying to master the rules of show business to legendary character actor turning in classic performances as Seinfeld dentist Tim Whatley, “a sadist with newer magazines,” and Malcolm in the Middle dad Hal Wilkerson, a lovable bumbler in tighty-whities. He also gives an inspiring account of how he prepared, physically and mentally, for the challenging role of President Lyndon Johnson, a tour de force that won him a Tony to go along with his four Emmys.

Of course, Cranston dives deep into the grittiest details of his greatest role, explaining how he searched inward for the personal darkness that would help him create one of the most memorable performances ever captured on screen: Walter White, chemistry teacher turned drug kingpin.

Discussing his life as few men do, describing his art as few actors can, Cranston has much to say about creativity, devotion, and craft, as well as innate talent and its challenges and benefits and proper maintenance. But ultimately A Life in Parts is a story about the joy, the necessity, and the transformative power of simple hard work.

Continue reading “A Life in Parts by Bryan Cranston”

The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore

The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining WomenMy Review: 5 Glowing Stars

This non-fiction book tells the story of a group of women who were hired to paint the numbers on clock and watch faces using radium paint. In the early 1900s Radium was discovered by the Curries. Suddenly, it was all the rage. It was used in medical cures as well as lumimous dials for watches and equipment. No one understood what would happen to the human body or the earth when it came into contact with radium. These jobs were high paying and were coveted by many women. Not only did the numbers glow, but the women’s hair, clothing and bodies when they left work each evening. They painted their nails and dabbed it on their bodies before going out on a date. When they turned off the lights, they laughed as they glowed bright green. These girls sat for hours happily painting and pointing their paint brushes by swishing them in their mouths to cover the small numbers. What they didn’t realize is the painful effects Radium exposure would have on their health.

When many of these dial painting employees began having serious medical issues….chronic mouth infections, loose teeth, disintegrating jaw bones, tumors, and even death….their employers turned a blind eye. They said the Radium was harmless, the girls died of other illnesses when they were really hiding what they knew, that the girls had contracted radiation poisoning. They commissioned studies to prove that radium was the cause. They also said that the time to make claims was past, or that the girls had not worked for them for several years, so it was something else that caused their illness. It took years of fighting and public outcry for life-saving regulations to be put in place to protect workers from this scale of work related injury and blatant disregard for employee health and safety. The women, injured by exposure to Radium, had to fight to have their story heard, and it led to work place safety regulations to prevent similar exposure to future workers. They were courageous and fought for what they knew was right. Many of them fighting for the women that came after them as they knew that their illness was terminal.

I listened to this book and it was very well done. The narrator, Angela Brazil, did not change voices etc. but it was not necessary. She sounded believable as the voices of the various women. This book is horrifying and haunting, yet compelling. I’m glad the stories of these women and what they endured isn’t being lost to time. This book was the result of a young girl reading a story about this terrible injustice. It may have started over 100 years ago, but their stories and their fight for justice is just as poignant now as it was then. I am not a great reader of non-fiction, but I highly recommend this book to anyone. The audio version was 16 hours long, but it was well worth the time. Continue reading “The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore”

All Dogs Go to Kevin: Everything Three Dogs Taught Me (That I Didn’t Learn in Veterinary School)

All Dogs Go to Kevin: Everything Three Dogs Taught Me (That I Didn't Learn in Veterinary School)by Jessica Vogelsang

Hardcover, 323 pages
Published July 14th 2015 by Grand Central Publishing
4.5 Stars


My Review: This is a memoir of a dedicated, introverted, animal loving Veterinarian. This was an uplifting book showing the positives of pet ownership.

Dr. Jessica Vogelsang begins her story as a young introverted girl who’s parents think that getting her a dog will help her to meet people. It doesn’t really. As she struggles to determine what she wants to do with her life, she decides on Vet School. She is worried about having to euthanize animals though. The book deals with her professional life as well as her personal life. We meet her friends (Kevin), her two children, she talks about her post-partum depression and her family. The professional side had laughs, some tears and a comaraderie developed in the vet practice. She talks about the on-the-job training that goes on, as well the cost and sometimes disrespect that goes along with the job. Of course you can’t read a book about animals without some deaths along the way. When she has to explain the death of the family dog to her young children, her youngest misunderstands Heaven to be Kevin. This misunderstanding plays an important role in how she eventually perceives death of a pet. This is a book that I really can’t explain, you just have to read it. I went through a gamut of emotions while reading and listening to this one. If you are an animal lover, you will enjoy this book. I recommend it.

Continue reading “All Dogs Go to Kevin: Everything Three Dogs Taught Me (That I Didn’t Learn in Veterinary School)”

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