A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Friday, April 30, 2021

FLASHBACK FRIDAY -Verity by Colleen Hoover - Feature and Review


Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish.

Lowen arrives at the Crawford home, ready to sort through years of Verity's notes and outlines, hoping to find enough material to get her started. What Lowen doesn't expect to uncover in the chaotic office is an unfinished autobiography Verity never intended for anyone to read. Page after page of bone-chilling admissions, including Verity's recollection of what really happened the day her daughter died.

Lowen decides to keep the manuscript hidden from Jeremy, knowing its contents would devastate the already grieving father. But as Lowen's feelings for Jeremy begin to intensify, she recognizes all the ways she could benefit if he were to read his wife's words. After all, no matter how devoted Jeremy is to his injured wife, a truth this horrifying would make it impossible for him to continue to love her.



VerityVerity by Colleen Hoover

Verity by Colleen Hoover is a 2018 publication.
Unlike so many rabid fans of this author, I have not read, to my knowledge, a single book by Colleen Hoover. (Although I did find one of her books languishing on my Kindle recently)

I see so many rave reviews for her novels, and some of them seem like books I would probably like, but for some reason I continue to associate her with YA books, which is not my favorite genre. But, when I saw this book on Kindle Unlimited and read the synopsis, I was instantly intrigued. If the book had been written by anyone else, I probably would have given it a pass, while congratulating myself on using my iron willpower to stick to my strict- no exceptions- psychological thriller diet.

But, because I knew this book was a departure for this wildly popular writer, my curiosity won out. So much for my iron willpower...

The setup is interesting-

Author, Lowen Ashleigh’s financial status is as dismal as her book sales. Her mother recently died after a lengthy illness and she’s fending off eviction notifications, when out of the blue she is given the incredible and lucrative opportunity of co- authoring a series with, or rather, for, the famous writer, Verity Crawford. Verity was in a horrible car crash and is no longer able to continue writing. Lowen doesn’t have to think too hard about accepting the job, especially when she sees the amount of money involved.

Verity’s devoted husband, Jeremy, allows Lowen to live in their home while she goes through Verity’s notes on the series and acclimates herself with the tasks she’s been hired to perform. But when she stumbles across a Verity’s autobiography amongst her other work materials. Lowen rationalizes the need to read the manuscript, convincing herself it will help her better understand Verity. What she learns about the esteemed author will blow your mind!!

Meanwhile, as Lowen immerses herself deeper and deeper into Verity’s memoir, a bond develops between Jeremy and Lowen. The attraction deepens as they spend more time together, until it becomes palpable and undeniable. However, Lowen has begun to irrationally fear Verity.

Are her fears overwrought? Is her imagination playing tricks on her?

For long time fans of this author, this book could be a little like culture shock. But, for the seasoned readers of psychological thrillers, all this twisty darkness, and diabolical characterizations are par for the course.

However, I must say that this one is more than just a departure for this author, it is a bit of a departure for the standard psychological thriller, as well. Many of you may not remember the surge in popularity of psychological thrillers back in the nineties, not just in books, but in movies, as well.

Back then, it was almost a requirement for a PT to be as sexually steamy, as it was edgy and suspenseful. I thought this book had that same feel, as it contained a lot more sexually explicit content than most standard PT’s written today. It should also be noted that many people have shelved this book in the romance category. However, in my opinion, this is not a romance, nor does it fall into the romantic suspense category, although there is a romantic element, if you wish to view it as such. It’s a pure psychological thriller, through and through. That’s just my take on it.

As far as PT’s go, this one is unique, very atmospheric and creepy, and even I, Miss jaded and burned out on PT’s, nearly jumped out of my skin on one occasion. The author thankfully keeps the story on an even keel, with no wild, unnecessary, or over the top twists. In fact, the twists are very well timed, and the suspense builds at a steady and effective pace.

Although the story is far from predictable, I did figure some things out in advance, and many seasoned PT readers will probably have a good inkling where everything is headed, as well. It’s an unavoidable ‘occupational hazard’ I think. Still, the final turn of the screw was very well done, and the book ended on a perfect note. I loved it!

I am impressed by Ms. Hoover’s courage to step outside her comfort zone, taking a risk by writing outside of her usual genre. That she pulled this off, shouldn’t really be a surprise, though. Reading her bio, I see that she is a number one New York Times bestselling author. Ms. Hoover is a seasoned, professional writer and has been for some time. Let’s give her a little credit here.

I hope her success with this book will widen her reading audience and I hope she will try her hand at this genre again someday. Meanwhile, I think it’s about time I checked out some of her romance and contemporary fiction novels.





International and #1 New York Times bestselling author of romance, YA and Women's Fiction.

Still doesn't know the difference between affect/effect, further/farther, or if the oxford comma is in or out. 

If you want to follow me, my username is @colleenhoover pretty much everywhere except my email, which is colleenhooverbooks@gmail.com

Founder of www.thebookwormbox.com charity. We've donated over one million dollars to various charities. Give us your money so we can donate even more. 

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Every Last Secret by A.R. Torre- Feature and Review


Welcome to the neighborhood. Watch your husband, watch your friends, and watch your back.

Cat Winthorpe has worked hard to get what she has: a gorgeous home; social standing; and William, her successful, handsome husband. Then a friendly new couple moves into the estate next door. While cautious, a good neighbor like Cat greets them with open arms and warm hospitality.

Neena Ryder isn’t a fellow lady of leisure. A life coach with off-the-rack dresses, personal issues, and a husband who hasn’t delivered, she’s anxious to move up in the world. This beautiful new town is a step in the right direction. It’s also making Neena aware of what she doesn’t have. Namely, William. When Neena’s infatuation escalates into obsession, it’s just a matter of eliminating a few obstacles to get the life she wants. The life next door.

As Neena’s secret fixation grows, so does her friendship with Cat. But beneath their cordial interactions is a wealth of temptations, secrets, and toxic jealousy. For both women, the desire for a perfect life can turn perfectly dangerous.



Every Last SecretEvery Last Secret by A.R. Torre
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Every Last Secret by A.R. Torre is a 2020 Thomas & Mercer publication.

Criminally Good!!

Cat Winthorpe has everything Neena Ryder desires- a rich, successful, handsome husband, a place in society, and a beautiful home. But that’s okay- Neena has landed a job as a life coach, working for Cat’s husband, William. She may be living in a house Cat considers a neighborhood eyesore, her clothes may not be designer quality, and she may be currently locked out of the various committees and clubs required for social standings, but she knows how to seduce a man, and she’s made William Winthorpe her target. Before long, she’ll be the one living the charmed life Cat currently enjoys…

Cat Winthorpe welcomed Neena and her husband into the neighborhood, but her senses soon become hyper-aware when Neena seems to always be right where she and William are, always texting about non-work related subjects.

Something is off about Neena and Cat is starting to suspect she’s up to something- and she has pretty good idea what that might be. Neena may think her plans are foolproof- but she’s never matched wits with Cat Winthorpe!!

This book made its rounds on GRs garnering high praise from many of the reviewers, I trust. Finally, my curiosity got the best of me and I checked it out of the KU library.

What a fun cat and mouse game! No real likable characters in this one- but one might find themselves rooting for one or the other at times. The fun comes from watching the two women try to outdo one another as the competition heats up between them.

All the planning and scheming, the huge egos, and the insane lengths the women go through is appallingly entertaining. While it’s a small amount of consolation, when all is said and done, there is some character growth in the end.

Personally, what I thought the ladies really should have been going for, was their own success without needing a man to validate them. These women had the talent to plan, organize, and manipulate which would have carried them far if they had only used those skills to create their own wealth and social standings. In fact, they might have made a great business team. But that’s probably deeper than the book is intended to be.

Overall, this was fun, catty, and very, very suspenseful novel. I was all in- finding it hard to put the book down. It was a super fast read- as I also added audio- which was well-done, as well.

So, for all those who wrote great reviews for this book- thanks for putting it on my radar!!





A.R. Torre is a pseudonym for New York Times Bestselling Author Alessandra Torre. You can view Alessandra's list of books through her Amazon Author page or by visiting AlessandraTorre.com.

Friday, April 23, 2021

FLASHBACK FRIDAY- The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain - Feature and Review


From bestselling author Diane Chamberlain comes an irresistible new novel. 

When Caroline Sears receives the news that her unborn baby girl has a heart defect, she is devastated. It is 1970 and there seems to be little that can be done. But her brother-in-law, a physicist, tells her that perhaps there is. Hunter appeared in their lives just a few years before—and his appearance was as mysterious as his past. With no family, no friends, and a background shrouded in secrets, Hunter embraced the Sears family and never looked back. 

Now, Hunter is telling her that something can be done about her baby's heart. Something that will shatter every preconceived notion that Caroline has. Something that will require a kind of strength and courage that Caroline never knew existed. Something that will mean a mind-bending leap of faith on Caroline's part.

And all for the love of her unborn child.

A rich, genre-spanning, breathtaking novel about one mother's quest to save her child, unite her family, and believe in the unbelievable. Diane Chamberlain pushes the boundaries of faith and science to deliver a novel that you will never forget.




The Dream DaughterThe Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain is a 2018 St. Martin’s Press publication.

A frenetic, heart wrenching, but captivating story of strength, hope, and love-

It’s 1970-

Caroline ‘Carly’ Sears is newly widowed and expecting her first child. If this weren’t stressful enough, her doctors believe her unborn child may have a fatal heart defect. With her sister and brother-in-law by her side, Carly may need to accept the reality that her child will die soon after she is born.

Hunter, a physicist, has a tough decision to make. Upon hearing of his sister-in-law’s prognosis, he knows he can save her child. How? By traveling back to the future.

As it happens, Hunter is from 2018, but he traveled back in time after his wife dies, meets Carly, then her sister, whom he marries, and starts a family with. He’s carved out a nice life for himself and is content. But, he is willing to risk it all for Carly and her baby. Will she believe he is from the future? Is she brave enough to travel into the future? Will she be able to return to 1970? How will the truth effect Hunter’s marriage to Carly's sister?

I’ve been sitting on this book for a while. I knew it would be good because Diane Chamberlain has never disappointed me. The early reviews were amazing. But, I still procrastinated, waiting for the day the book called out to me.

After I finished the book, I just couldn’t find the words to write a review. So, I procrastinated some more. I hope I can do the book justice, especially after reading so many wonderful reviews of this amazing book!

As I have said many times, time travel is a hard sell for me. But, this may be the most realistic and believable depiction of time travel possibilities I have ever read. However, it is the mother’s love for her child that resonates, that makes the risks worth it.

The story is also one of the most suspenseful novels of its kind I’ve ever read. The emotions are raw, tangible, almost physical. I was riveted, held captive by this story, the suspense nearly intolerable, but I was simply unable to tear myself away from it.

The characters are eclectic, Carly is obviously the most sympathetic, while others are an enigma. The twists and turns are breathtaking, surreal, and pulse pounding, holding me on the edge of my seat, with my heart in my throat.

This novel is so well constructed, so thought provoking, poignant and soul- stirring!! I don’t think I’ve read anything quite like it before. Chamberlain’s novels always leave an impression on me, but this one captured my imagination, and left me reeling with emotions. I loved it! Loved it! This one is imprinted on my brain and in my heart and I promise it will not fade from my consciousness for a long time to come!!



Diane Chamberlain is the New York Times, USA Today and Sunday Times bestselling author of 26 novels published in more than twenty languages. Her most recent novel is the genre-spanning The Dream Daughter. Some of her most popular books include The Stolen Marriage, Necessary Lies, The Silent Sister, The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes, and The Keeper of the Light Trilogy. Diane likes to write complex stories about relationships between men and women, parents and children, brothers and sisters, and friends. Although the thematic focus of her books often revolves around family, love, compassion and forgiveness, her stories usually feature a combination of drama, mystery, secrets and intrigue. Diane's background in psychology has given her a keen interest in understanding the way people tick, as well as the background necessary to create her realistic characters.

Diane was born and raised in Plainfield, New Jersey and spent her summers at the Jersey Shore. She also lived for many years in San Diego and northern Virginia before making North Carolina her home.

Diane received her bachelor's and master's degrees in clinical social work from San Diego State University. Prior to her writing career, Diane worked in hospitals in San Diego and Washington, D.C. before opening a private psychotherapy practice in Alexandria Virginia specializing in adolescents. All the while Diane was writing on the side. Her first book, Private Relations was published in 1989 and it earned the RITA award for Best Single Title Contemporary Novel. 
Diane lives with her partner, photographer John Pagliuca, and her sheltie, Cole. She has three stepdaughters, two sons-in-law, and four grandchildren. She's currently at work on her next novel.

Please visit Diane's website at www.dianechamberlain.com for more information on her newest novel, The Dream Daughter, and a complete list of her books.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

A Cat's Tale by Dr. Paul Koudounaris and Baba the Cat- Feature and Review


A Cat's Tale is a history of feline kind: its origins, the evolution of the relationship with their human companions, and the surprising ways in which feline history parallels that of humanity. From the prehistoric Felis (a large mammal from which all domestic cats have descended) to ancient Egyptian cat goddess, key cats of the Enlightenment to swashbuckling pirate felines and infamous American tabbies, the story of catkind is told here in its totality.



A Cat's Tale: A Journey Through Feline HistoryA Cat's Tale: A Journey Through Feline History by Paul Koudounaris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Cat’s Tale: A Journey Through Feline History by Paul Koudounaris is a 2020 Henry Holt and Co. Publication.

Fun, descriptive, and educational!

This is a non-fictional book about the history of cats, as told by Baba the cat, who narrates the text with the kind of dry wit unique only to cats. The artwork is great, and Baba is very photogenic! A beautiful feline!

Once you’ve completed the book you will certainly understand a cat’s true place in history and in our lives.

Cat’s rule- they know it and you know it- and this book just provides more proof of that fact!

Overall, this is a clever way to explore the history of cats. Cat lovers will love reading about their feline’s ancestors and will enjoy hearing the information from the viewpoint a cat.

Photos of Baba in various costumes are adorable and hilarious and adds much to the charm of the book. The author also provides a list of research resources if you would like to take a deeper dive into the world of felines.

Naturally, as a huge cat lover, this book is right up my alley- and I’m sure all other cat lovers out there will enjoy this book too!



Hello friends! I'm Baba, a little tabby cat with a lot of big ideas. One of them was to tell you all about the history of felines! Because the thing is, and please don't be offended since I know how much you try to love us and understand us, there's so much you just don't realize. About our history, our role in creating society, the valorous things we've done, how much we've triumphed in this world--and how much we've suffered too. So being a very educated sort of cat, I figured, "well I'll just explain it all to them in a book." Heh well, that turns out to be a lot of work (like YEARS, you humans sure make things complicated), and involves some nuisance tasks which are unappealing to the feline temperament, things like typing. So I enlisted my human and dictated it all out to him, and in the end, despite his interference and sometimes bungling, we came up with A Cat's Tale, a book that I am proud of both as an author and as a cat. I hope you will like it too.

Paul Koudounaris is an author and photographer from Los Angeles. He has a PhD in Art History and his publications in the field of charnel house and ossuary research have made him a well-known figure in the field of macabre art and art history. 

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Saving Ruby King by Catherine Adel King- Feature and Review


 Set in the South Side of Chicago, an epic, enthralling story of a young woman determined to protect her best friend while a long-buried secret threatens to unravel both their families.

Family. Faith. Secrets. Everything in this world comes full circle.

When Ruby King’s mother is found murdered in their home in Chicago’s South Side, the police dismiss it as another act of violence in a black neighborhood. But for Ruby, it means she’ll be living alone with her violent father. The only person who understands the gravity of her situation is Ruby’s best friend, Layla. Their closeness is tested when Layla’s father, the pastor of their church, demands that Layla stay away. But what are his true motives? And what is the price for turning a blind eye?

In a relentless quest to save Ruby, Layla comes to discover the murky loyalties and dark secrets tying their families together for three generations. A crucial pilgrimage through the racially divided landscape of Chicago, Saving Ruby King traces the way trauma is passed down through generations and the ways in which communities can come together to create sanctuary.

Saving Ruby King is an emotional and revelatory story of race, family secrets, faith and redemption. This is an unforgettable debut novel from an exciting new voice in fiction and a powerful testament that history doesn’t determine the present, and that the bonds of friendship can forever shape the future.



Saving Ruby KingSaving Ruby King by Catherine Adel West
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Saving Ruby King by Catherine Adel West is a 2020 Park Row publication.

Friendship, family, the church, and murder all converge with a reckoning with the past…

This debut novel is set in the south side of Chicago, and is mainly centered around Ruby King and her best friend, Layla. When Ruby’s mother is murdered, in the minds of all those concerned, the prime suspect is her father, Lebanon, a man known to horribly abuse his wife.

Layla’s father is the pastor of the Calvary Hope Christian Church, and for some reason, seems to defend Lebanon, and sternly warns his daughter to steer clear of the situation- despite Layla's deep fear that Ruby may do something drastic.

The church is a focal point for the characters, as it raises its unheard voice to reveal long buried secrets that overlap with current events. The true heart of some of its congregation is illuminating, as well. The book describes the importance of the church and how it is a cornerstone of the community. But, it also draws attention to true Christian faith- which is more than warming a pew on Sunday morning by calling out the way some folks conduct themselves outside of the church.

This is a resonant story, with strong elements involving family loyalty, strong friendship bonds, religious faith, trauma and abuse, but also forgiveness, understanding, and healing.

The author employs several unique tactics giving the story a wide -ranging reach, somehow managing to make the location and the church, significant characters, with important roles in the story.

As praiseworthy as the book is, I did have a some issues with the book:

While I love the author’s boldness, the freshness her style offers readers, there are too many first -person points of view, in my opinion.

This is a writing technique I have always struggled with. It seldom ever fully works for me because I have a hard time keeping up with the numerous characters, plus it prevents me from making a deep emotional connection to the characters. This book also has the added challenge of navigating multiple timelines, which made me work much harder than should have been necessary. It was slow going for a while, but I did eventually find a rhythm and flow.

That said, the book, overall, is very good. There is a restless, uneasy quality about it, a strong sense of foreboding that haunted me all throughout the story. It is dark, and it could be intense at times. It is a crime novel, and a mystery, as advertised, but it also touches on deeper, important, subject matter. I would think this book would be a great book club selection!

Although I struggled with this one a little, I still felt this was a strong debut for this author and is one to keep an eye on!



Catherine Adel West is an editor living and working in Chicago. She graduated with both her Bachelors and Masters of Science in Journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana.  Saving Ruby King is her first novel.

Friday, April 16, 2021

FLASHBACK FRIDAY- Book Love by Debbie Tung- Feature and Review


Bookworms rejoice! These charming comics capture exactly what it feels like to be head-over-heels for hardcovers. And paperbacks! And ebooks! And bookstores! And libraries!

Book Love is a gift book of comics tailor-made for tea-sipping, spine-sniffing, book-hoarding bibliophiles. Debbie Tung’s comics are humorous and instantly recognizable—making readers laugh while precisely conveying the thoughts and habits of book nerds. Book Love is the ideal gift to let a book lover know they’re understood and appreciated. 


Book LoveBook Love by Debbie Tung
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Love by Debbie Tung is a 2019 Andrews McMeel Publishing publication.

This adorable book is about me. This is me- well with a few slight exceptions. But, basically, if your life revolves around books- If you live them, breathe them, inhale them, hug them, collect them, share them, quote from them…. Etc, Etc. - This book is for you.

This book isn’t a story, it doesn’t have a plot, per se. It is basically a special gift for book lovers, a celebration and homage to books and book nerds. The comic drawings are not overly dramatic, but the expressiveness is what jumps out at you. The passion, the defensiveness and protectiveness towards books and our obsession with them, and the familiar frustration with people who just don't 'get it', resonated with me one hundred percent. I laughed so hard at the dialogue because I’ve said or done these things- often. I have had variations of these arguments and conversations and have had the exact same reactions, thoughts and feelings, at one time or another. The only difference for me is that I've been known to hug my Kindle in the same way I hug a print copy book. This happens more and more often now that I really have come to depend on that large font size- but, I understood the sentiment, all the same.

This book is short and sweet and so easy to relate to. You will see yourself in this book and appreciate the nod to book lovers, and may even experience a feeling of vindication, knowing that you are in good company. This book soothes my introverted soul in ways that may make my eyes leak just a little.

What I can say for sure, is that Debbie Tung is my kind of people. I may not know her personally, but I think she may know me.

5 Amazing Book Nerd Stars!!!






Deborah "Debbie" Tung is a cartoonist and illustrator based in Birmingham, England. She draws about everyday life and her love for books and tea at "Where's My Bubble?" wheresmybubble.tumblr.com. Debbie is also the author of QUIET GIRL IN A NOISY WORLD, which has been listed as a recommended read in O, The Oprah Magazine. Her comics have been shared widely by Huffington Post, 9Gag, Bored Panda, and Goodreads, among others.

Her upcoming book, BOOK LOVE, will be published in January 2019 by Andrews McMeel Publishing.

Follow Debbie on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr @WheresMyBubble. 


Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Death by Shakespeare by Kathryn Harkup- Feature and Review


 An in-depth look at the science behind the creative methods Shakespeare used to kill off his characters.

In Death By Shakespeare, Kathryn Harkup, best-selling author of A is for Arsenic and expert on the more gruesome side of science, turns her expertise to Shakespeare and the creative methods he used to kill off his characters. Is death by snakebite really as serene as Cleopatra made it seem? How did Juliet appear dead for 72 hours only to be revived in perfect health? Can you really kill someone by pouring poison in their ear? How long would it take before Lady Macbeth died from lack of sleep? Readers will find out exactly how all the iconic death scenes that have thrilled audiences for centuries would play out in real life.

In the Bard's day death was a part of everyday life. Plague, pestilence and public executions were a common occurrence, and the chances of seeing a dead or dying body on the way home from the theater was a fairly likely scenario. Death is one of the major themes that reoccurs constantly throughout Shakespeare's canon, and he certainly didn't shy away from portraying the bloody reality of death on the stage. He didn't have to invent gruesome or novel ways to kill off his characters when everyday experience provided plenty of inspiration.

Shakespeare's era was also a time of huge scientific advance. The human body, its construction and how it was affected by disease came under scrutiny, overturning more than a thousand years of received Greek wisdom, and Shakespeare himself hinted at these new scientific discoveries and medical advances in his writing, such as circulation of the blood and treatments for syphilis.

Shakespeare found 74 different ways to kill off his characters, and audiences today still enjoy the same reactions--shock, sadness, fear--that they did over 400 years ago when these plays were first performed. But how realistic are these deaths, and did Shakespeare have the science to back them up?


Death by Shakespeare: Snakebites, Stabbings and Broken HeartsDeath by Shakespeare: Snakebites, Stabbings and Broken Hearts by Kathryn Harkup
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Death by Shakespeare: Snakebites, Stabbings, and Broken Hearts by Kathryn Harkup is a 2020 Bloomsbury SIGMA publication.

Incredibly Fascinating!

I am nowhere close to being an expert on Shakespeare, knowing the bare basics at best. Yet, when this book popped up on my radar, I thought it sounded interesting.

This book is a well-researched, detailed study of the various means in which Shakespeare killed off his characters, and how historically and scientifically authentic those death scenes were, compared to the knowledge we have at our disposal today.

While Shakespeare is known for both comedies and tragedies, high drama, intrigue, romance and heartbreak, as we well know, death sells, and Shakespeare provided plenty of it. There were executions, battles, poisonings, plagues, and suicides, to name a few.

I’m not sure how often the authenticity or accuracy of Shakespeare’s death scenes have been questioned or scrutinized over the years, but this author has taken the Herculean task to heart, and her findings are quite surprising.

So, how well did the Bard do? Was he way off course, or astonishingly close to the mark?

Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out. I will give you a few hints, though. Shakespeare did have a few sources at his disposal, providing him with inside information on various subjects, which did help add legitimacy to his writing.

On the other hand, he was woefully off base in some cases- but one also should consider that some scenes were embellished upon by the stage performers, more for dramatic effect than for accuracy.

I’m wondering how many people are taught this information when studying Shakespeare. If they are not, they are missing out on some of the finer points of his writing. People living in the 1500s may have taken things at face value, but they did have the advantage of fully understanding some of the little inside jokes- and I’m not sure how aware the modern student might be of the full context of those nuances.

Overall, trust me, you don’t need to know a lot about Shakespeare, or even like Shakespeare, to enjoy this book. The science is a big promotional point, I’ve noticed, and I agree the author really did pay attention to detail and it is obvious she knows her stuff, but the history is what appealed to me the most.

Because of the subject matter, one might think this book is a bit morbid, and yes, there are some pretty lurid and gross descriptions and details included in the book, but despite that, I learned a great many things I might never have discovered otherwise, and the presentation was actually quite entertaining!

I don’t recall how I stumbled across this book, but I’m very glad I did!



Kathryn Harkup is a chemist and author. Kathryn completed a PhD then a postdoc at the University of York before realising that talking, writing and demonstrating science appealed far more than spending hours slaving over a hot fume-hood. Kathryn went on to run outreach in engineering, computing, physics and maths at the University of Surrey, which involved writing talks on science and engineering topics that would appeal to bored teenagers, and she is now a science communicator delivering talks and workshops on the quirky side of science.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

The Office: An Oral History by Andy Greene- Feature and Review


The untold stories behind The Office, one of the most iconic television shows of the twenty-first century, told by its creators, writers, and actors

When did you last hang out with Jim, Pam, Dwight, Michael, and the rest of Dunder Mifflin? It might have been back in 2013, when the series finale aired . . . or it might have been last night, when you watched three episodes in a row. But either way, fifteen years after the show first aired, it's more popular than ever, and fans have only one problem--what to watch, or read, next.

Fortunately, Rolling Stone writer Andy Greene has that answer. In his brand-new oral history, The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s, Greene will take readers behind the scenes of their favorite moments and characters. Greene gives us the true inside story behind the entire show, from its origins on the BBC through its impressive nine-season run in America, with in-depth research and exclusive interviews. Fans will get the inside scoop on key episodes from "The Dundies" to "Threat Level Midnight" and "Goodbye, Michael," including behind-the-scenes details like the battle to keep it on the air when NBC wanted to pull the plug after just six episodes and the failed attempt to bring in James Gandolfini as the new boss after Steve Carell left, spotlighting the incredible, genre-redefining show created by the family-like team, who together took a quirky British import with dicey prospects and turned it into a primetime giant with true historical and cultural significance.

Hilarious, heartwarming, and revelatory, The Office gives fans and pop culture buffs a front-row seat to the phenomenal sequence of events that launched The Office into wild popularity, changing the face of television and how we all see our office lives for decades to come.


The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s: An Oral HistoryThe Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s: An Oral History by Andy Greene
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s: An Oral History by Andy Greene is a 2020 Dutton Books publication.

Just a few thoughts on this one-

If it weren’t for my kids, I doubt I would have ever watched this show when it was still on the air. I missed the first few seasons and only saw a few episodes of the last two seasons, so I’ve always wanted to watch the series from start to finish. Despite having Netflix for a long time, I never quite managed to get past the first season or two.

Recently, Peacock streaming service got the rights back to the show, and so with this book in hand, I’ve started watching a couple of episodes a day. Watching the series now with this companion book has given me a fresh perspective and will make the experience all the more insightful!

The book is organized chronologically – beginning with the British version, how it was transformed for American audiences, introduces us to the writers, etc., then goes through the casting process, and the numerous recognizable names that were on the table for roles on this series.

From there the book breaks down the pilot, the first- the last seasons, featuring the standout episodes, the approach the writers and cast took, and how the series, and everyone associated with it, evolved as the show rose in popularity.

There were situations going on in the background I’d forgotten about- like the writer’s strike, for example. I also had no idea that Creed Bratton was a member of ‘The Grass Roots’, music group back in the sixties and seventies! Huh. An interesting bit of trivia there.


One stand out in this oral history, is the emphasis on Steve Carrell’s real persona, skill, and manner -which was impressive. His spin in Michael’s character was both the backbone and the heart of the show.

I could go on, but because this book is basically a deep dive into all things about ‘The Office’, I’ll leave it for you to enjoy on your own. So, overall, this book will appeal to all fans- big or small – as well as television pop culture enthusiasts.

A fun book- Check it out!!



Andy Greene is from Cleveland, Ohio, graduated from Kenyon College, and is now a senior writer for Rolling Stone, where he’s worked for the past fifteen years. He’s written cover stories about Radiohead and Howard Stern and feature articles about Bill Withers, Nathan Fielder, Steve Perry, Pete Townshend, Stephen King, and many others. He lives in Brooklyn.