Fiction or Non-Fiction? How about both?


I wanted to highlight a couple of books in this blog, a lovely cozy mystery and a beautiful photography book. First the cozy mystery, Mardi Gras Murder by Ellen Byron. This was the second book I’ve read in the series, and was just as enjoyable as the first. You do not need to read the books in order to enjoy the mystery, although there are some secondary stories between characters that continue from one book to the next. If you are a reader who enjoys that continuing relationship, then you might want to read these books in order. Here is the review I submitted to NetGalley when I finished the book:


Take local Mardi Gras tradition, complete with parades, cook-offs, and a beauty contest. Add to that some southern heritage that combines old-family ties, orphan trains and historic restoration. Throw in a little treasure hunt, a little romance and, of course, a couple of murders and you have the delightful book: Mardi Gras Murder.

While each mystery in the series is a stand-alone, the on-going lives of the people of Pelican, Louisiana continue from one book to the next. I was at a slight disadvantage having read the first book in the series and then skipping to this one. Still, there was enough information provided so that I wasn’t left with too many questions and was able to catch up with the personal lives of the characters with little effort. If you are reading for the background stories as well as the current mystery, you might find there are some mild spoilers about relationships in the more recent books.

As for the mystery, the clues were all there, sprinkled liberally throughout the book with just enough sleight-of-hand to make it interesting. The reader has every opportunity to solve this murder along with Maggie, our protagonist. The pacing of the book is well-crafted throughout the novel and the characters themselves are delightful representatives of the south. You can almost hear their speech with characteristic drawls and feel the warmth that will quickly give way to a hot, Louisiana summer but for now, is mostly pleasant.

All in all, this is a great cozy, spring-break or summer read. If you find yourself picking it up at Thanksgiving, that’s fine too. It’s gentle escapism with characters and places you’ll want to visit more than once.


The second book I want to highlight is Radiant: Farm Animals Up Close and Personal by Traer Scott. This book was a total surprise for me, as it was one I selected based on my fascination with the picture on the front. The photographs in the book lived up to the expectations I created based on this cover, and the narrative, while short, provided me with some new knowledge. Here’s the review I submitted to NetGalley:


Radiant, Farm Animals Up Close and Personal by Traer Scott is a fascinating small book consisting of charming photographs of a variety of farm animals who are now residents at several animal sanctuaries in the United States. Each photograph is accompanied by a short explanation of the particular breed of animal, it’s primary use, and a description of the specific animal depicted. The end result is a compilation of up-close views of some animals we typically are more accustomed to seeing on working farms.

In its hardcover form, this would be a unique gift for large animal veterinarians, photographers or other individuals who are interested in a  coffee table book that is just a bit out of the ordinary. The short bites of information are engaging and contain just enough information to inform the reader without becoming tedious. The book challenges the reader’s notion that farm animals are lacking in personalities, providing photographs and narratives that assert the opposite. While it is not intended to be a book advocating veganism, Radiant does invite the reader to consider and perhaps modify how they think about animals that are typically part of the food chain.

In addition to the great photographs and bits of information provided, there is a list of some animal sanctuaries by state at the end of the book. For anyone who might want to pursue obtaining more information or increasing their photography skills, this is an added bonus. Thanks to NetGalley and Princeton Architectural Press for providing me with an advanced digital copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.


As you can tell by the photograph in this blog, the book even inspired us to take a trip to a local farm and, while there, to try and capture our own picture of one of their animals. It was a great trip, part of Georgia’s Agritourism Trail, which is provides some great ideas about short trips that are off the beaten path.

So, two very different books that you might open for two very different reasons, and I’m delighted to have picked up both of them. Now I’m going back to watching hurricane coverage sine Hurricane Florence is barreling down the coast, even though we don’t expect much impact here in Georgia. Happy Reading.