Smoky Mountain Family Historian

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Invisible History of the Human Race

Kenneally, Christine. The Invisible History of the Human Race: How DNA and History Shape Our Identities and Our Futures. New York: Viking, 2014.

Kenneally, an Australian journalist, has written a good introduction to genetic genealogy.  She presents an overview of what can be learned through the study of DNA for genealogical purposes in an engaging manner. She talks about genealogical research in general as well in the course of her book. She talked to people such as CeCe Moore, Bennett Greenspan, Robert McLaren, David Allen Lambert, Rhonda McClure, Jay Verkler, Blaine Bettinger, and Ugo Perego in the course of her research -- names that those in the genealogical community will recognize. I was surprised that an Australian was familiar with the Melungeon community, and she seemed to have reached out to the leading historians engaged in that field of research as well. I did feel that the book was a little all over the place instead of completely focused on related objectives. I am, however, willing to forgive the author of my lack of understanding of her overall writing objective as it may encourage more persons to have their DNA tested when they see some of the studies that have been done and their results.


Wednesday, April 01, 2015

My Family Tree and Me

Petricic, Dusan. My Family Tree and Me. Toronto: Kids Can Press, 2015.

This nicely illustrated volume provides good explanations of family relationships, such as aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, etc. in a format that younger children will enjoy. The family depicted is a mutli-ethnic family. It is a book which may create interest in family history. Parents may wish to pre-screen the book for their children if they have objections to some of the more complicated modern-day relationships. This review is based on an advance review copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley for review purposes.

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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The World Before Us

Hunter, Aislinn. The World Before Us. New York: Crown Publishing, 2015.

This is a story of 3 time periods. In the present, Jane Standen is an archivist working at a struggling museum. About 20 years previously, a girl in her care became lost in the woods, never to be found. About a hundred years earlier, the same land was home to an asylum where another girl went missing. There is connection between the parts, and I'm certain there are persons who will appreciate this book far more than I did. I found parts of the narrative to read more like non-fiction than the fictional account that they were. It simply did not flow well for the type of book that it was. The other problem with the book is the lack of resolution. It leaves the reader conflicted. There are readers who appreciate books that capture the fact that not everything in life is going to be settled. This is a book for that type of reader. This review is based on an advance review e-galley provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a review.


Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Cons of Online Genealogy

George, Peggy Sue. The Cons of Online Genealogy. s.l.: s.n., 2015. [Available for Amazon Kindle purchase]

The author who admits she has little personal interest in genealogy is simply disenchanted with a couple of sites which did not meet her expectations. In the case of, she believes they want to charge her a fee to store her tree, photos, and grandmother's collected data. She completely ignores all the marvelous databases that provide access to records. In the case of WikiTree, she simply misunderstood or did not read the site's terms and conditions. The short rant disguised as a book is full of grammatical, proofreading, and spelling errors. Not recommended.


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Romancing Your Better Half

Johnson, Rick. Romancing Your Better Half: Keeping Intimacy Alive in Your Marriage. Grand Rapids: Revell, 2015.

Johnson has written a book to help marriages, particularly newer ones, survive and thrive. When I first began reading the book, I had the impression that the book was pretty negative. Everything seemed to involve things "not to do" rather than focusing on what to do. As I got a few chapters into the book, this began to change. As the book became more optimistic, I began to enjoy it more. Johnson seems to quote heavily from other authors on the topic. I saw similarities to Willard Harley's His Needs, Her Needs and Gary Chapman's The Five Love Languages that I read in a graduate course for a unit on pre-marital counseling. He also quoted Gary Thomas, a well-known Christian marriage author, several times. While I don't think there is a lot of new material here, I do think it is presented in a practical way that many couples may appreciate. There are bullet-pointed tips at the end of each chapter to help couples apply the material in the chapter. There are also some practical lists at the end of the book following the end notes which may be overlooked by many readers who stop when they reach the references. This review is based on an advance e-galley provided by the publisher through NetGalley for review purposes.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The New Rules for Love, Sex, and Dating

Stanley, Andy. The New Rules for Love, Sex, and Dating. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2015.

Stanley's work is a good introduction to dating and love for teens and young adults. He addresses these topics that seem to be neglected or perverted by today's culture from a Biblical perspective. The book is designed primarily to accompany a DVD series to which I did not have access. It would probably be very useful in church youth groups or small groups for the youth or young adult singles. While the book could be useful beyond church circles, it will probably not enjoy much popularity beyond them. This review is based on an advance reading copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Praying With Paul

Carson, D. A. Praying with Paul: A Call to Spiritual Reformation. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2015.

D. A. Carson has updated his 1992 work A Call to Spiritual Reformation. He explores Paul's prayers and offers insights for modern readers and how they should be praying. The book should appeal to those in ministry as well as to many laypersons in the church. There are questions at the end of each chapter which lend themselves well to group discussions for small groups. The book is well-indexed. This review is based on an advance readers copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley for review purposes.