“The New York Times Book of Medicine: More Than 150 years of Reporting on the Evolution of Medicine,” edited by Gina Kolata. Sterling, 2015. $24.95.

Since its beginning in 1851, The New York Times has regularly reported on significant medical discoveries and advancements. This compilation of 120 carefully chosen original articles contains stories on the initial use of X-rays (1896); the drastic measures taken in New York during the flu epidemic of 1918; the first use of insulin to treat diabetes (1921); the application of electroconvulsive therapy in mental illness (1940); the discovery of penicillin, the “giant germicide”(1941); the first use of a heart-lung machine (1952); the first birth control pill, which had to be taken by both the man and woman (1952); and the surprisingly apprehensive and cautious approach to the CAT scan (1975). Also included are articles on medical breakthroughs that turned out to be blunders, including numerous declarations of cures for both diabetes and cancer.

A fascinating read for both the medical professional and the layperson.

— Laura Acosta, Baton Rouge

“The Tapestry” by Nancy Bilyeau. Touchstone, 2015. $26.99.

Joanna Stafford is back for another adventure in this new installation in the series by Nancy Bilyeau. This new chapter in Joanna’s life brings her up close and personal with the most powerful man of her time, King Henry VIII. He has taken an interest in the tapestries she weaves, something she learned as a nun that she has turned into a business since being forced to give up her title of sister. Having had an encounter with the royal family earlier in her life that was incredibly dramatic, Joanna is nervous and uncomfortable with serving the king, but she takes it on with all of her strength.

Joanna discovers rumors are circulating about the king and Catherine Howard, who is a close friend of Joanna’s. Unable to stand the thought of her friend getting into a less than ideal situation with someone who is that powerful leads Joanna on a mission to keep her friend safe. On top of all of this, when she first arrives to serve the king, someone tries to kill her, forcing Joanna to have to try and protect herself, as well.

If you’re already familiar with this series, you’ll have no trouble diving back into the life of Joanna Stafford. If you’re new, you’ll be able to keep up with the story, but you’ll miss some of references and background mentioned. Nancy Bilyeau is a talented author who makes this fascinating time period come to life through the eyes of a devoutly Catholic former nun. It’s a great read for anyone interested in this time period or for fans of mysteries.

— Juliette Brandt, Baton Rouge