Authors, Book Reviews, Friday Five Challenge, Non Fiction

BUY or PASS? The Friday Five Challenge


Welcome to the ‘Friday Five Challenge.’

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Would you BUY or PASS if you only had a thumbnail image and five minutes to decide?

Welcome to the #FridayFiveChallenge. The original idea comes from Rosie Amber, and you can join up at

The rules are laid out at the end of this post if you fancy having a go.

Here is my contribution for the week:

For father’s day last year I presented my dad with his family tree. Using I managed to trace back to my great-great-great-great-great-grandad, Thomas Wilson, born in 1804. Genealogy is addictive, and I was disappointed that I couldn’t go back any further online. Would there be a perfect book to help?

Using family history as my theme for the Friday Five Challenge, I typed ‘Genealogy’ into the Amazon search bar.


There are quite a few books on the subject, but this one jumped out at me for a couple of reasons. The first was the title – this was exactly what I needed to do so it ticks the box on suitability to search ratio. Secondly the cover image includes Henry VIII and I am fascinated by Tudor history – not that I’m expecting to discover we are related of course, but it’s a nice thought that I could research that far back.


The trail that an ancestor leaves through the Victorian period and the twentieth century is relatively easy to follow – the records are plentiful, accessible and commonly used. But how do you go back further, into the centuries before the central registration of births, marriages and deaths was introduced in 1837, before the first detailed census records of 1841? How can you trace a family line back through the early modern period and perhaps into the Middle Ages? Jonathan Oates’s clearly written new handbook gives you all the background knowledge you need in order to go into this engrossing area of family history research. He starts by describing the administrative, religious and social structures in the medieval and early modern period and shows how these relate to the family historian. Then in a sequence of accessible chapters he describes the variety of sources the researcher can turn to. Church and parish records, the records of the professions and the courts, manorial and property records, tax records, early censuses, lists of loyalty, militia lists, charity records – all these can be consulted. He even includes a short guide to the best methods of reading medieval and early modern script. Jonathan Oates’s handbook is an essential introduction for anyone who is keen to take their family history research back into the more distant past.

The book blurb sounds great and includes a fair amount of information for the potential buyer to make a snap decision.

There are twenty-seven reviews in total, and seventeen of these are five stars. The rest are spread between four and two stars. Quite a few of the reviews are from buyers who bought the book as a gift for a friend or family member, so no meaty information about the content.

A couple of the comments refer to this being an excellent resource for any family historian. The author appears to know his stuff and offers cheats on where to look for information that you hadn’t already thought of.

At 142 pages I imagine the content is tight, although there are a few reviewers who thought it difficult to follow. As with any speciality non-fiction book, you do need an element of dedication to read them!

The Kindle price is £8.39, which would be my reason for a PASS today. However, if I decided to pick up where I left off in my personal genealogy quest, then I may splash out on this book in the future.

Tracing Your Ancestors from 1066 to 1837 by Jonathan Oates


What is the Friday Five Challenge?

In today’s online shopping age, readers often base their buying decisions on small postage stamp size book covers (thumb-nails), a quick glance at the book description and the review. How much time do they spend making that buying decision?

AUTHORS – You often only have seconds to get a reader to buy your book, is your book cover and book bio up to it?

The Challenge is this… IN ONLY FIVE MINUTES…

1) Go to any online book supplier,

2) Randomly choose a category,

3) Speed through the book covers, choose one which has instantly appealed to your eye,

4) Read the book Bio/ Description of this book,

5) If there are reviews, check out a couple,

6) Make an instant decision, would you BUY or PASS?

(then write a little analysis about your decision)

8 thoughts on “BUY or PASS? The Friday Five Challenge”

  1. OUCH! £8.39 for a Kindle copy? This is the kind of book I would want in hardback/paperback because I would want to easily flick back and forth through the pages. I checked out the book from your link and see a paperback would be £12.08, maybe a used copy would be more viable for me. I too dabble in genealogy, I’m stuck in the early 1700’s. So if I was going through a time when I was concentrating on more research I might just give this book a chance.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a shame re the price, this looks great – yes, I’d totally click on that cover too. I agree – reference books HAVE to be in hardcopy. Pass from me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I thought you’d like the cover, Terry 🙂

      Yes, the price is totally over budget for an eBook, and I think we are all in agreement that reference books are a must have in hard copy.


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