The CHURCHILL SISTERS by RACHEL TRETHEWEY

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A lot has been written about Winston Churchill. And there are books about the girls and their mother. This book pulls all of them together, using unpublished letters from archives and numerous other sources, the author gives us a complete picture of the private lives of the three girls who lived to adulthood. Diana, serious and fragile, Sarah, a free-spirit, a glamorous, ambitious woman who wanted a career in acting, and Mary, the baby who stayed the course. Their brother, Randolph, did not live up to anyone’s expectations however.

The girls were smart and very different from each other. Their life goals were different as well. With Winston as their father, they also had a tremendous sense of duty to the country. Each found some way to be a part of the war efforts. They adored their father and were a little less enamored of their mother, who was often cold and distant.

They were Churchills and everything they did was news. While Diana and Mary were careful to be seen as proper ladies, Sarah, could have cared less. She lived her life to the fullest.

It was most interesting to see their relationship with their father. Clementine was gone a lot. But to read of the great man himself playing hide and seek in the bushes with his girls was a side I hadn’t seen.

How difficult it must have been to live in a fishbowl and have your every movement scrutinized. To be judged on who your father is rather than who you are.

I thoroughly enjoyed this look at the sisters. And this book was thoroughly researched, listing every source. Beautifully written.

NetGalley/ December 07, 2021 St. Martin’s Press

AMERICAN KLEPTOCRACY by CASEY MICHEL

American Kleptocracy: How the U.S. Created the World's Greatest Money Laundering Scheme in History

How the U.S. Created the WORLD’S GREATEST MONEY LAUNDERING SCHEME in HISTORY

Casey Michel shows us the world of illicit offshore money schemes.

American Kleptocracy looks at how the United States morphed into the center of global money offshoring.

Our country has been at the center of this illicit game for far too long. While our leaders decry corrupt regimes around the world, we are happy to take their money.

If you want to start your own shell company go to Delaware. Or Nevada. Delaware will let literally anyone set up a virtual shop. Having managed property for a long time, most of my owner’s companies are LLCs in Delaware. A state they don’t live in. Soviet Oligarchs, African despots, the worst of the worst store their money here while their own people starve. And when Trump came along it was a marriage made in greed. Restrictions were released. Laws made it easier to launder and hide money.

Do we really know how much of our own country is owned by outsiders? Shocking.

This was an excellent book that taught me a few new things. The author has a way of breaking down a rather large topic and just saying, “Hey, this is what is going on!”. He also talks about how our new President could proceed.

Very well researched and written, this was a great read.

NetGalley/November 16th, 2021, St. Martin’s Press







UNDER JERUSALEM by ANDREW LAWLER

Under Jerusalem: The Buried History of the World's Most Contested City

Under Jerusalem is a 150-year history of the ground just beneath one of the world’s holiest cities.

This is the well-researched, and well-written history of Jerusalem. From the time it was not much of anything to a major religious center, fought over by three or more religions.

We begin in 1863, when a Frenchman with an adventurous soul, heard a rumor. Buried beneath the city there was said to be a mother-lode of biblical treasure. Archaeology was just beginning to be a thing. Mainly with the idle rich who had the time and money to go on a treasure hunt.

When De Saulcy dug into a spot in the desert and found an old tomb, others followed quickly. The dig was great for archaeology but not so great for Jerusalem. Greed will do nasty things to ordinary people. As we can see now, Israel is a land being fought over every day. And the claims to Jerusalem are made by many different religions. What has come out of the digs and finds have turned this area into a war zone.

The books” timeline takes us way back in history. So many people have fought over and claimed this area and so much has been destroyed in the process. This book is for the history lover, the truth seekers, and the treasure seekers.

I loved every second of it. I have never had an opinion one way or the other on the subject of Israel and Jerusalem. And I still don’t. But at least now I know the story.

Excellent work!

NetGalley/Doubleday November 02, 2021

MISS ELIZA’S ENGLISH KITCHEN by ANNABEL ABBS

Miss Eliza's English Kitchen: A Novel of Eliza Acton, Pioneering Victorian Food Writer

The story of two real-life women who together create a cookbook at a time when women were not expected to even venture into the kitchens. Eliza Acton and Ann Kirby become unlikely friends and brought forth the first cookery book for private homes. They were the first to list ingredients as well as cooking times. Later their work would be ‘borrowed’ for Mrs. Beeton’s cookbook.

The year is 1837 and Eliza Acton has no desire to be anyone’s wife. She is a poet. A very determined poet. But when her book of poems is rebuffed by her publisher, she is crushed. Especially when he suggests she write a cookery book. Eliza is furious. But then things go awry in her family with her father losing everything and fleeing the country. Leaving his wife to depend on Eliza alone to restore the family’s wealth.

As her mother leases a boarding house, Eliza needs to learn to cook. As she collects recipes she finds that she loves cooking. The flavors blending like poetry itself. But she needs help.

17 -year- old Ann Kirby has lived in poverty and uncertainty her entire life. Her mother is supposedly mad and is put in an insane asylum without her knowledge. Her father is a drunk as well as crippled. It’s a dark life and a hungry one.

When Eliza hires her to help her she knows nothing about cooking. However, she can read and write and her palate is spot on and her descriptions of the flavors are poetry itself. They take ten years to perfect their book. In that time they become more than employer/employee. They become friends. They make each other bolder, stronger, and better.

I enjoyed the back and forth viewpoints. No time hopping, just their own perspectives and thoughts. The descriptions of everything they create are much like poetry and I could smell the herbs and taste the tart lemon on my tongue.

After reading this I googled Eliza and Ann and their book. They introduced spaghetti! And Brussel Sprouts.

Very well written!

NetGalley/October 26th, 2021 by William Morrow Paperbacks




MUHAMMAD, THE WORLD-CHANGER by MOHAMAD JEBARA

Muhammad, the World-Changer: An Intimate Portrait

I was very eager to read this book. It is so well-researched and easy to read. The topic is one I have long been interested in and yet everything I read was contradictory. Not this.

I am quite certain Muslim academics knew and understood the subject of Muhammad, the rest of us were a bit confused. Who exactly was he and what shaped his view of the world?

This was nothing like any other book I have read. It was researched and what came out of that was a man I could understand. Surrounded by women, some Jewish and Christian, He was inspired by the experiences he had and the people he met. I understood why there are no images of him. He truly was an inspirational man who believed in a world view and had a vision of what the world should look like.

Did he change the way the world moved forward? I would say he did. From his birth to his death he was a most remarkable man. With all the translations having different meanings, it is difficult to sort fact from fiction. This was an eye-opening work for me.

NetGalley/ October 12th, 2021 by St. Martin’s Essentials

THREE SISTERS by HEATHER MORRIS

Three Sisters (The Tattooist of Auschwitz, #3)

From the author of The Tattooist of Auschwitz and Cilka’s Journey, comes the latest from Heather Morris. Three Sisters.

The story of three sisters. Cibi, Magda and, Livia, who in 1929 Slovakia, make a promise to their father that they will always stay together no matter what comes.

It is years later when the youngest, Livia, is told to be at Temple the next Friday night to go work for the Germans. While Magda is in the hospital ill. Cibi is working with a group to get to Palestine and is shocked when she visits home and finds that her little sister is being sent to the German Camps. Remembering their promise to their father, Cibi volunteers to go with Livia. With Magda safe in the hospital, maybe she will be safe.

Loaded like cattle into box cars and stripped of all they own, the girls are only teenagers and have no idea that they are headed to Auschwitz to work for the Nazis. As they struggle to survive and stay strong, Magda is taken as well. The horrors they endure will make you weep. But when they find Magda, they make each other a promise. To live. No matter what they have to do and make it back home.

These girls fought everything the Nazis threw at them and they came out alive. Traumatized, but alive. Now their home is under Communist control and they decide to travel to Israel. To a new home.

This series of Historical Fiction with some facts, is one of the most heartbreaking you will read. But if they could live it, I could read it. I wept, I was so angry on their behalf. The courage of these girls and the unbreakable bonds they shared was inspiring.

With two of the sisters still in Israel with their families, they shared their story with Morris. While a lot of these people were real, and the unspeakable things that were done to them were real, this is Historical Fiction.

It is a wonderful thing when a book is so well done you feel as if you are there. You can smell the awful smells in the camps. You can feel the fear of the people treated so cruelly. While this book is full of heartache it is also full of love, courage, and determination.

Well Done!

NetGalley/ October 5th, 2021 by St. Martin’s Press


Darjeeling Inheritance by LIZ HARRIS

Darjeeling Inheritance

Charlotte Lawrence loves living in Sundar. She follows her father around learning all she can about the tea plantation. It’s all she has ever wanted.

After eleven years in England, Charlotte has finished her studies and is coming home by boat with a suitable companion named Ada Eastman. Arriving home to find her father has just died and has left her the plantation with the current manager to stay on.

The current manager, Dan, is everything a good man should be. And while Charlotte’s father may have arranged for his daughter to marry his best friends’ son, Andrew, who is a lazy womanizer and gambler, Charlotte is a stubborn girl and intends to put off marriage as long as she is able to.

Her companion is married within days of setting foot in Sundar. To a much older man with money. And within days she is looking at Andrew like a juicy steak. All the while Charlotte has no idea and really doesn’t care.

She intends to learn everything about tea and follow her heart.

As a tea reviewer, this book was heavenly. I learned so much about growing tea and the history of the area.

A lovely read!

NetGalley/October 1st, 2021 by Heywood Press

MAIDEN VOYAGES by SIAN EVANS

Maiden Voyages: Magnificent Ocean Liners and the Women Who Traveled and Worked Aboard Them

MAGNIFICENT OCEAN LINERS AND THE WOMEN WHO TRAVELED AND WORKED ABOARD THEM

Maiden Voyages explores how women’s lives were transformed by the Golden Age of ocean liner travel between Europe and North America.

Up until the twentieth century, travel across the Atlantic was done on great ocean liners. Like the Ritz Carlton of the sea. Amenities that bordered on excess. So many woman made that crossing for a better life. Some were traveling for work or pleasure and job opportunities.

All the famous names are here. Wallis Simpson, Josephine Baker. First class all the way. But the second and third class were less fancy. The stories of women who traveled the oceans and made a difference were my favorite. Doing a man’s work was new to both sexes and there was a lot of learning going on.

A lot of research went into this one. And I thoroughly enjoyed it.

NetGalley/St. Martin’s

THE REAL VALKYRIE (The Hidden History of Viking Warrior Women) by Nancy Marie Brown

The Real Valkyrie: The Hidden History of Viking Warrior Women

Brown lays to rest the hoary myth that Viking society was ruled by men and celebrates the dramatic lives of female Viking warriors.

In 1889, in Birka, Sweden, a former site of a Viking trading center, archaeologists find a warrior’s burial chamber. With the amount and array of weapons, valuables, horses, this must have been a great Viking warrior.

Imagine the surprise when in 2017, DNA tests revealed that this high-ranking Viking warrior was a woman.

Viking women didn’t hold the keys to the larder and keep the house. Viking women carried weapons. They carry shields into battle next to their male counterparts. They are heroes. Poems are written about them.

Ms. Brown uses science to link Hervor, to the other Viking trading centers and to the entire trade route. She tells a story of Hervor meeting with the likes of Queen Gunnhild, The Red Girl, and Queen Olga. Hervor didn’t live a long life but she packed a lot into it.

There is so much misinformation from writers in an entirely different era than the Vikings. Mostly by men who have relegated women to the hearth. This well- written and well-researched work shake that old perception off. Women held power and as the author imagines what her life would have been like, she brings the valkyries alive.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The history, the “what ifs”, and the research that went into this beautiful work. Being of Norwegian descent it confirms many of the tales I was told as a child by my grandmother. It was a pleasure to read.

NetGalley/ August 31st, 2021

A Mudlark’s Treasures, London in Fragments by Ted Sandling

A Mudlark's Treasures: London in Fragments

I read quite a bit of historical fiction set in London. Mudlarks are mentioned quite a bit so I knew it was a name for those treasure seekers along the Thames.

Around the 18th and 19th centuries, there were young boys trying to make a living with the things they found along and in the Thames. Today’s treasure hunters are still there looking for treasures from the past and there are plenty to be found.

,This is the story of one man’s finds. And they are extraordinary! Roman tiles, pottery, coins, pipes and, my favorite, the Frozen Charlotte dolls. Yes they are a bit creepy, but I am fascinated with them.

Looking at the pictures you can almost see the history of London. Who was ruling, who was at war with them? What people wore, common items they used. It’s all a mystery and a treasure hunt.

I loved this little book and passed it along to several historical fiction authors.

Of course here in the USA,we don’t have a river Thames to hunt for treasure, but I was fortunate to live in the south and when my father built his fishing and hunting camp on the banks of the Mississippi, we found out it had been the site of a huge antebellum house which caught fire only weeks after the family moved in. It burned to the ground and was never rebuilt, so with every rain we dug up more treasure. Beautiful pieces of china and pottery. Everyday items and lots of buttons. It instilled in me a lifelong love of treasure hunting.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.