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.

the Cape Doctor by E.J. Levy

The Cape Doctor

The fascinating novel based on Cape Town’s infamous Dr. James Barry, born Margaret Anne Bulkley, an Irish girl and who changed her name, lived as a man, and revolutionized medicine in the Western world.

“She died, so I might live.”

A lot of people have never heard of this brilliant physician. I had read another book on him and quite enjoyed it.

Starting out as a child in Ireland, Margaret Bulkley, her sister and parents are not well off. But Margaret has ambitions and her mother leaves home with her to study at Edinburgh’s medical school. With a wealthy patron behind her there is only one problem. Women are not allowed in medical school.

It was a problem, but one that was easily and willingly solved by getting rid of Margaret and becoming James Barry. And he did it well. Of course there were dangers of being found out. And there was a lot of talk. There was a lot of tragedy.

Dr. Barry was simply brilliant. She served in military hospitals, she brought female medicine out of the dark ages, even performing the first C-Section in Africa! He was a strong advocate of equal access to medical care and the treatment of leprosy.

It must have been a lonely life with few to confide in. Even after the first woman graduated from medical school, he stayed James.

The ease with which he embraced James was interesting to me. He was comfortable with himself and maybe he was trans.

Of all the magnificent achievements he made, after death his secret was laid bare on an autopsy table. A man, born a woman who had delivered a child at one time.

Very controversial in that time and to be honest in this one as well.

Well researched and written.

NetGalley/ June 1st, 2021 by Little Brown


Ethel Rosenberg An American Tragedy by ANNE SEBBA

Ethel Rosenberg: An American Tragedy

New York Times bestselling author Anne Sebba’s moving biography of Ethel Rosenberg, the wife and mother whose execution for espionage-related crimes defined the Cold War and horrified the world.

In a case that shook the nation and left a lot of people wondering what the truth was and how it could involve electrocuting a woman for espionage with evidence as shaky as jello.

This is the first look I have seen at Ethel by herself. Who she was as a person, as a mother and wife, and what her dreams were. What is the truth? There has been new evidence found since her death and this book looks at all of it. The bulk told through letters with her husband, her lawyer, and her psychotherapist during her three years in jail. Two of those in Solitary.

Ethel wanted nothing more than to be an opera singer a good wife and a good mother. But in the 1950’s she finds her self caught up in the political witch hunt that was the McCarthy era. Anti-Semitism, Male dominated society and all the other injustices that women were forced to endure.

When they came for her husband, she never said a word. Her love and loyalty was so great she refused to incriminate him in anything. Her brother wasn’t as loyal or kind. He perjured himself to incriminate his own sister. The government knew this. And yet they were both found guilty of conspiracy to commit espionage for the Soviet Union and put on Death Row.

In June of 1953, Julius walked into the death chamber and was electrocuted. A horrible way to die. A few minutes later Ethel was led in and courageously and calmly let the government kill her.

That seems like a long time ago, but much of the same is still going on. Government is still running roughshod on the rights of the people and still condoning the hate.

I hated reading this and I needed to read this. Confronting our history is the only way to change it.

NetGalley/ June 08, 2021 St. Martin’s Press





THE GLORIOUS GUINNESS GIRLS by EMILY HOURICAN

Everyone has hear of the Guinness family but I’ve never known much about the girls. This clears all of that up and very well.

This was a book of truths and an imagined tale. The author has done her research and this was a joy to read.

These girls seemed to have it all. The money, the name, and all the tight restrictions of the time. Fliss isn’t one of them and yet she is. It is her story most of all and it was an emotional one.

With their mother indisposed with some vague ailment, Fliss is charged with chaperoning the girls. She sleeps with them and eats with them but she knows she is not one of them.

The girls led very interesting and tragic lives and it is all here in this captivating book.

The author writes beautifully and the energy jumps off the page. Very Well Done!

May 4. 2021 Grand Central Publishing

BLOOD AND TREASURE DANIEL BOONE AND THE FIGHT FOR AMERICA’S FIRST FRONTIER by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin

Blood and Treasure: Daniel Boone and the Fight for America's First Frontier

The middle of the 1700’s were full of uncertainty for the thirteen colonies that Great Britain has founded so far. There are so many different battles going on it’s no wonder everyone was a little anxious.

Everyone wants to find a new frontier. And they are all willing to die for it. The Natives, the French, the Spanish and of course our mother country. The conflicts were gruesome and cruel. Everyone was lying. Someone’s word meant nothing. The Natives were rightly upset and everyone wanted a piece of the country.

And here is where we meet Daniel Boone. Well, actually my husband is a direct descendant of his sister, Elizabeth, so we thought we knew pretty much everything. We did not.

The name Daniel Boone brings me immediately to the song. First off, he wasn’t a big man. He wasn’t at all like the movie and cartoon versions. He was a man with a passion for finding out what lay beyond the Appalachians. He wasn’t a fighting man, but he did his part for the revolution. It’s always dangerous to turn people from the past into larger than life characters and that has been done with Boone.

It was a fast read and based on a lot of research. How did Boone become such a legend? He was seldom home, working as a trapper with a friend or his brother. They would be gone for long periods of time. He saw his fair share of suffering in his own household and they always seemed to be on the edge of financial ruin and yet Daniel did what he had to do to care for his family.

Here you can read his story as told from many different people. The history of America is in this book and I am better for having read it.

NetGalley/ April 20th, 2021 by St. Martin’s Press