DAWNLANDS by Philippa Gregory

“Dawnlands” is the third novel in the Fairmile series by historical fiction writer Philippa Gregory.

The Fairmile series is back with Alinor and her family getting entangled in the palace gossip, politics, and a lot of secrets and backstabbing.

We are in 17th-century England. Continuing with Alinor’s story. The year is 1685 and England is once again thinking of another civil war. The Stuart kings and the families are torn in two.

Ned is heading home to fight with a rebel army with his Pokanoket servant. Alinor tries to talk him out of it, but no.

Meanwhile, Livia has told Alinor that if she helps her she could get Tidelands back. Powerful stuff for someone whose position before was on the bottom. Her son doesn’t want war but leaves to rescue Ned. And oh my, there is a threat to the throne.

This is an epic tale that takes us to England, America, and even Barbados. This is the third installment of this series.

 I loved this story. My uncle wrote our family history and often mentioned the fallout from backing a Stuart king. It divided our family and I really enjoyed this one!


NetGalley/November 8th, 2022 by Atria Books

THE LAST HOUSE ON THE STREET by DIANE CHAMBERLAIN

The Last House on the Street

Some history, a little mystery and a lot of prejudice!

Told in two times, this story takes one of the characters, Ellie Hockley, and tells her story from 1965. A time when I watched the world through a child’s eyes. I was a child of the deep south and integration didn’t come for longer that it should have. The Voting Rights Act was passed and the SCOPE program was put into motion to help black people register to vote and to know their rights.

It was dangerous work. Work that did get people killed. Remember Mississippi? But against everyone’s advice and threats, Ellie has joined up to help. Her story and her character were very well done.

In 2010 Kayla and her daughter are moving into the house she designed with her husband. He died before the house was finished in an accident. There seem to be a lot of accidents around. But really this is Round Hill, North Carolina. What could possibly be so frightening about her house?

When a scary-looking old lady tells her not to move into the house, she is already shakey on that so maybe she will sell it.

In the end, they move in. Her next-door neighbor is Ellie Hockley and she is very helpful and welcoming. She also has secrets. A lot of secrets.

This book doesn’t clean up the past. I like that. I lived through this period as a child and it was just this bad. There is a lot of violence and prejudice and just plain meanness in here. And that is okay with me because it happened. And if we ever forget it we will repeat it. And right now this is a good time to read this book!

NetGalley/January 11th, 2022 by St. Martin’s Press

LADIES of the HOUSE by LAUREN EDMONDSON

Ladies of the House: A Modern Retelling of Sense and Sensibility

A very modern spin on Sense and Sensibility that I adored. Daisy, Wallis, and their mother Cricket never expected the sudden death of father and husband Senator Gregory Richardson. And they certainly never imagined it would be in such a salacious way. The media is all over this juicy headliner and Daisy just wants to disappear.

What they know is bad. What they don’t know is worse. They can’t afford their Georgetown home now and they must sell it and move into much smaller accommodations. While Cricket clings to her former life, and Wallis finds a man and is ready to move on that, Daisy is just trying to support them and protect them. Yes, the journalists are camped out on their doorstep but the worst part is the journalist writing the expose’ on her father.

Atlas has always been her best friend and to be honest she wants more. The question is can she trust him? Is this story only going to bring more pain to her family?

Those Richardson women. My grandmother would say they come from strong stock. And they do. They may have been gobsmacked in the most public and sordid way possible, but they get right out there and figure out who they are and make a new path in the world for themselves.

A very engaging book that I loved. It is so refreshing to not see simpering females in a story like this. Well Done!

NetGalley/Harlequin-Graydon Trade February 09, 2021






City of Refuge: Slavery and Petit Marronage in the Great Dismal Swamp, 1763–1856 (Race in the Atlantic World, 1700–1900 Ser.) by Marcus P. Nevius

City of Refuge: Slavery and Petit Marronage in the Great Dismal Swamp, 1763–1856 (Race in the Atlantic World, 1700–1900 Ser.) by [Nevius, Marcus P.]

A well-researched look at Great Dismal Swamp of Virginia and North Carolina.

I am not sure that people really understand the different slave classes. This work gives us as much information as can be found about this city of refuge for runaway slaves. People today would call it living off the grid. HIding in a swamp, creating their own forms of currency and working closely with slaves and white people.

The amount of information is really quite extraordinary, as these men/women tended to leave no tracks. I can’t imagine how long this work took, but I am better for having read it.

As a descendant of the man who wrote the runaway slave act, I was deeply moved by this book.

NetGalley/ University of Georgia Press; February 8th, 2020

THE SHIP of DREAMS: The Sinking of THE TITANIC and the end of the Edwardian Era by Gareth Russell

The Ship of Dreams: The Sinking of the Titanic and the End of the Edwardian Era

Gareth Russell has done his research. Uncovering previously unpublished sources and including photographs. Russell tells the story not just of the sinking of the Titanic, but of six well-known and well-heeled passengers and the role they played in history.
He is a gifted writer and puts the event in context with what was going on in the world. Especially the Americans and the British. With the Edwardian Era ending, war on the horizon and changes in the social norms, technology, politics, Irish Home Rule, the class system, this was a major time of change for the world.
We follow the stories of six of those passengers on the Titanic and how their lives changed.  The description of the sinking, minute by minute, the different ways Americans and the British handled the tragedy. Not everyone was chivalrous or brave. And for some that would haunt them for the rest of their lives.
For me personally, this was the best book I have read on the subject. And that was because it was so well researched and written. Myths were shown for what they were. Facts and journals told stories never heard before. The pictures were priceless in creating an image in your head of who these people were and how they behaved.
I would have no problem recommending this book as a definitive look at this point in our history.
Extremely Well Done!
NetGalley/ November 19th, 2019 by Atria Books

BROKE: Hardship and Resilience in a City of Broken Promises by Jodie Adams Kirshner

Broke: Hardship and Resilience in a City of Broken Promises

The author has taken a hard look at the state of affairs in Detroit. Through the voices of seven people whose lives have been changed forever by the mismanagement of the city and its eventual bankruptcy.

I visited Detroit regularly during the late ’80s and through the ’90s. It was a huge, sprawling place and going downtown was heartbreaking. To see block after block of neglected and abandoned homes and businesses.

There is enough blame to go around in this look at how cities are not getting the support they need to provide the services people need to survive and thrive. Everything is broken. The real estate market, the banks, the inept leadership, the lack of state and federal support.

About 40 percent of the city lives below the poverty level. Where is the investment in creating new jobs? How do these opportunists get by with paying $1000 for a foreclosed home and turning around and charging 3 times that in rent? The entire thing is falling apart and who is going to bail them out?

Detroit isn’t the only city in trouble. We just rarely hear anything about the others. The research in this book is very well done!

I appreciate the author bringing this into the light. And I hope people read this and stand up and do the right thing by their fellow human beings.

Highly Recommended Reading!

NetGalley/  November 19th, 2019 by St. Martin’s Press

 

 

 

 

THE GOOD COP by PETER STEINER

The Good Cop

In a world of growing nationalism, a quiet few are determined to resist. This gripping historical mystery explores the darkest days of the early 20th century. 

Peter Steiner has given us a work of Historical Fiction with a lot of truth in the mix.

WWI has been lost. Germany is in chaos and the new government isn’t anything to brag about. Everyone is in some way corrupted. Detective Willi Geismeier has a front-row seat to the rise of Adolph Hitler.

You have Fascism and Communism and violence everywhere. This is a country that needs a leader desperately. Unfortunately, that leader comes in the shape of Adolph Hitler. Everything is politicized and investigations of crimes become impossible.

We also have the viewpoints of Maximillian and his wife, Sophie, a reporter. Together they will fight to stay alive, knowing that things are not going to end well for many.

This was a historical fiction story with a whole lot of truth behind it. It moved fast and I really enjoyed seeing Munich in the 1920s through the eyes of those who were there. Good plot, good characters, and a fast pace. Well Done!

NetGalley Reviews/ Severn House  September 3rd, 2019

 

 

The BeeKeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri

The Beekeeper of Aleppo

The unforgettable love story of a mother blinded by loss and her husband who insists on their survival as they undertake the Syrian refugee trail to Europe.

A beautiful and haunting tale of Syria and the families who lost so much and fought so hard to stay in their home country, only to be driven out by war.

This is the story of Nuri, a beekeeper, and his wife, Afra, who is an artist. They live in the city of Aleppo and their life is a good one. Until war comes. In a bomb strike their lives change forever. They change forever. Afra has seen such horrors, she is now blind. But with the aid of Nuri’s cousin, they escape. 

It is a long and hard journey they must now go on. Now they are refugees. Looked down on and taken advantage of. Nuri is suffering from PTSD and only wants to find a place to raise his bees and be safe. They can never go back. All they have is memories of a home that will never be theirs again.

This is a story of human strength and compassion. A real story of the horrors of war in
Syria and the real people who are dying and suffering for a reason we don’t really understand. Nuri and Afra may never see Syria again, but can they find their way back to each other?

This is a book you need to read. It’s not pretty and it’s very sad, but it’s honest and I cried and was very grateful to have read it.

Very Well Done!

NetGalley/ August 27th, 2019 by Ballantine Books

 

The Undertaker’s Assistant by Amanda Skenandore

The Undertaker's Assistant

“The dead can’t hurt you. Only the living can.” 

Effie Jones, once a slave, escaped a place she can not even remember as a child.
Found outside of a Union camp and taken in as a ward for an army surgeon. The Captain and his wife taught her to read and write, also how to forget her past and how to embalm bodies.

Effie’s feelings are buried so deep she appears cold and unfeeling. Leaving Indiana and returning to the last place she remembers, New Orleans, she quickly finds employment in the Re-Construction Era, 11 years after the Civil War, with an undertaker who needs her. He is a tortured drunk and Effie does all the work.

Effie maintains a distance from the other ladies at the boarding house. Not interested in anything but work and saving money. A chance meeting with a creole young lady has her learning to be comfortable with society and going to political meetings.

Things around the South are very volatile between the races and not a lot has changed for the better. After a confrontation, Effie begins to have flashes of painful memories of a holding pen and other slaves. She decides to find out who she is and where she came from.

This was a hard book to read. Not a part of our past I am proud of but these stories need to be told. I can’t imagine not knowing something as basic as your own last name. The trials and heartbreak Effie went through only made her stronger.

An exceptionally well-told tale!

NetGalley/July 30th, 2019 by Kensington Publishing Corporation

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TRUTH WORTH TELLING by SCOTT PELLEY

Truth Worth Telling

An inspiring memoir from the front lines of history by award-winning 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley.

Don’t ask the meaning of life. Life is asking, what’s the meaning of you?

Journalist, Scott Pelley, is someone I have always respected. And counted on to give us the news and the story behind the news. The Truth.
Scott gives us true accounts of people changed forever by the events like The World Trade Center bombing, 9/11, fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq.
I found his telling of his own and others experiences on 9/11 to be difficult to read. The book is raw and unforgettable. Pelley has a writing style that is equal to his reporting style and that made this both a heartbreaking read and a profound one.
Free Speech and what it means for the people. Why it is the most important thing at all times and especially at this moment in history. A Free Press is part of the checks and balances that we must have in a democracy.
For readers who believe values matter and truth is worth telling, Pelley writes, “I have written this book for you.”  Scott Pelley
NetGalley/ Harlequin Hanover May 21, 2019