UNDER THE GOLDEN SUN by JENNY ASHCROFT

Under the Golden Sun

Rose Hamilton is boarding the train to meet her Uncle and her brother for tea. Rose is at odds with her life at the moment. World War II has everyone on edge. She is still healing from being dismissed from military service and is engaged/not engaged to a truly narcissistic man. When she happens to see in the paper an advertisement for a companion to a young child. The job would be accompanying the child to Australia where his family will meet him and give him a good home.

On a whim, she stops in to apply for the job. She meets Vivian who is in very poor health and needs to be sure someone she can trust will care for a five-year-old Walter. A shy little boy whose mother has died and whose father is unknown. Walter tugs at her heartstrings hard. And she immediately knows she will take the job.

Walter and Rose board a ship during a scary time. With ships being bombed and enemy ships around, not to mention the seasickness.

Being on the ship in such close quarters Rose has become quite fond of Walter and him of her. When they finally land no one is there to meet them. When a hand shows up he deposits them in the pouring rain at a house with no one home. Or is there? What is wrong with these people? And why is his Uncle Max so distant and not in the least expecting them?

Secrets and family. Can one child and one rather headstrong woman change them all? Or will more misunderstandings cause her a broken heart?

Jenny Ashcroft writes so well you feel fully immersed in whatever world she has created. The colors of the Australian sky, the smells of the ocean liner, the heat so hot you can feel it.

A beautiful historical fiction novel that will move you to tears!

NetGalley/March 15th, 2022 St. Martin’s Press



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

CARE FREE BLACK GIRLS by ZEBA BLAY

Carefree Black Girls

This book is a look and a celebration of black women’s identity and impact on pop culture by HuffPost critic, Zeba Blay.

Blay was the first person to give us the #carefreeblackgirls, in 2013 on Twitter.

This is a series of essays that took me longer than normal to read. This isn’t my story and I wanted to really absorb what she was saying.

Blay takes us on a journey to meet black women who were significant throughout history. Each in a different way. Starting with Josephine Baker, Michelle Obama and Cardi B and Lizzo!

She shares her own story and experiences as well as those women she writes about.

I think what I was left with in the end was a celebration of women who defy stereotypes. Women who stand up and stand out. Black women get things done. They are strong because they have had no other choice.

What a beautiful look at the women who changed history really.

NetGalley/ October 19th, 2021 by St. Martin’s Griffin

THIS IS THE FIRE (What I Say to My Friends About Racism) by DON LEMON

This Is the Fire: What I Say to My Friends About Racism

Don Lemon brings his vast audience and experience as a reporter and a Black man to today’s most urgent question: How can we end racism in America in our lifetimes?
 

Don Lemon, the anchor of CNN Tonight, is a very popular reporter who has the most conversational writing style I have ever seen. To watch him and to read his words are very much like having a conversation with a friend.

Known for his monologues on racism, broken systems, and administrations that do more harm than good, this book seems even more personal. Showing us what is wrong, how wrong it is, and how we maybe can begin to repair what is broken.

I enjoyed the beginning, which is a letter to his black nephew. He talks about their slave ancestors, activists, politicians, and people he has met and interviewed. We hear about the slave port where his ancestor was shipped to America as a slave. He talks about his growing up and his experiences. Even the 2020 New York protests. The most important thing we can do is to resist racism every single day. EVERY DAY. With Love. Which is hard to do.

I was so comfortable with this book. It honestly felt as if Lemon were talking to me about some really important issues in his famously calm and steady voice. I am from the deep south and understood everything he said. This has to stop or we will never be truly free people.

Very impressed with his words.

NetGalley/ March 16th, 2021 Little, Brown, and Company


HELLO JUNE! CAN WE COME OUT NOW?

I love it when a month begins on a Monday! All orderly and stuff. And the sun is shining and the pool is sparkling like diamonds. But the lawn guys are here so the allergy fairy is locking the doors and windows.

Wow, what a past few days we have had. It’s hard to believe this is the country my relatives fought for. Even though all of them were slave owners and relatively horrid people, I would have thought by now we would have all learned we aren’t “special”. That every human being is precious and worth protecting.

But this is what happens when you elect crooks. They lie, cheat, steal, and then like the psychopathic narcissists that they are they toss verbal and real grenades and then run away. It’s not just the senseless killing of people, it’s also the economy, the virus, the total lack of empathy in our orange man and his posse. We are fed up. We need an adult in charge.

OU Boy and I went to the OKC protests yesterday and there were rules. The organizers had a bull horn and you better not step out of line. When they left, the people on the fringe, who are always looking for a reason to act a fool, came in and acted a fool.

So take a breath and I’ll tell you a tale!

I received a text from my baby sister the other day. It simply said, “Your mother is a hot mess”. She’s “my” mother now. So I had to get the dirt. Turns out Momma asked her if she would shave her legs for her. Sister said, “NO, that is where I draw the line!”. Sidenote: That is nowhere near where I draw the line. So Momma proceeded to plop her tiny hiney on the edge of the tub to shave her own legs. First, she cut up her leg then slid off the tub onto the floor making her ribs hurt. Mind you, the first time we took her along with us on the sailboat, she slipped and broke a rib. We will never live that down. But we were all asking the question WHY? Why are you shaving your legs? Her answer was so she could wear capri pants. OU Boy kept asking WHO? As in who is she shaving for?

For that, we have to go a day earlier. She forgot to lock her front door at the retirement center and when she woke up from her nap on the sofa there was a naked old man standing there looking at her. I feel relatively confident it’s only the second time she has seen a naked man. But, hey, if it puts a pep in her step, who cares.

I hope that made you laugh. We all need to laugh. And I can always count on my Momma for a good one!

Love each other

xx P

 

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 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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Tomorrow’s Bread by ANNA JEAN MAYHEW

Tomorrow's Bread

From the author of the acclaimed, The Dry Grass of August comes a richly researched yet lyrical Southern-set novel that explores the conflicts of gentrification—a moving story of loss, love, and resilience.

It’s 1961 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The neighborhood of Brooklyn is almost entirely made up of black families and businesses. While there are a lot of run down and shabby homes and storefronts, Loraylee Hawkins lives in a nice home with her grandmother, her uncle and her son, Hawk. She works a full-time job and cares for her grandmother and her son.

Loarylee works at a cafeteria and is involved with her boss. A white man. All very secret, after all this is the South in the early ’60s.

The city of Charlotte has declared Brooklyn a blight on the city and has decided to do some gentrification. Which we all know means bulldozing every house and business and putting in buildings no one can afford. This is their home. They were born here and many died here. But now even the graveyard is being removed in the name of progress.

This is a very familiar story for those of us raised in the deep south. The strength of the characters of this cast was extraordinary. This was a community that supported each other, a family that stood their ground and fought for a better life and for respect.

I am so glad I read this one and I highly recommend it!

Kensington Publishers

 

 

 

 

SUMMERTIME AND THE READING IS EASY!

Summer is in full swing here. Lots of sun, sand, and water. And of course, a good book!

Some of my favorite reads this summer have been:

31 of the Best Books of 2018 Oh, what a twisty puzzle this thriller was!

  Mean Girls meets the PTA

  This is an outstanding novel about freedom, racism, and family.

   Another one that tugged at my heartstrings and made me cry!

What is everyone looking forward to reading? At the moment I am reading Campusland by Scott Johnson.

Have a good one! We are under a severe heat warning. I’ll be in the pool!

xx P

THE SISTERS by ROSALIND NOONAN

The Sisters

This was an emotional read from the beginning. My heart broke for Glory. Even though I felt she had other choices.

What made this even more heartbreaking is this is still happening today. There are quite a few sensitive subjects in this book but that’s life. The author has written a beautiful and deeply moving account of what family is.

I enjoyed the different points of view and I look forward to reading more from Noonan.

Well Done!’

Netgalley/ November 27th 2018 by Kensington Publishing Corporation