The Age of Light

A captivating debut about Vogue model turned renowned photographer Lee Miller, and her passionate affair with the artist Man Ray in 1930s Paris.

When Lee Miller comes to Paris in 1929 she wants nothing more than to create a new life. She is tired of being the one in front of the camera and wants to be the one taking photographs.

Lee had a rather abusive childhood which is alluded to but I would have liked to have heard more about it. It led her to make some bad life choices. When she is introduced to the famous Man Ray, they immediately have a connection. At first,he wants her to model for him but they get into an intense and not that healthy relationship.

The story is told between timelines and is rich in detail and full of all the horrors of war and the debauchery of Paris at that time. Opium dens, erotic vaudeville, multiple lovers.

After betrayals on both side you have a feeling this isn’t going to work out. He is egotistical and condescending and she is emotionally messed up.

I enjoyed reading about these two.

February 5th 2019 by Little, Brown and Company/Netgalley

The Orphan Mother by Robert Hicks

The Orphan Mother: A Novel

Mr. Hicks has given us more of “The Widow of the South” with “The Orphan Mother”.

The year is 1867. The war is over and the South is having to adjust, including Mariah Reddick, former slave to Carrie McGavock–the “Widow of the South”. Mariah is a free woman now. She is dependent on no one and has her own home and a thriving Midwife business. She tells herself that she built the town of Franklin, Tennessee by delivering all of those lives into the world

Her only child, Theopolis, has made a name for himself as a cobbler and has ambitions that scare Mariah. He wants to be in politics and it scares Mariah to death for her child.

The book also introduces George Tole. He has never been a slave. From New York, he has always been a freeman. Quiet and secretive, no one knows too much about him or why he moved to Franklin.

When Mariah’s worst fear comes true and her son is killed, she moves back to Carrie’s and sets out on a journey to discover who murdered her son and why.

A very timely account of what times were like, not only during the summer of 1867, but all  of these things and more were happening all over the south.

As someone who grew up in the deep south during segregation and integration this was difficult to read. Because I know these things happened and it was a painful reminder.

However, I think we need to be reminded that some things may have changed, but not enough. These things and more are still happening you either don’t hear about them or choose to ignore what doesn’t concern you.

I would definitely recommend this book and I will read it again. Release Date: September 13, 2016.

I received this book from Netgalley ad the publisher in exchange for an honest review..


Robert Hicks has been active in the music industry in Nashville for twenty years as both a music publisher and artist manager. The driving force behind the perservation and restoration of the historic Carnton plantation in Tennessee, he stumbled upon the extraordinary role that Carrie McGavock played during and after the Battle of Franklin. He is the author of The Widow of the South and A Separate Country.Robert Hicks

Jane Steel A Novel by Lyndsay Faye

Jane Steele by [Faye, Lyndsay]

A reimagining of Jane Eyre as a gutsy, heroic serial killer says the NYT about Jane Steel.

“Reader, I murdered him”.  What a great opening!

Jane Steel has suffered more loss and ugliness in her life at age 9 than most people will in a lifetime. The loss of a Father she doesn’t remember and then her beautiful, sensitive French Mother has left her too tender for her overbearing Aunt and horrid cousin.

When her Aunt sends her to Lowan Bridge School, a boarding school that sounds like Gitmo,  she is left to fight for her life. Unable to bear any more, she commits another murder and runs away to London, leaving the dead behind her.

She hides for years, waiting for that knock on the door from the Law, all the while writing morbid “confessions” of the recently hanged, which are published in the paper daily.

Then her Aunt dies and Jane finds out there is a new Master of Highgate House who is looking for a governess for his 9 year old ward. Jane’s mother always told her that the house would one day be hers and now she intends to find out if she is the rightful owner.

This is a satirical romance about things we all can relate to, the lies we tell, the guilt we live with, who we really are and are the lines between good and bad a tad blurry.

While it is most definitely a Gothic piece and Miss Jane begins her killing very early in life, I laughed so hard. My favorite parts were the blurbs above each chapter. My favorite?

” Do you know where the wicked go after death?”

” They go to hell, was my ready and orthodox answer…”

” What must you do to avoid it?”

 I deliberated a moment; my answer, when it did come, was objectionable: ” I must keep in good health, and not die.”

This is one of those books that I kept saying to my reading partner, Hey you have to listen to this! It’s that good!

About The Author

Lyndsay Faye moved to Manhattan in 2005 to audition for theatre work; she found her days more open when the powers that be elected to knock her day-job restaurant down with bulldozers. Her first novel Dust and Shadow: an Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H Watson is a tribute to the aloof genius and his good-hearted friend whose exploits she has loved since childhood. Faye’s love of her adopted city led her to research the origins of the New York City Police Department, the inception of which exactly coincided with the start of the Irish Potato Famine. The Gods of Gotham, Seven for a Secret, and The Fatal Flame follow ex-bartender Timothy Wilde as he navigates the rapids of his violently turbulent city, his no less chaotic elder brother Valentine Wilde, and the perils of learning police work in a riotous and racially divided political landscape. The first book of the trilogy was nominated for an Edgar Award for Best Novel and has been published in 14 languages. Her lasting affection for Jane Eyre led her to re-imagine the heroine as a gutsy, heroic serial killer in Jane Steele.

After growing up in the Pacific Northwest, Lyndsay worked as a professional actress throughout the Bay Area for several years, nearly always in a corset, and if not a corset then at the very least heels and lined stockings. As her roles ranged from Scrooge’s lost fiancée in A Christmas Carol to Lavinia DuPlessy in Andrew Lippa’s world premiere of A Little Princess, whalebone prevented her from drawing a natural breath for a number of years. She is a soprano with a high pop belt, if it interests you. Her performances were generally reviewed well, with adjectives ranging from “soaring” and “delightful” to “sausage-curled.”

Lyndsay and her husband, artist Gabriel Lehner, live in Queens with their cats, Grendel and Prufrock. During the few hours a day Lyndsay isn’t writing or editing, she is most often cooking, or sampling new kinds of microbrew, or thinking of ways to creatively mismatch her clothing. She is a very proud member of AEA, MWA, ASH, GWN, and BSI (Actor’s Equity Association, Mystery Writers of America, the Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes, Girls Write Now, and the Baker Street Irregulars, respectively).

All The Presidents’ Gardens by Marta McDowell

All the Presidents' Gardens: Madison’s Cabbages to Kennedy’s Roses, How the White House Grounds Have Grown with America

Madison’s Cabbages to Kennedy’s Roses-How the White House grounds have grown with America.

Starting with the plant-obsessed George Washington and ending with Michelle Obama’s kitchen garden, All the Presidents’ Gardens is a rich and compelling narrative that masterfully reveals how the White House grounds reflect what is happening in the country.

The book is written in chronological order beginning with George and Martha Washington in the years 1789 to 1797, the original inhabitants of what was called Versailles on the Potomac.

Ms. McDowell takes us through the centuries and how those 18 acres surrounding the White House have been nurtured, designed, planted and re-planted, changing with the times as well as each of the families who lived there and contributed their own personal mark on the gardens.

The book is full of rich history of not only our Presidents, but the whys and hows each plant came to be in the garden. The stories are informative as well as entertaining.

Each horticulturist is mentioned as well as every shrub and plant growing in the garden, with information about every one. The book is full of lovely illustrations and photographs, along with quotes from our past Presidents and their families.

I found this book to be not only educational, but I will definitely keep it as a resource for my own garden. Ms. McDowell took on a huge task with this project and I for one am glad she did!

The Author:

Marta McDowell lives, gardens and writes in Chatham, New Jersey. She teaches garden history and horticulture at the New York Botanical Garden. where she studied landscape design. A popular lecturer, she speaks to gardening groups across the country. She is also the author of Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life.

I received an ARC copy of this book from the publisher.

Toward Democracy by James T. Kloppenberg

Toward Democracy: The Struggle for Self-Rule in European and American ThoughtToward Democracy: The Struggle for Self-Rule in European and American Thought by James T Kloppenberg

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Toward Democracy takes us on a ride through history not only in America but through Europe as well.
With the thoughts and experiences of our forefathers as well as the views of Tocqueville, Rousseau, and many more including Montesquieu and Robespierre, the author gives us many different views and definitions of democracy.
It is a fact that democracy came out of violence and that violence is still happening, things are ever evolving where democracy is concerned.

As a lover of all things History, this was a wonderful look into the opinions and facts of how we got where we are today and maybe even a bit of a warning for us. I don’t think this book could have come at a better time in our history.
How will it all turn out? What will our democracy cost us? This should be mandatory reading in our schools!

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and Oxford University Press in exchange for an honest review.  Stay tuned for release date, set for July of 2016 at the present time.

View all my reviews

The Books Behind the Oscars

The Books Behind 2016’s Big Oscar Films

The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge

The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge

Michael Punke. Picador, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-250-07268-9
The film based on Punke’s 2002 book, directed by Alejandro Iñárritu and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, received a whopping 12 Oscar nominations, in categories including best actor, best adapted screenplay, best director, and best picture. Punke’s novel, set in 1823, is based on the story of the real-life trapper and frontiersman Hugh Glass. Viciously mauled by a bear and abandoned by his men, Glass struggles to survive for one purpose: to exact revenge.


The Martian

The Martian

Andy Weir. Broadway, trade paper, $15, ISBN 978-0-553-41802-6
Next up on the red carpet is The Martian, based on Andy Weir’s 2011 SF adventure. The film, which was directed by Ridley Scott and stars Matt Damon, earned seven Oscar nominations, in categories including best actor, best adapted screenplay, and best picture. Here is another story of a man left for dead, but this time he’s on a different frontier: Mars. An American astronaut finds himself stranded and literally alone on a planet



Patricia Highsmith. Norton, trade paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-0-393-35268-9
The late Patricia Highsmith, author of Strangers on the Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley, was no stranger to Oscar attention. Now one of her very-much-under-the-radar novels is behind the film Carol, the recipient of six nominations, in categories including best actress, best adapted screenplay, and best cinematography. This tale of romantic obsession, based on Highsmith’s own life, was originally published in 1952 as The Price of Salt. In it, a stage designer trapped in a dull job as saleswoman and a bored suburban housewife fall in love and set out across the United States.

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine

Michael Lewis. Norton, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-0-393-35315-0
Moving from a fictional tiny bad place to the very real big bad world of Wall Street is The Big Short, a bestseller first published by Norton in 2010 and written by Lewis—another author familiar with Oscar attention (The Blind Side, Moneyball). The film has earned four nominations, for best supporting actor, best adapted screenplay, best film editing, and best picture. In The Big Short, Lewis recounts the story of Wall Street players who foresaw the financial collapse of 2008, which was fueled by the spread of subprime mortgages.

The Danish Girl
David Ebershoff. Penguin, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-0-14-310839-9
Another unusual love story is at the core of The Danish Girl, whose film adaptation garnered four Oscar nominations in the categories of best actor, best supporting actress, best costume design, and best production design. Ebershoff’s novel, originally published in 2000, was a New York Times Notable Book, winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Fiction, and winner of the Rosenthal Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In this portrait of a marriage, a question arises: What do you do when the person you love has to change? The Danish Girl is loosely based on the life of Lili Elbe, a pioneer in transgender history.

Emma Donoghue. LB/Back Bay, trade paper, $16.99, ISBN 978-0-316-39134-4
When it was published in 2010, Donoghue’s Room was a New York Times Top Ten book and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. This year she’s been nominated for an Oscar for writing the screenplay based on the novel. Room received three other nominations as well: best actress, best director, and best picture. Room tells the story of a boy and his mother who are held in captivity. To five-year-old Jack, who narrates the book, the room where they’re held is his home and the only world he knows. To his mother, it is a prison.



Colm Tóibín. Scribner, trade paper, $15, ISBN 978-1-5011-0647-7
Tóibín’s acclaimed 2009 novel tells the story of a young Irish immigrant forging a life in 1950’s Brooklyn. The film adaptation earned two Oscar nominations, for best adapted screenplay and best picture. In the novel, Eilis Lacey leaves her mother, sister, and everything she knows in the small town of Enniscorthy to travel to Brooklyn, where a priest has offered to sponsor her. She establishes a life and finds love, but devastating news from home shatters the promise of her future.


Steve Jobs

Walter Isaacson. Simon & Schuster, trade paper, $20, ISBN 978-1-5011-2762-5
Isaacson has a long list of accomplishments: he is the former CEO of the Aspen Institute, former chairman of CNN, former managing editor of Time, and the author of several books, including this biography of Steve Jobs, originally published just weeks after the master innovator died in 2011. Michael Fassbender and Kate Winslet have both been nominated for Oscars for their roles in the film. Isaacson’s bestselling book is based on more than 40 interviews that he conducted with Jobs, as well as hundreds of interviews with friends, family, adversaries, and colleagues. What emerges is a portrait of the turbulent life of a driven, creative genius and revolutionary entrepreneur.


In Another Country: Selected Stories

David Constantine. Biblioasis, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-1-77196-017-5
British author Constantine has been widely published abroad for 30 years, but In Another Country is his North American debut. The story “45 Years” from the collection is the basis for the movie of the same name, for which Charlotte Rampling received a best actress nomination. The story focuses on a couple preparing to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary. As the day draws near, the husband receives news that the body of his ex-girlfriend has been found, 50 years after she fell into an Alpine crevasse. The news profoundly affects his wife’s perspective on their long life and marriage together.



Bruce Cook. Grand Central, trade paper, $15.99, ISBN 978-1-4555-6497-2
Cook’s 1977 biography of Dalton Trumbo, the Oscar-winning screenwriter who broke the Hollywood blacklist, is the basis for the film that has earned a best actor nomination for Bryan Cranston. Trumbo was the screenwriter behind the blockbuster films Exodus, Roman Holiday, Spartacus, Thirty Seconds over Tokyo, and others. He was also the author of the 1939 antiwar novel Johnny Got His Gun. In the years between 1947 and 1960, Trumbo didn’t work at all—he was one of the “Hollywood 10” who refused to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee and was subsequently blacklisted

The Flames of Cyzicus: A Cassius Corbulo Short Story by Nick Brown

When it comes to Roman Historical Fiction, Nick Brown is the man! In The Flames of Cyzicus: A Cassius Corbulo short story we catch up with Corbulo who has received a promotion and has a lot going on. His responsibility is to prepare for a visit from a Legion of Rome.
Cassius thinks this should be a pretty simple assignment until in one night several granaries go up in flames. While this isn’t a major problem at first, things escalate and Cassius knows he has to get to the bottom of this and quickly.
Using his former training, he begins to delve into what is going on. He talks to the locals and eventually his path leads to Vulcan, the Roman God of Fire. What comes next is the really good stuff…and no I’m not spoiling it for you!
Nick Brown is a must read and I love it that he gave us this little story in between the big ones! You won’t be disappointed! Grab them all and have a great weekend meeting Mr. Brown and the magic he does so well.


The Flames of Cyzicus: A Cassius Corbulo short story (Agent of Rome, #1.5)

Sugar by L. Todd Wood

Sugar is a novel from L.Todd Wood, who is a genius in mixing the historical facts and fiction.
This book takes us from the slave trade in the Indies to the Islamic influence in the Middle East.
A wonderful combination of historical fact and fiction.

His talent for breaking down complex events, not to mention their continuing effects on us today and what those consequences are is done in a way that is easy to read and understand. Mr. Wood’s books are always entertaining and educational. A combo you can’t beat.

This is a must read book in understanding our relationship with Muslim extremists and America.

5 Stars. I think we may need Mr. Wood in Washington!

Currency by L.Todd Wood

Currency by L.Todd Wood

Well written novel by someone who is an expert on the subject matter. From hunting pirate treasure to modern day political intrigue.  Covering 3 centuries, it is one gasp after the other. It is always a bonus when an author can not only entertain you with their writing, but also educate you in the process. I promise you that if you read this novel, you will learn things that you will never forget and as for me, it has put me on a more pro-active stance on what is going on locally and globally. A must read.  Please make this one into a movie!