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 This book pulls all of them together, using unpublished letters from archives and numerous other sources, the author gives us a complete picture of the private lives of the three girls who lived to adulthood.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

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

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

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

In the Shadow of the Empress by Nancy Goldstone

In the Shadow of the Empress: The Defiant Lives of Maria Theresa, Mother of Marie Antoinette, and Her Daughters

The vibrant, sprawling saga of Empress Maria Theresa—one of the most renowned women rulers in history—and three of her extraordinary daughters, including Marie Antoinette, the doomed queen of France.

That is the blurb on this very interesting look at this Empress and her daughters. And with Nancy Goldstone as the author I knew this would be good. She has such a way of making Non-Fiction read like the best story you can imagine. Never dull or dry. I adored this book.

This is the story of eighteenth century Maria Theresa, a strong woman who ruled the entire Habsburg Empire. We also learn about her daughters, who were also strong rulers in their own right. The Governor-General of the Austrian Netherlands, Maria Christina. Maria Carolina, Queen of Naples and of course, Marie Antoinette, Queen of France and the one you have probably heard the most about.

But all of them were extraordinary. The imagery of the royal courts is well done. The research put into this book is astounding. Reading this was a history lesson inside a story. A story of hope, desire, betrayal and every hardship one could imagine.

This is one I shall keep and share for a long time.

NetGalley/ September 21st, 2021 by Little, Brown and Company

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

VALCOUR-The 1776 Campaign That Saved The Cause of Liberty by JACK KELLY

Valcour: The 1776 Campaign That Saved the Cause of Liberty

The wild and suspenseful story of one of the most crucial and least known campaigns of the Revolutionary War when America’s scrappy navy took on the full might of Britain’s sea power.

Valcour is about the people involved in the 1776 three-day battle of the fledgling American Colonies against the pesky Brits. In the summer of that year, word came that the British were coming from Canada.

The Americans had wanted to maintain their hold on the upper rivers and knew that to do so they would have to make a stand. And what a brave stand these soldiers who were really just volunteers, made. A stand that would change the course of history.

You will recognize the names. Washington, Schuyler, a General who would become Alexander Hamilton’s father-in-law by marrying Eliza. We also see a different side of Benedict Arnold. A bit rougher than some, but a brilliant strategist.

While Washington routed them in Trenton, Arnold sent the British Gates packing in a three-day battle on Lake Champlain and forced a retreat.

This is a well-researched book. I think we all are familiar with Benedict Arnold as a traitor, but he really is so much more. These men were young and untried but passionate about not being under the thumb of Britain. This was more than a history lesson. These were real people who overcame incredible odds to hold up our fledgling country against more powerful enemies and prevailed.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this one.

NetGalley/ April 6th, 2021 by St. Martin’s Press

The Lost Carousel of Provence by Juliet Blackwell

So good ❤️📚

An artist lost to history, a family abandoned to its secrets, and the woman whose search for meaning unearths it all in a sweeping and expressive story from the New York Times bestselling author of Letters from Paris . 

Cady Drake had a rough start in life. Orphaned and shuffled through the foster system she lucked out the day Maxine, owner of an antique and junk shop, takes her in for good. From Maxine, Cady learns about life and restoring to life beautiful pieces of the past that have been abandoned or neglected.

When Maxine dies, Cady is adrift. Terrified to be alone and her good friend Olivia thinks she has the answer to Cady’s problems. A book. Not just any book, but a book about the carousels of Paris. Cady has her own carousel rabbit. Gus, who in a fit of frustration Cady gives a good kick, unlocking a hidden compartment containing a box and a photo with a full carousel in the background. As a photographer, Cady is intrigued by the photo and how old it is. And in that moment she takes the commission and heads to Paris.

She loves taking pictures of the beautiful carousels in Paris but she really wants to find this Chateau Clement in Provence and find out if her Gus is part of their carousel.
What she finds is a long neglected château, and an angry old man who wants nothing to do with her or anyone else. But Cady isn’t one to take no for an answer and soon she has everyone involved trying to put the carousel back and find out who this mystery woman is.

Told in the past and the present, this was such a beautiful story. No, the characters weren’t perfect. And the past isn’t always pretty. But it’s only when secrets and misunderstandings come out in the light, that healing will begin.

I’m quite sure I will never miss a novel by Ms. Blackwell!

*****

BOOM TOWN by SAM ANDERSON

Boom Town: The Fantastical Saga of Oklahoma City, Its Chaotic Founding, Its Apocalyptic Weather, Its Purloined Basketball Team, and the Dream of Becoming a World-class Metropolis

Boom Town: The Fantastical Saga of Oklahoma City, Its Chaotic Founding, Its Apocalyptic Weather, Its Purloined Basketball Team, and the Dream of Becoming a World-class Metropolis

A lively and introspective look into Oklahoma City, where colorful city officials business leaders, artists, and sports fans have turned an unassuming Southwestern city into a thriving metropolis with a dazzling basketball team.

Sam Anderson–award-winning critic and journalist–makes his long-awaited debut with a stunning, insightful, and raucous portrait of Oklahoma City, an iconoclastic outpost in America’s heartland.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book. I’ve lived in Nichols Hills since Hurricane Katrina spit us out of Mississippi’s Gulf Coast. The entire state has been a mystery to me.

I had never heard of Sam Anderson, sorry Sam, but I won’t forget him! This was the best unvarnished look at who makes the rules here and what the powers that be have envisioned for the city.  Oklahoma City is a huge sprawling area of tiny pockets of old-established neighborhoods. While there have been huge improvements to downtown OKC, beyond the city center the homeless linger under bridges and overpasses and oil and gas rules. Unemployment is rampant unless you are an oil field worker and even then you may only have a job until it’s bonus time.

From the Land Run to Aubrey Mclendon’s spectacular exit from his oil and gas woes to the Flaming Lips front man Wayne Coyne, whose house I have been in and it is just as weird and wacko as Sam will tell you about.

I laughed so hard all the way through this book. Sam has captured the city perfectly as well as all of its most colorful residents.

Very Well Done and I look forward to more from this author!

Netgalley/August 21st 2018 by Crown