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Christmas with the Cornish Girls by Betty Walker

Publishing November 25, 2021

A heartwarming tale of sisterhood in wartimeIt’s 1941, and Christmas is approaching in St. Ives…

To Pre-Order: https://www.harpercollins.com/products/christmas-with-the-cornish-girls-the-cornish-girls-series-betty-walker?variant=39649409368098

Betty Walker lives in Cornwall with her large family, where she enjoys gardening and coastal walks. She loves discovering curious historical facts, and devotes much time to investigating her family tree.

She also writes under other names! She writes thrillers as Jane Holland, romance as Beth Good, and YA fantasy as Victoria Lamb. (Goodreads)

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Christmas is coming to Cornwall, England, no matter the war and air raids. Betty Walker continues The Cornish Girls Series with an attentive, warm-hearted glimpse into the lives and struggling relationships of Lily and Eva as they move from the top-secret listening post in Porthcurno up the coast to Symmonds Hall in St. Ives. Walker creates excellent backstory of the personalities and past of each character, so readers feel connected without reading Book #1, Wartime with the Cornish Girls. (Though a great read and highly recommended!)

Symmonds Hall is staffed by two doctors and several rule abiding nurses. Next door is an orphanage run by the Treverricks, whose “parenting” techniques are highly questionable. A love triangle, the orphanage, and the children in the Treverrick’s care become a personal challenge for Nurse Rose. Betty Walker’s focus deftly shifts back and forth from developing adult relationships to the orphans’ tenuous situation.

With December 1941 approaching, Lily is tasked with organizing the annual Christmas party! Lily’s and Eva’s days are filled with a wheelchair bound patient, a burn victim, a pregnant visitor, and orphan rescue missions! Meanwhile, it’s an emotional relief to be involved in Lily’s party preparations-dicey at best, with paper chains and rationing.

Christmas with the Cornish Girls reminds readers “that when things are at their darkest, love comes along to light the way.”

Featured

A Christmas Legacy by Anne Perry

PUBLISHING NOVEMBER 2, 2021

Thomas and Charlotte Pitt’s former maid takes a new job as Christmas approaches—but not everyone in the household may survive the holidays in this tension-filled novel from bestselling author Anne Perry.

A Christmas Novella Coming November 2, 2021

https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/651820/a-christmas-legacy-by-anne-perry/

Anne Perry is the bestselling author of fifteen previous holiday novels, as well as the bestselling William Monk series, the bestselling Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series, the new Daniel Pitt series, five World War I novels, and a work of historical fiction, The Sheen on the Silk. Anne Perry lives in Los Angeles.

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Anne Perry’s annual holiday offering, A Christmas Legacy, is certainly a special gift for readers and fans of period dramas set in 1900, London. From Anne Perry’s Charlotte and Thomas Pitt Series comes now married, former maid Gracie Tellman with her own story.

Millie Foster, housemaid at the Harcourt estate, reports to her friend Gracie Tellman that cakes, pudding, and chicken are going missing; none of the staff says a word, because all are afraid someone will be ‘sacked’; and right before Christmas! Gracie, now married to an Inspector, trades places with Millie to discover what’s happening. As the mystery unfolds readers are treated to the now familiar pecking order of the “downstairs” staff due to six seasons of Downton Abbey!  Anne Perry slowly builds suspicion and casts doubt on the Harcourts and the servants; between conversations with butler, Mr. Denning and housekeeper, Mrs. Jenkins, along with love secrets shared between Mrs. Harcourt’s lady’s maid, Nora and Walter, Mr. Harcourt’s valet. Perhaps most endearing is bright, red headed Archie, the footman, that Gracie encourages to learn to read so he can “go anywhere…, anywhere real, or not real.” Readers learn along with Gracie that facing challenges and struggles brings people together. At the end of A Christmas Legacy there is great “satisfaction in realizing that kindness is noticed.”

Return to the origins of the Victorian-era sleuthing couple with the first three mysteries in the “unfailingly rewarding” New York Times–bestselling series (The New York Times Book Review).

https://www.fantasticfiction.com/p/anne-perry/charlotte-and-thomas-pitt-novels-volume-one.htm

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Christmas in Peachtree Bluff by Kristy Woodson Harvey

Publication Day October 26, 2021

In the newest installment of New York Times bestselling author Kristy Woodson Harvey’​s Peachtree Bluff series, three generations of the Murphy women must come together when a hurricane threatens to destroy their hometown—and the holiday season in the process.

https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Christmas-in-Peachtree-Bluff/Kristy-Woodson-Harvey/The-Peachtree-Bluff-Series/9781982185206

Kristy Woodson Harvey is the New York Times bestselling author of nine novels, including Under the Southern SkyFeels Like Falling, and The Peachtree Bluff series. Kristy is the cocreator and cohost of the weekly web show and podcast Friends & Fiction. She blogs with her mom Beth Woodson on Design Chic, and loves connecting with fans on KristyWoodsonHarvey.com. She lives on the North Carolina coast with her husband and son where she is (always!) working on her next novel.

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Meteorologists are reporting that the “storm of the century” is bearing down on the coastal Georgia town of Peachtree Bluff. Fourth in the series, Christmas in Peachtree Bluff, opens with the matriarch, a true Southern lady, Ansley Murphy, waiting for her daughters, Sloane, Emerson, Caroline, and families to arrive for Thanksgiving Day. Kristy Woodson Harvey does an excellent job of providing the details and backstory on each of the daughters and other characters from the first three books in the series.  Through memories and storytelling readers come to empathize and settle into the traditions and history of homes known as Murphy Row, all a short walk from the marina on the beach. Charming descriptions add a holiday thrill and chill to strolling and shopping the boutiques with twinkling lights and wreaths on streetlights in the square. The saga continues amidst family secrets uncovered, mystery mixed with legends, and the angst of a teenager dealing with a divorce. The safety of the entire Murphy family and the cherished holiday traditions of Peachtree Bluff are in jeopardy as Hurricane Pearl gains intensity. In the face of adversity readers are reminded of the importance of family, forgiveness, and faith.

Fans of KWH, new and old, will treasure the blend of holiday traditions, suspense, and surprise in Christmas in Peachtree Bluff.

Official hurricane season is June 1-November 30. With plenty of warning, Peachtree Bluff fans are sheltering in place and bracing for Pearl- “coming ashore” October 26!

Featured

Once Upon A Wardrobe by Patti Callahan

Watch a beautiful trailer for Once Upon a Wardrobe: https://www.patticallahanhenry.com/once-upon-a-wardrobe

This link will take you to many videos of Oxford, The Kilns-C.S. Lewis’ home, and more: https://www.patticallahanhenry.com/videos-and-podcasts

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

“Once upon a wardrobe, not very long ago, and not far away” in the town of Oxford, England, Megs Devonshire followed the winding, icy path to The Kilns, the home of the famous author, C.S. Lewis. His newest book The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, was hugely popular, and her brother George was obsessed with the land of Narnia.  Megs was desperately hoping to find the courage to speak to Mr. Lewis and ask, “Where did Narnia come from?” Desperate because her 8-year-old brother, George, didn’t have long to live and he wanted to know. Megs, an introverted physics student ruled by logic and equations, not fairy tales, was boosted by her deep devotion and love for George. Mr. Lewis or Jack, and his older brother, Warnie, welcomed Megs into their common room with worn leather chairs, books piled high and a roaring fire and tea to warm her. Thus, Megs begins frequent visits to The Kilns and walks about the woods with Jack and Warnie as her questions lead to accounts of the death of his mother at age 9, the horrible Wynyard School, and his time in the army at The Somme -all told by the genius with wit; Jack wants Megs to just listen and take notes later. This quest to find the beginnings of Narnia will lead to much, much more-for readers, for George, and Megs.

As Megs returns to George’s sickbed to retell the stories shared by Jack and Warnie, George and readers are anxious for her to keep sharing. Megs is becoming quite a storyteller and readers realize that through stories one can see ‘reality from new angles.’ Megs is enthralled, becomes distracted from her exams, and finds herself in the Bodleian Library searching for Phantastes, a fantasy novel by Scottish writer George MacDonald, that Jack claims “baptized his imagination!” A lesson Megs learns from George is that all fairy tales have a bad part, a scary part-just as in real life. George is helping Megs to cope with his illness as much as she is helping him by sharing Jack’s stories.  Patti Callahan weaves history through Jack’s life stories so Megs finds out about Operation Pied Piper, when in 1939 children were brought to The Kilns from London to escape The Blitz. This novel shines a glowing lantern of compassion on Clive Sterling Lewis and his efforts to comfort the children with his stories and a home along with his deep empathy for their parents during this time of separation. (Children coming from London to live with a professor, sound familiar?)

The only gift George wishes for this Christmas 1950, is a trip to Ireland to visit Dunlace Castle. Will his wish be granted? Will he find out where Narnia came from? Come along on this “Grand Adventure” to find answers and see if you hear “the lion’s roar” as Patti Callahan unravels mysteries of the universe and the magic of hope in Once Upon A Wardrobe-an outpouring of love and enlightenment.

Featured

The Wish Book Christmas by Lynn Austin

Happy Publication Day-September 7, 2021

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

The Wish Book Christmas was read and reviewed for the Historical Novels Review Magazine that will publish on November 1, 2021. After that date the review may be published. In the meantime, here’s the summary from Amazon. If I Were You is inspirational historical fiction set in London WWll and post-war America. It is a prequel, although The Wish Book Christmas may be read as a stand alone novel.

From the bestselling author of If I Were You comes a nostalgic and endearing holiday story that reminds us that sometimes the most meaningful gifts are the ones we least expect and don’t deserve.

Best friends Audrey Barrett and Eve Dawson are looking forward to celebrating Christmas in postwar America, thrilled at the prospect of starting new traditions with their five-year-old sons. But when the 1951 Sears Christmas Wish Book arrives and the boys start obsessing over every toy in it, Audrey and Eve realize they must first teach them the true significance of the holiday. They begin by helping Bobby and Harry plan gifts of encouragement and service for those in their community, starting by walking an elderly neighbor’s yellow Lab―since a dog topped the boys’ wish list for Santa. In the charming tale that follows, Audrey and Eve are surprised to find their own hearts healing from the tragedies of war and opening to the possibility of forgiveness and new love.

Lynn resigned from teaching to write full-time in 1992. Since then she has published 27 novels. Eight of her historical novels have won Christy Awards for excellence in Christian Fiction: Hidden Places (2001), Candle in the Darkness (2002), Fire by Night (2003), A Proper Pursuit (2007), Until We Reach Home (2008), Though Waters Roar (2009) While We’re Far Apart (2010), and Wonderland Creek(2011). She was inducted into the Christy Award Hall of Fame in 2013. 

Featured

Happy Publication Day! The Riviera House by Natasha Lester

“ONE UNFORGETTABLE SUMMER . . . When Remy discovers she’s mysteriously inherited a house on the French Riviera she drops everything to go there…”

Available August 31, 2021

Natasha Lester worked as a marketing executive for L’Oréal, managing the Maybelline brand, before returning to university to study creative writing. She completed a Master of Creative Arts and has written several novels including A Kiss From Mr. Fitzgerald, Her Mother’s Secret, The Paris Seamstress, The French Photographer, and The Paris Secret.

In her spare time Natasha loves to teach writing, is a sought after public speaker and can often be found playing dress-up with her three children. She lives in Perth.

For all the latest news from Natasha visit:
http://www.natashalester.com.au
Twitter: @Natasha_Lester
Instagram: natashalester
Facebook: NatashaLesterAuthor

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

An envelope with money, a key, and the title to a villa on the French Riviera.

Natasha Lester’s The Riviera House is the tale of daring women protecting famous artworks since the Nazis are coming for France! It’s 1939, and the Louvre is closing for three days for “essential repair work.” Main character, Eliane Dufort, a student of art history, goes to school and works at the Louvre. Eliane, becomes involved in protecting the art by adding codes on crates of artwork being sent to another smaller museum, the Jeu de Paume, for cataloging and eventually transit. Her brother, Luc, an aspiring artist, and his friend Xavier, also become involved in the plot to save the famous artworks. Natasha Lester provides an excellent character study of brother and sister, and the wealthy friend, Xavier Laurent, whose father owns art galleries in Paris, London, and New York City. According to Xavier, Hitler is “not just seizing nations, he’s destroying their art and culture, too.” Readers learn to distrust both Luc and Xavier, for different reasons. Eliane and the reader fall for Xavier as Natasha Lester, in a time of such fear, gives a very calming and tender description of Xavier’s love for Eliane. Later Xavier appears with Reichsmarshall Goring as a guide at the Louvre and readers are filled with extreme doubt! Who can Eliane trust?

In a dual timeline, Natasha Lester whisks the reader to the grand vistas of the French Riviera, to a breathtaking villa in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. (See below!) At the urging of her best friend Antoinette, Remy Lang has come from Sydney, Australia, to spend three months in France to recover and reassemble her life. In 2015, Remy is a widow of two years, and owner/curator of a vintage fashion business.  Remy is in a “coma of agony.” Natasha Lester has a way with the language that speaks to the soul. As Remy navigates her journey of grief NL injects doubt and questioning, so   readers are urged to examine their own conscience and come to conclusions.  The villa is part of Remy’s inheritance, and her quandary is “How do I have in my possession a painting that Herman Goring stole seventy years ago?” That answer is filled with art history, mystery, and “Wait. What?” moments.

As Xavier says, “Art is all we have when words fail us, mankind fails us, and we fail each other.” Join the throng of Natasha Lester fans, to discover the treasures and uncover the mysteries hidden in The Riviera House.

Featured

The Santa Suit by Mary Kay Andrews

A novella celebrating the magic of Christmas and second chances…”

-Publishing for Christmas reading and gifting on September 28, 2021-

MARY KAY ANDREWS is the New York Times bestselling author of 27 novels. She and her family divide their time between Atlanta and Tybee Island, GA, where they cook up new recipes in two restored beach homes, The Breeze Inn and Ebbtide—both named after fictional places in Mary Kay’s novels, and both available to rent through Tybee Vacation Rentals. In between cooking, spoiling her grandkids, and plotting her next novel, Mary Kay is an intrepid treasure hunter whose favorite pastime is junking and fixing up old houses.

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Get wrapped up in magical new beginnings, glistening snow on an old farmhouse, and friendly small-town connections in MKA’s Christmas novella, The Santa Suit. Ivy Perkin’s world has turned upside down and she’s “cashed in all her chips” to buy an old farm away from the city lights and traffic of Atlanta. As Ivy unpacks, she finds a box with a Santa suit and a special letter tucked into the pocket; “Please bring my father home safely from the war.” Ivy begins a search to find out the “rest of the story” and in the process begins to soften and trust new acquaintances, Ezra the realtor and Phoebe from the county courthouse. The charming townspeople and their outgoing, helpful ways share bits of wisdom and readers learn the value of opening your heart and home, trusting your instincts and being true to yourself. Sorting through photos of children on Santa’s lap and vintage Shiny Brite glass ornaments, Ivy’s hurt feelings, and fears get tangled in the strings of bubble lights and garland, as she prepares her “new” old farmhouse for Christmas. So many lose ends: The Langley Sweet shop survival, Phoebe’s cyber fiancé, and the Santa letter! As the whole town and surrounding communities pack the streets for the annual Christmas Stroll, readers will receive a gift from MKA wrapped in love and topped with a satisfying big red bow. Ivy’s neighbor reminds readers, “You’re never too old to have a new friend.” Accept The Santa Suit by MKA as the perfect uplifting holiday read.

Featured

The Sorting Room by Michael Rose

“A moving and evocative tale, sweeping in scope- Its depiction of Depression-era New York City is vivid and haunting.” Amazon

Publishes: September 21, 2021

https://www.amazon.com/Sorting-Room-Novel-Michael-Rose/dp/168463105X

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-sorting-room-michael-rose/1138488965

Michael Rose was raised on a small family dairy farm in Upstate New York. He retired after serving in executive positions for several global multinational enterprises. He has been a non-executive director for three public companies headquartered in the U.S. The Sorting Room is his debut novel. He lives and writes in San Francisco.

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

A game of marbles led to an accident leaving ten-year-old Eunice Ritter’s older brother mentally impaired. In 1928, New York City, Eunice is forced to support her alcoholic parents and her siblings, as punishment for the accident. The spunky Eunice convinces David Welles, owner of an industrial laundry, to give her a chance at a job in his “sorting room.” Against his better judgement and not expecting her to last 15 minutes, Eunice begins her life’s work.   With Gussie as a mentor and Mr. Welles’ gambling brother, Martin, and cousin Alfred as enemies, Eunice not only survives the stench and grueling shifts, but eventually becomes a supervisor. Michael Rose stirs the melting pot of Prohibition-era New York City with Swedish immigrants escaping tragedy and Native Americans escaping the reservation.

 As the saga slowly unfolds Rose’s characters evolve with clarity and depth so readers will be cheering for Eunice and Gussie, hopeful for Joshua and Jackson from the reservation and despising Eunice’s father and JP, the wicked man she’s forced to marry.  Rose lends a much-needed lift with a clever sense of humor in reference to Eunice as a witch and uses a mirror in a bar scene to give readers a different and interesting view of patrons. Eunice plods through her life with perseverance, enduring her marriage of “slavery” since women still need a husband’s signature for a lease. Rose adds suspense with a kidnapping and continuity with the thread of the ‘annual Mother’s Day trip to Grammas.’  Readers will develop sincere empathy for Eunice and the family she creates as Michael Rose’s debut novel opens with foreshadowing of a life to come- a spunky ten-year-old girl lands a job with the ‘dirty dirties’ in The Sorting Room.

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The Ice Swan by J’Nell Ciesielski

“Amid the violent last days of the glittering Russian monarch, a princess on the run finds her heart where she least expects it.”

Bestselling author and with a passion for heart-stopping adventure and sweeping love stories, J’Nell Ciesielski weaves fresh takes into romances of times gone by. When not creating dashing heroes and daring heroines, she can be found dreaming of Scotland, indulging in chocolate of any kind, or watching old black and white movies. She is a Florida native who now lives in Virginia with her husband, daughter, and lazy beagle. Learn more at: http://www.jnellciesielski.com.

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

The Ice Swan opens in the chapter of Russian history, 1917, when the Bolsheviks are ridding the country of royalty. Distant relatives of the Tsar, Princess Svetlana Dalsky and family are fleeing the Blue Palace in Petrograd, seeking safety in Paris. Known as the “cold, conceited, condescending” princess, Svetlana crosses paths with Scotsman surgeon, Dr. Edwynn MacCallan, second son of wealthy Duke of Kilbride. Svetlana and Wynn, each facing fears and distanced by pride and stubbornness, are flung closer when the influenza epidemic strikes her family. A Paris hotel turned hospital is where Dr. Wynn performs daring cardiac surgery and Svetlana reveals her servant heart. Svetlana, a princess who speaks six languages and finds joy in ballet, has become indebted to Sheremetev, ruler of the underworld and the decadent White Bear Club. With his disgusting offer of marriage to offset her mother’s debts and the alarming announcement that the entire Romanov family has been executed, Svetlana races from the club with Wynn in close pursuit.

Readers will thrill to Ciesielski’s crisp details and dialogue as “revolution, murder, and survival tend to block out the pretense of happiness.” Ciesielski’s stunning descriptions of Paris streets and charming exchanges showing humor are delightful; especially as Wynn translates Scottish expressions and puns for Svetlana. Ciesielski uses analogies of caring for plants and the changing threads in a pattern to explain Svetlana’s transformation and tangled feelings. Wynn’s conundrum is very rightly compared to women’s choices and their right to vote. Readers need to bundle up to face the decisions of “duty vs. personal desires, finding grace out of ruin, and turning fear to trust.” Along with traditional Scottish kilts and bannocks, royal tiaras and vareniki, readers will weep with joy at this astonishing story. The Ice Swan, elegant Svetlana will warm readers’ hearts, and as Wynn would say, “It’s a bonny read!”

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral -Paris, Svetlana & family lived in the basement

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A Most Clever Girl by Stephanie Marie Thornton

A thrilling tale of love, loyalty, and espionage, based on the incredible true story of Elizabeth Bentley, a Cold War double agent spying for the Russians and the United States, from USA Today bestselling author Stephanie Marie Thornton.

Publishing September 14, 2021

Stephanie Marie Thornton is a writer and history teacher who has been obsessed with women from history since she was twelve. She is the author of seven novels and lives with her husband and daughter in Alaska. https://www.stephaniethorntonauthor.com/

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

In A Most Clever Girl, based on the true story of Elizabeth Bentley, a World War ll spy and Cold War informer, Stephanie Thornton teaches readers tricks of the spy trade along with life lessons. Catherine Gray, a journalism major and an intern at the White House, is in shock after the death of her mother, discovery of an unsettling letter, and the assassination of President Kennedy. Catherine has concluded that Elizabeth Bentley is the reason her life has been a complete lie and wanting an explanation, has tracked down Elizabeth and given her one hour to explain the lies before she pulls the trigger. So, at the end of her life, on the clock and at gunpoint, Elizabeth Bentley, through flashbacks, recounts her life of espionage to explain how life as a spy was really one of loneliness, love, and sacrifice, along with courage. Readers will sneak through the bar scenes, while keeping up with disguises, code names, and ‘honey traps’ and take Elizabeth’s advice to stay one move ahead, as she compares spy strategies to a chess board and “A Queen’s Gambit.” Political heavy weights such as J. Edgar Hoover, Joseph McCarthy, and Richard Nixon are mingled with Meet the Press, NBC, and the New York Times. Encrypted codes, and double-speak are woven into life lessons on people as puzzles, figuring out motivations, and the study of human behaviors. Stephanie Thornton’s A Most Clever Girl peeks into the Golden Age of Spying and post-World War ll America, while jerking back the curtain on Communism. The last question for readers: After court cases, prison sentences, and informants sent to the electric chair, was Elizabeth Bentley telling the truth?

Publishes September 14, 2021
Featured

The Singer and The Scientist by Lisa Rose-Illustrated by Isabel Muñoz

Singer, Marion Anderson, and Scientist, Albert Einstein, find they share the hurt of prejudice and the love of music.

Lisa Rose lives near Detroit, Michigan. She likes to swim, practice yoga, and eat ice cream, but not at the same time. http://www.LisaRoseWrites.com

Isabel studied Fine Arts at the University Complutense of Madrid, Spain. Painting for a living was her dream, and now she’s proud to be the illustrator of several children books. She works from a tiny and colorful studio in northern Spain.

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Singer Marian Anderson and scientist Albert Einstein cross paths in 1937 at a performance in New Jersey. In a time of racial and religious discrimination in America, Albert Einstein shows kindness to Marian by inviting her to stay at his home when she is denied lodging at the nearby hotel. The glimpse into Germany and the treatment of Jews through Albert’s eyes and Marian’s plight will evoke sympathy in hearts of young readers and is relevant in today’s social climate. Young readers may not have heard of Marian Anderson but through Albert and Marian’s sharing of life stories over years of friendship Rose creates a connection between science, music, and math. Historical connections to Eleanor Roosevelt, the DAR, and the Lincoln Memorial in the Author’s Notes are links for further correlation and study. Rose’s choice of wording is both melodic and rhythmic for reading aloud, and themes of doing what is right and showing kindness makes The Singer and the Scientist a current and fulfilling addition to any library.

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Nathan’s Song by Leda Schubert – Illustrated by Maya Ish-Shalom

Everyone in the Russian shtetl loves young Nathan’s singing. “That Nathan!” say the neighbors. “He can lift your heart with his voice.”

Leda Schubert lives in Vermont, writes books for children, LOVES music and dogs-and lots of other stuff. Read about her here and see other wonderful books she has written: https://www.ledaschubert.com/bio.htm

Maya Ish-Shalom is an Israeli illustrator based in Brooklyn, NY. She earned her B.Des from the Department of Visual Communication in Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem. ُShe tells stories through colorful, lively illustrations that spark viewers’ imagination and empathy. Maya’s portfolio varies from minimalist and simple illustrations to highly detailed, complex works.https://www.instagram.com/maya_ishshalom/

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Nathan’s Song was inspired by the author’s grandfather, born in a Jewish shtetl in Russia in the late 1800’s. Always singing as a child and after hearing an opera singer in a nearby village, Nathan and his family are determined to earn enough money for his singing lessons in Italy. At age 16, he travels from Russia to Italy, but a mishap at the dock ends with Nathan on a ship to New York City instead. Leda Schubert’s prose is filled with geography, persecution of Jews, ship travel, Ellis Island, and immigration; all which make Nathan’s Song superb enrichment to a Social Studies curriculum. Young readers will relish the suspense of Nathan’s travels and the leaving of his cap is an especially poignant symbol of themes of family commitments and life goals. Nathan learns to speak English, gets a job, and even marries, but will he rejoin his family? Illustrator, Maya Ish-Shalom’s use of bold, vibrant colors and geometric shapes in collage illustrations has great appeal for readers of all ages and adds immensely to the prose.  As music lifts our hearts and spirits, so will Leda Shubert’s Nathan’s Song.

Ellis Island may not appear large on a map, but it is an unparalleled destination in United States history. After welcoming more than 12 million immigrants to our shores, Ellis Island is now a poetic symbol of the American Dream. This photo is from the National Immigration Museum:

https://www.statueofliberty.org/ellis-island/

The Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration is a living monument to the story of the American people. Housed inside the restored Main Building of the former immigration complex, the Museum documents the rich story of American immigration through a carefully curated collection of photographs, heirlooms, and searchable historic records.https://www.statueofliberty.org/ellis-island/national-immigration-museum/

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At Summer’s End by Courtney Ellis

When an ambitious female artist accepts an unexpected commission at a powerful earl’s country estate in 1920s England, she finds his war-torn family crumbling under the weight of long-kept secrets. From debut author Courtney Ellis comes a captivating novel about finding the courage to heal after the ravages of war. Available August 10, 2021

Courtney Ellis is the author of the forthcoming historical fiction novel, AT SUMMER’S END. She began writing at a young age, and developed an interest in history from her grandfather’s stories of World War II. After obtaining her BA in English and Creative Writing, she went on to pursue a career in publishing. She lives in Western New York with her rescue dog.

Find her online at @CellisWriter on Twitter, and courtneyellisauthor on FacebookInstagram and Pinterest​.

Photo by Kelly Gleason

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

“Everything important and remarkable I had ever done, I’d done on my own.” Bertie

Alberta Preston, an unknown aspiring artist in 1922 England, enters a competition as Bertie, hoping the assumption would be that ‘she’ is a ‘he.’ Her painting titled, Something for the Pain, wins and is featured in the Times.  Soon Alberta receives a letter from the Earl of Wakeford, addressed to Mr. Preston, offering to commission ‘him’ for several paintings of his estate in Wiltshire, England, known as Castle Braemore. Against her parents’ wishes Bertie accepts the commission to spend the summer at the castle and the experience changes her life forever. This debut novel by Courtney Ellis is a superb character study of women and their aspirations in the early 20th century, the long-term effects of World War One on soldiers, nurses, and those left behind, along with the economic aftermath dealt with by families. Upon his father’s death, 12- year-old Julian becomes the Earl of Wakeford and his oldest sister, Gwen, takes over the responsibilities of her siblings. The author’s use of flashbacks develops compassion and empathy as alternating chapters take a glimpse into the family dynamics, early years, and the personalities of each of the Wakeford children. Bertie’s personal feelings are explored as she comes to grips with her own aspirations and her feelings of unworthiness within her own family. Readers will get a true sense of Bertie’s inspiration and obsession in painting and sketching Castle Braemore as Courtney Ellis fills in with superb descriptions of the palace and grounds, along with artistic details of composition and techniques. As the family faces reality, the Earl of Wakeford and his siblings attempt to heal their wounds of war with love and loyalty. Readers will be filled with suspense, sometimes even anxiousness, but also cheer for Bertie’s boldness, her sense of accomplishment and the decision she makes “at summer’s end.”

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Three Words for Goodbye by Hazel Gaynor & Heather Webb

From Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb, the bestselling authors of Meet Me in Monaco, comes a coming-of-age novel set in pre-WWII Europe, perfect for fans of Jennifer Robson, Beatriz Williams, and Kate Quinn.

Three cities, two sisters, one chance to correct the past…

Available July 27, 2021

Hazel Gaynor is an award-winning, New York Times, USA Today, Irish Times and international bestselling author. Her most recent historical novel, set in China during WW2, published as THE BIRD IN THE BAMBOO CAGE, in the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, and as WHEN WE WERE YOUNG & BRAVE in the USA and Canada, was an Irish Times bestseller, a National Bestseller in the USA and was shortlisted for the 2020 Irish Book Awards. Her next novel, THREE WORDS FOR GOODBYE, co-written with Heather Webb,  will be published in the USA and Canada in July 2021, and in the UK and Ireland in September 2021. https://www.hazelgaynor.com/

Heather Webb is the USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of seven historical novels. In 2015, Rodin’s Lover was a Goodread’s Top Pick, and in 2018, Last Christmas in Paris won the Women’s Fiction Writers Association STAR Award. Meet Me in Monaco, was selected as a finalist for the 2020 Goldsboro RNA award in the UK, as well as the 2019 Digital Book World’s Fiction prize. https://heatherwebbauthor.com/site/

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Violet, too ill to travel in 1937, has organized a journey to Europe for granddaughters Clara and Maddy to deliver good-bye letters to the meaningful people in her life of 40 years ago. The sisters, once inseparable as young girls, have barely spoken since their father’s death over a year ago. Co-authors Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb have done a superb job of defining the personalities of Clara and Maddy, using poignant memories and images from their childhood and complexities of their adult desires, inhibitions, and fears. Clara, cautious, pessimistic, rules and schedules dictate her days, is a promising artist. Maddy, ambitious, refuses to conform and insists on going her own way, is a budding journalist. Violet encourages the girls to “enjoy your differences,” which also suggests readers do the same with family and friends. The journey to Paris, Venice, and Vienna is as much for Violet’s last good-byes to be delivered as it is for Clara and Maddy to experience time for self-examination. Maddy, very inquisitive, bold, and brash is directly opposite of Clara who has not found her voice, even with her fiancé, millionaire Charles Hancock. The self-analysis and discoveries made by each sister along the way gives the reader plenty to ponder long after the journey is over. One thing the sisters DO agree on is Violet’s transportation choices which include the opulent Queen Mary, the Orient Express, and the Hindenburg. With the detailed descriptions and perfect analogies readers will travel first class throughout the trip! The suspense of decisions to be made and secrets to be revealed are intensified as the sisters travel to each destination. In Three Words for Goodbye, the anticipation of what lies ahead for Clara and Maddy adds to this enriching, enjoyable journey.  

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In Royal Service to the Queen by Tessa Arlen

The revealing story of Queen Elizabeth II’s beloved governess, Marion Crawford, who spent more than sixteen years of her life in loyal service to the royal family and was later shunned by those she has loved and served.

is the author of the Woman of World War II Mysteries and the novel In Royal Service to the Queen. Born in Singapore, the daughter of a British diplomat, she has lived in Egypt, Germany, the Persian Gulf, China, and India. She now lives with her husband in historic Santa Fe, where she gardens in summer and writes in winter.

https://www.tessaarlen.com/

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

In Royal Service to the Queen is an insider’s view of the British royal family through the eyes and heart of Marion Crawford, selfless governess to Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret for 16 years. The twenty-two-year-old “Crawfie,” as she was lovingly named, began her service as governess in the summer of 1931. Tessa Arlen’s extensive research of British history and the Monarchy seen through Crawfie’s lens takes the reader on the rocky road of recovery through the Great Depression, the abdication of King Edward VIII, World War II, and economic recovery. During Marion Crawford’s service she traveled between Balmoral in Scotland, Windsor, and Buckingham Palace. She endured five years at Windsor with the princesses during the war then navigated “Lilibets” coming of age and her wedding to Phillip. The peek into the daily life is extremely compelling and so intriguing with all the publicity-positive or negative- on the royal family in the last decades. Those who have been called to serve, as teachers are, will struggle along with Marion as she continues to sacrifice her own chance at love, marriage, and a family. Tessa Arlen creates the perfect tension between Marion’s aging mother, her love interest, George Buthlay, and her royal commitment to the princesses. At the end of her service to the royal family Crawfie is faced with a life altering financial decision that will leave readers in a quandary. As Tessa Arlen inquires of readers in her revealing, detailed author’s note, “Was Crawfie guilty of disloyalty or disobedience?” Read In Royal Service to the Queen to make your own wise and regal decision.

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The Librarian of Saint-Malo by Mario Escobar

Libraries are being ransacked. France is torn apart by war. A French librarian is determined to resist. Told through smuggled letters to an author, an ordinary librarian describes the brutal Nazi occupation of her small coastal village and the extraordinary measures she takes to fight back.” Goodreads

Mario Escobar Golderos has a degree in History, with an advanced studies diploma in Modern History. He has written numerous books and articles about the Inquisition, the Protestant Reformation, and religious sects. Of many previous titles: Auschwitz Lullaby and Children of the Stars

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

“The Librarian of Saint-Malo tells the story of Jocelyn and Antoine Ferrec, a life full of love and literature.” Author, Mario Escobar, sweeps readers from Jocelyn and Antoine’s glorious wedding at the Cathedral of Saint-Vincent to the German invasion of Poland – both on September1, 1939. The enthralling accounts of survival and passive resistance are told through Jocelyn’s letters to author, Marcel Zola, who she is hoping will someday tell the story of how the citizens of Saint-Malo fought to defend and protect their beloved city and treasured books in the library. The German colonel in charge, Andreas von Aulock, ordered the “purge of the city’s bookstores and libraries to get rid of subversive writings as outlined in the famous Liste Otto.” As the librarian, Jocelyn also encounters Lt. Baumann and Hermann Von Choltiz, specialist in Medieval French literature.  Hermann has been sent to protect France’s cultural heritage by classifying the books in the Saint-Malo library.  Readers, be wary of the relationships that Jocelyn develops with these Germans. Mario Escobar weaves alarming comments and stunning descriptions of actual, true events with enough subtle hope to create suspense as to the German officers’ intentions.  Jocelyn’s quest also leads her to Yvonne Oddon and the Musée de l’Homme in Paris. Fans of Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrow’s The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society will delight in the Bouquinistes, booksellers along the Seine, and the book club Jocelyn creates with the 7 requisite members, including a Count! Anthony Doer’s All the Light We Cannot See is another perfect pairing as this setting is before the bombing of Saint-Malo.

From the invasion of Saint-Malo by Germans in 1939 to the Allied forces’ arrival in 1944, Mario Escobar creates captivating descriptions of not only the beauty but also the magnitude of destruction to the “Little Jewel” on the coast of French Brittany. He deftly takes readers from doom and despair at the burned heaps of rubble and complete ruins to hope at the heart stopping, satisfying climax.

“The city had been collecting books for centuries. We were the soul and memory of Saint-Malo. I had to protect the library’s holdings…”  Readers everywhere are ever grateful for librarians such as Jocelyn and for Mario Escobar’s The Librarian of Saint-Malo.

Saint-Malo Cathedral Inside the Walled City-Site of Jocelyn’s Wedding

The Saint-Malo Cathedral or more precisely St Vincent of Saragosse Cathedral  (Cathédrale Saint-Vincent-de-Saragosse de Saint-Malo ) was at one time a Benedictine Abbey. Built in Romanesque style at the turn of the 12th century, the church’s choir then underwent changes in the 13th century making it gothic style. Transformations from Romanesque to Gothic to High Gothic and even Renaissance styles can be found here. In 1944 during a battle for the city, the cathedral was bombed and the choir section collapsed. It took over 20 years to make the repairs.

The Musee de l’Homme in Paris. Jocelyn visited Yvonne Oddon, one of France’s leading librarians, connected to the Resistance.

The Musée de l’Homme librarian and a pioneer of the French Resistance, Yvonne Oddon and her colleagues Boris Vildé and Anatole Lewitsky launched the French Resistance group that would come to be known as the Musée de l’Homme resistance network, and helped choose the name of the underground newspaper Resistance. https://www.museedelhomme.fr/en/yvonne-oddon-1902-1982-3923

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Book Club Cookbook Selection: Sobremesa: a memoir of food and love in thirteen courses by Josephine Caminos Oria

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

This memoir was a different genre for our book club, but it’s always good to expand ‘reading boundaries.” Sobremesa is the the story of Josephine Caminos Orio’s life long journey in search of love while staying true to herself and her family’s values. The book is laced with 13 wonderful recipes to add to the Argentine experience. Josephine’s search takes her from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania to the family estancia in Argentina; and eventually beyond. We were surprised at the energy and time invested in cooking for Josephine’s family as children, then later at the estancia in Argentina, by Dorita-the grandmother and Poupee-Josephine’s mother-both were amazing in the kitchen! The recipes and memories shared in the book are proof. The transcontinental travel involved was also costly emotionally and financially.

Family traditions sparked a lively discussion on childhood memories; especially events where parents and kids were participants. The Gentleman Caller led to lots of sharing involving ghosts, angels, and signs in different times of our lives. Our overall feeling was one of nostalgia-for holiday or vacation traditions spent with family and the memories those evoke. The ingredients of multiple generations and memorable food; seasoned by bonds of love, make Sobremesa an inspiring culinary and reading experience.

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The Forest of Vanishing Stars by Kristin Harmel

The New York Times bestselling author of the “heart-stopping tale of survival and heroism” (PeopleThe Book of Lost Names returns with an evocative coming-of-age World War II story about a young woman who uses her knowledge of the wilderness to help Jewish refugees escape the Nazis—until a secret from her past threatens everything.” Publishing July6, 2021

Photograph by Phil Art Studio, Reims, France Kristin Harmel

Kristin Harmel is the New York Times bestselling author of a dozen novels including The Book of Lost NamesThe Winemaker’s WifeThe Room on Rue Amélie, and The Sweetness of Forgetting. She is also the cofounder and cohost of the popular web series, Friends and Fiction. She lives in Orlando, Florida.

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

The Forest of Vanishing Stars shines a blinding light on a baby with a birthmark on her wrist in the shape of a dove and an old woman whose mother told her that knowing impossible things was a gift of God passed down through the blood of only the most fortunate Jewish women. Twenty years later 1942, Poland is being bombed and books are being burned in Berlin, so the old woman, Jerusza, leads baby “Yona”, now 22, deep into the forest of Nalibocka. Words of warning are to never venture outside the forest. A compelling struggle for survival takes the reader farther and farther into the forest, to underground zemliankas, through murky swamps and even onto an island with Resistance groups living day to day on survival skills learned in the cruelest situations. Through Yona’s frightening and eye-opening encounters, feelings of confusion, realization, and hope lead to a turning point in her struggle for survival. “After a lifetime of being told what to do, how to feel; of a stolen childhood, of a life of loneliness she hadn’t asked for,” Yona finally has a choice. Readers will empathize with Yona as she learns expressions of human love: the comfort of another’s touch and experiencing the joy of others. As Yona “comes of age” in this dangerous, strange world she must decide if one has to let go of the old life to have a new one? Words of wisdom to Yona and the reader: “In the times of greatest darkness, the light always shines through, because there are people who stand up to do brave, decent things…it doesn’t matter what you were born to be. It matters what you choose to become.” Choose to read The Forest of Vanishing Stars and like Yona, be changed.

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The Lily Garden by Barbara Josselsohn

Barbara Josselsohn grew up on Long Island and lived for several years in her beloved New York City before moving to the northern suburbs. She began her career as a business journalist and then turned her attention to her first love, fiction. Her novels include THE LILAC HOUSE, THE LAST DREAMER, and THE BLUEBELL GIRLS, and has two more novels slated for release in 2021.

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

“Cross that bridge when you get to it.” Seems like good advice, but not in the case of Caroline. She’s waited thirty years to return to her hometown of Lake Summers and she might be too late to save the Lily Garden. Caroline, a Chicago businesswoman and her college bound daughter, Lee, had scheduled a college tour when Caroline got word that due to a library expansion the garden her mother had created behind the library was to be razed. Caroline’s parents had met, fallen in love, and lived in Lake Summers. The beautiful, wildflower garden behind the library was where Caroline spent many idyllic hours watching and helping her mom.  

In The Lily Garden, Barbara Josselsohn weaves Caroline’s fondest and most fearful memories with her present-day turmoil. Caroline has lived with her Aunt Risa since she was twelve and has never really felt a part of the family or the business. Now Caroline is facing feelings of resentment and anger towards her aunt and herself for not returning to Lake Summers sooner. The detailed descriptions of the Lily Garden, the trails, the sunsets and twinkling star studded evenings in Lake Summers along with nostalgic Main Street and the local business readers know from The Lilac House and The Bluebell Girls are calming and reassuring. Aaron, a new resident and history professor at the nearby college, is escaping from his own heartache and searching for solace when he winds up in Lake Summers. He falls in love with the ‘rolling sheep meadows and lush green dairy farms,” on the western edge of the Adirondack Mountains.  Aaron’s attempt to connect romance and water for his thesis adds the perfect link to the past that Caroline needs as she revisits the crumbling footbridge and the overgrown lily garden.

Barbara Josselsohn brings readers feelings from the depths of despair back to high hope as her foreshadowing of new opportunities and possibilities unfolds. Will Caroline uncover her true feelings and find her voice in time to save the lily garden and her relationships? Join Caroline and Lee as they cross the drawbridge into Lake Summers for that warm, fuzzy hometown feeling, and remember, “The garden is about history and tradition and family.”  

Now head to your local “Smoothie Dudes” for your favorite drink and settle in for a “heartwarming, summer romance.”

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Yours Cheerfully by AJ Pearce

A.J. Pearce grew up in Hampshire, England. She studied at the University of Sussex and Northwestern University. A chance discovery of a 1939 women’s magazine became the inspiration for her international bestseller, Dear Mrs. Bird, the first novel in The Emmeline Lake Chronicles series. She lives in the south of England.

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Emmy Lake’s position at the London magazine, Woman’s Friend, has grown from typist for advice columnist Henrietta Bird-a force to be reckoned with in 1940 to Careers Editor for the new and always late, Mr. Collins in 1941. After attending a Ministry of Information meeting, (“specifically for British women’s press and the unfortunate “trouble in the lavatory”) Emmy is emboldened by a new mission to inspire readers of all ages to answer the direct call from the government to work in munitions factories. Emmy has always wanted to be a war correspondent and now her dream may come true!

Author AJ Pearce has penned Yours Cheerfully, with the same wit and compelling characterizations readers came to love in Dear Mrs. Bird. Readers will find humorous, at times hilarious dialogue on one page, contrasting with endearing heartfelt emotional scenes on the next. The British expressions in the brainstorming sessions, the uncontrollable giggles of junior staffer, Hester combined with the compassion and understanding shown by Mr. Collins, will contribute insights into the personalities of the Woman’s Friend staff along with Emmy’s relationships with “best chum” Bunty and love interest, Charles.

Emmy’s job of answering readers’ letters is catapulted by events at Pearl Harbor and she is inspired to find out how women in the factories are faring after the chance meeting of Anne, a young mother and munition factory worker. Anne and her fellow women workers give Emmy the courage to stand up and do her part to call journalistic attention to nurseries for children with the same hours of shift workers, equal pay, and even for part-time positions to be considered.   

Between Woman’s Friend, parades for women’s rights, and Emmy’s personal life those who read Yours Cheerfully will learn, “there are women who stick up for each other, and women who don’t.”   

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You Belong Here Now by Dianna Rostad

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yaWKCrzPH-o

Inspiring and highly complimentary words for this stunning debut novel.

Dianna Rostad was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. Her parents and extended family come from the ranches of Montana and the farms of Arkansas. Dianna raised three kind, human beings, and when they began to test their wings, she took to writing with a passion, completing Southern Methodist University Writer’s Path program in 2009. A favorite task of her creative endeavors is the discovery and research of people and places where her novels are set. She has traveled extensively to pursue the last artifacts of our shared history and breathe life, truth, and hope into her novels. Now living in Florida, Dianna continues to write big-hearted novels for wide audiences everywhere.

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Saddle up for this tale of orphans from New York City, Charles, Patrick, and Opal who have escaped an Orphan Train and their providential arrival on the Stewart Ranch in Montana. Mama, Papa, and spinster daughter Nara are working ‘round the clock to keep the ranch going now that Jim, lead ranch hand, has been fired. Mama heard that an ‘orphan train’ was due in town and suggested that choosing a child might be an option to help with the workload.

Debut novelist, Dianna Rostad, introduces readers to the Big Sky state with stunning descriptions of the ranch, along with the daily rituals and rhythms of wild Mustangs. Background history of the Cheyenne and the Battle of Little Big Horn, helps readers understand the struggles between lead ranch hand, Jim, Mr. Stewart, and Nara.  Nara, not keen on kitchen duties and preparing to take over the ranch one day, reads and studies ideas to improve the ranch. Rostad reveals Nara’s vulnerability when she readily admits to not being motherly, but readers will cheer her on in emboldened confrontations with the sheriff. Learning and growing with Nara is heartwarming and her flashback feelings when dealing with long-time friend and foe, Ella add fiery tension and angst over guilt and forgiveness.

Readers’ emotional bonds grow quickly and deeply for each of the orphans: Charles, overcoming anger and fear from events back in New York’s “Hell’s Kitchen,” Patrick, dealing with Irish hatred, and youngest Opal, abused and so confused she rarely speaks. Strong character development is revealed through Charles’ protective escapades dealing with Patrick and Opal at school, adding a layer of love to cover his past. Patrick exhibits great independent thinking and shows readers “stay true to yourself,” while Opal is like a rose blooming in slow motion photography-one petal at a time her true nature shines when love and trustworthy adults enter her life. (Feelings so real that waking in the night with worry might happen!)

Nara’s observation of Opal “skipping with joy” is so satisfying but then her view that “things come in threes” flips readers over to anxious suspense with events involving the orphans. Feelings of resentment, remorse, and regret come to the surface, but in the end, family is apologies and forgiveness, “standing shoulder to shoulder with a warm hand on your back.”  

Five brilliant stars shine on You Belong Here Now.   

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The Ride of Her Life by Elizabeth Letts

The triumphant true story of a woman who rode her horse across America in the 1950s, fulfilling her dying wish to see the Pacific Ocean, from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Perfect Horse and The Eighty-Dollar Champion

A few minutes with Elizabeth Letts and how this book came to be! https://youtu.be/dR3emAqYaUY

Elizabeth Letts is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Eighty-Dollar Champion and The Perfect Horse, which won the PEN Center USA Literary Award for research nonfiction, as well as the novel Finding Dorothy. She lives in Southern California and Northern Michigan.

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

“A woman who liked to wear pants and speak her mind, she wasn’t well regarded by local folks at the time. Some breathed a sigh of relief when she left. But Wilkins – also known as Mesannie or Jackass Annie  because she rode a donkey to her Job at a Lewiston shoe shop – would become famous for her journey.” Lindsay Tice, staff writer of the Lewiston Sun Journal, November 10th 2013.

https://minotmainehistoricalsociety.wordpress.com/minot-history/mesannie-wilkins/

Annie Wilkins has lost the family farm and the doctor says she has two years to live. This was Annie’s depressing view of the world in 1954. Elizabeth Letts’ “true story of a woman, her horse and their last chance to journey across America” reads like a heartwarming travelogue sprinkled with history, geography, and the pop culture of life in the mid-twentieth century. As brand-new T.V.’s blared “see the USA in a Chevrolet,” Annie had neither running water or electricity, much less a car or a TV on her farm in Minot, Maine. With nothing else to lose, Annie decided to aim herself toward the Pacific Ocean. This delightful memoir of how Annie and her animals are fed and cared for by so many generous, kind citizens and business owners will rebuild hope in humanity for those readers so discouraged by news in today’s world. The author includes compelling, detailed descriptions of burgeoning American industries such as Goodyear, Milton Bradley, and the Gulf Oil Corporation. The Ride of Her Life is a “feel good” trip down memory lane of the 1950’s & ‘60’s. T.V. personalities Art Linkletter, Groucho Marx, Walt Disney, and Andy Griffith are woven through Annie’s story, so readers get a real feel for how the lure of television got its toehold in small towns across America. The bonds of love and loyalty between Annie, her horses and her beloved dog, Depeche Toi, earn a special place in the hearts of readers. From the “Mile-a-Minute Highway” in Maine on the East Coast, through the Lincoln Heritage Trail in the Mid-West, all the way through Cheyenne’s Frontier Days, readers will be as anxious as Annie and the Pioneers on the Oregon Trail. But Annie follows her father’s advice and so should readers: “Have faith and keep going.”  

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The Summer of Lost and Found by Mary Alice Monroe

MARY ALICE MONROE: “Based in Charleston, South Carolina, is the New York Times best-selling author of twenty-seven books–and counting. Richly layered and rooted to place, her Lowcountry-set novels defy literary labels. More than feel-good escapism or traditional beach reads, her engrossing stories deftly explore the intersections and parallels between Mother Nature and human nature, hooking readers emotionally and introducing them to characters and causes that live in their hearts and minds. Her robust library of work–from the popular Beach House series to her newer middle grade book–engages readers across generational lines, inspiring them to take a harder look at the environment–and our impact on it. To ask the important questions. To seek answers. To create connections–both with nature and in our personal lives.”

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

The Summer of Lost and Found is the story of family dynamics during a pandemic. Mary Alice Monroe continues her beloved Beach House series and the saga of the Rutledge family as the 2020 pandemic causes the world to shut down. The setting off the coast of South Carolina, Sullivan’s Island, and the Isle of Palms, is where MAM weaves low-country charm and the magic of a beach house with family relationships during quarantine, job lay-offs, travel restrictions, and handling commitments.  The beauty of the island beaches, wildlife, and even “Frogmore Stew” combined with old and new relationships makes for an endearing, satisfying saga. What’s important is “family weathering a storm with compassion, camaraderie, ingenuity, commitment, friendship, fun, and most of all love.”  Take a walk on the beach, soak up tidbits on king tides, loggerhead turtle habitats, sea oats, dunes and fiddler crabs-all while gleaning wisdom from several generations of Southern women; “If it’s not one thing, it’s another!”

Publication Day-May 11, 2021
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In a Book Club Far Away by Tif Marcelo

From the author of Once Upon a Sunset and The Key to Happily Ever After comes a heartwarming and moving novel following three Army wives—estranged friends—who must overcome their differences when one of them is desperate for help.

Tif Marcelo is a veteran army nurse and holds a BS in Nursing and a Master’s in public administration. She believes and writes about the strength of families, the endurance of friendship, heartfelt romances, and is inspired daily by her own military hero husband and four children. She hosts Stories to Love Podcast, and she is also the author of Once Upon a Sunset, The Key to Happily Ever After, and the Journey to the Heart series.

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Military spouses have a special bond. In a Book Club Far Away this bond is formed in a gathering each month to discuss and share thoughts about the books read and adventures planned for each month’s meeting. This novel examines how military wives and spouses find relationships beyond the anxious waiting for next assignments, deployment, and returns. “The Fight” that broke the bond between three friends occurred in 2011. The three friends just walked away. Now in 2021 Adelaide has sent an SOS to Regina and Sophie to come to her rescue when she requires surgery and help with her daughter. In alternating chapters, Tif Marcelo shares the years leading up to The Fight as Sophie and Regina recall the memories and unpack buried feelings. Will the broken bonds be mended? Can a book club really save a relationship? This is a tale of the struggle for understanding and reconciliation that will speak to the hearts of readers young and old.
Book clubs continuing to meet virtually have certainly been a “saving grace” for many during the 2020 Pandemic. In a Book Club Far Away by Tif Marcelo is the perfect addition to book club reading calendars.

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Wartime with the Cornish Girls by Betty Walker

Betty Walker lives in Cornwall with her large family, where she enjoys gardening and coastal walks. She loves discovering curious historical facts, and devotes much time to investigating her family tree.

She also writes under other names! She writes thrillers as Jane Holland, romance as Beth Good, and YA fantasy as Victoria Lamb.

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

A remote spot on the Cornish coast of England is relied upon as a vital weapon in World War ll. Porthcurno is the setting for this eye-opening tale of three young women and their contributions to the war effort-how they come to “do their bit.”

Violet Hopkins lives in the seedy East End of London. In charge of her nieces and on the side of caution, Violet takes Lily and Alice to her Aunt Margaret’s farm in Cornwall to escape the nightly London bombings. The idea of trading farm & house chores for safety, room and board keeps readers’ hopes for Violet’s safety alive. Betty Walker’s endearing account of Violet’s family struggles and the determination and grit of Violet, Lily and Alice sets readers off on this intriguing journey to Cornwall.  

Walker’s Cornish Girl #2 is Eva Ryder, London socialite and lonely daughter of a widowed military officer. Eva falls in love with RAF officer, Lt. Max Carmichael, but an evening date ends with a fatal bombing. The scare leaves Colonel Ryder no choice but to bring Eva to safety in Cornwall where he is part of a communications task force. The mystery of whether Max survives the bombing keeps readers hesitantly optimistic and turning pages.

Cornish Girl #3 is local, Hazel, who works at Eastern House on the base in Porthcurno. Betty Walker layers Hazel’s life of abuse and struggle with great empathy to evoke feelings of anxiousness as Hazel is desperate to protect her son, Charlie. The unlikely trio uncovers secrets, finds friendship and discovers self-confidence. As this wartime adventure unfolds on the Cornwall coast “information” is key. This is Book #1 in the series, which is great news for fans of Betty Walker and the Cornish Girls!

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The Paris Apartment by Kelly Bowen

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Is this an apartment or a museum? This was the question Aurelia asked in the summer of 2017, as she entered the recently inherited property that her grandmother had occupied in Paris over seventy years ago- completely unbeknownst to her. A secret of such magnitude! After wandering through extravagantly furnished rooms filled with paintings by world renowned artists, discovering a closet packed with shoes, gowns and furs plus a wardrobe that protected exquisitely embroidered silks and satin couture dresses, Lia was astounded to stumble upon photos from German officer, Hermann Goring! “Lia” comes to the nauseating conclusion that her grandmother was a Nazi collaborator.

Just as artists layer paintings with texture and color, Kelly Bowen deftly builds an artistic dual timeline. Underneath the canvas of 2017, lie layers of a1940’s war landscape painted over with battle-weary soldiers and newly widowed Sophie Kowalski in the foreground. Bowen’s scene is blended with scared, hungry Jews, Rachel and three-year-old, Aviva, aside gorgeous Parisian socialite, Estelle Allard, huddling on the horizon. To complete the picture Bowen slaps a jarring slash of red and black as the Germans flaunt the Nazi flag over the Ritz Hotel. The mystery of Lia’s newly acquired apartment filled with a magnificent art collection, couture gowns, and secret identities unfolds in hidden images blurred by Bletchley Park codes and the Millbrook Hall ancestral estate, but is finally illuminated by Gabriel, an art appraiser and restoration expert.

Readers and lovers of art will lament with Estelle, “How much history will a family or a country lose when they lose the things that unite them? That tell the stories of their pasts?” Kelly Bowen’s The Paris Apartment is “captivating and moving-” a dazzling chandelier for the eyes while piercing the heart.

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Courage, My Love by Kristin Beck

Publishing April 13, 2021

Kristin Beck first learned about World War II from her grandmother, who served as a Canadian army nurse, fell in love with an American soldier in Belgium, and married him shortly after VE Day. Kristin thus grew up hearing stories about the war, and has been captivated by the often unsung roles of women in history ever since. A former teacher, she holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Washington and a Master’s in Teaching from Western Washington University. Kristin lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and children.

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Lucia and Francesca join the unsung women of history as their story of deep personal conviction and courage born out of fear and love, comes to the forefront in Kristin Beck’s stunning debut novel, Courage, My Love.

Readers will be swept along the banks of the Tiber River, across the piazzas and darting into the alleyways of Rome, as the spine-tingling story of Nazi invasion, Partisan missions, and espionage unfolds beginning in July,1943. Lucia Colombo, the single mother of Matteo, is the only daughter in a family of strong Fascists supporters, who has already lost one son in the war. Her family ties to the government are a constant worry and eventually Lucia must face and overcome the political dangers involved with protecting her son. Francesca Gallo, a polio survivor, and very unlikely “messenger,” is the eventual counterpart in Partisan activities with her fiancé, Giacomo, and Lucia.

Just as Lucia and Francesca sense the Germans around every corner, readers will feel equally anxious for the survival of the Partisans and Jewish families being hidden in convents and hospitals with “Syndrome K”.  Each page is turned in suspense to find out if the Allies are indeed, arriving to force the Germans out of Rome. Kristin Beck’s characters are developed with equal amounts of childhood background, family strife, and political alignments. The secondary characters, Partisans, Nazi sympathizers and German officers are written with such depth and personal detail, that readers will find much to admire or even appropriately despise.

Lucia and Francesca find themselves many times “in bocca al lupo”, a wolf at the heels. But despite their fears and uncertainty, they keep on going. Readers will also feel “in bocca al lupo” but keep reading! Courage is rewarded!

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Off the Wild Coast of Brittany by Juliet Blackwell

An unforgettable story of resilience and resistance set during WWII and present-day France on a secluded island off the coast of Brittany.

Juliet Blackwell is the New York Times bestselling author of several novels based in France, including The Vineyards of ChampagneThe Lost Carousel of ProvenceLetters from Paris and The Paris Key. She also writes the Witchcraft Mystery series and the Haunted Home Renovation series. As Hailey Lind, Blackwell wrote the Agatha-nominated Art Lover’s Mystery series. A former anthropologist, social worker, and professional artist, Juliet is a California native who has spent time in Mexico, Spain, Cuba, Italy, the Philippines, and France.

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

A ferry crossing the choppy Atlantic from France’s Wild Coast of Brittany, Côte Sauvage, shuttles tourists onto the docks along the rocky shore of the island known as Île de Feme. Juliet Blackwell artfully guides readers from the dock on the present-day island filled with touristy souvenir shops and pubs with Wi-Fi to the seaweed covered steps of the lighthouse guarded by Nazi soldiers in July 1940.  

Only a few steps from the dock sits the ancient three-story stone house Natalie Morgen is supposed to be renovating into a quaint guesthouse & restaurant with her famous boyfriend-chef, Francois-Xavier. The “pie in the sky” plans of Natalie, best-selling memoir author and social media sensation, have gone awry. The sudden & mysterious arrival of older sister, Alex, not seen for 10 years, adds to her financial stress and lack of writing “oomph.” The sisters, raised in a survivalist compound in California, have certainly survived but with their own set of emotional and physical issues to face. Juliet Blackwell expertly weaves current issues facing Nat, Alex and women today with the women on the Île de Feme in 1940.  Based on Général de Gaul’s exhortation, all the men of fighting age sailed to England to join the Free French Forces fighting the Nazi invasion of France, while 300 Germans occupied the island. Violette, a young islander, introduces readers to the legend of the Gallizenae, the herbs and cures of the village healer, the German invasion of the island and how the women survived. Juliet Blackwell’s Off the Wild Coast of Brittany, presented in dual timeline with three narrators, examines the themes of allegiance to one’s country and family values, life altering physical conditions, isolation, independence and self-worth. An “island” view of World War II.

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Surviving Savannah by Patti Callahan

Patti Callahan is a New York Times bestselling author and is the recipient of the Harper Lee Award for Distinguished Writer of the Year. She is a frequent speaker at luncheons, book clubs, and women’s groups. https://www.patticallahanhenry.com/

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

“The secrets are lost to the waves. Only the sea knows, my child, and she keeps her secrets well.” Everly’s grandfather, Papa.

Surviving Savannah is the haunting tale of the steamship, Pulaski, that sailed on June 13, 1838, with Savannah’s elite aboard. The wealthy were escaping the heat, humidity, and mosquitos with trunks of clothing, silver & gold, and china, preparing to spend the summer in the cooler climate of Saratoga Springs, New York. Billed as “only one night at sea” to lure passengers, the disaster later became known as the Southern Titanic when an explosion in the boiler room sunk the Pulaski in only 45 minutes.

This tale and the “secrets lost to the waves” is told through the voice of Papa’s granddaughter, Everly, a present-day history professor, in mourning over the loss of her best friend Mora. After 180 years the shipwreck is discovered and Everly becomes the curator for a museum exhibit taking readers down “rabbit holes” and to the bottom of the ocean as she finds new life in search for the truth.  In alternating chapters and timelines, through blistered lips and parched throats, passengers Augusta Longstreet and her niece, Lilly Forsyth, share the grievous, gut wrenching saga of who survives and how.

The determination and hope of the passengers floating toward shore will keep readers hoping and praying for their survival. Even though this IS a tale of disaster Patti Callahan regales the reader with vignettes of love and heart-warming, thought-provoking conclusions; even some stories of passengers’ survival. The question that floats to the surface is “How will they survive the surviving?”

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The Newcomer by Mary Kay Andrews

Mary Kay and her family divide their time between Atlanta and Tybee Island, GA, where they cook up new recipes in two restored beach homes, The Breeze Inn and Ebbtide—both named after fictional places in Mary Kay’s novels, and both available to rent through Tybee Vacation Rentals. In between cooking, spoiling her grandkids, and plotting her next novel, Mary Kay is an intrepid treasure hunter whose favorite pastime is junking and fixing up old houses. https://marykayandrews.com/

The New York Times bestselling author and Queen of the Beach Reads delivers her next page-turner for the summer.

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Add The Newcomer to a book bag, head to your favorite reading spot and be whisked from a fashionable townhouse in New York City to the Murmuring Surf Motel in Treasure Island, Florida. Secrets within secrets- that was the story of Letty’s sister, Tanya, who has been found dead in her apartment with her 4- year-old daughter wailing upstairs.  Letty and Tanya have had an “on again, off again” relationship over the years, and now Letty is on the run, having promised her sister that if anything happened, Letty would take Maya far away from NYC and Tanya’s evil Ex- Evan Wingfield.

Letty and Maya find the Murmuring Surf, a “mom & pop” motel, and are easily accepted by owner Ava and her family. The retirees and snowbirds that land like clockwork are not so ready to accept “the newcomer’ to their summer paradise. These “characters” add their own Southern wit & charm to the Surf. The fact that Ava’s handsome son Joe, is a detective for the local police force adds plenty of romantic tension, along with suspense as the mystery and detective work unfolds in the bars, bungalows, and beaches of Treasure Island. Mary Kay Andrews builds just enough trust between Letty and Ava, and enough doubt and suspicion between The Surf residents regarding “the newcomer,’ that readers will refresh drinks, ignoring a possible sunburn, to find out if Tanya’s secrets are uncovered and how Letty and Maya will spend their future with no sister and mom in the picture. What will the family photo look like?  

The Murmuring Surf will conjure images of roadside motels & beach trips in the 1950’s and ‘60’s- back before online reviews & reservations kept motels in business-where cars pulled off the highway when a VACANCY sign came into view.  Hang your own flashing “no vacancy” sign on the door and treat yourself to the first beach read of the summer.

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The Social Graces by Renée Rosen

“A peek behind the curtain at one of the most remarkable feuds in history: Mrs. Vanderbilt and Mrs. Astor’s notorious battle for control of New York society during the Gilded Age.”

Renee Rosen is the bestselling author of historical fiction. Her novels include Park Avenue Summer, Windy City Blues, White Collar Girl, What the Lady Wants and Dollface as well as the young adult novel, Every Crooked Pot. Her new novel, The Social Graces, a story about Mrs. Astor and Mrs. Vanderbilt vying for control of New York society during the Gilded Age, will be out April 20, 2021 from Penguin Random House/Berkley).

Renee is a native of Akron, Ohio and a graduate of The American University in Washington DC.  She now lives in Chicago where she is at work on a new novel.

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Nouveau riche vs. Knickerbockers

The Social Graces is a season ticket to an unfolding drama of gilded proportions! Alva Smith from Mobile, Alabama, married railroad millionaire, William K. Vanderbilt, joining the nouveaux riche, new money. Alva Vanderbilt, a new bride in 1875, naively believed her entrance into New York City society was guaranteed.

Caroline Webster Schermerhorn wed William Backhouse Astor, Jr., in 1854. His family wealth from early fur trade and more recently real estate investments, combined with Caroline’s inherited wealth made them Knickerbockers, “old money.”  Caroline was now Reigning Queen of Society in 1876.

These two ladies share the lead in this enthralling saga played out in ballrooms, opera houses, and even on the streets of New York City and Newport, Rhode Island.  Renee Rosen weaves beautiful gold threads through vividly painted tableaus of dining rooms to seat one hundred, balls attended by society’s “adored” in lavish costumes costing thousands, and homes designed and built with a competitive spirit filled with marble, gilding, and priceless antiques; but mostly pride and boasting.

Between weddings, funerals (followed by two years of mourning) and divorces readers are treated to the ‘social graces’ explained by “Society’s” voice in alternating chapters. This is especially helpful insight into the minds of women and the accepted or expected behaviors of New York’s high society and the Seasons.

As the Gilded Age is coming to a close, Vanderbilt vs. Astor newspaper headlines have moved from the “battle of the ballrooms” to women’s rights; not just those in high society, but for ALL women.  The shiny glow cast by the chandeliers, gilded mirrors and Paris gowns dripping with jewels will peak readers’ curiosity and interest in visiting New York’s Fifth Avenue and the “cottages” of Newport. Don those white gloves, set out the fine china and indulge in The Social Graces by Renee Rosen.

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Under the Southern Sky by Kristy Woodson Harvey

Release date: April 20, 2021

Kristy is a proud member of the Tall Poppy Writers, serves on the board of Beaufort Historical Association, and is a member of the University of North Carolina’s Women’s Leadership Council. She is a frequent speaker at fundraisers, book conferences and private events. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and seven-year-old son where she is working on her next novel.

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Childhood friendships, family traditions, and small-town Southern ways will capture readers’ hearts as Kristy Woodson Harvey’s lovable characters stroll onto the docks and porches of Cape Carolina. Kristy Woodson Harvey has a way of creating characters for readers to connect with through heartbreaking grief, career ending sadness, dissolving marriage embarrassment and the fear of revealing long kept family secrets. Going back to the start is the only way to ‘begin again.’

Finding joy is a quest for everyone. This is true for Amelia Paxton and Parker Thaysden, who grew up living next door to each other. Their mothers had dreamed and schemed that one day these two would marry, no matter the age difference. Readers will wonder about Greer, Parker’s first wife. She’s a business success, an author, beautiful and perfect in every way, so rather hard to like. Greer’s imperfect self comes to the surface in her daily journals along with her own secret request.  Amelia and Parker’s parents are accurately portrayed as gracious Southern ladies and gentlemen, along with their life-long feelings for neighbors and friends, “friends like family.”

The summery charm of Cape Carolina soars like a kite on the beach in the small-town elections, fishing tournaments and fish fries, along with the friendly head-to-head gossip at the elite social parties. Y’all, these festive Southern gatherings are captured “spot on” by KWH, as only a true Southern gal could do.

Secrets of each generation are kept close to the heart as this family saga snuggles readers into a “big ol’” Southern hug. Revelations and rewards come to those who wait, especially if quietly sitting on a dock Under the Southern Sky.

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The Women of Chateau Lafayette by Stephanie Dray

An epic saga from New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Dray based on the true story of an extraordinary castle in the heart of France and the remarkable women bound by its legacy.

STEPHANIE DRAY is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal & USA Today bestselling author of historical women’s fiction. Her award-winning work has been translated into eight languages and tops lists for the most anticipated reads of the year. She lives with her husband, cats, and history books.

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Château de Chavaniac http://www.chateau-lafayette.com/The-manor-of-both-worlds.html

Three bold women from three epic times in history lived behind the walls of Château de Chavaniac deep in the heart of France.

Stephanie Dray opens the shutters of the Marquis de Lafayette’s birthplace early in 1774, to reveal the devoted Adrienne, Lafayette’s wife and her “side by side” support of Lafayette in the American War for Independence and the resulting French Revolution. From ballrooms to the guillotine and prison cells, readers will be impressed by Adrienne’s political and economic savvy along with her enduring steadfast love for her husband and children. Stephanie Dray’s prior research and depiction of the blue-blooded Sophie de Grouchy in Ribbons of Scarlet shines through with a splendid light on the French Revolution.

The legacy of Chateau de Chavaniac lives on in 1914, as the New York socialite, Beatrice Chanler, searches for attention and love from her husband while struggling to lend her own kind of support to the coming war. William Astor Chanler-millionaire, soldier, adventurer, falls in love with Beatrice, who starting from nothing had made a life for herself on the stage. Now she’s playing her greatest role; that of an Astor. Within her social circles Beatrice wisely appeals to the emotions of love, hate and patriotism to create The Lafayette Fund. Thus begins her fund-raising efforts and path to becoming much more than a New York socialite. Stephanie Dray is an excellent travel guide as Beatrice crosses oceans and political lines in her life-long endeavors; finally making a connection with Lafayette’s birthplace.

Marthe Simone is the third thread in the women of Château de Chavaniac. She has her own mysterious background to unravel as she grows up & matures into a teacher and artist behind the stone walls of the chateau. Marthe struggles with her identity as a single woman, her ambition to see beyond the walls and how to play her part from behind the walls of Chavaniac in 1940 as World War II is enveloping France.

In The Women of Chateau Lafayette Stephanie Dray weaves three major wars with three women and their contributions along with their personal beliefs and aspirations, devotion to families and the generations that came before. The Women of Chateau Lafayette is a truly inspiring saga. Through Adrienne, the American War for Independence and its prominent patriots are woven right into the French Revolution and the aftermath. This is a prime example of historical fiction at its finest, as the lives of Beatrice and Marthe unfold through the ballrooms and battle fields of World War I and World War II. A heart wrenching story of three women whose courage and devotion is displayed in vibrant detail through accomplishments and bravery.

https://www.stephaniedray.com/lafayette-we-are-here/

On July 4, 1917, General Pershing and his staff visited Lafayette’s tomb at Picpus Cemetery in Paris.

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Publication Day! Sunflower Sisters by Martha Hall Kelly

Martha Hall Kelly’s million-copy bestseller Lilac Girls introduced readers to Caroline Ferriday. Now, in Sunflower Sisters, Kelly tells the story of Ferriday’s ancestor Georgeanna Woolsey, a Union nurse during the Civil War.” Google Books

Martha grew up in Massachusetts and now splits her time between Connecticut and New York City. She worked as an advertising copywriter for many years and raised three splendid children, while researching and writing Lilac Girls, her first novel. She has loved writing the other two books about Caroline’s family, Lost Roses, which features Caroline’s mother during WWI and Sunflower Sisters, a Civil War novel due out March 30, 2021. You’ll find more info about the incredible, true stories behind both books at her website: http://www.marthahallkelly.com and backstory about all three novels on her ever-changing Pinterest page. 

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Sunflower Sisters is the long-awaited conclusion to the Woolsey family saga featured in Martha Hall Kelly’s Lilac Girls and Lost Roses.  The Civil War and the issue of slavery in the North and South becomes the backdrop for this final and epic drama.

Sunflower Sisters unfolds from three points of view. Representing the Woolsey family is Georgy, Caroline Ferriday’s great-aunt; a patriotic Union nurse, determined to “rid the country of the scourge of slavery.” Georgy’s father, part of the Underground Railroad, died leaving 7 children for Mother Woolsey to raise.  Georgy’s chapters are woven with details of the lives of each of the six girls and son Charley. Martha Hall Kelly’s impeccable research using family letters gives realistic insight into daily activities and feelings of family members. A Woolsey family tree helps readers keep the siblings in order as the descriptions are read with “eyes peeking through fingers” of battles raging between armies, surgeries and diseases fought in hospitals.

Juxta positioned to the Woolsey family is Jemma, an enslaved girl on the tobacco growing Peeler Plantation, in the border state of Maryland. Jemma’s twin sister, Patience, works at neighboring Ambrosia, an indigo plantation. Readers will be breathless reading of the sisters’ escape plans and routes through the swamps, involving the monster overseer, LeBaron.  Jemma’s skills came from her owner, brave Aunt Tandy Rose, who taught her manners, and how to read and write.  Housemaid Sally Smith, the “root doctor,” shared her wealth of knowledge regarding herbs, healing plants, vegetables, and especially making jelly! The trials and tribulations of Jemma are difficult to read, but her tenacity and courage, along with her creativity and wit help her survive the brutalities and family traumas. Readers are blessed to know Jemma learns to love and be loved.

The third voice is that of Anne-May Wilson Watson, age 25, the Peeler Plantation mistress. Anne-May is a snuff addicted, self-centered, “mean as a witch” woman that readers will immediately move to the “character to hate” pile! MHK gives a vicious, spiteful, nature to this woman who deserves all she gets. Enough said about this awful woman. One more word: greedy.

From the opening scene of a slave auction in 1859, Charleston, South Carolina through battles at Richmond, Antietam, Chancellorsville, Vicksburg, Chickamauga and Gettysburg-readers will experience the emotional toll of the Civil War. Between 1859-1864 there will be balls and weddings, hangings and battles, fairs and funerals. But in the end, there are reunions to soothe the soul and mend broken hearts. The Sunflower symbolism is a hidden secret for readers of Sunflower Sisters. 5 stars. GR

The Woolsey Family Tree

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The Kew Gardens Girls by Posy Lovell

A heart-warming novel inspired by real life events, about the brave women during WWI who worked in the historic grounds of London’s Kew Gardens.

Posy Lovell is a pseudonym for British author and journalist Kerry Barrett. Born in Edinburgh, she moved to London as a child with her family. She has a passion for uncovering the role of women in the past. She lives in London with her family and is the author of The Kew Gardens Girls.
 

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

“The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just on the body, but the soul.” Alfred Austin

The Kew Gardens Girls combines the “glory of gardening” with the glory of love, friendship and forgiveness. Posy Lovell’s three main characters who answer the ad for gardeners at London’s Kew Gardens in June,1915, are each hiding from loss and heartache. Louisa, at 35, escaping an abusive husband in Kent, flees to London in order to establish anonymity. Ivy, sixteen, compensating for her shameful conduct as a rebellious teenager, wants to be near Jim, assistant to the supervisor at Kew.  First to be hired by supervisor Mac is sweet natured, gentle Bernie who is suffering personal humiliation from a past relationship and his pacifist beliefs. He knows nothing about gardening, but he IS a man. Mac must overcome reservations about women working at Kew Gardens, along with personal disappointment.

Readers will learn about World War I, the Conscription Act, Suffragettes, and the effects these each had on the early workings of London’s Kew Gardens. Posy Lovell’s characters are developed through reflection and slowly learn to share thoughts and feelings with each other, finally revealing personal truths and growing bonds of friendship. Examples of forgiveness, mentoring, trust, handling of grief through generosity and genuine care for others are character traits lovingly cultivated in The Kew Garden Girls. A bonus for poets and gardeners is the language of flowers Ivy weaves through the tasks of weeding and planting the ‘miles” of herbaceous flower beds.  A bouquet of daisies, roses, and fern fronds from the Grateful Reader. (Language of flowers code in link below.)

1911 Map of Kew Gardens

What does each flower symbolize? Which flowers represent love, hope, healing, loss, and good luck? See the Almanac’s complete list of Flower Meanings and Plant Symbolism. Whether you are picking out a flower bouquet for a wedding, choosing a single flower for a loved one, or planting a garden, discover the secret language of flowers! This site has a fabulous chart! https://www.almanac.com/flower-meanings-language-flowers

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Under the Light of the Italian Moon by Jennifer Anton

Jennifer Anton is an American/Italian dual citizen born in Joliet, Illinois and now lives between London and Lake Como, Italy. A proud advocate for women’s rights and equality, she hopes to rescue women’s stories from history, starting with her Italian family.

A promise keeps them apart until WW2 threatens to destroy their love forever

A beautiful trailer for the book: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Vjee6D7b8Y

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Under the Light of the Italian Moon is inspired by the true story of the strong women in Jennifer Anton’s Italian family. Listening first to the videos of Jennifer telling the background story of how this novel came to be, the amazing women that inspired it, and the valuable research and coincidences in Italy; will add a tremendous level of understanding as the saga unfolds. https://www.instagram.com/boldwomanwriting/channel/?hl=en

Adelasia Argenta is the heartbeat of her family in Fonzaso, Italy, where Mount Avena and Dolomiti “split Italy from Austria.” Adelasia, known as The Captain, feared for her sternness, is the only trained midwife and has delivered all of the children known to her ten-year-old daughter, Nina. It’s 1914 and Nina’s perspective on young men leaving for America is capped not only by her snowy view of the Alps, but by the wonderment of what lies beyond her small village. As older schoolmate, Pietro Pante, descends into the darkness of the mines in Pennsylvania, Nina is traveling the dark backroads at all hours of the day and night to assist her mother in birthing the babies of Fonzaso. Nina and her mother are dutifully and busily welcoming babies into the world, rejoicing or comforting and consoling families and each other, as Fascism is on the rise and world war is looming.

Nina’s mettle is tested from the early years of 1922 when Mussolini becomes the ruler of Italy, through 1939’s “Gold for the Fatherland” in Fonzaso, until WWll ends in liberation and celebration on the square. Under the Light of the Italian Moon is a story of love, endurance and unknown strength-all needed for survival. Jennifer Anton was inspired to honor the strength within all women by the true story of her great-grandmother and grandmother. Nina’s loyalty and patience are beyond admirable; it’s almost unbelievable-except it’s true. Five glittering stars for Jennifer Anton’s Under the Light of the Italian Moon. *****Gr

The strength of the world is in the women. The power of the world is within its women. Yet it is the women we erase. Some women are unwilling to be forgotten or to forget.  Particularly if they are Italian.” Jennifer Anton

Views of Fonzaso, Italy

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Band of Sisters by Lauren Willig

A group of young women from Smith College risk their lives in France at the height of World War I in this sweeping novel based on a true story—a skillful blend of Call the Midwife and The Alice Network—from New York Times bestselling author Lauren Willig.

Watch a brief video of author Lauren Willig: Showing the ruined chateau at Grécourt, France, the historic gates of Smith College, pictures of the Smith College Relief Unit:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzNAq7cwkn4&feature=youtu.be

Lauren Willig is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of historical fiction. Her works include The Other Daughter, The English Wife, The Forgotten Room (co-written with Karen White and Beatriz Williams), and the RITA Award winning Pink Carnation series. An alumna of Yale University, she has a graduate degree in history from Harvard and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Check out this FABULOUS READER’S GUIDE! It includes discussion questions, maps and diagrams drawn by the young women, recipes, and reading resources.

https://laurenwillig.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Band-of-Sisters-Book-Club-Kit.pdf.

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Overcoming personal fears and differences to bring “hope to the hopeless” – This is the goal of eighteen young American women from Smith College; the “Band of Sisters,” who are crossing the Atlantic in August of 1917. The Smith graduates are heading to Grécourt, France; a village that has been left in ruins by German bombings.  Lauren Willig opens each chapter with excerpts from the girls’ letters home to husbands, parents or friends. These are based on actual correspondence from her impeccable, extensive research which is evident on every page.

The Smith graduates are making the crossing carrying immature grudges built while in college along with idealistic expectations that their charitable settlement work would prepare them for war. The eighteen characters that begin the crossing are whittled to much fewer so that readers may focus on background and personal struggles; gathering emotions of angst to adoration as personalities and skill sets emerge.

When they finally arrive in Grécourt, September of 1917, the young women and their director find themselves ministering to approximately 2000 villagers -mothers, children and the elderly; scattered for many miles around Grécourt.  Three of the young women are closely tied by bonds of friendship and family. Emmie Van Alden- “plain as shoe leather,” always trying to please her mother, has wonderful people skills with children and adults, but has committed “sins of omission” involving best friend Kate. Kate Moran- has always felt inadequate and not “one of the girls,” due to her background, is also an extremely bored teacher at a girl’s school who can drive and speak French! Dr. Julia Pruyn-Emmie’s cousin, a classic beauty, harboring her own secrets, is one of the two medical “wonders” in the unwieldy group. Which one of these three will discover the secret to winning over the villagers?

The girls’ skills include carpentry, sewing, mechanics, cooking, medicine, teaching children to “play again;” along with hosting American engineers and Canadian foresters who joined in at Grécourt dinners, movies and dances. Do not be fooled by these activities! Between the love interests, Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations prepared from rations, these courageous women were performing acts of daring and bravery on a daily basis-no matter how close to the front lines, bombings and fighting or how much rain or snow, heat or mud.

The young women arrived in France as a disjointed gang: some haughty or humble, some beauties or bumbling, some sarcastic or skillful. Readers will not forget these charming young women who Lauren Willig has skillfully molded into a “Band of Sisters.” Five “Croix de guerre!”

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The Kitchen Front by Jennifer Ryan

Available February 23, 2021

Jennifer grew up in the British countryside with a penchant for climbing trees and a wonderful grandmother who told her hilarious stories about the Second World War.

As an adult, she became a nonfiction book editor, first editing politics and economics at The Economist Books, and then moving on to the BBC, DK, and other publishers, editing books on health, cooking, wine, and history.

All this time, though, she harbored a longing to share her grandmother’s stories about the war, and so she embarked on an MA in fiction at Johns Hopkins University. The novel that she wrote while there–The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir–became a National Bestseller.

Jennifer’s second novel, The Spies of Shilling Lane, is based on the story of a twinkly-eyed old lady she interviewed about the war. The lady had worked for the British spy agency, MI5, defying her mother who instructed her to find a wealthy husband.

Please visit Jennifer’s website for more information and free giveaways.
www.JenniferRyanAuthor.com

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

“The BBC radio program The Kitchen Front was a daily show established in 1940 to share wartime recipes and cooking tips with housewives and cooks.” Jennifer Ryan’s The Kitchen Front serves up a delicious helping of comfort food between the covers of her latest novel. A peek into the kitchens of villagers in Fenley Village, England, as the cooks and housewives manage to feed their families on weekly rations is a welcome relief from the “battle front”.  

When the “chaps in charge” at the BBC decide The Kitchen Front radio show needs a woman’s voice or a co-presenter, a local contest is devised to find a voice to connect with the listeners and raise ratings. Jennifer Ryan lovingly brings readers into the lives of the four unlikely contestants: #1-Mrs. Audrey Landon-recent widower, mother to her three sons, and fabulous cook according to her late artist husband; #2 Lady Gwendoline Strickland-married to a “pompous toad,” lives at Fenley Village Hall with her own kitchen staff; deals with her husband and childhood baggage. #3-Mrs. Quince, aging famous cook & baker throughout the county and her shy, stuttering assistant Miss Nell Brown-staff in Fenley Hall kitchen! #4-Zelda Dupont- trained at the Cordon-Bleu, recently relocated to Fenley Village after a stint at London’s prestigious Dartington Hotel, now involuntarily, the head chef at the Fenley Pie Factory canteen. An impressive line-up.

Between the “bully beef,” Spam, and hints on sugar replacements readers become sous chefs in each contestant’s kitchen as the monthly contest rounds begin. Ryan’s division of the novel into Starters, Main Course, & Desserts keeps the “contest audience” apprised of exciting or bewildering behind the scenes events as life in Fenley Village unfolds. The contestants’ presentations with Ambrose Hart’s tasting comments, judging and scoring adds a delectable spice to the novel. Taking advantage of opportunities and making the best of the pitfalls in everyday life with rationing in 1942 are crucial ingredients in “today’s special” wartime treat. Cooking Tip:  a “dash” of sibling rivalry, abuse & childhood neglect is laced into The Kitchen Front.  

Chef’s Note: From an extensive “reading menu”: This order comes with sides of vegetable gardening, bee keeping & berry picking; topped off with an after-dinner guide to grieving, forgiving and new beginnings!

 The Kitchen Front scores a 10/10 in the “Must Read” Category.

WWII Food Rationing Begins

After the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States instituted rationing. Sugar was the first food item to be rationed (starting in May 1942), but coffee, processed and canned foods, meat, cheese, and butter, oils, and fats were also rationed at various times between 1942 and 1945.

To buy rationed food items, families needed to present their grocer with the correct stamps from their government-issued rationing books—in addition to paying the cost of the product. But having enough rationing stamps didn’t guarantee they would be able to purchase an item, since local and national shortages limited availability of certain foods. More information here: https://blog.newspapers.com/recipes-and-rationing/

Food rationing was such a part of American life during World War II that it’s easy to find wartime recipes and tips in newspapers from that period.

This roll recipe from 1942, for example, calls attention to their reduced amount of sugar.

Sun, May 31, 1942 – Page 14 · The Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio) · Newspapers.com

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The Invisible Woman by Erika Robuck

Forthcoming novel: 
THE INVISIBLE WOMAN
February 9, 2021

“An alpha female heroine, along with an engaging plot loaded with realism, makes for a captivating historical thriller. Even better, it’s all drawn from the life of a real American hero.” 
~Steve Berry, NY Times and #1 International Bestselling Author

http://www.erikarobuck.com/

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

The Invisible Woman is based on the unforgettable, true story of famous World War ll spy Virginia Hall; also known as The Limping Lady, Diane, and Artemis. Virginia was an American, educated in Europe and had always dreamed of becoming a diplomat. After several rejections due to her disability, Virginia was noticed by Vera Atkins, a high-ranking intelligence officer with the British Special Operations Executive, or SOE. The SOE formed in 1940, aided Resistance groups, participated in espionage and sabotaged freight lines; anything to slow down the advance of the Nazis. The SOE joined forces with the American Office of Strategic Services, or OSS, established later in 1942. Their mission, reportedly issued by Winston Churchill, was to “set Europe ablaze.”

Erika Robuck’s prologue reveals Virginia’s American debutante upbringing and background, before fast forwarding, plunging readers into her return mission to France late in March 1944. Virginia, in her grey wig and old lady disguise and a price on her head, is only projected to survive for six weeks on this return mission. Each account of a “drop” or wireless transmission is filled with nervousness and anticipation of success or doom, exhilaration or death.  The many villagers that participate in the Resistance, offering protection by way of a barn or shed in the woods, become a part of the family; another member to worry and pray and fret over! Readers are guaranteed a ticket and papers to “travel” the secret underground and listen for key messages in radio broadcasts, as Virginia and her teams navigate France in the attempt to defeat the Nazis.  

Erika Robuck’s The Invisible Woman shines a well-earned glaring light on Virginia Hall and the brave, resourceful men and women involved in the Resistance. The Author’s Note is equally enthralling and compelling as the timelines and fates of characters are revealed.

Five “Very Visible, Very Important Stars!”

Readers will benefit from viewing the 2019 movie, A Call to Spy, which covers Virginia’s story up to the opening pages of The Invisible Woman. The character portrayals and scenery will bring the novel to life. A link to the trailer is added below. The nonfiction bestseller, A Woman of No Importance, by Sonia Purnell is also highly recommended.



A never-before-told story of Virginia Hall, the American spy who changed the course of World War II, from the author of Clementine.


In 1942, the Gestapo sent out an urgent transmission: “She is the most dangerous of all Allied spies. We must find and destroy her.”

The target in their sights was Virginia Hall, a Baltimore socialite who talked her way into Special Operations Executive, the spy organization dubbed Winston Churchill’s “Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare.” She became the first Allied woman deployed behind enemy lines and–despite her prosthetic leg–helped to light the flame of the French Resistance, revolutionizing secret warfare as we know it.

Virginia established vast spy networks throughout France, called weapons and explosives down from the skies, and became a linchpin for the Resistance. Even as her face covered wanted posters and a bounty was placed on her head, Virginia refused order after order to evacuate. She finally escaped through a death-defying hike over the Pyrenees into Spain, her cover blown. But she plunged back in, adamant that she had more lives to save, and led a victorious guerilla campaign, liberating swathes of France from the Nazis after D-Day.

Based on new and extensive research, Sonia Purnell has for the first time uncovered the full secret life of Virginia Hall–an astounding and inspiring story of heroism, spycraft, resistance, and personal triumph over shocking adversity. A Woman of No Importance is the breathtaking story of how one woman’s fierce persistence helped win the war.

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The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles

Named a Most Anticipated Book of the Year by Library Journal and Goodreads

Janet Skeslien Charles is the award-winning author of Moonlight in Odessa and The Paris Library. Her shorter work has appeared in revues such as Slice and Montana Noir. She learned about the history of the American Library in Paris while working there as the programs manager. She divides her time between Montana and Paris.

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Paris, books and a library – C’est très magnifique! Readers will fall into the lives of the mysterious, foreigner Odile Gustafson and her inquisitive next-door neighbor, twelve-year old Lily.

Author Janet Skeslien Charles weaves Odile’s experiences at the American Library in Paris during World War ll, with Lily’s uncommon and insatiable desire to know about all things French. Lily has requested her class book report on Ivanhoe be changed to a report on France-so she has an excuse to interview Odile and find out how in the world she landed in Froid, Montana from Paris! When her insistent knock goes unanswered, Lily boldly steps right into Odile’s living room, snooping around the record collection and the extensive library. Odile oddly appears from the bedroom and surprisingly agrees to the interview! Thus, Odile enters Lily’s life, and they are both changed forever.  

Odile had been obsessed with books and libraries since her Aunt Caro introduced her to the Dewey Decimal System and the card catalog at the age of nine: “Inside you’ll find the secrets of the universe.” She begins the interview by telling Lily the completely absorbing tale of her time at the American Library in Paris and how the brave, dedicated staff determined, against ALL odds, that the library would remain open during the German occupation of France. Readers will come to respect the directress, Miss Reeder; adore Boris, the Russian head librarian famous for his bibliotherapy; and wonder about trustee and real-life writer, Countess Clara de Chambrun. The author’s strong character development of endearing staff involved with the daily operations, many subscribers, “habituès”, and volunteers such as Margaret, add several more chilling chapters to Odile’s accounting of her years in war torn Paris. The relationship between Odile’s parents, her twin, Remy, and their involvement in war activities adds complexity to her unlikely arrival in the United States.  How DID Odile get to Froid, Montana? That is a “story within a story!”

When asked by a reporter, “Why were books being sent to soldiers to improve morale? Why not wine? Odile answered, “because no other thing possesses that mystical faculty to make people see with other people’s eyes. The Library is a bridge of books between cultures.”

When asked by Lily, “The best thing about Paris? Odile answered, “It’s a city of readers.” Join Odile and Lily in this “view of Paris” through the heart and lens of a librarian in The Paris Library.

The following is an excerpt from the history of the library. The highlighted names are characters in the novel:

“With the coming of World War II, the occupation of France by the Nazi regime, and the deepening threats to French Jews, Library director Dorothy Reeder and her staff and volunteers provided heroic service by operating an underground, and potentially dangerous, book-lending service to Jewish members barred from libraries. One staff member, Boris Netchaeff, was shot by the Gestapo when he failed to raise his hands quickly enough during a surprise inspection.

When Reeder was sent home for her safety at the end of 1941, Countess de Chambrun rose to the occasion to lead the Library. In a classic Occupation paradox, the happenstance of her son’s marriage to the daughter of the Vichy prime minister, Pierre Laval, and her family’s other social and business connections ensured the Library a friend in high places. That, along with the pre-war esteem of German “Library Protector” Dr. Hermann Fuchs for Dorothy Reeder and the Library, granted the institution a near-exclusive right to keep its doors open and its collections largely uncensored throughout the war. A French diplomat later said the Library had been to occupied Paris “an open window on the free world.”

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The Last Tiara by M. J. Rose

Publishes February 2, 2021

“Rose is an unusually skillful storyteller. Her polished prose and intricate plot will grip even the most skeptical reader. ” —The Washington Post https://www.mjrose.com/content/

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

From 1915 at the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg to 1940’s New York City, this is a compelling mystery that unfolds in the alternating voices of two young girls. First is Sofiya Petrovitch who spends most days at the palace with her mom, the tutor to the Romanov children. Sofiya is the best friend of Olga Romanov, and they later serve the wounded soldiers together in the makeshift hospital set up within the Winter Palace. The second young woman is Isobelle Moon, an architect in 1948 NYC, who discovers there are secrets in her mother’s past when she uncovers the “last tiara.” This is a riveting mystery involving the Midas Society as Isobelle delves into the provenance of an historic Romanov tiara. The Last Tiara, by M. J. Rose, is jewel of a novel based on an actual Romanov tiara that is still missing today. The blue sapphires might have disappeared, but that is no reason to miss this stunning novel of love and intrigue. Five Blue Sapphires!

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The Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner

The Nature of Fragile Things
A novel about the bonds of friendship and mother love, and the power of female solidarity…
(COMING FEBRUARY 2, 2021)
 

“Susan Meissner is a USA Today bestselling author of historical fiction with more than half a million books in print in fifteen languages. She is an author, speaker and writing workshop leader with a background in community journalism. A California native, she attended Point Loma Nazarene University and is also a writing workshop volunteer for Words Alive, a San Diego non-profit dedicated to helping at-risk youth foster a love for reading and writing.” For more on her previous novels visit : https://susanlmeissner.com/books/

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

An Irish immigrant by way of Manhattan, a mail order bride, and an earthquake? What calamity will happen next? In this gripping “look back” on the epic San Francisco earthquake of 1906, Sophie Hocking recounts “for the record,” the story of how she and five-year-old Kat survived when 3,000 others did not-and the shocking discovery about her handsome, new husband, Martin Hocking. Like peeling the layers of an onion, Sophie slowly uncovers the mysterious lives of “Martin,” the man to whom she thought she was married.

Readers will experience the frightening moments of an earthquake, the fury of women scorned, and the love created between strangers; induced by fear and trauma. The blossoming love of a mother and daughter also adds immensely to the ‘unromantic” relationship that Sophie endures in order to restore lives destroyed-not only by earthquakes, but by human shortcomings. For lovers of historical/mystery The Nature of Fragile Things is five stars on the “Reading Richter Scale!”  

The Great San Francisco Earthquake topples buildings, killing thousands

On April 18, 1906, at 5:13 a.m., an earthquake estimated at close to 8.0 on the Richter scale strikes San FranciscoCalifornia, killing an estimated 3,000 people as it topples numerous buildings. The quake was caused by a slip of the San Andreas Fault over a segment about 275 miles long, and shock waves could be felt from southern Oregon down to Los Angeles.

https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/the-great-san-francisco-earthquake

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Halfway to Harmony by Barbara O’Connor

Coming January 2021 for Middle Grades

“I now live in Asheville, North Carolina, with my husband and two dogs. I have one grown son. I love being a writer. I get to sit at my desk and pour my memories of my Southern childhood into my stories. Sometimes my characters eat boiled peanuts. Sometimes they go to the Smoky Mountains. Maybe they see kudzu vines covering up barns or listen to church music on the radio inside their trailers. They might catch crawfish in an icy cold stream or eat pickled okra from a jar. My stories have pieces of me in them – all mixed in with the made-up parts. That’s what writers do – mix in the real stuff with the made-up stuff. And they can wear their pajamas all day long if they want to. What could be better than that?”

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

A boy, a dream, and a truck.

Walter and his parents are grieving the loss of Tank, who joined the army and never returned to Harmony, Georgia. Tank’s younger brother, Walter, is drifting along the Chatahoochee River floating on his own despair while nightly tangled in a recurring dream. A new neighbor from Tennessee, Posey, moves in next door and just might be the kindred spirit Walter needs.

Posey is a gutsy girl with a three -legged dog named Porkchop and a near photographic memory. That phenomenal memory is an integral piece to the puzzling relationship that develops between Walter and Posey. Readers are treated to or maybe bombarded with trivia from Posey’s favorite books, Nuggets of Knowledge and Caesar Romanoff’s Rules for Making Friends. Walter and Posey become involved in the rescue and recovery of a man “that fell from the sky,” AKA “Banjo!” As the “not so subtle” Posey shares “rules for making friends” the lines of Walter’s anger and grief are slowly erased.

Readers’ hearts will ache at the quest for “normal” love and acceptance, motherly hugs and real smiles, that Walter is praying will return to his family since Tank “left.” Walter’s hopes and dreams for the future soar amidst a hot air balloon race and back to school nervousness. Meanwhile, Banjo’s eternally positive approach to life and quirky expressions along with Posey’s font of knowledge, helpful friendship hints, and determination will have young readers rushing online for a copy of Nuggets of Knowledge and practicing rules #1-7 for making friends.

“Good grief and grits” grab a copy of Halfway to Harmony for a chance to hear Tank saying, “Blow out them candles, little man, and I’ll show you my world.”

Your new friends will thank you for reading Halfway to Harmony. Five friendly stars-***** GR

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Gone To The Woods by Gary Paulsen

Publication Day is JANUARY 12! Register here:
https://americanwritersmuseum.org/program-calendar/gary-paulsen-gone-to-the-woods/

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

“PLEEEEASE, DON’T STOP!”  This is the plea heard by the Grateful Reader from a class full of students when reading a Gary Paulsen novel aloud. Novels such as Hatchet, DogSong, The Winter Room, are all beloved; burned in the memory of students as all-time favorites. Gary Paulsen’s tales of survival in the wilderness, gloriously vivid descriptions and gut-wrenching situations are so understandable after reading this memoir.  Revealing his own struggles during childhood -from being dropped off at a train station as a 5- year-old, all the way to his revelation that the Army would be his destiny, keeps the reader in suspense, hanging on every word; even knowing that the storyteller survives to tell his story!

Time and time again, “the boys” grit, smarts, and determination to survive the unthinkable circumstances keep him alive. With neglectful parents who never cared or worried about him- he was fishing or “gone to the woods”- Gary feels deeply that he is “supposed to be here.” Readers will feel the same as they are transported to the edge of a stream to see a whitetail doe for the very first time. Spellbinding and magical.  New readers and those that have fond memories of listening to or reading Gary Paulsen’s books, will be blessed by the calling to share his action- packed life; his victory over “jobs of work,” sharks, Manilla, and living as a street rat. Gary’s “brain-pictures” and the smiling librarian that introduced him to reading the “whole book” as a thirteen- year-old, helped him see that “he didn’t want to live in his past, but to see ahead, see what was over the next hill…”

Some heartfelt passages will be read over and over; others so brazenly hard to read that skipping over is an option. But EVERY word, paragraph, and page, is one step closer to SURVIVING Gary Paulsen’s childhood. Be brave. “The boy” is victorious and readers will feel the same.                                                           Five star “Survival Badge” from the Grateful Reader.  

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Blood and Silver by Vali Benson

Visit Vali’s website: http://valibenson.com/

Vali grew up in the Midwest. She now lives in Tucson with her husband, two sons and grandchildren.

After graduating from the University of Illinois, Vali started and sold two successful businesses before she decided to pursue her real passion of writing. She published several articles in a variety of periodicals, including History Magazine before she decided to try her hand at fiction.

In April of 2020, Vali published her first novel, “Blood and Silver”. That same month, she was also made a member of the Western Writers of America.

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Welcome to Tombstone, Arizona, “where silver is lying in the streets for anyone to pick up!”

Vali Benson’s novel will lure readers right into the saloons and brothels cobbled like shoes in a closet, after silver has been discovered in 1877. The “boomtown” of Tombstone was born in 1880, and quickly grew in population from 250 to 15,000 by 1885. Blood and Silver opens as Miss Lucille and her ‘best girls’ have arrived in Tombstone, along with 12 -year-old Carissa and her sickly mother, Lisette Beaumont.

Lisette’s eye- opening journey leading to Tombstone began as a young Creole on a plantation south of New Orleans. Lisette is married at 16, and in a few years begins the perilous journey West, in a wagon train bound for California, with her husband and two children. After a cholera outbreak, Lisette eventually arrives in San Francisco; a widow desperately trying to support her daughter, Carissa. Singing in a stage show on the rough side of town known as Barbary Coast leads Lisette into more than just entertaining men with her beautiful voice. But this is not the life Lisette has dreamed of for herself and her daughter. Who will be the key to their survival?

Readers will be enthralled with the beauty of Arizona through Vali Benson’s historical background and descriptions. The character development of China Mary, who runs Tombstone and the Chinese population, is an authentic depiction based on the charismatic, historical figure who lived in Tombstone from 1879 until she died in 1903. China Mary’s niece, Mai-Lin, a fictional character but a true treasure, is paired with Carissa in a new job at the Grand Hotel. Readers will be delighted with Mai-Lin’s giggly, adventurous personality and new-found friendship with “White-White”, as China Mary lovingly names Carissa. Readers are taken up and down new trails running into questionable townsfolk, as the two friends become involved in some “mining” of their own.

As Lisette and Carissa get involved with the seedy characters of Tombstone, trust is built and faith in the idea that good will prevail is restored.

“Make new friends but keep the old. One is SILVER and the other gold.”  Readers will strike it rich and make many new friends in Blood and Silver by Vali Benson.

Five SILVER stars -GR

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The Rembrandt Conspiracy by Deron Hicks

Published December 1, 2020-
Find out more about Deron Hicks and his other books! http://deronhicks.com/

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

The Rembrandt Conspiracy is Deron Hicks’ newest addition to the Lost Art Mystery series. The inclusion of QR codes enhances the National Portrait Gallery experience by bringing readers face to face with works of art by Rembrandt, Degas, Vermeer and others. This is a great techie hook for readers of all ages!

Art, the son of Dr. Hamilton, protector of the artworks, and new school friend, Camille, are excited to be invited to the Gala celebrating the opening of the Millennium Exhibit, the most important the National Portrait Gallery has ever hosted. On the anniversary of an unsolved theft from thirty years ago, Art has reason to believe a heist worth billions of dollars will occur on the night of the gala. Now to prove his suspicions!


Young readers will be introduced to scientific equipment that protects delicate art, techniques of restoration, and even a lesson on how to curtsy in case one is introduced to the Queen of England! Hone those prediction skills, follow Art’s observations and clues from the back of a scooter, and prepare for an exhilarating, rollicking tour of Washington D.C and the National Portrait Gallery. A Highly recommended “tour”!

A Darker Reality by Anne Perry

Publication: September 21, 2021

Book #3 in the Ella Standish Series: A personal trip turns perilous for Elena Standish after the murder of a British spy forces her to face dark family secrets in this exciting 1930s mystery by bestselling author Anne Perry.

https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/651819/a-darker-reality-by-anne-perry/

Book #2: On her first mission for MI6, the daring young photographer at the heart of this thrilling new mystery series by bestselling author Anne Perry travels to Mussolini’s Italy to rescue the lover who betrayed her.

Book #1: In the start of an all-new mystery series set in pre–World War II Europe, an intrepid young photographer carries her dead lover’s final, world-shattering message into the heart of Berlin as Hitler ascends to power.

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Book #3 in the Ella Standish Series was read for the Historical Novels Review Magazine. Upon its publication on November 1, 2021, a full review will be published here.