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This Won't End Well by Camille Pagan

Camille Pagan is “the author of Woman Last Seen in Her Thirties, Forever is the Worst Long Time, The Art of Forgetting, and the #1 Kindle bestseller Life and Other Near-Death Experiences, which was recently optioned for film. Her novels have been translated into twelve languages.

In another life, she was the health editor at Real Simple and Fitness magazines; these days, she writes for publications like Fast Company, Forbes, O: The Oprah Magazine, Parade, Time, and others.”

The Grateful Reader Review: by Dorothy Schwab

No new people! That’s a tall order for anyone, but Annie is going to try this approach to living as she reacts to the loss of her job and possibly her fiance. As a true scientist, Annie Mercer, writes in her daily journal to keep the reader and the plot moving along at a quick pace. Annie’s thoughts and decisions are impacted by her house mate-depressed-hoarder mom; Leesa, long time friend and promoter of Lite Weight crystals and oils; and most importantly, the French teacher fiance, Jon. Now throw in two more variables to the “no new people” experiment: a chatty, wine drinking, fashionista of a neighbor and a private investigator and the formula for the experiment is complete. The Grateful Reader devoured Camille Pagan’s “life experiment” and the conclusion is that upon publication February 26, 2020, readers will agree with these findings: This Won’t End Well and Annie Mercer’s scientific approach to life are the ingredients for a *****star read.

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The Queen's Fortune A Novel of Desiree, Napoleon, and the Dynasty That Outlasted the Empire by Allison Pataki

A sweeping novel about the extraordinary woman who captured Napoleon’s heart, created a dynasty, and changed the course of history—from the New York Times bestselling author of The Traitor’s Wife, The Accidental Empress, and Sisi. 

Expected publication: February 11, 2020, by Ballantine Books https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/46156957

“ALLISON PATAKI is the New York Times bestselling author of THE TRAITOR’S WIFE, THE ACCIDENTAL EMPRESS, SISI: EMPRESS ON HER OWN, WHERE THE LIGHT FALLS, BEAUTY IN THE BROKEN PLACES, AND NELLY TAKES NEW YORK. Allison’s novels have been translated into more than a dozen languages.

A former news writer and producer, Allison has written for The New York Times, ABC News, The Huffington Post, USA Today, Fox News and other outlets. She has appeared on The TODAY Show, Fox & Friends, Good Day New York, Good Day Chicago and MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

Allison graduated Cum Laude from Yale University with a major in English and spent several years in journalism before switching to fiction writing. A member of The Historical Novel Society, Allison lives in New York with her husband and daughter.” http://allisonpataki.com/

In Allison’s own words: “Desiree! The woman who was going to marry Napoleon before he broke her heart and chose Josephine instead. The woman who was then forced to remain in Josephine’s and Napoleon’s inner circles, witnessing every moment of their rise and rule. The woman who walked behind and kneeled before them in this moment when they raised themselves above God. How did Desiree feel? What did she see and know? And how did she ultimately outfox them all? Talk about your royal drama. I can’t wait for readers to meet Desiree in just two weeks and enter into the stunning story of an ordinary woman who went on to lead a most extraordinary life.”

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

The Queen’s Fortune takes the reader on a carriage ride through the history of 18th century France. The reader begins the journey in 1789, with an eleven year old Desiree at the Convent of Notre Dame in Southern France. The ride ends with Desiree, now the dowager Queen of Sweden, in 1860, and her death at the age of 83. The Queen’s Fortune is laced with the history of Revolutionary France and the role that Napoleon Bonaparte played in the lives of Desiree, Josephine, and their families; not to mention the armies and other countries he conquered and controlled. Napoleon thought of himself as a “shooting star, a bright and unstoppable light scorching its way across the sky!”

Following this love story, along with the detailed accounts of Napoleon’s army movements, paired with “royal movements” to the opera, salons, balls, palaces and coronations; makes for quite a compelling read. Get your French silk gown and jewels ready to join Allison and her royal readers as you learn to appreciate the true grit that it took for Desiree to follow, for most of her lifetime, in the shadow of Napoleon and Josephine. Allison Pataki will have her own “crowning” moment on publication day, February 11, 2020. The Grateful Reader grants ***** to The Queen’s Fortune.

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Queens of Animation by Nathalia Holt

The Untold Story of the Women Who Transformed the World of Disney and Made Cinematic History

“From Snow White to Moana, from Pinocchio to Frozen, the animated films of Walt Disney Studios have moved and entertained millions. But few fans know that behind these groundbreaking features was an incredibly influential group of women who fought for respect in an often ruthless male-dominated industry and who have slipped under the radar for decades.

In The Queens of Animation, bestselling author Nathalia Holt tells their dramatic stories for the first time, showing how these women infiltrated the boys’ club of Disney’s story and animation departments and used early technologies to create the rich artwork and unforgettable narratives that have become part of the American canon. As the influence of Walt Disney Studios grew—and while battling sexism, domestic abuse, and workplace intimidation—these women also fought to transform the way female characters are depicted to young audiences.

With gripping storytelling, and based on extensive interviews and exclusive access to archival and personal documents, The Queens of Animation reveals the vital contributions these women made to Disney’s Golden Age and their continued impact on animated film making, culminating in the record-shattering Frozen, Disney’s first female-directed full-length feature film.https://www.google.com/search?q=queens+of+animation+book&rlz=1C1SQJL_enUS871US871&oq=Q&aqs=chrome.0.69i59j69i57j0l4j69i60l2.3491j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

Nathalia Holt, Ph.D. is the New York Times bestselling author of Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars and Cured: The People who Defeated HIV. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Atlantic, Slate, Popular Science, and Time. She is a former Fellow at the Ragon Institute of Massachusetts General Hospital, MIT, and Harvard University. She lives with her husband and their two daughters in Pacific Grove, California.

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Walt Disney’s movies, cartoons, & Golden Books have had an impact on listening and viewing audiences, adult and children alike, for almost nine decades! It’s hard to even imagine a time when Mickey Mouse and all his friends weren’t entertaining theater goers and eventually, TV audiences. Near the end of 1937, Snow White made her debut; one that ended with many in tears and a standing ovation-for an animated cartoon! Hundreds of studio employees had worked on the film. There were sixty-seven men named, but sadly, only two women were given screen credit at the end of the showing. This was a source of discontent for many years. The Queens of Animation is a group biography including many of the outstanding female animators who have gone much too long without well earned notoriety. These women are the true “princesses” in the Disney story.

Nathalia Holt does a superb job of giving the reader plenty of world history and economics, along with scientific discoveries in film, photography, sound, and animation. With true Disney “magic”, she blends all this into a “story board” that takes you on a wonderful journey from the forests of Snow White, to the steps of Cinderella’s castle; out to Neverland, the depths of the oceans and jungles, and finally to the icy steps of Elsa’s palace.

The years of tedious work on each movie is amplified with the vivid detail Nathalia Holt provides as the movie timeline unfolds. This magic carpet ride whips and twirls the reader from Snow White, at the brink of World War ll; all the way to Jennifer Lee and the red carpet of the 2013 Academy Awards- where Frozen wins an Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film. This marked two firsts for women: the first female director from Disney to receive the Academy Award, and for a female directed film to earn over one billion dollars at the box office!

The Queens of Animation certainly shines a much needed bright light on the female animators and their skillful, artistic contributions to the film industry.

Nathalia Holt says it best: ” They have shaped the evolution of female characters in film, advanced our technology, and broken down gender barriers in order to give us the empowering story lines we have begun to see in film and animation today. In the shadow of their artistry, millions of childhoods have been shaped, with an untold number yet to come.”

Next, a movie watch party to “see” all the Disney princesses through the eyes of the fabulous female animators. The Queens of Animation earns a five star award! GR

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Cartier's Hope by M. J. Rose

New York, 1910: A city of extravagant balls in Fifth Avenue mansions and poor immigrants crammed into crumbling Lower East Side tenements. A city where the suffrage movement is growing stronger every day but most women reporters are still delegated to the fashion and lifestyle pages. But Vera Garland is set on making her mark in a man’s world of serious journalism. https://www.mjrose.com/books/cartiers_hope.asp?BookVar=Praise

” M.J. Rose grew up in New York City mostly in the labyrinthine galleries of the Metropolitan Museum, the dark tunnels and lush gardens of Central Park and reading her mother’s favorite books before she was allowed. She believes mystery and magic are all around us but we are too often too busy to notice…  Books that exaggerate mystery and magic draw attention to it and remind us to look for it and revel in it.” https://www.mjrose.com/content/author.asp

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

To live a full life, you need a full heart. Even though a heart can break from loss, it’s worth the risk. Advice from a father to his daughter.

Cartier’s Hope is a fascinating tour of early twentieth century New York City, through the eyes of socialite, Vera Garland. Not only does the lucky reader get a glimpse of iconic places such as the Plaza Hotel, Central Park, Metropolitan Opera, and the Waldorf-Astoria; but best of all, the lush descriptions of the posh department store, Garland’s Emporium, on 57th Street; in the heart of the city’s newest uptown shopping district. Vera, the Radcliff graduate, is actually an undercover reporter for the New York World and switches adeptly into the guise of Vee Swann with her wig, glasses, and unattractive dress. She pens a weekly gossip column known as Silk, Satin, and Scandals; sourcing her material by spying on her own family, friends, and acquaintances. The column becomes so popular that Vee Swann is able to “make her mark by way of exposes and raise awareness of social ills and charitable efforts under the guise of gossip.” The reader is secretly shuffled through a tunnel designed specifically to leave the Emporium undetected. Vera/Vee could depart Granville Garland’s posh penthouse unnoticed; out onto the streets of the city to march with suffragettes in protest, visit impoverished, sickly children in tenements, and plow bravely into illegal abortion clinics; but most importantly and quite intriguing, are her forays into Pierre Cartier’s jewelry shop – sometimes as Vera and other times as Vee Swann.

Pierre Cartier, the Hope diamond, and his Russian jeweler, Jacob Asher, enter Vera’s life as she begins her investigative adventures; hired by the unscrupulous Mr. Oxley, editor and owner of the Gotham Gazette. Vera Garland follows in her hero, Nelly Blye’s footsteps, as she explores the history and the curse attributed to the infamous “French Blue.” The reader will follow the twists and turns of the merchandising world, newspaper sales, women’s rights, and the heartbreaking search for love as the quest for the Hope Diamond and family secrets captures the imagination- like Vera’s perfect strand of pearls-right to the very last page. There’s a perfect clasp to every strand of pearls, but according to Jacob, “there’s no such thing as a perfectly flawless gemstone.” M.J. Rose has presented readers a breathtaking, black velvet tray with a glittering gem waiting for inspection. *****GR

“The first address Cartier called home in New York was 712 Fifth Avenue (on the west side, at 56th street). That building has itself had a fairly drama-filled life. It had a near-death experience in the 1980s when developers wanted to tear it down, along with another building next door which has beautiful windows by Lalique (the building was once tenanted by Coty). The facades of three buildings (712, 714, and 716) were finally rescued at the last minute when they were granted landmark status – thanks largely to those windows – and while the desired skyscraper was eventually built, it had to be set well back from the street. Cartier’s offices were on the fourth floor of number 712 and thanks to the preservation of the facade, you can still gaze up at the windows through which Pierre Cartier looked out at New York.” https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-01-02/the-juicy-103-year-history-of-new-york-s-famed-cartier-mansion

The Hope Diamond

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Mercy Road by Ann Howard Creel

Ann Howard Creel writes guaranteed heart-wrenching historical fiction. In her novels, strong female characters face unforeseen obstacles and then have to make life-changing decisions. In her new novel, MERCY ROAD, a Kentucky horsewoman who has lost everything joins an all-female team of doctors and nurses as an ambulance driver on the front lines during WW I in France. Besides writing, Ann’s other interests include old houses, new yoga routines, red wine, and all things cat. She currently lives in Paris, Kentucky. For book clubs, Ann will visit you via Skype. Contact her through her website: www.annhowardcreel.com. https://www.amazon.com/Mercy-Road-Ann-Howard-Creel-ebook/dp/B07PWF72XG/ref=zg_bs_17745823011_23?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=YR8JFJM5KCPP4WF7YA3T

“Arlene Favier, a young French-speaking horsewoman from Paris, Kentucky, joins the first team of the American Women’s Hospital as an ambulance driver, passes through Paris, France, and ends up serving soldiers and civilians alike on the front lines.  Amid the chaos of war, she never expects to find romantic attention from two very different soldiers, and not only does she find herself in physical danger every day, her heart and belief in the human spirit become endangered, too.  Because even during the days of life and death, things are not always as they appear to be, and not all soldiers are heroes.”Goodreads

MERCY ROAD is now available and is free for Prime members for one month.

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Paris, Kentucky, to Paris, France, 1918. Such an extensive undertaking for 23 year old Arlene to travel; not only in distance, but in personal growth and maturity. “Despite all we had lost and how much our lives had changed and would continue to change going forward, we would survive.” Due to a family tragedy Arlene is catapulted into the role of family breadwinner. The fortitude and bravery displayed by Arlene and other young women at the onset of World War l is enviable and impressive. Being fluent in French benefits Arlene in many ways as she is hired by the American Women’s Hospital to be an ambulance driver-at the front lines, in France. So far from the horse farm in Kentucky. The AWH and the drivers are a part of the war on which little has been written. Much of Ann Howard Creel’s writing is based on her research from letters and journals. The ambulance drivers are true heroes at the front lines, transporting and saving the lives of countless soldiers.

Arlene, thinking of her superior, Dr. Beryl Rayne: “I saw her as crossing her own version of no-man’s land; on one side, the limitations and expectations put on women, and on the other side, her drive to do what she knew she could and must do. I viewed her as charting a new course through a changed world.” Ann Howard Creel’s descriptions of the day in and day out suffering and exhausting surgeries performed by the doctors and nurses is gut wrenching; along with the vividly detailed scenes of what the ambulance drivers endured, as these men and women transported severely injured soldiers, screaming in pain and agony, to the hospitals speedily set up outside French villages.

Readers will also “travel” with Arlene as she not only moves from ” quiet scenes of beauty and tranquility into the urgency and thunder of war,” but along with her as her young heart is led in two different directions. The growth of Arlene from the naive, dependent daughter of a wealthy Kentucky horse farmer to a determined, confidant, independent, well traveled & experienced young woman is compelling and empowering. Mercy Road is a great choice for readers who wonder, “What would I do in similar circumstances? Would I have the drive to do what I can and must do to survive?” For a full recovery, the Grateful Reader prescribes a day of rest along with this 5***** Mercy Road – for a full dose of confidence and empowerment.

Travel with Arlene as she fulfills her assignments from Kentucky to France:

Our minds have changed. Our vision has changed. Now we can more clearly see what’s important.Mercy Road by Anne Howard Creel

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Dead Wrong by Vannetta Chapman

A new Amish cozy mystery from Vannetta Chapman.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/47977569-dead-wrong

“Vannetta Chapman writes fiction full of grace and is the author of over 20 Amish novels. She discovered her love for the Amish while researching her grandfather’s birthplace in Albion, Pennsylvania. Vannetta is a Carol award winner and a Christy award finalist. She has also received more than two dozen awards from Romance Writers of America chapter groups. She currently writes Christian suspense, Amish romance, and Amish mystery. She was a teacher for 15 years and resides in the Texas hill country. For more information, visit her at www.VannettaChapman.com.”

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Winter is the perfect season for a cozy mystery and readers will be so RIGHT to choose Dead WRONG as the next book to snuggle with near a crackling fire! Great news: This is the first in the Agatha’s Amish B&B Series, so readers have much to look forward to. The setting of the Hill Country in central Texas adds to the charm of Vannetta Chapman’s new Amish Bed & Breakfast series. Agatha Lapp has traveled from Shipshewana, Indiana, all the way to Hunt, Texas. She’ll take over the not so successful B&B perched on the banks of the Guadalupe River, left to her by her brother and his wife after a tragic buggy accident. Just as Agatha is getting the hang of the business side of a B&B, she stumbles upon quite a mess in Cabin 3, along with the body of Russell Dixon “splayed” in the high grass out back! While the reader is quickly drawn in to the mystery of who killed Russell Dixon, the wonderful meals and baked goods being prepared by Agatha certainly engage the senses. Readers will enjoy getting to know the Amish couples and quirky brothers staying in the other cabins at this “plain and simple” B&B. Agatha gets help from former detective and newly widowed neighbor, Mr. Vargas. Grab that favorite wrap, a hot cup of coffee and Dead Wrong. Readers will be ready for a “haven of rest” after all the antics involved in solving this ***** cozy murder mystery. Vannetta, please put Book #2 of this new series on the menu at Agatha’s “Plain & Simple B&B!”

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The Paris Orphan The French Photographer by Natasha Lester

A “rich and riveting” New York Times bestseller based on the true story of a female journalist who defied all the rules while covering World War II (Publishers Weekly, starred review). https://www.natashalester.com.au/books-by-natasha-lester/the-french-photographer-2/

The book is called The French Photographer in Australia/NZ/UK and The Paris Orphan in the USA/Canada. I love this cover!

Read Chapters 1-3

“As well as writing, I love Paris,
collecting vintage fashion, reading, drinking tea
and having fun with my three children.

I’m the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Paris Orphan / The French Photographer and The Paris Seamstress, as well as Her Mother’s Secret and a A Kiss from Mr Fitzgerald. “

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

It’s almost impossible today, almost fifty years later, to conceive how difficult it was for a woman correspondent to get beyond a rear-echelon military position, in other words to the front, where the action was.“- David E. Scherman, Life Magazine correspondent

New York City, 1942: A Vogue Magazine photo shoot featuring model, Jessica May, her gorgeous blonde hair and famous winning smile, is the opening scene of The Paris Orphan. Due to an untimely breech of confidence by Jessica’s boyfriend, the star treatment from Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Glamour comes to a screeching halt. To wait out being blacklisted, Jessica returns to her photojournalism skills and pleads to be sent to Paris as a correspondent for Vogue. The editor’s goal was for American women to hear & read stories from the front told by women, not by men. Jessica’s idea was, ” Let’s try. We can only fail spectacularly.”

France, 2005: It’s been sixty years since World War II ended, and D’Arcy Hallworth, art curator from Sydney, Australia, has arrived at a fairy tale chateaux, Lieu de Reves, to assist a reclusive photographer with preparing a collection of wartime photographs for a gallery exhibition.

The dual timeline between the war zone through the lens of Jessica May, and the romantic, artistic eyes of D’Arcy’s examination of herself and the war photos, keeps the reader engrossed in the female journalists’ struggles to get to the front and the revealing of a family’s secrets. Natasha Lester’s superb descriptions of the French countryside,chateaux, battle sites, war zones, concentration camps, hospital operating tents; along with the infuriating male soldiers and their treatment of the female correspondents, will keep the reader up late; wishing for a copy of Vogue and cheering for the courageous women photojournalists who forged their way “to the front” for all the female writers and photographers dreaming of their own careers. “The only person who can change your future is yourself.” Jessica May

The Grateful Reader always appreciates the intensive research it takes to write a novel of historical fiction. The Author’s Notes are as intriguing as the novel itself! The following are a few of the female correspondents either mentioned or upon which characters were based in The Paris Orphan. For women everywhere- Salute! GR

Lee Miller is the basis for the character- model & journalist Jessica May: Elizabeth “Lee” Miller, Lady Penrose, was an American photographer and photojournalist. She was a fashion model in New York City in the 1920s before going to Paris, where she became a fashion and fine art photographer.  During the Second World War, she was a war correspondent for Vogue, covering events such as the London Blitz, the liberation of Paris, and the concentration camps at Buchenwald and Dachau.

Lee Miller to her editor at Vogue:Every word I write is as difficult as tears wrung from stone.”

Lee Miller in Hitler’s bathtub. Lee described Hitler’s apartment in a piece, “Hitleriana,” published in Vogue in 1945. Natasha Lester attributes this scene to Jessica May in The Paris Orphan.

Martha Ellis Gellhorn (November 8, 1908 – February 15, 1998) was an American novelist, travel writer, and journalist who is considered one of the great war correspondents of the 20th century. She reported on virtually every major world conflict that took place during her 60-year career.

British journalist and war correspondent who was one of the few women to report the Allied invasion of Europe from D-Day in June 1944 to the surrender of Germany in May 1945. Retired from journalism (early 1930s) to raise a family; start of World War II motivated her to return to the profession to cover the Battle of Britain; facing strong discrimination by British military authorities and determined to be a combat reporter, was hired by the Boston Globe and was accredited with the 1st American Army; her reports from the front lines and hospitals in France and Germany described in graphic prose some of the bloodiest fighting on the Western front, including the Battle of the Bulge as well as the liberation of Nazi concentration camps; remained in the U.S., working for Voice of America.

Lee Carson attended Smith College, Chicago, aged 14 and left, aged 16 to become a reporter for the Chicago Times. In 1940 she joined the International News Service, she was made a War correspondent in 1943.

Carson was dubbed by her colleagues as ‘the best looking’ female war correspondent, and reportedly used this to her advantage. Hubert Zemke recalled that she caused a stir when she visited the 56th Fighter Group sometime in the Spring of 1944. She supposedly talked a pilot into letting her aboard a bomber on D-Day, where she witnessed the bombing of Cherbourg, and became the only female War Correspondent to come close to the Normandy Invasion.

Famed for her shapely legs, Carson spent most of the war with them covered by trousers, she was the first Allied War Correspondent to enter Paris following liberation. Attached to the 4th Army, she rode in on a Jeep, and reported on the Parisian Hepcats and civilians who had resisted occupation. She later joined the 1st Army with fellow war Correspondent Iris Carpenter and crossed the Seigfried Line at Aachen.

Carpenter and Carson reported on the Battle of the Bulge and witnessed the first GIs meeting Russian Troops. On 15 April 1945, assigned to the task force which liberated the Castle, Carson entered Colditz and took the only photo of the “cock” glider, built by inmates and hidden in the Attic. On 23 April 1945, Carson was present at the liberation of the Erla Work Camp at Leipzig, she was horrified at the suffering of the inmates.

Lee Carson retired from the International News Service in 1957, she died of Cancer, aged 51 in 1973.

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All About Evie by Cathy Lamb

Set against the natural beauty of the San Juan Islands in the Pacific Northwest, acclaimed author Cathy Lamb’s latest novel tells the emotionally compelling story of one woman’s life-changing discovery about her past . . .

https://cathylamb.org/ Published October 29, 2019

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

“Evie was often anxious, obsessive, now and then depressed and a worried person that would find being a hermit a pleasant occupation. She talked to animals as if they were people and slept with three dogs and four cats; had to be alone a lot to keep her head on straight, and who had a passion for books….” This last phrase is the “hook!”

Evie is adorable, loves her soon to be wed sister, Jules, and lives with her mom, Poppy, Aunt Iris and Aunt Camellia. Cathy Lamb, author, asks, “Do you believe in premonitions?” The thing is, Evie has been gifted or cursed with having premonitions and has dealt with them since she was a young child; helping some or not & saving others! This is a story of sisters and their loyalty and love for each other, a mother and her sisters’ secrets, and coming to grips with the truth-no matter the outcome.

This novel made me think, laugh, reminisce, cry, and grow to love the quirky characters: three adorable, old ladies, their hat parades, flower garden & marijuana plants; Marco, Evie’s handsome veterinarian, (but wait, there’s a premonition involved), Jules, Evie’s sister & her biker fiance, Mack, and for goodness sake, not to leave out new police chief, Reginald Ashburn III, aka: Chief Ass Burn! (readers will grow to hate him rather than love him).

Oh goodness. Did I mention that Evie owns a bookstore? Yes, so there’s lots of regular or random customers, scheduled book club meetings, along with oodles of delicious cakes & coffee served to the readers on the deck looking out to sea. This is the windy, island backdrop for Evie’s premonitions that come true and some that don’t. Cathy Lamb’s All About Evie features a glorious island with delightful friends & an equally charming bookstore; paired with a heart wrenching story told in a dual timeline of a mother’s love for her daughter and the steps she will take to save her, lifelong best friends, sisters of two generations, and, of course, the lovable animals that have their own role in the delightful drama that ensues. Totally a ***** charming read. GR

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A Christmas Gathering by Anne Perry

Publication Date: November 5, 2019

Anne Perry (born Juliet Hulme) is a British historical novelist. http://www.anneperry.co.uk/about

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

The English countryside at Christmas-sounds glorious to some, but not to Lady Vespasia and her new husband, Lord Victor Narraway. The invitation to Cavendish Hall is of obligatory nature, so no real cheer and anticipation are involved. Max Cavendish and wife, Amelia, have invited a select group of guests for Christmas Day. The events leading up to Christmas Eve will add quite a bit to the usual anxious excitement that surrounds the holiday. Anne Perry’s annual Christmas novella will be a treat to the Downton Abbey fans; butlers, footman, changing for dinner and the after dinner “withdrawing room”-are all here. Lady Vespasia and Victor, recently released from duty as the head of the Special Branch, will treat the reader to some Christmas secrets, strolls through the elaborate gardens, a meeting in the orangery, and even attempted murder. So for the mystery lovers and followers of Anne Perry, don your dinner duds, and ring the bell for the cognac to be served; add The Christmas Gathering to the silver tray. GR

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The Uncertain Season by Ann Howard Creel

The Hurricane of 1900 devastated Galveston Island, but a storm of betrayal is still brewing.https://www.amazon.com/Uncertain-Season-Ann-Howard-Creel/dp/147780904X

After first writing for children, Ann turned her attention to Historical Fiction. Her first novel for adults, THE MAGIC OF ORDINARY DAYS, was made into a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie on CBS. Her recent titles have been Kindle bestsellers and include WHILE YOU WERE MINE, THE WHISKEY SEA, THE UNCERTAIN SEASON, and her latest, THE RIVER WIDOW.

She now writes full-time. Ann’s main characters are always strong women facing high-stakes situations and having to make life-changing decisions. Her historical settings have ranged from Victorian-era Galveston to World War II in New York City. Her next novel, MERCY ROAD, to be published in 2019, takes readers to World War I France. Besides writing, Ann loves old houses, new yoga routines, and all things cat.

The Grateful Reader Review: by Dorothy Schwab

The Great Galveston hurricane, known regionally as the Great Storm of 1900, was the deadliest natural disaster in United States history,https://www.history.com/news/how-the-galveston-hurricane-of-1900-became-the-deadliest-u-s-natural-disaster

Overwhelming devastation to a city, its families, and the island itself; The Great Storm of 1900 that destroyed Galveston, Texas, is the setting for The Uncertain Season.

“Harry Gobinet knew something huge was blowing in, but even he didn’t foresee the magnitude of the storm coming their way. Still he saw enough to save them. “

An eleven year old girl and her friend, Harry, fight for their lives in a shrimp boat in Galveston Bay. Later, as they search for homes and family, the aftermath of the deadly storm of 140 mph winds engulfs the reader. Ann Howard Creel’s descriptions of the island devastation are recorded as she shares the storm’s impact on three women who find themselves in Galveston, 1903: the bold, but shamed Etta, from Nacogdoches, Texas; the privileged & engaged,but lonely Grace; and an elusive, mysterious islander known only as The Girl.

Amidst the building of the “modern engineering miracle,” known as the seawall, the author does a masterful job of weaving the gripping, coming of age of The Girl with the untimely unveiling of family secrets and betrayal, by both Etta and Grace. Adding the realizations of “living in a home where appearances were more important than the truth,” creates a compelling mystery. The upbringing, childhoods and parental influences of Etta, Grace, and The Girl, play an important role in individual reactions and emotional responses as each are battered about in the “personal storms of life.” Who survives the storms?

Powerful imagery, deep, emotional family situations involving trust, identity, regret, and forgiveness; the reader will “survive the storm,” but in the aftermath there will be that amazing feeling of freshness and beauty after a storm, along with the overwhelming relief and joy of new beginnings. Readers of The Uncertain Season will “be prepared” for the next storm. ***** GR

Galveston Historic District
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The Perfect Love Song A Christmas Story by Patti Callahan Henry

Patti Callahan Henry is an American novelist. She is the New York Times bestselling author of fifteen books, including the historical novel, BECOMING MRS. LEWIS – The Improbable Love Story of Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis and also her June 2019, contemporary Southern fiction THE FAVORITE DAUGHTER. This novel is also reviewed here on The Grateful Reader.

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

“The holiday season sometimes fills us with unrealistic expectations”-so true, isn’t it? The Perfect Love Song is a story of brotherly love, life-long friendships, finding true love; and even recognizing God’s perfect love through those He places in our lives. Patti Callahan Henry takes the reader on a magical Christmas journey; from the Southern Lowcountry in South Carolina, to Rockefeller Center in NYC, and over the ocean to Galway Bay in Ireland.

The main character, Kara Larson, is highly influenced and her young , “soon to be wed” life story, impacted by an elderly Irish woman, Maeve Mahoney. Maeve is from Galway, Ireland, and she willingly shares her wisdom on life and love relationships with Kara. Truly appreciated are the quotes at the beginning of each chapter from Maeve to Kara. Some are Maeve’s own; some Old Irish Proverbs. Either way, the story and the sayings will give the reader much “food for thought” to reflect and ponder during quiet, stolen moments during the coming Christmas season.

The Grateful Reader hopes your holiday expectations and romantic visions do come true. Treat yourself to an early Christmas present by reading The Perfect Love Song; and then relish the “joy of giving” in this season of God’s perfect love, as we celebrate the birth of Jesus.

“Your feet will bring you to where your heart is.” Old Irish Proverb

The Claddagh ring is a traditional Irish ring which represents love, loyalty, and friendship. The design and customs associated with it originated in the Irish fishing village of the same name in Galway. The ring, as currently known, was first produced in the 17th century.

The Legend of the Claddagh Ring-told by Gina Alward-https://thehereandwow.com/claddagh-ring/

The legend of the Claddagh ring dates back five hundred years to the fishing village of Claddagh, just outside of Galway city. The men from Claddagh would go out to sea to fish for food for their families, and back in this time, such a task posed many dangers. Currents were strong, the weather was changing, and the sea was bound to seduce the most deadly risk of all: pirates.

On one fateful day, a young man named Richard Joyce was fishing at sea with other members of his family. A Spanish pirate ship who was also sailing along the coast, captured poor Richard and his family and brought them to the North Coast of Africa, selling them all into slavery.

Richard, who was a silversmith and the youngest of his family members, was the most devastated. All of these men had left their loved ones behind, but Richard had only just met his one true love and now feared he would not live to ever see her again.

Years had passed since his captivation, and while some of his family members had died during these years, Richard continued to yearn for his love and remained hopeful of one day returning to Claddagh. To help keep his spirits high, Richard would steal tiny specks of gold from his slave masters each day while tending to their fire in the goldsmith shop. Throughout his years of hard labour, he slowly fashioned a ring from this gold, with a hope of someday returning to his village to present this ring to his beloved.

At last, Richard finally made his way back to Claddagh. Whether he escaped or was released from slavery, no one knows for certain. Needless to say, upon his return, he was thrilled to learn that his beloved had remained faithful to him throughout these daunting and gruelling years, waiting for the day that they could be reunited.

And it was on that day that Richard gave her his ring – the ring that is now known around the world as the Claddagh Ring.

The Claddagh design consists of a heart, held by two hands with a crown resting upon it. The heart symbolizes the love that Richard longed to share with his true love; the crown symbolizes their undying loyalty to one another; and the hands symbolize their friendship, which is, after all, the very foundation of all love. This design became very popular as an engagement or wedding ring, particularly in Galway, the Aran Islands, and Connemara, and in fact, the Claddagh design is featured in various types of jewelry and art all across the country.

How this ring is worn is also very important in Irish culture. If the Claddagh is worn on the ring finger of the right hand with the heart pointing outwards, it means the wearer’s heart has yet to be won. If the ring is worn on the same hand and finger, with the heart pointing inward toward the heart, it means the wearer’s heart belongs to another. If the ring is then worn on the ring finger of the left hand with the heart pointing outward, this indicates the wearer is engaged to be married, and if the ring is pointing inward on the same hand, it means the wearer is married.

Receive The Perfect Love Song and the Legend of the Claddagh Ring as a gift you will cherish and share for many Christmases to come. TGR

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Before and After by Judy Christie and Lisa Wingate

Publication Day- October 22, 2019 https://lisawingate.com/

Judy Christie is an author and consultant who lives in Northwest Louisiana. She writes inspirational fiction and nonfiction. Her popular Green series chronicles the goings-on in the small Louisiana town of Green and is part of Abingdon Press’s new inspirational fiction line.

Lisa Wingate is a former journalist, an inspirational speaker, and the bestselling author of more than thirty books. Her blockbuster “Before We Were Yours” was on the NYT best seller list for over one year. Her work has won or been nominated for many awards, including the Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize, the Oklahoma Book Award, the Utah Library Award, the Carol Award, the Christy Award, and the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award. Lisa believes stories can change the world.

Be sure to read this novel first! : “THE BLOCKBUSTER HIT–A New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and Publishers Weekly Bestseller For readers of Orphan Train and The Nightingale comes a “thought-provoking and] complex tale about two families, two generations apart. . . based on a notorious true-life scandal.”…. Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals–in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country–Lisa Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong. *Library Journal Publishers Weekly’s #3 Longest-Running Bestseller of 2017” –

The Grateful Reader Review: by Dorothy Schwab

Incredible. Real life. These two descriptors will grab the reader from the cover to the last page. Readers often think, which part is really true; which is fictionalized by the author?For readers of historical fiction this NONFICTION sequel is a “dream come true!” The phenomenal novel, Before We Were Yours,written by Lisa Wingate, is a fictional account of a family torn apart by Georgia Tann and the Tennessee Children’s Home Society, ( TCHS). Documents show that the TCHS was in operation in Memphis, from 1924-1950. Many factors, such as the Great Depression, WWll & the Holocaust, contributed to a very turbulent time in the lives of American families. Poverty stricken or unwed mothers in desperation; even hard working parents who couldn’t afford to care for their children, added to the many years of disturbing statistics while the TCHS was in operation. In the last two years, the success and popularity of Before We Were Yours garnered the attention of many friends and family of the real-life adoptees and their families. As word of the fictional novel spread, the adoptees/survivors, now in the final years of their lives, began to emerge; to share and reveal their heart wrenching memories and true stories.

In Before and After Judy Christie and Lisa Wingate have compiled the memories and stories revealed in letters, phone interviews, face to face meetings, even FaceTime. The anguish and heart ache revealed is certainly hard to read and digest; that such cruelty existed for so long. As a reunion of adoptees and families comes to fruition, the real heroes are the courageous survivors that braced themselves and their families to face the past. Many found siblings and cousins, along with love and redemption, at the end of a life-long search.

“Where are you? Do you look like me? Are you like me in any way? ” Letter from a TCHS adoptee to her unknown birth family.

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The Lost Daughter

The story of Anastasia Romanov’s sister, Maria, and her fight for love. Gill Paul’s beautiful website: http://gillpaul.com/

“Gill Paul specializes in relatively recent history, mostly 20th century, and enjoys re-evaluating real historical characters and trying to get inside their heads.

Gill also writes historical non-fiction, including A History of Medicine in 50 Objects and series of Love Stories. Published around the world, this series includes Royal Love Stories, World War I Love Stories and Titanic Love Stories. ” http://gillpaul.com/author

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Romanov-A name long associated with family tragedy. Ekaterinburg, July 17, 1918- The centenary of the brutal murder of the Russian Tsar, Tsarina and their children is what prompted Gill Paul to imagine the survival of Maria. Maria was considered the “most beautiful” of the four girls and physically strong, since it is well documented she was able to carry sickly Alexei, the Tsarevitch, on her own. The reader is immediately introduced in the prologue to the militant men from a metallurgy works, as each are assigned a member of the royal family on that fateful night.

The girls in birth order: Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia—Maria, a bubbly, outgoing 19 year old, who has been overly protected her entire life, is naive for her age. The family has been under house arrest since the revolution in February 1917, so out of boredom Maria is quite friendly with the house guards. This perky personality is what leads Maria on a journey of survival, true love, and forgiveness.

The dual timeline transports the reader to Sydney, Australia, in the 1970’s, where Val lives with husband Tony, and daughter, Nicole. Val’s Russian father has his own secrets and treasures in a safety deposit box. After his death, her father’s revealing last words, heard by a nurse mumbled while dying of dementia, leads Val down a path in her family history that she never knew existed. Val knows her father is Russian, but he’s never talked about his time before coming to Australia. (There’s so much history to be learned: many Russians did eventually migrate to Manchuria and Australia after the revolution; and another wave in the 1920’s.) The reader will be anxious to find the secrets hidden from Val by her father and her long, lost mother. Why does Val’s father never reveal his past and why did her mother leave her?

Completely drawn in to the plausible scenario, The Grateful Reader, highly recommends this novel to those who have read all the Romanov and Anastasia novels. The Historical Afterword is as compelling and informative as the love story of Maria Romanov is spellbinding .

From the splendor of the ostentatious Russian palaces to the cold, damp basement at Ipatiev; let yourself think: if only….. Five Stars *****

The following are photographs of locations, palaces, and items mentioned in The Lost Daughter.

Follow the Grateful Reader for more historical fiction reviews. https://gratefulreader.home.blog/

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The Flight Girls by Noelle Salazar

A stunning story about the Women Airforce Service Pilots whose courage during World War II turned ordinary women into extraordinary heroes https://www.amazon.com/Flight-Girls-Noelle-Salazar/dp/0778309169

Noelle Salazar was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, where she’s been a Navy recruit, a medical assistant, an NFL cheerleader and always a storyteller. As a novelist, she has done extensive research into the Women Airforce Service Pilots, interviewing vets and visiting the training facility—now a museum dedicated to the WASP—in Sweetwater, Texas. When she’s not writing, she can be found dodging raindrops and daydreaming of her next book. Noelle lives in Bothell, Washington, with her husband and two children. The Flight Girls is her first novel.


A HISTORY OF THE WOMEN AIRFORCE SERVICE PILOTS In 1942, as the country reeled from the attack on Pearl Harbor, trained male pilots were in short supply. Qualified pilots were needed to fight the war. The Army also was desperate for pilots to deliver newly built trainer aircraft to the flight schools in the South. Twenty-eight experienced civilian women pilots volunteered to take those ferrying jobs. They formed the country’s first female squadron late summer 1942. To read more go to : https://waspmuseum.org/

Pearl Harbor is a U.S. naval base near Honolulu, Hawaii, that was the scene of a devastating surprise attack by Japanese forces on December 7, 1941. Just before 8 a.m. on that Sunday morning, hundreds of Japanese fighter planes descended on the base, where they managed to destroy or damage nearly 20 American naval vessels, including eight battleships, and over 300 airplanes. More than 2,400 Americans died in the attack, including civilians, and another 1,000 people were wounded. The day after the assault, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war on Japan.

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Audrey Fitzgerald Coltrane has spent her whole life flying and plans to own her own airfield-in Texas. In 1941 as the war in Europe had begun, Audrey heads to Oahu, Hawaii, to train military pilots. Audrey has already decided her path will not lead to matrimony and babies-she has other plans, big plans. “Then one fateful day, she gets caught in the air over Pearl Harbor just as the bombs begin to fall, and suddenly, nowhere feels safe.” This story of Audrey and the other women pilots that fly and train the men that will ultimately defend our country is amazing and surprising. The amazing amount of courage and vulnerability involved to accomplish what they did and so surprising, but sad, that it took until the late 1970’s for the Women Airforce Service Pilots to be recognized. Read for yourselves, the history of the WASP Museum in Sweetwater, Texas, and refresh the events of December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor. I found the history of the WASP as compelling as the story of Audrey and her fellow pilots. The Flight Girls is an enlightening novel; one that also inspires women to follow dreams and seek the freedom to fly and soar like a bird.

“What I learned from the women of the WASP…is that there is always a breeze. We can either hunker down and hide from it, or we can spread our wings and fly.” Noelle Salazar

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A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner

A beautiful scarf, passed down through the generations, connects two women who learn that the weight of the world is made bearable by the love we give away….

Susan Meissner was born in San Diego, California, the second of three. She spent her childhood in just two houses. She attended Point Loma College in San Diego, and married her husband, Bob, who is now an associate pastor and a chaplain in the Air Force Reserves, in 1980. When she is not working on a new novel, she is directing the small groups ministries at The Church at Rancho Bernardo. She also enjoys teaching workshops on writing and dream-following, spending time with family, music, reading great books, and traveling.

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Touched by tragedy, a century apart, Clara Wood and Taryn Michaels are connected by a century old scarf. Clara, is a nurse on Ellis Island, after the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911, and Taryn is a widow raising her daughter alone, after the collapse of the World Trade Center Towers. The timeline of the historical events in 1911 are set against the contemporary events of September 11, 2001. Clara and Taryn each face situations that can only be described as ethical dilemmas. These choices make for great self evaluation and also revealing group discussions. I specifically appreciated the description of the events of September 11, from the perspective of a terrified observer on the street as that horrible day unfolded. Not that this is “enjoyable,” but that Susan Meissner takes you to the street level among the masses of struggling people with her words; her vivid descriptions; you are there. Clara and Taryn also find themselves in that “in between place” as survivors of tragedy. This is another compelling thread for self analysis and group discussion: Do you believe in destiny; that God has a purpose for each of our lives? A Fall of Marigolds will provide the reader with historical insights and personal reflection for years to come. GR*****

“The scarf billowed up between us, soft and eager to fly. I caught a whiff of fragrance in its threads, delicate and sweet. In the sunlight it looked less like fire and more like a burst of monarch butterflies. I could see a cascading fall of marigolds splashed across the fabric.”

New York City the day Taryn is supposed to meet Kent. https://www.history.com/topics/21st-century/9-11-attacks

Triangle Shirtwaist Factory One Year Later: “The tragedy brought widespread attention to the dangerous sweatshop conditions of factories, and led to the development of a series of laws and regulations that better protected the safety of workers.” Notice the FIRE ESCAPE sign!

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City on March 25, 1911, was the deadliest industrial disaster in the history of the city, and one of the deadliest in U.S. history. WikipediaDate: March 25, 1911

LocationTriangle Shirtwaist Factory, New York,

NY Number of deaths: 146 Injuries: 78

Owner: Two weeks after the fire, a grand jury indicted Triangle Shirtwaist owners Isaac Harris and Max Blanck on charges of manslaughter.

Ellis Island: Clara arrived here to work in the hospital after the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. https://www.history.com/topics/immigration/ellis-island

The registry hall on Ellis Island, N.Y., in the early-1900s. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Ribbons of Scarlet by Stephanie Dray, Heather Webb, Sophie Perinot, Kate Quinn, Eliza Knight, & Laura Kamoie

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Available October 1, 2019
Pre-order a copy signed by all six authors! https://www.strandbooks.com/event/ribbons-of-scarlet
Historical figures and places are featured at the end of this post. Links are included for your further reading enjoyment!

The Authors in Order of Chapters Presented in Ribbons of Scarlet

https://www.stephaniedray.com/

The Philosopher by Stephanie Dray Blue-blooded Sophie de Grouchy

https://heatherwebbauthor.com/author/

The Revolutionary by Heather Webb – The fruit-seller Louise Audu

https://www.sophieperinot.com/home/about/

The Princess by Sophie Perinot-Princess Elisabeth, sister to King Louis XVI

http://www.katequinnauthor.com/

The Politician by Kate Quinn -Political wife Manon Roland

https://eknightauthor.com/about/

The Assassin by Eliza Knight- Pauline Leon and Charlotte Corday

https://www.laurakamoie.com/about/

The Beauty by Laura Kamoie-The most beautiful woman in Paris, Emilie de Sainte-Amaranthe

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Mesdames & Messieurs, The French Revolution. King Louis XVI. Marie Antoinette. And six amazingly strong and courageous women-all from complex and diverse backgrounds. The authors have each written the story of one woman or family so that the reader gets a completely different perspective on the French Revolution from each chapter. I was completely enthralled by the history and details and how skillfully & seamlessly each chapter flowed into the next; exquisite writing and details from each author. I felt the angst of Sophie not wanting to marry but delighted in her eventual discovery of true love and admired how she showed compassion for those less fortunate by opening a school. From Louise, Pauline, and Charlotte, the reader comes face to face with hunger & poverty and their effects on an entire population. Then there’s the royalty and “beauties” – Elisabeth and Emelie. The revolution from their perspective was equally eye-opening-to be a part of the family of the king and queen and to feel their anguish and fright, was a different view, for sure. The plight of women in Paris in the spring of 1786, the French aristocrat, Lafayette, and Robespierre, all have a voice in Ribbons of Scarlet. You’ll find yourself in parades, marches, salons, the Bastille, Tuileries,Versailles, jolted about in carriages, and holding your nose at the stench of the jail cells; but the Grateful Reader can guarantee that you’ll be proud and emboldened by the women that have gone before us as you read and become enthralled with The Ribbons of Scarlet. Guaranteed *****

“The wind kicked up, pulling the shawl free of my shoulders, and I met Sophie’s tear-filled gaze as it sailed on the breeze toward her, a ribbon of scarlet upon the wind.”

Louis XVI, born Louis-Auguste, was the last King of France before the fall of the monarchy during the French Revolution. He was referred to as citizen Louis Capet during the four months before he was guillotined.

Marie Antoinette was the last Queen of France before the French Revolution. She was born an Archduchess of Austria and was the penultimate child and youngest daughter of Empress Maria Theresa and Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor. 

Maximilien François Marie Isidore de Robespierre was a French lawyer and politician, as well as one of the best known and most influential figures associated with the French Revolution.

Bastille Day is a holiday celebrating the storming of the Bastille—a military fortress and prison—on July 14, 1789, in a violent uprising that helped usher in the French Revolution. Besides holding gunpowder and other supplies valuable to revolutionaries, the Bastille also symbolized the callous tyranny of the French monarchy, especially King Louis XVI and his queen, Marie Antoinette. https://www.history.com/topics/france/bastille-day#section_1

The Tuileries Palace was a royal and imperial palace in Paris which stood on the right bank of the River Seine. It was the usual Parisian residence of most French monarchs, from Henry IV to Napoleon III, until it was burned by the Paris Commune in 1871.  https://en.parisinfo.com/paris-museum-monument/71304/Jardin-des-Tuileries

The Palace of Versailles was the principal royal residence of France from 1682, under Louis XIV, until the start of the French Revolution in 1789, under Louis XVI. It is located in the department of Yvelines, in the region of Île-de-France, about 20 kilometres southwest of the centre of Paris. http://en.chateauversailles.fr/

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The Last Train to London by Meg Waite Clayton

“Meg Waite Clayton  is a New York Timesbestselling author of the forthcoming THE LAST TRAIN TO LONDON (HarperCollins, Sept 10, 2019), the #1 Amazon fiction bestseller BEAUTIFUL EXILES, the Langum-Prize honored national bestseller THE RACE FOR PARIS — recommended reading by Glamour Magazine and the BBC, and an Indie Next Booksellers’ pick — and THE WEDNESDAY SISTERS, one of Entertainment Weekly’s “25 Essential Best Friend Novels” of all time. Her THE LANGUAGE OF LIGHT was a finalist for the Bellwether Prize (now PEN/Bellwether Prize), and she’s written essays for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Runner’s World, Writer’s Digest and lots of other swanky publications she never imagined she might! “

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

The Last Train to London is the story of how one Dutch woman changed the lives of thousands of children in 1938-1939. Geertruida Wijsmuller-Tante Truus, to the children of Vienna, made it her life work to rescue Jewish children, with an effort known as Vienna Kindertransport.

This is an emotional tale of a woman’s love for children, her pain at the loss of several of her own and her unending love and dedication to her husband Joop and of course, to the thousands of children she rescued. Tante Truus’ story is told through the lives of Stephan Neumann, son of a wealthy chocolatier, and Sofie-Helene, the child prodigy and daughter of a newspaper journalist, Kathe Perger. Stephan’s little brother, Walter and his rabbit, Peter, along with JoJo, Sofie-Helene’s 3 year old sister will also pull at your heartstrings. Will Stephan, Sofie-Helene, and siblings make the cut for the first 600 to leave Vienna? Will all of them escape and be joined with new families as they make attempts to obtain visas and leave Vienna? What becomes of the parents left behind? What becomes of all those children?

The journey of the children, their unbelievable endurance of the pain and suffering involved in being sent away to “safety,” and the unimaginable courage on the part of the parents; will not soon leave the mind or heart of the readers of The Last Train to London.

Sofie-Helene is my absolute favorite character! She is a math genius with extraordinary skills and abilities to make herself “figure” right into the plans of Tante Truus. She sleuthed her way into Stephan’s heart and you’ll discover she’s got a formula that equals love for all of us.

Here are some images and links to some of the real life characters mentioned in the book that will help the reader:

Kindertransport (Children’s Transport) was the informal name of a series of rescue efforts which brought thousands of refugee Jewish children to Great Britain from Nazi Germany between 1938 and 1940.Kindertransport, 1938–40 | The Holocaust Encyclopedia
https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/kindertransport-1938-40

” Resistance worker GeertruidaWijsmuller fought courageously to save thousands of Jews from certain deathat the hands of the Nazis. Geertruida, or Truus, as her friends called her, wasborn into a prosperous well-connected family and lived in Amsterdam. In December1938, Truus went to meet Adolph Eichmann in Vienna to request permission for600 Jewish children to leave Austria for England. She was given permission totake 600 Jewish children to England under the provision that they leave withinfive days.  “http://db.yadvashem.org/righteous/family.html?language=en&itemId=4018228

“Otto Adolf Eichmann wasa German-Austrian Nazi SS-Obersturmbannführer and one of the major organizersof the Holocaust. “https://www.britannica.com/biography/Adolf-Eichmann

Stefan Zweig was anAustrian novelist, playwright, journalist and biographer. At the height of hisliterary career, in the 1920s and 1930s, he was one of the most popular writersin the world.” https://www.britannica.com/biography/Stefan-Zweig

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The Spies of Shilling Lane by Jennifer Ryan

Available NOW! Trailer for The Spies of Shilling Lane: https://youtu.be/All1nGJxkQw

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.

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

A rollicking adventure set in England, 1941. The plucky Mrs. Braithwaite has been dethroned from her position as head of the local WVS-Women’s Voluntary Service. As she considers her lack of standing in the community of Ashcombe Village, her “point to ponder” is “How do you measure the success of your life?” She writes the answer in her trusty notebook: “Social Standing. Reputation. How the world sees you.”

The despondent but determined Mrs. Braithwaite takes us with her on a grand mission to find her 21 year old daughter, Betty, recently moved to London, and from whom she’s only received 5 letters. This is NOT a good sign at all. As Mrs. Braithwaite barges her way into London, by way of Victoria Station, she encounters Mr. Norris, Betty’s landlord, along with Flossie and Cassandra -the other quite questionable renters. From here the adventures begin; including encounters with shady and sometimes not shady characters: Nazi sympathizers, the injured B. Braithwaite, Anthony Metcalf, and various jaunts into the pubs, markets, warehouses, and even the British Museum.

The Spies of Shilling lane is a historical mystery that will keep you guessing and also hoping that as Mrs. Braithwaite searches for Betty she also finds the real answer to her question, “How do you measure the success of your life?”

Favorite quotes:

“Little did I know that in searching for my daughter, I’d finally find myself.” Mrs. Braithwaite

“It was if his heart had been cracked open……..waiting for the right setting, the right evening, the right company.” Mr. Norris

“When your mother dies, it feels as if the earth you stand on collapses beneath you.” Blanche Braithwaite.

This is a lighthearted mystery wrapped in the arms of love between mother & daughter, soul searching and self reflection, along with delicious humor. ***** from the GR

Music Mentions:

In the Mood https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_CI-0E_jses

Singin’ in the Rain: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w40ushYAaYA

Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ybM51Q-

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Water Lily Dance by Michelle Muriel

Available August 20, 2019-

For a synopsis and platforms to order: https://www.michellemuriel.com/

“From the #1 bestselling author of Essie’s Roses, a heartbreaking, heart-mending new historical novel. The lives and secrets of three women, centuries apart, intersect at the artist Claude Monet’s garden in this emotional, imaginative portrait of loss, love, and second chances.

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

This is the story of women searching for relief from the pain of grieving, grappling for the freedom of independence from parents’ expectations, and seeking love and forgiveness after living a life of heartbreak and lies. All these emotions are blended into the breathtaking tapestry of Michelle Muriel’s descriptions of Sofie, Camille Doncieux, Paris, Giverny, and a myriad of Impressionist painters; with Claude Monet in the foreground. I nestled right into the descriptions of colors, flowers, grasses, anything in nature that Michelle so intricately details so the reader truly “sees” what the characters are seeing and painting, including Claude Monet’s water lily garden. The dual timeline dances between present day U.S and the 1860’s in France. Michelle paints her characters with such real emotions and dialogue; I felt each step toward truth and forgiveness deep in my heart as this story came to life with her beguiling brushstrokes on the pages of Water Lily Dance. Read it and then “stand back” as you do for a painting, and become entranced with Camille Doncieux, Claude Monet and the Impressionists. FIVE STARS from the GR

Paintings by Claude Monet from Water Lily Dance; Camille Doncieux

The gardens in Giverny, France: http://giverny.org/gardens/fcm/visitgb.htm

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The Winemaker’s Wife by Kristin Harmel

Kristin Harmel is the international bestselling author of The Room on Rue Amélie and The Sweetness of Forgetting, along with several other novels. Her work has been featured in PeopleWoman’s Day, Men’s Health, and Ladies’ Home Journal, among many other media outlets. She lives in Orlando, Florida.

The Grateful Reader Review: By Dorothy Schwab

This is a novel for those that love France, Champagne, and stories of love, regret, and forgiveness. The lives of Ines, Celine, and Liv intersect across the years of World War ll and present day. The reader will learn of Nazi collaborators, members of the Resistance, and Liv’s “impossibly spry” grandmother and her connection to Paris and Champagne Chauveau. The descriptions of hidden caves, secrets of “riddling” the Champagne, along with the winding roads to Reims and Epernay, keep the reader anxious to get to the “bottom of the bottle” to discover the true outcome of the lies and secrets held for so long. The Grateful Reader “sipped and savored” every page of this ‘gold medal’ read. 5*

Reims is a city in northeastern France’s Grand Est region. It’s the unofficial capital of the Champagne wine-growing region, and many of the champagne houses headquartered there offer tastings and cellar tours. For more than 1,000 years, French kings were crowned at its Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims. This grand cathedral is known for its stained-glass windows and Gothic carved portals, including the Smiling Angel.

Views of the vineyards in the Champagne wine-growing region of France.

Map showing Reims, France
Place Drouet-d’Erion https://www.reims-tourism.com/

The Chelsea Girls by Fiona Davis

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Fiona Davis is the nationally bestselling author of THE MASTERPIECE, THE DOLLHOUSE and THE ADDRESS. She began her career in New York City as an actress, where she worked on Broadway, off-Broadway, and in regional theater. After getting a master’s degree at Columbia Journalism School, she fell in love with writing, leapfrogging from editor to freelance journalist before finally settling down as an author of historical fiction. Visit her at http://www.fionadavis.net, facebook.com/FionaDavisAuthor/ and on Instagram and Twitter @fionajdavis.

https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/600308/the-chelsea-girls-by-fiona-davis/9781524744588/
Coming July 2019

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

A USO Tour in Naples, Italy, 1945, brings entertainers Hazel Ripley and Maxine Mead to the same stage. For Hazel, this was an opportunity to be on stage while supporting her country and also honor her brother’s memory. Maxine, an aspiring Hollywood actress is in Italy hoping to live in the “real world” for a change. The girls become close friends, even though quite the opposites- “Hayseed Hazel” and a rising Hollywood star? This incongruous relationship continues after the war as the friends are rejoined when Maxine leaves Los Angeles to find Hazel at the Chelsea Hotel in New York City. Hazel-the playwright in residence, has been gathered into the loving bosom of the collective at the Chelsea- the left-wing organizers, the refugee families, and the creative artists; actors, musicians, designers, photographers. and especially Lavinia Smarts. Lavinia has used her influence to put Hazel in touch with a producer and director, who think she is the next Lillian Hellman. Hazel’s play, Wartime Sonata, inspired by her experiences as a USO tour performer, is being cast and will be performed on Broadway at the Biltmore Theater.

The United States was recovering from World War ll, but 1950 was the beginning of a period in the United States in which Cold War tensions fueled fears of widespread Communist subversion. Due to these fears many believed that spies had infiltrated the United States federal government, universities, film industry, and elsewhere. Fiona Davis puts this era right on center stage and the house lights shine brightly in the garrish faces of those involved in the House Un-American Activities Committee, HUAC. The Chelsea Girls brings a tumultuous time in our history to the forefront for younger readers who haven’t heard or read about the Hollywood Ten and “McCarthyism.” In between the accusations, subpoenas, and questioning, there’s a story of love and friendship, that will have your heart and mind switching sides several times.

The reader learns that on Broadway the reviewers dash out of a play to get their copy into the late edition of the newspapers. The producer waits for the papers and scans quickly in search for the theater section. The reviews are read and if he enters the after-party holding the issues above his head, then the champagne corks begin popping. If he tosses the papers into the trash and joins the party empty-handed then the party turns into a wake. The Grateful Reader would enter the party for The Chelsea Girls with “newspapers aloft!” Pour the champagne! Cheers to The Chelsea Girls!

Joseph Raymond McCarthy (November 14, 1908 – May 2, 1957) was an American politician who served as a Republican U.S. Senator from the state of Wisconsin from 1947 until his death in 1957. Beginning in 1950, McCarthy became the most visible public face of a period in the United States in which Cold War tensions fueled fears of widespread Communist subversion.[1] He is known for alleging that numerous Communists and Soviet spies and sympathizers had infiltrated the United States federal government, universities, film industry, and elsewhere. Ultimately, the smear tactics that he used led him to be censured by the U.S. Senate. The term “McCarthyism”, coined in 1950 in reference to McCarthy’s practices, was soon applied to similar anti-communist activities.

Featured

Meet Me in Monaco by Heather Webb & Hazel Gaynor

“Heather Webb is the international bestselling author of six historical novels set in France, including her latest Last Christmas in Paris, which became a bestseller and also won the 2018 Women’s Fiction Writers Association STAR award. In 2015, her novel about famed sculptors Camille Claudel and Rodin called Rodin’s Lover, was a Goodreads Top Pick. Next, check out her novel inspired by Grace Kelly’s royal wedding called Meet Me in Monaco, co-written with bestselling author Hazel Gaynor. To date, Heather’s novels have sold in a dozen countries worldwide. She is also a professional freelance editor, foodie, and travel fiend. She lives in New England with her family and one feisty rabbit. https://www.amazon.com/Heather-Webb/e/B00E96TVOC%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

Hazel Gaynor is an award-winning, New York Times, USA Today and Irish Times bestselling historical novelist.

Hazel’s 2018 release The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter, inspired by true events surrounding the life of Victorian lighthouse keeper, Grace Darling, was a top 10 Irish Times bestseller for five consecutive weeks.

Summer 2019 will see the publication of Meet Me In Monaco, Hazel’s second collaboration with Heather Webb. The book is set against the back-drop of the iconic wedding of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier of Monaco.

All Hazel’s novels have been received to critical-acclaim and are translated into ten foreign languages and published in seventeen countries to date. Hazel lives in Ireland with her husband and two children and is represented by Michelle Brower at Aevitas Creative, New York.

https://www.hazelgaynor.com/

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

The Cannes Film Festival of 1955, was the site of the momentous meeting of the international film star, Grace Kelly, and Prince Rainier III of Monaco. A short year later, on April 19, 1956, the two were married in a Catholic ceremony at St. Nicholas Cathedral, in front of 600 guests and the world stage of television. The well known love story between a movie star and the world’s most eligible bachelor is well documented in print and documentaries. This iconic “royal wedding” is the backdrop for Meet Me in Monaco; the superbly co-authored novel of Heather Webb and Hazel Gaynor.

The stars of the novel are Sophie Duval, the daughter of a parfumeur in Grasse, France, and the sometimes lucky English photographer, James Henderson. Sophie’s alcoholic maman, her unbelievably wealthy boyfriend.Lucien, shop assistant Natalie, and of course, Grace Kelly, all have a role in the making or breaking of Sophie’s perfume factory in Grasse, and her boutique in Cannes. The fragrant descriptions of the lavender fields in Grasse, and the smell of the sea blended with roses and mimosas in full bloom in Cannes will sweep you right out into the Mediterranean Sea! The reader will want to explore the well documented articles and wedding photographs of Her Serene Highness and discover today’s top ten fragrances in French perfumes, but most of all become intoxicated by the fragrant formula for love on the Cote d’Azur. It’s not complicated like the formulas in Sophie’s journal of perfume notes; it’s quite a simple formula to follow: Read Meet Me in Monaco by Heather Webb and Hazel Gaynor. ( July ’19)

Magical New Beginnings for 2020

The Grateful Reader’s book club was selected for a Galley Match with the Book Club Cookbook. We read The Queens of Animation by Nathalia Holt. This is our review for the Book Club Cookbook post.

“Fabulous research by Nathalia Holt!” – Book Buddies Book Club on Nathalia Holt‘s THE QUEENS OF ANIMATION: The Untold Story of the Women Who Transformed the World of Disney and Made Cinematic History, with galleys from Little, Brown and Company via #Galleymatch.

“Some surprising realizations: how long some stories were in the ‘morgue’ until Disney Studios could afford to produce the movie, how frequently the studio was almost bankrupt, the political strategy and travel by key entities to other countries to influence film production. It was startling to realize this was all happening before a movie came to the screen.”

“We enjoyed sharing our earliest Disney movie memories. The oldest story shared was by the youngest member. Her grandmother had gone on a school field trip to see ‘Snow White’ in 1937 – the trip is when she first noticed the boy she eventually married! Some could remember their own ‘first Disney movie,’ while others remembered their children’s first movie. It was such fun recalling these precious memories.”

Disney Studio Cafeteria menu: Walt’s Favorite Chili, The Snow White Special: Chicken Salad Sandwiches, and Princess Pretzel Salad-Strawberry Jello with pretzel crust; Disney Princess Cookies, individually wrapped for take home gifts. Thank you to Kim Cox of Kim’s Cookies for the delicious treats.