Tastes Better from Scratch by Lauren Allen

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Publishes September 27, 2022

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Remember the cartoon of the confused young bride searching the grocery aisles for “scratch”? Lauren Allen can help with that! She hosts a popular food blog and website, Tastes Better from Scratch, and now her well tested fan & family favorites are available in her debut cookbook. Lauren believes that “good food is essential for our physical and financial health and our social well-being.”

This cookbook is well organized with 116 recipes, colorful photos, and step-by-step instructions. Tips for key kitchen tools, ideas for getting kids or grandkids to eat the same meals as adults, and even QR codes that connect to how-to videos make this cookbook the perfect choice.

Categories include Breakfasts, Muffins & Breads, Dinners, Soups, and Desserts. The alphabetical index is also helpful with live links if using the digital edition. Tastes Better from Scratch makes a wonderful wedding gift, but also a beautiful addition to a seasoned cook’s collection.

I tried the German Pancakes. Next time I’ll use a bit smaller pan and lower the oven temperature. Delicious, as voted by my family!

German Pancakes by Dorothy

When We Had Wings by Ariel Lawhon, Kristina McMorris, and Susan Meissner

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Publishes October 18, 2022

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

When We Had Wings is a riveting account of the Japanese takeover of the Philippines after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, December 1941, told seamlessly by three authors through the lives of three nurses.

The three nurses representing the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, and the Filipina community, Penny, Eleanor, and Lita, experience hospitals with few supplies, orphans facing starvation, and the horrors of prisons and internment camps in Manila, the Bataan Peninsula, and Corregidor Island.  The Philippine assignment was considered ‘paradise’ at the time each enlisted but after the declaration of war they must come to grips with atrocities and realities of warfare.

The history of the Philippines, the political and social upheavals, along with demolished cities and details of conflicts add to compelling personal accounts as the three nurses are separated for years and wonder who survives. The detailed descriptions of their personal contributions, experiences and sacrifices evoke feelings ranging from pure disgust to extreme delight, as they became the first female prisoners of World War ll.

General MacArthur pledged “I shall return!” This commitment keeps hopeful readers interned with the “Angels of the Bataan and Corregidor” until the tanks roll in, hatches open, and they hear in a distinct American accent, “Hello, folks”. God Bless America!

#22in22Challenge The Wild Detectives

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Visit #16 Dallas, Texas-Bishop Arts District

“Two birds with one stone.” We had an appointment at The Book Doctor in the Bishop Arts District of Dallas, so decided to visit The Wild Detectives Bookstore in the same trip. This is an independent bookstore with tables & seating for those wanting to read or work using the WiFi, outdoor patio seating in the backyard for cooler weather and author events, and a bar for cocktails or coffee for cozy reading inside. Everything from Fiction & Nonfiction to Poetry & Books in Spanish is available, along with online ordering. Located in the beautiful Bishop Arts district with lots of boutiques on tree lined streets to wander in and out of along with restaurants aplenty!

Sunflowers Beneath the Snow by Teri M. Brown

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Published January 5, 2022

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Like sunflower seeds that rest dormant under winter snow, Teri M. Brown’s Sunflowers Beneath the Snow reveals the underlying strength of three generations of women living in Ukraine between 1973-2021. Ivanna, a grandmother, Yevtsye, her daughter, and Ionna, the granddaughter share their stories of survival and accomplishments despite political upheaval, economic hardships, and social and religious disparities.

In the opening pages Ivanna’s husband, Lyaksandro, is abducted for his efforts to squash Communism and restore the traditions of Ukraine his father instilled in him as a youth. Teri Brown weaves the history of the USSR and the customs and culture of Ukraine with the personal beliefs of Ivanna as she stays true to the Party. Readers are treated to descriptions of Christmas celebrations of the past as hunger pangs continue for parents and children as they forage for food and burn furniture to stay alive.  

Themes of forgetting and forgiveness fill the emotional dialogue and personal religious conflicts between Ivanna and her daughter, Yevtsye, as they navigate tumultuous decades of personal separation, political unrest, and Ukraine’s declaration of independence. Through Ionna’s experiences truths are exposed and a timeline of historical developments helps the reader internalize the reality behind personal and political struggles.

Based on true events, the individual decisions and reactions to situations create “astonishing solutions more powerful than fiction.” In the fall of 2022 as the media reports daily on military progress in Ukraine, Sunflowers Beneath the Snow is an extremely emotional, currently relevant educational novel presented through the lens of one family and their extraordinary sacrifices over a lifetime.  Highly recommended.

Sunflowers are easy to find in Ukraine. The sunflower seeds brought by early explorers from America, provide food, oil, medicine, and dyes. Fields of flowers, carved into furniture or embroidered on clothing; the sunflower is the national symbol of Ukraine.

Born in Athens, Greece as an Air Force brat, Teri M. Brown now calls the North Carolina coast home. In 2020, she and her husband, Bruce, rode a tandem bicycle across the United States from Astoria, Oregon to Washington DC, successfully raising money for Toys for Tots. Teri’s debut novel, Sunflowers Beneath the Snow, is a historical fiction set in Ukraine. Learn more at www.terimbrown.com.

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#22in22Challenge Galveston Book Shop

Visit #15: Galveston Island, Texas

This was my second visit to The Galveston Book Shop. I purchased a book on the Maceo family who plays a large part in The Last Dance on the Starlight Pier by Sarah Bird. https://gratefulreader.home.blog/2022/05/03/last-dance-on-the-starlight-pier-by-sarah-bird/

So a trip to Maceo’s Spice & Import was a must! It’s a step back in time with a vast array of spices, and a restaurant, too! The muffuletta was recommended and a treat for lunch at the beach.

The Portraitist – A Novel of Adélaïde Labille-Guiard by Susanne Dunlap

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Publication August 30, 2022

This novel is the result of seven years of research, writing, and revising. I’m excited to share it with you! Kirkus Reviews called it “an imaginative work that brings the story of a little-known artist to vivid life.” Susanne Dunlap

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

In The Portraitist Susanne Dunlap explores the sumptuous world of art in Paris in the 18th century during the tumultuous years leading to the French Revolution. Readers are introduced to the current social and political issues through struggling female artist, Adélaïde Labille-Guitard, and her rival Vigée Le Brun, well known for her royal connections and commissioned portraits.

Dunlap’s impeccable research shines a light on the historical backdrop of the storming of the Bastille and the world of the Royalists and the Jacobins. The sounds of angry chants, loud drumming, and marching feet keep readers seeking an end to the bloodshed as the Revolution comes alive on the pages. Dunlap weaves the details of the artists’ lives and attempts at reform of women’s acceptance in the Académie Royale with studios at the Louvre and the palace of Versailles. Marie Antoinette, the Guillotine, the Marquis de Lafayette, and Robespierre add to the suspenseful political intrigue.  

The spicy details of Adélaïde’s desperate, dangerous solution to earning money, decisions she makes to survive and ideals she’s willing to fight for, make her a character that women will connect with emotionally and socially.  The pressures of women in the 18th century are not so unlike those women face today.  The Portraitist is filled with luscious period details, the French Revolution and Adélaïde’s attention to advancing women in the arts while seeking equal rights in the Académie Royale. Truly a French masterpiece. C’est très magnifique!  

Adélaïde Labille-Guiard (French, Paris 1749–1803 Paris) Self-Portrait with Two Pupils, Marie Gabrielle Capet (1761–1818) and Marie Marguerite Carreaux de Rosemond (died 1788), 1785 Oil on canvas; 83 x 59 1/2 in. (210.8 x 151.1 cm) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Julia A. Berwind, 1953 (53.225.5) https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/436840?ft=Adelaide+Labille-Guiard

History is my muse. I love writing, dogs, cycling, and writing. Did I say writing already?

I’m fascinated by the women of the past, how they lived, how they negotiated with the conditions of their time to thrive as best they could.

I’ve written about real historical women and invented characters who might have lived then.

The Manhattan Girls by Gill Paul

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Published August 18, 2022

It’s a 1920s version of Sex and the City, as Dorothy Parker—one of the wittiest women who ever wielded a pen—and her three friends navigate life, love, and careers in New York City.” http://gillpaul.com/

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Gill Paul’s Manhattan Girls takes readers behind the desks of New York publishers, into speakeasies, and onto Broadway in 1921, as she chooses a bridge group to connect the lives of four real New York career women, each with their own individual style. Gill Paul wins the hand by developing dialogue and moving the plot through four “players”: Dorothy Parker, writer, and Jane Grant, a reporter at the New York Times; kindred spirits of journalism, and Broadway actress Winnifred Lenihan and Margaret (Peggy) Leech, an advertising sales agent for Condé Nast. These women never saw swapping fashion tips at beauty salons or looking after a husband as their sole purpose in life. Gill Paul surrounds the main characters with husbands, lovers, friends, editors, newspaper columnists, authors, playwrights, actresses, and bootleggers! Seems a lot, but readers will be intrigued with the character interactions and entanglements. Her juicy descriptions of gatherings read like newspaper society columns.  

Due to the war and more women in the work force, the four women are on the cusp of social change as the decade ends. Readers will be invested in how Gill Paul interprets the ideals and dreams of the four women and their relationships in this challenging time in history.  The Manhattan Girls support each other’s strengths as they bid and win with the cards they’ve been dealt.   

Gill Paul’s historical novels have reached the top of the USA Today, Toronto Globe & Mail and UK kindle charts, and been translated into twenty languages. She specializes in relatively recent history, mostly 20th century, and enjoys re-evaluating real historical characters and trying to get inside their heads.

With LOVE from WISH & CO. by Minnie Darke

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Publication: August 16, 2022

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

What are we prepared to give-and give up-in the name of love? Minnie Darke proves relationships are tricky in this captivating tale of Marnie Fairchild, professional gift buyer, and how her one mistake causes the implosion of the Charlesworth family. Marnie’s goal as owner of Wish & Co. is to build-up her clientele and finances so she’s fiscally able to purchase the historic building where her grandfather’s shop was once located. After one uncharacteristic mistake her dreams may be dashed and the families are in a knotted mess, complicated on all levels.

The well-developed characters will charm or worm their way into readers’ hearts. So many relationships to evolve or dissolve while Marnie seeks to build her unique business. One simple mistake wreaks havoc on relationships between husband/wife, father/son, father/daughter, and even old/new budding romances! What a tangled web Minnie Darke weaves; sticky with several targets captured.  Dealing with disappointment, moral dilemmas, forgiveness, and pride hits readers squarely in the gut then the heart, all while reading through laughter and tears. A favorite line: “Love’s the hokey pokey! You’ve got to put your whole self in.” Readers will be all in reading Minnie Darke’s With Love from Wish & Co.

Minnie Darke writes smart, contemporary stories about love … of all kinds. Minnie Darke is a lover of freshly sharpened pencils, Russian Caravan tea and books of all kinds. She lives on the beautiful island of lutruwita/Tasmania, at the bottom of the world.

The War Librarian by Addison Armstrong

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Published August 9, 2022

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

A remarkable story about “the magic and power of words to give comfort and effect change.” Addison Armstrong weaves this dual timeline of the upbringing and youth of Emmaline Balakin and Kathleen Carre into a tale of women who are filled with stamina, courage, and leadership.

Emmaline’s story set in 1918 France during WWl is based on the letters of real-life war librarian Mary Frances Isom. With Armstrong’s deeply researched details of soldiers in the trenches and sensory filled descriptions of the war-ravaged French countryside readers are truly “mired in the muddy lanes” and politics of war as Emmaline delivers her wheelbarrow of books to soldiers.  Emmaline draws strength from memories of her parents and why they left Russia; not because the Czar was banning weapons, but because he was banning books. “Ideas are more dangerous than war” energizes her passionate belief that books are for everyone, no matter race, religion, political beliefs, or economic standing.  Armstrong’s depictions of the colored soldiers’ treatment places readers squarely into the remote crowded tents with no heat and lack of prompt medical care. The scenes of Emmaline reading aloud to the colored soldiers “being more comforting than mama’s blackberry pie and like a magic carpet” caused tears of joy as she shared the love of reading.  Emmaline’s beliefs and courage to do what’s right has a life changing effect on her service as a war librarian.

Emmaline’s war experiences are alternated with Kathleen Carre’s 1976 experiences in the first class of females at the United States Naval Academy. Kathleen’s grandmother, Nana, having served in the WWl Motor Corps, is her hero and the driving force for Kathleen to serve her country.  Armstrong creates strong conflict and presents the prejudices of females intruding in a “man’s world” as Nana so aptly warns her. The insecure male cadets, hoping to force the women to leave, were relentless in their cruel treatment, slurs, and ransacking of rooms; only considered hazing by the USNA. This maddening harassment and the collective strategies of the female plebes truly sets these women apart and makes them heroes for exposing the truth. This emotionally challenging read requires some calm down breaks! Addison Armstrong’s The War Librarian accurately depicts racial injustices without being offensive and focuses on obvious gender biases. Read for satisfying justice in the end.

I’ve wanted to be an author since I was a five-year old writing stories about talking school supplies and ants getting their revenge on exterminators. While a junior at Vanderbilt University studying elementary education, I wrote my first historical fiction novel, The Light of Luna Park, and sold it to G.P. Putnam’s Sons in January of my senior year. Now that I’ve graduated with my Bachelor’s in Elementary Education and Language & Literacy Studies, as well as a Master’s in Reading Education with an ESL endorsement, I’m teaching third grade English language learners in Nashville and continuing to write. https://addisonarmstrong.com/

Courage for the Cornish Girls by Betty Walker

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Publishes August 4, 2022

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

War changes people and in Courage for the Cornish Girls readers catch up with the changes coming to Cornwall, England in 1942.  Betty Walker keeps readers up to date on the charming characters from books # 1 & #2 while providing ample backstory of past happenings in Porthcurno for new readers.  Aunt Violet, her nieces Lily and Alice and new chum, Demelza, are each being called to serve “king and country” while now living in Penzance. Personal relationships build but the war heats up, air raids increase, and Aunt Violet, Lily, and Demelza each must “do their bit.” Will their hearts be broken in the midst of war? The mystery of Lily and Alice’s father, sibling evacuees to protect and raise, and possible weddings to plan will keep readers anxiously waiting for Betty Walker’s continuation of the Cornish Girls series.

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 bestselling contemporary thrillers as Jane Holland.

By Way of the Moonlight by Elizabeth Musser

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Publication: August 2, 2022

Visit Elizabeth’s beautiful website https://elizabethmusser.wordpress.com/

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Elizabeth Musser’s By Way of the Moonlight will gallop away with your heart. This is a story of love and horses and how each can define a life. The dual timeline opens in present-day Atlanta with flashbacks to the 1930’s and 40’s, highlighting the involvement of the U.S. in the Battle of the Atlantic in World War ll.  Allie, a physical therapist, is all set to marry the love of her life, veterinarian, Dr. Austin Andrews, and open Hickory Hills Horse Therapy. Her grandmother, known as Nana Dale, recently passed away and had always promised Allie she would inherit the house, barn, acreage and money to open an equine therapy center. Readers saddle up for a wild ride as the trusted family lawyer shares the latest life changing revelations regarding Nana Dale’s property.

In the 1930’s time-line Elizabeth Musser takes readers back to Nana Dale’s idyllic Georgia childhood growing up with horses, competitions with her champion filly, Essie, and the love of her life, Tommy.  Through skillful dialogue, intriguing characters and weaving of the two love stories, the time-line alternates back and forth between Dale and Allie.  Demolished dreams and letters from Nana Dale send Allie desperately searching for a carved wooden chest that holds the key to possibly saving Hickory Hills and the long-hidden details of Nana Dale’s secret life during World War ll.

Elizabeth Musser’s narrative is laced with defining historical markers. The 1940 Olympics, tankers torpedoed off the coast of Georgia, the building of Liberty ships, and the U.S Coast Guard Mounted Beach Patrol known as Sand Pounders all play key roles in the 1943 Battle of the Atlantic; the backdrop for Dale Butler’s riveting love story.

By Way of the Moonlight is filled with ricocheting emotions, feelings of accomplishment, and plenty of nerve-wracking suspense. Key themes are obsession and its impact on lives, along with pride’s effect on decisions. Elizabeth Musser shares optimism and hope through her emotional and suspenseful tale of two spirited women bound by the love of family, the power of prayer and gratitude, and the indisputable, therapeutic healing of horses.  Like Dale’s winning ribbons and trophies for her champion Essie, By Way of the Moonlight is Southern historical fiction worthy of a silver cup in Elizabeth Musser’s own ‘ribbon room.’

ELIZABETH MUSSER writes ‘entertainment with a soul’ from her writing chalet—tool shed—outside Lyon, France. Elizabeth’s highly acclaimed, best-selling novel, The Swan House, was named one of Amazon’s Top Christian Books of the Year and one of Georgia’s Top Ten Novels of the Past 100 Years (Georgia Backroads).

All of Elizabeth’s novels have been translated into multiple languages and have been international best-sellers. Two Destinies, the final novel in The Secrets of the Cross trilogy, was a finalist for the 2013 Christy Award. Her new novel, The Long Highway Home, has already been a bestseller in Europe and was a finalist for the Carol Awards.

The Many Daughters of Afong Moy by Jamie Ford

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Publishes August 2, 2022

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Jamie Ford transports readers across continents and centuries with an epic saga of the descendants of Afong Moy, the first Chinese woman to step foot in America. With the artful and masterful skill readers of Jamie Ford have come to love and appreciate each of the ‘many daughters” shares her own life story, how she bears inherited trauma and its effects on family and social relationships. The narrative encompasses social and economic mores, racially acceptable and unacceptable behaviors, and historical events impacting the daughters’ lives spanning the 19th-21st centuries. Generationally inherited trauma becomes very real when main character Dorothy Moy’s 5-year-old daughter, Annabel begins to recall details from ancestors’ lives. Now Dorothy fears Annabel also has inherited trauma, so hoping to find a way to cure her daughter, seeks an unproven treatment for herself from Dr. Shedhorn. The doctor’s analogy of inherited trauma being like a perennial plant: “A part of us comes back each new season, carrying a bit of the previous floret,” helps clarify transgenerational epigenetic inheritance. A novel to enlighten and heighten readers’ understanding of being different, feeling unworthy, and “otherness.”

Jamie Ford is the great-grandson of Nevada mining pioneer Min Chung, who emigrated from Hoiping, China to San Francisco in 1865, where he adopted the western name Ford, thus confusing countless generations. His debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, spent two years on the New York Times bestseller list and went on to win the 2010 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature. His work has been translated into thirty-five languages. Having grown up in Seattle, he now lives in Montana with his wife and a one-eyed pug.

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The Bodyguard by Katherine Center

Publication Day: July 19, 2022

Katherine’s website: Look for the video of the real Texas ranch setting in the novel! https://katherinecenter.com/books/the-bodyguard/

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Hannah Brooks is an Executive Protection Agent, aka Bodyguard. She is assigned to a famous move star on hiatus due to a family crisis; the death of the brother that was a buffer for the family. Protecting one famous brother while he follows his mother’s wishes is in this recipe for a romantic comedy! Katherine Center, known as the “queen of comfort reads,” blends ingredients of witty banter, inner workings of a protection agency, and Hannah’s goal of remaining professional while in the presence of a handsome movie star with layers of childhood memories and disappointment, betrayal, and grief. The icing on the cake is swirled with Center’s delicious toppings of restoring friendships, the power of kindness, and refusing to give up on hope and optimism. There are plenty of relationship twists and tweaks to the recipe and readers will cheer for Hannah when she discovers that ‘love is something you do.”

The Bodyguard is also a treat for the senses: exploring the views of the Brazos River and the ranch in Texas, delving into the harshness of brothers revealing disturbing feelings and tensions, to hugs that prove to Hannah she is lovable. A favorite sprinkle of wisdom: “People loving you for your best qualities is not the same as people loving you despite your worst.” Thanks, Katherine, for whipping up The Bodyguard during the Pandemic; a “satisfying, delectable dessert” for fans of romantic comedy.

The Lost Sister of Fifth Avenue by Ella Carey

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Published July 7, 2022

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

In The Lost Sister of Fifth Avenue Martha and Charlotte want to make a difference in the coming war. Ella Carey takes on a nonlinear timeline to weave the love story of Lawrence and Chloe Belmont in 1918 with the whispers of another war in 1938. Readers will sail the Atlantic with the Belmont’s daughter, Martha, as she travels to Paris to convince her sister, Charlotte, to return to safety in New York City before war escalates.  Ella Carey alternately and passionately bridges the emotional plots of Martha and Charlotte through the seasons and years of World War ll.

Ella Carey’s treatment of the dramatic events unfolding in Europe includes movements of the Germans and Nazis, the Vichy government in France, and details of curators & guards packing and hiding thousands of pieces of artwork from the Louvre and private galleries.  She adds well researched, rich history to the development of characters involved in heroic situations which seamlessly enfolds the lives and activities of workers in the Resistance along with descriptions of prison camps, solitary confinement, and the highly stressful goal of the protection and movement of paintings such as the Mona Lisa in the French countryside. Historical figures Charles de Gaulle, Winston Churchill, and Eleanor Roosevelt add to the timeline that takes readers from Central Park in 1938 to the mountains of Alsace in 1946. 

Through the excellent character development in Ella Carey’s The Lost Sister of Fifth Avenue readers will experience the deep pain felt by Martha and Charlotte and discover important themes such as life after loss, finding and recognizing love, and realizing there are no limits when it comes to protecting those we love.

Scarlet Carnation by Laila Ibrahim

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Published April 1, 2022

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

May and Naomi can trace their lineage back to a pre-Civil War Virginia plantation where their grandmothers’ lives and future generations were woven together. Author Laila Ibrahim’s previous novels, Yellow Crocus, Mustard Seed, and Golden Poppies are the prequels to Scarlet Carnation. The author’s research and character development of May, a young white woman and Naomi, the descendent of an enslaved family make this a stand-alone novel, but at the conclusion of the novel readers will be compelled to go back to the beginnings of these two families.

Scarlet Carnation, set in Oakland, California, 1915, covers important historical events. Feminist themes such as early contraception, struggles of unwed mothers, and children born with disabilities are explored through the life of May. Naomi’s activity with the NAACP, her husband’s “passing” and sons’ involvement in World War l shed an eye-opening light on racial injustice and attempts at segregation. Readers will connect with May and Naomi on many levels as they “support each other’s quest for liberation and dignity.” Laila Ibrahim deftly weaves the history of Mother’s Day and the wearing of carnations with the epidemic of 1918, presidential elections, and the eugenics movement. These historical events have great impact on the lives of May and Naomi and help maintain readers’ curiosity and add quick pace to the novel.

The choices made by May and Naomi will linger for quite a while as readers contemplate many similar social crises and situations in our world today. Scarlet Carnation, set over one hundred years ago but still very relevant today. Five “Carnations” from the Grateful Reader!

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Tomboy by Shelley Blanton-Stroud

Publication: June 28, 2022

Book #2 in the Jane Benjamin Series , Book #3 coming Nov, 2023

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Jane Benjamin is on the brink of a new job as a gossip columnist, but the world is on the brink of war.

Tomboy, Shelley Blanton-Stroud’s second novel in the Jane Benjamin series, opens in San Francisco, June 1939. Readers are in for a bumpy train ride and a tension filled voyage across the Atlantic as Jane wrangles a way to cover the women’s finals at Wimbledon. The hometown tennis star and cover girl, Tommie O’Rourke takes “Centre Court” not only at Wimbledon but the center of attention on the RMS Queen Mary’s return to the U.S.

The author’s attention to the ship’s settings to start each chapter plants readers solidly aboard with a great view of the Sun Deck, the Cabin Class Dining Room, the Movie Theater, and Tommie’s Suite on the Main Deck. The days aboard the Queen Mary float tenuously between the posh set of passengers aboard the Queen Mary and Jane’s flashbacks to her Hooverville childhood.  Both timelines are packed with mysteries inside of mysteries. How Jane handles the gossip from Wimbledon, the death of Tommie’s Coach, and war brewing in Europe will keep readers gripping the rails on the promenade deck until the Queen Mary docks in New York City. Be on the lookout for Book #3 in the Jane Benjamin Series coming in November 2023. (Plenty of time for Jane to change her mind…? )

“I grew up in California’s Central Valley, the daughter of Dust Bowl immigrants who made good on their ambition to get out of the field. I recently retired from teaching writing at Sacramento State University and still consult with writers in the energy industry. Copy Boy is my first Jane Benjamin Novel. Tomboy (She Writes Press 2022) will be my second. The third, Working Girl, will come out in November 2023.”

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A Dress of Violet Taffeta by Tessa Arlen

Publishes July 5, 2022

Tessa Arlen 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.

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

This is an inspirational novel based on the true story of Lucy, Lady Duff Gordon, and the design house she created, Lucille Ltd. In 1893, Lucy finds herself divorced from an alcoholic, spendthrift husband, needing to support herself and her five-year-old daughter. Lucy’s one skill is dress design and a natural vision for color and line.

Tessa Arlen’s characters are developed from deep research into Lucy’s background, the history of her designs, her sister Elinor’s support through her influential friend circle, and despite Lucy’s pretentious, overbearing mother. Arlen highlights Lucy’s business acumen in discovering, hiring, and depending on Celia and the ensuing staff required. From the beginning when Lucy designs her first dress of violet taffeta, named “A Dream of Endless Summer,” readers will be enthralled with the “fairy-tale dress” described by Celia as “all light and shadows and as ethereal as gossamer.” Overcoming the fact that only men were designers in haute couture, Lucy was driven to succeed as the first woman known for her original gowns and creative ideas for presenting the first fashion shows. In this “designer’s dream,” Tessa Arlen laces together strands of women’s independence, ingenuity, and trust with the real world of turn of the century couture, presentation to royalty, Warwick Castle, and even the sailing of the Titanic. Readers will want a gossamer ball gown and a glittering gala to attend when the last model dons A Dress of Violet Taffeta.

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A Week of Warm Weather by Lee Bukowski

Published June 7, 2022

Born and raised in a large family in eastern Pennsylvania, Lee Bukowski has always had an interest in reading, writing, and storytelling. She holds a BA in English and Secondary Education from Millersville University and taught seventh grade English and writing for fifteen years. In 2017, she obtained an MFA in English and Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University. Currently, she teaches writing at the college level and freelances as a proofreader and editor. When she’s not teaching or writing, she loves reading and traveling, especially visiting her grown daughters in Boston and Fort Lauderdale. A Week of Warm Weather is her debut novel. Lee lives with her husband in Reading, PA. 

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

An impactful, unforgettable account of one woman’s experience with an addict husband and the codependency that occurs: stemming from her own dealings with abandonment. For Tessa, “What you don’t know can and will hurt you,” is true. She finds that creating a fake life, covering lies with more lies, eventually breaks everyone involved. There’s so much to learn about abusive behaviors and addictions through Lee Bukowski’s thought provoking, inciteful novel; the pages practically turn themselves.

Lee Bukowski’s debut novel, A Week of Warm Weather, pulls back the unwanted, dirty film off the lens peering directly and openly into marriage through addiction. Read, understand, share.

Somewhere, Right Now by Kerry Docherty, Illustrated by Suzie Mason

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Imagining Beauty, Mindfulness for all ages!

Kerry Docherty is a founder and Chief Impact Officer of Faherty Brand, a lifestyle clothing brand centered on sustainability, craft, and community. Prior to starting Faherty, her background was in law, human rights, and mindfulness. She’s passionate about using creativity and community as a tool to cultivate joy. She lives in Brooklyn with her two kids, husband, and an orange tree. This is her first book.

Suzie Mason is a New York Times bestselling illustrator living in Worcestershire, England, with her family and ball-of-fuzz kitty. Since switching from her scientific background to art in her mid-twenties, she has drawn over twenty picture books, including TODAY co-anchor Hoda Kotb’s two children’s books. From her little English cottage, she is constantly inspired by the beauty of the natural world around her and delights in creating happy, colorful artwork. 

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

In Somewhere, Right Now, Kerry Docherty examines human emotions through the experiences of a young family. In a mindfulness teaching moment, the mother tells Alma that imagining a beautiful scene somewhere in the world will help her handle her emotions. Alma then shares the idea with her family as they explore feeling scared, mad, sad, and tired. Children and parents will appreciate the colorful palette used in the illustrations by Suzie Mason.  Emotions are also easily read through the facial expressions of the family. Reading Somewhere, Right Now aloud while imagining will give readers an overall peaceful feeling, a mindfulness tip for all ages.

Oleander City by Matt Bondurant

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Published June 14, 2022

“Matt Bondurant’s latest novel Oleander City will be in book stores nationwide June 14, 2022.  His previous novels include The Night Swimmer, which was featured in the New York Times Book ReviewOutside Magazine, and The Daily Beast, among others.  His second novel The Wettest County in the World is an international bestseller, a New York Times Editor’s Pick, a San Francisco Chronicle Best 50 Books of the Year, and was made into a feature film (Lawless) by Director John Hillcoat, starring Shia Labeouf, Tom Hardy, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska, Gary Oldman, and Guy Pearce.”

Readers will want to spend some time checking out Matt Bondurant’s wonderful website, full of research, photos, and facts about Galveston. Link provided below:

Jack & Joe being released from Galveston Jail, March 21, 1901.  Sheriff Henry Thomas shakes Joe’s hand as Jack stands between them, surrounded by deputies and other city officials.  The little girl (and dog) in the foreground are unknown. http://www.mattbondurant.com/what-is-oleander-city.html

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

The Great Storm of 1900 that struck Galveston, Texas on September 8, was the deadliest natural disaster in United States history. Matt Bondurant’s Oleander City recounts the days and weeks after the disaster from three points of view. Readers are immediately submerged in the devastating descriptions of human suffering and loss through the frantic, scared eyes of six-year-old Hester, the lone survivor from The Sisters of the Incarnate Word Orphanage. The second is the ringside view of bold, educated Jewish boxer Joe Choynski, who is hired to fight the “Galveston Giant” in a fund raiser for the recovery effort. The third view is from Diana, assistant to Clara Barton, American Red Cross Director, in Galveston to minister to survivors.

Based on the true story of a famous boxing match, Matt Bondurant ties Galveston’s gambling history, persecution by the Ku Klux Klan and the island’s recovery efforts into knots that are only untangled because of his in-depth historical research and superb weaving of the three narratives. This account goes beyond the architectural devastation and rebuilding to the colossal human effort that was required to restore families, businesses and hope for the future of the island.

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The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle by Jennifer Ryan

Published May 31, 2022

Jennifer Ryan is the author of National Bestseller THE CHILBURY LADIES’ CHOIR, THE SPIES OF SHILLING LANE, and THE KITCHEN FRONT. Her writing has featured in Literary Hub, Moms Don’t Have Time to Write, The Daily Mail, The Irish Times, The Express, BBC Online, YOU Magazine, The Simple Things Magazine, and Good Reading Magazine. Previously a book editor with The Economist, DK, and the BBC, she moved from London to Washington, DC after marrying, and she now lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and two children. Her novels are inspired by her grandmother’s tales of the war in Britain.

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

A heartwarming novel of three women brought together in Aldhurst, England, in 1942. Famous London couturier, Cressida Westcott is forced by the Blitz to the small village to stay with her niece Violet at the Westcott estate. Violet feels the urgent need to find an aristocratic husband but her schemes are interrupted when she receives her conscription letter. Third is subservient Grace Carlisle, the vicar’s daughter; engaged and feels duty bound to serve her community. Vicar, Ben Carlisle, has found his late wife’s wedding gown, ravaged by moths and time, for Grace to wear at her wedding. This is where Cressida finds her purpose, not only to help restore a dress for Grace, but to help Grace find herself.

Jennifer Ryan’s comforting words help readers rejoice as each character makes wise decisions and becomes involved in the community outside of individual desires. A competition in London to find well designed affordable clothing of good quality adds to the growth of Grace as a designer and Cressida as a businesswoman. The author weaves several budding relationships into the village sewing circle which evolves into the creation of a Wedding Dress Exchange. Some pairings readers will be rooting for, others not so much! Members of the Wedding Dress Sewing Circle learned more than “Make Do and Mend.” Jennifer Ryan’s strong character development leads to women finding their voice, a new calling, and discovering a path forward. A very different view of World War ll and the role of women and rationing.

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#22in22Challenge: Rolling Hills Ministries Bookstore

Book Store Visit #12: Ruston, Louisiana

Outside Rolling Hills Ministries BookStore

My #12 visit was to this gem in the piney woods of Northeast Louisiana. I was in Ruston for my niece’s wedding and had some time on Saturday morning. This book store was such a surprise!! All the books are donated, along with gifts, CD’s, DVD’s, etc. It was a treasure trove of row upon row of shelves; all perfectly in order by genre and author. Hardbacks-$5, Paperbacks-$4-how did I come out with only 5 books and a set of bookends?? The coffee bar and newly added back porch were very inviting!

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The Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner

Published May 17, 2022

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Bloomsbury Girls is the delectable telling of how three extremely different, but cunning young women and five miscalculating men interact in the Bloomsbury Bookshop in postwar London, 1950. Bloomsbury is home to the British Museum, the University of London, and the Bloomsbury Bookstore where general manager, Herbert Dutton and his 51 Rules have been in charge for 20 years. He now employs quiet but forthright Cambridge graduate, Evie Stone; Grace Perkins escaping from her unreal life with Gordon, a war survivor; and Vivien Lowry, “an orphan in a storm with no social connections.”

Jenner’s cast of characters includes politicians, aristocrats, American socialites, writers, and publishers, all intertwined with a gossipy thread.  Jenner’s narrative creates endearing characters readers will care about; strong females who support and encourage each other and bookstore events with newsworthy surprises! There are also entanglements and budding romances which create great anticipation for readers and Evie’s secret mission leads readers on a wonderful “book chase.” With the fate of the bookstore, marriages, and mysteries waiting to be revealed, there are lots of reasons to celebrate and read The Bloomsbury Girls.

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#22in22Challenge Bookstore Visit #11: Murder by the Book, Houston TX

I visited this wonderful treasure on the way to Galveston to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. It was a dreary, rainy day in Houston, but the wide selection and staff brightened our day! The top of the shelves was a museum of memorabilia, framed autographed photos, and treasures from around the world. I could’ve just moved in for a week, or more like a month!

https://www.murderbooks.com/store-history

Store History

“Murder By The Book is one of the nation’s oldest and largest mystery specialty bookstores, established in 1980 by Martha Farrington, and purchased by McKenna Jordan in 2009.  The store stocks over 25,000 books — new & used, hardbacks & paperbacks, first editions, collectibles, gift items, mystery magazines, and more.  We host over 200 of the hottest mystery, crime, and fantasy authors for book signing events every year.  We’ve had everyone from Dick Francis to P.D. James, Sue Grafton to Robert Crais, Michael Connelly to Patricia Cornwell, James Lee Burke to Daniel Silva.”

The Grand Design by Joy Callaway

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Published May 17, 2022

Joy Callaway’s love of storytelling is a direct result of her parents’ insistence that she read books or write stories instead of watching TV. Her interest in family history was fostered by her relatives’ habit of recounting tales of ancestors’ lives. Joy is a full-time mom and writer. She formerly served as a marketing director for a wealth management company. She holds a B.A. in Journalism and Public Relations from Marshall University and an M.M.C. in Mass Communication from the University of South Carolina. She resides in Charlotte, NC with her husband, John, and her children, Alevia and John.

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

In 1908 everyone that was anyone summered at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Joy Callaway escorts readers right into the enormous dining hall prepared for Greenbrier’s Centennial Celebration filled with “silk & chiffon served atop a platter of tradition and romance.”

Callaway shares the story of socialite Dorothy Tuckerman’s attempt to escape the prison of expectations through her rebellious and creative lifestyle. In this dual timeline, thirty-eight years later, Dorothy is challenged with overcoming the stigma of divorce and sustaining her design business. She had established herself as one of the first female interior designers but having been raised by a father who found fame uncouth, Dorothy had become dependent on it and praise. Callaway peels back layers of confidence, waxing and waning, as insecurities immerge, affecting Dorothy’s business and personal life.

In alternating chapters Callaway portrays a clear portrait of Dorothy as a debutante in 1908 as she recalls the details and “what ifs” of her last summer at the Greenbrier.  In 1946, Dorothy Draper is hired to transform the Greenbrier from an Army hospital to its former glory as a destination resort.  Different designs for every guestroom, restoration of antiques, and acquiring artworks along with tales of presidents, royals, and movie stars gracing the halls and cottages make for rich renditions of spectacular events. While hoping for a successful “resort reveal” readers are immersed in the lush details and vibrant colors of Dorothy Draper designs. Scandal, secrets, and love are wrapped in the historic theme of the Greenbrier Resort: romance and rhododendrons.   

I received a complimentary copy; the opinions expressed are my own.

#22in22Challenge

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Bookstore Visit #10-Holy Grounds Christian Books, Gifts & Coffee-Grapevine, Texas

This was a combination bookstore & wine pick-up trip to Grapevine, Texas. What could be better than books, coffee and then WINE??? Grapevine is a short 30 minute drive for us. Main Street is filled with cute boutiques, restaurants, coffee bars, and wine tasting rooms! The visit to Holy Grounds was visit #10 in my #22in22Challenge. I found a devotional book filled with stories about Texas A&M so that was a “win” for a birthday gift. There were lots of gifts, books and of course, coffee! Holy Grounds is just down Main St. from Messina Hof Winery, so we combined the book store visit with our wine club pick-up. BOOKS, COFFEE, WINE? Yes, please!

The Kew Gardens Girls at War by Posy Lovell

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Published April 19, 2022

https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/690567
Inspired by real events, a touching novel about a new class of courageous women who worked at London’s historic Kew Gardens during World War II.

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.

Here’s The Grateful Reader’s review of Posy Lovell’s first book, The Kew Gardens Girls. This post includes the review/summary and a map and photos of Kew Gardens in London. Enjoy!

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

“Gardening’s all about the future, isn’t it?” Ivy asked Daisy.

For readers and gardeners who are always looking to the future for hope, this is an inspiring tribute to the courageous women who filled in the gaps during World War ll. Posy Lovell continues her series set at the historic Kew Gardens by featuring the “Dig for Victory” model created to provide an example of how a back garden of fruits and vegetables could feed a family year-round. Daisy and Beth, two young girls from opposite parts of London are chosen to plot, plant, and promote the Dig for Victory garden. The hope is that the model allotment-vegetable garden will attract many visitors seeking advice and asking questions. Equally important, the Vegetable Drugs Committee is created to harvest British grown plants for medicinal purposes. This concept and the model allotment project blossoms and grows beyond anyone’s imagination.

Following the lives of Daisy and Beth through the growing seasons of 1940 and beyond, readers will reap many benefits from the life lessons learned as they each face inner turmoil and make personal choices that impact not only their families, but their future. Posy Lovell’s superbly developed characters take readers on an emotional garden path; sowed with agony and grief, choked with confusion, chaos, even shock, but at the end discover a bountiful harvest of relief and joy. The theme of racial and gender injustice influences the cultural landscape of The Kew Gardens Girls at War, but the women learn that adapting, making the best of situations, and helping others is key to helping yourself.

#22in22Challenge-Independent Bookstore Day, April 30, 2022

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Bookstore Visit #9-Interabang Books

My favorite local bookstore is INTERABANG in Dallas. This is where I order all my print copies to support authors. I was one of the designated Zibby Books Ambassadors and thoroughly enjoyed my role. The store was busy and everyone was enjoying the snacks and shopping! I was thrilled to see so many guests and loved hearing all the bookish conversations and delightful laughter.

Interabang Books, Dallas, Texas http://interabangbooks.com
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The School for German Brides by Aimie K. Runyan

Publication April 26, 2022

Aimie writes fiction, both historical and contemporary, that celebrates the spirit of strong women. In addition to her writing, she is active as a speaker and educator in the writing community. She lives in Colorado with her amazing husband, kids, cats, and pet dragon.

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

The School for German Brides examines the impact of social and political beliefs on the lives of three young girls living in Germany 1938 and beyond.  First, Hanna Rombauer, following her mother’s unexpected death has been sent to live in Berlin with Aunt Charlotte and Uncle Otto, Hitler supporters. Hanna’s aspiration is to study medicine at university following in her mother’s footsteps.

Hanna is befriended at school by second teen, Klara Schmidt. Klara’s parents, active in the Nazi Party, have grand plans for Klara to marry an SS officer.  Aimee K. Runyan’s discerning insights into the strained social settings the teens are thrust into cause readers sincere stress and angst. Events hosted by Charlotte and Otto and the deplorable, disgusting plans that involve Hanna are unimaginable. Third, Mathilde Altman, a Mischling- mixed Jewish and Gentile, is an amazing seamstress and she and her mom live in fear for their safety. They earn a meager living with a fabric shop while Tilde’s dream of studying law disappears.

Runyan’s novel is filled with historical background and political views of women’s “duty” to Germany. Young girls, groomed to be in service to the Fatherland are encouraged to join the BDM- Bund Deutscher Madel or Band of German Maidens, part of the Hitler Youth. “Schools for German brides” taught that “motherhood is your sacred duty…the very reason you were born.” Hanna, Klara, and Tilde cross paths at the school for brides, the luxurious Villa on Schwanenwerder Island. Each young woman is at a crossroads, facing life changing decisions. Runyan’s novel is compelling and intriguing as readers find out how the girls serve their country and find one last gesture to honor the memory of their friendship.

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Homewreckers by Mary Kay Andrews

Publishing May 3, 2022

MARY KAY ANDREWS is the New York Times bestselling author of 29 novels (including The Santa Suit; The Newcomer; Hello, SummerSunset Beach; The High Tide Club; The WeekendersBeach Town; Save the Date; Ladies’ Night; Christmas Bliss; Spring FeverSummer Rental; The Fixer Upper; Deep Dish; Blue Christmas; Savannah Breeze; Hissy Fit; Little Bitty Lies; and Savannah Blues), and one cookbook, The Beach House Cookbook.

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Love It or List It and Fixer Upper fans, listen up! Tune your summer reading dial to Mary Kay Andrew’s The Homewreckers, airing today at a book seller near you! The Homewreckers pairs headstrong home remodeler Hattie Kavanaugh from Savannah, Georgia, with devilishly handsome TV designer Trae Bartholomew in hopes of creating onscreen chemistry as an abandoned, dilapidated house is restored in a reality TV show. Hattie’s compassionate, lovable father-in-law, Tug, and just the right amount of sarcasm and insights from her protective site foreman, Cassie, add to this delightful cast of characters. When the “showrunner” Taleetha Carr gets involved in tighter launch scheduling along with creator Mauricio, Mo, the cast drama intensifies! While Mo is explaining “sizzle reels” and creating scenes to tape, the unsolved disappearance of a beloved high school teacher heats back up when a wallet is found on demo day! High school memories and secrets are woven into dialogue with nosy neighbors, former owners, city code enforcers, and investigating cops that creates a range of feelings from suspicion to “heart squeeze” moments for readers. Will the TV show help save the struggling Kavanaugh & Sons? Readers will anxiously flip pages for the “before/after” of Hattie Kavanaugh as she saves Savannah’s historic district one house at a time.

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Last Dance on the Starlight Pier by Sarah Bird

Published April 12, 2022-Reviewed for Historical Novels Review Magazine, May 1, 2022

Set during the Great Depression, Sarah Bird’s Last Dance on the Starlight Pier is a novel about one woman—and a nation—struggling to be reborn from the ashes. https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250265548

“Sarah is the author of 11 novels. Her latest, Last Dance on the Starlight Pier, will be published by St. Martin’s Press in April 2022. In addition to her novels, she has written screenplays for television and magazine articles for national magazines, including The New York Times MagazineTexas Monthly and the Chicago Tribune. Sarah and her husband, George Jones, live in Austin, Texas, with their son and, arguably, the cutest corgi in the world.”

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab-

The full review of The Last Dance on the Starlight Pier will be published in the Historical Novels Review Magazine on May 1.

“Welcome to Galveston. Playground of the Southwest,” greeted visitors to Galveston Island, Texas,1932. Sarah Bird shares the riveting story of Evie Grace Devlin’s life during the Great Depression and the world of dance marathons. Evie, having won a scholarship, is following her dream to be a nurse at St. Mary’s Hospital. She meets student Sophie Amadeo of the infamous family who “owns” the island with their illegal booze and gambling racket and during three years of nursing school the two become “pinky promise” friends.”

Sarah Bird masterfully develops the characters in this first-person, gut-wrenching account as Evie hides her past as a child performer in Vaudeville to fulfill her lifelong dream. The horribly despicable actions of Evie’s mom, Mamie, and the Director of St. Mary’s are well scripted, offensive, and appalling. Devilishly delightful Sister T from the nursing school and later dance partners Cleo and Zave add to the suspense and relief like the fifteen-minute breaks in dance marathons.

Bird’s vivid account of Evie’s life after nursing school in 1932, leads readers on an exhausting whirl of dance marathons through West Texas, Chicago and back to Galveston’s iconic landmarks, the Hollywood Dinner Club, Buccaneer Hotel, Guido’s, and Starlight Palace. “Newsies” keep readers up to date with the Lindbergh kidnapping and the nomination of FDR in the upcoming election. Sensory observations of a bayou; the “oily rag/rotten egg smell of the refineries” and Bird’s use of shoes, black-and-white spectator wingtips, high-heeled Mary Janes, and white bucks; to symbolize the wealthy in the box seats, are examples of exquisite prose. Bird’s theme of “love that rescues a person” shines like a spotlight on the dance floor. So as the Vaudeville saying goes, ‘Absotively, possolutely’ read Last Dance on the Starlight Pier.

Galveston Landmarks from The Last Dance on the Starlight Pier:

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The Blue Butterfly: A Novel for Marion Davies by Leslie Johansen Nack

Publishes May 3, 2022

Leslie Johansen Nack’s debut, Fourteen, A Daughter’s Memoir of Adventure, Sailing, and Survival received five indie awards, including the 2016 Finalist in Memoir at the Next Generation Indie Book Award. She lives in sunny San Diego and enjoys sailing, hiking and her granddog, Alice.

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

The Blue Butterfly is the love story of William Randolph Hearst, the richest man in the country, and Marion Davies, a Ziegfeld Follies dancer. Hearst’s money turned her into a movie star while his love for her lasted a lifetime. The novel spans the glittering world of Hollywood and the coming of “talkies”, the rise and fall of the Hearst empire, and the east coast-west coast battle between Hearst’s wife, Millicent, and Marion, his mistress. Leslie Nack develops the deep love and devotion that Marion and Hearst share amidst California garden parties, politics, the building of La Cuesta Encantada in San Simeon, and collapsing economics. Tangling strong feelings of rejection with tender caring moments involving death and grief, others infuriating; the reader is along for an emotional ride. Told in first person the reader cheers for Marion as her deepest fears and insecurities change to confidence and determination to overcome stuttering and develop writing and comedic skills on the stage. Famous Hollywood stars such as Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, Greta Garbo, Charlie Chaplin and even the Marx brothers have roles to play in the “blue butterfly’s” story.

Leslie Johansen Nack has written a star-studded novel that will leave readers searching for the movie Citizen Kane “that threatened to invalidate all Marion’s successes,” Mank, and The Hearst & Davies Affair to continue the love story. The Blue Butterfly combines the opulence of Hollywood and the audacity and double standard enjoyed by wealthy, powerful men with naivety and lust for stardom. This is a combustible potion when mixed with jealousy and love, adding heat to the inferno of The Blue Butterfly.

Hearst Castle: San Simeon, California https://hearstcastle.org/ Reopening for tours May 2022

“(1863-1951) William Randolph Hearst, the man who conceived Hearst Castle, was a media genius whose influence extended to publishing, politics, Hollywood, the art world and everyday American life. His power and vision allowed him to pursue one of the most ambitious architectural endeavors in American history, the result of which can be seen in magnificent grounds and structures of Hearst Castle.” Read More: https://hearstcastle.org/history-behind-hearst-castle/historic-people/profiles/william-randolph-hearst/

“Marion Davies was the stage name of Marion Cecilia Douras, born in Brooklyn, New York on January 3, 1897. She was the youngest of five children born to Bernard and Rose Douras.” Read More: https://hearstcastle.org/history-behind-hearst-castle/historic-people/profiles/marion-davies/

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The Lost Book of Eleanor Dare by Kimberly Brock

Published April 12, 2022

Kimberly Brock is the award-winning author of The Lost Book of Eleanor Dare and The River Witch. She is the founder of Tinderbox Writers Workshop and has served as a guest lecturer for many regional and national writing workshops including at the Pat Conroy Literary Center. She lives near Atlanta with her husband and three children.

Photo cred: Claire Brock Photography

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

History, mystery, and myths are the ingredients blended into The Lost Book of Eleanor Dare. The journal or ‘lost book” is a Commonplace Book, over 400 years old, kept by generations of Dare women. The history of the Colony of Roanoke and Sir Walter Raleigh, 1587, told by Eleanor Dare is alternated with first person narratives by war widow Alice, slowly uncovering her inner self, and her 13-year-old daughter Penn’s newly discovered quest. Emotions from the past stirred with mother-daughter relationships create a dangerous concoction; one that keeps readers hanging on Kimberly Brock’s accounts of Eleanor and the Lost Colony of Roanoke and the rebuilding and decisions to be made about Evertell mansion by the women who now own it. From a radio receiving messages high up in the cupola to a mysterious stone tower at the edge of the forest hiding a chandlery, to the peacocks and Tybee Island, readers will savor Brock’s imagery in descriptions, the loving, endearing character traits, and the search for that silvery light that was supposed to be inside the heirs of Eleanor Dare. Brock slowly reveals Alice’s story as the “peeling layers” of fear and grief gives way to her daughter Penn’s coming of age as the Commonplace Book is discovered and treasured by both mother and daughter. Readers travel from the lonely coast of North Carolina in 1587 to Evertell on the banks of the Savannah River 1945, with some surprising twists. Kimberly Brock’s The Lost Book of Eleanor Dare, truth mixed with myth, is haunting and memorable.

What Happened to the Lost Colony of Roanoke? This is the beginning of an article from this website: https://www.history.com/news/what-happened-to-the-lost-colony-of-roanoke

“The origins of one of the America’s oldest unsolved mysteries can be traced to August 1587, when a group of about 115 English settlers arrived on Roanoke Island, off the coast of what is now North Carolina. Later that year, it was decided that John White, governor of the new colony, would sail back to England in order to gather a fresh load of supplies. But just as he arrived, a major naval war broke out between England and Spain, and Queen Elizabeth I called on every available ship to confront the mighty Spanish Armada. In August 1590, White finally returned to Roanoke, where he had left his wife and daughter, his infant granddaughter (Virginia Dare, the first English child born in the Americas) and the other settlers three long years before. He found no trace of the colony or its inhabitants, and few clues to what might have happened, apart from a single word—“Croatoan”—carved into a wooden post.”

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#22in22Challenge

Bookstore Visit #8-Beausoleil Books in Lafayette, Louisiana

https://www.beausoleilbooks.com/ 302 A Jefferson St, Lafayette, LA 70501

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

I travel to south Louisiana many times each year. Lafayette is where I was born and my family and relatives still live in that area. Now that I’ve found Beausoleil Books I have another reason to visit! The bookstore has a wonderfully curated collection of books, a lovely, inviting coffee bar and sitting area, plus adjoining is The Whisper Room for cocktails! This is a heavenly place for book clubs and private events. The Whisper Room was closed for a private event the day I visited but I’ll be back! Alexis, the manager, spent a great deal of time explaining her role and I spent a great deal of time sharing information about Zibby Owens, her new publishing company and quest to support independent book sellers. Of course I told Alexis about the #22in22Challenge for #Zibbybooks and #bookambassadors! Beausoleil Books is perfect for bibliophiles-visit the square in downtown Lafayette!

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The People’s Princess by Flora Harding

Publication: March 31-UK, Canada, May 17, 2022-U.S.

https://www.amazon.com/Diana-The-Peoples-Princess/dp/1787394638 -Published 20 years after Diana’s death

Flora Harding began writing over 30 years ago to fund a PhD on the disposal of waste in Elizabethan York, and has juggled fact and fiction ever since. Under various pseudonyms she has written more than 75 novels, histories and other forms of non-fiction and continues to be fascinated by the relationship between the past and the present, whatever she happens to be writing. Flora still lives in York with the city walls and the Minster at the end of her street, and is a freelance project editor as well as an author. Much as she loves the historic city, she yearns too for open horizons, and is a keen walker, preferably in wild, open spaces. https://www.harpercollins.com/blogs/authors/flora-harding

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Flora Harding’s parallel account of Princess Charlotte of Wales, 1813-1817, to Lady Diana in 1981 will appeal to Royal followers. There have been many attempts at capturing the essence of Lady Diana; it seems Royal appetites would be satiated; many having experienced her life and death firsthand.

The People’s Princess opens at Buckingham Palace in March 1981 as Lady Diana Spencer is preparing herself to become Princess Diana of Wales. Diana becomes curious about Princess Charlotte after noticing her portrait in the halls of the palace. Princess Charlotte’s journal, discovered by a historian in the Royal Archives at Windsor, becomes Diana’s key to unlocking the mysteries of joining the House of Windsor. Readers are treated to Harding’s comparisons of family lives and struggles, similarities in personality traits, and the unusually close relationships with staff enjoyed by Charlotte and Diana. From missing her friends at the nursery school, becoming determined to win Charles away from Camilla, to sequins on her veil winking and glittering in the light; readers will delight in Diana’s long-awaited ride in the Glass Coach and the procession up the aisle of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Listen carefully for whistles, cheers, bells, helicopters and then the huge roar of welcome from the crowds on The Mall. Relish a “royal wave” from The People’s Princess!

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The Wedding Veil by Kristy Woodson Harvey

Happy Publication Day- March 29, 2022

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. A Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s school of journalism, her writing has appeared in numerous online and print publications including Southern LivingTraditional HomeUSA TODAYDomino, and O. Henry. Kristy is the winner of the Lucy Bramlette Patterson Award for Excellence in Creative Writing and a finalist for the Southern Book Prize. Her work has been optioned for film and television, and her books have received numerous accolades including Southern Living’s Most Anticipated Beach Reads, Parade’s Big Fiction Reads, and Entertainment Weekly’s Spring Reading Picks. 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

At the back of the wardrobe was the wedding veil that had been worn by generations of Vanderbilt women. The initials of the Vanderbilt women who had worn the treasured veil were embroidered in the lining of the Juliet cap. Was the veil magic? Did it truly ensure a fairy tale life?

Kristy Woodson Harvey’s first foray into historical fiction is a keepsake for fans of the architectural miracle known as Biltmore, near Ashville in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Throughout the marriage of Edith Dresser and George Vanderbilt and later the struggles of their daughter Cornelia, readers will wonder how and why the women of the wealthiest family in America, in the largest home on thousands of acres of land, would feel trapped and without purpose. KWH’s thorough research transports readers to Biltmore’s 250 rooms, George’s famous library with 23,000 books, and to Biltmore Village. Intricate details of daily life, the provision of teaching much needed skills, and the support and encouragement of Edith, Cornelia, and staff after flooding and near financial ruin keeps readers engrossed, in awe, and hopeful that Biltmore will survive.

This is the story of women finding their purpose in life; deciding when to put themselves first and discovering whether a vintage wedding veil is a sign of a happy marriage. KWH writes emotional, soul-searching dialogue between mothers and daughters, grandmothers and granddaughters, and husbands and wives. The scrutiny of the public and press into the Vanderbilt family, especially Cornelia, who only wants to be in the shadows at best, is reminiscent of the treatment of Princess Diana. Cornelia’s unstable habits and moods as she searches for self-worth impact personal decisions and her family life. This glimpse into the lives of the wealthiest family of the early 1900’s, social expectations, financial and personal struggles is a generational contrast to a wealthy present-day family dealing with secrets, decisions, social media impact, and family expectations. Edith and Cornelia Vanderbilt’s story is alternated with present day widow Barbara Baxter’s wisdom and joyful attitude and her granddaughter, bride-to-be Julia, who are living their own fractured fairy tales. Readers will get caught up in their adventures with shocking surprises as they each make life changing decisions.

Through touching scenes and conversations between Edith and George, KWH portrays George Vanderbilt as a devoted, loving husband who is respected and well-loved by his staff, especially his favorite footman, Mr. Noble. George’s sharing of his beloved library, enthusiasm for learning, and his dedication to helping the less fortunate make him a central character with influence on family decisions even after his early death. Noble is a good listener, compassionate, and gives great comfort and assurance to Edith that she and Biltmore will be fine.

Kristy Woodson Harvey’s “lessons on letting go of expectations, drawing close to loved ones, helping those in need, and fighting for your dreams” will have readers crying happy tears, laughing with glee, and cheering for unexpected decisions. Maybe there is magic in The Wedding Veil!

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Answering Liberty’s Call-Anna Stone’s Daring Ride to Valley Forge by Tracy Lawson

Publishing March 29, 2022

Book #1 – Ladies of the Revolution , Hb or Pb, 336 pp.
https://www.amazon.com/Answering-Libertys-Call-Stones-Revolution/dp/164704538X/

“It’s been great to combine research and suspenseful writing into my first historical novel, Answering Liberty’s Call: Anna Stone’s Daring Ride to Valley Forge. The book stars my sixth great-grandmother, who cast off societal norms and risked her own safety to aid both her family and the Revolutionary cause in the winter of 1778.” https://tracylawsonbooks.com/meet-tracy-lawson/

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

In the bleak winter of 1778, Anna Asbury Stone enters the world of men and war, riding over two hundred miles on horseback to deliver food, clothing, and money to her brothers and husband at Valley Forge. This is a spirited tale of the American Revolution based on family stories passed down through generations and meticulous research.  

Tracy Lawson’s first-person narrative alternates between several timelines. The novel begins with Anna Stone’s bold and terrifying ‘woman on a mission” in 1778, as a wife and mother in a “modern day agreement” attempting to save her husband and brothers. Two other timelines include Anna’s flashbacks from 1758 as a 10-year-old indentured servant for seven years to the wealthy Dunlap family and memories from 1775 when her husband, Benjamin, joined the Culpeper Minutemen to defend Williamsburg. These experiences greatly impact Anna’s feelings and opinions as an adult.

Lawson’s accounting of Anna’s frustrating lack of choices, her tender feelings at missing Benjamin, and the complete trust of her children to housemaids gives readers great insight into the structure of society at the time. Paralleling Anna’s personal life is Lawson’s account of Anna’s added mission to deliver a message to General George Washington as she experiences river crossings, political conspiracies and corruption, and eye-opening descriptions of Continental Army camp life at Valley Forge.

One character key to Anna’s growth and development is the curmudgeonly “Uncle” who placed her as an indentured servant with the Dunlap family. He also has his own stressful secrets and business dealings. A blessing of Anna’s servitude with the Dunlap family, is that she meets head cook and protector Rhoda, who teaches her about healing and cures in exchange for Anna’s help in learning to write. Lawson’s superb dialogue and character development between Rhoda and Anna leads to a life-long tender, trusting relationship; one readers will treasure. Rhoda’s frying pan and Lawson’s inclusion of Anna’s recipe for Apple Tansey are memorable for several reasons! (See present day recipe link below)

Answering Liberty’s Call is a riveting “Revolutionary Ride” that refreshes America’s early history and shares insights into the roles of the strong, bold women who supported the quest for freedom.

Anna Asbury Stone: wife, mother, healer, adventurer- Lady of the Revolution! 

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Sisters of Night and Fog by Erika Robuck

Published March 1, 2022

Erika Robuck is the national bestselling author of The Invisible Woman,Hemingway’s GirlCall Me Zelda,Fallen Beauty, The House of Hawthorne, and Receive Me Falling. She is a contributor to the anthology Grand Central: Postwar Stories of Love and Reunion, and to the Writer’s Digest Essay Collection, Author in Progress.

In 2014, Robuck was named Annapolis’ Author of the Year, and she resides there with her husband, three sons, and a spunky miniature schnauzer.

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

COURAGE is the watchword in Erika Robuck’s Sisters of Night and Fog. This isthe spellbinding account of the women serving in World War II whose only common bond is their call to duty. The novel opens at Ravensbruck, at a remembrance ceremony for survivors of the Nazi concentration camp for women. For avid readers of WWII history this conjures a dreaded memory of the Nazi’s despicable, disgusting treatment of the female prisoners. The narrative continues with flashbacks between the “sisters” beginning in 1940, until the Allied invasion in June 1944, and the end of the war. Accounts alternate between real-life war heroes, Violette Szabo, who begins her service in the Land Army, and American, Virginia d’Albert-Lake. As Virginia says, “It’s easy to talk about the successes, the thrills, the adventures, but the consequences are another story.”

Readers of Erika Robuck’s previous novels know of her descriptions that captivate and character development and dialogue that evokes a range of emotions. Violette’s strained, intense relationship with her father is juxtaposed to the regret and uneasy feelings she experiences as a mother herself when she comprehends her own mother’s grief should Violette die. Violette uses her “inner strength to contract within herself” when she is in confinement or being tortured. Readers will expend a sigh relief when “As the night clears, an exquisite sight awaits Violette’s eyes. St. Paul’s Cathedral still stands.” Equally comforting is the happiness at helping deliver “parcels” on the Comet Line that brings Virginia and Philippe closer together. Even the warm bread and potato soup served by a farm wife to Virginia hidden in a barn soothes the readers’ nerves. As the narrative alternates, so do the emotional highs and lows. Violette’s and Virginia’s changing outlook swings readers from the mountain top of determination to the valley of despondency.

Between the angst of the Boche, double agents, missions abandoned, and captured SOE agents, readers are treated to Erika’s beautiful, soulful expressions; “stirring embers of her musical memory,” and “he dances her around the dining room to the music they can hear in the echoes of their memories.”

When Philippe and Virginia arrive at their country house north of Paris she thinks, “We have each other. We’re sheltered. We’ll just wait out the war. Nice and safe.”  That’s the end of comfortable feelings for readers. This novel will leave readers feeling grateful for the simplest luxuries of daily life and ever so humbled by the courageous women of the Resistance Erika Robuck coaxes out of the shadows of history.

Sisters of Night and Fog is the story of how these women and their love for family, call to duty, and courage helped change the world.  

Inside L’eglise de la Madeleine where Violette & Etienne hoped to return after the war ended
The SOE headquarters were here in Leicester Square in LondonPhoto circa 1937
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With Love from London by Sarah Jio

Published February 8, 2022

Sarah Jio is the #1 international, New York Times, and USA Today bestselling author of eleven novels. She is the host of the ModAboutYou podcast and also a longtime journalist who has contributed to Glamour, The New York Times, Redbook, Real Simple, O: The Oprah Magazine, Bon Appétit, Marie Claire, Self, and many other outlets, including NPR’s Morning Edition. Jio’s books have been published in more than twenty-five countries. She lives in Seattle with her husband, three young boys, three stepchildren, and two puppies.”

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

“Books have feelings. Only you can unlock them. It’s easy, though, all you have to do is read the pages.” There are plenty of feelings to unlock in With Love from London. Sarah Jio shares two love stories: one with tragic timing and one with “stardust luck.” Valentina, a librarian and bookstagrammer, arrives in London as the new proprietor of The Book Garden, previously owned by Eloise, her estranged, recently deceased mother. Sara Jio draws readers into Eloise’s dream of escaping London’s East End, her unlikely life in California, and how she “finds some semblance of life again.” After Valentina arrives in London relationships of husband/wife, parent/child, and best friends are delicately explored in years of letters, shared memories, and scavenger hunts just like her mother had created when she was a child. In this dual timeline, themes of friendship and family inspire readers to examine feelings ranging from anger to understanding and from pain to forgiveness. Read With Love from London with anticipation of healing, revelations, and a new lease on life!

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The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post by Allison Pataki

Published February 15, 2022

Allison Pataki is the New York Times bestselling author of The Traitors Wife, The Accidental EmpressSisiWhere the Light Falls, and The Queen’s Fortune, as well as the nonfiction memoir Beauty in the Broken Places and two children’s books, Nelly Takes New York and Poppy Takes Paris. Allison’s novels have been translated into more than twenty languages. A former news writer and producer, Allison has written for The New York TimesABC News, HuffPostUSA TodayFox News, and other outlets. She has appeared on TodayGood Morning AmericaFox & FriendsGood Day New YorkGood Day Chicago, and MSNBC’s Morning Joe. Allison graduated cum laude from Yale University, is a member of The Historical Novel Society, and lives in New York with her husband and family.”

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

“Marjorie the Magnificent” was the moniker given to Marjorie Merriweather Post, only daughter and heir to the C.W. Post family fortune. Allison Pataki’s novel reads like Marjorie’s private journal; the blue-eyed dazzling beauty born in 1887, who reigned as “America’s Most Fabulous Hostess” until her death in 1973. Pataki highlights Marjorie’s determination, passion, and generosity in this four-part, first person retelling of the opportunities, decisions and influencers that had such a profound impact on Marjorie’s life experiences. From Battle Creek, Michigan, and the beginnings of Grape-Nuts and General Foods, to Washington D.C., Palm Beach, and ambassadress in Moscow; readers are treated to personal details and descriptions of Marjorie’s palatial residences filled with art and treasures from around the world, disastrous marriages, amazing contributions to philanthropic favorites, and her famous guests and friends from the world of politicians and celebrities.  As C.W. Post introduced the world to cereal, Allison Pataki introduces the world to The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post.

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The Next Ship Home by Heather Webb

Published February 8, 2022

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Heather Webb’s The Next Ship Home is set in 1902, at Ellis Island, known as The Island of Tears. The novel chronicles the awakening of two young women, Francesca Ricci, desperately escaping her father, arriving by ship from Sicily and Alma Brauer, living with her family of seven in a tenement in New York City’s “Little Germany.” The Brauers run a successful bierhaus despite narrow views. Alma is intelligent but despised and bullied by her stepfather. Her respite from servitude and her parents’ beliefs and mores is her penchant and adeptness for learning other languages. Alma’s domineering stepfather secures a job for her at Ellis Island without her knowledge. As a twenty-two-year-old spinster dependent on her parents, Alma feeling she has no choice, boards the ferry to the island.

Through fear and profound despair Francesca and Alma’s paths cross and a deep friendship is formed. Becoming like sisters they find determination and motivate each other to endure circumstances beyond their control and the courage to make choices when it seems there’s not one.  Heather Webb creates doubt and suspense through characters’ dialogue involving anarchism, labor disputes, and strikes. Rumors of lies and deceit by Ellis Island staff and despicable behavior by inspectors, and even Alma’s own family members, keep readers in disbelief and absolutely spellbound. Her sensitive and visual descriptions of neighborhoods and characters add to the anxious feelings when viewed through an immigrant’s eyes. The prospects for Francesca and Alma seem bleak and unsurmountable but as Francesca says, “Anything worth doing or having is a little frightening… or very frightening!”

Readers will follow these young women from the ferry, aboard the trains, on long walks up Park Avenue and even to a riot, but all will survive and celebrate The Next Ship Home as Francesca and Alma embark on America’s shores of optimism.

(At Ellis Island by Louise Peacock is one I used in my classroom with third graders. It’s an excellent example of using trade books to teach history and social studies. It appeals to all ages.)

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#22in22Challenge

Bookstore Visit #7-The Storiebook Cafe-Glen Rose, Texas

This week we drove to Glen Rose, Texas, about an hour and a half southwest of Dallas to visit the Storiebook Cafe. We’d traveled through the Dinosaur Capital of Texas before but not with bookstore visits in mind! Owner, Storie Sharp, (yes, that’s her real name) greeted us and gave me a tour. Every room is cozy and inviting, and overflowing with books. Once a Texaco gas station and car dealership, the location has been home to many businesses over the years. We are so grateful that 13 years ago it became The Storiebook Cafe; an independent book store with a delicious “bookish” menu! We had a scrumptious lunch and picked up The Magnolia Palace by Fiona Davis which Storie special ordered for me. Here are some darling photos with some links to famous places near Glen Rose, Texas, and The Grateful Reader’s review of The Magnolia Palace.

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#22in22Challenge

Bookstore Visit #6-Barnes & Noble-Plano, Texas-February 9, 2022

I used to visit this B&N quite frequently when I was teaching third graders. The parents would give me gift cards for every holiday and in-between! Because….BOOKS! I loved to go and browse the children’s book section, the beautiful magazines, and of course, the “best sellers” section. Over the past two pandemic years the lovely Starbucks inside this bookstore has closed. So no more cozy moments in the coffee shop with my newest purchases-to just smell and touch! As much as I want to support local indie bookstores, B&N seems to need help too! I went with the mission of buying Fiona Davis’ The Magnolia Palace, but being on the NYT best seller list it was already sold out- a purchase for next week’s bookstore visit! Instead I shopped for Valentine’s Day gifts for my grandchildren. I often watch Adriana Trigiani’s interviews on FB so I knew her new children’s book The House of Love had published just in time for Valentine’s Day. This lovely story is filled with the warmth of a large family and shows how money doesn’t create joy. You’ll want to string some gumdrops and decorate your own tree branch! The House of Love is an homage to Adri’s mother, her favorite librarian. The link is below for Adri’s appearance February 10th on the Today show. Hoda & Jenna interview Adri and Allison Pataki. Allison’s book The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post is on my read/review calendar. Enjoy the interview! And visit a bookstore soon!

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#22in22Challenge

Bookstore Visit #5-Books-A-Million-BAM! Lake Charles, Louisiana

After listening to a Friends and Fiction Facebook live interview with Amor Towles, I decided The Lincoln Highway would be my next book purchase! (Link is below) With so many wonderful reviews and comments from readers and weeks on the NYT’s Best Seller List, this was a “no brainer!” The Lincoln Highway is now on my “to be read and savored” table, waiting for the perfect nostalgic reading whim to strike! I enjoyed the stroll through BAM and a lovely coffee with my sister while on our “sister outing.” The Victoria Magazines were another early Valentine gift to myself. Between the teatime recipes in one and the article on Storied Libraries; well, I had to purchase both!

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Until We Meet by Camille Di Maio

Publishes March 1, 2022

A poignant and page-turning story of three women whose lives are forever changed by war.…https://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/camille-di-maio/until-we-meet/9781538738023/

Camille recently left an award-winning real estate career in San Antonio to become a full-time writer. Along with her husband of 23 years, she home schooled their four children, two of which are off to college. She has a bucket list that is never-ending, and uses her adventures to inspire her writing. She’s lived in Texas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and California, and spends enough time in Hawai’i to feel like a local. She’s traveled to four continents (so far), and met Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II. She just about fainted when she had a chance to meet her musical idol, Paul McCartney, too. Camille studied political science in college, but found working on actual campaigns much more fun. 

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

UNTIL WE MEET by Camille Di Maio, Forever, 2022, $15.99, pb, 384pp, 978-1538738047 Published on February 1, 2022 in Historical Novels Review Magazine for Historical Novel Society

A Glen Miller playlist will put readers “In the Mood” for Until We Meet by Camille Di Maio. This World War II epistolary novel begins in September,1943 with three best friends “doing their bit” at the Brooklyn Naval Yard. Filling roles of the men gone to war are Dottie, Margaret, and Gladys, who learn to knit socks while listening to tunes on the radio. Meanwhile, three airmen in “The Screaming Eagles” of the 101st Airborne are bunking at the Brown’s farmhouse near Aldbourne, England. When William hasn’t received any letters from family, Margaret’s brother, John pleads with her to write to him. At this turning point in the novel, Margaret decides to write a note and slips it into a pair of socks for William. The plot now moves through the letters of Margaret and William.

Camille Di Maio creates great anticipation as bonds are formed through letters that take weeks to cross the ocean. Through the girls’ Naval Yard experiences and encouragement from Gladys to become involved in women’s causes, Di Maio captures the burgeoning interests of women in politics and business. As readers follow the three airmen from training in the U.S to England, themes of loyalty and family expectations are aptly explored as Virginian Tom Powel, only son in a military family, reminisces about his upbringing and decision to become an airman. The movements of the Screaming Eagles are reported through letters, including details of the Battle of Normandy, with foreshadowing of lives lost and the Eiffel Tower’s symbolism as a monument of human endurance. Di Maio’s forthright handling of grief, facing it and moving on, is empathetic and realistic. The touching analogy of “joy and sorrow like seats on a playground teeter-totter” is also perfect for Until We Meet.

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#22in22Challenge

Bookstore Visit #4-“Friends Book Shop” in Rosenberg Public Library, Galveston Island, Texas

Oldest Public Library in Continuous Operation in Texas since 1904 at this site; The collection moved here from Galveston Public Library which opened in 1899

On our trip to Galveston for the Oak Ridge Boys concert we visited the Rosenberg Library, History Center & Museum. My mission was to support the Friends Book Shop inside this beautiful library. The Friends Book Shop has gently used and new books for purchase. The shop was well laid out and easy to find books by genre. The new books were separated in a lovey display with a good selection. I found two titles I wanted to read in 2021 but hadn’t gotten around to buying. This was a successful bookstore visit!

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#22in22Challenge

Bookstore Visit #3-Galveston Bookshop – Galveston Island, Texas

Beautiful new Literary Classics Mural- 317 23rd Street, Galveston, Texas http://galvestonbookshop.com/

I visited Dale LaFleur’s fabulous bookshop as part of the #22in22challenge for #Zibby Books and my role as an Ambassador. Also, to celebrate our 50th anniversary we are planning a special trip each month-well I am, Carl, not so much:) and Galveston is where we honeymooned back in 1972! The beautiful Flagship Hotel was destroyed in a hurricane and is now the Amusement Pier, along with a Bubba Gump’s Shrimp, merry-go-rounds and snow cones. And for the Historical Novel Society I’ve read Sarah Bird’s new novel The Last Dance on the Starlight Pier, publishing April 12, set in GALVESTON! That post will be coming in May after the magazine publishes May 1. We were quite busy scurrying around the Seawall and the city taking pictures of historical markers and sites from the book; of course we HAD to have drinks at the Galvez and eat at Guido’s. So, three excellent reasons to make the 5 hour drive. Here are a few other pictures of the Galveston Bookshop as it was featured in Galveston Monthly!

Coming April 12, 2022 (Preorder now! You will feel like you’ve been to Galveston in 1932!) https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250265548
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The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont

Publication-February 1, 2022

Nina de Gramont’s The Christie Affair is a beguiling novel of star-crossed lovers, heartbreak, revenge, and murder—and a brilliant re-imagination of one of the most talked-about unsolved mysteries of the twentieth century. St. Martin’s Press”

“Nina de Gramont lives in coastal North Carolina with her husband, the writer David Gessner. She teaches at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and is almost always in the company of her two dogs, Missy and Isabelle. She’s the author of the acclaimed Meet Me at the River, Every Little Thing in the World, Gossip of the Starlings, The Last September, as well as The Distance from Me to You, which has recently been optioned for a movie. ”

The Grateful Reader- Dorothy Schwab

I’ve been travelling the last two weeks, visiting bookstores and reading all along the way. One of my stops was in Houston at the Blue Willow Book Shop, which I enjoyed immensely. The review I’m adding here is from the Blue Willow newsletter, Shelf Awareness-I love that name! As I was reading the newsletter today I came across Shahina Piyarali’s review of The Christie Affair. Since I’m still in the middle of the mystery, I though I’d share Shahina’s review with you. Enjoy!

The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont is an ingeniously plotted historical mystery in the style of an engrossing Agatha Christie thriller–except the character at the center of the mystery is the beloved lady novelist herself. Bringing to glorious life the more intimate roles Christie played, including as a mother, wife, loyal friend and passionate lover, de Gramont’s graceful novel will enthrall Christie fans of all persuasions.

The story is set in 1920s England, during the early days of Agatha’s rise to literary fame and the implosion of her marriage to Archie Christie. In real life, Agatha’s devastation over her husband’s demand for a divorce led her to flee her Berkshire home and disappear for 11 days; no one knows where she went, and she took that secret to her grave. Here, de Gramont (The Last September) offers a skillful reimagining of what transpired when Agatha vanished in the dead of night with her typewriter, setting off a media-driven scandal and a country-wide police manhunt. The result is a particularly gripping story, brilliantly embellished by the enigmatic narrator, Nan O’Dea, who also happens to be Archie’s mistress.

Although Agatha is at the heart of Nan’s narrative, The Christie Affair is a story of two women from vastly different backgrounds struggling to control their own destinies. An accomplished author, de Gramont takes a page from the great mystery writer herself and makes swift work of tying up loose ends as the story reaches its boiling point, leaving readers marvelously entertained and breathlessly connecting the dots. ” –Shahina Piyarali, reviewer

Discover: This gorgeously written mystery reimagines Agatha Christie’s real-life disappearance after the collapse of her marriage and the intriguing story of the woman responsible for the breakup.

Here’s a link to Shelf Awareness from Blue Willow Book Shop- Great interviews, book suggestions and recommendations. https://bluewillowbookshop.shelf-awareness.com/?issue=1017 My blog post from my Blue Willow visit was posted in late January.