Magical New Beginnings for 2020

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

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

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

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

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


Queens of Animation by Nathalia Holt

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

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

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

With gripping storytelling, and based on extensive interviews and exclusive access to archival and personal documents, The Queens of Animation reveals the vital contributions these women made to Disney’s Golden Age and their continued impact on animated film making, culminating in the record-shattering Frozen, Disney’s first female-directed full-length feature film.

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

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

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

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

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

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

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

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


Cartier's Hope by M. J. Rose

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

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

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

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

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

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

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

The Hope Diamond


Mercy Road by Ann Howard Creel

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

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

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

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

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

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

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

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

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


Dead Wrong by Vannetta Chapman

A new Amish cozy mystery from Vannetta Chapman.

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

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

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


The Paris Orphan The French Photographer by Natasha Lester

A “rich and riveting” New York Times bestseller based on the true story of a female journalist who defied all the rules while covering World War II (Publishers Weekly, starred review).

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

Read Chapters 1-3

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

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

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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