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.